Thursday, June 25, 2015, 5:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Timothy 1:12-20 (NASB). Formerly I Was (vv. 12-14) I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. We were all born into sin, with sin natures, without God and without hope, destined to spend eternity in hell. Yet, I do believe small children will go to heaven when they die, because Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14). He also said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). There is a sense, then, that little children are still in a state of innocence, and are thus not held accountable for sin. At least, that is my understanding. Yet, I believe, there comes a time in a child’s life when he or she reaches an age of accountability, and when he or she knows right from wrong, and at that time he or she must make that personal decision whether or not to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of his or her life, or he or she will be bound for eternity in hell, without God. So, we are all born with sin natures, and thus we have all sinned against God, and we all come up short of attaining God’s approval (Ro. 3:23). So, whether we have lied, stolen, cheated, overeaten, been hateful or slanderous, gossiped, been bitter and unforgiving, and/or committed adultery or murder, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. So, God the Father sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. When he died, he put our sins to death with him. They were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, death, hell and Satan. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us in dying for our sins, we can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God both now and forevermore. Amen! It does not matter who we were in our former life, or what we did. So, if you think you are too bad for God to save you, think again. It was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us. He came to save sinners. We are not saved because of our own righteousness or our own good deeds. There is not anything we can do to earn or to deserve our salvation. It is a gift from God, yet it must be received by faith. Yet, even the faith to believe is a gift to us from God, for we are not capable in ourselves to have such faith, but still we must act on that faith. The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Jesus and the apostles preached a message of repentance for salvation. Paul taught that when we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; Ac. 26:16-18). When Paul was converted, he did not keep on arresting and murdering Christians. He did not keep on doing the things he did when he was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. By God’s grace and mercy, he was transformed in heart and mind, and he became a new creation in Christ Jesus, set free from slavery to sin, and set free to become a slave (servant) of righteousness. God had an assignment for him. He believed in Jesus, and he accepted God’s will and purpose for his life, and now he became like those whom he had formerly persecuted and had put to death. He turned (repented), and he went the opposite direction of where he was before. This is what it means to be converted. This is what it means to be saved. We are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (See: Ac. 26:16-18). We don’t keep on living the way we did before we were saved. We die with Christ to sin, so we might live to righteousness. His Perfect Patience (vv. 15-17) It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. When the Holy Spirit transforms the life of anyone of us, and changes us from who we formerly were to ones God considers faithful, and whom he has appointed to his service, it serves to demonstrate God’s awesome grace, patience, love, mercy and forgiveness in our lives, as well as it exhibits the undeniable power of God to transform human lives. If God can take a person who is a persecutor and a murderer of Christians, and a strong opponent of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and change that person into a minister of the gospel, and a mighty proponent for the gospel, and one who is now in support of those who believe in Jesus, who are being persecuted for their faith in him, then that shows that anyone can be saved, no matter what that person has done in his or her former way of life. Our God is the God of miracles. He can change human lives. Amen! All glory and praise to God! Fight the Good Fight (vv. 18-20) This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are in a spiritual battle. When we were under the power of sin over our lives, Satan also had power over us. When Jesus Christ freed us from slavery to sin, and we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ to now walking in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, we were also delivered from the power of Satan over our lives. Yet, the devil wants us back. Just like Pharaoh went after the children of Israel after they were delivered from slavery in Egypt, Satan is after us. He is pursuing us like a roaring lion roaming around seeking whom he may devour. We are his enemies, and so he is out to try to deceive us and to trick us into returning to being underneath his control. That is why God has supplied us with spiritual weapons of warfare so that we will be able to stand firm against the schemes (tricks) of the devil (See: Eph. 6:10-20). One thing we must believe, though, is that Christ already won this battle for us. Satan has no real power over us. He may be able to attack us, and send his followers to persecute us, but we don’t have to give in to him. We don’t have to give in to sin. We don’t have to be afraid of him and all his many cohorts. Our God is absolutely sovereign over all powers, and nothing can touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. And, if he allows it, he will give us all we need to get through it, whatever it is, and to come out as victors, in his power and in his mighty strength at work within us. Amen! Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012 Walking daily with my Savior brings me joy. Loving Father; precious Jesus; He’s my Savior and my Lord. Gently leads me; follow Him. I’ve invited Him within. Now abiding in His presence, oh, what peace. From my self-life He has brought me, By His mercy, full release. Hope and comfort, peace and safety Jesus brings When I daily bow before Him; Obey freely; do His will. Follow Him where’er He leads. Listen to Him; His words heed. Now obeying his words fully, oh, what love That He gives me through salvation, By His Spirit, from above. Loving Father; precious Jesus, He’s my friend. With my Savior, by His Spirit, I will endure to the end. Share the gospel, tell what’s true. Witness daily; His will do. Tell the world of how their Savior bled and died. On a cruel cross He suffered So that we might be alive.