Are You Ready to Contend for the Faith?

Contend for your faith

Have you ever had to contend for your faith in Christ Jesus? In Jude 3-4, the author appealed to believers to contend for the faith against certain people who are ungodly and perverted the grace of our God and denied the Lord Jesus.

So what does it mean to contend? When used with a subject it means to assert or maintain earnestly. Therefore, one is to be ready to assert and maintain the reason for the hope that is in them.

Why? You Ask.

Because times are upon us that our faith will be challenged. There are several places in the Bible that we are urged to stand firm in our faith. I particularly like where the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to be “watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV.”

The Apostle Paul was very good at exhorting believers to stand firm in the faith. One fine example of this is in Philippians 3:17-4:1. He told those in Philippi to imitate him and keep their eyes on those who walked according to the example that he had set. Times were tough because there were enemies of the cross, however, Paul reminded the believers of their citizenship in heaven. Therefore, they were encouraged to stand firm in the Lord.

Likewise, there are enemies of the cross still today and we, too, are to stand firm.

Count It as Joy to Contend for the Faith.

In James 1:2-4, we are to count it joy when we meet various trails. Contending for our faith is definitely a trail. This is a testing of our faith which produces steadfastness. In turn, if we let the steadfastness have its full effect in us we will be complete and lack nothing.

Another thing to consider is that we are not left helpless. According to Luke 12:11-13, we don’t need to be anxious in defending ourselves or worry about what to say for the Holy Spirit will teach us what we ought to say.

Nor are we to turn away for Jesus said that if we deny Him He will deny us before the Father. Turning away can be seen as denying Him because one is not standing firm in the faith and acknowledging Jesus before others.

How We Ought to Answer.

Just tell your story! No one can refute it because it is your testimony. In gentleness, love, and truth, give the reason for the hope that is in you. For greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. You have an opportunity to plant a seed in someone else’s heart that only the Holy Spirit can cause to grow and hopefully take root.

Therefore, do not be afraid to speak, for God is with you wherever you go!

How have you had to contend for your faith? Please leave me a comment.

Related link: Be Ready to Give a Reason

If you want to read more on the subject, check out Kate’s link, 15 tips to help win arguments re Christian Faith on social media.

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Adoption: Earthly Compared to Heavenly

Adoption

Earthly Apotion

Adoption is a beautiful and wonderful experience for both the adoptive parents and child or children. For the child, it is heartwarming to be chosen. For the parents who are looking, I can only begin to imagine what the feelings might be when they have found the child or children they desire.

My two brothers and I were adopted by our step-dad when I was 12. My youngest brother was most especially excited about it. Not too long ago my adopted-dad, to whom I now call Dad, reminded me that he chose me for his daughter. It felt good to know that at the time.

Chosen is a very good feeling. Remember, how you felt when you were chosen to be on someone’s team in school? I remember standing and waiting to be chosen but was often the last one chosen.

Adoption gives a child that special feeling, too.

Adoption by Our Heavenly Father Through Faith

Romans 8:15-17 talks about a spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Abba means daddy. Have you ever called out to God, “Daddy?”

In the sermon on Sunday, Pastor Pohland spoke on Fatherly Adoption. It is from the heart of the one adopting, thus God chose me and other Christians. Our inheritance in the kingdom of God will not decrease as the number of those adopted in increases because heaven nor eternal life can be subdivided. This is unlike earthly inheritance which decreases with the number of descendants.

In sending His son to die for our sins, He gave us the right to become children of God to all who receive and believe in Jesus name (John 1:12-13).

You can find this theme in more places than one. In 2 Corinthians 6:18, God says that He will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to Him. In Galatians 3:26, in Christ Jesus we are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 4:5-6 repeats the same idea as in Romans 8:15-17.

Isn’t it good to know that you are wanted by your heavenly Father?

If you liked this you might also like: Redeemed, Defined and Explained.

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Three Key Points About the Name of Jesus!

Three Key Points

At the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) National Convention in Albuquerque, NM, our scripture verses was Philippians 2:9 This verse begins with a, therefore, thus, what comes before it is important. Hence, we will key on the following verses.

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

The Three Key Points Are!

One, Jesus didn’t hold His equality with God over people. Thus, He didn’t use it to his advantage. Think about this for a moment. Here, He was with great power at his disposal, yet, He set that aside to do the will of His Father.

Second, He humbly took on the likeness of man. Therefore, He knows what it is like to be human and suffered many things while on earth. He was tempted yet without sin. He fulfilled the law whereas we could not.

The third and most important is that He was obedient to the point of death. This was no ordinary death like a heart attack or from old age. It was an excruciating and shameful death on a cross, though Jesus scorned the shame that came with it. There was a purpose in His death.

This is why God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above all names and that every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!(Philippians 2:9) Indeed, Jesus is the name above all names! He is the key to eternal life.


Related link: Excruciating Means Out of the Cross or Crucifixion3 Key Points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

  1. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus
  2. Philippians 2:6 Or a thing to be held on to for advantage
  3. Philippians 2:7 Or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)

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The Greatest Gift Ever Given!

Gift of faith

What is the greatest gift you ever received?

If you were asked what is the greatest gift that you ever received, what would be your answer? I am sure that there are a number of things that come to mind. Such as a car or maybe a baby would be your answer. How did you respond to the person who gave you that special present?

Well, we have been given the greatest gift ever given. It is a freely given. There are no strings attached. You can’t earn nor can you pay for it. Once received you cannot lose it. This special freely given treasure is referenced several times in the New Testament.Gift

What is it? You Ask.

It is the gift of faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

How do I know that it is Freely Given?

I find that answer in Romans.

Romans 3:23-25 ESV, 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

Romans 5:15 ESV, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”

Don’t you appreciate a free gift? We all do. But yet, this one is often rejected. This is sad but true.

Nevertheless, when someone receives something of great value as a present there is much excitement and they want to tell everyone about it.

So What are We to do About the Gift that We have Received?

We are to go tell others about it. After all, if you were forgiven a large debt, would you not want to shout it out from the mountaintop? This is what has been done for us through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should respond as the Apostle Paul did.

2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV, “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”[i]

 

 

[i] Scripture references: English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

 

 

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There is More Meaning to the Word Believe.

Believe

When I Say that I Believe in Jesus What am I Really Saying?

This is one of my favorite word studies, because there is so much more meaning to the word, believe. In the dictionary, it is defined as “to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.” Yet, in the Greek word, pisteuo, to believe, has more meaning to it than this.

We can all have confidence in something like our jobs, our families and even our cars. However, believing in Jesus is more than mere confidence. Pisteuo means to be persuaded of, to place confidence in, to trust, and reliance upon. I like to think of it this way. Picture yourself hanging on a rope. There is a knot tied at the end and you are hanging on for dear life. Jesus is that knot in the rope.

Furthermore, when I say that I believe in what Jesus did for me, I am saying that I am relying on Him, trusting in Him, adhering to Him and clinging to Him. Yes, I have confidence to but I am sold out and I know that He has me in His right hand. Therefore, I have assurance of eternal life and I can be reasonably happy in this life.

How do I know that I am right in believing? Good question. God’s Word tells me so. John chapter 3 clearly states it many times that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved and whoever does not believe is condemned (John 3:18, 36 ESV).

For Your Information.

The word believe/r/d/s is found 84 times in the book of John and 39 times in the book of Acts. The Apostle Paul made it quite clear to people in Antioch. He told them everyone who believes in Jesus is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses (Acts 13:39 ESV). So my question to you is “In whom do you rely upon, trust in and cling to?”

If you like word studies, check out this related link: Redeemed, Defined and Explained.

 

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Redeemed, Defined and Explained!

To Be Redeemed

Oh Joy! I am Redeemed!

This blog is inspired by another blog, “Don’t Be Perfect, Be Redeemed.” The word redeem/redeemed is found several times throughout the Bible. However, I want to focus on a couple of passages in the New Testament; Galatians 3:12-14 and Titus 2:13-15.

First let’s look at the meaning of the word redeem. According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, The Greek word for redeem in Galatians 3:13 is exagorazo, a strengthened form of agorazo denoting “to buy.” It is used metaphorically. Jesus has delivered us from the Law and its curse. He did so with giving His life on the cross. Doesn’t that sound like He wanted us because He willingly paid the price?

Second, the Greek word for redeem in Titus 2:14 is lutroo. Here it means “to release on receipt of ransom.” It Redeemedis used in a spiritual sense. Jesus gave Himself to ransom us from all lawlessness. Not only did He set us free but He also did so to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. He desires for us to zealous for good works.

In summary, to be redeemed means that Jesus bought and/or ransomed me from the Law and its curse and all iniquity. He did not have to but did so out of love for me. Therefore, I am His and bought with a price. I am no longer slave to sin nor am I destined to pay the price for my sins. Yet, while we were sinners Christ paid your debts as well as mine.

Be Sure to Check Out Allie’s Blog

In the aforementioned blog, Allie reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want our perfect. He desires us and we are to remain open and vulnerable to Him. Thus rejoice! And shout I am redeemed! To God be the glory!

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Be Ready to Give a Reason for the Hope in You!

Reason for the Hope

Can You Give a Reason for the Hope in You?

In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Ted outlined for us how we can take the gospel to others. He used 1 Peter 3:14-16. We are to be prepared to give a reason for the hope in us to anyone who asks.

Have you ever thought of how you might give a defense for the hope in you if you were asked? This is a really good question and one that needs some preparation and thought. Pastor Ted broke it down for us.

  1. First Honor Christ- Remember it is all about Him.
  2. Prepare a Defense- Answer when asked what Jesus means to you personally; tell them the reason for the hope that is in you.
  3. Do it with Gentleness and Respect- This is contrary to what the world does. Speak with kindness and with respect.
  4. Have a Good Conscience so that when you are slandered those who revile your good behavior will be put to shame.
  5. Sharing Jesus leads to joy.

Therefore, take some time and thoughtfully tell your story to yourself.

For me, I know that if it were not for my faith in Jesus I would not be where I am today. There have been too many things in my life that I am not proud to speak about. As well as situations that might have lead me to take the wrong course of action. For example, I was pregnant when I lost my first husband, I could have chosen to have an abortion or given my child up for adoption. Jesus gave me the strength to carry on and I now have a handsome young man as my son.

The Reason to Be Ready.

Furthermore, we all have a reason for the hope that is in us as believers and followers of Christ. The Holy Spirit will empower us with the right words at the right time. We just need to be ready. Because the world is hurting and they need to know that there is hope.

In closing, I leave you with this hymn, “Jesus, My Blood and Righteousness,” because it helps me be prepared. Here is a relate link, Hope.

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5 of My Favorite Bible Verses on Grace!

Bible verses

These Are Just a Few of My Favorite Verses.

Grace is defined as unmerited favor or as I have seen written out, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I do believe that these five verses will reveal much about grace. For me, I often struggle to fully comprehend God’s grace and in return share it. Here is a link to the following verses.

 Two Verses Regarding God’s Gift of Grace.

  1. Ephesians 2:8-9

First and foremost is that it is by grace that we are saved through faith. This grace is a gift of God. Yes, you heard me right, a gift. It cannot be earned and is freely given. There is nothing we can boast about. The beauty here is that there is freedom from having to prove ourselves.

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Theses verses reveal that Jesus has given us comfort and good hope through grace. There is a purpose to this grace that we have received.  We are now established to do every good work and word. Therefore, we have a mission. God empowers us by His amazing grace to carry it out.

Three More Verses about Our Responsibility to Live Out Grace.

  1. Colossians 4:6

Furthermore, we are to let our speech be seasoned with grace and seasoned with salt. This way we can give answer to anyone who questions us. Salt is used as a preservative. Thus, we ought to speak in a way that will preserve the relationship and bring glory to God our father.

  1. Hebrew 4:16

In addition to these, comes a verse that paints a wonderful word picture. Through Jesus, we now have confidence to approach the throne of grace in our time of need. And in doing so, we will receive mercy and find grace. Hence, we are not left defenseless. We can always turn to God in our time of need.

  1. Hebrews 12:15

Last but not least, we are encouraged not let anyone fail to obtain the grace of God. We are also not to let the root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble. This will only defile others.

In Summary

Most importantly, we are saved by grace through faith not by works. Jesus has given our hearts comfort and given us a good hope. Therefore, we are to be living examples of that grace both in word and in our actions. And when we need help we can always go to the throne of grace to find mercy.

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Storms in Our Life Have a Purpose

Storms

Storms of Life: What Lessons Can We Learn?

As part of the Easter story, we heard of Peter’s denial but the part I think that is most often overlooked is that Jesus tells Peter that Satan has demanded to sift Peter like wheat. Jesus goes on to say that He has prayed that Peter’s faith may not fail. And when Peter has turned back, he is to strengthen his brothers. Therefore, this storm in Peter’s life had a purpose and so do the storms in our lives.

Yet, we often do not recognize our storms as having a purpose but they do. The Bible has many references to that fact. I, particularly, like what Jesus told Peter, And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers,” Luke 22:32b ESV*. There is the purpose right there. Though the storms in life are tough, there is purpose and that is to help others who are going through the same trail.

Another scripture that I think of is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Here, I am instructed to comfort those who are afflicted with same comfort that I have received from God. For example, I was widowed 20+ years ago and have received God’s comfort, therefore, I can comfort someone who has recently been widowed. I had also been a single parent for 15 years before marrying my heart’s desire. There are a number of ways that I can extend God’s comfort.

Last but not least is Romans 8:28. I remember learning in Bible Study Fellowship that the good mentioned in this verse means building our character to be more like Jesus. God has a purpose in all the storms in our lives if we only look to Him to reveal it. Often they serve to smooth away the rough edges or help me change my perspective on something.

Riding Out the Storms with Jesus

It was in the study of the book John that I came to understand something new. When the storms come and they will, all I need to do is join Jesus in the boat and let Him take me to the destination of His choosing.

At the Women of Faith conference in 2011, I heard Patsy Clairmont speak. She said, “You are either in a storm, coming out of one, or are heading for one.” So how will you handle the next storm in your life?

 

 

 

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Excruciating Means Out of the Cross or Crucifixion.

excruciating

Excruciating: What is it Origin?

Have you ever wondered about the word excruciating? Or have you pondered on the suffering that Jesus Christ went through for your sins? Well, I learned about it in regards to the crucifixion of Christ in world history in the 8th grade. Where we looked at from a medical perspective.

The origin of the word is “Latin excruciātus, past participle of excruciāre to torment, torture, equivalent to ex- ex-1+ cruciāre to torment, crucify (derivative of crux cross); see -ate[1]. Can you see how it means out of the cross? When you look at the medical aspect of what Jesus went through on the cross, you can understand the word even more.

If you really want to read more about suffering Jesus went through, this check out this link Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Christ.

As we are approaching Good Friday, there is a hymn that comes to mind. O Sacred Head Now Wounded brings tears to my eyes when we sing it in church.  Though it is 10 verses long, this hymn sings so mournfully of the woe He went through and that He bore my burden to the cross. In verse 8, I sing of how can I thank Him for this dying sorrow and ask Him to make me His forever. “O Lord, let me never, never out live my love for Thee,” is how this verse ends. The final two verses close with seeking Lord Jesus to be near me when I am at death’s door.

Thus, I pray that you will contemplate His true suffering and how He died on the cross for you. As you do, I hope that you will have a new appreciation for the word excruciating.

In Closing

I leave you with Luke 22:44.

44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[2]

[1] excruciate. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/excruciate

[2] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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