Friday, November 20, 2015

A Devotional Thought From 1 John

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.     1 John 4:9

          How can anyone know that God loves him or her? How do we answer when someone asks us that question? “There are all sorts of religious in the world,” they might say. “They all have their rules and regulations. They all offer whatever ‘salvation’ they envision. If there really is a God, the One true God, then how is it possible for me to know He loves me? Is there any evidence? Is there any proof? Is there any assurance that God, the Infinite Person, loves me, one of the finite creatures of the universe?”

          We Christians love a question like that. Of course, the One and Only God of the universe loves even sinful you. The evidence is Jesus. God sent His only begotten Son into the world. In fact, we Christians will, with great joy, thankfulness, and sentimentality, celebrate that coming as we rejoice in Christmas in a few weeks. Around the world we will be saying look into the cradle in the stable because God so loved the world He sent His Son, Jesus, for us, and you can see Him there with the eyes of faith: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). If you’ve ever heard of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem Who died at Calvary, that hearing of His name is proof that God loves you, and all the people of the world.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Something I’m Thankful For

 I’m grateful to have a relationship with God like the one described in Psalm 25:7b (Moffatt).
In KJV: “according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.”
Moffatt: “and in remembering my sins be kind to me.”
Because of my faith in Christ, I am in that kind of fellowship. I can ask for that kind of blessing.
He has done that for me.
What David wrote about in Psalm 103:4 God has done for me. David said of the LORD: “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction….”
My sins would have destroyed my life far more than once – but God was kind to me.

Happy Thanksgiving!   

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Devotional Thought From 1 Peter

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.     1 Peter 2:24

The message we need to constantly keep proclaiming from our pulpits, and in our personal witness day by day, is restated in this verse by Peter. He says, Jesus, when He died on the cross carried our sin. My sins, and I have many, were heaped on Jesus. I don’t know how God was able to do that, but He did. Your sins were placed on Jesus also. And, somehow, He carried our sins in His body, and was crucified for them. That means we were made free of them, or in Peter’s statement here, we died to sin. Sin can no longer make us do anything, and because Jesus did that for us on the cross we are now expected to live differently, righteously. And we can do so, live differently, because of His stripes. The wounds he received from the Roman scourging, which, I think, symbolize the full meaning of His death on the cross.

The message of the church and Christian faith is centered in Jesus and what He did on the cross. “In the cross of Christ I glory towering o’er the wrecks of time.”* The church must glory in the cross. The individual must glory in the cross. One day the world will glory in the cross and the Savior, and then what a wonderful world it will be.

*John Bowring from the hymn

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The 2 sides to Halloween
Positive – little kids ( Princesses, Football players, Ninja Turtles, lady bugs, Disney characters, Superman, sometimes their chaperoning parents also in costume ) going from door to door asking for a treat. We usually gave Butterfingers and/or other individually wrapped goodies at the parsonage. There is something really special about hearing squeaky little voices saying “Trick or Treat”, and watching the amazed reaction when you let them pick a piece or two of candy from the treat bowl. It’s like, “Wow, somebody I don’t even know is giving me the greatest thing in the world” (Think about that as an illustration of God giving His Son).
Community interest, friendship and Christian kindness are the order of the day.
Then there’s the negative - some foolish people toy with occult costumes and scary ideas, and say and do wicked things, from our Christian stand point may even sometimes do unspeakable things. They make Halloween scary and evil. Actually, you don’t have to wait for Halloween to be scared these days, just turn on the t.v. Every other show is about werewolves, zombies, ghosts or vampires.
This is where even the negative side of Halloween can be used by God for promoting His purpose the good news of the gospel, Because the church opens the Bible and declares these things are not real. They don’t exist. There is a power that overcomes physical death and spiritually deathly things. It is stated in Paul’s clear definition of the gospel in Romans 1:1-4;
…the gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Christ’s resurrection conquers death, and all the scary things that circulate around in this world. We believers in the resurrected savior are raised spiritually when we are born again and will be raised physically from the dead when Jesus comes again. And when being born again truly happens we are delivered from any service to sin or the devil, because the resurrected believers are made like the Lord Jesus Christ.There should be no fear of the Halloween stories, the false or the true, for Christians because the resurrected Son of God has all power and we are kept by Him. And, yet, because they are less influenced by the Bible than they are by t.v., movies, and the culture around us sometimes some Christians, even solid Bible believing Christians, are moved to superstitiously or spiritually fear such things. An ancient prayer asks, "From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!" That’s the spirit! We can still pray that prayer. We know the Lord can and will deliver us, His people. We can experience the positive side of Halloween, and be victorious over the negative side, making it a cultural celebration of both fun and faith.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Devotional Thought From 1 Timothy

Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:     1 Timothy 1:5

When I first read commandment I thought of the Old Testament law. After consulting with commentaries, the Greek text, and the Greek lexicon (basically a dictionary of koine Greek [the Greek of the New Testament writers]), and rereading the text I agreed with both Harry A. Ironside and William Barclay that Paul was referring to the commandment that he had just given to Timothy (1:3) that he charge some of the teachers, those who were teaching false doctrine to stop it.

Then Paul says the purpose of that command was to engender love, Christian love which is the identification behavior of true Christians. Paul wants sincere love coming out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unfaked faith. I liken it to (if you are living in love) wearing your Christian heart, Christian conscience, and Christian faith on your sleeve.

So a command that orders preachers to teach true doctrine is designed to bring forth true Christian love, which comes only out of true Christian doctrine. The true Christian doctrine, of course, is what God has given in the Bible. And, as Paul says in another place we are supposed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), indicating that when we share with others that what they are teaching, or believing, or spreading, is false doctrine and should not be taught, it is an act of love intended to engender Christian love between the two people involved, and in the church as a whole. Naturally, there are differences of opinion and interpretation with regard to the teaching of Scripture, but the foundational truths are indisputable, and while Christians may differ upon a style of worship or a style of baptism or some interpretation, the major foundational truths of Christian faith are stated with absolute clarity in the word of God. For example: the Bible being the inspired word of God; the virgin birth of Jesus; His vicarious death upon the cross of Calvary where our sins were carried in His own body: the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead conquering death forever; the forgiveness of sins and salvation of the soul; the promised second coming of Jesus. That’s what teachers of the word of God should be preaching, not, as Paul says in verse four, fables and endless genealogies which minister questions (1 Timothy 1:4). Not only the six doctrines I have listed here are to be preached, there is so much in the word of God, but preachers today should be preaching the Bible in its fullness because that’s where the doctrine is. That’s where we discover God’s truth. That’s where we discover the doctrines that should be coming forth from our pulpits and our churches. And when we preach God’s truth that preaching will produce and promote real Christian love, even in those areas where we might have family (we Christians of every make and model who trust in Jesus Christ as personal savior and Lord  really are one family in Him) family disagreements regarding interpretation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Letter From One Believer To His Christian Friend: A Devotional Thought From Paul’s Letter To Philemon

Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my heart in the Lord.     Philemon 20

Paul’s use of brother bespeaks the faith family relationship of all Christians. Those who trust in Jesus as Savior are all incorporated into God’s family, and we, literally, renew the actual family relationship of humans descended from the same physical line, in addition to being new creatures from the same spiritual line. We are in Christ! As such those to whom we minister and with whom we fellowship in church worship, and other Christian relationships, become people in whom we delight, people who fill our lives with joy, people we love so much they can be described as Paul does the Christians of Thessalonica when he says “For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2:20). He loves them so much that when they express their faith in their daily lives they bring him glory and joy and his soul sings and soars because of them. He loves all those who love the Lord in the same way, like Philemon. And he writes to Philemon to live in such a way, particularly in the context of this letter he is writing to Philemon, that Paul will have joy because of Philemon’s good deeds. Refresh my heart, he says.

Part of the reality of Christian faith and relationship is that our life actions bless and refresh, or dishearten, our Christian family and friends. What we do is impacting not only our own individual lives, but those who are connected to us through our mutual faith in Christ. So the challenge is: live so that the pastor, the church, and other Christians will be refreshed, so that you will be a joy to them, and a glory to God.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Galatians

O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?     Galatians 3:1

          To Paul the apparent retrenchment of the Galatian Christians from the cross, and Jesus Christ crucified on the behalf of sinners, was tantamount to being bewitched: hypnotized, entranced, pulled down, deceived, befogged, befuddled, confused, tricked instead of treated, put into a spell if such a thing could happen.
          Who has done this to you? Why would you stop trusting yourself to the crucified One for salvation, forgiveness, and a right relationship with God to, instead, go back to go back to trying to earn your own salvation by keeping the Old Testament law, a law that humanity has never been able to keep perfectly? And, since they were not capable of keeping it perfectly they were turning from freely given salvation to the impossibility of earning salvation. It was a bad deal, a dumb deal. Why would anyone willingly be so bewitched? What’s the matter with you Galatian Christians, or anyone who would turn away from the crucified savior?