Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Faithful Ones, Whose Souls will be Saved

Heb. 10:31-39 NLT  
   31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 
   32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. 
   35  So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 
   37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.  But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 
   39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

A powerful passage like this should be read prayerfully and repeatedly to seek God's insights. With those insights we can life the Life of Christ more effectively. The writer had earlier outlined how God's chosen Hebrew people, even after repeated miracles, yet rejected His supremacy in their daily decisions. And they paid a terrible price for their self-will. Their impatience came at great cost.

What God has done for the rest of humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ makes the old testament miracles pale by comparison. It is a terrible risk to turn one's back to the God of creation when He has reached out to you in unconditional love. For, in the end, the price you pay will be unbearable for eternity. Yet people resist. Even Christians who claim to be Christ-followers neglect to make God's call, God's purposes, and God's plan for living their priority. They resist by holding tightly to their own will and preferences. They fool themselves only for they cannot fool God.

If you are one of "the faithful ones' rejoice. If you know in your heart that you are not faithful, please don't stay in that condition but ask God to change you. He is ready to do it now. Do not be like those who turn away from God. Do not go back to the life you had before you met Christ, it will never do, and you know it. Trust in the Lord.

Your servant in Chirst's love

Friendship With God Restored

Rom. 5:8-11  
 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

How exciting it is to read in scripture that our faith in Christ has restored our 'friendship with God.' You are a friend of God.  You have a friend who is the Creator of everything, everywhere, for all time, and the creator of time itself. The most amazing discoveries of nature, and of science are only sneak peaks into the mind of our Supreme Friend. With God as our Friend we need not worry about other friends. We need only to be the Friend to others that God is to us. Even while you and I were wrapped up in sin and self-- as enemies toward God, He befriended us. He sacrificed on our behalf.  How then should we be toward others, even others who, at the moment, might be acting like an enemy toward us?  Are you ready to rejoice in this "wonderful new relationship with God?" You can, if you wish to.

Your friend in Christ the Lord

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You are controlled by the Spirit if . . .

Rom. 8:1-9 NLT  
   1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 
   5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. 
   9  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

We've been talking about our new life in Christ. The Apostles, including Paul, had much to say to the early church and to us too about this wondrous new life-- this new creation. In the previous chapter (you can read it again for context) Paul lamented the fact that, left to our own devices we can never do 'good' we can never do what is totally right and righteous. We want to but are incapable of doing so. It requires a supernatural change of our nature. And that supernatural change comes when we, by faith alone, trust in Christ as our Savior. He already did the work but it is up to us to reach out and receive his gracious gift.

In the Old Testament, it was all about trying harder, waiting until the righteous one would come and abolish sin. He came. He abolished the consequence for sin to those who would be willing to receive Him. When we decline his offer we tie ourselves back into verse 6 of this passage and we let our old nature control our minds. That only leads to eternal death. When we trust in Christ then we are letting the Spirit of God control our minds and that leads us to eternal life, and eternal peace as well. Unless we trust in God's Spirit to control our minds we are choosing to remain under the old nature with the old evil and the old ways.

Verse 9 tells us that for us it can be, it should be, it will be different. Is the Spirit of God living within you? He wants to be. He's willing. Are you willing? If He is not there then you do not belong to God at all, even though you wish you did. It is all a matter of your surrender of the will to His will.  And with that surrender comes limitless joy.
Your servant in Christ's Joy

Monday, May 9, 2011

Your New Life Will Last Forever

1Pet. 1:21-23 NLT 
   21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. 
   22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. 
   23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

There is so much to draw joy from in these three short verses. They attest to several important truths. The first on is that you and I have arrived at a place where we do, in fact, 'trust in God.' Second, it attests to the truth that having trust in God would not have been possible except for Christ's redeeming work on our behalf and how that has made it possible for us to have trust in God. Third, we see that in our personal lives a heart cleansing has taken place-- cleansing from the guilt of past sins, and cleansing from the bondage to that process of continuing sin. Fourth, we are told that we are able to display the truth of our inner cleansing by allowing ourselves to love other believers as brothers and sisters, with our whole heart, rather than in limited ways. And finally, we learn that all this is possible because of our new birth. This new life we now live is very different from the old one. This new life is eternal. This new life is capable of unconditional lover for others. This new life is capable of enduring sacrifice and persecution even while loving our persecutors. This new life has been given to us by none other than God's Living Word." Focus on your new life in Christ and reflect what He could do through you today as you obey His call.

Your servant in Christ

Friday, May 6, 2011


  • Matt. 7:12  ¶ “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
  • Luke 12:3 Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!
  • 1Cor. 7:17  ¶ Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.
  • Col. 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 
I've made a short study of some selected 'whatevers' from the New Testament. We use that word a lot today, sometimes an an 'expletive' when we don't like what others have told us to do, and sometimes as an expression of confusion. But God's word uses it more precisely for our understanding. In Matthew 7:12, for example, Jesus advises us that we can do 'whatever' we might wish to others. However the caveat is that it must be what we would wish others to do to us! We need to avoid doing that which we would not like done to us, that was the old Jewish saying. However Jesus went further by saying our action should be proactive. Whether they do well by us or not, we should do well by them. And 'doing well' means that we treat them according to our desired standard for treatment.

Luke recorded Jesus telling us all that there will be no secrets in the Kingdom. Therefore we need to confess and purify our hearts and minds now before our secrets become shouted from rooftops and cause us much embarrassment.

Paul reminds the Corinthians, and us as well, that we who follow Christ in all things are placed where Christ plans for us to be, in order to do what Christ desires for us to accomplish. Therefore, we should apply ourselves with eager enthusiasm, where we are planted. We should not sit around dreaming of being somewhere else, doing something else, but should engage in that which God has placed into our hands to do, with our whole heart, soul mind, and strength, just like we love God.

Similarly, Paul reminds the Colossians that everything we do, every deed, every conversation, every thought, every plan should be done as though God directed it. If we cannot do it in the name and authority of Christ then, perhaps we should reconsider doing it.

What do you think about Whatever?
Your servant in Christ

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From the Beginning to the Present

John 1:10-18 NLT  
   10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 
   14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 
   15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’” 
   16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.  18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John continued in his first chapter to unpack the very beginning of humanity and the solution for sin-- Jesus Christ, God made flesh, sacrificed, and ascended to His rightful place as eternal King. He who created everything allowed Himself to become subject to the creation and its creatures-- that were fallen into sin. He who was all powerful endured the torment of fallen evil people and loved them nevertheless. Those who believe in Him are re-born into a new life form-- one that can be in unity with the Creator. John makes clear that Jesus is God, and God was in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was empowering Jesus in all that He did.

So, for people today to suggest some other type of deity is beyond what can be tolerated. They are just wrong. Can we accept others as though they are correct when we know they are wrong.  Is it sinful to give credence to the stated false doctrine of another faith by saying or doing things that affirms them in their error? Can our government force us to say that a false deity is God and force us to deny that Jesus is the one and only God? There is tolerance of false information but is should not be accompanied with our affirmation of it for the other. To do that causes us to deliberately lead others astray and to deny the one true God. Regardless what today's anti-Christian political and cultural leaders say, we must never accede to the demands to confess a false God. We must live for God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength every moment of every day of every month of every year that God grants us to walk on this earth and breathe its air.

Your servant in Christ's authority

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taking it From the Beginning

John 1:1-13 NLT
   1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,  and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
   6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 
   10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

Eons before the solar system flashed into being, there was a triune entity that included The Father, The Word, and The Spirit as one entity. The Word--also called The Son, The Christ, The Lamb of God, the Sacrifice for our sins-- served the will of God as did the other two entities, each in perfect loving submission to the other so that they were of one single mind. When existence came about it was The Word that spoke it into being. When matter was formed it was The Word that formed it. When light or energy was created it was The Word that instilled it and managed it into all things. The very life of The Word became the source of light to the universe. The Word was the designer and architect of the creation that was conceived in the mind of God.

Our entire Old Testament was written to testify to God as supreme and alone the source of everything else. Our New Testament was written to reveal The Word as an incarnated human person and The Spirit who would inhabit all who would trust in The Word or Christ. Life came to all living things and persons from The Word. Nothing living could exist without the authority of The Word. The Word came to a people that God had created and managed for centuries but they rejected Him as God knew they would. His death became the price for salvation for the willful sins of created humanity across time. God paid it and the sins are atoned for. But still people reject atonement in favor of self-will. Those who do believe are, in fact reborn with a birth that can only come from God. Are you enjoying this new life today?

Your servant in Christ

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Conquer Evil by Doing Good.

Luke 6:27-36 NLT  
   27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
   32 If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
   35  Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Broadening our discussion of the last couple of days about doing good to enemies, let's focus in on what it means to "do good. We read in scripture about Jesus doing good.  We read about us doing as he did. We've seen that one such good we must do is to love those who we consider enemies. That good comes because if we do 'good' to them then we can no longer treat them as an enemy but as a friend. Then we make a unilateral decision to change that person's status from enemy into friend. It doesn't matter whether that person reciprocates or not, our call is yet to treat them as we would any other friend. When I was a teacher and administrator for young teen age kids, who used to fuss to me about other kids not being their friend, the Lord gave me a saying that I shared with them. It became so well known that the students would stop me before I would say it when they would complain about a non-friend. "Yeah, I know Mr. E. they would say."  "To have a friend you have to BE a friend." It worked.

So loving our enemies, and doing good to those who have done harm to us, is certainly a kind of 'good thing' that only God's Spirit can empower within us to do. Jesus had more to say about this. If we are hit, we should offer our face up to be hit again. If we are hurt, we should pray for the one hurting us. If someone demands our property we should offer it up as a gift and offer more yet. When things are taken, we should not pursue the effort to retrieve them. Let them go. Instead of lending money when we are asked, we should just give it away as we are guided by God to do so.

Jesus wrapped it all up in verse 35 by pointing out that when we engage is this style of responses to mistreatment we will be 'acting as children of The Most High.'  These are truly supernatural ways to live. If you choose to do so, you can live that way today. It starts by you asking God to empower and equip you to live this way. Ready?

Your servant in Christ

Monday, May 2, 2011

Love your enemies

Matt. 5:44-47 NLT 
   44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We have been talking about supreme love for God ahead of others and other things for committed Christ followers. We have seen how God equips us to have the renewed nature necessary to have this supreme love for God that is illustrated by our unquestioning obedient response when His calls become clear to us.  But sometimes the things Scripture teach us that God wants us to do are hard to believe.  Did Jesus really say I should love my enemies?  Yes, I have enemies, some of them I made and others are God's enemies who also hate and oppose me personally. I have people with whom I have theological disagreements and whom I tend to think are causing harm in the church. How should I treat those people? Jesus said I should love them. In fact He connected my loving my enemies with the degree to which I love God first.

Paul had a lot of experience with enemies, to be sure, and in Romans 12:14 we read Paul telling Roman Christians to "bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them." Jesus is recorded by Luke (6:27) as instructing us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We who are in the church are supposed to be like Christ. When it comes to enemies and people hating us, however, we tend more often, to act toward them like they act toward us. Instead of reflecting Christ back to them, we reflect themselves back. In doing so, we harm the new nature that God's Holy Spirit is creating within us. When we take spiteful action, railing back to enemies, showing animosity, anger, and hostility because we disagree with their ideas or because we are hurt by their actions, we are failing to look like Christ. In such moments we look like the rest of the world. Is it any wonder that people of the world question whether we are actually any different than they?

When you grasp this point, as I am beginning to now, you will probably want to spend some significant time in prayer seeking forgiveness and seeking understanding as to how to look like Christ did toward enemies (when he prayed from the cross for them to be forgiven for what they were doing to him).
Your servant in Christ's love
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