Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be Christ’s righteousness and love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding- Isaiah 61:10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Everything that was created was created to praise God and give Him glory. But, because of sin, we were in a fallen state and separated from God. All of nature is in a fallen state as well. It has always been God’s plan to restore us and the world to Himself. Nature groans waiting on the return of Jesus to restore it to its original condition. Humanity, however, rebelled against God and began to worship idols. The only thing that would meet the requirements for forgiveness was the sacrifice of blood because the life is in the blood. In the Old Testament, that was a process that was repeated over and over. But when Christ Jesus came in human flesh, it was His obedience that led Him to shed His blood on the cross. Jesus was perfect and His blood was pure, so it satisfied the requirement for redemption for all ages. Now, we are washed in His blood, clothed in His righteousness so that we can approach God without a blemish. No one, absolutely no one can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus.
Every day we are involved in spiritual warfare. This warfare will not be won by flesh and blood because our enemy is not flesh and blood. The enemy may very well come to us dressed in human form and looking beautiful enough to entice us into fighting the battle on his terms and his territory. We cannot and must not allow him to do that. The battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s and we must allow Him to fight the battle through us and for us. Evil rulers, spirits, and authorities in the unseen world are stronger than we are. But they are no match for the One who lives in us. Do not fear the enemy unless you are not prepared to meet the enemy. Be prepared at all times. God has prepared the armor for us to wear when we are in battle and the battle rages 24/7. There is never a second when we are not engaged in spiritual warfare. The devil never rests, so we must always be on alert. Our belt is the truth of the Gospel and our breastplate is the righteousness of God. Our feet are shod with the peace of God, faith is our shield, salvation is our helmet, and the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Immerse all this armor in prayer without ceasing and we will be well able to resist the enemy and able to stand firm in any battle.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
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.
John the baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and saw with his own eyes God’s Holy Spirit come down in bodily form like a dove and He heard the voice from heaven confirming that Jesus was the Son of God. We would think that nothing could make him doubt who Jesus was. Yet, when John was in prison. we can see that he began to have doubts about Jesus being the Messiah and sent two of his disciples to inquire if Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. Notice that Jesus did not criticize or condemn John but rather paid him a great compliment. At that time, the time before Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, Jesus said that John was the greatest man to have ever lived. But he qualified His statement saying that “the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he” Although, John baptized with water, there was no salvation or baptism in the Spirit until after Jesus was resurrected and ascended. Since Jesus did not condemn John or any of the disciples for having doubt and “little faith”, neither does He condemn us when doubts enter our minds. He draws us to Himself and gives us peace in the middle of the storms
The test is this: How do we react when we are betrayed by someone that is close to us, whether it be a family member, friend, close associate or a stranger? Is your first thought, “I should pursue peace with all men”? Or does anger immediately fill you and your mind starts to think about ways to “get even”? What does “get even” mean and how do we know when we are “even”? Ignore the anger? No, if you hold your anger, it will eventually become a “root of bitterness”. That root, as it grows, will push every good thing out of the way to manifest itself in your personality. Let God handle it for you. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a “friend” who had been the treasurer of the disciples and a companion for the better part of 3 years. What was his reaction to that betrayal? He allowed Judas to carry out his work even though Jesus knew it would mean His death. Remember, because of our sins, we have all betrayed Jesus and yet, He died for us. Easier said than done, right? So, how do we allow God to do it?
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.–Zechariah 4:6 (NASB)
We listen to the Spirit of the Living God and His Spirit directs us as to what we should say and/or do. Most likely, the only action for us will be to pray for the person who has offended us and prepare our hearts to forgive when we are asked and render assistance and encouragement when the offender needs it.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Phil. 4:8 NLT
If we follow Paul’s advice, we will pray and be thankful for all things that God has done for us. We must continually guard our thoughts and the desires of our hearts. We need to focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise. Then we will become God-conscious. Witnessing for Jesus will be a natural outflow of this kind of thinking. Our actions will be Christ-centered and people will know that we have something they don’t have. If we let our guard down, satan will rush in and have us thinking about the pleasures of the flesh. Then, satan will keep telling us about all the things we don’t have. After listening to that for a short while, we become sin-conscious. In that state of mind, we are of little use to God, ourselves or anyone else. Fight the good fight and stay focused on Jesus. Then we will enjoy God’s peace, joy will overflow and it will be completely natural for us to praise Him for His goodness.