Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 17, 2017

Your Place in Heaven

OSAS

OSAS is an acronym for once saved always saved; the popular expression for the eternal security of the believer. Christianity teaches that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross provides an eternal, unalterable salvation for the one who accepts the finished work of Christ as the payment for their sins.

This very simple concept is amazingly difficult for many Christians to believe and accept. I find it saddening that so many who should be rejoicing with confidence in their salvation are afflicted by doubt and uncertainty when it comes to the security of their position as members of God’s family.

There seems to be a feeling that some sins are just too bad to be so easily forgiven by simple belief in the Lord as one’s Savior; certainly, they think, some sins are so hideous that some sort of special penance or additional payment is required for God to forgive those sins.

Notice particularly that I selected the word feeling because these ideas come from our own feelings of unworthiness. There are times when all of us are disgusted by memories of our failures and feel unworthy of salvation; feelings that God should just send a lightning bolt down from heaven and obliterate us giving us what we truly deserve.

GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES

As painfully aware of our failures as we might be, God knows our failures even better and in spite of all of them has sent His Son to die in our place and pay for all of our sins past, present and future.

In Romans 5:8 the apostle writes: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is at this point that the confusion about sin begins in the minds of many.

When we think of being sinners our minds review the committed sins of which we have been guilty during the course of our lives. The knowledge of those sins can all too easily haunt us as our minds replay those events of rebellion and transgression against God.

Is this the sort of thing the Holy Spirit had in mind as He inspired Paul to write those words? I think not because a few verses later He inspired Paul to explain the primary reason Christ died on the cross.

THE FEDERAL HEADSHIP OF ADAM

Mankind truly has a big problem with sin, but it is not the sins of commission or omission which so quickly come to our minds; it is rather the sin of being a human being; it is the sin of being a descendent of Adam.

In Romans 5:12 the apostle writes: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” In the following verses Paul goes on to explain what is called the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam. Adam, as the first man had within him all who would be born subsequently into the human race. When Adam sinned against a direct command from God, he died spiritually and all who would be born of his seed died at the same time.

What this teaches is that both you and I and everyone who was to later be born died spiritually in Adam in the Garden of Eden! This is God’s primary charge against the human race and the main reason Christ died on the cross.

There is absolutely nothing you can do or undo that would change that one fact, you are a human descendant of Adam’s race and you spiritually died in Adam in the Garden.

TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF HUMANITY

The earth today is inhabited by two distinct types of human beings; those who are spiritually alive, and those who are spiritually dead. Spiritual life comes only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. In Ephesians 2:1 Paul writes: “And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins;” spiritual life came with salvation and only salvation can provide spiritual life.

These then are the issues at play when one accepts the saving work of the Lord as their payment for sin. The Lord Jesus Christ as our kinsman redeemer has paid the price necessary for our redemption from Adam’s transgression. We have received the gift of spiritual life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Where then does personal sin enter the picture? With regard to the believer’s eternal place in God’s family it is irrelevant; with regard to the Spirit led life it is critical. In I John 1:8-10 John writes: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

The good news there is that God hears us when we confess our sins to Him and is also faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession of our sins before God restores the power of God the Holy Spirit in our lives and permits us the privilege of enjoying the fruit of the spirit as described in Galatians 5:22f.

The motivator for resisting sin should not be fear of losing our salvation which is impossible, but rather our devotion to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our sincere desire to please the one who died in our place!

With regard to our salvation there is nothing whatsoever that can separate us from the love of God; in Romans 8: 38-39 Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

With this you, as a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, can know beyond any doubt that your place in God’s family is preserved eternally by the mighty power of God. Rejoice in your good fortune and give thanks to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

First published October 4, 2011 as “Eternal Security of the Believer,” revised and edited

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 8, 2017

Christians with Dirty Feet, Concluded

Lessons at Two Levels

From other sections of scripture we learn the disciples had been discussing their notions of who would be most important in the coming kingdom; not a situation where humility and service would be foremost in their thinking.

Any of the disciples could have taken on themselves the servants job of washing the other disciples feet before the meal but this was certainly not on any of their mental agenda’s.

The Lord was fully aware of what had been going on and wanted to help them learn an important lesson; earlier He had spoken to them about being a servant in Matthew 23:11-12 where it is written:

“11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I think it safe to say this message fell on deaf ears; not one of the disciples was able to apply this advice to the situation they faced in the upper room. I suspect it may have even occurred to some of them that they could do this but their pride kept them from humbling themselves before the group.

The first and most obvious lesson is the lesson of humility and service to others; this is the lesson that Jesus mentions in verses 12-17 where it is written:

“12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”

I do not think this was the most important lesson that they would later come to understand as referenced by the Lord in verse 7:

“7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Why would our Lord say:

“Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

Then Jesus says in verse 10a, “10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.”

How do These Statements work in the Life of the Christian Today?

As we look back at this scene we see the Lord beginning to explain an important lesson in the Christian life today. As Christians we have been washed free from sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ but we live our lives, inhabited by a sin nature, in a fallen, sin cursed world which causes our spiritual feet to gather the dusty residue of this sinful world.

The Lord knew we would need to have our spiritual feet washed by the confession of sin to God; that is why we have that section in 1 John 1:8-10 where it is written:

“8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

Confession of sin to God is the spiritual foot washing that only Jesus can do, that is why He can say “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Only God can forgive sin and the spiritual foot washing we need can only come through confession of sin to God.

While the first lesson of service and humility is important, the second lesson is equally important; if we would be completely clean before God we must wash our spiritual feet by confession of sin to God.

When we confess our sins to God the Holy Spirit can take control of our lives and we can manifest lives controlled by the fruit of the Spirit.

One final point, please keep in mind this has everything to do with fellowship and quality of life for the Christian; our salvation has been eternally secured by the death of Christ on the cross so our spiritually dirty feet have only to do with the Holy Spirit being in control of our lives. This is an important point and helps us understand why the Lord would want to teach this lesson to the disciples on His last night on earth as a servant.

“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 1, 2017

Christians with Dirty Feet

The Washing of the Disciples Feet

In John 13 we are told a remarkable story; Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. The very next day Jesus was going to be crucified and He understood all too well what was coming upon Him; Jesus was being called on to do what we could not do for ourselves, pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross.

Does it seem strange that Jesus would take the time to wash the disciples feet on the night before His crucifixion? Of all the things He might have done He choose to wash their feet; on the surface this may seem rather incongruous but if we look at this foot washing episode from a spiritual perspective we begin to see answers to questions that are otherwise too obscure to explain.

Most of us understand the need for foot washing in New Testament times; open sandals and dusty streets equal dirty feet and usually arrangements were made to provide for foot washing when one entered the host’s house as a guest although this was not usually done by the host.

The Background

Let us examine this episode as described in John 13:1-17 where it is written:

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Since they had rented an upper room there was no host to greet them or arrange for a servant to wash their feet; in most instances each guest washed their own feet with facilities made available by the host. One might speculate that no convenient facilities for foot washing were available as they entered the building or the upper room.

Since foot washing was a common practice at that time Peter and the other disciples would have understood the need for foot washing; what was it then that they would later understand? What was the lesson Jesus wanted to teach to them?

Next time: Lessons at Two Levels.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 21, 2017

Is There a Safe Place for You?

We Live in a Troubled World!

East of Eden © Adele Bower

Even a casual examination of the media today reveals troubles in almost any direction you may choose to look. Local news headlines murder, assault, robbery, and the national media follows suit on an even greater scale. I am reminded of Matthew 24:6-8 where it is written:

“6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

While this is a direct reference to a time yet coming the description seems to fit all too well today. We are seeing all of these signs to a greater or lesser degree even as you read these words. For many there are questions about what is going on, where will this all end and when can some order and calm be restored to the world.

A time of world peace will indeed come but only when the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to restore it as described in the Bible. In the meantime what about those who love the Lord and long for His return? We know we live in a world dominated by Satan and can see clear evidence of His influence in what is happening around us.

While it has pleased the Lord to delay his return, Christians are not left without help and reassurance that they are loved and cared for. We have been given great and wonderful gifts to help us as we live out our lives on this troubled world.

A Love Letter to You from God

The eighth chapter of Romans begins and ends with triumphant joy for all Christians; there is no condemnation for born again Christians and nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In between those two spires of doctrinal reassurance lie the abundant promises a loving God has lavished on His family. Although 1 Corinthians 13 is considered by many as the “Love Chapter” I suggest to you that Romans 8 is God’s love letter to His very own family!

Over the last seven essays we have considered some of the ways God has shown us His grace, mercy and love; particularly in this love letter to His children. Although we are loved it has pleased God that we should remain in our mortal bodies so that we might serve and honor him with our lives for those years of our mortality he has apportioned to us. I think often of those verses in Psalm 139 which speak to the point of our mortality:

“13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.”

To me that is a blessed thought; to know that God has carefully thought through all the moments of my life; how could I ask for any better assurance of his loving care than that? At age 84 I will joyfully testify to his loving care and with the advantages of hindsight acknowledge and rejoice in the wondrous blessings he has poured out on me over those years.

The Task that Remains

As we seek to serve and honor the Lord in the time he has given us it is so important that we retain a clear Biblical perspective on who we are and what we must do. The Bible seeks to warn us of the dangers we may face and offers many reassurances to us as we live out our lives. While it is certain we will face difficulties it is equally certain we will enjoy the blessings of God’s loving watchcare over us.

“35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I cannot even begin to imagine a more comprehensive summary of God’s unfailing love for his children, can you? I love the way God describes our situation in Isaiah 41:10 where it is written:

“10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 13, 2017

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Beginning of the End

The End of What?

Tomorrow will be Good Friday and while that is the day we remember the crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; Easter Sunday is the occasion we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. A historic change in man’s relationship to God had occurred; by God’s grace the barrier between God and man that had been created by Adam’s deliberate sin of disobedience had been removed by the death of our Lord, the Second Adam from above.

You may recall in Genesis 2:15-17

“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Unfortunately Adam choose to disobey God and when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he, and all of humanity present and future died in Adam. As I’ve observed before, that means that you and I and every human born of a human father are born spiritually dead. It is the sin of Adam that created the barrier between God and man and the primary reason the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death as our kinsman-redeemer.

The Tearing of the Curtain on Good Friday

God gave us a symbol of the removal of this barrier when, at the time of the crucifixion, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that access to God was now open to mankind through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for all human sin for all time; sin had been removed as a barrier between God and man. As hard as it may be to imagine, personal sin is no longer the issue; the only remaining issue requiring resolution is receiving the forgiveness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The Good News

Because of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end had come for sin as a barrier between God and man. The church can now proclaim a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and good news for a suffering humanity:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

(First published April 3, 2015, revised and updated)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday and its Enormous Significance!

Today is Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where He had come to die. This week was to be a terrible time of testing for the Jewish nation although they had no idea of the great significance of what was to happen from that point onward.

The exact date for this momentous event had been prophesied by the Prophet Daniel and that prophecy, among many others, was being perfectly fulfilled by our Lord as He rode into the city. I would say it was certain that among the tens of thousands present that day only the Lord understood the staggeringly wondrous truths that were being put into place.

Four hundred and eighty three years had passed since the beginning of the third and final group of three 490 year periods that had been given to Israel by God. The second group had ended with the Babylonian captivity and now the third group of 490 years had been put on hold at year 483 as also foretold by Daniel.

Israel was being set aside for an unspecified number of years while a mystery was revealed, the mystery of the church and the age of grace, the age in which we now live. The remaining 7 years promised to Israel would resume at a point yet future when Israel would sign a covenant with the Antichrist.

The Entry into Jerusalem

Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being temporarily set aside, their rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.

It is likely, in His omniscience, that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.

There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nissan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nissan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.

God’s Passover Lamb put on display

On March 30, AD33, the 10th of Nissan, the Father put His Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best. (In 2017 we are in year 5777 according to the Jewish calendar and the 10th of Nissan took place this past Thursday, April 6th.)

After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,984 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.

The countdown clock on Israel’s last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown and the beginning of the Tribulation.

While this was an amazing week, filled with suffering and anguish for our Lord and judgment for Israel, it was the reason our Lord took on human form; that was necessary that He might die for our sins. The moment of triumph was coming soon, the following week our Lord would rise from the dead having perfectly paid the price of our redemption.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

(First published March 28, 2015, updated and revised)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 3, 2017

A Glorious New World is Coming

And Your Participation is a Sure Thing!

Many years ago I read for the first time “Childhood’s End,” a novel by Arthur C. Clarke; much later I learned the book was based on one of Clarke’s earlier short stories entitled “Guardian Angels.” I saw the book had remarkable parallels to Bible prophecy and the reason I mention it here was the emergence of a generation of humans that were transformed by an outside force and removed from the earth.

While this was but one of the parallels I saw it reminded me of the last generation of Christians who will be removed from earth by the Rapture of the Church; it would appear Clarke’s inspiration for this book came from the pages of the Bible.

As Christians we have in fact begun a process of transformation that shall ultimately result in profound changes to our entire being; we are truly “A Work in Progress.” Even now as we labor in our mortal bodies and struggle with the adversities presented by our sin nature and a world dominated by Satan we are being conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Change is Inevitable

A time of release is coming; our change is inevitable and will fully involve all of us; even past generations of Christians who have left their mortal bodies behind many years ago. This release will apparently apply to the entire creation as well when we consider Romans 8:19-22 where it is written:

19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Paul then goes on to write:

”  23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”

I’m sure each of us can relate to the groaning Paul mentions; I receive letters from all over the world from Christians who are frustrated and tired of sin in their lives and are looking for lasting relief from the onslaught of sin. It saddens me to have to tell them there will be no relief from the attacks of sin as long as they inhabit their mortal bodies. We live out our lives as soldiers on a spiritual battlefield and attacks by the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” are a part of the reality of our lives.

Spiritual Reinforcements

No one knows our situation as children and soldiers better than our heavenly Father and He has made excellent provisions for us to cope with the adversities we face and handle them with success. We have powerful allies in the highest of places who are committed to helping us fight the good fight and after the battle is over to still be standing firm!

Paul explains this in Romans 8:26-28 where it is written:

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Paul’s conclusion for all this is given in Romans 8:18 where it is written:

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

We are in the fortunate position of knowing how this story ends; although there may be times of testing, we win; the outcome is certain and we’re on the winning side! We should join with Paul in saying what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later! Let Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:4 dominate your thinking: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”

The Battle Continues

The Bible gives us clues as to what will happen but virtually nothing is said about when it will happen. The final conflict, the Battle of Armageddon, will be resolved by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of his Second Advent; by that time the church will have been removed from the field of battle for several years; the last seven years belong to Israel as promised to them by God.

We must then wait patiently and confidently, serving and honoring the Lord with our lives, until we are called home either individually or collectively; knowing we like Daniel and Job will arise to our inheritance at the end of the days, stand on the earth and see God with our own eyes in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Hallelujah! 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 27, 2017

The Christian Advantage

Some Totally Astounding Changes Have Taken Place

It is unlikely any of us can even begin to imagine the scope of the changes that have taken place in our lives when we received Christ as Savior. Our situation is complicated by the fact that we cannot observe and quantify these changes in our present human condition; although these changes are absolutely certain and sure there is no way to measure them at this time.

Just as the glory and the eternal divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ was concealed at His First Advent it has pleased the Father that our changes too are hidden from view. In general appearance there is no way to determine that something profound has happened to us. I have written more on this in a series of four essays starting with The Concealment of Christ.

As Christians we have been permanently indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit; the eternal Spirit of God has taken up residence in our bodies and will never leave us. A process of change has begun that will ultimately result in our being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ; we will have an unmistakable family resemblance which will leave no doubt about our belonging to God’s family. We are told in Romans 8:29 where it is written:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

I think that is a gloriously wonderful and exciting promise!

More Reasons to Rejoice

This process of conformation is off to a very fast start; God, the Holy Spirit is now a permanent part of our lives! How often does this thought overwhelm you; how often do you rejoice in this matchless gift of God’s love?

Another reason to rejoice is our permanent place in God’s family as beloved children of the Creator of the Universe; our heavenly Father is now our Daddy! One who knows us perfectly and still loves each of us as beloved children! This relationship between loving Father and child is mentioned in Romans 8:15-17 where it is written:

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Simply reading many translations will not reveal the special nature of the word Abba; it is only in the lexicon we find clarification of the message being communicated to us:

 Abbá – “Father,” also used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e. in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; “daddy,” “papa.”

The Problem

It is all too easy to think in terms of what we deserve as Christians; after all we know our flaws and shortcomings all too well; memories can disturb our joy and peace with ugly thoughts of past misbehavior. This is probably one of Satan’s favorite attack strategies on the Christian life and walk; thoughts of what we have done and what we deserve for having done it.

Our sin nature is quick to remind us we don’t deserve to be saved much less to think of God, the Father, as Daddy; we’re simply much too bad to think we can get away with that. This line of thought plays directly into Satan’s strategy of attack in the spiritual war in which we fight as soldiers. Of course we don’t deserve any of this; all we receive is a gift, given to us based on what Christ has done, not what we have or have not done.

When the Father, our heavenly Daddy, looks at us all He sees is the shed blood of Christ; by grace we have been covered by the righteousness of Christ; our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west!

The Solution

Just before Christ died on the cross he said, “It is finished!” and it was truly finished indeed. Personal sin was no longer the issue; it had all been paid for by the blood of Christ; now the only remaining issue was to receive the salvation offered by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. Once that decision was made then each of us were given the responsibility of learning and following the commands the Lord had given to us.

One of these commands was to rejoice in Him always as described in Philippians 4:4-9 where it is written:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Your Daddy wants the very best for you; let Him see how much you love Him and appreciate all He has done for you!

Brothers and Sisters, we have some Exciting Times Ahead!

 Where the Beautiful Bluebonnets Grow

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 20, 2017

Your Amazing Transformation

You are Not the Same Person You Were Originally!

In His own Image, © Adele Bower

Although your changes are not visible they are very real and will last infinitely longer than all that is visible. Under the terms of the New Covenant you, as a born again Christian, have been made a part of God’s family and nothing whatsoever can change that fact.

God has made a fundamental, inherent change in you that has resulted in your becoming a new creation; you were indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit when you received Christ as your personal Savior and He will never leave you, not ever. In addition Christ is living in you as well and seeks to live His life through you; you are indeed a new creation!

These truths are stated several times in the New Testament and represent a fundamental fact regarding the Christian life and faith. In Romans 8:9-11

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”

And in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

And also in Galatians 2:20

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Believing these teachings and applying them to our lives is as much a part of the Christian faith as receiving Christ and being born again; they are the logical next step in our process of growing in our faith. We have been changed, the change is real and we must accept it and act on it even if there is no physical evidence!

Rejoice; you are a new creation!

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 13, 2017

Who is in Control of your Mind?

What is the Default Position for your Mind?

During the course of the day our thoughts can be pulled in many directions by circumstances; there are many responsibilities each of face that require decisions and actions on our part. There can also come a time when we get a break from the demands of life and our thoughts can wander for a moment; at those moments where is your mind naturally inclined to go?

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1b

Does your mind have a default thought pattern that emerges when the pressures of life have abated for the time being; you get a few minutes and your mind goes where? The answer to that question may be more important than you realize as it could be an indication of who is in control of your mind.

The natural question is who is vying for control of your mind; is your mind up for grabs, is it a sort of battlefield for control of your thoughts and actions? As a Christian there is more fact than fiction to that question as you are inhabited by opposing forces; a nature to sin and the Holy Spirit.

Paul tells us we are no longer under condemnation but does that mean the battle is over? Unfortunately not, as long as we occupy our mortal bodies we will be required to engage in battle with the enemy. I have covered this in more detail in the series To the Soldiers in the Spiritual War.

Paul points out the nature of our warfare and the only effective defense we have available; in Ephesians 6:10-17 it is written:

“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

If we are to stand our ground this is our only effective defense!

What are the Alternatives?

As Christians we have a choice, something the unbeliever does not have; we can let our sin natures control or we can let the Holy Spirit control in our lives. If we are to be successful in letting the Holy Spirit control in our lives it is important we know the enemy and the nature of the enemies attack against us; armed with that information we can fashion a sure defense against attack. Paul cautions us in Galatians 5:16-18

“16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Unconfessed sin is the way the enemy gets control over our thoughts; unconfessed sin quenches the power of the Holy Spirit and lets our sin nature dominate our thoughts, (keep in mind that everything that is not of faith is sin). Confession of sin restores the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the power of our sin nature is quenched. The thought patterns of the sin nature and the Holy Spirit are diametrically opposed to each other and therefore easy to recognize:

The Sin Nature

“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Holy Spirit

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.”

In Summary

In the privacy of our minds we can examine those options and realistically assess which is our customary default position. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have people speak of us as they spoke of Stephen, “…..they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit) Acts 6:5 What an amazing compliment, “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” could any Christian man or woman ask for anything more?

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