No Longer Condemned

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The enemy of all mankind will use just about any bat handed to him. He is aggressive and ruthless in his attack against humanity. He hates people. So when given the opportunity to remind us of faults, failures and shortcomings – he capitalizes completely. Given our inability to earn salvation or restore our relationship with God outside of Christ creates a vulnerability to these tactics. Shame and regret are his biggest enforcers of our insecurity and inability to own our new relationship with God through His Son. We are no longer condemned but empowered by God’s Grace to become new creations. If only we could see the Gloriousness of God and His Goodness concerning us to silence the lie of the enemy in our life.

God doesn’t wait with a huge sledgehammer to smash us when we sin. In fact, our sin grieves God. His Hate for sin doesn’t extend to the offenders. He only hates sin not those who live in it. Unconditional love is probably the greatest love of all and easiest to maintain if our heart would only receive it and our head able to conceive it. Hurt and betrayal harden our heart to such a thing in light of our own broken emotions. This limits the Body of Christ in fully filling each position. It hinders the Kingdom coming to earth in disbelief. God wants to break the stronghold of condemnation over your life. Whether promoted by religion or simply a lack of knowledge. He wants to break through this barrier and free you from this hindrance in your life. God is good. He wants His Glory to fill us to overflowing…despite what we may think of ourselves?

John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Why does God love me? How do I know that He does? How can I be sure? Well, the Word of God tells us that God is love (I John 4:8) and He first loved us (I John 4:19)! God’s Word is the credibility of my faith and the logic that I must live by to successfully overcome every lie introduced by the enemy. I must believe God’s Word is for me and about me. I must allow His Spirit to sow the Word in my heart so it will become the wisdom of my life. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love and Desire for me. (John 1:14) The Love of God for mankind is who He is. We cannot make God love us because He already does. His Mercy each day delivered to everyone regardless of what they believe and how they live is evidence that His Love will stop at nothing to apprehend us.

The only condemnation is disbelief. To refuse the Love of God given in His Son Jesus Christ is the only condemnation possible for people. When presented with the Light of His Love, yet they choose darkness rather than light. Aha! Said all the religious people with a Pharisee-spirit in them. No this does not mean that sinners are condemned but rather those who do not desire a relationship with God. The application of grace does not mean that a person is no longer a sinner just forgiven. Doing some things right (or religiously) does not promote you to a higher level in God. In fact, the more humble the person the closer to God. Those who reject His Love. This is very different that feeling unworthy or insignificant. There are a whole lot of people in the world who entered our churches and rather than experiencing the selfless and unconditional love of God – they were condemned by Christians and wandered empty and helplessly back into the darkness. Shame on us for putting a higher price on our love than God puts on His Love. He stops at nothing to make a way for us to enter right standing and promote a restored relationship with even the most violent offender.

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This is one of the most known verses in the Word of God. God loved us. He sent His Son to save us. But there is more to the story that is relevant and true. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The purpose of Christ was not two-fold. He did not come to save some and condemn others. God is never double-minded. Jesus came that the world might be saved and have everlasting life. There is no condemnation in Christ today. If you feel condemned, it is not from God. God is love! His Mercy is new every morning. He loved you first. He loves you the most. His Grace is enough to gain access to every blessing and experience His Glory in your life. You don’t have to do everything right just love His Son and believe in Him for salvation. A brand new life as a new creation is only accessible through Christ. He gives it to us with a helper that will help us in our weakness. Take knowledge and turn into wisdom. There is no sin insurmountable to an ounce of Christ’s Precious Blood – you are not condemned but made alive again. Resurrection life and power are working its way through you to make its way out of you. Put down the big bat of condemnation, shame, guilt or any other lie that the enemy handed you today. You have a purpose and plan designed for you by the Hand of God. The whole point is that you will know His Love. Gird yourself in the Truth that God loves you. Jesus died for you! His Grace is enough for you! You are alive again! Now walk in that freedom! Live in His Glory! He is for you! Never ever not once against you! Jesus is Our Champion – claim your victory today!

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

The Undoing

Onion.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

I seldom use onions in recipes but when I do I handle them with care. Peeling off the paper-like covering, to reveal the pearly white surface releases the distinct odor of the onion. However, once you cut into it – the onion fights back as oils are released into the air that irritate our eyes producing seemingly endless tears. A trick to eliminate the tears is to cut the onion under running water. This causes the oils to be rinsed away and keep them from reaching the tear duct. Fancy trick I learned from my grandmother. You can learn a lot from grown folks. You can learn a lot about life in Christ from an onion, too.

Salvation is only the beginning of discovering our newfound freedom in Christ. Redemption is to take full advantage of the gift given to us by the Grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christianity and the pursuit of Christ also will produce many tears in our life. As the Lord peels back the layers of sin, shame, regret, guilt and stinking thinking, the aroma and stench of death leaving us to make room for new life, new hope, and new freedom causes tears to be released. Our life is going to produce an aroma of some kind. Will it be a fragrant sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving while claiming God’s Gift or will it be the continued stench of rotting flesh taking over again? It really is up to you and me what kind of life that is produced after coming to Jesus inviting Him to be our Savior. It is in His Lordship that a whole new existence is possible free from the chains, bondage and slavery of this life to claim freedom.

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son set you free – you are truly free.

Do you feel free today? Are you singing a freedom song? There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ so who the Son sets free is free indeed. The word condemnation means to pronounce guilt. It is an unfavorable or adverse judgment. It means to pronounce unfit for use or service. To force. It is to declare incurable. None of these qualities exist in the character of Christ concerning you. He is intent on freeing you from every thought, suspicion or notion that you are bound, hindered or restricted in any way, shape or form. He says that you are free…completely free…totally free. You are free to win. Free to live. Free to prosper. Free to grow. Free to love. You have absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You own Him nothing. He gave you everything. So why the long face and heavy heart today?

Christians do not experience freedom because they cannot accept the free gift of God’s Grace completely. There must be a catch. So like a prisoner who has been imprisoned far too long, the door is unlocked but they will not reach out their weary, tired, oppressed and fearful arm to open it and walk out. Jesus has set you free today. Free from sin, worry, despair, self-loathing, religion, and more You are free indeed to do as you please with this new life you have been given. What will you use your freedom for today?

Life is like an onion covered in many layers. I am like an onion who as I have grown older in life taken on many layers that do not necessarily belong to me in Jesus Christ. I wear them proudly and hold them tightly. When the Lord comes to make something beautiful out of my life, I refuse to let go of the known to take a faithful chance on the future. What lies just beneath the surface of me that He is trying to get to? We do not like brokenness and fear the cut of pruning. It produces many tears in our life. But I know a trick that I want to share with you (again) that my grandmother shared with me…you gotta run it under the water!

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The Holy Spirit is our partner when it comes to attaining the freedom offered in Jesus Christ. We need His Help. This is way too complex and comprehensive for my finite thinking and limitations of the human mind. I need His Wisdom and Guidance to wash over me and renew me as I endure the process of change from death to new life. As the Word cuts to the core of my heart, pruning out sin, eradicating the flesh that keeps me from growing, it is His Spirit that washes my wounds, heals my heart, nourishes my soul and nurtures my growth. The Holy Spirit is water the water that keeps me in those times when I don’t feel free or try to shut myself up captive in fear, doubt and worry again.

The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and waters me with it. My family is not too big on raw onions. So often when I cook, I use the dried minced onions from the spice aisle instead. This is very convenient but not as flavorful. It lends some of the taste to a recipe but not the full flavor of a freshly cut onion. Now if you take a raw onion and cook it, something changes. The flavor changes and becomes sweeter as the texture softens. This takes longer than just grabbing an onion and cutting it up. We give food time to cook but refuse to give any credence to God’s Timing and Preparation when it comes to us. The onion is only one ingredient in the recipe. Brokenness is only a part of the process. With patience and time, the onion is going to work with all the other flavors to produce a delicious dinner.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose. His Purpose. His Recipe. His Design. This means that you are only seeing a small part of a huge picture. You are in a single step of a perfect process. Do not judge your future or forever by the tough situation, hard time or heart break you are going through right now. It is part of a beautiful masterpiece that the Lord has designed your life to be. “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image.” (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

Colossians 3:10-14 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Any part of our life lived in bondage is not of God or His Son or His Spirit. Sin doesn’t condemn us anymore. Sin happens so repentance is given so grace may be applied. Those who love the Lord will try not to sin. Love is the best motivator for repentance. Change comes more easily surrounded in purpose. It is my passion and pursuit to live in the Kingdom of God. I live in Florida. If I get in my car intent on traveling to Canada, I must go north. If I go south, I will fall into the ocean. If I go east or west the same thing will happen. My vehicle is faith. Faith is the title deed to hope that is the Kingdom of God. I must head in that direction if it is my chosen destination. With that being said, religion often adds extra layers of “things” I must do and rules to follow. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent on religion or anything or anyone else. My relationship is intimate and personal. I am committed to Jesus Christ so I strive to be close to Him. To come closer means certain layers of my life have to go. Those things can hurt and produce many tears but it is full assumption of my freedom to undergo the transformation. Beauty is pain. I believe it. Letting go of how life defines me to grab hold of my destiny.

True freedom is to fully assume your new nature. To be renewed body, mind and spirit to become like Christ. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to because it is all about our relationship with Jesus that matters. God chose to love me. It is my privilege to remove the layers of life and take on the splendor of His Kingdom. To be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. To form strong bonds and build relationships with my brothers and sisters. To forgive and off the grace that I have so generously been given. To love and love some more. The freedom that I have is found in His Love. As I discover just how “wide, long, high and deep” His Love really is, it is then that I am able to see just how free I really am.

It is hard to remember in the midst of hurt, hardship and trials that our life is part of something bigger than what we see, know and experience every day. It is also difficult to fully understand and therefore accept that God’s Love is completely unconditional and His Grace never ending. It is with this in mind that I am reminded today I am free. I have been freed from sin, shame, guilt, and every other kind of bondage that exists in the world today. I am a soul set free in the One I love. I am destined to be part of something much bigger. To fulfill my position will be my complete undoing as God peels back the layers that keep me from fulfillment and becoming exactly who He created me to be. Brokenness will come. Tears will fall. It will be my undoing. But it will be worth it – it will be worth it all!

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Condemned Buildings

condemned-buildings

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

When purchasing our house, the home inspector came to examine the property for inherent defects that may be detrimental to our family’s health. The inspector looked for evidence of faulty mechanical, electrical and structural defects pointing out each and every tiny flaw in a detailed report. He inspected the property from pillar to post. The pest control folks came out to see if there was evidence of a termite problem or any wood rot on the property. Not only did we want them to come to check things out, the bank who financed our new home required it to secure their investment. They did not want to lend us the money to purchase a condemned property. A property appraiser came to establish its worth. In our eyes, it was the perfect home for our family. We had decided in our hearts to move here. However, it had to be deemed sound in order to make that happen.

The structure of our new life in Jesus Christ is based on a foundation of faith. Faith in God that the sacrifice of His Son provided enough grace to allow us righteousness to have a right relationship with Him once again. It really is simple. The three most important things in life now are faith, hope and love demonstrating our relationship and deep abiding connection to Jesus Christ. However, we have built fancy houses and even fancier sanctuaries that have faulty foundations. Beginning with good intentions, sometimes our ideas of what God meant and thoughts on His Ways take shape into something that is far from the structure the Kingdom of God is building. We must examine the contents of our hearts, capture the ideas circulating in our mind, and even chew on the words of our mouth to determine if it is still a profitable investment in the Kingdom.

There is no condemnation is Jesus Christ. Say that again, “there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ.” This is a freedom verse for those who love the Lord and have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. It doesn’t mean perfection but rather persistence in our pursuit of Jesus. When Christians try to add importance to our investment rather than understanding the significance of the solidarity of His Sacrifice, it is easy to become prideful, stubborn and selfish. God doesn’t need us. God desires us. Christ doesn’t have to have us. He wanted us enough to die for us. There is nothing for me to contribute to the Kingdom outside of accepting the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. My love for Him will keep me from willful sin. It secures my wandering feet from finding the dark. He does it with love not condemnation. He clothes me with righteousness based on compassion. What am I offering the world? Is it what I have been given? Or what I think I deserve?

Luke 6:36-38 (NLT) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

You must be compassionate just as Your Father is compassionate. Is the Body of Christ compassionate? Do they see sin as a desperate situation or call for condemnation? Have we forgotten that a single sin is enough to convict us? If we murder with our heart, it is just as bad as if we do it with our hands. If we consider evil, it is committed in our heart. Our religion has overtaken our relationship when how a person looks and how they act is more important than what they believe. Our church life should represent our daily routine. Worship is a life style. Praise is provision in all things. To honor God on two days and live for the world for five is adultery in the eyes of God. To decide that what I think is right is more important than compassion is judgment. Judgment condemns. It condemns me.

Compassion leaves no room for condemnation. To condemn another is to restrict their growth and development by imposing a personal set of standards and rituals that are not part of Christ’s plan. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He is our helper and our guide. As far as I know, we are to build up and equip other people. Fanning the flame of the Holy Spirit so our hearts are consumed with godly passion that is compassion. Stirring up the Spirit so our own fruit is worthy of sharing rather than spewing our own poisonous rhetoric on people and imposing our own set of standards outside of love, grace and mercy. Our churches are empty because our construction is flawed. In our doing, we have condemned the building called church and defiled the temple. With what you may ask? Judgement, pride and selfishness.

The church is being judged as an exclusive organization. People searching for an authentic God to give real faith to have come up short due to the lack of compassion found among His People. Forgiveness is forgotten in our self-justified state. Seventy times seven has become one and done. How do I know? What gives me the right to say such a terrible thing? Well, the Word of God says in verse 38 to “give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” If we were giving love selflessly, the relationships in our church houses would be solid and significantly growing day by day. We would add to our numbers rather than daily dividing and falling apart. What we are sowing is what we are reaping? Crying out for revival is pointless if I don’t want to change? My heart must change. My mind must change. My life must change. To follow Jesus and have His Way is constant change as I turn more and more of my life in for more and more of His Love, Grace and Mercy. It would hypocrisy to take such a thing and give another.

Luke 19:20-26 (NLT) “But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’  “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ “‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’ “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away…’”

The Parable of the Ten Servants (Luke 19) tells of a nobleman who went away on a trip. He called together his ten servants and them each ten pounds of silver with one simple request, “Invest this for me while I am gone.” When he returned, he called each servant to give account of that entrusted to them upon his departure. The first servant invested his money receiving ten times the original amount. Well done, he was told and given a reward. The second servant’s investment yielded five times the amount. He was also rewarded the same. Then the third servant came with to show as he did not invest what he was given at all.

“I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid…” The king’s response was to call his servant wicked. It was not fear that kept him from investing at all. Fear was his excuse. What is mine? What makes it alright to decide others are not worthy of this Gift that I have been given? We seek the lost yet destroy the saved with condemnation every single day. Along the Highway called Holiness – how could we ever lose sight of grace? We do. We live in condemned buildings called church who judge each visitor who walks through the door by the weight they carry or the label give rather than seeing and responding to the person. Jesus is compassion. It was our need for His Love and Grace that led to the compassion that nailed Him to the Cross. He is our Savior. He is always our Savior. Even when the sin in our life is less, it is present. When we repent and accept righteousness – it is still in our imperfection. Lord, teach us to love and build the Kingdom as you have prescribed rather than tearing it down from the inside. Give us humble hearts given to compassion rather than hard ones solidified by pride.

John 5:24 (NLT) I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Romans 5:18 (NLT)Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

Perhaps, the church might try a new approach to the people who enter their doors. Rather than judging them by the way they dress, how they smell, the lifestyle they live or the choices they make…what if for a moment our objective is to give them exactly what we have received from Jesus Christ. Love. Grace. Mercy. Acceptance. Seeds of hope rather than a list of changes. What if we let the Holy Spirit convict and instead adopt the role of builders rather than inspectors? Those who hear His Voice and do not harden their hearts but believe “will never be condemned for their sins but have already passed from death to life”. One sin brings condemnation for everyone. Even me, I know that I sin and need God’s Grace every day. I guess when I master sin in my own life then I will tell you how to live. For now, we are all in this together – one body, one church. Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. If you hear nothing else hear this today – we all need Jesus. Just Jesus to make the foundation of our life secure. We do not need religion. We need a relationship with Christ alone. We are to be builders not demolition experts. Expert builders will stand the test and be found complete when Jesus returns to inspect the foundation of our life. In the meantime, my faith is in Christ alone.

Can we do a little better? Absolutely. Should we give a little more? Yes! People don’t need our opinions or advice. They certainly don’t need me to tell them what to do or how to do it. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When I share these things with you, it is because the Holy Spirit is convicting my heart of those things that keep Christ’s Investment in me from multiplying until it is shaken together and running over in my life. Are you living in a condemned building today? Do you want revival to come to your church? This could be the hour of restoration. A radical makeover that produces a sound return on God’s Investment and Christ’s Sacrifice for our life. God lives in us. He connects us and completes us. We must build the Body of Christ and stop tearing it apart. It begins with me and you. We are the Body. The Temple of His Spirit. Together we can make a difference if our objective is compassion demonstrated by His Love pouring out to all mankind.

I Corinthians 3:13-17 (NLT) But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Too Good To Be True

girl with raised hands and broken chains

vector silhouette of a girl with raised hands and broken chains

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. I wonder if as believers how many truly believe that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Not a single condition, restrictive trait, limiting situation, or modifying circumstance in our life that might keep us from complete satisfaction and total fulfillment by God. Is it possible to really live without condemnation? After all according to the Word of God, it takes a just one sin to banish us from forever with God. How can one who is guilty be completely set free? There is a price to pay. A penalty that must be fulfilled. Jesus paid the debt owed for our sin in full yet people continue to put conditions on themselves never intended from that moment on.

John 3 tell us that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus not to judge the world but to save it. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. The judgment on our life is reversed through salvation. Jesus didn’t have to come to point out the problem or imposed penalty. God is Sovereign and it was already done. He came to give us an option. A chance to be free. An invitation for adoption. God’s Light came into the world. All who those who decided they loved the Light more than darkness are given the opportunity to live as Children of God.

Yada. Yada. Yada. Third grade Sunday school teachers have taught this for years. What’s new? Well, those who belong to Christ Jesus are no longer condemned so why do we live with such conditions? Afraid to live for the Lord because we cannot seem to avoid judgment and condemnation even if self-imposed. The current condition or circumstance of your life is not what is limiting you. It is our inability to believe in the Life-Giving Power of God invested by His Spirit in each of us that keeps doors shut, chains on and prevents us from living in the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Romans 8:15-17 (NLT)  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

There is a popular worship song called No Longer Slaves that applies to this situation. Many times “believers” do not utilize God’s Power because the same are merely Christians who have transitioned to true believers just God thinkers. We can recite scripture meticulously but until it becomes seed in our heart that bears fruit of faith, it is not worth more than the paper it was written on. I believe the powerlessness of the Body of Christ goes all the way back to our initial experience with Jesus Christ. If we could accept the terms and conditions of salvation as unconditional love and limitless grace that makes us Children of the Living Breathing God, things in our life might begin to change.

There are many sons and daughters in the penal system who are the children of strong Christians. Is it their parent’s fault that they are subject to such conditions? No, it is a choice. They made a bad decision and must now suffer the consequences. Grace took care of my consequences. I must live under the dispensation of grace, however; to experience a change in my conditions. Do you really think a guest at the local penitentiary would remain locked up and silent if they could prove their innocence? Of course not. They would be telling everyone who they came in contact with and demanding examination of the evidence. Why aren’t true believers doing the same? Could it be that God’s Love just seems too good to be true? Is it easier to give the Lord an out rather than wait for His Word and Will to come to pass?

Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

We are taught from a very young age that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. This mindset is ingrained right along with the fact that with God all things are possible. How do we fix our thoughts to accept God’s Will, Way and Word which contradicts the watchfulness, wariness, and wondering of human intelligence? Life experiences make us cautious, distrustful and disbelieving with all the tragedy, hurt and devastation. No one is really willing to put all their trust and hope in the Lord because they just don’t believe Him. If we believed that Jesus Christ was capable of everything, why would more people serve Him? Why wouldn’t we race to our prayer closet before the doctor, banker, lender, and other people?

“And we know…” Do I really know? Know what? “That God causes EVERYTHING to work together for (my) good…if I truly believed this with my whole heart and invested my entire life miracles would happen. I would live in complete contentment and full satisfaction just as Jesus promised. I just have to believe. It is a process. It can be a tough one because His Power works best in our weakness. Weakness is not a worldly attribute. It is a Kingdom condition that moves me out of the way and allows my faith in God to take over. I must know that God is working for me. I must believe that I am His Child. I cannot do this until I cut the strings tied to my salvation by the world’s ridicule and the church’s religion to allow my relationship to God through Jesus Christ to take over. This is the point when radical change allows the impossible to be possible in my life.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite the condition, circumstances and situations in our life, no matter what they are, we have been given overwhelming victory through Jesus Christ BECAUSE He loves us. Unconditional love is the premise of receivership in the Kingdom of God. If I cannot accept God’s Unconditional, Perfect Love for me, I cannot become His Child. I cannot live in His Kingdom. I cannot have a relationship with the Father without coming through His Son. Grace is not free. Jesus paid the price in full. To accept condemnation that imposes conditions on my salvation, freedom or blessing is to testify with my life that the Blood of Jesus did not satisfy my debt and His Grace is not enough for me. I have overwhelming victory available to me but must fully accept the Love of God to have it.

In Mark 5:24-29, there was a woman with a medical condition. She had an issue, if you will. She sought out professional help, peer intervention and exhausting every effort to find a natural solution, she became desperate. She discovered a tiny seed of faith in her heart one day that moved her to find the Lord. She pushed through the crowd who according to the Law must shun her due to her condition labeling her unclean. She didn’t care what they said about her, how they looked at her or even that they probably moved away as she pressed through. She was on a mission. She wanted to discover God’s Power. She was intent on finding the truth about His Love. When she finally made it to Jesus reaching out just enough to touch the hem of His Garment, she was completely healed and made whole. We live like this woman daily accepting conditions and circumstances contrary to God’s Will because we cannot accept the fact that His Love for us is complete in Christ and not ourselves.

There is another account in I Samuel 11:1-11 about conditions. King Nahash of Ammon led an assault against the town of Jabesh. The citizens asked the king to make a treaty with them and that they would become his servants. He agreed with one condition. He required the right eye of every single person who wished to enter a treaty with him. They offered their life and freedom. The enemy demanded more. The people asked for seven days and if no one came to save them that they would do as he asked. Thankfully Saul came along and the Spirit of the Lord fell powerfully upon him and the people would be saved. The enemy will always offer us conditions that are contrary to God’s Word and His Will. When we give Jesus our life, he will never demand us to suffer or sacrifice for His Glory. The only suffering undergone is to crucify our flesh daily to rid our life of sin that keeps us from victory, fulfillment and abundance. We don’t sin because we love Jesus and accept His Unconditional Love. It is the least that we can do. Yet, we give into worthless conditions because of a lie. May the Holy Spirit come powerfully on us today to remind us that we are no longer slaves to sin but Children of the Living God who have the power to overcome and be victorious in all things. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love anymore. Now if we could only begin to believe that it’s true!

Mark 5:32-34 (NLT)  But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

I can see the Blood Flow of Christ required to cover my sin. I am ashamed and embarrassed that His Death was because of me. I cannot live in shame, regret and guilt and reach the fulfillment of God. To do so would be a tragedy that in His Sacrifice, I fail to receive the gift of Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace that I have been given. I can only take full advantage of it if I choose to believe it. The Power of the Cross erased condemnation that wrote death across my forehead. Now God’s Name is there and I must live as His Child.

I am no longer a slave to anything that I do not allow to captivate or put me in bondage. His Spirit is my freedom in all things especially those conditions that do not belong in me or on my life. It is by faith alone that I accept the terms and conditions of my salvation and there is nothing I can do to make it so. It is my privilege as a Child of the Most High God to walk through life in His Power and Presence just because of Jesus. There is nothing I can do to earn it, deserve it or make it happen just to believe. God’s Love is not too good to be true. It is absolutely for me. I choose to live in it, walk it and believe it in Jesus Name.

John 1:12-13 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

Abused by Religion

Abused by Religion

Philippians 3:2-4 (NLT)

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!

 

I have a confession to make to you. I am a bit embarrassed to even mention it but it’s totally true. I hope my children do not read this for I will surely be berated. I am absolutely terrified by the dentist. I have not been in four years. I overcame my fear several years back when a friend who was a hygienist somehow convinced me to go back after years of dental neglect. I have had babies at home before and would rather do that again then sit in the big black chair in the room filled with things that surely do not belong in my mouth. More than two decades ago, I had a horrible experience. I have a nerves that run along my top and bottom jawline are very close to my teeth. This makes it a very sensitive area so even cleaning when not careful will send a jolt through my whole mouth. It feels almost electric and man does it hurt. I am labeled at the office as having “white coat syndrome”. When I come in for an appointment, I am taken back immediately because they know I may anxiously leave. I am not made to wait in the back very long and only given experienced hygienist who note my anxiety. When our son was diagnosed with cancer back in 2011, I had a dental appointment scheduled the next week but called and cancelled now that I had an excuse. I have not gone back since then. Sad, but true.

The last few weeks, I have been thinking that I really need to go back to the dentist. This really is silly that I want to conquer giants and overcome the enemy but cannot even get past myself to make an appointment and go to someone who only wants to safeguard my health. I may be one of the few who actually fear the dentist but I am definitely not the only one who is avoiding something in life due to a bad experience. When I was in my mid-twenties, I went to the dentist. I sat in the chair chatting with the nice hygienist ready to get my teeth cleaned. After the cleaning, as the dentist examined my teeth it was found that I had a small cavity after two back to back pregnancies that had drained calcium from my body. So I scheduled a return visit the following week, no worries. The next visit was a horrible nightmare. As he began to drill into my tooth, even with Novocain, the dentist hit the nerve. Immediately, I clenched the chair and my rear end came flying out of the seat. He simply pushed me back down and kept on drilling. Like a scene from a Frankenstein movie, he kept poking and prodding with tears running down my face I tried to endure it. I trusted the dentist to solve my problem but also to have compassion for my pain but clearly he did not. We had words at the window and I never returned again. So here I am today in need of a dental visit, but too anxious to trust again.

I wonder if this is the mentality of those abused by religion. Those who came to church or approached a “Christian” friend to find hope, healing, encouragement and love only to be mutilated and harmed in the process. Religion has a way of brutalizing people and sadly the ones doing it are usually worse off than the ones coming to Christ. Why? They are living a lie that will one day backfire when it is too late to change. I used to think my ability to overcome bad habits and live closely to the letter of the Law made me a good Christian and Child of God. But I found out I was wrong. Paul says to watch out for those who say “you must be circumcised to be saved.” Religiosity does not open the door to Heaven. Jesus does. He is the One who welcomed you when you were nothing but a hot mess. He took that “hot mess” and worked out for your good according to His Word (Romans8:28) now you have a message. What are you saying? If Jesus is the work in you, it will be words fill with love, grace and mercy full of encouragement with arms that never stop reaching for those who are exposed living in fear for tomorrow. You will not see the terms, conditions and consequences that life has subjected them too but the powerful potential hidden in them just as it was in you. We must relinquish role of abuser of the Law and begin to live the Law of Love in the Spirit.

John 4:21-24 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

The woman at the well is a prime example of religion gone way wrong. She was at the well drawing water isolated and alone because the details of her life were unacceptable. She was shunned by the other woman in the village and used by several of the men. So she kept to herself going to do her chores in the hottest part of the day and enduring hard labor all alone. It was in such a state that she met Jesus Christ. He knew she loved God. He could see right through the hard exterior of abuse and misuse to the beautiful soul that His Father created locked behind a barrier built of distrust locked shut in fear. But Jesus would tell her about a time that was coming who in fact was sitting right in front of her. The One who would allow us to worship outside of religion in a one-on-one relationship with God through Himself. God wants worshippers who worship in Spirit and in Truth. Old Testament believers could only count on the Word. But when the Word came down wrapped in flesh to die for all humanity, His Spirit was released and now we can live life with great expectancy just because He loves us and His Love can operate through us without fear or distrust. It is called faith. Faith is born of a circumcised heart. The act of circumcision implies brokenness. It is a symbol of being set apart that requires the removal of something. When Jesus died on the Cross – He bore our sin and shame. He assumed our weaknesses to replace them with strength AND by His Stripes, we are healed. This means that religion does not have to be painful anymore. We relinquish our right to judge others in the pardon of ourselves and accept the Doctrine of Grace as the measure of love we are to give. God is a spirit. Circumcision is now a matter of the heart.

Colossians 2:11-15 (NLT)

When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Circumcision is no longer a physical procedure. There is a young single mother in our church. I have known her for a very long time. She is super special to my heart and God constantly calls her to my remembrance. She had a bit of a fall (spiritually) a few months ago that culminated in some pictures being posted on social media that were less than complimentary. Of course, they were quickly removed but the damage done. She has not returned to church since that time. We had an event no the church campus recently and she was there with her children. I was so elated to see her all I could do was hug her over and over again. She is not coming to church right now for a reason. Religion is the generalized theme behind her avoidance. She knows what to do and what not do to, but as believers we must find a way to love beyond opinion. The church cannot be a world with its own strict rules and standards. Yes, we have the Word. We know what to do but where is the allowance of time for discipline and teaching. Where are the disciples with more spiritual growth in others than beating down the doors of Heaven for more blessings? If your heart is right with the Lord today, you have EVERYTHING you need to prosper and live a satisfied life. Until we allow God to soften our heart and open it to others cutting away pride and humbling us to humanity, the church is not doing her job. Until we become more concerned about those who stop coming to the House of God rather than impressing the ones who do, we have lost our salt and the Light of His Love is burning out.

As we allow the Spirit of the Lord to work the Word of God through us the common denominator of our life becomes love. We love others more and more as we accept and take full advantage of God’s Grace. Suddenly the do’s and don’ts of religion fade away and radical obedience is born of the Love for God that comes pouring from our heart cut open by His Word and filled by His Spirit. This is not a word against the church but empowerment of the church. Signs, wonders and miracles have left God’s House because we have stifled this place of worship with people afraid to ask for help or worse than that too humiliated to show their faces. Enough is enough. If we want all of who HE is, we must give all of who we are to loving one another, building each other up and moving past the Law to be true Children of God.

Matthew 24:11-13 (NLT)

And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

Recently, I have found myself in a defensive posture only to realize it is not of God. The summer reading book that was assigned to our daughter was not appropriate. I contacted the principal requesting a different book that did not contain the R-rated profanity of the one she was given. Apparently several other parents voiced the same concerns, an alternative was given. A couple weeks later, an email was sent that the summer reading assignment was now extra credit. This created an uproar in the community calling it a book banning and all kinds of other ridiculous things. The media spun it out of control calling it a form of censorship. The book is still in the library of the school. There has been no book burning on the football field. Yet the media and people began berating the Christian Bible “thumpers” of America. The only Bible thumping I wanted to do was to knock some sense into these troublemakers. Well, I took to social media to voice my distaste of double standards and set the record straight. People got offended by my post. I find this so ironic because it was the same individuals are liberals who believe that as long as it doesn’t hurt another human being everyone should be given the right to choose. Well, I was wrong. Even though my post was in love, it may have pushed people from Jesus rather than drawing them near. Dang it! That’s not what I intended to do but the enemy goaded me out of my faith position into a knee jerk reaction.

What does this have to do with anything? I don’t want to be part of the problem but be the one who shares the solution. I don’t want people to not come to church because I am standing in front of the door. We have to trust the Lord enough to love others unconditionally. Condemnation and judgment are not qualities of Christ. We must also look at this world for what it is – a desperate, dying and confused planet so lost in self it sees little value or worth. Sin is rampant. Love has grown cold. Everything is just as Jesus described it… all expect the church. Our love for the people should be a fiery torch that draws others to the Love of God and His Son Jesus Christ rather than a harsh reprimand. Love covers a multitude of sins opening the door for discipleship. Discipleship requires commitment and an investment into other people’s messy lives while fully surrendering our way to the Lord. It is a relationship not dictatorship. We are all in this together bound by God’s Grace and Unconditional Love.  It is time for a circumcision of the heart of every man and woman who call themselves Christians. To believe in the Grace, Love and Mercy of God so much that it pours out into the lives of all mankind. Perfect love casts out all fear so we won’t be afraid to live what we believe not worrying about what other people think or say just loving them with the True Love we have found. This is our goal as a whole. This should be our aspiration. God circumcise my heart yet again. Open it to those around me with blatant disregard from my own mind, will and emotions. I put my expectation fully in You today! You have never let me down! I trust you enough to love others without any conditions.

Psalm 51:10-17 (NLT)

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

I Am Over It – A Devotion

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the powerthe life-giving Spirit has freed youfrom the power of sin that leads to death.

 

There is NO CONDEMNATION for those who belong to Jesus Christ. We are inhabitable temples of the Living God thanks to Jesus Christ, His Son, who made us righteous. So why do we remain in the midst of broken down and unproductive lives if God lives in us? Good question and for many who are merely existing rather than thriving in the Favor of God a major obstacle in obtaining the freedom offered by Jesus Christ through life in the Spirit. How does one move from constantly being confined by sin into the brand new life that Jesus Christ has offered? It sounds so easy but for anyone who has ever lived in one place for a long time and then attempted to relocate, it proves challenging. One must decide what to take and what to leave behind. It requires going through all the “stuff” in your life and tossing out the “junk”. The offenses of mankind against God are profound and evident once the Spirit of the Living God comes to live in our midst. Suddenly, those things that we thought to be part of life, routine and acceptable become a thorn in our flesh. We know we should leave them behind, but they have been a part of our existence for so long surely God would understand if we kept them a while longer. Offense builds a barrier between us and God’s Best for our life. It is high time that the Body of Christ and all of God’s People decided that rather than building a wall of offense around their life, they choose to build a bridge and get over it. You cannot get over it until you rise above it. It just makes sense. Instead of wallowing in the past and our own way, it is important to move to where God is. His Spirit is within you to assist in your transportation and transformation into the New Life and New Creation that God has called you to be. Will you decide to get over today and say, “I am over it?”

 

Romans 5:18-21 (NKJV)

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

You will never get over the sin in your life until you understand that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Through the disobedience of Adam, generations of human beings were condemned by sin. BUT through Jesus Christ came the Grace of God which was more than sin. The word “abound” comes from the Latin word “abundare” which means “to overflow”. Sin infiltrated the heart of man but grace “overflowed” from the Heart of God for His People. His Grace can cover any and every sin that you have committed, are involved in or will ever be misled into. However, if the Grace of God is not viewed as sufficient for your life and used to overcome sin then you will remain buried in offense. What is offense? It is a violation or transgression whether done by us or against us, it has the ability to limit the opportunities that God has placed in our life creating a wall between us and the Goodness of God. Your sin is personal and cannot reach beyond your life unless passed from generation to generation through blood inheritance. The Grace of God is overflowing therefore it has the Power to end the conviction of death due to your transgression against God. Will you move from confinement to freedom? There is absolutely no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. If you feel condemned today, it is a lie of the enemy that only the TRUTH will reveal.

 

Galatians 2:17-20 (NLT)

But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ.It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

Faith in Jesus Christ makes us right with God. Obedience to the Law did not do it and is not required to maintain righteousness with God through Jesus. However, once we are reunited with God the violation of the Law of God becomes more evident once His Spirit takes residence in our life. We become more aware of all the ways we have let God down as we move closer to Him in His Presence. It is not God condemning us or offenses mounting against us but rather simply the sin in our life revealed. If we choose to attempt to live according to the Law again, then we condemn ourselves all over again and offense limits access to the Presence of God through an insufficient sin payment. However, if we choose to live for the Lord through Jesus Christ than God doesn’t see our sin any longer simply the Blood of Jesus Christ that covers it. Guilt is the lie of the enemy that the Blood of Jesus was not enough to pay your sin debt in full. In fact, it was. Obedience is simply living in the righteousness of God through Jesus. It shields God from seeing our sin and instantly rejecting us so why in the world would I want to take on the identity of sin and self once more, but rather shed my image for the Image of Christ. Condemnation demonstrates guilt. Righteousness is evidence of freedom impossible outside of Jesus Christ and His Precious Blood. If you feel guilty today, maybe you are attempting to “old system” of judgment in your life. Jesus paid the price for every single sin that ever would have condemned you in the Eyes of God so you may experience freedom. It is time to take the substance of your shame and use it to climb higher and see over the barrier of sin into the New Life Jesus Christ has provided and jump in it.

 

2 Corinthians 6:6-10 (NLT)

We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

 

The world condemns Christianity and has declared it useful for nothing. They make fun of our purity and principles, mocking our faith as ignorance and judge us by calling us judgmental. Who cares? I am not a resident of this world yet maybe there are days that I have forgotten the rules of my homeland. The Holy Spirit allows us to live pure lives of intelligent faith able to endure and yet still reach out with kindness and sincere love. But condemnation makes us unfit for use. To condemn is to judge. When we decide that we are not overcomers as Jesus indicated when He overcame the world (John 16:33), then what good is our faith? In fact, faith that is only good in this world really is of no use altogether because it has an Eternal purpose not a temporary one. Yet we use it as a stepping stone from glory to glory in this life rather than as a stairway to righteousness in the Presence of God seeking His Will, His Way and to do His Work. Faith that is all about us and not about God is worthless. Faith believes in the unseen things of God. (Hebrews 11:1) Yet we readily abandon our faith for the realities of the world every day placing a condemned sign on our life all over again. This life will yield nothing that lasts into forever except the heart of mankind and his soul. Investment in other things is futile and wasted effort. Until we take the time to move up and over the walls that enclose our life into the Presence of God, we remain condemned and unfit for use. God is calling you higher. He longs for you to get over it (the world) and move into the New Life Jesus Christ died for you to have! Romans 12:1-2 defines our life as “living sacrifices” which is our “reasonable service”. Will you give up your old life of condemnation for freedom forever? When you look at it like that is there really a choice? A few years of struggle or an Eternity of His Glory really do not compare!

 

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

 

Are you in the midst of a pity party while you whitewash the sinful walls of offense in your life hoping that God will “rescue” you from the oppression and condemnation that you are experiencing in your life? Are shackles of guilt and shame holding you to the ground when you should be “soaring with eagles” (Isaiah 40:31)? Pacing the barrier of self-confinement, may I suggest the obvious? “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!” (John 8:36) A co-worker was having trouble accessing the Internet on her computer. Being somewhat computer savvy, she checked all the network connections and all the technical issues that could be limiting her access. Finally, she called the IT professional on campus. Upon arrival, he instantly evaluated the problem. By turning the WIFI switch “on” to connect, her service was instantly restored. She had neglected the obvious. There was not a problem with her connection, she simply was not connected. The Spirit of the Lord now resides in you as a believer. God’s Favor is upon you! It is your time to leave the walls of hurt, offense, guilt and shame and claim your New Life in Jesus Christ beginning with FREEDOM. You are free to be healed of broken heartedness through the Love of Jesus Christ. You have an internal Comforter so you do not need the world’s affection. Just open the door to freedom and tell everyone you come in contact what the Lord has done. He is redeeming every detail of your life for His Good according to His Plan. You don’t have to stay in the midst of sin by doubt, but by faith claim your freedom and move beyond the confinement of this world into the Everlasting Promises of God through Jesus Christ. How does a disgusted, brokenhearted and oppressed Christian bring Glory to God? Claim righteousness today! Move from the cell of your past into the wide open places that God has given you through the Redemptive Power of Jesus Christ. The Lord has anointed you. With His Anointing comes everything you need to prosper! If you are not prospering, then you are not claiming that which is already yours! Righteousness moves you from where you are to where He is. Step up and over the barrier of sin and shame. Live in the Anointing of God. You are anointed. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you!

 

Galatians 5:3-9 (NLT)

I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.  For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

 

There are countless Christians confined by condemnation today. You may be one of them. There are days that I am one of them. Doubt makes us believe that sin is more powerful than God and that the Blood of Jesus Christ may be impotent in some way putting the burden of righteousness and obedience back on the shoulders of mankind. NOTHING could be further from the truth or a greater barrier to the Freedom and Favor of God designated for your life. It is high time that believers stop listening to this pitiful lie of the enemy choosing to release the offense and condemnation in their life and using all these things to build a bridge over the barrier into their New Life with Jesus Christ. He paid it all. He did it all. Now it is simply yours by faith, nothing more or less so claim it today! Attempting to add or take away from God’s Grace and immeasurable Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is futile. You have been called to freedom! Claim it! Find it! Live in it today!

 

Job 14:15-17 (NLT)

You would call and I would answer and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.My sins would be sealed in a pouch and you would cover my guilt.