Friday, February 27, 2015
A simple exhortation begins the final chapter of the book of Hebrews. "Let brotherly love continue." Hebrews 13:1. That which was essential to the brotherhood of Christ must not cease to burn. Those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ are to love one another. The love of God spans the universe and is available to every human soul. So, they who choose to envelope this love in their own hearts must love as He loves. We must "love the brotherhood." I Peter 2:17. The love of brethren is the link in the chain of God's love for us. We cannot love God unless we love each other. Brotherly love binds us to the heart of God. Brotherly love reaches beyond the boundaries of countries and cultures. It is unhindered by race and education. Language does not influence the love of brothers and sisters in Christ. His love is the energy of our love. Brotherly love encourages and aids. Brotherly love shows compassion and caring. Brotherly love "weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice." Brotherly love lifts and supports. Brotherly love forgives. The love of God cannot be extinguished. God's love for humanity continues to burn even when we betray and forsake. His love forgives and binds. Thus, as we love Him, we love each other. The heart that loves continues to live. Let us not cease to love each other so that the world might always know that we are born of Him.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Over a period of a few hours, the snow accumulated to several inches. I watched from the window as the beautiful white covered the ground and hung from the tree branches. The landscape was totally changed. What was brown and dead had now been converted to an awesome canopy of white which was pure and clean. Isaiah spoke to a "sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that were corrupters; people who had forsaken the Lord, and provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, and had gone away backward." Isaiah 1:4. However, they were given this promise and this opportunity, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18. That which was ugly and dead could once again know life and beauty. Those who had turned away could return. They who had provoked could still know His love. Their sins which separated them from God could be "as white as snow." There is something extraordinary about white droplets falling from the sky and covering the ground with awesome beauty. There is something extraordinary about "sins as scarlet becoming as white as snow." Perhaps, a fallen flake of snow still speaks of love and grace. Yes, it even speaks of revival and redemption.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
"One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:6. The writers of the Bible affirm that there is but one God. The world has, and will continue to have, many gods. Idolatry has been a problem which has afflicted humanity since the beginning of time. The God whom Christians serve is our Father. God is the Father of all who will seek Him and desire to know Him. His Fatherhood is without boundaries. All creatures can know Him. God cares and nurtures His children. He listens to our problems. He attends unto our needs. God, the Father, guards and protects. God is a Father of love. Mercy flows from His throne. God is greater than all. He has the power to do what no other can do. The gods which are enthroned by men cannot deliver, nor can they preserve. They cannot comfort the human heart. Material gods leave a void in the human soul. The creation announces Him. The universe declares Him. His children are the greatest work of His glory. Through His redemptive act, His mercy and grace is manifested throughout all the earth. God lives and abides with all those who know Him as Father. The reality of His being is witnessed by those who call Him Father. There is but one God. Glory, glory.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
"O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield." Psalm 115:9-11. Our trust in God will yield unto us the blessing of His help. We are not asked to trust in the material aspects of our world, but rather, we are asked to trust in God. The material things of the world perish, but God abides. The Lord, which made heaven and earth, wants us to trust Him. In trust, we yield ourselves unto Him. In trust, we believe the word which He has spoken. Trust leads to fear. To fear God is not to be afraid of God, but rather, give reverence unto Him. Our fear of God gives Him our heart. We recognize His faithfulness, His power, and His love. The fear of the Lord will bring us to obedience of His will. As an obedient servant, we are given His protection and care. We are given a shield against the adversities, the burdens, and the temptations of life. With this shield, we can overcome, defeat, and destroy the enemy. This help and shield allows us to know joy and peace; confidence and hope; patience and security. If we want God to help, we must trust God. If we want God to provide us with a shield in the face of battle, we must fear God. God is, and will, forever be a help and shield unto those who trust and fear Him.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Nehemiah has been informed that "the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire." Nehemiah 1:3. This news made Nehemiah exceedingly sorrowful. Spiritual decline should make us sorrowful. Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and prayed. His prayer was made "before the God of heaven." The gods of the land where Nehemiah was in captivity could not help. Do we seek help from the gods of the land? Only the God of heaven can help us . Nehemiah prayed, "Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant..." Nehemiah 1:6. Nehemiah was earnestly praying and he wanted God to hear. Surely when we pray unto God, we want Him to hear us. Nehemiah confessed the sins of Israel that had placed them in this dilemma. Nehemiah did not blame God for that which brought conflict to his soul, but rather, he asked God for forgiveness and help. Our spiritual walls have been broken down. Our spiritual gates have been burned. We have forgotten God and His will for our lives. We need, as this faithful servant, need to confess our sins and pray "before the God of heaven." This God forgives and restores.
"O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is they name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens." Psalm 8:1. He is our Lord. The Almighty rules and controls. His creation bows in submission to His will. The Lord causes us to rise up, and He can cast down. The Lord works all things according to His counsel. His name is excellent because of His greatness, His glory, and His endurance. The Lord continues while all things cease. His glory is declared through all the earth. His glory is seen in the glittering stars of the night, and in the brilliant light of the day. His glory is seen in birth and in death. We are reminded of our temporal nature and His eternal nature. The Lord reveals Himself unto us. The Lord desires to be our Lord. We can share in His glory. His glory and excellence blesses our life. May the Lord be our Lord, and may His excellence be known through us.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." Isaiah 1:19. God says that my blessings upon you come with a price. We, however, seem to want everything at a discount. We bargain shop. With God, however, there is no basement discounts. Serving God comes at a cost. The people to whom Isaiah is writing wanted "the good of the land", but did not want to "be willing and obedient." We must serve God because we are willing to serve Him. God would have it no other way. The willing heart is the obedient heart. God rewards willingness and obedience. Our "good land" is the daily blessings that He gives unto us. Our "good land" is in the peace and confidence that we possess because of our relationship with Him. There is no relationship with God outside of willingness and obedience. Our "good land" is in the hope that has been given us through Jesus Christ. Our "good land" is the rest and comfort surrounding our journey through this worldly land. To the "willing and obedient" there is an eternal promise of a "good land" where all the sorrows and disappointments of this land will no longer be known. Indeed, if we be willing and obedient, we shall eat the good of the land.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied." I Peter 1:2. The elect are the saved because of God's willingness to save. A call of election has come by the gospel of Jesus Christ. All who respond in obedience become the elect. God, who is infinite in knowledge, saw from times eternal man's need to be saved. The fall of man required a Savior. Jesus Christ shed His blood to save the fallen race. The obedient are restored to the favor of God. The Spirit sanctifies. The elect are made fit to serve God and glorify Him. The elect walk in a manner that is acceptable unto God. The elect seek God's good pleasure. The elect understand their calling and have appreciation for the blessings which are bestowed upon them by God. The elect guard their relationship with God. The elect have access to the blessings of grace and peace. Grace has offered unto all the opportunity to become the elect. Peace is the effect of becoming the elect.
Friday, February 13, 2015
"And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Romans 1:4. Jesus said that He was the Son of God. Jesus was believed to be the Son of God. Jesus was confessed as the Son of God. God spoke from heaven and owned Jesus as His son. The many miracles which were performed by Jesus gave testimony that He was God's Son. The very word that was spoken by Jesus was an evidence that He was the Son of God. But, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead proved beyond any doubt that He was God's Son. His birth and life announced the Christ as God in the flesh. But, the resurrection removed all argument of the divine nature of Jesus. Jesus knew that He would die, but also, He knew that He would live. Jesus Christ came forth from the grave bringing the "keys of hell and death." His resurrection insures our resurrection. Death has been conquered. The grave has been overcome. The empty tomb of Jesus is assurance forever that the dead will live again. The power necessary to break the bonds of death is beyond human comprehension. The power that created all things is the power that left death in defeat. The dead corpse of the one who claimed to be divine was laid to rest in the grave. The power of God breathed life into that lifeless body and declared for all time: Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The apostle John wrote his first epistle so that those who were in fellowship with God might not sin. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not." I John 2:1. Those who have chosen to walk with Jesus Christ know that their sins have been forgiven. The blood of Jesus Christ has "cleansed us from all sin." I John 1:7. But, we must continue to battle sin. The devil continues to entice and ever attempts to deceive. The word of God is a shield against sin. By the word of God, we know how powerful sin is. We know what we must do to overcome sin. Sin is destructive. It severs our relationship with God and will ultimately condemn the soul. Sin cannot be treated as though it does not exist. Sin cannot be seen as something that is trivial. Sin must be seen as an enemy. Sin does not seek to build us up, but rather, sin seeks to tear us down. Sin brings pain, heartbreak, and regret. This word written by John was to remind those who had been forgiven so that they did not return to the old life of sin. This word was written as a word of warning, but also, it was a word of encouragement. These "little children" had been delivered from sin. These "little children" had been purged of sin. These "little children" had been freed from the bondage of sin. They now knew true freedom. They now knew true fellowship. John did not want them to go back. He did not want them to taint their souls with that which had been removed at such a price as the blood of Jesus. John had written "that they might not sin." Let us read the precious words so that we "might not sin."
Monday, February 9, 2015
"And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread..." Acts 20:7. Upon the first day of every week, the church comes together to worship our God. This is a very special day. Not only do we sing, pray, study, and give, but we also partake of the Lord's Supper. This is a time to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." I Corinthians 11:26. Our minds are to reflect upon that event as we eat the bread and drink the cup. We see the suffering Savior after He was tried and scourged. Jesus does not possess the strength to carry His cross to the place of execution. Once they arrive upon the hill of Calvary, Jesus is nailed to the cross. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain. A crown of thorns is placed upon His head. His clothes have been stripped from His body. There upon the cross of redemption hangs a bloody, mangled, body. Within view of her dying Son stands His mother. No doubt, she is brokenhearted beyond human belief. The hours pass. The crowd mingles. Cries of mockery and derision are offered by this heartless mob. And suddenly, God shows His displeasure. Blackness falls upon the hill of death. The earth begins to quake. Jesus is finally dying. After six hours of agony, Jesus utters His final words. The plan is fulfilled. Calvary has become the mercy seat of propitiation. The blood of Jesus has become the offering for human sin. Man can now truly be reconciled unto God. A place where the stench of death and suffering hung in the air has become the hope of all mankind. Upon that hill on that fateful day, the gates of heaven were opened for those who choose to obey the Christ and throughout their lives, honor this event. Every first day, we, the church, remember.
Friday, February 6, 2015
"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation." Psalm 62:1. Do you have difficulty waiting upon God? Waiting requires trust. "Trust in him at all times." Psalm 62:8. The psalmist waits for God because of who God is and what God can do. God is declared to be our salvation, our rock and defense, and a refuge for us. Power and mercy belong to God. None other can save and defend. All other refuges will fail. God cannot be cast down from His excellence. Our enemies will be weighted in the balance and cast down. As a leaning wall and a tottering fence, they shall fall. Our expectation is from God. Expectation looks beyond the present. Expectation moves us to wait. God has spoken and His word shall not fail. God will come to deliver. We trust, and therefore, we wait.