Key Verse

Isaiah 60:1- Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you-rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of hte Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! (Amplified Version)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bible Study: Like Christ Series Week Six- Self-Sacrifice

Week Six: Self-Sacrifice

I took a survey with a few people on a couple of questions. I asked them:

1) When you hear the word “sacrifice” what do you think of?

Answers: Sacrificing animals, God sacrificing His Son, Jesus, and parents sacrificing things for their children. Occults sacrificing to their leader. Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac

2) What in your own personal opinion does it mean to sacrifice?

Giving up something for someone else out of love and kindness. To give up something for something else.
Sacrifice (from The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something conceived as having a higher or more pressing claim. To surrender or give up something.

When I started reading this definition of sacrifice, I started crying, and I will get to why in a minute.

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The most noble sacrifice is self-sacrifice: to dedicate one’s body, mind, and spirit in the service of God and humanity. In time of persecution and oppression, self-sacrifice may mean to willingly give up one’s life for Christ.

Self-sacrifice means to be a Living Sacrifice--dedicating your life to the divine purpose---which Christ made Himself a Living Sacrifice for our sins and He died on the cross for us…I used to look at the cross as a symbol of hope, but in reality the cross meant death. A lot of times we keep focused on the cross, when we should focus on Christ being alive. We should remember how he died, but not let the cross itself become an idol because the cross means death-not life. Christ’s resurrection means life. He’s alive and because He’s alive, we are alive today! We are to sacrifice-give up everything to Him.
Self-sacrifice is also the Supreme expression of love for others-known as Sacrificial Love.

Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciples, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. (Amp)

Romans 12:1- I Appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. (Amp)

God desires us to surrender every part of our lives to Him.

It is only when we sacrifice ourselves to God that there will be the power for an entire self-sacrifice to others. The Holy Spirit reveals to the Believer the right of God’s claim on us, how we are not our own, but His. It brings us to the realization of how absolutely we are God’s property bought and paid for with Christ’s blood that He shed for us. We are loved with such an amazing, wonderful love. And when we surrender--fully surrender our lives to Him by giving Him 100% of ourselves and sacrificing our wants and desires for His, that leads the Believer to yield himself/herself a whole burnt-offering---meaning 100% on fire for God and willing to do His work and not our own. The Believer lays himself/herself upon the altar and finds it is their highest joy to be devoted to God. And it becomes their first and most earnest desire to know how God would have them show this entire sacrifice in their life and walk with God.

For every Christian who gives himself/herself entirely to His service, God uses them as an instrument of blessing to others. The self-sacrifice is when we have devoted ourselves to God’s service, and binds us also to serve our fellow man/woman.

It is this surrender to God tha gives us the power to sacrifice towards others--it even makes it a joy. When we give out of self-sacrifice by giving up something we desire ourselves, in the natural, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to us to sacrifice what we want, for someone else. But in reality, God’s reality, it brings joy.

Be honest, as I bring you this scenario: You receive or obtain and extra $1000 and all your bills are paid and so on. You really desire a new vehicle and that $1000 could be a down payment…or you desire a new entertainment system, you know TV, surround sound, gaming system…everything. But God speaks to you and tells you, “_______, I want you to give this money to _________ because they need it, they’re struggling.” Or God says, “_________, I want you to give this to _________, because they really could use a nice vacation.”

To me, before I started doing this study, this was very hard to do. But I’ve learned to sacrifice things for others.

What are we to Sacrifice?

1) Money-Give to the poor as Christ did. Also instead of just giving 10%, give more. The 10% takes faith, but more than 10% takes sacrifice.

2) Time-Give your time to listen to someone who is hurting. Give time to help someone do something that they need done. Give time and take time to minister to someone (nursing home, jail ministries, hospitals, etc)

3)Talent- Use the talent God gave you to help someone, or lift someone up who is down. For instance, if you can paint, paint a picture for someone. If you can write poems, stories, books, write. If you can build, build something, or help someone around the house that can’t get around by organizing stuff, if that’s your talent. Every one has a talent. Sing at nursing homes if you can sing. Preach, teach, do dramas, etc. God’s given you some kind of talent for you to use for His glory!

4) Work-At work, as you work, watch for opportunities to share Christ with someone. Pray for them, be there for them. Don’t just focus on work. God’s placed you in your position for a reason. Now I’m not saying NOT to work, I’m saying in your spare time, lunch break, whatever share yourself. Go out of your way to make your co-workers or boss’s day a little better, even if you don’t like them. That’s sacrifice!

The disciples did this when they became disciples of Christ. They gave up money, families, jobs, their time, talents, etc. and followed Christ.
The highest glory of God’s love was manifested in the self-sacrifice of Christ. It is the highest glory of the Christian to give ourselves to God.
Self-sacrifice is of the very essence of true love. The very nature and blessedness of love consists in forgetting about yourself and seeking the happiness and meeting the needs of others. Where there is a want or need, love, by it’s very nature offers up one’s own happiness for another.
In order sacrifice yourself or something you must have love in your heart. Without love we can’t sacrifice to someone who has hurt us deeply. We must first forgive them and love them. Without entire self-sacrifice, the command of can’t be fulfilled. Without entire self-sacrifice, we can’t love as Jesus loved (s).

1 John 3:16-By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]. (Amp)

Ephesians 5:2- And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. (Amp)

To love someone, sometimes takes sacrifice as well. Especially when that person has hurt us in the past or sometimes ignores our very existence. But once we learn to love that person, as Christ has called us to do, regardless of what that person has done or said, we find joy and peace.
God has done the same for us. Regardless of our past, regardless of what we’ve done or said, God still loves us. With an Agape Love. That means He loves us unconditionally. He will never stop loving us. This kind of love is real, tender, forever, total, complete, absolute, and unchanging! No one can love like God can, but we can try! He calls us to love like Him, in His Word. And sometimes love takes sacrifice. Despite what we do to God, He still loves us. He forgives us and loves us. When someone hurts us really bad, it’s hard for us, as humans, in the flesh, to love them back. God understands this, but He still calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who use us. God will help us learn to love those who hurt us. But first, we have to give ourselves to God completely. Then and only then, do we really understand what love is.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bible Study: Like Christ Series Week Five-Denying The Flesh

Week Five: Denying The Flesh

The reason we are to deny the flesh is simply because the flesh can not please God!

Romans 8:5-10-For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law, indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God. But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. (Amp)

God didn’t create us to live the spiritual life with physical strength. When we try to do so, the result is death, opposed to life and peace. The carnal mind stands against God. It can never be trained to perform the way God wants it.

The flesh not only stands against the spirit, it enters into conflict with the spirit. The flesh wars against the spirit.

1 Peter 2:11- Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. (Amp)

The flesh is an enemy of the spirit. It brings hurt to the soul. The flesh says, “Have a few drinks, it’ll do you good.” When, in reality, it destroys your ability to think clearly. The flesh says, “Get even. Someone needs to put them in their place.” The problem is that bitterness is like cancer, destroying our emotions.

God didn’t intend for us to compete in spiritual battles in the flesh. Our flesh can’t fight the spiritual war.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5- For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds. [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (Amp)

Spiritual Weapons
(Read Ephesians 6:10-18)

1) The Word of God-
Ephesians 6:17- And take the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God. (Amp)

2) Prayer of Faith

Ephesians 6:16- Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. (Amp)

3) Praise

Psalm 149:6-9- Let the high praises of God be in their throats and a two-edged sword in their hands… (Amp)

4) The Name of Jesus

Mark 16:17-18- And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages, they will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. (Amp)

5) The Blood of Jesus
Revelation 12:11- And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]. (Amp)

6) Submitted Life to God

James 4:7- So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. (Amp)

7) Obedience to God

Deuteronomy 28:1- If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His Commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. (Amp)

8) Unity of Believers

1 Corinthians 1:10- But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. (Amp)

9) Fullness of the Spirit

Zechariah 4:6- Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying Not by mighty, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. (Amp)

There’s more, but I decided to focus on those 9. The Word of God is full of Spiritual Weapons. Read through the Bible and you will find more. Along with promises and so much more!

There are consequences for trying to live in the flesh. There will be both outward (flesh) and inward (spirit) struggles that will often lead to fatigue and ultimate spiritual failure, followed by moral values and addictions. Some people become spiritual drop outs, while others become floaters, moving from one to church to another. Still others will get into a spiritual group that emphasizes fanatical thinking with some opening the door for demonic control. Some people become angry, bitter, depressed, and even suicidal.

These people will often exhibit antisocial behavior. Other people move into deep self-deception. Some pick up drugs, sex, or work addictions to cover their feelings of failure and rejection. Some even withdraw from society because of the fear of failure. Many will wrestle with anxiety.

So how do we overcome the flesh? Since we can’t train the flesh, what are we to do?
1) We are to make NO provision for the flesh.

In other words, don’t set yourself up to sin or to fail. Don’t plan or prepare for it. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be tempted to sin.

Romans 13:14- But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about he evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts). (Amp)

When we stop and think about it, we plan most sin. When we sin, it comes from the heart. We mean to do it. We plan it most times. Sometimes we have unknown sin, but most times, we plan it.

Here are some examples, we plan to buy the extra food that we should not eat. We plan to watch the movie that causes us to think bad thoughts. We plan to say thinks to hurt others. We plan to hurt others who have hurt us. An unknown sin is something you don’t know is a sin. For instance, you know that to curse God is a sin., that’s a given. But you may not know that using other foul language is. Or if you’re a new Christian, just coming to the Lord, you don’t know a lot of Scripture, therefore, you don’t know some things are against God. Another example, we plan to buy the extra food that we should not eat. We plan to watch the movie that causes us to think bad thoughts. We plan to say thinks to hurt others. We plan to hurt others who have hurt us.

We must make provision, however, to stay in the spirit. We must plan to stay in the spirit. Tune into the Word of God…not just read it but, get into it. Tune into prayer. Remain in Him.

2) We are to bring the flesh under subjection

This means we are to make the flesh a slave to God. In other words, line up everything with what God says, follow God and not the flesh…have the flesh be subject to God.

We should see that we are either serving God or we are serving the flesh. We can’t serve two masters.

Luke 16:13- No servant is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [riches or anything in which you trust and on which you rely]. (Amp)

We can’t walk down two roads at the same time. We as Believers can’t serve God and man. Our goal is to serve God. We also don’t have to be slaves to sin…God took care of that, all we have to do is stay with God and focus on Him and His will and not our own.
Romans 6:12-16- Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy]. What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not! Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right standing with God)? (Amp)

The question we need to ask ourselves is:

To whom/what have I made myself a slave to?

We are either a slave to flesh, sin, the devil, or God.

Inside ourselves, a war goes on, between our flesh, mind, will, emotions, and spirit…Here’s an excellent illustration:

Imagine for a moment, there is an executive board meeting. And at this meeting is the Flesh, that says, “I DESIRE such and such.” The Mind (intellect) says, “I THINK such and such.” The Will says, “I WILL do it. I CAN do it. I WILL NOT do it. I just CAN’T do it.” The Emotions say, “I FEEL such and such.” The Spirit is also there. The Spirit says, “You SHOULD do such and such.” Now, the Will is the chairman of the
board. Will can take charge itself, or it can yield to any other party that is there (flesh, mind, emotions or spirit). The Will Should do this! It Shall yield to the Spirit. We Should say, “NOT my will, but THINE (AKA YOURS) be done, Lord!” We should make our will the servant of the will of God and do His work by His power.

3) We are to take off the old man and put on the new
Ephesians 4:22-24- Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion, and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]. And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. (Amp)

Have you ever tried to put on two coats, that are the same size, at the same time? It doesn’t work that well, does it? We must take off the coat of the old man before we put on the coat of the new man in Christ. Because the old and new can’t cooperate with each other. You can’t be a Christian and continue doing sin constantly. You won’t grow in God that way and you will miss out on many of God’s blessings. And if you play around with sin, you can end up getting yourself into trouble and also earn a spot in hell. Point blank, I’m not going to sugarcoat this issue. But if you repent, truly repent from your heart, and turn from sin, God is just and will forgive you. God gives us His Word to help us along this journey of “change”. He provides many Scriptures to help us.
4) We are to deny the flesh

Matthew 16:24-26- Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting] For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]? (Amp)

If we hold on to self, we lose self. The reason secular psychologists have such a booming business is because they try to help people “find” themselves.

Mark 8:34-37- For whoever wants to save his [higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God]. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? (Amp)

We aren’t to go about trying to find ourselves! First, we are to put self (Flesh) on the shelf. We are to lay it aside. We are to put it behind us. Then, second, we are to take up our cross. This is a picture of dying to self (flesh). Then, third, we are free to follow Jesus and should follow Him. Steps one and two, MUST come before we can ever reach step three! Otherwise there will be war between flesh and spirit.

5) We are to mortify the members of the flesh

Mortify= to humiliate or shame, as by injury to one’s pride of self-respect. To humble, subdue, restrain.

Colossians 3:1-5- If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For (as far as this world is concerned) you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin] sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). (Amp)

We are to focus our attention on what God would have us do and we are to put to death those things that lead to death. LSD- Lust leads to Sin and Sin leads to death.

James 1:15- Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. (Amp)

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (KJV)
We are not to let fornication (sex outside of marriage) live in us. We aren’t to allow burning lust o live within us. We aren’t to allow our minds to be turned over to evil thoughts. We aren’t to allow covetousness to remain alive within us.

Romans 8:13- For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. (Amp)

One way that we put to death the members of the flesh is to focus our attention on what God would have us to do.

6) We are to reckon the flesh crucified

Galatians 5:24-25- And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit]. (Amp)

When we, as Believers, committed our lives to Jesus, we were spiritually united with Jesus. Therefore, when Jesus died, we died. When Jesus was raised from the death, we were raised from the dead. (Amp)

Romans 6:6-11- We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death, He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. (Amp)

Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His
crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Amp)

We should know that we have been crucified with Christ-dead to sin. Raised to new life in Him, when we repent and ask Jesus into our lives and turn from life of sin to the life of Christ. We should understand this, acknowledge this, and confess this truth.

7) We are to live an exchanged life

We aren’t to prop up the old man or try to fix the flesh, but we are to exchange our old life for the new life in Christ.

Again, take off the old man, exchange it for the new. The new life is to replace the old life. We can’t serve two masters.

You’ve probably seen pictures or movies of a person who has an angel on one shoulder and a little demon on the other, right? When that person obeys the one, he disobeys the other. We are to obey the Spirit of God so that we will not obey the flesh.

8) We need to understand that we must give up everything to follow Jesus.

This is the condition of being a disciple of Christ. Disciple-follower of Christ.

Luke 14:27- Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple. (Amp)

Luke 14:33- So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Amp)

Being a disciple (follower) of Christ is more than just being a so called “Christian”. The word disciple means to follow. It also means “disciplined one”. So to be a disciple of Christ, you have to follow Him and learn from Him. How do you learn from Him? By getting to know Him, how he lived, and spending time with Him daily…not just at church, but every day spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word.
There may be many so called “Christians” but very few disciples. There may be carnal (mind) Believers, but few Believers walk in the Spirit. To be a disciple means we must lay down everything that pertains to our lives, to our way of thinking, and to focus on God’s plans for our lives and focusing on Him. Furthermore, we must be willing to do this EVERYDAY, not just on Sundays and Wednesdays. God wants a relationship, not a religion, where you attend church as a ritual or go there to see people. That’s not what church is about. We go to church to encourage and build up. In other words, pray for each other and strengthen one another…not gossip, that is the flesh. The spirit says, “Go to church for ME. Praise ME. Worship ME. Pray for the needs of others…don’t just go to socialize with one another.” If we do this, if we listen to the Spirit and go there to worship God, then we will receive what God has in store for us!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bible Study: Like Christ Series Week Four-Crucified With Christ

Week Four: Crucified With Christ

Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and trust in) the Son God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Amplified Version)

Galatians 6:14- But far be it from me to glory [in anything or anyone] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Amp)

The apostle Paul makes clear that he didn’t glory in anything or anyone, because the world was crucified to him and he to the world. He kept all things---including people, places, and positions---in proper balance in his life. He was not dependent upon anyone or anything for his joy and peace and victory except the Lord.
Taking up the cross was always spoken by Christ as a test of discipleship. On three different occasions we find these words, spoken by Christ, “If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me.”

1) Matthew 10:38- And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me. (Amp)

2) Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciples, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also[. (Amp)

3) Luke 14:27-Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple. (Amp)

Christians miss the point of the Lord’s command when they refer to taking up the cross only to the crosses and trials of life. The cross means death. Taking up the cross means going out to die. Taking up the cross and following Him is nothing less than living every day with our own life and will given up to death.
The crucified Christ and crucified Christian belong to each other. One of the most important elements of being Like Christ consists of being crucified with Him. Whoever desires to be Like Christ must seek to understand the secret of fellowship with Christ is through being crucified with Christ.

At first sight the Christian who seeks conformity to Jesus is afraid of this truth: he shrinks from the painful suffering and death with which the thought of the cross is connected. As His spiritual discernment becomes clearer, however, this word becomes all his hope and joy, and he glories in the cross, because it makes him a partner in a death and victory that has already been accomplished, and in which the deliverance from the powers of the flesh and of the world has been secured to him.

"I am crucified with Christ," Paul says; "nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me"! Through faith in Christ we become partakers of Christ’s life. That life is a life that has passed through the death of the cross, and in which the power of that death is always working.

It is of great importance to understand this, and to give bold utterance to the truth: I have been crucified with Christ; I have crucified the flesh. I thus learn how perfectly I share in the finished work of Christ. If I am crucified and dead with Him, then I am a partner in His life and victory. I learn to understand the position I must take to allow the power of that cross and that death to manifest itself in mortifying or making dead the old man and the flesh, in destroying the body of sin.

Romans 6:5-13- For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God]. We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to he cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sing might be make ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin ad your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as nstruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. (Amp)

We have been crucified with Christ; the old man was crucified, so the Scripture speaks. But what we have to do is always to regard and treat it as crucified, and not to let it come down from the cross. We must maintain our crucifixion position; we must keep the flesh in the place of crucifixion. We need to crucify the flesh daily. Die to ourselves and live as Christ. To realize the force of this we must notice an important distinction. When we gave ourselves to our crucified Savior, sin and flesh and all, He took us wholly; we with our evil nature was taken up with Him in His crucifixion. But here a separation took place. In fellowship with Him we were freed from the life of the flesh; we ourselves died with Him; in the inmost center of our being we received new life: Christ lives in us. But the flesh, in which we yet are, the old man that was crucified with Him, remained condemned to an accursed death, but is not yet dead. And now it is our calling, in fellowship with and in the strength of our Lord, to see that the old nature be kept nailed to the cross, until the time comes that it is entirely destroyed. All its desires and affections cry out, "Come down from the cross, save thyself and us." We must make dead every uprising of sin, as already crucified, and so not to suffer it to have dominion.

In order to enter fully into the meaning and the power of this fellowship of the crucifixion of our Lord, two things are specially necessary to those who are Christ’s followers. The first is the clear consciousness of this their fellowship with the Crucified One through faith. At conversion they became partakers of it without fully understanding it. Many remain in ignorance all their life long through a want of spiritual knowledge. Take such words of Holy Scripture, and by prayer and meditation make them your own, with a heart that expects and ask the Holy Spirit to make them living and effectual within you. Look upon yourself in the light of God as what you really are, "crucified with Christ." Then you will find the grace for the second thing you need to enable you to live as a crucified one, in whom Christ lives. You will be able always to look upon and to treat the flesh and the world as nailed to the cross. The old nature seeks continually to assert itself, and to make you feel as if it is expecting too much that you should always live this crucifixion life. Your only safety is in fellowship with Christ. "Through Him and His cross," says Paul, "I have been crucified to the world." In Him the crucifixion is an accomplished reality; in Him you have died, but also have been made Page 7
alive: Christ lives in you. With this fellowship of His cross let it be with you, the deeper the better: it brings you into deeper communion with His life and His love. To be crucified with Christ means freed from the power of sin: a redeemed one, a conqueror. Remember that the Holy Spirit has been specially provided to glorify Christ in you, to reveal within you, and make your very own all that is in Christ for you. Do not be satisfied, with so many others, only to know the cross in its power to atone: the glory of the cross is, that it was not only to Jesus, but is to us too, the path to life, but that each moment it can become to us the power that destroys sin and death, and keeps us in the power of the eternal life. Learn from your Savior the holy art of using it for this. Faith in the power of the cross and its victory will day by day make dead the deeds of the body, the lusts of the flesh. This faith will teach you to count the cross, with its continual death to self. all your glory. Because you regard the cross, not as one who is still on the way to crucifixion, with the prospect of a painful death, but as one to whom the crucifixion is past, who already lives in Christ, and now only bears the cross as the blessed instrument through which the body of sin is done away The banner under which complete victory over sin and the world is to be won is the cross.

Above all, remember what still remains the chief thing, It is Jesus, the living loving Savior, who Himself enables you to be like Him in all things. His sweet fellowship, His tender love, His heavenly power, make it a blessedness and joy to be like Him, the Crucified One, make the crucifixion life a life of resurrection—joy and power. In Him the two are inseparably connected.

We are to crucify the flesh daily. We are to give up what we desire fleshly and do what God desires us to do.

What is the flesh that I’m talking about? What do we do to crucify the flesh? The flesh is the part of us that resists our transformation into the new person in Christ. Our flesh wants to keep us enslaved to our old habits and sinful attitudes. We have daily choices to live according to God's righteous desires, and deny sin. When we use our power to choose God's way instead of sin's way, we crucify our flesh.
God helps us crucify the flesh through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:13- For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening] the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. (Amp)

Any time our flesh wants to do something else, by choosing to follow the Spirit of God we need to know that our flesh will suffer.

Here are a list of some desires of the flesh that we are to give up:

Colossians 3:5-9- So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will). Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things; anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices. (Amp)

We need put these sinful things to death and put on the new

Colossians 3:10- And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. (Amp)

Colossians 3:12-23
The Bible tells us in this Scripture tells us how we are to live Like Christ and what He wants us to do in this life.
Specific actions to take:
Stop responding to lust
Make no provision to gratify lust
Some examples: If you know you'll be alone tonight and will be able to surf for porn on the net, invite a friend over so you don't have the opportunity to get into trouble. If you are headed to the beach and are prone to lusting after people in swimsuits, try going when there will be few people there, or leave your glasses at home (if you wear glasses), or just stay home. If you have trouble lusting over the magazine covers at the supermarket checkout, pick something to focus your eyes on in the checkout area that will keep you from looking at the magazine covers. This is the same with anything, like drugs, alcohol, or any other addiction…don’t place yourself in a situation where you will be tempted. Example: bar, strip club, etc. These may sound like extreme things to do. We have to do some extreme things when we're trying to break free from addiction. While in recovery, though, we must exercise discretion and not do things that will place temptation in front of our eyes.
Acknowledge God's ownership of your body
Be prepared to suffer
Use your freedom to serve others in love
: Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." We want to get in the habit of using our freedom to serve others (instead ourselves) in love. If we do this, we'll starve lust and grow God's love in us. This will help us experience true joy!
: Peter wrote, "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:1-2 NKJV). Crucifixion is a slow, painful death. When we crucify our sinful desires, we will suffer as they die. As the pain subsides, the joy of the Lord will flood our souls. We should be mentally prepared for the suffering we'll face on the road to freedom. Armed with the mind of Christ, we will have permanent victory!!
: God paid a high price for you. He sent His own Son to die in your place. We are obligated to live according to God's desires and not sin's desires. Let Christ live and reign in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says, "Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."
: Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." If we make just a small provision for the lust, it will rule over our body (Romans 6:12). If we don't make the provision, sin is less likely to occur.
: Pray for God to strengthen you to deny lust. Commit to not responding to lust the way you have in the past. Choose to be a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1) by being obedient to him. Some examples: If your flesh wants to look at a person to lust after, look the other way. If your flesh wants to stop by the adult video store on the way home, go home a different way.

Bible Study: Like Christ Series Week Three- As One Who Serves

Week Three: As One Who Serves

John 13:14- If I then, your Lord and Teacher (Master), have washed your feet, you ought [it’s your duty, you are under obligation, you owe it] to wash one another’s feet. (Amplified Version)

Luke 22:26-27- But his is not be so with you; on the contrary, let him who is the greatest among you become like the youngest, and him who is the chief and leader like one who serves. For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves. (Amp)

Jesus was talking about the people who are being well-doers and having authority over others. Christ states that He is the One who serves and if we are to be Like Christ---we are to do contrary (opposite) of what the way the world thinks we should. We should humble ourselves as Christ did and serve others.

All was ready for the Last Supper, to the very water to wash the feet of the guests, according to custom. But there was no slave to do the work. Each one waits for the others; none of the twelve thinks of humbling himself to do the work. Even at the table they were full of thought, who should be greatest in the kingdom they were expecting? All at once, Jesus rises (they were still reclining at the table), lays aside His garment, girds Himself with a towel, and begins to wash their feet. Christ, the Creator and King of the universe, at Whose command legions of angels are ready to serve Him, Who might with one word of love have said which one of the twelve must to the work---Christ chooses the slave’s place as His own, takes the soiled feet in His own Holy hands and washes them. He does it in full consciousness of His Divine Glory. For the hands into which God has given all things, nothing is common or unclean. No matter how low or seemingly unimportant the work is, the person honors and elevates the work, and imparts his own worth even to the lowest, seemingly unimportant job or service. In such deep humiliation, as we humans call it, our Lord finds Divine Glory. It is as the Son He is the servant. Just because He is the Beloved of His Father, in whose hands all things are given, it is not difficult for Him to be humbled lowly. He takes the form of a servant.

Matthew 20:26-28- Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave. Just as the Son of Man come not to be waited on, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free]. (Amp)

A servant is always caring for the work and interest of his master, and is ever ready to let his master see that he only seeks to do what will please or profit him.

If we seek to bless others, it must be in the humble, loving readiness with which we serve them, not caring for our own honor or interest. We must follow Christ’s example in washing the disciples’ feet. A servant counts it no humiliation, and is not ashamed of being counted an inferior; it is his place and work to serve others. The reason why we so often don’t bless others is that we wish to address them as their superiors in grace or gifts, or at least their equals. If we first learn from our Lord to associate with others in the blessed spirit of a servant, what a blessing we should become to the world! When once this example is admitted to he place it ought to have, the power of His presence would soon make itself felt.

And what is now the work the disciple has to perform in this spirit of lowly service? The foot washing speaks of a double work:

1) For the cleansing and refreshing of the physical body.
2) For the cleansing and saving of the soul.

Remembering that the external body is the gate to the inner and spiritual life, one makes the salvation of the soul the first object of his holy ministry of love. At the same time, however, seeking the way to the hearts by the ready service of love in the little and common things of daily life is just as important. It isn’t by reproof that one is a servant; no but by the friendliness and kindness with which he proves in daily activities, that he always thinks how he can help or serve, he becomes the living witness of what it means to be a follower of Christ. From such a person who is willing to serve, comes power, and he finds easy entrance and favor. And then, when he comes into contact with the sin and contradiction of men, instead of being discouraged, he perseveres as he thinks with how much patience Jesus has given him, and still daily cleanses him, he realizes himself to be one of God’s appointed servants, to lower oneself lower to serve and save men, even to bow at he feet of others, if this be needed---not in worship to the person, but in service to him.

Pride never kept Jesus from showing His Love. In a culture where people’s sandals didn’t protect their feet from the dirt of the roads, servants---not masters were supposed to wash feet. But Jesus, fully knowing Who He was---the Son of God--Being the Greatest of All, became the Servant of all.

When Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet, Peter resisted Him, saying, “Lord, are my feet to be washed by You?” (John 13:6). Imagine for a moment how you would feel if Jesus told you that He wanted to wash your feet. You would probably feel hesitant, as Peter did, thinking that you should be the one washing Jesus’ feet, instead of Him washing yours, right? How did Jesus respond to Peter? Jesus said that unless Peter let Him do this, he would have no part in Him. (John 13:7-8)

Jesus was saying to His disciples, and to us, that unless we are willing to serve one another, we have no true part in Him or in each other. If we love someone to the highest degree, we will be willing to serve that person---however and whatever is needed.

The spirit which will enable one to live such a life of loving service can be learned from Jesus alone. For love, nothing is too hard. To bless someone, however we feel who is unworthy, it willingly gives up all. We, as servants, have to give up our fleshly thoughts over people and focus on the their spiritual needs. It was love that made Jesus a servant. It is love alone that will make the servant’s place and work such a blessing to others. We may, like Jesus, have to wash the feet of some Judas’s, who rewards us with ingratitude and betrayal. We may meet many Peter’s who at first refuses and then is dissatisfied when we don’t comply with his impatience. Only love, a heavenly, unquenchable love, gives the patience, the courage, and the wisdom for the great work the Lord has set before us, His Holy example of washing feet.

In our relationship with Christ, He calls us to sacrifice our self-will. We aren’t to be served, but to serve. We are to be sensitive to other’s needs, even I little things. We, Like Christ, should seek to serve others rather than merely letting them serve us. When we have people in our lives who serve us in various ways, we should always treat them with utmost respect and be good to them.

Bible Study: Like Christ Series Week Two- He Calls Us To It

Week Two: He Calls Us To ItJohn 13:15- For I have given you this as an example, so that you should do [in your own turn] what I have done to you. (Amplified Version)

It is Jesus Christ, the Beloved Redeemer of our souls, who spoke this. He had just, humbling Himself to do the work of a slave, washed His disciples’ feet. In doing so His Love had rendered to the body the service of which it stood in need at the supper table. At that same time He had shown in a striking symbol, what He had done for their souls in cleansing them from sin. In this twofold work of love He had set before them, just before parting, in one significant act, the whole work of His life as a ministry of blessing to body and to soul. And as He sits down He says, “I have given you an example that you also should do, even as I have done to you.” All that they had seen in Him, and experienced from Him, is made the rule of their life: “Even as I have done, do you also.”

The Word of Jesus to His disciples is for us too. To each one who knows that the Lord has washed away their sin, the command comes with all the touching force of one of the last words of Him who is going out to die for us: “Even as I have done to you, so do you also.” Jesus Christ does indeed ask everyone of us in everything to act just as we have seen Him do. What He has done to ourselves, and still does each day, we are to do over again to others. He is our example, each of us is to be the copy and image of the Master.
The power of an example depends mainly on two things:

1) The attractiveness of what it gives us to see.
2) The personal relation and influence of him in whom it is seen.

In both aspects, what power there is in our Lord’s example!

We know who the Lord Jesus is. He is the Son of the Living God! One with the Father in nature and perfection! In Him we see God. In Him we see how God would act were He here in our place on earth. In Him all is beautiful and lovely and perfect. If we want o see what is really Divine, we have only to look at Jesus, in all He does the glory of God is revealed.

But the blindness of some of God’s children is this: The heavenly beauty isn’t attractive to them, they have no desire for it.

The manners and way of living in the count of an earthly king exercise influence throughout the empire. The example it gives is imitated by all who belong to he nobility or the higher classes. But the example of the King of Heaven, Who came and dwelt in the flesh, that we might see how we might here on earth live a God-like life with how few of His followers does it really find imitation.

The power of an example consist not only in its own excellence, but also in the personal relation to him who gives it. Jesus had not washed the feet of others in the presence of His disciples; it was when He had washed their feet that He said, “Even as I have done to you, you should also do.” It is the consciousness of a personal relationship to Christ that enforces the command: Do as I have done. It is the experience of what Jesus has done to me that is the strength in which I can go and do the same to others. He doesn’t ask us to do more that has been done to us. But not less either. Even and as I have done to you. He doesn’t ask that I should humble myself as a servant deeper than He has done. Just as He has done.

He humbled Himself as low as humiliation could go, to love and bless me---and you. He counted this His highest honor and blessedness. He counted it joy…

Hebrews 12:2- Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He for the joy [obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Amp)

He counted it as joy to go to the cross for us! How many of us could say that? How many of us can say when we go through a storm, a hard trial that we count it as joy? Well we are supposed to!

James 1:2- Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. (Amp)

There is one thing we must never forget. It is not the remembrance of what Jesus has once done to us, but the living experience of what He is now to us, that will give us the power to act Like Christ. His Love must be a present reality, the inflowing of a life and a power in which we can love Like Christ. It is only by the Holy Spirit we realize what Jesus is doing for us,and how He does it, and that it is He who does it, that it is possible for us to do to others what He is doing to us.

“Even as I have done to you, you also do.” Jesus is going to show forth in us the Divine Power of His Love, that we may show it forth to others. He blesses us, that we may bless others. He loves us, that we may love others. He becomes a servant to us, that we may become a servant to others. He saves and cleanses us, that we may save and cleanse others. He gives Himself wholly for and to us, that we may wholly give ourselves for and to others. We are to be doing only others what He is doing to us--nothing more, nothing less. We can do it just because He is doing it to us. What we are to do is nothing but the repeating, the showing forth of what we are receiving from Him.