Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Risen Savior For Life

“For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).

There are certain events throughout the days of our lives that stick out like a sore thumb, days that may have had a great effect on us. The bombing of the twin towers in New York City, the ending of World War II and the assassination of President Kennedy are just a couple that stick out in this author’s mind. But as extraordinary as these events truly are, they do not hold a candle to the events that took place in the first century during the week that led to our Lord’s crucifixion. The events of this week have changed the world forever, but the most defining moment of this historical week came on the day of the resurrection of our Savior. This miraculous resurrection changed the lives of every person in this world from that point onward as it gave sustenance to our faith: “[A]nd if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Only Christianity can truly boast in the cross.

When God raised Jesus from the restraint of the tomb He blessed the world with His promise of eternal life. Jesus came to this world as our “Passover Lamb,” to pay for the sins that each one of us have committed. His willingness to be the sacrificial Lamb for our inequity pleased God and His acceptance of that sacrifice was revealed to the world through the resurrection of Christ and assured us that our sins have been paid for: “[A]nd He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). God gave His creation the chance to be freed from sin’s power, which is death, and live eternally with Him in heaven: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus paid the price for our foolish decisions. And that is what sin is, a foolish decision. When we allow our hearts to be set upon anything that opposes the will of God we become fools in the eyes of our Creator: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is the One who catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:19). But God is a compassionate Father and only wants what is best for His children. He knows we will stumble so He offers us a chance to repent and turn back to Him by recognizing our own inability and surrendering to His authority (Acts 17:30). When we make this decision we are making a decision to live eternally in His eternal dwelling place (Psalm 15). Without repentance, or letting go of our own weakness and holding on to Christ, we remain separated from His promise (Ephesians 2:12). We should be grateful that Jesus willingly gave His life to free us from the doom of foolishness. His death assured us that sacrifice is needed and willingness is accepted.

There have been many sacrifices made throughout our history but none as powerful as the sacrifice our Lord offered to save us from the demise of our sin. God presented His love in flesh and sent Him down as our Savior, Jesus. He came as a sacrifice and an example: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). Satan would like to reduce the effects of this miracle to just one week of your life. Resist his efforts by allowing Jesus’ sacrifice to influence you for life.

In His Grace,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trials Strengthen Church

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2).

Trials and tribulations are a part of the Christian life. Although we are children of the Almighty Father we are continually facing difficulties that can cause us to stumble. But Christians will not allow trials to destroy their faith because their goals are on pleasing God. The Hebrew writer reveals to us that faith is needed to please our Lord (Hebrews 11:6). Staying faithful to God’s will is the secret to overcoming obstacles (1 John 5:4).

When my mother passed away it was one of the most difficult trials that my family has had to face. But through faith in God’s power we have overcome this trial and face new ones with a stronger desire to please God. Mom always said, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Mom’s death didn’t kill us but God used this trial to strengthen our faith in Him (James 1:3). When faced in faith, trials will draw us closer to our Father.

God strengthens our faith in Him using different implements. One of the tools He uses is the brethren. The Maryville congregation has been a wonderful example of the Christian love that God wants us to have for each other. Jesus demands true love from His true followers (John 15:17). God’s love for us defines our love for each other and if we know God we will have this love (1 John 4:8). It is a divine love that motivates the heart, hands and head to make sure each member is adequately supplied to keep the church united.

God is truly amazing as He lives up to His promise to be there for us in any situation. He also fulfills His promise to make any situation positive (Romans 8:28). His faithfulness and integrity are proven as He took the worst thing man could do to His Son and turned it into the best thing His Son could do for mankind. His love for us goes beyond explanation as we face different trials every day. His love flows through the veins of the people who assemble to worship Him in “spirit and truth” (John 4:14). Our gratefulness to Him is shown through our devotion to His truth and our dedication to His life.

The churches throughout this great world have been a blessing to us and even gone out of their way to assist us in times of trial. The church was established by Jesus to be a pillar of strength for the people. We are assembled to give strength to those who are suffering. We give strength through God’s word that gives us His strength. Divine strength overwhelms human strength and that is why we are to die to self, to allow God’s strength to be recognized. It is His strength that builds the church up. If you are going through some kind of struggle, remember the church is here for you, to give strength to overcome.

In His Grace,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Working God

“You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (James 2:22).

David once questioned God about who it is that will live with Him in heaven (Psalm 15:1). His inquiry revealed a divine answer that shows God must work in those who plan on dwelling with Him one day. It is an inescapable truth that our God is a working God and He is working in each one of us to create a character free from the desire of sin.

There are many people in this world who consider themselves religious yet don’t allow God to work in them. Paul is clear when he addresses the congregation at Philippi about the work God wants to do within His children (Philippians 1:6). He encourages the congregation to know that it is a work that has a beginning and will be worked until it is complete. He has a desire for all mankind to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), but His desire can only be fulfilled in the submissive soul that allows His truth to mold them (James 4:7).

For God to begin His work in us we must die to the flesh (Matthew 16:25). We must deicide to allow God’s way of life to rule our heart, minds and attitudes. God knows what is best for His creation and His grace is offered through His commands. His work begins in us when we fully surrender to His Spirit. Our fleshly desires do nothing but hinder God’s work. We will do well to deny ourselves and follow the lead of His Spirit.

The Bible is clear about the distinction of those who truly allow God to work in their lives: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10). Only when we allow God to work within us can we even begin to think of being righteous. His righteousness working in us shows the true ugliness of sin and convicts our hearts to the point of being “sorrowful to the point of repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:9). Without true repentance, there is no evidence of God working in us.

The Bible is clear that salvation is only offered to those who allow God to perfect His work in their lives. For God to work one must study His word and develop an intimate relationship with Him. Avoid being one who thinks God owes you salvation. His salvation is only offered to those who have faith in His word. That is why James tells us, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). The people who delude themselves are the hardest to reach. They are not willing to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord so that He might lift them up (1 Peter 5:6). Having a heart of humility doesn’t come naturally.

God’s work must begin in our submission and be perfected in His Son. He starts when we hear His word and are convicted to the change truth will produce in us. Then we will be converted to the life that He offers through His Suffering Servant we know as Jesus, our Savior. God is working in His children to produce in them a submissive attitude that trusts His way over anything that our feeble minds can conceive. When we are submissive to His work, then and only then, can He lead us to the rest of His life.

In His Grace,