Are You Properly Dressed?

Were you properly dressed when you left the house this morning?  No, I’m not talking about modesty or imarmor of Godmodesty; that’s a discussion for another day.  I’m not talking about making sure your colors are coordinated or whether you are dressed too casually or not casual enough.  The dress I’m talking about is far more important than any of those things.

When you left the house this morning, were you dressed with the full armor of God? The apostle Paul wrote, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

Today, you are in the midst of a spiritual battle.  I hope you didn’t leave the house without being properly dressed!

Smile! You’re a Christian!

25-Smile-Quotes-that-Will-Make-Your-Day-MainPhoto“These things have I spoken unto you,that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).  Christians, more than any other people in the world, have plenty of reasons to rejoice.  Don’t think so?  Consider the words of the apostle Paul from Romans 5:1-5: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

First, Christians can rejoice because we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1).  When we are justified we are made right, or righteous, before God.  God justified us in response to our faith.  Not faith alone, for that is a dead faith, unable to save anyone (James 2:17).  We are justified as a result of our active, obedient faith.

Second, Christians can rejoice because we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).  We have a harmonious relationship with God. When a person becomes a Christian, the discord, strife and contention  that previously existed between man and God are gone.

Third, Christians can rejoice because we have access to God’s grace (Romans 5:2).  Grace is that unmerited favor without which no man can be saved (Ephesians 2:8).  Our faith is the path that leads us to the presence of God’s grace.

Fourth, Christians can rejoice because we have hope (Romans 5:2).  Our hope of heaven is desire (wanting to go to heaven and be with God) coupled with expectation (we expect to go to heaven, not because we can ever earn  heaven, but because of God’s abundant grace – Romans 5:20).   It is a hope that does not cause shame or disappointment (Romans 5:5).

Fifth, Christians can rejoice even in the midst of our trials (Romans 5:3).  Christians are not immune from many of the heartaches and disappointments of life.  Yet we can rejoice throughout these trials because they produce character, perseverance, and hope (James 1:2-4).

Smile, you’re a Christian!

The Noahic Flood, a Type of the Judgment to Come

A type is something, or someone, in the Old Testament that foreshadowed something or someone, in the New Testament. Just as the ark of Noah’s day was a type of the church, the flood of Noah’s day was a type of the judgment to come.

for-as-were-the-days-of

FIRST, a lesson we learn both from the flood of Noah’s day and the judgment to come is that God hates sin.  Notice the following from Genesis chapter six and verse six: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”  How did God repent?  Does not mean God was surprised when man sinned.  The phrase “and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth” can be understood as expressing God’s displeasure with His creation.  Significant that God did not observe man’s sin as a disinterested bystander.

Now notice Paul’s words to the church at Colosse: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6).

Just as God did not observe the sin of Noah’s time as an uninterested bystander, He is not apathetic toward our sin today.  Our sin still grieves God at his heart.  Grieve – to suffer pain, to be distressed in mind.  Do you really want to be one who brings pain to God?

SECOND, we learn that God is patient.  The one hundred and twenty years mentioned in Genesis 6:3 is most likely a reference to the time between the announcement of the flood and the occurrence of the flood.

Today, God is patient with you and me.  Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up………………And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;” (II Peter 3:3-10, 15).

God’s longsuffering, or patience, is salvation in the sense that his longsuffering gives man opportunity to repent ant be saved.  Don’t abuse God’s patience by thinking “I’ll give my life to God, but not yet, I’ll repent of my sins, but not yet.”

THIRD, the coming judgment, just as the flood of Noah’s day, is universal in nature.  No one will be exempt.  “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth ………………… And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered” (Genesis 7:4, 19-20)

God commands all of us to repent, because all of us will one day be judged. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world………(Acts 17:30-31).

Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).

There is one thing we all have in common – we willall, without any semblance of doubt, stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12).

FOURTH, just as those of Noah’s day, people often ignore the reality of the coming judgment. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:36-39).

Sadly, on the day Christ comes again, many will be going about their everyday routine, going to work, paying the bills, making plans for their future, signing a thirty-year mortgage for their dream home, yet never making plans for a future with God.

FIFTH, salvation is by grace, but God’s grace does not negate the necessity of obedience. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8).

But would anyone be so naïve to believe Noah could have been saved from the flood without building the ark?  “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

Today, we are saved by grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  Why would anyone today be so naïve to believe we can be saved from our sins apart from obedience?  James wrote, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

I am thankful for God’s grace.  I realize that without God’s grace I would have no hope of salvation.  But I am not going to abuse God’s grace by fooling myself into thinking I can be saved in a state of disobedience

Friends, the lessons from the flood of Noah’s day are too clear to be misunderstood.  Please do not ignore them!

 

Be Not Conformed!

Good morning everyone!  I hope each of you reading this has a good day today!  Just as it does eachIMG_20150720_063313549 day, today the world will try to influence you into being what it thinks you ought to be.  Don’t let it!  Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

Come to Jesus for the Wrong Reason?

After Jesus fed about five thousand men with only two small fish and five barley loaves, the people sought to take him by force and make him king.  When Jesus understood what was taking plathce he departed and went to be alone.  The next day, the people sought Jesus and found him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:1-25).  When the people asked Jesus when he came to the other side of the sea, Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26-27).

Why did Jesus see fit to rebuke those who sought him?  What lessons can we learn from this?  First, the people sought Jesus with the wrong motive.  They failed to understand the real significance of Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand.  “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book.  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through His name” (John 20:30-31).  Jesus’ signs, or miracles, served to affirm his deity.  They served to prove to others that he was the Son of God.  Unfortunately, those who sought him out were interested in the miracle only to the extent that it satisfied their own selfish desires.

Sadly, many today go to Jesus for the wrong reason.  A building is crowded with people on Father’s Day when a denomination gives a fishing boat to the lucky winner.  That same building has a much larger attendance on Mother’s Day when flowers are given to the mother who has the most family members in attendance.  Seem a bit outlandish?  How about the teenager who becomes a Christian simply to get his parents “off his back”?  Or the man who attends worship services to keep his wife from badgering him?

Why should someone come to Jesus?  Later in John chapter six, Peter gives us the answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).  We should come to Jesus because, believing He is the son of God, we might have eternal life.

These people went to Jesus with the wrong motive because they had the wrong priorities.  Notice Jesus’ words, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).

Certainly Jesus was not teaching that we do not need to work for our physical food.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).

Jesus is obviously pointing out that our focus ought to be on the spiritual, rather than the physical.  It is a tragedy that most people go through this life with their focus on the here and now.  What can they accomplish in this life?  What can they accumulate while here on earth?  They give great attention to their careers, their finances and even their recreation, but ignore their greatest asset of all – their soul.  Their thoughts are directed toward the temporary things of this life, while the eternal things of the life to come are tragically neglected.

It is also noteworthy that Jesus said we are to labour for that which endures to eternal life.  That’s right, labour!  It is true we can never earn, or deserve, our salvation.  Friends, we are saved by God’s amazing grace!  But it is also true that God’s grace does not eliminate any effort on our part.  “We are confident, I say, and willing rather, to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore, we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (II Corinthians 5:9).  “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

How hard are you working for the bread that endures unto eternal life?  How much effort are you putting forth?  Could you compare your spiritual health to a “part time job”?  Or have you fully given yourself to Christ?  There will be no lazy people in heaven The slothful, or lazy, servant was cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:14-30).

How much time do you spend in Bible study?  In prayer?  In telling others about the salvation you have in Jesus?  Is heaven a place you merely hope you go to when you die (because it is better than the alternative)?  Or are you wholeheartedly striving for it now?

I invite you to come to Jesus, not for selfish gain, but that you might have life through his name.  Believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15-16).  Repent of your sins (Acts 2:38).  Confess your faith in Jesus Christ to others (Romans 10:10).  And be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38).

Remember, any day is a great day to be a child of God!

Our Eternal Home

I’ve been thinking lately about where I would like to live when I retire.  (Yeah, I know…..no use thinking about it too much just yet…..it’s still several years in the future…..still fun to think about it just the same).  A cabin somewhere in the mountains would be nice.  Or nestled on the shore of a sparkling lake.  Ah, I know the perfect place!  A small bungalow on the beach!  Going to sleep at night with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  Waking up with the sound of the birds feeding along the coast.  Enjoying a walk along the beach every morning and experiencing the pleasure of bare feet in the sand. That’s it; the perfect retirement home!

I suppose it’s ok to think about these things.  But don’t get too carried away.  There’s a danger of getting tobeach houseo “attached” to this world. It doesn’t make sense to think of anywhere in this world as the perfect retirement home.  What DOES make sense is focusing on the Christian’s eternal home.  How long will your retirement years last?  Ten years?  Twenty?  Thirty?  For some people, maybe more. But of what significance is any length of time on this earth when compared to an eternity in heaven?  Very short indeed.

We are merely pilgrims on this earth.  No wonder Peter wrote, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (I Peter 2:11).  Paul’s words remind us that our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  The things of this world are fleeting (II Corinthians 4:16-5:10).  The things of this world will one day come to an end.  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).  It’s impossible to describe just how insignificant your retirement home on this earth will be when time (as we know it) is no more.

There is a perfect place to live.  But it’s not to be found anywhere on earth.  It’s out of this world.  Friends, I’m speaking of heaven.  Hope to see you there!

Behold, the Lamb of God

In John Chapter One, we are introduced to Jesus as the Word.  Later in that same chapter, we are introduced to John the Baptist, the one who was to prepare the way for Christ.  lamb-of-God-535x360Then, in John 1:29, we are again introduced to Jesus, this time as the Lamb of God – “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Look, see, the Lamb of God!  We need to do more than merely look; we need to focus our attention on Jesus Christ.  We need to concentrate on Christ.  To closely examine His life so that we may learn from Him.

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us of Jesus’ purpose for being made in the flesh and dwelling among us – to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sin.  Isaiah 53:6-7 portrays Jesus as a submissive sacrifice.  Also see I Peter 2:21-23.  Jesus was a substitute sacrifice in that He bore the consequences of our sin.

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us that Jesus is the only sacrifice that could ever provide us with the forgiveness of our sin.  Nothing else and no one else would ever do!  Acts 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us that Jesus was sent by God.  John 3:16-17 – “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  God sending His Son to save man was a sign of God’s great love for all mankind.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” reminds us of the power of the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus is not a Lamb that makes it possible for us to ignore our sin, hide our sin or gloss over our sin.  Jesus, as the Lamb of God, offered his life for us in order that our sin could be taken away.  Because of the power of the blood of the Lamb our sin is taken from our lives, never to be brought up again.  1 Peter 1:18-19 – “18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.  Why do we often try so hard to cling to that which Jesus wants to take away?