Can I Do All Things Through Him Through Christ?

There was a little Golden Book that I heard Captain Kangaroo read to me on TV, The Little Engine That Could.  It’s the story of a little train engine that tried to make it up a long steep hill.  The engine was convinced that he could do it if he believed he could do it so he kept saying as he pulled the train up the hill, “I think I can. I think I can.”  Of course he was successful.  He did it!

It is a story teaching us the power of positive thinking.  If you think you can do it, then you can.

So Philppians 4:13 becomes the spiritual version of The Little Engine that Could.  “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

You can accomplish some seemingly impossible task or achieve some unattainable goal because you have apparently learned that God gives you strength in that time of need to do so.  So the Christian athlete who finally overcomes the difficult or impossible obstacle in their sport does so because they reach down and use this verse.  Its as if this verse is a muscle building steroid enhancing a Red Bull adrenaline rush

The disabled doing something beyond belief and ability because of their disability because they believe “I can do all things through him who gives me strength!  A person gains emotional strength to work through difficult situations and problems, a tough marriage, chronic health issues, financial worries and such because they claim this verse.

I put on Facebook that I was preaching on this verse and several of my FB friends noted that Philippians 4:13 is their favorite Bible verse.  My favorites are Leviticus 13:40 and Revelation 21:3.  But Philippians 4:13 means a lot to me and it should.  It should for you too.  Let’s see why.

First – What is it that Paul is Talking About?

That’s the question, what is Paul talking about here?  Let’s view the context.

Philippians 4:10-20

It seems there is a lot going on here.   But does Paul mean, that no matter what the issue, no matter what the situation that in anything, even everything, I can do everything because I have God’s strength?

We need to understand:

  • The context
  • What “everything” or “all” is.
  • What Paul means.

Paul is talking about “contentment.”  Another question then is contentment in a global everything or something specific?

After a quick look at the passage we see that Paul is talking about the ability to endure all situations and where the source of that ability to endure is from.  He makes a paradoxical claim, at least it seems odd to an American and European culture that is about gaining wealth and being comfortable and satisfied with our situation.  Paul claims that he can tolerate and endure hunger and want.  But at the same time he understood how to handle prosperity.

In his autobiography Just As I Am, Billy Graham tells about the paradox of contentment:

Some years ago Billy Graham and his wife Ruth were invited to the Caribbian by one of the wealthiest men in the world to his lavish home for lunch.  He was 75 years old, and throughout the entire meal he seemed close to tears. “I am the most miserable man in the world,” he said. “Out there is my yacht. I can go anywhere I want to. I have my private plane, my helicopters. I have everything I want to make my life happy, yet I am as miserable as hell.” They talked to him and prayed with him, trying to point him to Christ,who alone gives lasting meaning to life.

Then they went down the hill to a small cottage where they were staying. That afternoon the pastor of the local Baptist church came to call. He was an Englishman, and he, too, was 75 and a widower who spent most of his time taking care of his two invalid sisters. He was full of enthusiasm and love for Christ and others. “I don’t have two pounds to my name,” he said with a smile, “but I am the happiest man on this island.”

Billy Graham relates how he asked his wife Ruth after they left, “Who do you think is the richer man?” She didn’t have to reply because they both already knew the answer.    Citation: Billy Graham, Just As I Am (HarperCollins, 1999)

Wealth is a greater temptation than poverty.  Paul said in verses11&12 that he has learned to be content no matter what the circumstances are.  Paul is talking about the strength that enables contentment regardless of his physical circumstances and that strength to endure and persevere comes from the Lord.

Second – This is Paul’s Own Claim not a Global Promise to All Christians

Paul himself has learned to be content.  He has been through the ringer.

  • He’s been run out of town
  • He’s been accused of stirring up controversy
  • He’s been arrested
  • He’s been on trial
  • He’s been in prison (and was in prison when he wrote Philippians)
  • He’s been in peril, including shipwreck
  • He has as he said known want but he has also had plenty and he mostly means that he food, clothing, and shelter.

Paul learned to be content

Paul has learned in every situation to rely upon the Lord’s strength.  I think he knew what Jesus said about all of this.  Paul never worried about his next meal, or whether his money would last because Jesus said to do this one thing and it will be provided in need.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Pretty good promise.

God will provide if you will make God’s kingdom of love, hope and eternity more than the most important thing in your life as well as seeking to make God’s righteousness the key element of who you are and God will see that your needs are met.

Did Paul go hungry?  Of course but he never starved to death.  Why, because of his faith.  Did he suffer through trouble and agony for the Gospel of Christ?  Yes, but God brought him through it to preach another day.  Was Paul ever imprisoned and relying on the generosity of others to provide for his needs there?  O yes, and it is because he relied on God.  He put God’s kingdom first.  He learned to be content whatever because contentment is the activity of faith.

This is not an all-encompassing promise to each and every Christian.  This does not happen automatically because a person becomes a Christian.  This was Paul explaining something that he had learned because of his experiences a follower of Christ.  He had learned to be content.

This was not Paul making a promise to us, however . . .

Third  – Each Christian Should Learn to be Content

This is not God’s promise pronounced to you by Paul, but you can learn to be content.

Let me repeat a couple of realities here.  One is that this is a not that you can do everything single thing, lift the heaviest object, supernaturally have the smarts to fix something you’ll never attempted before without any knowledge of it, you know where someone accomplishes seemingly impossible things.  This is about contentment in Christ for the sake of the Gospel whether you are rich or poor, whether you are in need or not.  Second, this is not a promise to all Christians, but let me note, this can be a part of your faith.  You can have this contentment through faith and trust in God.  His strength can help you endure the difficulty of wealth and poverty.

We can probably all name Christians who are not content.  It’s never enough.  It’s never seems to satisfy and we have the false prophets preaching to us that there is a formula of faith that says if you exercise these certain taken-out-of-context passages of scripture, that you will not ever experience want, you have more than enough, you’ll even be rich, you’re health will be perfect, blah, blah, blah.

God may do that.  God never promises that.  What’s important for us is that the Gospel of Jesus is preached.  What are we investing in?  Is our treasure the treasure of heaven where wealth doesn’t apply?  Are we spending our money to make ourselves comfortable and lazy and ignoring the needs of others, sharing our faith and hope, placing our trust in God’s ability and power to provide despite the odds.

We should learn to be content.  I am sure that the financial crisis that we as a country are experiencing and appears to be  years from being cured has put a lot of Christians in financial want.  I wonder, how has their faith reacted to this?  Have they continued to trust God and rely upon his provision and be content whichever way their financial situation goes, or have they like a lot of people I read about and see in the news simply become discontented complainers, trusting in government, in organizations, in family, in friends, but not in God?

Not every Christian has learned the lesson of contentment.  Maybe you are one of those discontented Christians.  Paul learned it.  I think Paul’s various companions learned it.  I think the Philippians who struggled at times were learning it.  See, it’s not the content of our lives (the circumstances, the situations) that determine my contentment.  If it is, then I will always be discontented because nothing will ever measure up to what I feel is right for me.

It is also easy to convince ourselves and feel that we are the only ones experiencing whatever it is that we are experiencing.  If we simply pay attention when we read the Bible we’ll see that people experience the same things.  We will allow ourselves to observe the world around us, we’ll understand that we’re not the only ones that go through whatever it is we are or have gone through.

Hardship tempts us to think that God is unmoved by our plight or that he is against us and so we despair.  And wealth and comfort tempts us to believe that we don’t really need God since we think we accomplished it all on our own.

The reality is that God possesses all things.  Whatever you have, no matter how little or how much it belongs to God even while it is in your possession.  He let you have it for his glory.  Also, God is fully able (v. 13) and willing (v. 19) to meet whatever need’s surround you the believer.

What we learn from Paul is that being content is learned.  We learn to rely upon God in every situation.  We learn that God gives Christians the resources to cope with hardship.  And wealth is a hardship.

Examine your hearts.  Look into your life and determine now to learn to be content.  Whatever wealth you have, can still be lost.  Whatever satisfaction in your financial position you my possess can be washed away.  Will you be content if you have to scrounge for food, if you have to rely on the love and generosity of Christians to care of your needs?

Learn the lesson “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

Paul did.

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Where There’s Grace, There Was a Mess!

OK! So grace is generally described as “undeserved favor.” Grace then means we get what we don’t deserve and don’t get what we should have received. And grace from God steps in for the recipient because their life’s a mess. A mess full of sin. A mess of sin. And God hates that separation, the division that sin wedges between you and God.

Paul who understood grace better than most, knew what he deserved, but he also knew what he did not deserve but still got it anyway. On more than one occasion Paul relates where he was, how terrible of a sinner he was, how he deserved death, but instead, through faith in Christ Paul received life, 1 Timothy 1:15-16, http://www.biblegateway.com/.

Paul’s life was a mess. As a Pharisee he had misplaced devotion. Zealous for the law, Paul persecuted the church. Listen to how Paul describes how horrible he was and how great God’s grace is.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:12-16

Paul’s life was a mess. A mess of misunderstanding, misplaced devotion, misguided zeal, and he received grace from God through Jesus Christ. And there doesn’t seem to be a more grateful person. He knew what he was and he knew what he had received.

Go to http://shareyourstorynow.org/category/topics/grace/ and read over one hundred stories of people who have experienced and know God’s grace.

God’s grace cleans up our lives. I have encountered folks whose excuse for not becoming a Christian is that they feel that they have to clean up their own life, that they have to be better to be accepted by God. Yet God says, “I have grace, come to me just as you are and I will give you grace. I want to.” And God’s grace is like Service Pro. A cleaning service that comes in and cleans stuff up for us http://www.servpro.com/.

When we receive grace, God removes our sin, directs our path, provides us strength, and gives us love. I’m accepted!  Now, how cool is that.

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PS: Here is the video “Accepted” by Degramo and Key as performed at Cornerstone Music Festival in 2008.  Advance to the 2:15 mark after Eddie’s intro where the song begins:

Dana Key 1954-2010

A lot of Christians including myself are in mourning.  One of the greatest of all musicians has died, Dana Key.  He was a guitar player, songwriter, singer, band leader, preacher, and someone who was totally sold out to Christ.

I saw Degarmo & Key in concert more than any other band or artist and they rocked.

The first time I saw D&K was in Tulsa at the ORU Mabee center and they were recording their first live album.  I watched Dana Key play as if Eric Clapton had become a Christian.  Every time D&K performed they rocked, but more than that, their passion for Christ was out there.

They preached but weren’t preachy.  After most of the concerts I saw, Dana would come out, sit on the edge of the stage and just talk about each person’s need to know Christ.  Dana’s Memphis tinged blues/rock and smoky voice hit you in the heart.  You were drawn into Christ as if you couldn’t resist.

This Time Thru; 1978

I was in college when the first D&K album, “This Time Thru” came out.  I saw the album and the cover caught my attention and then the name of the band was intriguing.  A great album and the song “Emmanuel” has been a 30-plus year favorite of mine.  I still have it on vinyl.

D&K were the first Christians to be rejected by MTV.  Their video of the “666” was too scary because supposedly the flames behind the devil character that seemed to all but engulf the guy.  They redid that part of the video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Z7Cdxl4INfw ).

Dana Key was passionate about Christ.  Read this article and hear what Toby Mac, Todd Agnew and others had to say about Dana – http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctentertainment/2010/06/rip-dana-key-1.html.  Even his solo albums, were all about Jesus.

In the last years that D&K toured together, they brought Francis Schaefer along and promoted the NIV Student Bible.  They worked hard to get people into the Word.  I suppose that’s why he became a pastor of TLC church in Cordova, TN.

I love all their songs.  But I believe one song in particular is the definitive song expressing exactly who Dana was.  Casual Christian. “I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a casual Christian.   I don’t wanna live, I don’t wanna live a lukewarm life.  Cause I wanna light up the night with an everlasting light.  I don’t wanna live a casual Christian life.”

I thank God for Dana Key, his faith and his passion.  He has affected my faith as much as any person.

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PS: Todd Agnew’s tribute to Dana Key, http://toddagnew.com/2010/06/07/one-step-closer-the-passing-of-dana-key/

Identity Theft

Normally, I don’t share whole sermons.  Just on a rare occasion.  So I only share this one with you because of the critical nature of the issue.  This is a simple and short overview of identity theft from a spiritual perspective.  The devil himself is trying to rob you, the Christian of your identity in Christ.  This message deals with the individual with their life.  It doesn’t approach the fact that the devil tries to discredit Christianity through false religion that is seen in the public’s mind as associated with true Christianity, just from a personal perspective.  And, I didn’t give every strategy the devil uses just four and we still took over 35 minutes to share it Sunday morning.  You may listen to this message at http://www.newtestamentchristianonline.com/Sermons.dsp.  My prayer is that you will grow in faith and hope and the strength of the Lord.

“This is the last one folks, the concluding message of the Identity series.  We’ve identified God in our world and our lives, and we identified Jesus for who he is and what he does.  Our focus for the past couple of weeks has been on our lives; where we were before we came to Christ and who we are in Christ.

But one issue is still before us; Identity Theft!

Remember the Citibank commercials.  You see people who have been ripped off and see them talking but you hear the voice of the thief coming from their mouths bragging about what they bought with what they stole.  They’re comical to watch, but the subtlety of comedy comes home hard when we’re hit with the reality of it.

Identity theft is one of the biggest problems in America right now.  I am feeling the effects of it.  My driver’s license is due to be renewed this month.  In the past, I went in and my old license was enough to verify my identity with the license bureau.  I got a notice a few weeks ago that now I have to show my birth certificate and social security card to prove who I am.  My license that has verified my identity for almost 30 years is now not enough.

This stuff is serious.  We’re talking great danger here.  If someone can gain access to your bank account, your credit card account, or even your social security number, they can use your personal information and they can ruin more than just your credit.  It is much more than financial ruin.  If you have bad or ruined credit, it could keep you from getting some jobs even.  It could ruin your life and livelihood.

According to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ there’s several things identity thieves do with the information they’ve stolen:

  • They open credit card accounts or even change the billing address without your knowledge running up bills that you don’t know about and that you may and probably will be responsible for.
  • They open a phone account or even a utilities account in your name.
  • They may create counterfeit checks, or open a bank account and write bad checks in your name, or clone your debit card and make withdrawals or even acquire a loan in your name.
  • They may get a driver’s license or government ID in your name, use your SS# to receive government benefits, or file a fraudulent tax return.  All in your name.
  • They may get a job in your name, or rent an apartment or buy a house or even give your personal information during an arrest and when you don’t show up for their court date a warrant for your arrest may be issued.

Identity theft can ruin a person’s life and so there are things like “Identity Guard” and “Life Lock” – you know the guy with his SS# emblazoned on the side of a semi trailer advertised on national TV.  You pay for their service and they help protect your identity.

These identity thieves are everywhere too.

  • They dumpster dive and access your info from documents you throw away.
  • They do what is called skimming.  They steal credit card numbers with a special storage device when processing your card.
  • They phish.  Pretending to be financial institutions sending spam and pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
  • They divert your billing information to another location by using a change of address.
  • They steal wallets and purses and mail, including bank statements, pre-approved credit card offers, new checks and tax information, personal records and even bribe employees who have access.
  • And they do something called pre-texting.  They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions.

It is widespread.  It is nationwide.  It is worldwide.  And though we really want to talk about spiritual identity theft, let me encourage you to be careful and learn how to protect yourself from what the identity theft I just described to you can do to you.

Last Sunday, we realized that we are in Christ.  If you are a Christian, you are in Christ.  In Christ means that you are different because you’ve been changed by Christ!  My preacher Kenny Washburn used to sing with Ed Erskine as the group, The Northmen.  They did a song that went, “I’ve been changed, I’ve been new-born now, all my life has been rearranged.  What a difference it made when the Lord came and stayed in my life, oh yes, I’ve been changed.

Here’s what we pointed out from 2 Corinthians 5:14-19a last week ( http://bible.logos.com/ ).

#1) Christ died for all so we have died too.  Christ died for our sins, he paid for every one of them, and when we are “in Christ” we have died to sin and sin no longer has power and control over us.

#2) Since Jesus died for us we no longer live for ourselves.  That’s what sin does it makes it all about me.  About my desires, about my longings and wants and reactions and feelings and all.  I no longer live selfishly in Christ.

#3) We are no longer recognized according to the flesh.  We are recognized according to the spirit of salvation.  God sees us not as sinners but saved in Christ.  And we see each other that way too.

#4) And so, anyone that is in Christ is a new creation.  Your life is changed.  It’s different just like the song said.

We are identified by Christ if we are in Christ.  That is why we own the name “CHRISTIAN!”  One who belongs to Christ!

Now . . . our identity in Christ can be compromised and you know who is behind it, the Devil!  His name is our first indicator that he is trouble.  It means, “deceiver.”  Jesus told us that the devil is a liar.  He has been one since the beginning.  John 8:44, “…the devil – was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  His mode of operation is to deceive.  That’s what Jesus means by saying he is a murderer.  He is killing people’s souls as he leads them astray and he’s the best there is when it comes to deceiving and what he wants to do with you is to steal your identity so that at least two things are accomplished.

  1. He makes you an ineffective witness.  You will either suffer guilt and fail to be a witness to Christ, or your witness is scoffed at by others because you’ve become a hypocrite.
  2. And/or He will lead you away from faith in Christ and God will no longer recognize you.

Do you know what he does?

  • Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.  His purpose is destruction and he rarely comes with a frontal attack like in battles we read about during the Revolutionary or Civil Wars.  “Charge!” He is subtle and sneaky, like the identity thieves I described earlier using all their tricky methods to steal from you . . . with your permission.
  • He has schemes.  You probably knew that.  “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11.  His schemes are not productive strategies like a corporation planning growth and effectiveness, his are tricks and lies and he lays them as traps for you.

Let me warn you that even you don’t have to be a new Christian or a Christian that is in the early stages of maturity for the devil to trick you, for you to fall and the devil to take your identity in Christ and twist and pervert who you are in Christ, hoping to ruin your salvation, hoping to stop your witness.

Obviously, new Christians are susceptible, but long-time Christians can be too.  Ones who believe they’ve arrived already, that heaven is the only thing left for them, even believing the devil can’t trick ME!

Just because you know and understand a lot does not mean the devil cannot trick you.

Let’s see some of the devil’s strategies.

Strategy #1 – Getting Us to Believe that We are Our Behavior.

Bad experiences or painful pasts can negatively affect our present. The devil wants us to believe that we are the only ones who suffer with these issues and that it is unchangeable. This is simply not true. Too often our sin and emotional baggage gets linked to what we believe about ourselves. In other words, our personality and identity becomes associated with the things we struggle with.

The strategy of the enemy is for us to believe that we actually “are” how we feel or behave, which is not true at all. Satan wants you to believe things like: you “are” depressed, unhappy, worthless, unable to change, stupid, a failure…the list could go on and on. It is important to realize that our feelings and behavior are situational and we can change them—the truth is feelings and behavior are not who we really are. They might be things that we struggle with, but they are not our identity, or who we are in Christ.

This includes the things that you may think about yourself at a deep level. You might not consciously believe them, but you find yourself thinking them or saying them about yourself on a regular basis. Most people don’t see that there is a direct connection between the way they view themselves and their destiny.

“For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Strategy #2 – Getting Us to Believe that We Don’t Measure Up Spiritually

This is seen in a couple of ways.  I became a Christian but after a while, a year or two, I haven’t been as good a Christian as I should have been, or I’ve sinned a lot and I need to be baptized again.  That happened to me and fortunately, I have a wise man for a father.  He directed me to realize that I simply needed to ask forgiveness and be truly repentant and let God effect lasting change and holiness in my life.  You know 1 John 1:9 (http://bible.logos.com/) .

Another way is that I never seem to do all the spiritual things I think I see others doing.  Reading their Bible everyday and studying and meditating on it and appearing to keep themselves pure and sinless all the time.  My life doesn’t seem to be transformed, enough.

If I don’t measure up in a way that I seem to think is the only correct way to holiness than I am defeated and lose interest and passion for Christ.  I still try to be a Christian, but I am less than excited that I am.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….” Romans 12:2

Strategy #3 – Getting Us to Believe Differently Than the Bible Teaches

We live by grace, yet there are still commands and ways that we are to live in Christ and the Bible, the New Testament especially, provides that understanding for us.

But how many times have you and I heard of Christians who purposely pick and choose what they want to believe and obey.  There is a cartoon that shows a church sign that says “The Lite Church.  We only require 7 Commandments and you can choose the ones you want to obey.” We see that cartoon in Leadership magazine and chuckle, but every joke possesses some truth.

We can take away from the Scripture, at the same time, we can add to the Scripture.  We’re warned in Revelation not to do that.  That’s kind of what the Pharisees were doing, adding their ideas that were interpretations of how to obey the Law of God, given my Moses but they made the teachings equal in authority as Scripture.

Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words, will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35

Strategy #4 – Getting Us to Give Up and Reject the Faith

We all know someone who was a Christian and for whatever reason, they turned their back on Christ and the Church.  The man whose wife was killed in a tornado, the preacher’s son who rejected his father’s faith because he was a tyrant, the son who prayed that his mother would get well but still died and rejected God, and the list is endless of Christians who have turned away from the faith.

If we are truly saved and we turn our back on God, then the devil has renewed our old identity in us.

If he can instill doubts about our faith, then it is possible for him to drive a wedge between us and Christ.  It is possible for him to lead into faithlessness.

A couple of the soils in the parable of the Sower are this very situation.  “Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.  Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them.” Matthew 13:5-7

Peter told us that the devil is like a roaring lion looking for those he can devour.  Those he can destroy and turn away from God.

How do we overcome?  How do we protect ourselves and keep the devil from stealing and changing our identity in Christ?

The simple answer is the principle of faith – maintain faith and trust in God and Jesus Christ, obeying all that he says.  But let’s be a little more specific.

Protectant #1 – Romans 12:1-2 http://bible.logos.com/

  • Commit yourselves completely to God.  He is your focus.  He is your only source for life and for what is right.
  • Do not allow yourself to be caught up in the “sinful, ungodly” ways of this world.
  • Be transformed by letting God renew your mind and that is done mostly through knowing and living the word of God (it has to be both, you can’t have one without the other), and faithfulness and prayer.

Protectant #2 – Ephesians 6:10-13 (cf. 14-18) http://bible.logos.com/

  • Let God strengthen you to stand firm.  You will fail on your own or if you follow some other way but God alone can provide you with strength to withstand the devil’s missiles.
  • Put on all of God’s armor.  Not just this or that piece, but every piece; truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer.  Don’t leave any part out.  You’ll be sorry.
  • If you do this, you will be able to resist devil.  In fact, we are told that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).  This is the stuff of resistance.

Protectant #3 – Galatians 5:16 http://bible.logos.com/

  • Walk by the Spirit of God.  If we are led by God’s Spirit, the works of the flesh, the evil desires of sin will not have a hold of us and drag us away into spiritual death.
  • The characteristics of those who walk by the Spirit are the fruit of the Spirit, vv. 22-23; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.

Protectant #4 – Matthew 22:37-40 http://bible.logos.com/

  • First of all love God with all your being.  With how you think and feel, with what your desires are and with what you do.  Love God so much that your only desire is to worship and please him through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Second, love each other.  We need to be there for each other, caring for each other, helping each other, holding each other accountable to God’s word and way and letting others care for us in the same way.
  • This is fellowship with God and fellowship with God’s people.  We are a community of faith and if we let one person stray, well, let’s just not go there.

We could spend a lot of time giving the devil’s strategies and the ways to protect ourselves from the devil stealing our Christian identity.

Let me conclude things by pointing out that God sees us as who we are becoming, through his love and power.  He looks at our lives and he knows our past and understands our present and can see us in the future.  Imagine what the possibilities are if we would see ourselves as God sees us.

That is where the “Principle of Faith” allows us to trust that there is something special and unique for us.  There is certainty in who we are.  “Now faith is the being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

The foundation of my life is this: In Christ, I am a new creation, and all the old thoughts and behaviors no longer have power over me.  I am being renewed every day with God’s love and character.  I share in God’s divine nature because God’s Spirit lives in me.  I am free from condemnation and have the strength to live my life free of despairing thoughts and the competing desires of the flesh and the world.

I am God’s workmanship, created to do good works, which God has prepared ahead of time for me to accomplish.  I am more than a conqueror through God who loves me.  I am increasing daily in faith, strength, wisdom, and love and I am able to love others because God has loved me first.

Is that your identity?  That is the identity God wants to give you and the devil wants to take from you.  If you are in Christ, than you belong to God and that is what we offer to you today….

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