Powerful (Identity in Christ Part 11)

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Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give, Matthew 10:8.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you, Luke 10:19.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.

You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    His arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered His angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

“If you’ll hold on to Me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust Me.
Call Me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!” Psalm 91.

I know there is quite a bit of Bible here. I hope you read these verses, meditate on them, and let them soak into your spirit. God is all powerful. It is not our power that enables us to overcome. It is His power that allows us to overcome. This power, the power of God, enables us to do the following.

1. Say no to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin when we are born again (Romans 6). The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us and enables us to say no to sin and yes to God’s will. If we go to God and ask for help He always helps us.

2. Have life after death. We who die in Christ will be raised again to life with Him. If we can believe God for life everlasting, we can believe Him for more.

3. To overcome. We are more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength. “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” Romans 8:37.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:57.

4. To do what Jesus and the disciples were doing. The same Holy Spirit that empowered the disciples, lives in us. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He gives us power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, and see those oppressed by demons set free. Some say the gifts were only for the Apostles. Untrue. It’s for every born again believer. As someone who’s been healed, I am thankful God still heals.

5. To use the authority given by Jesus. People elevate evil and the devil when both were defeated by Jesus. Light never runs from darkness. Light stands and the darkness flees.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross, Colossians 2:15.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7.

The devil cannot do whatever he wants. He is not all powerful. He is not equal to God. He is a created being, not the Creator. He had to ask for permission to afflict Job (Job 1). God allowed Job’s affliction to happen knowing He would bless Job with more than He had before. We are not under the enemies feet, he is supposed to be under our feet. We don’t pick fights with evil. We stand on the word of God and make submission to God our priority. We get close to God and allow Him to shine through us. It’s His light that’s shining.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you,~2 Corinthians 4:6-12.

We were not created to be defeated. We were created to be imitators of Jesus. He was not defeated. He came to destroy the works of the enemy. He lived a life of purpose, operating in His true identity. We are called to do the same. We are called to live lives that send a message to the world, “My God is good. My God is powerful. My life has purpose.” I read a quote by Bill Johnson today that was a blessing. He said, “Any situation where I have no hope, I am believing a lie.” There is ALWAYS hope with God. He is all powerful. There are no hopeless situations when God is at work. People can choose to reject God, but that does not mean He ceases to be powerful.

Father show us how You want to work through us. Shine Your light on to any and all areas of doubt or unbelief. Help us to believe You, trust You, and live a life where You are first. Help us to draw near to You. In Jesus most powerful name, Amen.

 

Purity (Identity in Christ Part 10)

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Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body, 1 Corinthians 6:18.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people, Ephesians 5:3.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, Colossians 3:5.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness, Romans 6:13.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, Philippians 4:8.

I listed these verses because there is a trend in our society to toss purity to the wind. The Bible has been labeled as being outdated, old-fashioned, and not relevant for our time. There’s been a trend to tell people to do what they want, live how they want, engage in any sexual activity they want, say what they want, and God is obligated to accept it as long as that person claims to believe in Jesus. This is not at all what Jesus taught. There’s no place in scripture that tells us to keep on sinning and live however we would like to live. God’s grace is so vast beyond measure, His saving power so powerful. If we are the worst of sinner, which we are normally ignorant to how sinful we really are, He is able to cleanse, purify, and redeem us. That’s the beauty of grace! No matter how many times we stumble, He is able and willing to restore us. If we are in Christ, we claim His righteousness as our own. We are made new through relationship with Him. However, we cannot treat sin like it’s nothing. We cannot treat grace as a free ticket to sin and keep on sinning. Listen to the words of Apostle Paul.

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ Romans 6:1-14.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

God encourages us to attach our lives to righteousness and purity for the following reasons.

1. Sin is toxic. Disobeying God leads to death. Adam and Eve did not believe God when He said if they ate from the tree they would die. Our world today is filled with evil because of their sin. Sin hurts us. It may not seem like it. It may feel good. It may seem good. However, God withholds nothing good from His children (Psalm 84:11). If He says no to something, it’s because it will harm us. We may not see it today, but sin takes people further than they want to go and does more damage than we can see. If it were not toxic and lead to death, there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and die for sin. Some examples.

a. The person who cheats on their spouse. It seemed good. Felt good. Their betrayal of their vow causes pain to their spouse, they are causing another to commit adultery, if they have kids they are hurt. Adultery is the death of trust.

b. The person who can never admit they are wrong and are filled with pride. Their actions hurt everyone around them and they will never know real love. For love is not selfish or prideful. Selfishness and pride is the death of love. Love and pride cannot occupy the same places.

c. The person engaged in sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage (a man with a woman). Opens the door for the enemy to build a shrine to pleasure, an idol of self, and the death and destruction of honor. When we engage in sexual activity outside God’s covenant of marriage (between a man and woman) we are dishonoring our bodies and the body of those we engage with.

Even if our sin is in secret and no one knows but God, it still leads to bondage. The person who overeats at home while no one sees becomes a slave to food. The person who slanders and gossips becomes a slave to tabloids and spreading other people’s business. The person who looks at pornography or engages in lustful activities alone becomes a slave to pleasure. The person who is greedy, materialistic, becomes a slave to money and may end up in debt. All sin leads to bondage, the inability to function with self-control.

2. God’s way leads to life, blessing, and models love. God is pure. Jesus died to make us pure. Though our sins were as scarlet, He washes us white as snow. His way leads to life. God is not only concerned about our well-being, but the well-being of everyone around us. Purity is interested in the best interests of God, others, and self. Love protects the best interests of others. God will not betray the way of love. He is love. He paid for us to be free, not in bondage.

Lastly, I will say no matter what areas of your life you feel bound, God paid for freedom. Every person in Christ has been freed from being a slave to sin. We have been made new. We have new names. Don’t allow the enemy to deceive you into believing you cannot be free! Jesus paid for it. We run to God over and over saying, “God help me to live free.” We focus our lives on worshiping Him and trust that when we surrender ourselves to Him, He is able to transform us from the inside out. I can testify to the freedom God brings. I am not the same person I was when I came to Jesus. I am not the same person I was several years ago. The work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us is more powerful than our ability to sin.

Abba I ask that we would surrender our hearts to You. You love us regardless of what we do, but love us too much to leave us the same. You paid for us to be free! Free us from all forms of bondage. We don’t want partial freedom, we want total freedom. We love you! Thank you for the sacrifice of Your Son. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Spiritual Disciplines (Identity in Christ Part 9)

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I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father,~John 14:12.

Today I wanted to talk about spiritual disciplines. We can think going to fellowship with other believers on Sunday is enough to keep us spiritually on point. We are not saved by our works or spiritual disciplines, we are saved by faith. We are, however, blessed and more equipped to resist temptation and fight evil if we do what Jesus did. Jesus spent time alone with the Father on a regular basis. The disciples would look for Him, and He would be away. He prayed. Jesus, God in the flesh, prayed to the Father. Jesus fasted. He refrained from eating food and spent time devoted in prayer and consecration before the Father. Jesus served and gave. He was generous and blessed others. Jesus forgave others. He told His disciples to do the same. See below in Matthew 6:2-15

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others….

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Anytime we see Jesus giving instructions to the disciples, it’s something to take note of. We are His modern day disciples. If Jesus did something and told others to do it, then there is a significant reason for it.

Time Alone with God. We are not super human. We need God. We need Him more than anything or anyone else. When we unplug from the world and make Him a priority we have a better chance of living an abundant life. More than getting something from Him, being with Him is enjoyable. He is quite lovely and the more we get to know Him, the more we fall in love. The more we love Him, the easier it is to obey Him and love others.

Prayer. A prayerless life is a powerless life. Jesus lived a life of prayer, therefore prayer is important. Paul said to pray without ceasing. Our prayers are inviting God into our world. He gave humans dominion on this planet. If we want God’s help, we ask for His help…boy does the world need His help today.

Fasting. I have not heard many people teach on fasting in church. I highly recommend the book Fasting (opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God) by Jentezen Franklin. Fasting is not starving. Fasting is always coupled with prayer. There are several fasts in the Bible. Daniel fasted. Queen Esther fasted. Jesus fasted. I recommend the book mentioned for more information. All biblical fasts were a restriction from food or some form of food. Fasts today people choose to give up TV, Facebook, etc…but the king of our lives is normally our stomach. I recommend praying and asking God about fasting. Also if you have health issues to consult your physician first. Jesus went 40 days with no food, this is not feasible for most people and should be done by those led by the Holy Spirit. If you choose to fast for a certain period of time drink water, dehydration is dangerous.

Forgiving Others. Simple, if we don’t forgive others, we are not forgiven.

Giving. God loves a cheerful giver. If we give to Him out of obligation it’s not what He wants. It is a part of our life as disciples. We are called to give out of love, not obligation.

In the Word. The Bible contains information that builds us up. The word is a weapon that can be used when our minds are bombarded with lies. I heard TD Jakes say, “We cannot have God’s fruit in our lives if we do not have His word in our hearts.” Jesus quoted the words of God to the devil when tempted in the wilderness.

Lastly, I will say none of these disciplines make us more desirable to God. His love for us is not based on what we do or what we fail to do. It isn’t about doing things to win His approval. These disciplines are beneficial for us spiritually. Prayer, forgiving, giving, reading the Bible, spending time with God, and fasting help us. They do not make God love us more. They do not earn us brownie points. We can do all of these things and our hearts be far from God like the Pharisees. The objective is to grow closer to God, not try to earn anything or prove anything.

Father I pray we would have a desire to live the life You called us to live. Help us to abide in You, abide in Your word, to give, to forgive, to pray,… and submit all of who we are to You. Help us to be victorious in this dark world. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

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Worship is a War Song (Identity in Christ Part 8)

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There are people oblivious to the battle going on around us. The battle is for our peace, love, joy, and worship. Everything in creation was made to glorify God. We were created to love, adore, worship, and devote our lives to God.

Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalms 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…

Worship isn’t simply singing songs. It’s a lifestyle devoted to loving God and putting Him first in all things. When we put God first in all things, we are living out our identity as children of God. We were made by Him and for Him. He is the reason we all exist. Worship is not an obligation it is a response to His great love, mercy, and grace. Key notes about worship.

1. Worship is for Him. It’s not about us. Sometimes we make worship about us. Is it my favorite song? Or I will devote myself to God so He will give me something. Worship helps us die to self. It puts God on the throne of our hearts where He belongs. Love is not selfish. Worship trains us to be selfless.

2. Worship realigns our focus. If God is at the center of our thoughts and our lives, then other things are not. We sometimes worship our problems. We worship money. We worship people who can not help or save us. We worship ourselves, and we no ability to do anything without Him. We worship pleasure and created things. Anything we worship other than God is idolatry. Idolatry enslaves us. It’s offensive to God.

3. Worship changes the atmosphere. God is everywhere. When we worship, we are saying, “God come and take up more space in our hearts. You are welcome here.” If you are sick, sad, depressed, angry, tempted,  etc…I challenge you to worship God.

4. Worship defeats darkness. Judah was the tribe of worshipers. I find it interesting many times they were sent in first to battle.

5. Worship is a part of our identity in Christ. It is not optional. It’s who we are. We were all created to worship God. It does not have to be a song. We were created to give thanks to God, to adore Him, to put Him first, and to obey Him.

6. Worship is what the devil is after. Lucifer wanted to be worshiped instead of God. He is still at work today to take the focus off God. If he can’t make himself the focus, he works to turn people to worship everything else: money, fame, people, sex, food, entertainment, anything that makes God lower on the totem pole of our hearts.

7. Worship changes us. We become like the one we worship,~Bill Johnson. Whatever or whoever we worship is who or what we will become. A person who worships money will become greedy. A person who worships sex and physical pleasure, will become lustful. A person who worships food will become gluttonous or obsessed with food. A person who worships people will become a people pleaser. If we worship God, we become like Him. We begin to take on His characteristics.

Father, please forgive us for all the times we have placed someone or something at the center of our hearts. Forgive us for the sin of idolatry. May you be first in our hearts and on the throne of our hearts. May we worship you with all our hearts, souls, minds, and with all our strength. You are amazing! Help us to love you more. In Jesus name, Amen.

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