“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 …
“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3.17
The totality of each day’s actions needs to be governed by the words of this verse. The word “whatsoever” is all-inclusive. Could we approach this day with this attitude? “Lord, I want to be so attentive to the Spirit’s voice, that when He speaks to me in a whisper, I will hear Him. I do not want to argue with Him but I want to follow His leadership completely.” How different would your day be if that becomes your prayer right now?
Perhaps the greatest part of the struggle for each of us is found in this last phrase: “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Again, I’m not sure how difficult this is for you and how dramatically it would change your life. I do know this, when you and I do things each day that are NOT done in the name of the Lord Jesus, that means we are acting in a purely selfish manner and God is not glorified by such actions. When we CONSCIOUSLY think about our actions and realize that we are God’s hands, feet, and voice in this world, suddenly that things that I DO, the things that I SAY, and the places that I GO take on a new significance.
Do you think the Colossian Christians had some special need that Paul was addressing, or could he speaking to all of God’s children (including us) through his words here to the Colossian believers? I tend to think the latter is true. Our lives are as much n view here as those first century believers. May God’s Spirit have our attention from this moment on today? 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 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 …
“Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4.5-7
It is helpful to remember who is writing these words. When Solomon was made king, the Lord asked him what he wanted. Solomon did not ask for riches, but for understanding. (1 Kings 3.5-9) Solomon was known as a man of great wisdom. So when he writes words like he penned above, it behooves us to pay attention.
Two things are mention here in these verses: (1) wisdom and (2) understanding. We are instructed to “get wisdom, get understanding.” I believe this process requires intentionality. No one accidentally gains wisdom or understanding. Remember that knowledge and wisdom are not the same. One can have a wealth of knowledge stored up inside but still lack the ability to apply that knowledge in any helpful way both for himself and for others. I believe wisdom is gained by giving attention to the lessons of life. Each new experience is an opportunity to learn something, and once we have learned something new, we are able to use that experience to share with others and help them have an easier time than you had with whatever occurred.
Would it be correct to say that having wisdom enables to make wiser choices in the future and also to be a benefit to others? But what about understanding? Understanding is the ability to listen and empathize with the one who is speaking and then being able to say, “I understand”, meaning that you have some understanding of what they are experiencing. Most reading this know that I had cancer last year. I currently volunteer at a local hospital. I work mainly on the cancer floor and in the oncology center. When I say to a patient, “I had cancer last year. I went through _______”, they immediately will listen to what I have to say, because they know that I understand. Let me close with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. ” In a nutshell, take what you have experienced and what you have learned by listening and use them to help others. Just my thoughts …
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5.22-23
When you think about fruit, you realize it must come from some source – a tree, a vine, etc. We are told in this verse that the fruit about which we speak is from the Holy Spirit. He is its source. You will notice that the verse speaks of “fruit” singular, rather than “fruits” plural. So, when we receive Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and wants to display the fruit that demonstrates that He is living within us and we are allowing Him to control our lives.
You will notice that there are nine (9) elements to this fruit. When you open most fruit, there is one or more seeds inside that make it what it is. It is one piece of fruit but there are elements that let you know from whence it came. In the preceding verses of this chapter (vs. 13-21) Paul is pointing the fruit of the flesh – when we are unsaved the only thing we CAN do is sin. By contrast, these verses above show us that which our lives should reflect.
The first element of this fruit that is mentioned is love. Allow me to suggest that without this first element, none of the elements are possible. Love allows us to rejoice. As a matter of fact, when I am committed to loving others with this unconditional love, it involves my heart, my mind, my will, and my emotions. It describes a deliberate effort that we can only make with the help of God. We must never seek anything but the best for others, even when they seek something far worse for us.
Love is joy rejoicing. Peace is love in repose. Longsuffering is love being patient. Goodness is love at work. Faith is love believing. Meekness is love on its knees. Temperance is love restraining. Think on these elements of the Spirit’s fruit in our lives. Just my thoughts …
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12.2
One of the most significant chapters in all of God’s Word is Romans 12. So many wonderful truths are presented here and we would do well to give it more than a cursory reading.
Paul’s first warning seems like it ought not have tto be said to believers, but it most certainly is. Let’s look: “And be not conformed to this world … ” I think most of us would agree with this wording: “do not let the world squeeze you into its mold.” One of Satan’s greatest strategies is to get followers of Christ to believe that it is perfectly ok for us to live like everyone else in the world is living. After all, we wouldn’t want to stand out as being different. But God has a different idea for us and Paul delivers it here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with us not fitting into the ways of the world. After all, we are NOT going to live here forever, but we will live forever in heaven. It might be a good idea if we start living like we will spend eternity with God in a wonderful place called heaven.
“ … transformed by the renewing of your mind … ” In order to transform anything, you have to change something about its basic makeup. When we came to Christ, all we knew was the ways of the world, but now that we are becoming aware of how God wants us to live, and in order to accomplish that, we need to spend significant time in His Word. A verse here and a verse there will not do the job. Paul says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2.15) When you study for an exam in school or college, you don’t simply read through your notes and hope for a good outcome. You concentrate on what you think will be on the exam.
By the same token, when we study the Word of God, it will prepare us for the attacks that come from Satan. And the purpose behind our study is revealed here: “that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Enough said … just my thoughts …
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.10
Has Satan ever pulled this number on you? “You aren’t worth anything to God. Why would He choose to love you? Just take a look at your PAST. You think God can forgive that?” Sad to say, not only does he try that, but he tries it over and over in order to beat us down.
But look at Paul’s words here: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” WE (you and I) are His workmanship. The work that Christ did on the cross allows God to help us with this “good works” thing. You want to take a look at someone’s past and ask “Can God forgive that?” The apostle Paul had been guilty of persecuting believers and even consenting to their death. Yes, God did forgive that because Christ paid for it.
Usually we connect this verse to the two verse preceding it: “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Friend, everything we have is given to us by God’s grace … even the faith to believe is God’s gift to us.
This last phrase is a great word of encouragement: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What is it that God ordained before time began? He ordained that all those who trust Him and believe in His Son Jesus for salvation should be a walking example to the world because of our good works – works that only God could do THROUGH us. So what is our responsibility in all this? We are to yield to God’s Holy Spirit so that He CAN work in us and through us and manifest these good works of which Paul speaks. Just my thoughts …
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84.10
The psalmist is making a very significant statement here. He is comparing a day in which he lives in the world to a day in the courts of God. If we could look at his words through his eyes, we would see that he is filtering time through the prism of eternity. Sometimes in our hectic pace of life that we encounter most days, we may lose sight of that which is to come – i. e. eternity. Not only is he looking toward eternity, he is also placing significant value on his time down here on earth. Let’s take a look.
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” A thousand days is almost three years. He is saying that a day in God’s court has more meaning to him that a thousand days living and working in this world. Would you agree that most of us spend our time struggling to get through difficult days? Whether it is an issue of our family, our work place, or our spiritual family, some days are just plain tough!
Now he declares the truth that he holds in his heart: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” A doorkeeper – could there be any job lower than that? A doorkeeper is constantly doing something for others, because that is what he is paid to do. Open the door … the door closes … open the door again, etc. You get the idea. Now what is the psalmist saying? He is saying, “I will take the lowest job that God may offer me just as long as I am in God’s house.” The flip side of being a doorkeeper in God’s house is to “dwell in the tents of wickedness.” I don’t think any of us want to consciously dwell there. Can I suggest that being God’s doorkeeper is far more important in eternity than simply wasting time dwelling in the tents of wickedness? Just my thoughts …
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6.9
I’m sure most of us have heard the phrase, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Paul is reminding the Galatian Christians, and us too, that when we are engaged in a work for God, we must not grow weary or get tired of what we are doing. I think it is safe to say that most servants of God who are involved in daily service for God would agree with this statement: “I do get tired in ministry but I do not get tired of the ministry to which God has called me.” For those who serve God through their local church, it may seem like you are just “spinning your wheels.” But think about this truth: serving God ought to be a lifetime of service. So often there are those who say, “Well, I’m retired now, so I am going to step back and “let someone else get the blessing.”
When we stop to consider God’s servants in the Bible, many of them died while they were still actively serving God. Some months ago I retired from my full-time ministry at the church I attend. Someone asked me later, “So, what is retirement like.” My response was simply, “I didn’t retire from serving God; I just changed horses.” That is nothing to brag about. God simply put in my heart to serve Him as long as my body would let me do that. Look at Paul’s encouragement here: “ … in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” If it seems like you are not seeing any results from your ministry, in due season you will see the change you are longing for.
Here is a good word for all of us today: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” When God gives us opportunity to be a blessing and an encouragement to one of God’s choice servants who may be struggling, let’s step up and do what God asks us to do. Who knows? We might get a blessing too! Just my thoughts …