Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Following Jesus

'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Is following God’s will important to you? When asked many will say it is important, but the real question is, “Is it the most important call in your life or are there other things more important?” or “Do you put God’s will on the back burner while you focus on your own will?” These are questions that demand a sincere answer from the deepest realm of our heart. If following Christ is our highest priority in life then His will must be the most important facet of life. We must make accomplishing His will our top priority.

Accomplishing the Father’s will should be the focus of any child of God. His will has provided us with His grace to give us what we don’t deserve. His will has given us His mercy to see that we don’t get what we do deserve. Paul said it like this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God’s grace and mercy has delivered us from the burden of earning anything from Him. He gives life as a free gift through His grace. Through His mercy He delivers us from our earnings, which is what sin produces in us, death. Because of the vast display of love shown through these attributes of God, we are faithful to His will (Romans 1:14).

But the call to faithfulness is what we receive within God’s will and that causes some to shy away from total dedication to its purpose: “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Devotion to God’s will separates us from those who live for their own desires and has given us opportunity to walk in His light. God knows that man cannot direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23) so He dressed His love in flesh to guide mankind’s steps in His truth. The truth is His word (John 17:17) and truth is what will set us free from Satan’s power of sin and death (John 8:32). Being humble and allowing God’s will to change us gives God’s grace the power to mold us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). When we are walking in the Light of His love we are permitting God to create in us “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17), molded by the pattern of His Son. This new creation makes faithfulness a worthy call to follow.

God’s will for His children is that we allow His Spirit to work in us “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). As we see the manner of life in which Jesus lived, we can easily conclude that accomplishing God’s will is what His life is all about: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). To be conformed to the image of Christ is to die to our own desires and set out to accomplish the work God has given us in this life to carry out. We have been given life to know God and to set our minds to fully fulfill His will in the words we speak and the works we do. When we allow our flesh to dictate how we live, we refuse God’s work in us and that causes us to remain in the image of the world. We must die to live for God.

If you are a disciple of Jesus then you are willing to give your life to fulfill the will of God who “called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). You are willing to let go of anything that may hinder your relationship with God. You cannot seek God’s will half-heartedly, at least if following Jesus is truly important to you.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, July 19, 2013

Damaging Sin

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

Worldly minded people do not recognize sin as being as destructive as it truly is to our relationship with God, but the fact remains that sin destroys any chance for us to be close to God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). But the God we serve is willing to forgive sin through His grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12). We know God’s grace is there for us but we must also understand God’s grace as His willingness to provide a way for us to overcome sin. Although this is God’s desire for us we must choose to stay free from sin by responding to His grace.

In Numbers 15 we can see that God makes a distinction of sin. He reveals two types of sin as being willful sin and sin done in ignorance. David reveals his understanding of this concept of categorized sin in verses 12 and 13 of the 19th Psalm. He voiced his frustration at his inability to mold his life according to God’s pattern. He also asks for forgiveness and strength to avoid habitual patterns of the willful rejection of God’s way: “Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression (Psalm 19:13). God wants us to love Him so much that we will deny our fleshly desires and choose His way.

Satan has made sin to look so tempting it has become easy to entangle our lives within its grip. He has made what used to be obvious now seem hidden. His deceitful disguise of sin has hardened our hearts to the effects of its power. He has used avenues such as our televisions and government offices to hide the sting of sin’s demonic characteristics (Ephesians 2:2). Our weakness is our own desires and the world will take every advantage needed to use our weakness to tempt us to fill our lives with whatever Satan can use to keep us separated from God. His trickery is not easy to comprehend so we must be on guard (1 Peter 5:8) as he has only one goal and that is to destroy our souls. Pay attention to what God has given us as truth so we can escape the attack of the evil one’s schemes and avoid the judgment he would love to lead us into.

Even though the church has been accused of everything from legalism to judgmental, she prays for everyone to follow God’s pattern of life. We know that God has provided His truth so we can know where we stand in our relationship with Him: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). He has also revealed to us sin and how it works in our lives to keep us from being faithful to truth: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We can know the right thing to do by allowing Jesus’ teachings to change who we submit to as authority (John 8:32). Being ignorant to God’s way is no longer an acceptable excuse: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). Ignorance is not being stupid, but not knowing. We can know what God wants in us. God is willing to forgive our sins when we are willing to learn His truth.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, July 12, 2013

Godly Examples


“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).

If we want to lead others to Christ we must make a decision to be dedicated to the deeds required of faithful living. God’s plan of salvation is founded on godliness. It was offered to us through a man that lived His life as a sacrifice to His Father’s will and He is our example to follow. As Timothy struggled in his ministry, Paul gave him some sound instructions to follow to help him find success in the work he was called to do. If we will study this passage, we will find some sound words to enhance our faithful walk.

Teaching God’s life is not an easy task as it requires diligent effort to make sure our own lives are right with God. Notice we said “God’s life” because it is a different lifestyle than the life that is taught by those not in Christ. It is a life founded on godly love and obedience at all costs: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If we love the life that God delivered to us we must be the example of faithful living.

One way we can see to be an example is in our speech. Words can be destructive as well as constructive. The difference in the outcome is in the love they are spoken. We should always make sure to use words to build up the house of God and never to tear it down: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words must be constructive not destructive.

Also we should strive to be the example of godly love. This is where we lose most of the world. Godly love is not just words, but a verb meaning it requires action. John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible but arguably the most misused. God’s love didn’t stop at being mentioned. It acted by sending the Savior to this earth to bring life to the dead souls that filled the world. Through agape love God acted upon His grace to set the plan of salvation in motion. He not only loved the world but put love into action by sending Jesus to, not only die for us, but leave us an example to follow. He called us out of the world to be the continuation of that love as we search for the lost to bring them life.

As God’s children we are called to be the example of the “one faith” Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:5. There are many different faiths in the world but God only recognizes the one true faith that entails obedient trust. We are to live in a joyful spirit at all times to reveal our trust in God to see us through the trials we face (James 1:2-3). God rewards faith and He cannot be pleased without it (Hebrews 11:6). Christians are the example of the “one faith” as they rely on God’s power to save them from sin and death.

Finally, we are to be the example of God’s purity which can only be attained by faith. God called us out of an impure world to be pure, refined through fire (Zechariah 13:9). We are not promised an easy life following Christ. In fact, we are told we will face many obstacles trying to live a pure life. Satan tries to make impurity seem good, but the truth is, he is a liar (John 10:10). Living faithfully makes you an example of purity for others to follow. Being an example makes you a follower of our Example of pure faith.

In His Grace,
Cub

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Teacher

“I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:26).

Teachers are very important in every aspect of life. Just think how ineffective you would be in life if there was no one able to teach you. How effective could you be in your work if there was no training for your position? You could not be good at what you do without an example to follow or a person to show you the ways of your occupation. And what about parenting? If we do not have good examples to follow we are not going to be very good parents ourselves. And in our spiritual life if we do not have an example we are the blind leading the blind. We need good teachers to show us how to follow Jesus. Paul encouraged the church to follow his example: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul’s words show that if we want to be good teachers we need to be great followers of the Example that is in Christ.

The world is full of people who can teach. But what makes a good teacher in the Lord’s kingdom is someone who is humble enough to be taught: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:29). God is looking for people who will take His yoke so they can teach His way and not the ways of the world. This kind of teacher is born of a different seed: “[F]or you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). God has made His abundant life available to His church through their faith in His plan. They have dedicated their lives to becoming the person that God wants them to be and have died to the old ways to be molded by the “logic” of God. When this decision is solidified in the hearts and minds of the individual it is made evident to the people around them: “[S]o that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 1:27). God’s church teaches the world by being taught by God.

To teach God’s word we must not only take Jesus’ yoke upon us, but we must also learn what He teaches. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different beliefs in the world even though in Ephesians 4:1-4 God states that there is only one faith? The reason for this is as simple to the faithful believer as first grade arithmetic is to a rocket scientist. Not many in this world are humble enough to accept the fact that we as humans do not have the ability to know God’s way: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Mankind has a great desire, maybe even a lust, to be independent. Although this is an achievement in the physical life it is a mistake in our spiritual walk with God. He dressed His love in flesh and sent Him to earth so we could learn two things. One is to know how to love and the other is to know how to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we are going to be teachers of God’s way then we first need to learn His love.

Teaching is not just the ability to get facts out to others, but it is being able to teach others how to use effectively what is being taught. As the Lord’s church we must be willing to learn from Jesus as He totally dedicated His life to fulfilling His Father’s will. And when we say totally dedicated we mean there were no limits to His willingness to follow God: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). It has been said that God only had one Son and He was a teacher. He taught us by being obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9). Let us be eager to learn all we can about the true Person of the Christ so we can avoid the false teachings that entrap the souls of the world.

In His Grace,
Cub

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