Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

First of all, we all sin (Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” and Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”).

The fact that you recognize your sin and feel badly about it should give you encouragement for several reasons. For one thing, a lot of people sin and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it – yet God has opened your eyes to seeing how destructive it can be. But God does not want you to live with guilt. He wants you to know and fully experience His forgiveness.

God does not simply overlook our sin and say, “You’re forgiven.” God sees our sin but is ready to forgive us because Jesus fully took OUR sin on Himself and paid for our sin by His death on the cross. Our sin is serious and it cost Jesus incredible suffering. But from the moment we received Christ into our lives, His forgiveness is ours. We can’t ever make up for our own sin or suffer enough for it – nor does God want us to. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

But what about when we struggle with an area and keep on sinning? Does God get so weary forgiving us that we, at some point, reach our limit?

Jesus was asked by the disciples how many times they needed to forgive someone. “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21,22). It’s unlikely that Peter could keep track of whether he forgave a particular individual 490 times yet, so you see Jesus’ point. You always forgive, because God always forgives us. God does not have a limit. He died for every one of your sins—those you’ve committed and those you will commit—past, present, and future sins.You need to begin looking at your sin the way God looks at it. And here is what He says in the Bible:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2:1,2

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

“You have put all my sins behind your back.” Out of sight. God no longer “sees” me in light of my sins. He sees Jesus righteousness for me.” Isaiah 38:17

“You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Never to be found at sea. Not “dropped” into the sea, “hurled.” Micah 7:19

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Sins are no longer “kept on file”, record is blotted out, destroyed. God cannot “forget” like in human error, but He chooses to “not remember.” Isaiah 43:25

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself…in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18,19,21

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“…since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

We are told that Satan is the “accuser of the brethren”, meaning that Satan will try to convince us that God could never love us. We need to recognize those thoughts as lies and instead choose to believe what God says. What God says about us in His Word (the Bible) is truer than anything we could think or feel. Jesus said that those who build their lives on His word are those whose lives stand strong and secure, able to weather anything in life (see Matthew 7:24-27).

If you’ve asked God to forgive you and to come into your life — you are forgiven!!! His word says so. Thank Him for His forgiveness and begin to rejoice in your secure relationship with Him. He is able to change areas of your life that don’t line up with His desire for you. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with his Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It may be difficult to believe, but rather than drawing us closer to God, sometimes Christmas actually draws us away!

For many, this Christmas season will be filled with rushing, hurrying, and milling around department stores, feet aching, head throbbing, nerves frazzled. No wonder the little girl who was praying “forgive us our trespasses” got confused and said, “forgive us our Christmases.” Sometimes we need to be forgiven for our Christmases. We simply leave no room for Jesus.

That First Christmas
There was no room for Him in the inn that first Christmas. In fact, the only place Jerusalem had for Him was a cross. Even in His death there was no room for Him, for He was buried in a borrowed tomb.

One reason there was no room for the Lord Jesus was ignorance. The innkeeper didn’t know the baby about to be born was the Son of God. Mary and Joseph certainly knew. The shepherds, the wise men, Anna and Simeon in the temple, and Elizabeth knew; but the innkeeper did not.

Another reason there was no room for Jesus was indifference. Can you imagine the innkeeper as he shuttles a young woman about to give birth off into a cow stall? He simply had no concern.

Or perhaps the innkeeper was too involved. He was so busy, he just didn’t have time. His rooms were filling with guests and his purse was filling with gold. Like many of us, he was too busy with others things. He had no room for the Lord Jesus.

But it was no accident that all of this happened. It was prophesied in the Bible: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

 

What About This Christmas?
Today there is still little room for the Lord Jesus Christ. Some insist that the days surrounding the Lord’s birthday not be called “Christmas Holidays,” but “Winter Break.” Irreverent and irrelevant Christmas cards fly off the shelves. The heroes of Christmas are Tiny Tim, Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa. Could it be that we too are ignorant, indifferent, or overly involved?

Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but for you, it may be the saddest. Perhaps Christmas is not all you feel it ought to be. Somehow you’re trying to be happy and find satisfaction in gifts and parties. Maybe you’re lonely this Christmas — everyone else is going to parties, but you’re not invited. Everyone seems to have a house full of loved ones, but you’re alone.

I have a word for you: Jesus is here, and His name is “Emmanuel” — God with us. God loves you. He knows all about you, and He still loves you. He understands you. He knows your every weakness. He wants to have a relationship with you so much that He suffered, bled, and died for you. The deepest need of your life is met in the One we call Jesus.

If you want to find Jesus Christ today, you’ll never find Him as an “insider.” You’ll always find Jesus on the outside. Don’t go to the inn; go to the stable. Don’t go inside the city; go outside the city where they crucified Him. You won’t find Him in bars, parties, or ball games. That’s not what Christmas is all about. It’s not important that you’re surrounded with friends, family, fun and food. Rather, it’s important that you’re with Jesus.

 
 One Day, There Will Be…
While the world has no room for Jesus now, it won’t always be that way. When He was here the first time, He stood before Pilate. When He comes again, Pilate will stand before Him. When He came the first time, He came as a baby. When He comes again, He will come as King. When He came the first time, He was rejected; but our Lord says, “As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11) There’s no room for Him now, but one of these days, they’ll say, “Make room for the King!”

If I had a thousand lives, I’d give every one to God. Will you give Him your life today? “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

Is there room for the Lord Jesus in your heart this Christmas?

We all need to be lifted up and encouraged at times and the Bible is a great source for encouragement. The Bible is the living word of God and feeds us through the promises of God found in scripture. I have listed some of my favorite Bible verses for encouragement. These verses have lifted my spirit in times of need and I hope they do the same for you. Please also consider a deeper study of the Bible by looking up these verses and reading the context they come from. I pray these great scripture quotes are encouraging for you today!

Strength Quotes For Encouragement

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Comfort And Encouragement Bible Verses

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Peace Scripture Quotes For Encouragement

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Encouragement Through God’s Promises

  •  The Promise of Eternal Life

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

  •   God’s Faithful

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations

  •  God promises To Guide Us

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

  •  All Scripture Is Inspired From God- The Bible Is The True Word Of God

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

  • God Hears Our Prayers

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Christian Encouragement Quotes

God will not be absent when His people are on trial; he will stand in court as their advocate, to plead on their behalf.  –Charles Haddon Spurgeon

You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are. –Max Lucado

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. –George Mueller

The stars may fall, but God’s promises will stand and be fulfilled. J. I. Packer

It goes without saying that Christmas is one of the top two celebrations for Christians each year. However, it’s also common knowledge that Christmas has unfortunately become a time for nasty exchanges between those who don’t believe in God and those who do.

For Christians, there’s little doubt we could be doing better in engaging people during the holidays and putting forward a more collective loving spirit. There’s really no need to have a conniption when stores choose to say “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas”. Further, wrapping our arms around and helping those who have fallen on hard times at Christmas, regardless of whether they’re Christians or not, says a lot more than a stack of apologetics books ever could.

But what about those who reject the idea that God exists? For my unbelieving friends, I’d like to offer some respectful do’s and don’ts for the Christmas season that will hopefully provide more peace between the two sides of belief and unbelief.

Let’s get the negative’s out of the way first.

Don’t Ride the Hatetheist Train

Most atheists I know and have spoken to have absolutely no desire to thrust themselves into the midst of other people’s celebration of Christmas. For them, the in-your-face ugliness exhibited by groups such as David Silverman’s American Atheists during the Christmas and Easter seasons is (rightly) seen as embarrassing.

To those who think differently, let me just say that erecting snarky and demeaning billboards, threatening lawsuits at schools that wish to sing ‘Silent Night’, and working overtime to shut down drives that provide Christmas gift boxes to poverty-stricken children aren’t going to win converts to naturalism. Moreover, no one believes that the motivation behind such things is your love for the First Amendment.

So, while atheism deserves a voice in the public square, hatetheism is something we can all do without. Don’t get on that train.

Don’t Say Jesus is a Myth

While the controversial figure Bruno Bauer put forward a series of widely-disputed works nearly 200 years ago arguing that Jesus was a fabrication, today the myth that Jesus is only a myth has received the equivalent of the death penalty in historical and scholarly circles. Although various internet atheist haunts and projects like the Zeitgeist movie try in vain to resurrect the claim, as Princeton professor Bruce Metzger wrote decades ago, “Today no competent scholar denies the historicity of Jesus.”[1]

A recent example of this surfaced during the series of three debates held in Australia between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. Krauss began arguing in the first debate (Brisbane) that Jesus never lived and was only a manufactured copy of pagan god myths such as Osiris, while Craig presented the historically validated information concerning Jesus’ life. By the time the third debate in Melbourne rolled around, Krauss conceded that Jesus was a historical figure.[2]

Even where Jesus’ miracles are concerned, it should be understood that while the source/cause of the events can be questioned, the fact that something out of the ordinary took place is not historically in doubt. For example, historian James Dunn says, “What is interesting in this testimony [extra-biblical writings that reference Jesus’ miracles], hardly partisan on behalf of Christian claims, is that the accounts of Jesus’ healing and exorcistic success are nowhere disputed, only the reasons for that success.”[3]

So if you’re an atheist, please don’t say that Jesus never existed unless you want to present yourself as uninformed on the matter.[4]

Don’t Lecture Christians on the Origin of Christmas

To try and dissolve the spirit behind today’s Christmas celebrations, some atheists attempt to lecture Christians on the origins of the holiday. They talk about the fact that, before Christmas sprung into being as we know it, the early Roman culture already celebrated various holidays on and around December 25 (Saturnalia and Juvenalia), a period sometimes referred to as the winter solstice. They go on to explain that Christianity originally celebrated only the resurrection of Christ, but when Rome instituted Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century, the Roman church converted the pagan celebrations into a Christian holiday in order to commemorate Jesus’ birth.

Which means Christmas as a holiday has only been around for a little over 1,700 years…

If you’re an atheist, please don’t commit the genetic logical fallacy, which is where a current end result is suggested as being based solely on something’s origin rather than its current meaning or context, with the motivation typically being to transfer the negative esteem from the earlier context. Instead, just understand that Christmas, as celebrated today by Christians, is what it is.

Or, put another way, when Charlie Brown screams out in the famous Peanuts cartoon, “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?” the answer that Linus supplies is spot on.

Now on to some suggested “Do’s” for atheists at Christmas.

Do Use Christmas as a Vehicle to Do Good to Others

You don’t have to believe in Christ to use the Christmas season as a reminder that there are people hurting in the world that need help. If you’re an atheist reading this, you might say, “What? I thought you Christians say I have to believe in God in order to have any kind ethics or morals and do good to others.”

If you’ve been told this by any Christian in the past, let me apologize to you. The moral argument for God should never be understood to mean that non-Christians can’t exhibit good moral behavior. Rather, it means that, without God, there is no way to ground objective moral values and duties. Everything becomes emotive, cultural, and subjective without God.

So by all means, use the Christmas season as a time to find others who need help in some way and jump in and make a difference in their lives. But in the process, honestly ask yourself why you’re doing it (i.e. what’s wrong with not helping people?) and see where that exercise takes you.

Do Engage Christians on Why You’re an Atheist

While throwing up insulting billboards about Christianity isn’t a great way to exhibit the ‘tolerance’ we hear so much about in our politically-correct culture, having respectful dialogs with Christians on why you’re an atheist and asking them why they truly believe in Jesus is a great activity in which to engage.

When I’ve had someone intelligently and calmly exchange their atheistic views with me in our marketplace of ideas, I always walk away the better for it because I’ve learned how and why someone holds the beliefs that they do. Wouldn’t you say that having a better understanding of people is a good thing?

Do Examine Your Atheistic Worldview

Participating in the prior point will likely result in this final “do”, which is to use Christmas as a time to honestly examine your atheistic worldview. All of us – and I mean all of us – need to periodically reflect on why we believe what we do and ensure that our belief rests on a bedrock of truth vs. unsupported statements and propositions.

In my library, I have books and binders full of the writings of top atheists. Why? I use them to (1) better understand why atheists reject God and, (2) challenge the bad arguments for believing in God that I sometimes assimilate and hold.

If you’re an atheist, let me ask you, do you do the same? When was the last time you read a work by a Christian apologist such as William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, or Norman Geisler that worked through the philosophical and evidential arguments for Christianity? Have you ever contemplated things like, because our world exists, something must have always existed, and when you point to the universe as that eternal ‘something’ you exhibit a lot of ‘faith’ in the process?

Also ask yourself: is the reason you’re an atheist really based on supposed evidence, reason, and such, or is it more emotive in nature and grounded upon personal things that have happened to you in the past? For example, a recent CNN article about Ted Turner described how he once dreamed of being a missionary, but watching his young sister Mary Jean suffer and die from a disease dramatically altered his early belief in God.

So there you have it – my do’s and don’ts for atheists this Christmas. If you’re an atheist, kindly consider these suggestions and see what following the recommendations brings you. Hopefully, they will provide a richer experience during this time than you’ve had in the past.

Finally, I must add that I also hope and pray that you more carefully consider the One whose birthday we Christians celebrate and think about why He came in the first place, which was to bring us all (including you!) a life that is abundant in forgiveness, grace, freedom, and love.

Article by by Robin Schumacher

“This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.”
– Frank McKibben

“And what a difference between our sin and God‘s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:15-17…15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Each year we are reminded that Christmas should not be just about giving and receiving presents. But, if truly think about Christmas, it is, indeed, all about gift giving! At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given, by the greatest gift-giver of all, our wonderful God and Father!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV)

Let’s face it, work can be real frustrating. We don’t ever feel as though we are appreciated, we wish we could be somewhere else vacationing, or the other workers don’t work as hard as we do. Our attitudes can be greatly affected by this. Maybe you don’t feel as though you are making much of a difference in the world with your line of work, and as though you could be doing much more for the Lord. These are all feelings we have probably felt one time or another or might even still be wrestling with.

The church in Colossia had a mixed group of members. Some of them were even slaves. Paul specifically addresses the slaves in today’s verses. He tells them to work heartily because they are really working for the Lord. Think about this for a minute and let it sink in. Is this what you would tell somebody who had a job where they were treated poorly, used and abused? Probably not.

No matter what you do for a living, you are working for the Lord! You don’t have to be a missionary or a staff member at a church. Where you are right now making minimum wage is serving the King of kings and Lord of lords. The reason we can say this, and be joyful in this, is because our reward is not a promotion or pay raise. Our reward isn’t being employee of the month or a bonus. Our reward is our inheritance with the saints in Heaven (Colossians 1:12). This reward can never be taken away and has much more value than anything that could ever be purchased here on earth.

When you get tired of working, remember today’s verses. Stop and say a prayer and thank Jesus for making a way for you to have the ultimate inheritance through His death on the cross. Take a few deep breaths and remember that you aren’t working for men but for the greatest boss ever, Jesus.

Whether you are a stay at home mom or CEO, remember who you are working for today.

Thanksgiving is more than a day off. It is more than eating mashed potatoes and gravy, watching football, and taking a wonderful turkey-induced nap.

Thanksgiving is a pervasive and essential concept in Scripture. And although it is good to set aside a Thursday each November to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, the Scriptures have more to say about giving thanks than one day a year can handle.

Here are five biblical truths about thanksgiving.

1. Thanksgiving Is Trinitarian

The typical pattern of thanksgiving in the New Testament is that God the Father is the object of thanksgiving, God the Son is the person through whom thanksgiving flows, and God the Holy Spirit is the source of thanksgiving. Paul models this in Romans 1:8: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” And Colossians 3:16–17:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The very presence of thanksgiving points to the Holy Spirit as the source of thanksgiving because without the work of the Spirit it is impossible to please God (Romans 8:5–8).

Christianity does not call for vague thanksgiving to a vague deity. Our God is triune and, as a result, thanksgiving has a Trinitarian flavor. Thanksgiving flows to God the Father, through God the Son, from God the Spirit.

2. Thanksgiving Replaces Sin

When Paul commands believers to stop sinning, he also commands believers to put thanksgiving in its place. Paul writes: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4).

Paul knows that we are always acting. We either act with sinful, thankless hearts which leads to foolish talk or crude jokes, or we act with thankful hearts and thereby please God with our speech. John Piper explains,

The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry. (“Violence, Ugliness, and Thanksgiving”)

3. Thanksgiving Sanctifies Creation

How should Christians think about God’s good creation? Paul says that it should be received with a heart full of thanksgiving: “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4).

Paul teaches that creation is good and should be received with thanksgiving because it is made holy through the word of God and prayer. Piper explains the connection between the goodness of creation, thanksgiving, and prayer,

[T]he word of God teaches us to taste food as a communication of his diverse goodness and his supreme worth. And when we taste food as a communication of God’s goodness and worth in the eating of this food, we offer up our prayers of thanks, and ask him to give us the fullest possible feast of his supreme worth. And we pray this in Jesus’s name, knowing that every lasting blessing was bought by his blood. (“What God Made Is Good and Must Be Sanctified”)

4.Thanksgiving for the Gospel

We should aim to have our thanksgiving rise in proportion to the value of the object for which we give thanks. Therefore, we should be most grateful for God’s work for us in Christ because it unites us to our highest joy – God himself. Paul writes, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4).

Paul never tired of giving thanks for the grace of God in Jesus’s person and work. And neither should we. God has showed his love for us even when we were enemies of God (Romans 5:8); he called us out of darkness and made us heirs of God (Romans 8:17); Jesus bore the punishment we deserved, and we receive his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

5.Thanksgiving in All Circumstances

One surprising aspect of thanksgiving is that it’s for all circumstances, not just one big meal a year. Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

Giving thanks in all circumstances is especially difficult while undergoing suffering. How can we be thankful when there’s something that hurts so much? We can give thanks in the midst of suffering because it is meant to enlarge our faith, not as punishment (2 Corinthians 4:17–18), and because it is redemptive, not random.

Our suffering is not punishment for our sin — because Christ has borne our punishment in our place (Romans 3:25). The demands of justice have been met. And our suffering is not random — because God is sovereign over it, and through it God is conforming us in the image of his Son (Romans 8:28–29).

 

Thank you for this great article from desirinGod.org

Of course we can never follow the Bible to closely, but there are times when we tend to use it to serve our own needs rather than to let it do the talking by itself. This is what most of us call legalism.

The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Even true believers can be legalistic. We are instructed, rather, to be gracious to one another: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1). Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines that they will run others out of their fellowship, not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality.

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism in Colossians 2:20-23: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

A word of caution is necessary here. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

In one sermon, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, took out a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.”

He used this simple demonstration to explain that living a victorious life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Later, he said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.”

Let’s begin emptying ourselves today! We need to be filled with God’s Spirit so that we can be empowered to do great things! There’s no way around it and there’s so much work to be done!

Ephesians 3:16-19 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto youMatthew 6:33

Life can often seem very complicated. Career decisions, family dynamics, academic ambitions — every area and issue of life has its own challenges.

However, Jesus spotlights for us the one overriding, all-encompassing priority for living and, by doing so, simplifies our complicated decisions considerably. Seek first the kingdom, Jesus says, not personal advancement, financial security, or self-fulfillment.

Should you accept this promotion? Seek first the kingdom. Where should you send your children to school? Seek first the kingdom. Should you pursue this relationship? Seek first the kingdom.

While this directive does not provide the specific answer to every problem, it certainly does eliminate a great number of possible options. If it does not further the kingdom of God and reflect his righteousness, then it does not meet your basic criteria and need not be considered any further.

When we single-mindedly seek the welfare of the kingdom, then Jesus promises that God will seek our welfare, as well: all these things will be added to you. What things are these? Everything that is necessary and good for you, everything that will assist you in your goal of advancing the kingdom of Christ.

As you face difficult and convoluted questions today, filter your thoughts and decisions through this all-important objective: seek first the kingdom of God.