“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“Alive In Christ”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
In just a few short weeks we are going to see the evidence of this verse presented to us in farmer’s fields all across the land. It is the principle that Jesus spoke about when He said, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. We may not understand how this is possible that something must first die so that it can live, but the harvest is a living testimony to this action. So what does it mean to be crucified with Christ? Does it mean that you become nonexistent? Certainly not! It is giving up the false security that is found in self-serving goals and lifestyles that are found in a life that is void of God’s leading. Paul found his life was more positive and productive when he pursued God’s purposes rather than his own purposes. When he buried himself in Christ he brought forth so much more fruit.
“Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
Booker T. Washington once said: “There are several kinds of freedom. There is a freedom that is apparent and one that is real; a superficial freedom, and one that is substantial; a freedom that is temporary and deceptive, and one that is abiding and permanent; one that ministers to the lower appetites and passions, and another that encourages growth in the sweeter things in life. But there is one kind of freedom that is worth the name, and that is the one embodied in the words spoken centuries ago by the Great Master.” Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Most of us have known freedom our entire life. Many have fought and have given their lives to maintain that freedom. But history teaches us that freedom can be swiftly taken away. One day our earthly freedom may be a memory. But the freedom we have in Christ will never be taken away. Our earthly possessions are but for a vapor of time, but our heavenly inheritance is eternal and will not fade away.
“Go Across Or Come Across”
“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
Jesus’ invitation to His disciples was, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
His final instruction to His followers was – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”, as our text records. Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin. We were separated from God because of our sin, and a death sentence was passed upon all men because of that sin. Jesus paid that penalty by dying on the cross to provide forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God. His instruction was to go tell others about the forgiveness of sin you have received from God when you accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour. There are people around the world that you cannot reach, but you can have a part in sending someone to them to tell of Jesus’ love for them. They are not there to change their culture or history, they are there to tell them that God loves them and has given His Son to die for their sins so that they can go to Heaven. If you cannot go, how can you not give an offering to help send someone who can go? Thank God He sent His Missionary to tell you.
“Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
We have been given a personal invitation to appear before the Lord. It was made possible because of the finished Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. When Jesus completed His Work as our Great High Priest by sprinkling the blood, His blood, on the Mercy Seat, He forever removed the veil that separated us from entering into the presence of Almighty God. As His children, we are forever granted access into His holy presence. As sinners, we are given an invitation to come into His presence through our prayer, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’. He promises that those who come to Him He will not cast out. There was a story told of a little boy whose father was a military officer in wartime. His father was promoted to Brigadier General. When the boy heard the news, he was silent for a while and then said, “Do you think he would mind if I still call him Daddy?” What a great privilege has been given us that we should be called the children of God and can simply call Him ‘Father’.
“It Will Be Worth It All”
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7
After the Crimean War, there was a reception in London hosted by Queen Victoria. She stood proudly before the heroes of the war as they presented themselves to their queen. There were soldiers from all walks of life and every rank in her military. Bandaged heads, arms in slings, and cripples who stood before her leaning on crutches all received the same gracious and royal smile, and each received the same reward. At the end of the line was a soldier who was presented to the great queen who had lost both of his legs and both of his arms. He had given more than the rest. As the queen gazed upon this maimed and battered warrior, tears began to stream down her cheeks. She stood before this hero – her hero – pinned the badge on his breast, kissed his forehead, and said with great emotion, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When life is over, we shall stand before our Eternal King, and our Righteous Judge will reward His warriors; there is a crown awaiting. Perhaps you faltered in earlier days. Beginning today, hold to the Lord’s strength and finish your course in Him.
“Surrender And The Lord’s Care”
“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 1:6
Andrew Murray wrote: God is willing to assume full responsibility for the life totally yielded to Him. It appears that yielding ourselves to God and abiding in our Savior seems to be a scary consideration for the child of God. Is it a fear of what it will cost, or a fear of what God may ask you to do, or a fear of failure? I do not fully know the answer; I have heard scores of reasons, but never a reasonable response. Some have the idea that when they surrender to the Lord they have been promised smooth sailing, but are often dejected and disappointed when something appears in life that is not in their plans. To some, it gives a reason to walk away, blaming God for neglecting them, to others, it gives a reason to doubt Him and return to a faithless and defeated life that hides behind, “I tried and it did not work.” God has a purpose for every circumstance in your life, He did not promise a life free of storms and obstacles, He did promise, however, He would never leave you alone and that He would be there to bring peace in the storms because He is your peace!
“Faith But In What”
“But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Why does it seem to be so difficult for most Christians to exercise faith beyond salvation? We exercise faith in so many things beyond our control everyday without giving a second thought to the outcome if a moment or an inch here or there was changed. Consider this; everytime you get on a two lane highway and drive 65 miles per hour toward oncoming traffic you practice unwavering faith in every single driver that is approaching you. Recently a youth group traveled to an amusement park in a nearby city and stood in line to ride a roller coaster with little or no consideration that the cars in which they were riding would stay on the track or that their seat restraints would not fail. Another ride takes 12 or 16 riders up a tower over 300 feet and then free falls until a brake stops them at the last possible moment; once again unquestioned faith is exercised in a man-made, mechanical devise. God has asked us to trust Him with all our heart, has given His word that He cares for us, and that He will never forsake us, and we doubt Him!
“He Took Our Wrath Upon Himself”
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore, comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” I Thessalonians 5:9-11
We all have a moment when we need a word of encouragement from someone. As a child of God you and I have an opportunity to say a kind word, do a kind deed, or maybe write a letter or send a card to someone to let them know that you are thinking of them. You have no idea how much that can mean to them and the timing is usually perfect for them; after all, if God laid them on your heart He has a reason for you to minister to them and encourage them. The Word of God is filled with words of encouragement, and I especially find great comfort and encouragement from our text. If you take a moment to look ahead to eternity to consider that which matters most, you will find God promises that He has not appointed His children to wrath and that we will live together with Him; that is great and encouraging news. All others may fail, some may forsake, but God has given His Word that as His child we do not have an appointment with His wrath.
“How Well Do You Know Him”
This is not the first time Jesus broke bread with His disciples, nor is it the first time He told them His body would be broken for them. He had once told them He was the Bread of Life and many of His followers were offended at His words. (John 6).
Jesus Christ, His Cross, His sacrifice, and His resurrection have been an offense to man for over two thousand years. In recent years there has been more opposition against the teaching of Jesus than in all the generations before. In part, I recognize, by the larger population, but more, in reality, by the rejection of Jesus Christ as God and the acceptance of man as his own god. The disciples received His words, His bread, and daily broke bread after Jesus’ resurrection. They beheld His glory, saw Him after the resurrection, and witnessed His ascension into Heaven and it changed their lives. They did daily thank God for the sacrifice of His Son for them and they remembered His death on the Cross for their sin and they judged themselves according to His righteousness. Their lives were changed by knowing Him not by breaking bread.
“People Or Things”
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” I Timothy 6:17
There has been a great deal of talk in the past few years during the economic challenges that the wealthy need to give what they have to help those who do not have. People on both sides of the argument are very passionate and are very divided about the issue. God does not condemn wealth in the Bible no more than He praises poverty; He simply states that we are not to trust in riches more than trusting in Him. That principle is for people of all economic standing. God uses the provision He has given each person to help others in their time of need. Our text does not teach that it is wrong to have things, it warns against becoming materialistic or letting those things become more important than God. Is it incorrect to be a hoarder of what we have and refuse to share it or to be envious and covetous of things others have and want to have it? Both are wrong and both dishonor God. He created us to love people and use things, but a materialist loves things and uses people.