Saturday, April 21, 2012

Consider Him Who First Endured

"For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, 
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:3

When the world is hostile toward us, we can take heart in knowing that Christ endured the worst hostility that can be experienced for our sake. From the beginning to the end of His three year ministry He was scorned and rejected by those He came to save. Satan blasted Him with everything he had, trying to destroy Him. Still the Lord endured in order to set us free. He won the victory so that we would never have to live in defeat. We have a Savior who understands our trials and says to us, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  "The dignity of the Saviour has invested suffering, and especially brave endurance, with great honor and glory. There is a halo round about our griefs since Jesus Christ endured them first." (Spurgeon)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Read and Heed

"Listen, O my people, to my instruction; 
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth."
Psalm 78:1

The roadways in the mountains where I live are filled with sharp curves. There are road signs posted along the way that warn me to slow my speed and use caution as I navigate the twists and turns. The purpose of the signs is to safely guide me to my destination. However, just having them there won't help me. I must pay attention to them. God's word is like those yellow cautionary road signs. It has been preserved over the centuries, in the Bible, to guide us and direct us safely to our heavenly destination. But it's up to us to read the scriptures and heed them. Just as the road signs won't protect us if we ignore them, so God's instructions won't protect us if we refuse to obey what He says.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whatever You Do

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

On the 80th birthday of the famous musician and conductor Arturo Toscanini, someone asked his son what he considered to be his father’s greatest achievement. He replied, “For him, there can be no such thing. Whatever he happens to be doing at any moment is the biggest undertaking in his life, whether it be conducting a symphony or peeling an orange.” I don't know if Toscanini was a believer or not, but his attitude is one we should have as we follow Christ. There are no small or insignificant tasks when we are serving Him. Bathing a child or scrubbing the bathtub is just as important as preaching a sermon. Waiting on tables can be as glorifying to God as serving as a missionary overseas. Whatever you do today, do it with gusto. Do it all to the glory of God.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

There is One who Comprehends

"The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy."
Proverbs 14:10

Even when we've experienced sorrow in our own lives, we can't perfectly sympathize with another person.  Each human -- each heart -- has its own hurt. We can come alongside, but we can't see inside another's heart. And what is true for sorrow is also true for joy. The fullness of one person's joy is still singular to them. It can't be completely comprehended by another. "We all need sympathy. And as it is impossible that we should ever perfectly obtain it from our fellow men, there remains but One who can give it to us. There is One who can enter the closet where the skeleton is locked up. One who is in touch with our unmentionable grief. He weighs and measures that which is too heavy for us to bear. That blessed One! Oh, that we may each one have Him for our Friend! Without Him we shall lack the great necessity of a happy life! A personal Savior is absolutely needful to each of us to meet our individual personality. Jesus, alone, can understand with our joy and make it still more gladsome. He, alone, can understand our grief and remove its wormwood." (Spurgeon)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ongoing Debt

"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; 
for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law."
Romans 13:8

Here Paul encourages us to stay out of debt—“Owe nothing to anyone." But he also tells us there is actually a debt we are to continually owe. The debt of love.  Loving others is the second greatest commandment, the first is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:35-39). When we love God and love others we fulfill all ten commandments. The first four commandments relate to the vertical relationship we have with God. the last six commandments pertain to our horizontal relationship with people. Keep both the vertical and horizontal commandments and we've fulfilled the whole Law.  "A man may be a good doctor without loving his patients; a good lawyer without loving his clients; a good geologist without loving science; but he cannot be a good Christian without love." (D. L. Moody)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Absolutely Different

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world."
Romans 1:8

Throughout his epistles the apostle Paul writes of his thankfulness to God. Whenever he sees or learns of Christians bearing fruit he remembers to whom belongs the praise. In his letter to the Romans, Paul commends them for their faith which was "being proclaimed throughout the whole world". Imagine what it must have been like to be a Christian in Rome during the time Paul lived; to live in a pagan culture like that. The Roman historian Tacitus writes that into the city of Rome “flow all things that are vile and abominable, and where they are encouraged”. The Christians in Rome were surrounded by gross immorality, yet they themselves lived in such purity that their faith was evident to all those around them, and the positive word about those Christians was spreading far and wide. "The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world she invariably attracts it." (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones). This is the kind of "absolutely different" we Christians need to be: the kind that attracts people to Christ through their purity.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Righteousness, Peace and Joy

"for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, 
but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. "
Romans 14:17

The kingdom of God is internal, not external. It's not the outward things that we do or don't do that make us a Christian, but the acceptance of the the finished work of Christ on the cross. By this we are justified by faith, and Christ's righteousness is counted as ours. It is a free gift that we cannot earn. It's given to us by God's grace. When we are reconciled to God through Christ we gain peace with God and the peace of God. Peace with God means we no longer struggle against Him, but now are cooperating with Him. The peace of God means we have peace within ourselves, knowing that we can trust God at all times. Through every trial we know that He loves us, that He cares about us. And this gives us joy. Even if we lose everything, we can never lose God's love. He is ever present and this should cause us to delight in Him.

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