Overwhelmed By Grace

Whenever we get saved, we are overwhelmed by God’s grace when we think of all our sins we are forgiven for. But should we not live every day with this overwhelming sensation? A lot of Christians fee that even though it took God’s grace to save them, that somehow it is on their own merit that they will sustain their salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Romans 4:1 – What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? (Verse 2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something of which to boast, but not before God. (Verse 3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Verse 4) Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (Verse 5) But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

This is a great passage if we’ve ever done anything wrong, and we all have. Because it says, “He justifies the ungodly by grace. It is extremely important that all Christians understand grace and legalism. We basically look at everything in our lives either by grace or by legalism. We look at everything in our life either as a gift or as earned!

We all see God according to our understanding of grace. We see ourselves according to our understanding of grace and we see others according to our understanding of grace.

Once we are forgiven, we strive to live according to God’s word. Legalism strives for perfection. The problem is that once someone is saved if they move toward a legalistic system and think everyone should follow it too, they will certainly fail. No one can keep the whole law.

If a person slides toward legalism, it will affect every area of their life. If you ask most people what they have to do to go to heaven, they will answer, “Be a good person.” Or they may say, “Do more good than bad.” Here is the main problem with that answer: God’s standard of good is perfect. So even if we do more good than bad, we still haven’t met the requirements.

James 2:10 – For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. God’s standard is perfectionism. That’s why Jesus says, “I fulfilled the law,” because we couldn’t do it. So the amazing thing though is that we get to believe in the One that was perfect, by His grace. Abraham believed God and it was put in his account to him for righteousness.

So, what exactly is righteousness?

If I told you that someone is righteous, what would you think of them? Well, most would think they are a good person. A lot would say that they are righteous because they live righteous lives. They aren’t perfect but they don’t lie or steal, they live righteously.

That’s a good assumption of a righteous person. But are they righteous because they live righteously? Or do they live righteously because they are righteous? Those two questions change everything. That’s grace versus legalism. They aren’t righteous because they live righteously, they live righteous because they have been made righteous, so they are righteous.

“Righteousness” is right standing with God. What makes every believer in right standing with God is because Jesus did all the right things according to God’s standards. He is perfect, and because of my right standing with God, I now have the desire to do the right things! However, we don’t always do the right thing, but we want to.

Can an unrighteous person do a righteous deed? This is a person that is not in right standing with God. They are not saved. But the answer is yes, they can to righteous things, but do these right deeds make them righteous? No. Now, do unrighteous acts of a believer make that person unrighteous? No. However, unrighteous acts by a believer will follow with consequences. Does our righteousness depend on our performance or on our position with God?

Did Abraham earn his righteousness?

If Abraham was justified by works, if he earned it, then he would have something to boast about, but not before God. The only reason that anyone will be in heaven is because of the blood of Jesus.

Verse 4 in Romans 4 says that to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but debt. We are saved to do good works, not saved by good works. If Abraham would have worked to earn righteousness, then God would have owed Abraham, but God doesn’t owe anyone anything! God put righteousness into Abrahams’s account because he believed God.

Isaiah, in Chapter 64:6, says that “But we are all like an unclean thing…” So none are righteous on their own. Our righteousness in comparison to God’s standards of righteousness is like “filthy rages, according to Scripture. However, after we accept Jesus, He gives us His righteousness.

So then here comes “Grace!” One day we got saved, believed in Jesus Christ and He took our sins, filthy rags, and exchanged our sin for His righteousness. So now every believer is in right standing with God. Jesus took all our sins from our account and put them in his account and replaced our sin with His righteousness.

Now the Father looks at our account and says, “You live!” But when Jesus hung on the cross and God looked at His Son’s account, He said, “You must die for them.” That is when and how the exchange took place. All believers now live because the Father took His Son’s righteousness and put it in every believer’s account! So when Abraham believed God it was accounted unto him for righteousness.

Plain and simple, Abraham believed and received. John 6:28 – Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? (Verse 29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” There is only one work, belief in whom He sent – Jesus!

When we think of Abraham, we think of the father of our faith. The only problem with that is most of us don’t think about what Abraham was like before God came to him. Abraham was a heathen. Don’t be shocked, Abraham wasn’t even “Jewish” before God came to him because there were no Jewish people then (Genesis 12).

This was hundreds of years before Moses and the law. Abraham was not part of a godly nation as of yet. He was part of a heathen nation and God called him out of that nation. Israel had not even been born yet.

So God shows up because He had a plan. We can only imagine what Abraham was like before meeting with God, but we can read what he was like “after his meeting” and believing God. He lied about his wife by telling a king she was his sister, twice. He was going to let a king sleep with her to save his own skin. This took place after Abraham believed. After he believed, Abraham slept with his maid and had a child out of wedlock. Doesn’t sound like he was much better after his encounter with God, does it?

After these things, God could have shown up and judged Abraham, but that’s not what God did. God showed up to Abraham for one reason, to bless him! And Abraham believed what God said and it was accounted to him for righteousness and he didn’t lose his righteousness after he believed.

In the same way, God comes to us. Jesus didn’t come to judge or condemn us, He came to bless and forgive us. And if we believe, God takes all of the sins out of our accounts and puts righteousness in our accounts.

Even though Abraham went “off the rails” a few times, it did not change God’s faithfulness. Our God is continually and forever faithful!

 

Great Joy & Great Sorrow

Romans 9:1 – I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, (Verse 2) that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. (Verse 3) For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,…

What’s amazing about these verses is that Chapter 8, in the book of Romans just talked about “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” But now, in Chapter 9, Paul has such a burden for his brethren. Here is what Paul was saying, “I would go to hell if my brethren could go to heaven.

How could Paul think that he would trade places with his brethren so that they would go to heaven? That’s a pretty heavy burden. Paul had gotten to the place that he is now thinking like Christ. Did Christ not take our place on the cross? Christ said that He’d be cursed so we wouldn’t have to. Cursed is anyone who hanged on a tree.

At the same time, Paul had great joy over nothing being able to separate God’s love for him, but at the same time, he had great sorrow for his brethren. Is it possible to have sorrow and joy at the same time, if you are a Christian? Christians are the only people in the world that can grieve and rejoice at the same time! We grieve but not as those who have no hope.

Do we not grieve when a loved one, a believer dies, but yet have great joy because we know they went to the Father. So why did Paul say that he would go to hell if they could go to heaven? Paul understood some things that we all should be reminded of:

Condition of the lost.

Paul understood the condition of lost people. I think we forget about the condition of lost people because it’s been a while since we were lost.

Ephesians 2:12 – that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God int the world. 

Without Christ, there is no hope. There’s no hope for the future. There’s no peace and no purpose unless it’s for selfish reasons, but what then? Everything they accomplish in their life is for what? Themselves?

Without Christ, there is no life and certainly no life to be joyous about after death. They may seem happy now, but when they die they will be terrified because they never thought about life after death, their entire life.

From the outside people can look great, but on the inside, they can be falling apart and not know where to turn. We won’t necessarily know this unless we are close to them. People are so distant in their relationships these days because it’s “all about self.” We only see what people want us to see on the outside. Most are as lost as a ball in high weeds.

Condemnation

Paul knew their condemnation, for the Bible says that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ and those who love the Lord, but there is condemnation for those who are not in Christ.

But, what does condemnation mean? What’s the definition of “condemned” in the Bible? Most think it means to “feel condemned.” However, that’s not what condemned actually means. From the Greek, it means a death sentence. It means being found guilty of something that’s worthy of death.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Everyone knows John 3:16, but read the next two verses: John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (Verse 17) “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (Verse 18) “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn us because without Him we were condemned already. He came to save us! We were born with a death sentence – going to hell. God didn’t want us to go to hell so He sent His only begotten Son! You can’t believe in heaven without believing in hell. It’s the Bible that taught us about hell in the first place.

God did not create hell for humans! He created hell for Satan and his fallen angels. So I hate it when I hear people say, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” That statement tells me they know nothing about God or the Bible. It’s in the Book! And when it’s time for Satan to be thrown into the bottomless pit, one angel does it.

The problem was and still is, when people begin and began to follow the devil, hell had to be enlarged. God had made hell a specific size to hold Satan and the angels that followed him, but when humans began to follow Satan, Hell had to enlarge itself! It’s in the Bible, so look it up.

Our burden for the lost needs to be strong. Our witness for the Lord needs to be powerful enough that the person would accept Christ and not go to hell. Plain and simple!

Compassion

Mark 6:34 – And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 

Jesus was moved with compassion and the word compassion in Greek means to put an action in your love. People can love someone but yet not have compassion for them. When someone has compassion they will do something, otherwise its just sympathy.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He said this to His disciples: John 16:20 – “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”

We should have sorrow for people who don’t know Christ. If we have great sorrow for someone who doesn’t know Christ, then we’ll have great joy when they get saved. Maybe people don’t get as excited as they should be when someone gets saved is because there was no burden for them to get saved in the first place. The great sorrow for the lost comes first and then there will be great joy when they come to Christ.

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Verse 29) “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Verse 30) “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

So what is Jesus’ burden? It’s people. Take My burden, which is for the people that don’t know Him. And then He says, “You will find rest for your souls.” So, we take the burden fo the lost on us, and give Jesus all other things that burden us. Make sense?

All we have to do is ask the Lord to give us a burden for whom He wants us to have a burden for and then with passion and compassion we pray and take action!

Stay In The Word

Why would a believer ever walk away from the Father? We’ve all done it whether it was for a few hours, a few days, or for years. The reason we do it is that we would rather follow what we think, what we want, and what we feel. That’s our soul-making our choices. Our mind is what we think; our will is what we want, and our emotions are what we fee. That’s following what our soul wants not what the Spirit of God wants.

The Bible says that “babes” in Christ do this, they follow their soul and we have to learn to follow our spirit. If you have been a Christian for a while then you should not still be a babe in Christ. We are three parts, spirit, soul, and body. When we become born again, our soul has been the one in charge for so long that it has to be trained to obey the spirit.

Genesis 2:7 – And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The body was formed from the “dust of the earth”; God breathed into Adams’s nostrils the breath of life, Spirit; and man became a living soul.

God created our spirits to relate to Him. He created our souls to relate to Him and His creation, and He created our bodies to relate to His creation. When Adam and Eve sinned, their spirits died. Their bodies didn’t but death set in and eventually they did die. Their souls didn’t die either because Adam became afraid when he heard God walking in the garden – emotions.

So Adams’s mind will and emotions took over when he sinned and he hid from God. Ephesians 2:1 – and you made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins,… He made us alive, in our spirit, when we come to Christ. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have life.” So yes, we are dead without Christ! People are existing, but they aren’t alive without Him.

Adam and Eve’s spirit died and they learned to relate to God only by what hey could reason in their own minds, what they wanted, and what they felt was best. This is the main reason why Christians have so many problems. We get into a situation and we make a decision based on what we think, want, and feel.

We should care about what God thinks, what God wants, and what God feels. Taking what God says in His word is the only correct way to make any decisions as a Christian.

When Christians make a “soulish” decision, it’s selfish! Our soul has to mature.

The Soul is Selfish

We all came into this world with a dead spirit. So for years we related to God with only our minds and remember, we have to “renew” our minds after being born again. We have to have the mind of Christ.

Think about how many people who aren’t saved yet are trying to figure out God with a dead spirit. Their thinking will be off because they’re only relating to God by what their own intellect can figure out.

Our minds know everything that we’ve ever seen, heard, or experienced. It’s our computer. All these things we can’t remember is in our “sub-conscience.” When we are trying to remember something, we’re trying to bring it to our “conscious” mind. The reason this is so important to know is that when we have a problem that causes us tension or stress, our mind will wonder have we had this same problem before?

The Soul Must Submit to the Spirit

Keep in mind that everything in the Old Testament happened in the natural is a spiritual truth in the New Testament. Many times when the New Testament quotes Scripture from the Old Testament, the New will explain the spiritual truth.

King David talked to his soul. Soul means self, so David talked to himself. He would tell his soul not to be discouraged: Psalm 131:2 – Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. How do you wean a child? You take them off of milk and put them on solid food.

1 Corinthians 3:1 – And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. (Verse 2) I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able;

Hebrews 5:12 – For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

The Soul Must Die

Our selfish thoughts, our selfish desires; and our selfish emotions, need to die. We die to self. Do you know any Christians that let their emotions rule every aspect of their lives? I sure do and they aren’t very pleasant to be around.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 

The word of God will divide between what we think is right, what we want to do, and what we feel we should do, but the word of God will tell us what God thinks is right and what we should do.

Hebrews 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

A lot of people don’t connect verses 12 and 13 in this passage, however, it is a continued thought. When verse 13, says, “naked and open,” it means God wants to take away what is killing us and sometimes that includes our emotions. Not all emotions because God gave us emotions to have compassion and empathy for others, but the emotions that cause us to make bad decisions and get us in trouble.

God would love for us to think about ourselves the way He thinks about us! He would love for us to know what He thinks and desires for our lives, and He would love for us to know how He feels about us!

This concept of dying to self is all through Scripture: Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

1 Corinthians 15:31 – I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I died daily.

This doesn’t mean that Paul got saved every day, it means he had to crucify his flesh, his desires, his wants, every day! Stay in God’s word and it will teach you how to walk in the Spirit.

God Is Not Judging You

Romans 8:33 – Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

So many see God as a judge that waits for us to do something wrong and then passes judgment. Not so if you are a believer. Instead, He justifies us because of the blood of His Son. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t get chastised. God’s word, in fact, says, that the One who has the right to condemn us, chose instead to die for us and is risen at the Father’s right hand to be our righteousness (Romans 8:34)

What Satan tries to do though, is to get us to believe that God watches us with a critical eye and punishes us when we do wrong. He has gotten so many Christians to believe that when they have done wrong, bad things have a right to come upon them and their families. When these bad things happen, Satan convinces many that this is God’s judgment against them. If Christians believe the devil’s lies, they suffer condemnation.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Ever since the cross, where Jesus was judged in your place and mine, God no longer judges us, His children. Jesus took all of our punishment at the cross, we just need to accept Him.

When a Christian begins to feel condemned, they need to say, “It is God who justifies me. I am completely forgiven and made righteous before HIm.”

Isaiah 54:9 – “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so I have sworn that I would not be angry with you nor rebuke you. (Verse 10) For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you. Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed.” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

God doesn’t have to swear, but when He does it is an iron-clad guarantee that He will never do this. He’s saying He will never condemn us or get angry again with His children. Please keep in mind, this is for true believers only!

Do you remember why God put the rainbow in the sky? This is a reminder of God’s oath that He would never flood the earth again. But don’t ever think that God has gone soft on sin because He hasn’t. The word “rebuke” in Isaiah is not the word “correct.” Rebuke there is the same Hebrew word used in rebuking “the Red Sea” and in Zechariah, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan.” It is a word for condemn. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

These verses in Isaiah are for the people who don’t have it all together – not perfect in all their ways, they sin. These are people who still struggle but love the Lord and that have accepted Him for their salvation.

This passage is a reminder that when we see the rainbow it is a reminder of what Christ has done in bearing our sins at the cross. Jesus took all of our sins along with our punishment. So God says, “I have no more anger for the one who believes in My Son! That’s as clear as it can be. We are not under God’s condemnation or judgment!

Loving the Wrong World

Intimacy with God can be hard to grasp. While we strive to have a personal connection with God, it often seems like a one-sided relationship. One reason for this is that too many Christians have developed a great love of this world and forgot about the world to come.

1 John was written to Christians. This book doesn’t tell sinners how to get saved, it tells believers how to have an intimate relationship with God. 1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world: What does it mean to love the world? The Greek word for world is “Kosmos” meaning earth. But in this text its the “spiritual Kosmos,” not the physical earth. The world can be defined as that system headed by Satan that leaves God out.

1 John 5:19 – We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

So the reason that God doesn’t want us to love the world is that His enemy runs it! God doesn’t want us to love something or someone that doesn’t love Him. The world relates to a central theme surrounded by a spoken world of finance including banks, credit unions, savings accounts, money in our pockets, including the Treasury of the United States because all of those things have one thing in common – money.

So when God talks about “Loving the world,” He’s only talking about one thing but it has different “spokes” coming at it and that one thing is that “It leaves God out!” It’s an organized, preplanned system that wants to draw us out from the will and the way of God and that’s “Worldliness.”

It’s Satan’s desire to get believers to fall in love with a fallen world. 1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

John 17:15 – “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”

We can be in the world and benefit from it, but we are not to “love it.” That is when we are faced with a decision between God and this worlds’ order, the question is, “Who do you love?” That answer will be reflected in the choice that is made.

The enemies goal is to get us to conform to this world and the things in it: Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

To love this world is to seek it over and against God’s will. Don’t leave God out when faced with a decision. Why? Because we need to know who our Father is and only want Him!

One of the biggest reasons many Christians never experience the presence of God is because they want to also hold onto the world. They demonstrate this when they make decisions and leave God out of the equation. They make up their minds to do it their own way and basically tell God that He’s not part of this one!

Look what the Bible says about being friends with the world: James 4:4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Friendship with the world puts us in conflict with God. Today in the Christian life, we battle with this thing called “worldliness.” We want the world and the people in it to accept us, and embrace us. But Jesus made it clear: John 15:18, 19 – “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. (Verse 19) “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Can you not see this in the laws that try to keep Christians from praying in public places and the laws that make it legal to kill innocent babies in the womb? The world doesn’t want prayer in “Jesus name” being said at any public gathering. Christians are mocked and hated just as in Jesus’ day.

In 1 John 2, verse 15, John is not talking about having the things of the world, but loving the things of the world. And then John gives us three reasons why we don’t choose the world over God.

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. John was saying that everything in the world falls into one of these three categories.

Lust of the flesh: Lust means to crave, desire, the craving for pleasure outside of the will of God. Either because the thing in itself is wrong or the thing is right but it’s used in an illegitimate way. For instance: Drinking wine is not a sin but “drunkenness” is evil! Sex is not wrong but outside of marriage between a male and a female is sin!

Lust of the eyes: That is the illegitimate desire for possessions. This is the craving for “stuff!” People will drown in debt because they had to have it! Many can’t honor God with their finances because they have to honor Visa and Mastercard first. 

The pride of life: This is the illegitimate pursuit of “position.” People scheme to get ahead, lie and cheat to be promoted. Hooking up with people that can advance them even though their value systems don’t agree with the Christian values. Compromising priorities and morals. This is the boastful pride of life. The desire to advance independently of God even if it is not God’s will. Unwilling to submit under God’s hand.

This was the temptation Satan presented to Eve – I can be as smart as God! Satan uses the things of this world to get our attention off the things of God. So how do we know that we are loving it? We love it when it trumps God! When we want the thing more than we want God.

However, God gives us all things to enjoy: 1 Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. The things that God gives us are to enjoy not replace Him.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. This world and the things in it are temporary! Things rust and corrode that are in this world, but the love of the Father never fades!

Don’t love the wrong world. This world is passing away but this world is not our home. Have the right perspective of our true home – heaven.

Pursuing Your Heavenly Citizenship

Earth is not our home. Each and every Christian’s primary citizenship comes from heaven, and one day we will make the journey home. Until that day, we have an obligation to live as citizens of that kingdom, representing the holiness and the love of Almighty God to this world.

How do we have a life on earth that will matter when we get to heaven? Our perspective of what heaven is like, can transform what our life looks like here on earth.

Philippians 3:20 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Verse 21) who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

God wants to remind us over and over again this is not our home! He wants to remind us that the short time we are here, to treat it that way.

Colossians 1:13 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, (Verse 14) in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

If you have come to faith in Jesus Christ, you are a citizen in heaven on a temporary assignment on earth. If we can understand that we live “up there” and merely “work down here,” a whole lot of things will change in our lives.

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes to them and wants them to understand this concept: Philippians 3:12 – Not that I have already attained, or am I already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Paul was saying that he had not “arrived” as of yet, obtaining his spiritual maturity and accomplishing his divine purpose that he was put here for. So he says in verse 12, “I press on.”

Philippians 3:14 – I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul wasn’t “gliding” through his Christian life, he was pushing on.

Salvation is free because the price has already been paid by the finished work of Jesus Christ. Spiritual development is not! We will never find our divine purpose or grow up to be a spiritual adult by gliding. We must press on! It must be a determined decision to prioritize our spiritual growth and experiencing God’s purpose for our life if you ever want to have a spirit-filled life!

Now look at one verse before verse 14: Philippians 3:13 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,…

If we ever want to get to tomorrow, we have to let yesterday go. Many Christians are crippled by yesterday. All of us have a yesterday that includes three things: the good things that we’re proud of; the accomplishments we’ve made that benefit us and others and there are some ugly things that we have in our past.

But Paul says that if he is ever going to achieve the purpose for which God created and saved me, I have to let yesterday go! Why should we all have this same attitude? Because as Christians, we are citizens of heaven and not a slave of earth!

The Apostle Paul had some very good things that he was proud of. However, he also had some things that he was ashamed of in his past. He used to kill Christians for a living! If Paul had never let what he used to do go, he would have never become the great apostle! Paul had to overcome yesterday through his pursuit of Jesus Christ today!

We need to learn not to let the devil do a “play action” on us. He wants us to think that we are chained to our past. Satan tells us we can’t overcome yesterday, yesterday owns us. This is a lie! If the devil can get Christians to act on this enough, they will miss out on God’s purpose for their life. He tries to make us think that we are defined by our yesterday.

If you are still breathing then God’s not finished with you yet. That’s why Paul wants us to know that we are not citizens of time, we’re citizens of eternity. We have to renew our minds to this concept. If we can see how tiny our time here is to how long eternity is, it will change what we prioritize.

God wants us to have the proper view of eternity so that we maximize our time. Our view of eternity effects time. Our view of time affects eternity. He wants us to view ourselves as visitors of earth.

The generation of Israelites in the wilderness never got to the Promised Land because they kept looking back and grieving for what they didn’t have. They had lost sight of where God wanted to take them. We have to press on to where God wants to take us to spiritual maturity and divine purpose. We have an enemy that doesn’t want us to experience what God has for us.

But how do we do this when we have our yesterdays pressing in on us? Philippians 3:15 – Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

In other words: If we don’t understand this, God will help us. If we don’t get that the “eternal” must be placed above the temporal, God will show us this.

Philippians 3:17 – Brethren, join in following my example and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Verse 18) For many walk, of who I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; (Verse 19) whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.

Paul is warning Christians to watch out who they are hanging out with. How can one Christians try to grow in spiritual maturity, but the Christians they hang out with are carnal? Paul tells us to follow his example and “walk this way.”

As Christians, we are to have friends that think on a spiritual level, not the friends that “mind earthly things.” Those that are only concerned with “worldly” things don’t see spiritual things the way God wants His children to. Heaven is not their focus. God calls those like that, “enemies of the cross.”

It is amazing to me when Christians are offended when spiritual Christians give them spiritual perspectives. They don’t want to hear it. I had family members like that. Call themselves Christians, but yet didn’t want to hear the true meaning of how they were actually living. Offended! Unless it is God’s point of view, there will be no assistance from Him even if you pray about it.

Philippians 3:20 – For our citizenship is in heaven from which I also eagerly wait for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ,…

Jesus can return at any moment so we are to live as if His return is today! Whether we go to Him first or He returns here, Paul tells us to be ready. We should be living each day in that reality because His return could be any second.

Praying In Jesus Name

As Christians, it is normal for us to conclude our prayers with, “In Jesus’ name.” Many of us have gotten so used to doing that, it’s as if we don’t even hear ourselves. Could it be that using the phrase, “In Jesus name,” is being used illegitimately?

When we conclude our prayer, “In Jesus’ name,” it determines whether we get what we ask for or whether we don’t. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:19 and John 14:13, that if we ask in His name, we will receive what we ask for. However, many of us have done that and not received what we had partitioned for. So are we doing this legally or illegally? The use of Jesus’ name and it’s legitimacy determines whether we get what we pray for or not.

What is the principle, “In My name?”

God has already determined that what He does in history, on earth, He will do by means of Jesus Christ. That’s why 1 Timothy 2:5, says, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 7:24, 25 – But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. (Verse 25) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He lives to make intercession for them.

The ways of God and the word of God are mediated or transferred by and through the person of Jesus Christ. When we talk about His “name,” we are talking about the person who stands behind the name. When we talk about, “In the name of Jesus,” we need to know the person whose name we use. It can’t be just the name. It has to be the authorized use of the person whose name we just called in prayer.

It is not our authorization for Him to do what we want just because we use His name. Jesus says that He will give us authority as long as He is authorizing how we use His name. When we use His name without His authority, we lose His backing of that authorization. And when we pray to the Father without the backing of the Son, we don’t get the support of the Son in the request we made to the Father.

However, here’s the good news: God the Father never turns down God the Son. There was only one time in history when God the Father turned down the Son’s request and that’s when Jesus bore our sins on the cross when Jesus said, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me? If it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me.”

This can never happen again because Jesus can only die once for our sins. So when we pray, we want to make sure that what we are praying for, Jesus is praying for! If Jesus is praying for what we are praying for, God will never turn it down and it becomes an answered prayer for us. We have to have a link between our prayer, His name and the request we made to the Father.

What are the prerequisites to being able to use the name legitimately and with kingdom authority?

What will make us authorized to get the Father to answer our prayers? God demands total surrender! Romans 14:8, 9 – For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Verse 9) For to this end, Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. This is submission to His Lordship!

Luke 6:46 – “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” Lord means He is now our Master. People call Him Lord but yet don’t follow His ways or do what He says. This is what stops prayers from being answered. We don’t pick and choose what we’re going to obey. He wants absolute surrender, not part of the time but all the time.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

When we decide that our whole life is owned by Him, that’s surrender. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 – Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (Verse 20) For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 

Once we become a believer, we don’t get to own ourselves anymore! Only when we are willing to give up ownership will we be able to have kingdom access. Jesus has to be Lord in our lives in every area including relationships. The more we surrender the more of heaven we’ll see!

As we begin to renew our minds according to God’s word, we will start to think and act like the Spirit of God wants us to. We begin to think what the Holy Spirit thinks and its exactly what the Son thinks and that’s exactly what the Father thinks!

No man can have two masters. We can’t have the Lord and anything we value more (Matt. 6:24). We all have ideas but only the Lord gets to make the final decision. He overrules what He wants for our lives. He knows best because He knows the end from the beginning. He wants total rule over our lives especially if we want to see heaven come down and answer our prayers.

It is not enough just to believe in God, not when it comes to having God move on earth on our behalf. God moves on earth through His Son! Intervention on earth has to come through Christ. We must be willing to be identified with Him! Never apologize for your faith that you are a follower of Christ.

To call on His name in the day of trouble means you have publicly confessed Him before men! Romans 10:9, 10 – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Verse 10) For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made to salvation.

There has to be an open declaration that we are followers of Jesus Christ. It’s not hidden! So when the Bible says, “Those who call on Me,” confessed, they will be delivered.

John 14:13 – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Verse 14) “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

We need to ask ourselves: Do we glorify the Father and Son by what we are asking Jesus to do in our prayer request? When we go to God, being fully surrendered, and we go to Him in the name of Jesus, are we willing or able to tell what God will get out of it? Do we tell Him that He will benefit from our prayer request? Everything we do and say should glorify Him because He is worthy. Do you tell others the good things God has done for you? You should.

When we place faith and trust in Christ alone, He gives us an inner confirmation of our salvation. 1 John 5:13 – These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (Verse 14) Now, this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (Verse 15) And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked Him.

When there is a gap of time between a legitimate prayer in Jesus’ name, the “knowing” that He is going to answer, the reason for these laps is because of “preparation!” Either God is preparing “it” for you or He’s preparing “you” for it. God will use whatever time is needed for the preparation to occur for the request to be answered and use to be qualified to receive it when it comes.

But here is the bad news, we can delay the timing of that answered prayer because of delayed preparation. People can decide that they aren’t going to surrender or obey. So the time-line depends on us whether we are obedient or not. Sometimes God has to do a work in us to prepare us for our request.

Remember Israel in the wilderness? It should have taken a month or a month and a half to leave Egypt and get to the Promised Land, but they went around and around for 40 years and only two of that generation entered! That wilderness they were in, was a preparation for the Promised Land.

When we are in link with God, 1 John 5 says there is a “Knowing” that occurs. Physical and spiritual healings will occur. 1 John 5:16 – If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.

The prayer will heal the sick and address the sin. Now, all sickness is not due to sin, but a lot of sicknesses are. However, if we could understand the spiritual, we’d do a lot better with dealing with the physical.

Most of our prayers are wanting God to change something in the “physical realm.” There’s nothing wrong with that except we want Him to do it without us “touching” the “spiritual.” For instance: “Don’t touch my sin, but give me what I asked for!” “Don’t touch my rebellion, but give me my blessings!”

Prayer doesn’t work like that. God wants to change situations that we want to be changed, but He’s going to address the spiritual aspect of it also.

The name of Jesus gives us power over the devil because much of what we deal with has come from him or through him or by him – the enemy. In Luke 10:17-19, Jesus tells His disciples that they had authority over Satan “In His name.” Instead of the devil and his demons walking all over the disciples, the disciples walk over them.

Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents (demons) and scorpions (demons), and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Why would Jesus give us this authority? Because many of the issues we have are demonic. It’s not the difference in personalities that causes divorces. Its that the devil got ahold of those personalities and the person allowed it!

Jesus’ name is not some magic name that we use for any purpose. This is the Person of Jesus behind His name and if we don’t have an intimate relationship with the Person Jesus Christ,  then they can’t expect the power that comes with the name.

When we go to the Father in prayer and if we have our identity in Christ, whom we follow and have submitted ourselves to, then we have the proper credentials to approach the Throne and know He hears our requests!