“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1Timothy 1.15
Sometimes when I read this verse, if I am not careful, I get caught up in the statement that Paul gives about himself. He said that he was the chief of sinners. I do not want to quarrel with him about that. He knows his past better than I do. But I do want my focus to remain on the main thought of this verse: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ”
On my two visits to the Holy Land, I will quickly admit that some sites spoke to my heart more than others. Among those sites were two in particular: Golgotha (the place of the skull), which was the place of the crucifixion, and the Garden Tomb that is still empty. Each time I saw them, they were both stark reminders of WHY Jesus came to this earth in the first place. He did not come to work miracles, even though He did a number of them, He did not come to be a phenomenal teacher, even though He was the best that ever was. He did not come to die as a martyr, even though that was something that was talked about then and is still talked about in some circles today.
It can’t be made any clearer than this: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ” No matter what else seems to be of major importance in my life today, I must NEVER forget that Jesus came to SAVE sinners. I am one of those sinners, but there are so many more who have NEVER even heard that Jesus came, must less that He came to die for their sin. I don’t want to ever lost sight of WHY He came and my responsibility to this lost world BECAUSE He came. Just my thoughts …
“Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God: for there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7.22
Most of us would NEVER publicly challenge this first statement about God, but how many times have we LIVED like there was someone or something greater than our God? God has just spoken to David in such a remarkable way and promised him a great future for his son Solomon. And David’s response was this: “Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God … ” Only God could have MADE and KEPT the promise He had just made to David. Think about this! How many promises has God MADE to you and KEPT? If you are like me, you can’t count them all. They are more than memories … they are milestones in our walk with God.
“there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee … ” Do you see it? None like thee? “neither … any … beside thee … ” Not only is there NO OTHER God LIKE this God. There is no other look alike or want-to-be god who is ANYTHING like our God! Are you feeling special yet? David was!
Now for David’s closing thought: “according to all that we have heard with our ears.” Nathan, prophet of God, had just finished talking with David ABOUT God. David had seen and heard God work in his life and the life of his family so many different times. He had just been reminded one more time of Who God is and What God could do. When you and I are careful to watch what goes on in our lives day-by-day, we cannot escape seeing the hand of God at work over and over. It is SO important for us to do what David did – share with all who would listen and read, what God had done and was doing in his life and in his kingdom. Let’s be ALL ABOUT that sharing! Just my thoughts …
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3.15
The practical truths spoken in this verse are well worth our consideration. “let the peace of God rule in your hearts … ” I don’t know that I have ever met a follower of Christ who did not want “the peace of God” in his heart. For many of God’s children, they believe that this “peace of God” is something that God has said we CAN have but they don’t know WHERE to find it. Paul tells us to “let” the peace of God rule in our hearts. It sounds to me like whether or not God’s peace rules in our hearts is up to US and not God. If that is the case, what is the problem?
In John 14.27 Jesus said: “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.” Once again, peace is something Jesus gives us. Why then do so many still not have it. I believe Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4.6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Can I put this in the simplest possible terms for us to understand? Paul says, (1) pray about everything, (2) worry about nothing and (3) transfer control of everything to God, AND in return God will give you His peace. I don’t really believe that needs to be explained, just believed and practiced.
In closing, Paul says, “and be ye thankful.” Oh that this would be the daily trademark of our walk with God – thankful hearts. Just my thoughts …
“I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” Psalm 119.93
We have all heard the phrase and maybe used it ourselves: “famous last words.” Those are the words we want to remember that someone said as their life was coming to an end. It seems that here the psalmist is attaching this kind of significance to the words quoted above. You and I would do well to emulate his attitude here: “I will never forget thy precepts … ” How many times have we been in church and heard the pastor say something that really resonated with us and we said to ourselves: “I don’t want to forget that. I’m going to write it down.” Do you STILL remember it? Do you know WHERE you wrote it down? Have you ever gone back to look at it? Hear this again: “I will never forget thy precepts … ” When you are reading your Bible and come across something that really speaks to you, how do you remember it? Do you mark it somehow so you can go back to it? I do!
Perhaps of greater significance is what he says next: “ … with them thou hast quickened me.” Quickened in its use here means to make alive or to revitalize. Do you follow his logic here? The precepts of God have given him life and/or have revitalized him. That is what time spent with God and Hi Word will do for each one of us. Hebrews 4.12 describes the Word of God with these words: “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
If we learn nothing else from these words, let’s embrace the psalmist’s idea here that God’s precepts (teachings) have the power to revitalize our lives and t help us embrace real life-change. Just my thoughts …
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16.24
Whenever Jesus talks to us about prayer, we do well to give attention to WHAT He says. And in this verse He says a lot. This concept of asking in prayer in Jesus’ name was a new concept to the disciples. He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name …” I am fearful that so often we grow to think that if we just tack this little phrase “in Jesus Name” on to the end of our prayers, somehow we have met the requirement for answered prayer. The key here is to ask “in (His) name.” that means to ask as though He were doing the asking. In order to do that, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in knowing WHAT to ask.
Jesus DELIGHTS in answering the prayers of His children. He says, “ask, and ye SHALL receive … ” If you remember your English classes, you remember that the word “shall” used in the second or third person is a DISTINCT AFFIRMATION that the thing will be done. Why does Jesus delight in answering our prayers? “that y(our) joy may be full.” God does not want His children wandering through this life joyless. That is certainly not a testament to His goodness and His grace. How much better is it for this world to see a joy filled Christian who is bubbling over and can’t wait to tell someone else why!
Ask yourself, “Is my life filled with joy?” And if it is not, then why not? Have you not “asked”? Or have you not asked “in Jesus’ name”? or has He answered and yet you have not been displaying the joy He promised? It is yours Claim it and display it. Just my thoughts …
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1.8
There are some verses that you read and you say, “I like that.” Some you read cause you to say, “I love that.” And some cause you to say, “Wow, I so believe that!” This is just such one of those verses. The God Who spoke these words became so real to me today after the message that our grandson, who had battled for life from day one (over two years ago) went to meet his Creator today. I came to realize anew and afresh that although life if filled with changes – some welcomed and some not – but our God is ALWAYS the same. THAT is comforting!
“I am Alpha and Omega …” Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – starts and ends with Him. Although this baby boy will be so desperately missed, as I pillow my head tonight, he is whole and he is safe in the arms of Jesus. That old song, “Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time” became a little more real for me today. So many I have loved are already there – they are waiting for the rest of us to come.
The last two words of this verse speak volumes to me: “the Almighty.” Can you, even in your wildest imagination, think of something that God CAN’T do? Neither can I. He IS the Almighty One! Tomorrow I may face something that I can’t handle – but He can! I may face a temptation that I will struggle with greatly, because I don’t want to yield – and He will be the Almighty One to see me through it. Life is TOO short to have to go through it with a God who is Not ALMIGHTY. But we don’t have to. Just my thoughts …
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32.17
What is the “work of righteousness”? It is that which is accomplished as the direct result of righteous behavior. Righteous behavior is what God wants to accomplish in a person’s life, in the life of a people called after His name, in a nation that longs to honor God. God certainly wanted His people THEN, just as He does NOW, to exhibit the work of righteousness in their lives. In order for this to happen, someone other that us needs to be in charge of our lives – i. e. the Holy Spirit. While it seems that I address this point often in these blogs, it is because the secret to our pleasing God with our lives lies with Who is in charge.
So what is the effect of such day-to-day living for us and those around us? The answer is both simple and profound: (1) quietness and (2) assurance. The work of righteousness in our lives will produce a spirit of quietness that will enable us to live in this helter-skelter-world and not be affected by it. Our spirit will remain quiet because the object of our affection is not this world’s doing. On the contrary, it is the product of a confidence in the One Who controls it all.
Assurance is confidence produced by faith in the only One worthy of our faith. When I place confidence in mankind, more times than not I am disappointed in the outcome. But when I place my confidence is the One who always keeps His promises, I have never been disappointed. Maybe this is the day to start putting ABSOLUTE faith in God and see what that faith produces. I have never been disappointed and neither will you. Just my thoughts …
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5.16
I am a little fearful when I hear someone stand and say in a prayer meeting, “The Bible says confess your faults one to another, so here goes.” I’m about to hear some things that I don’t really need to know and that they don’t really want me to know. So what is James really saying here?
First, I believe he is saying that if you have wronged someone, go to them and confess that to them. The only one who needs to know about the offense is the one you offended and God. Next, we are to pray with and for those we have offended. If my confession is genuine, I can take that person by the hand and say, “Let’s pray together about this.” How does that bring healing? When my conscience is clear between the offended one and with God, my emotional state is on the way to being restored. Until I am right with them and with God, I cannot go on in my emotional recovery. To think I can is to deceive myself.
So where does this part fit in? “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It may be the “righteous man” who committed the offense or against whom the offense was committed. Either way, God will hear the prayer of a righteous man – meaning there is nothing between that man and God. If all of God’s children would take this verse to heart, many of the issues with which we struggle every day would be solved. We would not ALLOW anything between God and us and between us and someone we have offended. Let’s just “do it!” Works for Nike. It will work for us! Just my thoughts …
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 5In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3.5-6
All of us long for this last phrase to be a reality in our lives: “he shall direct thy paths.” But I think we would all agree that we struggle with how we can bring this to pass in our lives. Solomon gives us the step-by-step process to insuring that God will direct our paths. Let’s look at them a little more in depth.
The first step is to trust in the Lord with all our hearts (whole-heartedly). Trust seems to appear in varying degrees in most of us. It may range anywhere from “Yeah, I trust a little” to “wow, if God doesn’t show up in this issue, I will fail miserably.” The kind of trust that Solomon is advising is the latter kind, i. e. ABSOLUTE TRUST. This kind of trust completely abandons self and casts everything on the Lord. There can be no other response to our God. Either He is trustworthy in all things or He cannot be trusted with anything.
Step number two is “lean not unto thine own understanding.” Sometimes we become so consumed with HOW God is going to do something that forget that the HOW doesn’t matter at all. God can do anything He wants any way He wants with whomever He wants whenever He wants. That is His sovereignty at work in all its glory. You and I don’t have to understand God’s process. We just need to stop leaning to our own understanding.
This may be the most difficult step of all: “In all thy ways acknowledge him … ” If God is capable of leading me in my next step, then He is certainly able to lead me in every step after that one. My inability to trust God is a direct reflection of my faith at its weakest point. It is a reflection on me and certainly not a reflection of God or His ability to “direct (my) path.” Just my thoughts …
“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13.16
As the author of Hebrews nears the end of the book, it seems that there are two things he does not want to forget to mention: (1) doing good, and (2) communicating (sharing) what we have with others. One translation reads: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Why would the Holy Spirit speak of these two things as sacrifices? Could it be that doing good to others is not something that we do easily? I think most of us have a heart for God and want to glorify Him with our actions but when He wants me to do something that is contrary to my inherent will, I really struggle. The struggle lasts until I WILLINGLY yield my spirit to God’s Spirit and obey what He wants.
Although God is pleased with my sacrifice, how much better would my actions be if they were simply a manifestation of God’s love at work in me? Is it possible that you and I value OUR feelings about things over what God says about our responsibility to others? More time than not that is precisely the situation.
“share what you have …” Are you thinking, “That’s all I’ve got”? No, that’s all you have in hand. God has a whole lot more in reserve … just for you. When we look at only what we can see with the naked eye, we fail to acknowledge that our God owns it all. THAT is shortsighted. If what God asks me to do is PLEASING to Him, WHY would I want to do ANYTHING else? Don’t ever stack your fears up against God’s greatness – those fears lose every time. Let go … and let God be God! Just my thoughts …