"Choose"

Just as it happened to Adam and Eve, to the children of Israel and to anyone with whom God is revealing Himself, so-also-has it happened to us. We must make choices of life and death importance!

Today, we call this “free moral agency.”

Always making right choices is a quality of God’s character. Being a Christian and having the approach of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is the way in which we take on this same character of God. Hebrews 2:10 speaks of God “bringing many sons to glory”-eternal life in the family of God.

What we face in this process is learning to make right choices. The danger for us lies in making wrong choices. Wrong choices are usually the easy ones. We sugar coat these with justifications such as saying we told a “little white lie”. Oftentimes, we procrastinate instead of really engaging in what is good. This kind of action on our part can easily become a wrong choice.

In Deuteronomy 30, God commands us to choose life. Yet WE must choose!

Christ focused on this critical responsibility we face in Matthew 7 when He warned that the way to destruction was an easy path. However, He went on to reveal that the more difficult path does lead to life.

Just be aware that our choices are the hard ones! Each day we are to make the choice that God has set before us. Let us continue to fight the good fight and do
as God commands-“choose life”.

"Sin Begins In The Mind"

Well, brethren, the Days of Unleavened Bread are upon us. The feast of Passover begins at sundown on Tuesday, March 26, and ULB begins 24 hours later. These days picture our coming out of sin. We know that “Sin is the transgression of the law.” (I John 3:4) God’s law is the law of “Love,” and is defined by the Ten Commandments.

But Christ tells us (Mark 7: 20-22) “What comes out of a man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man.”

The problem, then, begins in the mind. Notice (James 1: 14-15) “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Thus, it is in the mind where we must begin in our effort to come out of sin.

So it is temptation that we must concentrate on, brethren. Temptation begins in the mind. Temptation begins with the things we think about, things we contemplate in our minds. It is here where the lusts of the flesh are conceived. And it is here where sin is born.

And we know this requires that God’s Spirit be in our minds, if we will ever be able to overcome the lust of the flesh. Once we have God’s Spirit, we have a fighting chance to do this. We must utilize that Spirit which God gives us at baptism, through the laying on of hands of the ministry, after we have repented of our past sins. (I Tim 4: 14) We must, then, change the way that we do things “…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8: 4)

How do we do that?

We must fill our minds with thoughts of God’s Way of Life. “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.” (Col 3: 2) To do this we must be drinking in of God’s Truths from His Word, the Holy Bible. We must meditate on these things and make them so much a part of our lives that when we do begin to go off in our minds from God’s thoughts, from His Ways, we immediately replace those thoughts with God’s Truth, thus thwarting Satan’s effort to see us go contrary to God’s Way.

We must remember, brethren, to hold fast to that which we have been given, that no man (including ourselves) steal our crown.

"Where The Rubber Meets The Road"

With the trials that we have been facing lately in our little group it sometimes gets a bit discouraging. Well the truth is Christ said with “much tribulation ” we enter into the kingdom. This should sharpen our senses as to what lies in the future but we can be encouraged by the fact that individually or collectively we are never tried beyond our capacity to endure those trials. If we learn nothing else other than to endure through the tough times patiently, we have done well. At the end of His life Christ took all the punishment patiently, without complaining, looking beyond the pain to the Glory after His resurrection. We have not struggled to blood, at least not at this time. Lets hope in the future if we do we can follow Christ’s example of looking beyond the present trial. Just like a woman in labor quickly forgets the pain when she sees the child she has brought into the world and is filled with joy. I leave you with the same message God gave to Joshua prior to entering the Promised Land. Let’s be strong and of good courage, the one who is for us is far greater in every capacity than the one who is against us.

"Accepting Responsibility"

When sin convicts us, how do we react? Do we acknowledge and hate our transgressions? Are we determined to get rid of them? Or do we try to “justify” or to “explain” them, by perhaps placing blame on others? Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He who covers [tries to justify and explain away] his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses [admits] and forsakes them will have mercy.”

God is merciful with us if we are honest and if we don’t try to play games. Notice 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When God gave Adam the opportunity to accept and confess his guilt, he failed miserably. Rather than truly repenting of having disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden fruit, he blamed both God and Eve, saying, “The woman whom YOU GAVE TO BE WITH ME, SHE gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12). Eve did not do much better. Here is her “defense”: “The SERPENT deceived me, and I ate.” (v. 13).

Was God impressed? Not at all. He “DROVE OUT the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (v. 24).

How different could this world be today, if Adam and Eve had not disobeyed God, or if they had truly repented of their sins. Their “self-defense” and “justifications” did not help them, and they won’t help us today, either.

"As They Went"

In Luke 17:11-19, there is the remarkable story of ten lepers. They asked for help from Jesus. He merely gave them these verbal instructions, ” ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ ” This is the entire record of Christ’s response to their plea for mercy and healing.

What is interesting is, that all ten lepers did start on their way to show themselves to the Priests. The account describes something that all Christians need to keep constantly in mind–especially, as we all attempt to exercise the faith that this way of life is built upon: “And so it was that AS THEY WENT, they were cleansed.”

And so it is with us. We have Christ’s instructions. We know what to do, just as the ten lepers knew. Our answer, our fulfillment, is found in OBEDIENCE to God’s instructions–with nothing else but that knowledge to act on.

Finally, let’s consider what Christ said to the one leper in ten who showed THANKS to God and who “…with a loud voice GLORIFIED God” — ” ‘Your FAITH has made you well.’ “

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