2 “The Lord came from Mount Sinai
and dawned upon us from Mount Seir;
he shone forth from Mount Paran
and came from Meribah-kadesh
with flaming fire at his right hand.
3 Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands.
They follow in his steps and accept his teaching.. — Deut. 33:2, 3 NLT
This is beginning of the last blessing that Moses gave to the children of Israel. It was a reminder to the people of how God had chosen them and brought them through the desert to the Promised Land. Because of His great love for the people, God remained faithful to His promise even though the people were often disobedient and ungrateful. It was also an admonition to continue to follow in the steps of their God and accept His teachings. Moses blesses the tribes of Israel, then leaves them. As God instructed, Moses climbs Mount Nebo up to Pisgah Peak where God allows him to view all of the Promised Land. There, at 120 years of age, Moses passed away. God came to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai, a mountain that was covered with smoke and fire, touching the mount brought death.
God comes to us from Mount Zion, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”. (Hebrews 12:18-24) Touching Mount Zion brings life and joy to those who love the Lord, to those who accept His teachings and follow in the steps of Jesus. Today, spend some time in the presence of Jesus, just loving Him and marinating in His love. If you do, you will touch Mount Zion and receive true life and an abundance of joy.
5b He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. — Titus 3:5b-8 NIV
Paul started chapter three by asking Titus to remind the church at Crete of certain things, such as
”be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” In verses 2 and 3 ,he reminds them of how they used to act and in verses 4-9, he tells them why they should act differently now and in the future. They have been saved from the wrath to come, redeemed from their sins and justified by the grace of God. They are now heirs of God with the hope of eternal life. The same is true for us today. Because God has placed the Holy Spirit in us as an earnest of this hope, we can be sure of its fulfillment. These things still need to be stressed in today’s world, so that we will also devote ourselves to “doing what is good”. Jesus said that He did the works of the Father and in the book of Acts, we read this verse:
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. — Acts 10:38 (emphasis mine)
So, “doing what is good” means to follow the example of what Jesus did while He was here on earth. The “works of the Father” are accomplished by living a lifestyle modeled after Jesus. A list of “works” would be very long but would definitely include witnessing and disciplining. We can’t do these works alone but, just as Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, so are we.
Ask God today, what “good works” He has planned and purposed for your life. Then be obedient in following the leadership of the Holy Spirit in accomplishing those “good works” . Do not become disappointed if you don’t see immediate results. Just remember three things:
1. Not everyone accepted the message when Jesus gave it, so not everyone will accept it from you.
2. We are not responsible for the results, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we are witnessing for good or for evil, which one will we choose?
1 Brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that will please God, and you are living that way. Now we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to live that way even more. 2 You know what we told you to do by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 God wants you to be holy and to stay away from sexual sins. 4 He wants each of you to learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable. 5 Don’t use your body for sexual sin like the people who do not know God. — 1 Thess. 4:1-5 NCV
Paul, in his letters, to the churches reminds them of the things he has taught them about how to live a Christian lifestyle. He continually encourages them to study, to pray for and encourage each other. These letters were written to churches whose members understood persecution. They lived with it every day. He was a great example to them because of all the beatings and persecutions that he endured on an almost daily basis. We don’t have to face those types of offenses every day like they did. But, the temptations of the flesh that Paul warns them against are just as real today as they were then. As long as we are on this earth, we will be tempted to sin. But, we are also told that we will never be tempted above that which we can bear and there is always a way out, if we want to avoid the sin badly enough. Our flesh tempts in some many areas, we can sin when we gossip, when we hate others, when we withhold our abundance of worldly goods from those around us, when we see others hurting and don’t take the time to comfort them. When we think unkind thoughts about others, even though we don’t say the words, the harm is done to us and our relationship with God. The world is a cesspool of temptations for the flesh. All of these sins are outside the body, except for sexual sin, which defiles the temple of the living God, Our bodies were created by God to glorify God. When we participate in illicit sexual activity, whether in thought or action, our bodies and souls are bound with those bodies and desecrate the Temple.
15 Surely you know that your bodies are parts of Christ himself. So I must never take the parts of Christ and join them to a prostitute! 16 It is written in the Scriptures, “The two will become one body.” So you should know that anyone who joins with a prostitute becomes one body with the prostitute. 17 But the one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.. — 1 Cor. 6:15-17 NCV
So, we must be careful to avoid all temptations, but, especially sexual temptations. So, when you feel that nudge to walk away from a situation, don’t just walk away, Run!
18 So run away from sexual sin. Every other sin people do is outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies. 19 You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves, 20 because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies. — 1 Cor. 6:18-20
17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. — 2 Cor. 17,18 NIV
We live in a world of almost total deception. We are taught that other people’s opinions of us are based on externals. To win friends and influence people, all men must have six-packs and all women must look like professional models. We must dress in the latest styles and wear the brand names or we will become outcasts in our society. Our self-worth has become based on popularity and what others think about us. If that is how we come to determine our self-worth, we are headed for a lifetime of misery and big disappointments. We need to be sure that we understand that the one Person we need to approve of us is Jesus. Jesus, the one who thought we were worthy of His death, is the one we need to impress. And we can only do that, if the internals are right. Our hearts and our mindsets must align with the Scriptures and not the latest fads.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12 NIV
We can stress ourselves out everyday chasing the latest and greatest things that the world throws at us to be popular and we will end up worried, tired and unhappy. Or we can choose to live lifestyles that commend us to Jesus, put our feet on the Rock, rest in His arms and live a life filled with joy and peace.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,so also you share in our comfort. — 2 Cor. 1:3-7 NIV
Everything that we have belongs to God. Whatever He has given to us is to be shared with those around us. The things with which God has blessed us should be held very loosely in our hands. They are to be used to bless others and further the work of the Kingdom here on earth. The early church understood and practiced this principle of giving and receiving. There are many verses that teach us to give to the poor, widows and orphans. We must open ourselves up to be channels of blessings. This is also true in Spiritual things as well as natural. In the Spiritual area, we don’t do quite as well in giving or receiving. God has given us the Comforter to comfort us in all situations and we need to learn to share that message with a hurting world. But, we also need to learn to accept that comfort when it is offered to us. Every one of us needs help in some area of our lives whether we want to admit it or not. As long as we deny it, the pain and the chaos will not go away. None of us can fix ourselves, even though, satan would love for us to believe that we can. Reach out and touch someone was a Biblical principle long before it was a commercial.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Eccles. 4:9-12 NIV
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. – Hebrews 10:32-36 NIV
As Christians living in the “free” countries, we need to be very thankful that we do not have such memories of persecution as the writer of Hebrews has listed here. At the same time, we need to be cognizant of the fact that our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in other nations are enduring these kind of persecutions right now. We need to suffer along with them as they are beaten, driven from their homes and imprisoned under false charges. Some of them stay in prisons for years awaiting a trial date and suffering things that we can’t even imagine. We need to be faithful in supporting them in our prayers and other ways that are available to us. These brothers and sisters have beautiful testimonies of how God strengthened and sustained them through these times. The ones that were not executed speak of the joy they received because they were counted worthy to suffer with and for Christ. They have and are persevering and their reward will be great. We also need to be cognizant that such times are approaching for us in our own “free” countries. When we go through these times, are we prepared to “count it all joy”? Will we persevere and be awarded crowns in heaven to cast at our Savior’s feet? Or will we stand before our Lord empty-handed and receive few or no crowns to cast at our Savior’s feet?
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NIV
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 NIV
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 5:8-11 NIV
We must remember that we are in a war at all times. We must continually resist the devil and not give him any hold on us in any way. That means that our daily lifestyle should be one that “shuns the very appearance of evil”. We must stand firm in the faith, not murmuring or complaining about the situations we find ourselves in. If we are where we are because of our own bad decisions, we certainly don’t need to complain. If God has put us where we are, there is a reason for it and we should endure it with joy. We are not experiencing anything that thousands before us have not already experienced and remained faithful. Our sufferings are to make us strong and steadfast and to bring glory to God. As Paul said.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. — Romans 8:18, 19 NIV
Our suffering here is but a very short time, then God will deliver us from it all. He has all power and authority to do so and He has never failed on a promise to us.
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.— Jude 24, 25 NIV