There is only one way in which we can have a transformed life. That one way is through the Lord Jesus Christ. He shed His blood for our sins (He was sinless) and made a way for us to enter into the covenant that was made between He and His Father. I want us to ponder that statement for a moment. The Lord God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ covenanted together that the shedding of blood of Jesus would suffice FOREVER the path for our salvation. We can’t add anything to it and we can’t take anything away from it, IT IS FINISHED! The way has been made and cannot ever be changed but you and I have to make a choice to accept the terms of the covenant in order to enter into it. We have free will to accept the plan exactly as it has been given by Almighty God, Creator and Father of the universe, or we reject it. The following scripture reveals the covenant that God made with the children of Israel in the desert following the exodus from Egypt. "You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel,  your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water,  that you may enter into the covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today,” (Deuteronomy 29:10-12) That covenant basically is the same today except that Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb, has already completed the sacrifice and does not need to be repeated year after year as a reminder of the sin in our lives.
Just as it was when God spoke to the Israelites in the desert, so He speaks to us today to make a choice. Notice that the scripture says “may enter”, we must choose. Many will say with their mouths that they choose Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, but there is not one bit of evidence to confirm their statement. Again, let me be clear, we are not the judges, Jesus Christ will judge at the end of the age, the unredeemed and the redeemed. (The Apostle Paul does speak on judging those within the body of believers in 1 Corinthians 5 but that is a topic for another day.) “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
This is the stumbling block for many today. Because we are NOT saved by works, they don’t believe that works will be considered at the judgment seat. Let’s look at those scriptures which they will invariably quote. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  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.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10) Verses 8 and 9 will be quoted but you will not hear them quote verse 10 in which the Lord was having the Apostle Paul reveal what the outcome of our salvation actually looks like. Many people will not even refer to verses 1-7 which clearly speaks to what we were PRIOR to salvation without ever considering the past tense which tells us that with salvation we were to be different. I have even heard others say that they have been changed but the change won’t be reflected until after we die! The Lord Jesus Christ did not die to leave us in our filthy sin! Let’s explore this a little further.
“and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,  which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
I think you may be seeing that Scripture does not neglect the topic of the transformation that occurs when one is truly reborn. Does it happen immediately? Sometimes and sometimes not. Not a very clear answer is it? There should definitely be an instant change of the heart and desire to dig into God’s Word. There should be a continuous growth in all things spiritual that will also reflect changes in our lives as to how we talk, how we live, activities we participate in, books we read, movies and TV shows we watch, friends we have, etc. Is there still a continuous use of the Lord’s name in vain? That’s a major problem and shows a lack of spiritual growth because the relationship is not growing with the Lord. There is a lack of both love and respect and submission. How are you living or maybe the question is who are you living with? Would God be pleased with your lifestyle? “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5) Remember that idolatry is anything that is more important in your life than God. And that is the real problem for individuals today; they want everything as it is now plus God. Thats is not how it works! But look again at the verse above, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, devoting yourself to spending time with God, praying, LISTENING and being teachable will produce great fruit in your life.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.“ (Romans 8:2)
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
I hope you are with me to this point because we are now entering the heart of what it means to be a true believer. As I was reading the weekly email on the Torah portion for this week the writer made the following statement regarding the above scriptures. It isn’t anything new that the Lord has given, it has been repeated in different words many times through these devotionals, but it really got my attention this morning the way he stated the truth that God wants us to understand in these passages. I hope you will be blessed as much as I was as you read them. “God gave the Scriptures to us as a guide so we know what is good and what is evil; nevertheless, it is up to each of us to either live according to God’s Word by accepting the good and rejecting the evil—or to live according to the dictates of our own heart and the current cultural perspective or worldview. This is the concept of free will that God has given to mankind.” (Taken from weekly email from Messianic Bible, September 30th) (emphasis mine)
How are you doing? Are you able to see things through the eyes of God? Are you able to hear Him through the roar of the world? It is very easy to get caught up in the emotions of the deception and evil that is being poured out upon us, especially knowing that there is nothing we can physically do to change it. Those who are rioting and killing and demonstrating and all other kinds of evil, are not representing God in any matter, they are operating in the flesh.
As I was talking to the Lord this morning while fixing my breakfast He reminded me that each one of us has a different path to walk and that path will look totally different from anyone else’s. It’s not that He favors one person more than another but each path is to shape us into the person He wants us to become. Sometimes that path seems to twist and wander in difficult terrain for more years than we think we can bear, but the point is to learn to lean on Him and allow His strength to carry us through all things AND, especially so that others see Christ in the situation, not see you or me but recognize that Christ is in the midst. He also intends for us to surrender everything to Him and to see everything through His eyes. “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
There have been years that I thought circumstances would never change, He literally moved me to the desert as an example to me of the “desert” in my life and to learn to trust Him and allow Him to lead me in His path. It has never been easy but I have received blessings upon blessings that cannot be understood by anyone else. That’s okay. The purpose was to change me. “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
The question for each of us today is whether or not we are walking in God’s will and trusting Him. He NEVER promised us it would be easy, as a matter of fact He said it was a narrow difficult path. "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Have you accepted His way for your life or are you still fighting to change it?
“Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16) “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:21) There it is...the bottom line. There are no shades of grey, it is black and white. Choose life or choose death. Choice obedience to God’s commands or choose self. Remember the admonition of Joshua to the children of Israel after they entered the promised land, "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) Read this passage carefully, the decision is ultimately yours to make. If you cannot agree with the Words of Scripture and submit yourself to obey the Words of Christ, then you are choosing to follow someone other than Jesus Christ! And just to be clear, we are not covered by the decisions of our parents, our spouses, our children or our friends; each one of us has to choose for himself.
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9)
“for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:13-15) Again we must remember that it costs us to follow Christ. And there is a battle of the flesh that continues to rage. The Apostle Paul used his own life as an example to encourage us and demonstrate that it is worth the battle. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,  for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Our lives are no different than those of the apostles in the Scriptures. Why do we assume that God does not expect the same obedience from us as He did of them? Our problem, just like the apostles when they first began to follow Christ, is that we have an earthly focus and not a heavenly focus. Whenever Jesus spoke of eternal life He was referring to Kingdom life, focusing on God’s agenda, not ours. The apostles understood this after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They suffered greatly for their relationship with Jesus Christ and so will we. The suffering may come in various forms but it is all according to God’s work. So, again, the Apostle Paul encourages us with these words, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
"Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.  "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18-7:1)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)
“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.  If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
As I close this devotion I want to share with you a dream I had last night that was very disturbing to me. I’m not totally clear on the whole of it but the part that applies to this devotion I will use in closing. I found myself bound up and being carried away and was struggling to become free and eventually I was freed and immediately I was in the presence of a person that I trusted deeply and represented himself as a solid believer. However the scene changed to a situation that was totally unbiblical and when I took a stand against the situation (not the person) he immediately began stating he was offended before I even spoke. He was offended because I did not agree with his plans. I have spent much time today asking the Lord for clarification and at this point He has shared that even those close to us will turn away from us when we won’t accept their plans. As you can see from what I’ve shared this is a very personal dream but I believe it needs to be shared with you because if we continue to trust other people’s ideas and directions and not be in constant communication and relationship with the Lord we will find ourselves out of His will and our lives spinning out of control. Remember however that the battle is not always against the person but the forces of the spiritual realm who are directing their actions. Yes, even as believers we can be deceived by the desires of our flesh. So let me close in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) “And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Abba Father, I am deeply touched by Your words today, words of correction, discipline, truth, grace and hope. I pray for Your light to shine in the hearts and minds of those who are called according to Your Name. May the conviction of the Holy Spirit begin to open up the hidden places in each of our hearts and be set free from the desires of the flesh and to begin seeking to know what You would have us to see and learn in every situation we encounter. Forgive me Father because I too often would like to direct events so that they are comfortable and agreeable to me. I often do not understand why things are placed in my life but I trust in You to guide me each step of the way and share with me when the time is right. Holy Spirit I ask that You continue to convict me when I do not bind my mind to the mind of Christ. Continue to encourage me to pray for Your grace through these difficult days and trust in You no matter the outcome. I love You with all of my heart and thank You for Your love which is everlasting! I pray all this in the blessed name of Your Son Jesus Christ, Amen!