Friday, June 22, 2018

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This blog is meant to encourage you to do the good works, which were prepared beforehand for those who are saved by grace through faith.  It was for these good works that the Lord created us.

As the Scripture says:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:8-10)

Resting from Work Keeping Sundays Holy Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday
The Lord's Day Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II Famous Christian Sabbath Observers
Sabbath Period The Origin of the Sabbath Righteous Deeds and White Robes
 Doing What is Right Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice The Law Established Through Faith
Law of Love in the New Testament Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Costly Grace
Partaking of the Divine Nature House of Idleness God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He?
Faith Works! The Spirit's Law of Life The Spirit of the Law
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? Righteousness by Faith not Law The Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord
Compelled by Love   God's Idea of Work What Then Must We Observe
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den? Remember the Eternal Law of God
All Our Deeds Are Known to the Lord Practicing Your Righteousness The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun
The Ways of Life Followers of the Way Judging with Righteous Judgment
Holding Fast the Faithful WordWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisThe Conditional Security of the Believer
No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping Running from God
Spiritual Do-It-Yourself Life by the Spirit, Not Under the Law Walking by Faith

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Walking by Faith

While I was reading the gospel of Matthew, I observed the recurring theme of faith, and would like to share these passages with you in the hopes that it would encourage your faith.

The Faith of the Centurion 
The first passage is found in Matthew's eight chapter, where he wrote of the Roman centurion's faith:

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus *said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment. (Mat 8:5-13)

The centurion brought his need to Jesus saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." (Mat 8:6). He trusted in the power of Jesus’ Word saying, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed." (Mat 8:8). He believed in Jesus’ authority over sickness saying, "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." (Mat 8:9). 

Consequently Jesus was astonished by his great faith. "Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.'" (Mat 8:10). Although this man was a Roman, he had greater faith than anyone Jesus had ever met in Israel.

One lesson we learn from this man's faith is that it will be done just as you believe it will. That's what Jesus taught when He said to the centurion, "'Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed that very moment." (Mat 8:13).

The centurion demonstrated his faith when he said to the Lord, "Just say the word and my servant will be healed." To that the Lord replied, “Go, it will be done for you as you have believed. And his servant was healed at that very moment.” This is our take away to practice on our own.

The Little Faith of the Disciples 
In contrast to the great faith of the centurion, observe the little faith of the disciples in the same eight chapter of Matthew:

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!" He *said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Mat 8:23-27)

Just as the centurion did, the disciples brought their need to Jesus by waking Him and saying, "Save us, Lord" (Mat 8:25). Yet they still believed they were going to drown, saying, "We are perishing!"

Jesus reproved them for lack of faith, saying, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" (Mat 8:26a). At Jesus’ rebuke the win and waves were calmed. "Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm."  (v. 26b).

Although the disciples expressed a little faith, it was quite weak compared to that of the centurion. The disciples should have either told Jesus to say the word and the storm would cease or spoken to the storm themselves and commanded it to cease in Jesus’ name.

The Faith of the Paralytic’s Friends 
In the very next chapter there is another testimony of faith, which is the faith of the paralytic's friends:

Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—then He *said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Mat 9:1-8)

Jesus saw their faith when they brought to him the paralytic. The Scripture says, "Seeing their faith..." (v. 2). Jesus commanded him to get up and walk, saying to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." (Mat 9:6). At that the man got up and walked home (v. 7).

The Faith of the Bleeding Woman and the Ruler
In the same ninth chapter of Matthew we read of the faith that the woman with the hemorrhage had, as well as the ruler. We need to look at Matthew's account as well as Mark's to get the full story.

While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live." Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples. And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well." But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well. (Mat 9:18-22)

When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. One of the synagogue officials named Jairus *came up, and on seeing Him, *fell at His feet and *implored Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." (Mar 5:21-23)

Here we observe that just as the centurion did, the disciples in the boat, and the friends of the paralytic all brought their need to Jesus, so did the ruler. He came to Jesus and bowed down before Him, and said, "My daughter has just died." (Mat 9:18). He demonstrated his faith by his confession, when he said, "come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live." (v. 18). That took a lot of faith to say that about his dead daughter.

Jesus took the girl by the hand and she got up. "When the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up." (Mat 9:25)

Likewise the bleeding woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years had faith and confessed to herself that she’d be healed if she touched His cloak. "For she was saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I will get well.'" (Mat 9:21). She brought her need to Jesus, acting upon her faith. "And a woman...came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak." (Mat 9:20). Her faith was the evidence of things not seen, but once she exercised it openly, she was healed from that moment. "But Jesus turning and seeing her said, 'Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well.'" (Mat 9:22)

Peter’s Lack of Faith 
The next example of faith in Matthew's gospel is in the fourteenth chapter, and this time it is Peter's lack of faith.

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!" (Mat 14:22-33)

In this passage, I observed that initially Peter did believe, and at the Lord’s command he walked on water. "Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus." (Mat 14:28-29). If he didn't have faith, he wouldn't have gotten out of the boat and walked on the water. This proves that all things are possible to those who believe.

But he became afraid when he saw the wind, and as a result he began to sink.  He did not become afraid because he was starting to sink. Rather he started to sink, because he became afraid. "But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Mat 14:30).

Jesus caught him when he cried out, “Lord, save me,” (v. 31). He stretched forth His hand and took hold of Peter and pulled him up. Amazingly the Lord was also standing on nothing more than water, but was also able to uphold Peter, too.

Jesus reproved him for his little faith and for doubting, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mat 14:31). Doubt and fear are the enemies of faith. Had he not doubted, he wouldn't have started to sink. Likewise, we should not give way to doubts and fears, but have faith in the Lord and nothing will be impossible for us.

Keys of the Kingdom 
We see another example of this theme of faith in Matthew's sixteenth chapter, although it does not contain the word "faith" in it. Jesus said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Mat 16:19)

In the original, it reads more like this: "Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.
Whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." That's amazing isn't it! It demonstrates the power of the word spoken in faith.

I recall one time in Ploiesti, Romania, after the service was over, I was praying for the pastor. I was led to pray fervently that the Lord would send a mighty band of warring angels to protect him. Afterward he said he felt refreshed. And the young man that was standing next to me as I prayed for the pastor described what happened in the spirit. He said the Lord allows him to see things in the spirit, and as I began to pray for that band of angels, even before I could finish the sentence, he saw a band of powerful angels come into the sanctuary. They took up their positions forming a perimeter around the entire inside of the sanctuary of the church. And as I recall, he said there were two mighty angels with swords who stood right behind the pastor looking very serious. Praise the Lord! Before I could even finish saying it, they were entering onto the scene! What I loosed on earth had already been loosed in heaven.

The Disciples’ Lack of Faith
Once again in the seventeenth chapter, we find this theme of faith recurring, and once again it is the disciples' lack of it.

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him." And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He *said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Mat 17:14-20)
The problem here is that the disciples could not heal the epileptic boy. For the man told Jesus "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him." (Mat 17:16). The disciples wondered why He could do it but they couldn’t, asking Him, "Why could we not drive it out?" (Mat 17:19)

The answer was was because they had so little faith. Jesus said, "Because of the littleness of your faith." They didn’t even have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. Faith as small as a seed moves mountains. He taught them: "For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." (Mat 17:20). Had their faith been at least as the size of a mustard seed, they could have cured the epileptic boy, but their faith was even smaller than that. In fact, it was probably mixed with doubt and unbelief.

Jesus taught us here about the power of the word spoken in faith. He didn't tell them that they would pray, "Oh Lord, if it is your will, please move this mountain." He said, "You will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move." The power of a word spoken in faith is such that we can speak directly to mountains, problems, sickness, disease, or demons and command them by faith to move out of the way, come out, be healed, be loosed in Jesus' name, and it will happen. I am not saying this from a theoretical point of view, but from the perspective of one having had the privilege of experiencing it myself first hand. This is also recorded in Mark's gospel:

And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mar 11:22-24)

The Royal Official’s Faith 
Having covered the theme of faith in Matthew's gospel, I would like to touch on two more examples found in John's gospel, beginning with the royal official's faith.

"Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." The royal official *said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus *said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed and his whole household." (Joh 4:46-53)

I observed that the royal official brought his need to Jesus. "When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death...The royal official *said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
(Joh 4:47,49)

Jesus responded and spoke the word. He said to him, "Go; your son lives." (v. 50). The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. (Joh 4:50) Consequently his son was healed. "So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, 'Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.' So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, 'Your son lives'; and he himself believed and his whole household." (Joh 4:52-53). Only believe!

The Work of Faith 
I would like to conclude with one final example from John's gospel.

"Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'" (Joh 6:28-29)

The people asked what they must do to do the work God requires, and Jesus told them that the work of God is to believe in Jesus! If you want to do the work that God requires, then believe in Jesus.

Putting it All Together
As we have observed in Matthew's gospel, there is a definite, recurring theme of faith. We learn many wonderful lessons from the faith of the centurion, the paralytic's friends, the bleeding woman, the ruler, and the royal official. We even learn some lessons from Peter's lack of faith and that of the rest of the disciples. We learned how to use the keys of the kingdom to loose and bind things on earth, and how they have already been loosed or bound in heaven when we do so. Finally we learned that the work of God is to believe on Jesus Christ. Just as all the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11, we must live by faith, and one day we will enter into the kingdom of heaven as they did with many wonderful testimonies of God's power to His eternal glory.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The New American Standard Version, copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like By Faith Alone - Part I, By Faith Alone - Part II, By Faith Alone - Part III, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Following in His Steps, and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.


Life by the Spirit, Not Under the Law

I would like to encourage you today to consider what the apostle Paul taught us about living by the Spirit rather than under the Law. He taught this all throughout his epistles, but he emphasized it very much in his letter to the Galatians.

Despite having come to Christ, the Galatians were foolishly turning back to special days, months, seasons, and years, as well as circumcision, in order to be justified before God. However, these are merely shadows and types found in the law that point to the realities found in Christ. He wrote to them:

"Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?...But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!" (Gal 3:3; 4:9-10, NIV 1978)

As he wrote to the Colossians, "These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." (Col 2:17, NIV). We no longer need to turn back to shadows when we have Christ. Reality is found in Christ!

Paul taught that we are justified by faith and not by observing the law. He told of one incident when he had said these words to the apostle Peter, who was being influenced by Judaizers: “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified." (Gal 2:15-16, NIV).

He said, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses." (Ac 13:38-39, NIV). Or as the 1978 NIV puts it, "Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses." (Ac 13:39, NIV 78).

Paul clearly described his relationship to the law as having died to it. “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:19-20, NIV). Notice he said it was through the law that he died to the law.

However, he also said it was through the body of Christ that we died to the law. "So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God...But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." (Rom 7:4,6. NIV)

Paul explained that righteousness cannot be gained through the law. "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal 2:21, NIV). "Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because 'the righteous will live by faith.'” (Gal 3:11, NIV). He said it this way to the Romans: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin...For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." (Rom 3:20,28, NIV).

Paul proved from Scripture that not only is it impossible for anyone to be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law, but anyone who relies on the works of the law is under a curse. He wrote: "For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'" (Gal 3:10 NIV). So not only is it a bad idea to rely on the law for justification, but it will actually bring a curse on you.

Dear people, we are set free from the curse, since Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. Paul said, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" (Gal 3:13, NIV 78).

Be careful that you are not trying to be justified by the law, or else you will alienate yourself from Christ and fall from His grace. "You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." (Gal 5:4, NIV).

We need to understand that we are no longer under the law's supervision. As Paul said, "Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (Gal 3:25, NIV 78). That means we don't need it's shadows and types, since we live by faith in Christ. We no longer need circumcision, which has no value in Christ. The only thing that counts now is faith expressing itself through love. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Gal 5:6, NIV). What counts is a new creation! "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation." (Gal 6:15, NIV).

The one command that sums up the entire law is "Love your neighbor as yourself." Paul said, "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” By obeying this command, you fulfill the entire law. "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2, NIV).

But love is not something the flesh can produce, because it is a fruit of the Spirit. You can only produce love if you are living by the Spirit. Conversely those who live by the Spirit won't gratify the desires of the sinful nature, but will bear the fruit of the Spirit, against which there is no law. "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." (Gal 5:16, NIV). As long as you are living by the Spirit, you won't be able to sin or violate the law of God. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Gal 5:22-23, NIV). There is no law against anything the Spirit of God produces in your life as you live to please Him.

That's why we must always sow to please the Spirit. "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal 6:8, NIV). Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).

In all of this, let's remember that we don't nullify the law by this faith, rather we uphold the law (Rom 3:31). "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." (Rom 2:13, NIV).

Just because we are under grace and not under law, that does not mean we should continue to sin. "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!" (Rom 6:14-15, NIV).

Obedience is Essential for Disciples
I have written in many of my articles about the Law and the Spirit, and the need for obedience, which I would encourage you to read at the links below, especially the first two in the left-hand column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
The New Covenant
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Faith Works!
The Obedience of Faith
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?
Law of Love in the New Testament
Righteousness by Faith and Not Law
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully     
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
The Spirit's Law of Life
The Spirit of the Law
What Then Must We Observe?

Putting it All Together
If you have come to know Christ as your Lord and Savior and you have been born again, then you have died to the law and are redeemed from its curse. You are no longer under its supervision. You have died to what once bound you. You have been released from the law so that you serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. You no longer need the shadows and types that were found in the rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices of the law, because you now have the realities of those things, which are found in Christ.

If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! No one who relies on the law is justified before God, and no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law. Those who seek to be justified by the law are under a curse. They have become estranged from Christ and fallen from grace.

We maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Indeed the righteous will live by faith. Just as we come to Christ by faith and are born of the Spirit, we must continue to live by faith and live by the Spirit. After coming to Christ by the Spirit, we cannot attain our goal by human effort, no matter how valiantly we may try. Yet we have an obligation to obey God's commandments and we fulfill the entire law by loving our neighbor as ourselves. We fulfill it by bearing one another's burdens.

This is why we need to read the Word of God, press into the Lord in prayer, really get to know Him intimately, and seek to please the Spirit. Then we will bear the fruit of the Spirit against which there is no law.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Obedience by the Spirit, What Then Must We Observe?, Is Obedience Optional?, The Law of Christ, and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spiritual Do-It-Yourself

Dear brethren in the faith,

I want to write to you today about something that we don't hear much about these days, in my opinion. I certainly believe in preaching about what God and His Son Jesus Christ have done and continue to do for us, which is of paramount importance, and if you know me, then you know that I do preach that message.  For example, you will find articles of mine like Christ Alone, By Grace Alone, By Faith Alone, Righteousness By Faith Not Law, No Flesh Will Be Justified By WorksElection and Predestination, Keeping Power of GodYou Must Be Born Again, God Forgives and Forgets, Who Intercedes for Us?, and The Witness of the Spirit.

However, today I want to talk to you about the things that God will not do for you, but which you must do yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit. I have written many articles on this topic, such as Faith Works!, because this is what the Word teaches and emphasizes to us as believers. So rather than rewrite all those articles, I would like to be concise and simply give you some examples. Some of the things God will not do for you include the following: repenting for your sin, Seeking the Lord, being Crucified with Christ, being water baptizedLiving a Life Worthy of the LordKeeping a Good ConscienceAvoiding Becoming a Corrupted ChristianWalking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness, Holy Living in a Perverted WorldKeeping Oneself from Being Polluted by the WorldOvercoming the World, living a life of Separation from the WorldAvoiding Worldly WorshipPleasing the Lord, Being a Witness for Christ, giving offerings, TithingFasting, humbling yourself beneath God's mighty hand, Having a Servant's Heart, Keeping the Marriage Bed Holy, doing everything For the Glory of God AloneLoving Deeply, Abiding in ChristPracticing the Presence of the Lord, Walking in the Light of His PresenceReading the Bible, listening to the Word, praying and claiming His Promises, putting on The Wardrobe of the Saints, which includes the full armor of God; battling in Spiritual Warfare, resisting the devil, Inquiring of the Lord, maintaining Unbroken Communion with GodListening to JesusStanding in the Gap, working out your Salvation with Fear and Tremblingobeying the LordDoing What is Rightdoing everything the Lord has commandedHolding Fast the Faithful WordPracticing Your Righteousness, helping those who are weak, looking after orphans and widows, Pressing on Toward the GoalStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodWalking in the Perfect Will of GodAiming for PerfectionLeading a Blameless LifeWearing Garments of Godliness, being Led by the Spirit, Doing Everything with Love, with Thanks, in the Name of Jesus, and as Unto the LordPraising the LordLaying on of HandsResting from Work, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Entering God's Rest. Remember that faith without deeds is useless (Js 2:26).

We should also understand that even some of the things that God does for us are not entirely without our involvement. We must still pray to receive His wonderful gifts of salvation, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and The Baptism with Fire. On the other hand, even the things that He will not do for us, we cannot do without Him. For we must always remember that we can do nothing without Him, as Jesus said, "apart from Me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5b, NIV). We need His help in all we do, so "Do-It-Yourself" is somewhat of a misnomer. We are not independent of God, but rather completely dependent upon Him. We put no confidence in the flesh, but our confidence is in the Lord.

I hope this has encouraged you in your walk with God to take an active role in it. He still loves you, but His standard for heaven is high. Be sure you don't miss heaven for anything.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, "Faith Works" image courtesy Media Machine. The Do It Yourself and Faith Works images are used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Conditional Security of the Believer, If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Running from God

There are some wonderful lessons of mercy, grace, and compassion to learn from Jonah and his experience when God sent Him to proclaim His message to the lost. Let's take a look and observe how God responded in each situation, and His sovereign control over everything as He sends and appoints whomever and whatever He pleases.

The Lord Sent Jonah
The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." (Jon 1:1-2)

Here God appointed or ordained Jonah to go forth when He sent him to Nineveh. However, Jonah ran away from the Lord and fled from His presence. Just as He appointed Jonah, He also appointed some other things. Let’s take a look at what those were.

The Lord Sent a Great Wind
The first thing the Lord did in response to Jonah running from Him was to send a great wind. “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jon 1:4, NIV). In fact the word for “sent” in this verse may also be translated “hurled” to indicate the mighty force with which the Lord sent it.

God opposes the proud, and He was opposing Jonah, who was acting in a selfish, strong-willed, rebellious manner.

Because of the storm, the sailors called on their gods and the captain ordered Jonah to get up from his sleep in the hold of the ship and call on his God. The sailors also cast lots to determine who was the cause of this storm and the lot fell to Jonah. When they asked him about it, he admitted he was to blame and once again said that he was running from the Lord, just as he had already told them. When they asked what they should do to calm the storm, he advised them to throw him into the sea, which they did. As soon as they threw him overboard, the sea grew calm.

The Lord Appointed a Fish
The next thing the Lord did was to appoint a fish to swallow Jonah. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NASB)

The word “appointed” comes from the Hebrew word “manah,” which is used four times in the book of Jonah, meaning “sent” or “appointed.” The NET Bible translates the word as “sent”. “The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NET).

While Jonah did not obey God when he was sent, the fish obeyed God when it was sent. It swallowed Jonah.

The Lord Commanded the Fish
The next thing that happened was that Jonah prayed from inside the belly of the great fish. He cried out to God and the Lord heard him. The Lord’s response to Jonah’s prayer was to give him a second chance, so He commanded the fish to disgorge him. “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (Jon 2:10)
Once the fish had vomited Jonah onto dry land, God sent him a second time to Nineveh.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."
(Jon 3:1-2)

In obedience to God, Jonah arose and began his first of three days walk through the city with the message, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." (3:4). The people responded well to the message and repented sincerely. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jon 3:5). In fact, when the king heard the message, he ordered all of his citizens to repent.

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish." (Jon 3:6-9)

That moved the heart of God, who saw their repentance and relented from sending the calamity He had intended to send upon the people of Nineveh.

The Lord’s decision not to send destruction on Nineveh really displeased Jonah. In fact, it made him angry (4:1).

He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jon 4:2)

The Lord Appointed a Plant
He decided to go east of the city, set up a shelter, and watch to see what God would do. Perhaps he hoped that God would still destroy them, since Jonah complained to Him about it. “So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.” (Jon 4:6)

The next thing God did was He appointed that plant to grow up to rescue Jonah from his misery. He did it because He knew Jonah was very hot and this would make him extremely happy. But He didn’t do it just for the sake of making Jonah happy. He did it to teach him a lesson.

God was concerned about all the people in Nineveh, because if they did not repent He would have to destroy them. However, Jonah was concerned about himself and his own comfort level.

The Lord Appointed a Worm
Afterward God sent a worm. “But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jon 4:7)

The worm obeyed God and attacked the plant that God had appointed. Just because God has appointed something doesn’t mean it will last forever, because He can appoint it to be destroyed. By appointing the worm to attack and destroy the plant, God was removing the shade that the plant provided, which brought relief to Jonah’s discomfort. He wanted Jonah to see that just as the plant had been important to Jonah, the people were even more important to God. He wanted Jonah to feel the concern that He had for the people of Nineveh.

The Lord Appointed a Scorching East Wind
Finally, after God destroyed the plant he had appointed, He appointed a scorching wind. “When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.’" (Jon 4:8)

Through this object lesson, God taught Jonah about His love and compassion for people. “Then God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to death.’ Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?’” (Jon 4:9-11)

God loved and cared for those people of Nineveh, whom He created, far more than Jonah cared for the plant for which he did not work and which he did not cause to grow. God even loved the animals and did not take pleasure in having to destroy them either. He showed Jonah that it is right for Him to have compassion like that, which is why Jonah should have obeyed the first time, when God initially sent him.

Putting it All Together
It doesn’t pay to run from what God has told you to do. The same way He sends His people and appoints them to do a work for Him, He also sends and appoints everything else as He sees fit. He does whatever He pleases. He is sovereign and is ultimately in control of everything. He's a big God. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36). No wisdom, no insight, no plan can succeed against the Lord (Pr 21:30). When He appoints someone or something, nothing can stop Him.

The Lord sent Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh and warn them of the coming destruction that He was going to send upon their city. When the prophet disobeyed and ran from the presence of the Lord, God sent a wind, then a fish, then a plant, then a worm, and finally He sent a scorching wind. See how the elements all do His bidding! The wind obeyed God, the fish obeyed Him, the plant obeyed Him, the worm obeyed Him, but Jonah didn’t – at least not initially. But God gave him a second chance and then he finally did obey when he was sent. When he finally did, many people were saved from destruction as a result. The one thing God changed His mind about, and did not send  as He initially planned to do, was the destruction upon Nineveh.

Jonah taught us that God is a God of mercy and compassion. He is the God of second chances. Just as He gave Jonah a second chance, He also gave the people of Nineveh a second chance, too. He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He loves people and is more concerned about the salvation of many than He is about our own personal comfort.

If you have been running from what God told you to do, now is the time to repent, turn back to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and obey Him. If you sincerely humble yourself before Him, He may give you a second chance. Likewise, if you have been living in sin, away from God, living for your own self, repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ, who died for you on the cross. He loves you and wants to save you. In fact, He has already gone to great lengths to save you, but you must repent and turn to Him to be saved, or else you, too, will perish.

Attribution noticeScripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, as well as the NET Bible, where noted. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend 
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of GodSins That Will Keep You From HeavenPleasing the LordLiving a Life Worthy of the LordDrifting AwayThe Straight and Narrow PathAsk for the Ancient PathsRighteous Deeds and White RobesPracticing Your RighteousnessHoly Living in a Perverted WorldDoing What is RightYour Rewards Are Based on Your PracticeIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?Faith Works!The Judgment Seat of ChristThe Obedience of FaithThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverRemember the Eternal Law of GodPurge the Evil from Among YouJames Agboola Revelation of Heaven and HellThe Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to GodElection and PredestinationKeeping Power of God, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.