Because of His great love for sinners, such as us, God made His salvation plan very simple and free. Just believe! Once we are saved, we start on a journey that will require everything and every part of us. It is not easy to love all of God’s children. Even so, it is not a choice we can make, it is a command given to us by our Father. Then we must learn to obey His commandments. Through this obedience and faith in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can become over-comers. The flesh alone can not defeat satan in the smallest battle, we have to depend on Jesus to fight our battles. Our job is to “trust and obey”. Instead of worrying and being filled with fear, we just need to lean on Jesus. The world says “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Jesus says something totally different.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”–Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, just rest in His arms and praise Him!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
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
This verse is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible. It may be very well-known but we had best not get complacent about it. Do we believe what this verse says? Is there really only one Name under heaven whereby we can be saved? Would you stake your life on it? In today’s society with its anti-Christian bent, we had better be sure we believe it if we are going to stand up for Jesus because there are thousands of our brothers and sisters around the world who are doing just that–giving their lives for Jesus. If we believe then why do we get so mealy-mouthed around the religious people of the world? There is not one religion that makes this claim, only Christianity. Our beliefs had better be rooted in Jesus and our lives built on Him. Otherwise, when the storms come and the winds of doubt and fear start beating us up, we will fall. If you read the full passage above, then you will know that verse thirteen says that the council of leaders knew that Peter and John “had been with Jesus”. Isn’t that what we want others to see in us? Enough of the likeness of Jesus that they will know that we have spent some time with Jesus. Jesus died for all sinners, we owe it to Him to let the whole world know. Are we ready to stand up, speak up and die if we have to? Let us all pray that if that time comes in our lives that we will be ready to meet the challenge and joyfully go home to be with Jesus.
“The closer I get to the end of my life, it seems the only question that matters, Is the life I am living pleasing to God?” – Ken Gire In “Sacred”
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
When we rebel and refuse to accept God and His plan of salvation, He becomes angry and His wrath can be as dreadful as His love is wonderful. We don’t hear about the wrath of God from churches much anymore. But we must always understand that God is a jealous and a wrathful God to those who refuse to believe in Him and His Son, Jesus. Once we are saved, we do not have to fear the wrath of an angry God. That, however, does not give us free rein to do whatever we please. We won’t lose our salvation or be turned away from heaven, but God does discipline His children. So we should strive to live a Holy lifestyle on a daily basis and encourage others to do the same. Then, our lives will be filled with joy and we can live in anticipation of the day that Jesus takes us home to be with Him forever!!
In our busy lives, we often get impatient with God when He doesn’t deliver exactly what and when we want Him to. But, take a look at history, He has never been early and He has never been late. Mary and Martha thought surely Jesus was late, but, no, He was right on time for God to get the glory of resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. He lives outside our time and only sees the “now”. If it is always “now”, and it is, then He can never be early or late. His great love for us compels Him to act “at just the right time.”
We should always remember that all of us were once sinners and slaves to sin. We lived ungodly lives satisfying the ungodly desires of our flesh. We wasted our lives chasing after earthly pleasures that fade away with the dark of night. But, Jesus Christ, through His mercy died for us and we have been justified by His grace. We could not and can not do anything to save ourselves. So, we need to keep those thoughts in mind and always live our life remembering that we owe a debt of love that we can never repay. We need to thank God may times every day for all that He has done and is doing for each of us. We can show our gratitude by telling the old, old story that is still true today. We were born in sin and needed a Savior. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord. The story never changes. Tell it to those God puts in your path today. And tell it with love. Let our thoughts, words and actions lift up Jesus. We live in a fallen world filled with lost people looking for an answer to their feelings of loneliness and worthlessness. Our lifestyles should show them that there is only one answer and that is Jesus.
What was the attitude of Jesus while he was here clothed in human form? He came first as a servant, giving up all of His glory. He came to earth just as an ambassador to a foreign country. He had access to all of the power and the angels of heaven yet He limited Himself to live as a mere human. He never used His powers to advance Himself as humans see advancement. The instances we read about of Jesus using His powers are actions that advanced the Kingdom of God here on earth. He could have called on legions of angels to protect Him at any time yet He chose to suffer and die for our sins. He ate with sinners. He showed mercy to the poor and to the needy. He could have allowed Himself to be crowned king by His followers. Instead, He chose to live a life serving others. He was a giver and He gave up everything to die on a cross for our sins. He gave His lifetime and His life for us. How much of our time are we willing to give up for Him? We are all familiar with the saying “time is money”, perhaps we should consider tithing our time as well as our money.
Verse 1 of Psalm 1 shows a progression of acts; walking, standing, sitting. Isn’t this how we usually progress in making friends with people? First, it is a casual meeting where a few words are exchanged. If we find that enjoyable, the next encounter, we spend a little more time with them. After the casual greeting, we start a conversation about something that is of interest to both of us so we stand around and chat. After a few of these sessions, we decide to have coffee (or whatever your preferred beverage is) and we sit together. By this time, the relationship has developed to the point that our words and opinions are influencing the other person. Either they are influencing us to agree with them or we are influencing them to agree with our opinions and beliefs. We may do this without any conscious knowledge of it as it happens. That is the warning in verse 1. Don’t do these things with the wrong people. As new Christians, we need to spend our time meditating on God’s Word so that we will be prepared to witness to sinners. Once God has prepared us, then we can sit and talk with sinners for a while. As we mature spiritually, there are still times that we need to withdraw from worldly conversations to pray and meditate, just as Jesus did on several occasions. We need to refuel for the next encounter that God has planned for us. On this earth, there will never be a time that we are so mature spiritually that we can abandon the reading of God’s word. It we think that we have reached that point, that is pride and we are headed for a fall.
1Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. — Galatians 6:1-3 NLT
Yesterday, I wrote about witnessing by spending time with sinners. We are called to do just that, but in doing so, we need to use wisdom and discernment. Being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit does not keep us from making bad decisions. If we have weaknesses of the flesh, we need to avoid those situations where we would be needlessly tempted. We don’t put ourselves in harm’s way unless we are sure that we have been called to do that. Just as it would be foolish to step into the street in front of a speeding truck to try to prove that God always protects us, it is foolish for us to put ourselves in dangerous situations if God has not called us to do so. Not many of us are David Wilkersons (The Cross and the Switchblade) who can successfully face the dangers of the worst parts of New York City to witness to gang members. Nevertheless, we all have a calling to witness to those around us. The mission field starts in the home and goes outward from there. We do not want to be like the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19) who ended up battered and naked. We must use discernment in where, when and to whom we witness, but that is never to be used as an excuse not to witness. We may not be sure of all of God’s will for each of our lives but there are two things we can be sure of in this journey with Jesus. We are to make disciples as we go, we all have our marching orders to do that. We are supposed to restore the fallen as well, but do so circumspectly avoiding the very appearance of evil.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”– Matt. 28:19,20 NLT
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 Mary was the woman who later put perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the man who was now sick. 3 So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, to bring glory to the Son of God.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 But when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.—John 11:1-6 (NCV)
Lazarus and his sisters were dear friends of Jesus. Mary and Martha sent a messenger to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick. The messenger and the disciples must have been very surprised at what Jesus said when he heard the message. “This sickness will not end in death, it is for the glory of God”. How could sickness be for the glory of God? They, like us today, look at things from the human standpoint. Why should a friend of Jesus, the Great Physician, or a child of God have to suffer? A better question might be, “Why don’t wretched sinners like us have to suffer more than we do now?” Sin came into the world when man disobeyed God and it will remain in the world until Jesus comes back to establish His Kingdom here on earth. Until that time of restoration comes, we remain under the curse of sin. God gets glory by overcoming the curse of sin. While Jesus was here on earth, He overcame the curse of sin one act at a time. Yes, Jesus could have just spoken a word right where He was when He heard the message or He could have left immediately and gone to Lazarus. He chose not to do either of those things, but waited for 2 days before He left to go to Lazarus. God’s timing is not our timing and His answer is not always what we want to hear, but they are always exactly what is necessary to bring glory to Himself. 8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts.Your ways are not like my ways. 9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts–Jeremiah 55:8, 9 (NCV)
Now we aren’t able to see and understand these things, but one day we will know and understand. 12 It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.—1 Cor. 13:12 (NCV)
Until then, we can be comforted with God’s promises and the many gifts He gives each day, one of which is the gift of music and song writers. I am reminded of a favorite hymn, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”.
Here are the words to the Chorus:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.