Archive for December, 2015

29
Dec
15

GREATER THINGS

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. John 14:12
Many times, Christians seem to be unable to believe that we can accomplish great things, and have trouble placing our faith in Jesus to that end. It reminds me of a climber who fell off a cliff, catching a branch on his way down. “Help! Is there anybody up there?” he shouted.
A majestic voice boomed through the gorge:
“I will help you, my son, but first you must have faith in me.”
“Yes, yes, I trust you!” cried the man.
“Let go of the branch,” boomed the voice.
There was a long pause, and the man shouted up again, “Is there anybody else up there?”
Jesus has told us that we can do “greater works” than He, if we will only place our trust in Him and do His works. Just like the man in the story, taking a leap of faith by letting go of the branch can be a scary prospect, but if we put our faith in His words, then we can accomplish great works.
Of course, those “greater works” will come by the power of the Holy Spirit, but we are to be done by us, because Jesus Christ has gone to the Father.

29
Dec
15

NEW GOALS AND OLD PLANS

Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16



As Christians look forward to a new year, many will ultimately hope for better outcomes for the future. Some will resolve to lose weight, get in better physical shape, earn a better job, or some other worthy endeavor. There will be many new goals, with many new plans, most of which will be met with futility.  Either the dieting will be too hard or expensive, or the clock rings too early to do the exercise video.
But for the disciple who desires to have a closer walk with the Lord, a new goal must be achieved by an old plan, not a new one. God said to stand in the ways and “ask for the old paths, where the good way is.” Having a better relationship with God can’t be gained by new programs, flashy ideas or fanciful notions. No, this goal can only be gained by walking with God and standing for that which He stands.
Using a Biblical worldview is not popular in our day and age. But God has called us to be a holy priesthood and a peculiar people. Through Bible study, prayer and worship we will be able to have a closer walk with the Lord, and then we will find rest for our souls.

29
Dec
15

GOD HATES REAR VIEW MIRRORS

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
 New Year’s Day is a time of reflection and a time for looking ahead. We tend to look back on the past year and revel in our triumphs and regret our errors. We look into the new year with optimism of a better life, even setting goals and resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, or just be a better person. New Year’s Day can certainly be a time of celebration, sorrow, or a mix of both.
 Paul wrote to the church in Philippi during his first imprisonment around 61 A.D., about 10 years after he planted the church there. In this section of Scripture, he is encouraging them to follow his example by doing two things: forgetting the past and looking ahead. The reason that Paul does so is explained in verse 14: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He was adamant that the best was yet to come.
 For a believer, looking back can be disastrous in a couple of ways. First, we can tend to look back at the past sins in our lives, and endure in the sorrow of the bad things that we have done. But we must be reminded that in His lovingkindness, God has thrown our sin into the sea to be remembered no more, by either Him or us (Micah 7:19)! Second, looking back on the things that we have done for the cause of Christ can possibly cause us to become satisfied with our past accomplishments and achievements. I often wonder if this is part of the reason that Paul said that he was “pressing on toward the goal.”
 When we are in our cars, we use our rear view mirrors to glance at what is behind us for a split second. We should dwell on the road that is ahead of us. But as Christians, it can be all too easy to stare in the rear view mirror. For that reason, God hates the rear view mirrors on the road trip that we call life. Let us do like Paul, and keep our eyes on the road that is ahead of us.

19
Dec
15

CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS: TOLERANCE

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.I Timothy 1:15-16
The word “tolerance” here is intended to make us think of “patience.” It has been said that patience is a virtue, and it is one of the fruits of the spirit. Yet our idea of getting patience is often reflected in the prayer, “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me now!”
This verse says that Jesus was born as the God-man to be the savior of the world. When we accept His free gift of salvation, then it magnifies His glory, and His patience to us. Some of us keep putting off the conviction of the Holy Spirit for salvation. Some of us put off admitting our sins and shortcomings after we are born again. Some of us may put off fulfilling the call which He has intended for us. But He is always patient and loving to keep nudging us, and not doing away with us. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Let us resolve to be at least as patient with others as Christ is toward us.

19
Dec
15

CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS: SACRIFICE

Who, although He existed in the form of God,did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of at bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:6-8
It is a remarkable thing to think that the Son of God would humble Himself as much as He did for my benefit. Jesus humbled Himself by taking the form of a man, and allowed Himself to be beaten, mutilated, murdered, and separated from the Father so that I could be united with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. All this for rebellious creatures who have proven to be a sorrow in His side time and time again.
Jesus showed us what it means to be selfless. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He did what He didn’t have to do, but His own love impelled Him to be the sacrifice that once and for all satisfied the debt of sin. What the blood of goats and bulls could not do, His blood covered all for all of time. By His stripes we are healed.
Let us all look at our lives, and if we are selfless like Jesus was selfless. Do we go out of our way for the good of others? Do we do what inconveniences us to reach out to others? How much of ourselves do we truly give? Let us all resolve to be better examples of Christ’s sacrifice.

19
Dec
15

CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS: IMAGE

For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.Colossians 1:13-15
In 1990, Canon proved that “Image is Everything.” They employed a good-looking, young, up-and-coming tennis prodigy from Las Vegas named Andre Agassi to be their spokesperson. The popular tennis player seemed to put as much effort in his appearance and off-court persona as he did his on-court prowess. That is a hefty assessment, since he won a total of eight majors and a career grand slam.
But the savvy and clever marketing on Canon’s part definitely paid off. Throughout the 1990’s Canon led the industry in sales of point-and-shoot cameras as well as SLR cameras. Canon seemed to prove that image is everything, after all.
God Almighty knows so about image being everything, that He introduced it to us before Canon even ever thought about it as a slogan. For God, it was not just a slogan, but it was His practice. John 1:14 tells us, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “The Word” referenced in this verse is Jesus Christ.
In the Scripture here, it is reinforced that Jesus is the image of God.  Why is He called “the image of the invisible God?”  First, He “delivered us from the domain of darkness,” and then He offered us “redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus Christ came to earth in order to be our sacrifice, once and for all, doing what the blood of animals could never do. But we also must consider that He came not as a conquering king, but as a fragile baby, born in a manger, to grow and live among us. Immanuel, God with us, was one of us, but He was so much more. He was the God-man: 100% fully God and 100% fully man.
He was the image of the invisible God. Hallelujah!

19
Dec
15

CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS: REDEMPTION

And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.Matthew 1:21
What a message Mary received! The angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she was carrying the Messiah in her womb! Part of the instructions that she was given was that she was to call him Jesus, because Jesus means “savior.”
That the creator of the universe, who saw His creation turn its back on Him, would subject Himself to human limitations such as hunger, pain, and exhaustion so that He could be put to death for that creation’s own good is more than one could imagine. Yet, He did it, willingly and without a moment’s hesitation.
The sin of mankind required that if he was to have a relationship with God, blood had to be spilled. God would have been perfectly just to not make such a provision, but He refused to say no to a world that was lost and in desperate need of a Savior, who would shed His blood, once and for all, for the redemption of mankind.
Thanks be to God for the willingness of the Son to have the Father put Him to death, so that we could be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!




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