Dead in trespasses but alive in Christ: A message about new life…

Dead in trespasses but made alive in Christ (true life).

The word Gospel from its Greek origin literally means “good news”. So often, people think their lives will end if they follow Christ (LOL), that the fun will be gone, yada yada. I have thought that too. But I have seen, not only with myself, but with others close to me, that this is exactly when true life begins and a soul becomes truly alive and full of light. There really is no way to understand this until one experiences it for themselves, so it is hard for me to explain, and of course, there will always be those who don’t get it and don’t want to get it, until God in His mercy changes their hearts because of His love for them, even if undeserved. It’s sort of like turning a light on and flipping a switch, when once you realize the life before was death and darkness (though we do not SEE it like that when we are in it because it’s impossible until something happens and God turns the light on) when compared to the new life and light. That’s why Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” and “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it MORE abundantly”. Light and the newness of life is what Jesus came to bring, that is why He is called the light of the world. Light to our souls, to our families and children, etc. When we desire to save our own lives, to do our own thing, even if it is wrong and contrary to God’s desires, we are not saving our lives at all, we are only deceiving ourselves. The truth God brings is that true life begins at conversion, it’s his gift. The wages of sin is death, not life, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The best part is that it is a free gift simply out of God’s love and mercy. Salvation is a deep, life changing event. Yes, there are hypocrites in churches – those will always be there, they are not God’s children, and they misrepresent Him, but don’t let them deter you – there are also truly converted souls who have been powerfully changed from the inside out by a loving and merciful God:

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col.2)

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph.2)

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A note on gratitude and loving your enemies

Following Jesus is a path of gratitude.  Don’t forget to look back at all God has done for you.  Rocky, my husband, was sharing some wisdom with me, telling me it’s important to be thankful for all that God has done already in our lives. He and I both see that God has blessed us with so many spiritual blessings (and other types). Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had our fair share of trials, okay?  Anyway, I consider myself a thankful person; my heart is full of gratitude. Despite that, I admit sometimes I easily start to lose my focus on what God has already done and my focus shifts to the future on what is yet to be done. I am sure I have many friends like this; those who are progress and future-oriented. As soon as I complete a goal, I start another project or goal and only think about that because I view time as a gift not to be wasted. I know productivity is a good trait, but sometimes I need to stop and look back and see all that God has done for us. When I do, I am blown away and humbled mostly at the deep spiritual blessings. It is true that God is good to all people, even those who don’t love Him:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).

What can you be thankful for today that has already happened? How can you show kindness to others today, even those who hate you or will be unthankful for your kindness? There is truly nothing special or noteworthy about loving those who love you. Every human being on the planet is capable of that; even the most evil person. That’s easy. What’s a challenge is loving those who don’t love you and who are not thankful for you. If you do, your character will be like God’s because that’s exactly what He does to every human being on the planet. Even when I didn’t love God or give thanks to Him, when I ignored and rebelled against Him when He was trying to get my attention in many ways (because of His great mercy), He gave to me and was good and gracious to me. Why? Because He is kind and good even to the unthankful. He gives us our breath and even our intellect; the ability to work and make a living, etc. Really, what do we have that wasn’t given to us? There is really no room to boast about anything. Rocky and I are at the point where we both see His hand in our lives and His blessings.  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion:

“But be sure to fear the LORD and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.”
— 1 Samuel 12:24 NLT

Insight:
Samuel reminded the people to take time to consider what great things God had done for them. Taking time for reflection allows us to focus our attention upon God’s goodness and strengthens our faith. Sometimes we are so progress- and future-oriented that we fail to take time to recall all that God has already done.

Challenge:
Remember what God has done for you so that you may continue your life accompanied with gratitude.

© 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers

‘You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor…”: How can Christians be salt?

I was praying the other night.  More like, pouring my heart out to God.  I seemed to be getting verbally insulted and persecuted from all different directions.  I had spoken words that Jesus Himself spoke, and was met with unkind words.  I was standing against our culture/world and its popular views, and upholding the teachings of the Bible.  Then I remember what Jesus said, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).  He also said blessed are those who are insulted because of being a Christian, and that no servant is greater than his master (Matthew 5:11; John 13:16).  If Jesus was treated poorly, why don’t we expect that as His followers?

“Father God, look at this persecution”, I prayed, as though He didn’t already see.  God does see everything.  Then, as I was dozing, this scripture came to me very strongly:

You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, how shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)

When faced with persecution, it is because of saltiness.  Will Christians continue to be salt, despite the persecution?  If a Christian loses their flavor because of trying to blend in with the world, they will become useless.

Jesus likes salty Christians.  I turned to my deceased Grandmother’s nifty Bible commentary to give me some insight into this salt notion.  What exactly does it mean to be…”salty”.  Can one be too…”salty”?  Am I “salty”?

To be salty is to stand apart from the world, to be like a perservative to the morally decaying culture around us.  What kind of Christian are you?  Do you stand out like light in a dark place?  Are you salty?  Are you sanctified and set apart despite the cost?

Back in that culture when Jesus walked this earth, salt was very valuable and crucial.  Christians who are not salty are really of no use, but to “be cast out and trodden under foot by men”.  That makes me want to be salty.  Here is what Grandma’s commentary says…enjoy!

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The power of love: what does love look like, actually? Am I loving people the way Jesus asked me to?

You know, so often people overuse and misuse the word love.  I’m sure I’ve done it before.  We say “love you”, but are we really loving people?  We sign our letters xoxoxoxo.  Is that love?  This was a question I had to ask myself.  If Jesus said that the number one command was to love God, and the second most important command was to love people – I had better make sure I am doing it!  So, what is love?  How do I know for sure that I am loving people?  What does that look like?  Is love simply being polite?  Jesus said to even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  That is what sets Christianity apart from a few other world religions.  We’ve all heard this verse at weddings. I admit that this verse has been rather boring for me to read in the past, but as I am seeking what love really is, this scripture has come alive to me…

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV

The fact is that there are people who say “I love so and so” who — I wonder if they truly do when held up to the light of this verse.  For example, love is not jealous.  The person who is jealous is not loving their neighbor as Jesus commanded.  Alternately, the person who is boastful and braggadocio is not loving their neighbor either.  The part that really stuck out to me was keeping records of wrongs (“thinks no evil” is what the King James Version says).  It is hard to not keep a record of wrongs sometimes, but to truly love someone, we must let go Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 1.08.04 PMof that record.  We don’t need to rehearse the bad things done to us from the past over and over.  That is not love.  I have found that in my own experience, that keeps me from being free.  The wise King Solomon said that it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).  There is a time to confront in a Biblical way and there is a time to let go of the painful memories in order to love.  You know, the other day I had a sort of epiphany, or revelation perhaps.  I always wondered why Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand when the pharisees accused the sinful woman of all of her sinful acts.  Many scholars cannot come to agree on this.  Here is what I think, and here is what came to me: when you write something in sand, it won’t stay long.  It will only stay for perhaps a few hours, less if it’s windy and people walk on the sand.  It could stay for a day, but probably not.  In that region in Jesus’ day, by the sea, it was probably breezy.  Have you been to the beach and written in the sand, only to find what you wrote gone a few hours later?  I believe that Jesus wrote the woman’s offenses in the sand as the Pharisees were accusing her.  When Jesus forgives us, the writing in the sand is erased.  It’s like the offense was never even there.  There’s no record.  It wasn’t written with ink but with sand.  That’s love.  I’m sure the pharisees would have written the offenses in their books with ink.  No, not Jesus.  That’s overlooking offenses.  Then he told the woman, “Go and sin no more”.  Jesus told her the truth, which is also love (Ephesians 4:15).  That is what I believe love does. Love also does not think only of oneself but thinks of others.  The Bible says love never fails.  And…it’s the greatest spiritual gift, ever!  Love is better than the gift of prophecy and all other spiritual gifts.  I have the gift of prophecy, but what God is showing me is that love is even better!  I can have both.  To have love is the highest calling.  Often, in the church I see people clamoring for the best positions, or bragging about how gifted they are from God, or trying to out-do each other, etc.  Wasn’t this happening in Corinth?  What about love?  Love does not brag about oneself.  It is better to have love than any other gift.  Paul said to honor one another above yourself (Romans 12:10).  The spiritual gifts should be desired earnestly, but love is the highest gift. These are the things that I am learning about love.  The Bible states there are many things that love is “not”.  It’s becoming very easy for me to detect real love, and how I can truly love people with the true love that Jesus commanded.  Love just doesn’t act a certain way.  I am thankful to have this verse as a light for my path.

Life hidden with Christ

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

Christians are dead.  I know, that sounds rather thrilling, doesn’t it?  I am not talking about physical death, but a death to something else.  What does that mean?

The Christian’s life is about so much more than it was prior to becoming a Christian.  Jesus comes to give us new and abundant life.  Our old life of darkness is gone.  Jesus told us, “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Jesus comes to give us new life.  “No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life” [Augustine].