Thursday, May 28, 2015

At One Through Christ

"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."  Romans 5:11.  The man from Ethiopia went on his way rejoicing after he was baptized into Christ.  Acts 8:39.  Through Christ, we are made one with God.  We were separated from God because of sin.  But, Jesus satisfied God's judgment for sin.  Jesus paid the ransom price that was required for redemption.  We are united with Christ in baptism.  Romans 6:3-5.  Through that union we are reconciled unto God.  The barrier that separated us from God was broken down.  The gulf between God and man was bridged.  Jesus provided an atonement.  God was satisfied.  Judgment was satisfied.  Joy comes to the human heart.  Sin is removed.  Guilt is removed.  Instead of despair, there is hope.  Instead of separation, there is union.  We, who did not know God, now know Him.  We, who were the enemies of God, are now the friends of God.  The atonement made us the sons of God.  The atonement made us citizens of heaven.  Truly, we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Liberty In Christ

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."  Galatians 5:1.  Christ had made these brethren free from the law of Moses.  Paul, the apostle, speaks of the law as a "yoke of bondage."  The law made sin known, and yet, provided no cure for sin.  Romans 3:20.  But, Christ made the "servants of sin" (Romans 6:17) free.  Through His blood, which was shed at the cross, freedom from sin was made possible.  We are to "stand fast" in this freedom from transgression.  We must not become "entangled again" in the sins that will enslave us.  Securing this liberty which has been provided by Christ is an individual choice.  Standing fast in this liberty is an individual responsibility.  One must remain vigilant lest he fall back into the same slavery from which he has been freed.  This liberty given by God has come at a high cost.  The price paid for spiritual freedom was the blood of the "only begotten Son of God."  The individual cost to secure this freedom for our own is the giving of self.  Let us be "stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" for our labor is not without reward.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Walk In His Ways

"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways."  Psalm 128:1.  We are to fear God.  We fear Him because of His power to build and to tear down.  We fear Him because of His will to unite and to divide.  We fear Him because of His desire to save and destroy.  God has all power, majesty, and beauty.  None can overthrow Him.  None can stand without Him.  God conquers all enemies and destroys all foes.  God creates from nothing and brings down those who would oppose Him.  God can revive us from death.  God can cleanse the sin which tarnishes the soul.  God can renew.  God gives birth to hope.  God raises those who are cast down.   God brings victory to the defeated.   Fear Him.  Bow before Him with awe and reverence.  Laud His holy name.  None is like unto Him in all of the earth.  God controls.  He raises one from the ashes of despair.  God dries tears and gives comfort to those in despair.  He changes lives and restores hearts.  God repairs that which is broken.  Fear Him and walk in His ways.  His ways are holy and pure.  His ways are just and good.  Truth and righteousness are the road signs in His way.  His ways make us honest and give us integrity.  His ways builds character.  His ways are eternal.  When time ceases, God will be present.  When the world is consumed, God will stand.  Those with Him will be those who fear Him and walk in His ways.

Monday, May 18, 2015

They Would Not Come

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees.  In two previous parables, He had spoken about their rejection of the Christ and His kingdom.  Now, He speaks of the kingdom of heaven as a marriage feast.  The invitation is sent.  "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.  And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come."  Matthew 22:1-2.  The prophets had called the nation of Israel to repentance.  Again and again they rejected God's offer of grace.  Now the Christ comes and He offers them the blessing of pardon and membership in the eternal kingdom of God.  "They would not come."  The invitation of Jesus now is extended through His gospel.  Faithful preachers proclaim the message of truth.  This truth is God's message of mercy and hope.  "They will not come."  The message of the cross is preached with great fervency.  The love of God is extended to the human family.  Purging from sin is promised by the blood of Jesus.  "They will not come."  The resurrection from the dead and victory over death is given as a benefit of the feast.  Eternal life is a gift obtained by attending the feast.  "They will not come."  Since time's beginning, God has called from the heavenly throne inviting lost, undeserving men to come and enjoy His feast of grace and hope.  The servants will continue to invite us to the feast which has been prepared and offers eternal benefits.  Will we come?

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Abundant Life

Jesus stated, “ The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10.  The Shepherd offers not just life, but the abundant life.  The abundant life is a life of trust.  We place our confidence in the Shepherd.  He leads and we follow.  Sometimes the journey travels upon the mountain and sometimes in the valley.  But we remain unshaken because of the Shepherd.  The abundant life is a life of joy.  Earthly joy comes and goes because of the circumstances of life.  But joy in the Shepherd is constant.  We joy even amidst the troubles of our life.  We rejoice in the sure knowledge of unseen hope.  The abundant life is a life of wonder.  We are amazed and stand in awe of stars upon a canopy of black.  A setting sun delights the heart in the knowledge of our Creator.  We stand amazed that one such as ourselves was counted worthy of eternal redemption.  The abundant life is a life of endearment.  We are drawn near to the heart of God.  We rest assured in the love of our Savior.  Strength comes from the indwelling Spirit.  We are made glad as a member in the family of God.  No life can compare with the abundant life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Opportunity For Change

Jesus asked, "What think ye?"  Matthew 21:28.  Jesus wants us to perceive.  He opens our mind to His teachings.  The study of the Bible requires thought on our part.  Jesus then tells the story of the man with two sons and the duty that he gave to each of them.  The father was sending his sons to work in his vineyard.  Jesus used the vineyard as a setting for many of His teachings.  Vineyards require care and attention.  His kingdom is as a vineyard.  The sons of God are to labor in the vineyard of the kingdom.  In the story, one son said that he would go and did not.  The other son refused at first, but changed his mind and went.  The question of Jesus is, "Whether of them twain did the will of his father."  Matthew 21:31.  The answer was the one who changed his mind and went.  He repented.  God allows us the opportunity to change.  God accepts repentance.  Jesus taught that "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  Luke 13:3 and 5.  Even if one has refused the first call of vineyard labor, he can later change his mind.  When we make mistakes in our life, we can change.  When we sin against God, we can repent.  One of the beautiful and amazing attributes of God is that He allows us the opportunity to change.  Let us not delay.  Let us arise today and go work in the vineyard of God.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Putting On New Life

In baptism, we put off the "old man" and put on the "new man". An old life has died and a new life has been born. A new character emerges. A new life style takes shape. This new life is described in Ephesians 4:24-32. In verse 30, we are admonished, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." God has sealed us. The Holy One of heaven identifies us as His own. His seal of ownership is in our heart. Through the indwelling of God's holy Spirit we are sanctified unto God.

We must not grieve the Spirit by returning to this old life. The filthy lusts and corrupt passions have died. We must not resurrect them. Unholiness and unrighteous behavior will grieve the Spirit. We must avoid all encounters with the devil. Lying, anger, and wrath will cause the Spirit to grieve. We are not to behave in a manner that is contrary to the nature of God's holy One.

The admonition acknowledges that we are still in control. We make the choice concerning our behavior and actions. We control our attitude. God has empowered us to overcome. God seeks to protect and guard us from all evil influences. But, the decision concerning our holiness and righteousness is always ours to make.

We are "sealed unto the day of redemption." The author speaks in Ephesians 1:14 of "the redemption of the purchased possession." The hour is coming when God's own will be redeemed from the grave. The resurrection will call forth those who have been sealed by God. The final and complete triumph will be realized. The "day of redemption" will be the day of victory. The enemies of sin and evil will be forever overthrown.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Justified By Faith

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  Romans 5:1-2.  The four beautiful gems of Christianity are given in this passage: faith, peace, grace, and hope.  The faith which justifies us is an obedient faith which gives us access to the grace of God.  God's saving grace must be obtained through our obedience to His commandments.  We must continue to live under the shadow of His grace.  His grace justifies, forgives, and protects us from the sinful elements that destroy.  But, only, as we stand or abide in His grace.  His grace which justifies us gives us peace with God.  We are no longer the enemies of God.  We, through Christ by faith, are restored to God's fellowship.  The unspeakable joy of salvation provides our hope of God's glory.  As children of God, by faith through grace, we are hopeful of beholding the glory of God.  We stand in His grace by hope.  Hope drives us to greater faith, greater service, and greater devotion.  We, having been forgiven through the blood of God, live and walk with God.  We can accept the scorn and rejection of the world.  Tribulation only deepens our hope in the glory of God.  This justified life breeds hope in our heart causing us to always rejoice.  Those justified in Christ by grace through faith are happy and blessed because of the hope that one day will become sight.  They who live outside of the covenant of grace have no hope.  Only the redeemed of God have the hope of beholding God in all of His glory.  Faith, peace, grace, and hope must be attained at all cost.  These gems stabilize the present and secure the future.