March

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March 1

 

The Apostle Paul understands the power of hearts of believers being knit together in love. This is where we can grow the most in understanding His love for us

Colossians 2:1-3 “1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Remember that the church in Colosse was most likely an outcropping from the church in Ephesus where Paul stayed from about 52-55 AD. Colosse was near Laodicea and the two churches new of each other. It is also worthy of mentioning that this Laodicea is the same one in Revelations 3:14; the lukewarm church. I point this out since Paul’s letter to Colosse was one of almost combativeness in defense of the Lordship of Jesus. Paul was combating Gnosticism which was undermining the fervor for the gospel and deity of Jesus Christ. I recommend reading Revelations 3:14-22 to understand the potential of loss for the believer that falls into mental ascent of Christianity coupled with a legalistic way of life instead of leaning Jesus and the gospel of Christ. This is not unlike the typical battle going on in the church today.

Paul wants them to know that he has a great love and burden in his heart for them and for their true salvation. This is not any different than the pain he spoke of in Galatians 4:19 and is typical of a person that understands the potential loss for people that slip away from the gospel of Christ. The Colossians knew of Paul, but had never seen him which makes it even more difficult for Paul to fully express his concern; they did not have a personal relationship with him to stand on. Readers of the gospel today are in the same boat, so to speak, in that we must rely on the written word instead of personality traits of the man. This is exactly how God wants it, in that all too often men lean toward following a specific person instead of the word of God as it stands.  
There is a principle in verse 2 that is sometimes overlooked in our “me first” world today. In the KJV the word comforted was used instead of encouraged and Paul ties their “comfort” to their being knit together in love. The body of Christ is just that, a body of believers. God’s plan was never intended to be one of self-centeredness, but rather of community. This does not advocate commune living where everyone looks, acts, and does the same thing. Paul is focusing the Colossians on the like mindedness of Christ where others are put first before self. God’s plan is so much more than dressing, looking, or living alike. A man by himself can never grasp the full understanding of God and His word, it takes all of us together, each bringing a Psalm, Hymn, or Spiritual song to understand the fullness of God and all of the riches He has in store for us (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul’s letter is one of love and encouragement which is very different to many of the teachers and preachers today. In fact there are even some denominations that lean so far the other direction that the members do not feel they have been to church unless their hearts have been pricked. I believe the knowledge of the true mystery of God is not fully preached today. Believers do not need greater understanding of their sin actions and techniques to
overcome them; they need a deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what He actually did for us on the cross. My concern is that Christians today are often not necessarily true believers; but rather doers, always looking for the next fix or task to complete in order to stay in right standing with God. This is the furthest from the truth of the gospel of Christ. We are not called to be a “doer” of Christianity; we are called to “be” in Christ Jesus.

All of our worries, pains, shortcomings, and difficulties in this life whether brought on by our own bad actions or just from living in this world have been nailed on the cross and paid for by the blood of Jesus. We don’t need more money we need more understanding of Jesus. We don’t need more rules we need more understanding of Jesus. We don’t need more political regulations we need more understanding of Jesus. We do not need more faith; we need less of us in our face. We do not need more of anything other than a fuller understanding of Jesus and His love for us. Colossians 1:9-23 needs to be read and read and read until it becomes a part of your personal understanding. Paul prayed this over the Colossians, pray this over you.  
Notice that being knit together in love comes before attaining all riches and fullness of understanding.  The Greek word SUMBABAZO was used in Ephesians 4:16 and translated as “compacted” in KJV. Allow the word of God to “compact” us together to the point that believers are inseparable from each other as we all have “Christ in us”. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord should come first in our lives over self. This can only happen as each believer truly becomes a believer of the gospel of Christ and not just a partial believer still working legalisms for righteousness, and comes to the understanding that Jesus is in each of us.  

Verse 3, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, is the accumulative fruit of verses 1&2 fulfilled. As humans we tend to put so much focus on the have or have not of life, that we miss the depth that Godly wisdom and knowledge can offer. Everything we need has been given to us spiritually according to Ephesians 1:3. This wisdom and knowledge goes far beyond the short sightedness of just salvation that Christians tend to focus on. If you look at the nine spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit that are found in 1 Corinthians 12 it is clear that wisdom and knowledge were written first for a reason. Godly wisdom and knowledge is the foundation of everything we need while living here on earth. Why would we need wisdom, knowledge, faith, or any other spiritual gift once we are in heaven in the presence of our Lord? The Spiritual gifts are for us today while here on earth. Although some people seem to have larger depths of Godly wisdom and knowledge than others, a person by themselves can only grasp a limited understanding. Collectively however, we can learn and grow together and this is what Paul is trying to help the Colossians understand. Our walk as Christians has far more ramifications than just each individual’s personal understanding and knowledge of God. Remember that Paul is combatting Gnosticism which leans heavily toward each individual’s mental ascent over the collective support and faith of several like-minded believers coming together for a single purpose.  

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March 2

 

The enemy will use persuasive words of man’s doctrines, even the word of God out of context, to confuse and pull Christians from their understanding of God’s true love for them.  
Colossians 2:4-5 “4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”

 Even though Colossians is considered combative against any other belief other than the deity of Christ and His shed blood for us, Paul does so without attacking the potential errors of the Colossians. Pastors and believers alike need to learn from Paul and his mannerisms. Paul’s teachings truly line up with the word of God, Psalms 34:8 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him”. Paul is warning us that without a full understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for “all” of our sins, Christians risk being deceived by various ideas and doctrines of man. This understanding can only occur as we purpose to see Christ in us.  
 

From the beginning with Adam & Eve, Satan has used deception and lack of man’s understanding to “steal” from us what is rightfully ours. If he can get us to look anywhere else other than into the perfect work of Jesus on the cross or to lean on our own works instead of trusting in what Jesus did for us on the cross, we lose and he wins. This is the reason Paul wrote this epistle, he wanted the Colossians and us to be so grounded in the truth of the gospel that we become unshakable. It must not have worked for the Laodiceans who were to have read this letter as well; read Revelations 3:14-22. I believe people who walk away from Christianity never understood what they had to begin with. It is very possible they never truly became “born again”, but rather made a mental ascent at the moment stirred by an emotion and lead by a pastors preaching. This is not a bad thing, but without further understanding in what a person has, why would they want to hold on to it. These people are not necessarily backsliders, but rather window shoppers that never went inside the store. Satan did not attack Eve with the most powerful animal on earth and scare her into rejecting God; he used the most crafty and slyest of creatures, a snake. No one hears a snake coming close and you never know one is there until the last second. This is how deception comes upon God’s children, especially those that have not exercised their spiritual insight nor have a full understanding of the power of God that actually lives in us.  

 Verse 5 is not some spooky statement where Paul is looking into the lives of people he never met. Paul is actually living in the spirit world where all Christians should be living. We are to walk by faith and not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7. A prime example of spiritual sight and man’s lack of ability to look into it is found in 2 Kings 6:15-17. At first sight things may look bleak, but when we move into the spirit realm of seeing, we see a much brighter outcome.  This is exactly where Paul is when he wrote verse 5. As we grow in the fullness of understanding and ask God to show us where we are spiritually we will see a much better picture than with our natural eyes. With God’s children everything is yes and amen, (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

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March 3

 

Receiving Christ and walking in Christ are completely different. All Christians receive Christ when they confess and believe in Him, but those who understand who they are in Christ will abound with thanksgiving in their daily walk in life.  

Colossians 2:6-7 “6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  

 When I ask Christians if they believe in Christ they look at me funny and say “of course I do”. I then ask them again and am asking you now, “do you really believe in Christ”? We all can say yes because that is how we received our salvation in the first place, Romans 10:8-10. The problem with Christians today is the same as it was in Paul’s day. We do not take the time to fully understand what has happened in the spirit realm the moment we become born again.   

We receive our salvation without having done anything righteous to deserve it. We didn’t have to fast and pray for it, we didn’t have to read a certain number of chapters in the bible to earn it because it is a free gift. We sure didn’t become saved on our own holiness because the word of God says that there is none righteous, so we had to be saved by God’s grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8. Ask yourself this question, “If I was saved by faith why do I act like I do in trying to gain God’s blessings by worrying myself with my own actions”? When it comes down to brass tacks and we take a close look at our personal actions in our walk with God, many Christians do not live a life of faith but one of sight and personal actions trying to justify that they even have faith. I believe a majority of Christian’s today live a life with a mixture of faith in some areas, worldly philosophy in others, and a whole lot of works and legalisms in their misunderstood effort to gain or maintain God’s favor and blessings. If this were not the case, the churches would be full and people would be more joyful in their everyday lives. Look at Paul’s response to the Galatians in 3:1-3, “Oh foolish Galatians…, having begun in the spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh”?  

 Here are some additional litmus tests to determine if you truly live by faith. What is your first reaction to an adverse situation? When you feel a sickness symptom do you reach for medication or call a doctor and then pray? When you believe you heard from God to give a certain amount of money or it’s time to make your tithe offering, do you look at your check book and think of all the other things you need or want to determine if what you thought you heard was truly from God? How enthusiastic are you about sharing your belief with those who may not be Christians or really don’t know about Jesus? Do you freely invite your friends or neighbors that do not go to church to come with you? I am concerned the answer to these questions for the majority of Christians today is no. As a whole we truly do not fully believe, because we do not fully understand the power of God’s grace in our lives. With the exception of a few of the “mega” churches around the world, why are there so many empty seats in your church. News flash; It’s not because everyone else is going to one of those mega churches. I hear many Christians say that if a person wants to know about Jesus then they need to go to church to hear about Him. Church is not for the unsaved to go to become saved; the church building should be a Christian’s favorite filling station. If you want to take a drive on a long vacation what is the first thing you do before you get fully underway; you go fill your vehicle up with fuel. Then as you are traveling you are always keeping an eye on your fuel gage and comparing your distance traveled to the next fuel stop. Christians that go to church and wait for people to come to them to ask about Jesus are like the traveler that goes to their favorite fuel station to fill up, but never leave. They just sit there with their motor running afraid to drive away from the gas pump. Face this fact; Christians as a whole do not go out and tell their friends and acquaintances about Jesus because they are afraid that they will be rejected; or worse yet, their friend will come to church and the word will not work for their friend.  The reason Satan can keep this fear alive in a Christian is because there are times when that same Christian did not receive what they asked for so they have their own doubts. Rampant sin in the streets is not the cause of the decline of the church today; doubt in the heart of a believer is what has allowed sin to become rampant in the streets.  

I had to come to this very truth in my own life several years ago and accept that I didn’t really believe what the word of God says about my blessings, health, and acceptance from God, because my actions did not prove it. The only reason I did not truly believe in all areas of my life is because I had not made the preached gospel my own. There are also a lot false teachings and legalistic teachings that need to be weeded out from the true gospel. Don’t confuse taking the time to read your bible with making His word real in your life. Why are you reading the bible, to learn about your relationship with God or to gain brownie points?  I use to read because I was told that is what I was supposed to do as a Christian. Just because something is spoken from the pulpit does not always make it true, because it is preached from a clay vessel. When I realized that the gospel of Jesus Christ was God’s love letters to His children I could not read enough. Even if scripture is used during the message until you search out what is preached from the word of God and make it your own you are at risk of being misled or not gaining the full truth of the preached word for yourself.  We come to Jesus just as we are and He accepts us, we fall back into religious works and efforts to keep our salvation or gain God’s blessings because we are not “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving”.  Verse 7 was Paul’s answer to the Colossians back then and it is still true today. Without studying God’s word and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal it to your spirit, you will never understand that “Christ is in you the hope of glory”, Colossians 1:27. This is the great mystery that the profits of old looked into, but never understood and could never obtain. Because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross over 2000 years ago, God now lives in us and He is our hope of glory. Unless you establish in your heart the true deity of Jesus Christ and realize that He is everything you need, you will be tossed about with every wind and doctrine and compounded with your own doubt.  
“6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8)  

Establish your faith, become rooted and built up, and never let go of your thanksgiving.  

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March 4

 

The traditions of man which we call denominationalisms are no different that the basic principles of the world. Both are empty with deceit and cheat you from your powerful personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  

Colossians 2:8-9 “8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;  

 I believe the statement in verse 8 from Paul is more real today than when he wrote it. Today we call it “Secular Humanism” and “Situational Ethics”. Since the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there has been an ever growing populous of man’s teachings with false Christ and empty deceit. There are religions where man is his own god, or mental ascent as the way to true happiness, or Jesus was just another one of the great prophets. Jesus Himself warned of this in Matthew 24:24 and 1 John 2:18 tell us this is a sign of the coming of the last hour. Jeremiah 10:23 prophesied that the way of man is not in himself and yet today there are more “self-help” books sold than ever before. We must wake up and realize that there is a war going on for the future of the church or we will wake up some day and the church we know will no longer exist. Why is it that 82% of students graduating from “Christian” schools never go back to church? Why are there less than 15% of young adults in church today and only 4-6% of high school student’s believe in the word of God and Jesus Christ? I am not making these stats up, but have read them in Charisma, Assembly of God, and Baptist magazines. These numbers are also secular research papers by major universities. The American Heritage Dictionary defines philosophy as: Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. The mind is enmity to God (Romans 8:7) and if just following laws was the answer then why did the Children of Israel fail at achieving righteousness. The secular world does not want to accept this, but our countries legal system with all of its laws was based on the original Ten Commandments, and if just following those laws worked then why is there so much crime today? As a society have we become so technologically advanced that our pursuit of knowledge has overcome our pursuit to Godliness?  People and even Christians forget that the pursuit of worldly happiness and things actually leaves the person empty and shallow, not to mention how it affects their potential outcome. We have become a country of symbolism over substance and the rest of the world sees it. I believe this correction can only start with each individual searching the good things of God instead of the temporary things of man. Philosophy, the deceit of legalism, and the ways of this world will always leave a Christian short of where God wants him to be.   

 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; We can never accept the lie that Jesus was just a man like us; with the only difference being He had the Son’s Spirit instead of Adam’s spirit. To believe this lie is to believe that if Jesus walked perfect once He received the Holy Spirit we can walk perfect also; man will never walk in perfection while still on this earth.  Unless a person accepts God’s word that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man the truth is no longer present (1 Timothy 3:16). Christians often forget that doubt, philosophy, and empty deceit are the only tools Satan has against God’s children. Most people think that Satan has some kind of supernatural power to make us submit to his will when in fact the only power he has comes to him from us because of his deception. He did not come at Eve with the most powerful creature on earth and make her submit to his will over God’s. Satan came to her in the form of a serpent which is the most subtle creature on earth (Genesis 3:1).  Understanding that in Jesus dwells the complete fullness of the Godhead bodily, is the beginning of our ability to live in peace because of the power of God’s grace. 

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March 5

 

You are complete in Jesus Christ. Your works or efforts for acceptance have already been fulfilled by His perfect work on the cross.  
Colossians 2:10 "10, and you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power"  

Do you want to prevent yourself from being deceived? Then understand and believe that you are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power. One of the greatest defenses against falling away from your belief is to read and understand what Paul is explaining to the Colossians in Chapter 1:3-22. Jesus Christ is our everything; Christ in you, our hope of glory, Colossians 1:27. The second most important defense is fellowship with likeminded believers. I am not saying joining a “Christian Cult”, there are plenty of opportunities to stumble into one of those, I am suggesting finding other Christians who want to have a powerful walk with the Lord and get to know them as a friend; it’s called fellowship. The third greatest defense is to understand what the term “ truly means.  

The Greek word that was translated as "complete" is PLEROO, which means, "to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction)." The word "replete" means "1. Plentifully supplied; abounding; 2. Filled to satiation; gorged. And we are all of these things in Christ.  

You may be asking yourself this question; if I am complete in Christ according to the definition of the Greek word used by Paul in verse 10, than why am I pulled so easily away from His truth and why do I have such an empty feeling inside sometimes?  For me the answers to these questions boiled down to the fact that I was not taught this truth and didn’t make any effort to search the truth out for myself by studying God’s word until I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Anytime you let the fate of your walk with Jesus rest in the teaching and understanding of another person, and do not make the effort to learn the word of God for yourself by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you, you walk in jeopardy of ignorance and misleading. Even if the person teaching you carries the title of Bishop, Apostle, Pastor, Dr., etc. Ephesians 1:3 “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us  This verse does not say, some or a few, or the ones who earned it; this verse says “has You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing available to man and God has not held anything back. With God everything is yes and Amen to Hos children. Luke 1:37 “With God nothing is impossible”, Luke 18:27 “The things which are impossible with man are possible with God”, these words were recorded statements made by Jesus Himself, our Lord and Savior, the one who died in our place for our sins.  Review my study of Ephesians for a deeper understanding of what you have in Christ.  

Remembering always that Jesus is the head of all principalities and powers, Paul asks the question “”, Romans 8:31. Once Christians understand the deity of Jesus Christ in that God Himself came to earth through His only begotten Son to pay the price of our sins, then who or what principality can stand against us? John 1:1-4 & 14 “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of Without question Jesus is the head of all principalities and powers and He chose to die for our sins, so we could come to Him boldly and without fear.   

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March 6

 

Circumcised of the heart, buried with Him in baptism, and raised through Him by faith. This spiritual separation from the rest of the world is the power of God’s grace that Christians have to walk in while here on earth.  

Colossians 2:11-12 “11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

 In Jewish culture circumcision was the focal point of their religion. It was the definitive status that separated them from other men, but also was their sign of separation unto God. Its origin was with Abraham and was continued on with the Law of Moses. The actual act or process does not make a person a Jew, as there are many non-Jewish boys born in the US are circumcised the day after birth for health and future cleanliness reasons. In the Jewish culture it was more ritualistic and done on the eighth day of the boy’s birth. The focal point is in the separation unto God and commitment to holiness and with the Law of Moses, was the indicator that the child would live by the Law and would be found in right standing with God. The provision was that “every” law and ordinance was followed flawlessly; an impossible task even for the circumcised. Paul is addressing this topic even though the Colossians were not all Jewish converts, but rather mostly Gentile converts because those who were Jewish converts into Christianity were insisting the Gentiles need to be circumcised  in addition to accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In Galatians 6:13 Paul states that these Jewish people demanding Gentile converts to become circumcised were boasting in the flesh of the new convert, “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” Remember that to be a circumcised Jew was to be a child of God which is what Christians already are, but physical circumcision is not the answer. Romans 2:28 “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.” Romans 9:8 is further confirmation that the act of circumcision is nothing, “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”  

In Christ Jesus we are circumcised, but it is spiritual in that we are separated from the rest of the human race as children of God by faith and our confession of Jesus as our Lord and savior. Circumcision signifies the separation from others, both in the Law of Moses and spiritually today. Spiritual circumcision is a separation of the Old Testament requirements against man because they were nailed on the cross with Jesus. Once the circumcised skin is removed it cannot grow back and once we are born again our sins are cut off and cannot come back on us as judgments against us. The reason we continue to sin is not because of our “sin nature”; that has been cut off. Christians still sin because they have not renewed their minds. This removal from sin was done by the death and resurrection of Jesus, Colossians 2:11c. How is that so? Remember when Jesus was born He was born under the Law, born into the tribe of Judah. Jesus was circumcised in the flesh on the eighth day of His birth. He was set apart physically unto God, but Jesus also lived a sinless life. He was born “without” the “sin nature” that all the rest of the descendants of Adam were born with. He did not have to renew His mind from sinful thinking since He was born of the Spirit of God and not the spirit of Adam. Jesus’ life here on earth started out pure unto God because He was God manifested in the flesh and started out like a baby just like all the rest of us did except Adam. Under the Old Testament the only way a human could stand righteous before God was to live a perfect sinless life before Him, but man’s sin nature and sin mindedness keeps everyone from attaining God’s requirement for perfection. Since Adam gave his God given authority over to Satan in the Garden of Eden, sin and death entered the world, and man could no longer enter into the presence of God. Because Jesus, God in the flesh, born of a woman, lived a sinless life; when He was crucified on the cross death could not hold Him because death only entered into the world when sin did and He lived a sinless perfect life. Jesus was the only human to live the Law of Moses without any flaws only because of who He was. Because Jesus met 100% of God’s requirements He broke the bondage of sin and death.  

This truth of what Jesus did on the cross is the most important thing to understand because verse 12 is the clincher on how we can enter into a perfect relationship with God. Baptism into Jesus is the key. Jesus Himself said that the only way to God was through Him and it was through baptism. As verse 12 says when we are baptized we are in fact being buried with Him and when we are raised out of the water “not of our own power” with the help of a baptizer, we are raised with Him through faith into the presence of God. Jesus did not raise Himself from the grave; God did so through the power of His Holy Spirit and could only do so because the grave could not hold a pure and holy Man. It is only by faith we are saved. It is only by faith we are raised from the dead and it is only by faith and the renewing of our minds that we can walk in the light as He is in the light. Romans 6:3-10 is worth reading for additional clarification on baptism into Christ Jesus.  

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March 7

 

For He Himself is our peace. There is nothing more powerful in the life of a believer then to understand that Jesus is your peace between you and the requirements of God against man.  

Ephesians 2: 14-16, 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

In the previous three verses it is clear that the Apostle Paul was speaking mostly to those who once were Gentiles, but in doing so in the presence of the Jewish believers, he was setting the stage for peace and brotherhood through the unity of the Blood of Christ. Jesus Himself is our peace, to the Gentiles He gave them hope when they had no hope of drawing close to God since they by nature were not of the chosen people. Peace to the Jews in that He was the final sacrifice needed for all sins. This is important to understand, in that both the Gentile and the Jew can learn from each other, now that they are one in Jesus. The Gentile, having no law of Moses, or list of Godly rules obviously was not weighed down by the heaviness that was associated with the Jewish religion. The Law of Moses was given as a tutor, for the purpose of keeping the children of Israel sin conscious and to give them an ability to temporarily reconcile themselves back toward the grace of God (Galatians 3:24,25). Under the Law however, there was never any true grace or reconciliation, hence there was a constant strife for the diligent Jew to be observant of his every action and be ready to make another animal sacrifice when he or she fell into any sin. (Hebrews 10:11-14 “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, *(Jesus) after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified”). *(Added by me to help emphasize who “He” was in this verse) With the Gentile being without any law of God, they were also unaware of who the true God was and were always searching for and moving from one god to another. The Jewish Christian could now help the newly converted Gentile know their God. In Jesus both the Jew and Gentile are now one body. The Jew could now learn from the born again, ex Gentile, how to walk by faith instead of constantly by works of the law. The ex-Gentile could now learn from the born again, converted, Jew the awesome power and glory of the true God. Jesus truly created one new man from the two and made peace, both with each other and with God through His sacrifice for all sins.

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March 8

 

It is through Jesus and Him alone that we have complete access to God our Father. Not by might, nor by power, but by His word.  

Ephesians 2: 18-22, 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In John 10:9, Jesus tells us that He is the door to God and we have free access to come in and go out. This is very significant in that under the Law of Moses only the High Priest, and only once a year, could go into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. The inner temple behind a veil was where the Ark of the Covenant was and is where God would meet with the High Priest and if the High Priest’s personal sacrifice was accepted by God and was allowed to live, then and only then could he inter on behalf of the children of Israel. No one but the High Priest had direct access to God and the High Priest did not freely go in and out. In the New Covenant, God wants to have personal communication with us, one on one. There is no longer the need for a High Priest to go in on our behalf, and we no longer have to wait for a word from God through a Prophet as in the Old Testament. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to boldly go into the presence of God since we now have Jesus as our living High Priest, having given Himself as sacrifice for our sins, and standing in the presence of God making intercession for us. In the Old Testament, to be a stranger or foreigner was to be considered a sojourner, a person that may dwell near or live in a specific land, but have no rights of citizenship. Just as if we may go and live in another country we would have no natural citizenship. Those of us who are Christians are Sojourners here on earth with our citizenship now in heaven. Not only are we now citizens of heaven, but in verse 19 we are called members of the house of God. The term “members” used in verse 19 has a deeper meaning as well. Membership to most people is simply an association of people, who chose to join together, for a single purpose. We have memberships in everything from country clubs to buying groups. We even use the term “membership” when we refer to a specific denomination we choose to belong to. Once again to the Jewish person the meaning has greater depth and significance. To be a member of a household was to actually be a blood family relative. You had full inevitable rights as a family member to be a part of that family including free access to any and all inheritance. Your actual name was given to identify you as that family member. In Matthew 16:17 Jesus identifies Simon as Simon Bar Jonah, meaning Simon son of Jonah. We are members, “family” of the household of God. Galatians 4:6 says we have the Sons Spirit crying out Abba Father. As children of God we are also joined together as a building, and considered a holy temple, a dwelling place for the Lord.  

The covenant that God made between Abraham was actually between his Seed which is Jesus. Because Abraham believed God it was accounted to him as righteous. A covenant is only as strong as the people that make it. God’s who cannot lie was one and Jesus having gone to the cross already for us is not going to back out. Therefore the covenant has been ratified. The apostles are considered to be the foundation for the church because they were chosen by Jesus to follow him and because while here on earth Jesus actually gave them the authority to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. In the last chapter of Luke and in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus confirmed that these apostles would be the ones to go out into the world preaching the gospel, henceforth; they are considered the foundation with Jesus the chief cornerstone. When Jesus was referred to as the chief cornerstone in verse 20; to the Jews that carried a stronger position that just another stone in the foundation of a building. The foundations of their buildings in those days were not poured concrete set in place by measuring a set distance from the curb of the street. In many cities the houses actually were built one against the other and the first stone lay had to be in correct orientation to how the house was to set in conjunction with the others. If this house was the first in the city then the direction this city faced was in direct relationship to how the first stone was placed. Jesus being the cornerstone for the temple of God, His church, then we know that it is built “exactly” in the correct orientation God wants it to be which is face to face with Him. 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that we, individually, are the temple of God and that His spirit dwells in us. In 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul is speaking to the church as a whole, and in 6:16 we see that the church is referred to as the temple of God. All three are true and do not contradict each other. John 4:17, Romans 8:8 both confer with 1 Corinthians 3:16 that Christians individually have the Spirit of God dwelling in them .In Mathew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of thee”, we clearly see how when believers are gathered together in a church, they collectively are the temple of God and therefore the church as a whole is the temple of God. This is the very reason unit within a church is so very important. Each member is important to the other Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”.  

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March 9

 

Because we live under the New Covenant, God has made known to us the full dispensation of His grace toward all man. Do not let the enemy steal from you what Jesus has already paid for by His shed blood. Ephesians 3:1-21

Ephesians 3:1-7, 1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles--2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.   

Paul was not actually a prisoner in the sense he was held captive against his will. He could have walked away from his call anytime and gone to heaven just the same. What he is expressing is that he has such an appreciation and love for Jesus and what Jesus did for him, that he could never choose to leave his call. Paul was compelled, out of his love for God to be this prisoner for Christ. Christians as a whole do not understand completely what Jesus has done for us, if we did none of us would act like we do. We all would be as Paul. The most interesting point here is, Paul not only persecuted “The Way” which we call the church, but as a Jew and even more so a Pharisee he would have never entered into the house or even a conversation with Gentiles; and yet after his conversion, Paul is the primary Apostle to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.  

Before his conversion, Paul would have fought to the death, anyone claiming that Gentiles would be fellow heirs and of the same body as the Jews. There was no way a “dog” would enter into the Abrahamic blessing which the Jews held as only for them. And yet even today we still do not understand just what a blessing we truly have, and this blessing as a “child of God” is the very principle Paul writes about in most of his letters. When you think about it, he had to be a willing prisoner of Christ in order to spend so much of his life, which brought him heavy condemnation and punishment, for preaching and giving us these truths. Verse 2 “if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,”  

In verse 2 Paul is referencing his call into the ministry for Jesus, by Jesus as read in Acts 9:15. “But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the Children of Israel.” This is when Jesus is speaking to Ananias, a Christian to go to the house of Judas and lay hands on Paul that he may receive his sight. Paul’s Damascus road experience had left him temporarily blind, but most people reading this do not realize the importance of a Christian being the one to go lay hands on Paul that he may see again.  
Look at what Jesus spoke in Mark 16:17-18 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."


I tell people this truth all of the time and most people hearing it act as though they have never heard of it before. These signs shall “FOLLOW” those who believe; believers are not to follow the signs. Christians should have such a belief in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that these signs should follow us like the dust cloud that followed “Pig Pen” from the Charlie Brown cartoon. Peter walked past the sick and his shadow crossing them healed them, Acts 5:15. Today we almost run away from a sick person as if the sickness is going to get on us. So of course Jesus had to send a Christian to lay hands on Paul because that is what we are called to do. And Paul was the best person on the planet to go to the Gentiles to teach them about Jesus.  
Paul knew the Laws of Moses and the Prophets better than most Pharisees. It was through the spiritual gift of wisdom and the spiritual gift knowledge, that the Holy Spirit was able to reveal the truth of the gospel Jesus Christ and God’s grace to Paul. The most exciting of all is the Holy Spirit did this through the books we call Old Testament. 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ). Through the study of Acts and several of the books written by Paul one can see that he spent approximately fourteen years alone in Tarsus learning from the Lord.  

Verse 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power”. Keep in mind that for centuries the children of Israel had the books of Moses. We read throughout the Old Testament where the prophets studied them constantly and wrote of their own revelations about the coming Messiah and yet even when Jesus showed up on the scene, no one recognized Him.

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March 10

 

Understand the power of God’s grace in your life. He took Paul who was persecuting the church and turned him into a champion for Jesus Christ.  

Ephesians 3:8-10, 8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.


In the beginning of Acts Chapter 8 we see Paul was actively trying to destroy the church by the authority given to him from the current day religious leaders. I encourage you to read Acts 9 verse 1-30 to get an understanding of Ephesians 3:1-8.  

At first is may appear that Paul is contradicting himself when he uses the phrase, “the unsearchable riches of Christ”, and then in verse 10, “now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.”  They are both true statements in that unsearchable is indicative of the vastness of the riches in Christ, not that they cannot be known. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we now have the mind of Christ. Our understanding of the manifold wisdom of God and the understanding of the riches of Christ is only limited to our own lack of knowledge and ability to walk by faith and not by sight, (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our hearing the preached word is the beginning of our understanding, and if only the word is preached and not man’s opinion, the consistent preached word will add to our faith and keep us in the general correct direction. Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Our true increase of knowledge only comes through our personal study of God’s word and by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom and understanding we need to walk in this world. We have already been made to sit in Christ at the right hand of God, Ephesians 2:6; and we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. God knows what He and Jesus have done for us, and Satan knows as well. As long as we do not fully understand, we are left open for deception by the enemy and that is all he can do to us. If we do not walk by faith in the understanding and truth of the gospel of Christ, Satan wins a battle that he has already been defeated in. How sad for our Lord to lay down His life that we may have life and life more abundantly, and then watch His children flounder around down here on earth in beggarly, legalistic lives trying to “work” our way into heaven.  

When we speak the word of God and not what we see with our natural eyes about ourselves or others, the enemy looses ground in his deception. (Proverbs 10:21) Christians often have long religious sounding prayers asking God to heal us, or move the mountain in our lives, or bless us in one way or another; only to end up disappointed that our prayers were not answered. We even go further by justifying it saying “God knows what I need and maybe He is trying to teach me something through this illness, or poverty; after all Paul pleaded three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed and the Lords only reply was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect weakness”. I have actually heard doctrines made out of living in your infirmities and poverty so that Jesus will be magnified. This is not true and happens all too often when someone “sound bites” the word of God instead of preaching the truth of the gospels. When you read the rest of Paul’s teachings in the New Testament, coupled with the four gospels and the other authors of the New Testament it is made clear that God has done for us all, and everything, He needs to do for us. He and Jesus are now sitting down in their positions of authority upholding their word which gives us, God’s children, the authority we need to speak to our situation and command it to line up with the word of God, in the name of Jesus. This is why Paul says, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”, verse 10. We are to speak to those things in our lives that do not line up with God’s word, not plead, beg, or whine. (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6) My encouragement to help understand the power of faith spoken is to read Hebrews Chapter 11.  

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March 11

 

What Jesus accomplished for us on the cross is eternal. We no longer need to strive here on earth to receive the grace from God that has already been given to us forever. As we walk in that grace we will be strengthened in our spirit man to overcome temptations in this life.


Ephesians 3:11-12 “11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him”.  

To understand eternal we must first look back into Genesis at the original covenant between God and man as spoken to Abraham. Genesis 12:1-3 is where God laid out the covenant to Abraham and in doing so states “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. Many people believe that the covenant was between God and Abraham. If that were true the first time Abraham failed the covenant would be void. In order for a covenant to never become void, both parties in the covenant must remain true to the covenant. God cannot lie, (Titus 1:2), and Jesus did not fail when He came to earth to die for our sins. Now that they both sit in heaven, the covenant can never be broken. This means that for eternity, or as long as this earth remains, man has the ability to enter into this covenant that was first promised to Abraham. All that is needed to enter into this covenant is faith. What God accomplished in Christ is the payment for sin for all mankind. omans 6:2 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans :2 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of the ord. Since the wages of sin is death all mankind is worthy of death, but where there is no sin death has no authority. Jeremiah :8,” I will cleanse them from all their iniuity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. God is the one that made the way for us to be restored to our original position, and Jesus is the one that established it here on earth.  

We no longer need to approach God with hesitation and fear of death. In the Old Testament Moses was the only person called to stand in the presence of God and yet when Moses asked to see God’s face he was told that to do so would mean certain death. God placed Moses in the crack of the mountain and covered Moses with His hand. After God went by He removed His hand allowing Moses to see His back and the glory of God was so strong on Moses after that, the children of Israel could not look upon the face of Moses without him wearing a veil over his face. (Exodus 33:18  34:35) To this day a veil lies over the heart of those who only study the Old Testament looking for their messiah that has already come, Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:15) Faith in the covenant established between God and Jesus, for man’s salvation and restoration is where we should rest. Our walk is not one of working out salvation throughout actions, but by faith in Jesus. When we find that rest, we will also find the boldness given to us to come directly to God, not through a prophet as in the Old Testament. True there are prophets today and they serve a purpose in the church. However, when Christians look to today’s prophets for their answers from God instead of going directly to God, then they are settling for second best and are leaving themselves open for a man’s opinion and not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. Hebrews :11-16 “11 et us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.

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March 12

 

One of Paul’s deepest prayers for the Ephesians and for us, is to fully understand the grace God has shown us.  

Ephesians 3:14 - 19, "14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height --19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 

 Paul has such an understanding of the grace of God and our true position as children of God that his prayer is for all to come to the same understanding. Once you come to the same understanding there is a gentle boldness that can come over you where you too are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:16). Since our spoken word has such power, and when we believe the word of God and make it our own you can take these verses and turn them into a powerful prayer for yourselves. In doing so your inner man, or spirit man will be strengthened and your old man, or carnal thinking will subside. You will begin to see and walk in the power and authority as children of God, that He wants you to walk in. Make this prayer your own; I did and it changed my life.  

“Lord I thank you that you have called me to adoption into You’re family in Christ Jesus; that You desire to strengthen me in my inner man with might through Your Holy Spirit according to Your riches. I will allow Jesus to live in my heart through faith, knowing that I am being rooted and grounded in love. Because I have the mind of Christ, I am able to comprehend, with all my fellow saints, the width, length, depth, and height of You and Jesus’ love for me which passes simple knowledge, and I thank You that I am being filled with all the fullness of God, in Jesus name”.  
 This prayer stands on these verses of promise: Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 3:16, Zechariah 4:6, Colossians 1:27, Ephesians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 4:7, Luke 6:21 (if you hunger for God, you will be filled).  

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March 13

 

Walking worthy of the calling of which you were called is the greatest love you can show Jesus, your Lord and Savior.
Ephesians 4: 1-3, 1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

Paul saw himself as a prisoner of the Lord in that his heart’s desire was to live every aspect of his life for Jesus and the gospel of Christ. This does not mean that he was a captive prisoner, but chose to be a willing vessel that was compelled to reach the Gentiles for the Lord. Paul examples a walk of worthiness before the Lord as he was consistently perfecting his own understand of Jesus in addition to putting the desires of his flesh under his feet. (1 Corinthians 9:27).

When Paul calls for us to walk in all lowliness he is not referencing to weakness or putting ourselves down before others. On the contrary for a Christian to put oneself down either secretly or before man is to call God a liar. God is the one that has lifted our head, (Psalms 3:3). We are called to be a light to the world, but to submit one to another. Submitting to each other is actually an action of lowliness where we are to give favor to our brother in the Lord; to hear his heart and share ours with him. In doing so there is the power of unity when we pray for one another (Ephesians 5:20, 21). Gentleness, longsuffering, and bearing in love with one another is best understood by reading 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. This is referred to as the love chapter and is a tall order for people in the world, but not so for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As we learn the love of Christ we are able to extend it to others. We are called to love others as we love ourselves. There are seven locations in six books of the New Testament that teach us this truth; therefore, it must be important to move forward in God. (Matthew 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, & James 2:8) Paul tells us that of faith, hope, and love the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Learning to love oneself is sometimes a problem when life has put a person down to the point they no longer love or even respect themselves. I believe this happens to Christians when there is a lack of understanding regarding the differences of faith, hope, and love. Bad circumstances happen to everyone, but those in Christ Jesus have an advocate and a petition before God for help in times of need. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, Hebrews 11:1. This tells us that faith is in the past. We must have faith to believe that the word of God spoken to Abraham regarding this covenant was real. We must have faith that Jesus actually died and rose again for our salvation; we must have faith that the bible written over two thousand years ago is the true word of God. Faith is past tense. Hope is future in that we are taking our faith in what we believe has happened or has been done for us, and will have the same power in our desires and prayers for the future. “For one does not hope in what one can see”, (Romans 8:24). Love is present; it is the accumulation of faith in the past, hope in the future, and pulling them both together for any situation in life now. This is the power to bear with one another with love. As we purpose to see ourselves and our brother the way God see us, there is no room for envy and strife.  

Not “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”; is the one “toe in the door” that Satan uses to keep the body of Christ, the church, fragmented. If one can put a thousand to flight, and two can put ten thousand to flight, then if Satan can continue to keep denominations separated over man’s doctrine, and members separated over envy and strife, then he is allowed to continue in his stolen power, doing what he wills with man, and the different denominations from actually being the “body of Christ”. Think about this! How long does a person’s arm live once it has been severed from the body? Without a connection to the brain a human eye has no use. It is the church, the body of Christ, who has been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. We have been given the power to bind and loose both heaven and earth, but the true power of this truth lies in our coming back together as one body of Christ. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus is the one that gave us the keys; we the church are the ones that are pulling His body apart with our separation of denominations and lack of unity within each church. Paul began dealing with this issue in the church, as seen in 1 Corinthians 1:12, nearly two thousand years ago and here we are today, even further from the truth because this lie has gone worldwide.


It’s time for God’s children to lay down the differences found inside the box of each denomination and within each church. We can only do this by recognizing that if Jesus Christ is taught in a denomination; that He was crucified for our salvation that God raised Him from the dead, and to openly confess Jesus as our Lord, then those who believe and speak are our brother and sister in the Lord. Anything else taught that causes separation is a lie, “let God be true and every man a liar”, (Romans 3:4).

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March 14

 

The greatest devastation of sin is its potential of hardening your heart to the point you do not believe God’s words of love and blessings for you. It is your hardened heart that will cause you to turn completely from God.  
Hebrews 3:15-19 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  

Verse 15 is from Psalms 95:7-8, the same quote referenced in Hebrews 3:7. Verse 16 is a reference to the books of Exodus and Numbers where God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and consistently showed His power to them through various signs and wonders. In Numbers 13, however, we read where God showed them the promise land, sent in the spies to see for them how wonderful their new land was and told them He would deliver this land to them. Remember that in the first chapter of Numbers God had Moses number all of the men and placed the sixteen armies strategically on the four sides of the tabernacle. The total of men in this army was 603,500 and did not include boys 20 and under nor women nor girls, just men. Just in sheer numbers the Israelites were a force to contend with, but they had seen God’s hand over and over work miracles for them and do exactly what He said He would do. Numbers 13 ends up with the children of Israel complaining about God and not trusting Him to do what He has said and Numbers 14:1 starts out with them crying all night after the news of the giants seen on the land of Canaan. There rebellion to God was based on their natural fear. I have heard that the acronym for fear is “false events appearing real”, and with few exceptions in life this rings true in the lives of everyone. If a person is born again and truly understands that they will not actually die, but simply drop off this carcass and be immediately in the presence of Jesus, than there should be no fear in a person. Fear leads to doubt, doubt, leads to reason, reason is a lack of faith, and a lack of faith leads to despair. A child of God should never despair, because if God is with us who can be against us, Romans 8:31?   

These same people lead miraculously out of Egypt, were ready to appoint a natural leader over Moses and go back into slavery under the bondage of Egypt. I have to ask who in Egypt was going to take care of them if they did go back. The entire army of Pharaoh was wiped out in the Red Sea before their very eyes. Their fear was just stupid from our point of view, to have seen all of the signs and wonders performed by God for His children; to be shown the land He was giving into their hand, only to want to go back under bondage to a land they saw God destroy before their very eyes. We may think this is stupid and yet this type of crazy thinking goes on every day by Christians choosing to not trust what God has already done through the blood of Jesus and they go back to man’s rules and regulations to live by.   

 Many Pastors use these verses to try proving to their members that God gets angry at His children when they sin or rebel. That’s just not true and if they were to read and understand the book of Hebrews they would see that EVERY sin is under the blood of Jesus. Rebellion is a sign of a lack of faith
in God and the Holy Spirit is every ready to help us with our doubts if we just let Him. In the Old Testament God was angry with specific people, but only those who rebelled. He spared Joshua, Caleb, and everyone 20 and under from death in the wilderness and these are the ones He lead into the promise land.  Since Jesus, we are the spiritual Joshua generation that God desires to lead into our promise land, do you have the faith to follow Him? Since Jesus died on the cross for our sins, His final words being “it is finished”, we should enter into His rest which was withheld from the children of Israel.   

 Our rest, our salvation, our healing, our walk with Christ is all wrapped up in our belief of what the word of God says about Jesus and His victory over our sin. Under the New Covenant with God the answer is always yes and amen. There will never be a maybe, there will never be a judgment against us for a sin, but our doubt will keep us from receiving the blessings that come along with being a child of the living God. It is unbelief that keeps Christians so strongly attached to man’s rules and regulations and it is unbelief that has allows Satan to have a hold on the life of a Christian, and it will be unbelief that will keep a person out of heaven not the persons sins.

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March 15

 

Entering Gods rest is only through faith and believe in what God has already done for you through Jesus perfect work on the cross.  
Hebrews 4:1-2 “1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”  

The majority of Christians have still not entered God’s rest due to the same disbelief the Israelites had. Entering into rest is not an automatic action just because one becomes born again. The most difficult thing for a Christian to do is to live by faith. We receive Jesus by faith, but by nature we have never lived by faith. If you read and put the timeline down, God’s original intention was to bring His people out of bondage, teach them how to follow Him, make provision for their sanctification, and immediately thereafter take them into their promise land of rest. It was their unbelief that kept them out of Canaan. True Joshua did lead the next generation into the promise land, but King David in Psalms 95:7 said “today if you hear His voice” indicating that His rest still is available to enter into. Remember that Hebrews was written to Jews who had become followers of Jesus, but were turning back toward the Old Mosaic Law. It is always easier to find an action to do in order to receive something than it is to expect to receive it just because the person said they would give it to us. Especially if we do not immediately see the fruit of what was offered and time sets in. With God everything He says is both yes and amen, but it is our minds that need renewing and not out spirits, that keep us caught up in all of man’s rules. Learning to trust God on His timing is the key. He is never early, and He is never late, in fact He is always right on time. The problem is we do not purpose to get out lives set on God’s timing because that requires living by faith. This apparently is what happened to the people in Hebrews, they did not stand on faith, but fell over into what they knew best; the works of the law because Jesus had not returned as soon as they originally thought.  You would think a new born again Christian would be able to remain in the same faith they had in the first place to receive salvation, and they would if the works and wages message was not preached so much from pulpits around the world. For some Preachers the ability to stir up their faith to get them saved is all they tend to preach on so the members are stuck in salvation and do not grow in knowledge. For others they preach a modified faith/works message that leaves the hearers with the confused thought of; faith gets you saved, but the works keeps you saved and this has created the double mindedness so prevalent in Christians today.   

For indeed the gospel was preached to them. The children of Israel while in Egypt did not hear the good news of Jesus by name as we did when they were being lead out, but through the signs shown them. The Passover feast was the primary sign they missed. After 416 years of slavery, approximately ten generations, God gave them their deliverer Moses. After many signs from God showing His awesome power through Moses, the final sign was when the Death Angel passed over each “believers” house just because they sacrificed and ate the Passover lamb. This was the largest living proof that through one sacrifice the Children of Israel would be delivered from death and yet that was their very fear and common complaint to God while in the wilderness; why has God brought us out here to kill us all through starvation of food and water, and then give us over to the giants to kill us. The signs they saw and the words from God given to them through Moses was not mixed with faith to make it their own. Sound familiar? Biggest lie of all is that we have to muster up the faith on our own to believe the word of God, and that it has to be done through some kind of rule or regulation or work or action. Ephesians 2:8 is very clear, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”, the faith needed to receive salvation is also given to us by God. “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”, Romans 12:3. Nowhere does the New Testament tell us to work for our faith nor to work to keep our salvation; we are to enter into His rest through faith in what Jesus did on the cross over 2000 years ago.   

 “But the word which they heard did not profit them”, is also an interesting point to consider. What we hear is related to what we listen to, duh. We all know this, but often forget it when we start listening to anything that does not line up with the word of God. After Jesus gave the parable of the Sower explanation to His disciples, He went on in verse 23 & 24 of Mark 4 to say this; 23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 24 Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given”. What we listen to is very important, but to go along with the hearing, is the using of faith along with the hearing. If we listen to legalism preached over faith and grace than we will mix legalism with grace and pollute the blood of Christ. It is just as detrimental to listen and subject your mind to a works and wages, or legalistic message as it is to listen to trash talk about how bad the economy is or even things of violence or sexual connotations. Why, because the more you listen to something the more you will receive of it? And the more you participate in something, the more of whatever you participate in will mold who you are. To those who choose to hear the true grace word of God, the more of God’s grace will come to you, measure for measure. The children of Israel that came out of Egypt had spent so much of their life under the teachings of “the care of bondage”, (Note: even a mistreated slave was cared for by his master and did not have to look for his own food), that they chose to not mix what they were seeing and hearing from God. Even after they were delivered out of Egypt, with the faith God gave them. This lead to their unbelief, which lead to their doubt, which lead to their own natural reasoning, which lead them back to wanting “the care of bondage”.

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March 16

 

We need to cease from our works if we truly believe in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross
Hebrews 4:3 & 10 “3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,' “although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”  

These two verses go together and are often missed or overlooked with the verses of explanation between them. There is a two part contrast in verse three; those who enter into rest and those who will not be able to inter to rest. Verse 3 is also using a quote from Psalms 95:11 where God swore that the children of Israel could not enter into rest as previously established due to their unbelief. When a person becomes born again they enter into rest, but most people have no idea what that rest is.  God’s rest is one from completion not exhaustion. When He rested on the seventh or Sabbath day it was because His creation was perfect and nothing else was needed. We know from Isaiah 40:28 that God could have created twice as much or more if He had wanted to. His decision to rest was based on the fact that He had perfectly created everything needed to sustain itself. When a master painter completes their art they stop when their eye sees what their heart was looking at. They do not come back and add any additional brush strokes because to do so would ruin its perfect state. The same is with God; why would He create two exact fruit trees when the first would provide the fruit and reproduce? It is also important to understand that His completed work was also mature and without needing time for maturity. He created Adam and Eve last and placed them into His restful state in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t have to wait for the fruit trees to grow seven years before it was producing fruit. Everything they needed was there ready for their use and their life was dedicated to fellowship with God, not working to produce anything; at least until the fall of man. Our perfect and complete salvation through the blood of Jesus is just as complete and ready for our rest. We do not have to plead or work for our healing, our salvation, or our needs as in Christ Jesus all is complete. What we do have to do is to believe on the name of Jesus and inter into His rest. It is disbelief that keeps man so pinned up with anxiety over his salvation, healing, and needs here on earth. Anti – Christ is preached when anything other than God’s grace is preached on how to enter into that rest.    

When a born again Christian falls into strife over their own salvation, always looking for the “sin that so easily ensnares them”, then that person has stepped out of God’s rest. People do not like to hear this, but anytime a Christian gets caught up in legalism, rules, or even religious actions, what they are actually doing is saying that the blood of Jesus was not enough for them so they must bleed also. What religious works are actually doing is mixing human tainted blood with that of Jesus. That just doesn’t work; it is the pure blood of Jesus that has already paid the price.   
 I often tell people that Christianity is not for sissies. It takes a great deal more inner strength to do nothing outside of you when in a spiritual battle over your health, overcoming sin / personality flaws, finances, or anything else of spiritual nature than it does to follow some rule or religious action. For example I still hear today people saying they are going to pray all night so they can get their answer from God. Here is an example of what I mean: A pastor may be praying for themselves or others and lose track of time and get into a deeper presence of the Lord receiving revelation and encouragement which is a great thing. The problem happens when the same pastor comes to their congregation and says we are going to have an all-night encounter with God and be willing to stay there until we all grow deeper in the Lord. What has happened is that a precious encounter with the Holy Spirit by the pastor has just become man’s rule of action to follow by another person to try to have the same encounter for themselves. Worse yet is if the pastor adds any pressure or comments of lack of sincerity of a member if they do not participate. Or if they do go to the all night prayer out of respect for their pastor, but do not experience the same encounter with God then they think God is upset with them. That member has just received condemnation because of their supposed lack of spirituality. We are called to worship together and come together to hear the preached word, and through that develop fellowship with one another, but our personal walk with Jesus is just that; our personal walk with Him. Verse 10 is summing this up, 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His, have you entered into His rest? This may take time to fully understand this because as humans we are raised from children to students to employees, only to live in a sticker chart mentality of “cause and effect”. Faith is having ultimate trust that what has been done in the past through Jesus will in fact come to fruit in the future which is hope. Love is living in the present, not looking back at what was or looking forward to focus on what might be, but staying in the present and trusting God in the now. Life is a gift from God. Having Jesus as your Lord and savior, but staying in doubt and works mentality is like having the ultimate gift and not allowing that gift to bless you like it can, but instead putting it up on a shelf to show everyone you know that you have that gift. Remember that today is living in the present; and today is a present. Open your gift of rest in Christ Jesus.

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March 17

 

Disobedience to God and His word is actually the fruit of disbelief and doubt.  
Hebrews 4:4-9 “4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; 5 and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest." 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”  

For starters the Greek word translated in the NKJV as disobedience in Verse 6 is actually APISTIA which is from the Greek root APISTOS; faithlessness or disbelief. In the KJV the word is translated as unbelief which is closest to the original meaning of the Greek word used and changes the dynamics of the reason the Children of Israel were not allowed into the promise land the first time. It was not because of their sins which is what most people translate disobedience as. They could not enter because they didn’t “believe” God would do what He said He would do for them on their behalf. A person’s lack of belief in the true word of God rests on one thing; doubt which is believing the lies from the enemy observed by our five natural senses instead of lining our mind up with the truth of God’s word. Doubt can only come from wrong teachings, lack of personal study of God’s word, or a combination of both.    
Verse 4 is a quote from Genesis 2:2 where God ended His work and rested from all of His works on the Seventh day. I put ended and rested in bold letters to bring out two points. The original verse in Geneses 2:2 clearly stated that God “ended” His work and that God “rested” from His work on the Seventh day. Everyone can quote the last part of this verse where God rested from the His works on the Seventh day also known as the Sabbath day in the Old Testament. The Pharisee’s made a big deal of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. They confronted the healed paralytic carrying his bed on the Sabbath after Jesus told Him to rise, take his bed and walk. Modern day Pharisee’s use the same incomplete quote to talk about resting from labor, or to argue about when to attend church. I am not saying we do not need to have a day of rest, but the main emphasis is completely missed; God ended His work after He completed the perfect creation of the earth, heavens, seas, light, every living creature in the sea and on earth, and finally man. I would say nearly 95% of all Christians do not understand the impact of order regarding the creation story and the same ones also miss the fact the God ended His work. He didn’t run out of creative power, He didn’t run out of things to do, He certainly wasn’t tired and just stopped to take a rest; no He had “completed” His work here on earth. His creation was perfect, therefore there was no further work needed. When Adam and Eve were created and lived in the Garden of Eden, they were in a perfectly fine tuned place for living. The fruit trees were already matured, the water already flowed, and the only task they were to perform was not really a task, but a joy; Adam was to fellowship with God daily. Adam and Eve started out their existence in the total rest God intended which was to be able to stay in complete fellowship and communication with God. You cannot stay in complete fellowship with God if you have to work to meet your needs. God may have finished and ended His creation work, but His sustaining power never ends.  
 

Verse five is a quote from Psalms 95:11 again which points out that the Children of Israel lead by Moses were held back from entering God’s rest from their works. Verse 5 & 6 point out the facts seen in Psalms 95 that there will be some that will enter His rest, but that the Children of Israel were not it. Verse 7 is pointing out the fact that Psalms 95 is a prophesy from King David long after Joshua lead the Second generation Children into the promise land. Verse 8 clearly states the fact and we have the proof, since Jesus came centuries after Joshua entered into Canaan, that rest was not given to the Children of Israel through Joshua. Verse 9 brings it home that there is still God’s rest for people to enter into. Where Christians for centuries have fallen short is in their misunderstanding of what God’s rest is.    

Being in God’s rest does not mean that we never have to do anything again in the natural to live here on earth. The Garden of Eden will never come back into this world as it was, where all we have to do is pick and eat. When God told Adam that he would have to earn his food by the sweat of his brow all the days of his life it was for as long as man lived on this earth. True the Land of Milk and Honey that God tried to take the Children of Israel into after He lead them out of Egypt was as close to Eden as man could get, but they still would have had to do some work for their food to live. Canaan still would not have been the true rest God wants His children to live in. God’s true rest was not available until Jesus paid the price on the cross for our salvation and the stripes on His back for our sickness. Abraham’s circumcision was an outward sign of separation unto God and not the means to gain acceptance from God. With Moses the Law came as a means of temporary repentance, sacrifices or actions to take for healings, crops to grow, marriage, and everything else man needed to live in some level of being in God’s presence and grace. All of which took work and effort and consistent remembrance of mans short comings. For those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior there is the potential for God’s rest. All we have to do is trust in what Jesus did (faith), believe God will honor His word to us in the future when we come to a need (hope), and live in His presence while it is still today (love). Christians are no longer required to work for their salvation, we no longer are required to work and sacrifice for our healings; we no longer have to beg and plead and gravel to get in a place of acceptance for God to bless our finances. All we have to do is believe God and His word that if we seek first the kingdom of God and all of His righteousness, all of the other things in life will be provided for us by God. True spiritual warfare is resting in the presence and knowledge of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in your life even in the midst of turmoil.  

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March 18

 

Only by understanding the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, can we overcome our works in effort to gain that which He has already given us  His acceptance.  
Hebrews 4:11 “11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (unbelief).  
 

 If you refer back to my notes on Hebrews 4:4-9 you will see that the word “disobedience” in the NKJV is actually the word “unbelief” in the KJV. The actual Greek word used here is APISTIA from the root word APISTOS which means faithlessness or disbelief.   

So now when you look at verse 11 in the correct light as it is written, there appears to be an oxymoron. The writer of Hebrews is telling us to be diligent which takes effort or work, therefore, verse 11 is saying we have to work to rest. For lack of understanding most people reading this verse simply just read over it thinking it does not fit in with the rest of this book which is almost combative against trusting in works and rituals for righteousness, and go on without any thought. In fact verse 10 actually says 10 C                   We now have what appears to be a biblical contradiction. I have heard people say “this is just one of the bibles many contradictions” as an excuse to reject the whole bible. These two verses are in fact saying that when we enter into the rest of the Lord we need to purpose to stay in that rest. To purpose to do something is to make an inner resolve to do what you say. For starters a reader of Hebrews must consistently remember that this book was written to Christian Jews, once converted to the grace and faith message of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all of our sins. But after a period of time they begun to reenter the legalistic works and rituals of the Mosaic Law as an effort to maintain or even gain righteousness. This is still a problem today with the majority of Christians and is often unknowingly or knowingly taught from the pulpit. Human nature, almost from birth, is a reinforcement of “cause and effect”. At potty training, a toddler receives great accolades from the parent for going in the toilet, but eventually is made to feel like he/she has failed that parent when they have messed their pants for the parent to clean up. In grade school the same child will get a sticker chart with one color for being good and another for not. This is usually posted for all to see and for the most part it works and the class is held in some form of control. As we get older the teachers give us grades that reflect the level of study and learning we have accomplished and in the work force you get a job, keep a job, and get raises at that job for doing a good work. This is neither good nor bad, but just is and is how we are conditioned to think and respond; “cause and effect”. Then one day we hear the mercy and grace message of Jesus Christ. We are told where through just our faith and confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior, God no longer holds us accountable for the bad things we have done (mercy) and also wants to give us things we have not worked for (grace). And this new born again Christian must begin renewing their minds daily to overcome the natural way of thinking of “cause and effect”. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, Romans 2:4.  


The works we are encouraged to cease from in verse 10 are the works of our personal efforts, “creations”, of religious actions and self-denials in some effort to gain righteousness of God. The people working to obtain God’s grace will never find it. Romans 4:4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. This verse is telling us that in a person’s effort to “work” their way to heaven is actually an effort to place God in a position of having to pay a debt. God does not owe man anything, but we owe Him our very breath. Romans 11:6 is another conformation of Romans 4:4 and this is the “works” we are to rest from as spoken of in verse 10.   

The diligence “purpose” spoken of in verse 11 to enter God’s rest is our personal mental effort to not fall back into our old carnal way of “cause & effect” thinking. Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Cause and effect thinking is living according to the flesh. The entire chapter of Romans 8 is Paul’s warning to Christians, not about their sinful actions, but about their continual focus of their actions keeping them from walking in the spirit which is where God is. The spirit realm is where Jesus is, and it is where we are in Christ Jesus when we stay spiritually connected to Him as we are supposed to be.

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March 19

 

The division of soul and spirit is the most difficult concept for man to understand. Once understood it becomes easier to walk in the spirit and give less power to the flesh (our soul) in our daily walk in life.  
Hebrews 4:12-13 “12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.   

As humans in our natural thinking we have great difficulty separating the difference between our spirit and soul, but by looking into the perfect word of God we can see the difference. Those in Christ have the perfect spirit from the Son, but our soul which was trained by our old man spirit and how we were raised is still active. Just like the example of joints and marrow; it is the marrow that gives us life, but without the joints we could not move about. If the marrow becomes attacked by a disease it weakens the whole body and there may need to be a marrow transplant. Likewise our old spirit weakens our whole body and God gives us a spirit transplant. If a joint goes bad just the joint needs attention and starts with simple strengthening depending on the severity of the problem. This is the very reason Romans tells us to renew our minds daily. Our spirit is as perfect as it can be since it is the spirit of the Son, Jesus. Our soul needs to be renewed by building up our new man in spirit and that only happens by renewing what we think and what we have learned in our natural pre born again state.   

Most people, with the right information, can see the difference between spirit and soul, and marrow and joints. I find few people understanding and often never even recognize the difference             But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”, and use it to push the point that because many of our thoughts are bad we are bad and in a consistent state of asking forgiveness (repentance) since even a simple sinful thought is the same as performing the sin act. Christians miss the difference between a thought and intent. Yes God knows all of our thoughts, but we are not held accountable for every thought that comes into our minds. That would be impossible since once something is in our mind it can and often comes back with little effort. This is why it is so important to be cautious with what we watch and listen to. If we read Matthew 5:28 with this in mind it is clear that the man “looks to lust at her” is saying his intent is more than just recognizing she is attractive. Even if the next thought is of a sinful nature you are not committing the sin; it is what you do with that thought from that point on that matters. You have the choice to cast it off or dwell on it. Sin does not just erupt out of our lives like an uncontrolled volcano. It first has to take root deep in our thinking before it can manifest itself in our flesh. Even if you are stupid and impulsively follow through with the sinful thought, God is not right there ready to condemn you for it even though verse 13 clearly states that nothing is hidden from God. Nothing you did was hidden before you received Jesus into your heart and God loved you then. How much more will He love and reach out to you once you accept Jesus and become His son or daughter.  We must remember John 3:16 and that God so loved the world before anyone was saved that He gave Jesus for our ransom. In fact Romans 8:35, 38-39 are proof that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ or the love of God. This includes our sins! God still loves us and has not turned His back on us when we sin, but in doing so we are opening up ourselves for the Devil to steal our blessings that are coming from God. It is not sin that will keep you out of heaven, it will probably get you there faster that you wanted to go, but unbelief that will keep you out of heaven, it will probably get you there faster that you wanted to go, but unbelief that will keep you out of God’s rest, (see notes on Hebrews 4:11). For a Christian, living in sin is like a person setting down to watch a specific channel on TV, but purposely turning it to a different channel and wonder why their show is not on. That sounds stupid when you think about it, but Christians are doing just that every day. Remember that in the “model prayer” spoken by Jesus in Luke 11:2, He claimed that God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. If that was never possible, for God’s will for us to live here on earth in His blessings, than Jesus prayed a lie. The fact is God wants us to live in His blessings and enjoy Him and have a good life here on earth and then get to go on to heaven. Christians should renew their minds to help change their soulish nature so that they can line their thoughts up with His. We purpose to overcome sin in our lives not to gain righteousness with God, but because of the precious gift of salvation and forgiveness He has already extended to us. That is our reasonable service to Him. The good news is that in our renewing our minds and overcoming our sins we can now get back on the correct channel to be able to watch what we wanted to in the first place; God’s blessings coming to us. We will then be able to receive what God has already given to His children.   

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March 20

 

By understanding the truth that Jesus as our High Priest has overcome all judgments from God against man, we can have peace of heart as we boldly come to His throne of grace in our times of need.  

Hebrews 4:14-16 “14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  

Remember the author of Hebrews is writing to Jews that understood and lived the Law of Moses, but had converted over to Christianity only to slide back into the works of the Law. In the Law of Moses no one but the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God. And the High Priest could only go in once a year and that not without much sacrifice for himself first. Only after his own sacrifice for himself, and only if it was accepted by God could he then offer sacrifice for the children of Israel. The High Priest’s sacrifice could only be accepted by God if the High Priest lived as perfect a life according to the Law as possible. If he had made any mistakes during the previous year he would die right there in the Holy of Holies, which is called the inner temple where the Ark was kept. The Holy of Holies is where God designated to be the only place a man could come into His presence and still live. We can read in a historical account written by Josephus during the first century after Jesus that the High Priest always went into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied around one ankle and bells on the hem of his robe. If the bells ever stopped than God had taken his life and the other priests could pull his dead body out since no other person could go in without losing their life.   

This understanding is needed for the Christian reading the next three verses to understand how precious of a gift our relationship to God as His sons and daughters really is. Jesus, who was God in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14 & 1Tim 3:16), was and is our High Priest having entered into the actual presence of God making intercession for us. Since the High Priest living under the Law of Moses had to abide by every Law and resist all temptations, he understood the difficulties of living in the presence of temptation. Jesus is no different in that He was born and lived under the Law, yet the word says He lived without sin. He also was tempted just as we are tempted. I have heard the question of how was Jesus tempted with the same temptations we are since there are more temptations around us? There may be many times more ways of temptations today than in the day Jesus lived here on earth, but the root of all temptations boil down to just two and possibly just one thing, self-centeredness and unbelief in God or His word. Where I sometimes think there is just one root, unbelief of God or His word is; self-centeredness is fueled by fear and fear comes in by unbelief or lack of knowledge of God and His promises. Understanding the root of all sin helps us believe that Jesus was tempted as we are yet without sin He sits at the right hand of God with compassion for our weakness making intercession for us. This intercession is not a contention with God in effort to keep His anger from wiping us our because of our sin. Jesus is not the roadblock between God and our destruction, remember that it was and is God’s love for man even when we were in sin that He sent forth His Son, born of a woman, to live, and die in our place for our sin so that those of us who believe can have the relationship with our loving Father that He wants. God is not mad at you; it is only because of our fallen sin nature that we cannot have direct communication with God. Without belief in the price paid by Jesus it is impossible for anyone to come into the presence of God and live. Our faith in Jesus makes the way for us to go to God directly and Jesus is there with Him on our behalf. Ephesians 2:4-7 a foundational truth of God’s love for us and the provision for our ability to come boldly into the presence of God as mentioned in Hebrews 4:16. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  

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March 21

 

Christ did not glorify Himself, but God glorified Him because He laid down His life for us.  

Hebrews 5:1-6 “1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." 6

As He also says in Verse 1 The Old Testament Priest is a picture of Jesus and His ministry. Both were appointed by God to intercede for the people toward God. Verse 2 The O.T. priest could have compassion on the people, because he also dealt with the same temptations the people did. Jesus overcame the same temptations. His temptations from the Devil after being in the wilderness forty days are the foundational temptations of all of man’s sins. Verse 3 we began to recognize not only the similarities, but also the superiority of Jesus over the O.T. priest. Because of the weakness of the sin nature of man to abstain from sin the O.T. high priest had to make first a sacrifice for himself then sacrifice for the people. Blood sacrifice for man’s sin as retribution for sin was established with Adam and Eve when God sacrificed an animal and made a “covering” for them after they succumbed to the temptation of the Devil to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The difference here is that the O.T priest had to make offering after offering for himself yearly and then for the people, because the blood sacrifice of an animal did not purify the sin, but merely was a temporary covering. Jesus was the sacrifice for all of our sins, not just another animal. 4. Every O.T. high priest was appointed by God from the tribe of Levi, the same tribe Aaron was of. No one took on this position himself, because of the weight and severity of certain death to anyone unworthy of the position to enter into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God. Also we must remember that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah not Levi as the OT priests did. This is significant in that God is showing us that He has made a change in the requirements of High Priest. His Son who is far more superior then man’s son is now over a “New Covenant”. Verse 5 Neither was Jesus self-appointed as high priest for us and the writer of Hebrews quotes prophesy from Psalms 2:7 “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." The declaration of God’s son is far superior to that of a high priest. Verse 6 is the final establishment of superiority of Jesus’ appointed position over that of O.T. high priest. The O.T. priesthood was one of limits according to the tribe a man was born and according to the life span of the priest, hence, there was always the replacement of the current priest with a another appointment. Verse 6 references the order of Melchizedek’s priesthood as a type and shadow of Jesus’ appointed position as High Priest for us which is superior to the O.T. high priest. See my notes on Hebrews 7:1-3 regarding the Melchizedek priesthood.

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March 22

 

Since He became perfected, He also became author of our eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Since this is hard to understand, many fall into the trap of combining works and faith in effort to fill in any gaps. However, there are no gaps in our salvation!

Hebrews 5:7-14 “7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek," 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”   

We know that in the garden the night before His crucifixion, Jesus offered up prayers with tears, and even sweat drops of blood. One thing He prayed for was God to deliver Him from the shame of the cross, this was a prayer from His natural man because He knew what was before Him and that at some point, because He would have every sin placed on Him, that God would have to turn His head from Him. There is nothing more devastating than to be absent from God and Jesus knew this and even spoke of it six times in Matthew and one recorded in Luke. Even though He prayed for deliverance from the shame of the cross He also, from deep in His spirit, prayed for God’s will to be done. This was the prayer that was heard by God. As a father I can only imagine the grief of the Father knowing what His Son was about to go through in the natural, But both knew it was the love of God for us, that Jesus was willing to be our sacrifice. Are we even willing to do what is right in our own lives to the point of our own hurt, most of the time no? We think we have that inner strength, but the first time we face ridicule for our walk with Christ we recoil and seldom overcome that emotion.   

Verse 8 & 9 are a repeat of verse 2:10 and I have written in depth on this topic (see lesson 8). Jesus was already perfect Himself, and it was not as a result of His personal suffering that perfected Him. It was the perfection of our salvation that was made evident through His sufferings that perfected us in the sight of God. Jesus suffered so that we do not have to.   
 We were previously told in Hebrews 3:1 to consider Jesus the Apostle and High Priest according to our profession and then goes on from 3:1 through 4:16 comparing Jesus Apostleship to Moses. The writer of Hebrews now has hit them with a truth that they will have a very difficult time accepting in that now Jesus is compared to the order of Melchizedek. When we go into Hebrews chapter 6 we will read the truths which should bring them into maturity, but before the writer points out their turn from spiritual understanding back into carnal thinking.  
 

Anytime a Christian, having accepted Jesus as Lord and savior by faith; if they grow into a spiritual understanding of their salvation only to fall back into works of repentance and acts of religion as a means to maintain their salvation, that person has reverted back into becoming a spiritual babe in Christ. This person has reverted to carnal thinking which is not any different than the reasoning of an unsaved natural man even though their spirit is born again. The problem with remaining in this state of mind is the potential of hardening your heart to the grace of God and becoming a modern day Pharisee living a life of works. Righteousness is actually being in right standing with God. The only way we can ever be in right standing with God is through our faith in believing in Christ Jesus as our Lord and savior. Jesus warned His disciples of the leaven of the Pharisee’s, that even a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Even a little legalism or works will negate the truth of the blood of Christ. When a person believes their actions, mixed with the blood of Jesus is what is necessary to maintain their righteousness with God, they are actually contaminating the perfect blood of Jesus. Consequently when a pastor preaches the gospel of grace and then adds in an action, or rule, of specific things to do to become righteous, they have single handedly leavened their entire sermon and the sermon has become fruitless. Even a little legalism contaminates the whole message.     

 The KJV uses the word meat for strong food in verse 14 indicating the difference between a baby that cannot chew meat and the mature person that can. We are called to exercise our senses. Our natural senses can be a blessing to us and useful in our natural lives providing we have exercised them to maturity where we are in control of them and not the other way around. An athlete does not wait until the day of completion to prepare, but prepares long before the competition. When we do not exercise the truth of the word of God to line up with the grace of God, we end up allowing our senses and emotions to dictate to us. This leaves sickness and sin to have a stronger foot hold in our lives than it should. The moment we begin to focus on the problem instead of the solution, which is Jesus and Him crucified, we become carnal instead of spiritual beings and we are actually pulling ourselves away from His righteousness. The moment we begin to focus on sin, which is nothing more than the bad fruit of a person, instead of focusing on our new root which is Jesus Christ, we have fallen back into carnal or natural thinking. Remember what Paul said about our carnal mind in Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”.

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March 23

 

Did you know you are supposed to have a joyful life? Unless we leave the elementary principles of religion and move on into a relationship with Jesus Christ we stay in dead works. 

Hebrews 6:1-2 “1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrect    


Verse 1 is telling us it is time to grow up as Christians into maturity. When I make that statement in person, I always get at least one comment from someone regarding how long they have been a Christian as if longevity equals maturity. Another funny comment I get is that they have reached that level of maturity. My internal thought is if you have reached this level of maturity why do you feel the need to tell people so? There are some Christians who have reached this level of maturity, and most think they have until you ask them what is the most important in the life of a Christian, and the overwhelming answer is staying away from sin. At that point I simply ask them how does one stay away from sin, and I always get a multitude of answers none of which involve drawing to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. The church as a whole seems to be so sin conscious, and argues so heavily over what are the qualifications for salvation that we tend to stay stuck in the elementary principles of Christ.   

(Note: for those who may not have figured out yet that sin is not the issue between man and God; here are several verses laid out in sequence of importance that support the simplicity of salvation. John 3:16, John 12:31-32 to support 3:16, John 3:17, Romans 8:33-34, John 3:18, & Romans 10:8-10 for the simplicity of action, “John 3:16 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 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. John 12: 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself, (Note: peoples is italicized because it was not in the original Greek text, but was added by the original translators to try to help make since of the sentence. Even with “peoples” left in the sentence it does not make since, since all people are not drawn to Jesus-many still reject Him. The truth is when you look at the text as written in Greek, and take out the English punctuation and the numbering of the verses the statement of “drawing all to myself” is actually referring back to “the judgment of this world”). Here is the exact Greek sentence with correct punctuation, but with English words instead of Greek. {Now is judgment of this world; now shall prince of this world be cast out and I, if I be lifted from earth will draw all unto me.}  (Jesus drew all of our sins to Him when He was lifted up on the cross.) John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  John 3:18 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.” Romans 10:8-10, 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Fact: God sent Jesus to the earth to pay the price for all man’s sins, and the only sin man will be guilty of at Judgment Day, since Jesus hung on the cross, is in not believing in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  

Hopefully you can clearly see that with such proof that sin has been taken out of the way. For the church to remain so sin conscious, that the church is still stuck in the elementary principles of salvation.   

Verse 2 is the list of elementary principles we are to move past and yet even today nearly 2000 years from the writing of Hebrews, this elementary list, provides the largest battle lines, between all of the different doctrines and religions claiming to be Christian. The last part of chapter 5 is the maturity we are to walk in and that is in our understanding of being in His righteousness, not in trying to gain or maintain it. The foundation of repentance is almost always interpreted as repenting from our sin actions, but I believe the writer of Hebrews is going beyond that. The book of Hebrews is confronting Christian Jews that have gone back into their works of law. I believe he is not only suggesting that we should repent from our dead works which includes sin, but to repent from continually laying down the same foundation over and over which can only lead to religious acts. Even righteous or pious acts performed that we put our faith in as a means to maintain or gain right standing with God are elementary. In fact according to the gospel of Jesus Christ even good religious acts are dead works if done in any effort to gain or maintain righteousness. If righteous actions accounted for righteousness of the person performing the acts, then why did Jesus call the Pharisee’s “white washed tombs”?  We need these foundational principles; we are not being encouraged to ignore them, but to move past them. They are what they are- Foundational, not the final, but the foundation. A mature Christian should not need to be told what he or she must do to overcome the sin in their life, they should be beyond that to the point they are reaching the lost and teaching them the basic principles of life in Christ Jesus. We can never be justified by some good work for God, but only in the belief of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That is why trusting God in faith is not for sissies, since you will most likely never feel saved. This can only come from having a relationship with the living God through the complete faith on Jesus’ perfect work on the cross and not any of your religious acts.  


I don’t think the writer of Hebrews is saying we should move beyond faith because we know that without faith it is impossible to please God, which is written in Hebrews 11:6. I do believe that we spend too much time searching and trying to find or increase our faith instead of using the faith we have. I all too often hear “if only I could increase my faith?” or “I just don’t have the faith to receive that” It’s not your faith that needs to be increased it is your doubt that needs to be squelched. Jesus told us that if we only have the faith of a mustard seed, Matthew 17:20 we could move mountains. Another miss-conception I hear is “I need a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit.” This is usually followed by some
type of prayer or even some type of waving action as if to be waving in the Holy Spirit. You are either filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit or you are not. Filled is filled, it is not partialed. There is no such word, but I am amazed at the number of Christians that act or believe that the concept of partial infilling is real. That is as crazy as believing there is the old man sin spirit and the born again Jesus spirit battling it out in the same person. 


The author of Hebrews is pointing out that although the doctrines in verse 2 are necessary, there is so much more for Christians living in Christ. I also believe that the majority of Christians and their doctrines are still stuck in these four elementary doctrines; just look at how we act as a people in whole. How many Christians do you see, with any longevity of life in Christ that also has a joyful life? If you are honest you will probably say, “wow, I didn’t know we were to have a joyful life”.    

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March 24

 

Baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment are four areas we must lay to rest in our understanding of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross if we are to move forward in our walk with Him while here on earth.  

Hebrews 6:2-3 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” 3 And this we will do if God permits  

I know I touched on verse 2 already, but want to go into these four basic principles for the sake of the new Christian studying this verses in case they have questions about each.   

(1) The doctrine of baptisms (plural) is not indicating that there are different bodies of Christ that a new convert is baptized into, nor are there different types of baptisms into Christ. Ephesians 4:5 is clear “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism”, this is the baptism into the body of Christ and not into a specific doctrine. Doctrines are “manmade”, not God ordained. Hence people are missing it when they say “I was baptized Catholic”, I was baptized Pentecostal”, I was baptized whatever”. There are however, different baptisms and water baptism into the body of Christ being the first and foremost. Without this baptism there is no receiving the second whish is baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that baptizes us into the body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:13 says “for by one spirit we are all baptized into one body”. The Greek BAPTIZO, translated as baptism actually means immersed. The water baptism, not the sprinkle as some “manmade doctrines use”, is a natural outward symbol of the spiritual immersion into Christ Jesus. It represents (re-presents) the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the spiritual we were alive with our sin nature, we died in Christ, and spiritually we have already risen in Christ and are in the presence of God, Ephesians 2:6 “…and raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. This is the water baptism is about that a new believer goes through. It is not the washing away of the sins; the blood of Jesus did that. Water baptism is different than the baptism of John the Baptist and Jesus spoke of and what we are being immersed into are different. As I just mentioned it is the Holy Spirit that baptizes us into Jesus, 1 Corinthians 12:3, and Ephesians 3:5. It is Jesus that baptizer with the Holy Spirit, Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, and John 1:33. I want to point out that being baptized into Jesus is to receive the God head trinity. Some Pentecostal beliefs are that if a person does not have the Holy Spirit they are not saved, that is just wrong. The Trinity is three persons in one, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit; there is nothing partial with God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the second purpose of Jesus Christ’s coming. First to die for our sins and second to restore man’s open communication “fellowship” with God through the Holy Spirit. I suggest reading the last chapter of Luke and the first two chapters of Acts for greater revelation. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is to be filled to the fullest with the Spirit of God, and He is our guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:14), and gives us the same power on earth as Jesus did Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8 as spoken of by Jesus Himself. The “greater works shall you do” (John 14:12), also spoken by Jesus is all of the Christian’s that are filled with the Holy Spirit and doing the same work Jesus did while He was here walking on earth as a Man. Matthew 10:7-8, Luke 9:2, & Luke 10:9.  

(2) There are two types of laying on of hands. The laying on of hands for the purpose of impartation of spiritual gifts and anointing, Acts 8:18, 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6, and the twenty one verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus touched the sick to heal them. In Matthew 10:9, Luke 9:2, & Luke 10:9 Jesus tells us to heal the sick and in John 14:12 that greater works then these we shall do. Therefore the laying on of hands to heal the sick is just of the signs of the power of God flowing through the believer to validate the gospel of the blood of Jesus. 


(3) The resurrection of the dead is an argument that goes back as far as the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is the hinge point of the faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a person does not truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead than there is nothing else to stand on nor any other reason to become a follower of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:15-16, & 29 & 32. For all of man there will be a raising of the dead, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which is the description of the rapture of the believers in Jesus Christ. The dead will rise first and then those of us who are alive will be caught up with them.   

(4) The truth of eternal judgment is spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 referencing when Jesus comes into His glory all the nations meaning all of mankind will be separated into Goats and Sheep; the sheep being the believers of Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and the goats being the ones who deny Jesus as their Lord. Revelations 20:11-15 is a clear picture of the final judgment of man, where those in Christ will have eternal life in the presence of God and Jesus, and those who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire which is the second death. (Note: the first death of man is the death of the flesh, but the second death is the everlasting death of the spirit.  But to get the full understanding of exactly what the judgment is over we must look back at what Jesus spoke in John 3:16-19. 16 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. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 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. 19 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.   
 As you can clearly see the issue of sin between man and God was dealt with on the cross with the blood of Jesus, therefore sin is no longer the issue, but the condemnation is a result of not accepting the free gift of salvation by believing on Jesus as one’s Lord and savior. Also it is clear that on the foundation of these four principles the body of Christ which is what we call “the church”, truly leaves no level of discussion or re-establishment. Hence the writer of Hebrews was telling the Jews and consequently us today to no longer get hung up on these principles, but rather accept them by faith and then move on to a full life in Christ while here on earth.   

Verse 3 is actually a redundant statement according to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-14, “11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”.  

It is obvious that God wants us to grow to the fullest in Christ and not be stuck at the beginning our entire lives.  

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March 25

 

There are two types of righteousness, self and Godly. Paul was willing to count all of his accomplishments as rubbish for the gain of righteousness from God. Only through letting go of our personal accomplishments are we able to fully understand the power of His resurrection.  

Philippians 3:8-11 “8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”.

Paul is following up from his previous statement to confirm that he counts everything he had, position as a Roman, and his position as a leader of the Pharisees, and any accomplishment he has made as worthless for the gain of the knowledge of Christ.  This statement throws all self-righteousness right out the window.  Today there are fewer people who make a commitment to Christ because they were raised in a Christian home.  Many people come to Jesus after they have lost everything and are looking for something bigger than them to believe in.  It is rare that a person makes a decision to come to Jesus after they have made great accomplishments, self-pride is too strong, 1Corinthians 1:26.  In fact Jesus was even confronted by the Pharisees when was found keeping company with the tax collectors and harlots.  A Pharisee would never “defile” himself by getting close to people like that much less sit down to fellowship with them.  In Matthew 9:12. Mark 2:17, & Luke 4:17 Jesus responds to the accusation of the Pharisees that those who are well have no need of a physician, only the sick.  In Mark 2:17 it is recorded that He continues by saying He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.  These statements were not indications that those who were not sick and those who had accomplished any level of self-righteousness did not need Jesus.  He is confirming that those who recognize their need and lack will hear His call.  Sickness starts long before it is manifested in the flesh and the word of God is very clear that no one is righteous on their own, Psalms14:3, 53:3.  

Verse 9 is clear that there are two types of righteousness; self and Godly. Paul had a deep understanding that he did not want to stand on any of his own righteousness, but rest completely on the blood of Jesus.  Godly righteousness can only come through faith in Jesus and what He did on the cross and not our personal accomplishments, Romans 10:8-10.  Righteousness from God can only come as a gift, Romans 5:15 and a person can only receive a gift if their hands (heart) are open and not found holding on tight to their own accomplishments.  Would you try to catch a football thrown at you while holding onto another object so tight that no one could take it away?  No, the thought of even trying that sounds stupid, and yet people try to come to Jesus all the time holding on to self and all of their personal accomplishments and even old lifestyles in fear that what they have is going to pale in comparison to what God can give them through Jesus.

In Western culture, knowledge is a mental ascent or understanding, but in Eastern cultures knowledge is experiential, 1 Kings 1:4.  Paul wants to have an experiential understanding of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul understood that Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead, but that it was the power of the Holy Spirit that was in Him coupled with the fact that since He was without sin the grave could not hold Him, (Ephesians 1:19-20).  In John, Luke and Acts, Jesus tells His disciples that He will send a Helper, (the Holy Spirit), to be with them after He goes up to heaven.  Paul is not looking for sufferings as a means to gain this knowledge of Christ.  No one should look forward to suffering, but we live in a fallen world and therefore suffering does happen.  Jesus was greatly comforted as a result of His sufferings, and now sits at the right hand of God. We can learn how to look forward to God for His comfort when in various trials and sufferings, James 1:2-3.  We are to not look forward to the comfort of this world as its comfort is only fleshly and temporal, Romans 12:2.  

Acts 24:15 is clear that there will be a resurrection from the dead, both the just and unjust.  Paul knows that it is our acceptance of Jesus and His righteousness that is the only way we will see heaven.  He was not implying that he had not received salvation yet because salvation is given to us when we become born again, Ephesians 1:14.  The Greek word KATANTAO which is translated attain actually means “arrive”.  Paul knew he had salvation, but had not arrived in heaven while still here on earth.  

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March 26

 

he greatest understanding one can have is that although they are not perfect or where God finally wants them to be, but at least they have left where they were and are moving in the right directions. 


Philippians 3:12-14 “12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Once again Paul is not saying he has not received salvation, remember the Greek word translated as attain, actually means “arrive”.  Paul was aware that he would not fully experience salvation until he went to heaven.  Having received salvation and God’s righteousness does not make us perfect in our flesh, but it does in our spirit man.  Here in lies the personal conflict of every Christian.  Our spirit is perfected by the blood of Jesus, but our flesh is always at war with our spirit. Knowing this battle is at hand Paul chooses to press on toward the upward call.  This is very important for us to understand.  All too often new Christians sit down after they receive salvation thinking the battle is now over.  Sometimes for a short period in a person’s early walk with Jesus the fleshly battle seems to be over.  As soon as the Devil recognizes a true conversion he begins his work of deception and casting doubt.  This battle is no different than the one Jesus went through when the Hold Spirit sent Him into the wilderness forty days for testing.  The testing was not that He should prove Himself to God, but that He proves Himself to Himself.  One comment that is fitting for this understanding is, “I may not have arrived, but at least I have left”.  

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March 27

 

We are not held accountable by God for what we do not know or understand, however we should purpose to walk in the light that we do know trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead us into a deeper understanding.  

Philippians 3:15-16 “15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

Paul is encouraging us to have the same mind as he does. Paul knows that only if we let go of all accomplishments of righteousness in the past and refrain from works of righteousness in the present, then God's righteousness will prevail in our lives.  We must also let go of our past, present, and future failures since we are still in this human form and will be so as long as we live here on earth.  The last part of verse 15 should be a comfort to everyone that does not know or understand the difference between working for the Lord in His righteousness verses working for righteousness in the Lord.  Even if we think contrary to the truth of God, as long as we continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, God will reveal His truth to us in a way we can understand it.  This mind of maturity Paul is referencing to, which he has, is the same mind of Christ; to live for others over self and to spread the good news.  

It is obvious that most Christians walk at different levels than others.  Even two people coming into the Lord at the same time will progress at different levels.  In verse 16 Paul is encouraging us to walk in the knowledge and understanding that we have and not try to walk in another persons knowledge.  Humans in general tend to judge our place in society and ultimately our worth by comparison to the friends we have and the people we cross paths with or work with.  Christianity is plagued by the same fleshly mind set.  Nowhere in the bible are we told to be like or think like any other person then to have the mind of Christ.  We will have examples of Godly men and women to look to, but we will never be them.  Paul is not asking us to do anything different than Jesus did while here on earth.  He had to learn who He was spiritually since He came into this world as a baby.  We even read that at the age of twelve His parents lost track of Him and later found Him in a Temple studding the word of God.  As I have mentioned before Jesus' wilderness experience after He became baptized and filled with the Hole Spirit was just as much for Him to realize who He was as it was the Devil.  We are called to make that same spiritual step in learning and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring to revelation who we are in Christ.  This is the same rule and the same mind Paul is talking about in the last of verse 16; not learning how to think and act like someone else in the church, but to learn who we are in Christ Jesus.  Remember to have the mind of Christ is simply to esteem others above self and desire to spread the gospel.


Paul is stressing growth and winning not just surviving.  All too often Christians find themselves hanging on till the Lord comes or they pass away from this life into the next to realize their blessings.  That is very sad, they have missed a very large reason Jesus died for us.  He is the restorer of our communication with God while here on earth.  Jesus Himself said, I hae come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”, John 10:10.

Paul makes a similar statement at the beginning of verse 13, but then goes to a deeper topic.  Reaching forward and letting go.  It is so human to either hold on to our past accomplishments or constantly judge ourselves against our past failures.  For a Christian both actions are un-Godly and count the blood of Jesus as worthless. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Revelations 21:5, Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."  All is all, and does not have selections.  We cannot hold on to the good and hand off the bad to Jesus to take care of, because even our good is as filthy rags in His sight according to Isaiah 64:6. There is just no way can we move forward while looking or holding on to the past.  We must constantly look and move forward in our walk with Christ.  

There are two very important things in verse 14.  First the Greek word DIOKO translated as “press” is a word used figuratively to describe one running in such a way that they will receive the prize. Paul is telling us to keep running for the prize.  Secondly, is knowing that the “prize” of salvation cannot be acquired by works of righteousness. According to Titus3:15 Paul must be referencing the rewards in heaven that come from service for the Lord.  

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March 28

 

Do you want to know how to have a walk with Christ that is worthy of His calling; follow the example of those who are ahead of you who do walk accordingly.  

Philippians 3:17-20 “17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things.”

Paul is not suggesting that we act like him in the natural, but by observing his Christ like behavior we can see a natural example of a spiritual man.  This is profitable for us on two accounts.  First it will help us see areas that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for help and revelation in.  Secondly it will help us determine whether another person is truly walking with Christ or wearing sheep’s clothing, (Matthew 7:15).  Paul is not proud or arrogant as some have said. He knew he was following Christ with everything he had, even to the point of rejecting any personal gained righteousness found in following the Law of Moses.  If a minister can’t say the same thing to people then they do not need to be in the ministry and they shouldn’t let false humility keep them from making such a statement.  

There is an interesting note at the beginning of verse 18 where Paul tells us that “many walk” as enemies of Christ.  It is easy to see those who are not born again and living for self as enemies of Christ.  The difficulty is in spotting a claimed brother or sister in the Lord as an enemy of Christ; especially if they speak of their walk with Jesus or have some type of title before their name relating to one of the fivefold ministries.  These same people can have a love for Jesus and claim Him as their Lord and Savior, but as soon as they fall into any type of works to gain or retain their salvation they become enemies of the gospel of Jesus.  Judaizers would be a term used in Paul’s day where a Jewish Christian would insist on keeping some of the Law of Moses as a means of gaining righteousness.  Today we call them legalists and they have their list of rules that everyone must hold to in order to be “Christ Like”.  Both types of people are more concerned with the outward fleshly expressions than the renewing of the mind.  It is also interesting to note that these same people seem to express little joy and shows to have little peace, living their lives in constant turmoil and strife.  Neither type of person has an understanding of the true grace of God and the ultimate significance of the blood Jesus shed for our sins.  There is no argument for holding on to specific rules or Laws as a means to gain righteousness, or maintain righteousness, especially since Jesus warned us about such people.  Three of the four gospels record Jesus’ warning to His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees.  He was speaking of their list of laws they wanted to enforce on themselves and others as a means of gaining right standing with God.  It is very important to realize that even a little legalism will leaven the whole sermon.  Even if a person is preaching the blood of Jesus, as soon as they switch over into rules or works as a means to gain or maintain salvation, their entire message is spoiled.  Anything spoken contrary to the grace message of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and God’s grace to send His own Son on behalf of our sins is “antichrist” which strictly means is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

(Quick note: Leaven is a product used to add to dough which will cause the dough to rise.  With the use of ovens the bread has a soft texture to it and makes the bread easier to eat.  This product is actually a contaminant which causes the dough to ferment and spoil which causes it to rise. The baking process kills the yeast and stops the spoiling process leaving a fluffy final product.  The yeast causes the rising action and is actually ruining the integrity of the dough and will cause it to spoil and rot if not baked.  Because it grows and multiplies, even a very little bit added to dough will spread throughout the entire batch and ruin it if not baked.)  

Legalism will do the same thing in the life of a Christian. Unfortunately this describes most Christians today that hold on to various statutes and doctrines in effort to walk with Christ.  These people are enemies of the cross as they are trusting in themselves and their goodness carried out in their actions, as Godliness.  They may not realize it, but they are acting as their own savior living to satisfy their own flesh.  I call it a point system, if you have more good points at the end of the day you get the prize, if you don’t than you have failed that day.  Neither is true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul recaps the destiny of these people and the word of God is clear, their personal glory here on earth speaks to their shame and their outcome is destruction.  “Whose god is their belly” is a descriptive way Paul used in describing someone who lives out their walk in fleshly actions as a means of salvation.  These people are enemies of the cross.  

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March 29

 

The greatest difficulty in understanding ones walk with Christ while here on earth is the fact that even while here on earth our citizenship is already in heaven.  

Philippians 3:20-21 “20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

There is an old Hymn with the words “there’s victory in Jesus” which ring true with these two verses.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”.  Ephesians 2:6 tells us that by the blood of Jesus we have been raised up together with Christ and made to sit together in heavenly places.  In Ephesians 2:19 tells us point blank “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”.  Our citizenship is in heaven with God not here on earth!  What does this mean?  To understand the power we have here on earth as citizens of heaven I want to look at foreign diplomats here in the US.  When an Ambassador of another country comes over to live in the US their home and office building is considered and treated as if they are on their own countries soil.  Everywhere they go as they walk they are walking on their own countries soil.  When they speak they speak with the “full” authority of their own country.  And their authority and power is directly related to the authority and power of their country, even though they are living here in the US.  Christians need to understand that we have that same power and authority here on earth.  We are ambassadors for Christ and our authority is from God through Jesus. Our power is through the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus to be with us here on earth.  We also need to remember that God has sat down from His work as read in Genesis, and Jesus has been given a seat at the right hand of God as a result of the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  Where does that leave us, here on earth with the power of the Holy Spirit; as ambassadors for Christ?  If you can grasp this concept it will radically change your life here on earth.  No longer should a Christian have a beggarly attitude.  As ambassadors for heaven we need to be careful that we do not focus on earthly things more than needed, Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”


We are waiting for our Savior Jesus to come back and transform our earthly bodies into His heavenly body and we should do so with excitement.  There is more to our walk with Christ here on earth than just believing and waiting for salvation when our flesh dies. We are called to make a stand for Jesus Christ, Acts 26;22, Romans 5:2, 14:4, 1 Corinthians 15:1, Ephesians 6:11.  Nowhere in God’s word does it tell us to sit and wait, holding on to our salvation with white knuckles hoping to get into heaven on our good efforts.  And we are certainly not supposed to be worrying if we have made some mistake along the way that could keep us out.   We are more than conquerors, Romans 8:37.  
 

There is one misnomer I want to clear up.  I have heard it preached that since we will have a new heavenly body at the coming of Christ or when we go up to heaven, there is no need to exercise or spend time taking care of the body we have here.  It is true that a person can spend too much focus on their looks and concern for their health to the point it rules them, but we must take care of the body God gave us while here on earth.  You are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19.  Neglecting the body God gave you is the same thing as defiling it, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are”. The most important thing to learn from this is we are called into a commission with Christ to reach the lost for His kingdom.  Taking care of your body will help keep you in this race longer and able to reach more people.  

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March 30

 

The greatest joy a Christian can have while here on earth is to realize they have helped others gain their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Philippians 4:1-3 “1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
 

Verse 1 stands alone and is an expression of love for another person that few Christians understand today.  Paul gave up everything he accomplished in life including his Roman citizenship for the knowledge of Christ, Philippians 3:7-8.  In verse 1 of the 4th chapter he states that his brethren in Philippi are beloved, longed for, his joy, and crown.  Paul is expressing the abundant joy of obtaining the mind of Christ.  Like Jesus, Paul has found the joy of bringing people to the kingdom of God and a deeper understanding of His love for them.  To be able to show lost people the way to God through Jesus so that they can develop their own relationship with God is an awesome honor.  This deep interaction with another person is an example and the development of Agape love in a person’s life.  Paul did not go to the extremes he took for recognition from man.  Everything he did was to edify and exhort people into their own understanding of the grace of God and he rebuked the false doctrines of people that taught otherwise.  Only Paul could have reached the people he did, because he was after only one thing, “the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ” Philippians 3:13-14).  
 

Paul went on to address a typical issue that persists today in the modern church; contention and jealousy. Once again he is not instructing these two women to think alike or be in any kind of unity of lifestyle, but rather grow toward having the mind of Christ in all matters that were referenced in the previous chapters.  Because we all come from varied backgrounds, and have learned different morays, we can never become robotic nor were we called to be.  Paul also addressed the issue of contentions, jealousies, strife, etc, with the Corinthians in both letters to them (1 Corinthians 1:11, & 2 Corinthians 12:20). He also confronted the Galatians in chapter 5, and instructed Titus in chapter 3 to guide the Cretans out of the same pitfall.  Self-centeredness is the only thing that can cause two people to fight with each other and the spiritually stronger one is the only one that can and should walk away without having to prove their point.  In Matthew 9:42 Jesus warns the people about causing a little one (weaker one), to stumble.  It is far better to be the one offended and giving that offence over to God, than to be the offender which is walking in pride and self-centeredness.  If you feel compelled to have to prove your point, I have to ask are you really trying to prove it to yourself?  If you know the truth and have no doubt, than there is no need to argue.  f a person can’t understand or accept the truth, then don’t cast your pearls to swine.  If they have a true heart toward God and consistently seek His truth they will learn the truth; just love them.  If they are not seriously seeking God with their whole heart instead of man’s approval than they will not hear the truth from Him, and your arguing with them will not work either.  Just walk away Notice men that these contentions are not restricted to women, Paul adds in a man’s name to the ones in need of reconciliation.  
 

There are books in heaven that are records of our actions while here on earth, and all mankind will be judged by them, Revelations 20:12. According to Rev 20:12 the Book of Life supersedes anything else written about us in the other books.  The “Book of Life” spoken of at the end of verse  must be referencing “The Book” spoken of in Daniel:, and seven times in Revelations.  To have our names written in the Book of Life is our assurance of acceptance into heaven and eternity in the presence with God and Jesus.  No one can enter into God’s presence without his/her name written in the Book of Life, Revelations 21:27.  And all it takes to get your name written into this Book of Life is to believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose again sitting at the right hand of God, and to confess Him as your Lord and Savior.  If anyone tells you otherwise or adds to this let them be accursed because they are preaching antichrist.  

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March 31

 

Rejoice in the Lord and let your gentleness be known to all men; is a pattern of life Paul exampled in his life even though he was a naturally powerful man in the Jewish and Roman community. Remember he counted all of his personal accomplishments as rubbish for the knowledge and excellence of Christ.  

Philippians 4:4-5 “4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
 

Rejoice is a verb which is a call to action.  This does not mean that we are to always be happy, that is impossible.  We are, however, to rejoice in what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Only through the full knowledge of Jesus and everything He did for us on the cross, can we reach a point in our lives where we will be able to reoice even when the circumstances surrounding us dont warrant happiness.  Paul is not telling us to do something impossible as he had to learn this for his own walk.  In 2 Corinthians Paul tells us he was sorrowful yet always rejoicing.  Later in this chapter verse 11-13 Paul tells us how he has learned to handle every state he is in.  This level of maturity only comes with knowledge of the word which is available to us today.  Paul had to rely on Spiritual revelation, but today we have the bible and the Holy Spirit.  
 

Verse 4 is also a statement or even a command, not a suggestion leaving us with the decision to follow or not.  In the Greek language they did not have exclamation marks, so to add emphasis to a point made they immediately repeated it.  Paul is emphatic that we learn to reoice “ALWAYS”.  Remember that we have an enemy walking around like a roaring Lion, (1 Peter 5:8) seeking who he might devoir.  He can only affect us in the areas we are week.  He is not omnificent and all-knowing like God, but is a fallen angel created by God.  The only way he can now where our weanesses are is from our actions and words; mostly our words.  He cannot harm us unless we are waling outside of ods will in sin. Our sin does not cause us to lose our salvation, but it will pull us out from under ods blessing and protection.  
 

Christianity has several truths that make us different than any other religion.  First of all we follow the only true God (Exodus 3:14), second we follow the only way to God, (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5) Jesus.  Thirdly and the one thing that outwardly expresses our difference form all other religions is that we are called to love our neighbor as our selves (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Luke 10:27). Unless we learn how to rejoice always we will never be able to let our gentleness be known to all men that Paul tells us to do in verse 5.  We need to remember that it is the goodness of God that draws people to repentance (Romans 2:4) not the condemnation of the sin in the person.  Since God is sitting on His throne in heaven and Jesus is now sitting at His right hand, Christians through the power of the Holy Spirit are the ones left here on earth to show people ods love to them.  Ephesians 4:30-32, 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.  In Ephesians 5:1-4 Paul added filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting as additional personality traits
we need to overcome.  These personality traits are outward expressions of inner turmoil.  Since the Holy Spirit can only work through Christians, we cause Him grief when we show anything other than our gentleness toward men.  We must learn how to rejoice always in what Jesus has done for us.  As we meditate of the life we now have in Jesus, Philippians 4:8, we overcome the personality traits that cause others grief enabling us to rejoice always and eventually we will be able to let our gentleness be shown to all men.
 

One last point, Paul is in prison with a possible death sentence on his head when he wrote this.  If anyone should have a natural physical reason to be in the Mulley grubs it was Paul and yet he told us how he survives his situation and encourages us to overcome our petty complaints.