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Posts Tagged ‘New Covenant’

It can be hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. For years we were taught God is in heaven and if we follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with him face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne in heaven and we are far, far away down on earth.

god is here

Pastors will tell us that God will show up now and then at a special meeting, or when a special service is planned and the Spirit will fall upon us. Yet we know that God is with us all the time and the Spirit fell on the human race two thousand years ago.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come and restored fellowship between God and people we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and we are children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky and speak words to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will continue to change over the next few years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely change as we continue to walk under the guidance of the Spirit. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize is happening now.

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Here we are into a new year already. This is the time many of us have a sense of excitement for new beginnings. We make resolutions to do better at various things in life, whether it is exercise, our spiritual life, eating or treating people better.

Resolutions

My wife and I have stopped making resolutions since we usually, like many, forget about them within the month.

On the other hand, we would like to continue on our walk outside the walls of religion and the many religious rules it puts upon us.

We are going to continue making new friends and get to know people who we were told to stay away from when we were in the organization. We were supposed to associate with people who believed in God and people who mostly believed like the denomination we were part of at the time.

We feel that Jesus came to show us that God loves people. Jesus associated with all kinds of people from all walks of life. They were not all godly people or people the religious leaders of the day would even dream of being seen spending time.

What we have found over the last few years is that people are basically the same. We all have our own beliefs, interests and ways of life. Yet behind the labels that are placed on us we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, fellowship with others and a fulfilled life.

We all go about finding those things in different ways. Just because we see things differently is no reason to separate ourselves from one another. There is no reason we cannot respect one another, accept one another and treat each other as equals.

Many christian people think this view is very wrong and we should only associate with other believers. They feel christians should judge and condemn those who do not believe as they do and stay away from them until they come to Christ. They seem to think that if we accept people as they are we are condoning what the other person is doing.

My wife and I just do not see things that way. Obviously none of us are going to agree or condone everything other people do, yet we can accept others as human beings, treat them with respect and enjoy time talking and learning about their views. We believe we are all loved by God just as we are, and we believe we are to show that same love to others.

BeKindtoOneAnother

Many times we read in the bible how God treats the righteous and unrighteous equally. We read how God loves all people whether they love him or hate him. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those who treat us bad.

In the New Testament we are told to love God and love our neighbor. Of course our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door but any and all that we come in contact with during the day.

So, we are anxious each day to meet another one of God’s creation. Maybe it will be someone that believes like us, maybe it will be someone who is completely opposite from our views. We just pray that no matter who we meet or what they believe, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to show love and acceptance, and to enjoy our time together.

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Recently I have been reading articles where people believe hell, as eternal torment, was not mentioned in the bible. Some believe that all people will be saved through God’s love and no person will be left apart from our Father even though they do not choose him or believe he exists.

Love is the main theme of God. God is love. I am not sure I am ready to say that hell does not exist or that God saves everyone apart from their choice but I do know that no matter what, God loves us all.

LovelikeJesus1

True love is how Christians should be known. God loves everyone and has made a way for everyone to receive the gift of salvation. Yet I personally do not believe God will force this gift on anyone and those who choose not to take it may one day have to accept the consequences whether it be eternal torment, temporary punishment or a complete act of forgiveness.

Now, is hell a real place of eternal torment or was it a dumping ground near Jerusalem that has nothing to do with punishment? There is a very real debate over this issue and I certainly do not have the answer. The thing is, trying to get people saved with the threat of spending eternity in hell is not the way to do it. People are truly changed by God’s love and by God’s people living out that love to everyone they meet.

God does not want anyone to spend eternity in a place of torment. He has provided the way of escape if there is a hell. But we want to focus on the fact the God loves us all and we want to accept and enjoy his love, not just escape the thought of eternal punishment.

When we love someone, we want to do things that please that person and make them happy. Same with God, we want to be pleasing to Him and do things for Him. We do not do these things out of obligation or because of rules and regulations. That is law. We do them out of love and that is the way we should help lead others to Christ, through love.

As it mentions in Colossians 3:12-14 as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Rather than being so quick to judge and condemn people for what they do, who they are, and what they believe we need to stop and re-read what God has said on the matter.

We are not called to be God, we are to be people who allow God to live in and through us. We are in Christ. Our lives should be in the process of being transformed into the life of Christ. Basically, we are to be Christ’s body on earth today. We are The Church, not a building we go to once a week but His body living in love day by day.

Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. God is the judge, we are called to love others.

LoveOthers

Romans 13:8-10 spells it out pretty clear, owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

To love others is to fulfill the law, wow, seems so simple yet so hard to do.

The Old Testament law was given as a guide to show people that they could not measure up to pleasing God. If anyone could keep all of the law then they were perfect. Unfortunately, we humans cannot live a perfect life. The law showed us that we could not do it.

When Christ came in bodily form and lived on earth he lived a perfect life. He became the perfect sacrifice that would once and for all make a way for us to be considered perfect in God’s eyes and to be restored to fellowship with him.

When we live in love we are fulfilling the law. We no longer do things out of obligation or out of a need to earn God’s love and favor. We no longer have to keep the ten commandments to earn our salvation. Salvation is now a gift given to us. When we love others with the love of God our lifestyle will be one that actually fulfills the law by the way we live and love.

Am I saying that we should not try to live by the 10 commandments? In a way yes. We cannot do so. When we live in love we will be living a life that is pleasing to God without trying to live by laws and regulations. If we are depending on the law, regulations or doing things to earn God’s love we are wasting our time. Only by living in love for Christ and our fellow human beings will any difference be made.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2: 8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

We christians usually focus on pleasing God and living for Him by trying to obey the ten commandments and trying to do the right things.

We will go to church every time the doors are open, tithe our 10 percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we will look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we think is right to do as christians.

The truth is because of grace we do not have to be trying to keep the law at all. We do not have to try to do good works to earn our favor with God.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and good works, not Jesus and avoiding certain things. We are saved through faith in Christ and we no longer have to do any of these things to be a child of God. We have freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This freedom does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want. There are consequences in this world for doing things that are not good for us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 10, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good but that of his neighbor”.

We have freedom from the Law because of the grace of God. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow any law.

Stop putting your faith in trying to follow all the rules and regulations of the old covenant law. Stop forcing the law on others thinking that will make them better people. Jesus fulfilled the old agreement and began a new agreement, an agreement of love and grace.

We no longer strive to please God through the law, but we do what pleases him because of love.

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Galatians 3:10-13: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ 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”.

LawisaCurse

Today many Christian people seem to live in two worlds. Not only the spiritual world and the earthly world, but the Old Covenant and New Covenant world. The problem with the Old and New Covenant combination is that we already know we cannot live a perfect life and keep every law God gave. We are told that trying to following the Law is living under a curse.

The Law was given to the Jews, yet we can see that is was used as a tutor and guide to show us that on our own we cannot measure up. We cannot live a life acceptable to God and the perfection He desires in our own strength. Righteousness does not come through the Law, and if it did then Christ died needlessly. Jesus came into this world born under the Law, and He lived and taught it for the first 33 years of His life. When He died the Old Covenant came to an end because Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Old Covenant. When He rose from the grave the New Covenant began, which is a covenant of grace.

By accepting the grace He provided we can live a life pleasing to God by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We now have fellowship with God through Christ and we are now counted as holy and righteous in His sight because of His work. The Law is no longer needed for those saved by grace. We are free because Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We now live under the New Covenant, one that is a free gift provided to us by Christ. We now live by Christ’s commands to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves.

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I had a conversation several years ago with a friend and we got on the subject of Jesus and how he showed the love of God to the world. I told him I had a simple analogy to explain why Jesus came to our world, but my friend told me it was pretty silly. I got to thinking maybe he was right, but the thought keeps coming to mind every now and then so here is my silly thought.

When I was young I would watch my mom enjoy the birds. She had bird feeders and bird baths and she always kept food and water ready for them. She enjoyed watching the birds fly down and eat and clean themselves in the bird bath.

I know she would have loved to go out back and sit with the birds, but every time she went out they would fly away and not come down for food and water.

I thought, if only she could become a bird for a few days she could relate to them and they would not be afraid because she would be like one of them.

birds

That got me to thinking about God. We have always been told about the wrath of God and that makes many people afraid of him. I believe the bible was inspired by God but it was written by men and my personal thought is that men added a lot of their own interpretations and thoughts making God look like a mean, revengeful being.

If only God could come to earth as a man and relate to us in a way we could understand and accept. He could spend some time with us and let us know that he loves us and wants fellowship with us.

To me that is a simple story but explains Jesus and why he came to earth. Jesus was God in human form. He came to show us that God is not a mean, revengeful being just waiting to smash us to bits. God watches us as we go about our daily lives just wanting to spend time with us and enjoy our company.

Yet because we have been told that God is mean, hateful, condemning and judgmental we are afraid of Him. We run and stay away because we have been told wrong things about him.

Truth is that God is love and Jesus came to show us that truth. As we read about the life of Jesus in the gospels we see a person who was loving, kind, accepting and who generally cared for people. Jesus said he who has seen me has seen the Father. By Jesus example we can be assured that God loves us and wants fellowship with us.

When we come to know that God loves us, we can know that he has our best interest in mind. We no longer have to be afraid of messing up and have the judgment of God fall upon us. The old covenant law no longer binds us to the ‘do this/do not do that’ performance mentality. When we know God loves us and we love him no law or rules are needed. Love naturally does what no law can do, which is love one another and be pleasing to the one we love.

The more I think about it, I notice that birds seem to be mentioned several times in the bible such as Matthew 6:26, 8:20, 10:29 and 13:32 and in Luke 12:24 talking about how they are valued, cared and provided for by God. Maybe there is something to this analogy of us and the birds.

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I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be someone who is always against something. Seems so many christian people today speak out more about what they are against and who they are against.

Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, against particular lifestyles, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different subjects we Christians can think of that end up taking away our main focus….loving God and loving others. We will take the bible and twist interpretations and meanings or use verses out of context trying to prove our point.

WhatAreYouAgainst

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong and we are not going to agree on every one of them. We do not have to focus on those convictions or try to push our views on others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is God’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, poor, the neglected, and those the religious people did not want to be around.

I know I did it for a long time. I thought I was better than others because I went to church. I felt I had to stay away from those who did not believe because their sins would rub off on me. I would always hang out with my church friends and stay away from the “worldly” people.

I would spend more time trying to prove my points and my beliefs, telling people what was wrong and what to stay away from, rather than spend time with God and others.

Obviously God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our views on the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings does not do anything except turn people away from us.

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day even in our differences. We can show the love of Christ to all by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

Do not worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for others. Follow Jesus and let him love through you. Let him be the central focus of your life and allow his love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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