"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- Unless indeed you are disqualified." 2 Cor. 13:5
"Christians are not perfect, only forgiven." The quote is not attributed to anyone, yet it is just as true as Scripture. In spite of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are still vulnerable to sin. While the grace of God will cover our sins provided that we ask for forgiveness, we must realize that God's will for our lives is that we be free from sin and "slaves to righteousness." Rom. 6:17,18.
But what about sinful habits that we become complacent about? What about those areas of our lives that seem to always be a "work in progress"? Are there consequences for the Christian who seems to continue in sin?
Paul's reminder to us in 2 Cor. 13:5 should be a sobering reminder that our daily walk with Christ might very well be a daily struggle to overcome sin. Paul himself acknowledged the possibility that even he could be "disqualified", 1 Cor. 9:27. Wow! If the greatest missionary the world has ever known, the man who wrote nearly two thirds of the New Testament could be "disqualified" by sin, how much more can most of us?
Now don't start out on a never-ending guilt trip just because you recognize that you too have reoccurring sin issues in your life. While that is not what God wants, the very fact you recognize them means you are still capable of true heartfelt repentance. This alone means that God will still forgive you when you go to Him daily for help and forgiveness. 2 Cor. 7:10, Jas. 5:16.
The advice Paul gives us to "examine ourselves" is needful to all. After all, we all want to please God. Self examination not only leads to true repentance, but to a greater desire to improve oneself. Intense prayer accompanied by regular fasting can be a great tool for overcoming these sin issues. Finding a trusted brother or sister in Christ in whom you can confide your needs to, is well within the context of Jas. 5:16. Therefore examine yourselves to see if you re in the faith. May God bless you richly.
Mt. 5:223,24 "Therefore if you bring your gift before the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
Growing up with a brother two years younger than myself I discovered that I could play the part of the bully anytime I wanted to play with something that he was playing with. I'm sure he would agree that I got away with that kind of behavior frequently.
But sometimes I got caught. And when I got caught there were consequences. Usually a "switching" or a few lashes with Dad's belt. This was their way of keeping peace in the family. And over time it worked. By the time I had entered the teenage years I recognized that if my relationship with my brother wasn't good, then my relationship with my father would not be good either.
Jesus makes it clear to all who desire to worship God the Father that our relationship with our church brethren must be good. If it isn't then there will be a major consequence; God won't accept our worship!
Just as there will be relationship issues in any earthly family, there will, from time to time be relationship issues between members of the family of God. When we ignore our wrongs against our brethren there are two huge risks we run. First we risk causing the brother we have hurt to stumble or fall. But even if he doesn't fall God will still hold us accountable for making things right. His punishment is that He won't receive our worship.
So how would you like to have to explain to God someday why you refused to apologize to another member of the body of Christ? The easy answer is that we wouldn't like that task. But yet, hear what Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." I think this knowledge really puts everything in proper perspective. Don't you? Think about it.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Col. 3:17. So you talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? It's a question we who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior must ask ourselves periodically. Is my life wholly surrendered to treating others with love and dignity, regardless of how they may treat me? Or do I just love those who love me. You know Jesus said, "Even the tax collectors do the same." Mt. 5:46
What if everyone I ran into today was Jesus? My boss, my wife, the clerk at the store, the guy who delivers my pizza, or even the couple that live next door. Would I act differently? I'm sure I would.
The truth is that anyone I encounter ought to receive my brightest smile. Don't they all deserve an encouraging word? Would I complain as much as I currently do if Jesus was my foreman? Of course not. Jesus would always get a cheerful employee ready to do a good days work.
The point is this; Jesus wants everyone I serve, work for or encounter to get the royal treatment. Be my best, do my best to everyone I come in contact with. That is so unlike the rest of the world. Right? But, then again Jesus expects us to be different from the world. The Greek word for "church" means "the called out". And that is exactly what Jesus wants you and I to be. Called out of the world, called out of sin and called out of our self-interest. So glorify Christ Jesus in all you do!
"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen." Mt. 6:13. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Mt. 6:8-15 He clearly asks that they pray, "Lead us not into temptation." The question arises, "Why would a God who loves us and desires the best for us ever lead us into temptation?" To say the least it seems as if this is contrary of a loving God. But yet we know these words are the words of the Savior and therefore must be true.
The answer would seem to be that while God does not tempt us Himself, He does at times "test" us. This was true of Abraham in Gen. 22:1-14, when He asked Abraham to "offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering." In this instance, while God asked Abraham to do something immoral and contrary to God's general character, God would have never allowed Abraham to actually sacrifice his son. In short, Abraham could only fail this test if he never purposed in his heart to offer up Isaac.
Temptation, on the other hand comes from within. James verifies this for us in Jas. 1:12-15. James clearly states that the source of temptation comes from our own "desires". Sinful desires are a part of the sinful nature of man. A nature that should in time change after one has obeyed the Gospel of Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom.12:2
Our perspective on temptation is often incorrect. Because James tells us in Jas. 1:12 that there is a "crown of life" to be gained if we love Christ more than any pleasure or treasure that yielding to temptation might bring. Paul reminds us as well that "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." Literally God always gives us an escape hatch.
So while God does test us, it is our own sinful desires that tempt us. It is a mark of Christian maturity when we pass the test and refuse to submit to sin.
Most of us can honestly say that we have received many things of which we are grateful for. Perhaps it was a birthday or Christmas present that we really wanted. Maybe it was job that we desperately needed. Maybe it was a stranger who saw we were having car trouble and came to our rescue. It might have been a debt that we couldn't pay that we were forgiven of.
Whatever the case, we likely expressed our gratitude with very sincere thank yous, maybe a card, or a small heartfelt gift. A former neighbor whose small yard adjoined mine once baked me a pan of brownies because I had mowed their small yard every time I mowed mine one summer. The brownies were delicious and it felt good to be appreciated.
But in some instances we have likely found that we could never do or say enough for someone else' act of kindness. Such was the case in Luke, chapter seven, when Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee named Simon. As Jesus sat at the table, a woman who was known by Simon to be a sinner, likely a prostitute came to Jesus and washed his feet with her tears. She then dried the Lord's feet with her hair. Then taking an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, she anointed His feet with this oil.
Jesus, knowing what was in Simon's heart told him a story of two men who owed sums of money to a certain creditor. One owed 500 denarii, the other 50. The creditor forgave both because neither had the money to pay him. Jesus then asked Simon, "which of them will love him more?" Simon logically stated, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more."
After Jesus had reminded Simon of all that the woman had done to show her love for Him and reminded of the social customs which Simon had failed to show the Him, Jesus then amplified Simon's own answer to the Lord's story. In Lu. 7:47, "Therefore I say to you, her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
You and I owed God a debt that we could not pay. That debt was paid by Jesus, though Jesus owed nothing to us. Paul pointed to this in Rom. 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." Does your life show the kind of gratitude that the sinful woman showed Christ?
The times we live in are quite dangerous! Just watch the news on a regular basis and you will know what I mean. Recently I heard a news report which informed me that over the weekend fifty-nine people had lost their lives in the greater Chicago area because of gun violence. This was not the total of one mass shooting, but instead, a person here and a person there.
When we hear such terrible news, we often feel a need arm ourselves that we might defend ourselves. We do have a constitutional right to do so. But how does God feel about a child of God who is prepared to wound, injure or kill another human being?
In the Old Testament God's people not only defended themselves as individuals, but as a nation as well. Some of God's best known servants wielded the sword. Abraham did. Joshua did. David did. Of course they for the most part acted on God's will.
But what of God's will for His people today? The Lord Jesus told His followers to "turn the other cheek" Mt. 5:39, and to "love your enemies", Mt. 5:44. Do we as Christ's followers REALLY feel that way? Are we prepared to set aside our rights when we are threatened?
Paul instructed the church in Philippi to, "Do all things without complaining or disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Phil. 2:14,15.
So here is the wisdom of God concerning our right to kill or hurt others in an effort to defend ourselves. First, the only threat to you and I comes from those who are sinners. Those who are not God's children. Secondly, we are called to SHINE as lights in this world. We are to be different! Jesus said as much in Mt. 5:14-16. If I act in darkness, I CANNOT be light! And thirdly, to that extent the child of God MUST be "harmless". I am not free to harm or injure anyone at my discretion because God says I must be different!
This teaching from the Lord is not very popular in a world where we cherish our rights. However anyone who is in Christ must surrender to HIS authority if he wants to be Jesus' disciple, ( Jn. 8:31,32, Lu. 9:23). So to this end, as in all cases we must make every attempt to do the will of Christ. If we choose not, then we may not be truly His disciple. Think about it....
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20 Indeed these are some of the most beautiful words ever penned, "I have been crucified with Christ." All of us should seek to die with Christ if for no other reason than to be saved.
To my knowledge no other religion requires that one die to self as Christianity does. But for most this is not an easy task. By nature we are selfish. We want what we want. Self-sacrifice goes against everything that culture encourages us to be. Yet like Paul we too must be dead to self.
Jesus made it clear to all that our freedom as His followers was not without cost. In Jn. 8:31,32 Jesus encouraged a number of Jews who had begun to believe in Him with these words: "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Here we find the key principle to our dying to self; it is to obey or abide in the "words" or teachings of Christ. Our lives must be surrendered to His will. No exceptions.
This principle requires that WE KNOW His teachings. Sadly there are many churches that now refuse to accept some of the Lord's teachings. Some encourage the most common form of idolatry; the desire to have God always subject to our will. Some, especially within the "word of faith" movement, blatantly encourage covetousness. And now, more and more are willing to accept sexual immorality.
Because false teachers abound, as do false churches we must NEVER accept any man or woman's teaching without question. We also must do as the people of Berea did in Acts 17:11 when Paul was preaching and teaching Christ there. Luke says of them, "they searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether those things were so."
With this in mind we all must search the Scriptures to be able to validate or refute what is being offered to us by those who claim to be ministers of Christ. The greatest asset to living a life surrendered to Christ is a sound knowledge of His teachings. So study the Gospels. They are the record of Our Lord's teachings. Preserved so you and I might "know the truth and the truth shall set us free." Study what He taught that you might be "dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 6:11 Think about it.
"Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, O' what a foretaste of glory Divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of love. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood." The words are familiar and comforting. In Jesus we have this assurance if we continue to walk faithfully with Him.
We have had our sins forgiven through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 1:7) We have received the mark of the circumcision that is not of human hands when we were baptized into Christ. (Col. 2:11,12). The grace of God has saved us. (Eph. 2:8) We are saved, but yet we still often fall short of the standard that Christ expects of us. And sometimes we are troubled with doubts about whether we are indeed saved. After all, we supposedly have died to sin. (Rom. 6:1,2) Are we right to feel this way?
The answer as is always the case, is found in the Scriptures. In 1 Jn. 1:7-9, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Here John reveals two great truths about walking faithfully in Christ. The first is that if we are "walking in the light" our sins will continue to be forgiven. This is not to be interpreted as our past sins, but rather our future sins. If we are striving to follow Christ and apply His teachings to our lives, then even when we stumble, we will be forgiven! This does not apply to "willful sin" as the Hebrew writer points to in Heb. 6:4-6, but rather it pertains to the believer who strives daily to "walk in the light".
The second great truth is that we must "confess our sins". The truth is that WE WILL SIN, even after we have repented and been baptized into Christ. Salvation guarantees forgiveness not perfection! So each day as I come to God in prayer I must confess my sins, both the ones I am aware of and the one's I might have forgotten. This will guarantee that I enjoy the gift of continual cleansing.
So the great lesson for every child of God is that though we might stumble as we walk in the light, our daily confession on our sins will cover us with the blood of Christ Jesus. While conscience is most often a good barometer of our spiritual health, we must acknowledge that try as we might we will never be perfect on this side of eternity. Keep walking in the Light and cling to that "Blessed Assurance". Think about it.
Who has the most influence on your life? Your parents? A teacher? A political party? A spouse? A mentor? Maybe a philosophy or religion? All of these will ultimately shape the way we act and think.
For the Christian it is Christ who ought to have the greatest influence on our lives. Paul in Gal. 3:27 tells us, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." His point is that upon our rebirth in Christ we begin to live a life that should change how we act, how we think, how we behave and what truly guides us through life.
There are really three things that all disciples must embrace to become more like Christ. First we must die to sin. Paul makes this clear to us in Rom. 6:1-4. It is against the will of Christ for us to continue to live in sin. Secondly, we must employ the teaching of the Lord Jesus in our daily lives. Jesus stated that the wise man would "hear His teachings and do them." Mt. 7:24-27. And thirdly we must "follow Him". In Mt. 16:24 He tells all who would be disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." One must truly be committed to a life of serving the Lord. The very definition of the word "disciple" is "one who follows."
Now if this seems difficult, that's because it is. It is a process, not a sudden supernatural act. It takes years, maybe a lifetime. And be aware that you still will not be perfect on this side of eternity. The Apostle Paul, great follower of Christ understood that even his best efforts were still indicative of a need for improvement. In a verse that should serve as both encouragement and comfort for all of us, he said in Phil. 3:12, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." Here Paul confesses that he was still striving, because he was lacking. So to we must "press on". But we must also realize that Christ "has laid hold" of us as well and we can rest assured that He will help us daily as we strive to do His will. Think about it...David
"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Col. 4:5,6. A new day for the believer in Christ is not just a gift, but also an opportunity. It is an opportunity that must be used wisely.
Those who are outside of Christ Jesus are watching us. Do they see our joy? Do they see the difference in our behavior. In our priorities? If they do then we are truly "redeeming the time." Another way of saying this is, "make everyday count for Christ Jesus." After all He is the Lord of our life. We should glorify Him in all that we do. Col. 3:17
The "lost" do not read the Bible, nor do they frequent churches looking for eternal life. To them we are the Bible and we are the only sermon that they may hear. For this reason we must "walk in wisdom". Understanding that they may only be reached through our efforts and examples.
It is too easy to get side tracked in the worries and cares of this life. When we do we can come across as discouraged and less than joyful. When this happens the "lost" hear the same negatives that everyone else around them are expressing.
Beloved we have true joy because "our names are written in heaven." (Lu. 10:20) Even when everything is crumbling we have this great promise that Paul constantly reminded himself of; "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Rom. 8:18. Knowing this let us be ever mindful of putting our best foot forward to those who do not know Christ. Think about it...David
What makes church feel like home? Though proper doctrine and practice are essential, we must realize that the church is a family. All who are in Christ are a part of this family. We are brothers and sisters and as such we are all obligated to practice hospitality to one another.
The writer of Hebrews makes a great point that God's people should be given to hospitality. In Heb. 13: 1,2 we read, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." I suspect that the Hebrew writer had in mind the hospitality that Abraham showed the heavenly visitors who showed up at his tents in Gen. 18. One of these three visitors is identified as "the Lord", and it is commonly believed this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ Himself. On that day Abraham gave rest and refreshment to these three "strangers."
The point that is firmly established by the Hebrews author is that God sees our hospitality or lack thereof. And while one may not be literally entertaining an angel, it is still our duty to promote love within the body of Christ by hosting others in our homes. In the post modern era of the church this seems to be a lost grace. With many of us not wanting such intrusions of our privacy. Yet we must always realize that we are expected to be different from the ordinary citizens of this world. Paul in Phil. 3:20 reminds us that "our citizenship is in heaven." This truth alone should cause us to make a serious effort to open our homes to the brethren. The family of God is a wonderful thing. It is to bad that many will never experience the joy and love of true fellowship with the brethren on this side of eternity. Think about it...David
Years ago on Christmas Eve I discovered my water pipes were frozen, so I crawled under my house to begin the long process of thawing out the water line. Moments later I heard a friendly voice, asking the question, "Did your pipes freeze?' It was a neighbor, who quickly volunteered to help me with my problem. After a quick trip to a hardware store for heating tape and pipe wrap and the heat from a small propane torch wielded by my neighbor, we managed to solve the problem in roughly three hours.
That neighbor had been a great source of help to me in my time of need. Gene Mosley was his name and I doubt if I will ever forget his kindness and his desire to help his clueless 27 year old neighbor.
You and I have a helper who is available to us in this life. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. In Heb. 13:5,6 we are told, "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you, So we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" The Lord's help to us is two-fold. First he supplies our needs. When we accept this fact we will overcome our temptation towards covetousness. This point is brought to bear in Mt. 6:33 where we are told by the Lord, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." If you and I are faithful to Him and trust Him, He will never cease to meet our needs. Secondly, the Hebrew writer tells us there is no need for us to fear anything that man may do to us. We live in times where violence and cruelty are ever increasing. With Christ it does not matter what man may do to us. To this point Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 5: 7,8, "For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present in the Lord." Should we perish we have not lost a thing, but instead we have gain our reward in Christ.
Is there a greater helper to be found? One who supplies our needs. One who has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you? May the Lord be your helper. For there is none to have with you as you walk through the uncertainty that is this life. Think about it...David
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven." 2 Cor. 5:1,2
Most of us do not like to think of our death. This is natural because we fear the great unknown. What happens once we die? Most of us whether we have chosen Christ or not are a little unsettled in what will become of us.
Paul refers to our body here as our earthly house, our tent. The fact that he refers to our bodies as tents is of great significance because a tent is never meant as a permanent structure, only a temporary measure. And so it is for those who trust in Christ our bodies are only temporary as is our lives here on earth. There is something much better. Something permanent. Something eternal. It here called "our habitation which is from heaven." And it is not made by "hands". Instead it comes from God, the perfect engineer, the flawless designer, the authority on what is best for all men.
Most of us are never happy with our bodies. We are too short or too tall. We are too skinny or as is the case most often, too fat. If we have straight hair we would rather have curls. And of course "brunettes want to be blondes." This lack of contentment stems from the curse of sin. The perfect creation was spoiled and God's design for us was damaged. Beloved only God can make you what you want to be. I am ever convinced that what God chooses to clothe us with in eternity will not only be flawless, but also will make us content with our new and eternal appearance.
So do not fret and worry over the decay of our human bodies. It was only a temporary covering. One that will one Day be replaced by a perfect body given to us by a Perfect God to all who trust in His Perfect Son Christ Jesus. Be encouraged and Think about it! David.
"Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he wads one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered with their fathers, another generation rose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel." Jdgs. 2:8-10
The generation of Joshua was the generation of Israel that that inherited the promised land of Canaan. They had first-hand evidence of God. They had experienced His power when He dried up the Jordan River to allow them to cross. They watched as He leveled the mighty walls that surrounded Jericho. They beheld the ground splitting open and swallowing Achan who had sinned against God, as well as his family. Yet once this generation had passed, their children DID NOT KNOW GOD!
How could that be? Simple, the Israelites did not teach their children about God. They failed to praise God in the presence of their children. They did not boast of the great blessings they had received from God's hand.
Beloved, their is great danger to our children when we fail to teach them the reality of God! When we fail to share the story of the One True God with our children they often accept the false gods of this present age that CANNOT SAVE THEM! When we fail to tell them that God loved all men so much "that He gave His only begotten Son" for their sins, they will likely die in their sins and WILL BE LOST FOR ETERNITY! When we fail to share the pattern of teachings found in the New Testament that tell us exactly what the real Church that was founded by the real Jesus practiced and believed, then we leave them with the erroneous concept that ANY CHURCH WILL DO!
We must teach our children the Bible! We must see to it that their view of God, Jesus and His Church is correct and meshes with Scripture. True New Testament Christianity is always only one generation removed from vanishing when the older generation fails to do their part. Truth matters, let no one deceive you. As God, Himself declared in Deut. 6:6,7, "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Think about it...David
Many of our heroes of the faith had moral failures. Peter denied the Lord thrice on the night of His betrayal. Samson was immoral and violated his Nazrite vow repeatedly. The prophet Jonah thought he could ignore the call that God had placed on him to go preach against Nineveh. Lot became drunk and slept with his two daughters. Even Abraham showed a lack of faith in God on at least three occasions.
Most of us are aware of the sin of King David. David was said by God to be "a man after My own heart", yet in spite of his wonderful relationship with God the Father, David committed heinous sins before God. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, though he had several wives and concubines. Then when he realized that her pregnancy would reveal his sin before all Israel David had her husband Uriah killed. David literally gave the command that Uriah should be murdered. You can read of David's sins in 2 Samuel chapter 11.
Ultimately God had Nathan the prophet confront David about his sin. David then recognized and repented of his sin. Though he was forgiven still there were consequences; the child would die and one of David's sons, Absalom would betray him. Anytime we sin there are some consequences we must still bear.
David records his own prayer to God concerning his sin and his desire to be forgiven in Ps. 51. It is not only a beautiful prayer, but it also reveals a truly penitent heart. In v. 2 we read, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." In v. 7, David continues saying, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." And in v.10, "Create in me a clean heart, O' God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." David's desire was not only to be forgiven, but also restored.
The wonderful thing about our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ is that even when we fail we can still be forgiven and restored. All we need is to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness. A helpful resource on this matter can be found in 1 Jn. 1: 5-10. Think about it....David
Do you remember the most anticipated Christmas that you experienced as a child? That one year that you really wanted that one toy more than anything you had ever wanted. My most anticipated Christmas as a child was the year I got a new bicycle. It was a three speed "Sting ray", lime green in color with a sparkling green banana seat and knobby tires. I anticipated getting that bike for over three months. And it was well worth the wait!
Somethings are well worth the wait. Waiting for the right spouse. Waiting for the right job. Waiting for the best deal on a car or a home all fall in this category. Unfortunately, sometimes we get tired of waiting. A hasty decision might only cost us money or time lost, but sometimes it will haunt us for the rest of our life.
God can easily identify with the value of waiting patiently. After He had created a perfect world and two perfect people God watched as the sin of Adam and Eve literally destroyed His perfect work. But being God He already knew that was going to happen and already had a plan to restore His creation and redeem mankind from sin. The only catch was that it wouldn't happen immediately.
From the moment of sin in Genesis 3:6 until the resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 28:6 approximately 4,000 years came and went. Yet God waited patiently. Paul comments on God's timing in Gal. 4:4,5, saying, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."
God's plan worked out over a period of 4,000 years. All the details; people, places, kingdoms, triumphs, losses, miracles, prophecies, sins, revivals, apostasies practically too numerous to list had to occur before you and I could be saved from our sins! It did not simply happen in one single day! Yet God was patient and God was faithful.
So, when you are impatiently awaiting that answer to prayer; the restoration of relationship, the healing of a spouse, happier times, the arrival of a child or any other event that you have prayed countless times for, remember this: Everything comes in God's time, not your time. Be patient. Be faithful. And above all things be prayerful as you await the time when God will grant your petition. Good things happen when we wait. Think about it....David
"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6. To most of us who have a relationship with Christ Jesus this is a familiar passage. It is a prophecy concerning the birth of Christ. Here Isaiah reveals to us four names by which the Savior would be called. Each is grand and majestic and speaks to Jesus' pre-eminence, power, wisdom and glory.
In Scripture Jesus is referred to by nearly 150 different names, titles and personifications. Among these are Christ, the Son of the Most High, the Bread from Heaven, the Good Shepherd, the Alpha and Omega and Emmanuel. The name by which Jesus most often referred to Himself was Son of Man. Seventy-seven times Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man.
It is an appropriate title. It infers that God chose to become man. I like the idea that God chose to become man. It means that He has experienced everything that I go through and with the same feelings that I would have. Literally the Son of Man has walked many miles in our shoes! He knows my disappointments, my fears, my joy, my grief, and my anxieties. He has been there!
The Hebrew writer is quick to point out to us that Jesus' life experience from a human perspective leads Him to be able to understand and have empathy for our struggle. In Heb. 4:15 we are told, "For we have not a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin." What a comforting thought to know that the Son of God is also the Son of Man and understands just how I feel. Think about it...David.
"Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called "barren". For with God nothing will be impossible."
"Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her." Lu. 1:34-38.
Has God ever called on you to do "the impossible?" Maybe it was a ministry or task within the Church that you did not feel qualified to do. Maybe it was to abandon a sin issue in your life which you had tried for years to end. Perhaps it was to take a "leap of faith" and leave a career that left no time for service in Christ's kingdom.
I'm sure many of us have had or still have those areas of our lives that we need to surrender to Christ and trust that He will give us the equipping or the strength or the daily provision to be submitted to His will. Usually in these cases, FEAR is our worst enemy. FEAR tells us "You can't do this!" Truly FEAR is a part of our fallen human nature.
To the many of you who live in FEAR that God cannot or will not help you with these "impossible" challenges, I give you Mary. Mary was likely 13 or 14 years old when the Angel Gabriel told her of the most unique ministry she must perform for God. She freely confessed that she could not understand "how" this miraculous birth could occur since she was single and apparently not to become Joseph's wife anytime soon. She likely could have given 1,000 reasons (excuses) why she was not right for the job. But she didn't. She simply trusted God and He did the rest. Her response in v.38 validates that inside this young heart was a servant who trusted God to make up for her inadequacies.
The Apostles Paul, Peter and the New Testament author James each chose to refer to themselves as "a bond servant of the Lord." A bond servant is one who has voluntarily placed himself in the service of another. In the case of these men and Mary, the other was Christ Jesus. Before any of us can have the "true heart of a servant" we must defeat FEAR. FEAR will only be defeated when we trust Christ. Check out what Jesus promised those who "put the kingdom first" in Mt. 6:31-33. God never fails the faithful...Think about it...David
One of the truly great hymns the Church has ever used is the hymn, "Just as I am." The point of this wonderful hymn is that Christ Jesus will accept us as we are with all of our sins and flaws. Christ has never told anyone, "Come back and see me when you get your life right!" He will take you as you are.
But this is not where the story of our relationship with Christ Jesus ends. From that point where we emerge from the waters of baptism, "we are raised to walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4) Paul also makes the idea of change clear to us in 2 Cor. 5:17 where he tells us, "Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." The implication is that we must leave our old life of sin and selfishness behind.
This transformation really begins before we are baptized when we repent of our sins. The Greek word which is rendered in our New Testaments as "repent" literally means to "turn away". We must thus "turn away" from our sins when we are baptized into Christ. (Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:1-4)
Our help in this matter comes four key resources. In Gal. 5:25 we read, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Allowing the Holy Spirit, Whom we received upon baptism to guide us we will surely change our sinful behaviors. The study of God's word is also essential for true transformation. This is especially true of learning Christ's teachings. In Jn. 6:68 when Jesus asked the twelve if they would leave Him as many others had; Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." There is NO SUBSTITUTE for knowing the teachings of Christ Jesus!
Much time in prayer each day is a must. Praise God with your prayers and declare your dependence upon God for all things. This was the very thing Jesus asked us to do when He gave us the model prayer in Mt. 6:8-15. And finally, realize Christ has redeemed you so you might be a member of HIS Church. Too many believers today discount attendance and participation in the body of Christ ( HIS Church). Upon your salvation you are automatically added to HIS Church (Acts 2:47). So take your place in the local body of Christ. It is God's will for your life. Think about it...David