Tuesday, December 30, 2014
"O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people." Psalms 105:1. We have in this simple passage three grand admonitions. Give thanks. Call upon God. Make known His deeds. In a lot of instances, we desire to call upon Him without the giving of thanks and making known His deeds. We often make requests of God and forget gratitude for blessings and deeds already bestowed. Thanksgiving is a grace never to be forgotten. Always should we be thankful to God and share with others what He has done for us. We must not be ashamed of God, but rather be willing and anxious to tell of what He has given and performed for us as a result of our calling upon Him. Calling upon God requires our trust in Him. We believe that He is willing and able. We believe that He is listening and that He hears. Giving thanks is a sign of gratitude and humility that we have received from Him what we could not give nor do for ourselves. Making known His deeds speaks to our commitment unto Him and our desire for others to know God as we know Him. God's demands of us are indeed simple.
Friday, December 26, 2014
The birth of Jesus Christ was certainly an important event. We, as a society, take notice of births. But, an event that was far greater than the birth of Jesus was the death of Jesus. This is the event that we are to honor. Jesus took bread and the cup and blessed them. Of the bread, He said, "This is my body." Of the cup, He said, "This is my blood." Matthew 26:26-29. This observance would begin when Jesus would "drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matthew 26:29. Following His resurrection from the grave, Jesus sat on the throne in His kingdom. Acts 2:30-31. The bread and cup, which we know as the Lord's Supper, calls us to a remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. I Corinthians 11:17-29. Each Sunday as the church comes together, we recall that sacrifice that required God's mercy and justice. As we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are assured that our sins have been forgiven and we are in fellowship with God. We look back to Calvary where He died and we look forward to His coming again. We look within ourselves and examine our hearts to know that we are in harmony with Him. As we partake of the Lord's Supper, we give thanks unto God that He loved us to the extent that He "gave his only begotten Son." John 3:16.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The very first beatitude which is written in the final book of inspiration states, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Revelation 1:3. In order to keep those things, we must know those things. To know means that we must read and hear. The will of God has been written in words so that we may read. "Whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." Ephesians 3:4. The mystery of Christ can be understood when we read. "Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read..." Isaiah 34:16. God wants us to be readers of His word. As we read, we come to understanding. Understanding brings us to obedience. We are to keep, store within our minds, what God has revealed for us to know. Keeping His word in our mind will help us in times of temptation and trial. The words give us light in the darkness and comfort in the storm. This brings us to a state of blessedness. We are blessed because of our knowledge and understanding of God and His direction for our lives. The worldly conditions of life cannot remove this blessedness. Happy is the one who reads the eternal words of life.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Jesus echoed the sentiment of God, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:3-5. Repentance is heaven's message to us. Each one is guilty, and so, each one must repent. In repentance, one acknowledges sin, forsakes sin, and turns to God. One cannot come to God and bring his sins. The ministry of John the Baptist was a voice that called sinners to repentance. "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2. Jesus preached the same theme in Matthew 4:17. And in delivering His commission of preaching to all the world, Jesus instructed that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:47. The multitude that crucified Jesus was commanded, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Acts 2:38. There is no remission of sins without repentance. God wants man to see himself in the mire of sin. God allows man to leave his sin and come to salvation through repentance. Repentance is possible because of God's goodness and God's longsuffering. Romans 2:4 and II Peter 3:9. From heaven's merciful God through Christ, let us heed the call to repent.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Jesus brings Peter, James, and John up on the mountain. Jesus is transfigured or changed. His face shines and His garment becomes white as light. After Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, Peter wants to build three tabernacles. It is at this moment that God speaks, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him." Matthew 17:1-5. In these last days, God has spoken through His Son. Hebrews 1:1-2. The voice of the prophets is now silent. Jesus, through His death, has ratified a new covenant. Hebrews 9:15-17. After the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth. John 16:13. The words of Christ have become the law by which we live. Jesus taught, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:23. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He declared, "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18. Our spiritual lives and our relationship with Christ depends upon our willingness to hear Him in all things.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The New Testament book of Acts is a book of conversions. Conversion is what takes place when one makes a decision to leave the walks of sin and follow in the steps of Jesus Christ. Conversion means that all sin of the past is purged by the blood of Jesus Christ and new life in Jesus Christ begins. The book of Acts begins and ends with the preaching of the gospel. Acts 2:14-40 and Acts 28:17-28. The first sermon consists of three necessary points that are indeed the very heart of the gospel. These points are the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The audience was convicted of their sin of having crucified Jesus. Acts 2:37. Having been pricked in their heart, they asked for direction. Acts 2:37. The question was answered by Peter, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38. About 3,000 souls "gladly received his word and were baptized." Acts 2:41. Baptism washed away their sin and saved them. Acts 22:16 and I Peter 3:21. As the saved, they became known as the church. Acts 2:47.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." I Thessalonians 5:22. Evil wears a disguise. It raised its ugly head in the garden in the form of wisdom. Yet, it ruined humanity. Evil ensnares and destroys. Life will come to know regret. The burden of guilt will wear away the soul. So, we must abstain. Only the wise stay clear of evil. But, we are admonished not only to abstain from evil, but avoid the very appearance. Some roads do not appear to be the best in order to reach our destination. And, thus, some activities in which we might engage ourselves appear to be better left untouched. Sin is not a culprit with which we should play. Stains are always left. David, the king, cast his eye across the way and saw the beautiful, Bathsheba. Behold, the harm which was done. Solomon married many strange women, and the kingdom was torn asunder. Evil always has an appearance. There is a face that can be detected even in the smallest form. Some have walked just to the edge of the cliff to see what lay beyond, and suddenly slipped into oblivion. Stay clear if there is even a hint of darkness. Pass on by if you detect the slightest imperfection. Do so, not just sometimes, but every time.
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." I Thessalonians 5:21. As we listen to preaching, we are to test that which is preached. We are to prove the prophet. The reason for testing is "many false prophets are gone out into the world." I John 4:1. Jesus, the teacher who was sent from God, warned that "many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Matthew 24:5. The words which are heard must be tested according to the divine standard, which is the word of God. "To the law and to the testimony: for if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20. False teaching is presented for the purpose of deception. The Devil will use this means to ensnare us and remove us from God. All hearers have the responsibility of proving the doctrine which is taught. The hearers at Thessalonica "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11. We must secure what is true, lest it slip from our mind.
Monday, December 15, 2014
"Despise not prophesyings." I Thessalonians 5:20. To despise is to regard as nothing or to treat with contempt. The word of God which has been revealed and is taught unto wayward humanity should be honored and revered. The teaching of God is valuable to the spiritual well being of all. The church must give heed to the will of God so that we remain in fellowship with Him. God through teaching has imparted unto us knowledge that is needed for our salvation and our walk with Him. God by preaching has provided guidance for our spiritual life. When preaching is heard and obeyed, we receive pardon for our iniquity. Prophesying gives a light amidst the darkness of evil to prevent our stumbling. Prophesying is the manner that God has chosen to reveal Himself unto us. Prophesying offers unto the hearers hope, peace, and comfort. We are to give the "more earnest heed unto the things which we have heard". Hebrews 2:1. Instruction is not to be refused, nor should preaching be neglected. God's teaching keeps us from danger and guards us against the pitfalls that would destroy us. Our eternal future is dependent upon how we hear God's prophesying.
Paul continues his admonitions, "Quench not the Spirit." I Thessalonians 5:19. The saved of Jesus Christ having been united with Him in baptism are given "the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38. But, the saved if they so choose can drown the Spirit. The Spirit of God is as a sacred fire within. As one would drown a fire by throwing water upon it, so one can drown the influence of the Spirit within the soul of the saved. We can refuse the Spirit's urgings. We can refuse to follow the Spirit's call. Through the allure of the world, we can quench the Spirit. Living by our passions, we can quench the Spirit. The Spirit abides within and provides spiritual strength to defeat lust and the invitation of worldliness. Allowing passion to rule us causes us to quench the Spirit. God's Holy Spirit has been given as a gift to lead the saved in the way of salvation and to empower us to overcome every device of evil. If we surrender to Satan's devices, we have quenched the Spirit. The Spirit enables us to destroy the carnal and walk the holy path of righteousness. Allow that power to work within us to bring us into the purity of God's presence.
Friday, December 5, 2014
Somewhere in the world today a mother and father weep for the loss of a child. Somewhere in the world today a parent dies because of a terminal illness. Somewhere in the world today a senseless murder takes place. This physical world is sometimes seen as simply a land of sorrow. Loss touches all of us. Jesus reminded His disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27. Jesus was going to die upon the cross so that redemption could be possible. He was going to arise from the dead so that victory over death would be possible. In the midst of sorrow, Jesus was giving hope. He wanted His followers to look not just to the present, but rather He wanted them to see the future. Amidst loss and death, there is a hope for a better life. There is a land where children will not die and parents will not suffer. There is a land where disease will not invade and tears will not be shed. There is a land where sin and evil will not be found. There is a land where hearts will not be troubled. Jesus has guaranteed that future.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
The last part of the passage in I Thessalonians 5:18 states, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." God has a will for us. In Christ Jesus, this will is revealed. The Bible is the book that is God's will for man. Paul has made that will personal. Oftentimes, we choose to think that the will of God is for others. But, God's will concerns me. The passage tells me of God's concern for me. I am made aware of the personal relationship that God wants with me. God wants me to pray unto Him. God wants my heart to be filled with joy. God wants me to give thanks unto Him. God has chosen to make my life better and more fulfilled through His will for me. His will helps me to know direction and purpose. His will enables me to avoid the pitfalls and obstacles that lead me away from Him. His will for my life is not a burden, but a blessing. Regardless of what others might choose, I need to know that God has a will that concerns me.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
"In everything give thanks." I Thessalonians 5:18. Gratitude is a virtue that all should possess. We are to be grateful because of who we are. We are to give thanks because we are blessed. Some things we do not believe are worthy of thanksgiving. We have trials and difficulties. We experience sorrow and loss. But, adversity is essential for character. God provides for us in all ways. Blessings are poured out for us due to the benevolence of God. The Father gives strength in times of weakness and joy in times of discomfort. God gives help to the helpless and wisdom to the seeker. He offers redemption to the slave and hope to the wayward. From His bountiful goodness, we are ever blessed. Thanksgiving is the "sacrifice of our praise and the fruit of our lips." Hebrews 13:15. God is worthy of our gratitude because of the blessings given and the grace bestowed.
"Pray without ceasing." I Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is a part of the Christian armour that enables us to overcome the wiles of Satan. Prayer is our access unto God through Jesus Christ. Prayer allows us the privilege of speaking to God. In prayer, we can ask and give thanks for what has already been received. In prayer, we should find strength and joy. The verse exhorts us to be a person of prayer. We are not simply to pray when we have need. We are to be always in prayer. When we find ourselves in turmoil, prayer should be a resource where we seek help. When we find ourselves in joy, prayer should be filled with thanksgiving. We should not abandon prayer when life is troublesome. Neither should we fail to pray when life is going well. Daniel, in captivity, prayed three times daily. The situation of his life did not make him lose sight of his opportunity to pray. The psalmist prayed at morning, noon, and at evening. Prayer is to be constant. Prayer are moments when we speak to the strongest of the Strong, the wisest of the Wise, the greatest of the Great. Prayer brings us into the presence of the Creator. Prayer brings us before the throne of the Almighty. Do not cease to pray.
Monday, December 1, 2014
"Rejoice evermore." I Thessalonians 5:16. This is a simple, and yet, profound admonition. The Christian is to be in a state of constant rejoicing. We have much for which to rejoice. God is our Father and Jesus is our Savior. Heaven is our hope. God is always available and Jesus is our constant companion. We have fellowship with those of "like precious faith." We can draw strength from the Word of God. Our faith can grow and be our guide. We have light for our path so that we do not stumble. Answers can be found to the perplexing questions of life. Solutions are given for the disturbances of life. Our journey has meaning and focus. Blessings abound and grace flows from the throne of heaven. Satan cannot defeat us and the grave has been robbed of its victory. Glory is our future. Indeed, rejoice always.