Friday, August 29, 2014

No more secrets

“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Secret societies and fraternal organizations have existed for ages. People are drawn to them because they promise the knowledge of secrets that only members can know. We all seem to be interested in knowing secrets of the hidden past and the unknown future. But the only secrets worth knowing are those that can change our lives for the good.
From ancient times, God prepared to help his people with unheard and unknown blessings. In a real sense they are secret blessings that begin with salvation by grace. With this gift comes the Holy Spirit who reveals even the deep things of God to all his children. There are no more secrets.
Why look elsewhere for spiritual wisdom my friend? There is no church or special group that will give you that certain edge to know the mind of God. Take advantage of the truth that Paul writes, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (vs.12) Walk in the Spirit and know the mind of God.

Think about this: "The true knowledge of God will result, not in our being puffed up with conceit at how knowledgeable we are, but in our falling on our faces before God in sheer wonder and crying, "O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unfathomable his ways!" Whenever our knowledge becomes dry or leaves us cold, something has gone wrong."
           - John R. W. Stott

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The powerful cross

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." -- 1 Corinthians 1:17
Over two thousand years have passed since the above passage was written. Yet to this very day the average public is still drawn to the eloquent speaker. There are times that they will choose one personality over another because of well spoken words. Lack of experience or skill may be overlooked if the crowd can be wooed with fine words of human wisdom. Words may satisfy, but they can never save.
Salvation comes from a work, not words. The cross of Christ is the power of God to save the souls of men and women. When religious charlatans lead people astray by winsome words they have emptied the cross of Christ of its power. So, when a faithful preacher gives the message of the gospel it should be simple and focused on the power of the cross and not the proficiency of words.
Be careful who you listen to my friend. Be wise in your choice of preachers. Those who are well spoken may tickle your ears and make you feel good, but are you receiving the truth in all its power? Never sacrifice the life of the cross for the love of words.

Think about this: "In the cross is health, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is heavenly sweetness, in the cross strength of mind, in the cross joy of the Spirit, in the cross the height of virtue, in the cross perfection of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope of eternal life, save in the cross."
                     - Thomas à Kempis

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Be wise...

"Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil." -- Romans 16:19
The pursuit of knowledge can be quite profitable. Next week classes will be filled with students seeking an education in preparation for a career. While these studies can be good, there are some college experiences that would be best avoided. Some students will graduate wise in what is good, but others will not be so wise.
Paul was very well educated. His writings and testimony reveal great insight and understanding in many areas. But he saw the need to be discerning in our pursuit of knowledge. With only so much time and too much to learn, Paul directs us to be "wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil"
Knowing all about evil will never improve our ability to deal with temptation. Being wise about what is good will deepen our walk with God and strengthen our resolve against sin. Choose your reading and media carefully my friend. Someone wisely said, "You are what you read.

Think about this: "The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind."
                     - A. W. Tozer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We need others

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf" - Romans 15:30
You go to your doctor, lawyer, professor or some other professional for specific help. You see them as people who have expertise in their field to give help, not receive help. But, don't they ever need support from others? Doctors need nurses, lawyers need paralegals, and professors need research assistants. No man is an island ... people need people.
In that spirit, Paul was never so independent that he didn't need others. He was a premier apostle with credentials galore and yet he sought help from brothers in Christ. His request was made with passionate words that acknowledged the need for prayer support. No Christian is an island ... believers need believers.
Are you always ready to pray for someone in need my friend? This is good, but when have  you been transparently honest about your own needs? When was the last time you asked for prayer and support from others? Follow the example of Paul and be as ready to ask for help as your are to give help. You're not an island ... you need others.

Think about this: "For the early Christians koinonia was not the frilly 'fellowship' of church-sponsored bi-weekly outings. It was not tea, biscuits and sophisticated small talk in the Fellowship Hall after the sermon. It was an unconditional sharing of their lives with the other members of Christ's body."
                                                                  - Ronald J. Sider

Monday, August 25, 2014

Acceptance

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" -- Romans 15:7
Being accepted onto a college campus as a freshman can be quite a challenge. It all begins with someone who is willing to welcome you. An upper class-man that remembers receiving a kind welcome themselves always helps. Acceptance leads to acceptance.
Paul knew what it was like to be suspect as a new believer. To be accepted by Jesus was a great blessing after he had persecuted so many believers. This gracious reception by the Lord marked Paul's ministry forever. Acceptance led to acceptance.
In the Christian family we all stand on level ground. Jesus forgave each of us and lovingly receives us into his fold. If our Lord is so accepting of us, how can we not be accepting of one another? Acceptance should lead to acceptance.

Think about this: "God has a secret method by which he recompenses his saints: he sees to it that they become the prime beneficiaries of their own benefactions!"
                                                                             - I. D. E. Thomas

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stay awake

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." -- Romans 13:11
Have you ever been awakened by the alarm clock, wondering about the time? Did you find yourself so groggy that you weren't sure what day it was? Thankfully, after a few moments and a splash of cold water on your face, you were awake and ready to take on the world. That's a good thing, because the day wouldn't go so well if you walked around in a state of slumber. The blessings of life will pass you by when you're asleep.
Our spiritual lives are no different. While we have been made alive in Jesus, we're not always awake. If we were, Paul would have no reason to write this admonition. If we walk through life in a state of slumber we won't understand the present time or live in readiness for the Lord's return. Spiritual blessings will pass you by when you're asleep.
Occasionally you will read about someone who has been in a very long coma. When they awaken they are shocked and saddened at how much time has passed since they slipped into the deep sleep. Don't be a coma Christian my friend. Wake up from your slumber and live your life to the full for Christ. Get the most out of God's challenges and blessings before they pass you by.

Think about this: "Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act."
                                                              - Richard Baxter

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Maintain your zeal

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." -- Romans 12:11
When I was growing up I played football and soccer. We always looked forward to game day. Practices were not as much fun or exciting. We were driven by our coaches to built our stamina and skill. To win on game day, we needed to maintain our zeal.
The spiritual life is no different. We all want to do the fun ministry activities. But if we don't practice by performing spiritual disciplines, we'll never build stamina. The Lord wants us to have energy and zeal in the second half of our lives. To win the race set before us by the Lord, we need to maintain our zeal.
You may be excited about preaching, witnessing and counseling those in need. But if you hope to keep your fervor over the years, you need stamina. Make quality time to pray and read the Scriptures every day. Listen to the voice of God and nurture a deeper walk with him through discipline. Get back to the basics of your spiritual life and then you will have the zeal to win.

Think about this: "A disciple can be forgiven if he does not have great mental ability. He can be forgiven also if he does not display outstanding physical prowess. But no disciple can be excused if he does not have zeal. If his heart is not aflame with a red-hot passion for the Savior, he stands condemned."
                                                                      - William Macdonald