Tag Archives: HINDU

The Fight for Your Identity

good tree, bad tree

What kind of tree am I anyway?

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

          This is an amazing formula for faith, and a great example of the faith principle in Romans 4 of “calling things that are not as though they were.”

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

          The quotation in Romans 4:17 refers to Genesis 17:5. God spoke this over Abram when He was 99 years old and childless. At the same time God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. In changing the names, God forced them to say the same thing about themselves that He had just said about them. Abraham means, (“Father of a multitude,” Sarah means, “Mother of nations.”) In the name change, God was showing Abraham and all who would follow after him, the principle of faith that God Himself operates by. He speaks things into existence.

          Let’s apply this to the good and bad tree.

          If you see a tree that has apples and avocados growing on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? An avocado tree? A hybrid? Would you just make up a name? The truth is, you wouldn’t know what to call it.

         The Bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that we are “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.”

          When we look at ourselves and behold the fruit of our lives, we see our mistakes, our bad habits, our inconsistencies, our failures, our secret sins, and we think “I must be a bad tree.” But then we look closer and say, “Wait a minute, not all the fruit in my life is bad. I help people, I am faithful to my church family, I serve in different areas in the ministry, I love people, I am generous with my time and resources, so not all the fruit in my life is bad. I am confused! What kind of tree am I?”

          We see the good and bad fruit in our lives and gravitate towards walking by sight and living by feelings. The Bible says that we are NOT to live our lives this way.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

          We cannot allow our physical senses to dictate our identity. We must set ourselves in agreement with what God has spoken about us and not be moved by our feelings and our fallen experience. What we see, feel and experience must never be a consideration in light of what God has said about us. Abraham, the father of faith, has set the example for us.

Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

          Abraham refused to consider the weakness in his flesh, but was fully convinced that what God said about him, God would bring to pass.

          So the question is: What has God said about us?

Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

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

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

          God says that He has made us righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Although we may not look like that in our sight we must not consider what we see and believe what He said about us is true.

          How we refer to ourselves, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. When we begin to speak what God says about us, the grace of God is released in our lives to transform us into what He has spoken. When we align our words with His words, the fruit of what He said will start growing in our life. This is how we make our tree good. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. This is what produces transformation in our life.

          The Old Testament is full of stories about natural battles. We must look at those physical battles and learn how to apply them spiritually to our lives. For the most part, we see two ways that God calls his people to battle.

  1. He gives His people specific instruction on what, when and how to conquer the enemy. When Gods people follow the instruction, He is with them in battle and the victory comes easy.
  2. He tells His people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He fights the battle for us and the victory is ours.

         When fighting to be free from our sin nature, to live righteous and holy, we tend to try and do this by our own works. We struggle against our sin, our bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive cycles of failure and disappointment. This type of behavior will only produce a sin consciousness that insures failure. The Old Testament has already proved that no one can become righteous by works.

          Submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us places us in a powerful position to be transformed and overcome the sin nature. We must call ourselves righteous and holy, believing that He is at work in us to bring that to pass. We follow Abraham’s example and call things that are not manifest as though they were.

           Confess that you are righteous, confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. And if you stumble and fall, run to God and say “I am sorry Father that is not me! That is certainly not You in me! I thank You for the Spirit of grace that is transforming me and shaping me into Your image, removing that junk from my life and molding me into everything You have created me to be. Thank You for fathering me! Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, for being patient with me. Thank you for completing the work that you began in me. Where would I be if You didn’t father me.”   

 hold fast         This is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. This will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.

          In the battle for our identity we are supposed to follow the example of our father Abraham and set ourselves in agreement with His word, letting the Spirit of grace shape us and mold us into His image. We are not to consider the weakness of our flesh, but stand strong in faith, trusting that God is able to bring His word to pass in our lives.

So hold fast to the confession of who you are in Him and trust that He will complete the work that he began in your life.

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Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Your Words Make A Difference

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        Are you tactful and wise with your words? Slow to speak, and quick to listen? Or do you need to carry around a roll of Duct Tape to keep from sinning with your mouth and saying things you regret? 

          Oh, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, I have been known to need some of that miracle-working, silver sticky stuff myself.

          As a servant of Christ, we should immediately feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we say something that hurts people or tears them down. We should also feel convicted if we speak against anything that God has said about us. If we go for long periods of time and don’t experience those little pricks of conviction and correction in our heart, I would suggest that we are not even trying.

          We all have room to grow in this department; I don’t care how mature we are. One of the most important things we can learn is to trust our heart. Our heart (spirit man) has a direct line to God’s heart and mind, and the source of all wisdom and knowledge. If we take a moment to check up on the inside before we speak, we would see an immediate change in the quality of our communication, as well as the quality of our relationships. This is a principle that Proverbs makes very clear.

Proverbs 15:28 ~ The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

In others words, give your heart a little time to tell your mouth what to say.


          Our words carry enormous weight, and can carry severe consequences. More than we sometimes think. They have the ability to impact people for a very long time, shaping and molding who they are and influencing the direction and path that they take. The bible says that faith comes by hearing, (Romans 10:17) So we should ask ourselves; “what are my words making people believe about themselves, and how are my words shaping my own beliefs?

          Words can build courage and strength or they can discourage and weaken. They can minister grace and life, or pain and death. They can build and edify, or they can tear down and destroy. They not only communicate, they also create. 

Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

          What treasure have you been storing away in your heart? Did you even know that you had a store? Whether you know it or not, your heart is being filled with something. The things that you give attention to, look at, and hear fills your heart, and whatever you are full of comes out when you speak. A minister once told me, ” When you get squeezed with problems, what’s inside you WILL come out.” It is so true. So, when a Christian gets squeezed Christ should come out.

          God’s Word is the obvious choice if we are to store treasure in our heart. His Words are spirit and life, they are health and medicine, they are full of grace and they are truth. When you are full of God’s Word your communications carry a part of HIM with it. Your speech becomes a tool that God can use to build you up and impart grace to others.

Ephesians 4:29 ~ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

The best definition of grace is: “The divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life.”

          There are few things more rewarding than to know that you have been used by God to influence another person for HIM. To impart His grace and leave that person better off than before you spoke to them. Man! It just doesn’t get any better!

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          “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Every day, we are shaping reality for ourselves, and others who hear our words. The choice is ours. How will our words impact others? How will your words impact YOU and your family? Are you determined to make progress in this area? Do you see the need?

          I have a little saying that I try to live by. As my wife will attest, I don’t always do it, but I’m still growing, PRAISE GOD! The saying is this:

“Before you speak, make sure it is an improvement on silence.”

          Just doing that one little thing will keep you from all kinds of grief.

          The Word of God is full of commands to keep His word before our eyes and in our mouth. It’s clear that words must be treated as a stewardship. I will leave you with two of my favorite scriptures on the importance of stewarding words. Be blessed!

Joshua 1:8 ~ This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Proverbs 4:20-22 – My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

JC

People Flourish At The Place Of Their Assignment

          God is committed to who you were created to be, not necessarily who you are at the moment. Change and growth are a vital part of the Christian walk. We are to be ever growing into what He paid for us to be, which is the express image of His person.

          The problem I see many Christians fall into is not finding, or staying in the place of their assignment. God has a specific place He has called you to be, a specific body of believers he has called you to assemble together with, a specific group of people He wants you to be in relationship with. When you find the place He has assigned you to, you will flourish in your spiritual development.

Hebrews 10:25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

          God’s grace functions best in the place of your assignment. When you try to be, or do something you shouldn’t, you frustrate the grace of God. This includes being in the wrong place and connected to the wrong assembly of believers. I heard a pastor say it this way:

“If you’re out of your place, you’re out of your grace, and you’ll fall on your face!”

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          Relationships can be messy. Still, God wants us to engage in community, specifically, the community He’s called us to. It is the tension and challenges these relationships bring that develops us spiritually and pushes us to change for the better.

JC

 

What is Grace?

When you think of God’s grace, what immediately comes to mind? God’s unmerited favor? His salvation, love or kindness? I am not going to argue those points, they are all true, but I will say that grace has a broader, deeper meaning and I want to explore that in this teaching. Grace is one of the most important words in the New Testament and yet it is not well understood and even taken for granted.

Luke 2:40 ~ And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The grace of God was upon Jesus and to understand New Testament grace we should consider what was upon Him so we can understand what is upon us, for we are in Him. One of the greatest definitions of grace that I have found is:

 “The divine influence on the heart of man, and the reflection of that influence in the life of the man.”

 If you look at grace from the standpoint of divine influence, it automatically broadens your idea of what grace is. When reading the bible and you see the word grace, replace it with “divine influence,” or “God’s influence”. You will see that it fits and it will provide a deeper understanding of the scriptures.

 We really need to stretch our understanding to even begin to grasp the full meaning of grace and what it means to us as believers. The Greek word for grace is “charis,” In addition to charis, there is the word charismata, which is a word related to charis, but it is only used in reference to what have become known as the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. I don’t think that anyone could argue that the those nine gifts are manifest by the divine influence of the Holy Spirit and the believer allowing that influence to reflect in his life.  

Acts 11:23 ~ When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

This scripture refers to Barnabas SEEING the grace of God on others. This implies that grace should be evident. That God’s influence in your heart should be manifest in such a way that it could be seen outwardly by others. We have a world full of believers that have no outward evidence of the grace of God on their lives and therefore are not a witness of the grace of God to the world. Why is that? A part of the reason is legalism. Legalism is a belief system that attempts to establish your own righteousness by following laws, rules and religious traditions. The more we allow ourselves to slip into legalism, the farther we fall from grace and deny God’s influence in our life.

Virtually the entire book of Galatians addresses this problem of legalism.

Galatians 5:4 ~ You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Another important aspect of grace is that God uses people to impart it to His body.

2 Corinthians 8:6 ~ So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.

          We see from this verse of scripture that the divine influence (grace) can come from other believers. Titus was urged to complete the grace that he started. His influence on these people was obviously of a divine nature, God influencing people with people. This is seen clearly in the fivefold ministry gifts described in 

         When I came to the conclusion that grace is God’s divine influence in my heart and its reflection in my life, I was forced to consider my definition of God. The book of James says that “God is love.”

1 John 4:8 ~ He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

With that understanding I was left with this thought; Grace is an expression of God’s love, and any time He endeavors to influence a person, it is because He wants to impart His very nature into that individual. Look at the first part the verse above, “He who does not love does not know God”. I believe that the main purpose of grace is so that we may know Him. To know Him we must yield to the divine influence of love (grace) and allow that love to be reflected in our lives.Jesus was the express image of God (love). He is our example. To yield to divine influence is to yield to love. Jesus said:

John 5:19 ~ Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

 I think we can all agree that Jesus was completely yielded to divine influence. He only did what He saw the father (Love) do.

 Grace is the manifestation of the influence of God in you, with the intention that the influence is reflected in your life.

Gifts vs. Graces

This brings us to Romans 12 that most Christians interpret as “motivational gifts”. Paul is not talking about gifts, He is talking about “graces”.

Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are 7 GRACES mentioned here: Prophecy, Servant (ministry), Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Leader, and Mercy Giver.

 Look at Ephesians 4, where Paul starts talking about the 5-fold ministry gifts to the church.

Ephesians 4:7-12 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 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,

You see how the order of grace and gifts are flipped in these passages?

Romans 12:6 says: gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,

Ephesians 4;7 says: grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

It is clear that Paul is talking about ministry gifts in Ephesians 4, and graces in Romans 12. Many have called them motivational “gifts” having a limited understanding of how they work. But when we understand that they are graces we begin to better understand who we are, and why we do what we do.

What I believe Paul is talking about in Romans 12 is the differences in our gifts produced by the grace (divine influence) that is on our life. In other words, our gifting looks different because the divine influence in our heart is different. Look again at the text, and pay close attention to the wording.

To understand what a GRACE is and how it affects us, let us view them as glasses with colored lenses. When you are looking at life through those glasses, everything you see will be tinted with that color, and your actions and responses will be influenced by it. Your GRACE affects how you see things, how you deal with problems, and how you express yourself in your gifting.

For instance, if you have the GRACE of SERVANT, you see the world through that “colored lens” (GRACE). Maybe your gifting is an Evangelist. So it would be natural for you to engage in “Servant Evangelism.”

Your Grace determines how you think about things, how you approach things. For example: If your GRACE is a GIVER, and you are ministering to someone who needs healing, you automatically think of what you can GIVE to help them. Like buying them some books on divine healing, or sending them to a healing crusade and paying for the whole thing.

If your GRACE is EXHORTER, you may encourage them in faith, read some healing promises from the bible, tell them “this is nothing for God, you can beat this thing easy.”

If your GRACE is TEACHER, you think that all they need is to understand and learn more about divine healing and faith principles.

Look at the rest of that passage in Romans and notice how Paul starts the dialogue.

Romans 12:3-8 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry (servant), let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

When Paul says that he speaks “through the GRACE that is given him,” he is talking about the divine influence upon his heart. When he teaches, that influence is reflected in the life.

Grace is a big subject, and these are just a few small observations. However, grace is one of the most important words to us in the New Testament. We should endeavor to get as much understanding on it as possible. I hope this helps.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

 

Old Testament Law – Made to be Broken?

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          Understanding the purpose of Old Testament Law is the beginning of understanding your imputed righteousness in Christ.
I’m going to make a statement that may be foreign to most Christians.

“God never gave man the Law to keep, He gave man the Law to break.”

          Does that sound contradictory or confusing? It shouldn’t. No man in history was able to keep the Law, except Jesus Christ. Never has any man succeeded in making himself acceptable to God by keeping the Law. Didn’t God know this? Of course He did. So why did God give us a Law that we are unable to keep? So that we would come face to face with the fact that we are incapable of doing anything right or just apart from His grace.Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
          The Law exposes our true nature apart from God. It teaches us that we need something far greater than our own strength and will to please God. The Law helps us to see our inadequacies so that we can be honest with ourselves and say: “I am a sinner through and through, and of myself I can do nothing to please a holy God.”
          The Law was not given with the expectation of us keeping it. It was given in the full knowledge that we would break it; and when we have broken it so completely as to be convinced of our absolute need for a Savior, then the Law has served its purpose. It has fulfilled the role of a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so the He may Himself fulfill it.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
          We are all sinners by nature because of Adam’s transgression. The Law makes that sinful nature manifest. When a holy Law is applied to a sinful man, then that sinfulness comes out in full display making the fallen nature of that man manifest.
          God knows who we are. the trouble is, WE don’t know who we are. The Law brings us to a place where we see who we are apart from Him and shows us our utter helplessness under the Law, and our need to be saved from it. If not for the Law we would never see how weak we are apart from Christ. We would continue in the futile pursuit of trying to please God with our own righteousness.
The Law was given to make us lawbreakers, to expose our sin, not to the world, but to ourselves.
Romans 7:7-9 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
          We need to have our weaknesses proved to ourselves beyond a shadow of doubt. It is at that point we are able to understand our need for deliverance from the Law. We must be delivered from the Law to receive the free gift of the righteousness of God.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

“The Law shows us our need to be free from it. Free from our own works of righteousness so that we can see our need to embrace the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.”

Law vs. Grace

          In a nutshell, Law means that I do something for God. Grace means that God does something for me. If Law means that God requires something from me for it’s fulfillment, then grace means that He no longer requires it from me, but He provides it for me Himself.
          Where we fall into trouble is our tendency to live by Law. We are far more comfortable with a “quid pro quo,” mentality. Do this to receive that, receive something for doing something. This is rational and easy to wrap our head around, but it is not faith. Faith doesn’t come natural because with faith, we don’t have the ability to understand everything. We feel the need to do something to earn what we have been given.
Galatians 3:19-25 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
          Once faith in Christ has come, we no longer have need of the Law. We then must transition from operating under the Law of sin and death, to the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
          Old habits can be hard to break. We are born and raised under the Law of sin and death. Faith in Christ, in His imputed righteousness, in our change of status from slaves of sin to adopted children of God takes a concentrated effort. Learning to live by the new Law of the Spirit is a process. We are born into this new life as infants, and for us to mature properly and thrive under this new Law we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God by what Jesus did on the cross.

Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
          So why do we continue to try and live by the Law? Because we don’t understand that the Law was never intended for us to keep. It was intended to show us how futile our efforts are to keep it, and to expose our fallen nature to such a degree that our only option is to believe in our Savior.
JC