Archive for February, 2015

Daily Devotion on Backsliding

 

Daily devotion on backsliding

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Backsliding

Have you ever temporarily lapsed into unbelief and sin after you became a Christian? The condition of backsliding results from spiritual apathy or disregard for the truth of God’s Word. It results in a departure from a winsome confession of faith and Biblical ethical standards. Actions are affected by our attitudes toward God and His Word.

Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Backsliding is different from apostasy, which spurns the grace of God by renouncing the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31). When a person renounces his faith in Christ that person was never a true child of God, and never was among the elect of God (John 3:18-21, 36; 5:24-29).

On the other hand, the elect individual, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and redeemed by God has been delivered once-for-all from the bondage of sin. Backsliding is not a “fall from grace” in the sense that a Christian once saved by grace can lose his eternal life in Christ. He is God’s child forever, and He has placed His life in the believing sinner.

There were times when the disciples of Jesus withdrew from fellowship with the Lord (Matt. 26:56), Peter denied Christ (26:69-75), Corinthian believers lived in sin (2 Cor. 12:20-21), the Church in Asia became lukewarm (Rev. 2:4, 14-15, 20), etc.

The people of Israel serve as an example for Christians today. We are exhorted to persevere in righteousness and doing the will of God. Israel forsook her covenant with the LORD God (Jer. 2:19; 8:5; 14:7), and demonstrated her unfaithfulness by disobeying God.

In the New Testament backsliding is viewed as an individual problem, although it is possible for churches to become backslidden, too.

Why do Christians become backslidden? We all still possess the old nature that is “corrupt through deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22; Rom. 7:13-24; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). Lack of continuous fellowship by “abiding” in Christ results in a lack of spiritual vitality and ineffective Christian service (Jn. 15:4-8). There is no other way to live the Christian life except by maintaining an intimate fellowship with our Lord. If we do not maintain that vital contact with Him we cannot sustain spiritual growth and effectively minister in His name.

Unbelief (Heb. 3:12), bitterness (12:15), love for the world (2 Tim. 4:10), love for money (1 Tim. 6:10), adherence to worldly philosophy (Col. 2:8), legalism (Gal. 3:1; 1:6; 5:7), indifference and spiritual coldness (Rev. 2:4; 3:16) are other causes for backsliding.

Backsliding grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and it displeases our Lord (Heb. 10:38). There are natural consequences that follow this sin (Lev. 26:18-25).

How can we prevent backsliding in our spiritual life? It is essential that we “abide” in Christ (Jn. 15:4-7), remain spiritually alert (Eph. 6:18), put on the full armor of God (v. 10), be prayerful (1 Thess. 5:17), etc. Seek to love the Lord God with all your mind, heart and personal being every day.

We can thank God that He patiently perseveres with His saints. Just as we are to persevere in doing His will, we can be thankful that He has made a wonderful covenant with us in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. The grace of perseverance is one of the great benefits of the atoning death of Jesus Christ for our sins. The solution for backsliding is found in the abiding love and mercy of our God of grace who remains faithful to His promises.

Backsliding is serious business. Martin Luther well said, “The offenses given within the church are greater than those given among the heathen because when Christians degenerate, they are more godless than the heathen.”

We have a choice. We can progress or regress in our Christian life. We have a great responsibility in how we choose to live the Christian life. God is able to strengthen and progressively sanctify the Christian if we cooperate with Him (Heb. 3:12; Phil. 3:10-16).

The promise to every backsliding Christian is to, “Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:7). Acknowledge your sin, turn from it, trust in the Lord for forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your mind, heart and daily life. Jesus says, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5).

It is reassuring that the Bible clearly teaches that the truly spiritual regenerate can never be lost. We are his forever children. Once his child by the new birth, always his child. However we can lose our fellowship with God and our effectiveness in Christian service. The God of all grace has provided a bar of soap; let’s use it often (1 John 1:6-10; 2:2).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Bible Verses On Prayer

Bible Verses on Prayer

 

1 Chronicles 16:11

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Psalm 145:18

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Proverbs 15:29

The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

Matthew 7:11

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Romans 8:26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

1 Timothy 2:8

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

James 1:7

That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

 

 

 

John Wesley quotes

John Wesley quotes

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” ― John Wesley

“What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”  ― John Wesley

“We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.”  ― John Wesley

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.” ― John Wesley

“Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.”  ― John Wesley

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” ― John Wesley

When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!” ― John Wesley

“Not, how much of my money will I give to God, but, how much of God’s money will I keep for myself?” ― John Wesley

“with all prayer (Eph. 6:18)” All sorts of prayer- public, private, mental, vocal. Do not be diligent in one kind of prayer and negligent in others… let us use all.”  ― John Wesley, How To Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer

“Purge me from every sinful blot;
My idols all be cast aside:
Cleanse me from every evil thought,
From all the filth of self and pride.

The hatred of the carnal mind
Out of my flesh at once remove:
Give me a tender heart, resigned,
And pure, and full of faith and love.”
― John Wesley

 

“The readiest way which God takes to draw a man to himself is, to afflict him in that he loves most, and with good reason; and to cause this affliction to arise from some good action done with a single eye; because nothing can more clearly show him the emptiness of what is most lovely and desirable in all the world.”  ― John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Foundations of Faith)\

 

 

 

Daily Devotion: Believer’s Baptism

Daily Devotion: Beiever’s Baptism

 

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

The ordinance of the believer’s baptism is a marvelous picture of the Christian’s vital union, and identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

There is a “wet” baptism and a “dry” baptism. The “dry” baptism is without water and is the work of God the Holy Spirit placing the believer in Christ the moment he believes on Him as his Savior.

The “wet” baptism is the ordinance that Christ gave to the church. It is a believer’s baptism by immersion in water which presents in symbolism the Christian’s vital union with Jesus Christ. Take away the Biblical mode of baptism and you loose the vital theological message of baptism.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).

The ordinance of baptism is a constant reminder of how we were redeemed. It is an outward symbol of an inward, silent and real experience.

Baptism by immersion in water does not put the believer “into Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit did that when we believed in Christ. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. Immersion is a picture of what the Holy Spirit did in our identification with Christ.

Dead in Christ, risen with Christ. Buried with Christ, alive in Christ (Rom. 8:34).

The burial confirms that we died with Christ. “Our old man was crucified with Christ.” Unless one die with Christ we cannot live with Him. All our condemnation and guilt were buried with Christ, and they remain buried. It is a blessing to know that all of our sins and transgressions are swept away by the blood of Christ and buried in the tomb (Ps. 32:1, 2).

The believing sinner has learned to look into the grave of his Lord and see the burial of all his sins. There is no longer the burning resemblances, bitter accusations, and stinging reproaches of sin and guilt. Therefore the believer has learned to forgive himself in God’s deep river of forgiveness.

The baptismal waters are a perpetual witness to this great truth. The water says, “I buried the believer with Christ.” It says, “I rolled my wave like a stone against the door of his tomb. I set the seal of the new covenant in the blood of Jesus inscribed with the triune name upon his tomb.”

The believer needs to remind himself that every tinge of a guilty conscience is silenced by the atoning blood of Jesus.

The tomb of Jesus is a shelter against the raging storm of the wrath of God. “Buried with Christ” tells us that our sin debt has been paid in full. We have propitiation in the blood of Jesus Christ.

It is a constant reminder that we cannot enter into “the power of Christ’s resurrection” except through conformity to His death. “I am crucified with Christ” and buried with Him.

The waters symbolize this union with Christ in that the buried form is raised up from the water in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. Alive in Christ. We have a new relationship with sin and God. We also have a new identification—we are saints. We are saved sinners. Every believer who comes up out of the water has a new identification. You can distinguish him from everyone else because he or she is dripping wet. Believers have a new identification and people can see that we are “in Christ.”

The believer has died to the old life, and has been raised to enjoy a new life in Christ (Col. 2:12).

We have been made alive in Christ. We stand on resurrection ground. We have the authority and power to live triumphantly over sin.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: A Zeal for the Righteousness of God

Daily Devotion: A Zeal for the Righteousness of God

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

The apostle Paul prayed to God for the salvation of those who “have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3).

The apostle Paul was making his plea to his own people who in their religious zeal had rejected God’s provision of His own perfect righteousness for their own self-righteousness. They were intensely religious in their own eyes, but not with the true knowledge of God. They were running well but in the wrong direction. They labored to do good deeds, but for the wrong goal. They were religious, sincere, dedicated, but in their anxiety, they would miss their eternal reward.

“They have a zeal for God.” I meet people like that every day. In their religious zeal, they knock on your door, too. Like the apostle Paul, I am not against religious zeal or enthusiasm. However, they are zealous in their religious ceremonies, prayers, observances, holy days, fasts, visitation, teaching, etc., “but not in accordance with knowledge.” There is no use being zealous if you are zealous for the wrong reason. It will not help you if you are going in the wrong direction spiritually.

The apostle Paul was writing from his own personal experience. He had been very zealous for the Law, and in that enthusiasm, he killed men and women who had a different “knowledge” than his. He had a mistaken zeal for God. He believed sincerely, but he was sincerely wrong. He had been zealous, but his zeal was focused on the wrong object.

Then there came a day when he gained true knowledge of the righteousness of God, and he counted all his self-righteousness as dung and received salvation by free grace alone.

Paul’s zeal became refocused “with knowledge” when he met the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. Knowledge of what? Before the encounter with Christ he did not know about God’s righteousness and sought to establish his own. In Philippians 3:4-6 he tells about that self-righteousness. He said, “I still count all things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. . . that I may gain Christ” (v. 8). He gave up his zeal for self-righteousness by good works “that I may know Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (v. 9).

That is Paul’s “knowledge.” “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).

Spurgeon once said, “It is easier to get a sinner out of sin than a self-righteous man out of his self-righteousness.”

Have you tried to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone who thinks he can earn or merit a right relationship with God by his religious zeal?

What is the problem? In their zeal they “know nothing about God’s righteousness, and seek to establish their own, they do not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (v. 3).

Any form of self-righteousness will never save you. In contrast, the Lord God has provided His own perfect righteousness by which He justifies the ungodly. Jesus Christ was obedient to the Law at every point, even to the point of death. God in His righteousness imputes the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner. He imputes to the believer what Jesus did for you on the cross. God will accept the believing sinner because of what Jesus is and what He did. Jesus Christ shall be your righteousness.

If you say, “No, I will not have His righteousness; I will have a righteousness of my own,” you are ignorant of God’s righteousness, and you shall perish.

God would never have sent His Son to the cross if you could be saved by our religious zeal. The death of Jesus on the cross was needless if you could be saved otherwise (Acts 4:12). If you are trying to have a righteousness of your own by being zealous for God, your church or denomination, baptism, church membership, emotional experiences, etc. then you are in competition with Jesus Christ.

Your eternal salvation lies absolutely outside of yourself, in the person and atoning work of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not in what you do in your religious zeal, but in what Christ Jesus has done on your behalf.

If you try to add anything to that finished work by your own thought, feeling, good works, baptism, church membership, etc, you have spoiled the work of Christ on your behalf. It shall never be Christ plus your _________, regardless of what you may fill in the blank. If you are to be saved, you must get out of the way and let God alone do it. The spiritual birth is all God’s doing, not yours or mine. Sinners saved by grace through faith will glorify Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is all by free grace of God in Jesus Christ.

“Going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” The righteousness of God is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Sinners are saved by God’s grace. Salvation is through faith in Christ. It is based on grace, and free grace alone through faith alone which is in Jesus Christ alone! It is a gift from God freely received by the sinner.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: A Virgin, Immanuel and the Incarnation

Daily Devotion: A Virgin, Immanuel, and the Incarnation

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

A Virgin, Immanuel
and the Incarnation
Ahaz was faithless.

Neighboring countries of Syria and Israel banned together to fight the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Ahaz, the king of Judah, sent for the king of Assyria to come to his rescue.

The LORD God is sovereign in the affairs of the nations and He sent the Hebrew prophet Isaiah to counsel Ahaz. Isaiah said, “Take care, and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because the two stubs of smoldering firebrands . . .” (Isaiah 7:4). The two threatening countries are just burned up pieces of firewood. God said, “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass” (v. 7).

What would you have done if you were Ahaz? The pressure on Ahaz was intense, not just the threat of war, but the LORD was breathing down his neck as well. “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” (v. 19). Ahaz, you are as good as gone yourself if you do not trust Me. If you trust Me I will deliver you from this smoke, but if you don’t you are through as a king. Moreover, trusting in the Assyrian army is not trusting in Yahweh.

Ahaz refused to trust in the LORD. So He spoke to the king again, “Ask for a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it as deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (v. 11). Go ahead, ask Ahaz! What an opportunity to see God do the impossible!

King Ahaz got a little religious. “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD” (v. 12). That was exactly what he was doing by not trusting Yahweh. God invited Ahaz to ask for the “sign.” He was not testing God; God was testing him. The “sign” was a pledge of divine certainty, a miracle wrought for evidential purposes.

What would you have asked for? How would you have responded?

Now if Ahaz had been a wise man he would have gone ahead and asked. When God proposes a sign it is not a test; it was an invitation to come and see what God can do in a time of crisis. “Listen now, O house of David!” Isaiah was getting to a little testy. “Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?” (v. 13). Isaiah did not say “your” God, but “my God.”

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (v. 14).

I have no problem with the “virgin” because I do not have any problem with “Immanuel.” The greater event is not the “virgin,” but “God with us.” The Incarnation, God becoming flesh, is the great mystery. Isaiah was referring to something very unusual. It would not be unusual for a maiden to conceive; that happens every day. However, a “virgin,” a marriageable young lady of unblemished reputation would be a very unusual “sign.” It pointed to the greater event.

J. W. Watts said the sign of the virgin would be “an encouragement to a faithful remnant to Israel. As a wonder of wonders such as had just been offered, and as a condemnation of the faithless elements in the line of David.”

The prophet Isaiah developed the idea of the child to be born (7:14), His birth (9:6f), His reigning (11:1f), and His death as the suffering servant of the LORD (Isa 52:13-53:12).

“God with us.” That is the wonder of wonders. God in the corporeal self-manifestation of Himself would be a super-human person. God with us is the God-man. He is the incarnation of Deity. Immanuel would Himself be El (God). This child to be born would be God among His people, and characteristic of Him.

“God with us” is “Christ, in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). “For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Col. 2:9-10).

How did the LORD God fulfill His “sign” given to Ahaz? The angel Gabriel said to the virgin, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). “God with us” is “Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

“God with us.” “Christ in you.” Not only is all the fullness of Deity dwelling “in bodily form” in Jesus Christ, but “in Him you have been made complete . . .” (Col. 2:10).

The apostle Paul, in the verses that follow, stresses the Christian’s vital union with Jesus Christ. “And in Him you have been made complete . . . and in Him you were also circumcised . . . having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions . . .” (Col. 2:11-13).

Don’t miss the greatest mystery in the Bible. “God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27).

God’s great goal in the gospel ministry is “that we may present every man complete in Christ” (v. 28).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Attitude of Christ

Daily Devotion: The Attitude of Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

The Attitude of Christ

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The Christian faith of the first century of Christianity was centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The preeminence of Christ was the focus of the early preaching in the church. Christianity is Christ, and as in many other passages, Philippians 2:5-11 makes this emphatically clear.

Even before His incarnation, Jesus was in the form of God and was equal to God. Jesus Christ eternally possesses all of God’s attributes. He is God. “He existed in the form of God” (v. 6), is not referring to a bodily appearance, but is a strong way of proclaiming the deity of Jesus Christ. His deity never alters or changes.

Jesus, in His high priestly prayer the night before His crucifixion, referred to His “glory which I even had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). He was referring to the glory He enjoys on par with His heavenly Father. The apostle John wrote of this same pre-incarnate glory in John 1:1-4, 14.

The event that staggers the mind almost beyond comprehension is the fact that the Second Person of the Trinity laid aside the manifestation of His divine glory and took upon Himself the form of a common household slave. He became flesh. He is the God-man. He was fully God and fully man. He is God in the flesh. The Word became flesh, and pitched His tent in our very midst, testifies the apostle John (1:14,18). The one who enjoyed glory that was inherently His through out eternity past “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (v. 7).

Jesus Christ exists eternally as the Second Person of the Godhead, and as such He is equal with God the Father. Everything the LORD God Almighty is, so is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before He became flesh, Jesus Christ shared to the full the divine nature and was clothed with the splendor that always surrounded God’s person. He was identical with God both inwardly and outwardly. When Jesus became flesh, what remained was God’s glory in the inward sense because even in His flesh Jesus was God and retained that full divine nature.

The Second Person of the Godhead Jesus Christ was not selfish. He did not cling to the outward glory of His deity, “But emptied Himself,” not of His divinity, but the outward visible manifestation of it. He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He made nothing of Himself. He was obedient to His heavenly Father as a bond-slave. He only limited Himself of His outward visible glory because He was still God.

In addition to being God, Jesus took on “the form of a bond servant.”

The essential attributes of God were unchangeable and unchanging. The essential nature of Jesus Christ is the same as the essential nature of God. The nature of Jesus is the nature of God. The “form” signifies that which in God never alters and never changes.

Jesus laid aside His divine privileges and became the servant of Jehovah. The Son of God became the Servant of God. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8).

Jesus Christ gave up the glory and honor of heaven to become one of us so He could die as our substitute and provide a means whereby God could offer us eternal life. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

No one with a spiritually discerning mind can read those words without a deep sense of thanksgiving gratitude for a humble and obedient Savior. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). He was humble and obedient even unto death.

Do you have this humble attitude of Jesus? When we have that attitude toward ourselves, we will, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). That is the mind of Christ in the Christian. It is a humble attitude of denying self, bearing the cross of Christ daily, and doing the will of God at all costs.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: As You Have Received Christ

Daily Devotion: As You Have Received Christ

 

Message by Wil Pounds

 

As You Have Received Christ
The only way you can live the Christian life is by divine provision. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

The apostle Paul wrote, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Colossians 2:6).

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord…”

How did you receive Him? There is only one way as taught in scripture. It is by grace through faith in Christ (Acts 4:12).

Phillips translates Colossians 2:6, “Just as you received Christ, so go on living in Him – simple faith.”

The apostle John said, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB 1995).

You receive “Jesus Christ the Lord” by believing on His name. “As many as received Him, as many as have believed on Him.” To have faith in Him is to receive Him.

Do you have that attitude of faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Faith indicates a relation to Christ as Savior. It is submission to His Lordship as King of our lives and confidence in Him as our high priest. Do I conduct my life in submission to the king of my life?

Have you received Jesus Christ the Lord? “Jesus” is the name given to Him at His birth meaning “Yahweh saves,” “Jehovah saves.” That is why the apostle Peter declared there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Calling on all other names for eternal salvation will send you to an eternal hell. There is salvation and eternal life only in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Savior who came to this earth to die for our sins and give us God’s kind of life. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (v.9).

This same “Jesus” of Nazareth is the Messiah, the anointed King and High Priest. The Messiah to the Hebrew people was the King – Priest. He is both the One who reigns as sovereign over our lives and the One who intercedes on our behalf. The King is also the Priest. The King who has supreme authority is also the Priest who offers the one perfect sacrifice of Himself on behalf of His people.

Has Jesus Christ become your Lord? “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, NASB 1995). Have you bowed to that name?

If you have never “received” Him as “Jesus Christ the Lord,” you cannot “so walk in Him.” Do you have this kind of a relationship with Him? Have you surrendered your soul to Him?

The comparison the apostle is bringing out in Colossians 2:6 is the fact that we have been saved by grace through faith is the same way we live the Christian life. We are saved and sustained by that same kind of faith in our Lord.

“Just as you received Christ, so go on living in Him – simple faith.” Taylor paraphrased, “And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust Him too for each day’s problems; live in vital union with Him.”

The word “walk” (peripateo) is figurative of “the walk of life,” or your life conduct. Make the Lord Jesus Christ truly “Lord” and Master of each day you live. Maintain a close personal fellowship with Christ; your very life depends on it. We must conduct our lives as men and women who have been united with Christ deriving our life from Him. Because of this living relationship with Him, we are to conduct our lives in dependence upon Him (Jn. 15:5).

As you have received Him, keep on walking.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: The Ascension Of Christ

Daily Devotional: The Ascension Of Christ

 

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

The Ascension of Christ

The Gospel of Luke describes the transference of the resurrected body of Jesus from the earth to heaven in Acts 1:9-11.

“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The location of the ascension was east of Jerusalem near Bethany. Forty days after His physical resurrection Jesus “was taken up” and disappeared into a cloud.

God raised Christ from the dead “and made Him sit at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). He sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).

The ascension made it possible for Christ to enter into His heavenly “glorification” and sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1).

The evidence for the glorification of Christ and His superiority over the Old Testament saints is His ascension (Acts 2:33-36). When He arrived into heaven He received “the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9-11). Jesus is superior to angels, authorities, principalities, powers and dominions because He is the ascended Lord (Heb. 1:13; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).

The important message for every believer is that even though Jesus is absent physically from the earth, He is still spiritually present with His church. He can be anywhere and everywhere with His followers all the time.

Jesus told His disciples the Holy Spirit could not come until Jesus died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven (Jn. 16:7). “If I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

Without the ascension Jesus would be in one location on the earth, but not spiritually present everywhere. Because Jesus ascended to heaven He is “wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in your midst” (Matt. 18:20). At His ascension He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Because Jesus is in heaven He is everywhere all the time through His Spirit.

The ascension proves that Jesus really did rise from the dead. Where is the body of Jesus? He is at the right side of His Father seated in power and authority (Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:30). He is alive.

The ascension gives us a steadfast assurance that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was accepted by God the Father as the perfect atonement for sinners. Jesus is in the presence of the Father and no other sacrifice for sin ever needs to be made again (Heb. 4:14; 6:20; 9:24). Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice for sin never has to be repeated (Heb. 1:3; 9:12; 10:12; 12:2). He sits on the throne. His atoning work is finished.

The ascension of Jesus gives us assurance that everything is now complete and one day we, too, will reign with Him in His kingdom. Jesus returned to heaven “to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2). The ascension guarantees the promise, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (v. 3). One day every believer in Christ will ascend to be with Him (2 Cor. 5:1-10; 2 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-58).

The ascension of Jesus makes it possible for us to go boldly into the presence of God in prayer (Heb. 4:14-16). We have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1-2) who has experienced everything we experience in this life. He understands and is always ready to help in our time of need (Heb. 2:17; 5:7-10).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Mental Illness Article, Part 1

 

Mental Illness Article, Part 1

 

Title: Seeking Success And Freedom From A Mental Illness

Charles Stanley once said: “Success is the continuing achievement of becoming the person God wants you to be and accomplishing the goals God has helped you to set”. In this world, because of the consequences of sin, many people today have a mental illness, and everyone has a “spiritual mental illness”. To over abundantly finkind freedom from both, we must make sound decisions, which involves: obeying God’s love laws, having an intimate love relationship with Christ, surrendering your will to the Holy Spirit, and finally, overcoming life adversities in the process.

Key Quote: “In this life, we have to make many choices. Some are very important choices. Some are not. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine to a large extent our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices”. James E. Faust
Point 1: “Faith in God can help those with a mental illness”.

Trying to find freedom from a mental illness is often a hard road to follow – especially when your disability is real problematic, meds don’t stabilize, and our support systems don’t provide love, support, and understanding. I experienced all this with my bipolar and OCD. Today, though, I have found freedom my illnesses, thanks very much to my faith in God. (Please read www.insearchofabettertomorrow.com to read my mental illness recovery story)

Scientific studies reveal “people with strong faith are more likely to experience fewer symptoms of anxiety-related disorders, than those who don’t pray or have little faith in praying.” Another related science study says “people with higher faith in God have better treatment outcomes (better well-being, less depression and anxiety” than those with less faith”. Science also says:

• Christianity also helps people cope with mental illness struggles, such as:

 

o Ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions, flexibility, high frustration tolerance
o Acceptance of uncertainty, involvement in activities of social interest, courage to take risks
o Serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change thing we can change, and wisdom to know the difference between the above
o Acceptance of handicaps, tempered self-control, harmonious relationships for self. Others, including Nature and God

• Citing a quote on an Internet article (The Bible Keys to Mental Health): “Many mental illness can be prevented, and the Bible provides helpful information to that end. After all, it is a handbook from God on what we should think and how our minds should work. Among other things, the Bible tells us how to relieve stress and the kind of stimuli we should allow into our minds”

• “Mental health, from a Christian perspective is a state of dynamic equilibrium characterized by hope, joy, and peace, in which positive self-regard is developed through the love, relationship, forgiveness, meaning and purpose resulting from a vital relationship with God and a responsible interdependence with others”. (Spiritual Dimensions Of Mental Health. Judith Allen Shelly; Sandra D. John, etc.)

 

Mental Illness Article, Part 2

 

 

Mental Illness Article, Part 2

Point 2: “Freedom requires sound decision making”.

Key Quote: “I’ve made a decision and now I must face the consequences.” (J. Michael Straczynski)

Freedom from anything requires sound decision making, as there is a consequence to every made decision. If you “text and drive” and your inattentiveness hits a pedestrian, the consequences of that unsound action is that you killed the individual, you lose your license, and are incarcerated. Even though the action was unintentional, the consequence of your unsound act remains destructive and irreversible. In a world of consequences of every decision made, freedom requires sound decision making.
Unstable life conditions often result from consequential poor decisions. Depending upon your mental illness, adversity experienced can often create malfunctions and additional chaos in the mentally ill mind. Because it can become so difficult to remove the “growing storm” that grows inside the mind, it may be even more critical to choose wisely. To prevent “our mental illnesses from pouring gasoline on a fire” that bad choices already created, we must learn to be more careful beforehand in our choices and actions.

For example, if a manic depressive person loses all his money from compulsive gambling, and thus, cannot pay his bills and goes hungry daily, these stressors could exacerbate the mania and severe depression problems, he already experiences. Or if an abuser abuses a mentally ill child, the resulting shame, negative self-concept, doubts and fears that the abused kid experiences can traumatize and worsen the child’s mental illness, inciting his OCD disability.

Consequences often put individuals “behind the eight ball”, especially the disabled. It often leads to negative thinking and emotions impairing how we “label” ourselves, others, and the past, present, and future. A self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity often intensities bad situations; thus, when we need to rely upon sound advice and know the difference between truth and falsehoods in the process. Since God knows all things and is perfect Love – we should rely upon God’s Word and direction, since TRUTH and LOVE combined never steers anyone wrong.
Point 3: “Making Sound Decisions Involves obedience to God’s love commands”

Key Quote: “Obedience is the mother of success and is wedded to safety.” (Aeschylus)

In Psalms 32:8, “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise and watch over you.’” Positive consequences in our favor happen when we heed his instructions, including His commandments. For example, in Romans 13:9-10, it says:

“The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder”, “Do not steal”, “Do not covet”, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself. “Love does not harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

One reason why we should love is that it brings us joy, according to John 15:9-11:

“As the Father has loved me, so I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: ‘Love each other as I have loved you.’”

“Obeying God’s love laws does no wrong and provides overflowing joy to the giver (it also does same to receiver of love)”. In general, obedience to God’s instructions stabilizes us during our life storms; inversely, disobedience destabilizes us, especially when face adversity, according to Luke 6:46-49:

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!” when you don’t do what I say? I will show what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters nd beat against the house – it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins

 

THE PROBLEM: The Society That Disobeyed

Key Quote: “The great test of life is obedience to God.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Key Quote: “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality. (Winston Churchill)
THE BRICK HOUSE

Floodwaters or life storms beat upon the brick house (freedom, hope, family, community, a dream to chase, an individual). If we build each brick (a decision, a thought, experience, person, family, races, communities, nations, world) upon a solid foundation (obedience to God’s love laws), the “house” will remain firm, “because it is well-built”. Unfortunately, if the “house” is structured upon instability (disobedience), it will “eventually crumble into a heap of ruins.”

The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). Thievery, sexual promiscuity, rape, family discord, violence, lying, murder, hatred, and selfishness are all examples of sins that often destabilizes and eventually crumbles “houses”. In contrast, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” are all attributes that will stabilize and keep strong “houses” (freedom, hope, families, communities, dreams, a person).
Philip Zimbardo once said, “The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.” When a piece of wood repeatedly becomes hit by a swing ax, the resistance and binding power of the wood becomes weaker and weaker after each blow of the ax. Once the wood gets to its breaking point, it finally splits. This is the predicament of the human soul, as everyone has a breaking point, a threshold where people finally lose hope from adversity, and a breaking point of choosing good or evil. Once these lines get crossed, when people choose hopelessness and immorality, man will never be the same:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction . . . The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation”. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Strength To Love, 1963.

In this life, we have to make many choices. Some are very important choices. Some are not. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine to a large extent our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices. (James E. Faust)

Mental Illness Article, Part 3

Mental Illness Article, Part 3

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”
― Ken Levine

Key Quote: “We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.” (Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens)

God created man “to be fruitful, to multiply, and to have dominion” over everything on this planet (Genesis 1:28). Adam and Eve, though, doubted God’s provision and warnings of sin and its consequences, thus creating a discontented heart that disobeyed God, creating shame and fear into the heart of man. (This is the cycle of sin: we doubt the truth of God’s Word, we experience discontentment which leads to disobedience, and then we feel shame and fear afterwards).

Consequentially, eating forbidden fruit led man to be born with “a spiritual mental illness” – a compulsiveness to do evil, an unsound-mind processing flaws, a consequential tendency to place self into harm’s way, a void of depression that only the Trinity can make right, a death sentence to hell. Here’s a list, I found on the Internet, of the consequences of man’s fall:

• Sufferings of man and creation
• Man spending entire life fighting for food and family – lifelong struggle to survive
• He came under the curse of death
• His innocence
• A hindered relationship with God
• Damaged relationships with others
• A changed (hostile) relationship with creation
• The joy of laboring
• The dominion he once enjoyed
• The privilege of reflecting as fully
• From the time of the fall on, men inherit from Adam a sinful nature which is hostile toward God.

https://bible.org/seriespage/5-fall-man-gods-perfect-plan
Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death”.

 

POINT 4: “Love only is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” – Erich Fromm

A. FREEDOM DEMANDS RECONCILIATION WITH GOD, WHICH HAPPENS WHEN YOU ACCEPT CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR

Key verse: Jesus: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Man’s disobedience brought death to every human, but Jesus’s obedience brings freedom to every believer:

“For the sin of this one man, Adam brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace, and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:15b-17)

God is a god of unimaginable compassion. He doesn’t want you to go to hell so badly that He chose His innocent Son (Jesus) to die on a cross as a ransom for all your sins. Freedom is only freedom, though, if given a choice – you must decide to accept that gift.
So what do I do to get saved? Romans 10:9-10 says: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Salvation has nothing do with works, but everything with Jesus and the cross.

God wants to give you a new beginning, a new start in life. Please accept Christ as your Savior.

“No man cometh to the Father and gets saved except through Christ.”

KEY QUOTE: God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. (Saint Augustine)
KEY QUOTE: ”The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” (Oscar Wilde)

Mental Illness Article, Part 4

Mental Illness Article, Part 4

 

 

B. MAN NEEDS TO BECOME CHRISTIAN AND TO BE OBEDIENT TO PRODUCE GOOD FRUIT AND STRIVE TOWARD SANCTIFICATION

 

KEY QUOTE: “What a miracle that God would take sinners such as ourselves and give us new hearts with a disposition to love him and trust him in the midst of our circumstances.” (Gloria Furman, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home)

We live in a world today in desperate need of great change. People “injure” people for personal gain, and almost all suffer from some kind of “traumatic event”. Fear, shame, and rejection are the fruit of our mistakes and frailties. Dysfunctional “families”, in the form of families, communities, races, and nations; cannot get along, creating chaos, distrust, and unstable foundations for the next generation to reside in. Violence on TV, illegal drugs, dishonesty, sexual assault, single parents out of wedlock, homosexuality, no religion in schools, and no respect for another are the values we teach our children to believe in. How long are “our poorly-structures houses” (Luke 6:46-49) going to stay erect when the floodwaters (life struggles we daily create) keep beating on us?

 

The fact that Christians are in the minority rather than the majority in its population, and that not one is truly stable in its obedience, makes this world very unstable. However, in spite of all the world’s sins, God still wants to pour out His perfect grace toward the Prodigal Son (the world). If sinners would just “open their eyes” and “realize that ‘freedom requires sound decision making’ and “decide to turn from their evil ways and come to Christ” and “then rely upon the Holy Spirit” for godly living, this world would be greatly changed, as “houses” would become more and more stable against the floodwaters of life.
Jesus is the available psychiatrist who is capable of treating properly every person with a “spiritual mental illness”. Those who “trust in Him” and “accept His treatment plan” (salvation and sanctification), and “daily take His prescribed “antidepressants” (Holy Spirit) will become a “new creation” (a Christian), with improving symptoms (less sinful behaviors, to the extent you choose not to sin). In addition, the doctor’s therapist (God) will use His expertise (the Bible) to guide, empower, and stabilize patients like us.

 

Once you accept Christ as your Savior (choose Jesus to be your psychiatrist), the Holy Spirit (medication) will automatically enter the soul of the Christian. When we surrender our life to the Holy Spirit (takes the antidepressants), we will have the Holy Spirit’s perfect fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) produced in the spirit of the believer: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

 

Just imagine: if you habitually let the Holy Spirit control your life, you will experience His overflowing “love, joy, peace, . . .self-control” in your spirit, in spite of your real mental illness, in your life. (Since the Holy Spirit only resides in the heart of the Christian, you cannot experience these fruits until you get saved.) Regardless of the situations and troubles you encounter, when you surrender, the Holy Spirit’s overabundant fruit of the spirits will be emitted by Him.
In John 15:16-17, Jesus said to His disciples, “I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: “Love each other.”
In our daily lives, we daily face a crisis of belief: should I live my life to satisfy my personal desires, or should I daily live for Christ, letting the Holy Spirit work in my life, to accomplish my God-given dream (purpose)? If I choose the latter, according to John 15:16-17, “God will give me whatever I ask for”, in the constraints of His purpose for my life. Or should I do what I want, ignoring my God-given dream? What’s the other consequence of being self-centered?

 

In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, it says, “Anyone who builds on that foundation (one of Jesus Christ) may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” Do you want to build your rewards be based upon “hay, wood, and stubble, etc.” (the works of a worldly believer) which will “burn up”, or will you surrender to Him, to receive someday eternal rewards?

 

“Success is not measured in terms of how much material wealth we acquire, but rather of how much closer we are with God”. (Unknown)

Mental Illness Article, Part 5

Mental Illness Article, Part 5

 

C. “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matt 12:33)

C1. “Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do. It is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you”. ( Unknown)

Matthew 25:19-30 talks about three servants who were given talents (five, two, and one bags of silver, respectively). In the parable, the two servants, who invested the silver bags, doubled what was entrusted to them (five bags of silver became ten bags, and two bags, four ). The master therefore said.: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” Unfortunately, the master was indignant at the servant who hid his silver: “You wicked and lazy servant! . .), and gave his silver to the one with ten bags, to further invest the master’s money.

God has given all “talents” to be used for His own glory. Regardless of how many talents a person may have, God blesses the stewardship of his servants. In the human body, just as “the eye is needed as much as the hand and foot”, there is no unimportant person with talents. (1 Corinthians 12:22: “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.”). God doesn’t like it when people don’t use or misuse their God-given talents. Through the empowerment of the Vine, we should sow our talents to reap spiritual fruit.

C2: The Vine And The Branches

In John 15, Jesus used the “Vine and branches” concept, to delineate our new to rely upon the Trinity’s empowerment to produce fruit:

John 15:4-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Disconnected from the vine, branches are incapable of producing fruit. So is man powerless to reap spiritual fruits when not abiding and surrendering to the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit’s work is done internally, we may never see the reaping of His work in us; just as people cannot the process of a vine producing its fruit. Also, most spiritual fruit, produced by the Vine, cannot by us, the branches, we just need the faith to believe it is happening:

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Just like how a gardener does pruning to “clip away” bad branches that interfere with the further growth of fruit, God uses sanctification “to make our bad behaviors holy”, so the Trinity can bear more spiritual fruit in our lives. Sanctification involves habitual studying of the Bible (as a spiritual guidebook) to understand the “do’s and don’ts” of proper Christian conduct, and then relying upon the Holy Spirit to empower us in removing bad behaviors, and replacing with proper ones. Only through daily surrender and reliance upon Him can the “sanctification” and “fruit-bearing processes” work.

Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John:15:1-2)“
C3: Not Sinning

KEY QUOTE: “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” (Nelson Mandela)

Every person has life areas which interfere with Holy Spirit’s fruit-bearing work in us. Many times we want to do right but cannot. That’s because we have a sinful nature that conflicts with the Holy Spirit for control. Whoever we yield to wins:

Galatians 5:16-18 says “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

The Trinity knows we will constantly fail in trying to do right in our own strength. So the Holy Spirit says “Let me do the work!”
In Galatians 5:25 says: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”. Rather than trying to do right, the Holy Spirit instead says, “Stop trying not to sin! All I want you to do is, in everything I do, everywhere I go, just be right next to me, take a step when I take a step, and follow Me! I won’t lead you to astray!”

In an analogy, when a woman slow dances with a man, she follows the lead of the male. Holding hands and enjoying the intimacy of the event, the female stays close to the guy. When the male takes a dance step to the right, she reciprocates. A step to the left, she does likewise. Not thinking about trying to dance, her focus is upon the relationship and the male dancer’s next step. The next thing she knows, as she follows His lead, she is slow-dancing quite well.

We are the female and the Holy Spirit is the man. Our focus when “dancing with Him” is the relationship and the process of “keeping in step” with Him. The next thing we know we are sinning less. Focus upon Him and watch and follow Him. Don’t try to lead and don’t force the movement of sinning. Just enjoy the intimacy, ask Him to take control and lead you in your daily walk with God, and then follow Him.

Because we are human, and the flesh still resides, many times we try to take control of the “dance moves”, or other times, we “slip and fall” as we try to “keep in step” with Him. Either way, just like how a male slow dancer doesn’t get rejecting at the girl he loves, when she falters; the Holy Spirit will still work with you in trying to “slow dance” as long as “you get up from the floor” and “be willing to continue trying to learn how to slow dance with the Holy Spirit, with Him leading the way.
D1. FREEDOM OFTEN DEMANDS LOVE IN FORM OF ANOTHER

KEY QUOTE: “Though we cannot see the heart, we can see the life.” (David Paul Kirkpatrick, The Address Of Happiness)

KEY QUOTE: “Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” ( J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret)

KEY QUOTE: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”. (Brennan Manning)

KEY BIBLE VERSE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

To every believer, God has a giant-sized purpose to achieve through Him. “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive His power, and be ‘Christ’s witness’”, telling people about Christ in the manner and in the places He desires us to go. Without the power of Holy Spirit, and especially without Love, all our efforts are powerless and, usually counterproductive.

“A witness is “a person who affords evidence”, or “a person who gives testimony”. (dictionary.com).

Our life is comprised of all our actions, behaviors, decisions, thoughts, experiences, and emotions. How the Trinity has transformed our life, in all ways, represents our testimony. Thus, our testimony includes how the Trinity has impacted our actions, behaviors, decisions, thoughts, experiences, and emotions. This includes many aspects, inclusive of “how the conversion to a Christian by Jesus has “changed my life, before and after becoming a believer”.

Our testimony may include overcoming strongholds, new freedoms experienced, change in moral character, and positive attitudes of life in spite of great adversities. Unfortunately, Choosing self-centeredness, including disobedience, or just plainly making bad choices can be real consequential, in the Holy Spirit’s evangelistic plans, of your testimony. Joe Focht once said:

“There is no more confused message that you and I could give to a lost and dying world than to live in sin and at the same time to tell people about the transforming power of Jesus Christ. There isn’t a more confusing thing we can do to our kids and the generation behind us, to this world.

God will not use a compromised life to reach a compromised world. God will use a life that is given over to Him, that is a demonstration of the message that through the power of Jesus Christ and His love He can transform our lives and set us free.”
― Joe Focht

Also note the following two quotes:

“We should remember that bearing a heartfelt testimony is only a beginning. We need to bear testimony, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to live it. We need to both declare and live our testimonies”. (David A. Bednar)

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost”. (M. Scott Peck)

Our testimony is our witness. When we live the life how God intends us to live, we “show evidence” (a witness) of who Christ is, and our experiences represent our “testimony” of what God has done for us.. “Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”

Mental Illness Article, Part 6

Mental Illness Article, Part 6

 

D2. APOSTLE PAUL: ROAD TO DAMASCUS

“God is not glorified in any transaction upon earth so much as in the conversion of a sinner.” (Archibald Alexander). Just note the conversion of the Apostle Paul:

The Apostle Paul was originally Saul, a Christian hater who persecuted Christians, and “approved the stoning of a saint name Stephen.” Saul ‘tried to destroy the church” as he “placed Christian men and women in prison.” Saul, according to Acts 9:1, “uttered threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.” That was the life of Saul before God converted him on the road to Damascus.

Seemingly every Christian knows that “Saul became Paul after a light from heaven made him blind. In Acts 9.5, a voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The next thing you know the Apostle Paul became of the greatest apostles ever. That is the power of the gospel.

Billy Sunday once said, “Conversion is a complete surrender to Jesus. It’s a willingness to do what he wants you to do.” How could a man who plotted to destroy and kill Christians instantly became willing to suffer immensely for the cause of Christianity? That is the power of the gospel.
With God, there is a future for every sinner, regardless of his or her past. The same God who transformed Saul into Paul, can also radically change the evil hearts of those who hurt you. The Trinity can transform violent people into those of compassion and love. In essence, the Lord can use former heinous people to create great change in this world. Nothing is impossible for the Lord!

It doesn’t matter what you may have done in the past, there is always a future for you, if you seek Him. His Love for His children is unfathomable, and His desire to adopt as His children, the worst of sinners is just as strong. If you surrender yourself to Him, He will never leave nor forsake you. He wants an intimate love relationship with you. Don’t pass Him by!

Every sinner has a future with Christ if they change their ways.
E1. APOSTLE PAUL: DOMINION OVER ADVERSITY = MASTERS OF LIFE

KEY QUOTE: “God can deliver you so well that some people won’t believe your testimony.”
(Shannon L. Alder)

In this world of consequences and sufferings, trying to remain free in spite of trials can seem a daunting task. However, there is always hope in those who put their faith in Jesus, the overcomer of the greatest of trials – sin and death on the cross.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” (Philippians 4:13) – these were the God-inspired words of the Apostle Paul, who endured enormous sufferings, in the name of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” However, in spite of all this, Paul still said in “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.”
In our hardships, we all have moments where we question God’s love. Paul, though, said in Romans 8:35-41: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does I mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . And I am convinced that nothing an ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In a world of sin and consequences, God gave Paul his “thorn in the flesh”, so Paul would daily realize that “in his own strength he was too weak to overcome”, “but through God, all things are possible.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul reinforces this fact: “ . . so now that I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In life, you may still feel confused and frustrated of why God gave you a mental illness. You also may at times feel like a nobody in comparison to those without a “thorn in the flesh” AKA a disability. However, “God chose the things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). That is one major reason why Paul, me, and you, have been blessed with a “thorn in the flesh.”

God made you weak so you can be living proof that He is strong. He uses trials to teach us to “stop relying on ourselves, but rather, solely on God” each day. Most importantly, He wants to train our faith and courage to believe in the power of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (God-inspired author of 1 Corinthians 10:13: the Apostle Paul who suffered greatly).
James 1: 12
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

CONCLUSION OF APOSTLE PAUL
Saul was the worst of sinners; he in fact was persecuting and destroying God’s children (Christians). However, the fact that God still wanted to use him, reveals the remarkable grace of God. Also amazing is the power of the gospel, which converted a truly evil heart into one a compassionate man who immensely suffered for the cause of Christ. In addition, as we study the testimony of this great saint, we also see that Paul also had a personal “thorn in the flesh” (aka, a ‘disability’) that he had to daily overcome. This gives “mentally ill” people hope that “great things can be achieved” in spite of their limitations. Finally, the story of Paul gives us hope that in spite of great trials, great joy, derived from the power of Christ, can be still experienced. The Apostle Paul’s faith was unquestioned as he believed, in his own life: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me”, inspired words of God, written by the author Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:13. We can all find hope in the life of the Apostle Paul
F. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” (Mother Teresa)

Small things done in love, can potentially lead to great change, in a rippling effect, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, and purposed by God. For example:
When I was a senior in college, my then undiagnosed manic depression, etc., almost led me to give up on life, as I considered suicide by purposely driving a car off the road and into death. However, when I needed it the most, LOVE intervened, as God’s played an inspirational song on the radio which gave me hope.

A few months later, LOVE (God) inspired a caring teacher, Professor Duane Dobbert, to take a further interest in me. Dobbert eventually led me to a physiatrist in Angola, IN, who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Years pass on and another doctor diagnosed my OCD. Because someone chose to care back then, I can gladly state today I am free from my mental illness.
I have spent years writing on the Internet, trying to encourage people with similar problems as I. I created two web sites – www.inpursuitoffreedomministries.com and www.insearchofabettertomorrow.com – telling individuals about Christ, including how He has helped me to overcome my mental illness. I also have published several Christian articles on Faithwriters.com, and I have made several posts on Christian forums.com, whether it, be a daily devotional I got permission to use, an encouraging thread, or just plain verses. I also pray almost every day to encourage, uplift, and inspire people I met. I also have told my mental illness recovery story to several people. I am not trying to boast, because only through God’s grace can I live a life of freedom. But the point is, I have a strong compassion to create great change in this world.

If it wasn’t for a teacher who chose to care, I wouldn’t have my mental illness diagnosed, and I would have probably, given up on life by now. I owe that teacher my life. If God didn’t give me my mental illness, if I didn’t have such enormous life mountains to climb, if the journey wasn’t so painful, and if I didn’t see so many hurting people in psychiatric hospitals, I would have never cared about writing this post, and I definitely wouldn’t spent the countless hours creating websites, etc.. God allowed my great sufferings for a greater, beneficial, purpose, and I strongly believe He has or is doing, the same for you.

If you are a child of God, just think: He loves you more than you could ever imagine. God will “never leave nor forsake you” in your journeys to find freedom. He also, will “never give you a trial beyond what you can handle through Him.” He is the Father who accepts every Prodigal Son with open arms and compassion. “He is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

Just believe in the beauty and power of His Love, deliverance, and power to overcome. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please do it now. There is no greater thing than being a child of God.

Even though I don’t know you, I still just want to say: “I love you”. Our Father in Heaven so desperately wants an intimate, eternal love relationship with you that He chose to have His Son die on the cross for you.

His Love to His children is unchangeable. His grace is always enough!

Quotes

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Closing Remarks

Swami Vivekananda once said: “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” As we daily meditate upon that advice, listen also to the words of John Maxwell: “True success is obeying God.” Now incorporate that idea in your daily life.

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” Henry David Thoreau
“With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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