2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment — 1 Peter 2:2 NLT
Just as we needed our milk as physical babies, we need pure milk as spiritual babies. We need to become well grounded in the basics of Christianity so that we can stand against temptations to go back into the lifestyle that we lived as sinners. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus and we need to learn a new language and a new way of walking. Faith comes by hearing, so we need to hear the Word everyday. Just as our children learn to read by reading out loud to us, we need to practice reading a few verses out loud every day. Tell God every day that you love Him and want to be obedient to Him. Just as hungry babies cry out for their nourishment, there are times in our lives when we need to cry out to God for guidance from His Word. As we study, meditate, and grow, we will be able to take our place as building blocks in God’s body, the Church. We are his holy priests and should daily offer ourselves as living sacrifices that please God.
12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him–Romans 12:1 (NLT)
Once we have made progress on “the milk” of the Word, we can move on to solid food.
14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.–Hebrews 5:14 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT
Salvation does not come with a magic wand. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, all our problems and situations do not magically disappear in a puff of smoke. There are many references we can find in the Bible where Jesus tells us that in this world, we will be offended. Jesus tells His disciples here in John 16:33 that here on earth, “you will have many trials and sorrows.”. In verse 32, Jesus says that He will be left alone by His disciples but that He won’t really be alone because the Father is always with Him. We have that same assurance. Living a Holy lifestyle is not fantasy, it is reality and it comes with its own set of problems. But we are assured over 300 times in the Bible that we will never be alone or forsaken. God’s Holy Spirit is with us, in us, and around us. We are in Christ Jesus. It isn’t magic, smoke, or mirrors. but it is the greatest peace and joy that we can experience here on earth because we are never alone.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
— Ephesians 3:19 NLT
God is love and everything that we experience is designed to show us His love. In the rough patches, we don’t feel that that statement is true because we don’t and never will understand the greatness of His love. God wants us to strive to get to the point that we realize His only motivation is His love for us. He wants us to be like Christ whose only motivation for dying on the cross for our sins was love. Not every lesson we learn will be enjoyable. I am sure that being persecuted, beaten and hung on a cross was not an enjoyable experience for Jesus but it was necessary to show God’s marvelous love for us. Learning to love the “unlovable” and those that mistreat us is a necessary lesson, not only for our completeness but to show others the immeasurable love of God. Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for all of us while we were still sinners. We must show that same kind of love to those around us each day. As Paul says in the passage above (and I paraphrase) God places the Holy Spirit in our hearts and our roots must grow down into God’s love which will enable us to show that love in every situation.
31 Jesus answered, “So now you believe?
— John 16:31 NCV
If Jesus asked us that question today, could we truthfully answer “Yes, Lord, I truly believe.”? The disciples had spent the better part of three years with Jesus. They walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him and yet, it is only now that they confess that they believe that Jesus came from God. We might think this to be very strange. Yet, how many times did we hear the story of Jesus from people that we believed and respected, yet we did not accept Him as our Savior? In my teenage years, I went to the altar and had a very real emotional experience while I was kneeling there. Yet, when I left that building, my thought patterns and lifestyle were unchanged. Looking back at that experience years later, I realized that I had not truly accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. It would be years later before I truly repented and turned to Jesus with all my heart. True repentance will make a change in our thinking and in our lifestyle. Will it keep us from ever sinning again? No, the flesh will win some battles, but our reponse to the conviction of the Holy Spirit will always be to turn back to Jesus and ask for His forgiveness. And He will always be there with open arms, waiting to forgive us and restore to our salvation and His peace and joy.
2 Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. — Psalm 96:2 NLT
God has a plan and a a purpose for each one of us. The ultimate goal for each of those plans is to glorify God. We glorify God by proclaiming the good news that Jesus saves. We can do this by teaching, preaching or simply living a lifestyle that shows others how much Jesus means to us and what He has done for us. God has never called anyone to do anything without equipping them and training them. The way we walk and talk is observed by those around us. We talk to others about ball games, movies we have seen, places we have been to and books that we have read. We share experience after experience with them, but we never touch on the most important experience that we have had. We never mention anything to them about when we met Jesus and all the things he has done for us since. Yes, we occassionally share that with our Christian brothers and sisters, but when we are talking to others, do we mention the name of Jesus? It isn’t alwas necessary to quote Bible verses to people. Sometimes, we just need to tell them what Jesus has done for us. Anytime, the name of Jesus is mentioned, a decision has to be made; will we accept HIm or reject HIm? Just allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and your lifestyle and testimony will be effective.
42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. — Luke 22:42, 43 NLT
As we read about all the miracles that Jesus performed while He was here on earth we sometimes forget and need to be reminded that He, like us, was fully human. He did all of His works as a man, not as God. He even told us that He could do nothing in and of Himself but that He could only do the works of the Father.(John 5:19). We are told by the writer of Hebrews that even though Jesus was the Son of God, He still offered prayers and pleadings to the One who could rescue Him from death (Hebrews 5:8). Jesus knew and understood His mission because He had been in on the planning session that occurred before the foundations of the earth were laid. But in the flesh, He was not looking forward to the experience of being separated from His Father for the first and only time in His life. Separated because when He took our sins upon Himself, the Father could not look at Him or comfort Him in any way. While Jesus was in the flesh as a man, God sent Moses and Elijah to talk with Him about His death on the Cross (Mount of Transfiguration, Luke 9:31). As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen Him. What we need to realize is that God does the same thing for us. If we listen carefully and heed His words, we will find that there is nothing that happens to us that He has not carefully prepared us to bear.
Jesus lived every day knowing the cruel death that awaited Him on the cross. Yet, He set His face toward Jerusalem and never turned back. Do we live every day prepared to die for what we know is true? If we do, then we can die prepared to live forever and that knowledge should remove any fear of death that we have.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Eph. 4:4-8 NIV
Though the official day of Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, we need to continue to let that attitude of gratefulness rule in our hearts and lives on a daily basis. We are fast approaching the season that we will be celebrating the greatest Gift of all, so we have every reason to continue in our celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance of all that God has done and continues to do for us. We should continue to rejoice and cast our cares on the Lord by presenting them to Him through our prayers and petitions. If we do this, we will find that peace that transcends all human understanding. We need to keep our focus on Jesus, who is the total embodiment of all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Think about such things, especially when satan tries to put thoughts in our heads that would destroy the peace that Jesus died for us to have. We have the Prince of Peace Himself as our constant companion, learn to lean on Him and experience the joy of total dependence on our Lord and Savior.