Hold Fast #127

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This is a place – of Grace. Real grace instructs us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly desires. Titus 2:12. Genuine grace is never greasy.

Let me ask you: are you constantly ‘trying’ to be a better Christian? ‘Trying’ to pray more? ‘Trying’ to give more? ‘Trying’ to serve more? ‘Trying’ to read the Bible more? I’m getting tired just asking! Know what, friend? By trying and trying you are living under self-imposed Law. Try try try – you won’t get to that place of rest.

We enter His rest by ceasing from our efforts. Believe Jesus HAS done ALL the work for us. Rest in this truth – receive His grace. And more grace. Isn’t that better?

That’s Heb 4:9-10 paraphrased. And verse 11 says: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest;” another version says says ‘be diligent to enter His rest.”
How do we strive to enter that rest?

We accomplish this by holding fast to our confession! Most people barely have a confession even in the best of times. Hold fast your confession, especially in the worst times! When life is so hard we don’t want to get out of bed. When loneliness has imprisoned you in solitary. In times of temptation, especially if we have fallen into that temptation. Yes, we hold fast our confession ALL THE TIME!

Friend, what IS your confession? That you are weak and sinful? Powerless? Fearful?An eternal failure? NONSENSE! Let your confession be the TRUTH – that’s what GOD says about you. Such as, “I am the righteousness of God” 2 Cor 5:21. “I am a new creation – the old sinful me has died.” 2 Cor 5:17. “I am one spirit with the Lord.” 1 Cor 6:17 “I am a holy vessel for the Lord.” Col 1:22.

Jesus is our Great High Priest who has sympathy for our weaknesses, not scorn! Heb 4:14-15. Draw near to His throne. It is a throne of grace, not judgment. Hold FAST your confession my friend. Head for the Throne for the mercy and grace to help that you need!

Jesus WILL help! Yes – hold fast — and COME ALIVE!

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Embrace Grace #126

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Religion has preached against sin for centuries – and the result: more sin. That’s because religion tells us WE have to try harder. And harder. Again. We’re being taught to have confidence in your own ability to resist sin, rather than have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice.

Religion tells us, if we sin, to repent, to restore, to renounce and more; but the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus and His supernatural grace. Which would you rather have when you sin? Hmmm?

Remember, God so loved THE WORLD that He sent His son – and while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. NOTHING can separate us from this love of God, not even our sin. Ro 8:35. Our righteous deeds could not qualify us in the eyes of God; neither can our unrighteous deeds disqualify us. The Holy Spirit is the eternal guarantee of your approval. 2 Cor 1:22.

Religion tells us God loves us. And that God hates us. That we will see and experience His grace only as we get things right. That’s wrong! Grace is for those who NEED it, not for those who EARN it. Grace is for you and me my friend.

Many people think grace and greasy go together, a license to sin. True, God’s grace means FREEDOM – even freedom to make POOR choices. But using that freedom to be enslaved to sin again is really really DUMB. As Paul cautions in Ro 6:1, it’s crazy to think that we can sin so grace can abound all the more – because sin enslaves a person and can destroy them!

Once a person begins to understand Calvary, and what Jesus has done for us there, it’s no longer easy to sin – for we realize we are dead to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? Ro 6:2. Those who willfully sin under the covering of God’s grace don’t understand their salvation, if indeed they are saved at all!

In conclusion, Titus 2:12 says grace, far from being a license to sin, teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly desires. So, don’t fear Grace. Rather,

embrace God’s grace — and COME ALIVE!

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No Terror #125

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Today we want to take the terror out of 1 Cor 11:27-30. Paraphrasing, “Whoever, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself. Partaking unworthily brings judgment on you. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” This passage has been used to scare and condemn the body of Christ for too long!

Consider 1 Cor 11:23-25. There Paul reminds us of that first Communion night, when Jesus instructed us to break bread and to drink of the cup “in remembrance of Me.” That’s right – we partake of the Eucharist (which means ‘giving thanks’) with Thanksgiving – duh – remembering what Jesus has done for us: His life given so that we would be saved, healed, delivered, restored, our sins wiped away, the punishment due us paid in full, adopted as sons of God, a holy habitation for the Spirit of God – and more! 

His blood has cleansed us from sin, from ALL unrighteousness. FOREVER. So how can we partake unworthily of communion? As a believer, you CANNOT.

“Examine yourself?” For sin? Will sin disqualify you from taking communion? From the body and blood of Jesus? Jesus GAVE His body and blood and died for sinners! In the Old Covenant when a sinner came to the priest, he brought an offering. The priest examined the offering, NOT the sinner. If the offering was accepted, the sin of the person bringing it was covered! Your offering – is JESUS. Think about that.

“Examine yourself?” Is Jesus your sin offering? As a believer He surely IS! You have already passed out of judgment and into eternal life with God. BUT if you do not believe in Jesus, yet take communion, you are saying Jesus died for nothing, that His death is irrelevant. Indeed, unbelievers bring judgment upon themselves!

So an unbeliever can’t take communion then? Not so fast – in doing so we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Cor 11:26. So, if the unbeliever knows this, and wants to proclaim the Lord’s death applying to him, they are in fact declaring themselves BELIEVERS, and they will have — COME ALIVE!

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Luke Warm #124

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Have you wondered why Jesus preferred the Laodiceans of Revelation 3 to be hot or cold but not lukewarm? Hot: you are passionate about Jesus and the grace of God. Cold: you are passionate about the Law, about rule keeping. Genuine dedicated rule keeping will lead you to Christ. Gal 3:24. But adding grace to law results in ‘just doing the best you can’ and ‘God will understand’ theology. That does not impress God. If you think God gives you grace so that you can keep the rules today with the help of the Holy Spirit – you are terribly mistaken!

Here is another example of mixture – grace and law. It’s been said, “Favor, God’s favor, and blessing, will be found in serving. Your job, dear Christian, is to obey everything we leaders tell you, for we are God’s appointed overseers. Meanwhile, it is God’s job to bless you as a result! A result of your obedience. This is not true! Where is Jesus in this?

Have you been told you are not experiencing favor because you are not serving – or not serving enough, and are only lukewarm? That the more you serve, or the more you give, the more the blessings will flow? Not true! And you are exhausted.

Grace is given to those who believe and enter His rest, Heb 3; NOT to those who serve. Making yourself someone’s servant OR the quest for self-improvement – will keep you from the grace of GOD. “You have fallen from grace” said Paul to the Galatians 5:4.

Remember: Law keeping is faithless for the law is not of faith. Gal 3:12. And without faith you cannot please God. Heb 11:6. So focusing upon your serving, your obedience, is actually pushing you further away from God’s grace! Yet this is what people have been told time and again.

Why are so many in the church lukewarm, or apathetic today? They have been given a mixture of grace and law, the theology of the lukewarm. They are the product of what they have heard.

How do you get hot? Start appreciating all that JESUS has done for us, namely, everything pertaining to life and godliness. 2 Pe 1:3. Soon your enthusiasm will know no bounds. Without even trying you will have — COME ALIVE!

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Oil and Water #123

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Are we as Christians under Law? we live in the world, and the world has its laws: obey stoplights, speed limits, refrain from stealing, and millions more. But what about Bible laws? Are they universal and for all time? Or just sometime? Are they limited, like a restaurant that says, “No shoes, no shirt, no service?” You can walk down the street without shoes, but don’t expect to be served in a restaurant barefooted. 

The answer is – in the Bible! Ro 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are NOT under law but under grace.” The apostle Paul repeats, in the next verse saying, “…Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Never!”

Christians should not live trying to be good, to keep Biblical laws, for we are under GRACE, not Law. But how could all that system prescribed by God, built upon the Pentateuch and Old Testament, be set aside? 

Nevertheless it HAS BE SET ASIDE, for something GREATER has come: Jesus. Heb 7:18 declares, “… there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness.”

We are not saved by Laws, kept by Laws, or supervised by Laws. It is God’s GRACE – from start to finish. “What is LAW in the Bible?” you ask. The 10C’s? Jesus’ words? The words of Paul? Your church’s precepts? You know, it really doesn’t matter – if you believe you will be rewarded for doing “good” and punished for doing “bad,” you are living under LAW. Most of the church lives this way. And the Law is NOT of faith! Gal 3:12. 

Friend, this is why so many believers are having so much trouble in life and God seems so far away. They are trying to keep the law – and since it is NOT of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God, they are keeping God away by their very efforts, and are struggling in their own limited human abilities! THAT is a mouthful!

We are blessed because of who HE is, not what we DO. Grace and Law are mutually exclusive. Like oil and water, they do not mix together!

Today, choose to walk by Grace. Walk in the Spirit, and — to COME ALIVE!

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Taken, not Stirred #122

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In the movie “Taken,” Liam Neelson’s character’s daughter is taken by sex traffickers. He tracks them down and says, “If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” A father’s anger at someone who dared to accost his child. 

Now, consider God, our FATHER. Satan, the deceiver, lifted his hand against the Father’s children. In the Garden, the Father promised an offspring would come who would “crush your head” Gen 3:15. At the Cross, through the willing sacrifice of His own Son, God delivered on His promise.

Listen to the truth:
– Religion says we were born criminals. But the Bible says we were born prisoners – to sin. Ro 3:9. Captives, not criminals.
– Religion says we need to be good. To try harder. Jesus says you need to be free. Jn 8:32. Free, not ‘doing better.’
– The natural man thinks he is free, but he is enslaved to all kinds of passions and pleasures and is bound by the fear of death. Jude, Heb 2:15. The natural man is not free; he is a slave. If you subscribe to the notion, “if it feels good, do it,” you are not free but in fact bound by your own appetites. And those who feed them – control you.
– If God be for us who can be against us! Not even our own sin. In fact, He has removed that sin from us. God has qualified us; sin cannot disqualify us! Col 1:12.

So dear friend, you can choose to live according to the old law of sin and death – or life in the Spirit, under the new law, the law of LOVE. Why not, reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God? Then get going with the joyful business of living the Father’s dream – for you. Because of the BLOOD, your sin cannot condemn you; only your unbelief.

Believe in Jesus your Savior, in the Father who LOVES you just as you are. They are FOR you, not against you. Believe — receive —and COME ALIVE!

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Our Father #121

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In the Old Testament, God appeared distant, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A cloud by day, pillar of fire by night in Moses’ day. Many churches, pastors, preachers present God this way still. Suggesting you have to have a prophet to hear from God, a pastor to shepherd you, apostles to lead you to new ground and so forth.

It’s as though you were deaf or God was talking to His best people and all the rest of us, well, get things second hand if at all!

BUT, when they asked Jesus how to pray, He said, “Pray this way,” and He began a prayer with these astonishing words, “Our Father….” Sixteen times He used the expression our father or your father.

Such a breakthrough! The Old Testament had many names for God, Healer, Provider, our Righteousness, but Jesus gave us a new name, precious, intimate, passionate: “Abba! Father!” Father loves you. He delights in FAVORING Y O U. Because He loves you!

Many know God as well, “God.” Many know Him also as “Lord;” but few know Him as FATHER. If you see Him as distant – or worse, as dead, you are likely to act like a little god – of your own little world, trying to control things and make things work our ‘your’ way. But God is NOT DEAD! Nor far away!

Remember Jesus has revealed Him: Heb 1:3 “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature;” John 14:9 “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” And He went about doing GOOD, healing all those bound by the devil, Acts 10:38. A friend of sinners and outcasts, tax collectors.

Love is unconditional, at least God’s love is. We do not need to do stuff, to get it right, to check off all the boxes before God will love us. He so loved the world that He gave His son. He loved us before we were born. If you are listening to preaching that says God’s love comes with conditions; I suggest you — stop listening!

What does God —YOUR FATHER expect from you, want from you, desire from you, my friend? Simply to receive His love. To flourish in His grace. To spend your time exploring His extravagant, limitless love. And — COME ALIVE!

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One of those days: Storms #120

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This world has STORMS! Got one going on in your life right now? Well, check this out.

Luke 8:22 begins, “Now on one of those days….” That could be one of OUR days, my friend. The disciples are crossing the lake, Jesus is with them, asleep in the back. Then BOOM! A MEGA-squall descends upon them. The boat is being swamped! And Jesus? He’s asleep on the job! No, wait — He’s not — He knows you can handle it, by faith. Oh, wait, apparently you can’t for I hear you screaming for help. (Laugh)

The disciples are screaming: ’Don’t you care that we are perishing?’ Hmmm. I’m not comfortable in boats; I would probably hear me screaming right along with those disciples!

Jesus ACTED — because He was ASKED! After hushing the wind and waves He asks them, “Why were you afraid? How is it that you still have no faith?” Apparently, NOTHING is impossible to those who believe (in God). Mk 9:23

Then in Matt 14 there is another stormy lake incident. They were busy crossing over. It was God’s will, they knew it, and were busy doing it. But the wind was contrary. Circumstances were tough! It says Jesus came to them a bit before dawn. Have you been struggling to accomplish in the dark dark night what you know God has told you?

GREAT NEWS: Jesus sees you and will come to you. Oh wait! He’s walking on by! What to do, what to do! Keep struggling to do God’s will in our own strength? Struggle harder, to keep up with Him? How about, maybe, invite Him into the boat?

Hmmmm? Well, it says in John 6 that after Peter got to walk on water, both Peter and Jesus got into the boat and “…and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” I like that, don’t you?

Friend, have faith in God. When life is stormy, Jesus has not forsaken you; He is there. He might be walking by right now! INVITE HIM INTO YOUR BOAT! If you ask Him for help; He WILL help. Friend, He will help you — COME ALIVE!

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So Many Jesus’ #119

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I have a question for you – in which Jesus are you believing? The reason I ask is that people may say they believe in Jesus, but have quite a different understanding of who Jesus is from you and I. To make today’s point, let’s boil all the Jesus’ down to two categories.

There is Jesus ‘the man,’ who walked the earth 2,000 years ago. He was a great teacher. He pointed out the way we should live. He died upon a cross at Calvary. 

Then there is Jesus much more than that. Jesus the ‘son of God,’ actually, God Himself, who became a man (Emmanuel, God with us). Who died on a cross at Calvary for our sins, was raised from the dead; who now sits upon the highest throne of heaven where everything has been placed under His feet. 1 Cor 15:27

In both views, Jesus died upon the Cross. In the latter, the Son of God died there for our sins. But now think about this: Jesus on the Cross cannot save anyone. (Pause) Thankfully our second view continues, hallelujah!

OUR Jesus, after being place IN the tomb, left that tomb, being RISEN from the dead. ALIVE forever! Seated at the right hand of the Father, with ALL authority. THIS JESUS SAVES FOREVER, and will save –> whoever dares to believe in Him!

Friend, don’t settle at the Cross. Don’t camp out at Calvary, marvelous as this is. Continue to the RESURRECTION! See yourself united with Him in His death. Crucified with Christ as Paul says in Gal 2:20. And see yourself united with Him in His resurrection, Ro 6:5. See yourself alive from the dead — with Jesus — seated with Him in the heavens, NOW. Today. Eph 2:1-7.

Friend, this is the TRUE reality. Catch hold of it and you will COME ALIVE as never before! The fullness of the blessings of God’s grace come to those who believe in the RISEN JESUS!

Proclaim Jesus as LORD over your life, TODAY. As Lord over any and every issue, any and every sickness, distress, disappointment, depression, failure. EVERYTHING bows to Jesus. Proclaim it. Rejoice in this truth — and COME ALIVE!

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Abraham BELIEVED #118

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Throughout Scripture there are blockbuster statements! They can become giant bedrocks in our faith. Try this one on. Gal 3:6. It declares, “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, and it was counted to Him as RIGHTEOUSNESS.” That’s having God’s approval – in everything – without having to do anything. Whoa!

In context, Paul is reminding the Galatians that they received the Spirit of God by FAITH – NOT by anything they did, not by praying, fasting, memorizing bible verses, sacrifices, observing feasts. He explains they started that way and God is providing them with His Spirit and performing miracles in their midst by hearing with faith, period.

Sadly, many people – many pastors and preachers even – believe a person gets saved by faith in Christ Jesus, and having been saved, then things change. Now it is up to us to walk the straight and narrow. Up to us to do good works, to sacrifice, pray, fast, maintain perfect church attendance and participation in order for the blessings, the favor, the miracles and presence of God to be rich, real, and full upon us. Sound familiar?

Paul points us back to Abraham, Father of the faith, as someone who had to believe, and only believe – just like us. It is in believing in God that Abraham, and us, are counted as righteous, FULLY approved. Having God’s approval is beyond awesome – and if you are a believer in Jesus, YOU HAVE IT! Shrug off those doubts and condemning thoughts, my friend, that would get you looking at yourself instead of Jesus!

As Gal 3:11-14 tells us: a person can only be justified in God’s eyes by having faith in Him, and not by keeping any kind of laws, even those laws spoken by God. That is mind-blowing! God sent His son. He kept the laws, than become a curse for us, that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham, adoption, the promise of the SPIRIT, would come to…us!

By grace, through faith, you have received the Holy Spirit! Learn to walk in Him, demonstrating that YOU – have COME ALIVE!

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Jesus our JUBILEE #117

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In the book of Leviticus, that’s the book with all the jots and tittles of the Law, we read something amazing! In Lev 25:10-12 it reads, ‘You shall thus consecrate the 50th year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a JUBILEE for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.

Then it repeats, in the 50th year, DON’T WORK! No sowing, reaping, harvesting. Rest, rejoice, eat what’s there and receive all your property back.
At the sounding of the trumpet, LIBERTY was proclaimed. Property restored. Debts forgiven. Working ceased. Those who had to become slaves to live were made FREE! Yep, PERSONAL LIBERTY restored. PERSONAL POSSESSIONS restored. And a SIMPLE life with faith in GOD to provide the food a person needed was decreed.

But you know what? Tradition, historical records, and the Old and New Testaments make no mention that it was ever observed! Think about that. It was just TOO MUCH for people to believe God would have them release their slaves, restore properties, and to live abundantly and simply, with food He provided, that they did not work for!

Thankfully, this JUBILEE YEAR was a foreshadowing of JESUS. He began His ministry reading from Is 61 – it’s found in Luke 4:18-19. Vs 19 speaks of the Favorable Year of the Lord: that’s the Jubilee year. Jesus said, “That’s Me! I’m your Jubilee.” Not every 50 years, but all day, every day! And the people tried to kill Him! Can you believe?

Just to be clear, in Jesus our debts to God’s justice are paid! Those who had become slaves to sin and Satan were set free to be sons of God, joint heirs with Jesus. Heaven, the Kingdom of God, our forfeited inheritance, is restored. Without money, without price, without our working for it. That’s Jesus our Jubilee, dear friend!

Celebrate Jesus your Savior today. And tell others the Good News, that they may COME ALIVE!

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Thirsty – Living Water #116

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In Jeremiah 2:13, it reads, “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

What a picture! And religious people are still doing the same thing today. Rejecting the Living God with His Living Waters, and making their own religious cisterns – full of stagnant water IF they could hold water at all, but they are broken! Are you dry? In a place without water – is church so dry and you feel trapped in a DIY religion where your “to-do” list is off the charts? 

In Jn 7:37-38 it reads, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast (of Tabernacles), Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being (that’s YOUR innermost being my friend) will flow rivers of living water.’”” When you come to Jesus you get to drink from living waters, true refreshment, and you become a conduit for those rivers of living water.

So let me ask you again, is your religious life dry, drier, the driest ever? Come back to Jesus! Religion, religious thinking and practices may have turned you toward their cracked and empty cisterns of promises based upon works and performance, but just come back to JESUS!

In John 4, we see Jesus resting at a well in Sychar, when a Samaritan woman approaches. Jesus asks her for a drink. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, and it was not proper to speak to a woman in public. But Jesus breaks through tradition, religion, custom and prejudice. The woman is shocked. Jesus go on saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” He adds, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” 

Jesus is giving this Samaritan woman, an outcast, the same message He would later give to the crowds in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. John 7. No one is left out. All are invited. 

 Dear friend, are you thirsty? Then you are qualified! Come afresh to Jesus and drink from the Living Waters of the Spirit – and COME ALIVE!

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Green—or Roasted #115

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Today we have – Illustrations.

Here we have a bowl of coffee beans. (point to beans) Green. Unroasted. 100% the genuine article plucked from the coffee bushes. When the beans are subjected to high temperatures, they transform into this: (point to bowl of roasted beans). Into something wonderful. Having aroma. Flavor. Taste. Desirable. The heat was external and it transformed those beans.

Can you see that there is no going back for those beans? A coffee bean may continue to think, if it could think, that it is the same old green bean it always was from inception, without flavor, aroma, taste—but it is not! It has been transformed. That bean needs to have its coffee bean mind renewed to the truth of what it has become. To put off the old thinking and think according to the truth. 

It is the same for you and I – we have been transformed by a power external to ourselves: the Holy Spirit! And it is permanent. Friend, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:17. What once was true about you is no longer true. Renew your mind to God’s truth. You are a new creation and there is no going back!

But we do not yet appear as who we really are! Recently I was in the Franklin, NJ Mining Museum. It holds the world’s largest collection of fluorescent rocks. Here they are. (rocks in regular light). They look like everyday rocks. Completely ordinary. But in ultraviolet light they are gorgeous! Incredibly beautify! (photo)

The world might tell these rocks that they are still ordinary. But something has happened with these rocks! Like YOU! A geologist might ‘find fault’ with my example, but I’m sure you get the point! 

Dear Christian, you may look plain and ordinary on the outside, but Christ is IN you and makes you to shine! Maybe not to everyone but to those who can see in the spirit — they will see: that you have COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Throne of GRACE #114

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Please—stop striving to prove yourself worthy of God’s favor, blessing, eternal life. Believe the GOOD NEWS. Salvation is FREE, thanks to Jesus’ matchless sacrifice at Calvary. Ah, but each Sunday, messages are preached that add another component to the Good News: YOU. How you better act like a Christian. Perform. Produce. Pay God back in installments when the offering plate comes by – or those blessings will stop!

How ludicrous my friend. He who began the Good Work in you will complete it. Phil 1:6. Not you— JESUS will complete it! You – HOLD FAST your CONFIDENCE in Him. Heb 3:6. He WILL see you through every trial.

Believe the GOSPEL. Enter His rest – in fact Heb 4:10 says ‘be diligent’ to enter His rest. That word has its root origin in “diligere” to love, take delight in. Take delight in entering His rest, dear friend. In John 14:2-3 we learn there are many dwelling places in heaven; and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for US, will return to receive us to Himself, so we can all be together. There is no struggle in that – this is ALL JESUS. Start rejoicing!

Afraid you are too weak of faith, too frail in the face of temptation? Well, HOLD FAST your CONFIDENCE in – yourself? Your abilities? Ha! Our confidence is in JESUS! He knows our weaknesses and has sympathy for us – Heb 4:14.

That great while throne of judgment in Rev 20:11 – has become a Throne of Grace for believers, a place to receive mercy, and receive grace to help in time of need. Keep rejoicing!

Mercy – not getting what we deserve. GRACE – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Getting what we do not deserve. God is love. He made a way of salvation for mankind. Sending Jesus. That He could shower us with grace, and grace, and more grace: goodness lovingkindness at His expense.

Friend, got issues? Messed up? RUN to the throne of grace right now. Receive mercy. Got big needs? Hurts? RUN to the throne of grace right now!  You will find grace to help you NOW. In fact, you will find grace to COME ALIVE!

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Classics – no RULES #113

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The Gospel means Good News. Crafted by God. God is GOOD, and His news is ALL Good News — not mostly Good News with some Bad News thrown in. There is no price tag found in God’s free gift of salvation — unless you are hearing a counterfeit gospel.

Does the God of the gospel you hear remember a wrong suffered? Does your forgiveness come at a price you pay? That’s not God’s true love found in 1 Cor 13. It is not the genuine Gospel.

Some preachers thunder from the pulpit: “Beware of greasy grace and those who preach it! We have got to have rules to obey. Guard rails on the roadway of life to keep us on course.” “Greasy grace is nothing more than a license to sin,” they bellow.

Going back to the rules is – wrong. Don’t you remember, friend?
• the Law is not of faith – Gal 3:12. No faith in it. Following the rules is not of faith.
• the Law inflames sin. Rather than HELP you be godly, it promotes ungodliness!
• the Law was designed to lead us to Christ – Gal 3:24. A tutor. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor – Gal 3:25.

Don’t go back to rule keeping. ”Follow all the rules, all our rules, and you’ll be blessed of God” is a counterfeit gospel! It’s rubbish! “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Gal 5:1.

Adding rules to the Gospel means you have fallen from GRACE — you attempt to be justified by the law. It’s a counterfeit gospel, and you have become estranged from Christ.

The Counterfeit Gospel is the one with the RULES IN IT. Jesus gave us the Gospel of Grace! Walk by faith. Walk in the Spirit – don’t worry, just do it!

Adding rules to the Gospel means you are saying Jesus Christ did NOT DO ENOUGH at Calvary, and there remains “your part” to perform. Rather than experiencing the joy of the Lord, you live in a shadowland where you have never done enough.

Friend, if this has been you, has been your life, it’s time to stand in the liberty, in the GRACE given you in Christ Jesus – firmly, and  — COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Union #112

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Jesus IS the Vine, we ARE the branches. Happened when we said YES to Jesus. Now Father, Son and Holy Spirit abide in us: they make their HOME in us. And they are not going anywhere.

Ro 6:3 says when we believed we were baptized into His death – we have died to sin and are alive to God. Ro 6:11. In this baptism, we went into those spiritual waters looking like Adam and came out looking like Jesus. Close your eyes and see that, my friend!

There is no longer any separation between God and a believer. We are JOINED to the Lord and ONE SPIRIT with HIM. 1 Cor 6:17. Consider Ro 7:4 where Paul says we have died to the Law, all those do’s and don’ts, and have been JOINED to another: JESUS. Now we serve in newness of the Spirit.

Sadly, so many Christians have trouble understanding this JOINING, this UNION that has been accomplished. If we used marriage as an example, they would be acting like they were single despite the fact that they were married. Someone who lives this way will miss out on most all of the benefits that marriage brings.

In the Old Covenant, unholy things would make whatever they touched unholy. Lepers. Keep away from me! Bleeding people. Keep away! Gentiles! Etc. But Jesus cleansed the lepers, the bleeders, the Gentiles, Samaritans and tax-gatherers. Jesus cleanses you. He has made you holy, sanctified. Forever. So now live that way. Stop thinking and acting as though God is far away and you have to sacrifice to get closer.

We are already joined to Him, one Spirit with Him. How about marveling at the wonders of the CROSS and what our loving God did for us there? What we could never do, He did, and took the punishment for all our wrongdoing. And offers us UNITY with Him for all ETERNITY. Pretty good, eh?

Stop with doom and gloom thinking; just STOP IT. Stir up your faith in God. He IS with you and wants to make your life a wonderful testimony. A good one.
He is the LIVING GOD and He is here to help us: COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Hold Fast #111

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Hebrews 3:1 reads, “you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”  Consider Jesus! He’s the one who brings life to the dead; who causes us to come alive!

He is the awesome Apostle, the messenger of this Good News of the New Covenant. He is our high priest, the one who enters God’s Presence for us. He enters with our confession: this Good News that is the Gospel. He is the One who has made the perfect sacrifice and has sat down – making perfect purification of our sins.

Atonement for our sins has fully, totally, perfectly, completely, been accomplished, for all eternity, friends! That’s why Jesus could sit down! Therefore, HOLD FAST your confidence in Jesus Christ – it’s OK to boast in the Lord and to keep on boasting; no matter what the world may say.

Israel in their wanderings, Heb 3 & 4 tells us, carcassed in the desert (that’s Heb 3:17). They rebelled, they refused to believe in God’s provision and insisted upon their own way. And carcassed. Well, don’t you carcass, my friend. Hold onto Jesus. Find rest in Him. Rest from your own efforts at improving yourself, of trying to be a better person, of trying harder, of climbing up to God. Efforts at self-improvement are not the answer. Believe, and find rest in His salvation.

More on Jesus, our Great High Priest! High Priests mediate, and Jesus is mediator of a better covenant, founded upon better promises! Check out Heb 8! The Old Covenant, instituted through Moses on Mt Sinai, had tons of requirements for us to fulfill. The New Covenant, instituted through the blood of Jesus, has one condition for us: believe upon Jesus and keep on believing. Even then, if we are faithless, 2 Tim 2:13 tells us He remains faithful, for that is who He is.

Some might say, “But it’s up to you, to prove to God that you believe through good works and sacrifice, Bible reading, prayer, and such” No, God sent His son to save us. Believe it. Enter His rest. You don’t have to ‘prove’ anything to anyone.

Jesus does tell us to love one another, and we can love one another, for that is the nature of God within us. Yes, love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. 1 Jn 4:7.

As one who has been born of God, 1 Jn 5:4, you are an overcomer in THIS world; rejoice, knowing you are someone who has COME ALIVE!

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Classics – the SPIRIT #110

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Did you know John the Baptist is recorded in each Gospel as saying there was One coming after him who would baptize in the Holy Spirit? 4 times! 4 times! Must be important, don’t you think? Just listen….

In Acts 8:15-17, Peter and John were sent by the church leaders down to the new believers in Samaria, to pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. It says they laid their hands on them and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. A professional magician named Simon was so impressed that he offered them $$ to have the same authority; think about how impressive that must have been!

On Pentecost a few years earlier, only Jews and proselytes were baptized in the Holy Spirit. But now the Good News was being shared even with Samaritans.

So who were the Samaritans? Samaria was capitol of the Northern Kingdom, begun by Jeroboam following Solomon’s death. 1 Ki 11-12. It was capital of the 10 tribes. Jeroboam made 2 golden calves for the people to include in their worship. Ahab built a temple to Baal there. Genuine worship became a memory. In 721BC Sargon of the Assyrians conquered them and carried off 27,290 inhabitants, replacing them with conquered foreigners – who brought along their gods. So Samaria was a mixed race of people, mongrels, with a heathen core. You might say they were very low on the Jewish totem pole, try: at the bottom. Racist? Yes indeed.

But these ‘inferior people’ as far as the Judaean Jews were concerned, were hearing the Gospel and believing it! And truly amazing: the leadership in Jerusalem, upon hearing this, actually SENT Peter and John down to them to get the Holy Spirit baptism! It was so important that the Jewish church leaders sent apostles to them, overcoming all the centuries of antagonism, to be sure they were filled with the HS. Today I invite you to grasp this truth: God does not care about your breeding or background: He wants you born again, part of His family, and filled with power from on high. So why delay – be filled today – and COME ALIVE!

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Classics – John Speaks #109

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John 3:16 is truly awesome! The Gospel in a verse. But did you know the verses that sandwich it are also awesome? Yes! In John 3 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisee, Nicodemus. Jesus admonishes him – if you stumble over my words, Jesus tells him, when I’m speaking earthly things, what will you do when I share with you heavenly truths? Then Jesus unloads blockbuster spiritual truths on Nicodemus!

In verses :14 & :15, Jesus says that Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and in the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up. In Moses’ day, there was a time when serpents were biting and killing the grumbling, rebellious, hard-hearted Israelites. BUT – if a bitten Israelite would look to the serpent that Moses had placed upon a staff, he would not die, but be healed. Sin was the issue. Could the Israelite see his sin – in the form of that serpent – upon that pole? If he did, he got healed! Faith! And God’s mercies!

It’s the same with us today, my friend. If we can see Jesus bearing OUR sin upon Calvary’s cross, then we too will be healed from our sin and enter eternal life! This truth is stated in :15 and repeated in :16 – it is super important!

More of the sandwich – in :17 Jesus tells Nicodemus that God sent His son to SAVE us, not to judge us, and if we believe in Jesus we are not judged.

Ominously, Jesus then goes on to say he who does NOT believe in Him has been judged already. Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. God is not their judge, but they have judged themselves, choosing the darkness and evil over the Light of the world.

God does not send people to Hell; they judge themselves. And send themselves to the destination created for the devil and his angelic followers. O my friend! Help others to see Jesus bearing their sin to Calvary – that they may not die – but COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Stairway Rules #108

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Watch the video! See Hank speak about going up/down the tower. (He really did—I know—because I’m Hank.)

Hank had a blast being free to go up/down. Until he found all the rules about tower usage. Where was the fun then, eh?

Life’s like that: live by the rules and there isn’t much life to your life. On the other hand, walk/live by the Spirit of the Living God and there are oceans of life to enjoy. Personally! And don’t worry about getting into the flesh and making a scene. When you are walking in the Spirit there’s no room for the flesh to mess things up.

And remember, as you walk in the Spirit, you will COME ALIVE!

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Classics – ANALEPSIS #107

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Recently we focused on Romans 6, citing 10 verses that ALL pointed to our OLD nature being dead, and the NEW man, our new nature, being alive to God – Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, sin doesn’t like having you dead to it, and hammers so many of us, deceiving to get us believing that the old man is still alive! And Romans 7 seems to say it’s true. Is it?

In Ro 7:4-6 Paul declares we were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ. We have been joined to Jesus – not ‘going to be’ but JOINED in UNION when we believed.

The sinful passions in us were aroused by the Law, but WE HAVE DIED to the Law to serve in newness of the Spirit. The Law was good, because it revealed, in fact inflamed, the sin that was within us. The Law said ‘this is the way to life’ – but was a fault finder; we were never good enough. In fact, Paul declares that the Law was a real killer – because of the sin that was within us.

Beginning with verse 14, Paul employs an ANALEPSIS – today we would say FLASHBACK – to a time when he was trying to obey the Law. Many commentators and preachers forget all about Romans 6 when they read 7, the truth that in Christ Jesus we ARE dead to sin, dead to the Law, and alive to God. They forget Paul just said we are IN UNION with Jesus–that means as righteous as He is righteous, and they make incorrect statements, like the Old Man Sin Nature is still there in us, fighting for top dog status.

Not true! Paul is simply explaining what it was like for him as old Paul the sinner, not as New Creation Paul. He found that even when he knew what “good” was, and even when he tried to do it, that he kept failing. There is no hope in the Law, friends. Trying your best to do what is right and good is never good enough!

But if you turn to Christ: BOOM! Along comes Romans 8 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death”

You do NOT have old and new natures duking it out within you. You are not a wretched person but a righteous new creation. Now is the time to renew that old man mind of yours into new man righteous thinking — and COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Raining Grace #106

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A decade or so ago Todd Agnew had an awesome revelation of God’s amazing grace and wrote the song, “Grace Like Rain.”

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:
And I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see so clearly

And Hallelujah, grace like rain
Falls down on me
And Hallelujah and all my stains
Are washed away, they’re washed away

Do you see that holy rain? Well, read John’s first chapter: we find the Word became flesh, lived among us and we saw His glory, full of GRACE and TRUTH.

Of His fullness we have all received, and GRACE upon GRACE. You may wonder what God is like—well, look at JESUS! JESUS is God revealed! And He is GRACE upon GRACE!

GRACE: when the free favors of God profusely abound. In the Jubilee Year of the Old Covenant, every 50 years Israel got to cease from their labors and enter God’s rest. But we are living in the New Covenant, where God’s GRACE is falling like rain continuously! Not in times, seasons, or portions like before, but continuously! It is a NEW DAY in the NEW Covenant.

No condemnation—ever!
Sins washed away—eternally!
God’s GRACE falling like rain—continuously!

There is never a Dry Day in Jesus—
Believe this GRACE is for you, dear friend.
It is time for you to come out of the desert of your own efforts.
It is time for you to come out of the desert of judgement and condemnation.

Receive His GRACE—it’s as easy as stepping out into the rain, and COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Water #105

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Mary and I recently visited Medicine Park, OK. Population 400. Having a history dating back hundreds of years, the Plains Native Americans visiting to find refreshment in the waters of Medicine Creek which they believed had healing and life giving powers.

We’ve been sharing about the New Covenant and how much BETTER it is than the Old. Jesus shared with a Samaritan women at Jacob’s well. He offered her Living Water that would quench one’s thirst forever, and for those who partook it would become a well of water springing up to eternal life.

And on the great day (eighth day) of the Feast of Booths, while the priest was pouring out an empty pitcher on dry ground (for the previous 7 days he would have poured out a pitcher filled with water from the pool at Bethesda), Jesus was shouting nearby, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

God never intended for you to live life apart from Him. Since Pentecost (Acts 2) the Holy Spirit has been ‘poured forth’ to indwell and empower us to live life to the full, in joy, the joy of Jesus. Friend, don’t delay, receive the Holy Spirit today—and COME ALIVE!

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Classics – Stones #104

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Here is a stone: petros, or Peter to you and me. In Jn 1:42 when Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus, Jesus says to him, “…you shall be called Peter — a stone.” Then in Matt 16:18 we find Jesus saying to him, “…you ARE Peter…,” but remarkably Jesus never calls him by that name! Perhaps he had to grow into it.

Listen to Mt 16:13-18: Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Stones: Jesus calls Peter a small stone, Petros. Then He says upon this R O C K I will build my church — the word for rock is petra, a huge stone. At this time the Nabataeans were thriving in the city of Petra in Jordan, population over 20,000 people, carved from a single huge rock! What imagery for the church!
30 years later when Peter is writing his first letter, he refers to Jesus as a Living Stone, and those who believe as living stones being built up into a house for God. This moment was cast in stone for him!

Peter was given a revelation by the Father: he heard it. Then he spoke it. Could this be the spiritual rock Jesus was referring to: the Church triumphant, comprised of those who have received a revelation of Jesus Christ, who declare it and in so doing become part of the living stones of this Church that hell cannot overcome!

My wife states she grew up in a Christian home, did all the church and Sunday school stuff, was even a theology minor in college, but it was not until, as Paul says in 
Gal 1:16, that God was pleased to reveal the Son in her, that she truly saw Jesus for who He is. She spoke it out — and CAME ALIVE!

How about you, friend? May our God reveal Jesus to you today — make that confession: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, your Savior, and Come Alive!

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New & Living Way part b #103

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Last time at Hank’s Place we asked, “How do we get close to God?” We found out there are no do’s and don’ts, for God has made a New and Living Way through the BLOOD of JESUS. Heb 10:20.

Through the blood of Jesus we have been perfected, made complete, and can enter God’s most holy presence without being burdened about “getting it right!”

Human nature enjoys the outward trappings of religion. Consider Israel who did not submit themselves to the Righteousness of God.  Ro 10:3. They clung to the Law but Christ is the END of the LAW for righteousness to everyone who believes. Like you!

The presence of the Lord was in the Ark. Under the Law. After Joshua conquered Canaan, the Ark came to rest at Shiloh. Joshua 18:1. It remained there through the times of the Judges and days of Samuel the priest; then was captured by the Philistines; and returned 7 months later, passing through Beth-Shemesh to Kiriath-Jearim, where it stayed for 20 years. Interesting, the Elvis American Diner, with a 16 foot tall statue of Elvis outside, called ‘the king,’ now resides there. Does God have a sense of humor or what?!!

1 Sam 7:2 says the people lamented after God those 20 years. But not King Saul. You didn’t find him at worship in Kiriath-Jearim. He was happy with OUTWARD RELIGION, with appearance, empty ritual — not the real deal, the actual presence of God. He never went and got the ark. But it was David – a man after God’s own heart, who got the Ark shortly after becoming king.

David brought it to Jerusalem. He placed it under a tent, 2 Chron 1:4. Then Solomon placed it in his temple. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC and the ARK has been missing ever since.

But that didn’t stop Herod from building a huge temple in Jerusalem. No ARK? No problem! We got religion where just doing the ‘best we can’ in worship and serving God should be enough, right? NO! Not for us, dear friend!

See the precious blood of Jesus making the New and Living Way directly into God’s presence! Then enter His presence — worship like you were made to —and COME ALIVE!

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