Selflessness, not Selfishness

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Philippians 2:3-4

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Often we get caught up in this world of trying to get ahead and have more things especially in America. Not only that, but why do we do the good deeds that we do? Before I do anything, I need to think to myself and pray, why am I doing this? Is it for my own gain? Is it for pride? Will it benefit someone else? It does not say you can’t have nice things or do things for yourself, but to put others first. It says to do things with the right intentions. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 quote Proverbs, “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.”

Jesus carrying cross

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Let us be humble and follow Jesus’ example. He is God. He is our Lord. He deserves our worship. He gave Himself for us so that we could be forgiven. Being forgiven, we are children of God and we should honor Him and live for Him and share all the good He has done for us.

 

Law and Grace

ten-commandments-187967_1280God’s Law is perfect. What does it mean for us?  How does grace fit in?  How does the law fit in with grace?  What is grace?  Grace is unmerited favor; it is a gift from God.  Nothing we cannot earn our way into heaven.  To follow the law to earn our way to heaven, we must follow the whole law, every bit of it, all of it, every day.

Galatians 3:10-14

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

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None of us are good enough to obey all of the law.  We have all sinned against God and none of us are righteous enough to be in His glory.  Only by what Christ did for us and our faith and belief in Him will we have eternal life.  We are saved by grace, not by works

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Galatians 2:16

…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

So, does that mean we do not need God’s law?  What is the purpose of the law?  It is to show us that we need a Savior.  That we are not able or worthy to enter God’s kingdom on our own.  Jesus is.  He is perfect.  He is God.  He paid the penalty for our sins and through His blood, we are declared worthy to enter into heaven, if we truly believe and surrender our lives to Him who is worthy.  What a blessing!

Romans 7:4-12

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

We are saved by God’s grace.  So, once we are saved, does that mean we can live according to our own desires and wants?  Can we continue living in disobedience?  If there is no change, there is no redemption.  Once you put your faith in Christ, you will be change.  You will have new life. One question I have often heard is “if it were to be illegal for you to have faith in Jesus Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Let us hope so.  And let us be sure that the evidence is there.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your walk.  If you love Jesus, you will follow Him and obey Him, not to be saved, but because you are saved.

Galatians 5:13-15

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Rom 6:1-8

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

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Thank God that we do not have to rely on ourselves.  Jesus died for us so that we can live with Him.  He will never leave you or forsake you and He gives you the Holy Spirit to guide you.  It is my prayer that you will accept the grace of God and believe.  I thank God that He gave me the faith and that He gave me grace.  I would truly be lost without Him.

Things to Practice and Live by

vitues

Paul is not only an example of how to live, but he guides us to the virtues that God wants us to live by.  These are things that do not come naturally but is something we must practice.  By following these things and Paul’s example, we can be assured that God is with us.  God will direct our paths and lead us to righteousness if we are His.

Philippians 4:8-9

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

What are these virtues?

  • true can mean the truth or straight.  Do not waiver from God’s word which is truth.
  • noble is that which is honorable.  Live with integrity.
  • just is doing what’s righteous.  Helping the helpless, being kind to others, loving justice.
  • pure is obeying God and having the right heart.  David was a man after God’s own heart and talked about coming before God with a pure and contrite heart.  He was genuine and sincere.  He used godly wisdom in his decisions and when he sinned, he repented and turned to God for forgiveness.  Pure is another word for “holy”.
  • lovely is a virtue of attitude.  Being pleasing to others, having a good attitude, being kind, not complaining or grouchy.
  • of good report or commendable is the way  others see a person. Do others see you as a positive person?  Are you charitable?  Do you help others?  Cheerful?  Do they see you as courteous, kind and respectful?  A genuine Christian should be a person that is a good example to others.
  • praiseworthy:  The things we do should honor God, and our actions should be in such a way that we and others praise and thank God for only He is worthy of it.  The good things we do are because of Him.

David talked about similar virtues when describing the character of God.  David shows his pure heart as he considers the law of the Lord and his desire to follow Him.  By following Gods commands, there is great reward.  I believe that reward comes both in this life and the life to come.  That does not mean riches and earthly treasures, or even good health and an easy life.  But, it does mean you will be blessed within your heart and you will be able to endure hardships and have joy in your heart.  I have had these blessings.  The hardships I have had were much easier to deal with when following the Lord, and He has always provided, and He has given me strength.  Our God is an awesome God in so many ways!

Ps 19:7-11

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,

Yea, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned,

And in keeping them there is great reward.

Christ in Me

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My verse for today: Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ”

Many things in life I am ashamed of and regret, but thankfully that was my old self and Christ died on the cross so that I am forgiven of those things and when I decided to follow Him, He gave me the Holy Spirit to convict me and change me and I am a new person, living for Him with new desires. He has given me joy and peace and I know that although I mess up at times, He is there to lift me up so that I can continue to do His work…or I should say that He does His work in me and through me. Without Him I can do nothing. But, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). It is not I who does good things it is Jesus and He deserves all the glory.

God’s Grace Frees Us from Sin

Now that you have accepted God’s grace and have received salvation, what next?  As you have become a child of God, the Holy Spirit indwells you.  The Holy Spirit, Who convicts you of sin, guides you and prays for you.  This is where the change in life begins.  Many people nowadays steer away from the subject of sin.  But, sin is real and God hates sin.  Yes, I said it.  God hates sin.  But through Christ, you are freed from a life of sin.  You will still sin, but you will no longer be in bondage to it and that will diminish as you live for Him, stay in God’s word, and continue in prayer.  Your desires will be that of righteousness and the desires of sin will be washed away.  There will be a battle within you, but now you can claim victory over sin.  There is a continual growth throughout the rest of your life (Christians have a fancy word for this called “sanctification”).  This will be a process.  We must put away our old self, for that person has died and begin living a new, vibrant life full of love and joy that one can only obtain through the Holy Spirit (see the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23).

As I was thinking about this today, it reminded me of the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  The caterpillar is gone and completely changes into a beautiful butterfly through metamorphosis.  Or, the ugly duckling that changes into the beautiful swan.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is a wonderful thing to know that we can start over no matter what we have done in the past.  As we grow, we will live for Christ, God can use us in mighty ways, He will get us through our weaknesses, fill us with hope and joy, and lead us in the right direction.  Praise God that He has changed my life and has put my past behind me giving me a new life full of blessings!

Romans 6:1-21

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”