Sin Put To Death

Romans 6:11-13 (NIV) 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

When our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, He died for sin once and for all. His resurrected life did not carry the sin that was laid on him. That sin was dealt with in His death. The Apostle is telling us to identify with Jesus’ death. If our sins were dealt with there in His death, we are raised with Him to new life. This new life does not carry the sin that the old life bore. Instead, it carries the life of God in Christ Jesus. We were once alive to sin, mastered and manipulated by it. Now we are alive to God.

The power that sin reigned over us has been dealt with. We do not have to let it rule us any longer. Now we are free to offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. Before the cross came into our life, we could have offered our bodies to righteousness, but we did not have the power to break the control of sin. Now that it is broken, we must offer ourselves to our new Master. Sin controlled us to bring death. Jesus masters us to bring life.

Once we offered our mouths for vile speech, our ears to hear gossip, our eyes to lust, and our mind to self-seeking. Now we can offer our mouths for instruments of praise and proclamation of the truth. We can offer our ears to the Spirit to hear His direction. We offer our minds to dwell upon the beauty of the Lord, His marvelous attributes. Have you taken the time to consciously go before the Lord in prayer and dedicate the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness? I would encourage you to do it now. As you do, the Spirit of God may remind you of His grief over the use of some of your members that should be given to life and not to death. Dedicate them to Him alone right now. He went to the cross and conquered death that you might do so.

Prayer: Lord, use my body for Your glory. Keep my thoughts pure and holy. Use my arms to serve the needy, my feet to take me where You send me, my ears to hear your Word, my eyes to see the need around me, and my mouth to tell others of Your love. Amen

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Death – The Punishment For Sin

Romans 5:15-17 (NIV) 15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

It was because of Adam’s sin that death entered the world. Death reigned over all men. All felt the conviction of God because of sin. They sensed that judgment was to follow. What a weight Adam brought upon mankind!

It only took one man to bring a gift of grace, God’s grace, to liberate all that would come to Him for that gift. What contrasting elements these two brought into the world! The one brought death and the other life. But we are not just talking about man’s last breath and life after death. Those are just a part of death and life. Death is the reign of sin over us. Its destructive ways demand that all that is done be lifeless and damaging to you and all involved with you. It is more than a lifestyle. It is a tyrant that chains you to self-destruction. It is a master at torture. It promises and never delivers. It is the craving for salt in a man dying of thirst.

In a similar but contrasting way, the gift of Jesus Christ is life reigning in you. If you have received the abundant provision of grace and the righteousness of Christ, then through Jesus Christ you live! That means that your daily life is a channel for His Spirit to bring life to you and to those your life touches. Instead of the destructiveness we once lived under, all that we do leads to lasting goodness and wholeness. Instead of sin reigning over your thoughts, actions and desires, Jesus reigns. His very life steers you toward all that is good as you grow into His likeness. Life is more than a heartbeat. It is the reign of the Giver of life.

Consider: Is He reigning in you today, or are you a slave of sin and death?

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How to Develop Faith

If you are not full of faith now, that doesn’t mean you will be that way all your life. You can choose to be a person of faith!

1. Listen to the Word of God as much as possible. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Constant attention to the Word of God produces faith, especially if we attend to it with an open heart and mind. The book of Proverbs encourages us to constantly keep the Word in our hearts and to keep our attention on it (Proverbs 4:20-22). Health is one of the benefits promised.

What we listen to affects what we believe. If we listen to the TV more than to the Word, we will believe the lies of the world more than we will believe what God says. Constant attention to lies produces deception. Eventually the mind will accept something if that thing is heard often enough and persuasively enough. That is why we should keep hearing the Word of God, through preaching, Christian tapes, confession of the Word, daily fellowship with godly Christians. This will cause us eventually to believe the truth from our hearts.

2. Realize that every believer has been given a measure of faith by God. (Romans 12:3). We just have to use and develop what God has given. We must put it into action.

 3. Obey God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is as you walk that you gain strength. God will not reveal greater things to you until you are faithful in the things He is showing you NOW. Therefore obedience to the Spirit and what He is showing you through the Word or through your conscience is important in the development of your faith. You cannot have living faith without taking some practical steps of obedience. Act on what God is saying!

4. Give thanks. Give thanks for the results before you see. Don’t complain – that shows you doubt God’s love and God’s answer to your situation. Give thanks in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

6. Develop a life of praise and worship. Praise drives the powers of darkness away and brings the throne of God into your circumstances. Praising God is an act of faith and helps your faith to grow. It is commanded (Hebrews 13:15). Worship is admiring God through the Spirit. If you can perceive who is God, His power, faithfulness and love your trust and faith in Him will grow.
7. Spend as much time as you can with people of faith. The spirit of faith on them will touch your life also (Proverbs 13:20).
8. Speak the WORD. By saying with your mouth you exercise your faith, you hear the Word and you build it into your life. God’s Word is anointed and has power when it is spoken to change the spiritual atmosphere (Joshua 1:8; Romans 10:10). Confession of God’s Word (saying the same thing as God’s word) brings you into the place where the Lord will move to fulfill it (Hebrews 3:1). The angels hearken to the voice of God’s Word (Psalms 103:20)
9. Seek holiness, purity of heart. “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). It is with the heart that man believes (Romans 10:10). To the extent that the heart has uncleanness, unforgiveness and other bad conditions within, the man will lose the spiritual perception of the Lord which enables his heart to believe. Purity and faith feed each other.
10. Remember that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). The centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) and the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28) were both motivated by their love for another in coming to Jesus. And both were described as having great faith. Let us believe God for others to be blessed, in a spirit of love, and as we give of our selves God will give blessings to us also (Luke 6:37). This is related to the idea of “seed-faith”. Express your faith by planting a seed in terms of some form of giving. God will release a multiplied harvest in return if we endure and do not faint (Hebrews 10:36).

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Jesus Wants Followers Not Fans – Part 2

Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 10.34-37; “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ’set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (NKJV).” We read that with a confused look on our faces. We say how can this be? What does He mean that we are “not worthy” of Him if we don’t hate those who should be some of our closest relationship?

Jesus in our text here is saying that if you come after me; if you want to be my follower then you must love me more than any thing or any body in this universe. He is saying that when you compare your love for me and your love for every other relationship you have it should appear as though your love for me so out shines your love for any thing or any body else that it seems that you hate them in comparison to me. 

If we want to be followers rather than fans we must make the supreme commitment to put Him first place in our live. The cost of following Christ begins with a supreme commitment and continues with a supreme sacrifice. Jesus said to these multitudes, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple (Luke 14.26 NKJV).” The cross of Christ represents sacrifice. Jesus came to the cross because of sin. Paul tells us that the “wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23 NKJV).” So, because of sin someone had to die. That someone should have been you or me. However, because of our depravity even if we had die on the cross we would not have freed ourselves from sins penalty nor would we have appeased the wrath of God towards sin.

Being a follower comes with a cost. If we want to be followers rather than fans we must make the supreme commitment forsake all and the supreme sacrifice to turn from sin and self so that we can be fully committed to Him.

Beloved it’s easy to be a fan of Christ, but it takes total commitment to be a follower of Christ. Jesus is looking for followers not fans. Fans are lost and headed for eternal torment and separation from God in the lake of fire. Followers are God’s children who are assured an eternal home in His Kingdom. Which are you today?

I hope is that this message will challenge each of us to examine their commitment as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Remember: To be a follower of Christ takes a supreme commitment.

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Jesus Wants Followers Not Fans

Luke 14.25-33

Let’s look at some truths that will help you determine your status as a Fan or Follower of Jesus Christ. 

Are you ready for some football! Football fans do crazy things. We will pack up and head to the parking lot of our favorite ball team so that we can gill out and watch the game on television when we could have done that same thing at home on our own patio. 

Fans are finicky. When things are going good for the team we fill the stands and cheer them on. But, when the chips are down we criticize every play. We bad mouth the players and the coach. We talk about the way it used to be. Fans come in frenzies. They feed on the excitement and vanish when the difficult times come. 

The sad truth is that many Christians today resemble football fans. They rally around the excitement and they run from the work. They encourage in the good times and criticize when things are not going so well. They fill the pew and wait to be entertained. 

Jesus understood this. We find Him on His way to Jerusalem and a crowd has gathered around Him. In fact the Bible says that “great multitudes” were all around Him. When Jesus saw these multitudes He turned and said to them in essence, “I’m not looking for fans; I’m looking for followers.” 

Jesus is saying to us today what He said to those multitudes in His day. It’s easy to be a fan. Fans are here today and gone tomorrow. Following takes commitment. Following takes sacrifice. Unfortunately the church today is filled with fans rather than followers. We have people in our pews that are fans of the building they gather in. There are those in church today who are fans of the preacher or the worship leader. There are those who are even fans of Jesus, but they have never made the transition to become a follower of Jesus. It is time for you to declare your loyalty. It is time for you to decide if you’re going to be a fan or a follower of Jesus Christ.

We must realize that there is a cost to following Jesus Christ. This cost is twofold. It begins with a supreme commitment. Jesus said to these multitudes, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14.26 NKJV).” We hear these words and we say wait just one minute. Did I read that correctly?

Did Jesus just tell me that if I wanted to follow Him that I had to hate those who were closest to me? This seems to be the complete opposite of what we know about God and His character. After all the Bible tells us the “God is Love.” Jesus has told us in other places that we must love one another. In fact the Bible teaches that people will know that we are the children of God by the way we love each other. Yet, here we have Jesus telling us that we must hate in order to follow Him. To be cont’d… 

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