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Phone: 402.991.2492
E-mail: dee@reachingthebroken.org

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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

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    Monday
    Apr212014

    "Living the Christian life...Is it my strength or His"?

    Good Morning Friends

    Today we will continue with our lesson in our series of "Forgetting What Is Behind". Today we will start on chapter 5 titled "living the Christian Life…Is It My strength or His?

    Thank you for joining me and let me know your thoughts about this blog. you can email me at deejohnston1@live.com or email off of our website www.reachingthebroken.org Lets get started:

    For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3-4

    For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. I Corinthians 1:25

    “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”  Ephesians 3:20-21

     Any topic that relates to “Living the Christian Life” is a big topic to tackle. So our focus is not going to take in all aspects of the topic, but we will hopefully try and bring some insight into the humanly efforts that we as Christians struggle with from time to time in trying to “live the Christian life in our own strength”.

    The Sinful Nature

    Paul teaches that the fallen human nature is rebellious against God. We inherited this rebellious nature from Adam and, unfortunately, the root of it was not thoroughly destroyed when we became Christians. It is still within us, but even though it is still there, that does not mean we are forced to do what it says.

    The flesh, that is (our human nature) is the motivator behind the selfishness we sometimes feel and act on in our sinful nature. Even though it is true that within our nature we have a strong “will power”, it is still not strong enough to keep us from sin and we only end up being frustrated in our attempts to not sin.

     Even if we totally understand the difference between right and wrong, even that does not give us the power to keep us from sinning.

    Jeremiah put it this way:

    "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

    The Corrupt Heart of Man

    Scripture teaches us that man in his present fallen state is not basically good. He is deceptive and conniving! There is good in him but that good is corrupted. There is within our human nature a mixture of good and evil. Paul gives us a perfect example of this when he said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out”. Romans 7:18.

    Jesus also addresses this core issue when he said, “But,the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean’.” Matthew 15:18. Even the “good” in us cannot be trusted.

    When Paul is teaching us about the “flesh”, He says there is absolutely no “good” in the flesh. He is of course referring to himself here but extending it to all mankind. He is not saying that man has no good in him at all, but that the good in him is flawed. He is emphasizing that the good that is there may be mixed with wrong motives deep within our heart.   

    Paul realizes “this about himself” when he ls referring to the verse in Romans 7:24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

     

    None of us like to think or even admit to ourselves that there is “no good thing” in us. But until we can truly understand and accept the fact that this is true about our humanity/flesh and fallen state, we will have difficulty accepting the fact that we cannot please God or do enough to earn His favor and love. We tend to feel better about ourselves if we believe there is only a little corruption within us and that with a little work we will be fine.

    This way of thinking especially goes along with our American way of thinking…..work hard, take care of yourself, and when things get bad, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go on. In fact, for us to think differently can be insulting to many and a stab to our dignity.

    Paul’s personal battle with his flesh

    Romans 7:14-25 demonstrates his personal battle with sin and his flesh. We will look at this piece by piece.

     "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

     So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:14-25)

    Paul does not understand why “he does what he does”. 

    Paul finds himself struggling with his two natures. He wants to do what is right but is unable to carry it out. We can all identify right?

    I understand Paul’s struggle here as I can relate, can’t you? We all have had times when we “know what we should do” but because of fear we shrink back and hope there is another way.  I firmly believe that if we are born again believers, we will want to do what the Lord tells us to do and until we do, we will be miserable.

    I also believe that there are people who have gone through bad experiences who have a distorted view of the past and the present and because of these experiences they “don’t know why they do what they do”. For those people they need Holy Spirit Revelation and the help of others to lead them to the root source of “why they do what they do”?

    We will close here and next week we will continue with this topic as Paul continues to ask questions and search his own heart. We will begin with "What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." thank you for joining me and hope to hear from. Pass this on to your friends is you desire and I will be back next week.

    Blessings

    Dee

    Monday
    Apr142014

    It is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose part 2

    Good Morning Friends

    Today we will continue with our lesson in our series of "Forgetting What Is Behind". Today we will conclude  Chapter 4 titled "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" and continue on beginning with Chapter 5 titled living the Christian Life…Is It My strength or His?

    Thank you for joining me and let me know your thoughts about this blog. you can email me at deejohnston1@live.com or email off of our website www.reachingthebroken.org Lets get started:

    Then what is “works” all  about?”

    For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. I Corinthians 1:25

    “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”  Ephesians 3:20-21

    The book of James addresses this issue in detail. In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17

    *       The Bible teaches that “good works” emerge after we are Christians.

    We do good works because we are Christians, not to become Christians. It is not something we can earn by working for it.

    *          Christian good works is a natural result, or outcome, of being born again in Christ.

     That is what James meant when he wrote, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17).

     

    How do ‘good works’ relate to our life?

    *   Paul said, in Ephesians 2:10…, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.

    *   We are redeemed from all wickedness to do “good works”….Jesus Christ who gave himself  for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:14

    God saved you and me for many reasons, but certainly to do good works in this world we live in. When we engage in effective good works, we are fulfilling our destiny, for which God created us and saved us. We are designed to do good works.

    *   Good works are connected to reward…Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6

    *   We are to be the “salt of the earth,” or the “light of the world”…..Light gives guidance, and salt delays corruption. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Matthew 5:13

    *   We are destined to give, serve, and minister to others in the name of Christ….Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38

    *   Good works gets us out of ourselves and into helping others. …Unfortunately, we can focus to much on ourselves. What I want! This attitude of self-pity will stop us from being and doing what Christ designed and had in mind for us.

    To Summarize

    Works are only good when:

    1.   They spring from the moral principle of Faith and Love that comes from our heart toward God. These are the essential elements needed that prompt true obedience. Good works can only spring from a believing heart that has been reconciled to God. Ephesians 2:10; James 2:18-22

    2.   Good works have the glory of God in mind....it is not about us rather, it is for the purpose that God will be revealed in the hearts and minds of others.

    3.   They reveal the will of God…See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. Deut. 12:3

    Things to Ponder

    1  Do you “work” hard to please God?      YES     NO

    2.  Do you believe that your ‘works’ are “good works”?   YES     NO

    3.   Is your heart set on following and obeying What God tells you to do?  YES   NO

     

    Chapter 5.... living the Christian Life…Is It My strength or His?

    For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3-4

    For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. I Corinthians 1:25

    “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”  Ephesians 3:20-21

     Any topic that relates to “Living the Christian Life” is a big topic to tackle. So our focus with this is not going to take in all aspects of the topic, but we will hopefully try and bring some insight into the humanly efforts that we as Christians struggle with from time to time in trying to “live the Christian life in our own strength”.

    The Sinful Nature

    Paul teaches that the fallen human nature is rebellious against God. We inherited this rebellious nature from Adam and, unfortunately, the root of it was not thoroughly destroyed when we became Christians. It is still within us, but even though it is still there, that does not mean we are forced to do what it says.

    The flesh, that is (our human nature) is the motivator behind the selfishness we sometimes feel and act on. Even though we have a strong “will power” it is still not strong enough to keep us from sin and we only end up being frustrated in our attempts to not sin.

     Even if we totally understand the difference between right and wrong, even that does not give us the power to keep us from sinning.

    This is just a taste of next week. please join me in this series and let me know if you are following. it would be good to hear from you. pass it on if you like it.

    See you next week...Blessings Dee

     

    Monday
    Apr142014

    It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose

     

    Monday
    Apr072014

    It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose

    Good Morning Friends

    Today we will begin a new lesson in our series of "Forgetting What Is Behind". Today we will begin with Chapter 4 titled "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose". Thank you for joining me and let me know your thoughts about this blog. you can email me at deejohnston1@live.com or email off of our website www.reachingthebroken.org Lets get started:

    For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

    The Biblical concept of ‘works’ and our humanly idea of ‘work’ is not the same thing. Even though ‘work’ in and of it-self is self- explanatory, the Biblical concept of ‘works’ is different. In this chapter, we will try to bring a clearer understanding of the concept between the two.

    The Humanity side of ‘work’

    *   God gave Adam responsibilities in the Garden of Eden. He was told by God “to work it and take care of it”. Genesis 2:15

    *   Paul bluntly informed the Thessalonians that the idle must be put to work. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

    *   Human labor and toil….Six days do your work, bur on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12

    *   Work is also recognized as “painful toil”. Work can be at times unpleasant and frustrating, leaving us with a sense of drudgery that never seems to bring us to a place of satisfaction or profit. To Adam he said, “because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it.” “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” Genesis 3:17

    *   We are not to be a burden to others…. We are not to be Idle or completely dependent on others. Believers are to remain busy, to take personal responsibility for themselves. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

    *    Work provides an honest way to do something…it also produces something we can share with others who are in need. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28

     

    Within the vocabulary of “work” emerges the concept of “works”.

    This takes on special focus in the NT, where Paul and others explore the relationship of human efforts and accomplishments to faith in God. In the Judaism of Jesus’ day, such works were called for by the law and were thought to establish a person as righteous, not only in his and the community’s eyes but also in the eyes of God.

    The NT, with its understanding of Jesus as the One through whom God offers a righteousness that is apart from law, reevaluates and clarifies the relationship of good works to one’s relationship with God.

    Good “Works”

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, ---and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

    None of us can “work our way to Heaven”. We will not be able to stand before God when that day comes and plead our case of how many good things we have done hoping it will qualify us to enter Heaven.

     We will conclude here for today and next week we will finish this lesson starting with What is "works" all about"? thank you for joining me this morning and may God bless you and your family.

    Blessings Dee

    Monday
    Mar312014

    God uses what happens to us for our deliverance..part 2

    Good Morning Friends

    For those of you who are joining us for the first time we are in a series called "Forgetting What Is Behind". We are concluding today Chapter 3 "God uses what happens to us for our deliverance". Thank you for joining us I hope you enjoy it. If so please pass it on to friends. Lets get started:

    Our Attitude in difficult times

    Let’s take a look at Paul's attitude when he faced difficult times. Paul teaches us that though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our responses to them. Philippians 1:19-26

    This passage speaks to our deepest fears in our times of loss. Listen again to Paul's words, I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:19-26)

    Some Key Attitudes:

    1.  Paul recognizes that he cannot do anything in his own strength. (Surrender & Humility) He is depended on the prayers of others and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

    2.   He is confident that what has happened to him will turn out for his deliverance. (trust & confidence). He chooses to believe that the Lord Jesus knows of his circumstances and that he has a plan that will deliver him.

    3.    He is eagerly hopeful and expecting that he will not be ashamed because of his situation. (Paul recognizes this situation is not about him even though it is happening to him). (Selflessness) His eyes are not on himself but on Jesus.

    4.    He knows that God will give him the courage he needs regardless of the outcome. He only desires that Christ will be exalted in his body whether that is through life or death.(Letting go of control) It is ok with Paul if he stays on earth or goes to heaven. Either way he is with the Lord.

    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7

    How do we view ‘our circumstances’?

    1.  Do we fear what may happen next? Fear of the unknown… those things that are beyond our control.  When we have had bad life experiences, those bad experiences can cause us to become skeptical fearing everything. This is called (unrealistic fear).  

    2.   Do we look at our circumstances from a victim perspective? If we view our circumstances as being; “something that has happened to me”, then my view will be one of ‘I can’t do anything about the situation I am in’! We will just lay down and take what comes to us without doing anything at all. We also have the view/attitude that God will just intervene at some point and take care of our problems for us.

    One of the most difficult spiritual lessons to learn is that in our own strength ‘we can’t do it’, but that Christ “can/will do it through us”. Paul knew that without God's strength the trials of life would be too difficult for him. But Paul learned to lean not on his own strength but on the strength provided to him through Christ. He chose to focus on the blessing rather than the burden. His desire was to rejoice in the promise rather than to despair over the problem.

    3.   Is there ‘hope’ in your circumstances or just despair? We must be deliberate and steadfast in the midst of our circumstances. We must focus on the outcome (hope) not on what is happening (anxiety) at the moment. If we can keep our focus on what is being ‘gained’ instead of on what we think we are ‘losing’ we will get to the other side. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 

    Paul’s view of life was one of hope because he knew the ONE who was hope. When we know the one who gives us hope our view of life and our circumstances are viewed differently. 

    4.   Are you determined to live a productive life? Well, let’s take a look at what Paul says about this. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body, Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.

    Paul’s attitude here is one to be admired. He is determined that if he is to continue on in life he will live it as productive as possible. He believed that if he was given more days on earth, it was for a purpose, a purpose higher than him-self.

    What has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance!

    You see Paul knew that his imprisonment was not an accident and that he was right where he was supposed to be. He was not a victim of his circumstances. He knew that what was happening to him was going to turn out for his deliverance. He was confident of this because he knew that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would work it all out for good. Paul was so convinced of this that whether he lived or died didn’t matter because he was right where he was supposed to be “in the arms of his Lord”.

    We all have good days, bad days and experience various trials throughout our life. But what we are learning here from Paul is “what or who are we putting our trust in”? Hopefully it’s not in ‘other people’, ‘other things’, other past experiences’, ‘our own knowledge’ and especially not in our own strength to get us through life and difficult times.  

    I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1-6

    Max Lucado writes:

    Only in seeking his Maker does a man truly become man. For in seeing his Creator man catches a glimpse of what he was intended to be. He who would see his God would then see the reason for death and the purpose of time. Destiny? Tomorrow? Truth? All are questions within the reach of the man who knows his source... [GOD CAME NEAR quoted in INSPIRATIONAL STUDY BIBLE]

     This will conclude our lesson on chapter 3. thanks you for joining me and we will continue on next week with lesson 4 called It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Have a great week, here are some things to things about...

    Blessings Dee

    Things to Ponder

    1.  Do you believe that all things work out for your good? Think on those things that are going on in your life and family at this time. What are you believing God for right now?

    2.   How do you usually handle difficult times when they come knocking on your door?

    3.   Does your attitude change along with your circumstances?

    4.   Do you have a spirit of perseverance and endurance and pressing through hard times, or do you view yourself as being helpless?