The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #6

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. And it is all for the GOOD!

Today’s message is so freedom inspiring that I’m concerned your head may explode if you are locked into performance based religion. Ready for the challenge? OK, let’s think about the Gospels. Where is the Cross in the Gospels? Near the end of each one, right? Now THINK! That means all of what you read in the Gospels, until the very end, are events that happened UNDER THE LAW. Jesus was born, lived, and died under the LAW.

When Jesus spoke, it was to people who were under the LAW. Keep in mind that the Gospel is the Good News of the GRACE of God that would come to us AFTER Jesus did His marvelous work at Calvary. Let’s look at an example of this GRACE from Calvary.

In Mt 6:14-15 Jesus says, “…if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Read that and you see God’s forgiveness of you is conditional on your forgiveness of others. When Jesus spoke those words, BEFORE the Cross, it was totally TRUE.

But we are living AFTER the Cross, my dear friend! Let’s read Col 2:13, written AFTER the Cross. Paul writes, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” Friend, we were forgiven while we were lost and dead in our sins. And read Col 3:13, “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

So what do we believe? Do you have to forgive first in order to be forgiven, or are you already forgiven? Before the Cross, you must forgive FIRST. AFTER the Cross, you forgive – in overwhelming thankfulness at knowing you yourself have already been forgiven. Before the Cross, forgiveness was something God would DO—only IF YOU did your part first. After the Cross, forgiveness is something God GIVES. It’s a gift by God’s grace—something you receive. The Gospel is the Good News, declaring what GOD has done for us, not what we must do to satisfy God!

My dear believing friend: you ARE already forgiven – give a shout out to Jesus! Get rid of any condemnation you may be under — RECEIVE that gift of forgiveness. Then, in gratitude and joy, forgive others—and COME ALIVE! 

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #5

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. The Cross tells us He loves us more than His own life! It tells us that if God is for us, nothing can stand against us, not even our own sin!

The blood of the Lamb of God has purchased our forgiveness. Sin no longer has a claim on us, hallelujah! Because it is Almighty Father who has qualified us, our sins cannot disqualify us. The only way we can lose out is if we fail to believe the Good News!

Before the Cross we were slaves to sin, with no escape. Try to do good, or purpose to do bad – it made no difference: we remained slaves to sin. But AFTER the Cross we have a choice: stay in the prison or run free. The prison doors are open! Live according to the old Law of sin and death, or live according the Law of the Spirit of LIFE in Christ Jesus! Either way, you are free to choose thanks be to JESUS.

Here’s a hint: if your spiritual life seems based on conditions, if you find yourself saying, “I’ll be blessed IF I do such and such,” or, “I’ll miss a blessing if I miss my morning prayer time” – well, that tells me you have yet to make the right choice, to LIVE FREE in Jesus! Maybe you are just waffling. Well, STOP IT.

God qualifies us and clothes us with His robes of righteousness. It’s all through Jesus Christ. But if you ignore what Jesus has done, you wind up remaining under the Law.

Look—God did not redeem you because He was looking for a servant. He redeemed you so He could show you His matchless grace. Also, consider this: God gave up His son for us. So how are you going to pay Him back? We can’t! Instead of thinking that way, let your life be a shining testimony of the generosity of your gracious Father.

Some people say, God will bless you as you do your part. Friend, your part is to BELIEVE God has done it ALL, and has chosen to bless us abundantly as we simply believe and enter His rest. It’s past time for you to be a son in His wonderful family. So join the FAMILY; get those happy feet a dancing, and Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #4

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. The Old Testament is there to create a hunger for a Savior! Now, live in His saving grace my friend, and not the letter of the Law! Enter His refreshing rest!

We faced condemnation and judgment before the Cross; now, we have NO condemnation, but justification. Instead of unworthiness we have righteousness. Instead of a distant and unapproachable God we have a freely accessible throne of Grace – to receive mercy and grace in time of need!

Although we may have it, we will not experience it if our mind is stuck in performance based religious thinking. That’s what life was like BEFORE the Cross!

Consider: the Old Covenant demanded righteousness based upon our performance: it demanded righteousness from sinful men. Deut 6:25 reads, “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” But AFTER the Cross we find Ro 1:17 “For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (that’s God’s faith and YOURS); as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Or how about Ro 5:17, speaking of “those who receive the abundance of grace and of the GIFT of righteousness, (they) will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

Consider this: before the Cross, God’s presence came and went, causing people to hunger for His Spirit. Ps 51:11 reads, “Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Friend, DO NOT pray that way! Why? Because after the Cross God makes His home with us and promises to never leave us. Jn 14:23 says that Jesus and the Father will come to us and make their abode with us. Heb 13:5 reminds us that the Lord has declared, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Despite these amazing TRUTHS dear Christian friend, you might find yourself getting confused when you read the Gospels! Why? Because Jesus spoke THE LAW to self-righteous pharisees and lawyers. And Jesus spoke mercy and grace to those who humbly came to Him. YOU are not a pharisee, are you? No! Of course not! So pay attention to who is speaking to who. People under law or under grace? This is very important!

Get your pattern for living THIS side of the Cross, and COME ALIVE! 

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #3

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. Read the Bible that comes before the Cross and chances are you will be reading about a covenant that never applied to you. It’s there to create a hunger for the God of mercy and grace, and teach us we cannot obey God even if we think we can.

Before the Cross it was important to keep a record of sins. Just read Lev 4 & 5 for sins and sacrifices for sins. Talk about discouragement! But AFTER the Cross what can be more plain than Heb 8:12, where God says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more?”

Before the Cross God gave us the 10 Commandments that begin with, “Thou shalt….” Just read Ex 20. But AFTER the Cross God says, “I will.” In Heb 8:8-12, God speaks His of being merciful to us, His forgetting our sins, He writing His laws in our minds and hearts and He giving us a knowledge of Himself. In the New, it’s all about Him and what He’s done for us, my friends!

In the Old Covenant, God’s favor hinged on your faithfulness. But in the New, His favor comes to us on account of Christ’s faithfulness. We could be faithful one moment and deny Him the next. Just ask that Apostle Peter! Walking with Jesus day in day out for over 3 years. Seeing countless miracles, signs, wonders. Hearing the voice from heaven declare Jesus is the Son of God. Staunchly declaring he would never deny Him – yet he does exactly that a few hours later. So much better to rely on Jesus Christ’s faithfulness, for He is eternally faithful!

When reading the Bible, learn to distinguish between the old law covenant, which condemns sinners, and the new covenant of grace, which makes sinners righteous. In the Old, Christ was a shadow, in the New He is our reality!

The word GRACE can be terrifying to those schooled in performance based religion. But RELAX— for another word for grace is J E S U S. Walk today my friend in the New Covenant in His blood, the covenant of Grace, and you will Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #2

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We are pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. Read the bits of the Bible that come before the Cross and chances are you will be reading about a covenant that never applied to you—and no longer applies to the Israelites.

Why is this obsolete material in the Bible? Because it helps us appreciate who Jesus is and what He has done. The Law is the shadow, but Jesus is the REALITY. The Law is a warm-up act to get you ready for Jesus—but Jesus ALONE is the star of the show. The Law is the prosecuting attorney who condemns you as guilty, but Jesus is the great advocate who sets you free.

And, as Paul writes in 1 Cor 10:11, the trials of the Israelites were written for our instruction. One judgment after another for disobeying the Law. We read, and we understand: no one can obey God’s Laws. The flesh wins out; we DESPERATELY need a Savior! And our Savior JESUS has come!

Here are two more examples of how the Cross has changed everything.

Before the cross Adam’s sin meant condemnation for everyone. Ro 5:18 says “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men….” But on the cross our sins were carried away, and there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus—that’s Ro 8:1.

Before the Cross God was distant and unapproachable. It reads in Ex 19:12, “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.’”

But at the Cross, according to Mt 27:51 “…the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” This was Almighty God bursting out of the Holy of Holies to dwell within His people, within you and me, my friend!

Yes, for Eph 2:13 states, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” And not only that, but we who have been brought near can now boldly approach the throne of GRACE. That’s Heb 4:16. That’s right, the throne of JUDGMENT has become a throne of GRACE—eternally!

My dear friend, please please please—think about this message. It’s true! Now, get rid of your condemning, works-based, flesh reliant, religious thinking—and Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING #1

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At the Cross, Jesus took our sins – all of them, past present and future. And hung on that Cross while the incredible wrath of God was poured out in punishment for those sins: yours, mine, everyones. Jesus took it all, out of love for us, to the point of death. Don’t you think for a moment that God does not love you!

He gave us His righteousness in exchange; a free gift—but friend, it is a gift that can only be received by faith. And, He caused us to become heirs of God, sons of God with a full inheritance. It is beyond comprehension. We don’t know the half of it!

Now, here is the issue: so many folk, including many pastors, seminary professors, televangelists and such, miss the Cross. They pay lip service, yes, but not grasping that everything has changed. So, they bring the old covenant stuff, which was not written to you, right on over into your life: law and grace getting mixed together—that is a toxic mixture my friend — for it keeps you from moving forward in who you are in Christ Jesus and keeps you from being a powerful, world-changing Christian!

Let’s take an example today of the big difference the Cross makes for us. I pray you can see the mega change. Before the Cross we were blessed if we obeyed and cursed if we didn’t. But after the Cross we are blessed because Christ obeyed, and through him we are redeemed from the curse of the law.

Not sure? Listen to Deut 11:26-28 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.”

Now listen to Post-Calvary: Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Where is the ‘to do’ list? Where are the threats? They are not there, my friend.

How about: Gal 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree””

Give Jesus praise today: believe in Him and you are blessed. Don’t belittle or overlook Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary by entertaining error filled theology that says you have things you must do in order to receive blessing from God. Yes, there are plenty of good things you can do as a Christian – but nothing you can do can ‘earn’ you favor with God.

So, give it up, rejoice in Jesus, and Come Alive!

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Storms Do Come….

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Have you had days where you wondered where Jesus was? Well, so did the disciples! Let’s learn from two Storms of Life stories.

The first is Mk 4:36-41. After a busy day of ministry, as evening was approaching, Jesus gets into a boat with His disciples and instructs them to cross over ‘to the other side.’ Soon after they set sail, Jesus goes to sleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. An epic storm descends on the lake. It’s night, the huge waves are washing over the boat and even the seasoned fishermen among them are terrified.

Ever been terrified by a sudden storm of life descending upon you? And where is Jesus – well He’s there, but asleep? Doesn’t He care? That’s what they ask Him. Jesus stills the storm: “Hush, be still.” And asks them why were they afraid; why did they still have no faith?

Friend, if you are in Christ today, Jesus IS with you. It may be a sudden storm of life—but know this: Jesus IS with you, even if He appears to be sleeping. Take courage! Fear NOT! Fear not, but speak to that storm now, just like Jesus did, using His name, and tell it to hush up. As a Christian, a little anointed one, you have the authority in His name. Use it!

In Mt 14:22-33, after another full day of ministry (feeding 15-20,000 men, women, children), the disciples are following Jesus’ instructions to cross over to the ‘other side.’ Only this time Jesus has tarried to dismiss the people and take some time to pray alone on a mountain.

No fierce storm this time, but the winds are contrary and they have been straining at the oars for hours, maybe 6 or 8 hours. Jesus sees them, and comes to them, walking on the water. If His disciples are in trouble, Jesus wants to be with them. He comes to them. Friend, be encouraged! If you are in any sort of trouble at all, even just exhaustion over life’s issue: Jesus is on His way to you – and as in this instance, He is passing by! Do you get it?

You may not yet understand the truth that Christ is in you and you are in Him—keep growing! Learn from this pre-Calvary story: Jesus draws near to you in times of difficulty. So, what do you do about it? REACH OUT to Jesus, Call to Him. Ask for help in time of need. You’ll get it–and from that experience with the Living God quelling the storms in your life, you will Come Alive!

 

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Identity Crisis

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In Mt 16 Jesus asked His disciples who the people said the Son of Man was. He delighted in calling Himself the Son of Man. Well, the people did not have a clue; one of the prophets maybe. Then Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was – Simon responded with a revelation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But did they get it?

At the start of His ministry, Jesus was water baptized by John, and in Mt 3:17 a voice from heaven declares, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Did they get it? Some thought it thundered.

Soon after, Philip brings Nathanael to Jesus, and in Jn 1:49 Nate declares “You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel!” Did they get it?

Knowing Jesus true identity is not easy! In Mk 4 after Jesus calms an intense storm on the Lake, with a word, the disciples wonder, who is this man who speaks to the wind and waves and they obey Him? They don’t get it.

A bit later, in Mt 14, they are rowing across the lake at night and Jesus comes walking on the water to them – after He saves Peter from an early death by drowning, the disciples are beginning to get the picture, for they say, “you are certainly God’s Son!”

In Mt 17 a voice from heaven declares to Peter, James, and John, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him!” In spite of the declarations, the miracles, the fulfilled prophecies—people, even the disciples, were having trouble seeing Jesus as the Savior, Son of God.

True, Jesus could say troubling things, as in John 6 about having to eat his body and drink his blood. Or how about at the Last Supper, when He, their teacher and Lord, put on a servant’s garment and washed their feet. The coming King of Israel, the Messiah could not, would not, do that, would He?

You see, when our minds, just like theirs, are set on man’s interests and purposes, when we are looking at things from a human perspective, it is hard to see the real Jesus. You know, if Jesus is really God and loves everyone, why is there famine, and injustice and suffering and dictators?

Friend, don’t let that be you! We don’t understand very much – just ask Job – but God’s not asking us to: He wants us to believe on His son, who died for our sins so we could become sons of God ourselves through the Resurrection.

Don’t hold back, don’t let human reasoning keep you from the prize. Don’t sit on the fence: jump into Jesus, Come Alive!

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Cross: Everything Changed

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Here at Hank’s Place we never get tired of reminding you that the Cross – what Jesus did there – changes everything! Back in the beginning, before the Cross, Adam and Eve did not believe God and a heap of trouble came to this world. Centuries later, Abraham did believe God, and in so doing was counted righteous before God. What his deeds were did not matter, for it was – and still is – is what we believe that is of foremost importance to God. Sarah believed God and received a child in her old age. Isaac believed God – he sowed in a time of famine and reaped a 100 fold return. Jacob, well, sometimes he believed and was called Israel, while other times he staggered in unbelief and was called Jacob. His unbelief resulted in ‘issues’ in this life for him.

He’s like a lot of us, my friend: don’t ridicule him but learn from his life. Later, the children of Israel wanted God to tell them what to do – and on Mt Sinai, God  did just that, giving them a covenant of works: doing good meant blessings for them; doing wrong meant troubles.

A look at history, a look at our own lives – will show us we can’t get it right on our own, our performance is never adequate – we desperately need a savior! That Savior, Jesus is here! He’s the end of law for righteousness. The Law led us to Jesus; and now it is back to our believing, not our doing, that matters to God.

So does that mean good works don’t matter? Does it mean we can sin as we wish because grace is abounding everywhere? You may be thinking that if sin has been dealt with on the Cross, then you can sin all you want and get away with it! Don’t be silly, my dear friend!

True, we no longer have to do good to get blessings; we already have them all in Christ Jesus. Eph 1:3. We do good because that’s our new nature!

Is sinning attractive to you? If so, I would say to you that:
– You do not know God very well.
– You do not know the love of God very well.
– You do not understand forgiveness very well, and
– You have no true idea of who you really are
in Jesus as a Righteous New Creation.

You could choose to sin, but why would you?

Sin does not become you, my friend; acting righteously DOES.

Embrace the truth today of who you are because of Calvary, and Come Alive!

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Playground Performance—or His Goodness?

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As human beings, you and I, we have an innate desire to impress God with our own goodness. If you are familiar with young children, you’ll see them do some little thing and say, “Look daddy! Look mommy! Look at what I did!” Well, this innate desire is in conflict with God’s own desire, which is to impress us with HIS GOODNESS!

God is GOOD. It is His nature. Remember Jeremiah 32:40, where the prophet foretold of a new covenant, in which God would do us GOOD. Not on a basis of reward for our performance, but because of His nature, because of who HE IS.

Not sure? Consider Ro 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness/goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

Perhaps you have been told that you must repent and get your life together before God will help you. Get right with God first and then He will bless you. NO NO NO that is not what God is like. That is RELIGION and that is NOT what the Bible says!

As we just heard, God is GOOD and does everyone good. It is His nature, AND, that goodness leads us to repentance. See? FIRST we experience His goodness, and from that we repent from our ways and turn toward Him!

Read John 3:14-17. Jesus said He had to be crucified so whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. The Father gave His son to be crucified so whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His son into the world to SAVE the world, not to judge it!

Read the Bible and see for yourself! Then, believe it! Stop striving to please God. Receive His goodness today, and Come Alive! 

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Stones – little and very very big!

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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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Identity

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Here at Hank’s Place the focus is on JESUS – and what happened, what JESUS did at Calvary. Mankind’s sins were placed upon Jesus, the punishment for those sins given to Jesus – and righteousness imparted to us; that is, to anyone–everyone who believes upon Jesus! He even made us what Paul calls New Creations in His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:17.

There has been a superseding of the covenant God put into effect at Mt Sinai, with a better covenant, one of grace, in Jesus’ blood; a covenant in which God has sworn to do us GOOD – again, to anyone, everyone, who believes in Jesus, God’s son, our Savior.

This is an amazing truth. Friend, we need to go beyond mere mental assent of this truth, to go beyond mere marveling, and BELIEVE it, and step into this new identity we have been given! Do you believe the words of 2 Cor 5:17, that you are a righteous new creation? Is that the identity you identify with?

This is so important! Consider: in Matt 16, after some 2 years of being together, Jesus asks his disciples who do the people say he is; then, he asks who do they, the disciples, say he is. They respond with what the people are saying, but have no answer themselves until Simon Peter gets a divine revelation: “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God” he says!

There is much more to this, but today let me ask you a 3 part question about your identity: 1) who do people say YOU are? 2) who does God say YOU are? And 3) who do YOU say you are? For what you believe will mean the difference between life as God has intended for you, or what the devil has desired for you – or somewhere in between! I urge you, don’t settle for less than God’s truth about you!

Know this, dear believer: you ARE righteous. You have been made an HEIR of God and are FAVORED of God, because of Calvary. Toss out any doubt about it! People, parents, loved ones, teachers, co-workers may say another thing; but I say: BELIEVE God’s word concerning you; reject the lies, and you – will Come Alive! 

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EVERY Blessing…is Yours!

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Previously, I was sharing with you the nearly unimaginable truth of the Gospel, the mystery hidden for long ages, but now revealed: Christ IN you. The Anointed One living in anyone who believes in Him – outsider, insider, with or without pedigree, Jew, Gentile – whatever, for God loved us and gave up His life for all of us while we were yet sinners.

The great I AM is within us. We were never meant to go through life doing the best we can and hoping for mercy on Judgement Day. No way! Life’s journey is taken with Jesus IN us. The Emmanuel (God with us) of Old Testament prophecy has become God IN us — that’s far better! We have been given a new life and this new life is in Him and Him in us. This new life is NOT obtained thru hard work and disciple. This new life is RECEIVED by trusting in a good Father who delights to share His life with His children. That’s the Gospel truth!

Consider: Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

This is amazing; Paul reveals the Father HAS blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ. He mentions the heavenly places because God’s will is always done there – here on earth there are doubters and devils, and both interfere with His will being done — but that discussion is for another day. Friend, God is on your side; He is not holding back on you. Not sure?

Consider:
Jn 14:14 ‘“If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”
Jn 16:23 “If you ask the Father for anything in my name, He will give it to you.”
Ro 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us ALL things!”
So much for prayers ending in “…if it be thy will” and the demonically inspired twist on Phil 4:19, “He’s only promised to meet our needs and not our wants.” Follow these lines of thinking and you’ll be sinking into double-mindedness: don’t go there!

When it comes to you, dear friend, God desires intimacy. He yearns to share LIFE together with you, in loving intimacy, sharing your thoughts and emotions, the things that are on your heart.

God has already blessed you by sending His son to live in you and because of that, all spiritual blessings are yours. You are NOT a creature of LACK! It is time to move out of the doubting shadowlands, friend. Get to know Him intimately, and you’ll Come Alive!

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Christ IN me? Wassatmean?

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Most Christians have zero understanding of “Christ in me.” Let me help you a wee bit with that today, all right?!

When an outsider looks at the Cross, he may be puzzled—what sort of God are they telling me about? One who demands blood sacrifices? Yuucch! One who even demanded the death of His Son? Count me out! What they fail to see, but you can help them to see: is that the Cross is the focal point, the ground zero, of the greatest rescue mission in all time. By the greatest super-heros ever: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Don’t sell the Cross short, friend, and what was accomplished there!

Col 1:13 says the Father rescued us from the the domain of darkness and transferred us, in an instant, into the kingdom of His beloved Son. And the previous verse says the Father has qualified us – I’ll say it again, the Father has qualified us, to share in His inheritance. In Col 1:20 Paul states that Jesus has reconciled us through the blood of the Cross. Jesus also QUALIFIED us to receive God’s infinite inheritance by making us holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. At the Cross! What a team of super-heros!

Then Paul speaks of the mystery of God, also called the mystery of the Gospel, which is Christ Himself. Col 1:26-27 tell us it has been hidden for long ages, but is now revealed. Christ has at long last been revealed — the very riches of God’s glory shining. And shining where? IN the Gentiles who believed! The Gentiles, without any genuine religious history, traditions, practices, no priesthood, no commandments. Those ignorant gentiles! Christ was shining in THEM!! Christ IN you, my friend. Christ in me! IN! Not over there, over here, not in Jerusalem, but IN EVERYONE who believes, period.

When you believe on the Lord Jesus — He comes to live IN you. All the riches of glory, in the form of none other than Jesus Himself, has come to live IN you.

When Moses asked who was speaking to him through the burning bush of Exodus, the reply was, “I am.” This same “I AM” is IN us today, dear Christian.

Are you sick? Listen to Jesus in you say, “I AM your healer.” Oppressed? Hear Jesus in you saying, “I AM your deliverer!” Depressed? Jesus is saying “I AM your joy.” Agitated? “I AM your peace.” I AM your provider. I AM your salvation. I AM your blesser. IAM your future. I AM the answer to your every need, and I live IN you.

Get ahold of this today my friend, and Come Alive!

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Righteousness => It’s Yours!

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2 Cor 5:21 is one of my favorite verses – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The Father placed our sins upon His innocent son Jesus, who, out of love, took not only them but the punishment sin deserved – and gave us in exchange a gift: His own righteousness. Ro 5:17 declares it is a gift, it is nothing we can earn.

And what is righteousness? It is defined as being made acceptable to God and placed in right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness. We are treated as righteous by God on account of what Jesus has done. You have become God’s child, totally approved by Him in every way – as a gift. I tell you, the Good News is awesomely GOOD!

For years after becoming a Christian I tried to find my approval before God through what I did, and my efforts were driving the very life out of me. I could not see the truth of 2 Cor 5:21 or Ro 5:17, and why not? I’ll tell you plainly: from childhood I had a demon of unworthiness in me – it would continually tell me I was not good enough, what I did was not good enough, and when I became a Christian, it would tell me again and again that God was not pleased with me.

I am sure most all of you have that same or a similar demon in you, even though you are a Christian. And that’s GOOD NEWS! What? True! Because you can cast out a demon and be done with it, without counseling, without drugs, therapy, or 12 steps.

After years of suffering, I began learning about righteousness! Then, in the early morning hours one day, I had a migraine headache and asked Mary to pray for me. She was mostly asleep and mumbled, “I command that demon of unworthiness to come out of Hank.” She didn’t know the name of it; the Holy Spirit revealed it to her.

And by the power of the Holy Spirit that thing was tossed out of me – in a moment, and I was FREE! Having total self-confidence. Total lack of fear. Knowing I was one of God’s sons and He was pleased with me. My life changed from that moment on — I had Come Alive as never before!

If what I’ve said is resonating within you, my dear friend, rebuke those demons. Cast them OUT. If you don’t know how, get in touch with us. We can help you get free of those hindering spirits so you can receive the truth and Come Alive yourself!

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NEW = New, Not Old + New

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NEW, the dictionary says, means not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.

2 Cor 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” So, per the definition, he is something that has not existed before. AND, the old things passed away. BEHOLD [take a look]! NEW things have come.

Yet awhile back I heard a preacher give a lengthy sermon, in a church filled with believers, and the entire message was directed to the OLD MAN. He spoke about us being fallen creatures, awash in our own failures. Unable to stop sinning. He sounded humble when referring to his personal failures.  I considered throwing up. I went to him afterward and indicated I believed the Bible when it said I WAS a sinner, but now I am a new creation, old things have – that’s as far I got before he cut me off, stating emphatically he also believed he and we were new creations.

I was totally speechless. A preacher man. Preaching to the old man. Trying to comfort the old man in his weakness and failures and sin. But this same preacher man was saying he believed  he was a new creation. Mixed covenant preaching!

Dear saint, no wonder so many in that congregation were sick, were suffering mental and emotional issues; and why a number had died. Like I said last message, DO THE MATH of Romans 5, 6, and 7. Do the math of Col and Eph. RECKON the old man dead. Put him in the dead column of your accounting books. RECKON the new man alive to God. Put yourself in the ALIVE column.

Thanks be to Jesus and His Great Salvation! When we believed in Jesus, calling out to Him to rescue us, He did just that, and placed us into Himself. We ARE New Creations: sons of GOD! Period. Not sons of GOD and sons of the devil!

My friend, don’t get confused like this preacher I’d heard. You are not both creatures. That morally weak and sinful old creation is dead. Don’t receive sermons directed to that dead man; don’t receive thoughts that imply he is still alive. Don’t you see? When Jesus saved you, all things became new — and you – had: Come Alive!

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Time for Dead Reckoning

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Question: how’s your Gospel? Solid? Or have you been sold a bill of goods? If there’s no joy in your Jesus, no life in your living, prayer life on life support and your outlook gloomy—then you need to check out the TRUE Gospel. Because it’s GOOD NEWS.

Let’s review: Ro 5 tells us sin came into the world through 1 man, infected the entire world. There were no survivors.… But then God’s man  dealt with sin and Righteousness was offered to all. As a GIFT says Ro 5:17. No joy, friend? Then TAKE the gift! If you WORK for it —and mixing covenants will get you doing that — you’ll not have it and your Christian life will be work – hard – unsatisfying work!

Ro 6 has lots more good news. It declares your OLD nature IS dead. You are a NEW man, with a new nature, alive to God. Ro 7 declares you ARE dead to the Law; it no longer has a hold on you, is no longer a requirement; you are FREE to walk after the Spirit. And the Spirit’s law says, “LIFE! In Christ Jesus.”

In the previous message, I told you Paul confused lots of commentators and preachers alike in Ro 7:14, for he employed an ANALEPSIS – a FLASHBACK – to describe the frustration of his pre-Christian life. Many people, who love God, got mixed up and thought we have two natures at war within us NOW, but as a Christian we have a single RIGHTEOUS nature.

Listen! These mixed up, mixed covenant preachers will tell you to be vigilant, to put down that man of flesh, to deny your flesh, carry your cross and such — but I say, read the Bible with a little understanding of Jesus’ salvation. Read, and you would find those verses in Romans and Ephesians and Colossians were Paul tells us to RECKON the old man dead — this is an accounting term, to COUNT — COUNT the old man DEAD, and you alive to the Spirit.

Blind Bartimaeus in Mk 10 is an excellent example! When he heard that Jesus was calling for him, the Bible says he tossed off his outer garment — that’s the garment that identified him as a blind beggar. Can you see this? Bartimaeus could! From that moment he RECKONED  — COUNTED — himself DEAD to blindness and alive to GOD. He RECKONED he was NOT a blind beggar anymore. He was someone whom GOD WAS CALLING! He did the reckoning—and received his sight.

My friend, it’s past YOUR time, for a DEAD Reckoning! You do NOT have old and new natures at war within you. Do the MATH! COUNT the old man DEAD and COUNT the new man ALIVE TO GOD — and Come Alive!

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Two Natures? Are you sure?

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Last visit 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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Wanted: Dead AND Alive

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It’s written: Jesus Christ died for the ungodly – Ro 5:6
While we were sinners He died for us – Ro 5:8
And, we died there, too.

2 Timothy 2:11 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him.” This is a foundation stone for our new life in Jesus. See your OLD NATURE crucified on that cross with Jesus! DEAD.

That old man in you HAS died. Your ‘ugly past’ ended at Calvary. The person you are now began at Calvary. Do not let the ghost of who you used to be come into your present life. If the devil throws your past in your face, remind him that is someone else’s past, not yours.

If you don’t understand this, you will keep trying to die, practice dying to self, dying daily, crucifying the flesh and so on. That is NOT the GOSPEL! That is man-made religion. AND IT DOES NOT WORK! You will be more SIN CONSCIOUS than ever!

In support of what I’ve just said, consider these quick quotes from Romans 6
6:2 – we have died to sin
6:3 – we have been baptized into His death
6:5 – we are united with Him in the likeness of His death
6:6 – our old self was crucified with Him
6
:8 – we have died with Christ
6:10&11 – He died to sin, once for all, so consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God

Face the facts, friend: if you are a Christian, you ARE dead in Christ for you have been crucified with Him. Dead in Christ means dead to sin and this world’s desires. It’s the Gospel truth. It’s THE GOSPEL.

So stop trying to die to self, my friend, but realize you are DEAD in Christ to sin and ALIVE in Christ to God. 

That’s right! Reckon yourself DEAD, and you will have Come Alive!

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Better: Sons by Faith, not by Works!

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We’ve been stating that mixing covenants, Old and New, is commonplace — and will rob you of the blessings of God. Not being blessed? Might be what you are believing! And we might add another mixed metaphor or two, for we’ll be dealing with the rubber meeting the road, and instead of biting the bullet on these issues, we’ll just want to punt.  LOL

Gen 15:6 states that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as Righteousness. Righteousness—God’s stamp of approval, not for what he had done, but for what He BELIEVED. And what was that? That God promised him countless children and that God would deliver on that promise, regardless of Abraham’s circumstances or performance.

And God DID deliver! Children, by promise, not performance.

For us, on this side of Calvary, the promise is fulfilled. How? Well, WE are the children of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise. We receive the promise by faith in Jesus Christ. Not only are we heirs according to the promise, but we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

All this can sound confusing, so we’ll move ahead by ironing out the remaining bottlenecks. LOL

When we called upon the Lord, He stretched out His hand and rescued us (thank you Calvary!). He took our sins away. He paid our sin debt, taking the punishment we deserved. He took our sin nature away and gave us His own. Righteousness, right-standing with God, is ours by grace.

Not stopping there, He blessed us with all spiritual blessings by adopting us as sons – sons of Abraham, states Galatians, for we believe as Abraham did, but we are also God’s sons, genuine heirs of GOD HIMSELF! And He has given us the Holy Spirit. Sealing us in the Holy Spirit. He has made us partakers of the divine nature – 2 Pe 1:4.

So, stop looking to your performance, mixing covenants, but CHOOSE to walk in the Spirit today with your eyes on Jesus — and Come Alive!

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Better: Mixed = Lukewarm – get outta there!

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I’ve been speaking about mixing metaphors and mixing covenants. Mixing metaphors can be humorous, but mixing covenants will rob you of the blessings Jesus died to give you, blessings that are YOURS BY INHERITANCE. You can not work for an inheritance, you simply receive it.

Scripture says we are heirs of God. Receive your gift! Where does Jesus warn us about mixing covenants? Consider the warning to the church of Laodicea in Rev 3. They felt they were in good shape, but Jesus stated He would spit them out of His mouth for they were lukewarm. COLD was good: truly follow the Law and you will be led to Christ. It is our tutor. HOT is good: finding salvation in Jesus. Mixed together: LUKEWARM—satisfied with doing the best you can with self-effort to fulfill the commandments. I call it “Checkbox Religion” Morning prayers? Check. Bible reading? Check. Praise song? Check. Church Sunday and Wed? Check? Catch the unholy drift, my friend? It’s not rocket surgery!

Since a rolling stone is worth two in the bush, listen to this Ro 8:2 – says the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. The 10 Commandments are a prime example, a ministry of DEATH according to 2 Cor 3:7, because they told you WHAT to do, but gave you no power by which to do them, and our strength is simply not up to it.

How much better to walk by faith, as a child of God, an heir by grace. Why trade that wonderful relationship as a son or daughter of God, an heir, for a set of do’s and don’ts as a mere servant of the fear inducing hidden God of Mt Sinai? You don’t want to go back there!

Don’t come one brick short of the whole nine yards—consider what I’ve said, and Come Alive!

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Better: Mixed Covenants – worse than mixed metaphors!

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Previously I shared about the danger of mixing metaphors and mixing covenants. While mixing metaphors can be humorous, mixing covenants is serious!

Let’s get all our ducks together on the same page about this!

The WORLD works the same way the Old Covenant worked: top performance gets the biggest rewards. Do poorly and be a loser. Consider the Olympics or professional sports – or high school football! There are some winners, a few also rans, and lots and lots of — losers. You have no doubt heard there is a price to pay for success. Sacrifice of training, diet, cost, 110% effort at all times.

Now, and the fan is gonna hit the roof on this one, isn’t this is how most churches work? Think about it. Inside, you will find sincere, God loving, super-hard working pastors and leaders – proclaiming a MIXTURE of the Old and New although they do not realize it. James tells us the double-minded man does not receive from God. No wonder they have to work so hard – no wonder they burn out so often! No one wants to be a loser.

How about you? Are you constantly struggling to present good works to Jesus? Hoping for some blessings? Afraid you are not good enough? Trying harder but not making progress? Oh, and if you want to be successful in ministry you must pay the price, make the sacrifices, take the journey. Right?

YOU pay the price? Get that mixed covenant thinking out of your head!

There IS a price, yes, and JESUS paid it. We couldn’t pay it. JESUS paid it ALL, then sat down at the right hand of the Father. His work was done. It allows us who believe in Him to SIT DOWN also with Him – see Eph 2. Our work is done. Our success does not depend on our sacrifices. Stop being double minded – receive your inheritance: by faith.

The work has been done, the price has been paid and JESUS did it all. And gave it all to us. Friends, it takes FAITH to stop performing – just receive what Jesus has purchased for us. If you have been working for your inheritance, STOP IT before I call you an oxymoron—and Come Alive!

It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake!

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Better: Don’t Mix Metaphors or Covenants!

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Mixing metaphors — the results can be confusing.
“Stick these examples in your pipe and chew them over:”
“Wake up and smell the coffee on the wall.”
“Let’s burn that bridge when we come to it.”

Sure, the result can be funny but there is uncertainty and confusion about what’s really being said.

Now mix the Old and New Covenants: two good things, but when mixed they result in uncertainty doubt confusion: unbelief. We don’t know what’s true!

The OLD has the Law – which is not of faith (Gal 3:11-12). Because it relies on our abilities, it shows a person to see their need for a Savior and there is only one: JESUS.

Jesus is the end of the Law for Righteousness (Ro 10:4). The NEW covenant, in His blood, declares JESUS has done it all. We exercise our faith and call upon the Lord and receive the gift of salvation.

Mixed together you lose the power of either. Worse, you become that double minded man in James: expect to receive nothing from God. It’s that serious folks!

Are you a MIXER? You are if you think the blessings of God are conditional.

Examples: The Lord is my Helper – IF I’ve done the right things. The Lord is my Healer – IF I am prayed up. The Lord is my Deliverer – IF I have done my bible reading. The Lord will bless me – IF I’ve tithed.

Nonsense! Everything under the OLD WAS conditional

Everything under the NEW is our INHERITANCE, by FAITH.

Through Jesus Christ we are an heir of God. We HAVE been given an inheritance – by faith —  so receive it, stop trying to work for it!

In closing, don’t labor under mixed covenant thinking or you’ll be burning the midnight oil at both ends — but by faith rest in the NEW — and Come Alive!

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Better: Grace Like Rain

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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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Better: In Covenant to do us GOOD

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Where the Gospel is simple. If it’s not simple, it is probably NOT the Gospel!

We’ve been rejoicing over the New Covenant, SO much better than the Old! What God requires, He provides through His riches in GRACE in Christ Jesus.

I’ve already spoken to you from Jeremiah 31:31-35, where God told Jeremiah that He would make a New covenant with His people – to write His laws upon our minds so we would KNOW exactly what He desired of us, and write His laws upon our hearts, so we would DESIRE to DO what He desired of us! Awesome!

And it went on to say He would forgive our iniquities and our sin He would remember NO MORE! Friend, God is not going to bring up your sins when you meet Him face to face on that day—He does not remember them—so stop your fretting about past sins, stop your navel gazing, and look up to Jesus!

Right now, let’s look at Jeremiah 32:38-41. Also Awesome! There God states, referring to the New Covenant, that we shall be His people, and He will be our God. We will be given a heart to fear Him always, and He will make an everlasting covenant with us, NEVER to turn away from us, but ALWAYS to do us good. And He will rejoice over us to do us GOOD, doing us GOOD with ALL His heart and soul. 

That’s today’s takeaway, dear believing friend: He is our God. We are His! His covenant with us is EVERLASTING. If we fail, if we sin, He DOES NOT TURN AWAY from us; but ALWAYS DOES US GOOD. And He rejoices while He does it!

It may sound too good to be true, but it’s the Good News. If you don’t believe it, change your un-believing into believing today—and Come Alive!

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