Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Life Laid Down

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)

I meet so many folks who believe there is a God, that God is good, that it would be best and right for them to follow after God with their whole heart, that the Bible is true, etc. But I meet few who get these beliefs out of their heads and into their hearts – too few who are truly converted, changed, who pick up their cross, and walk in repentance. I witness so much ministry born out of the goodness of men's hearts instead of the brokenness and weakness that God honors. Successful ministry is never a matter of what men say or do, or how many are in attendance; but it is the fruit of a life laid down, so that Christ may rise up and be glorified.

Jesus has a value system that is very different from many of those in the church. For instance, we have been taught to believe that prosperity and physical health are the signs of a robust faith. Some teach that our words are containers of faith, and we can have what we confess. They also teach that the Bible's promises are ours to claim, and we can have what it says we can have. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and Jesus is still seeking those who will die to themselves, sell what they have, boast in their weakness, and accept the chastening of a holy Father. We have nothing, and we can do nothing apart from Jesus. In Him, we have everything, and all things are possible. The Christian life is a matter of focusing on Christ and coming to Him on His terms. " . . .  sell what you have . . . and come, follow Me."

Let's Pray - Dear Lord, I lay down my life, so that Jesus Christ may rise up and glorify You through my sacrifice. I will be sure to give You all the glory and honor You deserve. I consider that an honor and my life's work. Amen.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Strengthen Your Brothers

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

Satan constantly works to hurt and hinder the children of God, and pride is his favorite tool against us. He uses pride so effectively, because we almost never detect it in ourselves until it's too late. Every time we claim to be good, to be right, or to be better than anyone else, we give Satan the right to claim that ground on which we choose to stand. That is why the devil asked for access to Peter; he was leaning on his own strength, and that is Satan's territory. Peter was about to learn the most painful lesson of his life -- pride comes before a fall.

Jesus never ceases to pray for us, and He prayed for Peter. The power of His love and His prayers is infinitely greater than hell's hateful schemes. Satan's attempt to destroy Peter would fail, and the Lord would soon seek and restore his disciple. Peter would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and that baptism would be his armor against the pride that was nearly his undoing. He would never again give Satan the right to claim any dominion in his life, and he would intercede for others the way Christ did for him. "Strengthen your brethren."

Let's Pray - Precious King, please forgive me for my arrogance and pride. I want to see and hear the words You speak to me, so I humble myself in Your sight. Thank You, Jesus, for always interceding on my behalf. Amen

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Repentance and Conversion

And when Simon saw that the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! (Acts 8:18-20)

Simon believed, but it wasn't enough. He was amazed by the power and glory of God, but his heart remained hard and unrepentant; therefore, he saw the Holy Spirit as a commodity to be bought and sold. This entrepreneurial spirit is entrenched in the church to this very day, and much that masquerades as ministry is the peddling of the Gospel derived from the same counterfeit spirit. It is so much easier to preach power than repentance, because many men want the power of God, but few want to die to themselves and pick up their cross. You see, men must not just believe in God, but repent and be converted – that is true belief.

We suppose we are saved because we made a confession of faith and prayed the "sinner's prayer." Then we got baptized in water and joined a Bible-believing church. We may have also stopped doing certain things, stopped going certain places, or stopped keeping company with certain folks. Yet, all of these things can be done by someone who simply made an emotional or mental "decision" for Christ (as sincere as they might be) but was never truly saved. That is because salvation is a sovereign work of the Lord, and nothing we do can bring about the new birth found in Jesus alone -- He did it all! Eternal life is a most precious gift of God, and the only true measure of salvation is the indwelling Holy Spirit, given to each of us who truly receives life from God. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:9) May the Lord Himself sanctify you wholly, may your endurance and your good works prove that you really are God's child, and may there be no doubt that you are truly saved by grace and through faith. Amen.

Let's Pray - Father, may I not fall short of repentance. Forgive me for coming to You on any other basis than the shed Blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You and Amen.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Will of God

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

We suppose the Lord is preparing us for things here on earth; things like success, breakthroughs, the fulfillment of hope and dreams, financial prosperity, marriage, careers, ministry, etc. But that is not true. God is preparing His children for one thing only -- heaven. If we are prepared for heaven, we will do well with everything that pertains to this world; but we can gain the whole world and lose our own souls! Those who seek to fit into this world make themselves unfit for eternity; and in spiritual terms, eternity is all that matters.

The scriptures call for us to develop a Christ-centered perspective on all things, and to realize all the world has to offer is fading away. Those things are temporal and superficial, but we are spiritual, and the Lord has saved us for His eternal purpose. When we reckon ourselves to be citizens of heaven first, our value system changes dramatically, and our eyes focus on that which matters to God, not men. This new outlook renders us strange and ill-fitted for the world, but precious and useful to Christ, who desires we glorify His Father -- our Father. So, let the world pass away in all its futility, while we turn our hearts to God. May the Eternal King of Glory receive our worship now and forever. Amen.

Let's Pray Father God, give me the perspective of heaven, so I might see what You see and love what You love. I lay down my wisdom to receive Yours. Fill me with Your Spirit and lead me in the way I should go. In Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Jesus is Alive

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” (John 20:24)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not given to angels to communicate and spread. The Lord chose the apostles and the power of their testimony to carry the message all of creation longs to hear -- "Jesus is alive!" These are perhaps the most significant words ever spoken -- spoken by those who were there, who saw Him, touched Him, spoke with Him after His resurrection, and declared it to us. By faith and faith alone, we believe and receive their witness some 2000 years later. 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

No effort to discredit the resurrection (and there have been many a furious effort) has succeeded in dampening the fervor of the faithful, even those who have not seen, yet believed. We are that people, a holy nation of believers whom the Lord has drawn by His Spirit, and we stand out as bright and shining stars against a backdrop of unbelief and darkness. We have not seen Jesus face to face, but we know we will. So, we serve Him who we cannot see as though we do. While today we see as in a poorly-lit room, one day we will see Him clearly, face to face -- and this we know, because we have received the testimony of the fathers of our faith, even the scriptures. By faith we stand, we believe, and one day we'll see. Amen.

Let's Pray - Father God, I am looking forward to the day when I will see You face-to-face. May the reality of the Resurrection be the source of my strength and determination to live a holy and acceptable life before You. Jesus is alive, and He is alive in me! Amen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Faith and Experience

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 
(John 20:26-27)

While it is said that a wise person learns from experience, it is better said that a wise person learns best from someone else's experience! So it was for Thomas, and so it is for us. Thomas would not believe in the Resurrection simply because he was unwilling to accept the testimony of his fellow disciples. Yet, that is exactly how the Lord intended the truth be communicated; not according to sight and personal experience, but by the word of faith from those who came before us. Thanks be to God for the powerful testimony of those who have seen the risen Christ. That is how the Kingdom is shared and how the Kingdom works.

Most of us come to believe in God through the ministry and testimony of others. God uses their words and their witness to point us to heaven. When we hearken to them, we become part of something greater than we could ever be on our own - His church. Satan will do everything he can to get us to believe on an independent line, to disdain the words of our brothers and sisters, and to refuse the encouragement and wisdom they offer. But we do well to listen to those who have gone before us - those who have seen Jesus. The Lord would teach us many things through those seasoned believers. May we not be afraid to hear and follow those who have seen Christ more clearly than us! . . . do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)

Let's Pray - Lord, thank You for my fathers and mothers in the faith, whose testimony has strengthened and encouraged me in my walk. May I be an effective witness of the Living Christ to the generations to come. Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Believing Without Seeing

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-25)

“Unless I see . . . I will not believe.”
Thomas had eyes, but he could not see, because he would not see. A man may have sight, but spiritually speaking, he will never see until the Lord opens the eyes of his heart. Even then, he must be willing to receive his sight according what God reveals, and He always reveals His Son. Nothing else matters -- not miracles, victories, prosperity, healings, etc. We must see the Lord, for every good thing is found in Him. That is the simplicity and joy of faith -- nothing and no one matters any longer but Jesus.

Yes, the Lord clothes Himself in mystery and invisibility. He has hidden Himself from the learned and the wise, and the most intelligent are overwhelmed at even the prospect of comprehending Him or His ways. That is because He has chosen simplicity and humility over haughtiness and pride. He is meek and lowly, and we must come to Him as children or He will not receive us. Therefore, the world and its obsession with itself and its pleasures will never enjoy the fellowship available to those who simply hear and believe -- those who embrace the profound and indispensable joy of faith. Those are the ones who truly see God. The only ones.

Then He (Jesus) said, ". . . Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Let's Pray - Dear Lord, may I receive the truth in all its glory and simplicity -- in Christ and Him alone. Thank you for revealing the truth in Jesus, and for enabling me to believe it. Amen.