Can Good Works Save You?

Can Good Works Save You

Today we complete our reading in the book of Titus and next week we will conclude the “Truth In Love” series with a discussion about “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

Let’s read through Titus 3 together…

Titus 3

 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

According to verses 1 & 2, what 7 Christian duties are we obligated to live out in our lives?

Examine your own life, does the world see this holy living in you?

3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Remember your former condition.

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

According to verse 5, can good works save you?

How does the above passage say we are saved?

8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

According to verse 8, what should those who believe devote themselves to?

So which is to come first, salvation or good works?

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Who or what should we avoid according to verses 9 & 10?

According to verse 10, should you confront this sort of person and should you remain in fellowship with them?

Why should we avoid them according to verses 9 & 11?

12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer andApollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

In closing, what is Paul’s final admonition to his faithful friends in verse 14?

Dear reader, if you are depending on your good works or a good life – to get you into heaven, you are being misled.  John 3: 16 says – that God loved us so much, He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have eternal life.

I encourage you to read again verses 4-7:

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

No amount of good works can save us from the sin that is in our lives. Only the blood of Jesus shed on the cross can cover over our sins and make us right with God.  Repent of your sins and place your trust in Christ today and be saved!

Chime In:  Do you have a sure hope of eternal life? We’d love to hear your testimony in the comment section so we can rejoice in your salvation with you!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?

shoud christians simply unite around the gospel

Jesus prayed this for believers:

 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)

It is God’s will that believers live in unity.

According to Ephesians 4:13-15, we reach unity when we are mature, no longer infants tossed back and forth by the wind of teaching but instead speaking the truth in love.

Truth unites!

Paul says in Romans 16:

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)

What is it that causes disunity and divisions according to Romans 16? Teaching that is contrary to God’s word.

We are not told to compromise truth and simply love these people in the church - but to “watch out” for them and “keep away from them”. That’s a hard truth right? I mean who are we to judge…and how is that loving and kind to “keep away” from certain people? Shouldn’t we be loving these people, welcoming them into our circle so we can help them see the truth?

Let me share my personal journey from before I was a blogger.

In college at the Moody Bible Institute, I became close friends with many women from different denominations. This is when I learned, that though we all had different experiences in our home churches – we were united around the gospel and most other non-gospel issues.  There were debates across dining room tables but we always ended in unity of love.

Then I graduated from college…

In 1998, I had been married for about 10 months and was living in a new city while my husband finished up his college degree.  I had friends but no Christian ones.  I longed to have a Christian friend I could talk to about spiritual things.  And then one day – she waltzed through the door.

Kima!

Kima loved Jesus something fierce. She was bold in prayer – bold in sharing the gospel and full of joy.  We connected immediately and became close friends.

But quickly I would learn that we had glaring denominational differences.  Over our lunch break we would discuss our differences and even open the Bible together to discuss hard passages.  Behind closed doors we disagreed but in the work place – we were united.  We prayed for our unbelieving friends, shared the gospel together, wrote verses on post-it notes to encourage each other and I don’t think anyone in the workplace knew that we had any disagreements because together, we ministered in unity.

Could Kima and I have led a Bible Study together?  Would I have promoted a book written by her?  Would I have invited her to speak at my Women Living Well Conference.

No.

The reality is once we turned one page past the gospels of the New Testament – and drifted into the Pauline Epistles – our paths separated in our beliefs.  Leading together from a platform would have caused confusion.

And this is what I am experiencing currently in the female blogging world.

There is a lot of talk about uniting around the gospel despite some very real differences like roles of women in the home and church, definition of marriage or authority of scripture.  Different denominations, self-proclaimed Reformed, Emergent, Charismatic and Catholics are all sharing platforms together at conferences, contributing to group blogs or promoting each other’s books.

I personally think this is very confusing.

Can we unite around common causes such as feeding the hungry, saving young girls from sex trafficking, caring for the orphans and pursuing clean water for those around the world.  Yes.

Can we sing worship songs together in unity – yes.

Can we proclaim the gospel together- yep!

Can we sit around dinner tables together and enjoy friendships – a thousand times – yes.

But can we follow Jesus’ mandate to make disciples of all nations “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”  together?

I’d say my generation believes that indeed we can and they are attempting it.

I will be very very very unpopular for saying what I am about to say.  (I expect tomorrow for a bunch of bloggers to unfriend me – Lol!)

But I think if we lay down sound doctrine (if you are not sure what I am referring to as “sound doctrine” –read last Monday’s post) in favor of uniting around the gospel:

1.) We are intellectually dishonest.  The minute we turn one page past the books in the Bible that are called “The Gospels” – there will be divisions.  The minute this “united group” turns to Romans 1 and what God’s word says on homosexuality or Ephesians 5  and the roles of men and women in marriage or the book of Titus on eldership and leadership in the church – the unity will be broken. Why? Because of unsound doctrine in the midst.

2.) Any Bible teaching ministry that unites around the gospel but not around sound doctrine – will be an inch deep and a mile wide. It will be shallow. This “Bible” ministry will not be able to move into the Pauline Epistles without confusion and divisions.  Someone is teaching false doctrine and that will be uprooted when they move on to the meat of the word.  So they will have to avoid meat and stick to the milk –so as to not offend each other.

I am in the minority when I say that I have grown extremely uncomfortable with all the uniting and no one being willing to divide over truth – something that (read my last post) we are called to do!  Oh lukewarm church – when will we stop fearing man and start fearing God.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

Friends, we must be wise- we must know God’s word. We must be discerning.  We must compare every blogger, author and speaker’s words line by line to scripture.  Scripture is our authority! God is our authority!  And scripture speaks emphatically about sound doctrine (again read last Monday’s post for these scripture references.)

But let me close with this thought.  When we say we are uniting around the gospel and then attempt to preach the word (not just the gospel – but principles for living out the gospel in our lives) and tip toe around certain passages, we compromise.

We must unite around the gospel for evangelistic purposes.  But if the church wants to move on to maturity through the meat of God’s word the options are…

Turn a blind eye to false doctrine or take a stand for truth.

Allow confusion to seep into the church or teach with clarity the words of scripture.

Compromise…or divide.

I beg my generation to stop.  We do not need to neglect God’s word to be relevant.  God does not need our help by concealing truth so people are not offended.  Know scripture.  Have courage.  Stand on truth.  The truth will set us free!  Free from false doctrine and sin.

Do not fear man. Fear God Alone!

Do not fear dividing.  Because just as Jesus himself prayed that we would be united – he also said these very hard words below about dividing…

Matthew 10:28-38

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.For I have come to turn“ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.“ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

 

My relationship with Kima was a blessing.  We loved each other so much that we were honest with each other.  Neither of us shied away from speaking what we believed as we attempted to find unity behind closed doors.  We never did reach it. But we loved each other anyways…and a few years later Kima died of brain cancer and I am certain she is with Jesus today.

Sisters in Christ, let’s unite around the gospel.  Let’s unite on everything we possibly can.  But let’s also study up, speak up and build up the body of Christ with truth.  Fear God Alone.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

 

The Resurrection of Jesus and Believers

The Resurrection of Jesus and Believers

Today we remember the crucifixion…

On the cross Jesus said, “It is Finished.” (John 19:30) 

FINISHED – PAID IN FULL.

For those who place their faith in Christ, all the bad things we have done or will do, are paid for in full, by the blood of the Lamb who gave his life for us on the cross.

Do you wonder if you are lovable?
Do you wonder if he really can forgive you of your sins?
Does your guilt lie to you?

Psalm 103:10-12 answers these very questions:

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

This Easter Sunday we will celebrate not only Jesus’ death but that He is ALIVE!!!  Because Jesus resurrected from the dead – we too will one day be resurrected from the dead.  Ever wonder what our bodies will be like in heaven?  This video answers this question and is based on I Corinthians 15.

(if you cannot see this video - click here)

I Corinthians 15:55-58 says:

“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 

For those who have placed your faith in Jesus Christ – death has lost it’s sting!  Death brings victory, as we will be resurrected with Christ!

Are you saved?  If you have never accepted the free gift that God has offered you of eternal life, which only comes through faith in his Son Jesus – I bid you – do it today! And if you have questions about your salvation, please ask your local pastor, friend or send me an email.

Verse 58 is my encouragement to you today: “Sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Happy Good Friday. Have a fabulous weekend with your family and Happy Easter!

Walk with the King!

15 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

15 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

 

For God so loved the world –He gave his Son!

Immanuel –God with us!

And because God is love – he has commanded us to love Him and to love others (Matt 22:36) – not just at Christmas time –but ALL the time!

So I want to give you 15 practical ways to keep Christ in Christ-mas.  These 15 ways are not numbered – but the first 9 are in the collage below and the last 6 are in the writing of this post :).   I’ve already begun facebooking, tweeting and pinning the tips below on my Women Living Well pages (I invite you to follow along there).

Keeping Christ in Christmas Collage

 

Christmas time is a time when people are open to talk about spiritual things.  It’s easy to invite family or a friend to church or to a choir concert.  A couple years back, I invited a little boy from my son’s football team and his mom, to our church concert. It was easy – and they came!  And I’ll never forget when the mom walked in – she said, “my son just asked what that thing is, up on top of the church,and I told him a cross.”

 

church cross

 

The little boy did not know what a cross was!  I love that Christmas is a chance to introduce people to Christ in a natural way.

I’ve also given out Bibles or devotionals at Christmas time to baggers at the grocery store, women at the salon, and to neighbors.  It seems to be a natural time to give something spiritual as a gift.  Come January 15th, if I handed someone a Bible they might think that was odd or offensive.

Another thing we do at Christmas time to remind our children to share the love of Christ – is our Jesus stocking.

Our Fireplace and Jesus Stocking

 

We have 4 white stockings hanging on our fireplace and then a special one that is royal red. It’s a stocking fit for a King – King Jesus!  During the month of December, I invite my children to put gift money or chore money into the stocking and then, right before Christmas we give it to a charity.  Last year, we donated toward a well in Africa.   I love how this hangs on our mantel as a daily reminder of the presence of Jesus – our 5th member of the family, in our house.

Need a resource for some ideas of ways you can light up your community with the Kindness of Christ?

Courtney DeFeo (great first name right? ;) ) has created a list of 100 ways here:

light-em-up_logo_new-url

She includes ideas like:

Stage an early morning chalk attack. Pick a street – yours or another! – and write a “good morning” or “have a great day” message on every driveway.

or

Stand outside your child’s classroom and give each child a single flower as they walk in. Then, as the children enter the classroom, have them hand the flower to their teacher. By the time class begins, he or she will have a vase full of flowers!

or

Try to find out when your child’s FRIEND has a game or performance coming up.  Surprise him or her by attending and bringing a poster or other fun ways to cheer them on.

I love these!

Remember, this is not just for the holiday season.  ALL YEAR LONG – spread the love of Christ. We are the light of the world!

I have one more family tradition that didn’t fit in this post – so I’ll write more about this next week.  Until then, have a GREAT weekend with your family and friends and remember –shine sistas –and teach your little ones to do the same!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Free christmas ebook 2

Are You Leading a Summer VBS or Neighborhood Bible Club?


Are you leading a summer VBS or Neighborhood Bible Club?

This is a great way to share the gospel with kids.

You can do it on your driveway, in the church parking lot, or even on a dry erase board.

You can make it small or make it huge and sit the kids around the square…the kids always love it!

 **Chime In: Are you leading a Summer VBS or Neighborhood/Backyard Bible Club?  What materials are you using and do you have a special way you present the gospel?  Share it with us!

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

 

The Precious Blood of Jesus

The Precious Blood of Jesus 

 
Today we remember. (Taken from Matthew 27)

 
We remember…

 
the betrayal for 30 pieces of silver


the flogging


the crown of thorns


the purple robe


the sign “Hail, King of the Jews!”


the strike on Jesus’ face


the crowd shouting “Crucify Him!”



the long walk to Golgotha carrying the cross



the nails in his hands



the nails in his feet



DARKNESS



the words “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”



the temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom



the earth trembling



the guards exclaiming “Surely he was the Son of God!”

  

 Life is in the blood –the precious blood of Jesus. 

{If you cannot see my video click here to view it.}

On the cross, Jesus said “It is Finished.” (John 19:30)

FINISHED – PAID IN FULL. All the bad things you have ever done are paid for in full by the blood of the lamb who gave his life for you on the cross. Do you wonder if you are lovable? Do you wonder if he really can forgive you of your sins? Does your guilt lie to you?

Psalm 103:10-12 answer these very questions: He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
 
It’s in Christ’s mercy that I have found rest in this difficult world. The blog Women Living Well would not exist if it were not for the truth of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I have found rest in Jesus Christ my Savior.
 
 
Have you found this rest? If you have placed your faith in Christ and believe that he indeed lived, died and rose again and have repented of your sins – your sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west. But, If you have not done this, I John 5:12 says you do not have eternal life. If you have never accepted the free gift that God has offered you of eternal life which only comes through faith in his Son Jesus – I beg you – do it today!
 
 
Have a fabulous weekend with your family and Happy Easter! 
 

He is Risen!

 
Walk with the King!

 

We Are All Just Donkeys

We are all donkeys 

 

This is not an insult. Just stick with me for a second.

In the blogging world, there’s awards for everything. On the “Circle of Moms”  they crown the Top 25 Blogs in a boatload of categories: couponing, cooking, decorating, party planning, travel, homeschooling, beauty, fashion, vegan, fitness, outdoorsy, single moms, adoption, and more.  You name it, they crown it and yes –they even have a Christian Mom Blog category.

I’ve been in the running a few times for these awards and it’s been awkward for me…I mean – really…should I try to get votes for an award for sharing Jesus on-line? Probably not. It’s awkward…but I have to humbly admit –I’ve participated and accepted the awards.

As I reflected this past Palm Sunday on those who cheered “Hosanna! Hosanna!” as Jesus rode upon a donkey – I remembered something I once heard.
Elizabeth Elliot once said “as the people cheered for Jesus, the donkey did not pause and accept the praise as his own. It was the rider who was being praised – NOT the donkey.”
 Matthew 21:9 says, “The crowds that went ahead of Jesus and those that followed shouted,
 
Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
 
This praise was NOT for the donkey.  In the same way, as I carry Jesus to the world via my blog, facebook, twitter, and youtube, I am reminded that all praise I receive belongs to Jesus. Apart from him I can do nothing. And apart from his word, I literally have nothing worthy to blog about.
 
We are ALL donkeys carrying Jesus to the world. I pray that at the end of the day it is Jesus people see in you and me.
 

I Corinthians 3:7 “So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.”

 According to this verse, we are nothing – just simply planters and God is everything and as the missionary David Livingston once said

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa…I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of ‘sacrifice’ when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s Throne on high to give Himself for us.”

 
No sacrifice is too great for Jesus. 
 
It is not a sacrifice to honor my husband – it is my honor.  
It is not a sacrifice to care for my children – it is my honor.
It is not a sacrifice to care for my home – it is my honor.
And it is not a sacrifice to daily be the donkey on social media – carrying Jesus - it is my honor.
 
I pray today that in your sphere of influence, you would find it an honor to carry Jesus to everyone who crosses your path inside and outside your home. If the message doesn’t get out via us, it doesn’t get out!  
 
We are all just donkeys.
 
Love God, love your husband, love your children and take Jesus to the world – shine like lights in the darkness! 
 
It is an honor. 
 
Walk with the King!
 

When It Feels Like No One Understands

When It Feels Like No One Understands

 One thing I’ve learned from Facebook, is that all of us are going through a lot of similar things.  When one mom complains of her child not napping, 5 more moms are there to say, “Mine too!”  When someone mentions her frustration with all the laundry piling up, we all do a cyber nod in agreement.  And when another complains of headaches, someone is there to say “I’ve been there and here’s what helped me.”

We all have common struggles with husbands, children, our work and stress load and just living life on planet earth.

But…

Our puzzles are all different.

One woman has a child with special needs while another is raising a gifted child.

One woman has a romantic, sensitive husband while another has a husband who has anger issues and he screams and yells at everyone in the house.

One woman struggles to make ends meet while another is going on her third vacation of the year.

One woman has a husband who doesn’t work while another is married to a workaholic.

One woman has a traveling husband who calls everyday while another woman has a husband who is off the grid for military reasons for weeks on end.

One woman is running a marathon while another suffers from a debilitating disease.

Our puzzles are different.

And here’s the key…don’t think for one moment that the woman with the Prada purse on her shoulder – who is on her third vacation this year has less problems than anyone else.  Her purse still holds junk–secret pain and dissatisfaction.

We’ve seen it on television –famous music, television and movie stars commit suicide. Why?  They have it ALL!  Because life is hard and we all have struggles that beat us down and  fame, fortune, power, and even health and wealth can’t fill that empty void that God has placed inside of us that only he can fill.

All of our lives are riddled with trials, hardships and circumstances that truly no one else can understand.  I’ve even contemplated that my husband, who shares the same house, kids, marriage and trials as me, does not really understand — because he’s not married to himself! lol!  He’s married to me…and that makes his puzzle different.

But Jesus…He sees and He knows.

Jesus understands.

He can sympathize with our struggles because He was born to die for us. It is hard for me to  imagine the struggles Jesus faced…because when I’m tempted, often times I just give in. For example, when my kids drive me nuts –I yell. Then I apologize.

Jesus felt temptation to the fullest degree because He did not give in. He suffered deeply –for us.  We serve a God who understands.

Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Our God is not a distant God –He came near by dying on the cross for our sins and after he rose from the dead –before he ascended into heaven, his last words were that he would send the Holy Spirit –the ultimate comforter to be with his children.

You do not walk this road alone.  You are a child of the King!  He is with you every step of the way.

Somedays it may feel like no one understands…until you hop onto facebook or a blog with a writer you relate to.  Often times I breathe a sigh of relief to find that my marriage is normal or my kids are normal!  My Christian sisters have helped me through some of my greatest common struggles…but it’s through my deep study of God’s word and through prayer that I’ve found comfort in my individual struggles.

And so I urge you, draw near to God in his word and prayer.  Open to the gospels, breathe in his love and truth and exhale all your burdens.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

He already knows your burdens.  You need rest…you might as well set down that burden and talk to Him about it.  I can guarantee you –He FULLY understands.

 Walk with the King,

Are you desperate to find joy in your walk with God, marriage, parenting and home…

I wrote this book for you:

1 WLW cover