Articles

Acknowledge the Finished Work in You

Have you ever seen one of those Television programs where a person who is generally thought to be unattractive is given a complete make-over? Before-hand, the person sees themselves as ugly, the person sees themselves as unappealing, they can’t even smile when thinking of themselves… then they have their make-over… afterwards their attitude complete changes, now they are grinning ear-to-ear, they see themselves as beautiful, they have self-esteem, their entire world has changed. It would be very strange for such a person after having received such a make-over to still regard themselves as ugly and unattractive, wouldn’t it?

Well, likewise, we as believers in Christ Jesus have received much more than a simple make-over. We have received a new nature that begins on the inside, and reaches the outside as well. Just as with the example of the person who received the television make-over, it would be just as strange for a believer in Christ, who has received an entire new nature and is a new creation to still see themselves as ugly and unattractive spiritually to God, after receiving such a divine change from the inside and on the outside as well, but many Christians are doing that very thing.

What I want to share with you today in this study, is what the Bible says about the new identity, the new nature, the new creation that you are, who performed it for you, and what your view and attitude of it should be. By seeing this truth, you will have a new appreciation for the finished work of Christ, and who you really are in Him today.

Your Eternal Choice

Choices, choices. We make hundreds of choices every single day: what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to say, how to spend our free-time. Many choices, all ours to make as we see fit. Those choices have an effect, the choices we make result in certain things happening, and certain outcomes. Some with negligible differences, and some with larger and longer influences – such as a marriage.

All of these though, utterly pale in comparison to one choice… one eternal choice. One choice that will affect your eternal destination. One choice that will determine your future for all-time and beyond. What I want to share with you today, is exactly what this choice entails – it may surprise you to learn that many people aren’t as sure as they might have thought – and to also show you that this same choice has been available from the beginning of creation. This choice has not changed over the years, as some think that it has. It is an eternal choice, in every sense of the word; both in its existence and in its effect.

Are You Trusting in the TEXT or in the PERSON?

It seems like a strange question at first: do you trust the text of scripture? If you are a believer the answer is of course, yes – and I’m sure this study is going to raise a few eyebrows. However I want to to share with you something that God has recently shared with me… and it is precisely the difference between trusting in the text of scripture versus trusting in the person that the text is speaking about. It seems almost like semantics or hair-splitting at first, however I believe that as you begin to see this difference and what it means, it will open-up new levels of belief on Jesus Christ, and security in Him.

It may surprise you to also learn that this idea did not originate with me… This distinction is not my invention, but it began with Jesus Himself. He was the one who first spoke of it, and with good reason… this is actually a fundamental issue of both faith and belief. And again it is my privilege to share this with you today.

True Fasting in God’s Eyes

Simply mention the word “fasting” and most people will conjure up images of giving up food, depriving oneself of something vital, or otherwise sacrificing something. The word “fasting” in secular usage has only the meaning of abstaining from food and/or drink, and that is what most Christians understand it to mean as well.

Furthermore, I have encountered many people that fast as a religious observance, because they are trying to “get God’s attention” – although not everyone will readily admit that. In our discussions, when I have asked them why they were fasting, it has always boiled down to the core of either wanting an answer to prayer or wanting to be closer to God – and while these may seem like holy and righteous reasons, I have had to tell them the honest truth, that nothing they could ever do, will ever make them closer to God than what Jesus did over 2,000 years ago on the cross. No sacrifice that we can make today, can ever make us closer to God than the one offered by His Son all those years ago. And most of these people were offended at that statement.

What I want to share with you today, is the portrait of true fasting. Not what man thinks fasting is, but instead what God says fasting is, and the type of fasting that He actually wants. And I believe that by the end of our study today, many chains will be broken, and many burdens lifted, because it is the truth of Jesus Christ that will make us free, and that includes His truth regarding fasting as well.

Don’t Let the Tares Spoil Your Harvest

A popular phrase, is that “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.” It’s a bit simplistic. My mother managed to simplify it even further to “Don’t be a downer!”. And there is no place that this advice is needed more, than in the realm of the spirit. I remember one time when I was in a small group and we were having a time of prayer, specifically for healing; we were praying for a specific person who was sick and not able to attend that meeting, and it seemed as though a were achieving breakthroughs, but then as our prayer time came to an end, one lady spoke up and said “you know, my friend had those same exact symptoms and she died.”

As soon as those words were uttered, the atmosphere completely changed. The hearts of everyone became somber, and their spirits were all moved from “Yes God is a great Healer!” to “Well, maybe He doesn’t heal.” – all of the belief was sucked out of the room.

My friend, this is not always just blind ignorance. There is a deliberate strategy of the enemy at work here to sabotage the faith and belief of God’s children. Jesus spoke about this exact thing, He taught on it, and the disciples and apostles also warned against it. And today I want to share with you, what Jesus said about the wheat and the tares, and how to not let them spoil you from receiving everything that God has given to you.

Let Jesus Turn Your Water Into Wine

One of the most famous miracles performed by Jesus, is in-fact His first one recorded in the Bible; the turning of water into wine in John chapter 2. There have been countless sermons preached on this over the years, and debates have even been argued on whether the wine was actual wine or merely grape-juice – which as an aside, it must have been actual wine, because the master of the feast clearly called it the “best wine” and inquired about why it was not served first, which would not have made any sense if it was only grape-juice.

However this first miracle of Jesus, is also often misunderstood. There is some very interesting dialog had by Jesus during this scene, and it has some amazing truth which is also very informative for us today as well. This is what I want to share with you today… how to let Jesus turn your water into wine.

Be Careful How You Hear

Gather ten people into a room and have them listen to the same thing, and they will likely come away with ten separate conclusions and perspectives on it. And this can be seen most apparently if what they are listening to is scripture. Countless differing messages have been preached on the same verses of scripture for years upon years, and the listeners also have come away from the message with differing interpretations of it as well.

Most people don’t seem to have an issue with any of this. Jesus however had a very specific warning when it comes to both the messages that we listen to (what we hear) and also the interpretation that we get from them as well (how we hear). Jesus gave us this warning for a very good reason… because He knew that as time when on, the genuine message of the Gospel would be distorted, and many people would be robbed from hearing the genuine truth that makes people free. So this is what I want to share with you today.

Don’t Fear the Shadows

When I was a young child, I used to be afraid of the dark. I would look at the walls, or outside my window and see shadows which I presumed to be monsters. I didn’t recognize the shapes, and the sizes of the things seemed to be very large. It was a troubling sight to my young mind.

Later in life, as I became more mature, I understood that those things were just shadows without substance, and they could not actually hurt me in any way. The perception of danger was a false perception, and that the fear of them was doing me more harm than anything else.

This simple realization carries with it a spiritual truth as well – more than one in-fact, as many believers today are held captive by the fear of things which also are just shadows. Spiritual shadows that cannot actually hurt them; yet just as when I was held in bondage to fear of the shadows as a young boy, these precious believers are likewise held in bondage by fear of things which are just as false and empty as the shadows on the wall.

You Are in Christ… (No, Really!)

One of the most common phrases, both in the Bible and among believers is “in Christ” along with its variations such as “in Him” and “in the Beloved”. Nearly every believer will readily admit to being in Christ – that’s really the whole point! Yet very few understand what it really means, and the full extent of the meaning of it. Once during a Bible study, I suggested that if you want to broaden your horizon to all of what being in Christ meant, you should find all of the places in the Bible that mention being in Christ and the associated phrases, and you will end-up with a very large list of things that you have in Him. It’s actually fairly easy to do with our modern technology, but almost no-one in the study actually followed through.

The sad reality is that many people today do not have a very high opinion of what it means to be in Christ. Those whom I have spoken with typically see being in Christ as little more than a spiritual safety-net that catches them whenever their performance falls-short. However, being in Christ is so very much more than a safety net… being in Christ is literally the very Kingdom of God.

Know Your Rights… in Jesus!

Rights. We all have them, although they are not always respected in certain places or in certain times, unfortunately. However there is one place in-particular that they are always respected. And that is spiritually. In Christ, we all have certain spiritual rights that are absolutely undeniable, and the Bible tells us specifically what they are because God wants us to know what our rights are, and He wants us to make full use of them.

Even so, many believers are not making use of their rights in Christ. They have been sold a false narrative that they have no rights at all. They have bought into the lie that they are weak, powerless, and without any real recourse in this world… that they must wait until the sweet by-and-by up in Heaven for any resolution. And that is simply not the truth. What I want to share with you today, is what the Bible has to say regarding your rights and what you can (and should) expect in Christ Jesus – not later when you get to Heaven, but right now, today, in this life.