Friday, January 29, 2016

Ye Ask Amiss

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."  James 4:3.  God allows us to ask.  As we ask, we have the expectation of receiving.  However, there can be improper requests and improper motives behind our requests.  One of the reasons that we may not receive from God that which we request of Him is because we have asked for the wrong reason.  To ask amiss is to make a request that is unsuitable.  To ask amiss can also be an evil request.  God is not going to answer such a prayer.  God insists that we do what is right and commit those acts and use His blessings which are give to us for His glorification.  We may ask of God certain things so that we can use those things for ourselves.  We desire those things for our own pleasure.  Prayer is not to be used for the purpose of bringing us all things that we want.  We, as God's children, are to learn contentment and be satisfied with those blessings which He so freely gives unto us.  Our life here is also to be for His service, and not our own.  To seek our pleasure, especially evil pleasure, is to violate the sacredness of our commitment to God.  We are to enjoy life because we are privileged to serve Him.  Prayer is to be a helpmeet in that service.  When our requests are made unto God so that we might better serve, He will grant those requests and we will receive.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Grace And Peace

"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."  I Corinthians 1:3.  Gifts of grace and peace are freely bestowed upon the church of God.  What person does not need grace?  What person does not desire peace?  But, the world is without either.  The church of God is the recipient of such wonderful blessings.  Grace is a gift that cannot be merited, only freely bestowed.  God gives grace to His flock.  Such is the character of the heavenly Father.  His children are in constant need of grace.  Grace sustains in times when we might be enticed to wander.  Grace helps when we might begin to falter.  Grace guides when the light is dim.  Such grace can only come from God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  With grace, comes peace.  Peace comforts.  Peace calms.  Peace sees the future as enduring.  With peace, we can feel near to God.  With peace, we can know God as Father.  Peace will motivate our surrender to Jesus as Lord.  Grace frees our soul to seek a higher calling than our own.  Grace allows us to know God.  Peace leads us into the dim unknown without fear.  Grace and peace are our assurance of a relationship where we call God our Father and Jesus our Lord.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hand To The Plough

"No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  Luke 9:62.  Jesus is discussing discipleship with possible followers.  Those who become disciples of Jesus Christ choose to do so.  Jesus never forces individuals to follow Him.  The invitation can either be accepted or rejected.  But, careful thought should be given to the decision which is made.   One should not choose to become a disciple of Jesus, and after time, turn back from following.  One who puts his hand to the plough should understand what is before him.  Once the task is accepted,  a continuance should be made.  A row half ploughed is useless.  A job not completed fails.  Disciples who turn away from the task of discipleship are unworthy of the reward.  Simply because one may choose to accept discipleship does not mean that he will continue.  But, the disciple who does not continue is not going to receive the reward of discipleship.  Jesus is emphasizing continuance.  Jesus wants disciples who are committed to Him and to His work.  Ploughing is difficult labor, and so is discipleship to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Wonders Of God

"Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things."  Psalm 72:18.  Indeed, God works wonders.  The mind of human intelligence is often unmindful of God's wonderful acts.  Rather than seeing God in the wonders of nature, many see an accident.  Rather than beholding the wonder of God's redemption for human sin, multitudes simply do not notice.  The sun shines and the rain falls.  The earth grows and produces.  And yet, the eye is blind.  Some see evil and blame God.  An accident befalls one and God is at fault.  But, oh, to behold His wonders is another matter entirely.  God receives little or no credit or thanks for the good.  A baby is born and we cannot comprehend such a wondrous creation.  A sinner is reborn and we cannot explain God's grace.  The wondrous acts of God are unfolded continuously.  The acts of God are wondrous for they cannot be performed by us.  Neither can our mind comprehend.  And, because of His wondrous things given unto us, God is to be blessed.  God is to be honored, and His praises sung.  God is God, and wondrous are His works.  And long may all creation give Him glory. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Be Strong In The Lord

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."  Ephesians 6:10.  Strength is applauded and power is cherished.  The church is not to find strength and power in the world, but in the Lord.  Strength and power are vital in the Christian fight against evil and the devil.  The devil is an enemy that is cunning.  The devil can only be defeated with the help of the Lord.  The Lord's power and strength is not found in numbers or resources.  We surrender.  We commit.  We understand that the Lord's power can defeat all enemies.  The Lord's strength will always suffice, and with the Lord's strength comes victory.  The Lord knows no defeat.  The church must always rely upon this power.  The Lord's power is an unseen power and comes through our faith and trust.  Our engagement is not carnal, but spiritual.  To overcome, we must have a dependence upon the power that creates and destroys.  We must have a reliance upon the strength that builds up and tears down.  Take your stand against the enemy by being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Men Pray Everywhere

"I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."  I Timothy 2:8.  God wills that we pray.  His ear is open unto the prayer of the righteous.  Through prayer, His help is made available.  God wills that the church everywhere pray.  His people are to call upon Him, and beseech Him for His goodness and for His blessings.  In prayer, we are to give thanks.  We are to be ever mindful that we have received from Him those gifts which are given by Him.  Prayer is a marvelous privilege that God has afforded unto His people.  But, there is a character of prayer that we must possess.  We are to have holy hands.  We are not to be defiled.  We must remove ourselves from the sinfulness of society, and seek the perfection of holiness.  Our lives are to be without wrath.  We must not have a heart of hatred that seeks vengeance.  We must love and forgive.  Our prayers are to be without doubt.  We must come to God in prayer with faith.  We believe that God is willing and able to give and do that which we request of Him.  Pray at all times and in all places with a character that is becoming our approach unto the Great God. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

We Must Repent

"And they went out, and preached that men should repent."  Mark 6:12.  Jesus has sent the twelve to preach.  Their message is the same message with which Jesus began His personal ministry--repent.  Repentance is the message of gospel preaching.  Repentance brings transformation in the heart and life.  God wants people to change their behavior.  Repentance turns one from sin unto God.  Repentance removes one from the activity of sin to the commission of righteousness.  Repentance changes the thinking, and therefore, changes the activities.  Repentance begins with regret over the life that is being lived and the course that is being followed.  One hears the gospel and understands the way of righteousness and godliness.  This message sets the mind to seeking right instead of wrong.  God is very merciful in allowing us the opportunity to repent.  Repentance comes because of God's grace.  Jesus has sent His messengers into all the world with the gospel of repentance.  The love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus call people everywhere to change their life.  We must repent so that we may live.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

End Of Our Faith

"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."  I Peter 1:9.  Salvation is a free gift that has been offered unto us by God.  We have been created as a soul.  We shall not cease to exist.  Physical death is merely a change from this world to the eternal world.  In that world, some will be saved and many will be lost.  God has provided for the salvation of our soul through Jesus Christ.  To acquire this salvation, we must have faith.  Faith is a commitment that is made unto God.  Faith is a spiritual journey that one makes for the purpose of laying hold upon salvation.  Faith believes God.  Faith obeys God.  Faith carefully listens to all the commandments of God.  Faith puts those commandments to work in the life.  The teachings of God direct us toward the prize of salvation.  If we will trust God and serve God, then God will save us.  Salvation comes at the end of our faith.  We live all of our days in obedient trust so that we will be saved.  We must not lose sight of our goal.  We must not cast away our faith.  Faith will be tested throughout our life, but we must continue to believe and know that God has provided for us an eternal salvation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

To Choose Life

"In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death." Proverbs 12:28.  All of us must make a choice.  Life must be lived, and we must choose the manner in which we will live it.  There is a benefit in living according to righteousness.  There is a recompense in walking the pathway of unrighteousness.  As we live our years, we have a tendency to reflect.  The choices that we make determine how we view our past.  The determination that we should have is to find an inner peace.  The path of right living will bring us to that place.  We must make choices that will not bring guilt or regret.  That is the way of death.  Righteousness will deliver us from death.  There are no corpuses on the path of righteousness.  This pathway gives life.  Life is fuller when there is hope and contentment.  Life is dearer when we find satisfaction and fulfillment.  Life is more precious when we have purpose.  Righteousness frees us from the chains of compromise and worldly influence.  Righteousness gives the strength for us to make honest decisions.  Righteousness is not selfish indulgence, but selfless service.  Righteousness looks up, never down.  Righteousness moves forward even against the current of social pressure.  Righteousness never surrenders to the cry of the crowd.  This pathway is the way of life, never death.  Choose wisely. 

Thou Art My God

"But I trusted in thee, O Lord; I said, Thou art my God."  Psalm 31:14.  God must be our trust for He abides.  I remember the words of the hymn, "Some built their hope on the ever drifting sand; some on their treasures or their land."  The tide washes away the sand.  It can not be sustained.  Treasures and land can be gone in a flash.  God remains.  God continues.  Things perish.  And yet, multitudes place their trust in that which does not abide.  We trust in God because God can be known.  We have a personal relationship with Him.  Is such true of any earthly treasure or earthly reward?  God is not only a friend, but is also a Father.  We can ask of Him.  We can seek Him.  We can knock at His door, and He will answer.  In the darkness of the night, God can be summoned for help, and comfort comes.  In the valley of disturbance, God can be called upon, and peace comes.  God is my God.  And, He is the God of all who seek Him with a true and an obedient heart.  We trust in God because He is a loving and good God.  Kindness flows from His hand.  God will cradle us and soothe our troubled heart.  We trust God because of His might.  His promises sustain us, and His grace engulfs our lives.  In nothing other than God should such trust be given.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What Does The Lord Require?

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."  Micah 6:8.  Micah is examining the manner in which we come before God.  The prophet asked about burnt offerings such as calves, rams, oil, or our firstborn.  The prophet declares that God wants us to have a character that is worthy of approaching God.  Unless the heart is right, the burnt offerings would not matter.  The three avenues of approach are as God Himself.  We are to do what is just.  There is right and wrong.  There is a way that is acceptable and also a way that is unacceptable.  We are to love mercy.  Mercy shows kindness and gentleness.  Mercy reaches out to others and helps in their need.  We are to walk humbly.  Humility loses sight of self and gives consideration unto others.  Humility depends upon others, especially God.  We must know that we are needy.  To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly is to do such with God.  God cannot be left out of our lives.  After all, we only learn justice, mercy, and humility from God.  This is the character that comes before the Lord.  These are the sacrifices that are to be offered unto the Lord.  Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Redeeming The Time

What if?  That is a question that might cause us some distress.  What if we had turned right instead of left?  What if we had gone this way instead of that way?  We perhaps give some thought to those concerns, and by doing such, can bring some disturbance into our lives.  We might wonder how our lives would have been different had we made a different decision.  What if Cain had offered an acceptable sacrifice instead of a sacrifice that was unacceptable?  What if Nadab and Abihu had not offered strange fire upon the altar of God?  We see in these examples the cost of bad decisions.  What if Jesus had decided in the garden of Gethsemane that He would not die upon the cross?  The entire destiny of humanity would have been changed.  The past of our life cannot be changed.  There is no consolation in looking back.  We must take life and accept the decisions that we have made and move forward.  If we have made bad choices, we have the opportunity to change our future.  God forgives those who turn unto Him and submit themselves unto His will.  His word offers us the guidance that we need to make good choices in our future.  The events of the past cannot be changed, but we can change our heart.  When we change our heart, we can move into the future of our lives.  When we submit our will to the will of God, we can go forward with confidence and peace.  "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:16.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Alive Or Dead

"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 6:11.  Jesus Christ is the answer to sin.  Sin is a plague that affects everyone.  However, one can be dead unto sin.  We must choose whether we will live in sin or live unto God.  We must choose whether we will serve God or serve the devil.  God, through Jesus Christ, will remove the sins of our past and free us from sin's tyranny.  One cannot remove his own sin.  One cannot free himself from sin.  Freedom from sin is a work of God through Jesus Christ.  When we are baptized in water, we are baptized into Jesus Christ.  This simple act of obedience breaks the chains of sin in our life.  We are transformed.  We make a change.  We now begin a new life of service unto God.  Our heart is set upon God.  We seek God and His direction for our life.  We follow His teachings and make His way our way.  God becomes real in our life.  God becomes active in our life.  Sin is death.  Those individuals who live in sin are dead.  And, to continue to live in sin will ultimately bring eternal death.  We must die to sin by removing from our heart the love and commission of sin so that we can and do live unto God.  By uniting our life with Jesus in baptism gives birth to this beautiful relationship with God and Christ. 

Redeemed and Zealous

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."  Titus 2:14.  Jesus Christ gave Himself for us as an offering unto God for our sins.  As He gave Himself, He redeemed us.  Through that redemption comes purification.  Because we are purified by the offering of Christ upon the cross, we are God's special people.  Redemption and purification bring responsibility.  Because we choose to become God's people by accepting His redemption through Christ, we are to become workers that do good.  We are not simply to perform good works, but we are to be zealous of good works.  God wants zeal to be implanted in our hearts.  We have an eagerness to serve.  Because we are zealous, we find joy in service.  There can be no zeal without the joy of service.  We do not serve through obligation.  We realize the great price that God was willing to pay for us.  We understand the love and grace that was necessary for such an offering.  This realization and understanding creates zeal.  We go about doing good.  We seek to make the world a better place.  We long to lift the burdens of others.  We serve because we are redeemed.