Be a grace giver

Posted: March 23, 2017 in Thoughts on God

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

The question of genuine forgiveness is one of eternal importance. And why is it, you may ask, so crucial that Christians forgive? For starters, Jesus’ statement in today’s text is quite a compelling reason, for “if you do not forgive others…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Suffice it to say then, we had better make sure we are forgiving “our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Here’s the bottom line: forgiveness is such a central element to Christianity that it is an indicator of salvation! Not that we are saved by any works of our own, such as forgiving others, but that when we are reconciled to God through Christ, our new life will be marked by grace giving and forgiveness.

Remember, our sin was exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our wrong for His right, our injustice for His justice. God meets our rebellion and pride with grace in and through the person and work of Jesus. Those to whom grace is extended should also extend grace, and those to whom forgiveness is extended should also extend forgiveness.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s at the core of who you are in Christ.

Dealing with adversity

Posted: March 22, 2017 in Thoughts on God

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5 ESV)

How do you handle adversity and great odds against you? Do you cower in a corner and hope it goes away? Do you operate in fear and worry, become fretful and overwhelmed? Do you break down and blame others making excuses?

Jeremiah was dealing with adversity in his life. In short, what Jeremiah endured at the hands of the evil priests who were plotting his death because he remained faithful to the Lord was nothing compared to the persecution to come. If he couldn’t handle persecution in peace time, he was going to fall when the real adversity came.

How are you responding to adversity and persecution now, because the real persecution will come to the believer.

Life is a set of mountains and valleys with a series of storms. You are either going into a storm, in the midst of it, or coming out of a storm, and there are various glimpses of blue sky in between. How are you responding? Do you really trust the Lord to see you through?

Today, get on your knees and cast out all doubt and unbelief! Get rid of fear and anxiety. You need to prepare your heart now for that flood of adversity.

Father, we are more than conquerors, so give us Your might and strength to overcome the flood when it comes, in Jesus’ mighty name!

The art of self discipline

Posted: March 21, 2017 in Thoughts on God

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV)

The experts say it takes twenty one days to form a habit. After reading this, you may think, “Just 21 days of waking up early to read my Bible and then it will be easy!” Many others have thought that way too, but it doesn’t work like that.

Spiritual self-discipline isn’t a pursuit that we simply force into habit; for if that were the case, there would be little need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. Remember Galatians 5 then, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. We wouldn’t have it without the Spirit as it His gifting and work in us. This realization begs the question then: How do we become more self-disciplined in our spiritual lives?

Consider what Jeff Iorg puts forth in his book The Character of Leadership, “No fleshly effort will please God or build true discipline. Self-discipline refers to self as the object of discipline rather than its source. Even though discipline is learned, and self is the object of the discipline, the motivation and power to develop discipline comes from the Spirit.”

In order to become self disciplined, we need to stop trying to take on the Spirit’s role as the source of life-changing power and rely on the strength He will faithfully work in us. Paul told Timothy to be strengthened by the Grace of Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). If our motivation isn’t coming from the Holy Spirit, then we will continue in vain and fail in the practice of self-discipline. Our motivation will be of an eternal scope when we press into the Holy Spirit, and He will give us the strength to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to motivate and sustain you in the practice of self-discipline.

Your gifts from Christ

Posted: March 20, 2017 in Thoughts on God

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; (Romans 12:4-6 ESV)

Ever find yourself looking around at what others are doing and what you are not?

I fall into this trap often, of looking at another and thinking to myself, “I have to be more like him!” I then begin this battle in my mind of beating myself up because I’m not doing what they are doing, or at least not doing things the way they are doing them. After this battle, depression will set in and confusion.

I cry out to the Lord and He just shakes His head at me tenderly, “Son, you are not him and I didn’t give you her gifts. I gave you the gifts I wanted to give you.” Clarity and today’s scripture comes rushing back to me.

How can we get upset over a brother/sister who is using the gift that God gave them?

Just use your gift and as I like to say, “Run your race and stay in your lane”. Don’t worry about how another is using her gift; just use the gifts God has given you the way God wants you to use them. He’s proud of you!

Who cares what others think? Get out of the people pleasing mindset – it only leads to frustration and confusion. You answer to only One.

Father, close our ears to the lies of the enemy who tries to trap us with comparison. Let us look to Jesus only and run the race He has given us to run, in Jesus mighty name.

Observing a Sabbath day of rest/non-work was a command in the Old Covenant law (Exodus 20:8; 31:12–18). Christians are not under the law but have traditionally set aside Sunday as a day of worship and rest in remembrance of the fact that Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday. Some view Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, essentially transferring the Old Covenant laws about not working from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday to Sundays. Even in an increasingly secular culture, many businesses are still closed on Sundays. Is this biblical?

It is important to understand that the New Covenant nowhere commands worship or restricts work on Sundays. Biblically speaking, Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. The New Testament describes Christians worshiping on Sundays (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2), but this is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Christians are described as worshipping on Sundays, but Sunday worship is nowhere prescribed or commanded. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians even described as setting aside Sunday as a Sabbath day.

The Sabbath day was an important aspect of the covenant between God and Israel. Exodus 31:17 states, “It [the Sabbath day] is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” Prior to God giving the nation of Israel the Mosaic Law, God nowhere required Sabbath observance. After Jesus’ death on the cross perfectly fulfilled the Law, God nowhere requires Sabbath observance. Biblically speaking, Christians are not commanded to observe a Sabbath day on Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week.

At the same time, following the creation pattern of six days of work followed by a day of rest is a good thing. Further, setting aside a day of the week to focus on worship in undeniably biblical (Hebrews 10:25), although we are to worship God every day, not just one day per week. And, ultimately, Jesus is our Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4).

In conclusion, no, Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. There is no biblically commanded Christian Sabbath. But it is perfectly acceptable to set aside Sunday as a day for worship in light of Christ’s resurrection occurring on a Sunday. Also, making Sunday a day of rest to coincide with its being a day of worship seems a logical and, more importantly, biblically sound thing to do.

Can Pastors be wealthy?

Posted: March 18, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Bible Answer:

First, it is important to realize that it is not a sin to be wealthy. The ancient patriarchs Job, Abraham, and King Solomon were all very wealthy. In fact, God made them wealthy (Job 42:12-16; Genesis 12:1-3; 13:2; 1 Kings 3:10-14). God’s action simply proves that being wealthy is not wrong or God would not have done that. In addition to the examples in the Old Testament, God tells wealthy Christians in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 to share their wealth.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Tim 6:17-19 (NAS95S)

God never rebukes wealthy Christians for being wealthy. He simply warns them to be generous. However, God does rebuke them as well as others for not loving Him and for sinning.

When God walked this earth, He told several people to give their money away. One of them was a rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26). Jesus said that because money was their god. They loved their money more than they loved God. So we should not be surprised that Jesus challenged them to give their money. By saying that, Jesus helped them discover what was truly important to them. It was not God.

Wealthy Pastors? Now let’s ask the question, “Should pastors be wealthy?” In the Old Testament the Levites or the priests were not given an inheritance of the land. Consequently, the Levites were not able to grow their food. They lived among the people, and the Jewish people supported them with tithes of about 23.33 percent. Were the Levites wealthy? Most likely some had more money than others. Were any wealthy? We do not know.

The following passage applies to everyone – whether they are a Levite or a member of the clergy.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matt 6:24 (NAS95S)

The key to understanding this verse is the word “serve.” There are some poor people who are controlled by money just as much as some rich people. Also, there are people who give their money to others without regard to how much they own. Having money is not the issue. The issue is your heart attitude towards the money that God has given you.

Conclusion:

In the following verse, notice that the ownership of money is not the root of evil. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tim 6:10 (NAS95S)

Do you love money?

Reference Links:

Showing God’s glory

Posted: March 17, 2017 in Thoughts on God

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

Moses was the only man who was able to speak to God as though he was face to face (Exodus 33:11). Whenever he did this, his face would start to shine. He would come out of the tent of meeting with his face shining and tell the Israelites what God had spoken to him. Then, he would cover his face (Exodus 34:34-35). Paul says that Moses covered his face because his face would eventually lose it’s shine, or the glory of God would fade (2 Corinthians 3:13).

But, we are not like Moses, who would have periodic encounters with God and experience His glory. No, we are constantly being transformed by the glory of God now that we are followers of Jesus Christ.

Our lives should constantly be shiny according to Paul. Do those who you are in constant contact with notice a glow about you? This glow is obviously the glory of God because you are constantly encountering him throughout your day.

James says that God’s word will bring about action in our lives (James 1:22). Let the glory of God shine from every area of your life.

Are those around you seeing God’s glory in your life?