Romans 2:1-6, “Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; who "will pay back to everyone according to their works:"
When Sgt. Ray Baarz of the Midvale, Utah, police department opened his wallet, he noticed his driver's license had expired. Embarrassed at having caught himself red-handed, he had no alternative. He calmly and deliberately pulled out his ticket book and wrote himself a citation. Then Baarz took the ticket to the city judge who fined him five dollars. "How could I give a ticket to anyone else for an expired license in the future if I didn't cite myself?" Baarz asked. Many times we talk about judging others. However the most important thing is to always be judging ourselves. If we want to walk with the Lord we have to be truthful to ourselves first and foremost.
John 14:15-20, “If you love me, keep my commandments. I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
While Jesus was here He was a friend, teacher, leader, guide, conscience, and many other things to His disciples. They were able to grow, and become stronger in the Lord with His guidance. When Jesus left this world to be with His father, He wanted them as well as upcoming generations to still grow. He traded places with the comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, and He became our new guide and leader. John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit that came was able to be their guide from then on. He is the same part of the God Head, which is with us today. Just as Jesus guided His disciple’s every day. The Holy Spirit can and will teach and guide you. The key, just like any other teacher, is to listen with open ears, receive with an open heart, and put into action all He asks us to do.
1 John 3:4-10, “Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. Whoever remains in him doesn't sin. Whoever sins hasn't seen him, neither knows him. Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever is born of God doesn't commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can't sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother.”
Choose this day whom you will serve, that is the call we have on our lives. God wants you either completely for Him, or against Him. However, the choice should not be a hard one. We have two choices; choice one is to serve God, and to follow Him in this life. Doing this leads to a happy life, peace, joy, and comfort. In the end, when we take our last breathe, we will go to be with Him in paradise. There will be no more sorrow, or trails. Choice two is to serve the devil, this is to make a different choice than to serve God. This life is lonely, depressing, full of chaos, and suffering. Then at the end of this life, we will go to a place made for the Devil, a place of eternal torment. This doesn’t seem to be a hard choice, does it? But we allow little things in life pull us away from glory into pain. Let’s keep our eyes focused on the goal, and not give heed to these distractions and temptations, and live entirely for the Lord.
Matthew 12:33-37 "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things. I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
What a horrifying scene that occurred on a New York street. Kitty Genovese was slowly and brutally stabbed to death. At least thirty-eight of her neighbors witnessed the attack and heard her screams. In the course of the 90-minute episode, her attacker was actually frightened away, then he returned to finish her off. Yet not once during that period did any neighbor assist her, or even telephone the police. The implications of this tragic event shocked America, and it stimulated two young psychologists, Darly and Latane, to study the conditions under which people are or are not willing to help others in an emergency. In essence, they concluded that responsibility is diffused. The more people present in an emergency situation, the less likely it is that any one of them will offer help. This is popularly called the "bystander effect." (In the actual experiment, when one bystander was present, 85 percent offered help. When two were present, 62 percent offered help. When five were present, then it decreased to 31 percent). We are reasonable for only one person, which is ourselves. Make sure you are always doing what is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing around you.
Matthew 25:31-46 "But when the Son of Man … will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, .... the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom … for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you … "The King will answer them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.' Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry,… thirsty, .. a stranger, .. naked, .. sick, and in prison, ...' "Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when …,?' .., 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
An ambitious farmer, unhappy about the yield of his crops, heard of a highly recommended new seed of corn. He bought some and produced a crop that was so abundant his astonished neighbors asked him to sell them a portion of the new seed. But the farmer, afraid that he would lose a profitable competitive advantage, refused. The second year the new seed did not produce as good a crop, and when the third-year crop was still worse it dawned upon the farmer that his prize corn was being pollinated by the inferior grade of corn from his neighbors' fields. Selfishness so often has very short lived happiness. We will end up paying for it later on in life, and even much more in the life after death. If we can help someone it is our job and duty to do so. Even if no one else even sees, God always does, and will treat you as you treat others.
1 John 5:10-15, “He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who doesn't believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. The testimony is this, which God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn't have God's Son doesn't have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. This is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.”
Assurance is our full confidence or trust; freedom from doubt. This is what we have in Christ, first in our salvation that we are cleansed of our old life, and our new life begins with Him. However, it doesn’t stop there, we also have the confidence that He hears our prayers, and always wants the best for us. He shows us just how much he wants us to believe in him, and how much we can trust him by his selfless act of sacrifice. You were worth paying the ultimate price for, and he wants to protect what he has bought. The assurance we have in Him is greater than anything we can have in this world and is worth putting our trust in.
Romans 7:7-13, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn't have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn't have known coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead. I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. The commandment, which was for life, this I found to be for death; for sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good. Did then that which is good become death to me? May it never be! But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful.”
In this day and age, mankind has become accustomed to pleasing themselves. We can go on the internet or find books about any topic. Then we use these resources to justify things in our lives that are unholy. For example, if we want to justify sex before marriage, we could find a physiologist that suggest living with that person to find out who they truly are, then we could decide to marry or not. We justify something sinful in a way that deceives ourselves and allows us to continue living in a way that only brings us temporary joy. However, the Word of God is clear, sin is sin. If we know something is wrong and do it anyways we accept the death that it brings. No matter how much worldly joy that pleasure brings. The end result will always be spiritual death. We have both the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit to guide us in our life, and all we have to do is follow them. At the end of our passage it says “sin might become exceeding sinful.” This means that when we follow God alone, will be able to see the world and sin for what it really is, and will no longer be deceived by the devil’s trick to lead us astray. This takes opening our eyes and heart to the truth of God’s words.
1 Corinthians 2:12-16, “But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
One night while washing the dishes we ran out of hot water, it has always been (in my eye) unsanitary to wash dishes with cold water so I told my wife to stop. We did not agree on stopping, but she did so anyways. It was a few days later that, while watching a video on YouTube, I heard someone speak directly on this. It discussed, scientifically, about how germs survive and thrive in different situations. In order to kill germs water must be boiling, however, they actually grow and reproduce in warm, moist environments. So when washing dishes soap will chemically kill bacteria, but washing in warm or hot water can make the bacteria that is left grow to be worse. None the less, my mind was changed, and I no longer have a problem with washing in cold water. As we grow in knowledge and wisdom in the Lord we will learn new things. It’s is our duty to accept these truths into our lives and live by them. Even if we have done it the opposite way since we were young. God wants us to grow in the right way, but it is up to us to be flexible in letting Him bend us into a shape that suits Him.
Nahum 1:3-7, “Jehovah is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means clear the guilty: Jehovah hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt; and the earth is upheaved at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him. Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that take refuge in him.”
Herbert Jackson was a new missionary, and in the field he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this creative procedure for two years. However bad health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson's astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us. Letting God have control of your life, is not giving up the power to it. It is actually receiving to only true power that can sustain you.
Psalms 42:1-5, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, How I went with the throng, and led them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him For the help of his countenance.”
Have you ever been excited to start a project but by about half way through you are burnt out? The excitement you had in the beginning is gone and you just want to be finished with it. If this describes you then know this, that this is how most people feel. However, our spirit works quite the opposite. It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer. The truth is that in order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray. There is never time to take a diet on spiritual things because honestly we can never get enough.
1 Corinthians, 10:11-14 “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it. Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
The great composer Ludwig van Beethoven lived much of his life in fear of deafness. He was concerned because he felt the sense of hearing was essential to creating music of lasting value. When Beethoven discovered that the thing he feared most was coming rapidly upon him, he was almost frantic with anxiety. He consulted doctors and tried every possible remedy. But the deafness increased until at last all hearing was gone. Beethoven finally found the strength he needed to go on despite his great loss. To everyone's amazement, he wrote some of his grandest music after he became totally deaf. With all distractions shut out, melodies flooded in on him as fast as his pen could write them down. His deafness became a great asset. Many things will happen to you in life. What we fail to relies is that these same trails are changing you into something that God can use. Many times God does not spare us from trials, but rather bears them with us. Then when it is over, we may be changed, but if we have stood firm through it, we will be a sharper, more efficient tool for the work of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men?”
A man once bought a new radio, brought it home, placed it on the refrigerator, plugged it in, turned it to WSM in Nashville (home of the Grand Ole Opry), and then pulled all the knobs off! He had already tuned in all he ever wanted or expected to hear. Sometimes we know what we like and want to never have it changed. Although, God is quite the opposite, He wants us to always be growing, changing, and getting stronger. Think about a child, if they were to stop growing and maturing at the age of four or five. What kind of life would they truly have? They would be dependent of others for everything, for the rest of their life. We are the same way, when we are new Christians we rely on others to help sustain our walk with the Lord, teaching us and guiding us. However, God wants us to grow to a point that we can handle the tough meat of the Gospel, and have sustainable nutrients that come to stronger Christian. Now this does not mean we don’t need others around us, but it means that when we have to handle ourselves against the forces of darkness we will be standing equipped with the tools necessary to stand against it, even when we are physically alone.
Isaiah 43:1-3, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.”
In the story of creation found in the Book of Genesis, we read where Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, something which had been specifically denied them. Knowing that God is searching for them, they attempt to hide. It is a scene perhaps reminiscent of many of our childhoods when we had done something that we were not supposed to and we literally hid from our searching parents. Finally God finds them, as we know that He will, for, after all, where can we go to hide from God? God asks them why they are hiding. Do you remember the response that Adam gave: "Because, I was afraid?"
I think this very poignant story reminds us that fear is so basic to whom we are as humans, it goes all the way back to the beginning of time. To be human is to experience fear.
There seems to be no limit to our fears. In a peanuts cartoon strip Charlie Brown goes to Lucy for a nickels worth of psychiatric help. She proceeds to pinpoint his particular ‘fear'. Perhaps, she says, you have hypengyophobia, which is the fear of responsibility. Charlie Brown says no. Well, perhaps you have ailurophobia, which is the fear of cats. No. Well, maybe you have climacophobia, which is the fear of staircases. No. Exasperated, Lucy says well, maybe you have pantophobia, which is the fear of everything. Yes, says Charlie, that is the one!
Sometimes we feel like we are afraid of everything. We are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of people. We are afraid of the future. We are afraid of the past. We are afraid of life. We are afraid of death. However as Christian we had to remember that fear is a tool of the devil, and that “God is bigger than the boogie man”
Acts 2:42-47, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved.”
What is meant by fellowship in this verse? Gossip? Cups of tea? Tours? No. What is being referred to is something of a quite different order and on a quite different level. "They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, and break bread and to pray. A sense of awe was everywhere. All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common. With one mind they kept up their daily attendance at the temple, and, breaking bread in private houses, shared their meals with unaffected joy as they praised God". That is fellowship as the new Testament understands it, and there is clearly a world of difference between that and mere social activities.
The Greek word for fellowship comes from a root meaning common or shared. So fellowship means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person or receiving what he or she has. Give and take is the essence of fellowship, and give and take must be the way of fellowship in the common life of the body of Christ.
Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God. The person who is not in fellowship with the Father and the Son is no Christian at all, and so cannot share with Christians the realities of their fellowship.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8, “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one: and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for symbols between your eyes.”
Nothing that is valuable is achieved without effort. Fritz Kreisler, the famous violinist, testified to this point when he said, "Narrow is the road that leads to the life of a violinist. Hour after hour, day after day and week after week, for years, I lived with my violin. There were so many things that I wanted to do that I had to leave undone; there were so many places I wanted to go that I had to miss if I was to master the violin. The road that I traveled was a narrow road and the way was hard."
"When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song," tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. "He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, 'Shall I be a teacher or a singer?' "'Luciano,' my father replied, 'if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.' "I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it's laying bricks, writing a book--whatever we choose--we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that's the key. Choose one chair."
Luke 6:27-31, "But I tell you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer also the other; and from him who takes away your cloak, don't withhold your coat also. Give to everyone who asks you, and don't ask him who takes away your goods to give them back again. "As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them.”
Jon Johnston once wrote about a moment in his life that changed him forever;
World War II was at its height. Forces were engaged in what was known as, "The Battle of the Bulge" -- or "The Christmas War of 1944." The fighting was fierce in the bitter cold and snow.
The Allied Forces bombed and established control of a strategic area. The commanding officer turned to several of his men and said, "Sweep across that field, and kill all German soldiers still entrenched in the snow. I want no prisoners. Absolutely none!"
One of the American soldiers selected gives his account of what happened next. "As I walked, I immediately shot and killed two wounded and suffering soldiers." He continues, "Then, suddenly I approached a tall, young guy with a broad Teutonic forehead.
"He was leaning against a tree. He wasn't wounded -- simply exhausted. He had no food, no water, no comrades in sight, no ammunition. Fear, fatigue, defeat, and loneliness overwhelmed him. He spoke English with a beautiful vonderful- vorld-type accent.
"When I noticed a little black Bible in his shirt pocket," he reminisces, "we started to talk about Jesus and salvation. Wouldn't you know it, that lanky German soldier turned out to be a born-again Christian who deeply loved the Lord. I gave him water from my canteen; I even gave him crackers. Then, we prayed and read God's Word together. And we wept together too."
His voice began to tremble, as tears splashed down his cheeks. His face began to reflect anguish.
"It seems like only yesterday. We stood a foot or so apart, as he read a Psalm from his German Bible. Then, I read Romans 12 from my King James translation. He showed me a black- and-white picture of his wife and daughter."
The soldier took a deep breath. "You see, in those days, I was a young man in my early twenties. I had just graduated from a Christian college in Illinois and hadn't had time to sort out my thoughts on the war.
"Maybe that's why I did what I did. "I bid my German brother farewell, took several steps away, then returned to the soldier. Romans 13, the 'thou shalt not kill' commandment, the promises of eternal life, the Prince of Peace, the Sunday school distinction between killing and murder, the irrationality of war -- all swirled in my mind.
"When the German soldier saw me returning, he bowed his head and closed his eyes in that classic prayer posture. Then it happened. I said three crisp sentences that I still repeat once or twice a week when I have nightmares about the war, 'You're a Christian. I am too. See you later.'
"In less than a second, I transformed that defenseless Christian soldier into a corpse."
Choices matter, big and small, they change us forever. The important thing is that once a choice is made, it can never be taken back, and our actions can never be undone. We need to always think before we act, and always act as Christ would, this is the principle of what it means to be called a Christian.
Psalms 32:7-11, “Thou art my hiding-place; thou wilt preserve me from trouble; Thou wilt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; Whose trappings must be bit and bridle to hold them in, Else they will not come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he that trusteth in Jehovah, lovingkindness shall compass him about. Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, ye righteous; And shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out in his boat, he followed their advice and took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land. Finally he was rescued by his friends. Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, "Why didn't you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble!" The sailor responded, "I didn't dare to! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast." The old sailor was so certain he knew which way was north that he stubbornly tried to force his own personal influence on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered. God offers us so much guidance, though his word and the Holy Spirit. However if we choose not to listen to it. Then we will find ourselves lost over and over again.
Matthew 25:34-46 Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me…….. I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.' Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me…… 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
From the standpoint of material wealth, Americans have difficulty realizing how rich we are. Going through a little mental exercise suggested by Robert Heilbroner can help us to count our blessings, however. Imagine doing the following, and you will see how daily life is for as many as a billion people in the world.
1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blanket and pads for beds.
2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
3. Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Place your "house' in a shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss because now none of you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.
10. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which one third will go to the landlord and one tenth to the money lenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
By comparison how rich we are! And with our wealth comes responsibility to use it wisely, not to be wasteful, and to help others. Think on these things.
Psalms 37:23-27, “A man's goings are established of Jehovah; And he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For Jehovah upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread. All the day long he dealeth graciously, and lendeth; And his seed is blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell for evermore."
Theodore Roosevelt once said; “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”. Basically it means, only those that try will ever accomplish anything. As Christians we know that it takes faith and works to live for God. He wants us to be active, and even if we fail at something, He wants us to try and keep trying. God gives a promise that as long as we are always striving to live for Him, that even though we stumble, and fail at some things we will not fall, because He is holding our hand. So take some risks, and be active for the Lord, because if we never take risks then we are truly never alive.
Hebrews 11:1-6, “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. For by this, the elders obtained testimony. By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible……..Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him”….. (If you can today read Chapter 11 -13)”
Matthew 21:21-22 “Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly I tell you, if you have faith, and don't doubt, you will not only do what is done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it would be done. All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Faith is the most powerful thing produced by us. By faith we are changed from sinners to saints. We are healed, we grow in Spirit, and receive from God all things that we are in need of. Faith is our defensive weapon against the enemy, and the stronger our faith the more impenetrable our spirit becomes. Battles are won by two things: your attacking power, and the strength of your defense. Without both attack and defense you will lose your war. Our shield of faith is what we hold our ground with, no matter what the enemy throws at us. Faith can move mountains if we can only hold firm in our hearts that the Lord will guide and protect us. That is what faith truly is, in all things having pure confidence and trust in the Lord, even if we see no solution.
More reading: Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:17, Luke 1:37, 1 Corinthians 2:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, James 2:14-26
Philippians 4:6-9 “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
The Word virtue can be translated into many different things; goodness, moral excellence, moral character, integrity, noble character, worthiness, manliness, valor, In fact all these have been used in different Bibles to translate the same Greek word used in 2 peter 1:5. All these words try to capture the same meaning, that is, what is it that is inside of you that defines your character? So really think about yourself, and how others around you perceive you. Do they see integrity and an upstanding Christian, or do they see someone who is trying to fit into the world. If our passage in Philippians 4:6-9 was a test, and what goes through you mind was compared to this scripture would you pass the test. If your answer is no, then maybe you are filling it with the wrong things. The thoughts of our mind is the very thing that causes our actions to take place. By first fixing what we always think about will eventually cause our actions to become more Godly and filled with virtue.
Extra reading: 2 Peter 1:5-8, Proverbs 10:9, Psalm 55:22, Ephesians 4:2
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight l, as not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”
Proverbs 25:28 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
In the life of a Christian, one thing is for certain, everyone is watching you. The world is watching to see when you are going to mess up. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are watching for an example and guidance as well. Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” The world is never in our control, no matter how much we want it to be. On the other hand you will always have control over yourself. It is truly the only thing you can fully control, and it’s because God designed us that way. Now what you do with it determines your (among other things) happiness, situations, and walk with the Lord. When we choose to lose control in situations, it opens the door for the devil to raid our lives and take away from us the precious gift God has blessed us with. Nonetheless, when we keep self-control our defense of our soul will stay strong.
Extra Study: Titus 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 16:32, 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Peter 4:7
1 Timothy 4:6-11, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.”
What is Godliness? There are three important steps to take in order to begin to have Godliness? Having the attitude, duty, and fruits that show we live and serve a living and loving God. First is our Attitude, You can look at a person, within a few seconds you get an Idea about who they are. This has to do with outer appearance and body language. We as Christian have these to, and all our expression, needs to be showing Love. Next is our Duty, this is following his commands, both written and spoken. We need to seek the truth in all things and run with it. Then lastly is our Fruits, These are the things that are produced by our life. God does not like anything that in not fruitful, just look at the fig tree in Matthew 11:12-25. A godly person is one who acts appropriately, reacts appropriately, and leaves no doubt in anyone's mind that they are a child of God.
Extra Study: 2 Peter 3:11, 1 Timothy 6:6, Romans 12:1, Psalm 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-17
1 John 3:14-19, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. He who doesn't love his brother remains in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him? My little children, let's not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him,”
The key to kindness or love is easy, it is setting out your priorities. We choose what is most valuable to us, then our actions are carried out on what we find to be most important. British statesman and financier Cecil Rhodes, whose fortune was used to endow the world-famous Rhodes Scholarships, was a stickler for correct dress--but apparently not at the expense of someone else's feelings. A young man invited to dine with Rhodes arrived by train and had to go directly to Rhodes's home in his travel-stained clothes. Once there he was appalled to find the other guests already assembled, wearing full evening dress. After what seemed a long time Rhodes appeared, in a shabby old blue suit. Later the young man learned that his host had been dressed in evening clothes, but put on the old suit when he heard of his young guest's dilemma. Real kindness forgets ones-self. Real kindness knows no danger. Real kindness doesn't count the cost. The Bible says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."
Extra Study: John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 1 John 4:20, John 15:13, 1 Peter 3:8
1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing. If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don't have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain--these three. The greatest of these is love.”
There is not much one can say about Love that the scripture does not. God is Love, and He wanted to make it very clear who He is and what He wants. He did this by fully describing what true love is. If we want to get to know God, and want our walk with him to get stronger, all we have to do is learn about love and then give love.
Extra Study: 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:19, John 15:13, John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 16:14
Matthew 18:18-20, “Verily I say unto you, what things so ever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things so ever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Have you ever thought about what the word amen means, and why we use it? First off, the meaning of the word is; to confirm, establish, and verify. Also, is says that we give our trust, or give our confidence. However, why we use it is more important, when we say amen we are truly saying, “Let it be done” or, “Let it be established.” It is our seal of confidence that the Lord will hear us and answer us in what we ask. It is showing the assurance we have in the Name of Jesus Christ, and that at the sound of His name the earth shakes and the demons quake. It is truly us binding on earth, so that it will also be bound in heaven! So next time you say Amen, know that we say it with confidence that it will be done, and that we put our trust in the Lord Almighty.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-15, "He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him. That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away."
Charles Francis Adams, 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly. We don’t get to choose everything that happens to us in this life. However we do get to choose our reaction to everything. We need to always make the best of every situation, even when everything in the world is going wrong. We as Christians can never be striped of the greatest joy, and reason to be happy, which is that the Lord Jesus lives in us.
Mark 8:1-9, “In those days, when there was again a great multitude, and they had nothing to eat, he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their home, they will faint on the way; and some of them are come from far. And his disciples answered him, Whence shall one be able to fill these men with bread here in a desert place? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commandeth the multitude to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he brake, and gave to his disciples, to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. And they had a few small fishes: and having blessed them, he commanded to set these also before them. And they ate, and were filled: and they took up, of broken pieces that remained over, seven baskets. And they were about four thousand: and he sent them away.”
To say that God can do the Impossible, is a huge understatement. He sees the invisible, the things that can be, and the things that will work the best. Not only that, but when He does the impossible He doesn’t scrape by, but leaves an overflow. This is how our God works. He is a gracious God, but something to note about this passage is that it’s when Jesus sees his followers are in want, he takes care of them. If we want to let the Lord take care of us, and do the miracles in our lives, then we need to follow Him till our extra supplies are gone, our pockets are empty, and the only reliance is in him. God puts us into this situation sometimes, but maybe we need to remember that we can put our reliance in Him from the start. Instead of relaying on fixing things in our lives ourselves, worrying about tomorrow, or making sure our storehouses are always full, we should just follow Him without worry or planning and just see what He does.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21, “Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, Clegg took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. "Forget about the repairs," the buyer said. "When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site." Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's, the old life is over. He makes all things new. All he wants is the site and the permission to build.
Isaiah 45:5-8, “I am Jehovah, and there is none else; besides me there is no God. I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me: I am Jehovah, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things. Distil, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, that it may bring forth salvation, and let it cause righteousness to spring up together; I, Jehovah, have created it.”
God has not only made everything in this world, but is also in control of everything in this world. He makes the blessings come, and allows the trials to test. Even though he allows trails to come unto us, he makes a way for them to be a blessing in the end. He is in everything, yet so many times in our lives we lose sight of this because we are so focused on the little picture. It is the here and now that matters to us, and it sometimes makes life so frustrating. However, God is not all about the here and now, He sees and works in a grand scale that may take our entire life in order to see a small glimpse. So even in our moments of despair know that God is working and has your best interest in mind. Sooner or later you will see what he is doing. If we only just wait upon Him with trust that He will take care of everything.
This is one example from “The Reader's Digest” it was published in 1954 and entitled “The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth.” Howard C. Schade told of the true story that took a lifetime to work itself into a miracle. However, it truly shows how God works, and uses the evil of this world to work out what He plans. Just think about everything that had to take place in order for this to happen. It has been retold many times though out the years, but this is the official story.
At Christmas time men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a miracle -- not exactly.
It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit, prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood. But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down church. They felt that with paint, hammer, and faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.
But late in December a severe storm whipped through the river valley, and the worst blow fell on the little church -- a huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they couldn't hide the ragged hole.
The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, "Thy will be done!" But his wife wept, "Christmas is only two days away!"
That afternoon the dispirited couple attended the auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a handsome gold and ivory lace tablecloth. It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. but it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who, today, had any use for such a thing? There were a few halfhearted bids. Then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.
He bid it in for $6.50.
He carried the cloth back to the church and tacked it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel. It was a great triumph. Happily he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.
Just before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop. "The bus won't be here for 40 minutes!" he called, and invited her into the church to get warm.
She told him that she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town but she had been turned down. A war refugee, her English was imperfect.
The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while she dropped her head and prayed. She looked up as the pastor began to adjust the great gold and ivory cloth across the hole. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel. She looked at the tablecloth. The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn't seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and rubbed it between her fingers.
"It is mine!" she said. "It is my banquet cloth!" She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it. "My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it."
For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese; that she and her husband had opposed the Nazis and decided to leave the country. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border. She never saw him again. Later she heard that he had died in a concentration camp.
"I have always felt that it was my fault -- to leave without him," she said. "Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment!" The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the cloth with her. She refused. Then she went away.
As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the cloth was going to be a great success. It had been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.
After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him that the church looked beautiful. One gentle-faced middle-aged man -- he was the local clock-and-watch repairman -- looked rather puzzled.
"It is strange," he said in his soft accent. "Many years ago my wife - God rest her -- and I owned such a cloth. In our home in Vienna, my wife put it on the table" -- and here he smiled -- "only when the bishop came to dinner."
The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in church earlier that day. The startled jeweler clutched the pastor's arm. "Can it be? Does she live?"
Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed her. Then, in the pastor's car they started for the city. And as Christmas Day was born, this man and his wife, who had been separated through so many saddened Yule tides, were reunited.
To all who hear this story, the joyful purpose of the storm that had knocked a hole in the wall of the church was now quite clear. Of course, people said it was a miracle, but I think you will agree it was the season for it!
True love seems to find a way.