Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christ and the Church


22
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33, New King James Version

Christ and the Church

This is a rather long passage, but please take the time to read it all. Much could be written regarding these verses--much more that I write in these devotionals, so I will try to be more general so that we can still understand the message Paul was giving in Ephesians 5.

There are two subjects being taught here, and the one weaves itself into the other. Paul is teaching regarding the relationship between the husband and wife, and then using it as an example of the relationship between Christ and the church.

I think these verses are ones we struggle with in our day because we wives often chaff against the thought of being subject to our husbands, and I think husbands often misuse the authority they have been given. I think that is largely due to the fact that we misunderstand these verses. Yes, wives are subject to their husbands, and husbands are over their wives, but what does that mean?

There are plenty of verses elsewhere in the Bible that point out the equality of everyone, including male and female. There are also plenty of verses elsewhere that tell us that, in the husband-wife relationship, God places the husband as the "head" of the wife. What does this mean?

The husband is the protector (umbrella) over the wife and the children in the family. The parents stand side by side as being one over the children. In decision making the husband and wife make decisions together, however if they disagree, I believe the wife should agree to the husband's choice.

Now that is certainly a volatile suggestion, however let me explain what is really happening here. The husband is under God in the decisions he makes. It took years for me to really come to this in our marriage, because, let's face it, sometimes my husband does make the wrong choice. However, I observed the change in my husband when he understood what was happening. If he made the wrong choice, he was answerable to God! And, believe me, God is still very alive and very active in the lives of His children today.

I must qualify, that any obedience is always subject to the law of God. We are never to obey any commands, whether they be wishes of our husband, or laws of the land, if they are in disobedience to the laws of God.

Having said all of that, I will end with Paul's last statement in Ephesians 5:32.

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

The relationship of the husband and wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. All of the children of God are members of the bride of Christ. So, if we struggle with this passage we should think of this. Wives, how are you to submit to Christ? Husbands, how are you to love Christ? That is the same way that wives should submit to their husbands, and husbands are to love their wives.

It is a tall order, and is only possible by the grace of God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Perfect Man


11
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16, New King James Version

A Perfect Man

What makes a man perfect? Or, should I say, who makes a man perfect? From the beginning of this world, there is only one man who was and is perfect, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man. Why do I ask such questions, then, if none of us can ever be perfect?

I ask these questions because a day will come when all true Christians will be made perfect. When all of God's saints are joined with Him in Heaven, they will no longer be filled with sin; they no longer will even have a sin nature. Jesus Christ, through His shed blood on the cross, purchased all true believers for Himself as His bride. That is the only way that any man can or will ever be perfect!

That does not mean that Christians will not change while still on earth.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Though we will always wrestle with our own sin natures, God sanctifies us through the work of those whom He has equipped to be pastors, evangelists, and teachers. In a certain sense, all Christians are being equipped to be a teacher to the unconverted around them, as well as an encouragement to other believers.

. . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

What beautiful words--unity of the faith. We see anything but unity, even among believers today. But, God will change that! All believers will be unified and perfected and live forever in the new heavens and new earth prepared for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray today that God would show you ways that He has equipped you to serve Him, and that God's plans for you would become the number one priority in your life!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 28, 2009

Love of Christ

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21, New King James Version

Love of Christ

It is a mystery! Have you ever wondered why the Bible seems so clear to you, while being completely misunderstood by the world?

. . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Think about the profound mystery of these verses! Becoming a Christian does not just purchase a place for us in heaven! If that were the only purpose, it would be better if we went straight to heaven upon our conversion.

When we become a child of God, Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. We will never be the same again. With Christ in our hearts and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we will be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height of God! And, that is not all. We will be able to know the love of Christ which, indeed, passes all knowledge, and we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

No wonder we are so misunderstood by the world. Born in wickedness, the world does not even have the ability to begin to understand anything about God, much less know the love of Christ. Think of it. Before becoming a Christian, our lives were consumed by ourselves. Every decision was based upon, "What will it get me?" Even when we did compassionate things for others, we gained. Maybe the gain was just to keep some good friends, or maybe the gain was to look good in the eyes of others.

Apart from Christ we do not have the ability to be selfless. Even as Christians, we struggle with this. Only through the power of God will we be filled with all the fullness of God.

So, how should we think of the unbelieving world around us? We should not look "down our noses" upon them, but must remember that at one time we were just like them. Instead, we should pray for their salvation, and also pray that our lives, both in actions and words, will be a Godly testimony before them. Our prayer is that when they see Christ through us, they will come to the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.

Do you find yourself surprised when some of your unbelieving friends turn against you? Remember that their very nature is filled with sin. Instead of being offended, pray for them. Only in Christ will they have the ability to be any different! Only in Christ will they truly know the love of Christ.

Only when we understand the love of Christ, can we begin to really love one another.


God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alive with Christ


4
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:4-10, New King James Version

Alive with Christ

Ephesians 2 is a wonderful passage; take some time to read the entire chapter. I have to say that I am amazed anew over the verses shown above. What do these verses say about God, and what do these verses say about His children?

*God is rich in mercy.
*God loved us even before we became believers.
*God makes us alive with Christ!
*God saves us by His grace, alone!
*As children of Christ, we sit with Him in the heavenly places!
*God will continue to show us the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
*Our salvation is not of ourselves, but it is a gift of His grace to us.
*We are God's workmanship.
*We are created in Christ for our good works.
*God even prepared our good works beforehand that we should walk in them.

What a treasure is found in these seven short verses. We, who are the weak things of this world do confound the wise. How do we do it? By God's grace alone. He loved while we were still unconverted, saved us by His grace alone, and has prepared us for the good works He has already ordained that we would do!

We are alive in Christ! That is something I will never understand, but I am so very grateful for our wonderful, wise, and holy God who sent Christ to redeem a people for Himself!

How can I help but love Him, when He loves me so?

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hope of His Calling

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 1:15-22, New King James Version

Hope of His Calling

It was very hard for me to not include all of Ephesians 1 in this devotional. I urge you to take the time to read the entire first chapter, as it is so rich for the Christian. I often think of the statements, "If it is too good to be true, then it probably is not true." Though that is often the case, it certainly does not apply to the Christian life. As I read through the morning news, I am stunned anew by the sin of mankind. Truly, there is no hope apart from Christ!

In Christ, however, there is hope! We have the hope of His calling. What does that mean?

Look at just the things Paul mentioned in this first chapter of Ephesians.

*God gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
*God opens the eyes of our understanding.
*God gives us the riches of the glory of His inheritance.
*God gives us the exceeding greatness of His power, according to the working of His mighty power.
*God worked all of this for us when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.

Who is God, that He can make such promises?

[God is] far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Think of that. This God is our God! How can we get out of bed each day and joyfully serve the Lord no matter what our present circumstances? We cannot in and of ourselves, but God gives us the strength and the power. There is no power in heaven and in earth greater than God. He is far above all principality and power and might and dominion!

We have the hope of His calling! That should put a spring in your step and song in your heart!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 25, 2009

Law of Christ


1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
Galatians 6:1-5, New King James Version

Law of Christ

What is the difference between the Law of the Old Testament and the law of Christ? I do not think this is a deep theological issue; I think Paul is showing that we can do nothing apart from the power of Christ. We cannot obey the Old Testament law perfectly, therefore we are condemned by that law. I think the message that Paul is giving here is found in verse 2.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

In other words, if we are bearing one another's burdens, then we are fulfilling the law of Christ. Christ did not come here to bear his own burden, he came to eliminate the burdens of all who come to Him. The burden of sin which so weighs us down that we can hardly move, and which condemns us to eternal death, was bought and paid for by Christ.

The difficulties faced by the Galatian believers are the same difficulties we face today. As a matter of fact, it is so common that we hardly realize we are even sinning. It is so easy to look with disapproval upon the ungodly, especially those we see each day. But is that pleasing to the Lord? Is that what He desires from us? Even worse, we tend to look at other believers and rate them as to how Godly or ungodly they are compared to us!

For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Rather than look at others, Paul encourages us to examine ourselves; we are to compare ourselves with Christ and not other believers or unbelievers. It is only in Christ that we grow as Christians.

Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the World, left heaven's glory to come to this earth and suffer the most heinous, cruel death at the hands of wicked men. Why? To purchase a people for himself. Was there something special or more righteous about these people. Absolutely not! Not one of us deserved the salvation He has purchased for us.

Should we not, then, look to those around us with compassion, praying for the non-believers, and supporting and encouraging those in the household of faith?

We must look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and cry out to Him to help us obey the law of Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crucified with Christ


16 . . . a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:16b-20, New King James Version

Crucified with Christ

A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. . . . I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Read the verses shown above again. We can never save ourselves; we can never live a good enough life to appease God for our sins. Though we may try to live a life of works by the law, that very same law will condemn us. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, alone.

So, what does Paul mean when he says that he has been crucified with Christ? Did he die with Christ? Did he somehow pay for his own sins? No! Because Christ was crucified for Paul, Paul's very life was changed drastically. He was crucified from the life he had lived, and, after Christ's salvation, understood that it was no longer him who lived, but rather Christ who lived in him.

Think about that! How would our lives change if we really understood what Paul was saying? Everything was changed in Christ! After our conversion to Christ, He has lived within us, so that the life we have lived in the flesh is now lived by faith in Son of God who gave His very life for us.

Our own sin nature constantly wrestles with the Holy Spirit within, but we need not be distraught. Christ in our hearts gives us the grace and power to live for Him. Very often, our lack of peace or happiness is due to our wrestling with our own sin, and the guilt we feel in our lack of obedience to Christ. Unfortunately, that wrestling will not completely end as long as we are on this earth, but it will end!

We are crucified with Christ, and in the end we will live a life that is consumed by Christ and our love for Him, as we walk with Him in white!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Complete in Christ!


5
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.
2 Corinthians 13:5-10, New King James Version

Complete in Christ

Wait a minute! How can we be complete in Christ? How can we examine ourselves? I thought it was Christ, and not we ourselves, who saved us. What is Paul talking about in 2 Corinthians 13?

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?

Though we do not base our salvation upon feelings, it is true that we do have the ability to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. How do we do that? Do we make sure we have the date and time written down when we came to Christ, so that we can think back to that time? How can we properly examine a faith that rests totally upon Christ?

I think it is quite proper, and even necessary, that periodically we step back and ponder our life, and our actions. What drives us? What motivates us to do the things we do? How important is Christ in our life? How precious is our salvation? Would we faithfully claim our allegiance to Christ if we would be martyred for our faith? How great is our love for Christ?

There are many days we simply do not feel like a Christian! However, as we ponder our life with Christ, the questions above are important to consider honestly before God. No unbeliever can honestly answer those questions in the same way that a true Christian will. Even a weak faith finds its rest in Christ, alone.

In addition, we should see Christ sanctifying our life so that we become closer and closer to the Lord Jesus, and more and more dependent upon Him, alone, in all areas of our life. Just as our salvation is totally of Christ, so is the grace of God showered upon us entirely of God.

Look at the words of Paul as he is nearing the end of his life. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.

Complete in Christ! I pray that you, too, may be made complete in Christ. Christ, alone, receives all the power, honor and glory!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Power of Christ


7
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, New King James Version

Power of Christ

I rarely share personal things about my life, but this passage is very dear to me, because of my own circumstances. My hope is that my testimony will encourage you to walk faithfully with God no matter what your circumstances are.

Paul had a thorn in the flesh. We do not know what it was, but we know he pleaded with the Lord three times to have it removed. Christ never removed his "thorn," but said, instead,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

By the grace of God, I, too, have a "thorn in the flesh." The prognosis is that it will not ever get better, and may very well get much worse. For over a year I wrestled with this, feeling very sorry for myself. Sometimes I was angry, and sometimes I was just depressed. However, now, several years later, I am amazed at the grace of God and what He has done in my life, through my own weakness.

I always considered myself a Christian who was close to the Lord, but now I know that I was greatly deceived. I was actually quite smug about my faith in Christ. God, however, has used my own personal thorn to humble me before Him. He has also helped me to realize that I loved this world more than I would ever admit. This world is not my home; it is just a temporary place, and will remain so until Christ takes me to my home above with him.

But, that is not all. I would never have done the things I have if I was not limited in what I could do physically. As God brought me closer to Him, He led me to write this daily Bible devotion, and also to build a devotional website. Truly, it is Christ's blog, and it is Christ's website. I cannot take any glory in it myself. By God's grace and through the power of Christ, He has allowed me to encourage Christians all over the world to live faithfully for Him.

What an amazing God we have; He uses the weak things of the world, (that is certainly me) to confound the wise.

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 21, 2009

False Apostles


12
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15, New King James Version

False Apostles

In our Bible passage for today, we are given a very sober warning by Paul, one which we must be careful to not neglect. Who are the false apostles of Christ spoken of by Paul?

From the passage above, we do know a few things about them. First of all, through their boasting of themselves, they desired to be thought of just as Paul. From this, we know that they were in the early Christian church.

Our sin natures are so strong, that we can easily be deceived into thinking that all who proclaim Christ are Christians. As a matter of fact, many times people themselves are deceived into thinking that they are Christians when they are not! How can that be?

In a war, it is very important to know your enemy; understanding the enemy's strategies will be a great aid in giving you the victory over him. Unfortunately, as Christians we tend to forget that we are in a great battle; greater than any battle ever known to man! Our enemy is not really unbelievers. Our true enemy is Satan, himself, who turns the minds of men against Christ and His church.

Paul tells us not to be surprised when we are deceived by false teachers. For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Satan is not ugly, nor does He appear to be evil. Remember, He was one of the most beautiful angels before he rebelled against God, taking one-third of the angels with him. It is easy for him to corrupt the church through false apostles or preachers.

What, then, are we to do? We must bathe ourselves in the Word of God; it is our responsibility to know if the man who stands in our church pulpit is being true to the Bible. Yes, he may have a seminary degree, but are seminaries perfect? Many seminaries that were once faithful advocates of the Bible have fallen to the teachings of the world, through the lies and deceitfulness of Satan.

As Christians, we are protected by Christ, and not of ourselves, lest any of us should boast. Read and meditate upon the Word of God, and spend time in fellowship with God through prayer. By the grace of God, strengthen your personal relationship with Christ. He alone, is our Rock and Fortress.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Every Thought Captive


1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, New King James Version

Every Thought Captive

Does lowly mean weak? For some reason we tend to associate the words, "lowly" and "meek" with weakness. However, it takes more strength to remain lowly than it does to let our tempers flare at the least provocation.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

This is such a simple statement and yet so difficult for us to accomplish. When attacked verbally, our first response is to lash out at the audacity the person who dares to demean or discredit us in any way. Is that the proper response for the Christian? What kind of example did Christ give to us?

Christ, the Son of God, the God Man, who thought it not robbery to declare Himself equal with God, came to this wicked and sinful word in meekness and lowliness. Was He born into a king's palace, and lavished with the best things this earth could offer? Was He proclaimed and honored from His birth as the Messiah who would save people from their sins? No! He was despised and rejected by the very men He came to save!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

We are not here to defend our own righteousness, but rather, we are here to proclaim and defend the Gospel of Christ. In doing so it is important that we bring, not just every word we utter, but rather, every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Let us pray today for the grace of God to become lowly and meek in character and proclaim Christ, and not ourselves; and, let us also pray that God would graciously work in our hearts and lives that we may bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ambassadors for Christ


17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21, New King James Version

Ambassadors for Christ

If you are not familiar with this passage in 2 Corinthians 5, I highly recommend that you take some time to just meditate on the verses shown above, and even commit them to memory.

Though this is not a new theme, it is something we, as Christians, need to take very seriously. We are not the same person we once were! In Christ, we are a new creation. Indeed, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Is this because we have such inherent greatness in us that we were able to come to Christ by ourselves, and therefore save ourselves?

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

No! All things are of God! He reconciled us to Himself. Because of the blood of Christ shed for our sins, God does not impute our sins to us, but instead reconciles us to Him for all eternity!

What is our responsibility? We are ambassadors for Christ! We stand before the unconverted world as ambassadors of the righteousness of God, through Christ.

Oh what an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 18, 2009

Epistle of Christ


2
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:2-6, New King James Version

An Epistle of Christ

Again, in this passage from 2 Corinthians 3, Paul uses beautiful imagery to express a thought.

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

In this passage Paul is speaking to the Christians in the Corinthian church, but his message pertains to all believers. As Christians, we are epistles (letters) of Christ which are known and read by all men, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God. Just think about that for a minute.

How often do we hear people say, "My religious views are just between God and me."? For Christians, that cannot be farther from the truth. God did not save us to allow us to hibernate inside of ourselves until our life here on this earth is ended. That does not mean we have to go throughout our neighborhood, pounding on doors and pleading with people to come to Christ.

Christianity is a religion of the heart; we are connected to God by the Holy Spirit through the blood of Christ. That connection makes a dynamic change in our lives. Nothing will ever be the same again! Everything we view is viewed through eyes which have been enlightened by the wisdom and knowledge of God.

So, you see, each believer is an epistle of Christ, known and read by all men. Go today, and be that glorious epistle which shines forth, by the grace of God, as a light to all unbelievers.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fragrance of Christ

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17, New King James Version

Fragrance of Christ

It is interesting that Paul speaks of the fragrance of Christ in these verses. We know from the Old Testament that God enjoyed the sweet fragrance of the sin offerings made to Him. So it is easier to understand, then, that we are to God the fragrance of Christ. But, not only that, we are also the fragrance of Christ to those who are being saved and to those who are perishing.

As Christians, what kind of fragrance are we to those with whom we rub shoulders each day? We must remember what Paul said in verse 17, shown above.

For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

We are not just sales people, selling Christ to the world, but rather our sincere Christian life speaks volumes to those around us. It is important that we take this responsibility very seriously. It is easy to fall in with the attitudes and sins of the crowd, but we are not called to fit in! We are called to live for Christ in everything we say and do each day. We will find ourselves constantly at odds with the attitudes of the unbelievers around us. But let us be understand that to be different to those around us, we are being one with Christ.

What does Paul say about the fragrance of Christ coming from us?

To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

No matter who we are and how we live, we will never reach everyone for Christ! But, we are a fragrance to everyone. To the unbeliever it is the fragrance of death, and to those who come to Christ, it is the aroma of life leading to life. What a sobering thought!

Let us pray today that we would live completely for Christ as we are the fragrance of Christ to those with whom we touch with our lives. It is not for us, but for Christ to use that fragrance to be an aroma of life leading to life or the fragrance of death.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hope in Christ


19
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
1 Corinthians 15:19-24, New King James Version

Hope in Christ

How important is the resurrection of Christ? That is exactly the question that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 15. There were those in the days of Paul, those who did not believe in the resurrection of Christ. Paul shows them, in the verses shown above, that not only did Christ rise from the dead (there were still many eyewitnesses in Paul's day), but our hope in Christ rests in His resurrection.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. What is the significance of this verse? Christ was the firstfruit of all who died; as He was the first to be resurrected from the dead, so will all of His followers be resurrected as well.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. It only took one man's sin (Adam) to corrupt the entire human race, making them all worthy of eternal condemnation by the Holy and Righteous God. And, it only took the righteousness of one man to die for His people and provide life with Him forever.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

What will be the rest of this story?

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

Christ, the Holy Son of God, shed His righteous blood for us, and when the end comes, He will deliver us to God the Father, and will put an end to all rule and all authority and power on this earth.

When I consider the hope in Christ, given to His children, I scarce can take it in!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 14, 2009

Calling of Christ


20
Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
1 Corinthians 7:20-24, New King James Version

Calling of Christ

It seems as though some Bible themes appear again and again. Such is the case in today's devotional from 1 Corinthians 7. There are subtle differences, however, and so it is good to ponder these themes again and again. I was struck with this thought while reading 1 Corinthians 7: no Christian is exempt from the calling of Christ.

Coming to Christ changes our lives completely. The life that we had was focused upon ourselves, but now everything has changed. We were not brought to Christ just for the sake of our redemption, although of course, that is what Christ has done for us. Rather, we are saved by Christ's blood, and then left here on this earth to follow the calling of Christ.

That calling is different for each and everyone of us. Paul is telling us in verse 20, that we are called to serve the Lord right where we are. If we are a slave, then we find complete freedom in Christ. If we have lived a life of freedom, consumed with our own desires, we are now slaves of Christ, commanded to obedience to His commands as well as to living our lives completely to His glory, alone.

Let us never forget Paul's reminder.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

As you go about the duties of this day, consider the calling of Christ in your life. What abilities and interests has God given you? What are your circumstances? How can you serve the Lord faithfully right where you are?

I still do not understand why God chooses to use us, the weak things of this world, to advance His kingdom, and yet that is exactly what He does. God calls us, saves us, and then equips us to serve Him for the rest of our lives.

Oh what a Savior we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Mind of Christ

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 & 16, New King James Version

The Mind of Christ

As Christians, we do not begin to understand the power God has given to us. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example. When he came before the people, he did not wow them with excellent speech, thereby impressing them with his great intellect. He was also not afraid to walk right beside them, experiencing the same things that they experienced.

Why was this? Paul certainly had the capacity to show his greatness to them. He gives us his own explanation in verses 3-5 shown above.

3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We must never loose sight of the fact that we are not representing ourselves, but rather, everything we do and say, as Christians, is representing Christ. Whether people even know that we are Christians, we walk before them as, perhaps, the only "Bible" they have ever read. It is an immense responsibility, and one which we tend to minimize because we are so consumed with our own lives and our own interests.

Do you find yourself offering the excuse, "Well I am not all that intelligent, and I know very little about the Bible."? To say such is to not understand the power that God has instilled in us upon our conversion to Christ. Very few of us are denied the opportunity to read and study our Bibles; we are assured that the Holy Spirit within us will guide us in understanding the Word. It is also our responsibility, if possible, to find a Bible-believing church so that we may grow under the faithful ministry of a Pastor, as well as fellowship with other people of God.

But, even more than this, look at verse 16.

16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

We have the mind of Christ! I encourage you to ponder that as you go about the duties of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where is the Wise?


20
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
1 Corinthians 1:20-31, New King James Version

Where is the Wise?

Praise God for being one of the fools of this world! Why do I say that? Just look at some of the verses shown above, as they certainly pertain to our world in the 21st century.

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.

30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.

There is no room in our heart for pride or glory in ourselves or even in other Christians. God uses each one of His children wherever they are. If our lot seems to be more lowly than even other Christians, that does not make us any less in the eyes of God. We are to do what we can wherever God has placed us.

Sometimes, the only thing we are able to do for the Lord is pray. What would our pastors, teachers, and other great men of God do without the prayers of the saints of God? I believe that being a prayer warrior is the highest, if it be possible, position God can give to His dear children.

As you go about the duties of this day, I challenge you to ponder the question, Where is the wise?

"He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 11, 2009

Confirmed by Christ


4
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9, New King James Version

Confirmed by Christ

How secure are you in your salvation? Every Christian at some time or other has doubts about their salvation.

*Is it really true?
*What if my sins are too great?
*How can I doubt and still be a Christian?

The good news is that our salvation does not depend on us. It never did! We are saved by Christ, kept by Christ, and confirmed by Christ before our Father in Heaven.

But, you ask, how can I be sure?

Though we are not to depend upon our works for salvation, the Bible does tell us, By their fruits you shall know them. (Matthew 7:20, King James Version) Look into your heart and life. What do you see? Do you have a great desire to serve the Lord, and does your own sin trouble you? Do you find yourself constantly wrestling against your own sin? When you ponder what Christ has done for you, are you overwhelmed with love and gratitude for Christ? These are definitely earmarks of a true Christian.

Do the unsaved care about their sins? Do the unsaved even believe that they sin? Satan prefers to keep us doubting so that our service to Christ is crippled. If we doubt our own salvation, how can we lead others to Christ?

Rest in the Lord Jesus, knowing that you are confirmed by Christ.

To God alone by the glory!

God Bless You,
Linda