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  1. It’s a Matter of Faith… Consider: 1 light year is 5.88 trillion miles long=5,880,000,000,000 miles=distance light travels in one year This is the size of the ruler we must use to measure God’s universe. Isaiah 40:25-26 NIV “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. We think Adam naming all the animals was something! He was just acting out of his God-nature. What could we create with our words? We are formed by God in His likeness. What are we missing? Hebrews 11:1-3 NIV 11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. John 20:29 NIV Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy… Belief is so important! Many of us believe, and yet, we can’t see Him. Why do we have trouble doing this with the promises of God? We believe in Jesus. His death, burial, and resurrection is the evidence and substance of our hope. We did not see it, but we believe it and because of that we receive our salvation: through faith. We receive salvation: through faith. We receive God’s righteousness: through faith. We receive God’s promises… Romans 4:13 NLT Clearly, God's promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God's law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. Romans 1:17 AMP 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.” …through faith. As children of God, we have to quit looking at our circumstances for evidence of what we hope for, and put our confidence in God, His truthfulness, and His Word. He cannot lie, and He cannot fail. Hebrews 6:13-20 NIV 13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14 “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” 15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. 16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. God has set the example that we have to declare the promises of God (Romans 10:10), which are “Yes, and Amen” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20), with our mouths to see in the physical world that for which we hope. That is so awesome! Do we believe that? How much would our lives improve if we stopped doing the opposite: focusing on what we don’t have or the negative things we see? This is so backwards, and I am guilty! We believe the promises of God in our hearts, we say them, God acts—not always in our timing or even in this life do we always see their fulfillment (Hebrews 11:13-16). However, God never fails or disappoints us, ever. Don’t give up on your hope (Hebrews 10:35). Sometimes it’s a process. Sometimes we don’t see the manifestation until after we die, but how much better could we bear today’s trouble if we knew that for eternity (compare that to today’s lifespan), we’d be with Him lacking nothing (Revelation 21:3-5). This lifespan is much too tiny to live for; live for eternity. Don’t get me wrong; God wants us blessed in our current lives. It gives Him glory and is a tangible thing people can see to know we are His (Matthew 5:14-16; John 15:7-8): that starts with love (1 Corinthians 13; John 13:34-35). There’s no more valuable material on earth because it is the essence of God. We will sell or do anything for the hope of it. We cherish it once we have and understand it. We are instantly crushed when the anticipation, hope, or reality of it leaves. When we look for love, we are actually looking for God. We have to quit seeking things or expecting human beings to give us what only God can give: perfect love. At best, we can simply reflect it, and that comes through daily fellowship with God in prayer (Philippians 3:7-14). We must read His Word (2 Corinthians 3:18). 40-year minister, Ivan Tait says we are only as close to God as our ability to love those who wound us (Luke 23:34). Bible knowledge alone does not create selfless love; intimacy with God and obedience do. We are best defined as Christians by what we do to satisfy the needs of those who hate, abuse, murder, threaten, falsely accuse, betray, and misuse us (Matthew 5:43-48). It is the power of God. Are we like the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), King Saul (1 Samuel 18:6-9), and/or the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35)? 1 John 4:7 NASB Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:16 NASB And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Look up the scriptures I noted. Take your time and really think about their application—ask three questions: “What did I learn?” which is knowledge, “What does it accomplish?” which demonstrates understanding, and “What can I do now?” which shows application. Biblegateway.com or BibleHub.com are great resources to look up Scripture. Find which versions work for you! I love you guys. It is my passion that we see God for who He really is: AWESOME There’s no one like Him, and the best thing is, He loves both you and me (big smile). There’s no greater joy than being with Him. Hallelujah! Psalm 16:11 NLT (One of my favorite scriptures!) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Always love, Mr. MJ
  2. Hello everyone, Our eternal life or our salvation can achieve through Doing the good works? or through faith alone by the Grace of God..??because some says.. we need to do good works for us to have an eternal life and then some says we need to accept Christ as our Lord and savior that's it.. then doing bad.. or whatever. we will inherit eternal life someday..
  3. How many times have you been told that you weren't pretty ENOUGH, good ENOUGH, tall ENOUGH, skinny ENOUGH, funny ENOUGH, happy ENOUGH, etc. How many times has someone told you that you were TOO fat, TOO skinny, TOO tall, TOO short, TOO loud, TOO happy, TOO nice, TOO whatever else? Basically, according to the world we'll never be ENOUGH of one (or more) thing(s) because we're TOO MUCH of something else. So what exactly are we supposed to do about this? Well we pretty much have 3 options: 1) We buy into their lies and do everything within our power to "enhance" ourselves. 2) We do some soul-searching and Word digging and figure out what TRUE beauty looks like. 3) We curl up in a ball, cry our hearts out, and never leave the house because we know we'll never meet their standards of perfection. Personally, 1 or 3 neither one sound like much fun...SO Im'ma go with option numero dos. Actually, we're gonna explore option number one a little more first. (How fun!...I'm being sarcastic, by the way. ) Okay, option number one. Basically, you put HOURS into your appearance everyday so you can have perfect hair, makeup, skin, and outfits. And then you spend all day too worried about a hair sticking up out of your perfect little "do" to concentrate on your English teacher. (Which means you miss the assignment, don't hear that there's a test on Friday, and then fail the test) Not only that, but you visit the closest bathroom 20,000,000 times just to touch yourself up. Now, maybe it's just me, but this doesn't sound like a very fun way to spend every day! Moving on to option three... Errmmm...Basically it says it all up there. But, even so, I'll expand a bit. Every day you get up, look in the mirror, telling yourself that if you squint hard enough and tilt your head just-so, you'll look I-D-E-N-T-I-C-A-L to those beauties on the cover of your latest fashion magazine or romance novel. But that doesn't work out that well and you're absolutely disgusted at what you see. So, basically, you give up. You crawl inside the shell of your body, become a shy little turtle-like version of your former self and beat yourself up all day. Your self-confidence TOTALLY deteriorates and you struggle to find ANYTHING good about yourself. You wear the same pair of jeans, sloppy sweatshirt, and messy bun everyday (mixing it up occasionally with a ponytail). Now, if this is your style and it's genuinely what you like, AWESOME! I SO wish I could pull that look off! (Grunge is coming back, you know!) However, if you only dress like this to hide yourself...there's an issue. And honestly, that issue isn't even in YOU. It's in the way Hollywood talks to us girls. We have to look JUST SO! Think about it...have you EVER seen a picture of your favorite celebrity with messy hair, a broken out forehead, and frumpy clothes? Probably not. These things aren't bad at all...They're REAL! (And if you thought that your fave celeb is really as perfect as they seem...I'm sorry, but they're not. They're people. Just like us. Zits and all. ) But, this kinda sounds like a big, fat, hairy, absolutely-no-more-fun-than-the-previous option. Which brings us back full circle to option 2. If you do a bunch of soul-searchin' and Bible diggin', I guarantee you you won't be disappointed at what you find. Let's just take a look, shall we? "You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." Song of songs 4:7 " Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Psalms 45:11 " Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3-4 " He has made everything beautiful in its time..." Ecclesiastes 3:11 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 Okay, so to sum ALL of those verses up... 1) You're beautiful, and God loves you JUST AS YOU ARE. 2) however, our beauty runs SO MUCH DEEPER than our outer appearance. Stop trying to impress people with your fancy hair and pretty face and start putting more effort into beautifying your heart! Work on the INSIDE of you. I promise, girls...Guys find a girl with a beautiful personality WAY prettier than a girl with a perfect face and hateful heart. Trust me on this one. 3) God made you. God makes EVERYTHING beautiful...He wouldn't take the time to make something butt-ugly, now would He? Because ugliness is the exact OPPOSITE of everything God is! Even if your hearts a little homely right now, He can take it and make it GORGEOUS. All you have to do is ask. 4) Physical beauty is only temporary. 5) God created you in HIS image...YOU reflect GOD! So, how could you EVER POSSIBLY be ugly when the God who created you is so beautiful (handsome...whatever you wanna think of Him as. ) I know it's hard to live in a world where you're constantly pressured to be perfect. But, DON'T FOLD UNDER THE PRESSURE! Be different. Stand out, and let your light radiate from inside of you. People will start to take notice. I promise. And it'll be for SUCH a great reason. You're all CRAZY beautiful! Don't you ever forget it! Much love! <3 ~Aria
  4. carlinbates

    I had an idea...

    I've noticed that a lot of the hurting kids on here have nowhere to turn and no one to talk to. What if we changed that? Could there be a HOPE team? I've seen it done on other sites before and basically this team is the one that the hurting kids go to to talk, cry, vent, and get advice. The members of the H.O.P.E. team would need to be compassionate, level-headed, empathetic, and deeply rooted in their faith. The goal is to build other teens up with love. I'm willing to put out a thread in the 16+ forum making CTF members aware of this team and be the leader of this team. H.O.P.E. stands for: Hold On Pain Ends I think this site needs something like this. Please let me do it.
  5. Psl


    I live in an area wich is mostly (99.9%) are jews so therefore most of my friends are jews. Because of that there are lot of times when there is a jewish prayer in the jewish church or a grace before meals and so on... My problem is that they are expecting me to pray along with them and to say the jewish graces and prayers. Is it ok for a christian to pray with jews in their churc (and so on)? Is it ok to pray with them as an act of respect and friendship?
  6. These are the notes from a sermon I preached at my church when filling in for our pastor. It is all about Ephesians 2:1-10, and the meaning of "by grace, through faith." Needless to say, my Catholic friends here will likely not agree with much of this, but I pray everyone can find something edifying here: Ephesians 2:1-10 By grace through faith. This is one of our distinctives as evangelical Protestants. But what does it mean, both objectively and subjectively? What is the significance of our salvation being "by grace through faith" both theologically and practically? I would like to examine this by going through Ephesians 2:1-10. ** 1 ** Why do we need grace? Ephesians 2:1-3 explains that well enough. Paul tells us under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we, before we were saved by grace through faith, were dead. In what sense were we dead? Our sinfulness had robbed us of true life, which Jesus said in John 17:3 is to know God and His Son who He has sent. But it is worse than this. Our natural sinfulness had cut us so far off from God that we were completely incapable of submitting to God. Romans 8:6-8 tells us. So before grace, we were so dead in our spirit that we had no ability or inclination to trust in Jesus Christ and live in the eternal life of knowing Him and His Father. Because of this, we needed grace. Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:4-5. God's grace is what was needed to bring us to life, to so restore our minds and hearts that we would have both the ability and the desire to trust in Jesus Christ and experience the life of knowing Him. Knowing this should change how we view and treat unbelievers. First, we should remember that they are dead, and you do not berate or judge or condemn the dead for being dead. Yes, their deadness will lead to their condemnation, but our place is to weep at their deadness and seek their life. After all, we are called to preach the Gospel, the power of God to salvation, and that is what the Holy Spirit uses to bring life. Let me be more explicit: it is not appropriate for Christians to spend time berating, complaining about, gossiping about, or lamenting the dead, lost behavior of those who do not know God. We were once that way as well, as the first verses of Ephesians 2 make clear, and they are doing what dead people do. They need grace, and we are to give it so that through us God might give His grace and bring them to life in Jesus Christ, who died and rose to be the Redeemer of the lost, the Resurrector of the dead. This should also humble us when we think of it, because we really needed grace. We were totally dead in our sins, and it is *only* by God's grace that we are now alive. As Romans 9:11 makes clear, there was nothing in us that prompted God to give us life. It is nothing but His love and grace, so we should never be proud or boastful or feel superior to anyone, even unbelievers, but instead should fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the only one strong enough to give grace of the magnitude that could save such sinners, and say, "To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood...to him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen." ** 2 ** How are we saved by grace and saved through faith? I pay attention to prepositions. We are saved *by* grace and *through* faith. Of course, Ephesians was written in Greek, so I stepped back to check out the details of the grammar. As it turns out, there is no preposition before "grace." We get the word "by" because it is the best English way to translate the dative case of the word "grace" in ancient Greek. The dative case of a noun is used to show that this particular noun is what accomplishes the action of the verb. So grace, being in the dative case, is the instrument of salvation. Grace is the power which God uses to save. Grace makes us alive together with Christ. Faith is not the instrument. Faith does not do the saving. Instead, the word "faith" has the Greek preposition "dia." This means, just as it is translated, "through." What is the difference? Salvation by grace through faith means that the saving grace comes by means of faith to the person. To put it simply, faith is essentially the bridge by which grace comes down to save us. Faith is the like the IV tube in which flows the saving medicine of grace, provided by Jehovah Rophe, the Healer. God saves, using grace to do the saving, and getting the grace in through faith. So what does this mean to us? How should that impact our lives? Firstly, it kills any pride. Faith is not something we do or decide that saves us. Sometimes we can get or give that impression when we talk about being saved by faith. But faith doesn't do the saving; grace does the saving, and grace uses faith as the door. Our decision to have faith in Jesus Christ did not save us; all it did was open the floodgates of God's saving grace. And furthermore, our faith is not even from within ourselves, but, as Paul says in verse 8, it is part of a gift that God gives. So we are saved by God's grace, and God's grace gets to us by means of our faith, but our faith is itself a gift of God! We can claim no credit for our own salvation; it occurs completely by God's loving power. This should, like the answer to the previous question, destroy our pride and fix our eyes on the glory of our God who is so mighty to save us. This should also remind us not to get frustrated with ourselves or with unbelievers when our evangelistic efforts seem to be fruitless. Salvation is God's work (Rom. 9:16). He is the one who opens the eyes of the blind to have faith, and He is the one who delivers the saving grace. Also, it should remind us of the part of salvation we ought to work for in others. Our goal should be getting people to trust in Jesus Christ, to have faith. This is the part that comes out of them, even if God creates it. We should be the people God uses to create faith. We only need to be concerned about bringing about faith, removing the intellectual, emotional, and willful obstacles to trusting in Jesus. The rest we can leave up to the wisdom and power of God to make a dead heart alive. ** 3 ** Why does grace come through faith? It is important to consider why faith is the channel through which God gives saving grace. Fortunately, we don't have to endlessly ponder this question, because Paul himself answers it. He says, "it is not from works, so that no one can boast." Salvation by grace through faith is humbling. We just saw that twice. If salvation came from works, we could claim credit and exalt ourselves, saying, "I did right before God, and He has rewarded me with what I earned! I deserve eternal life." But this would be blasphemy, because men are by nature hopelessly corrupt, set against all that God is. Romans 5:10 tells us that we were once enemies of God. God is mighty and holy and righteous, and therefore He should rightfully hold all the cards over those who have rebelled against Him. It is not proper that man should be able to make up for his sinfulness, but instead that God should out of love restore man in forgiveness. Jesus died for our freedom, and He should rightly get all the credit. Because of this, grace is the perfect power for salvation, since it is free and unearned, and faith is the perfect channel for saving grace, because it is entirely dependent and trusting. By grace through faith gives man no place to claim credit for salvation, and no grounds for pride. There is another good reason for grace through faith, though. It is not merely to keep man in his lowly place, but to provide an ocean of freedom and security in knowing that salvation is all God's. Salvation comes from God's grace, and so God will sustain it even when you fail. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus, so trusting Him keeps you connected even when you mess up. And since faith is a gift from God, by which you receive God's grace, God will never take your faith away. So knowing that salvation is by grace through faith means the confident assurance that our eternal life of knowing Jesus is completely in His capable hands. This means, to quote Tenth Avenue North, "Hallelujah! We are free to struggle! We're not struggling to be free!" ** 4 ** How much of salvation is by grace, through faith? This is a question you may have never thought to ask, but it changes so much. We usually think of this verse as basically saying, "You get saved by grace through faith." To speak with more precise theological terminology, we usually consider this as saying we are justified by grace through faith. We think of it as saying this is how salvation begins. However, there is more to salvation than getting saved, more than justification. One of the most important components of salvation is transformation, sanctification. Part of being saved is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, changed from the inside by the Holy Spirit. This is what the last verse in our text addresses. Ephesians 2:10. We are no longer dead sinners. Instead, as God's new workmanship, we are vessels of mercy created in Jesus for a certain purpose. This purpose is to do good works which God has prepared for us. God doesn't just use His powerful, overwhelming grace to get you out of Hell and into Heaven; He also uses it to make you more like a citizen on Heaven now! We are now new creations make "in Christ Jesus." Can you see what that means? Jesus is the prototype of believers. One day we will be made like Him on the outside and in, but for now God is gradually transforming our soul to be more like Jesus, so that we will walk in good works He has made for us. Again, boasting is excluded, for at this point we see that anything good in us is a result of being remade in the image of Jesus Christ. However, I am getting ahead of myself. How does by grace through faith relate to this transformation? How does it relate to doing good works and being more like Jesus Christ? We are sanctified by grace through faith. God's changing grace comes to renew us by the pathway of our growing faith. When we live in faith, when we trust God, He pours powerful grace into us that changes us and enables us to live in His good works. The beauty of this is that it provides the same assurance and safe confidence that initial salvation by grace through faith does. Just our getting saved doesn't rely on our own efforts or will or performance, so our living out salvation is not dependent on anything in us. Through the faith He provides, God gives us sanctifying grace that makes us more like His Son and enables us to live up to the calling He has given. Paul himself put this best in Philippians 2:12-13. God has saved us, and He calls us to work out this salvation into our lives, but by grace through faith He Himself is the who creates in us the desire and effort to do the good works to which He calls us. All we have to do is trust Him, to have faith in His promise. He says that He will give us grace through faith, so our response should be simply to open wide our hands of faith and receive the grace He promises. In this, God gets the glory and we get the grace, so that salvation is perfected and God's plan of "by grace through faith" gets its full meaning.