Good Memories

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, (4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; (6) Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1.3-6

Paul had good memories of his time with the Philippian believers. I believe we all should remember the good times God gives us with fellow believers because those memories will sustain us in time of trial and distress. Paul was writing these words from a Roman prison, so being able to look back on his memories with his Philippian brothers and sisters in Christ was a real encouragement to him.

Let us focus on this last verse: “that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God always finishes what He starts. Take a look at the opening verses of Genesis where He finishes the acts of creation. His crowning act was creating Adam and then Eve. Then after their sin, He laid out the plan of salvation in Genesis 3.15: “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.” The only person ever born of the seed of the woman was Jesus Christ. He was God’s fulfillment of His promise to provide redemption for man.

As we look at Paul’s words here to the Philippian believers, God had begun a good work in them when Paul went there to establish a church in the city of Philippi. Those early believers came together and formed this church at Philippi. Paul reminded them and us that whatever God begins He always finishes. He will not leave us to the devices and desires of this world. He will carry us through this life and take us on to heaven. We will get to be a great part of the day of Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to that day when God finishes what He started in my life. Just my thoughts …

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How Far Does Love Go?

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13.13

It is a little clearer in this translation: “So now faith, hope, and love abide; but the greatest of these is love.” Every time I read the words of this verse, I am overwhelmed with the meaning of the word love. Simply translated it means, “No matter what you do to me, I will seek nothing but your highest good.” Let me begin by saying this is the kind of love that God has for us. No matter how we respond to Him, He always has our best interests at heart. He never reacts to what we do. He always acts in love. I realize this is a difficult truth to comprehend, but once we grasp it, it changes the way we look at God and the way we respond to others that we say we love.

Do you think marriages would be different if we responded toward each other in the truest meaning of this word love? How many times have we done something out of spite, anger, or disappointment when we should have responded in love? I can here the naysayers now, “But you don’t know what they did to me!” My response is, “it doesn’t matter what they did to you, no matter what they do to you, real love says you will seek nothing but their highest good.”

Do you think our churches would be different if we responded toward each other in the truest meaning of this word love? How many times has another church member offended us, or snubbed us, or said something untrue about us, or any other hurtful thing? “They don’t deserve to be treated any differently!” Really? I wonder if loving them would make a change in their response to us? I wonder if loving them would bring a spirit of unity to our churches that would literally amaze the world who is watching? It’s just a thought! And it isn’t even my thought. It is God’s thought and that’s the one that counts. Just my thoughts …

How Much is the Uttermost?

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7.25

Have you ever wondered about the totality of your salvation? How far does it reach? How much does it include? Is there anything God may have overlook or left out? I believe this verse provides the answer for all of those questions. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him … ” Once we have come to God, through Christ, for salvation, there is nothing that God does not cover with regard to our lives – past, present, and future. The idea of uttermost means the greatest so whatever it is that we have done, God has it covered.

This next phrase is most encouraging: “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for (us).” Now that the plan of salvation has been completed, and you and I have received Christ as savior, what is His responsibility to us now? Here it is … He ever lives to make intercession for us. When you and I intercede for someone else, we are praying for them. We are praying for some specific need that we may know exists in their lives. When Christ intercedes for us, He really knows every need that exists in our lives and He talks to His Father about those needs for us. He not only knows, but He cares enough to take my needs and your needs to His Father. This dimension of love is so great that it is unexplainable – incomprehensible – but so very real. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit recorded these words so that you and I could have a small grasp of how very much the Father and the Son love us. Let’s walk in the light of that truth today! Just my thoughts …

God CAN Do It!

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19.26

How many times have we thought that things we could not do God could not do? The disciples were questioning Jesus about what He had just said about how hard it was for a rich man to go to heaven. Jesus’ response was: “With men this is impossible … ” What does that mean? Simply that no rich man can go to heaven simply because he is rich. The tendency is for a rich man to believe that he can earn enough to buy his way into heaven. Jesus said that with men this is impossible. BUT with God all things are possible.

I think the important thing for us to take from this verse is that no one can earn his way to heaven. Remember, with men this is impossible. But with God salvation is possible for every an because with God all things are possible. Since God is able to save us, He is also able to meet the needs that arise in our lives every day. For those of us who are Christ-followers, it is important to remember that with God all things are possible. The moment we entertain the idea that something may be beyond God’s power, we have sinned against our almighty God. If He is ALMIGHTY, and He is, then that means He has ALL might.

The greatest comfort for the believer comes from knowing that His God loves him, knows where he is, knows what he needs, and is able to meet every need. When you and I learn to live each day with that confidence, the focus of our lives will change, the purpose of our lives will change, and the delight in serving God will grow greater every day. Just my thoughts …

Not “Will I Suffer?” But “I Will Suffer!”

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.16

Suffering – everyone is familiar with it. No one likes it. At some point in time in our lives, we will all experience it. As a follower of Christ, I must never assume that because I am God’s child, I will never have to deal with suffering. In this verse Peter assumes that every one of us will suffer. So the issue is not, will I suffer, but how will I handle suffering?

let him not be ashamed … ” There is no shame in suffering. Suffering is not always a punishment by God because we have done something that displeased Him. I believe far too many of God’s children assume that if they are experiencing suffering, they must have done something wrong and God is punishing them. This was the same assumption that Job’s friends made. Job must have done something wrong or God wouldn’t let all these bad things happen to him. You and I simply need to remember that we have no way of knowing what God is doing in our lives behind the scenes and when suffering comes we can trust Him.

“ … but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Can we give God glory in the midst of our suffering? The apostle Paul wrote: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul wanted his “thorn in the flesh” to go away, but God said, “No”. So Paul said, I will “glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Can you and I make that kind of statement? I certainly want to. That is my prayer in suffering. Just my thoughts …

Afraid? Really?

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

I remember sitting in a classroom in junior high school and when I should have been doing my homework, I was reading the words of Psalm 56 and the words of this great Psalm have stuck with me throughout my lifetime. Especially helpful are the words of the verse above. Consider them with me.

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust … ” As David pens these words, I can almost picture him sitting watching his sheep and thinking about all that God has done for him in his lifetime. His heart cries out, almost involuntarily, “In God I will praise his word … ” It seems to me that he is thinking, “How could I not praise Him? He has already done so much for me.” I find myself thinking those same words. God has already done so much for me in my lifetime.

And then we read these words: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” Sitting out there in some pastureland all by himself, with just his sheep, who else did he have to trust? God was all he had. Can I suggest that we never know if God is enough until He is all we have? There are days when we look around us and think, “I really am all alone. Is God even here?” and then we get the calm assurance through the Holy Spirit that yes, God is “here” and He cares more than we know.

These last words have special meaning to David: “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Saul wanted to kill David. It is pretty tough to keep a king from doing whatever he wants to do, but David’s heart reminded him, you do “need to fear what flesh can unto (you).” You and I need to remember that simple truth too. Just my thoughts …

Nothing – Absolutely Nothing!

Who shall separate us form the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … (38) For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, or angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) 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

It is not uncommon to hear a believer say something like, “I wonder if God really loves me? How do I know?” Let’s begin the basic truth that God’s love was best demonstrated for all mankind on Calvary. When you and I chose to accept Christ as our personal Savior, we became part of the family of God. The verses above give us an overwhelming declaration of God’s love for us, and how completely it enshrouds our lives.

The question “Who shall separate us … ” is answered in such dramatic fashion that you and I must conclude that the answer is nothing shall separate us. Paul mentions the issues of life – tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword – and none of these things can separate us from God’s love. Then He mentions events and powers that be and declares again that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If we die His love is demonstrated in the truth that we are absent from the body and present with the Lord. When Satan attacks, His promise never to leave us or forsake us becomes real. I like the phrase, “nor any other creature … ” Paul was saying, “In case I have overlooked anything, there isn’t anything that can separate us from God’s love.” Be encouraged today by these verses and live your life in the knowledge of God’s overwhelming love for you. Just my thoughts …

No Reason to Have Heart Trouble!

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14.1

From John 14 through chapter 17 Jesus is speaking words of instruction to His followers and praying specifically for them and us. These opening words are great words of encouragement: “”Let not your heart be troubled … ” We hear a lot of reminders from our medical community about heart trouble. And we need to give attention to any issues that relate to physical heart trouble. But the words of Jesus here are speaking about a different kind of heart trouble. The issue here is the condition of our spiritual heart. So many people are troubled about what will happen for them when life is over. As you and I know, a personal relationship with God through the person of His Son Jesus Christ settles the matter of life in eternity.

Jesus’ words focus on His last phrase: “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” His disciples were still in the learning curve in their understanding of Who Jesus was. He said, “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” What is He saying? I am God too. You can take my words to be the words of God. He then proceeds to give them and us words of hope. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (14.18) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ” (14.26-27)

You and I can read these words and find the same hope He gave His disciples. And why? we “believe in God, believe also in (Him).” Just my thoughts …

Are You Ready?

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the hear of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2.9

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wonder what heaven is like?” We often try to imagine what our loved ones who have gone on before us are doing up there and what it is really like. There are a number of topics on which the Bible is silent. God has not told us everything we want to know, but He has told us everything we need to know.

I believe God wants us to anticipate heaven but we can never imagine its grandeur. When the Apostle spoke about what he had seen, he could only tell us so much. “I knew w man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I knew such a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12.2-4)

Here is the great truth that we must remember: “the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I don’t have to know all about it to know that God has prepared something special for His children. I suspect that it is better for us not to know what heaven is really like so we will always wonder what God has prepared and always anticipate eternity with God in His special place. Let’s live today in the light of eternity and let’s share our excitement with others who may not know that God has made these special plans for His children. Just my thoughts …

We ARE Blessed!

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Romans 4.7

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy being blessed by God. This verse simply reinforces a truth that we already know. God chooses to bless those who are His children. When we realize how our sins came to be covered, it is a sobering reality that brings us face to face with the cross. In the Old Testament when the high priest offered a sacrifice for the sins of the people once a year, that sacrifice simply pushed the sins forward for one year. This went on for many years, until we come to the New Testament and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. When Jesus cried, “It is finished” in John 19.30, He was declaring that the sins that had been pushed forward for all those years had been covered. And, the sins yet future that you and I would commit were also covered. That is how we can be blessed by God as His children.

When I think about the great price that was required to be paid for sins to be covered, I am reminded of the heinous nature of sin and how it must break the heart of God every time I sin as His child. Since I am responsible for my actions each day, I am responsible to put my words and my actions in the hands of God’s Holy Spirit so that He can guide my thoughts, control my words, and direct my actions. Would you consider asking God today to help you with this matter of daily surrender? That is something that I must deal with every day. I suspect that you do to. As a matter of note, this is what the world is looking at when they see us – does God really make any difference in our lives? After all, we are saying to them, “My sins are covered.” Let’s live like it! Just my thoughts …