Does your check run out before the bills are paid?

Have you ever thought, “I work way too hard to have so little?” Does your check run out way before the bills are paid? Maybe it isn’t that you need more money or even another job. What if it’s all a result of what you’re doing with the money you do have?

In Haggai’s day, God wanted His Temple built but the people were spending all their income on their own homes instead. It seems no matter how hard they worked they simply couldn’t get ahead. Maybe it’s more about how you spend your money rather than how much you have. Here’s what was said about God’s people back in Haggai’s day.

“You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes” (Haggai 1:6)…”Consider your ways!” (V.7)

I’m not advocating that you have to build a literal Temple but maybe you need to start giving to God’s purposes rather than spending all you have on your own pleasures.

James said, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3).

“The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:25).

Louie

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THE NEW COVENANT PERFECTS THE WORSHIPER

According to Hebrews 10, the Old Covenant of animal sacrifices could NOT make the worshiper perfect. In fact, the animal sacrifices only served as a reminder of sins. If animal blood took away sins there would have been no need for Jesus to die.

The Good News is God has initiated a brand new way! The New Covenant is in Jesus’ blood and will not only bring forgiveness of sins but it will also cleanse your consciousness of sin (Hebrews 9:9 & 14).

God didn’t find fault with the Old Covenant rather the fault was in the worshipers inability to perform up to its perfect standard. Therefore God has given the New Covenant. In it we are told God Himself says, “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.”

In Ezekiel 36:26-27 God said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

The Apostle Paul put it this way, behold “the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man “PERFECT” in Christ (Colossians 1:26-28).”

Notice the goal is to “present every man “PERFECT” in Christ! Christ in you is the hope of glory! He in you has been God’s plan all along. He gave the first Covenant with no thoughts that it could “PERFECT” His people. In fact, it seems it was always and only a means to an end and not the end in itself. It was a prerequisite to condition and prepare Israel for its Messiah.

Once we see that Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension is enough, there is no need to look for anything else to finish the job of PERFECTING the worshiper.

Louie

EVOLUTION AND THE NAKEDNESS OF MAN

Before the fall… “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

After the fall…”Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Genesis 3:7).

“Immediately, “they knew they were naked.” Not until the eyes of their flesh were opened did they know they were naked. Previously they were naked but there was no shame for while they yet were clothed spiritually, or God’s offspring, they had the right to be naked. But eating of the earth, that is the fruit of the earth, man became an earth creature, and now the body of man is natures child and belongs to the earth and is subject to the ruler of this natural hierarchy, Satan. All other animals have coverings of some sort. Only man is naked. Indeed a popular book based on evolutionary ideas was written about man as “The Naked Ape.” Yet, the nakedness of man argues against evolution, for if man evolved rather than fell from grace, then man would have the best natural covering for all seasons and would need no clothes. “Survival of the fittest” would reign in man, if he had evolved he would be outfitted in the finest attire of fur or feathers. Instead, man is naked and his consciousness of nakedness reveals that mankind knows it has sinned and fallen. In the most part, mankind is still ashamed of the naked body. The woman’s fashion industry spends millions in attempts to cover the feminine body. The men and women’s retail apparel industry is a large part of the economy of any industrialized nation.”

Anonymous

PROFESSING AND CONFESSING

To “Profess” means to “declare” or “say.” To “Confess” means to “agree with” or “say with”. This may sound like nit-picking but I think it’s important. The Bible tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Many think this is saying, “If we ask God for forgiveness” when the reality is we are to “say with” or “agree” with God. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is why we are forgiven. Since we are already forgiven, through the work of the cross, we don’t need to “ask” God to forgive us over and over again. Rather if there is a sin, in the believer, we simply agree with God about it. If it’s sin we agree with God that it’s sin and we thank Him for the blood. Do you see the difference? Jesus is the reason we are forgiven not our pleading for God to forgive us. Only the blood provides the forgiveness. We are called to simply believe the blood is enough.
One thing we don’t want to do is to commit yet another sin, the sin of unbelief. Once we “agree with” God about a particular sin, we must believe the forgiveness is there and continue walking in Him. If we don’t, we may find ourselves under condemnation for something that God has already taken care of and find ourselves walking in unbelief as if the blood wasn’t enough.
We are told “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Our role is to walk in the light and His blood will automatically cleanse us.
So, as a believer, I’m walking along and I find myself desiring something I know I’m not supposed to have. At first I realize it’s only temptation but then it goes a bit too far and I sin. My response is Oh no, that isn’t right. That’s sin. That is not who I am anymore. Thank you for my new identity in Christ. Thank you for forgiveness through the cross and Jesus’ blood. Thank you for never letting me get away with anything that ignores your sacrifice on my behalf. Thank you for your restoring and keeping power in me.
Thank God for His provision found only in Jesus Christ.

Louie

STOP IDENTIFYING YOURSELF WITH YOUR ABILITY TO FAIL

Someone told me “I just keep beating myself up!” I said, “No you don’t!”

Stick with me for a minute on this one.

If someone is struggling with addiction, bi-polar, cancer, depression, fear, etc. they tend to identify themselves as it. For instance people often say, “I’m an addict”, “my cancer”, “my depression”, “I’m bi-polar.” What if you’re really struggling with addiction but “you” aren’t really an addict? What if you have been diagnosed with what is known as bi-polar but “you” aren’t bi-polar?

Why do we identify ourselves as these things rather than struggling with or that we have them? It seems to me if we say, “I’m depressed” then there’s really no way to be free. If we think “I’m beating myself up”, rather than realizing it’s really the enemy, we’ll never see freedom as available. I mean if “I” beat myself up “I” can never get free from myself but if I see the enemy as the real culprit and I’m separate from him, I can actually be free.

This all really just boils down to the Fall. Even after being born-again, Christians struggle because they continue to identify themselves for what they were “In” Adam rather than who they really are now that they are in Christ.

We must stop identifying ourselves with our ability to fail and begin seeing ourselves as we really are in Christ!

A CONVERSATION ABOUT SELF IMPROVEMENT AND THE NEED FOR CHRIST

The following conversation was spawned by a statement my friend Dave made about working out. This all stems from a previous statement about whether or not the self can be improved.

Rich: Why do workouts and improve yourself when you can pray for your messiah to make good on his being murdered due to politics?

Dave: I do not understand this question. I do not pray to ask for anything. That’s not how following Christ works.

Rich: Working out is a form of self-help, self-development. if you can’t take it on yourself to be a better person, why take it on yourself to be a physically better person? I do not understand the difference here.

Dave: My belief in Christ and his teachings shows that I cannot be whole in God’s plan for me, I cannot make myself clean and perfect for him without Christ. This flesh that I live in is separate from that spirit in which I seek to give to him. This body is for this world my spirit is for his… did that help

Rich: Sort of. It keeps the question of why seek to make yourself more tolerant, more understanding, more charitable, less addictive or impulsive…if all you’ve gotta do is pray and make it so.

Dave: To become all those things, I had to die to self and be reborn (baptized in Christ), I do not attempt to be anything more than one with Christ. My prayers are prayers of understanding and thanks, once I gave myself to Christ I no longer needed to ask for anything. My working out is because he gave me a body of health and I have wasted that through years of bad decisions and self abuse. I work now to correct those things physically, because I used to run, ride bikes and be more active. Now I have to push to find time for those things due to being a parent and working all the darn time.

Rich: See, you’re doing the work. You’re making the strides and changes. I could understand if someone waved a magic wand or gave you an immunization. I can understand giving praise and thanks to their work and knowledge. There’s a dude that delivered a wonderful message but was killed two thousand years ago. I can understand giving him thanks and praise for the message that has transcended time and changes. What I cannot understand is saying that this mortal dude can still tangibly change the world.

Louie: Jesus wasn’t murdered He freely gave His life for us. He said, “No one has taken it (Jesus’ life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:18).

Rich: The emperor wanted him dead because he was a threat to the empire’s authority. Pontius Pilate did want to let him go, but the political pressure from above left him little choice. I remember that the governor spoke to Jesus, and that quote you cited above was the response given to the governor, knowing the situation.

Louie: It was actually Jesus talking to the religious leaders who didn’t believe in Him. But you’re right, Pilate did tell Jesus he had the power to let him go or have him crucified. I love Jesus response though. He said, “You would have no power if it wasn’t given to you from above” (John 19:11). Jesus understood it was His Father’s plan that He die but He did agree with the Father’s plan to lay down His life. You see Jesus is Eternal Life, therefore no one could take it from Him. He had to lay it down voluntarily. The Good News though is He didn’t stay dead! That’s why we have the hope of Eternal life with Him. He conquered the grave and by faith we will too.

Rich: I think I understand the distinction from your perspective. I still do not agree, but that’s not the discussion at this time.

Louie: We all make our own choices in life. I was 30 yrs old before I finally came to really see my need of a Savior. After over 15 years of addiction I had to admit I couldn’t run my life anymore. It had ran over me. I cried out to God and told Him “You have to do this because I can’t!” My life radically changed forever that night. Since then I dove into the Bible to see for myself if it could be trusted and never looked back. I haven’t found anything that can compete with Jesus. We all have to come to our own conclusions. The one thing I would say to you is don’t stop seeking the truth till you find it and be willing to go wherever it may lead, even if it challenges your pre-conceived notions. That’s what I have done for the past 16 years and it has been quite the adventure!

Rich: Cool you’ve found a way to improve yourself using someone else’s name and teachings. Keep it in mind that there’re many paths to the cookie jar. I chose self-discipline, self-improvement, and spiritual well-being through a variety of disciplines. That’s why I cannot understand the person sitting there, doing nothing, praying for someone else to do something for them, and expecting it to happen.

Louie: The self cannot be improved. The real self is a “spirit” union. What you’re talking about is improving your education, health, income, etc. What I’m talking about is that our old “self” who was under the rulership of Satan was crucified with Christ so we could be joined to the Holy Spirit. Now we are “One” with Christ instead of our old boss the devil. That’s what the cross is really about. The only discipline for me is faith. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” So there is a sense where He’s doing it all but at the same time He’s doing it in me, through me and even as me. His Spirit is now joined to my human spirit in a union so it’s Him expressing Himself through me, and even as me. Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Now we can say, in the same way, if you’ve seen me you see the Son. The church is His body. We are the visible expression of the invisible God.

Louie: What you’re calling “self-discipline”, the Bible calls self-control and says is a fruit of the Holy Spirit–Galatians 5:23

Rich: Please keep calm here. This is where I normally lose the devout or zealous. If you promise to remain mature and rational, I’ll continue.

Louie: How am I not calm? Go on.

Rich: I’m saying if you remain calm through my next comment, I’ll continue. Thank you for your reassurance. You’ve been calm as yet; I’m not saying you haven’t been.

Rich: Here I go, this’ll probably be lengthy.

Rich: The self is explained as the spirit, the essence, of a person. Can I not be wicked then actually and fundamentally change my character, my personality, my very self, without your messiah? Because I walk a different path than you, does that mean I’m evil and incapable of being a good person? is it impossible for me to have a warm, loving, rewarding marriage with a good woman that also walks a different path than either you or I? Can I not raise wonderful, happy, healthy, intelligent, smart, caring beautiful kids? Why is it that I cannot realize the negative and work to eradicate it and still take credit for my efforts and development?

Louie: God’s grace is poured out on all mankind whether believer or unbeliever. The Bible says, “it rains on the just and the unjust.” What you’re describing is the goodness of God in your life even though you’re not necessarily crediting Him for it. I think it’s called prevenient grace. The Bible tells us “In Him we live and move and have our being.” In other words, we all get to enjoy a share of His Goodness even when in unbelief. The ultimate question is how can you love your wife? How can you have a “rewarding” marriage or raise a wonderful family? It’s because God is love. Without Him love is non-existent. The Good News is, “God so love the world that He gave His only unique Son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have “Everlasting Life” (John 3:16). You see what you’re enjoying right now will turn out to be only temporary without the Eternal One, Jesus Christ, living in you. No one wants to see that happen.

Rich: But those are the very same lessons of the paganism variant that I adhere to. My structure is really complicated and lengthy to describe. It all boils down to my code of honor:
Harm no innocent.
Allow no innocent harm.
Do not lie.
Do not cheat.
Steal only when unavoidable.
Defend this with violent zeal,
for a man without honor is no man at all
and thus
deserves not life.

Another way of describing it is by your Golden Rule or the Rede from the Wiccans.

Louie: Hmm? The way I see it is there is none righteous. None of us seek God or do “good.” God is perfect. He demands perfection from His creatures (us). Jesus is the only perfect One so the only way I, or you, or anyone, can live up to the perfect standard is if we are joined to the Perfect One, Jesus Christ. God Himself does this by way of the cross. He crucifies us with Christ and raises us to walk in newness of life in His Spirit. Now any sins or wrong doings have been dealt with through His blood shed, death and resurrection. He lives forever now and we with Him by way of our being joined to Him. Apart from Him I can do nothing. I have no trust in myself at all. Left to myself I would commit any and all sin but with Jesus Christ in me, as my keeper, by faith He keeps me.

Rich: From what I’m hearing you say is that I can be a good person, but I’m still unclean, unworthy, without your messiah and god. I can raise good kids and have a good marriage, but it’s for naught without your salvation. Is that about accurate?

Louie: I’m saying “good” really isn’t the point. Jesus didn’t come here to make “bad” people “good” He came to make dead people live. You see without Christ we are “dead in sin.” This is why it took the death, burial and resurrection to remedy the problem. Being dead in sin means separated from God. The cross brings us back into relationship with Him through Christ. Once we are born-again…enlivened, He is our goodness within us. Jesus Himself even said, “Why do you call me good? There’s none good but God” (Luke 18:19). We don’t need to be made good we need Eternal Life and that’s Jesus!

Rich: Ah…. I understand a little better. You didn’t change my mind or proselytize me, but I do understand your semantics. Thank you.

Louie: You’re welcome. I enjoyed the conversation and great questions too.