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.

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Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:8 NIV

We are told time and time again in God’s word to love one another.  Jesus exemplified this in the way He lived His life and the way He laid down His life for us.  He didn’t have to go to the cross, but He chose to because of His love for us.  We are created in His image and the offer of salvation goes out to all people.  Those who receive what Jesus has done and placed their faith and trust in Him will spend all eternity in God’s kingdom.

The apostle Paul had to defend the gospel throughout his ministry.  Many tried to distort the grace of God; either treating it as a license to sin or falsely teaching that the gentiles had to keep the law.  The grace of God does not divorce us from walking in obedience to the Lord.  For before we come to Christ we are slaves of this world and the desires of the sinful nature.  But when we come to Christ we have been bought at a precious price and become slaves of the Lord and His righteousness.  Our lives no longer belong to us.  They belong to the Lord.

In loving others we fulfill the law.  When you examine the law it is God’s righteous standard and it is impossible for anyone except Jesus to keep the whole law.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to walk in love.  For when we come to Christ it is the Holy Spirit who comes to live in our hearts and transforms us from the inside out.  May everything we do on this earth be done in God’s love and done to glorify His name.  For we are called to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Hebrews 11:6

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And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

It is impossible to please God without faith.  Salvation is based upon faith in Jesus Christ alone.  It is not based upon works or performance.  For if righteousness and salvation were based upon works and performance, man would have something to boast about.

But without Jesus Christ we are spiritual bankrupt.  God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Being diligent speaks of continual pursuit of Almighty God.  When we come to Christ and make the decision to follow Him that is only the beginning.  The decision to follow Christ is a decision to walk with Him on a daily basis and to continually seek after Him with our whole heart.

When we come to God we must believe that He exist.  There are many in the world who reject the existence of God.  They believe that the world revolves around them and they don’t believe they are accountable for the way they live their lives.  But all will stand before God some day and give an account of the way they have lived their lives.  They will give an account as to whether or not they truly made Jesus Lord and Savior of their lives.

A decision to follow Jesus Christ is a decision to abandon our lives unto God.  We decide to deny ourselves and pick up our cross.  For in following Jesus Christ our lives no longer belong to us.  When we come to Christ our lives belong to Him and the driving force of our lives is the will of Almighty God.

 

In deed and in truth

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

I John 3:18 NKJV

If we are to truly love as God has called us it requires action. Many will say that they love someone or they will even claim to love God. But if our actions don’t back up our words we are simply a liar.

God’s love is eternal and unconditional. As we walk with Him we become filled with His love. This is what truly defines us as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:11-12 NIV

John writes that since God first loved us we should love one another.  The true mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who is filled with His love, grace, and mercy.  Simply carrying the title Christian means nothing.  Christianity requires action and everything we do should be from a place of God’s love.

When the love of God is manifested in our lives one for another the character and nature of God is on display.  Many will reject the existence of God and the truth of the bible, but what they can’t deny is a life that is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  God simply desires to use our lives to glorify His name so that others will be drawn to Him for salvation.

His desire is that none should perish, but all come to everlasting life.  In this hour in which we find ourselves upon the earth we know that our time is very short and His soon return is very soon.  There is coming a day when the judgement and wrath of Almighty God is poured out upon the earth.  Until that time may we be diligent students of God’s word and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

May our hearts be consumed with His love and His grace.  Every opportunity we have may we lavish the love that God has lavished upon us on others.  There are so many who are broken and lost that surround us daily.  May we see the fields are ripe for harvest and be the generation of sons and daughters that God has called us to be.

That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do

That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.[b]

10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus[c] hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor[d] for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.  Philemon 8-22

Paul writes in his letter that he could demand that Philemon do this in Christ because it is only right to forgive a brother or sister in the Lord.  But Paul appeals to the love that is within us because of Christ Jesus.  For everything we do should be motivated by the love of Christ.  People will know that we are disciples by the love that is within us and it is this very love that Paul is appealing Philemon to act on.

Paul refers to Onesimus as his own child in the faith because it is under the ministry of Paul while he was in prison that Onesimus came to saving faith in Christ Jesus.  When Onesimus ran away from Philemon he was not yet a believer.  But now the apostle Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus because he is a child of God and a fellow brother in the Lord.  When Paul states that he is his very heart it shows the love, Paul has for Onesimus.  It is truly amazing how the Lord transforms the life of a person by transforming their heart.  When we examine who Paul was before he came to know Christ and we read these words as Paul is now an old man and close to leaving this earth, it is truly a picture of the grace and power of God.

Paul’s desire was to have Onesimus stay with him and aide him in his ministry.  But Paul knew the right thing to do would be to send Onesimus back to Philemon.  Paul’s appeal is for Philemon to forgive Onesimus and not receive him as a runaway slave, but to receive him as a brother in the Lord.  This is a true picture of God’s grace for us.  For all of us are born into sin and don’t deserve the mercy and grace of God.  But God in His love, compassion, grace, and mercy receives us into His kingdom and His family.  May we always be willing to forgive those who wrong us and always to lavish on others the grace and love that Christ Jesus has for us.

Paul appeals to the fact that Paul is the one who led Philemon to the Lord.  This is why Paul says that he owes him his very soul.  Paul also states that whatever Onesimus may owe that it can be charged to the apostle Paul.  Our lives should be lived according to God and His ways and whenever we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love, mercy, and grace of God we should do so.  The measure at which we pour it out to others is the measure it will be returned back to us.

Paul’s hope is that Philemon would heed the request of Paul.  He is also hoping that Philemon would prepare a guest room for Paul so that when Paul got done in prison that He would have a place to stay.  Christian charity is so vital to the spread and advancement of God’s kingdom.  When the apostle Paul would travel from area to area preaching and ministering he often relied on the charity of others to give him a place to stay.  It was all established by the Lord.  We must remember that nothing we have on this earth belongs to us.  We are simply called to be stewards of that which God has entrusted us with.  Paul’s appeal to Philemon was for Philemon to forgive and receive Onesimus.  When we understand what Christ has done for us we will never have an issue for forgiving those who have wronged us or injured us.

I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker

This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your[a] house.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.  Philemon 1-3

This letter written to Philemon was written by the apostle Paul from prison.  Paul was placed in prison for preaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul understood the depths of God’s grace because of the man he was before he came to know Christ Jesus.  He knew that he was simply saved by grace and not based on anything he had done to earn salvation.

The apostle Paul list some of those who would receive and read his letter in the church that met in the home of Philemon.  We must remember that when the church began there were many challenges that early believers faced and one of them was finding places to meet and fellowship.  Often times these fellowships would begin in the home of someone.  Paul also refers to one of the recipients as a fellow soldier.  Paul knew the many challenges that he had faced in advancing God’s kingdom and that follow Christ was no easy task.  Daily we find ourselves in a spiritual warzone and it is essential that we develop deep intimacy with the Lord.  The greatest investment we can make is time spent in prayer and the diligent study of God’s word.

Grace and peace are only found through Jesus Christ.  What distinguishing Christianity from all the other so-called religions of the world is Jesus Christ.  It is through His death and resurrection alone that we find salvation.  Through faith the grace of God is lavished upon our lives.  As we grow in Christ our lives are filled with God’s peace and His presence.  He enables and empowers us to accomplish His will.  A right understanding of His word and who we are in Him is essential for us to experience all that God has for us.

Will continue his work until it is finally finished

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The work that God begins in our lives is finished by His power and His grace. Often times when we are following the Lord and waiting on His timing we can feel forgotten. But God is always faithful. As we seek Him each day He will establish every step. He has chosen us before the foundations of the earth and our lives are divinely designed. May we fix our eyes and our hearts upon Jesus each day. May we seek Him with our whole heart.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV

The word of God is not complicated.  God has made it very clear that we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This simply means that He is God and we are not.  There are many who simply give God lip service and simply honor Him with their lips.  But the Lord sees every heart and knows all things.

We are only able to experience all that God has for us when we truly love Him with our whole heart.  It is very easy in the world we live in today to allow things to become idols and take the place God deserves.  But as we abide in Him and draw near our hearts and minds are protected from the wiles and schemes of the enemy.

When Jesus Himself was asked what the greatest commandment was He even said it was to love the Lord they God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love thy neighbor as thy self.  These two things sum up the law and the prophets.  It is simple but incredibly complex and deep at the same time.  We only come to this place in our relationship with God as we seek Him each day and draw near.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  It is through Him that life is found.  May we grow each day in our relationship with Christ and become the sons and daughters He has called us to be.

Bearing with one another in love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 NIV

We are called to bear with one another in love.  All of us are broken and being progressively transformed by the Lord.  Because we are all human and the body of Christ is made up of people there are going to be times when people make mistakes and people offend on another.

But for us to truly walk in unity and agreement with one another we must be gentle and humble.  The greatest thing that causes division in the body of Christ is pride and arrogance.  When we walk in pride and arrogance we are blinded to the deceptions of the enemy.  Satan time and again has invaded the body of Christ and brought division.  But God is calling us to be the sons and daughters He has destined us to be.  To be a people filled with His love, grace, and mercy.

An essential component of this is patience.  Again because all of us are human and all of us are broken, mistakes will be made.  Too many times we have this lofty ideal that the body of Christ is some how going to be perfect.  But the body of Christ is filled with people from all different backgrounds and at different places in their spiritual growth.  We must focus our hearts and minds daily upon the Lord and His kingdom if we desire to walk in unity and love.  For when our lives are fixed on Jesus and we are abiding in Him, we will walk in His love and His grace.  We will be able to forgive one another and be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  May we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  May we be simply willing to love one another.