March 2006

Jesus Eternal-LifeThe purpose of the Monthly view is to affect the way people see God and the way they see His love for them. It is God's desire that you know He loves you so much, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 1

Childhood Memories

Like many of you, I memorized John 3:16 as a child, never realizing that it would lodge in my mind to be useful to bring me to Christ years later. The verse pricked my heart when I overheard a young lady sharing it with an inmate she was visiting. I turned to my visitor with excitement and said, "That's right, God did so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." She thought I had lost my mind, but in reality, the Lord was opening my eyes to understand God's love for me. 2

My parents took me to church with them from almost the day I was born. I remember so well the Sunday schools and the grape juice and crackers I wanted so badly, but was told I was too young. Every summer, I would go to vacation Bible school, sing songs, memorize Scripture. One year, I put together a kit of the tabernacle of God, that Moses built in the wilderness. But still, my desires for things that felt good and seemed to fulfill my lust of the flesh, won the battle for my heart.

I was ignorant of the things of God, causing me to have a foolish heart. 3 I had so much to learn about life, but I thought I knew it all, especially more than my parents. I had a classic case of rebellion, not knowing that I had so much to learn about life, not only mentally, but spiritually. My closed mind was full of darkness, I was far away from the life of God, because I had shut my mind and hardened my heart against Him. I did not care anything about right and wrong, and I gave myself over to immoral ways. My life was filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. 4

How About You?

Is your spiritual condition similar to mine before Christ? Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them. They don't understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.5

It is our many thoughts that blind our minds. It is well recognized that as a man thinks in his heart [inner man], so is he. 6 The unbeliever is enslaved by his or her fleshy thoughts, but once the Holy Spirit is invited into our hearts, the mind begins a progressive healing called sanctification. 7 My chart called We Are What We Think can help one to understand the healing process that takes a lifetime. Though our bodies are dying, our inner being is being renewed every day. 8

One tool Satan has used to blind the minds of the unbeliever is the theory of evolution. This false teaching challenges the reality of creation which is the very heart of the Good News of Christ. For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. This precious treasure is the light and power that now shines within us, so everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. 9

Let Go & Let God

The believer's life consists of denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus. 10 Our sufficiency for healing is solely through the power of Christ's blood, death and resurrection. 11 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now in the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. 12

The temptation often comes to lay down the cross and take up the power of the flesh. Jewish believers in the New Testament were tempted to return to the law of Moses to seek the righteousness of God, which made meaningless the grace of God. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die. 13 Similarly, we learn from an early age that being good earns rewards. This good, like the law, does not earn salvation, since God saves us by His grace when we believe. And we can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. 14

The Lord said through the Prophet Isaiah that He will keep those in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on Him, because they trust in Me. 15 We are to run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Originator and Perfector of our faith. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor on God's throne in heaven. 16

Living The New Life

The secret to Christian living is the recognition that you have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the evil powers of this world. Don't keep on following religious rules of the world such as "Don't handle, don't eat, don't touch." Such legalistic rules are mere human teachings about things that are gone as soon as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires. 17

Rather do this: since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in His glory. 18

Remember, the most important piece of clothing you wear is love. Love is what binds us together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your heart and make you wise. Use His words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father. 19

Be Happy In Christ

The Good News of Jesus Christ is the power of God that brings salvation. It reveals the righteousness of God by faith. 20 King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared to be righteous: "Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord." 21

This happiness comes by faith. For the Scriptures tell us, "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." 22 Now this wonderful truth, that God declared him to be righteous, wasn't just for Abraham's benefit. It was for us too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous when we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead. He was handed over to die because of sins, and He was raised from the dead to make us right with God. 23

And so, dear Christian friends, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will for you really is. 24

A Prayer For You...

Heavenly Father, strengthen me with Your glorious power so that I will have all the patience and endurance I need. May I be filled with joy, always thanking You Father, who has enabled me to share the inheritance that belongs to Your holy people, who live in the light. For You have rescued me from the one who rules the kingdom of darkness, and You have brought me into the Kingdom of Your dear Son. You have purchased my freedom with Your blood and have forgiven my sins. Oh, how happy You have made me. I rejoice in everything you have done, and give thanks. Amen!

Footnotes:

1) John 3:16
2) 1 Cor. 2:9-10
3) Rom. 1:21
4) Eph.. 4:17-19
5) 2 Cor. 4:4
6) Pr. 23:7
7) 1 Thess. 5:18
8) 2 Cor. 4:16
9) 2 Cor. 4:8-7
10) Luke 9:23
11) 2 Cor. 12:9
12) Gal. 5:24-25
13) Gal. 2:21
14) Eph. 2:8-10
15) Isa. 26:3
16) Heb. 12:1-2
17) Col. 2:20-23
18) Col. 3:1-4
19) Col. 3:14-17
20) Rom. 1:16-17
21) Rom. 4:6-8
22) Rom. 4:3
23) Rom. 4:23-25
24) Rom. 12:1-2

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