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Archive for May, 2011

Practice Jesus’ Presence In Your Career

Practicing God’s presence is not just for your home life, church and family, practicing God’s presence should be extended to your career.  As we have stated the ability to make good decisions, and good influence over people can only happen when God is making the decisions through you.

Think about it for a second.  How often do you make the wrong decision, how often do you offend the people around you when you lean on your own understanding?  When you spend time in the presence of the Lord you gain His understanding, His knowledge and His wisdom.  Your wrong decisions turn out always to be right, your relationships with people are greatly improved.  People look at it as things that you touch turning to gold or having unexplained blessings.  I call it being in the presence of the Lord.

When you practice His presence you move up the ladder.  You become more successful, you close more deals, you gain better connections and your respected more.  This happens because when you are in charge you are flawed, but the more the presence of the Lord is in your life, the decisions and relationships become perfect because He is guiding your way.

It doesn’t matter if you are at the top or the bottom.  God is on your side to bless and make you a success.  This only applies to morally upright professions.  It is impossible for God to be in a situation or bless it if the profession is outside His will.

Can people be successful in business without God?  Yes, it is called worldly success and that success is very limited and fleeting.  Success with God and His presence is not only financial success but it is respect, peace, joy and it is everlasting.  When God is in your career not only are you a success in the world’s eyes but you do things directed by Him that gives you things money can’t buy; respect, wisdom, peace and joy to name a few.

Depend on God in your career to direct and prosper you.  His way is never wrong or short-sighted!

For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.   —   Psalm 5:12

Whatever vocation you are in, you can experience the presence of Jesus and His unmerited favor, and He will make you a success!

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Categories: Grace, Jesus, Love, New Covenant, Prayer

Who Can Take Communion? by Paul Ellis

“And now as we turn to the communion table, I would like to invite all those who love Jesus and call Him ‘Lord’ to join with us in partaking of the elements. If you’re visiting with us today and you don’t know Jesus, feel free to spend this time in quiet reflection. Communion is something that Christians do to remember Jesus’ death.”

Aaargh! How I wish I could take those words back! Could I not see the staggering ungraciousness of my comments? Was I blind to the unholy line I was drawing between Us (welcome to take communion) and Them (not welcome)? Jesus died for all people, but not all were being invited to remember his death. How did I get so mixed up?

Like many pastors I was confused about the meaning of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:26-32. I understood that the Corinthians had been making fools of themselves by gorging and getting drunk at communion, so I thought that Paul wrote to warn them of the dire consequences of acting irreverently:

“He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself…” (1 Cor 11:29 KJV)

I now understand that Paul was saying something completely different and wholly liberating about proclaiming the Lord’s death. He wasn’t condemning the Corinthians for their poor behavior. He was trying to free them from the condemnation of their ignorance and unbelief. This distinction is obvious when you think about it. I mean, how could Paul preach condemnation to the Corinthian Christians in one letter while preaching no condemnation to the Roman Christians in another?

Somehow Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11 have been twisted into a worthiness test for communion. “Examine yourself before you eat the bread and drink of the cup.” Okay, but how do we do that? How do I know if I’m worthy or about to eat and drink damnation to myself? Some denominations helpfully mandateminimum standards of worthiness. They say you must be a believer or a baptized believer or a welcomed member of the church or what-have-you. But the lines are blurry. The standards differ even within denominations as many individual churches have the freedom to set their own worthiness benchmarks.

Perhaps what we need is some kind of Christian caste system. India’s caste system is pretty good at separating the rabble from the rest. Maybe we can learn from them. At the bottom would be sinners because someone who rejects Jesus is obviously not worthy. That’s basically what I was saying in my church. By telling visitors (they might be sinners! who let them in here?) that they were “free” not to partake of communion I was sending the message, “this is not for you – you’re not good enough for Jesus.” I was judging them as unworthy of the body and blood. Of course I didn’t think of it in such terms. I thought I was honoring Jesus and protecting sinners from judgment. Slowly it began to dawn on me that there was something odd about denying communion to sinners. Afterall, didn’t Jesus die for sinners?

Religion draws lines between us and them, but grace tears down dividing walls (Eph 2:14). Nowhere in the Bible will you find any hint of a suggestion that we should exclude people from communion. This is a death-dealing tradition of man. When I said communion was for us but not for them, I was acting religiously and in a manner wholly opposed to the Spirit of grace. Happily, I repented. I changed my tune and began saying, “all are welcome.” I then watched amazed as the Holy Spirit revealed the love and grace of God to those who didn’t know Him.

Who can partake of communion?

Communion is when we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. So who’s it for? Obviously it’s for all those He died for. It’s for everyone. But I want to single out two groups who can especially benefit from communion:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~ Jesus (Mk 2:17)

1. The sick

Sickness and death are part of sin’s curse (Ge 2:17). In Deuteronomy 28:15-68 there is a long list of curses that result from disobedience to God’s commands. These include “severe and lingering illnesses” along with “every kind of sickness not recorded in the Book of Law” (v.59-60). There is no sickness that is not part of the curse. Even modern-day sicknesses (e.g., anorexia, HIV, DVT) are covered.

During His time on earth Jesus healed every sick person who came to Him (Mt 12:15, Mk 6:56). Not one person went away unhealed. Jesus did this to demonstrate His complete and irresistible power over sin and all its effects. So before you eat and drink, examine yourself to see if there are things in your life – sickness, disease, afflictions (Is 53:4, AMP) – that Jesus carried in His body and paid for in His blood. If you are sick, proclaim His death and triumphant victory over sin and death! Identify your illness as a defeated enemy and lift up the Name of Him who is above every sickness. He was wounded that you might be healed, and cursed that you might be blessed (Gal 3:13, 1 Pe 2:24). Take your Jesus’ Medicine and be well!

2. Sinners

In the old covenant, sinners and unclean people were kept far away lest they contaminate the righteous. If there had been communion back then, they would not have got it! But Jesus was a friend of sinners. He went into their houses and broke bread with them. He met with thieves, adulterers and murderers and “contaminated” them with His righteousness. Sinners were radically changed by His awesome grace.

By saying “communion is only for the worthy” we have turned a new covenant blessing into an old covenant curse and denied grace to those who need it most. If communion is only for the deserving, who can qualify? Outside of Christ there are no worthy people! If you think you are worthy because of your religious performance, then you disqualify yourself, for Jesus did not come to call the self-righteous.

Here’s the good news: Jesus is still a friend of sinners! He died for us while we were sinners and He reconciled us to God while we were His enemies (Rm 5:8,10). People who hesitate over communion – both saints and sinners – do so because they are distracted by their imperfections. They draw back like Old Testament lepers because they believe that they are unclean. But you have been redeemed by the most precious commodity in the universe – the infinitely precious blood of Jesus (1 Pe 1:19). If God loves you enough to die for you, then in His eyes you must be really something special. And you are!

Communion is not a time for self-examination but Jesus-examination! The only thing that will empower you to overcome sin is the grace of God and it’s not stored in your navel. Look to Jesus! His blood bought your forgiveness and His death triumphed over all your sin. See yourself crucified with Him (Ga 2:20). Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ (Rm 6:11). He is our perfect high priest, a Lamb without blemish or defect. Don’t draw back but come boldly to the throne of grace for Christ Himself qualifies you.

The next time someone says “communion is only for the worthy,” don’t be distracted by your sin – it’s been done away with by the blood of Jesus and God remembers it no more (He 8:12). Instead, remind yourself that Christ died for the unworthy. Tell yourself, “He died for me, and because of Him I am now the very righteousness of God, holy and blameless (Eph 1:4). Glory to God and thank you Jesus!”

Categories: Grace, Jesus, Love, New Covenant, Prayer

What the New Covenant Hinges On

I am going to open a vein on something that will ruffle feathers. The majority of believers live under the old covenant of the law. The biggest change of a persons life will come after they realize they are under the new covenant of grace and not the old covenant of the law. For review, the old covenant is based on how perfectly you can keep God’s law and the new covenant makes you righteous because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross.

I want to focus on the scripture listed today. The word “for” means “because” so it is saying that because I am merciful to their unrighteousness I will remember their sins no more. “No more” is very powerful because there was a time when He remembered our sins but not anymore. In the greek “no more” is a double negative meaning “never ever.”

When we live under the old covenant we choose to live in a world where we believe God remembers our sins. The bible acknowledges God used to remember our sin but since the cross He does not see it, when He looks at us He just sees His son. Knowing that God does not remember our sins is a feeling of extreme liberation and freedom. God’s grace is not license to sin more, it is rather a revelation of His lovingkindness toward us that makes us not want to sin. If you think His grace gives us license to sin more then you are missing the point. The promise of the new covenant only works because it puts God in a position to not remember our sins. Since He will not remember our wrong doing, it enables us to hear Him and be led by Him to victory in every situation.

Under the new covenant there is no guilt or condemnation, there is just you and Jesus. If you struggle then God does not hold it against you; instead God is right there leading and guiding your steps and you end up working hard but it is because of the confidence that God will not condemn you or let you fail. God will give you the desires of your heart but it will not come under the law or feelings of emptiness or dissatisfaction. Fitness under the new covenant gives the glory to God and He gives you a peace and joy that allows you to feel fulfilled and satisfied with the outcome. You feel this way because it is God and not your doing.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”   —   Hebrews 8:12

The new covenant works because God says that He will be merciful to our unrighteousness, and our sins and lawless deeds He will remember no more!

Categories: Grace, Jesus, Law, Love, New Covenant

Know Your Covenant Rights In Christ

Know Your Covenant Rights In Christ

Ignorance and lack of knowledge can destroy the best of us.  I cannot think of anything else that hinders people more than ignorance; in this case it is the ignorance of the covenants.  I do not think I can overstate the importance of knowing the difference between the covenants and understanding that you are under the new covenant of God’s grace.

The benefits that Jesus purchased for you on behalf of His blood is enough to cover and help you in all situations of your life.  The problem is people to this day insist on living under the condemnation of the old covenant of the law instead of the liberation of the new covenant of grace.  Grace is distorted and perverted and few understand that it is the will of our Lord and the way Christians should live.  Instead we live under the law of the old covenant and as I have stated before rendering the cross completely useless in our lives.

The gifts today freely are divine protection, health and favor.  We do not need more laws or more order in this world, no what we need is a greater revelation and appreciation for what Jesus accomplished and FINISHED on our behalf.

More laws and more right from wrong simply put us in the consciousness of sin and the the more and more we are under the law and rules the higher the risk for greater sin in the future.  My friends, living under grace and the finished work of the cross is the only way to live a life of peace and joy. 

Which are you going to choose, make today the day that you decide:

Are you going to live by the world’s standard and live under the law and the rules of earthly rules, based entirely how you act and do?

Are you going to live by the grace of God that was poured out on you on the cross so that you can freely receive favor and life no matter how you act?

My friends don’t get me wrong; the law is holy and just but it will not make you holy and just.  The finished work of Jesus is what justifies you and makes you holy before God, nothing you ever do can add to that or change that.  Get it straight in your head today!  Don’t let ignorance and a lack of knowledge rob you of your inheritance today.  Learn what the bible says about the new covenant and change the way you think and live life.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…   —   Hosea 4:6

What we need is a greater revelation and appreciation of Jesus and everything that He has done for us!

Categories: Grace, Jesus, New Covenant, Prayer

You Are Under The New Covenant Of Unmerited Favor

In the scripture today it talks about the old covenant is obsolete.  When something is obsolete it completely vanishes and it is impossible to bring it back.  I believe today that many Christian believers are living under the old covenant of the law.  We are trying to merit our place with God and taking way too many things under our control.  Do you know that when you merit your own outcome that it completely takes Jesus power out of the equation?

When you read the scripture it is not me who is saying this, Almighty God himself is speaking through the scriptures and saying that there is a new way to do things and the old way is completely done.  20 years ago marathon workouts were all the rage, people would spend hours a day in the gym.  Today shorter more intense workouts are the new better ways to do things making the old ways of long training sessions in the gym, obsolete.  When you insist on relying on the law it is like you are the person refusing to workout less and get better results, it is like you are saying that working out an hour is not enough, I am going to try and force better results by working out 3 hours.

In all of Israel not a single person was made righteous under the law, not even David.  David was a man after God’s own heart and was a great leader but even David could not be righteous under the law because of the adultery and murder he committed.  Under the new covenant however you can be made righteous in an instant when you call on the name of Jesus.  Even under the law the best have failed but under grace the worst can be saved.

What does this all mean for us?  It means that we no longer have to depend on our own works to earn God’s blessings, approval and favor.  Today, my friend, we can depend on His unmerited favor for our peace, wholeness and success through Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice.

By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.   —   Hebrews 8:13

Under the law, even the best failed.  Under grace, even the worst can be saved!

Categories: Grace, Jesus, Law, Love, New Covenant, Prayer

Why A Revelation Of Your Forgiveness Is So Important?

“Why is an understanding of the complete forgiveness of my sins so important for me to walk in God’s grace?”

That is a great question. Let me share with you some of the implications involved. First, if you have no confidence that all your sins are forgiven, then your eternal security and salvation will always hang in the balance.

Second, if you think that your sins were not fully dealt with at the cross, then you can never have the confidence to enjoy the Lord’s presence because you can never be sure if He is on your side, or if He is waiting to punish you for your failures. You will constantly feel unworthy because of your assessment of your conduct, and you can never really have the boldness to ask God for big things, or believe that He will give you success in your life.

Third, if you do not believe that Jesus has already forgiven all your sins, it means that when you fail, you will believe that you are not “right” with God and that fellowship with Him has been cut off. And instead of depending on His unmerited favour to overcome your failure, you will feel that you need to confess your sin, be remorseful and make amends with God before you can restore fellowship with God and depend on Him again.

Once you don’t have a clear sense of your forgiveness, you will constantly be on an emotional seesaw.

Sometimes. you feel that things between you and God are alright, but at other times, you don’t think that it is so. Sometimes, you feel confident that the Lord is with you to make you a success, but at other times, you feel like you blew it and the Lord will not help you until you confess your sin and make amends.

You will be in constant cycle of feeling insecure, where you are always hopping in and out of God’s favour. All these feelings depend on how well you think you have performed, and ignore the cross of Jesus altogether. My friend, God does not evaluate you based on your behaviour. He sees only Jesus’ perfect work. But because you do not believe that Jesus has indeed forgiven you of all your sins, you end up feeling like a total and complete hypocrite and failure.

I hope that you are beginning yo see that understanding the complete forgiveness of your sins is not just for theologians. Thinking that your sins are not completely forgiven will fundamentally affect your relationship with Jesus.

While He is all ready to bless you, give you favour and make you a success, unbelief in His finished work robs you of the ability to receive His goodness, His blessings, His unmerited favour and His success in life.

The cross of Jesus qualified you, but unbelief in the main clause of the new covenant disqualifies you. Meditate on what God says about your sins in the new covenant and free yourself to receive from Him today. The new covenant is based entirely on His unmerited favour. There is nothing for you to do, nothing for you to perform, nothing for you to accomplish. Your part in the new covenant is just to have faith in Jesus and to believe that you are totally forgiven and free to enjoy the new covenant blessings through His finished work!

 

 

Categories: Grace, Jesus, New Covenant

Your Right To God’s Unmerited Favor

I don’t think the issue is whether or not we want to receive God’s goodness and favor.  I think all of us will agree that His favor is something we would love to have.  Wanting His favor is not the problem, it is having the qualifications that get us in to trouble.  I also think that we can agree that if His favor is on our side that there is nothing that can stand in our way.

But as we have said before, if His favor is unmerited, how can we qualify for it?  If we cannot earn, deserve or merit it, how can we be confident that we have His unmerited favor?

Lets look at the following questions:
Why can you expect good to happen to you?

Why can you enjoy God’s unmerited favor?

Why can you ask God for big things?

What do we have to do to qualify for His favor?

Beloved, your answers are all found on the Mount of Golgotha, the place of the skull.  It’s the place where the sinless Man became sin, so that you and I can become the righteousness of God in Him.  His righteousness is your right to God’s unmerited favor.  You qualify for His favor because you have been made the righteousness of God through Jesus sacrifice on the cross!

I have said this in past but as a family if we ever doubt or feel down, we say the following, “I am greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved because I am the righteousness of God in Christ.”  If I have to say it a hundred times a day I will do it until I believe it.  I say it because it is the truth.

You can do this because He paid for it on the cross.  You can succeed at anything because we are in Him and He is in us.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.   —   2 Corinthians 5:21

Your righteousness in Christ is the sure foundation on which you can build your expectations to receive God’s unmerited favor. 

Categories: Grace, Jesus, Love, New Covenant, Prayer
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