The life of a Christian is one of faith that works by love. But maintaining our freedom does require a walk and living by faith.
Colossians 2:6 says the simplest way to walk free. "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
This is HOW we got started, and it's how we maintain our freedom. I am living life to the fullest and renewing my mind constantly because I am a new creation. "Old things are passed away, and behold, all things have become new." I am in right-standing with God, and through His grace, I can live by His ability that works from the heart.
When I say, "walk by faith," I refer to a daily walk choosing to believe what God has said about me already. When it seems like everything, including my own actions, isn't lining up with the process, I begin daily acknowledging every good thing that is in me iS Christ Jesus. Not everything I see in the natural realm would get me a gold star. Some things are not good about me on the outside….but God isn't finished with me yet! I am not excusing my shortcomings. I am realistically trusting in God to enable me to change.
Our life was not to be focused to be on right or wrong or about good or evil. The devil is the ultimate legalist. He will nitpick us all to death. God gives us His directive on how to overcome in Galatians 5:16 "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Or to paraphrase it, if we are walking by the Spirit, we won't fulfill the flesh's desires or lust. Am I yielding to God's ability that made me righteous? Am I living free in my heart following what the Spirit says daily?
Here's kind of how it works with me. I wake up sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings trying to recognize my heart's first emotions. Are they thoughts of fear or guilt, or pressure? If so, bringing them in captivity or trying to determine the root or origin. Suppose I'm feeling guilty because I haven't accomplished what I set out to do this week or have a problem with some bad thoughts or a bad dream. In that case, I look to the Spirit of God, who helps my infirmities and prays and makes intercession for me. I pray in the Spirit with peace that is already there because the Spirit lives in me, and His solutions surface. I release that emotion that is trying to keep me bound up all day. I sometimes have to go much further in dealing with the beliefs of my heart. But I have a commitment to allow the Holy Spirit permission to work in my life and heart. I am not wiser than God. I know He has the best plan.
You see, everything in your life is determined by the belief of your heart. Proverbs says, "As a man thinketh, in his heart so is he" I must get real and deal with the beliefs in my heart. When I think about a promise in God's Word, what are the emotions in my heart saying? What do I really believe about that? You might say we're not to be led by our emotions, and that is true. But to deny them all together is another mistake. Our emotions can really be an indicator to us of what is going on inside and what I believe at heart level.
We were designed from creation to live in God's presence and to live in the peace that rules in our hearts. I often ask myself, "Is my heart in peace?" What are the beliefs that are ruling in my heart?
God, through His Spirit, is there to show you the hidden motivations of the heart so you can rewrite on your heart God's truths until peace rules in that area. In the Amplified translation, it reads, "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]."
For example, most recently I felt our church growth was at an impasse.
I tried to figure it out. Was it the worship service, my preaching, or the people? I went to God to get wisdom, and he showed me a belief I had that was limiting the growth. One was the way that I saw myself. The other was about not believing that I had the systems and structure in place to facilitate the growth numerically. Every time I thought about growth, my heart would feel inadequate. This contradicted the fact that I knew it was God's will for us to grow. I was more in tune with my feelings of inadequacy rather than what God's Spirit was saying. So I decided to deal with the beliefs. God has raised up some systems people to help organize our ministry departments. After dealing with these aspects, we have seen immediate and progressive growth.
We cannot deny how we feel in our hearts if we want lasting change. We all have pain in the past to some degree. We often anticipate future pain. We don't reflect and consult with God in our hearts. That's where He has told us to have a guard. God said out of it flow the issues of life. God lives in the heart.
So are you going to do whatever it takes to rewrite on your heart? New beliefs are yours for the living out. These new beliefs replace old ones that have only kept you in pain and limited you.
In Philippians, Paul says: 4:9, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. We can also learn from Paul's ways.
The Berkeley Version of the New Testament translates a verse out of Timothy with the phrase by saying Timothy "will remind you of my principles of BEHAVIOR IN CHRIST JESUS," or as the KJV states, "shall bring you into remembrance of MY WAYS WHICH BE IN CHRIST."
Paul does not send the new covenant believer back to Moses's Law for New Covenant ethics; instead, he argues and reasons Christian ethics from the truth of the believer's identification with Christ in his death and resurrection.
God's belief system is that ALL things are possible to him who believes. First, you must believe that Jesus has made you righteous and qualified you for all the promises. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:12, "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."
Our time investment now is renewing our minds to this and persuading our hearts to be settled in it. When that happens the transformation we desire is effortless. Instead of focusing on making the outside look good—let's work on the inside. Our labor is to rest in what God says is true – is exactly that.
When I feel like I am walking free of sin's dominion, that is when I understand that I had the freedom to choose. I am no longer a slave to sin. I am not under law but under grace. What do I really want? I get the choice. I can live by what I was designed for, the spiritual life of abundance. If I sow to the flesh, I will reap corruption. (Galatians 6)
God picks us up when we fall. Or as it says in His Word in Proverbs 24, "for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…" He is such a good Father, and He guides me into truth. It is my decision to follow His leading. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He doesn't operate by force in our relationship. He is leading his children into His best.
If you feel like the description in my book, you may have read, as a 'dung beetle' caught up in a performance trap. Freedom is yours already. It's a choice to believe you are free. It's a choice to persuade my heart that I am holy, blameless, and above reproach in his sight.
Paul told us that very thing in the letter to the Ephesians in chapter one, verse 4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." It's incredible to think that is how God really sees us.
Paul trusted God to reveal to him anything that needed to be changed. He sought God with all his heart. He was not INTROSPECTIVE. He depended on GOD to keep him walking in the straight and narrow.
Being self-analytical can be a significant inroad of Satan in our lives. Those who are not seeking God have no other choice. They have to evaluate themselves. For those seeking God, He will take responsibility for pointing out the things that need to be dealt with in our lives. We can leave it up to Him. Allow him to bring about the change. As you have this sense of acceptance, He can work the transformation from the inside out.
Phil 3:15 says, "Let us therefore as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Will you be honest with God and understand He knows what you believe in your heart anyway? Do you have such a value for God's view and opinion that you are willing to give up your own? Then you are free to live your dreams. Dreams to help God's people know the truth about His goodness will manifest in reality.
We must have a revelation of God's passionate love for us not based on what we do but on what He's done. If my identity is established on what God says about me and not what others may think, I do not have to perform well for God's acceptance. I do not have to be right to be justified that I am ok. I don't have to have a daily quota of production to feel worthy or valuable. I am now walking in the simple knowledge and revelation of being pleasing to God because I am His son. Sons are accepted because of our inheritance in the family and not our performance. I pray you'll live in this freedom too.
Pastor, teacher, evangelist, author.
2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Our belief system is foundational to who we are and what we believe. And what we believe affects every aspect of our life- thoughts, and actions.
D&D Capra Ministries is a ministry that teaches and preaches on the goodness and grace of God. Now, this doesn't mean we are endorsing abuses that feed greed and carnal reasoning. And this is what people often misunderstand. You can't say you believe in the grace and goodness of God, but live a life filled with greed and carnal reasoning. You would be pretending to be "what you are not!"
Proverbs 17:15 says, "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord."
So how do we keep our belief system in alignment with our actions? Through the righteousness of God.
Understanding Our New Nature
Before you accepted Christ, you were a sinner. But once you accept Christ, you are given a new nature established in the righteousness of Jesus. You were a sinner, but you are now saved by grace and are now the righteousness of God.
Salvation produces a changed heart that changes our actions. Actions cannot change our hearts. All actions do is show us what is in our hearts.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Understanding Our Righteousness
A new nature is created in the likeness of God.
Ephesians 4:22-24, "To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
Because of Jesus, you are not just in the flesh; you are in the Spirit. You are in Christ. You might walk after the flesh at times, but you are in Christ Jesus and righteous in Him.
God made your new nature 100% righteous and holy so His Holy Spirit could live in you. You are as righteous as Jesus. You are 100% right with God.
This righteousness is a gift. You didn't earn it, nor can you. The righteousness of God isn't based on anything you have done; it's all based on what Jesus did on the cross.
Romans 5:17, "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
We are encouraged never to despise small beginnings (see Zechariah 4:10). Everything has its initial seed form of the growth process. In the unfolding picture of our life of rest, there is a simple understanding of the glimpse of creation. In the beginning, we see…
“Thus, the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because, in it, He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-4, emphasis mine).
Then, in the book of Exodus…“Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath and observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between the children of Israel and Me forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17).
Was God refreshed? Even before the giving of the Law, God blessed the seventh day. Therein lays this principle of rest introduced! Now, please don’t misunderstand me. In no way am I suggesting or promoting complete inactivity. God rested not because He was tired, but because He was finished. God sees the end from the beginning (see Isaiah 46:10). He’s working a plan!
God works, then He rests. Again, He wasn’t tired, but He was finished. It’s so simple yet profound. Think of it: God works and then rests. Yet, He ordained mankind to rest, then work. For us, our work flows out of a relationship with Him! God loves our dependency on Him, not our self-sufficiency. It’s time for this ‘sign’ (this relationship) to show forth destiny of purpose in these wild times. God is working behind the scenes and also right out in front! Be refreshed.
Excerpt from “For the Rest of Your Life”
Written by Denise Capra
Artwork by Polly Lunetto
We have been in harvest time since Jesus walked the earth (John 4:35). It has never been about the harvest being ready but always the lack of laborers. Now, as churches have transitioned to online platforms, the people that have been on the outskirts of the world are popping into our broadcasts.
People who would have never stepped foot in our churches are streaming online and listening for truth and surrendering their lives to Christ. There have been more laborers willing to volunteer or become involved. The unity of believers is not limited to a church. It is also in cities ready to support one another during these difficult times. Christians will come out of quarantine as a mighty army!
What a great time we get to live in! May I challenge you to change your vantage point.
We are seeing ministry multiplying! Locally, we are increasing home group ministry to Zooms and new locations. Discipleship is the priority.
There are warriors in the making! Take a stand for the gospel. Jesus said, "Now, remember, it is I who sends you out, even though you feel vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless as doves." It's past time!
Written by Denise Capra
7 min. read
Reflecting on the life of Noah from the book of beginnings has quite a story to tell that applies to us today. Developing our heart and life, to walk with God is the only solution for facing the future with any real help of overcoming. What if we made all of our decisions with intentions to yield to the Spirit no matter how he is guiding us?
Noah's Life Teaches Us Grace is Found in Rest
Noah's very name means "rest." Scripture teaches, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" – Think of this, "REST found GRACE in the eyes of the Lord." During this biblical period, the condition of humanity was very bleak. But God…!
Noah's story in the Bible was the very first mention of grace. That's significant. The law of first reference says we must go to the first time something is mentioned in scripture to get a clear and concise understanding of what is being taught.
To understand the end, we must understand the beginning!
Matthew 24:37 states, "but as the days of Noah were so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
Uh-oh, here we go! In this New Testament passage, we see that Noah was directed by God to obey even in an unchartered path. Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
Noah's Ark is the Picture of Jesus
The Ark is a picture of Jesus! He is full of grace and full of rest, and so is Jesus. Noah found safety in the Ark. Remember, it had been prophesied in the garden (Genesis 3) that the Seed of man would be the one to destroy the works of the devil. If the bloodline of all mankind had been corrupted, Jesus could not have been born. The corruption of the human bloodline was a direct attack on God's plan of salvation. A key for us is to understand that every prophecy and promise in the Bible was a glimpse of the virgin birth to come. Cain and Abel's story was the start of the murderous campaign from the devil.
Genesis 6 says, "(1) Now it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, (2) that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. (3) And the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." (4) There were giants (Nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, and they bore children to them."
In Genesis 6:4, the reference to 'giants' comes from the Hebrew word 'Nephiyl,' which means 'fall' or 'fallen ones.' The Strongs says…. a feller, i.e., a bully or tyrant:—giant. Genesis and other books, the writings of Josephus the historical record and scientific documents, record the fact that Giants have lived on nearly every continent in the world at some point in history. We have somehow failed to link this factor when the Bible explains the origin in the activities of giants. (This reference to sons of God is referring to fallen angels according to the Septuagint) The devil was out to corrupt the women's Seed. In verse 4, the reference to 'in those days' was clearly speaking of before the flood. Additional eruptions after the flood were dealt with by Israel.
"The Occult" (which just means secret or hidden) initiates and brainwashes. It leads its followers into degrees of deception until they totally reject God's revelation of himself given to all the world through his eternal word. (Excerpt from Apocalypse by Dr. Jim Richards.)
In a very significant passage in the New Testament, you can glean more insight by the context of this passage, 2 Peter 2:4-5 says, "For if God did not spare the angels (Nephilim) who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (5) and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly."
Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord
The first and most obvious factor which led to the flood of Noah's day was the corruption of man's bloodline.
Genesis 6:5 Then [c]the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent[d] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (7) So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." (8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
Notice God's emotion was not raging anger, but sadness. The Ark was a place of safety and refuge, and it represents or foreshadows Jesus Christ. We are now 'in Him' as believers.
Resting is believing.
Noah's very name means 'Rest,' and he pleased God! Rest pleases God. It's a foreshadowing of our position in Christ's finished work.
"Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Noah pleased God. "This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth." Genesis 6:9-12
Noah Built the Ark God Designed
Noah acted on what he believed. The Ark was prepared. It took faith and effort. All while he worked on this significant life project, Noah was a preacher of righteousness.
Genesis 6:13-14 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.
Even the 'pitch' used on the wood (symbolizing man) as a sealant represented the (more than) covering we have in Christ. The Hebrew word is "kapher," to make atonement. This symbolizes the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.
The windows above had ventilation and light coming in from above and not the sides. These windows were designed by God for Noah to look up and look to Him and not for him to look out and around at the destruction coming upon the earth. There is much symbolism in Noah's story that can parallel our own life situations.
God Prepared Noah Before the Flood
Noah's Ark was a ginormous vessel (450 feet long) and habitation, almost the size of Titanic. In Genesis 7:16, "The Lord shut him in"—speaks of how God PREPARES people before a CRISIS. Here they were eternally secure!
God closed the door! You are SAFE from the waters of JUDGMENT!
Not only did God close the door, but when it was time, He told Noah to "come" into the Ark. He didn't say "go" into the Ark - He said "come" into the Ark, indicating that God was in there and was with them the whole time.
Although waves may smash against "my ark" (life's circumstances), his pitch (Christ blood) still secures and covers me! God was merciful in this happening- He was preserving mankind.
God Establishes a New Covenant
In Genesis 8:1-5 expresses Noah's deliverance. Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the Ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters decreased. 4 Then the Ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
Ararat means 'the curse is reversed.' The Ark rested the 7th month and 17th day of the month, actually on the mountains of Ararat. The 17th day represents the feast of firstfruits- judgment has passed. God is desiring to get the point across. Jesus took our judgment for us.
"The religious concept of a curse is when God punishes us for ungodly deeds, but the biblical concept depicts as a curse as the result of pursuing that which is not harmonious with God. The curse is not a choice or action of God; it's the consequence of which God warned, but we ignore. Planet earth, under the authority of man, became cursed as a result of man becoming disharmonious with God.(Dr. Jim Richards)
Now through the covenant of peace, God will never be angry with us again! Look at this profound passage from the prophet Isaiah 54:8-10: "For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has mercy on you."
In Genesis, God said, "Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said: "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between you and Me and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: "I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth." Genesis 9:11-13
And we have the rainbow as a sign. The good news of Jesus is the Gospel of Peace.
Written by Denise Capra
Artwork by Polly Lunetto
Fashion for a girl is important. Girls love fashion. We love wearing the latest styles. Growing up, I started at a Catholic school. Daily, I had to wear the same uniform - a red and green navy jumper over a white blouse. Although it cut down on my parents’ monthly clothing expenses, it did nothing for my creativity.
The limited wardrobe laid the groundwork for me. In my later years, I took to nearly always costume dressing in public school. Costume kidding aside, I did feel a new expression of creativity by having the freedom to choose my own ensembles. I looked forward to it and to wear them well.
The Masterpiece of Righteousness
As fashion helped provide new freedom to self-expression and creativity, that same excitement I can equate to God’s creativity in his masterpiece of giving us righteousness through His Son, Jesus.
We are given the freedom to choose righteousness by receiving what Jesus accomplished for us through His birth, death, burial, and resurrection. This is foundational for our understanding, “For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.”
The Greek word Paul uses is poieō, a verb that, when nominalized, is poiema (poem, or poetry). Christ is God’s poetic masterpiece, who became the glorious sacrifice for sin. Though disturbing to the eyes of man, God saw the work of redemption culminated in the masterful poetry of his Son suspended on a cross to give us heaven’s righteousness.
In the Passion Translation, Brian Simmons’s commentary says, “This one verse is perhaps the greatest verse in the New Testament to describe our salvation through the sinless Savior and his substitutionary death on the cross. A wonderful divine exchange took place at the cross. All of our sins were left there, our guilt was removed and forever gone, and we walked away with all of God’s righteousness. What bliss is ours! Every believer today possesses the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ. We are seen by the Father as righteous as his Son.”
Wearing the Masterpiece of Righteousness Well
As I recently wrote in my new book, For the Rest of Your Life... Living Out Your Destiny Blueprint- in my chapter called Women in Wardrobe, I discuss the scripture references to wearing linen (John the Revelator refers to it as the ‘righteousness of the saints’ Revelation 19:8). Linen keeps us cool in high, hot temperatures. In the book, I lay out even more prophetic insights regarding linen in that chapter.
Isaiah 64:6 graphically exposes our need. Hear this out of the Passion Translation, “We have all become contaminated with sin, and you see our self-righteousness as nothing better than a menstrual rag. We are all like fallen leaves, and our sin sweeps us away like the wind.” The implication is that we are whirled along by the wind of our sins. Thank God for our new robe!
Understanding righteousness in Christ has been the demarcation point in our lives (which is fixing the boundary or limit of something). Everything hinges upon understanding the gift of righteousness in Him….where you will go, what you will do, what you believe about Him, and what you believe about yourself knowing He had gone before you and fulfilled it all.
In Isaiah 61:10, “I will sing and rejoice in Yahweh. My whole being vibrates with shouts of joy in My God! For He has dressed me with salvation and wrapped me in the robe of his righteousness. I appear like a bridegroom on his wedding day, decked out with a beautiful sash, or like a radiant bride adorned with sparkling jewels.”
Righteousness, wear it well.
Written by Denise Capra
Artwork by Polly Lunetto