Grace Liberates Us

Our own greatest relationship problem is ourselves.  We’ve all been sinned against and suffered abuse of all different kinds. But our deepest and greatest difficulty exist inside of us.  Grace alone changes everything Grace liberates us from all the brokenness and bitterness inside us so we can actually have a relationship.

Grace does three things.

(1) It frees us from the bondage of our own self-righteousness. We can’t have a relationship based on our own righteousness, it’s doomed to failure. But when we accept Jesus Christ in our lives, Through Him we can stand before God as righteous. So we are free to own up to our lives as being a mess, and not be defensive about it because of God’s Grace.

(2) When we embrace Christ’s righteousness as our own we are free from having to be in control of everything.  Jesus said in Luke 12:32 “fear not, little flock, for it’s your Father’s great pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” We don’t have to build a kingdom, it’s already done. Through Grace we’ve been given more than we could ever want in God’s Kingdom. So quit arguing and just accept it.

(3) Christ’s righteousness frees us from the bondage of unrealistic expectations.  So stop seeking the approval of man and his earthly expectations.  Stop asking people in your life to be your own personal messiahs, who will make you feel good about yourselves.  We’ve already been given everything we need for life. Through Grace we can live life in Abundance and walk in the light of all Jesus has done to free us from ourselves.

Ronnie Jones

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Intentional

When God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit set the creation process in motion it wasn’t random, it was intentional.  Man’s sin in Genesis 3 didn’t catch Them by surprise.  Their plan for the Messiah was already in place. They knew sin was coming and for reasons that I don’t totally understand didn’t choose to stop it, but had a plan in place to overcome sin. They seemed to want loving relational obedience over dictatorial obedience.  Not that there were not any consequences for sin, kicked out of the garden, yes, but not death and a restart. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had an intentional plan and They were following it.

Are you living your life with the same intentionality, or are you living it haphazardly?  Do you have a plan or are you just dealing with the crisis of the moment? It is very easy to get caught up in living life this way, if one is not careful.  Have you intentionally humbled yourself under the loving, cleansing power of Jesus Christ’s shed blood?  (Salvation) If not let’s get it done!!!  For the unbeliever here’s the how.  For the Christ Follower who has no plan to share the Gospel with the unbeliever, here’s one called the Roman’s Road. All the verses are in Romans: 3:23 (all have sinned), 6:23 (sin’s penalty), 5:8 (Christ paid your penalty), 10:9,10,13 (promise and how to receive Salvation)

When Jehovah Witnesses come to your door do you avoid them or do you invite them in for a cup of coffee?  Do you have an intentional plan in place that opens the possibility to share the Gospel with them?  A good place to start is Jn. 1:1. They add one letter, the letter “A”.  They change “was God” to “was A god”.  If Jesus is just A god, then he is no different than Buddha, Muhammad, or any other person who has started a religion, thus salvation can come through any of them. But since He is THE God, Salvation is only through Him!  Not all you will want or need to know but a good place to start. In order to live a victorious Christ Follower’s life, these intentional plans have to be in place: Salvation, Jn. 14:6; Bible study, I Tim. 2:15; Prayer, I Thess. 5:17; Obedience, James 1:22; Humility, I Pet. 5:17; Repentance, I John 1:8-10; Knowing the Voice of the Holy Spirit, John 10:27; and Making Disciples, Mt. 28:18-20.

Psalm 139 tells us that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have an intentional plan in place for our lives before we were even thought about here on earth.  Jeremiah 29:11,12 also tells us that They have amazing intentional plans for us. It also tells us that we have some intentional responsibility in making Their plans come about.  This was intentionally written so as to leave a lot of room to fill in the blanks, so as to hopefully entice and give you the opportunity to learn more about, and obey your loving Messiah even better. ENJOY!!

Tim Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you for Truth? Or against Truth?

Two weeks ago, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed the “Bible Literacy Bill” into law.  In doing so, Kentucky joined several other states including Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee in passing similar laws that allow the state public education system to teach courses on the Bible.  The Kentucky law does not force schools to provide a course on the bible, but allows an elective course to be offered which can cover the Old Testament and New Testament.  In a world where the Bible and prayer and Christ have all but been removed from our public schools, this could be a positive step for restoration.

In Hebrew 4:12 it says, “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.  It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Surely, if the Word is opened and studied in our schools, the active and living Word will again penetrate into the hearts of young men and women.

Our country has a system of law creation.  It begins with wording and support from men and women of passion.  A bill is then sponsored by an elected congressmen or senator.  Additional officials “co-sponsor” and sign on in support of the bill.  Americans lobby vigorously for or against, votes are held, language is negotiated, and the bills either become law or are voted down.  In either case, the will of men (often inspired by the spiritual) initiate the bill and the will of men (still under inspiration) either see it through or see it defeated.  This is the greatness of our democracy.  Are you engaged in the process? Are you standing FOR the laws that honor our Christian faith and great God?  Matthew 12:30 in the New Living Translation says, “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”  Are we passionate about seeking and supporting the Truth that is Jesus Christ?

The Kentucky Bible Literacy Law is an example of how Christians can introduce and support legislation to turn back the tide and take back our country.  Be on the lookout for opportunities to support proposed pro-Christian bills or ask for the introduction of new positive legislation during this period of advancement.  This can be done through letter writing to our members of Congress but also through direct visits to the Hill (when in session in DC) and at their home offices (when congress and the senate are out of session).  The Truth is, we have a voice and a vote.  Will you use your voice and freedom to stand for Truth, or rather watch evil progress unchallenged?

Derek Dougherty

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Persecution in Eastern Europe

Having lived in Eastern Europe for over 20 years, I have observed and experienced firsthand that most believers in the world undergo a level of persecution that is foreign to most American believers.  The reality is that our brothers and sisters in Christ across North Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia are experiencing a tremendous level of persecution that involves torture, being imprisoned and even dying for their faith. Although Eastern Europe and Russia rarely see this level of persecution now, believers in this part of the world underwent much greater persecution under Communism.

hristo-and-wifeWhen I lived in Bulgaria in the 1990’s,  I met Pastor Hristo Kulichev, a pastor in Bulgaria, who was arrested and put in prison in 1985. His crime was that he preached in his church even though the state had appointed another man the pastor whom the congregation did not elect. His trial was a mockery of justice. And he was sentenced to eight months imprisonment. During his time in prison he made Christ known every way he could.  When he got out he wrote, “Both prisoners and jailers asked many questions, and it turned out that we had a more fruitful ministry there than we could have expected in church. God was better served by our presence in prison than if we had been free.”   And although I never met them, I was inspired by the stories of Richard Wurmbrand and Haralan Popov who wrote about their experiences of being imprisoned and tortured for many years under the Communist regime.

Even now, many of my national colleagues who serve alongside me are still experiencing persecution in this part of the world.  Although few are imprisoned, tortured or martyred, still many are experiencing verbal threats and physical abuse (beatings), intimidation, total rejection by family and friends. And the interesting thing about the current persecution is that they are not being asked to deny the Christian faith, but they experience this opposition in the face of being bold and faithful witnesses of the gospel.  Most of the persecution would disappear if they became silent Christians.   They continue to be obedient to Christ and share the gospel regularly with unbelievers.  It is sad to see that a significant number of believers in Eastern Europe have given in to fear and become a very isolated community apart from the unbelievers around them.

apostle-paulWhile imprisoned and awaiting execution, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). “All” is not a throwaway word in this verse. Paul means it. Everyone who publicly lives as a committed Christian will face some kind of resistance from the world. This verse ought to recalibrate our expectations. We should be surprised when we don’t face persecution, not when we do, because God’s word promises us that at times we will. That doesn’t make experiencing opposition easier any more than knowing your due date makes giving birth less painful. But at least you can be prepared. Increased persecution is likely to be a part of our future here in the USA.  How will your respond?  Will you respond with fear or isolation from the hostile world?  Will you become a silent believer?  Or will you be a faithful witness in the face of threats, intimidation, rejection and other persecution?

Tommy Dove

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