Bible Studies & Devotionals
From Olive Branch Ministries
By Mark and Tinsley Baker
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Matthew 25:34. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, `Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Have you ever stopped to consider that God sees us from an eternal viewpoint? That He considers us valuable, and has a long term plan for us. We on the other hand have a tendency many times to think of ourselves only in the here and now, and someday we get to go to heaven. It is true someday we get to go to Heaven, if we are in Christ Jesus, however there is more to our redemption than us just getting to go to heaven someday! God has called us before the worlds were created, it is an eternal calling, and we need to begin to understand the importance of the long term goal that He has for us.
Ephesians 1:4-6. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
1 Peter 1:1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2. elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
1 Peter 2:11. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,
James 4:14. whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
We see that the Word of God is saying we are passing through on our way towards a goal.
In one extreme, people get so Heavenly minded that they are no Earthly good, and on the other extreme, people think there is only now, and they say lets eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The truth is, we are in the here and now, and we have to deal with it, but we have got to understand we are in school for whatís to come. Thatís why Peter said by the unction of the Holy Spirit, that we are sojourners or in other words we are in the process of a journey. He is also telling us "Be holy, for I am holy.'' We are learning and have got to learn to put the Word of God into practice now. We have got to be imitators of our Father now. God the Father is telling us to be like Him, we might wonder how we can be like Him, and walk in holiness as his Word tells us to. We must start by recognizing what He has called us to be. First and foremost He has called us to be His children. He will teach us by His Word and by the Holy Spirit to become like Him.
Ephesians 5:1. Therefore be followers of God as dear children.
2. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
3. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
4. neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Our Heavenly Father is loving always, giving always, caring always, and He is telling us in His Word that we are to be followers of Him, some translations read to be imitators of Him. We are His representatives here in the earth, the gentiles see us and will glorify our Father.
Jesus said; "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:16.
Our calling started before we were born into this world, and goes on eternally, we start to become partakers of this Heavenly calling the minute we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and are born again. We are called to be imitators of our Father in Heaven. Paul in his letter to Titus said, God promised us eternal life before time began, but first of all we are to acknowledge the truth which is according to godliness.
Titus 1:1. Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness,
2. in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
God has had this plan in mind for you, before time began. It didnít just happen when you accepted Him. That is hard for our minds to grasp, yet it is true for God cannot lie. He has a long term plan for us. Paul went on to say to Titus
7. in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
14. who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
In other words we ought to be acting like our Father acts.
1 Peter 1:16. because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy.''
17. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear;
There is something else we need to realize, we havenít just been redeemed out of something, we have been redeemed into something. We have been redeemed out of death into life. It is not just in the sweet bye and bye, it starts the very moment we accept Jesus Christ as our savior. From that second on, we have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The old things which are eternal death and the sin nature, and every evil work, into the new things, eternal life and the nature of God. This is Godís long term plan for mankind. Eternity never ends. He has put quite an investment into us. You might say He owns us twice over. He owns us by right of creation, and He owns us by right of redemption. Yet in all of this, we still have a free will. God will not force us to choose. If we have been redeemed from death then we ought to be walking in the light as He is in the light, as the Apostle John says.
Paul continues on to say to Titus; in vs.14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
This is not to say that salvation or our redemption comes from good works, but rather good works should be the result of salvation. Paul admonished Titus to maintain good works. This is Godís will.
Ephesians 2:8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.
10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God has prepared before the world began that we should walk in good works.
So we have a choice to make, do we walk in the things of God or of the things of the flesh?
This is an important decision, to walk in the things of God. We must give up jealousy, and strife, and bitterness, and immorality, these are things of the world, and we must begin, (if we havenít already) to walk in true Holiness as the Word says.
Ephesians 4:20. But you have not so learned Christ,
21. if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22. that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
23. and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24. and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.
The first step to receiving eternal redemption comes from accepting Jesus as your personal savior. If you havenít done this yet, I would like to invite you to pray this prayer, and start your journey with Him.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come to you in the name of Jesus.
Your word says, "Öand the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),
So I know You wonít cast me out, but You take me in,
And I thank you for it.
You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).
I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now,
You also said, "Öthat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. " (Ro.10:9,10).
I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification.
And I confess Him now as my Lord,
Because Your Word says, "Ö with the heart one believes to righteousnessÖ" and I do believe with my heart,
I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),
And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!
I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!
Glory to God!!!! Amen.