Basics of the Christian Faith

2 Corinthians 13:14
The love of God the Father
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Fellowship:
Social interaction
Partnering with
Participating in
The Holy Spirit is a person – He has a personality, purpose, plans

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The Simplicity of the Faith

If it is complicated – it is religion. If it is simple, it is Jesus! And, we do manage to complicate the Christian faith. Often, in fact, we make it into another religion. We take the basics of the faith and add things to it that take our focus off of Jesus and onto programs, buildings, budgets, bodies (number of people attending), and baptisms (number of people publicly confessing their faith).

In time, Jesus seems to get lost totally. Listen to the worship songs today; most are about us, not Jesus. Listen to sermons; most are about life principles, spiritual deeper life, the benefits we gain from salvation – healing, deliverance, prosperity. Jesus has gotten lost. Not His choice – we did it.

So, we end up with “another Jesus, another gospel, and another spirit” as Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians. And, often, we are totally unaware of it. May I add, “another church” (small ‘c’ because it is not the Church that Jesus is the Head of and that He is building). And, we end up in bondage to legalism or life lived without boundaries (license) and no longer experience the liberty and freedom Jesus spoke of and died to release.

It is time to refocus on Jesus. Maybe it is time to focus for the first time on Jesus. He is to be our focus – the King and His Kingdom. To focus or refocus will mean decluttering our spiritual life. It will mean purging religion out of our system (easier said than done). It will mean learning to travel light and experience life as it was meant to be lived.

Bible Reading – Hints and Ideas

As I speak with believers it is evident that many of them are not doing well spiritually. From young to old I hear about their spiritual lives being “stuck.” In other words, there is no life in their spiritual life. And, almost every time they comment that their Bible reading is adding nothing to their walk with God and, at best, is seriously boring.
As I spoke with them at length and thought about their comments I realized that there are a number of mistakes we make when reading the Bible. Often these mistakes are “life-threatening” and the result of people not being taught when first saved about how to read the Word of God and use it in their lives. Much could be said but let’s start with a few points…

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Prophetic Prayer

Around the world today there is a dawning of a new understanding of prayer

And, here on the home front we need a new understanding of prayer
For most believers, their prayer life lacks life
For some, their prayer time is seriously boring
For others, it is seen as a religious obligation to be fulfilled daily
For almost all, it takes up very little time on any given day
And, obviously it is mostly pathetic and not powerful

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Pitfalls On Your Walk With Jesus

Paul, an apostle whose life was totally transformed by his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, tells us – no, stronger than that – exhorts us to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
On our journey with Jesus we have much to learn and it takes time to get to know Him better as each day comes. It takes time to learn how to live a life pleasing to Him. It takes time to learn to live before Him. It takes time to grow in His life – learning to release His life from within and allowing Him to live His life through us. And, I observe that a lot of believers are wasting their time. And, let’s admit it, our time is limited and each day seems to have more to do than we can accomplish. So, we cannot afford to waste time.
Here are some ways I see that we waste our time as believers and disciples of the Lord…

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THINKING OUT LOUD – About The Church

The Church – is God’s people gathered together

God’s people – born again believers / disciples
The Church – is empowered to be a witness
Acts 1:8 … “you shall receive power and be My witnesses…”
The Church – is here to complete the task Jesus began
Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:19-20
The Church – is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere
Matthew 24:14
The Church – is to demonstrate that the Gospel is true
1 Corinthians 1:4-5
The Church – is to grow and multiply constantly
Isaiah 9:7
The Church – is an organism and not an organization
1 Corinthians 12:27
The Church – is to be salt and light in the world
Matthew 5:13-14
The Church – is called to be ministers of reconciliation – a priesthood unto God
2 Corinthians 5:18 / 1 Peter 2:9
The Church – is called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom
2 Corinthians 5:20

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SEEING GOD CLEARLY

The purpose of the birth of Jesus – a birth that we celebrate each year at Christmas time – is to reveal God to us in His fullness
Yes, His birth brought us:
  • Salvation – a personal relationship with God
  • Healing – of the separation between humankind and the Creator
  • Freedom – from sin and the consequences of sin
  • Life – Abundant life as God lives His life through us
  • Grace – because we receive what we don’t deserve and can’t earn
  • Mercy – because we no longer receive what we deserve
  • Acceptance – of who we are and where we are at
  • Forgiveness – of all sin and wrong doing
  • Purpose – joining God in taking the Good News of the Kingdom worldwide
  • Hope – that there is more to life than what we see and experience here
  • Love – unconditional love – no strings attached – always the same

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The Line in Time

If you have been watching the news…
If you have been chatting with people….
You are well aware of the fact that people are finding the Christmas season has become a time when people are emotionally exhausted and seriously spread too thin
The additional activities and events added to an already very busy life
The additional expenses added to an already tight budget taking many over the top into further debt
The feelings of not being able to do or buy everything that seems to be expected of us at this time of the year … failure as a parent / person
The “stress levels” have gone through the roof and many are simply not handling it well
Add to this, as believers…
The fact that Jesus gets almost totally lost in the midst of these secular / worldly celebrations
The fact that we have less time to think, pray, and read the Scriptures
The fact that personal space and personal time seems hard to find
The fact that reflection and contemplation – which are weak at the best of times – almost cease to exist in this season when they should be stronger and more prevalent
Christmas becomes something we don’t want it to be
Something that does not resemble a Christian celebration of the birth of the Christ Child
The Christmas Scriptures:
Luke 2:8-14 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Peace and joy – the two noticeably absent ingredients for most people – believers and non-believers alike – at this very special time of the year
The birth of Jesus saw God the Father, the Creator of all that there is, draw ‘the line in time’
Jesus’ birth forms the line in time between BC and AD
Or, as it is now known, BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era)
Let me be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ
God drew a supernatural ‘line in time’ when His Son was born in Bethlehem
Everything changed forever – never to be the same again
A new Kingdom was birthed upon the earth – “The Kingdom of God”
A new understanding of God as Father was revealed
The end of religion was announced
Rules, regulations, rituals were no longer needed
Religious control and manipulation no longer had any power
People could now have a direct relationship with the living God
No need for a priesthood based on Old Testament principles
The foundation for the Church was being laid in the spirit realm
War was declared against the forces of evil and religion
Let me be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ
In fact – everything was / is uncommon
Through His birth
God’s “glory” was revealed (His nature and character)
Grace was released and experienced
Truth was established
John 1:14 “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Because of grace – receiving what we do not deserve and cannot earn
We came to understand ‘mercy’ – not receiving what we do deserve
Through His birth (death and resurrection)
Crib – Cross – Crown
Forgiveness for sins became possible through repentance
Acceptance of who we are as we are was granted
Eternal life was received – supernatural ability to have a relationship with God
Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Healing and deliverance were released as basic rights of the believer
The Holy Spirit was released to empower and enable us to share God’s love
The gifts of the Spirit were released to impact the lost, the last, the least
Salvation became available to “whosoever will…”
His birth in Bethlehem was not the beginning of the ‘common era’ – it was the release of the Kingdom of God and the gift of salvation
As a result of His birth in Bethlehem we have come to understand, know, and experience three key elements in the of the Christian – Faith, Hope, and Love
Faith is defined as:
1> Trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which we are justified or born again (saved)
2> Belief that is not based on proof
3> Confidence and trust in a person – as Christians, in Jesus Christ
Faith is “now” and works in everyday life
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Amplified: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
To have faith – to believe … is more than head knowledge, it is heart transformation
To believe means to “totally trust in”
Faith is the key to so much that we believe and how we live today
Examples:
We receive righteousness through faith (Romans 3:22)
We are justified through faith (Romans 3:30; Galatians 2:16)
We stand fast through faith (Romans 11:20)
We are children of God through faith (Galatians 3:26)
We are indwelled by Christ through faith (Ephesians 3:17)
We are raised with Christ through faith (Colossians 2:12)
We inherit the promises through faith (Hebrews 6:12)
We conquer kingdoms, enforce justice, and stop the mouth of lions through faith             (Hebrews 11:33)
We are guarded and kept safe through faith (1 Peter 1:5)
Faith – our faith – is based in and rests upon the birth of God as a man … on that first Christmas in Bethlehem
Hope is defined as:
1> To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
2> To believe, desire, and trust regarding something in the future
3> Expectancy of future events and changes
4> A longing for something or someone
Hope is for now (like faith) but also focused on the future
Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
We, of course, have hope in the resurrection of the dead and our place reserved for us by Christ in Heaven … not just hope in His help now in this life
Hope leads to boldness (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Hope is in a person (Jesus) and His promises (Ephesians 1:12)
We are called to be people who live with hope (Ephesians 1:18)
We have hope because of what is waiting for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5)
Hope is something that is steadfast within us (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
Without hope we grieve at the loss of a loved one (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Hope is a more than a heart feeling – it isa head fast (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
Hope comes as a result of the gift of grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; 4:10)
Eternal life is the result of not losing hope (Titus 1:2, 3:7)
We are to live in full assurance of our hope ( Hebrews 6:11)
Having hope can never be “common” as it is so amazing, so awesome, so supernatural, so uplifting, so needed today and into the future
There is a third major reason why we are not living in a “common era” and that is the love of God…
Love has a number of root words that are all translated “love” and so, in the Bible we need to look at the root of the English word…
1> Philia – affectionate regard as in a friendship
David and Jonathan in the time of King Saul in the Old Testament
2> Eros – Sexual passion
Described in detail in the Song of Songs (aka The Song of Solomon)
3> Storge – Tenderness, affection as towards parents and children
Jesus to His mother Mary as He hung dying on the cross of Calvary
4> Philos – Self-love, love of one’s own self
As in, “love your neighbour as you love yourself”
5> Agape – The unconditional love of God for His children
Love with no strings attached
Love that never changes
Love that accepts and forgives
This love is powerful in the life of the believer and can never be considered “common”…
1> Is seen in the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus
2> It is a gift from God so that we do not have to fear
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”
3> Love builds us and others up – never tears down
1 Corinthians 8:1b “… love builds us…”
4> Love controls us
2 Corinthians 5:14a “For the love of Christ controls us…”
5> Every day when we get up in the morning – we must “put on love”
Colossians 3:14 “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony…”
6> Check your heart (motives) every day so that you keep yourself in love
Jude 1:21a “keep yourselves in the love of God…”
7> God’s love for us is unconditional and never changes
Not based on our performance … but on His grace and mercy
8> If you love the world and the things of the world then you don’t love God
1 John 2:15-16 “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. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world…”
9> When we love we will not allow offences to control or destroy our relationships
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences”
10> Nothing can separate us from God’s love
Romans 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
Answer: Nothing can separate us from God’s love
11> God’s love will never come to an end
Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…”
12> Helps us to build solid and healthy relationships
Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”
13> The way we can live with tremendous faith – faith works by love
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love…”
14> Love never fails or ends
1 Corinthians 13:8a “Love never ends…”
This love is seen IN ITS PERFECTION AND WHOLENESS in Jesus
He came and became one of us – because He loved
He revealed God’s love so we would know the love of God the Father
He died on the Cross because of His love
Jesus said: “there is no greater love than this – that a man lays down his life for his friend” (John 15:13)
He loves us now with an unending and unconditional love …
So, the birth of Christ was God drawing “The Line In Time” and changing the world forever
And, in the midst of drawing the line between the Old and the New Covenant
In the midst of drawing the line between B.C. and A.D. / B.C.E. and C.E.
He made phenomenal changes which can be inadequately summed up in the three words faith, hope, and love
1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Because God, who is love (1 John 4:8) gave us a love gift on that first Christmas – Jesus
John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
And, today we can experience the “great joy” and “peace” that were announced at His birth if…
Let us be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ or the time in history that we live in … C.E. or A.D. …
Jesus is the child born in Bethlehem
Jesus is God in human flesh
Jesus died for our sins that we can be forgiven and have eternal life
Jesus will soon return to take us home to Heaven
The crib is connected to the cross which is connected to the crown
Unto us is born a King… who has changed the course of all history and transformed our individual lives forever!!!!!!

THINKING OUT LOUD – About The Church

The Church – is God’s people gathered together

God’s people – born again believers / disciples

The Church – is empowered to be a witness

Acts 1:8 … “you shall receive power and be My witnesses…”

The Church – is here to complete the task Jesus began

Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:19-20

The Church – is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere

Matthew 24:14

The Church – is to demonstrate that the Gospel is true Read more

A Daring Adventure

Part One – Follow the Holy Spirit
Helen Keller who was born in 1880 both deaf and blind was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. She was made famous by the movie “The Miracle Worker”
She wrote:
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
As Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in us and we have been empowered by Him as well (John 15:26, Acts 1:8)…

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