The Wages Of Sin

ROMANS 6:23 NLT 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sin will kill you. If you practice sin, it will pay you by destroying you.
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”….
Jesus came to save, or deliver, those caught in the trap of sin. He freely offers to all — regardless of their sins — the gift of forgiveness and life. Not just living, or even living forever. But the life of the Eternal One, life as God has it and enjoys it. Real life. Life that changes you inwardly. Life that will last. Life as God intended it to be.
ROMANS 6:23 WEYMOUTH 23 For the wages paid by Sin are death; but God’s free gift is the Life of the Ages bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is not just because God hates sin, that sinners need to be saved. It is because sin is a killer. Sin destroys. Sin hurts people. God is against sin because He loves people. But God did not stop at being against sin without giving us an answer — a way of escaping sin’s clutches.
ROMANS 5:8 BBE 8 But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.
Jesus died for sinners because we needed help. We were trapped in a very bad situation. Sin is deadly and destroys all that is good. Sinners desperately need deliverance — even if they don’t realize it.
Just because sinners don’t realize they are in bondage does not change reality. You could be driving at top speed down a highway and not realize the bridge ahead had been destroyed, but that would not change the outcome just because you didn’t know the bridge was out. To fully realize the ramifications of sin, we need a bigger, more experienced viewpoint than the one we have.
God realized our need and His great love compelled Him to offer us a solution. That solution is found in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s solution to mankind’s sin problem. Jesus is the Savior (Deliverer). Jesus is the One who sets us free from both the penalty and the bondage of sin, and all its effects.
No matter who you are, if you have a problem with sin, look to Jesus for deliverance.

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God Loves A Cheerful Giver

2 CORINTHIANS 9:7 NLT 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
We all tend to like those similar to us. God is a giver, so it is only natural for Him to especially appreciate people who are givers.
JOHN 3:16 NLT 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave . . . .
1 TIMOTHY 6:17b NLT 17 Their trust should be in God, who richly gives . . . .
Cheerful givers are not the only people God loves — God loves the whole world. So the verse probably means God loves for people to give cheerfully.
Let’s think about what kind of a person is a cheerful giver.
It takes both faith and love to be a cheerful giver.
If you don’t care for others, at best, you might occasionally give reluctantly when it benefits you in some way. So cheerful and continued giving is a sign of love and evidence you care for others.
Faith is also necessary to be a giver. Without confidence that you will have enough in the future, it is unlikely you will give cheerfully.
Faith pleases God. God always encourages faith and tells people not to fear.
God also loves to see people blessed. And according to God’s Word, the person who gives has blessings headed their direction. For God says that if we give, it will be given unto us again.
LUKE 6:38 NLT 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full — pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Because God desires abundance for us all, He is pleased when we give because He knows giving is a key to receiving. It is the law of God: in the measure we sow, we shall also reap.
Giving is love in action. Giving is proof of love. Love is not something we can see. But we can see what love produces: giving.

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Enjoy The Lord

PSALM 37:4 NKJ 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
You should enjoy the Lord — not just serve Him out of obligation.
If you have a friend you enjoy being with, it is something you look forward to, not a burden or obligation.
PHILIPPIANS 4:4 NKJ 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
God is the most unselfish being in the universe. His instruction and concern is not for Himself, but for others. So He does not try to get you to draw near to Him so He can feel important, but for your benefit.
PSALM 100:2 NET 2 Worship the LORD with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing!
The reason you need to worship God is because you will be blessed. I usually have a daily time when I shut out other things and pray because I enjoy it and it benefits me. (It is also true that God is worthy, but I do not do it for that reason alone.)
God gave Himself to us so we could enjoy Him and choose to love Him.
It is a mistake to view prayer as a legalistic obligation. Prayer is a privilege. Time with God is a privilege. It should never be looked at as a duty. We are not doing it for God’s sake, but for our sake.
Would you like it if your friend or spouse only spent time with you as an obligation, instead of enjoying it?
God wants you to do right. God wants you to draw near to Him. But He does not want you to do it because you were forced, but because you chose to do so. This is why God gave us a New Covenant, based not on law, but on His grace and our trust in Him.

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DEUTERONOMY 11:16 NKJ 16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,
If there was no danger of believers being deceived, the Bible would not warn us about deception.
LUKE 21:8 NKJ 8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:33 NKJ 33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
GALATIANS 6:7 NKJ 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
The devil is a deceiver. That is his only real weapon against a believer in Jesus Christ: to deceive them, so they will not accurately act on God’s Word.
2 CORINTHIANS 11:14 NKJ 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
REVELATION 12:9 NKJ 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
The thing to remember about deception is that the person being deceived does not know it. No one who is being deceived realizes it. Otherwise, by definition, they would not be deceived.
JAMES 1:22 NKJ 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
This verse is very sobering. When we don’t act on God’s Word, we open ourselves up to deception.
We should never be so proud as to think we could not be deceived. Yet, as we walk closely with the Lord, depending on Him, we need not fear. But we should live soberly, realizing we need to love Truth and diligently press in for understanding of God’s Word.

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When You Hurt, You Are Not Alone

HEBREWS 13:5 ESV 5 . . . he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jesus understands. He knows how it feels to be betrayed, abandoned, hated. Jesus knows what it feels like to hurt.
He lived in a body just like you have. He was just as human as you are.
HEBREWS 4:15 ESV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Some people hurt so badly that they feel it might give them some relief if others felt what they felt. Probably many people hurt others in an unconscious attempt to at least have someone understand the pain they are feeling.
But you are NEVER alone when you are feeling hurt. Jesus promised He would NEVER leave you or forsake you. He is there with you, and He understands. He is not there to condemn you, but to help you as much as you will allow Him to help you.
Too often when people are hurt they mistakenly blame God instead of realizing He did not cause their pain but is there to help them and heal their hurt. Just like a good parent is there to comfort and take care of their child, so God is with us.
Some might say, “If God really is with me, then why did this bad thing happen to me in the first place?” or “If God is with me, then why does He not just automatically fix everything and make every bad thing go away?”
We may not know all the answers to those questions, but we know there are answers. And we know that God loves us more than we can even understand because He proved it at Calvary on the cross.
So you can trust God. He loves you. He is with you now, and He will be with you tomorrow.

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If God Loves Me…?

All of us have probably wondered, “If God loves me . . . then why did this bad thing happen to me?”
But for this question to have any real meaning, we must assume God controls everything — every single detail of life.
To help you get the right perspective, consider this question, “If my mother loves me, then why did this bad thing happen to me?” If you are an adult not living under your mother’s control, you will instantly see the folly of such a question.
We don’t believe our mother controls everything happening in the world. We understand that other people are making decisions.
To determine whether our mother loves us, or not, we mainly consider what she has done for us. We should do the same in evaluating God. Has God done anything which demonstrates He loves you?
JOHN 3:16 ESV 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Would a soldier on the battlefield ever say “If my parents love me why am I being shot at?” No! The soldier realizes it is an enemy trying to kill him. So it is with us. The devil is the one who is shooting at us, trying to kill, steal, and destroy.
Everything good we enjoy in life is because of God. The devil, and people motivated by the devil’s ideas, have messed up a lot of things. But God has never done us evil. God is not to blame!
ACTS 17:25 ESV 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Some teach that God controls every decision made by every person. But anyone who stops to think about what they can do should realize it is not true. To illustrate, right now you could choose to rob someone, or even kill someone. You have the freedom to do that. And if you did, it would not be God’s fault, it would be your fault.
Understanding this, you should be able to see that, just because some bad thing happens in your life, does not offer any real evidence that God does not love you.
Scripture does not teach that God controls every decision people make. But it does teach that God will eventually make everything right. So don’t make the mistake of judging prematurely.
1 JOHN 4:16 ESV 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

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God Allows What You Allow

MATTHEW 18:18 CEV 18 I promise you that God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but he will not allow anything you don’t allow.
(Many translations use the words “bind” and “loose” in this verse. Binding and loosing is a Hebrew idiom for exercising authority. It means to prohibit and permit.)
When God created mankind He gave us authority to rule on earth.
GENESIS 1:26 NKJ 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
That means we have the right and the responsibility to make choices.
Our choices are expressed through the words we speak. So through our words we express our will and exercise our authority.
It is important to understand that God has given us choices. We MUST choose.
DEUTERONOMY 30:19 NKJ 19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
So instead of blaming God for our situations, we should wake up and realize God has given us a part to play. We cannot just sit around and expect God to do what He has told us to do.
For example, the New Testament tells us we are to resist the devil (James 4:7). So if the devil has any place in our life the fault is ours — not Gods. Remember that whatever steals, kills, or destroys is from the devil, not God (John 10:10). So you have authority to resist anything and everything that would try to steal, kill, or destroy what is yours. That also means you have the responsibility to do so.
You must speak to storms, just as Jesus did. If you don’t speak to the storms of life, then don’t blame God when they wreck your life.

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Letters To Christians

2 TIMOTHY 2:15 NKJ 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
All of God’s Word is truth, but we must rightly divide the Bible, or we will be confused and misled.
ALL Scripture is written FOR us, but it is not all written TO us, nor is it all ABOUT us.
Every verse in the Bible is a message of truth we can learn from. But every verse is not specific directions for us. For example, instructions to offer daily animal sacrifices show us a truth of the need for a payment for sin, but those verses are not written directly to us. After Jesus’ final sacrifice we are no longer instructed to offer daily animal sacrifices.
The whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, but only the letters in the New Testament are specifically and directly written to us.
While we can learn many things from reading a letter written to someone else, reading one written directly to us is much more meaningful.
The letters to Christians (epistle is another word for letter) are found in the New Testament starting with Romans. Therefore we should (and must if we are to be accurate), base the bulk of our teachings on what we find in the Bible specifically written to us, the New Testament Epistles.
The book of Acts is not a letter, but it is a history of the beginning of the church as they began to understand and walk in the New Covenant.
While the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are included in the section of our Bibles we call the New Testament, they actually record the life and ministry of Jesus which took place under the Old Covenant with Israel. (For the New Covenant could not start until the blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of our sins.)
Now we live under a new and better covenant. This New Covenant started at the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one could be included in the New Covenant until after Jesus finished His work and was raised from the dead.
The ministry of Jesus on earth, recorded in the Gospels, was to the people of Israel. So much of what is written in the Four Gospels was said to backslidden Jews under the Law who had essentially rejected God.
Surely you realize that God would talk differently to His family than to a group that has rejected Him.
We should rejoice in our New Covenant and all its blessings. And while we can learn many things from the whole of the Bible, our primary focus should be on the part written to us.

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You Are Born To Win

1 JOHN 5:4 NIV 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
God does not expect any of His children to be failures.
There is nothing wrong with failing. It’s part of learning. No child learns to walk without falling down multiple times. But they do not stay down, they get back up.
No one is a failure until they accept and believe they are a failure.
Growth is a process. We learn and then make adjustments. No one is born mature.
So don’t be discouraged by your present state. Don’t give up just because you have fallen over and over. Get up and go again!
You are a child of God if Jesus is your Lord, and God placed within you everything you need to be a winner — an overcomer. As you trust in Him, and keep on keeping on, you can walk in victory.

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Mustard Seed Faith

MATTHEW 17:20 NKJ 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Unfortunately many modern English translations talk about faith “the size of a mustard seed,” but the Bible actually says that God’s kingdom and faith are “like a mustard seed,” or “as a mustard seed.”
The size of a mustard seed is only one of its characteristics, and not necessarily the most important one.
The mustard plant is a fast-growing annual herb, growing up to 10-12 feet tall in only a few months. It was the smallest seed the Jewish people planted in their gardens, so it was called the smallest of seeds. Yet it became the largest plant in their gardens when it was grown.
The mustard seed is a striking example of the potential of a seed. Although it starts out small and insignificant, it quickly grows into something that blesses others.
Now let’s consider some things about seeds other than how small they are.
A seed does nothing until it is planted. Jesus seems to indicate that our faith is planted by speaking. “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say…”
So to have mustard seed faith, we have to say something. Saying what God says in His Word is our best choice.
A seed can even push aside rocks or other obstacles, but it does not do so instantaneously. A seed does not move hindrances by an explosive burst, but by a relentless expansion of growth continually pushing outward and upward.
As a seed becomes a plant, it continues to draw nutrients from its source, and thus continues to grow bigger and stronger, forcing hindrances out of its way.
No seed is ever affected by what other seeds do. Even if other seeds die, it keeps on.
A seed is persistent, never giving up. Only death will stop it from growing and working to produce fruit. This may be the most important characteristic of a mustard seed: it never gives up!

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