“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“God’s Way – Man’s Way
“That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7
A few years ago the news stations reported about a man who had been released from prison that had been wrongfully accused and convicted of a brutal and heinous crime. He had spent 22 years in prison when DNA evidence proved that the crime was committed by someone else. He was released and given a clean criminal record and put back into society. His children had all been raised and did not know him, his friends had forsaken him long before and did not come back around to greet him, and even though he had not committed a crime he could not get employment when they found out he had spent time in prison. It did not matter that he was innocent of the charges against him, his association with guilt was more than people were willing to overlook. The redeeming work of Christ took us when we were guilty of sin and gave us a new and righteous life. On Christ’s sinless life and perfect sacrifice, we are not only declared righteous by God, but we are fully restored to God’s favor. He treats us as if we had never broken His law. Christ not only redeemed our sin-laden soul, but reconciled us to His Father through His own blood. (Romans 5:1)
“This Way Up”
“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
An old time preacher decided one day to pay a visit to some miners. He told them of the grace of God and how He loved them and gave Jesus for their sin. After the message he made his way back to the surface of the elevator. He was joined by the foreman and the preacher asked what he thought of God’s way of salvation. It’s too cheap; I cannot believe in such a religion as that. The preacher replied, how do you get out of this mine? By getting into that cage over there, the miner answered. And does it take long? No only a few minutes. Well, that seems pretty simple, but don’t you need to do something to help you get to the top? Of course not, as I told you, just get in the elevator and it takes you to the top. But what about the work it took to make this shaft, was it hard? Oh yes it was very difficult and very expensive, if it was not for men before us we could never make it to the top. Well, God’s work to bring salvation to you was also very costly, it was paid for by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He died so you might have an easy way out. It was not cheap.
“The Perks Of His People”
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:1-8
The first eleven chapters of the book of Romans testify of the mercies of God toward us. In Romans 8:1 we read: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In Chapter three immediately after we read that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God we read: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-34. What a wonderful promise from God; first, Christ paid for our sins with His own blood and that provided salvation for us. Second, He provided access to His Father by His own blood and that proves justification for us as we stand before Him righteous. And third, He promised the Holy Spirit by His own blood and that provided sanctification and satisfaction as we walk with Him and for Him as His children. You see, He has provided all we need for every step of every day. The miracle of Calvary is that we were guilty of sin, but Jesus redeemed us and made us righteous through His blood.
“Content Or Discontent”
“…I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11
Discontent! Was there ever a time when there was so much restlessness in the world as there is today? Despite our boasted progress, the vast increase of wealth, the time and money expended daily in pleasure, discontent is everywhere. No class is exempt, and almost everybody is dissatisfied. Many even among God’s own people are affected with the evil spirit of this age. Contentment is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace which passeth all understanding. It is the outcome of our will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God doeth all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good. This experience has to be “learned” by “proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Contentment is possible only as we cultivate and maintain that attitude of accepting everything which enters our lives as coming from the hand of Him who is too wise to err, and too loving to cause one of His children a needless tear. Only God can bring lasting contentment.
“Where Are You Dwelling”
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1
What a place, this secret place! These words by the Psalmist are more than a commentary to the existence of this place; they are seeded deep within his soul from life’s experiences and deepest valleys. We cannot know the safety that is found with Him in this place by an occasional visit, by reading it in a book or hearing someone else talk about it; we must experience this ourselves personally. We will never know the serenity that is known in Him by abiding under the shadow of the Almighty until we have to rely upon Him in our storms of life. The storms of life may surround us, but we are safe in His care. Our Lord and Saviour spoke the simple words, “Be not afraid” more than any others. He must have known that in our feeble condition we would need a fortress. He must have known in our storms we would need a place of safety and security. He must have known that in the terrors of life we could only turn to Him and trust in Him for deliverance. Of course, He knew! He always knows! Even before we come to Him, He knows and stands ready to overshadow us.
“We Ought To Know More Today Than Before”
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10
One thing the young Christian should be taught as quickly as possible after his conversion is that when Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior he can humbly declare his independence of everyone and everything outside of Him. This the New Testament teaches with great emphasis and clarity and with fullness of detail. We need not quote any single text in support of this statement, but suggest simply that the inquirer read the Scriptures to see for himself, especially John, Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews. One marked characteristic of modern evangelicalism is its lack of assurance, resulting in a pathetic search for external evidence to corroborate its faith. It sets out bravely to declare its trust in Christ, but is shortly dismayed by the counter declarations of science and philosophy and before long it is looking hesitantly about for some collateral evidence to restore its confidence.
“What Do You Want Me To Do?”
“Thy Kingdom come.” Luke 11:2
We are a willful people consumed with our own cares and concerns. Jesus’ instruction is presented so we might see that God is involved in every detail of our life. He does not separate our lives into categories of spiritual, secular, or business; our whole being is His. We need Him for spiritual direction, physical strength, daily supply, and forgiveness of our sins. Someone once said that the great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but no prayer at all. Knowing that we need Him everyday for everything, how can we neglect spending time with Him in prayer? That time better equips us for the tasks before us. Andrew Murray wrote: “Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work it’s worth and success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God with us.” Our time with God is fellowship with Him under the power of His holiness.
“Forgiveness Is No Game”
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14
True forgiveness is not just excusing the wrong and acting like it never happened. When Paul was speaking to the Romans about the grace of God he had to remind them that His grace was not so simple that it gave them a license to do whatever they desired only to come back to Him for forgiveness acting like a wrong had not been committed. While it is true, and Bible based, that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, it is equally as true that our wrong doing grieves His heart; He does not take our sin lightly. Have you ever stopped to think how your sin affects others around you? How does it affect your family, your friends, your employer, or your church? More importantly, how does it affect the Lord? Before we selfishly come before the Lord for confession of our sin are we remorseful about how it has affected Him and the others around us? Would we be so quick to commit the same sin again if we knew how hearts were broken by our actions? Maybe your prayer should include, Lord, help me to see my sin as you see it, break my heart like Yours from my sin.
“Waiting, Waiting, Waiting”
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9
Life is spent in waiting for special events and moments. We wait for our first day of school, we wait for the day we can drive, we wait for the last day of school, we wait for our wedding day, we wait for the birth of our first born child, and we begin the waiting with our children for each of those same special days we waited for as a child. We also find that we wait on God; and there is a special blessing and provision for those who will wait on Him. The strength and patience we found in our personal life was exercised because we had love in our heart for our bride, or our child, or that special day. We need to know and express that same love to God for the things we desire from Him. As our love for Him grows, we find that the position of our hands stretched out to Him will also change. Early in our journey with Him we hold out our hands open with palms up ready to receive that which He will place in them. Later as our love for Him grows our hands are clasped together in humility so He can fill our hearts with Him. Do not forget, as we wait for Him we are to also wait on Him.
“The New Man Is Better”
“And have put on the new man, that is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him; Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:10-11
In Jesus’ great prayer of intercession recorded in John 17 He expresses to His Father that those whom He has given Him are one with Him because of the glory He gave to those who have trusted Him as Savior. Paul expresses at least three truths about those who have trusted Jesus as Savior. First, they have a new nature; it is a Divine nature because it came from God. Theodore Epp once said: “We translate our position into daily living as we say yes to Christ and no to sin.” Second, we have a new unity because of Christ. There is no difference between race, gender, social standing, or family history; He is the same Lord over all. Third, we have a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are transformed by a new life and have a new standing of eternal life because Christ is all, and in all. He has given a new life, brand new, which will be renewed in Him after His own.
“Holding Up His Hands”
“I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, For kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” I Timothy 2:1-2
We have our president and leaders on our prayer list and we trust every one will pray for them each day. It does not matter what your political preferences are; these people need our prayers and God has exhorted us to pray for them. Someone asked sometime back if it does any good to pray for them. Often their decisions are not godly, so why pray for them? That is exactly why you should pray for them. Can you imagine how things would be if each of us stopped praying for them? We may not see the hand of God in their lives, but He is at work behind the scenes just as He has been throughout history. Just recently we observed a National Day of Prayer; I heard many criticize whether our leaders prayed or not, but the question is…Did you? Read II Chronicles 7:14
“Old But Not Outdated”
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1-2
Jesus reminded the woman in John that God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Solemn Worship sounds a bit “old school” and it is rejected by many modern worshipers. The attitude of many is a self-serving form of worship which is often devoid of God’s Word and His witness. So much that is done in the name of God today rarely gives a mention or consideration of His solemn principles and order of worship to Him. The sons of Aaron considered the the “old school” methods too outdated and they offered a new and improved method of worship and duty. The minister of God and the member alike must give careful consideration to ensure that our actions of worship are in accordance with God’s Divine method and direction as defined in the Word of God.
“Because He Desired To”
“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” Daniel 6:4
Daniel is one of the characters in the Bible that we know about personally, professionally, and prophetically. We learn of him as a teenager of just over fifteen when he was taken captive by the Babylonians and see his whole life until his death over seven decades later in Persia. As a youth, he and three of his friends purposed in their hearts that they would not defile themselves with the spoils of their captors. He stayed true to God in a strange land and served both the Babylonian and Persian empires in integrity and honor to His Heavenly Father. He was faithful in prayer when it brought persecution; he was faithful in power and had an impeccable testimony that he honored God; and he was faithful to God as he stood alone in his service to Him. Daniel was a success by not only God’s standard, but by the standard of the world.