December 2015 - GraceAndWorks

Galatians 3:23-29

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Now before Faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until Faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by Faith. But now that Faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through Faith. FOR AS MANY OF YOU AS WERE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST HAVE PUT ON CHRIST. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

1st Peter 3:18-22

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For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit; in which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. BAPTISM, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into  Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

Romans 12:9-13

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Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be consistent in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the Saints, practice hospitality.

God’s Words Fall On Deaf Ears

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Many times, as we go through life, someone or something will speak to us and we just don’t pay any attention. Thus the words and or actions fall on deaf ears.

In Jeremiah 1:4-19 God approaches Jeremiah and tells him he is going to give a speech and no one will listen. He tells Jeremiah that when he gets done the people he’s speaking to will want to kill him. God says don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you. Jeremiah, approximately 15-17 years of age, tells God he is but a youth and doesn’t know how to speak. God touched Jeremiah’s lips and puts the words in his mouth. God then says to not worry because I have given you the words to say and I will be there with you. God then tells Jeremiah that He is calling all the tribes from the North.  God says they have a wickedness about them for forsaking Me, they have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. He then tells Jeremiah to stand strong and say to them everything that I command you.

In Jeremiah 7:1-11, Jeremiah, now about 30 years of age, delivers the words God had given him. Jeremiah tells them to amend their ways and their doings, and don’t trust in deceptive words. But, BEHOLD!!, he says, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. You steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba’al, and go after other gods you have not known. And then you come and stand before me in this house , which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered”–only to go on doing all these abominations. Jeremiah had delivered the words God commanded of him.

In Jeremiah 26:1-9 is the reaction of the people God’s words were delivered to by Jeremiah. The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah in the House of the Lord. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people,  the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die!” Then in verse 16 the princes and all the people said to the priest and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.” God said he would take care of Jeremiah and He did. The people did not see themselves in God’s message. They rationalized it away. Their gross, ugly, self deception was an abomination towards God. Yet they didn’t see it and wouldn’t change.

Faith lessons from those deceived of God: 1) Spiritual advantages can be lost quickly. 2) Lost spiritual ground can be recovered through humble repentance. Reform your ways and actions–Change your ways–Pride will fight against spiritual repentance. If your life is in a place where repentance is “Right”, then you will never be at peace until you repent. 3) False trust produces deception–Sin deceives!! The deceived believe they will NOT reap what they sow–our own desires are what produces sin. A mind led astray from pure and sincere devotion is deceived. Ultimately–Deceivers only deceive themselves!!

Jeremiah was told by God what to say–He said it–It fell on “Deaf Ears.”       The people were deceived into thinking they were OK in God’s eyes. Be careful–don’t be deceived AND Don’t let God’s words fall on “Deaf Ears.”




Ephesians 4:1-7

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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE spirit, just as you were called to the ONE hope that belongs to your call, ONE Lord, ONE Faith, ONE Baptism, ONE God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Acts 2:35-42

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Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to Him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day about 3000 souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

And on the day of Pentecost the Lord’s Church was established. It has never changed and is the same today as it was then. And will be the same tomorrow. AMEN!!

Ephesians 2:19-22

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So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the Saints and  members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God the Spirit.

Acts 4:8-12

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Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to  you all, and to all the people of Israel, that be the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Isaiah 2:1-4

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The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

The Power Of Prayer

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This blog was written by my sister, Connie Willoughby.  She was baptized and added to the Lord’s Church some 60 years ago.  This is her explanation on the importance and power of prayer.

I BELIEVE–not in Santa, the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy!!  I believe in the One that created me and sustains me.  I read in Ephesians that this very One planned, even before the count of time, that I could become his daughter.  My God loves me and I love Him.  I thirst for a relationship with Him.  The means to this relationship is different than any human, earthly relationship because of the way God and I communicate.  He tells me through His word everything He wants me to know about Himself, this world, and how He wants me to live in this world.  He tells me about heaven and his desire that I would one day dwell with Him there.  I, then in turn, verbally communicate with God through prayer.

Volumes have been written by men about the subject of prayer.  Many people find themselves intimidated by the very act of praying.  Over the years I have come to believe there is a time each day for formal prayer and time all day–every day for conversational prayer.

The model for a formal prayer is the Lord’s prayer, found in Matthew 6: 9-13.  A formal prayer should be done in a predetermined quiet time and should include praise to God (Matthew 6:9), confessions of ones sins ( 1 John 1:9), thanksgiving to God for His gifts (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and a time for requests (Mark 11:24).  This a very good time to read from His Word, creating a true time of devotion.  Setting aside time each day at a specific time requires discipline, but it reaps rewards untold.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 to “pray without ceasing”.  I believe this includes conversational prayer all through out the day, spoken verbally or silently.  These prayers are often praise for the moment or pleas for help for a current problem, but it is a constant sense of being in communication with God.  Conversational prayer or visits with God help me realize my complete dependence on Him.

We are told in God’s Word that he will answer prayer.  A few such scriptures are as follows: Matthew 7:7, Matthew 18:19 and 1 John 5:14-15.  While the promise is to answer all prayers we must remember that God is in control of what those answers are to be and how quickly they will be answered.  God has our spiritual well-being in His mind with the answer of every prayer.  It is pretty safe to assume I won’t find a new Cadillac in the driveway just because my best friend got one!

As flawed humans, we have a difficult time understanding God’s timeline.  When we pray a fervent prayer we expect an immediate answer.   Recently I had an answer to a pray that I had been offering to God for 30 years.  Since God’s action depended on the heart of another as well as my heart I knew wasn’t the right time spiritually–but 30 years???  When this prayer was answered in April of this year our family could see the hand of God on each step.  No one likes to have to exercise patience, but God shows His love in abundance when we pray in love and faith.

Prayer is not magic.  It is not a coin to put in a vending machine, expecting blessings in return.  It is communication between man and God about man’s needs and desires.  God’s answer is dependent on what is best for the spirituality of His child.

In our fast paced, self centered world we often neglect being grateful  It grieves God when he answers prayers and those answers are not acknowledged.  Luke 17:11-19 tells a story of Jesus’ healing of ten lepers.  They all went away rejoicing, yet only one returned to thank Jesus.  Ask yourself if you tend to be like the nine or are you truly grateful like the one.  You might keep a list of prayer requests and check the list frequently.  When you discover a request that has been answered, even if you aren’t pleased with the answer, take time to thank the Father for the answer.  GIVE THANKS in all circumstances for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.