Sunday, December 16, 2018

A New Commandment

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7-8)

The Christian life is progressive, and the Lord expects us to grow daily in love, spiritual maturity, and faith. John is not contradicting himself when he writes of the old and new commandments being both the same and different. He is telling us that the new commandment is essentially the same as the old, and the Holy Spirit now gives us the power to obey it perfectly. So, while the commandment is from the beginning, we are new creatures, able to approach the original standard with the fresh vigor of Spirit-filled, born-again believers! 

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9-11)  

Love is the essence of relationship with Jesus Christ, and where there is hatred, Jesus does not and will not abide. No spiritual work can be done in that atmosphere, and there is no circumstance under which contempt for others is acceptable to God. We have His Holy Spirit, and we cannot hate others any longer. Now, the Spirit leads us in a new and everlasting way -- in forgiveness, in freedom, in purity, in peace with one another, and in love.

Let's Pray - Father, help us make every effort to be found at peace with all men. Thank you for Your unrelenting standard of love and Christ-likeness. Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

For True Ministers Only

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

As ministers of the New Covenant, we work exclusively for the Lord and His interests in the lives of His sheep and His church. We do not work for men, or boards, or denominations, but for God. Wherever there is any battle for our allegiance, we must remove ourselves from the fray and re-establish the pre-eminence of Christ at once –- and that without regard to the consequences. Therein is the difference between a son and a hireling. The message we preach and the lives we live will make men and women uncomfortable, but that is to be expected -- it is simply the friction between the kingdom and the world. It is a holy discomfort that drives some men to their knees to seek the Lord, while others run to and fro looking for a shepherd who will cater to their flesh and make them feel at ease.

The road to heaven is difficult and treacherous, and if you portray it in any other way, you are a traitor to the Gospel. Jesus had to die to make a way for us, and we, too, must put our earthly members (our ways and our will) to death that Christ might live in our mortal bodies. We are not called to the ministry to make friends with our sheep, but to see them become friends of God –- and that is an entirely different matter. Wield the sword (the Word) on behalf of your sheep and leave the outcome to God. “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matt 10:34)

Let's Pray - Father, I pray that Your ministers will resist every temptation to preach another Gospel, for there is no other message than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Strengthen us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, and we will endure until the end and glorify Your name. In Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Plan of Salvation

"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses." (Acts 3:13-15)

“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." 
(Acts 3:17-21)

Peter delivered this word unapologetically and with great spiritual authority. It was the TRUTH, and nothing was held back. He looked the hearers in the eye and called them what they were -- sinners, murderers, conspirators, ignorant, and enemies of God -- and these were God’s chosen people! Peter was not a respecter of persons, and he did not care who was offended or who would turn away and reject his words. He knew who he worked for, and he knew what his Employer was after. 

The Word of God is not food for the soul or food for thought. It is spirit, and we must receive it as such, or it cannot be received at all. The Lord is not communicating anything to our intellect, our emotions, or our will. He does not heed or respect our sincerity or good intentions. God is Spirit, and He must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Therefore, the children of God come to Him on His terms, not theirs. We receive the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We confess our sins, and we agree with God that it was our sin and ignorance that Jesus died for. We come to Him no longer defending, justifying, or sympathizing with our flesh or our friends, and we confess our guilt. We repent, then the Lord changes us into the very image of His Son, and we become children of light in whom there is no darkness, just like our Father and our Savior. That is the plan of salvation. There is no “Plan B."

Let's Pray - Father, thank You for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I choose to heed Your Word and repent. I desire the times of refreshing and renewal that come from turning to You. In Jesus alone, Amen. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Things Not Seen

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Our faith is the shield that protects us against the storms of life and the spiritual attacks which are sure to come. It steadies us in difficult times when disappointments threaten to steal our hope. Faith assures us of God's care and presence when the winds and rain threaten to destroy our possessions, unsettle our minds, and rob us of our peace. Faith keeps us walking upright, and we trust in God when others fall into despair and sin. Thank God for faith.
Every difficulty is an opportunity to believe God, and exercising faith in Him is the greatest work of all. Even a mustard seed of faith is greater than mighty works, and a small measure of faith is greater than a lifetime of labor. God sent His Son so that He might become the center of our hope and joy, and that we would place all our trust in Him. That is the Father's will, that we trust in Jesus as if our lives depend on it. In truth, our lives do depend on it, for true and new life come from faith in Jesus alone. All that God requires of us is faith, and faithful saints always come to God and believe His Word. Therein lies our good testimony. Is your testimony a good one?
Let's Pray - Dear Lord, I realize there is no substitute for faith. So I come to You daily, and I come believing that You love me, see me, and hear me when I call. I will walk by faith, looking forward to seeing Your face one day. In Jesus I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Few Are Chosen

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, "Repent . . ." (Acts 2:37-38a)

Could it be that the Gospel is a great deal simpler than some preachers have made it? Peter spoke the indisputable truth -- Jesus the Messiah came to the children of Israel, he loved them, taught them, healed them, fed them, raised the dead, gave many infallible proofs, was rejected by His people, crucified, rose on the third day, showed Himself to many, ascended to heaven, and He still wasn't done! He sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and those who were in the temple heard and saw it! Once Peter explained to them what they were witnessing, they asked the question that was begging to be asked -- "What now?" 

Simply put, this is how things work in the Kingdom. God confronts us with truth and our response is determined by the condition of our hearts. Some heard, received correction, and repented, but most did not. That is why the Lord said, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Another way of putting it is, "Many are convicted, but few repent." May we be found walking in repentance. May we be found among the few.

Let's Pray - Lord, may I be quick to hear Your voice and to turn to You immediately when You speak. May my ears and eyes be open toward heaven today. Thank You for revealing Yourself and Your will to Your servant. In Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Anxious for Nothing

Be anxious for nothing . . . (Philippians 4:6)

The level of anxiety we routinely carry about is the sign that we have not yet won the battle for our peace — the simple and imperturbable belief that our Lord is Who He said He is — and He will do what He promised to do. The prevalence of fear in our hearts is the sure sign that we do not yet have enough experience with God. Our Lord is constantly working to bring us to a simple and childlike faith that seeks His face and obeys His voice 100% of the time. 

One sign that we still have far to come is the desire for more, bigger, greater, and higher things here on earth. Contentment rooted in a heaven-ward focus is a lost virtue in a church that is obsessed with herself, her image, and her agenda. The church is to be completely pre-occupied with her Husband/Savior, Jesus Christ -- not His blessings, but His Person and character, His Word and His will, His Cross and His crown. We are not to be so concerned about principles, but earnestly seeking His Presence! Therein is peace, for in His presence is fullness of joy!

Let's Pray - Dear Father, I trust You, and I'm learning to trust You more and more each day. I understand You have my life and the whole world in Your hands, and I rejoice in that truth. Be magnified in me today. Amen. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Jesus My Advocate

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:1-6)

Sin is the one and only element that can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Therefore, the Father sent Jesus Himself as the answer to our hellish dilemma, and all who believe on Him are instantly received into God’s blessed family with all the benefits of heaven placed within us, and the victory is given over all things around us! The sacrifice Jesus made is sufficient to wipe away every transgression ever committed, and only sinners who have been washed in His blood and baptized by His Spirit are chosen to receive this inheritance of everlasting life. That life does not begin when we die, but when Christ quickens us by His grace and through our faith in Him and His work on the Cross. We are called to live this life today, and that Spirit-filled life is the confirmation that we are saved. 

This overcoming life leaves no doubt that we are saved. Our faith in the Word of the Lord gives us victory where death once loomed and strength where we were weak and defeated. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do the things God commands, and by doing those things, we prove we are His and we have been saved. Because we are His, we are pleasing in His sight, and our conduct in Him is chaste, pure, and holy. Nothing less than a life built on God’s perfecting power is acceptable to Him, and the true child of God is one determined to hold fast to the liberty he has been given to live according to God’s will. 

So, simply put, there need be no doubt who is saved and who is only deceiving himself. We know we are saved because of the power we have received to conquer sin, to love, and to walk as Christ walked. May our faith and obedience put every fear and doubt to death as we boldly live for the Lord!

Let's Pray - Dear Father, thank You for the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus. May I be living proof of that power and may my life give you glory each and every day. In Jesus alone, Amen.