Friday, July 22, 2016


1 Cor 6:11 …But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  NIV

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were completely covered in dirt? You know, when it is so stuck on you, that you think it may never come off. Maybe you have been camping for days, with no shower. Maybe, like me, you played tug of war or king of the hill in the mud and it was eighty degrees outside so the mud would just “cake” on your body. How about after a long day of digging and planting in the garden? You know the feeling, right?

If you have ever been that dirty, then you know the wonderful feeling of freshness and cleanliness that comes over you when you eventually take a shower and all that dirt begins to fall off your body. It is a great sensation, is it not? You feel like a new person when you finally drag yourself out of that delightful shower.

But what if, no matter how hard you tried, you could not get the dirt off? What if, even though you stayed in the shower for 24 hours, you still were filthy? What if, no matter which type of soap you used, you could not get the dirt and sweat off? How would that make you feel? Would you feel desperate, helpless? You say to yourself, “How am I ever going to get clean?”

Then you realize something. The problem is that you don’t have the right cleaning agent. You realize that the only cleaning solution strong enough to do the trick, belongs to someone else. Would you do almost anything to get a hold of that cleaner?

In this verse, Paul is reminding a group of believers in Corinth, that this is exactly what happened to them when they came to faith in Jesus Christ. In verses 9-10, he reminds them of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. He lists a group of lifestyle sins (certainly not all inclusive) that are evidence of people who are in rebellion against the Lord. Then he reminds them about their own sinful lifestyles. “And that is what some of you were,” he says. They were covered with dirt. They were in desperate need of being cleansed, but they could not clean themselves. Instead, as the verse says, they “were washed.” God himself washed them, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit.

It is no different for us. When we were lost in sin, covered by its’ filth, Jesus came to wash us and make us clean. We had no ability to wash ourselves from the stain of our sin. We need to be reminded, just like the Corinthians, that we have been cleansed by the only agent that could do the job, His blood. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22 NIV)

Not only have we been cleansed (justified), the verse tells us that we continue to be cleansed (sanctified). The blood of Christ is sufficient for washing us for the rest of our lives. Eph 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (NIV)

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth of this truth because of their shameless behavior. The church was going through a myriad of problems, such as allowing sexual sin, suing each other in public courts and exalting themselves with their spiritual gifts instead of using them properly to build up the body of Christ. Why was this happening? It was because they had forgotten their previous condition. They needed to be reminded that they were only “saints,” as he addressed them, because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His shed blood! So he tells them, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor 6:19-20 NIV)

This is a reminder that we all need from time to time. We can easily get caught up in our own self-pride, thinking of how “spiritual” we are and how much we have “done for God.” Instead, we need to remember what we were before we came to Christ. We were enemies of God, yet He shed His blood to wash us (Ro 5:10, Col 1:21).

So let’s be mindful of that perspective, so that we might truly be one body, loving and serving each other! Let’s clothe ourselves in humility, knowing that there was nothing we could do to earn our cleansing, but that it was a free gift we received by faith. Let’s walk day by day, in the grace that was given to us by Almighty God!

Friday, July 1, 2016


2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  NIV

Two obvious questions come to mind when reading this verse. First, where is the Spirit of the Lord? Second, what kind of freedom are we talking about? Knowing the answers to these two questions and living in light of that knowledge, will bring about a life filled with hope, peace and joy, so let’s look closely for those answers.

Question one, where is the Spirit of the Lord? In the context of this chapter, Paul has been comparing the ministry of the Holy Spirit with the ministry of the Law. He explains that though the Law is righteous and holy, it results in death because no one is able to fully keep it. The ministry of the Spirit, on the other hand, is working to bring us into a glory (life with God) that lasts eternally (v11). The key in discovering where “the Spirit is” though, is found in verses 2-3. Paul explains that these Corinthians are a “living letter” to the world because the Spirit Himself has written on “the tablet of their hearts.”

The Spirit then, is to be found in the life of a believer in Christ. Every person who has trusted in Christ for their salvation has received the Holy Spirit into their life. If you are a Christian, you need look no further for the Spirit. God has placed His Spirit inside you, for His own purposes. He is there to provide comfort in times of trouble and to teach you (Jn 14:16, 26). He comes to give you power (Ac 1:8) and He lives in you to bring you freedom.

Freedom from what? From the power of sin and death! To really understand this concept, it is good to go to the book of Romans, chapter 8. In that chapter, Paul makes this truth very clear. There are two types of people described in this chapter. Those who are still in bondage to the law of sin and death and those who are free from that law. Which category they are in, is based upon of their acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ.

Here is how he describes those who have not received Christ, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires…” (Rom 8:5 NIV) “… the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7-8 NIV) The person who has not received Christ as their Savior and Lord, is controlled (slaves to) their sinful nature. They cannot please God. They are not free.

The believer in Christ however, is set free from bondage to the sinful nature and its resulting death. We are free to live under the control of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Rom 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”  “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  (Ro 8:11 NIV)

What an amazing truth! If you are a believer in Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is in you and you are free! This is what Jesus was talking about all the way back in the book of John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’  “…everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (V34) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

So Christian, live your life in the light of this truth. Follow Paul’s instruction in Gal 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (NIV) Surrender your life daily, even moment by moment, to the control of the Holy Spirit living inside of you. That is where freedom is found!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid!

Matt 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."  NASU

The context of this verse is very familiar. Jesus had sent his disciples away, to the other side of the lake, while He went up the mountainside to pray by Himself. During the voyage, the boat and its occupants were being battered by the wind and the waves. All of a sudden, they see a figure on the water, walking towards them. The biblical account says that they were terrified, believing that they were seeing a ghost. Then Jesus shares the comforting words. “It is I.”

It is interesting how many times the bible records Jesus talking to His followers about their fear. It occurs at least eight times in the book of Matthew. It seems that it is an important topic. We could tend to believe that His followers were rather easily frightened because Jesus spoke about it so often, but I don’t think that is the case. After all, it took tremendous courage just to follow Jesus at this time. For many, it meant leaving their homes, families and businesses, without any knowledge of what might happen. It meant being despised by many of their kinsmen and ridiculed by the Romans.

No, I think that the twelve and all of Jesus’ other disciples were just ordinary people, like you and I. We all experience fear at times. Some commentators say that this event showed lack of faith on the part of the disciples but that is incorrect. If you read the account closely, only Peter is rebuked for lack of faith and that came after he had demonstrated great faith by walking on the water to meet Jesus. Once he got out there, he lost the courage he started out with.

I think we can understand the fear of these men considering their circumstance. After all, Jesus had not said anything about meeting them out in the middle of the lake! It was a pretty natural reaction to a very supernatural event. What is important to see here, is the response of Jesus to their fear. Instead of rebuking the disciples, Jesus encourages them. How does He do that? He does it in two different ways.

First, He encourages them with His words. “Take courage,” might also be translated, “be bold,” or “have confidence.” He is telling them to replace their fear with courage, boldness or confidence. That is nice but it brings up a question. Why should they do that? The storm is raging and they see a strange figure walking toward them on the water. What would give them any reason to replace their fear with boldness or courage?

The answer to that is in the second way Jesus encourages them. It is a point I want you to pay close attention to, because it will make a huge difference in how you approach fear in your life. You see, the second way that Jesus encourages His disciples is with His presence! He assures these men that He is the one who is there with them. “It is I.” What an amazing statement! Jesus is letting them and consequently us know that as long as He is present, there is no need to fear. In His presence, fear can always be replaced with confidence, courage and boldness.

You might be thinking, “yes, but what about when I don’t feel His presence?” Then you must again go back to His words. This is what He says, Matt 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (NIV) We base our courage on what He says, not what we feel.


If you are “in Christ,” you do not need to approach life with fear. Jesus is always present in your circumstance. Let Him speak His words of encouragement to you and replace your fear with confidence and boldness in Him. His power, proven in this instance by His ability to walk on water, knows no bounds. He is able to deliver you from any circumstance, any situation. Trust in Him!