Life in the Kingdom – From Sinner to Saint

We Were Sinners

Almost all of us would agree that before Christ comes into our lives, we as a human race are sinners.  Because of the fall of man (seen in Genesis chapter 3) we are all born with a sinful nature.  It’s part of our nature now and we cannot help but to be influenced by the world, the flesh, or the devil because at birth, we are not automatically committed to Christ.  Only when we submit to Him and turn our lives over to Him do we have Christ’s influence on our lives.  

We are Cleansed if…

1 John 1:9 states:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (NASB)

And 1 Corinthians 5:21 tells us:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)

This verse really spoke to me.  God made it clear to me through this verse that He not only forgave my sin, but he also removed all unrighteousness (wickedness) from me.  We are saved by grace when we believe in Christ. And through faith, believing in Him, we are forgiven, cleansed, made righteous.  He took our old nature upon Himself and gave us His nature.  Making us a new creation.  All old things have passed and the new has come.  His grace is defined as ‘divine influence upon the heart and it’s reflection in our life.’

New nature in a Sinful World     

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Now that we are Christians, we are righteous and filled with His grace giving us the desire and ability to do His will.  But we still have to guard our hearts.  The bible states this several times.  Guard your hearts, or humble ourselves, or resist the devil.  There are many influences in this life and in this world.  We must remain ready, on guard.  We must read the bible and set our mind on God and His Kingdom.  

We must also know who we are:

I am a child of God. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  I am a new creation. I have the power of God living in me.

We must live according to who we are:

The bible tells us to put off the old nature and put on the new nature.  

Ephesians 4:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT) 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Live according to who we are–righteous and holy. 

Read here to find out what it means to be holy.

We are Saints

We are no longer sinners by nature once we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior because he changes our nature.  We are a new creation.   The wickedness has been removed.  All sin has been erased, forgiven.  We are now children of Godthe bride of Christ, prepared for a future in Heaven.  

Being a saint is not reserved for a special few who have reached a certain level of Christianity.  Saints are all who believe in Jesus and follow Him as their Lord, submitting to Him in all they do.  In many books of the New Testament the apostle addresses the churches as saints.  “To the Saints who are in Ephesus” for example.  For more information here is a link for The bible definition of Saint.

 

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Life In The Kingdom – Our Forever Home

A new Existence

My mother-in-law passed away this past week; and as my husband and I prepare to travel out of state to the funeral, I have been thinking a lot about the transition into eternity.  That, after all, is what death is.  It is not really the end.  It is the beginning of a new life in a new place.  It is a new state of existence in the spiritual realm.  All that may sound spooky or maybe almost science fiction to some people; but that is really what life is all about. Our life on this earth is temporary and in preparation for our permanent, eternal home.  And, for those of us who know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior, that eternal home is Heaven.  The Bible states:

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 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:18 (NIV)

 

This is the third in a series on Life in the Kingdom.  We have learned that we are part of God’s family adopted as children. We then learned that we as a church are the bride of Christ.  Today I want to share a more personal experience as I learn to deal with the death of my mother-in-law.  

I was running an errand today and as I was driving, I turned on my CD player in the car.  The song that happened to play was The Revelation Song.  I thought about the scripture to which this song is referring:  “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come,” the living creatures proclaim. They do not rest day or night and never cease to proclaim the holiness of God.  And since we are preparing for the funeral for my mother-in-law, I thought of her and how she is present with the Lord at this very moment.  2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (NKJV)  

At that moment, while Kari Jobe was singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, holy is He,” I actually was envious of my mother-in-law.  You see, at funerals, we are sad because we will miss those who die.  031116_1918_TheHalfWasn20But Christians who die are with the Lord and are no longer sad.  There is no more death in Heaven.  No more crying.  No pain.  No sickness.  No sorrow.  No arguing or complaining.  So when we cry at a funeral, it should not be for those who have gone to Heaven.  We cry for us.  We are the ones grieving, but those who have died are rejoicing in the presence of God.  And that, my friend, is something that I certainly look forward to.  That is what I eagerly await–meeting my Savior and Lord face to face.

So now, my friend, let me encourage you to trust in the Lord.  Give your life to Him.  Know for certainty that when your body wears out and you leave this earthly existence, you will find yourself in the presence of the Lord.  

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

 

Life In The Kingdom – The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ

This is the second post in a series about Life in the Kingdom, referring to the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  My last post Life In The Kingdom – God’s Family speaks about how we become a part of the family of God once we give our lives over to Jesus Christ.  In this post I will share another relationship we have with the “Royal Family” of God. 

When Jesus was with His disciples, He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3 NLT)  He came to us, when we did not know him.  He came and showed us to the Father.  Now, as Christians, we are part of the Royal Family; we are children of God.  But the bible also refers to us in Revelation as the Bride of Christ.  God the Father is our heavenly Father and Jesus is the Bridegroom.  

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Revelation 19:7-9 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and let us give honor to him.  For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”  For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.  And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

Verse 7 refers to the “wedding feast of the Lamb”.  The lamb is Jesus, the Son of God, who came and died in our place, like a sacrificial lamb, to take away our sins.  He died so we, who are Christians, are now free to live a new life in Him.  The church as a whole is the bride of Christ.  Jesus is now preparing a place for all of us and when it is ready, He will come and take us to Himself as we read earlier in John 14.  

What a glorious, happy day it will be when Jesus comes again to get us and take us to live with Him in Heaven.  Revelation states that we will be wearing white linen.  This represents the good deeds we have done and will continue to do here as we await His coming. Although good deeds alone will not save us, we are instructed to do good deeds for Him. Because of His great love for us, we have a great desire to please Him and honor Him in all we do.

Live Like You Are Loved

Now that we know we are part of the Royal Family and promised to be a bride of Christ, we can live with joy and peace, always comforted because we are loved.  We belong.  We are royalty.  Each one of us can say “Jesus is the ‘Lover of My soul”. 

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

 

Know that you are loved my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  And Live like the Royalty that you are.

INCREASE YOUR PEACE

REMEMBER GOD…

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God is always with us.  We may not always be aware, but He is always here watching us and waiting for us to call upon Him when we are in trouble.  Peace comes when we remember His presence on a regular basis.  Isa. 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  

This is the key.  Keeping our thoughts fixed on God.  Thinking things like: “What would He do in this situation?” or “Since God is with me I am not afraid.”  If we acknowledge Him in all we do and before any decision we make, peace will always be with us.  

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow his example to run the race with endurance.  

Remember, God is with us.  Remember, God is our peace.  Remember, God is our guide. Remember, God is watching over us and will help us in times of trouble.  This kind of thinking will keep you in perfect peace.

Jesus on benchDON’T WORRY, PRAY

Philippians 4: 6-7 NLT says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” 

Once we have our mind and thoughts fixed on God, we can keep the conversation going with Him all throughout the day.  Sure,  it is important to have our time with God in the morning to start the day.  Many of us have a morning ‘quiet time’ devoted to God and reading and/or praying.  But He wants us to include Him in everything we do.  When stress arises during the day, ask for help.  When you get that promotion, thank Him.  When we feel joyful or happy about what’s happening, share it with Him.  

Don’t worry,  God is here.  Don’t worry,  God has your back. Don’t worry, take all your cares to Jesus.  He will take all your burdens and help you carry them.

Our Problems Disappear

where-all-problems-go-away-true-story-⚽👌-7856435We all need a place to escape sometimes.  For some of us it is a soccer game, as in this picture here.  For others it is something a little (or a lot) more destructive, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, and the list goes on.  

What are we escaping from?

We escape from  work, family problems, financial problems, heartache, health problems, etc.  Problems are many times the focus of our attention because we are drawn to what hurts at the moment.  It’s like when we stub out little toe; we grab our toe and moan until the pain subsides.  Likewise, most of us focus on our problems or pain until it goes away.

What is the real problem?

The real problem is not work, the family, finances, heartache, or heath, etc.  It is our focus.  What is our focus.  I have found that the more I focus on myself, the more problems I seem to have.  I am always concerned about what I want, how I feel; and I complain about what is not perfect and who is not doing what I want.  

Change of focus

So where should our focus be?  Many times in my life I have felt my focus being pulled away from my own problems when I see another bigger problem out there somewhere.  Out in the world, in my community, or among my friends.  When I see a catastrophe like war, tsunamis, or poverty  or when I see a friend get evicted from their home or someone I know loses a family member, that is when my problems seem to disappear.  In the light of major catastrophes or serious problems all around me, my problems seems to be a trivial matter.  So the problem is not my situation.  It is my focus.  It is my response to my problems.  Do I sit and sulk?  Do I worry and complain?  Do I have a pity party and wonder when I will get my way, when my kids will finally behave, when my bills will ever get paid?  If so, I end up worrying and becoming depressed.  However….

 Focus on Jesus

If I focus on Jesus, first of all, I know He has the answer and with Him I can get through the problem.  My problem may not actually disappear, but I do not worry about it because “Papa” will take care of it and see me through it.

Focus on others

Prayer is a wonderful thing.  When I pray for myself, I can focus on Jesus and know he has my problems in His hands and will fix everything until I feel okay again. When I pray for others, I get my focus off of myself and realize that I am not alone in my battles, pain, and heartaches.  

When I see what is happening in the world I still know that God is sovereign and is not up there wringing his hands wondering what to do.  He has it all under control. Sure, He gave some authority to us and commanded us to take charge of things on Earth, but He is there to help us if we ask Him.  

JOY

I once heard the definition of Joy as Jesus Others Yourself.  That is what our focus should be.  Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last.  We are here to Worship God.  That is our primary focus.  Then we are also here to love others.  Sometimes our focus should be on them more than ourselves.  Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”  We should thing of others needs.  Although we should not neglect ourselves, we should just realize that when we put others first at times, our problems seem smaller or even non existent as we focus on something else.

Continue reading “Our Problems Disappear”

Look at the stars

I love this quote I found online.  I believe this to the very core of my being.  There is light!

Looking around at the world today and all that is happening in the news, we will notice a lot of bad; there is a lot of hatred, sorrow, terrorism, etc.  We will notice people who don’t care any more.  There is more financial stress, more destruction, and more illness, and the list goes on. Many people can grow cold and uncaring or just become immune to all the evil in the world.  What was once devastating or shocking to society years ago will be acceptable or ‘normal’ today.  Take divorce for example.  It is very commonplace today, but a couple hundred years ago, if someone were to say they were getting divorced, they would probably be either shamed or pitied greatly.  Now it is much more acceptable.

In a world growing cold, immoral, or uncaring I can find myself becoming judgmental.  It’s just not the way it used to be.  More and more of what is acceptable now was immoral 50 years ago.  It is very easy to focus on what is bad in the world.  The news, for example has mostly stories of terrorism, war, and crime with only a short human interest story at the end.  There is a way I’ve learned to stop being so sorrowful and disappointed concerning the world system.

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Look at the stars

The more darkness there is, the more stars I can see.  I can go out to the country and see an image such as the one here.  A  multitude of stars in space.  There is darkness all around, but so many stars to enjoy.  If I keep my head up instead of down, I can see more light instead of darkness.

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In the city, with all the lights, buildings, and cars, there is much less light in the sky.  It’s easy for me to be so distracted by the action, people, and things around me that I no longer see the stars.  The world is in the way.  Even when I do look up, the stars are much less noticeable.  Most of them are dimmed in the midst of the lights of the world.

Look to God

god-is-light-in-him-there-is-no-darkness-at-all-quote-1ddf4ec73a44f86ca71ac6d1320605afeThese two verses say it all.  “God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5.  and “Set your mind on thing above.”  Colossians 3:2.  If I keep looking up, if I look at the stars in the night sky instead of the darkness itself, I can see light.  There is still good in the world.  There is still happiness. God is teaching me not be so negative.  Do not see the glass half empty.  Do not look only to the faults in the world.  See the small points of light in the midst of darkness.  Focus on the positive.

Like Carrie Hope Fletcher said, “Happiness is always there. You just have to choose to see it. There’s no point dwelling in the dark and ignoring the light of the stars.”  See link above for more information on Carrie Hope Fletcher.