Theology

Chosen in Christ

chosen_in_christRecently, my wife shared with me how she was realizing that we as believers in Christ did not choose Him.  Rather, Christ chose us. My wife is quite right in this revelation. Ephesians 1:4-6 states,

In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence. He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be his sons — in keeping with his pleasure and purpose — so that we would bring him praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us through the Beloved One.” (CJB)

Wow! The Father chose us in Christ before the universe even existed. What a glorious thought. He chose us, we did not choose Him. He didn’t choose us because we were anything special or from some random selection. He chose us in Christ for His ‘pleasure and purpose’. Now some would argue from a theological point of view that there is no predestination. I would have to disagree with this viewpoint from what the text plainly states in Ephesians 1.

Jesus told his disciples in John 15:6,

“You did not choose me, I chose you; and I have commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that whatever you ask from the Father in my name he may give you.” (CJB)

The same is also true for all of us who have trusted in Christ for life and salvation. What a great Christ we have. I would encourage all of you who are reading this to mediate on these verses and realize how loved and blessed you are in Christ Jesus.

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Do You Love the Lord?

Do-You-Love-Jesus-101If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may
abide with you forever—
17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  

John 14:15-18 NKJV

I don’t know about you, but I have for the longest time had difficulty with verse 14 of this passage.  I have interpreted this verse to say, “If you don’t keep my commands then you really don’t love Me.”  This filled me with so much guilt and condemnation that it stifled my growth in Christ.  I have sang songs in church about loving the Lord but never really felt like I did.  

But recently Jesus has given me a revelation of this verse that I hadn’t realized before.  He revealed to me the truth of this verse and the passage.  He showed me that if I love Him first, then I will obey His commands.  It all starts with loving Christ. Once I began to understand that He is in me and loves me and that I am in Him, it changed everything.  I love Him because He has done everything for me that I could never do on my own.  

In verses 16-18 of this passage Jesus tells us that He will give us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to help us.  The indwelling life of Christ through the Holy Spirit is the source of us being able to obey Him.  We cannot please the Lord or live the Christian life on our own. It is impossible.  He is pleased with us because we have yielded to Him and put our trust in Christ alone.  This truth has set me free to love Christ and trust that He will move me to obey Him out of my love for Him.  I hope you will receive such a revelation from Christ that will set you free as well.

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My Newest Site

whats-new-button-finalGreetings. I have just created a new site dedicated to my reflections on walking the deeper journey with Jesus Christ.  I am excited about sharing my thoughts as well as the thoughts of others on moving to a deeper walk with Christ.  I hope you will click away and check out this new site at: thedeeperwalkblog.wordpress.com I will be re-posting some of my posts from this site on to the new site that reflect this concept. I hope you will also subscribe to this new blog.

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Starting the New Year

challenges-ahead-900-x-500-900x407Today is a sort of special day for me.  It is my spiritual birthday.  Yes, 33 years ago on this date I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  So, this is a great start for this new year for me.  I can still remember that day so many years ago.  I had seen a Billy Graham film just a few days before and heard the Good News about Jesus Christ.  My Nana had given me a little piece of paper with the “sinners prayer” on it the previous day.  I was on a small sand dune at Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove, CA when I prayed that prayer and believed on Jesus as the only way of salvation.  The Lord Jesus has been faithful to me through all these years, even though I have had many seasons of not being very faithful to Him.  At the end of last year I began to finally grasp that the love of Christ is not dependent on my actions.  He loves me no matter what I do or what I face.  I know this because He knew every wrong I would ever commit and still chose me before the foundation of the world.  The Bible says, Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT

This new year has also already brought me challenges.  I am still battling this stage 4 kidney cancer in my lungs.  I was also served with papers for a petition for divorce today.  But I will continue to look to Christ to see me through all of the trials that will come my way this year.  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

At the opening of this post I said that 33 years ago I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.  In this past year He has begun to reveal more of Himself to me.  He is Christ my healer.  He is Christ the lover of my soul.  He is Christ, the everlasting One.  The Apostle Paul told the Church in Galatia,  “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” (Gal 1:15-16)  I am looking forward to Him revealing more of Himself to me, as He did to Paul, in this new year.    

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Cancer Update 12-10-14

Greetings.
So i had my second bronchoscopy in the last 5 days yesterday,   This takes the total number of bronchoscopies to 7 over the past year.  I am still undergoing treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer in my lungs at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix.   This last bronchoscopy involved using a laser to push back the tumors in my right lung enough to install a stint.   The procedure was very successful.   My breathing and oxygen saturation have greatly improved.
My right middle and lower lung is still good.  However,  the upper lobe of my right lung is still not receiving air due to being blocked by tumors.  Now my oncologist,  Dr. Walter Quan Jr. will be working on a new treatment plan to kill the remaining tumors.
This last procedure has bought more time for me to “Live to fight another day.”  I don’t fight this battle alone, the Lord Jesus Christ is with me and so are so many of you.

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Cancer Update 12-8-14

Hello my faithful blog followers.
Tomorrow afternoon my cancer journey/ battle takes me to bronchoscopy round 7.  Dr. Turner my pulmonary doctor will use a laser to cut away the nasty tumor in my right lung bronchial tube.  Then he will attempt to place a stint to keep my airway open.  I had some breathing issues today along with coughing.  My care team was all over it here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix.  
I feel so much better as I write this. 
So with any procedure there are risks, but I’m trusting Christ my Lord to see me through and be my great physician.
Thank you for your support and prayers.

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Cancer Treatment Cycle 12 Part 2

Happy Thanksgiving All!healinghands

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for completing cycle 12 of treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer in my lungs using Torisel.  I am also so very grateful for being able to get treatment for this cancer here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix.  The entire staff here has been great to work with and to know, from the line cooks who make my breakfast burritos to my oncologist Dr. Walter Quan Jr.  My recent CT scan showed that the tumors in my lungs are stable and not growing.  What a good report!

I am also very grateful to my Lord Jesus Christ who has healed me and sustained me through this cancer journey thus far.  I was visiting a fellow patient last week who was having his right kidney removed due to cancer.  It is the same procedure that I went through almost 2 years ago.  After my visit in the in patient ward of the center I passed by my old room.  I walked by this room and tears welled up in my eyes.  I began to weep as I walked down the hallway.  You see, about 5 months ago I was admitted to the ICU section of the center after complications in my lungs after a bronchoscopy.  I went in for the procedure on a Tuesday and woke up on a Friday.  The doctors weren’t sure I was going to survive.  But, Jesus knew that He was not done with me yet and He healed and strengthened my body to be able to walk out of that room.  The Bible says in Psalm 139, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  So, I still have some days ahead of me.  I don’t know how many, but I am believing that He will restore my lungs and I will be cancer free soon.  I am also very grateful to the Lord that my sins are forgiven and I am covered in His righteousness.  Galatians 2:16 says, “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”  I say Amen and Thank You Jesus!

 

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Reminding the Accuser

AccuserOfBrethren“You’re no good.”  “You can’t be forgiven for that.”  “A real Christian would never do that.”  “You need to feel bad all day long after the sin you just committed.” 

I have heard these words many times since I began my journey with Christ.  I have had loving brothers and sisters in Christ tell me many times that I shouldn’t pay any attention to these words.  Yet, I have paid attention to them and even believed them many times.  But, not anymore.  My brother Mike reminded me very recently that when the Accuser, Satan, the devil says these things to me I must turn it around.  Instead of allowing the devil to remind me of my past failures, I need to remind him of his future.  It says of Satan in Revelation 12:10b, “… for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”  He accuses us of our past sins and those besetting sins that weigh us down on a regular basis.  But, take heart because we are assured that he has been cast down. As believers in Christ we have an advocate who stands in our favor, Jesus Christ.  The next time I am feeling the weight of accusation by our Enemy, I will thank Jesus for his grace, and I will remind Satan of these words from Scripture.

“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”    Revelation 20:7-10

I can say that my sins have been forgiven and covered by the precious blood of Christ.  But as for the accuser, he is a defeated, but powerful foe, that is on his way to torment.

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Worst Critic Ever

Have you ever found yourself creating a personal critique of yourself in your mind?  You know, creating a mental list of the mistakes you made on a particular day or even for the past couple of years.  I know I have.  I would say that I am my own worst critic.  A critic is defined as, “a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something or someone.”Failure in business

I don’t think I am alone in this.  The Apostle Paul may have at times done the same thing.  In Romans 7 he speaks about doing the very thing he hates doing even though his desire is to only do good.  He told young Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15 that, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”  The great Paul, who penned, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, two-thirds of the New Testament called himself the chief of sinners.

Yet, he did not stay in this state of self-condemnation.  In spite of his full knowledge of what kind of man he was before Christ and later in Christ he could honestly say, What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Rom 7:24-25)  Only through Christ can anyone be free from self-condemnation.  But, that begins after a realization of just what a state of helplessness one is in apart from Christ and who one is in Christ.  Paul summarized it best only a few verses later, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)

For me to continue to condemn myself for my past or my present would simply be acting apart from Christ.  For in Him, I am justified or declared “not guilty” of my wrong doings.  More specifically, anyone in Christ is now seen by the Father as if he/she has never sinned.  What a wonderful, amazing, forgiving God!  That he should look upon me this way with all my faults, besetting sins, and just plain poor decisions is amazing.  I have not completely “arrived” in ceasing to condemn myself, but I continue to pick myself up and keep moving ahead more than I did before.  So based on what Christ has done for me, I can say of myself, “I’m the worst critic ever!”  with a smile now.

 

 

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Revelation Missing

revelation1I heard somewhere before, “Information without revelation will never lead to transformation.”  I thought this was a true statement for many years.  However, now I think this is not accurate.  I wonder if information has anything at all to do with any kind of significant life transformation.  For instance, there appears to be a strong emphasis in the institutional church today in America on information.  The evidence for this seems clear.  How many preachers have you watched on television?  How many have you heard on the radio?  How many of their books have you read lately?  These are the modern-day forms of Christian information.  But, have any of these forms of information overload actually brought about any real life change?  Have they caused you to fall in love with Christ at a deeper level?  They haven’t for me, and I am a former pastor who has a lot of information in these old noggin of mine.

Yet, all of this information that I could boast about has not truly brought me into a more personal, loving relationship with Christ.  Now, there is nothing wrong with having biblical information in itself.  But, it will never lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ.  “… But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”  1 Cor. 8:1b  In this verse, Paul is saying to the believers in Corinth that knowledge leads to pride, whereas love leads to mutual encouragement.  Knowledge has become an idol for many believers in the western church, myself included.  Has the search for knowledge about Christ, lead to a lack of authentic love for Christ in the lives of believers?

I have been brought to a place in the past year that has made me see I need Christ to reveal himself to me, rather than for me to learn more about him from studying.  My prayer this morning was for Him to strip away any knowledge I have that is not of Him or that misrepresents who He really is.  I leave you with this thought.  I heard this verse last night and it has been intriguing me ever since,  “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” Gal. 1:15,16.  Is your desire for the Father to reveal His Son in you?

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