Grow Up

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Today’s Passages – Ephesians 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “1211 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13-15)

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)

One of the many problems with the modern concept of Christianity in our world today, is that it is producing very immature Christians. At one time the churches of America understood that they had a responsibility to teach and preach sound Bible doctrine. Unfortunately, in most of our churches the Bible has been replaced with entertainment; and in some cases the Word of God has been almost removed altogether. If you were to travel back in time to the first half of the 20th century you would see that all Bible believing churches had multiple opportunities for the people to come to the House of God in order to learn Truth. Gradually, as the years passed, sermon lengths became shorter, and whole services were eliminated. It is rare to find an evangelical church with Sunday School for adults or evening services on Sunday, or Bible studies / Prayer Meetings during the week. It is no wonder that our country is rapidly deteriorating when God’s people are feeding sparsely on Jello and Tapioca, instead of meat. It is also not surprising that Christians are dropping like flies into all kinds of immorality when they are not taking in enough spiritual nourishment to strengthen them against the wiles of the Devil.

This lack of Bible can also be seen in our homes. There used to be such a thing as “a family altar” and family devotions. There was a time when it would not be uncommon for Christian fathers and mothers to read the Bible with their children. It was not at all unusual for a mom to insist that her children get up out of bed a little earlier so that they could spend some time in the Word of God before they faced the day. Now, we are too busy finding out what all our friends are doing on Facebook; or perhaps we are engrossed in the latest immoral sitcom on television. Shame on us. We are producing a bunch of weak, baby Christians who could not possibly be strong enough to carry the torch to the next generation.

In our passage today we see that God gave us all that we need in order to grow and mature in the faith. Notice vs. 11 – 12:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

God gave us pastors and teachers, but unfortunately they are too busy trying to please a carnal group of people instead preaching the Word of God. I heard recently of a pastor of a church (that was once a fundamental Baptist church) who went to a football game on  a Sunday morning instead of going to his pulpit. He got his wife to fill in for him. Shame on that pastor, and shame on that church for not firing him.

We need to get back to the basics; back to the Bible. We need to get rid of all of the technology that is supposed to be helping us so much, get rid of the social media, the filth on television, the mindless video games and internet surfing, and get back to “study[ing] to show [ourselves] approved unto God, [workmen] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And our churches need to get back to filling their services with sound doctrine, and lots of it. We are losing the battle. Few are getting saved today because our lights are too dim, and our salt has lost its savor. We need to wake up and go back to what worked before we completely lose this generation.


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Saved to Good Works – Not By Good Works

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Today’s Passages – Ephesians 1 – 3; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “1210 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – (Ephesians 2:8-10)

These verses in Ephesians are perhaps among the most familiar in the Bible. We often use vs. 8 – 9 to convince people that salvation is not through our good works, but solely though the grace of God, which is available only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace has been defined as unmerited favor, or receiving something that we do not deserve. What a wonderful truth it is to know that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works, which are totally insufficient, and fall miserably short of the mark. As the verse teaches, salvation comes through the free gift of God’s grace. Jesus paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross, and now makes salvation available to any who will simply receive Him by faith.

However, just because works are not acceptable as payment for our sins, it doesn’t mean that we should not “work” for the Lord after we are saved. Verse 10, which is not quoted nearly as often as vs. 8 & 9, teaches very plainly that God has ordained that we should work for Him, after salvation. God has got a specific plan for each one of His children. He has something for all of us to do. Our job is to determine what God’s will is for our lives, and then do it. There are lots of opportunities for service in a local church.


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Do You Bear The Marks? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Galatians 4 – 6; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalm 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Read the “1209 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17)

Good morning. The Apostle Paul went through a lot. In chapter 4 of our reading, we see it in his eyes…

Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” (Galatians 4:13-15)

We also see it in 2Corinthians chapter 11…

For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2Corinthians 11:20-28)

Yes, Paul went through a lot of persecutions for the Lord. And he bears the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. What kind of marks do you bear? Do you bear the marks of the Lord Jesus, or maybe the mark of somebody stole the seat I normally sit in? Is the mark a blister on your foot from several miles handing out tracts and soul winning, or are the blisters elsewhere from being a pew warmer? You should, as Paul, have the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1) The Mark Of The New Creature

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5:17)

When you received Christ, you became a new creature. The old things are passed away. Some of the things that you will find are leaving you the things you used to do: you don’t want to do them anymore…

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

As God works our clay, forming us into the image of His Son, we may show some of the old man’s ugly face. But…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

God also gave us…

2) The Mark Of The Holy Spirit.

“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2Corinthians 3:2-3)

If you are saved, the Holy Spirit will bear fruit in your life that others will see…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10)

3) The Mark Of Jesus

“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:17-25)

Jesus had many marks made by a hateful world on Him. The Bible only mentions two that remain: the nail prints in His hands, and the hole made by a Roman spear in His side. When we see Jesus in all His glory, we will know Him by the nail scarred hands. And He warns us in chapter 16…

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Tribulation is going to come. Things are going to happen, even are happening now. But be of good cheer, God is in control.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 16:17-20)

Are you bearing the marks?

Peace.


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We Are Free

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Today’s Passages – Galatians 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “1208 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Schoolmaster

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

The letter to the Galatians was one of the earliest of the epistles written by the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the God. In the very early church, there was evidently a problem with legalism. Legalism is the attempt to put people who are saved by faith back under the law. I need to explain here exactly what I mean by “under the law”. In Old Testament days the people of God (the Jews) lived according to the law of Moses which contained three different types of laws: civil law (government), which helped them live in a peaceful society; moral law, which taught them what was right and wrong, morally speaking; and ceremonial law, which were the particular laws that had to do with their system of worship. These ceremonial laws legislated their holy days, their assemblies, and their feasts, etc. The Jews created a system of rules that was impossible for anybody to keep perfectly. That’s why Paul says later in this letter to the Galatians that the law was our “schoolmaster”, in that it taught us that we were sinners in need of mercy. Christ is the only man who perfectly fulfilled all of the law, meaning He never was guilty of violating any command of God in any of the three categories.

Now when God says in the New Testament that we are no longer “under the law”, and that we have been freed from the bondage of the law, He is not saying that we are free to commit moral sin, or that we are free to break the laws that government creates in order to keep the peace, unless, of course, those man-made rules disagree with God’s rules. We are, however, free from all of the ceremonial laws that the Jews lived by, and there were a whole lot of them. By the way, not being “under the law” also means that we have been freed (saved) from the penalty of not keeping the law. The people of Galatia were “bewitched” into attempting to combine the doctrine of salvation through faith alone with the keeping of the Jewish law. By doing so, they just frustrated the concept of grace. Christ fulfilled the law, and He died for us who could not keep the law. We are free! Free from the penalty of sin; free from the bondage of a myriad of rules and regulations that are impossible to live by anyway; and free to love and serve God according to the dictates of our own consciences and understanding of God.

I feel compelled to make one final comment here. The term “legalism” has often been used in reference to standards and convictions. I am not a “legalist” if I have a personal standard in my life that I believe God is pleased with. Having some Biblically based guidelines in my life to live by does not make me a legalist, unless I  believe that adhering to these rules somehow saves me. I am not saved by how I live my life, but I do try to live a life that glorifies God because I am saved.


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Help Wanted – Ministry Positions Available

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read a previous post from this passage – “Do You Pass the Test

“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Are you looking for a job? Do you want to make lots of money, live in a spacious, comfortable home, drive a fancy car? Are you looking for something that will not require a lot of your time and energy, but will yield great financial benefits? Do you require a good health insurance package, including dental and optical? Do you desire a great retirement package that will allow you to retire early with enough income to live comfortably? Then don’t apply for this job.

Welcome to the ministry. Paul the apostle was perhaps the greatest Christian that ever lived, but look what his earthly benefit package included: rejection, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger; and long, thankless hours. The ministry is not something that you do because of what you will get from it in this life. Those who surrender to God’s call to ministry will more often than not, know a life of sacrifice and struggle. Don’t misunderstand me, the ministry does have it’s great moments, and there is a good deal of satisfaction knowing that you are making an eternal difference; but the fact remains that if it is earthly rewards that you are looking for, you will most likely not get them in the ministry.

However, the ministry does provide the best eternal retirement package there is. Those who sacrifice for the Lord here on earth, will receive an abundant return for their investment in Heaven; and those benefits will last a lot longer than any earthly retirement package.

In spite of all the negatives that Paul had to endure, however, he would not have traded places with anyone else in the world. He couldn’t do anything else; and he learned to be content with whatever the will of God provided for him. As much as I often gripe about some of the aspects of the ministry, I don’t think that I could be happy doing anything else either. True happiness and joy is being in the center of the will of God, wherever that leads you.


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Without Wax

Without Wax

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “1206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “And Be Ye Separate” and “Casting Down Imaginations

“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8)

“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.

In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters, I would strongly recommend that you give to the work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.

Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shallnot be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.


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Are You Blind?

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “1205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What’s New About You?” and “Ambassadors for Christ

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Many years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.

There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth, but what can I do about it?

1  I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.

2  I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

3  I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.


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Most Miserable

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

Read the “1204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “A Family Addicted to the Ministry

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

When I was working for my dad’s candy company, I would occasionally run into miserable people who seemed to take pleasure in ruining the day of everybody they came in contact with. There was one person in particular that I especially dreaded having to deal with. She worked for a supermarket that I delivered to in Philadelphia and her job was to check the order that I was bringing into the store to make sure the invoice was correct. Her job title was “security receiver”. She hated her job, she hated life, and she particularly hated the vendors, like me, who were delivering products to her store. She would sometimes make us wait outside in the rain or snow for long periods of time until she finished doing some “important” other task, like sweeping the floor, or filing away some paperwork. The worst day of my week was the day that I had to deliver to this store.

One day, however, I noticed something on her car, which was always parked right outside the back door of the store. There was an “OBX” sticker on her back bumper. “OBX” represents the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. I didn’t think this lady enjoyed anything about life, but apparently she enjoyed spending time in North Carolina. One day I decided to take a chance and talk to her about the bumper sticker. Her countenance changed immediately, and I think she even smiled. She began to tell me all about her past trips, and how she was looking forward to an upcoming vacation. Her attitude changed as she began to think and talk about something she enjoyed, and, more importantly, something she looked forward to. She transformed (at least temporarily) from a miserable person to a happy one.

In our text above the Apostle Paul states that people who do not believe that Christ is risen and who also won’t acknowledge a resurrection of all believers, are miserable people. Why? Because they have no hope, nothing to look forward to after this life. Paul says that if all we have is this life then we will be a most miserable people. Later on, in verse 58, Paul states that because of the hope that we have, we can be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Why? because we know that all of our labor down here will pay off with a wonderful reward in eternity.

The lady at the supermarket got happy temporarily thinking about a vacation. How much more should God’s people get happy thinking about the fact that because Christ is risen, we know He has the power to raise us up as well, and pull us out of this earth, which can oftentimes be a miserable place, and take us to a place that is anything but miserable, a place of exceeding, eternal joy.


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The Greatest of These is Charity (Love)

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 13 – 14; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “1203 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12 & 13)

The Bible speaks much about love. In our passage today the word “charity” is used, which is the same word that is translated “love” many other places in the Bible. It means to love unconditionally; to have a deep abiding love that goes far beyond mere affection. This is the kind of love that God has for us. It was what He demonstrated (commendeth – Romans 5:12) when He died for us sinners. Why God loves us I do not know, but the Bible tells us He does.

This kind of Bible love spoken of here in our text and some of these other passages as well is something people often claim to have for others, especially in word. In other words, we often say that we love certain individuals or people in general. However, in practicality, I don’t think that we are being entirely truthful. Love is clearly more than just words, and it is even more than just feelings. Love is action. Love can be seen in the things that we do as well as say. In vv 4 – 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 there are listed practical examples of how love is put into action. Let me list them for you here:

Charity:

suffereth long, (patience)

and is kind;

charity envieth not;

charity vaunteth not itself, (does not boast)

is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, (inappropriately)

seeketh not her own,

is not easily provoked,

thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity,

but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things,

believeth all things,

hopeth all things,

endureth all things. (is able to survive anything, unconditional)

There are 15 practical applications of real love in those four verses. Take a good look at each one of them individually. Now ask yourself honestly: “Do these demonstrations of love show up in my love for others? Or am I falling short?” I think we both know the answer to that question. We all fall short, don’t we. I am not trying to make you feel bad, but I am trying to get you to realize how much needs to be done in our lives in order for us to truly represent Christ as His ambassadors. Remember, the Bible is clear that people will only see Jesus in us as we demonstrate love before them and to them. Now, here is the exciting part: You can’t love people in the flesh. It is not something that you can do on your own. You see, God is love; and you can only love people if the Holy Spirit of God is in you and is not being quenched (hindered from working in and through you). We must yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God inside of us. We must allow Him to love people through us. We must somehow get ourselves: our feelings, our hurts, our desires, etc. out of the way.

Do you want to love people as Jesus loves people? The world has love, but it is a conditional love. Some people are easy to love, but most people are not. Jesus died for a bunch of unloveable people. We must take our love up another notch if we are truly going to be His disciples.


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A Gift To Profit Withal – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Read the “1202 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1Corinthians 12:4-11)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Corinthians 13:13)

Good morning. Only 23 more days till Christmas! But did you know that when you received Jesus as your Saviour, God gave you a Gift? Not only the Gift of eternal life, but also the Gift of the Holy Spirit. And God the Holy Spirit has gifts for you also. He gives them to every man severally as He will (you could have more than one.) Notice though, in the list of gifts shown in the above passage, that tongues and the interpretation of tongues are the last two on the list. Paul wrote…

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” (1Corinthians 14:1-5)

The reason I write this is that a few weeks ago I was in a music store, and the owner was telling another customer how he was at a church and this lady grabbed his hand. She then started speaking in a strange language. He proceeded to tell how it scarred the [SNOT] out of him. Is that the kind of affect that you want to have on a visitor to your church? While at college, I had heard a story that came out of First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana. There was a Chinese woman visiting the church, and she did not understand English. During the invitation, a man who was concerned for her eternal destiny, went through the auditorium enlisting help from someone who spoke Chinese. When he himself could not find anyone, he went back to the woman and gave her the Gospel. An interpreter was finally found who revealed that the woman had just heard the Gospel in her own language, and was saved.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)

These men heard the Gospel in their own language. The visitor from the music store did not. What good is it? That’s why Paul tells us to covet the gifts that edify…

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” (1Corinthians 14:1-12)

Peace.


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Settling Disputes Within the Church

Today’s Passages – 1Corinthians 6 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “1201 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Stumblingblocks“, “Property of Jesus

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

One of the many problems that Apostle Paul was dealing with in his correspondence with the Church in Corinth was the problem of disputes between the brethren. Apparently, conflicts from within the church body were being brought before the secular courts for resolution. Paul uses some pretty strong language rebuking them for resorting to such measures in order to settle their disagreements, and he even uses a little sarcasm in order to drive his point home. However, we can glean some important principles from this problem at Corinth that will help us in our dealings with fellow believers today.

1. Never sue another believer. Personally, I have never sued anybody, Christian or not; but, I will not go beyond what the text is clearly teaching here. In Corinth, Paul was dealing with individuals from within the same church. Believers need to be very careful when dealing with each other, carefully considering all possible end results of their transactions. When we enter into an agreement with somebody, we seldom think about anything ever going wrong, but often that is not the case. We need to be able to resolve our disputes among ourselves.

2. Be willing to let it go. You may not be able to do this in every case, but if it is at all possible, be willing to forgive (and forget) the damage that was caused you by the offending brother. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did, and is still doing, for us.

3.  Follow the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15 – 17

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

According to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew, the offended brother should first go to the offending party and try to work out the disagreement between them. If that doesn’t work, then he is to bring in another person or possibly two to help bring about resolution. If this fails, then the dispute is to be brought before the church for a final decision. The church was the last “court of appeals” for any case.

4.  Be a peacemaker yourself.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Every church needs to have a few Sprit-filled, impartial people who could sit down with two disagreeing parties and help them come to a mutual agreement.

As long as there are Christians who possess “a flesh” there are at times going to be disagreements within our churches. God prepares us to deal with these disputes in a Christlike way without airing them out before the unsaved world. I think that point two above is the most important instruction out of the four. There are going to be many times in life where we should be willing to give in and just let God deal with the situation. If it is a financial dispute, understand that all money belongs to God and He is well able to replace whatever amount you lost.


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The Foolishness of Preaching

Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 1 – 5; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read a previous post from this passage – “Baby Christians,and “A Father’s Love

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. … But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24)

It is amazing to me what the world thinks about preachers and preaching. Those who are faithful to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ are often mocked and scorned, especially by the socially elite and well educated. They portray preachers as ignorant, ill-mannered, and unintelligent. I know, because before I was saved, I had the same opinion of Spirit-filled preachers.  Yet, God says that He is going to use the foolishness of preaching to bring people to salvation. The wealthy and proud may not always listen to what we have to say, but oftentimes the common people, who would have also gladly heard Jesus (Mark 12:37), will listen to us.

God does not only use the foolishness of preaching to save people’s souls, He also uses passionate, biblical exhortation to change saved peoples’ lives, strengthen them spiritual, and guide them in the will of God.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Passionate preaching of sound Bible doctrine is imperative if we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we should. Support your preacher by attending the services faithfully and listening attentively. Let him know that you agree with him with a nod of your head and even a heavy “Amen”; and insist that he hold nothing back that ought to be said. America is in an mess today because of a lack of preaching. Preach the Word!


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If the Lord Will

Today’s Passages – Romans 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “1129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Responsibility“, “Giving Back“, “It Is Written”, and “Just One More Thing

“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:24-26)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” (James 4:14-16)

Things rarely go according to our plans. It was no different for the Apostle Paul. He had plans t travel to Spain that he thought were going to come to pass, but his plans were changed by God.

The Letter to the Romans was written from Corinth at the end of the third missionary journey. In Romans 15:24 – 26, Paul states that he had plans to stop in Rome on his way to Spain, but first he had to go back to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that he had collected from the saints in Macedonia (Philippi. Thessalonica, and Berea) and Achaia (Corinth, Cenchrea, and Athens). According to the Book of Acts, Paul does go to Jerusalem, but he will be falsely accused and arrested there, and taken into Roman custody. He will end up going to Rome, but not as he originally desires. After two years being confined to the palace prison in Caesarea, he is transferred to Rome in order to appeal his case to Caesar. He remains there for a couple of more years awaiting his trial, and is eventually released. However, there is no Biblical record of him every going to Spain. There are some traditional accounts of him traveling there (and possibly even into Brittain) before his death, but this cannot be proven.

This is not the first time Paul’s plans were changed by God, either. In his second missionary journey, it was his intention to go through Galatia and then northeast into Bythinia, but the Spirit of God wanted him to go west into Greece:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:6-10)

God has the right to veto or change any plan that we may have. It is good to have dreams about the future, and it is right to pray and plan the road ahead, but don’t be surprised if God radically alters your future. God’s will is so much better than our will anyway. His wisdom is infinite, and he sees what we cannot possibly see. Who knows? Our plans may have led to disaster. We need to trust that God knows what is best. “If the Lord wills” or “The Lord willing” needs to be more than just a trite phrase we spit out on occasion; it needs to be a mindset of cheerful submission to the perfect will of God.


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The Fulness of the Gentiles

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Today’s Passages – Romans 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “1128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Be Ye Transformed“; “What’s The Difference

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

My preacher back in Texas used to share an illustration regarding Romans 11:25 that I thought was very profound. He said that he was on the lookout for the last Gentile that would be saved before God takes the Church up to Heaven. Dr. Gray is a tenacious soul winner, and he believes that this verse teaches that there will come a day when the “fulness” of the Gentiles will be complete. He wants to be the one who shares the gospel with that last Gentile.

When Jesus came to this earth, He offered Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Though many of the Jewish people received Him (and still do today), the nation rejected Him:

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)

Because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has temporarily refocused His attention on the Gentiles. The good news of salvation – the Gospel – has been flowing freely to the Gentile nations of the world for 2000 years; but it seems to be coming to a close. I believe we are very close to the time when God will pull out of this earth all those that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, via what we call the rapture. Christ is coming soon to take His Bride – the Church – back home to Heaven. Then God will once again turn His attention back on the nation of Israel; and someday Israel, as a nation, “will look upon [Him] whom they have pierced”, and will realize that they were wrong about Him.

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” – (Romans 11:26)

However, until that time comes, we who are part of the bride are to “occupy”, or stay busy, till He comes. We are to do our best to get the message of Christ to every person on the planet. Someday that last Gentile will be saved, and Jesus will take us home. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


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All Things For Good?!?

Today’s Passages – Romans 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “1127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Paul’s Motivation

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

How can God work all things, even very bad things, together for good? Many people, including a lot of Christians, have a hard time absorbing this truth, especially when they are going through a trial.

It is important to note that this verse does not say that all things are good in and of themselves. It would be ludicrous to attempt to make the argument that everything in this life is good. No, there is an awful lot of evil in the world, and that evil is allowed by God to enter into our lives at times. The effects of sin are everywhere around us. Immorality, cancer, relationship heartaches, natural disasters, financial setbacks; the list goes on and on. These are all part of the sin-cursed world that we live in, and Christians are not immune to experiencing the pain of these bad consequences in our lives. They are anything but good.

But, we also know that God is good. The things that He allows in our lives are not always good, but we know that He is good! And, we know that He loves His children very dearly. A little further in Romans 8, Paul reminds us of God’s love for us:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

If God loves us then why would He allow evil to come into our lives? Why would He let a young woman die of cancer? Why would He allow people to hurt each other? Why would He allow thousands of people to be killed in a natural disaster; or  dozens of His people slaughtered in a church shooting? Why? Why? Why?

The answer is – I don’t know. But, I know God loves me, and I know that God is good; and, though I cannot see what God is doing through these evil circumstances of life, I trust Him that He knows what He is doing. I may not always like it, but I know that God knows what is best. He may be using a trial to teach me something, to make me more like Christ. Or, He may be using my reaction to a trial to point someone else to Christ and/or to glorify Himself. Again, I don’t know, but He does. We simply have to learn to trust Him.

I once heard a preacher illustrate this verse by mixing ingredients and baking an apple pie. He pointed out that none of the individual ingredients were all that appealing in themselves, and certainly the process of going into an oven must not be very enjoyable; but the end result is something we all can enjoy. God is doing the same thing in your life and mine. He is mixing the ingredients, some good and some not so much; but, mixed together they will make something awesome. Trust Him to mix the right ingredients together in your life.

 


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God Forbid!

Today’s Passages – Romans 4 – 6; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “1126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Check out a previous post from this passage – “Imputed Righteousness

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Romans, chapter six, answers the question that would naturally be on the minds of many who are studying this wonderful Letter and who are trying to get their heads wrapped around the doctrine of justification. If we are saved by grace, and secure by grace, can we then do whatever we want to do, including willfully sinning in order to satisfy our lusts. Paul answers the question very clearly here in this chapter – God forbid! He clarifies this instruction further in vs 12 – 14:

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

We are to yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, instead of obeying the lusts that are still within our sinful flesh. Our flesh is not redeemed, but our spirit, which was dead in trespasses and sins, has been brought back to life by God and is the home of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit wants to direct my life in obedience to the will and Word of God. The flesh still cries out to get its way, but I now have a choice not to listen. I can yield to God.

Since the time of Christ, there have periodically been movements within  Christianity that have taught that God is now OK with sin, because of His grace. They have got as far as to say that the more we sin, the more grace will be manifested. While it is true that there is no sin that the Christian can commit that could undo the work of grace in his heart, God still expects us to live our lives as Spirit-filled and Bible-obedient Christians. Grace not only saves us from the penalty of past and future sins, it also helps us to live separated and surrendered lives.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)

We will never be sinless as long as we live in these fleshly, mortal bodies; but, we can live our lives yielded to the Holy Spirit of God within us, and, if we do, our conduct will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. The secret to winning the battle against the flesh is not to try to fight it head on in a battle of the wills. The key is to yield to (walk in) the Spirit.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16, 25)

 


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Nothing But The Blood – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Romans 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“…Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…” (Romans 3:24-25)

Good morning. What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. You see, without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin.

“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:19-22)

God showed Adam and Eve. When they sinned in the Garden of Eden, they tried to cover their nakedness by knitting together fig leaves for skirts. And man made religion had begone…

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:1-21)

Innocent animals had to die in order for God to make them coats of skins to clothe them. Their blood was spilled because of Adam and Eve’s sin. This would be a continual sacrifice that would become part of God’s Law.

“And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Leviticus 1:1-5)

God promised He would send a Man to be the final sacrifice for sins…

“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)

A death blow to Satan’s head. A wound at the feet of the Man, dripping blood. That Man was the Lord Jesus Christ: the Lamb of God…

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Then a few years later, He would be beaten to a pulp. He would be whipped with a whip that had chunks of metal and glass on the ends that would rip His flesh releasing the precious flow of blood.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:6-9)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” (Ephesians 1:3-7)

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Colossians 1:12-14)

And when Jesus was shedding His precious blood, being nailed to a Roman cross, He said, “It is finished.”: and the final payment for sin had been made.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh! precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Peace.


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Guilty But Pronounced Innocent

Today’s Passages – Romans 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:9-10)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:20-22)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

The Letter to the Romans is an absolutely awesome portion of Scripture. Though it was written to teach the saved about their salvation, it is also the most comprehensive gospel tract available. In this wonderful epistle we learn about doctrine (chapters 1 – 8), dispensation (chapters 9 – 11), and duty (chapters 12 – 16).

Within the doctrine section of the Letter, we see that all men are guilty as fallen sinners before God. From Romans 1:18 all the way through 3:20, Paul exhaustedly proves that every man (and woman): Gentile or Jew, pagan or religious; all are guilty before God. Before a person can be saved, he must come to the brutal realization that he is a depraved and fallen, sinful creature. The truth hurts, but it is the truth. And, because of our sinful condition, we are completely deserving of God’s judgment, which is eternal separation from Him, ultimately in the Lake of Fire.

But, praise be to God,  the story does not end there. According to Romans 3:21 and 22, we can receive the righteousness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross of Calvary. His death and shed blood on the Cross provide the atonement (redemption, complete cleansing of sin) for all lost sinners who are willing to repent and place their faith in Him.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians puts it this way:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I am guilty. I am totally deserving of judgment in Hell, but I have been pronounced innocent by God – completely clear of all charges of sin, because of what Jesus did for me. He died in my place. Though in reality, I am guilty, God now sees me as innocent – sinless. Not only did Jesus forgive my sins from the past, He will also not hold me responsible for any future sins. I am completely forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future. In Romans 4, Paul further clarifies this:

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

What love, what mercy, what grace. We serve an awesome Saviour! Hallelujah!!

Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Have you placed your faith in Him and Him alone to take you to Heaven? I hope you have. If you have not yet trusted Him and you are concerned about your eternal destiny, click here.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s reading in Romans, where we will learn more about our justification in Christ and also explore the process of our sanctification.


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What Makes You Happy

Today’s Passages – Acts 26 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” (Acts 26:2)

 

What makes you happy?

The Apostle Paul was thrilled on this particular day because he was given the opportunity to share with King Agrippa II (*see note below) and his wife, Bernice, the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me back up a little bit and provide a little context to the story. Back in Acts 21, we learn of Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, being accused of the Jews of bringing Gentiles into the Temple, which was a false accusation. The chief captain of the Roman Guard, Claudius Lysius, after hearing that some of the Jews had covenanted together to execute Paul, delivered him to Caesarea to protect him, and and also to bring him before Governor Felix. Felix holds on to Paul for two years, but had the opportunity himself to hear the gospel story and Paul’s testimony from Paul. When Festus becomes the new governor, he attempted to bring Paul back to Jerusalem to re-try his case before the Jews. But, Paul would have none of it and instead appealed his case to Caesar, which he had the right to do as a Roman citizen. Before he leaves Caesarea, however, he is given the opportunity to witness to Agrippa, Bernice, and Festus.

Paul’s life was consumed with sharing the message of salvation with people. Paul was constantly rehearsing his testimony to whoever would give him an audience, and this made him very happy. It is interesting that a Spirit-filled Christian like Paul receives such joy out of sharing his faith and influencing people regarding salvation. Most of us are only happy when we are receiving tangible rewards or positive circumstances, but not Paul. Paul was in prison, but as long as he was telling people about Jesus, he was very happy.

Many Christians today are anything but happy, even though we are, for the most part, living very luxuriously. Perhaps, we should try doing what Paul did to amuse himself: witness to people. The good news of salvation is the greatest news on the planet, and there is no greater joy than sharing that news with someone who will listen. We may not see everybody that we speak to trust Christ as Savior, but we will receive joy knowing that they have the information they need in order to make that decision. Soul winning will make you happy. Try it today!

*Click here for more information about King Agrippa II and the Herodian Dynasty


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Learning To Be Truly Thankful

Today’s Passages – Acts 23 – 25; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Introduction

John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley’s heart. While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley, being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes. “And what else do you thank God for?” he said with a touch of sarcasm.  The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, “I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!” Deeply moved, Wesley recognized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.

Many years later, in 1791, John Wesley lay on his deathbed at the age of 88. Those who gathered around him realized how well he had learned the lesson of praising God in every circumstance. Despite Wesley’s extreme weakness, he began singing the hymn, “I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath.”

Thanksgiving is certainly a wonderful time of the year, when people are generally more appreciative than they are at other times in the year. But, why do we need to set aside a special day to be thankful. All people, saved or lost, have much to be thankful for, especially in America. Christians, particularly, should have nothing but gratitude in their hearts every hour of the day, and at every season of the year.

All of us struggle with ingatitude at times, but many Christians today have a difficult time seeing past the struggles and trials of daily living to a realization of the sovereign hand of the Lord actively working in their lives through each and every situation – whether “good” or “bad”.

In our text, the Apostle Paul encourages the believers at Thessalonica to be thankful for and in everything. This means that whatever situation they may face, they need to realize that they have much to be thankful for.

There is a similar passage found in Ephesians:

“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:17-20)

We will give the context of this passage a closer examination in a minute, but, for now, just focus on v. 20:

“giving thanks always for all things”

Here again, we see that it is possible to live at a level of Christian growth where we can truly be thankful for everything that comes our way: good days, bad days; sunshine or rain; prosperity or poverty; through pleasures as well as through pain – being thankful for all things always.

The phrase “give thanks”, or something very similar to it, is found some 73 times in the Bible; thanksgiving 28 times, many times talking about the Old Testament sacrifice of thanksgiving; thankful is found 3 times; thank (singular) is found 27 times.

Clearly, we are expected to be a thankful people, but it would be far better to develop a truly thankful heart, then to just go through the motions of thanksgiving at certain seasons of the year.

As time goes on and as we draw closer to the return of the Lord Jesus, the world will become less and less appreciative:

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)

But, this should not be the case for Christians. We need to recognize how truly blessed we are.

When we think about what we have in Christ, we often consider things like his provision for our every need and even many of our desires. God has given me salvation from Hell and a home in Heaven. He has given me a beautiful wife, wonderful children, and even more awesome grandchildren. I have a nice, cozy home to live in, a car to get me where I need to go, food to eat, and plenty of warm clothing.

God has also given His protection over us. I cannot be sure how many times that God has shielded me from harm, but I know that He has. He has been merciful to me at times when I deserved His judgment.

He has also given us purpose. God has a wonderful plan for each of our lives. He wants to use us to help fulfill His will for this world. Just think, the God of the Universe has handpicked me and specifically chosen you to do a particular task for Him.

All of these things are wonderful in themselves, and they are individually each a reason for us to rejoice, but I there is a fourth reason for us to be thankful, and this reason if fully grasped will help carry our attitude of thanksgiving beyond the good days into the days when the car breaks down, the doctor tells us bad news, or our loved ones hurt us by an unkind action.

I’m referring to God’s providence. God’s providence has to do with His sovereign control over all that goes on in His creation. Nothing happens in this universe without God’s permission, and God promises to us that everything that happens – “good or bad” – will ultimately be used of Him to advance His agenda.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Even the bad things that God allows in our lives are for our good or for His glory. We just need to trust that He knows what He is doing.

That’s why Paul could be content in whatever situation that he was in:

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:12)

Paul knew that God was in control of his circumstances, and he knew that God was taking good care of him, and working through him to fulfill God’s Great Commission.

Let’s consider the passage we looked at earlier from Ephesians:

“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:17-20)

Consider Three Ingredients from these verses that will produce true thanksgiving in our hearts:

God’s Sovereignty – Paul says that we should be wise enough and mature enough to understand the will of the Lord, which is often very good and pleasant for us; but, sometimes includes some pain and sorrow. But, if the pain and sorrow are part of God’s will then we can rejoice, knowing that it is ultimately going to bring about good.

God’s Spirit – Then he says that we are to be filled with the Spirit. Sometimes, people will escape from life by drinking wine or partaking in some other sinful activity, but a Spirit-filled Christian deal with life’s problems because we can see the Hand of God in every situation.

God’s Songs – Then He tells us to sing. Singing is an expression of praise to God, and is also a tool in our arsenal to combat negativity and depression. Godly songs will elevate our moods, and the truths contained in those songs will help us to look at things from the perspective of God and other brothers and sisters who have already experienced what we may be facing.

Finally, we get back to the place where we are truly thankful, again.


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Feed the Flock

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Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:27-28)

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Peter 5:2)

The message given to preachers by the Apostle Paul here in Acts 20:28 is to feed the flock. It is important to note that the preacher does not own the flock, but has simply been given a position of oversight by the One who purchased them, the Lord Jesus. Peter also tells us the same thing, and then adds some further qualifications for the one who would care for God’s flock. How does a preacher feed the flock? By preaching and teaching the Word of God.

1  First he must pray for God’s help and direction in selecting the right portions of Scripture to preach or teach. God will give the preacher wisdom as to what the particular needs of the people are.

2  Next, he must prepare. The preacher must immerse himself in the Scripture that he is preparing:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 )

The preacher must not only prepare by thoroughly understanding the text, but he must also prepare how the text is to be delivered. He must also select illustrations that will help the flock understand the principles contained within the text.

3  Thirdly, he much preach and teach with clarity and boldness. He must know that he is merely a messenger of God, and the message itself is from God. He must understand his authority, and claim the power that is available to him through the filling of the Spirit of God. Along with preaching the principles contained within the text, the preacher must be careful to guide the congregation in application, declaring how the Bible principles can be put to practical use in their lives.

Of course it goes without saying that the preacher must be in the Word of God on a daily basis, feeding on its truths, and applying the principles to his own life. He also needs to be fed himself by allowing others to preach the Word of God to him.

What an awesome privilege it is to serve the people of God by feeding them from the Word of God.


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Repentance

repentance

 

Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “Mentoring” & “We Need the Bible

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.

One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, but I learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.

However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then, when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved for my sin there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance regarding salvation always involves guilt.

Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.

So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.


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Tenacity

tenacity-quotes-2

Today’s Passages – Acts 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Micah 6:8

Read the “1120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “In Tune with the Spirit of God

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (Acts 14:19-21)

The Apostle Paul was a unique individual. He travelled to Iconium on his first missionary journey, and received intense persecution there, almost being stoned. He escapes to Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, and then after preaching at Derbe he returns again to both Lystra and Iconium. If you look at the map of Paul’s first journey (below) you will notice that Paul did not have to go back to Antioch, where he started out, through those cities. He went out of his way to go back to the places where he was almost killed, and where he surely faced danger again. Why would he do that? Because there were people there that he needed to help. He didn’t let fear of almost certain persecution keep him from doing what God had called him to do. That is tenacity.

There are very few people today who are willing to face this kind of persecution in order to reach people with the gospel. In fact, there are not many who are willing even to sacrifice a little comfort in order to serve God. Today, we let the slightest excuses keep us from fulfilling the will of God. We need to get tough. We need a revival of tenacity in our churches today. A revival of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Paul's Journeys

 


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Begotten from the Grave

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Today’s Passages – Acts 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Beginning of the Journey

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33)

I had fully intended to write a post this morning on God’s call upon Paul and Barnabus, but as I read further I came upon the verse above. I got to thinking about how this verse is twisted by many of the cults, who try to use it to prove that Jesus is not God the Son, but merely a son of God, a created being like angels or human beings.

The verse in question is actually a quotation from the 2nd Psalm, and it is used again in Hebrews 1:5. In none of these places is this phrase, “this day have I begotten thee” used in reference to Christ’s birth. In the second Psalm, I must confess the exact meaning is uncertain. Typically the word “begotten” refers to a birth or a “bringing into existence”. I noticed though that Oxford gives the meaning “give rise to” as the second use of the word. However, Acts 13:33 is the key that unlocks the door of understanding to the precise meaning as God uses it referring to Christ. From Acts 13:33, we can determine without doubt that the word “begotten” is a reference to the resurrection, not the incarnation.

In the Book of Hebrews, the focus of discussion is not on the word “begotten”, but on the word “Son”.

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

In fact, this point is further proved because in Hebrews 1:6 He is referred to as the “firstbegotten”. This could not be a reference to Christ’s birth as He is not the first one born to God, Adam is. Christ is, however, the firstbegotten from the dead. By the way, the people that were raised from the dead by Jesus and the apostles are excluded because each of them went again to the grave in natural death.

Consider the following verses that prove the pre-existence, and deity of Christ:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1 – 3)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

Notice again the word, “begotten”, referring not to his birth at Bethlehem, but His resurrection from the dead. Remember, His glory was not revealed at birth. John uses the term “we”. He did not witness His birth, but He did see His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and after His resurrection.

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” (Ephesians 1:20 – 22)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:3)

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Jesus is not a created being. He is eternally God. He is the “I Am”. John’s gospel proves that over and over again. He has always been God, and always will be God. He is one with the Father (and the Spirit also).


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Then Had The Churches Rest – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18) Read the “1118 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” (Acts 9:26-31)

Good morning. Saul was persecuting the churches, but then he met Jesus. After meeting Jesus, Saul boldly preached that Jesus was the Christ: the Saviour of the world. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria. Do you know why the world is in the condition it is in? ISIS and Islam don’t have Jesus, they have a moon god. The Hindus don’t have Jesus. They have, according to Wikipedia, 330 million gods. You have to worship over 900,000 per day to get them all in for the year. Buddhists are trying to be perfect, but only Jesus was perfect, and they don’t have Jesus. Tree-huggers worship creation, but not the Creator: they don’t have Jesus. The Atheist, the Communist, the Fascist, the Socialist, and the DNC don’t believe in God, but by their actions may worship the god of this world. They don’t have Jesus. The Mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, he is Satan’s brother. As a matter of fact they believe there are sins you can commit that require your own blood to be shed in payment: their Jesus is a weak Jesus, not God Almighty. And the Catholic Jesus is still hangs on the cross, while the real Jesus is risen. There are many other religions around the world, and they all have one thing in common: they don’t have Jesus. Why don’t they have Jesus?

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Because we have ignored the Great Commission that Jesus gave to us to get the gospel to a lost and dying world. The Apostle Paul wrote about the Gospel he preached…

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1Corinthians 15:1-9)

The Gospel as simple as that. And if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (see 2Corintians 5:17). Simply, when you got saved you became a new creature: you should know, because you know what you were like before, and you yourself should know the change in you; others will notice and see as you grow in Christ. So you ARE WITNESSES of these things.

The church had dropped the ball on personal soul-winning may years ago. Godless evolution crept into our schools as churches argued what color the new carpet should be. Now children are searching for the truth, but are being pulled away into believing in false gods and their false religions. They need to hear the Truth, and Jesus is the Truth; and the only One who can give Life (because He is the Life), and the only Way to Heaven (because He is the Way).

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

The churches can have rest. Do you have wisdom?

Peace.


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

people-smiling

Today’s Passages – Acts 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “1117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Divine Appointments

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 8:59 & 60)

The world is taking a picture of our lives every day; but what image are they getting. When people look at me do they see me, or do they see Christ. As Christians, we are supposed to be pictures of Christ to this godless world. We are to show them Christ through our lives and testimonies. When people see us they are supposed to get a glimpse of what Jesus would be like if He were here in the flesh personally. In our passage today, we see a man who demonstrated Christ to his generation. He lived like Christ, and he died like Christ.

1  Stephen was fearless in his preaching. He knew that the crowd that he was witnessing to had already killed the Lord, and they had already beaten and imprisoned Peter and John. He knew that he was risking his life by saying the things that he said, yet he preached the truth.

2  Stephen was faithful in his passing. He had his eyes on the Lord right up until he died. He was not thinking about his circumstances, he was looking straight into the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord was standing at the right hand of the Father, waiting to receive Stephen. What a way to go.

3  He was forgiving to his persecutors.  Perhaps this is the most striking picture of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “Forgive them Father”. Here Stephen says virtually the same thing. He says, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

There was a young man named Saul in the crowd that day that got a good look at the picture that Stephen was portraying that day. Saul would get another look at the Lord, first hand, later on; but I contend to you that he had already seen the Lord through the testimony of Stephen.

What do people see in our lives? Do they see Jesus or do they see us? We need to peel back the layers of our own desires and personalities, and allow Christ to live through us. This world desperately needs to see the real Jesus. There have certainly been many impersonators out there; but through our surrendered lives, we can show the world Christ.


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

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Today’s Passages – Acts 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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To Be Continued

to be continued

Today’s Passages – Acts 1 – 3; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Was Down, But He Got Back Up

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. To Be  – (Acts 2:41-42)

While reading this morning, I noticed the word, “continued” in Acts 2:42. I did a little research and discovered the words “continue”, or “continued” are found 12 times in the Book of Acts. The Christian life is all about continuing. In fact, I would go as far to say that the secret to being successful in your walk with the Lord is to just continue. Don’t go back; don’t quit; just keep going.

In verse 42, we learn that this new group of believers in Jerusalem continued in:

1  The Apostles Doctrine – It is so important that we keep growing in our knowledge of Bible doctrine. We never arrive at a place in the Christian life where we know all that there is to know. So many Christians are weak today, and so many of our church are misguided, because they have not placed an emphasis on Bible doctrine.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – (2 Timothy 2:15)

2  Fellowship – This new church gathered together often to edify and encourage each other. Living for the Lord in this wicked world can be very difficult at times, to say the least. We need to have a place where we can go where we are around people of like, precious faith: people who are going the same direction that we are going.

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

3  Breaking of Bread – I could be wrong about this, but I believe that the phrase “breaking of bread” has to do with more than eating meals together, though I am sure that ecause they fellowshipped often, they also would frequently share meals together. However, I believe that this phrase is speaking primarily about this church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper. I believe the early believers regularly remembered the body and blood of the Lord.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” – (1 Corinthians 11:26)

4  Prayers – This church faced incredible persecution from both the religious officials of Israel, and also from the Roman government. They needed to be a praying church. They needed to pray fervently for each other.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – (James 5:16)

Living for the Lord is not always easy and sometimes it can even be discouraging, but we need to keep going; keep moving forward. The sun will rise again in the morning and someday it truly will be worth it all. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time, and if you have already quit, get back up and get back in the game.


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Going Fishing

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Today’s Passages – John 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “1114 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Lovest Thou Me

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” – (John 21:3)

In our passage today we see Peter returning to his old occupation of fishing. When the Lord first called Peter into the ministry he was a fisherman. In fact, that occasion was amazingly similar to this passage. You can read about yourself in Luke 5, but I will point out some of the similarities:

In both passages Peter and company are fishing through the night on the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberius).

In both of the passages the fishermen catch no fish despite all of the efforts.

In both passages Jesus asks them to cast the net(s) out again. Actually, the first time the Lord told Peter to cast out his nets (plural). Peter reluctantly casts out one net, but the catch of fish was too big for the one net, and the net broke. He should have listened to the Lord.

In the first passage, Jesus was calling Peter into the ministry. He told Peter that he would no longer be fishing for fish, but rather he would now be catching men for the Saviour. In this morning’s passage, however, Peter is being reminded of that call. Jesus is reminding Peter that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. In other words, God was telling Peter that He had not changed His mind about Peter, even though Peter had just recently change his mind about the Lord. Remember, just a short time prior to this passage, Peter had denied the Lord. Peter thought that he was through. He assumed that the Lord would no longer want him in the ministry after what he had done. He was wrong. The Lord was not finished with Peter. He still wanted to use him. In tomorrow’s reading in Acts, we will see what the Lord will do with Peter.

The Lord is not through with you either. I know that you may have blown it in the past, like Peter did; but the Lord is merciful, and gracious. Don’t turn back, and if perhaps you have already turned back, you can always come back to the Lord. God called me to preach the Gospel nearly 25 years ago. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit and turn back, but I am thankful that the Lord has always somehow reminded me that He wanted me to keep going for Him, and by His grace, I am still fishing for men.

Don’t quit.


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Finish Well

finish-well

Today’s Passages – John 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “1113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)

I believe that John 17 is the real Lord’s Prayer. Jesus is about to be crucified, yet He spends this time shortly before His death praying for His disciples. He asks the father to shield them from evil, and to sanctify them through the Truth. He also asks that they would be unified, just as He was one with His Father. It is truly a beautiful prayer of intercession.

However, my thought this morning surrounds John 17:4. Jesus states that He was finished the work that He came to do, and that He did all to the glory of God. This verse reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:6 – 8:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

The Apostle Paul completed the task that God had given him, and I believe the record plainly shows that he also glorified God with his life. He finished well.

What a practical challenge this is for us today. We should be encouraged to be like our Lord and also like Paul in this regard. Let us strive to completely, efficiently, and enthusiastically fulfill God’s will for our lives, and let us make sure that everything that we do brings glory to the Lord. We need to make the Lord look good to the world around us. Our lives ought to be bright, shining lights that boldly declare that Jesus is Lord.


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