We’re not saved by what we DO, but by what has been DONE by Jesus! Titus 3

From my reading in Titus 3 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

Most people think that salvation can be earned by doing more good things than bad things.

Paul tells us the exact opposite.

“But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  Titus 3:4-7

God saved us, we can’t save ourselves!

Jesus washed away our sins with his blood and gives us new life through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we are saved.

We are saved by God’s mercy, not our good works.

Because of God’s love and kindness, followers of Jesus can be 100% confident that they will inherit eternal life. We are declared righteous in God’s sight because of Jesus death on the cross.  Our salvation is 100% dependent on Christ’s death and 0% depended on our good works.

We are not saved by what we DO, but by what has been DONE by Jesus!

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4 Ministry Principles Of Paul – 1 Thessalonians 1

From my reading in 1 Thessalonians 1 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

Paul sets a great example of four practices for those of us in ministry.

1. Pray constantly for those you serve.

“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2

Paul was constantly praying for the people he had ministered to. Most of us don’t pray for our people enough. Often we are too busy doing public ministry that we fail to fulfill the private ministry of prayer. I am challenged to pray more intentionally for those in my flock.

2. Preach with the power of the Holy Spirit.

“For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5a

The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers the preacher. Preaching should be done in reliance on the Holy Spirit. He is the one who will speak to people through you and will facilitate change in people’s lives.

As preachers, it is important for us to stay in step with the Spirit so that we can speak his words instead of relying on our own intellect and human wisdom.

3. Show your love through your life.

“And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5b

It has been said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Leaders should make it obvious to those they are leading that they genuinely love them. If you are using your followers then people will see through that. If you sincerely love them then people will follow you with joy.

4. Set an example by suffering well.

“So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

Suffering with joy sets a powerful example for your flock. Paul set an example for them in how to deal with hard times. He endured. He never gave up. Paul imitated Jesus as well. Jesus suffered the ultimate price for the sake of the gospel and did it with joy looking forward to his reward.

It has been said, “people would rather see a sermon that hear one any day.” I pray that I can be a good example to my people especially in times of suffering.

Which of these ministry principles is relevant to your life right now?

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Don’t Get Drunk, Be Filled With The Spirit – Ephesians 5:17-33

From my reading in Ephesians 5:17-33 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18

The Bible is clear that it is a sin to get drunk.

When you are drunk you lose control of yourself and do things you will regret. It leads to the wasting of your life.

Instead we are instructed to be filled with the Spirit.

When we are filled with alcohol we lose control. When we are filled with the Spirit we have self control. The phrase “Be filled” literally means to  continually be filled. This means that it is not a one time event in the life of a Christian.

The Holy Spirit already lives inside of all Christians, but many are not living in His fullness.

It is possible to quench the Spirit and grieve the Spirit through our sin.

Because of that, many Christians are not filled with the Spirit. Like a kink in a hose, our sin blocks the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.

Being filled with the Spirit is necessary to live in a way that pleases God.

It is how we grow. It is how we relate to people lovingly. It is how we can effectively share our faith. Being filled with the Spirit is when we see God using us for his purposes.

Are you currently filled with the Spirit or do you have sin that you need to confess?

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How To Know If You Are Walking In The Holy Spirit Or Not – Galatians 5

From my reading in Galatians 5 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

If you are a Christian then you have the Holy Spirit living inside you!

Unfortunately you still have your sinful nature to deal with. There is a battle raging. Here’s how Paul described it.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Galatians 5:16–17

We are instructed to let the Holy Spirit guide us and follow the desires that he gives us!

Paul gives us some ways to recognize if we are walking in the spirit or the flesh. Let’s start by looking at the effects of giving in to your sinful nature.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19–21

Whenever you see yourself giving in to lust, anger, envy and the other sins listed you can know that you are not walking in the Holy Spirit.

When we follow the desires of the sinful nature it leads to things that destroy our lives. If you catch yourself doing these things ask God to forgive you and stop! On the other hand when we follow the Holy Spirit we get the totally opposite results.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22–23

The Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace and these other good qualities.

By Jesus’ power we can say no to our sinful desires and yes to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:24–25

Have you recently been walking in the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit?

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Start And Finish By Faith – Galatians 3

From my reading in Galatians 3 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

We receive Christ by faith and are to continue living our entire Christian life by faith.

Unfortunately, many people receive Jesus through faith but then stop trusting him to help them grow. They now think it is up to them to grow based on their own human effort. Paul addressed this issue in the church in Galatia.

“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:2–3

Let me ask you the same question…

After starting your Christian life by the Spirit’s power and by faith are you now trying to grow by your own effort?

Paul is telling us that not only should be receive Christ by faith but our entire Christian life is to be lived by faith! He is saying that we did not receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law, so why should we think that we can grow that way.

Keeping the law will never earn you favor with God.

“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Galatians 3:11

It is only through faith that we can please God and grow in him.

I hope that this can be a reminder that as Christians our favor with God is not dependent on our effort but on our faith.

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How The Spirit Of God Uses The Word Of God To Make Us Like The Son Of God – 2 Corinthians 3

From my reading in 2 Corinthians 3 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

Paul shares a rather deep statement that explain how the Holy Spirit helps Christians become more like Jesus.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:16–18

Moses wore a veil to protect the people of Israel from God’s glory reflecting on his face. Paul is using this as an illustration to tell us that we now that Christians are in the new covenant we have access to God’s glory through Christ.

The phrase “the Lord is Spirit” is affirming that the Holy Spirit is God himself. The Spirit offers us freedom from fear, sin, and legalism. We are free to enter God’s presence unhindered.

With the veil taken away, we can see God and his word more clearly.

The phrase “can see and reflect” can be translated in serval ways and has the idea of looking in a mirror and seeing reflection. Some of the commentaries I have read have implied that the mirror is an illusion for God’s word. If follows that as we look deeply into God’s Word the Holy Spirit changes us to become more like Jesus. As Rick Warren has said it in the Purpose Driven Life,

“The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.”

As we reflect on God’s word and see God’s glory we become more and more like him.

The Holy Spirit is the catalyst for spiritual growth. He is the one who allows us to see Jesus clearly and slowly transforms into his image.

The word “change” here in the greek is “metamorphoo” which is where we get the root word metamorphosis. The Metamorphosis a butterfly goes through is a good illustration of how we are changed by God. The literal meaning of the word is “to change the essential form or nature of something.” We are changed into something totally different when the Spirit gets a hold of us!

The Holy Spirit changes us to become more like Jesus.

That is the epic journey that Christians are on in this life. I pray that I will allow the Holy Spirit to continue to transform me and will use me to help others become more like Jesus!

8 Life Changing Truths About Christians In Romans 8:1-21

From my reading in Romans 8:1-21 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

If you are a Christian who is letting the Holy Spirit control your life, then these truths are for you.

1. There’s No Condemnation For You

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1

2. You Are Set Free From The Power Of Sin

“And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” Rom 8:2

3. You Can Experience Life And Peace Through The Holy Spirit

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Rom 8:6

4. The Same Spirit Who Raised Jesus From The Dead Lives In You

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

5. You’re Not Obligated To Follow The Sinful Nature

“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” Rom 8:12

6. You Are An Adopted Child Of God, Not Fearful A Slave.

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Rom 8:15

7. You Are A Heir Of God’s Glory

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Rom 8:17

8. You Will Experience Freedom From Death And Decay In Heaven.

“The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Rom 8:21

Which of these truths makes you most excited?

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Discerning God’s Call For Your Life As You Go – Acts 16:1-21

From my reading in Acts 16:1-21 in the One Year New Testament.

Discerning God’s call is something that I am faced with questions about a lot as a college minister.

I believe that the way that God calls each person is different. For many people, I believe that one way to discover your calling to to try several things and see where the Holy Spirit leads you.

Paul and Silas were already called to go as missionaries. They were traveling through Asia and wanted to preach in the areas of Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, and Bithynia. But they were prevented by the Holy Spirit! Here’s a hint: any time the Holy Spirit doesn’t let you go somewhere, don’t go!

Paul and Silas were not standing still, waiting for God to tell them where to go.

They were actively pursuing God’s mission, and the Holy Spirit was able to guide them as they were going. It has been said,

“It’s easier to steer a moving car than a stationary one.”

Especially for young people, it is helpful to try a variety of things and see where God guides you.

This is one reason I really believe in short term mission trips. You don’t need have to receive a special call to go on short trip; just go!  Who knows if God will give you a heart to go back and plant your life there. God spoke specifically in a vision to Paul calling him to Macedonia,

“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:9–10

Paul was actively seeking the place that God wanted him and it was made very clear!

If you are trying to find out what God is calling you to do, pray about it of course, but also try different things and I believe he will guide you!

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Can’t Get No Satisfaction? Find It Here – John 7:28-53

From my reading in John 7:28-53 in the One Year New Testament.

Jesus attended “The Feast of Tabernacles” which was a memorial for the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness.

One of the traditions of this festival was a procession to a nearby spring. The priest filled a golden pitcher with water and the choir sang,

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

After this, they returned to the temple and poured the water on the altar symbolizing how God’s drew water from a rock when they were thirsty in the desert. In the middle of this celebration Jesus stood up and made a bold claim!

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37–38

Jesus is basically saying, “I am the Rock broken for you, where true living water will flow!” “I am the well of salvation!” “I am the source of true satisfaction. ”

Jesus invites anyone who is spiritually thirsty to come to him. Any one who can’t find satisfaction can find it in Jesus. Christ’s proclamation echoes God’s invitation in Isaiah 55:1

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!” Isaiah 55:1

If you are not satisfied with your life come to Jesus! He will give you rivers of living water flowing within you. The rivers of living water he was talking about referrers to the Holy Spirit.

“By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:39

The Holy Spirit gives us a satisfaction that will not run out.

A flowing river remains fresh and keeps flowing. 

Those who stay in the flow of the Holy Spirit will experience a fresh stream of satisfaction.

The only way to experience this is to daily stay connected with the Holy Spirit. Even if you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you it is possible to not be benefiting from him. You could be quenching the spirit by sinning.

But when you allow yourself to be guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit, and you are actively obeying his promoting, then you will experience true satisfaction.

The satisfaction we experience here on earth through the Holy Spirit is only a glimpse of the complete and unending satisfaction that followers of Jesus will experience in heaven! I can’t wait!

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A Special Moment Where All Three Members Of The Trinity Are Observed – Luke 3

From my reading in Luke 3 in the One Year New Testament.

One of the only moments where people were able to observe all three members of the trinity at once was the baptism of Jesus. Luke writes it this way.

“One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:21–22

Jesus was being baptized, symbolizing the start of his public ministry.

The Holy Spirit descended on him to show us his endorsement.

The Father clearly said Jesus was his beloved son who gives Him great joy.

The trinity is one God and three distinct persons, and those three persons were observed at the moment of Jesus baptism. After that moment the trinity kept working together on Christ’s redeeming mission.

Jesus was led by the Spirit and prayed to the Father regularly. He depended upon the Father and the Holy Spirit daily for relationship and guidence. In the same way we should depend up on the trinity in our walk with God.

When we receive Christ we experience  fellowship with the Trinity.

When we enter a relationship with Jesus, we also have the privilege of relating to all three members of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit guides and convicts us. Through prayer we have unhindered access to the Father with Jesus as our mediator! What a privilege!

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