Saturday, December 03, 2016

Patterns to Follow

I remember that my mother would sew when I was young. When she would make a dress for my sister or for herself, she would buy a pattern. It was very thin pieces of paper in a small package. They were the size and shape of the dress pieces, so she could use them to cut the material before she sewed it together. I can't imagine making a dress or anything like that without a pattern. The same is true for the Christian life. We need patterns to go by. Our patterns are people, like the apostle Paul and other mature believers, who have walked in the Spirit and grown strong in the Lord. (Philippians 3:17) I pray that you have some good patterns to follow in your life.

This is really why God established the church. The church is people. The people are all different ages, and they are at different levels of spiritual maturity. As a younger believer, either in age or in spiritual maturity, we need to note the men and ladies who are godly believers and follow their example. In fact, we need to have a close relationship with one or two of them, so we can confide in them, and seek their counsel for our lives. This is one reason why RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. We all need good patterns for life, instead the wrong patterns we see all around us in the world.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Philippians 4 and Colossians 1-2.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Christ-like Changes

Christians are not just forgiven of our sins. We are new creations in Christ. We are born again by the Holy Spirit. This transformation does not make us perfect, without sin, but it does enable us to be Christ-like in our behavior. (Ephesians 4:31,32) It is a process of becoming like Christ, and it is God's will for every believer.

Most people have a problem with some kind of anger. We may not blow up out of anger, but we may have seething anger that changes us in our relationships. God commands us to put away all types of anger, as well as evil speaking and malice toward other groups of people. All we have to do is to look at the life of Christ, and we can see the absence of anger in His time on earth. Even when He cleansed the temple of the money-changers, He was not doing it in anger. He was simply cleaning up His Father's house.

Then, when we put away the anger, we are to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. This is where most of us have trouble. It is hard to be kind to a difficult person or to be tenderhearted toward those who do all types of terrible things. However, with the power of the Spirit, we can go one step farther than that. We can forgive them, as Christ forgave us. Remember, Christ died for our sins while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) He did it in love and in mercy toward us. That shows that we can forgive anyone, if we depend on the Lord for His power to forgive. This is a strong testimony to those who don't know Christ, when they see the change in our lives to being more like Christ.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Ephesians 6 and Philippians 1-3.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Restoring a Fellow Believer

Many times we shy away from getting involved in the lives of those around us. This is even true of believers helping other believers. We rationalize that we are busy, and it is not our responsibility. However, it is our responsibility to restore a brother or sister in Christ, who has fallen into some sinful behavior or condition. (Galatians 6:1) Since the Bible makes this clear, we need to be faithful and do it in love.

Sin destroys people. When we see another Christian in sin, or we know that he or she has drifted from the Lord, we need to pray for God to use us to restore this precious soul. We must be intentional to go to them in a spirit of gentleness, not being judgmental or harsh. Also, we must keep from being tempted by the same sin ourselves. In other words, we go to influence them to do the right thing. We do not allow them to lead us to do the wrong thing. When we follow the Lord in this way, we can help the other person to be free from further suffering for their sin, and we are blessed by God for doing the right thing. This is how our relationships with others help us lead them to be better disciples. Without caring Christian friends any of us could drift from the Lord and be very miserable. However, if we will restore those who are in need, we can prevent the devastation of sin in their lives.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Ephesians 2-5.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas in One Verse

There is one verse in the Bible that perfectly explains Christmas, and it is not even in the Gospels. (Galatians 4:4) I have marveled at this verse for a long time. I hope it will become one of your favorite Christmas verses, too.

"When the fullness of time had come," was just the right point in history when everything was ready for the Messiah to be born. People were expecting God to do something, the Roman Peace covered the world with safety for the message of the gospel to go out in the universal language of Greek.

"God sent forth His Son," was God coming down to this earth in the person of Jesus, who was the eternal God, the second Person of the Trinity. Only God could save the world from the problem of sin.

"Born of a woman" shows that Jesus also became fully human through the virgin birth. He had a human mother, but no human father, so He was flesh and bone, to be able to give His body and blood for our sins, and die in our place.

"Born under the law," refers to the fact that Jesus came as a descendant of Abraham to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. He is the Only Person who ever kept the law perfectly, so there was not any reason for Him to die, especially on a cross. However, He did it willingly to fulfill God's plan of salvation.

"To redeem those under the law," means that He came for Jews and Gentiles alike. We all deserve death and hell, because none of us lives up to the law of God. We all fall short, and the wages of sin is death. However, by His blood He bought us back from Satan, sin, and death. He redeemed us by giving Himself as the Perfect Sacrifice.

"That we might receive the adoption as sons," is the ultimate purpose of God in sending Jesus. He wanted to restore our fellowship with Him which was broken by sin in the garden. Once sin's curse was broken, He could adopt anyone who trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, by grace through faith, so that we could enjoy being His children, and He could enjoy being our Father.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Galatians 5-6 and Ephesians 1.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness

Most of us are somewhat familiar with Paul's thorn in the flesh, which God gave him to keep him humble. We remember that God assured Paul that His grace was sufficient for him. However, do we know the end of that quote from the Lord, "for My strength is made perfect in weakness?" (II Corinthians 12:9) Believe me, we need to know the whole picture.

Yes, God's grace is sufficient for every situation in our lives. He is more than enough. However, if we are too strong to rely on His grace, and we try to do everything in our own power, then, we will not experience the grace of the Lord to the fullest extent possible. The reason for this shortcoming of grace is that the Lord's strength is made perfect in our weakness. When we are weak, He can and will work in and through us, if we will humble ourselves before Him and cry out for His grace. When we get out of the way, Jesus can shine forth in all of His perfect power. That is what Paul experienced, so he was glad to boast in his infirmities, all of his weaknesses. He knew that each one was an avenue for the power of God to show up in His life by the grace of God.

I pray that all of us will grasp this truth and come to this point in our lives, so we can humbly excel by God's perfect power in us. Don't get upset when weakness shows up. The truth is that we are all so weak in every way compared to Christ. Call on the Lord to take over, and watch what He does. It will be amazingly more than anything we could have done or even have thought up. God is so good!

Tomorrow, I intend to read Galatians 2-4. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Whom the Lord Commends

We are told by the world to assert ourselves. We are supposed to promote ourselves and tell others how good we are at what we do. That is the world's way, but it is not God's way. Jesus and Paul made it very plain that we are not to seek to glorify ourselves, but to let the Lord commend us, while giving Him all of the glory for all we do. (II Corinthians 10:17,18) Just think about how it has worked in your life.

If we are believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us to guide us and empower us. When we meet someone, or when we hear someone speak, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit to show us about this person. The Lord can commend the person or tell us that this person is not really doing His will or speaking His Word correctly. This is what Paul was referring to when he talked about the person whom God commends. They won't have to boast and tell us how great they are. The Spirit will reveal that to our hearts.

In fact, most of the time a person who seeks glory is not the one whom God commends. God commends those who give Him all of the glory, because they realize the Lord is the Source of all that is good about them or any good works they have done. They will not take credit for anything, but they will deflect the praise to the Lord. We should seek to be that type of people whom the Lord commends, glorying only in the Lord.

Tomorrow, I intend to read II Corinthians 12-13 and Galatians 1.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

His Poverty, Our Riches

Jesus left all of the splendor and perfection of heaven to come to this world as a pauper. He did that to show that He was the Savior of all people, not just one class of people. Then, through His gracious sacrifice for our sins, we are made rich beyond our wildest dreams. (II Corinthians 8:9) We are joint heirs with Christ in His kingdom, we are children of God and citizens of heaven. What a deal! He became poor, so we could become rich.

There is so much that can be said about this verse, but if we keep it in the context of II Corinthians 8, we must relate it to giving of the riches that God has given us to meet the needs of those who do not have what we have. That is what Jesus did by dying for us. He paid our sin debt. He gave His blood to redeem us. He paid it all that we might have life and have it abundantly. If we are to be like Jesus, this Christmas and all year long, we must be willing to give of ourselves and our resources to benefit others who are poor and have needs that they could not meet, but we can. Of course, we must do this as the Lord directs us, just like Jesus was sent by God to fulfill His plan of salvation. Pray and ask the Lord to show you how you can follow in the footsteps of Jesus to make others rich with the gospel and/or material needs. Either way, if we are obedient, God can and will use it for His glory.

Tomorrow, I intend to read II Corinthians 9-11.