Friday, August 23, 2019

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

It's all about HIM!

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." -- Romans 11:36
Aristotle embraced the geocentric model, believing the earth to be the center of the universe. In 1543 Copernicus proposed a new paradigm placing the sun in the center. Over the years I have met some rather unusual individuals that dogmatically believe that they themselves are in fact the center of the universe. Could they all be wrong?
Paul has taken the Roman believers from the answer for mankind's lost condition to the divine elective plan for Israel. When all the detail and design is thoroughly revealed the reader can see that all the glory belongs to the Lord of creation. The whole universe comes together with beautiful symmetry when we acknowledge God as the true Center. Paul alone was right.
The best day is the one that begins with this truth: "For from him and through him and to him are all things." Every day continues to grow better and make more sense when, the Lord is given all the glory. Life is never about us... it's ALL about Him!

Think about this: "True have his promises been; not one has failed. I want none beside him. In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death; in poverty, Christ is my riches; in sickness, he makes my bed; in darkness, he is my star, and in brightness, he is my sun; he is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and he shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan. Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood; and of truth and grace he is full, infinitely full."
        - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

One way or the other...

"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." - Romans 11:6
We make decisions every day. Do you want fries with your order? Does the brown couch match better than the beige? Should you take the highway or the local road? In most cases you have to choose one or the other, but you can't have it both ways.
We find the same issue in spiritual matters. You will worship Jesus Christ or another God. You may believe God's Word or man's word. You may choose heaven or hell. Ultimately you must choose God's gift or your works, but you can't have it both ways.
Don't you wish you could "have your cake and eat it too" my friend? Some may teach you that heaven is reached by grace AND works. Others believe that our sins are paid for by Jesus AND our efforts. But the truth is clearly stated in the above verse. It's one way or the other, but you can't have it both ways.

Think about this: "Grace in the New Testament is not... an impersonal energy automatically switched on by prayer and sacraments, but the heart and hand of the living almighty God."
                                                                  - J. I. Packer

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Zealous for God ...

"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." -- Romans 10:2-4 
The pilot announced, "I have good news and bad news; the good news is, we're making great time and the bad news is, we're lost." Yes, it's an old worn out joke, but it readily applies in this case. Zeal and progress may be tremendous, but when the knowledge is lacking and the direction is wrong, all is lost.
Religion may seem to be just right, but if it isn't true to Scripture then people will suffer, both now and eternally. Paul wrote about his nation and the incredible zeal they had for God. Their relationship was solely built on a righteousness of their own without submitting to God's righteousness. For these "religious" people, there was no place for Christ, the end of the law.
Too many people are under the persuasion that they "know" all there is about the Bible and religion. Their zeal is unfounded and misdirected as a result. The reason to read the Scriptures is to find truth and find our way to God. While Paul wrote in verse 13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, he also wrote in verse 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Don't be in such a hurry that you lose your way. Stop and read the Word and be zealous for what is true.

Think about this: "Zeal is like fire; in the chimney it is one of the best servants, but out of the chimney it is one of the worst masters."
                                                                  - Thomas Brooks

Monday, August 19, 2019

Selfless Compassion ...

"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." -- Romans 9:1-3
I attended an ordination service for a good friend some years ago. He was being ordained to the Gospel ministry with a focus on inner city mission work. His brother spoke of growing up near the city and making many visits as a family. One thing he remembered about my friend was the way he wept over the homeless and downtrodden of the city. To this day my friend has unceasing anguish in his heart for the city. He has selfless compassion.
Sincere ministry should be passionate. The passion comes from deep within and motivates us as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14, "For Christ’s love compels us..." In the above passage he is also moved by the lost condition of his brothers and he has a passion for their salvation. His passion is so strong that he is willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers. He had selfless compassion.
Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the lost, what are we willing to give? Do we love the Lord and the lost enough to be passionate about their salvation? May we pray for the passion of Paul as we look to the fields that are white unto harvest? Sincere ministry needs selfless compassion.

Think about this: "It is a fair rule of thumb that only that love of neighbor which can also draw people to Christ is truly a reflection of that love for God which is its source."
                                                                                               — Jeremy C. Jackson

Sunday, August 18, 2019

FOREVER!

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
Over the years I have used a number of glues and epoxies. Some have been waterproof, others have been limited to wood, plastic or metal. There were also the well known "super-glues" that would restore your broken lamp in seconds. Still, the most important quality of any adhesive product is the ability to remain secure over time. 
Paul was confident in "super-glue" of God's love. It was and is impervious to catastrophes, life changes, earthly powers or the passage of time. Ultimately, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Such love can and will restore your broken life in seconds and you will remain secure over time.
Have you experienced trouble, hardship and rocky roads recently my friend? Have you questioned the love and care of others? Do you feel as if no one can put the pieces back together? Well, there is Someone who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and is ready to not only restore your broken life, but will hold you tight ... FOREVER!

Think about this: "In our first paradise in Eden there was a way to go out but no way to go in again. But as for the heavenly paradise, there is a way to go in, but no way to go out again."
                                                          - Richard Baxter

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Heirs to glory ...

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:17-18
Through the last two hundred years the majority of British monarchs have served in the military. Their service stretched from the American Revolution through World War Two. While they were officers, they were still involved in war, and the way to the throne was not easy. But, because they were heirs, the glory was theirs.
As children of the King of Kings, believers will share in his glory. Our path will lead us through the battles of spiritual warfare and the way may not be easy. As soldiers of the cross, we are called upon to serve our King with faithfulness in the darkest days of suffering. Yet, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.
Just because you are a co-heir with Christ, doesn't mean the road to heaven will be paved with gold. The battles will be tough and the hardships many. But, remember my friend, "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". So, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.

Think about this: "Think of yourself just as a seed patiently wintering in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener's good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming."
                         - C. S. Lewis