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Archive for September, 2012

The passage being looked at is in Romans, it’s Romans 12:1-8 (NIV):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

In verse 1, we are urged by Paul to offer ourselves; our bodies as living sacrifices. Okay, now you’re already probably freaking out right now thinking, What? Living…sacrifices…our…bodies?? Stop. Don’t freak.  Okay? Let me continue…  it’s by God’s mercy we are able to offer ourselves; submit, to God as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to him.

This is describing our spiritual commitment of allowing Christ to live in us, so that we may worship him spiritually. Now, when it the verse first said, “sacrifice”  most discern a sacrifice as killing or offering something that’ll eventually have to die. Some may mistake this verse sacrifice as something taking possession over our bodies, in which, yes, Christ does take possession, but he takes possession of our heart. It’s not in a violent, stereotypical way (take the movie “Possession” for example) that most think of. He takes our hearts and keeps our attitude, thoughts, etc. in care.

He lives in us and when a dedicated Christians is living according to God’s word you can see there’s something different about that person. Most people -unbelievers- wouldn’t know that Christ was living in you, but people do notice how others (us) act – our kind “deeds.” Christians know what’s making a person act a particular way – it’s Christ living in them; their hearts. He uses us to show people what he’s like; we reflect him. So if we have a hard heart, do you think people will think highly of Christians? Or hate us? Hate us, right? Because who wants to act like that.

In the second verse, we are told in this verse that we must not follow the pattern of flesh – our world’s ways. Instead we need to let Christ transform us, we must change our mindset. When a person changes their mindset (in general) it varies what things get done, so when us (Christians) are able to alter our mindset so that we’re able to test and accept what God’s will is for us – his perfect will, planned millenniums in advanced, tons more things will be accomplished than following our flesh’s will.

Verses 4 and 5, talks about how as humans we have one body, one physical human body. Each person’s body is different – from blood type to DNA. With many others we make up many bodies – we create a church body. One that is one body because of Christ.

Finishing with verses 6-8… Because of how God made each and every one of us differently, so are our gifts given to us by God, according to the grace given. Whatever a person’s -or your- gift is, use it! If a person loves to help, let them help; if they enjoy teaching God’s word, let them teach; and so on! Do not hold back or be afraid to use your gift(s) God has given you.

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The verse that’ll be looked at in this devotion is found in 2 Corinthians. It’s 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV):

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Starting out, in verse 1, one discovers that through God’s mercy, we have ministry – the opportunity to preach/tell the gospel to others, so that they may come to know Him and His word. Since we have that opportunity to minister and make it  so other people will have hope in something that’ll last forever, we need not to lose heart.

In the second verse, we see that it talks about our sinful ans shameful nature. We are often lost because of deception and we (as flesh) distort the ways of the Lord. But it’s because of the mercy God gives us, we have no need to lose heart; faith. By telling and recognizing the truth set forward by God for us to see, we gain trust from God to help preserve the truth. When we commend ourselves so that others trust us – mind, body, and conscience – we can then tell them about the word and God, too earns their trust – when they ask him to become their Lord and Savior.

The next two verses, verses 3-4, a discovery, too made here is that for those who try to “cover” the truth; God’s word, they are blinded from it, they are not able to fully see, because thy try to destroy it. For if you blind a driver, they cannot see, ‘nor drive safely. This is the same concept for when people try to hide; cover up, the gospel, they cannot and will not be able to “drive” – live a good safe live without it. It’s like driving without a license – it’s illegal! When you can’t see or understand or accept what Christ has done or see the light of the gospel, life isn’t going to be lived full – even though it may seem like it. Life can only be lived to its fullest with Jesus (the Holy Spirit) living and working in and through you. I can’t say it won’t be easy or anything, in fact life may get harder, but with Christ all things are possible and there will always be a light and reason at the end of each journey.

In verse 5, it’s here one can see -are told- that we ourselves do not preach, for sinful flesh isn’t capable of preaching God’s holy word alone. But it’s through Christ’s work we are able to preach the gospel – God puts the words in our hearts to speak through our mouths about his word. He makes is so that the itch on our heart to go out and serve him, just like Jesus did while he was on earth.

The last verse, verse 6, talks how the God, who made this earth and said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made it so his perfect light could cut through the darkness of our hearts. He gave us the light not only to see on this world, but so that we may acquire the knowledge of how beautiful his love and glory is, in the form of Christ and when he came down, died, and rose we’d fall over in sheer awe and submission to him. Just like servants ready to serve a wonderful master, who treats them like his own children.

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The focal verse is from Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV):

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this worldand of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Starting with verses 1 and 2, it talks about how we were dead in our sins – alive to human nature, dead to a godly nature. We lived a lost life, following this world’s evil ways. Committing horrible acts, we were destroying ourselves and others. Satan and his followers at are constantly at work trying to destroy us (Christians) and those around us, too. Our — everyone’s — sinful human nature; flesh, was already working to makes those lost continue in their transgressions.

In the next few verses, verses 3 to 5, states that we once all lived in a lost state – “slaves to sin.” Our flesh was just consuming its desires, following and granting; feeding our sinful cravings, following its thoughts, likes a dog follows its master. Before coming to know Hm, we were subject to his righteous judgement; his wrath. But we were sanctified – saved – from that wrath by God’s grace. His love for us is never ending, never failing. When we have faults he still loves us, when we drift away he calls us back, and still loves us. He is a patient God. His mercy is unending. He gives many second chances, even when we do screw up (please excuse my language, but seriously), recognize it, and repent. We were indeed once dead but He made us alive with Christ – when Jesus died on the cross, he saved us from ourselves and sin – he took (literally) all that crap, that honestly, we really deserved, we should have paid for.

In verses 6 to 8you can see something totally amazing… God raised us up from being dead; a “zombie” to sin. Through the ages to com are unknown to us, Christians today are still severely persecuted, what is still to come? When we die, we’ll go to heaven to be with God, all because of our Savior. Through and through God’s kindness and riches of his grace. By our faith and God’s grace, we are saved. The faith was acquired on our own integrity, but instead it was a gift from God, a truly amazing and humbling gift.  Life is a gift, new life by Christ is a gift from God that cannot ever be repaid. We need not boast about it, for then that is our sinful nature speaking, showing people – giving them the impression that we believe we are better than them. The gift of live is precious, if you’re going to boast, check yourself, remember that this is God you’re talking about, and how would he want you to act, and then go out and share his word in a kindly, humble, and godly manner. I’m sure you know this old saying: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. It applies to everyone in every manner. We did not deserve a second change, at all, but God thought we did, and it was by his works, not ours, that we are (and all can be) saved.

The final two verses, 9 and 10, we are told that we are created by God, in his  perfect image. He made us to do good works, not bad, so that others may learn about Him. He prepared these works for us, before we were even born. God is gracious, but he does cry when his children lose their way, he gets angry at us, too. Just like a father. He disciplines us according to our train of thoughts and actions, like a parent to a child, because he loves us and wants us to do and see good, not evil.

Life is a gift… One shouldn’t just “throw it out the window”

Because of a foolish

Mistake.

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This study of Prayer will be focused around verses found in Matthew. They are Matthew 6:5-8, 14-15 (NIV):

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

In the first two verses, verses 5 and 6, Jesus is telling his disciples to do something in these verses. He’s telling them not to pray for attention so that others may see “what an amazing and committed, as well as good Christian you are.” No. Instead, he tells them to go to a quiet, private place. For men (and women!) who “brag” with loud prayers so all can see receive their reward there – their human flesh’s satisfaction of people paying attention to them. But for those who leave to go quietly to a place of peace, our unseen Father above rewards us, since we went to a place in secret. Prayer is personal and powerful, don’t ruin it by making yourself look higher than others, because then you’re just babbling.

Verses 7 and 8, it’s here Jesus tells us more – do not pray like pagans! They babble on to their gods, they pray but it’s meaningless. Why? Because they don’t truly believe. They think their gods hear them for the many “praise words” and “askings” they do. When in reality, it’s nothing. When we pray and speak many meaningless words, it makes the prayer lose its “base.” God knows what you need even before you need it. He cares for you. Prayer is a way to communicate  to your Father, talk to him just like you would to your father on earth – casually and straight forward.

Now, adding in a verse not mentioned above, is verse 9: “”This, then, is how you should pray:'” In this verse Jesus is now about so show us how to properly pray.

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”

Recognize it? It’s what people call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Though in reality, it should be called “The Disciples’ Prayer,” because of how it was meant for the disciples, Jesus already knew very well how to pray to his father. And also, see how casual it is? Now, we don’t use those lines every time, but we need to pray along those lines – down to “business” – in our own personal way.

In the last two verses, Jesus reflects on forgiveness, based on the twelfth verse: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” If we forgive the people who do wrong against us, persecute, or tear us down, God too forgives us for our wrongs – because we recognized the wrong we’ve done to others. But if we stay stuck on the wrong done to us and don’t forgive, God won’t forgive either. For our hearts were in the wrong place, they were hard as stone with hate and other feelings.

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The verse the study is focused around is in 2 Corinthians. It’s 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (NIV):

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

In the first verse Paul is telling us that we must be *confident  in all we do. Why? Because confidence is one of the traits people lack these days. Our nature is timid; quiet. Though for some they fake having confidence and use power and worldly possessions to look good. Confidence can be delicate, when people pick on others they lose confidence in themselves, that is why, as Christians, we have to remember to stand strong, stand up and be ready knowing we’ll be made fun of, but also knowing that we are made perfectly in the image of God.

When we walk by faith, so much more can be accomplished. If we walk by plain sight, sure we can see, but we see everything from a human perspective. When people walk by faith, they are more confident, knowing Christ is always there. No matter what. So many amazing things happen when people walk by faith, ‘ cause really, you’re able to see more, you’re not “nearsighted” like others who walk by plain sight.

Verse 8 talks how we are confident (in Christ) and sure that we’d rather be in paradise (heaven), than here, on earth.  It’s true, but we also need to go our and serve, just like our Savior Jesus did. We have a purpose on earth. And when our days are up God will call us home, for he has numbered our days. We’d rather be home with Jesus because our soul wants to be in a good; perfect, place. Earth is the opposite. It’s in fact, far from perfect – its full of sinful people.

In verse 9, we are told to do something. That something is to make a goal to please our Lord, to honor, worship, and remember him. Whether we are at home, school, a friend’s house, or across the globe. Or even at church or in heaven – glorify him!

In the last verse it talks about how when the day when we are all called home Christ will seat us before himself and look through all the scenes of our lives. On that day he’ll judge us with wisdom, fairness, and with the truth. We will receive our dues done in our earthly body whether it was good or bad, judgement will be shown.

*1. having strong belief or full assurance; sure: confident of fulfillment. 2. sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one’s own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold: a confident speaker.

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