Act On God’s Word

JAMES 1:22 NKJ 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
How easily we fall into the trap of listening to, or even studying, the Bible — but not acting on its instructions. According to this verse, that opens us up to deception. We think we are spiritual. We think we are safe. But then, when things don’t work out we will blame God and question why He let us down.
LUKE 6:46-49 NKJ 46 “But why do you call Me `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? 47 “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 “But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
Trouble is coming — it’s part of this life. If you act on the Word, trouble will not destroy you and your household. If you neglect acting on the Word — no matter how much you hear it — when trouble comes your way, it may be devastating.
Why?
Not because it’s God’s will, or God doesn’t love you. Simply because you refused to act on the instructions which God — who knows more than you do — gave you for your protection.
DEUTERONOMY 12:28 NKJ 28 “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.
God gave us His Word because He loves us and desires to help us. Not because He likes to boss people around and give orders. Acting on God’s Word is for our benefit.

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When Did The New Covenant Start?

HEBREWS 8:13 NKJ 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The part of the Bible we call the Old Testament is not exactly the same as the Old Covenant, nor is the part of the Bible we call the New Testament exactly the same as the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant was an agreement between God and the children of Israel. We have the record of it in the Old Testament.
The New Covenant is an agreement between God and Jesus Christ. (Therefore it includes all who are united with Jesus Christ, or as the Bible says, all those who are “in Christ.”)
The New Testament is the name we give to the 27 books of the Bible from Matthew through Revelation. The New Testament book is not the New Covenant, but reveals it and explains it.
The New Covenant did not start until after the death of Jesus Christ. For it was sealed by the precious blood of Jesus paying the price for the complete remission of sins for all who believe in Him.
Jesus himself plainly said the New Covenant involved His blood being shed.
MATTHEW 26:28 NKJ 28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The following passage in Hebrews also makes clear that the New Covenant could not begin until after the death of Jesus Christ.
HEBREWS 9:14-17 NASB 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.
Why does it matter when the New Covenant started?
Because it is the key to rightly dividing the Word of God, which 2 Timothy 2:15 reveals is necessary.
Without a clear understanding of when the New Covenant starts, and what the New Covenant is, we will be confused. (Not understanding this clearly is why so many teach different things about what is required to be in good standing with God.)
The entire earthly ministry of Jesus happened under the Old Covenant and was directed only to Israel (Matthew 15:24, Romans 15:8). When Jesus first sent out His disciples He told them to only go to the people of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). But after His resurrection they were sent into all the world to tell the Good News to everyone (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).
So every word spoken by Jesus before His resurrection was spoken before the New Covenant existed.
Does this mean we should ignore what Jesus said before His resurrection, or that what He said was not true? Certainly not! Jesus is Truth! It just means we have to remember He was talking to people under the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant.
For example, in Matthew 19:16 the rich young ruler asked Jesus what to do so he could have eternal life. Jesus’ answer in Matthew 19:17 to “keep the commandments” is much different than the answer in Acts 16:31 which says simply to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” or 1 John 5:13 which says those who believe in the Son of God may know they have eternal life.
Under the Old Covenant, keeping the commandments was required as the way to have good standing with God. Under the New Covenant, good standing with God is a gift which comes with believing on Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17-18, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
1 JOHN 5:11 NKJ 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Eternal life is not gained under the New Covenant by “keeping commandments” but as a gift. This is why Jesus came, to bring in a New Covenant established on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).
ROMANS 6:23 NKJ 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans tells us that “eternal life” is a gift. If we have to earn it in any way, or pay any amount for it, then it cannot be a gift.
We must realize things changed dramatically because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without that realization, we can err greatly in understanding the message of Jesus.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:19 NKJ 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
All the New Testament is Jesus’ message to us. But the things He said to His body, the church, after He redeemed us with His blood, take precedence over the words He spoke under His Old Covenant ministry on earth, because they recognize the reality of the New Covenant.
Jesus told His disciples (right before His death) that He had much more to reveal to them.
JOHN 16:12-13a NKJ 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;
So don’t be confused and think what Jesus said during His earthly ministry was His last word. If Jesus had already given them complete truth, there would be no need of the Holy Spirit to come and guide them into all truth.
So Jesus continued speaking through His apostles after His ascension to Heaven. This is what we have recorded as the letters to the church (Romans through Revelation) in the New Testament.
Through these letters, Jesus by the Holy Spirit, has revealed that the New Covenant includes right standing with God as a free gift through our union with Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!
HEBREWS 10:16-17 NKJ 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

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Be Thankful

PSALM 107:1 NKJ 1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
It seems the more people have the less thankful they become. Today complaints are abundant, but thank yous are few.
COLOSSIANS 3:15 NKJ 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Being thankful is not optional for a Christian. If it was impossible, God would not have told us to do it.
So, why are people not thankful?
Gratitude is a mark of maturity. Ingratitude is a mark of immaturity. Babies are never thankful.
Neither are proud people thankful. Why? Because their mindset is that they deserve not just everything they have, but even better. “Why be thankful for something less than what you deserve?” describes their thinking.
A funny thing you will notice if you consider it: unthankful people are never happy. In fact, the more thankful a person is, the happier they are.
(This is an example of how acting on God’s Word is for our benefit. God didn’t invent commands just to be bossy.)
You will not be bothered with depression if you act on the Word of God and “be thankful.” The cure for unhappiness is being thankful. Try it.
But how can you overcome the bad habit of ingratitude? Only by changing your core beliefs. As long as you believe you are getting a raw deal, or less than you deserve, you will never become a thankful person.
But if you realize that you deserved punishment and eternal separation from God — yet in His mercy God instead gave you what He deserved, and EVERYTHING you have — including every breath you breathe — is a gift — then you will become a thankful person.

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Some Commands Take Precedence Over Other Commands

MATTHEW 22:37-38 NLT 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God…’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
Some commands are more important and carry more weight than others.
Not all of Scripture is commands. Mostly it could be called rules (or precepts) for living. In some situations these rules may conflict with one another. When they do, we must know which ones take precedence.
Unless you recognize this, you might find yourself confused when facing an important decision.
The Bible says children should obey their parents. But children should not obey an order to forget God.
EPHESIANS 6:1 NLT 1 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.
The Bible says we are to obey government leaders. But what if you live in a country where it is illegal to be a Christian? Clearly, God is a higher authority than human government, so there are times when a believer may have to disobey human government.
TITUS 3:1 NLT 1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
ACTS 5:29 NLT 29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.
As these examples should make obvious, there may be times we have to ignore one Scriptural instruction in order to obey a more important one.
We should obey our spiritual leaders, such as a pastor. But those leaders are human and can be wrong. If they tell you to do things contrary to God you should not blindly follow them.
HEBREWS 13:17a NLT 17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God.
When we work for someone we are to obey them. But we should not obey if asked to do something illegal or immoral.
COLOSSIANS 3:22 NLT 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.
As an extreme example, a teenage boy might be in a situation where God, government, his parents, his boss, and his pastor might all be telling him to do something different. Which one should he obey? There is New Testament Scripture telling him to obey them all!
Obeying God is always the ultimate priority. If and when we are ever faced with such decisions, we should turn to God for guidance and follow His direction.

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Sin Is Deadly

God loved the people of the world (including you) so much, that He chose to suffer the penalty justice demands for your sins, so He could enjoy life with you. We should rejoice in God’s mercy and love, but we should not forget that sin is a terrible thing.
Sin is not just a list of things God has arbitrarily determined to be against. Sin is bad. Even if there was no God, sin would still be bad. God is against sin because it hurts people.
The Bible is clear that sin is deadly. All sin eventually brings forth death.
I don’t mean that sin results in punishment (which is another issue), but that sin produces death and loss.
ROMANS 5:12 ESV 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned –
ROMANS 5:21 ESV 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
ROMANS 6:16 ESV 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Sin leads to death.
ROMANS 6:23 ESV 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sin pays some very undesirable wages: death.
JAMES 1:15 ESV 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Sin brings forth death, when it is fully grown.
Sin is also deceptive. It can sometimes tantalize by offering pleasure for a season.
HEBREWS 11:25 ESV 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
But when the fleeting pleasure of sin is gone, the pain remains.

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Rest A While

MARK 6:31 KJV 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
One preacher paraphrased this verse by saying “come apart before you come apart.”
God is our Source, so resting should be a turning to God, not a turning away from Him. It would be unwise to take a “vacation” and ignore God.
Our bodies need rest, but our minds also need rest from the constant barrage of bad news and entertainment the media tries to sell us.
Many fill their days with noise. The news or some other broadcast plays constantly in their background. But we need times of quietness. We need time when we allow God to guide our thinking, instead of the media.
We need to make room for the thoughts God desires to share with us. We need times when we shut out all the other voices trying to speak to us and focus on God.
Everyone wants your attention. Advertisers want to convince you to buy their product. Broadcasters want your attention so they can attract advertisers.
But God also wants your attention, not to get something from you, but to provide you with His wisdom and guidance.
God wants to communicate with you. But when you surround yourself constantly with other voices, you will miss some of what God wants to say to you.
Prayer is a way for us to rest. It is a time when we can cast our load on the Lord, refocus on Him, and quit carrying all the responsibilities ourselves.
ISAIAH 40:31 NKJ 31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
The Bible also cautions against laziness, so resting should not be our primary focus in life. But with today’s hectic pace of life, many are neglecting this part of God’s instruction given for our benefit.
Remember, God commanded the children of Israel to rest for one day each week. Their Sabbath was not a day full of religious activity either, but a true day of rest.
While we are not under Law requiring us to keep the Sabbath in order to be right with God, it is still a principle we need to practice. To be our best, humans need to rest!
Rest should be a time when you do something different than your normal daily activity.
We cannot ignore God’s instruction without it costing us. Many today are broken in body and burned out needlessly. We must learn to rest properly, so God can refresh us and strengthen us in order to finish our course.

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Jesus Never Fails

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 NLT 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
There have been times in my life when it looked like Jesus had failed me, and I certainly felt like He failed me.
But I was wrong!
Jesus has never failed me.
I have failed Him many times. I deeply regret that.
I also regret the times I doubted the Lord and thought He was failing me. Jesus does not deserve to be treated that way.
A lot of it happened when I was very immature spiritually. I guess I expected the Lord to make my life a bed of roses with never any challenges or difficulties. I thought I could do whatever I wanted and God would always bless it.
Well, I had to grow up and realize that going my own way and doing my own thing was not working very well.
Yet, through all of my immaturity, through all of my failures, through all of my ignorance, Jesus always took care of me. I always had my needs met. He always helped me and worked things out for me, eventually. It just didn’t always happen at the time and in the way I thought it would.
Over time I have learned I don’t know much. But Jesus does! He knows everything. He knows the future, and I can trust Him, because He loves me. And He loves you just as much as He loves me.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:9 NKJ 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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My Faithful God

2 TIMOTHY 2:13 NLT 13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
I have walked with God for over 40 years. I can tell you, from experience, that God is faithful!
I have failed Him many times, but He has never failed me!
God has always taken care of me. He has stuck with me through all kinds of things, always helping me. Even when I was not trying to follow Him, I can see that He was protecting me and helping me.
I have not been a perfect person. I have made many mistakes. I have wasted a lot of time and money. I have done a lot of wrong things. But God has never failed to be perfect!
Even now as I write this my eyes are filled with tears, because of the astounding faithfulness of God!
To think that the perfect Almighty God would love me and care for me so faithfully — one so unworthy — is beyond comprehension. (I must add that the precious blood of Jesus has made me — and you — worthy in God’s sight, but it was nothing we did to deserve God’s love and grace. It was a pure gift!)
DEUTERONOMY 7:9 NLT 9 Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.
God is so good!
PSALM 36:5 NLT 5 Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
The wonderful thing is that God loves you just as much as He does me. Somehow He is big enough and capable enough to care for all of us who trust in Him. He wants to be more than your God, to also be your Friend and Helper — your Heavenly Father.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:9 ESV 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I beg you, for your own good, trust in Jesus Christ completely. Turn your life over to Him. Believe His Word! Walk with Him. It is the way of true abundant life!

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You Are Not A Loser

1 JOHN 5:4 ETR 4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.
If you have received Jesus Christ then you are a child of God (John 1:12). The Bible says you are an overcomer — a winner!
A big problem is that many Christians have a mistaken identity. They don’t understand who they really are because they have not been told the full truth.
When you received Jesus Christ, more happened than just getting your sins forgiven. You became a new person, a child of God (1 John 3:2). And not one of God’s children are losers!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 NLT 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
If you are a Christian, then you are what God says you are. You may not be acting like it yet, but whatever God says you are — you are. For whatever God speaks comes to pass. If God were to say you are a monkey — you would become a monkey.
God has said many things about you. He says you are an overcomer. That means you are a winner, not a loser.
1 JOHN 4:4 ESV 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 JOHN 5:5 ESV 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Who can overcome whatever the world throws at us? WHOEVER believes in Jesus! That includes you!
1 JOHN 5:4 ESV 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
What we believe is the key to overcoming. For truth, we must get our beliefs from the Bible.
If you have received Jesus you are born of God and God is your Father. You ARE a world overcomer. You are not a big mess-up. You are not a loser.
That may have been your past, but now things have changed. Clearly understanding who God has made you will change your actions, and your future.
You are a victor — an overcomer! With God on your side helping you, you can overcome any obstacle or problem.

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Jesus Came To Save Sinners

1 TIMOTHY 1:15 NLT 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them all.
Jesus came into the world to save sinners: not to leave us as sinners, but to deliver us from being sinners. (The word save means to deliver.)
MATTHEW 1:21 NLT 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Sin is our problem. Sin has been destroying us and we did not even realize it. Jesus came to save us from our sins, not to save us from God. God is not our problem — sin is. God is our answer.
JOHN 8:34,36 NLT 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
God’s ways are good and benefit us. Rebelling against God and choosing to sin (which is doing selfish acts that harm someone) is always (eventually) harmful.
God’s grace does not mean “just allowing us to do wrong without any consequences.” Grace is something freely given without regard to whether we deserve it, but it should change us, making us better than we were before.
God gives us the gift of righteousness and imparts His life into us. God’s life, when yielded to, gives us ability to walk in light, life, and love. In other words, God’s grace gives us the ability and the desire to overcome sin and satan instead of being imprisoned by them and forced to obey them.
The Old Covenant gave laws against sin, but did not change people’s hearts. With the New Covenant comes a new birth of the inner person changing our desires. That enables us to be able to walk free from sin’s bondage, as we choose to live from our heart.
Fortunately our Father is merciful and patient, so even when you do sin, you are not rejected and thrown out. You can always receive forgiveness and start over with a clean slate from God (although natural consequences may still be there).
1 JOHN 1:9 NLT 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
God will never quit loving you. He loves you right now — just the way you are. But God loves you too much to leave you the way you are. His plan is not to leave you in sin’s bondage but to make you free.

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