Friday, November 2, 2012

Above All Guard Your Heart

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.If the first two fruits, love and Joy are not present in a person it will be hard to posses the third fruit.
Before I move further, I have some questions
Do you have peace in your life?
Do you have peace in your family?
Do you have peace with your parents?
Do you have peace with your children?
Do you have peace at your work?
Do you have peace with your boss?
How valuable peace in your life is?
What would you pay for it?
What would you do in order to bring peace in your life?
What did God do to bring peace in your life?
Say- Gave His son
What did His son do to bring peace in your life?
Say- Gave His life
Then what happened?
Read John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
He gave His peace and He left His peace with us and said do not let your hearts be in trouble
It means God is concerned about our lives.
When He gave us His Holy Spirit, He gave His fruit also.
God’s love is unconditional; it means He always loves us.
Joy is from the Lord.
Peace, that we are going to talk about will also be found where there is love and joy.
God is in the midst of a family and fruit of His Spirit will grow in the midst of people only
Would you like to see God’s fruits growing in the midst of you or not
If yes, then you must know that there is a cost for it
If you do not want to pay the price, how will you be called of Jesus?
Read John 17:16-18
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
You are in the world but not of the world. Jesus works through your body in others lives. It means He is very close to you so you are likely to be like Him slowly
Are you transforming like Him or like the enemy?
Test yourself -
Search your heart-
1. Is God’s peace with you?
Read Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
If God’s peace is not with you, you will be influenced by the world and your faith will waver then how can you receive from God? This is very dangerous because it allows Devil’s will not God’s will be done
Read James 1:6-8
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
2. Do you have peace in your life
Read Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
When you have tough time in your life where do you turn?
God is our father He will surely shape us so that we can have a better personality
You must know that God’s word gives us peace not the fear
3. Is there conflict between peace and pride?
Read Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus is talking about our every day’s burden. It may be related with family, with job, with health. These burdens we have to carry everyday.
Are you living a prideful life?
How many times has your pride put you in trouble?
If you, who are of the Lord will have the ways of the world, then don’t you think devil will hinder your progress?
4. Do you have peace even among stubborn people?
Read Romans 14:12-19
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
God has called us for the reconciliation not for judging each other. He has called us to remain in His love, joy and peace.
Read Matthew 18:19
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
God does not want anyone of us to perish, that’s why He is asking to agree with each other. If we do not work in harmony the devil will win and destroy us.
If you love the world, then it is dangerous.
Some points to remember-
1. Jesus said His path is narrow but the world’s ways are wide
2. It seems we are living life but it leads to darkness
3. It brings disrespect and the devil seems to dominate
4. It breaks your inner peace
One Advice -
Read Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Guard your heart because the battle field is this world and its ways
Read Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
My last question
Who is holding your heart the world or Jesus?
If Jesus then you are not made for defeat
Read Proverbs 24:16
for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Say- I am God’s righteous and His peace is with me
My Prayer-
Father in the name of Jesus,
I give you thanks for giving success in the lives of the people who trust in you.. I pray and thank that these people have faith in you and you provide them the peace. The best days are about to come in their lives. You have blessed them richly. God’s ways are peaceful this you have revealed through your spirit.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Growing in Christ

Lesson 5 Growing in Christ
(Romans 6, 1 John 3, Ephesians 6)
Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Last week we learned the heart of the gospel: salvation is by free grace alone, there is nothing we can do to earn it. Our studies for this week and the next two are about how those who are saved should live. Have you ever been embarrassed by a member of your “group?” It might be your family, your church, your organization, or, perhaps, a Christian leader. Someone did something that brought shame. Since a battle rages between good and evil, and those saved by grace have chosen the side of good, shouldn’t we do everything we can to aid good, to repay love with love, and not harm the name of Jesus? 
Let’s plunge into our Bible and see what it teaches us about how those confident of their salvation should live!
I.    Death to Sin
A.    Read Romans 6:8.
How did we “die with Christ?”
(Read Romans 6:1-3. That is one of the amazing things about grace. The penalty for sin is death. The Bible says that when we are baptized, we participate in Jesus’ death on our behalf. Our debt is paid!)
A.    Read Romans 6:4-7.
What is our relationship with sin after baptism?
(Our old self died, therefore we have been “freed from sin.”)
1.    Does it feel that way?
(I struggle with sin. If you say you don’t struggle with sin, you likely struggle with honesty.)
1.    When Paul writes that we are “freed from sin,” how has our relationship to sin changed?
(I think he means we are freed from being forced to choose sin. Sin is no longer our involuntary master.)
I.    The Choice
A.    Read Romans 6:8-10.
Pay close attention here. If we died with Christ, does that mean in some supernatural way I have died to sin, even though it still seems to plague me?
A.    Read Romans 6:11.
If we died to sin in baptism, why is Paul asking us to “count yourself dead to sin?”
(I think Paul is making a common sense argument, not a supernatural argument. He says salvation was won for you by Jesus. In baptism you participated in Jesus’ death on your behalf. Now live like you are dead to sin.)
A.    Read Romans 6:12.
If something supernatural happened to me to kill my old sinful self, why is the Bible telling me not to let sin reign in my body?
(This shows living a holy life is a choice. Paul asks us to choose to reject sin.)
1.    Whose evil desires are we discussing?
(Sin in my “mortal body” has evil desires. This text brings great light. The post-baptism person, whose old self was crucified, has evil desires!  Now we are talking about something that accords with my experience in life.)
 1.    Notice a very important word, “reign.” What is Paul saying about the nature of sin in our life when he says, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body?”
What is he not saying about sin?(He is not saying “No molecule of sin can exist in your life.”  No, he says, “Don’t let sin be in charge of your life!” If you find yourself (a person certain of salvation) wrestling with sin, welcome to the journey to holiness!)
A.    Read Romans 6:13.
How should we contend with sin?
(Choices. Choose God, not sin. Use your body to do what pleases God, don’t use your body to do what is wicked.)
A.    Read Romans 6:14. Is the outcome in question?
(As long as you are saved by grace, you know sin cannot be your master.  You might wonder at times, but the outcome is clear. Paul says “Live like someone assured of salvation.” Notice again the concern is sin being your master, reigning over you, as opposed to the ordinary struggle with sin.)
A.    Read Romans 6:15.
Why does Paul add this question here?
(People say the same thing today that they said thousands of years ago, “If I’m saved by free grace, and there is nothing I can do to earn salvation, then I might as well sin!”  Or, if you are a critic of grace, you say, “Free grace means it doesn’t matter what you do!”)
A.    Read Romans 6:16-18.
Why does sin still matter to those confident of their salvation?
(We have made a choice. We have chosen God has our Master. God has freed us from the penalty for our sins. Therefore we need to be loving and loyal to our Commander.)
I.    The Big Picture
A.    Think about your favorite (or most troublesome) sin.  Got it in mind?
How does it impact others?
Does that impact on others reflect love or selfishness on your part? 
Do your actions advance or hinder the Kingdom of God?
1.    Do you spend much time thinking about how your sins (or contemplated sins) harm others?
A.    Read Ephesians 6:10-13.
What is the nature of the conflict over sin?
(It is God versus “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”)
1.    How are we a part of this conflict? (The counsel to put on “the full armor” sounds like we are warriors. We are soldiers.)
1.    What is the source of our power? (God.)
1.    Who is not the enemy? (Not other sinners.)
1.    What kind of fight is this? How can we fight Satan and demons?
A.    Skim Ephesians 6:14-18.
What do these articles of war have in common?
(With the exception of the sword, they are all purely defensive weapons.)
1.    What does this suggest about the nature of our battle?
(You are the battle ground! Your life is the battle ground.)
1.    If your life is the battle ground, does it make sense that how you act is important?
A.    Read 1 John 3:1-3.
How do children feel about normal, loving parents?
(They stand together as a family against the world.)
1.    What happens if someone attacks a member of your family?
(Your natural reaction is to defend the family member.)
A.    Read 1 John 3:4-5.
How does our understanding of the family guide our thoughts about sin?
(God is in a battle against sin. As part of His family we are part of this battle.  Jesus died to save us from sin. If we look at the “big picture,” rather than focusing on the temporary excitement of our sin issues, we will realize how important it is to take a stand against sin in our life.)
1.    How does this “family” analogy fit with the armor analogy in Ephesians 6?
(It fits perfectly. We are saved by grace, but we are in a fight to preserve the integrity of our “family” (God and fellow Christians). We avoid bringing shame on the family. We help other members of the family.)
A.    Re-read 1 John 3:4-7 and then read Romans 7:14-18.
How can you reconcile the apparent contradiction between John and Paul?
(I think Paul is arguing the “little picture,” meaning, “What does the sin in my life mean?” 
He answers, it means you are human.
John, on the other hand, is arguing the “big picture.”
If we are part of the “God family,” if our family is in a world-wide fight against evil, then we will want to avoid sin and evil in our life.  Lawyers have a phrase that illustrates John’s point,
“How can you ride with the cops and cheer for the robbers?”)
A.    Read 1 John 3:8-10, Romans 8:1-4 and Romans 8:9-11.
We see here that the apparent gap between John and Paul has narrowed. This is where the big picture and the little picture come into the same frame. How does this help us to better understand grace?
(We are saved by grace alone. The decision to accept Jesus is a decision to choose to live in accord with the Holy Spirit and not in accord with our sinful nature. Our goal must be holiness - and we must be serious about our goal.)
A.    Read Colossians 2:13-17. What does this suggest about the nature of sin?
(In our goal for holiness, we need to realize that sin focuses on our relationship to Jesus. This is an issue we will continue to explore.)
A.    Friend, do you care about the sin in your life?
Has salvation by grace alone made you sloppy when it comes to obeying God’s will?  Why not decide today to make holiness your goal?

I.    Next week: Victory Over Evil Forces.