“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“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.
“What Difference Would It Make”
“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
I have heard many ask whether it does any good to pray for peace or not. With all the turmoil around, it may look on the surface like there is no hope for our society and that things are looking worse than they were just a short time ago. So why pray for peace? First, because we have been instructed to pray for peace; in our own heart as our text reminds, for others, and for Israel. The question, however, is not whether we should pray for peace, but how much different it would be if we stopped praying for peace today. In the days preceding the Flood, the Bible records, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth and every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually”. There were two that made a difference; Enoch walked with God and his influence changed the life of his great-grandson, Noah, whom the Bible records “found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. Wickedness may be all around, but all it takes is the prayer of one to make a difference.
“Consider The Finished Product”
“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” Jeremiah 18:3-4
Some things have changed very little with modern technology; the potter’s wheel has changed very little over the centuries of time. The potter takes an otherwise useless lump of clay and kneads it, squeezes it, and makes it soft and pliable until he gets it just right. He then throws it on a spinning table, his potter’s wheel, where he begins to put pressure on the clay to form into something beautiful and useful to him. It is not complete until his work is complete. Blemishes, weaknesses, and mistakes can all be made right by the masterful hands of the potter. Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Youth is a blunder, maturity is a struggle, and old age is a regret.” This is not true or accurate for the child of God; He is the Master Potter who is making something beautiful of each life on His Potter’s wheel. Mistakes, blemishes, and weaknesses are molded into something beautiful as He makes it into something that seems good for the Potter to make it.
“Naming The Name Of God”
“By this know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:2,4
The name of God is mentioned everyday, by people everywhere, who come from all walks of life. Many who use His name, sad to say, do not know Him; they do not know Him as Savior, they do not know that He is Creator of all things, and they do not know that He came to die for the sins of all mankind. They drop His name in slang or use it in vain with little regard to who He is and what He has provided for them. In the first six verses of this chapter and in the verses from the previous chapter John warns of false teachers who talk about Jesus, but fail to acknowledge that He truly is the Son of God. These people are not representing God, but Satan; they are the spirit of the antichrist (verse 3). Unfortunately, they preach a message that the world wants to hear; it is based on feeling good about themselves, prosperity, pride, intellect, and good deeds. What is missing is a true repentance of sin and a heart that is turned to God through Christ. Your attitude toward these verses will help you to know if you are truly saved or not.
“For What Are You Hungry”
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Jesus instructed of earthly relationships, physical provisions, and personal treasures in His sermon on the mount. As the master story teller and knowing the hearts of those around Him, He could always drive His point into the hearts and souls of His listeners. Quite often His audience was impressed that He spoke to their hearts and addressed the needs of their life and it was evident that He spoke from a heart of love and compassion toward them. In our text today He uses an analogy of the basic essentials of our survival to introduce them to a deep spiritual truth that was missing and needed in their relationship with the Lord. Some have interpreted this passage to mean that God takes us into the depths of poverty or despair so that we may find Him. But this verse is completely spiritual in its exposition and application for the follower of Christ. Conditions of hunger and craving for thirst may be physically experienced, but our Lord reveals that for us to be truly happy, we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, it must be a basic essential of our Christian walk to feed ourselves on His Word.
“Whom Do You Say That Jesus Really Is”
“Jesus asked His disciples saying… Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” Matthew 16:13
When God instructed Moses from the burning bush to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the children of Israel go, Moses asked God whom shall I tell him sent me? God advised that He was the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob; you tell Pharaoh the “I am” has sent you. He was reminding Moses that He was God, He is God, and He is always God. Jesus had a similar discussion with His disciples as He asks, “Whom do men say that I am.” Was He trying to find out what men really thought of Him? Certainly not! He already knew their heart and their thoughts. The important question was about to be asked, but whom do you say that I am? That is always the important question. It is the question that is asked today to you and me. It is a question that dictates an answer from its hearers. Peter’s response came from God; it was not of his own investigation or thoughts. He was not trying to make points with Jesus; he testified that God was before him. It was testified by John as he baptized; it was testified by the Samaritan women; and it is what each of us must learn and testify; You are God, O Lord.
“The Price He Paid For Me”
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
In this great chapter, Paul begins and ends with the greatness of God’s provision and Christ’s everlasting and endless love. It is a love that set us free from the condemnation caused by sin’s penalty; and it is a love that is so secure that nothing can separate God’s children from His love. As one offers, who can be against us, to strip us, to deprive us of our comforts? Think of what God did for us; it is what all our hopes are built upon. Look closely at the verse above again and meditate on this thought: He spared not His own Son. Consider what Christ did for our redemption and the price He paid to reconcile us to His Father. He was separated from His Father, He was bruised for our transgressions, He became sin for us, He was forsaken by His Father, He became a curse for us, and on top of it all it pleased His Father to do this for us. That is love! He spared not His Son, His own Son, His only Son. What did that accomplish? He shall freely give us all things. It is free to us, a gift He gave when we were His enemies and now He would not deny us any good thing. How can this be? Because He spared not His own Son.
“Power Is To Produce Patience”
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” Colossians 1:11
Have you ever had someone tell you that they would be praying for you? You have poured out your heart to them and shared your innermost burden with them and before they leave you they promise that they will be praying for you. I am sure that as Paul left this church he told them that he would be praying for them. I am also equally sure that he earnestly and diligently prayed for them every day. Our text is a record of one thing which he prayed for these believers. If you ask the Lord for one thing, what would your request be? Money? Possessions? Fame? When His disciples came to Jesus their request was very simple and very serious; Lord teach us to pray! What a request, it is a request on which all the other blessings of our Christian life will depend. The complete and unabridged version of power, contentment, fulfillment, and joy was found in Jesus’ exhortation to prayer found in Luke eleven. It is echoed by Paul as he intercedes for his brethren in this church. He explained what his prayer was for them so they might know and experience the power of God.