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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Steps to a Victorious Life





STEPS TO A 
VICTORIOUS LIFE








To live victorious, there is no self-help program but only a “God help me” program. James, the brother of Jesus, details 4 steps to help us to live as a victor and not a victim.





Step 1-Submission to God
· Submit means to yield or surrender oneself to the will or authority of another. 
By honestly looking at your life, what or who are you submitted to?
· Areas of life we need to submit:
a. Spiritually
b. Mentally
c. Physically
d. Socially
e. Financially
· We are called to submit ourselves to God, all the time and everywhere.









Step 2-Resist the devil
· Resist means to keep from giving in or yielding to.
· Step one must be done before we can do step two.
· We can’t submit to God totally without resisting the devil fully.
· The result of resisting the devil is he will flee from you.
What area in your life are you not resisting the devil?







Step 3-Draw near to God
· We must understand that we can’t come to God just an old way, God has given us procedures to draw close to Him.
a. Worship
b. Prayer
c. Discipleship
· The result of us drawing near to God is He will draw near to us.









Step 4-Cleansing and purifying
· Cleanse means to make clean or free from dirt.
· Purify means to rid of foreign or objectionable elements.
· We are cleanse and purify the whole man.
a. Outward purity-cleanse your hands, ye sinners
b. Inward purity-purify your hearts, ye double minded.
· Double minded are people who divided the loyalty between God and the world.


God has given us the tools to be a victor
 in our spiritual and physical life 
but we must follow the steps. 
To omit one step is to continue to be the victim.


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Why Obey God?

Why obey GOD?

by David A. Depra
     Why should a Christian obey God? That is really like asking,
"Why should a child love a parent?" There really isn't any WHY to
it. The love simply happens because of a relationship.
     One would think that we could say the same thing about our
relationship with God, as our Heavenly Father. Instead of asking
WHY we ought to obey Him, almost as if it is some kind of imposed
obligation, we perhaps ought to ask WHAT to obey. Sometimes
we act as if God is at our disposal, rather than we at His.
Obedience is, in fact, a fundamental part of our Christian walk.
But what part? This is an especially important question to ask when
you consider that we are saved by grace, kept by grace, and walk
in the grace of God. So where does obedience fit in?

     This, of course, brings up the issue of law vs. grace and also that
of license. It must. Christians need to get this straight. We are
talking here, not only about the gospel of salvation, but the gospel
and Truth by which we must live after we are saved.
Unto Good Works
     One of the scriptures which best describes the place of works,
or obedience, in the life of a Christian, is found in Ephesians. There
Paul, in a nutshell, describes the impact of the gospel on the
Christian life:
for by the grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of god, not of works,
 lest any man should boast. 
for we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which god hath before ordained that
we should walk in them.
(eph. 2:8-10)

     Here Paul says that we are saved solely by grace, and not our
works. That's simple enough. Yet before we say, "I already know
all of that," and go on, let's READ what is being said here. It may
contain a bit more than we ever noticed.
     Paul is, in this verse, drawing a contrast. Yes, he is saying that
our works haven't a thing to do with our salvation. He says, "Not of
works, let any man should boast." In other words, if salvation were
of our works -- even a little -- then we could take some credit. But
it is not based on our works -- even a little. So we cannot boast.
So far so good. Nothing new there.
     BUT --- that is not the end of the thought. Paul then draws a
contrast. He gives the REASON WHY we cannot boast. He says,
"FOR we are HIS workmanship....." In other words, THAT is why
our salvation cannot be based on your works." We are HIS
workmanship.
     Can we possibly see what Paul is saying here? Ask it again:
WHY is our salvation NOT based on works? Because we are
GOD's workmanship. Get that. Rather than US doing works for God,
Paul is saying that GOD is doing a work in US. THAT is grace.
THAT is why salvation is not based on works. THAT is why
NOTHING is based on works. GOD is the one doing the work. Not
US.
    
Paul goes on to make this even more clear. He says, "For we
are HIS workmanship...." --- and then he describes that
workmanship. He describes exactly what God is doing. He says,
"Created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God has
ordained that we should walk in them."
     Here we see that God does a work in us to create us, or birth us,
in Christ Jesus. But UNTO something. UNTO what? Good works.
In other words, the RESULT of salvation in Jesus Christ is good
works.
     Now, you and I usually have it backwards. We think the good
works are supposed to come first. We think that good works will
create us in Christ Jesus -- either by saving us, or by earning us
something once we are saved. Some of us still think that God
accepts us based on our works, and that we must maintain our
standing with God through those works even after we are saved.
     Paul says no. That is error. It is really what it means to be "under
the law." The Truth states that rather than US doing works for God,
God is doing one in US -- that is -- we are HIS workmanship. We
are created in Christ Jesus solely by the grace of God. But not so
we can "sin that grace might abound." No. Rather, "unto good
works." These good works are ordained of God that we might
walk in them.
     This passage from Ephesians is so simple, yet contains the
essence of the Truth of grace. It is hard to believe we could read
it and miss the point.

A Good Tree
     Now, there is a reason why things have to work this way. Never
think that Christianity is simply a matter of God saving us and then
handing us a bunch of rules to obey. That is not the Christianity of
the Bible. It is dead religion.
     The Christianity of the Bible is a changed life, full of good works,
because it is a NEW BIRTH. New creations in Jesus Christ do
good works. But we do them because we have a new nature -- not
because we have a list of rules to obey.
     This is vital to see. It goes back to something Jesus said. He
said:
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt
 fruit; neither doth a corrupt
tree bring forth good fruit.
 For every tree is known by his own fruit.
(Lk. 6:43-44)
     The Bible sends us a clear message: We cannot obey God.
We cannot. Indeed, God gave us His law to PROVE it to us. The
law continually shows us we cannot obey God, and exposes us as
dead sinners. The more we try to keep the law, the more we find
that we are a "bad tree."
     The only solution is to BECOME something other than a "bad
tree," -- i.e. -- a GOOD tree in Christ Jesus. God must do that. He
must create us in Christ Jesus, solely by His grace. Then, and only
then, are we a new creature -- God's workmanship -- created in
Christ Jesus. Then, and only then, are we created "unto good
works."
   
  A Christian, therefore, obeys God -- not because the law
demands it -- but because it is his nature to obey God. He wants
to obey God -- despite all of the failures along the way. There is
a CHANGE as to desire and motivation.
Not to Earn
     If you were told that your obedience to God earned you nothing,
what would your response be? For some of us, it might be, "Well,
then why obey?"
     THAT is, of course, the question, isn't it? For if we are obeying
God simply because we think it is earning us something -- whether
it be His increased favor, some eternal reward, or some better
standing in the kingdom -- then how can we tell Him we love Him?
     Imagine our children obeying us as parents simply because we
pay them a weekly allowance. What love is there in that?

Obedience to God is supposed to be the outcome of a LOVE
relationship with Him. It is supposed to be the outcome of being
created in Christ Jesus. This is the Christianity of the Bible, and
thank God it is.  As Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God."\


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

HOPE


Hope means "to desire something with confident expectation of it's fulfillment." The state of Hopelessness has been aptly described as a type of "Hell on Earth" filled with endless despondency and despair.
Today, more and more people are finding themselves alone and depressed, and few of us have not at one time or another felt the sting of despondency and despair.
But Good news! Help is available, not the kind the world has wherein it wishes for the best. It is one thing to wish, and quite another to have faith based on the promises of God.
God is Our Source
Paul wrote that when you place your trust in God He will fill you with peace, joy, and assurance (Rom 15:13). Throughout the bible God proves His faithfulness to His people by leading them safely through, or delivering them from all their predicaments and troubles. He will never leave or forsake His people; His plans are to prosper, not to harm them (Jer 29:11).
People and things will always let us down. In Psa 33:17, the horse, often used as a symbol of power, is declared a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. In Jer 17:5 God sternly warns against placing our dependency in man, and calls it a curse.
God wants us to trust in Him. Psa 147:11 tells us that He is delighted when we put our trust in Him, and in Heb 10:23 we are told to rely on Him for He who promised it is faithful."
Finding Help
In order to reap the benefits of the Christian life and to have protection, guidance, and comfort from the Holy Spirit one must first be born again and become a child of God.
The born again child of God has the unique privilege of talking to, and hearing from God, but this, the greatest resource available, is often neglected. We should always pray! Even in the darkest moments, when you don't feel His presence, or think you will never smile again, pray anyway, because He is there; He is listening, and is an "ever present help in time of trouble" (Psa 46:1)
"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us" (2 Cor 1:10).
When we place our faith in God and in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we then trust Him to take us to Heaven. If we can trust Him with our eternity surely we can trust Him for our earthly/daily cares.
Jesus said that as God clothe's the grass of the field, so will He clothe us all the more. He tells us not to worry about what we shall eat or drink or how we will be clothed. The "heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Matt 6:30-32)
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor 2:9).
Hope in Difficult Times
Even if you reach what you consider to be your lowest point, God's word say's He will never leave or forsake you (Matt 28:20). He will give you peace and comfort even in the worst of circumstances, then lead you through, over or around the muck and mire of your situation, and again set your feet on solid ground.
Our God is the God of new beginnings, and with Him nothing is impossible. Whether you are very young, or considered to be very old, trust in Him because with Him it is always just the beginning.
You may even find yourself in such a situation through divorce, death of a spouse, loss of health, finances, or whatever, that forces you to begin all over again, but is that so bad? Trusting God in difficult times forces us to seek His guidance, and to trust in Him.
Trusting God through these uncharted waters takes faith and courage but is worth every effort. The path of His choosing is the only one that leads to true happiness,
Isn't this a wonderful promise "...those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Is 40:31).
Even in the Worst of Situations
A shining example of living with hope is Victor Frankel, a former prisoner in a Nazi prison camp.
"As a long-time prisoner in bestial concentration camps he [Viktor Frankl] found himself stripped to naked existence. His father, mother, brother, and his wife died in camps or were sent to gas ovens, so that, excepting for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps.
How could he - every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination - how could he find life worth preserving?" Frankl clearly saw that it was those who had nothing to live for who died quickest in the concentration camp."
(Excerpts from Victor Frankel's Book "Man's Search for Meaning")
In one of his darkest moments while digging in a cold icy trench, he writes: "In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious 'Yes' in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose.
At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. 'Et lux in tenebris lucent'--and the light shineth in the darkness."
(From one of His Counseling Sessions)
"This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. 'I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,' she told me. 'In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.'
Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, 'This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.' Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. 'I often talk to this tree,' she said to me. I was startled and didn't quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. 'Yes.' What did it say to her? She answered, 'It said to me, "I am here--I am here--I am life, eternal life." (Thanks to "www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/frankl/frankl.html" for the above quotations.)
Jesus is Our Solid Rock
Christians often find a depth of peace that passes understanding during times of crises and trials; times that may even drive others to drink or suicide. This is the blessed comfort of the Holy Spirit who indwells each and every born again believer.
Through Him, even in the midst of terrible devastating and humiliating experiences we can have the peace, joy, and hope that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7). God's promises can be our genuine source of hope that does not disappoint.
Hope for Eternity
Jesus is our solid rock, and because of Him death is not the end! Even when we are carried by the angels to our glorious home in Heaven we can know that He is with us, and that it is just the beginning!
Claim His promises for it is in His promises you will find everlasting life and confident hope. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ" (2 Cor 1;20).
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put yourhope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psa 42:5)
Blessings,
Samuel Mills 

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