Lucia's Blog: 2019-12-29
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, January 3, 2020

JUSTIFIED BY WORKS?

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”  
James 2:24


In James 2:24, we learn that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. But what kind of works would justify a man? Let's consider them:
  1. Works of the Law of Moses? Absolutely not! Paul clarifies explicitly this when he states that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified through Christ, and not by the works of the Law. No flesh can be justified through the works of the Law, Galatians 2:16. To be justified by the Old Covenant required animal sacrifices. Otherwise, one would have to keep every law without ever committing sin. Romans 3:10, 23. There is none righteous. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  2. Works of the flesh? Absolutely not! No one can claim justification by the works of the flesh such as immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, .... those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
  3. Unauthorized, unscriptural religious works? Of course not!  Many do compassionate works of charity building hospitals and such and then place the obligation on the church to pay for them in the name of Christ, even though He never authorized this as a work of the church. Many other delightful works such as festivals and sports, camps, and retreats are family fun and popular among the masses but lack any Scriptural basis for charging the Sacred Treasury, which has been given only three specific charges: evangelism, edification, and benevolence toward the needy saints. The Lord said that not everyone who says to Him, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the Father who is in heaven ..... I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
  4. Works of Obedience? Absolutely YES! What other works can he be talking about? James makes an excellent point when he asks if a man says he has faith, but he has no works. Can that faith alone save him? Even so, "faith" if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. We can see in Galatians 5:6 that in Christ, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything but "faith" working through love. Faith without works is useless, James 2:20. Was not Abraham justified by works? V. 21. Faith was working with his works of obedience. And as a result of these works of obedience, faith was being perfected, v.22. Abraham believed God, and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness, v.23. He was called the friend of God. We are heirs of Abraham when we walk in the steps of the faith of this great patriarch, Romans 4:12, the righteousness he had even before he performed the work of circumcision (in which the unbelieving Jews were boasting). A man is justified by works such as God ordains, and not by faith alone, v. 24. Faith without works of obedience is dead. We see a parallel here with Hebrews 11 with those who engaged in these works of obedience. For example: By faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice. By faith, Noah prepared the ark for the salvation of his household. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance. By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise. By faith, when he was tested offered up his son Isaac. By faith, by faith, and so on! The list is extensive. You see, faith led them to obedience, to do the works that do the will of our LORD. Obedience is the key here!   Let’s put it into practice lest Jesus say to us depart from me you who practice lawlessness!

May the Lord help us to walk with a faith that can save us, such as Abraham, our example and patriarch, demonstrated.

Luci





MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'" 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


Our loving God has given us sufficient Grace to endure whatever suffering or trials that may come our way. God has given us all that we need in this life to endure and grow as His disciples. Thank God for the strength that He provides through His Grace, the strength that helps us to cope with those weaknesses that are not removed!  “For my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s power is made perfect through our weaknesses. Those who trust in the Lord have learned to depend entirely on God when their strength is weak. The purpose of the suffering that we endure is to remove our pride, self-confidence, and independence. We must learn to embrace suffering since God has given us His Grace. God's Grace is sufficient to enable us to endure. It is vital to our growth and our faith. God's power makes us heroes by taking away our fears and giving us the victory. Think of all those heroes, men such as Gideon, Moses, David, and all the others who relied on God for strength, deliverance, and victory in times of weakness. God reveals His power through us in our weaknesses. We must learn to have a new perspective on our life.

The apostle Paul declared,
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). 

Those like Paul, who have happily learned to rejoice in their weakness, have learned to be content while suffering, pain, weaknesses, hardships, persecutions, and the like because when they are weak, then they are strong in the power of Christ. They are well pleased and delight in such weaknesses, no matter what the experience may be. They take pleasure in their weaknesses. May the Lord help us to entirely depend on Him during our times of failures, sufferings, and difficulties. May we surrender our will to God in such frailties of life, knowing that He is in control.

Without God's power and strength, it will be difficult, maybe even impossible to make it through our trials and pains in this life victoriously. But, God in His lovingkindness, gives us strength at the right time. He sends those who may come to our aid to help us at the right time. Therefore, we must choose to be content, delight, and take pleasure in our weaknesses and sufferings because we know that our God is at work in us so that His power may be displayed. We must look at our trials, difficulties, hardships, pains, insults, and weaknesses and count it all joy, for we know that the testing of our faith produces faithfulness and steadfastness that we may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (James 1:2–4). So why not examine your life and see if God is working for your eternal salvation? Why not embrace all suffering, weaknesses, and difficulties and thank God for His Grace? Remember, that suffering is crucial to our faith so that we can remain faithful to Him and grow or flourish in Him to His glory.

May we all accept God's answer and pray when suffering like Paul.

Luci


Thursday, January 2, 2020

"SEEK YE FIRST HIS KINGDOM, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS"

"But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:33


A new year encourages us to think of a fresh start in doing better than we did last year. One of the things that we do is assess the value of our routine activities and the value of things that we have. So often, we forget what matters most for us as children of God because we are preoccupied with so much to do. Our "to-do" lists become overwhelming and exhaustive. We find ourselves in a labyrinth without a way out. Rather than piling layers onto each day, why don't we start seeking God’s Kingdom first and His righteousness? Then, start adding what is needed in our lives. Let us strip away everything that would distract us from seeking what we ought to, God and His righteousness. Satan uses things like technology, shopping, and entertainment to keep us busy and distracted. In a few words everything that appeals to satisfy our fleshly appetite. Remember, that IF we don't stop seeking to please the appetite of the flesh, we cannot seek God first and our lives cannot have the perfect order God has intended for us. It is about time we start seeking and serving the One who matters the most!

Let us consider what seeking first God's kingdom, and His righteousness really means. First, we must declutter ourselves of earthly pleasures and fill ourselves with the righteousness of God and His peace. Let us not become prey to the falsely gratifying focus on our carnal interests. They enslave us to the flesh with its earthly desires. Remember all these things will pass away one day. My question then is, why do we seek earthly treasures and insist on keeping them, fearing that we might miss something? Why do we deceive ourselves into thinking that if we don't satisfy our immediate wants, we are missing out on something great? Sadly, with this way of thinking, we are really missing out on what is more important: our God, His righteousness and His kingdom. My plea to you is to not miss out on God and His righteousness. Strip away everything else and start seeking Him. He will help us through His everlasting Grace to rebuild what has been broken. He will help us to rebuild what is important for our soul, our heart, our mind, our families, his church or kingdom, our peace and everything that must be of great importance for the renewing and regeneration of our souls.

It is time to stop being fools and start being wise. It is time to stop wasting away the real life that God has graciously given to us to live abundantly to His glory; time to awaken from our slumber and arise from the dead; time to start walking carefully and wisely; time to start making the most of our time because the days are evil; time to start understanding what the will of God is by reading, studying and meditating on His Word daily; time to do His will in order to be blessed by Him and not be put to shame; time to be filled with His Spirit and be walking in His Spirit in order to stop pleasing the desires of the flesh; time to start letting the light of righteousness shine before a world of darkness; time to start being more grateful for all that our Father in heaven has done for us through His Son; time to start honoring our marriages by husbands loving their wives just as Christ loved the church; likewise time for wives to start honoring their husbands by submitting to their husbands as unto Christ; time for children to honor their parents in the Lord; time for parents to stop provoking their children to anger and start admonishing and instructing them in the Lord; time to start putting on the whole armor of God with its defensive and offensive weapons of warfare in order to stand firm against the schemes of our enemy, the devil; time to start praying more fervently and with perseverance for our souls and the souls of our neighbors; time to not lose heart in doing well for in due time we shall reap; time to do good to all men especially our brethren; time to start proclaiming the Good News of redemption for all men in order to make known its boldness, simplicity and purity; time to start freeing ourselves from the slavery of sin through faith in Christ. Finally, it is time to start examining ourselves, our souls and start sowing well to the Spirit and not the flesh to reap well and not be deceived because God cannot be mocked. This is precisely what the kingdom of God and His righteousness is all about!

We must make it our goal to start living our lives here on earth according to His divine will. God doesn't want us to live our lives in our own self-induced exhaustion, with a "to-do" list, composed mostly of fleshly desires. He wants us to seek His desires for our days here on earth. Our Creator doesn't want His children to maintain a frenzied pace of living. He knows and sees when we live like that. This makes it difficult to listen to Him and obey. Through His Grace, He provides our shelter, our peace and abundant living water, enough to sustain us while we live in this, our bodily tabernacle. He is a wise God, who knows and sets up perfectly His order for us because He knows what is good for us. "Seek first the kingdom... " is not a suggestion, but a command for our lives, our souls, to have greater peace, meaning, and purpose in our paths that lead to life and not death. This is God's main purpose for us. Let us purpose in our heart, soul, and mind, to trust Him enough to walk in His paths of righteousness, that ultimately lead to the complete de-cluttering of our souls, even though this may not be the most popular path.

Unfortunately, the world's yoke is heavy, and its burdens are hard and difficult. Don't you think it is time to start de-cluttering your soul of all the unnecessary, earthly heaps of stuff that we have accumulated? It is not God's! We must start trusting God. We must start taking His yoke so that we may find rest for our souls. Remember His yoke is easy and His burden is light, Matthew 11:29"Peace I live with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).

May we put fewer earthly burdens on our shoulders that our LORD has never asked us to carry. May He show us and lead us into the path of righteousness He intends for us to walk each day and find joy. May we find that peace and rest for our soul by de-cluttering it of all unnecessary burdens and take His yoke. May we learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart. May we seek His kingdom and His righteousness and trust in His promises to bless us.

Luci

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace." 
Numbers 6:24-26


As I look back, I am reminded that another year has come and gone and that time is moving faster and bringing us closer to that day when our time on this earth will be over. Each day brings us closer to that day of reckoning, whether it be the day of death or the day that our Lord returns. A day when we all shall stand before the Judge of all and give account for all our deeds here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10). That day when He will either say,"Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). Or sadly He will say, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). We are pleased with what our God accomplished in 2019 and we thank Him for the glories He has shown us. Isn't it exciting to imagine that God has no limits on what He might do in our lives! The phrase "Happy New Year" has the sound of hope and second chances. We feel that no matter how badly we may have failed this year, we still have a second chance to do things better in the new year. There is one thing I have learned with the passing of time and that is that the real basis of life does not consist of material things but of loving and serving God with all of our heart and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Teaching others to love God with all of their heart and mind is part of serving God here on earth. We have much work to do. Souls are at stake and ours as well. There is precious little time left to do the work God has left for us to do. Let us use this coming year wisely, and focus on getting souls to hear the Gospel to be saved. We must reach out to them in effective, purposeful ways. Let us use our time well to God’s glory.

Sadly our New Year’s resolutions are often shallow and quickly broken after a few days or weeks, for we don’t stick to them perhaps for lack of commitment. Perhaps, we need to be more motivated to not give up too quickly. The apostle Paul resolved to obey Christ despite the obstacles and stumbling blocks he found in his way, for he was determined to do God’s will all the way to the end. He did it once and stuck to it! Without a doubt, Paul’s powerful resolution carried him throughout his life, motivating him to sacrifice all until the very end of his life to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who gave everything up for us that we might have the hope of eternal life (Philippians 3:7-11). What a wonderful way to start the New Year! Paul’s resolution was to know Christ more and better, for he yearned to finish well the work that the Lord had entrusted to him. He held fast to the Gospel until the end! My greatest desire for the New Year and of course for the rest of my life is to know Him better and to walk in a manner worthy of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous kingdom of Light and righteousness.

As we come to the end of a year and the beginning of another, it's wise to do some self-examination and reflect on how we have used this year, choosing to do better and make better and wiser use of the time the Lord has granted us. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make changes that would make a huge eternal difference in our lives. We must make the change to improve our relationship with God. There is no greater need in one’s life than to maintain a good relationship with our Creator! Life without God is meaningless and hopeless. The only truthful purpose in life is to walk with God and have an intimate relationship with Him as we do His will. Nothing can fill the need for God in our life, except God Himself! So let us use this New Year to dress for spiritual success (putting on the whole armor of God) and walking in a manner worthy of the Lord so that our souls might prosper in all Truth and love. And while it is true that we cannot undo the past, we can change our course in the present. We can choose to live a different life that glorifies God as we walk wisely, making the best use of the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15). The reality of walking with Jesus is that when our Lord pardons our faults, He gives us the hope that tomorrow will be better and more fruitful. And yet, maybe we don't aim high enough to soar to the heights of God. Therefore, let us use our time well and not allow anything or anyone to distract us from serving our Lord faithfully. God demands that we put Him first and put self to death, take up our cross and follow Him. We must strive to live for Christ and not self! (Gal. 2:20).

The truth is that this will be the last year for many! Will you be one of those who will stand before God this year, or will you live to see many more years? Only God knows! So, let us walk in a manner worthy of God and serve Him better this coming year, 2020. May we further our service in God’s kingdom not only this year but each day of our walk with Him. May we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses so that we may fulfill our purpose on this earth. And may we carefully consider what is really our best for the Lord and His kingdom. Our hope for our brethren and friends is that you may have a year full of wonder and Grace.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… ” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23).


Luci