How does God present me faultless?

A scripture that always befuddled me several years ago was Jude 1:24. “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,..”  I had so much sin consciousness then. How was it possible for God to present me faultless? I am not without fault. I sin…sometimes a lot. I’m not talking about smoking, or drinking or cussing. I’m talking about attitude sins, how I treat others. I miss the mark all the time. How is it possible for God to present me faultless?

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is how. Because I have faith in His sacrifice that washed my sins away and made me a new creation, God treats me as if I have never sinned. That’s great news! Hebrews 10:14 is stated a bit differently in different translations, but essentially says this… “For by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified” or those that are “being sanctified.” Our acceptance of His death on the cross means we are “perfected forever” just as this scripture says. This is a positional perfection, meaning God treats us as if we never sinned. Hebrews 12:23 speaks of “the spirits of just men made perfect.” We who are saved are in that number.

It’s grace, pure grace. The Holy Spirit inside of me lets me know when He is displeased with something I have done, but I still belong to God. He still loves me and does not cast me aside. I know there are times the Holy Spirit has been pretty upset with me, and I’m upset with me too!! Righteousness, perfection, faultless…all is available on the basis of grace alone. I didn’t do anything to earn it. I can’t possibly be good enough to earn it.

I love something I heard Pastor Joseph Prince say a few weeks ago. He is a wonderful teacher on grace. He said, “You can’t lose your salvation, because you didn’t do anything to get it.” What an amazing statement! But it’s true.

So now when I read Jude 1:24, I say thank You Jesus, You are able to present me faultless! What a blessing! I, who am not really faultless…I stand on what He did for me, nothing else. And God counts me as perfect, based on the one offering that Jesus made. He has forever perfected me.

We are to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” (not fear, as in scared, but as in reverence and sobriety). We are in school, the school of the Holy Spirit. Our spirits have been made perfect in salvation; now we are to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and to follow Him into the destiny that God has planned for us from the foundation of the world. We are under God’s grace…it’s like an eternal second chance! When you mess up, you always get a do-over!

Dear Jesus, You are the God of second chances…and third…and fourth, and so on. Thank you for Your great sacrifice made to lift me out of a life of sin. I want to be worthy of that great love. I love You and adore You.

 

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Knowing God’s Ways

The first generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt were familiar with God’s acts. He did miraculous signs among them. When Moses was pleading with Pharaoh to let them go from Egypt, they saw 10 different plagues come on  Egypt. Water turned into blood, the land was covered with frogs, then gnats; livestock died, boils showed up on the people, an unusual hailstorm destroyed the food, locusts covered the land, an unusual darkness came and finally, the firstborn of the Egyptians died, while Israel’s was spared. Many of these could be attributed to natural disasters, rather than God’s power, but they were the ways that God dealt with Pharaoh for his rebellion. Read Exodus 7-10.

The miracles of God were seen at the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on DRY GROUND, while the Egyptians were destroyed when they tried to do it. Ex. 14. Three days in, they came to a place in the wilderness where the water they found was bitter. Ex. 15. Moses threw a log into it and it became sweet. In Exodus 17, there was no water, and God provided it from a rock. Realize we are talking about satisfying the thirst of a few million people!

Hebrews 3:10, quoting Psalm 95:10, says that the Israelites did not know His ways. They knew His acts, they were used to the supernatural, but they did not know His ways. They continued to grumble and complain and commit other sins. Their hearts did not change! I Corinthians 10:1 says God was not pleased with most of them and they were struck down in the wilderness.

God’s acts are wonderful indeed to see and experience. He fed them from heaven. Every day, manna fell from the sky and they gathered it up and ate.  We are talking about a major amount of food and water here. There were 3 million people in their number. Their clothes and shoes didn’t wear out. The people came to rely on supernatural acts to save them from certain disaster.

When they came to Mt. Sinai and Moses went up the mountain to receive the law on stone tablets, the people were so afraid of the noise coming from the mountain that they asked Moses to hear God for them. They didn’t want to deal with Him themselves. (The priesthood mentality was born.) God intended for all of them to  have relationship with Him, but they didn’t want to do that. Are we like that?

What does it mean to know His ways? I believe it means to have such a love relationship with God, that you would never want to do anything to offend Him. As we come to know Him, we change into His image. He is a holy God. Changing is not only for our benefit, to keep us from evil and keep us safe, but also to display to the world that there really IS a God! And He is good! Knowing God’s ways means knowing and developing His attributes, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. I Cor. 14. He IS all of these things. We are to partake of His actual character. It is possible. 2 Peter chapter 1 says “His divine power has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him,” and that by the exceedingly great and precious promises, we might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the evil that is in the world through lust.

God was not pleased with most of that first generation of the Israelites. They lusted, they complained, they were idolaters, and they committed immorality. Their faith did not grow. And they suffered the consequences. Their bodies fell in the wilderness. Do we lust? Do we complain? Do we commit immorality? Are we idolaters? If the answer to any of these is yes, do we think we can escape the consequences? We shouldn’t, because “these things happened to them as an example FOR US on whom the end of the ages have come.” I Corinthians 10:6-11. It is important to know His ways in THIS life! God doesn’t grumble or complain. He is always positive.

Even though His acts convey His love, for many of the Israelites, they were unable to see it. It did not touch their hearts and so they died prematurely. I have been known to sit and cry when I hear testimonies of people being healed of incredible life-destroying diseases and disabilities. That’s because I am so greatly touched by that manifestation of God’s great love for people. It’s personal! Let’s be sure we recognize His love for us and respond accordingly, looking to walk always in His ways. Let us TRUST that insanely great love He has for us. That love let His own Son Jesus die a very cruel death on a cross to pay for ALL of our sins, forever. No one else has ever done that.

Pray: Oh God, our finite minds have trouble grasping the eternal, wonderfully immense love that You have for us. Enlarge our understanding through prayer and reading Your Word. Teach us to wait and watch for your intervention in our lives each day, to comprehend and celebrate everything that You do for us. Deliver us from every attitude that displeases You. We want to live our lives in Your kingdom and bring You glory.

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Is Forgiving Yourself Necessary?

The self help movement has infiltrated church teachings. If you are not a LOVER of the word of God, you most likely will fall for lies. I believe the whole concept of forgiving yourself is one of them. I have heard this talked about a lot through the years.

Forgiving YOURSELF is not in the Scriptures. Please hear me out. Jesus never commanded it; the apostle Paul never talked about it. What IS in the Scriptures is GOD’S forgiveness that was obtained for you through Jesus’ sacrifice. BIG difference.

I maintain that if you feel the need to forgive yourself, check to see if you have REALLY received the forgiveness that Jesus died to give you. The death of one innocent Man was enough to pay for the forgiveness of all the sins you have ever committed or WILL ever commit in the future. God was absolutely satisfied with it. If you say you need to add something to this, like forgiving yourself, you have not really accepted what He did for you, once and for all. You have not yet come to FAITH in the Word of God.

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14. That last part is perhaps one of the most hope-filled passages in the bible.

The distance from the brain to the heart is approximately 18 inches. The word of God must move from mental assent to heartfelt belief and faith. In order for this to happen, it has been my experience that saying those promises out loud is necessary. My ears and my heart need to hear the word of God.

The bible talks about confession. “If you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart, ….you shall be saved,” Romans 10:9. (The Greek word translated saved has many implications. Salvation is not just from sin, but that discussion is for another time.)  This is my confession, that “if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9.  “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103: 2-4.

Do you believe these scriptures? Rom. 8:35 “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39.

If you can’t say yes to that question, check the status of your salvation. Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as payment for all of your sins? If you are truly saved by faith in his sacrifice, then let’s work on  developing your faith in the word of God. You first must know WHAT it says, what those promises are. Studying His word is so important. Then confess it out loud. Incorporate it into your prayers. His sacrifice has FOREVER paid for all your past sins and any that you may commit in the future. There is no need to forgive your SELF! His forgiveness is ENOUGH!!! Receive it today! You won’t be disappointed.

Pray this. Dear Jesus, I am so full of worldly thinking. I repent for conforming to the world rather than to Your word. Forgive me for not studying your word as I should. I thank you for your cleansing power that brings wholeness into my life. With Your help, I want to commit myself to studying Your word and renewing my mind to it. Thank You for everything You have done for me.

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What does it mean to be made righteous?

I was listening to Pastor Joseph Prince talk about Abraham and how he sort of lied to Abimelech the king about his wife Sarah. The story is in Genesis Chapter 20. Abraham was afraid the men of the land would kill him to get his wife, so he told the king that Sarah was his sister (she was a half sister, so it was not entirely a lie, but he left out the wife part). The next thing we see is God appearing to King Abimelech in a dream saying “You are a dead man for taking Abraham’s wife.” The king did not know Sarah was Abraham’s wife, so it’s hard to fault him for the situation. But God gets on his case. We wait to see if he says anything to Abraham, but we never see it. I’ve always wondered about that situation. Pastor Prince said he thought God was getting onto the wrong guy. I tend to agree!

So why didn’t God chastise Abraham about his deception? Could it be God was not aware of it?  I doubt it, if one believes God knows everything. It seems to me that God was OVERLOOKING Abraham’s part in the whole thing. Why would he do that? Because “Abraham’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness.” Galatians 3:6  In God’s eyes, Abraham was righteous because of his faith in God. He had favor with God and a covenant just by having faith. Abimelech did not.

If we believe that God has accounts on everyone and is keeping score, let’s look at it this way…before Abraham had faith, his sins were mounting up higher and higher in his account. Then one day, he came to faith in God, and believed that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, as the New Testament says in Hebrews 11:6. All of a sudden, Abraham’s sins are wiped out.  There is nothing in the account, EXCEPT now God puts a positive in the place of the sin. It’s called RIGHTEOUSNESS, right standing with God. Once we come to FAITH, and in the new testament, we call it salvation (whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, Romans 10:13), God puts our sins away “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) and remembers them no more.

That’s why, as we look at the life of King David, who actually committed adultery and murder, and even after the prophet corrects him, he is still called a man after God’s own heart. God still likes him even though he did those things. (David still suffered consequences, but did not lose God’s love.) 

The same way that Jesus, who knew no sin was MADE to be sin (2 Cor. 5:21), we were MADE the righteousness of God in Christ. It was an exchange. He became sin and we became righteous. He lowered Himself for the human race. We were elevated back to the original position that Adam had before he sinned. It’s as simple as that. This is how deep is the love, grace and mercy of our God.

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Can We Command Angels?

I’m not even sure I can answer this question from the scriptures, but it’s something I thought I might toss around and we’ll look at some scriptures pertaining to angels to see what we can learn.

Some charismatic believers in the 1980s thought they could command angels, but can we really? Are angels real? What is their purpose?

In a thorough study, we would look at all Old Testament examples and New Testament scriptures to see what patterns are there and what the Word has to say about them. Where there is no direct command, I believe patterns in the bible are important to look for. God told Moses to “Be sure to make the tabernacle according to the pattern” He had shown him on the mountain.

The NT says angels are sent to assist the heirs of salvation. Heb.1:4 That would be us.

Heb. 2:5. The world to come will not be in subjection to angels. Heb. 2:16 God does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. That’s us.

We see angels in Genesis when they come to talk to Abraham about the coming judgment and then go on into the town of Sodom to get Lot and his family out of there. We see an angel appearing to Daniel in the book of Daniel to let him know why his prayer was delayed for three weeks.

In the Gospels, there is a lot of angelic activity around the pregnancy of Mary with Jesus. An angel appears to her and one appears to Joseph. And before that, one appears to Zacharias in the temple and gives him a message about his coming son.

We never see anyone in the OT or the NT actually commanding angels to do anything for them. Most of the time they are delivering messages. In the OT we do find Jacob hanging onto an angel and saying he will not let him go until he (the angel) blesses him.

Ps. 103:20 says Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” So it would seem that angels perform the will of God, and if they’re working for me, that’s what I want!

An angel came and delivered Peter out of prison when the church prayed.

The archangel Michael disputed with Satan over the body of Moses in Jude 9. I suppose satan tried to make a claim on it, that Moses had sinned. Moses had sinned, but he was made and declared righteous because of his faith. Satan will probably contend over our bodies too.

And here is another interesting Scripture about angels, Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Entertaining angels. Now that would be interesting!

Angels came and ministered to Jesus after his 40 days fast and his confrontation with the devil’s temptations in the wilderness. An angel was present in the tomb after his resurrection speaking to those who came looking for Jesus.

So we see angels delivering messages  of warning and future events and giving assistance. But we really don’t see anyone ever commanding them except the instance with Jacob insisting the angel bless him. That is what the record shows. I’m sure there are other places where angels are mentioned that I have not covered.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for the angels! We are grateful for all the assistance they can provide us on this earth, because we certainly need it.

 

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Power Over Our Enemies

Oh my. God has given us power over our enemies, our spiritual enemies, that is. People are not our enemies.

This is a spiritual reality. In the New Testament, we are “seated in heavenly places, far above all power and dominions.” Jesus defeated our spiritual enemy satan on the cross. He did this for us, to give us back the position of dominion over the earth that Adam lost when he sinned. He rendered the devil to be powerless and toothless. His bark is worse than his bite. The only power he has is the power of deception. If he can get us to believe a lie, he wins. We have to know the TRUTH, which is in the Word of God.

When Jesus met up with the devil in the wilderness (read Matthew 4), he showed us exactly how to defeat our enemies in the spirit. The book of James says, Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:7) We have been given the victory over our enemies, but we must do battle with our own conflicted minds and emotions to come to a position of rest and trust in God and His promises, where the circumstances no longer frighten or control us. Step 1: “Submit to God”…I say the word of God is true FOR ME! This first step is a must. My confidence is in the promises of God and His absolute love for me. Step 2: “Resist the devil.” The thoughts and beliefs that are against the word of God must be brought down by the spoken word of God. That is how we win. All thoughts not in line with the word of God must go. Results?…”and he will flee.” THAT is how we win!

Look at the life of King David. Before he was king, he was a 17 year old boy who spent all of his time out in the field tending his father’s sheep. He worshiped the Lord while he was there, playing music and singing. He fought off a bear and a lion who came after the sheep. This prepared him for what was coming. One day he visited the army of the Israelites, taking lunch to his brothers who were on the battlefield. When he arrived, he found God’s army cringing in fear at a 10 foot tall giant named Goliath. The giant is scary, but David had been fellowshipping with God. He was strong in faith. He said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine to defy the armies of the Living God?” David wasn’t looking at Goliath’s height or strength. David was looking at the fact that he himself had a covenant with God and that Goliath did not have that covenant. That made David on the winning side!

That 17 year old boy from the sheep herd, with no army training, challenged that great big giant of a man with a slingshot and five smooth stones (for Goliath’s brothers, should they show up). He ran toward Goliath and shot him right in the forehead with a stone, knocking him out and to the ground, at which point, David ran up and cut his head off with Goliath’s own sword. How’s that for winning?

Are you in covenant with God? Have you experienced salvation? You can be on the winning side too. You can win your “Goliath” battles too.

I did a study on the word “enemies” and found so many Old Testament promises about the victory God has given us. Even that supposed “lesser covenant” promised the people victory over their enemies. We have better promises in the New Testament, but I got excited just getting the mental picture. Genesis 14:20 “And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” Gen:49:8 “Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies,” (a promise to Judah, who was generally thought to lead praise). Ex. 23:22 God says, “I will be an enemy to your enemies…” Ex. 23:27 “I will send My fear  before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” Lev. 26:7 You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.”  Deut. 20:1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

Dear Jesus, I receive Your word regarding power over my enemies. By faith, I declare my freedom from them. Thank You for all You have done for me.

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Things Written for our Instruction

I am a questioner of all things. I have a natural curiosity about things. I believe God made me that way, in accordance with my purpose here on this earth. I love to solve a mystery and have always been drawn to mystery shows on tv. I have to be careful these days as there are some scenes I don’t want in my head. Sometimes that curiosity has led to places I have to pray myself out of!

So one of my questions is…if the first generation of Israelites died in the wilderness without getting to the Promised Land  because they didn’t change, how did the second generation turn out so well? They went over the river, fought battles, drove the enemy out, and gained their inheritance. One could say they learned the lessons of their parents and didn’t want to go down that path, which is possible. But in my own experience, even though I didn’t want to make the same decisions my mother did, I found I did not have the power to make good decisions before salvation, but instead, I followed the exact same path she did, making unwise decisions.

The Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians 10:2-4 that “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.…” All ate the same food, all drank  from the Rock (which is a picture of Jesus), but with MOST, God was not pleased and their bodies fell in the wilderness. My notes on this say, “Most? A majority?” It would seem that is what “most” means.

The wilderness will make or break us. Jesus overcame in the wilderness, and we all have wilderness times in our lives too. But we CAN make it. The bible reveals that they didn’t make it and spells out what they did…they grumbled and complained, doubting God. They lusted and were sexually immoral. We too must not fall into these sins.

“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them…Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day, twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” I Corinthians 10:6-11

Bring this into our times. Everyone in your church gets the same “food” (teaching) at church, everyone “drinks” or is saved by Christ (we assume). Why do some of us fall? Because the wilderness proves us. It tries our faith. We either make it through the hard times or we fold. Jesus made it because He knew His identity in God and He used the Word of God to battle the temptations that came by actually saying them out loud. Could this work for us too?

If you are a believer, you can win in the wilderness, just like Jesus did. He never wavered from who He was and He spoke the Scriptures to win the battle. If you aren’t a believer, you absolutely will fold in the wilderness. Experience salvation now!!! Jesus died to make you a winner!

How did their kids turn out to be such winners? I suppose there’s only one answer…they all got “saved,” so to speak. Salvation as we know it was not available in the Old Testament times, but FAITH was available. We see Abraham was justified by FAITH. The second generation Israelites believed and obeyed God and went into the Promised Land; they marched around Jericho according to the instructions God gave them and saw its walls fall down. The next battle didn’t go so well, because someone had disobeyed, which caused their defeat, but when they obeyed God, they prevailed.

There were two survivors of the group of 12 who were sent to spy out the Promised Land. They were the only two who had faith to go in and take it, but they had to wait because the other ten caused the hearts of the Israelites to fear. Joshua and Caleb were 80 plus years old before they got to see their dreams come true. The other spies who spread the evil report all died early. Joshua and Caleb, at 80 years of age, led the younger generation into the Promised Land. These two must have mentored and taught that generation how to be overcomers.  At least, that’s how I see it in my mind.

 

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