Monday, November 26, 2012

Manner of Life

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

For God’s chosen people there is a pattern set for life. Jesus said He “came to give life and give it abundantly” (John 10:10), so if we are going to receive that life we must be able to see the pattern of that life. And even though the rest of the world may not set their standards on this pattern, we as God’s children must devote our minds and hearts to the adhesion of this walk.

The pattern of the abundant life that the Bible refers to begins with faithfulness: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God has promised a great future for those who will not allow the world to persuade them to give up. Hebrews is a book written to a group of Christians converted from the Jewish belief system and they were being pressured to return to their old ways. The writer encourages them to remain faithful to Jesus’ way because this is the way to the promises that are entailed in this life. And he reassures them that the One Who made these promises is faithful and would never lead them wrong. The lesson is our also that if we will hold fast to our confession that Jesus is Lord then we can be free from doubt or worry that God will not hold back on any of His promises to us.

This pattern for life begins with faithfulness that leads us to action. In verses 24 and 25 of Hebrews 10, the pattern for our new life in Christ has within its guidelines an unselfish connotation. We are to “consider” and “stimulate” our brothers and sisters to “love and good deeds.” Thayer’s Lexicon says that the word “consider” is a Greek word that means to “fix our minds upon.” In other words, our brethren’s spiritual welfare should be a priority for why we do what we do as an assembly. We are not in worship just for ourselves but we are there to consider the welfare of our brethren also. We are also shown that the pattern involves a desire to “stimulate” each other. Thayer says the Greek word for “stimulate” means an inciting and can be used in a negative sense, as to invoke anger in Acts 15:31. But here it is a positive format showing us that God wants us to gather as an assembly to motivate each other to love, which is a serving love, and good deeds, which are works that God created us in Christ to accomplish: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The church’s pattern of life is much different than the world’s way of existing because we are patterned after our Lord.

There is one more piece of the puzzle of the pattern for the Christian life and that is reverence. This word sometimes confuses the majority because it entails fear. Some believe that we are not to fear God, but the Bible definitely reveals fear as part of our love for God. Not a too scared to see fear but a reverent and respectful fear that motivates us to action. In verses 26 and 27 of Hebrews 10 we see that if we do not have this fear for the Lord we will continue to willfully sin and this will bring judgment upon what God calls His adversaries. The Christian life is a pattern of sacrifice for Jesus’ cause, which is bringing the lost to Christ. The pattern of our lives lived faithfully reveals to the world that only through the wisdom of God can one find their way to His promises (Romans 12:1-2). If the church is going to be successful in what the Lord has set us apart to accomplish, then we must dedicate our live to the pattern of success He has revealed to us in His Son. If we will be faithful to His pattern He will be faithful to His promise.

In His Grace,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Now?

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

To many people of the world the outcome of this election turned out to be a great shock and it is unclear how the people of this country will react to another four years under this kind of authority. It is also unclear how they will let their feelings be revealed. But, what is clear in this situation is that God has given a clear picture of how He wants the people of His kingdom to react. In this trying time for a great country, a light from the church shining the confidence of Christ will be a welcomed sight. God has promised success for His people no matter what the result of the election was to be. This assured promise gives the church motivation to be the light of faith in the darkness of the world’s doubt. Our reaction will be of a godly nature because of our faith in God and not man. Our love for God will help us to overcome the temptation to sin.

Although many in this world will react to the results of the election with grumbling and complaining, the church will hold its tongue because we are to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14). Grumbling and complaining comes from minds that do not get their way. The church will show respect knowing that whoever is in the authoritative position is there because God has established this to be so: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1). The church has faith that hushes the mouth because we know God is much wiser than any man and He has promised to work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). There is no doubt in the minds of God’s children that He is in complete control of this situation.

Also the church will pray for the governing authorities: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” 1 Timothy 2:1-2). If anyone needs prayers right now it is those who have been elected to lead this country. It has been said by a leading figure of our government that the United States is no longer a “Christian Nation” and the proof of this statement has never been so clear than what it is today. We have elected leaders that are leading us into immorality, mocking the Lord’s institution of marriage, legalizing drugs and even the murdering of helpless children. Like the old song says, we are “slip sliding away.” Our leaders need God’s love to fill their hearts and minds so we can get back to being a God-fearing nation that is not afraid to get on their knees and seek God.

Many times in the Bible God has used some discouraging situations to bring encouragement to His nation. And even then God’s chosen people were faced with circumstances that would cause them to return to the Lord for His power, protection and presence. Maybe this is what God is going to use the situation the United States is in now to accomplish. Maybe He is trying to get us to stop putting our faith in man and remember that He is Creator: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). If God is trying to humble us as a nation, then His nation must be the light to His truth. We must remain humble with faith that God will lift us up at the proper time. Let the church be encouraged to be humble enough to not act like fools: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Know that God has a plan that is in motion and it will be executed out of perfect love for mankind.

In His Grace,