Die To Yourself

Romans 12 v 2 do not conform

If you are a Christian or have ever been around Christians, then you have probably heard the phrase “die to yourself.”  That is a strange phrase to the world.  What does that mean exactly?

Roman coliseum
Ancient Roman Coliseum (where Christians were killed)

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul urges the believers in Rome to stay pure and holy as they follow Jesus.  Anybody who has studied history knows that Rome was full of immorality in the first century.  It was not a place of purity and holiness.  It was a place of vile sin, violence, and death.  Paul urges the new believers to offer their bodies to God in a very unique way.

“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Romans 12:1

Worship is much more than singing.  Paul is telling the believers to die to themselves (let go of the sinful behavior and attitudes of the world) and become “living sacrifices” in order to be holy and pleasing to God.  He is saying leave the ways of the world and worship God with your whole being in everything you do!

“Do not conform any longer 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.”

Romans 12:2

Paul does not want the believers to act or live like the Romans anymore.  He wants them to understand that they must be transformed by the Holy Spirit who washes our minds and hearts clean.  That admonishment comes with a promise too–that we will be able to understand God’s will when we live our lives in the renewal of the Spirit!

All of us who follow Jesus are the Body of Christ and He is working through each one of His people!  Paul makes sure the believers understand this.  He would have rebuked the phrase, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  Paul is saying forget that and love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Romans 12:3-5

Colosse 2
Ancient Colosse

Colosse map

Paul says it this way to the believers in Colosse:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:1-3

When you accept Jesus, your old life dies, and your new life is safe in Him.  We are to die to ourselves daily, which means we no longer satisfy our old way of life with all its worldly passions and desires.  My old self died back in 1996 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Galatians 5:24

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

Colossians 3:5-8

“I die every day–I mean that, brothers–just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:31

You can only “die to yourself” and live in purity and holiness by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  It is through His Holy Spirit that the Lord renews our minds, sanctifies our souls, and gives us power to live a righteous life–and that only comes through Jesus!

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all!”

Colossians 3:9-11

May all of us who love Jesus keep our focus on Him, die to ourselves daily, and may all of our lives be a spiritual act of worship holy and pleasing to God, in the Name of Jesus, Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

Titus 3:3-8

John 3 v 16 big

 

 

 

Early Morning Blessing

Moon at store

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior..”

Jeremiah 20:11

Good morning everyone!  I was up very early again today as usual around 5 a.m.  I had an unexpected surprise this morning though.  My son woke up and came downstairs around 5:30!  He was up and ready to go, and I had to go to the store, so I brought him with me.

I had the lights in the house low and as we were leaving it was still dark outside.  My son turned to me and said, “Dad, I’m scared of the dark when you are not here, but when you are with me, I’m not scared.”  I love my son and his open honest heart!

I opened the garage door to back out the truck and we stepped into the still morning darkness.  I said, “I felt that way when I was little too son, but you don’t have to be afraid.  Even when I’m not with you, who is always with you son?”  My son’s answer was one of the best things I have ever heard, especially before six in the morning!

My son looked at me and smiled and said, “the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior.”  That’s right, my son was quoting Scripture to me!  I could not have had a bigger smile, and I said, “That’s right son, He is always with you.  You know your Scripture son, I’m proud of you.”

After that, I backed out the truck and my son stepped into the dark garage with joy.  As my son jumped in the truck he said, “This is cool, it’s like we’re army guys!”

When we know Jesus, we do not have to be afraid anymore because He is most definitely our Warrior who goes before us and encamps all around us.  We are His soldiers and the Lord is with His people like a Mighty Warrior.  He already defeated the darkness at the cross and He set us free from that fear a long time ago!

Grace and peace to you all!

Ben looking at moon

 

Armor of God

Psalm 91 v 11

Acts 4 verse 12

White horse verse

What Message Did Jesus Preach?

Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee
Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee

When Jesus started His ministry at the age of 30, what was His message?  What was it that He preached to people as He walked from town to town?  His message was simple and bold, and His message still applies to all people on earth today.

The above picture is of Capernaum, which is on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in current day Israel.  This is where Jesus lived after John the Baptist was put in prison, and this is where He started His ministry.  It was here that He called the first disciples, preached the sermon of The Beatitudes, taught in the synagogues, healed many people, and drove out many demons.  I would really love to go to Israel someday and visit all of the Holy Land historical sites!  This is a top one on the list!

“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.  Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali–to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:12-16

The “lake” is the Sea of Galilee.  It is referred to as the lake throughout the New Testament.  That “great light” the prophet Isaiah is talking about is Jesus Christ.  That prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus traveled from Nazareth to Capernaum.  Jesus is The Light of the world!

Sea of Galilee map Nazareth to Capernaum

In the very next verse upon reaching Capernaum, we learn what Jesus preached as He traveled about Galilee:

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 4:17

That’s it folks!  It was a simple message then, and it is a simple message now.  Repent, which means turn around 180 degrees and go the other direction.  Stop going your own way and repent of your sin and go God’s Way.  Why?  Because “the kingdom of heaven is near,” that’s why!  That is good news!

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.  Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”

Matthew 4:23-25

That was how Jesus started His ministry and three years later He defeated sin and death at the cross.  He preached a simple message of repentance and forgiveness.  Repentance of sins=forgiveness and reconciliation with God in the Kingdom of Heaven!  That forgiveness comes through receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

As Jesus said:

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:15

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

If Jesus had been born in our time and He had started His ministry in your town, He would have preached the same message and healed and blessed people the same way as He did in Galilee.  His power and love are still with us today through the Holy Spirit, which you receive upon accepting Jesus!  Read my posts titled “Who is the Holy Spirit?” and “The Day Jesus Promised The Holy Spirit” to learn more about that.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

His message has not changed even in our time!  Forgiveness and salvation in Jesus is for every single person on this earth, and that promise is for you too!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 116

 

 

He Commands The Storm

Jesus calms the storm

Life feels like that for a lot of us, doesn’t it?  We are being battered by raging waves in a violent storm that is swirling all around us.  It can be scary and insurmountably difficult to face the storms we live through.  I have good news for you today!  You do not have to do this alone!

Did you know that Jesus has the power to calm violent storms?  If you have never read the historical account of what happened, today is a good day to hear it!  Here we go:

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”  So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep.  A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:22-25

The “lake” is the freshwater Sea of Galilee where the fishermen worked for their daily catch.  Due to its location at lower elevation and the surrounding mountainous topography, it is subject to violent wind storms due to changing temperatures off the Mediterranean Sea.  This creates a swirling effect, which in turn causes a squall to come down into the Jordan River Valley, which wreaks havoc on the lake.

Sea of Galilee 4
Created by Stephen M. Miller
Sea of Galilee 8 Mount Tabor
Sea of Galilee from top of Mount Tabor (where the Transfiguration of Jesus happened!)
Mount Tabor where transfiguration happened
Mount Tabor (Matthew 17:1-13, The Transfiguration of Jesus)
Sea of Galilee 5 with Holy Land
The Holy Land, Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee 2
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee. Simply Beautiful!

It is beautiful, but if that is anything like Lake Michigan in Chicago, then I would not want to be out there on a boat during a violent wind storm!  Boats sink all the time in Lake Michigan!  They can sink out there too!  The disciples were scared to death of the violent storm that surrounded them!

I absolutely love how Jesus gets up so nonchalantly after His nap on the rocking boat, and rebukes the raging storm with ease.  It reminds me of my kids waking me up from a nap when there is a spider in the house.  “Daddy, daddy, wake up!  Help us!  There’s a spider!”  It is like the world has ended as they shake me awake!  It is something that seems so scary to them, but it is so easy for me to just get up and squash that little sucker.

That is what Jesus does for us!  The storms of life can rage and the waves can come crashing over the boat, but Jesus has it all under control.  Cry out to Jesus when you need help.  He will rebuke that storm in your life and restore calm.  I know this is true because He calmed the raging violent crashing waves of Celiac Disease and restored order and peace to my life.  Whatever your storm might be, He can do the same for you!

Trust Him today.  Jesus can handle any storm this world throws at us!

Grace and peace to you all!

“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

Matthew 8:26

Sea of Galilee 7 sunset
Sea of Galilee at peace

Boat in calm waters

“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.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:27

 

Sins As White As Snow

Isaiah 1 v 18 scarlet to snow

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

The Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament is a mighty book of prophecy.  The prophet Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would come and die for our sins.  That verse is about what Jesus was coming to do for the world!

What a strong stark contrast!  Look at how Jesus cleans our souls!  He takes the dark stains of our sins and washes them away so clean that we stand before God as white as snow!

That is what everyone truly wants.  To be clean, whole, and at peace inside their soul.  You can have that today!  You can have that this very moment!

Jesus Christ offers you forgiveness and reconciliation with God.  He offers you eternal life in Heaven.  He offers you His peace.  He will fill you with the Holy Spirit, which gives you divine power for living a righteous life!  He promises to never leave us and He will be with us to the very end of the age!  Above all, He loves you deeply, so deeply He died for you!

Listen to how the Prophet Isaiah foretold what would happen to the coming Savior of the world, the Messiah.  Keep in mind the book of Isaiah was written around 700 years before Jesus was even born!

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:3-5

Isaiah was a Prophet of God, and he called it right.  Jesus was most definitely “pierced for our transgressions” when they nailed him to that cross.  He paid the price for our peace with God, and by those wounds that He suffered we are healed!

First though, you have to receive that free gift of salvation by faith!  Jesus can and will wash you so completely that all of your sins will be as white as snow.  That is what He did for you on the cross that day.  He rescued you and gave you the Only Way out of the valley of the shadow of death!

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Come to Jesus today!  I promise you that He will receive you in love as His own, and He will forgive every one of your sins!  The peace, power, and joy He gives us by the power of the Holy Spirit is incredible!  I invite you to accept God’s forgiveness for all of your sins and become a child of God today!  In the power of Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Grace, mercy, and peace to you all!  Jesus truly does love you!

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:22-24

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

Isaiah 53 verse 5

 

 

Look To The Heavens

Rocky Mountain National Park stars

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

Psalm 40:26

Grace and peace to you all!  This will be a shorter post.  Something went wrong with WordPress and the last post I wrote titled “The Day Jesus Promised The Holy Spirit” did not show up on the scrolling Reader for some reason.  It is a very important post and I am not going to let the enemy stop me with some computer mistake.  Please click the hyperlinked title if you would like to read it.

Remember today, I AM is the Great Creator!  If you want to see how powerful He is, just look up!  By the way, how cool is it that God calls each star by name?  That is real cool!

Check out these pictures of the moon and sunset I took with my Canon camera:

Moon 6-3-17

Moon (5) 6-3-17

Moon 10-28-17 531 pm
I don’t know how He does it, but that is just cool! Praise God!
Sunset (2) 1-3-17
Sunset over the Rockies

The Day Jesus Promised The Holy Spirit

John 14 v 16 17

Before Jesus was crucified for the forgiveness of the world’s sins (John 19), he spoke with His followers and comforted them.  He let them know that the Father would be sending a very special blessing to them.  He made sure they knew they were not going to be alone.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:15-20

What Jesus is telling them is that after He is crucified and ascends to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, He will ask God to send down the Holy Spirit to all believers and fill their souls with Him.  Jesus is literally saying He is in God, we are in Him, and He is in us–literally, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  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.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:25-27

Jesus is very clear that the Holy Spirit will be coming!  He is comforting them and He does not want His followers to be afraid.  He knows the evil one (a.k.a. the prince of this world) is coming for Him, and Jesus knows His mission is to forgive the sins of the world and defeat that evil prince.

“I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming.  He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

John 14:29-31

After Jesus died and rose from the dead on the third day, He appeared to His followers and spent time with them for 40 days before He ascended into Heaven.  On one occasion he took the time to promise His followers again that the Holy Spirit was coming soon.

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.  After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:1-5

So, what was it like when the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven?  Great question!  In the next verses, keep in mind that it was 33 A.D. in Roman occupied Jerusalem.  Jesus had just been crucified a little over a month earlier.  Christians were being persecuted by the Romans and the Jews.  The believers were huddled together in an upper room of a house they were hiding in.  Jerusalem was not a safe place for them to be, but they obeyed the Lord and waited.  Their courage and patience was well worth it!  Let’s take a look:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in once place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Acts 2:1-4

Now, that is not what it was like when I received the Holy Spirit in ’96, but I was filled with an inexpressible joy and peace, and a couple months later I cast out a demon by the power of God inside me.  I did hear that wind though when I stopped breathing and came back in 2012!  Folks, please listen to me, that was the same wind my wife and I heard when I came back after I had stopped breathing from anaphylactic shock!  My wife prayed over my lifeless body that the Lord would bring me back, and just moments later she witnessed my mouth open and our whole bedroom was filled with the sound of a rushing wind!  The wind went into my mouth and I took a huge deep breath, opened my eyes, and I was back in my bedroom again!  I was in the wind and it deposited me back in my body!  Yes, you read that right.  It was swirling all around me, and it was loud and beautiful!  I was completely safe and protected!  That is the Holy Spirit power and we still see the same power and miracles that the Apostles did in their time!  I am testifying Lord!  Glory to Your Name!

I pray with all my heart that everyone who does not know Jesus comes to know Him today!  Please know that Heaven and hell are very real.  Please know that Jesus is alive and He will still fill you with His Holy Spirit when you receive Him as your Lord and Savior!

I am still alive today because I am sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, which I received in 1996 when I accepted Jesus–Amen, Amen, and Amen!  The Holy Spirit is very much active on the earth in our time.  I just wanted you to realize that Jesus is still keeping His promise almost 2,000 years later!

Grace and peace to you all!

33 things the Holy Spirit does