Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fruit Unto Holiness

"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."  Romans 6:22.  A glorious transition has taken place.  The journey takes one from sin to being a servant of God.  Those now free from sin are those who have put Christ on by being baptized into Christ.  Baptism is an operation of God that removes sin and transitions the sinner into freedom.  Sin is a slave master.  The only freedom from sin is servitude to God.   God's servant bears fruit and that fruit is holiness.  Sinners are unholy people.  God's people are holy people.  The servant of God turns away from sin and walks in the path of holiness.  Baptism cleanses the heart and gives rebirth.  This marvelous passage of scripture teaches that people can change their lives.  We must rely upon God for help with that change.  We move from the commission of sin to doing no sin.  Our desire is holiness.  Holiness is a daily work for the temptations of sin are ever present.  The end of the work of holiness is eternal life.  Sin offers on such promise or hope.  The reward for a holy life is life without end.  Holiness produces a wonderful life now and life to come. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Singing With Grace

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  Colossians 3:16.  This passage of scripture is very clear about singing in our worship of God.  We are to sing a certain type of songs.  We are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Our singing in worship is to reflect the indwelling of the word of Christ in our hearts.  The word of Christ teaches of God's love for humanity and the reflection of that love in the cross.  The word of Christ speaks of redemption and the blessings of forgiveness.  Our songs will speak of these grand themes.  As we engage in the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, we are to sing with grace in our hearts.  The type of music that is to be used is the heart.  The New Covenant of Jesus Christ never speaks of any type of mechanical instrument that is to be used by the church in worship.  The psalms and hymns and spiritual songs are to be used for the purpose of teaching and admonishing one another.  No mechanical instrument can do this.  Words instruct.  Words admonish.  Our singing is to use words and these words are to always be the word of Christ.  We are be wise in our singing, not only in our praise of God, but also, we are to be wise as we teach and admonish each other.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unashamed Of The Gospel

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."  Romans 1:16.  The apostle Paul was unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel can brings difficulty to the lives of those who preach as well as to the lives of those who believe.  We are to be unashamed of the gospel because of the power that it has, the blessing that comes from it, and the ones who can possess this blessing.  The gospel has the power to save the soul from sin.  Nothing else in the whole universe has that power.  The blessing that the gospel offers is salvation.  Those who can possess the blessing of salvation is anyone who believes the gospel.  The gospel is a message.  It is a word that is spoken.  The Bible contains the message of the gospel.  Those who will listen and believe this message can be saved.  Everyone who desires can believe the gospel.  God has not singled out a particular audience, but rather desires that the gospel be preached to everyone.  No single person is excluded from God's plan of salvation.  And thus, we hear, believe, and obey the word of salvation that has been sent from God. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

An Enduring Soldier

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."  II Timothy 2:3.  The greatest warfare is the warfare between good and evil.  The greatest enemy is the devil.  Satan is the adversary of all good.  The world is the battlefield.  The soldiers of Jesus Christ have enlisted themselves to do battle against the enemy of God.  Our weapons are not carnal.  We battle a spiritual enemy with spiritual weapons in a continuing warfare.  The enemy is cunning and subtle.  His way of life is alluring to so many.  The temporal pleasure that he offers is inviting.  Instant gratification is his bidding, and countless souls are deceived.  There is hardness in any battle.  War sees times of difficulty and hardship.  But the soldier of Jesus must endure and overcome.  The soldier of Christ must fight and fight and fight.  The battle is worthy of our engagement.  The cost is high for we battle for the souls of humanity.  We must have resolve to go on despite the hardship that comes.  We will continue to see the captivity of many souls.  We will witness the victories of the enemy.  However, we must not lose courage for our cause is right and our God is mighty.  We take orders from a powerful leader who will finally lead a charge of total victory.  In the end, God will triumph.  Hardness will pass, and the blessing of victory will be sweet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Greatest of These

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity; these three, but the greatest of these is charity."  I Corinthians 13:13.  The foundation stones of Christianity, the teaching of Jesus Christ, are faith, hope, and charity.  Without these vital pieces, the teaching of Jesus is lost.  Faith gives birth to hope, and hope is cradled in charity.  We have faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  God through Christ has given us the hope of life.  We believe in the supreme nature of God and the divine nature of Jesus Christ.  God gave Christ to the world so that we might be saved.  God loves.  Christ loves.  Our faith and hope cause us to love.  We have charity toward God and toward ourselves.  Our charity must reach out to others.  As we know God and Christ, we love as they loved.  Our charity for others will inspire us to help and embrace.  When we fail to love, we have lost faith and hope.  Without charity toward others, we cannot have charity toward God.  Without charity toward ourselves, we will not embrace the promise of hope through Christ.  Faith, hope, and charity.  What a beautiful edifice is erected by these God-given stones. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

God Is Not Sought

"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."  Psalm 10:4.  Pride is an adversary of God.  God is sought with a humble spirit.  The one who seeks after God has a broken heart.  The heart that longs for communion with God understands a need for God because of sin.  Sin violates the nature of God.  The humble are dependent upon the mercy of God.   But, the wicked are not so.  Pride is the barrier that keeps them from seeking God.  The wicked are blind to their need for God.  Where God is not found is the place where wickedness thrives.  Pride fills one with only oneself and provides no room for anything or anyone.  Pride exalts the desires of oneself.  Pride establishes its own rules and becomes its own authority.  Pride does not acknowledge self-denial nor does it seek self control.  Pride trusts only self.  When God is not in the thoughts of a person, that person surrenders himself to his own lusts and his own will.  When God is not in the thoughts of a person, that person has no knowledge of right or wrong.  When God is not allowed to be in one's thoughts, darkness controls the soul and the life becomes empty of goodness.  When God is not in one's thoughts, wickedness is allowed to run rampant.  The devil incites pride so that God is not sought.  And where God is not, there is evil.   

Friday, February 12, 2016

Falling From Grace

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."  Galatians 5:4.  The letter written to the churches of Galatia teaches that Christ is the fulfillment of the promise which was made to Abraham.  Those in Christ by faith and baptism into Christ are no longer under the law.  The law had no means of justification.  Only by the coming of Christ and faith in Christ could one be justified.  But, now because of false teaching, Christ was being abandoned.  As a result, these once faithful believers had fallen from grace.  Grace came through Christ, not the law.  When one seeks to be made just by the law, he forsakes grace.  Without the grace offered by Jesus Christ, one is lost.  The passage issues a statement of fact that these Christians had fallen from grace, but also issues a warning.  The warning is that any who forsake the Christ fall from grace.  Grace is accepted when one believes in Christ as the savior and puts Christ on in baptism.  But, in the spiritual journey, Christ can become of no effect.  One can go back to the world.  One can go back to a life of sin.  One can embrace a false doctrine.  When such a condition exists, one has fallen from grace, and instead of being in a saved relationship, the individual is lost. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Press Toward The Prize

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:14.  At this very moment, do you know where you are going?  Have you established in your mind what you desire to accomplish?  Our life upon the earth is very brief compared to the eternity that is to come.  The desires of  individuals differ.  The accomplishments of each one vary.  Above all hopes and dreams we should center our attention upon the future of our eternity.  Our will should be to press on, and not look back.  We must resolve to consider the prize for which God has called each of us.  God's calling is a high calling.  It transcends any earthly calling.  The calling of God secures for us a future that holds promise.  God's calling gives security and expectation.  The prize of eternal life has been offered.  This prize is unequaled.  It surpasses all earthly attainments.  The most denied of this present world can attain the calling of God and obtain the prize before us.  The prize cannot be obtained without effort and commitment.  We must press on.  The prize will not come in a moment.  We must press on.  The prize is in Christ Jesus.  We must know Him and live for Him.  Of any marks that we attain unto in this life, we must be sure that we attain unto the prize which is in Christ Jesus and comes through the calling of God. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

New Life In Christ

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. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Seek Ye The Lord

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near."  Isaiah 55:6.  There is responsibility involved in having a relationship with God.  God offers Himself to humanity, but humanity must respond.  God must be sought by us.  We must call upon God.  If we are not cautious, we may become so involved in other things that we do not make time for God.  We can allow trivial things to interfere with our seeking God and our calling upon Him.  We must make time in our schedule of life for God.  If we wait to seek God, He may not be there when we decide to seek Him.  If we hesitate to call upon Him, He may not be available unto us.  The problem never lies with God, but with us.  God wants a relationship with us, but He is not diminished without that relationship.  God remains God whether we seek Him or we do not seek Him.  The blessing of seeking God and calling upon Him benefits us.  Our life is enriched because we have sought Him and called upon Him.  We need God.  Too many times, we wait until we feel that we cannot make it without God.  A problem arises.  A situation of desperation occurs.  We feel guilt.  But, God's spirit does not always strive with man.  Let us not wait until God cannot be found.  Let us not delay until God is no longer near.  Let us seek Him today.  Let us call upon Him now.  Our  life will be enriched.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jesus, The Witness Who Loves

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."  Revelation 1:5.  Consider the One in whom we believe.  Is not our faith sure?  Jesus is faithful.  Jesus is the conqueror of death and the grave.  Jesus has all power, even over the powers of earth.  Jesus has loved us, and loves us still.  Jesus has washed away all of our sins.  This act of cleansing was with His own blood.  What greater act of love could have been shown?  Indeed, our faith is sure because the One in whom we place that faith has secured for us a relationship with Him.  Jesus has shown us God.  Jesus has given us the conquest of death.  Jesus has given us freedom from sin.  We can be certain about the revelation that God has sent through His Spirit.  The entire Bible is a word from God given unto us.  The word of revelation guides us and sustains us.  We believe it to be true because of Jesus Christ.  We accept the charge that is given us because of Jesus Christ.  No other one in all the annuals of human history has been able to do what has been done by Jesus Christ.  We stand and overcome because of the Witness who has loved us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Suffering For Righteousness

"But, and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled."  I Peter 3:14.  Suffering is a part of life.  Some suffer more than others.  The degree and type of suffering vary.  However, we all experience a certain amount of suffering in our journey from the cradle to the grave.  There is a suffering which comes simply because one chooses to be righteous and stand for certain principals.  God has promised that suffering will come to those who live in His kingdom and live a life that is pleasing unto Him.  God's people are to be righteous and because we live in opposition to the world, we will suffer.  Our attitude toward that suffering is to be happiness.  We are happy in suffering because we have no need to fear the terror of the world.  The world can cause us great suffering and bring  immense pain to our life.  However, the world cannot destroy our faith.  The world cannot kill our soul.  The world cannot take away our hope.  This world is temporal, and our life will soon pass. But, an eternal blessing awaits the righteous and to all those who overcome the world.  The glory that is promised far exceeds anything earthly.  Therefore, in suffering for Christ and His church, we are happy.