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submitted on Friday, November 7, 2014 - 10:04 by stevecirlot
"So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up." Galatians 6:9
The apostle Paul described life as a race that is being run.  I'm not a runner now but I am a cyclist and I really enjoy long rides up to the 100 mile mark.  But I must admit there are times on those long rides when I think I have made a huge mistake. I even think of giving up, but I don't because I have learned that I am going to make it.  I refuse to give up because I know in due time I will reap the benefits of my efforts. 
Life is much the same way. As followers of Christ we struggle with so many issues like health, money, relationship and difficult circumstances.  At times everyone wants to give up and say, "This is to difficult, I QUIT!" But we don't. We know that God is working everything out for His glory and our good, so we press on. In our weakness He provides strength for each moment.  So today I say to you don't give up! Cry out to God for strength to endure and He will supply, you will keep going and at the proper time you will reap the benefits of your labor. 
submitted on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 10:34 by stevecirlot
“For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and to save that which is lost.” Luke 19:10
“There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Anyone who has truly experienced life comes to the conclusion that life is quite chaotic at best. Early in life one tries to maneuver the situations in life to their advantage only to find out later that the trails of life are beyond a person’s ability to control. There are those who believe that all life is random streaming from a cosmic explosion and there are those who believe God created and is actively involved in His creation. People are wired in such a way that they need something to believe in, something they can have faith in. Faith may be in the Theory of Evolution or in a supreme being. Either humanity exists because God created everything that is or we are here just by chance. The Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘God does not exist’” (Psalm 14:1). People whose faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord have come to this understanding by the power of God.
People are sinful by nature and deserve to be cast into hell. But God, who is rich in mercy, loves people and has provided a way for sinful man to be saved from eternal separation from God in hell.
The Problem of Sin
In the beginning of man God created a man and a woman then placed them in a garden and called it Eden. God instructed them to tend the garden and gave them freedom to eat from any tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When tempted by Satan they rebelled against God’s authority and ate from the only forbidden tree in the garden. This was the entering of sin in the world. Now every person who is born has a nature that is bent toward sin. Sin is rebellion against God. It is the thought that we best know how to live without regard for God’s ultimate authority. Every person has a mind and a will that allows them to think and act. God requires that we love Him and all other humans. When we act unloving towards Him or others we are guilty of sin.
Sin has consequences. The wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23). God had told Adam that in the day that you eat from the Tree of Knowledge you will surely die. Adam sinned and on that day he died spiritually. Adam would live out his life physically but the day would come when he would die. Death exists because of Adam’s sin. All people are guilty of sin. By virtue of being a descendant of Adam and Eve we are guilty. Just like the whole football team is penalized when one player jumps off sides, the entire team is punished for one man’s infraction. But don’t get too hung up on this because each person is guilty of their own personal sin. There is no one who does not sin.
Since God is the righteous judge He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. All unforgiven sinners will be cast into an eternal lake of fire at the end of time. The only way to escape this eternal punishment is for Jesus to remove our guilt. God requires that anyone who is to be saved from hell (the lake of fire) must have justification to enter into heaven.
The Solution to the Problem of Sin
The solution to the problem of sin is faith in Jesus. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind showing them that Jesus has made a way for the penalty of sin to be removed for individuals, because God is a god of grace and mercy. He sent His One and only Son to come to earth as a man who would receive the wrath of God that rightly belongs to repentant sinners. Wrath is a term the Bible uses to describe the punishment God inflicts on all for sinful rebellion. Since God is just, all sinners must receive punishment (the wrath of God) for their sinfulness.
Jesus was born of a virgin and was without sin. Therefore He and He alone was worthy to receive God’s wrath on behalf of those who confess Him as Lord. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. By being beaten by the Roman soldiers and enduring the cross Jesus was our substitute. The wrath we should receive He received. This allowed God’s wrath for our sin to be appeased and we are set free from its penalty of eternity in hell.
Salvation by Grace
Salvation is wholly and completely of God. Every person who confesses that Jesus is Lord over their lives is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation can be found in no other person than Jesus Christ because no other person was God become flesh who died as a substitute for sinners.
By God’s grace people are drawn to Jesus for salvation. God awakens the soul of people and makes them aware of their sinfulness and their need for salvation. “It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV) God calls the lost person to respond and by His grace they enter into a relationship with the God of the universe. By faith they accept that God has made a way for them to receive His mercy. “Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:4 NIV).
Because of God’s foreknowledge He predestines our souls for salvation. Before we are even born our lives are in His hands. He guides us and moves us along so that we will find His saving grace and at the same time He holds every person responsible for their sinfulness.
In every believer’s life there comes a day when the Holy Spirit convicts their soul of sin. They come to the realization that they are a sinner and that their only hope for salvation is to confess “Jesus as Lord.”
Confessing Jesus is Lord is much more than simply saying the words “Jesus is Lord” or even praying a prayer. Confessing Jesus as Lord is taking full responsibility for your sin and making a decision to change the direction of your life. This change of direction is referred to as repentance in the Bible. In a sense you are committing to Jesus that you will acknowledge that He is your Master and that you will voluntarily become His slave. Whatever He commands of you, you will do. You repent of your previous sinful ways and begin to walk in the ways of Jesus’ example.
When a person relinquishes control of their life to Jesus, God transforms their soul. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). By the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit God empowers a believer to become more like Jesus Himself. They begin a lifelong process of becoming like God’s one and only Son. Upon regeneration a believer’s desires change. They long to live for the glory of God and struggle from day to day to become the person God wants them to be, but by God’s grace He sufficiently reminds them that they are saved by Jesus’ work on the cross and not their personal good works. This motivates them to go into the world and serve their Master by doing the good works He places before them. The good works God created and predestined them to accomplish. Paul said, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift—not from works, so that you can boast. For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). 
Salvation is a call to follow Jesus. It is not a onetime event a person does rather it is the beginning point of a journey. On numerous occasions Jesus called individuals to come and follow Him; some did, some did not. Those who follow are to consider the cost. Their lives will be radically changed. There will be times of struggle, persecution and tribulation, but God’s mercy, love and power will see that as they follow Him their every need, emotional, physical and spiritual need will be met according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
In His infinite wisdom, God has created an environment whereby humans are certain to fail. No person can live and not sin. But God also made the solution to the problem of sin by sending His Son, Jesus to make a way to be saved from our hopeless dilemma. God demonstrated His glory by creating you and me with the need for Him to save us. Without Him we would be destined to eternal damnation, but with Him we are destined for eternal life in heaven and a present life abundantly full of His provision, grace, mercy, comfort and strength.
Now some may say this is an arrogant self-centered God who creates in this way. If that were the case it would be acceptable because He created everything. He stepped out of nowhere stood on nothing and created everything. However His selflessness is demonstrated in His saving action. Jesus is God become flesh; God became one of us, flesh and bone. He willingly became a fragile human man. He set aside His glory in heaven and became a single cell in the womb of His mother Mary so that He could demonstrate His love for us by dying all for the sake of the very people He created.
Salvation can be found in no other name. Jesus is the One and only. He is the only Son of God, the only One who died for your sins, the only One who conquered death and the only One willing to forgive you of your every sin and the only One who took your place and received God’s wrath that was deserved by you. Every person who is saved by God’s grace has taken responsibility for their sin and surrendered themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and is to follow Him day by day. Once a religious leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, he knew that Jesus was from God and he desired to know Him more fully. Jesus told him, “I assure you: unless someone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus was letting Nicodemus know that it was not his religion that would save him it was Jesus who would save him by giving him a new life; a spiritual life. God loved this man so much that He sent Jesus, His One and only Son, to bring life to him. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world rather He came so that Nicodemus and you might be born a second time. The first time physically, the second time spiritually.
If God is calling you to salvation take responsibility for yourself. Change the direction of your life and follow the way of Jesus. He will give spiritual life to your soul and He will prepare for you an eternal home in heaven.
Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. (Jeremiah 6:16)
Scripture Index
Deuteronomy 15:16-17
Psalm 14:1
Proverbs 14:2
Jeremiah 6:16
Matthew 16:25
Matthew 22:14
Luke 19:10
John 1:12
John 3:3
John 3:16-17
John 6:44
John 14:6
Acts 13:37-39
Romans 5:9
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
Romans 9:15-16
Romans 10:9-13
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Corinthians 5:17
Ephesians 1:5-6
Ephesians 1:13-14
Ephesians 2:8-10
Galatians 2:20
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
Titus 2:11-14
Hebrews 11:4
1 Peter 2:9
2 Peter 3:9
Revelation 3:20
submitted on Monday, March 17, 2014 - 13:16 by stevecirlot
So we must not get tired of doing good,  for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”  Galatians 6:9
 Back in 1983 I stood on the floor of the Singing River Hospital looking at my first child. My pastor, Ray Campbell, came walking up and asked me what I was thinking. My young, ignorant, inexperienced lips would respond before my mind even thought. “I just hope I don’t screw him up!” I worried that I could not be the Dad my child would need nor was I able to be the husband my wife deserved. Oh how I wish I could go back to that day and say to that young man, “Don’t fret, just do good according to the ways of God and in time you will reap a harvest.” 
Fast forward! Now it is 2014 I have just given my baby daughter away in marriage. I pastor a loving, Spirit-filled people who are becoming like Jesus and bearing Spirit-filled fruit daily as they share the Gospel with a lost world. A lot has happened between the birth of my first and the marriage of my last. There have been days of great joy and there have been many days when I just didn’t know if I could go on. My daily mantra has become, “Press on, die to self and live in a way that the light of Jesus in me shines forth glorifying my Father in Heaven.” Through intense study of God’s Word I have learned many Biblical principles and precepts. In every situation in life I have tried to die to self-will and be obedient to Christ as the Master. Now 31 years later I can say, “If you do what is right often and long enough God will show you His faithfulness.” Life has not and will not go on as I see fit, but I will go on. Until the day that Jesus returns life will continue to be difficult yet full of joy. Until then stay focused on the Author and Perfecter of your faith. He will prove His love to you and in time you will see that all things are working out for the good of the Kingdom of Heaven and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit who will give you strength from day to day.
A few more things I like to say to the young boy staring at his newborn son would be: (1) trust God’s sovereign hand in good times and bad. (2) Know and live God’s Word on a minute by minute bases. (3) Walk in the Spirit all day long every day and (4) enjoy the journey of life.           
submitted on Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 10:07 by stevecirlot
Faith, Forgiveness & Following

Matthew 8:5-24

Sunday Morning
March 9, 2014
TAG: People of faith experience forgiveness and they follow the Son of Man.
There is a compassionate Roman Centurion who recognizes the authority of the Lord Jesus and he acts on faith in Jesus. By yielding his authority to that of Jesus as Master he sees the Lord miraculously heal his slave. Then Peter’s mother-in-law is touched by the healing hand of Jesus and her response is to get up and serve her Savior because by His stripes she has been healed. Because of these miracles two of Jesus’ disciples are move to tell Jesus they will follow Him wherever He goes. These three events teach us that each of us must respond to Jesus in faith and as we do Jesus will remove the curse of death from us compelling us to follow Him in faithful service in His Kingdom of Heaven.
The beauty of the Centurion’s faith is it is a magnificent picture of true biblical faith. The commander realizes that Jesus is the Master and that He has authority over death. Through his faith he finds that Jesus extends forgiveness to anyone who will come to Him in faith.
The Roman commander of many is a very powerful man in the Roman hierarchy. He commands 100 Roman soldiers and many slaves as well. But even he realizes that when it comes to death he is powerless and that Jesus is all powerful. This mighty man yields to the Lord who is Master. This strong powerful leader is admitting he is weak and helpless and the death of his slave is a problem that he cannot fix. This helpless situation makes the Centurion aware of three things. Jesus is Lord, Jesus has authority and he the commander is unworthy.
For this commander to call the Galilean carpenter Lord is to say Jesus was Master over him. The Centurion knows authority. As a soldier he surrenders his authority to that of Jesus. He became the unworthy slave before Jesus the Master and Jesus reveals His compassion by extending life to the dying unworthy slave. When we come to Jesus with faith in Him as Master He resolves the unanswerable problems of our lives in the way that He sees fit. Because we have faith in Jesus we trust Him with our situations in life. In the Centurion’s case Jesus chose to heal his slave.
I don’t want to leave this miracle without taking note of two other truths which are displayed. (1) Jesus accepts anyone who comes to Him and (2) outer darkness is real. In this chapter Jesus heals a Jew who is a leper, a woman and a Gentile slave. All of which are rejects according to the cultural standard of Jesus at the time. The Jew had leprosy and was cast out while the other Jews prayed each day, “Thank you Lord that I’m not a woman or a Gentile.” Jesus is no respecter of people; everyone is loved by the Master. There is level ground at the foot of the cross. All people sand on the same level before Jesus, they are all unworthy. 
The outer darkness spoken of here was understood by everyone present as Hell. The place of darkness that burned the souls of those who were not a part of the family of God.
The miraculous healing of Peter’s mother-in-law must be looked at on two different levels. The first is the miracle of Jesus' power to heal the sick and the second and deeper level is Jesus’ authority to forgive sin.
As the Son of God Jesus was proving to the world that He was no ordinary man but that He was the man that was God as well; the God Man. As a man He had compassion but as God He had the power to heal every sickness. All sickness is due to sin and Jesus had the power to forgive sin therefore He could heal sickness that is due to sin. The reason Matthew chooses to quote Isaiah 51 here is so that he can point out that by Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that He could replace our guilt of sin with His forgiveness. Because of Jesus’ substitutionary death at Calvary we are healed from the guilt of our sin. We are separated from its penalty of death in Hell and are given eternal life in its place.
Some of the disciples of Jesus make some pretty bold statements, but Jesus wants them to consider the cost before the come and follow. To the first man Jesus wants him to know that following Jesus requires a surrender of all possessions and comfort. To the second man He wants him to know that following Jesus is not something you do later it’s something you do now! There two men learn the how and when of following Jesus. The how is it forsake all worldly attachments and the when is NOW!
Jesus had no home. No place to call His,no place to lay His head each night except where His Father provided. He knew this was His Father’s world and that each night God would provide a place for Him to sleep. Birds have their nest and foxes have their holes, but the Son of Man and His followers of Him will be at the mercy of God for provision. Every believer releases control of all their possessions when they choose to follow Jesus. All our assets become Kingdom assets. We have what we have for use in His Kingdom.
When the second man said let me go bury my father, he did not mean his father had just died or was dying. In the Middle East that statement meant let me stay here until my father lives out his life then I will come follow you. If this man does this his allegiance is to his earthly father instead of Jesus. Every person must make a choice to choose Jesus and eternal life or their current way of life and death in Hell. When Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” He is saying let the world have the world. You come and have a place in My Kingdom.
As a young man in my early 20’s I wanted a lot of Jesus but I didn’t want to be too holy.  I felt if I was to holy the people around me would think I was crazy or something. I wanted enough of Jesus to be saved but no so much my way was swallowed up by His. I wanted Jesus on my own terms. That is not how Jesus, the Master, operates. It’s His way or Hell’s highway.
Tweet: You don’t add Jesus to your life; you renounce your way of life and surrender to His.
Faith, forgiveness and follow! If you have faith in Jesus as Lord and Master you have been forgiven and now you are freed from the guilt of your sin and you are strongly compelled to follow Jesus serving Him in His Kingdom. Have faith like the centurion; be healed and serve like Peter’s mother-in-law; follow like Jesus’ disciples.
submitted on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 10:50 by stevecirlot


Seven things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1) JesusWork at Calvary

Every person is a filthy rotten wretch. Granted there are some who are worse than others, but compared to God’s standard of righteousness we are all rotten. Knowing this, God the Father required of His Son to leave His home in Heaven and take on frail human flesh so that the Jews, the Roman government and the multitudes could beat Him and crucify Him on a hill called Calvary. Calvary is Latin for Golgotha. It is the hill outside of Jerusalem that is shaped like a skull. It is where Jesus was brutally murdered. More specifically it is where Jesus became your sin and where Jesus made provision for your righteousness. Jesus’ work at Calvary made it possible for you to receive the righteousness of God.

2) Gods Gift of Grace

No matter how good a person is they cannot be good enough to be acceptable to God. Remember God’s standard for acceptability is perfection. Because of God’s goodness He bestows the gift of salvation on those who are willing to confess Him as Lord, those who live as though He is Lord. Grace is “unmerited favor.” You can’t earn it and you can’t buy it. It is only available to those who are blessed to receive it from God. By grace through faith followers of Jesus are adopted into the family of God and are given the full rights of sons and daughters. Not because of anything we have done but simply because we are called by Him to come and drink from the water of life. Grace we can’t earn it or buy it we have it because He chose to give it to us.

3) Our Church Family

We all have something in common here in the body of Christ at Ridglea. We are all needy. We need to be better believers than we are. We need more strength more grace, more wisdom, more knowledge, more faith more forgiveness! Through the church family, God is creating an environment in which we will be changed. The family of faith at Ridglea provides us with fellowship as we strengthen one another by sharpening each other day by day. Each of us has days from time to time that cause us to feel overwhelmed. By coming together we remind each other that we are not alone but that we are here for each other. We willingly carry one another’s burdens. We share the loads of life and that lightens the weight each of us has to carry as individuals. We also share what we know and have learned with each other whereby we are strengthened and are better equipped for the next battle. Sometimes we need to be like sandpaper is to wood with each other. Sandpaper smooths out the rough edges and pits off of  wood. By listening to one another we are able to lovingly counsel each other through the rough spots of our lives and personalities.

4) Gods Sovereign Hand

As we try our best to be who we are supposed to be in Christ. It is good to know that our eternal security is not based on how well we do in life in respect to being a Christian. While there is a relationship between sowing and reaping ultimately God is in control of working everything out for His glory. We are to be who we are supposed to be and do what we know God would have us do. Then we rest knowing God’s sovereign hand will work everything out in His time and in His way. God protects us from the evil one and at the same time He provides us with whatever is needed to carry out His desires in our lives.

5) Gods Word

Maneuvering through the minefield is much easier if you know where the mines are buried. Life is like a minefield there are plenty of places to step, but there are plenty of places that if you step everything will blow up. The Word of God gives us the training we need to know how to avoid stepping on the mines. Reading and studying God’s Word enlightens us with wisdom for everyday life. Be thankful to God that the Holy Spirit guided the hand of so many to write God’s Word and then be thankful that God’s sovereign hand brought each book to the place where it would be included in the Bible.

6) The Holy Spirit

Immanuel is God with us. The Holy Spirit is God in us. He comforts us in times of distress. He seals us for the day of Jesus’ return. He guides us in our daily lives. He teaches us the truth of God’s Word. He intercedes with God in our prayer life. He convicts us of wrong behavior.

7) Purpose

We are not here randomly. You and I exist because God Himself knitted us together in our mother’s womb. He knows your name and He is longing to have a relationship with you. He draws us to Him. When He created us He put a desire for Him in our heart. By His grace you have found your purpose for existence. You are here to bring Him glory by abiding with Him daily. The Psalmist writes, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalm 37:4). By pursuing Jesus you find fulfillment in accomplishing the purpose of your life and for that you can be truly thankful because the lost world has no idea what they exist for.