Bearing graciously with one another

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12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; 13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.  Colossians 3:12-13 AMP

We are God’s chosen people.  We are called to be holy because He is holy.  As we live our lives for Him each day our lives become a vessel of his glory.  Our lives have been set apart for His purposes.  As we walk with Christ we are sanctified on a daily basis.

We are called to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Simply put we are told to put on the character and nature of Christ.  As we seek the Lord and abide in Him our hearts are transformed.  Our hearts become one with His and we begin to see the world around us as Jesus sees it.

We are called to bear graciously with one another.  We live in a world of broken people and even in the body of Christ we are a people in process.  We have people who are at all different growth and maturity levels and because of this we must bear with one another.  God because of His grace and His mercy has poured out His love upon us and therefore we must pour out our love on one another.

We must be willing to forgive one another.  One of the greatest weapons of the enemy is offense.  He has used offense to create divisions in families, marriages, and churches.  But if we are to truly have the heart of Christ it is a heart of forgiveness.  It was Jesus who cried upon the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” as He hung upon the cross.  Let us love one another and be the sons and daughters God has called us to be.

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Enter through the narrow gate

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 AMP

We are commanded by the Lord to enter through the narrow gate.  Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  There is only one way to the Father and it is through Him.  What is interesting is that in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve could eat from every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  But today on earth there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ.

Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many will find it.  We live in a culture and day where people claim to believe all types of things.  Our culture will claim there are many ways to God or that God doesn’t exist at all and a person is simply their own god.  But the truth of God’s word has not changed.  Jesus is the only way to the Father.  What is very said about this verse is that Jesus says many will find the broad road that leads to destruction.  One of the reasons I believe this is is because to follow Jesus a person must be willing to make Him both Lord and Savior and where many struggle is making Him Lord.

But small and narrow is the road that leads to eternal life.  It is not an easy road.  A decision to follow Jesus Christ is a decision to die to ourselves on a daily basis.  Our sinful nature and our flesh desire to be comfortable.  They desire to chase after the lust and desires of this world.  But for us to live for Christ each day we must abide in Him.  It is only through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit that we are able to do this.  It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us for all things.

No matter what the world and our culture claim there is only one way to God and that is through Christ alone.  For a person to be saved they must confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is truly Lord.  It is through Him alone that forgiveness can be found because of His precious blood that was shed at Calvary.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength

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The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

Habakkuk 3:19 NIV

The sovereign Lord is my strength.  The Lord is the strength of our lives.  He is the one who holds all things together by His mighty power.  He holds our very breath and moment in His hands.  So many times we allow our hearts to get focused on circumstances that are nothing compared to the God that we serve.  The Lord desires that we would cry out to Him and ask Him to move according to His will.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.  It is the Lord who enables us to do the impossible.  In a world filled with darkness, wickedness, and deception, it can seem that things are in chaos and out of control.  It can seem that it is impossible for the advancement of God’s kingdom.  But these are simple deceptions of the enemy.  The Lord desires that we would come to know His word and His heart.  That our prayers would be shaped by His character and His love.  Because we know with Him that nothing is impossible.

 

 

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty

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Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. – 1 Chronicles 29:11 NASB

God is the only one who deserves to be worshiped. So many times people in this world spend their lives worshiping celebrities, people in power, and even those in ministry. But when we examine God’s word and take time to meditate upon the greatness of God we see that He alone deserves our worship.

Satan’s greatest mistakes was in his pride he believed he deserved to be worship. He allowed pride to fill his heart and his eyes to become focused on himself. Today he still tries to steal the worship only God deserves. It is when our worship is given to God alone that we truly experience all that God has for us. And worship is not merely the songs we sing it is the way we live our lives. The more we come to know the Lord and grow in Him, the more He simply becomes our obsessions and our pursuit.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him

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17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.  Psalm 103:17-18

The Lord’s love is everlasting and eternal.  His love and mercy is lavish upon those who love Him and walk in obedience to His word.  Our relationship with God is one that is based upon a covenant that was established through the precious shed blood of Jesus Christ.  To be able to be brought under this covenant requires a person to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

The door of salvation is open to all people.  When a person is confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ it requires them to make a decision.  For those who receive and accept Jesus their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life because their sins have been forgiven.  But for those who reject Jesus and reject Him throughout their life time, they will spend an eternity separated from God because they have no answer to their sin.

God’s love is far greater than we will ever understand.  He simply desires to pour His love out upon us.  We have been created in His image and He has created us with plan and purpose.  He has created us with destiny.  As we come to know Him and walk closely with Him, we come to discover who we are and why we are here.  May we draw near and abide daily in Him.

Romans 15:5-6

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6 NKJV

We serve an awesome God.  He is full of patience and comforts us along this journey that we walk with Him.  We are called to walk in unity.  As we grow in the character and nature of who Jesus is this will be a natural manifestation of our growth in Christ.  We will view our fellow brothers and sisters as the Lord sees them.  We will see those who are lost as the Lord sees them.  The key to all things is growing in the character and nature of Christ.  This happens as we daily abide in the Lord and spend time in prayer and the study of God’s word each day.  We will simply find ourselves becoming more and more like Christ each day.

Hebrews 6:1-8

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  Hebrews 6:1-8

This is a warning to believers of the importance of growing and maturing in our relationship with God.  We are called to abide in Christ on a daily basis.  We are called to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Those who would begin with Christ and then begin to chase after the ways of the world and abandon the Lord, place themselves in danger.  Sin is deceptive and we are called to walk according to the Spirit.  For when we walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit we will not gratify the lust and desires of the sinful nature.

As we walk each day following the leading of the Holy Spirit our desire for the Lord and His kingdom continues to increase.  We are transformed into the image and character of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As this happens we desire to abandon the things of sin and the world.

But those who would begin with Christ and then turn back to the world play a very dangerous game.  For it is the Holy Spirit who draws us near unto the Lord and it is important we heed the drawing of the Holy Spirit because when we rebel and reject the leading of the Holy Spirit we begin to harden our heart towards the Lord.

Let us heed the warnings of the Lord in His word.  Let us take seriously what God’s word has to say.  The culture of our day rejects God and His kingdom.  We are not called to align ourselves with this world and its ways.  We are called to repent and turn from this world.  May we walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So you do not know the works of God who makes everything

As you do not know what is the way of the wind,[a]
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.  Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

There are things about God’s plan and His ways that remain a mystery.  When we look at circumstances and things we are facing often times we will look at things through our understanding or rationale.  But we must remember that God and His ways are above our ways.  He has called us to trust Him and walk by faith.  As we draw near to the Lord each day and study His word we are encouraged and strengthened.  God’s word is filled with promises and we know He who has begun a good work within us will be faithful to complete it.  Our journey with Christ is simply about growing in faith and trusting the Lord.  Our eyes must remained fixed upon the Lord in every circumstance.

For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Galatians 2:17-21

The apostle Paul understood the grace of God.  The reason he understood the grace of God is because he knew the man he was before he came to Christ.  Before he came to Christ the apostle Paul was a pharisee.  He zealously followed the law of God, but understood it was impossible to keep the law.

Before he came to Christ he thought that Jesus was actually trying to destroy the law.  He zealously tried to destroy the early church seeking out directives from the religious leaders to hunt early Christians down and throw them in prison.  Paul even stood with approval as Stephen was being stoned to death.

But on the road to Damascus the apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus Christ in which Paul’s life was turned upside down.  He committed his life to Christ and God used him mightily to write a majority of the new testament and to begin to plant churches and advance God’s kingdom.  The apostle Paul was sent as an apostle to the gentiles.

He understood that righteousness was through faith alone.  The purpose of God’s law was to govern the nation of Israel because it was a theocracy through a covenant established with God.  But the law was never meant to lead to righteousness.  The law reveals the righteousness of God and reveals man’s need for a savior.  For when one tries to keep the law perfectly it is impossible.

There is only one who was able to perfectly keep the law of God and that was Christ Jesus.  This is why He claimed He did not come to destroy the law, He came to fulfill it.  In fulfilling the law of God it makes it possible that anyone who would placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would have the righteousness of Christ applied to them.  It is only the precious blood of Christ that is perfect and is only able to wash away our sins.

This is why it is no longer us who live, but we live by faith in the Son of God.  Daily we die to ourselves, decreasing that He may increase.  May we daily fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ and desire and seek to know Him in a deeper way.  He has made the way of salvation possible through the cross and it is through Jesus that we are able to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.  Matthew 18:15-17

Jesus has established how we are to deal with brothers or sisters in the body of Christ we know are involved in sin.  We begin by going to them individually and bringing it to their attention.  When a person becomes off track they can become blinded by the sin they are involved in.  Their life style can also begin to negatively impact other members among the body.  This is important because young believers can easily be pulled off track.

If they fail to listen when we approach them then we are to bring along one or two witnesses and confront the person once again.  If they fail to respond we are then to bring them before the church.  This is a practice that is not carried out in many churches today.  Many churches fail to use church discipline as it is prescribed in God’s word.

But when the lifestyle of a member in the body of Christ begins to negatively impact the greater body of believers it is time to take action.  Everything should be done in love and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing should ever be done in a self-righteous spirit because that only comes from our sinful nature.  The goal of all church discipline is that the individual will repent of the sin they are involved in and return to a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.  The most important thing is the health of the greater body of Christ.  We are family and we are called to love one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another.  But it doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to wickedness and sin.