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.”

 

Patience, Patience, Patience!

Several years agLet God Speako it was common to hear the phrase, “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”  Those words could be seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs, lapel pins, they have even been used as lyrics in a song!  The person who used this slogan was asking others to be longsuffering.  Isn’t this an important building block of love for others?  The apostle Paul wrote, “Love suffereth long” (I Corinthians 13:4).  Yes, love is patient!

What should motivate us to be patient with others?  First, we should be motivated by God’s patience toward us.  God’s delay in bringing his judgment upon the world is an indication of his patience, enabling every man to have an opportunity to repent before it is too late (II Peter 3:9).

Second, we should be motivated by Christ’s patience with those who mistreated him.  When Christ was mistreated he refused to get even.  When he suffered, he did not threaten in return (I Peter 2:19-24).

Third, we should be motivated to be patient toward others when we realize that this is the only way we can be pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10-11).

Be patient.  God’s not finished with me yet!

 

Would You Call 911?

If your house were911 on fire, would you call 911?  Of course, you would!  If you saw a prowler in your back yard, would you call the police?  Of course!  If someone in your family were seriously hurt and needed help, would you call for an ambulance?  Definitely!  We would all call for help if we needed it.

When the multitude came to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus to be crucified, one of those who were with Jesus (Peter) took out his sword and struck one of the high priest’s servants, cutting off his ear.  Jesus then told him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:52-53)?

Jesus could have, figuratively speaking, called 911.  My savior had the opportunity to call for help but chose not to.  Instead, he chose to give his life for me. Rather than save his own life, he chose to lay down his life to save me, to give me eternal life!

Today, I am thankful Jesus chose to go to the cross for me!

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?

I’m Thankful For a Mulligan

I’m not much of a golfer and it’s been quite awhile since I played a game, but I was always thankful for a mulligan.  A golf clubmulligan is “a shot not counted against the score, permitted in unofficial play to a player whose previous shot was poor.”  In simple terms, if you hit the ball poorly you can try again and you don’t have to count the first shot!

I’m thankful for a second chance to hit the ball when playing golf; but I’m even more thankful that God has given me a second chance when it comes to my sins. God has promised me that, when I do poorly and fall short of what He desires for me, He will give me a mulligan.  He will forgive me and give me an opportunity to start over.  John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Today, I am thankful for God’s willingness to forgive!