His Hope

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God is patiently waiting for all of us to become like Christ.

~ Lisa Blair

“God’s purpose for His people is that we become like the Lord Jesus Christ.” (BSF-Bible Study Fellowship)

For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.” Romans 8:29 AMP

God’s hope for our lives is to become more like Christ. This statement sounds easy, but is it really? The answer is YES and NO. Our mission as Christians is to read the Word, stay in prayer, and allow God to transform our daily walk. He expects us to treat people as Christ treated people, to spread the Good News as Christ spread the Good News, to become more than our sinful self-indulged selves. The more we read, study, and share, the more we become like Christ.

My Morning Routine

Reading is our responsibility, why because that is how we create gather the knowledge base we need to become more like Christ. We should read scripture every day. It may be a verse, a chapter, a book. Whatever works for you. I have several hardcopy Bibles – different versions, and parallel Bibles and commentaries. I also have several Bible apps and refer to scriptures and commentaries to dig deeper when studying. This has become the beginning of my daily practice. Daily devotionals also feed me each morning.

Praying is very important, I pray before I get out of bed, thanking God for another day’s journey and praising Him for who He is in my life. I also pray throughout the day and praise Him every time I see Him is something I see or am doing.

Thoughts on Transformation

I find that as I continue to mature in the Word, I notice my transformation and His activity that weaves through my life.

As we become more knowledgeable, most of us experience the need to share what is going on in our lives. The light of the Holy Spirit breaks through our continence. People recognize a difference in us. we begin to shine as we beccome more Christ-like.

One thing I have found, as well as those who shared the same experience, is that as you recognize God’s love, and your relationship with Him grows, He expects more of you. He will put you in positions and situations to pray for others; you will see Him orchestrating your life more and more. And, for some of us, He invites us to become spiritual leaders in some capacity. If this happens, it’s easier to say, Yes Lord,” early on. He will not stop asking. He knows what we need to grow and become more like Christ. And He will continue to move you in the direction we should go.

One of my many stories about my Walk.

God will always provide the game plan for your life if you ask, or when He charges you with new responsibilities. Most of us doubt our readiness; Moses doubted his ability when God charged Him to save His people. Moses was just one of many. We never really feel we are ready. But when God calls, He immediately tells us how to go about the task. He will train you. All you have to do is be obedient. For example, many years ago, one of my Boardmembers told me about BSF and invited me to attend. I said I did not have time. God is patient. He waited awhile and introduced another person who invited me to join BSF. I said, once more, I do not have time, thank you anyway. The third time he asked, he arranged for me to be free of excuses, and I agreed to go with the third friend that asked. That was three years ago. In my second year, the Lord put it on my heart to sign up as a leader. I did, hesitantly, not because I feared becoming a leader, I had been one throughout my career. Not because I felt inadequate, I had served as a teen Bible Study teacher. I was hesitant because this was a new level of serving Him.

This past year the pandemic hit, and the world began to shelter-in-place. Well, my 11-year-old Granddaughter lives with us, and this year she is attending Virtual 7th grade through our district; the schools have not reopened in California. With this in mind, I declined to serve as a BSF Group leader this year, using the excuse that I may have to become a home-teacher. This was in June. In late July, God shared He wanted me to lead a BSF group this year. I said I have other responsibilities with my granddaughters’ education this year in addition to other commitments. BSF takes a lot of time. After I finished making excuses, I said, ‘okay’ and contacted our head administrator. She shared that many leaders had withdrawn for one reason or another (all pandemic related, including many were not comfortable with the ZOOM format) and that she was happy the Lord encouraged my return. The bottom line, God knows what we can handle. I have sixteen people in my group and a lengthly lesson each week, as well as leadership training, and my other commitments. When I was done making excuses, He immediately told me I needed to be very disciplined this year and laid out my weekly schedule. He provided time for every aspect of my life. God is truly an amazing, attentive, and yes, a demanding Lord.
Walking with Christ is very rewarding.

As children of Christ, we are blessed to have a relationship with Him. We are blessed to have the opportunity to become more like Christ. We are saved and have the opportunity to: confess our sins, repent – asking forgiveness, being forgiven, and renewed. Our walk is not easy, we have a sin nature that works hard to derail us. Our salvation is a daily endeavor because once we give in to sin, the struggle becomes more of a battle to get back to who we are in Christ. He patiently observes our actions and is pleased when we say, enough, your will and not mine. Our journey on this earth is ongoing until the day we transition to heaven.

Surrendering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in this life. His hope is that we will accept Him as our Lord and Savior and walk down the path God placed us on long before we were born.

Resources: BSF Handbook; biblegateway.com

Images: Google images

Grace and Mercy

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Without God’s Grace and Mercy, we would be lost.

~ Lisa Blair


Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. It is the act of endowing unmerited favor. In God’s Grace, He gives us the gift we do deserve – heaven. If we are the light, then we must follow Christ and extend grace to those we feel don’t deserve it. That’s right, we should stop judging, that is not our job. None of us are deserving of grace because we are all sinners. Christ was crucified to save us. Given our model, we too must extend our love for others in much the same way. This is not to say we should allow others to walk all over us, definitely not, but we should be more forgiving. We should see through the eyes of God’s mercy. We should treat others as we would like and expect to be treated, see the Fruit of the Spirit For a list of Christ’s virtues (previous posts or go directly to Galatians 5:22-25. Before delving into mercy, let’s further look at the definitions of grace and mercy. In the Greek, grace is defined as charis, favor. The Greek word used for mercy is eleos which means pity, compassion. In short, we seek God’s favor and compassion.

Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. He has compassion for us. God gives us mercy, which means He withholds the punishment we deserve. The punishment we sinner’s deserve is hell, which He holds back. But note, holding back does not negate disciplining us, which like parenting is an expression of love. God disciplines us to produce holiness which is kind and gracious regardless of how painful it may be in the moment. Luke 6:36 reads, “be merciful, just as our Father is merciful (to us).

We, like David call and cry out for God’s mercy often. How do we cry out? We demand that He answer us, praying He will respond in the way we cried out. Think about this, we live in the now, we do not know the future that God provided before we were born, we do not know the plans He has for us, we do not know the whole story, but yet and still, being human, we want what we want, and when we forge ahead without consulting God, it tends to backfire, takes us down an unforeseen path, often harms others, and can lead to less than desirable outcomes. At this point we cry out for God’s redemptive love. At it’s core, mercy is God’s forgiveness of our sins. Mercy is God’s steadfast loyalty. We should ask God for guidance and direction out of the goodness of His love.

Fortunately, God takes us to the path for forgiveness. David is the perfect example of God’s mercy. He lusted, killed, and fornicated. Abraham feared and lied. Sara was impatient and Jacob was a cheater and trickster. Rehab was a prostitute, and the Israelites rebelled against God, yet God forgave them, had compassion and used them to accomplish His purposes. Further, God converted Saul to become Paul, the author of much of the Bible, and Paul became the apostle of Christ. The Bible is filled with stories of God repeatedly forgiving sinful humans. He works in and through us for our own good and ultimately His glory. God’s unmerited mercy is new every morning, we are not consumed by our sin because His compassion never fails (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV). Without His compassion, we are doomed to live in our sin and perish.

Matthew Schmalz, Associate Prof. Of Religion, College of the Holy Cross, wrote, “WHAT I learned is that mercy begins by opening oneself to those with whom one might strongly disagree,Mercy doesn’t end there, of course, but it begins with such small acts of understanding, which can lead to life-changing experiences of love.”

Mercy

Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV; Psalms 51:1-2; Matthew 6:14; Psalms 40:11; 1Peter 1:3; James 2:13 ESV; Titus 3:5 ESV; Psalm 23:6 ESV; psalm 103:8 ESV

Grace

2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Corinthians 8:7; Ephesians 4:7; John 1:14; Hebrews 4:16; James 4:6; Isaiah 41:4 GNT

**Ways to Respond to God’s Grace and Mercy. Go to Christianity.com

Resources: Book – Strength For Today. What We Don’t Deserve, Aug. 3. Brenda Walsh; Christianity.com, What is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy? Philip Wijaya; The conversation.com, What is the True Meaning of Mercy? Matthew Schmalz; pure life ministries,org, A Biblical Definition of Mercy.

Images: LAB PHOTOS; Google images; Mercy Bible Verses; theconversation.com

Filled with the Holy Spirit once, being filled until Redemption

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The Holy Spirit lives in us and will not leave us or forsake us. His job is to fill us daily, direct our paths, guide us, and tell us what to say when sharing the Good News.

~ Lisa Blair

FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHO LIVES IN BELIEVER’S

In Acts 2:7 Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. “

Jesus also instructed his disciples to wait, not to begin witnessing until they received the Holy Spirit, why? Because we cannot interpret the Word without the Holy Spirit, only the Holy Spirit can provide the Words that will reach the hearts of the people, only the Holy Spirit knows the heart of man. Only the Holy Spirit has the authority and power to interpret God’s Word. We cannot become witnesses independent of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to speak the truth. He commands and guides our thinking.

Paul wrote, in Romans, that we are given life through His Spirit, God’s Spirit, who dwells in us. He takes controls when He takes residence in us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of our conversion, until the day of Redemption, Ephesians 4:30 NKJV:

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The seal equips us to live a Godly life. We become convicted after we repent and receive the Spirit. We are convicted to live a holy, Godly life. He ushers in our desire to live a Christ-like life, to share the Word with others, and to demonstrate our faith through our actions and deeds. Our priorities change and are no longer focused exclusively on ourselves, we are transformed and renewed. We become dependent upon the Lord to lead us and direct us. We yield to His promptings. We want to live moment-by-moment in the will of God. We are willing to give up our liberty in exchange for dependence upon our Father, our Lord. We learn to become sensitive to His initial prompting as He guides, leads us, empowers us as we walk in victory spreading His Word.

BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE TIME EVENT

We are baptized once with the Holy Spirit, who will never leave us or forsake us. When we repent of our sins and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you are saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7) [unitedbiblesocieties.org. 10 Bible verses about accepting Christ. Oct 9, 2017]

ONE BAPTISM, MANY FILLINGS—TIME TO GO TO WORK

When we are baptized, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our human fears are replaced by to the power of the Lord. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we relinquish control of our thoughts and emotions. We don’t lose control, we surrender all to God. We relinquish our independence and become dependent upon the Him; we go where the spirit leads. Our mind is set on the things of God, no longer consumed with doubt or fear, but rather a spirit of power and a controlled mind.

The scripture says, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but we are being filled by the Holy Spirit daily. Christ resides in us through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit directs our daily living. We are being continually being filled, we are saturated, and under His influence, much like wine.

Ephesians 5:18 NLT instructs us, not to be drunk with wine, because that will ruin our lives. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

After we receive the Holy Spirit, it is time to go to work, the waiting is over. The baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers us to do God’s work. God does the filling when we ask Him. Yes, we must ask to be filled. It is an action. “He is in us, and we are completely permeated with the Spirit, we are inviting something to happen to us” (James McDonald).

WHAT HINDERS US FROM BEING FILLED?

Acts 7:51 NLT, explains that resisting the Holy Spirit is the most obvious way of hindering being filled. In this chapter, Stephen addressed the high priests and recognized they we not receptive and he was speaking to deaf ears.and told them,

You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth.”

The sad truth is that not all believers are responsive to God’s commands. We (Christians) often openly resist obeying what God instructs us to do. Our flesh is rebellious and disobedient. Being filled is ascribing to God’s way and not our own. It is acquiring and taking on the characteristics of Christ identified in the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5. We hinder/forfeit being filled when we place ourselves first, focusing on our carnal needs and not on our spiritual relationship with our Lord. We hinder being filled when we do not listen to the Holy Spirit or do as we are commanded. How often do we hear his quiet voice instruct us to do one thing and we do another; far to often. Being filled requires action on our part, the Word is acted out through us. We are His ambassadors spreading the Good News through our actions and deeds.

WE ARE SAVED ONCE. WE ARE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT ONCE. BUT, WE ARE BEING FILLED UNTIL REDEMPTION.

Resources

How to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastor James McDonald. Https://youtu.be/xllbEPKHV1o

Walking with the Holy Spirit. Dr. Charles Stanley. In Touch Ministries, Life Principle 2.

How can I be Filled with the Holy Spirit? GotQuestions.org

Scriptures – biblegateway.com

What Does, God’s Will Be Done And Not My Own, Really Mean?

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There are times in our lives when we surrender ourselves as a form of selfish need, and times when we surrender because we want a covenant relationship with the Lord. Where are you on the spectrum? It may be time to decide. You are on the precipice of surrender.

~ Lisa Blair
busy.org

Many of us tend to use this phrase nonchalantly. This is not a thoughtless statement or a decision to take lightly. When we express this thought, we are entering a covenant, a pack, with God. From this point forward, there is no looking back. This is the point of surrender.

I have heard this scripture spoken in many contexts during my lifetime. I imagine you have, as well. You may have glibly spoken it during a conversation. As a student of the Word, I now pose the question, how many times have I broken covenant with God? How many times have I uttered this statement and then chosen my own path, made my own decision, or followed others, overriding God’s purpose and plan for my life?

This gives rise to three questions we all struggle with:

1) What does ‘your will be done’ mean?

2) What does surrender mean?

3) Are you ready to commit to the covenant with God?

WHAT DOES YOUR WILL BE DONE MEAN?

When Jesus was preparing to take his place up the cross, after he could no longer take the pain, and wanted to be released from his duty, he cried out,

My father! If it is possible, let this Cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26: 39 NLT)

This is the turning point in Christ’s prayer. “Here, Jesus demonstrated the turning point in prayer for all of us. Prayer is not about bending God’s will to get what we want. The purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will and then align our desires with his. Jesus willingly placed his desires in full submission to the father’s will.” (Not my will but yours be done. Learn Religions.com)

When we make the statement, we are in effect, praying. We are committing ourselves to God’s Will for our lives. His plan for our lives was established long ago, long before we were born, perhaps before He created this universe. If we allow God to lead us, He will show us the path to take. Your will be done means you will abide by His will and not your own. 99% of the time, your purpose will be different than His. You are not first in His Will, but you surrender regardless and are bound by the covenant you created when you cried out the phrase.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11 NJKV)

In effect, when you call on God, pray to Him and listen to Him, you are abiding in His Will for your life. Your (totally) surrender yourself, holding nothing back, to His Will and His Way.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SURRENDER?

Surrendering means yielding ownership, to relinquish control over what we consider to be ours, to relinquish our life, all of it. We surrender what God has given us and how we wanted to use it to become His steward of this life. When we surrender to God, we are acknowledging His ultimate control of everything, including our circumstances, past, present, and future.

Billy Graham wrote: If you want a change in your life, if you want forgiveness and peace and joy that you’ve never known before, God demands total surrender, in so doing, our Lord becomes the ruler of your life.

When we surrender and give up all we are, we no longer seek personal gain, we are delivered from sin, and become useful to God to conduct His work on earth.

When we reach this point in our lives, making moral choices, we must choose to follow our own sinful nature (our carnal life) or seek God and surrender ourselves to Him.

ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO THE COVENANT WITH GOD?

Once someone speaks this statement, utters this prayer, recites this scripture, conversion has been set in place, you are on the precipice of changing your life to become God’s tool, His steward, and His servant.

Take heed, think this through before you find yourself amid the war for your soul. It is a choice, do you follow your carnal desires, or surrender them to our Lord and Savior, the head of our lives?

Are you ready to enter into covenant with God and all that it entails? Are you ready to allow God to take you wherever He needs you? Are you prepared to commit?

Internet Resources – Thy Will Be Done. lifehopeandtruth.com; A Message From Billy Graham. billygraham.org; Surrender To God. http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org; Total Surrender| My Utmost For His Highest. utmost.org; What Does It Mean To Surrender To God? http://www.gotquestions.org

Free Yourself From The Shackles

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Jesus humbled himself to the point of death to give us life. We should be able and willing to humble ourselves and, honestly, repent for our sins (stating what they are or were) and start anew (fresh). It is never too late, God forgives us when we repent, allowing us to move-on shackle free. Christ gave us the opportunity to rise above who we (presently) are. It is time to change our home location,  we are in this world, but not of this world. 

Go to a quiet place and speak to God, ask Him to forgive you. You choose the place. It could be in the midst of a train station, bar, standing on the corner in busy traffic. Just still yourself and pray. He will receive you wherever you are at the moment.

We belong to Christ. New Beginnings.

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