“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“Divine Power Working In Us”
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16
Paul outlines four things to the believers: A Christian has the living Christ living in Him. How we live in Christ in private will be evidenced in how we live for Christ in public. The Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. He is the One who creates a new character from which Christian conduct is exhibited. Christian conduct does not make a Christian, but a spirit-filled Christian will exhibit Christian conduct. The Christian will share that their life change was made possible by the personal relationship they had with Jesus Christ at the Cross; because Christ died, we died with Him, and because He lives, we live in Him. The Christian has a new life that is given by Divine power; lived by the faith of the Son of God and from God.
“Empowered Or Embarrassed”
“And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11
Jesus told His disciples that it was needful for Him to go away so that He could send the Holy Spirit. Our text reminds us that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict, and later in verse thirteen, His ministry is to confirm what is true about Jesus Christ. If the conviction of the Holy Spirit is to reprove the world of sin, it must first begin with the people of God; in other words, we must first know and change from His convicting power because we are the ones in whom He dwells. As He glorifies Christ, verse fourteen, He helps us to see ourselves and the weight of sin which so easily hinders us. We cannot be equipped to go share Jesus with others until we are right and clean in our own hearts. We, that is the children of God, are the vessel that must be used to spread the Gospel. That is why it is so important to be led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is only when we are surrendered to Him that He can use us.
“Great God, Great Gratitude”
“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High; For Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands.” Psalms 92:1-4
There is no qualifier for the psalmist’s statement in verse one: it is a good thing to give praise unto the Lord. He is not detoured by the cares, challenges, or claims of his day; he simply states it is good to give thanks to the Lord. You might argue that perhaps the psalmist has never had a day like the day that you have just experienced. Maybe you are correct, can you give glory to God and thanks for your day? Did you begin your day in asking God to have control over the activities of your day? If so, did you mean your prayer? If then, in your opinion, your day was a disaster and you asked God to control your day, regardless of the activities of the day you should be able to finish your day in thanking Him for the grace, power, and strength He gave you to get through it. Additionally, thank Him for giving you the opportunity to glorify Him in your challenges. If you mean what you pray, then verse five records the only conclusion you must draw from your day: “O Lord, how great are Thy works!”
“When The Time Is Right”
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” I Samuel 16:13
King Saul was a disobedient servant of the Lord and he lost his kingdom and the right of his heirs to sit on the throne because of that disobedience. After Saul’s acts and disobedience in Amalek, God sent Samuel to go anoint another to be king over Israel. David was chosen and anointed king by God’s servant, Samuel. But David had to wait many years before the promise of the Lord was fulfilled; in fact, it was almost two decades before King Saul died. Even after the death of the king, David only became king over Judah, the remainder of the kingdom was given to Saul’s son Ish-bosheth by Abner, Saul’s captain. David had to wait for almost seven and a half years before all of Israel anointed him king. The believer has been given a promise of inheritance and eternal blessing by God through the redemption of Jesus Christ, but we have not received the completion of the blessing yet. We may wonder how long it is going to be before it comes, but like David, God will fulfill His Word and we will see the fulness of His blessing. Until then, like David, serve the King!
“Conflict And Victory”
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20
Ephesians records two of Paul’s prayers; the first was for the believers to have the spirit of wisdom, revelation, and power in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The second prayer was for believers to have inner fulness and a living knowledge of Christ’s indwelling work within them. This is to be of utmost importance to the child of God whom Paul reminds in the sixth chapter of coming conflict against forces that cannot be seen; they are the rulers of darkness that represent spiritual wickedness, it is also the battle within to submit to God, it is the battle to spend time in God’s Word, and it is the battle to spend time in prayer. Prayer is a conflict in itself. Changes must be made after fervent time is spent in that holy sanctuary because conviction is extended by the Holy Spirit for sin, selfishness, and need of submission to God to have preeminence. Prayer must begin and keep its origin with God; He gives the deep sense of urgency for prayer and He gives assurance of victory!
“As The Lord Directs”
“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” Philippians 1:19-20
What is the motive behind what you do or what you have; is it for self satisfaction or for the satisfaction of God? How about the things you worry about, are they because you cannot handle them or because you do not believe God can handle them? Paul was a spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ and that enabled him to be free from worry and self-pity through his persecutions, imprisonments, and even death if the Lord chose. We often look at these people, like Paul, whom the Bible records great works and victory and wonder how God used them like He did. Is it possible for God to use people today like that? Certainly, if we are willing to let Him have the preeminence and if we will glorify Him in all we do. The same Holy Spirit indwells the believer today that indwelt Paul and others; the difference is whether we desire to please Him in every part of life, or death, as the Lord directs.
“Looking At Racism Through The Bible”
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He is not far from every one of us.” Acts 17:26-27
Jesus told Nicodemus in John three that God so loved the world; it was not a statement concerning the globe, but the people on the globe. In Romans ten Paul exhorted whosoever would call upon the name of the Lord for salvation would be saved. God loves people; all people regardless of gender, location, race or color. He loves all and sent His Son to die for all to be redeemed. Prejudice seems to be growing around us and it is not limited to the color of our skin or the land of our origin; it includes just about anything that is different about one person from another. Unfortunately, the church is not exempt from the unkind and disparaging remarks presented by a heart of prejudice and disdain. Make no mistake, God is not honored by an attitude of prejudice; however, only He can change our hearts, thoughts, and actions to be in harmony with His heart of compassion and His path of acceptance. If you do not love or respect others, it is sin; confess it as sin and let Him change your heart and attitude.
“The Way Has Been Prepared”
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
The saddest of words, “without God”. How tragic to be found wanting when the provision of God’s gift of eternal life is offered to all who would believe. John reminds that God presented the cure for those who are without Him in Jesus Christ. Jesus lived among men and was man and knew what man had to endure. The writer to the Hebrews reminded that He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Do you know what that means? He knows what you are going through today; and He endured it all for you to have victory. He is saying to you today, “I know what you are going through and I have made a way for you to get through this.” Regardless of what you are going through, whatever your circumstances, there is a God who knows and has been where you are. In Jesus, He knows; in Jesus, you can be set free. When you wonder if God knows what you are going through, remember He knows because He lived it too. “We beheld His glory”, John said; because He dwelt among men, we can dwell with God.
“Kept By Him And For Him”
“For thou hast delivered my soul from death. Wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” Psalms 56:13
David anticipated a great New Testament truth as he testified that since the Lord could deliver his soul from death, surely He can keep his feet from falling. It was not the physical stumbling he was concerned with, it was the eternal embrace God had given Him. Earlier he testified “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” Once a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior he is eternally preserved in the Christian life. Temptations may surround, faith may be weak, steps may falter, and sin may be committed; but the saving, keeping hand of Almighty God will keep you by His grace and through His power. In Christ, we find that, “He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceedingly joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.” What a great comfort and assurance to know that we are kept by and for Him.
“The Joy Of Our Struggles”
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, Knowing this, that the testing of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4
Have you ever taken a moment to thank God for the trials He has sent into your life? You are probably thinking that perhaps I have lost my mind about now. But think about it; the trials in life; those events that put pressure on you are the very things that help to mold you and strengthen you. A man had a grandfather clock; one day he felt sorry for his clock because it had a weight on it and it was always pulling on the clock. The man said, “Oh, Mr. Clock, you have held this weight so long; I’m going to remove it and let you rest.” The clock protested, “Don’t take that weight from me; that’s what keeps me going.” The trials of life and the tests that come your way are there to keep you going, to keep you praying, to keep you trusting, and to keep you depending on God. You may protest by saying, “But does God have to put so much on me?” The answer is that He will put as much on you as it takes for you to continue to trust in Him so that like that clock you can work efficiently for Him.