Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25 
Jesus the Source of Peace
Colossians 1:15-20

Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness—we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8). Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.

When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed. We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Col 1:13). Every one of our sins—past, present, and future—was forgiven. Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us was removed. We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Cor. 5:17).
Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can live in accord with God. He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (Rom. 8:6). We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (Rom. 14:17).

The story of the prodigal son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-24). The son had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself. Repentant, he eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted him and forgave him, and there was harmony between them. God has done all this for us.


Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price—the sacrifice of His only Son. Christ gave His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace. Does your life communicate this message?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Today's Daily Devotional

Today's Daily Devotional

How to Foster True Friendships
1 Samuel 18:1-3

All people long to be in genuine relationships. God created us with this need, as we were not meant to live in isolation.

Our world is so driven by technology that many people today try to ease their loneliness through computer relationships. However, this can never satisfy or compare to the human fellowship that the Creator designed. But healthy friendships don't just happen. They require intentional effort.

Yesterday, in looking to Jonathan and David for a biblical model of godly companions, we saw how mutual respect is vital in a healthy friendship. Now, let's look at two more aspects of their relationship. These two men had an emotional love for one another; their hearts were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1). When one man experienced joy or sadness, the other man felt it too.

They also had genuine devotion to each other, which is a type of commitment that involves giving: to show loyalty, Jonathan gave his friend material items--his robe and weapon. But these two men also selflessly offered more: Jonathan even risked his life and future kingship in order to save David from execution. Notice, too, that Jonathan was often the initiator, and the one who gave more. He was a prince, whereas David was a lowly shepherd. Social status shouldn't interfere with cultivating a true friendship.

We were designed for true companionship based on mutual respect, genuine love, and commitment. This requires not only time and selfless devotion but also transparency--which means being real, even about our faults. Taking such a risk requires trust. Such relationships are well worth the effort.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Today's Daily Bible Verse

Today's Daily Bible Verse

Romans 12:1New International Version (NIV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Today's Daily Devotional

Today's Daily Devotional

October 29
Spiritually Shortsighted
Luke 16:19-31
In Luke 16, Jesus told a story about a rich man who lived for himself and ignored God. After death, he experienced the consequences of his choices—eternal separation from the Lord.
Jesus described him as one who lived in luxury every day (v. 19), providing for himself the best that money could buy but giving little to the poor at his gate. It is important to realize that this man wasn’t judged harshly by God because of his wealth. The heavenly Father is not opposed to our success. Nor was the man separated from the Lord because of his lack of charity toward others. He did not deliberately harm others but, rather, overlooked those in need and focused on himself.
The rich man’s mistake was that he prepared everything for the body but nothing for the soul. Our culture practices a similar style of living. Acquiring material riches and satisfying self is the primary pursuit of many in our world. Having what one wants seems to be the goal whether it’s a struggle to make ends meet or the bank account is overflowing.
Scripture says we were created to be in a relationship with the Father through faith in His Son. The rich man ignored God and paid the ultimate price. Our eternal destiny depends on our decision about Christ.
Despite what our culture thinks, life is not about us. It’s about having a relationship with the Lord. Whoever accepts Christ’s gift of salvation will live eternally with Him in heaven. Those who reject God will suffer. If you know any spiritually shortsighted people, pray that they will trust in Jesus.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Don’t worry

“Don’t worry.” All of us as humans tend to worry — about our jobs, about life, about our health, about problems.

One of life’s important lessons is just this -- “Do not worry.” The key is found in the Bible, in the book of Philippians 4:6 7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So how do you not worry? As a Christian, you can take your worries and concerns to God, your heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you. Offer up to Him your worries in prayer; be thankful; rest in Him; and God will give you peace.

This week, let us pray

* For peace to replace anxiety in your heart
* For God’s peace to replace any worries in the hearts of our staff at Global Media Outreach
* For God’s peace to fill the whole earth, and that all might come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

Only through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can people have true lasting peace in their hearts. Thank you so much for your prayers for us.

You are welcome to post the article above on your website or in your ezine/newsletter or blog. Here's the code for the Article above. Just "copy and paste" the code in the box below onto your website.

By using this article you are agreeing to place the code below in it's entirety without making any changes to the text enclosed. You may however, make changes to the layout to fit your site.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

It Took a Banker to Show Me What Jesus Was Talking About

It Took a Banker to Show Me What Jesus Was Talking About by Rev Michael Bresciani

On January 13th 1982 an Air Florida flight crashed off the 14th Street Bridge in Washington DC. It was a bridge I had traveled across many times before during the year I lived in DC. The entire event was being broadcast live and I sat glued to the TV as the big Boeing 737 slid ever so slowly into the swirling ice cold waters of the Potomac River. Only five people out of the 79 that were onboard that flight survived the crash.

Two of those who survived owe their lives to the heroism and selflessness of a 46 year old man named “Arland D. Williams Jr.” who was a bank examiner. I did not know his name for twenty years after the crash but it is a name I will probably never forget.

Because of the heavy traffic around DC and on the bridge that day the emergency vehicles were seriously hindered from reaching the scene. In the interim two TV news copters did the best they could to pull the few people who had made it to the surface out of the water. It was noble effort on their part because the wind driven snow was a screaming polar bear closing in on the prey.

I watched in stark amazement as one copter lowered a small life ring to a white haired gentleman in the frozen raging soup. He grabbed the ring but then worked it over to another passenger who was then lifted to safety. The copter returned and once again lowered the ring to the gentleman who pushed it over to another passenger yet again. By the time the copter returned for the third time the distinguished gentleman was slipping beneath the stinging waters never to be seen again on that day.

For weeks I could not get that picture out of my mind, but I didn’t want to get it out of my mind. I felt I had witnessed the best example I had seen in my lifetime of perfect and selfless love.

I have told this story countless times in my messages as a preacher of the gospel. I still get choked up with emotion and with the same feelings I had when I watched the events unfold before me. There is an inestimable sense of admiration and respect I feel for Mr. Williams. I often see myself looking and calling for friends and loved ones when I get to heaven. I also see myself asking the Lord for an introduction to Mr. Williams so I can see and embrace one of the bravest men and best examples of love I ever hope to know in this life.

Mr. Williams gave a living and lasting example to me of just what Jesus was talking about when he said…”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13 KJV. Thank you for this example Mr. Williams.

The 14th Street Bridge has been renamed the “Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.” Several memorials to Mr. Williams have been placed at “The Citadel” in South Carolina which he graduated from in 1957. In His hometown of Mattoon, Illinois the elementary school was named after Mr. Williams in 2003.

Rev Bresciani is a Christian author and a columnist for several online sites and magazines. His articles are now read in every country in the world. For articles and news from around the world visit http://www.americanprophet.org

Article Source: Christian Articles for todays living...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

When you're down to nothing, God is up to something.

She jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: "How is my little boy ? Is he going to be all right ? When can I see him?"

The surgeon said, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it."

Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer? Doesn't God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?"

The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university."


Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good bye to son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. "Would you like a lock of his hair ?" the nurse asked.

Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.

The mother said, "It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the University for Study. He said it might help somebody else. "I said no at first, but Jimmy said, 'Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom." She went on, "My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could."

Sally walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car.

The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy's belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room.


She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep.


It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said :

"Dear Mom, I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say "I Love You".

I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy s o you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know.

Don't be sad thinking about me.

This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly.

And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD!

And guess what, Mom?

I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed.

Well, you know what Mom?

God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you.

God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'Where was He when I needed him?'

"God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.

Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give God His pen back now He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm sure the food will be great.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?

Signed with Love from God, Jesus & Me.


( Let's see Satan stop this one. ) Take 60 seconds and repost this, within the hour, you will have caused a multitude of believers to pray to God for each other. Then sit back and feel the Holy Spirit work in your life for doing what you know God loves "When you're down to nothing, God is up to something."

=====================

Here's the code for the Article above. Just "copy and paste" the code in the box below onto your website.

By using this article you are agreeing to place the code below in it's entirety without making any changes to the text enclosed. You may however, make changes to the layout to fit your site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is the Christian obliged to keep the Ten Commandments?

The question really relates to whether the Christian should keep not just the Ten Commandments, but any law! It arises from the supposition that the Christian, being ‘under grace’ is exempt from obedience to the law of God. The short answer is: the Ten Commandments are still applicable to the Christian, but not the other aspects of Old Testament Law. However, the reader must first have a clear understanding of what it means to be ‘under law’ and ‘under grace’ respectively. I refer you to the two short synopses on these topics (or the sound recordings) which will be helpful in this regard. The answer to this question, which deals with the relevance of God’s law for the Christian, presumes you have laid that foundation.

Firstly, let us examine the true believer’s understanding of ‘the law’. Under the new covenant, the true nature of the law becomes apparent. We come to the realisation that the law is spiritual. Let me explain by analogy. We are still required to offer sacrifices, but they are of a different nature and purpose. They are no longer sacrifices for sin, but sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. The subjects of sacrifice are no longer animals or grain, but hearts and lives consecrated to God in service. God’s law is no longer to be found externally on tablets of stone or parchment, or even in our Bibles, as a visual reminder, but written on our hearts! We no longer need ‘the blood of bulls and goats’ to be offered for forgiveness of sin, but have merely to accept the provision of God’s own Son as our ‘once for all sacrifice’ for sin. We are not required to perform ritual washings before we come into the Lord’s presence. We no longer require temples in order to worship God, because we ourselves are the Lord’s temples and God does not dwell in temples made by human hands. The list is endless! In essence, we no longer have to follow the letter of the law (that is, comply with every minute physical detail of its requirements) but now follow the spirit of the law. I have only touched on a few examples to help us see that the law is spiritual. In addition, we have come to the realisation that (as Paul discovered) the law is good. Just think about it! Would you approve of murder, or rape or child abuse, for example? Therefore, we must conclude that the law is good. Since it is both spiritual and good, and we are spiritual people, we now desire to keep it! The Holy Spirit himself teaches us that obedience is evidence of our love for God. Jesus’ words “If you love me keep my commandments” and “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do as I say?” now take on their true spiritual meaning. Legalism is out! We are no longer motivated to keep God’s law for fear of punishment or to attain a righteous standing with God (as we would be required to do if we were ‘under law’), but because we have a deep desire and longing in our hearts to keep it. If that is the way we feel, we are truly ‘under grace’. We are being sanctified. Moreover, during this process we soon discover that sanctification is closely related to, and in fact is grounded in, obedience. Get the drift?
Secondly, we must understand which aspects of the broad spectrum of OT Law still apply to the person ‘under grace’. If we do not, we will still be in bondage to the righteous requirements of the law. So let us examine some of those aspects. The ceremonial and sacrificial requirements of “The Law”, including its requirements for temple worship and its dietary and social constraints, do not apply to those ‘under grace’. The New Testament epistles give ample evidence of this. On the contrary, the Epistles clearly endorse all but one of the Ten Commandment without reservation or modification.

The exception is the Sabbath commandment. In place of the OT Sabbath, we have, under the new covenant, the Lord’s Day. (See Colossians 2:16 for Paul’s refutation of the OT Sabbath keeping). The obvious conclusion is that we are obliged to observe them. Having said this I must emphasize this important proviso: that the believer keep in mind, that the proper obligation to keep these commands is spiritual, not legal.
Some put forward the view that the Ten Commandments no longer require obedience because “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom. 10: 4 a). By this, they imply that believers do not need the law anymore! However, the New Testament does not support this view. Proper exegesis of that phrase reveals the truth that those who still want keep the law in order to prove that they are righteousness and thus claim salvation, cannot be saved. The word ‘end’ does not mean termination, but rather the culmination or fulfilment. Jesus himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matt. 5: 17). What could be clearer? Watch out for those who pervert the gospel and advocate antinomianism (lawlessness). They are false teachers.

In conclusion, if the law has not been done away with, if we have come to understand it as being both spiritual and good, why should we not want to keep the Ten Commandments?

This, and similar artcles, may be found at 'Preach The Word - with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues' a Christian site dedicated to teaching sound doctrine. You are welcome to visit at http://www.kerysso.org

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com

Monday, December 3, 2007

God's Love

God's Love by Star Ferdinand

For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. –Ephesians 3:14-19 (WEB)

>But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. –Ephesians 2:4-6 (WEB)

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love. –Ephesians 1:4 (WEB)

“God cares too much to be unconditional in his love.” When I heard the radio announcer on "Joni and Friends" say those words, I asked myself, “What can be better than unconditional love?” When I think of unconditional love, I think of the love parents have for their children. They don’t love their children only when they behave. They love them always, in all situations. There are no strings attached, no conditions to be met. There is complete acceptance.

God’s love goes beyond the unconditional love of parents. Yes, he loves us even when we are disobedient and rebellious, but his love goes beyond that. He loves us so much he couldn’t stand to leave us in our disobedient and rebellious state. Instead he sent his Son Jesus, to die on a Cross and pay the penalty for our sins. Then, he sent his Holy Spirit to live within and leads us to walk in those good works he prepared for us before creation. God gave us new life with Christ and “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

God’s love endures forever. We can do nothing to earn his love, nothing to cause him to withdraw his love. Paul tells us that God “chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”

Thank you, Father, for going beyond unconditional love to rescue us from the pit of destruction and despair. Thank you for making a way, before Creation, for us to be reconciled with you. Help us, God, to walk in the light and love of the Lord who saves us. In his name we pray. Amen.

Closing Thought
God loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you. Jesus loves you so much he endured the humiliation and torture of the Cross so that he could bring you to live with him forever in heaven. Don’t ever forget that!

Copyright © 2006, Star M. Ferdinand. All Rights Reserved.

Star Ferdinand is the author of A Beloved Brother: A Prayerful Study of Paul’s Letter to Philemon, the first in a series of unique Bible study guides. She has also authored numerous devotionals and other Christian writings. Star uses the knowledge acquired while earning a Certificate in Biblical Studies and a PhD in Computer Technology in Education as she explores ways to use technology to spread the Gospel and encourage fellow believers. An avid learner, Star is continuing her studies through the online programs of Sunset International Bible Institute and BBN Bible Institute.

Star lives near San Antonio, Texas, where she works as an information technology audit and internal controls manager. You can read more of her writings at www.starferdinand.com/vision/.

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Simple Obedience: Obey God Wherever You Are

Simple Obedience: Obey God Wherever You Are by Patrick Roberts

Before Christ ascended He told His stragglers that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and then Judea (Acts 1:8). And that’s just what happened, though they in no way planned ahead for this. The earliest church was scattered by uncontrollable circumstances, so that they were turned into an outreaching church whether they wanted to or not.

In return for their persistent obedience to God's Spirit, the early church received severe persecution, which was the driving force of their scattering. It should be striking to us that God blessed their obedience with unheard-of hardship. However, in this way they obtained greater opportunity to obey and fellowship with Christ than they would have ever planned on their own.

As water runs down to the next lowest place, so obedience and the direction of our faith-walks should be similarly uncomplicated for us. We should obey the Lord wherever we are, however the free-flowing gravity of the Holy Spirit compels us.

Because I am American the most obvious thing for me to do is to seek the kingdom of heaven in the U.S. first by fervent prayer and fellowship and then also by books, talking with people, web sites, flyers and every available means, not because Americans are the greatest or because they deserve more attention than other cultures, but because I must be a good steward wherever God places me.

Who is more qualified to preach to any people than one who is a native to that people? If I am a wise fisherman, then I will use the best kind of bait for the particular fish that inhabit the waters before me.

I’m not saying that going elsewhere is a bad idea, I’m only proposing that we start with the basics. I have grown up in this country, I speak American English, and I am intimately acquainted with the concerns and worries that weigh down on the average American. As of right now, I am best equipped to communicate with Americans.

Would you dare apply such a straightforward outlook to yourself, if you are an ambitious church expert? Try stepping on the first step (the one right in front of you) and see if your legs carry you to the second step before you spend too much time imagining the greatness of treading on the twentieth step. If you are anything like me, then you are afraid to let go of your intricate plans for worldwide gospel success. If any prospective missionaries are at all like me, then they fancy themselves being spiritually successful just as soon as they can get away to a completely different, far-off place. Many expect that the spiritual rules will change in a far-off country where no one knows them intimately. But here, where people know us, we have hardly a shred of spiritual fruit for all our efforts.

On a related note, western missionalogical experts are starting to acknowledge that the best-qualified people to speak to far off peoples might not be headstrong westerners after all. Thanks to a survey taken by the American Missionalogical Foundation for Missionalogical Worldwide Gospelization, (and also thanks to common sense) it is now obvious that a transformed soul from each, respective people-group is best qualified to speak to their own people.

This is more of a general principle than it is an unyielding law. The general idea is that natives of a far-off nation will be more likely to trust a cultural neighbor who started off in much the same circumstances. A person will identify better with someone from their own country than with a foreigner who looks, acts, talks and thinks like a foreigner.

If we take this others-empowering missions strategy to its conclusion, then we Americans are left with the task of being faithful with our own home-base. In other words, if you are telling a resident of some tyrannical country that he should risk his neck preaching Christ to his countrymen, then make sure you are preaching the same gospel the same way in your own hometown… especially if you have freedom of speech, assembly and religion. If you are telling people in some distant land that they should be house-church-planters, then make sure you are planting house churches yourself amongst your own peoples. Be careful, O church expert, that you are not preaching a God who changes according to political boundaries and cultural norms. Your actions within your hometown are preaching a more powerful message than all the nice-sounding missions strategies in the world.

by Patrick Roberts. Find his book and additional resources at www.BooksByPatrick.com

Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ. www.BooksByPatrick.com

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Access the Awesome Power Within

Access the Awesome Power Within by Ann Stewart

Do you feel powerful? Do you feel as if you could tap into a well of power, and that whatever you set your mind to will come to pass?

Fact is, you are created to be very powerful. When Adam was created, God told him to name all the animals and have dominion. Naming your child, a pet, or a company denotes ownership. It allows you to have complete control over it. He was given everything it would take to be a success. Furthermore, God made you in His image. Can you imagine the power you would have if you were to relinquish everything totally to Him and allow Him to guide you in everything you do?

Here are the six main ingredients to tap into the awesome power that is waiting to be unleashed from within:

1. Purpose

You were created for a purpose. Spend time in the Word and determine the purpose that lies before you right now. Is your main purpose to raise the best family, be successful in your business, or help as many people you can?

2. Faith

Purpose is powered by faith. Without faith in the best outcome it will be difficult to attain, persevere and see the desired end-result.

3. Passion

Put passion into your drive! Passion is the opposite of fear. If you fear it – guess what – do it! Allow your passion to zap through the fear. Whatever is worth going for and seeing to completion always as an opposing force. If God is asking you to do something, then expect competition. However, once you make the decision to forge ahead, coupled with your faith, your inner power will make you an overcomer.

4. Preparation

Analyze what is desired from you. Work on building up your personal growth. Learn all you need to know about becoming the success you are purposed to be. You do this by taking extra courses, having a mentor, and spending time in the Word of God for direction and faith building

5. Plan

Be sure to make a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Have it in your heart, your mind and even write it down so it’s always before you. Know your competition, ask for Wisdom to carry it out to the best of your ability, and stay focused.

6. Action

Lastly, faith without action is dead. Start – one tiny step at a time. Nothing happens in isolation. You have to put all the effort into it that you can muster. The more you put into it, the better the results, and the more faith and confidence you will develop.

Consider this wise quote:

"Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night." Zig Ziglar.

Ann is author of With Wings As Eagles. http://www.lifealteringwords.com/with-wings-as-eagles Get her newsletter here: http://www.lifealteringwords.com

Article Source: Christian Articles for todays living...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

God is Love

God is Love by Paul George

God is Love

Love defines God's character forever. God revealed himself most of all as one who loves and keeps his covenant of love (Deuteronomy 7:6-13). As the God who keeps His covenant of love, He chose Israel from among the peoples to make them His own, redeemed them, sustained them and patiently sought their hearts and their love. God chose Israel because He loved their forefathers (Deuteronomy 4:37; Romans 1:13). Because He chose them, He set His love upon them, and drew them to Himself with love. He brought Israel out of Egypt and carried them “on eagles' wings” to the place He had prepared for them (Exodus 19:4). He offered to walk among them and make them into a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 26:11-12). Moreover, when Israel followed God in their own land, He showed them the blessings He had promised, increase in numbers, long life, peace and abundant prosperity. He defended Israel from their enemies, protected them and guarded all that they possessed.

However, Israel declined to be a kingdom of priests. Although God had treated them with great kindness, their fear that God would kill them was so great that they begged God not to speak to them directly, instead asking him to tell Moses what things they should do (Exodus 20:18-20; Deuteronomy 5:4-5, 22-25). It should be noted that, when Israel made this request, God was speaking to them directly and they were not dead. The perception that God desired to kill them was erroneous. Nevertheless, God honored their request and gave Israel the Law, the Tabernacle, the human priesthood and prophets. All of these institutions together were designed to permit any individual Israelite who was not a priest to maintain a relationship with God without ever seeing Him, hearing Him or speaking to Him personally.

The Law, which if any man do these things He shall live, permitted the individual to know God's will in thousands of individual situations. The tabernacle permitted the people to perceive God as walking among them, yet at a safe distance, God did not dwell in every Israelite's tent, but only in the Tabernacle, behind veils, where they would never be required, or even permitted, to look at Him. The priesthood gave Israel representatives who would appear before God in their place and offer on their behalf sacrifices to appease God's anger, greatly reducing the need to speak to Him directly. The institution of the prophets permitted God to speak to the people when necessary without speaking to them directly. In this matter, God gave His people what they asked for, the means to live in covenant with Him, receiving His love without ever speaking with Him directly.

However, throughout God’s covenant with Israel there were Israelites who knew the secret behind the law that God had always desired that each of His people know Him. Perhaps the best example of these Israelites who knew God was David, who is called a man after God's own heart. David was not a priest, yet he often spoke to God directly, as many of the Psalms attest. Moreover, David was not one of the prophets, yet God sometimes spoke to him directly in answer to his prayers. Nevertheless, David loved the Law as the means of knowing both God and how to live. Further, while David never administered a ritual sacrifice, he understood that the sacrifice God truly desired of His people individually was a broken and contrite spirit, a spirit that rejoices to be in His presence. David is only one example of many individuals during this period that also had personal relationships with God.

Although God had promised His protection to Israel, throughout their history there have been times when He removed a portion of His protection and let them do their own thing. The results of doing their own thing resulted judgment by fear, famine, disease, violence, war and exile (Jeremiah 6:16-19). These judgments were not what God intended for Israel; He told them to choose life and the blessings of obedience (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). However, God had spoken blessings on their obedience and curses on their disobedience, and the people had voluntarily taken these blessings and curses upon themselves. Nevertheless, God was patient with Israel, protecting them for the sake of His covenant for some time after they had rejected Him and sending prophets to warn them of the consequences of their way. However, because Israel had the right to choose whom they would serve, after warning them, God withdrew part of His unwanted protection and let them bear judgment. However, God never withdrew all of His protection. He always preserved a remnant who served Him. He never ceased pursuing Israel, seeking to win the heart of His unfaithful people. He always restored Israel after their times of judgment, and always will. God keeps His covenant of love with Israel to this day.

Jesus, who gave himself for us, dying for our sins so that anyone who believes in him may be saved, reveals to us and to the world God’s love (John 3:16-18). God's love is also revealed to us and to the world in the way the natural world which he created provides for human needs in spite of human sins (Matthew 5:44-48). God reveals his love to the world in our love for each other (John 13:34-35; 17:20-23).

Because of His great love for us, God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions. God's love is revealed to us because He gave us His Spirit. God pours out His love in our hearts through His Spirit that lives in us. God's love in our hearts produces peace, joy, hope, confidence in God and freedom from fear. Because of His love, God gives us eternal encouragement and good hope and strengthens us to do every good work. He directs our hearts into His love and perfects His love in us. God's love is also revealed to us in His discipline and correction of us as His children.

New American Standard Bible

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

As You Give, So You Will Receive

As You Give, So You Will Receive by ann777

"Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom." (Luke 6: 38)

That's such a wonderful verse about God rewarding what you give. If you give of your substance to God and your fellow men in need, it will come back to you!

The Kingdom of God is all about the Law of Sowing and Reaping. A farmer harvests diverse crops at different times, and does not worry about whether or not they will mature. As long as he selects good ground, fertilizes and irrigates at the right intervals, and applies pest and weed controls, he expects a good crop.

Similarly, when you sow good seeds, you will inherit the blessings of those seeds. As long as you apply spiritually what the farmer does naturally, you're on your way to receiving up to a hundred-fold return!

However, what if a farmer used the most inferior quality seed covered with blight and interspersed with weeds? He would not get the same results as the first farmer, would he? Likewise, if you give half-heartedly, don't thank God for His provision, and allow weeds and blight of unbelief to enter in, you will be reaping accordingly.

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven;" (Luke 6: 37) Did you notice this verse immediately precedes the one quoted above, and that there is not even a period after it? It continues right into the 'give and ye shall receive' verse!

These two verses tend not to be seen in the same context. The judging portion is often regarded as a separate subject from the 'giving and getting' part. Do you feel you're getting rewarded for your tithes, offerings, and goodwill gifts? If not, could it be that you may have judged, condemned, or harbored unforgiveness towards others?

It is wonderful to stand on the Promises of God. However, it is most important to read at least a number of verses in sequence in order to get the full meaning of God's Word. There are consequences to every action you take.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man soweth; that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. 6: 7 - 9)

Take courage, however! If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you can approach your heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus whenever you realize you have sinned. As soon as you notice a judgmental or unforgiving attitude, go to your Daddy and He will forgive you.

"Bear ye one another's burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ… But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing… For every man shall bear his own burden." (Gal. 6: 2 - 5)

"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? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. 6: 32 - 34)

Therefore, examine yourself daily, bring your shortcomings to God, and you will reap your blessings in due season!

Ann Stewart is author of With Wings As Eagles, an inspiring story of unwavering faith in God's Word and answered prayer: http://www.lifealteringwords.com/with-wings-as-eagles
Looking for affirmation, encouragement and inspiration? The welcome door is wide open at Embracing All the Promises of God: http://www.lifealteringwords.com

Article Source: http://add-articles.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Are Blessed Despite Your Circumstances!

You Are Blessed Despite Your Circumstances! by ann777

Are you walking around with a frown on your face, tired and feeling sorry for yourself for the many disappointments in your life? Why would you do that if you know that you've already won the battles in your life?

Maybe you don't yet realize it, but you are a winner. You are programmed for victory; no matter how dismal your situation looks at this moment! If you're Christian, then be encouraged that the Victor is living in you! He has already won the war. The enemy is defeated.

Satan is going around like a roaring lion to devour. He is not a lion; he's merely acting like one in order to instill havoc and fear. But, he cannot kill you. Jesus has paid the price for you to have eternal life. Even if you lose all your possessions like Job, Jesus has come to restore and be your provider.

"The thief cometh not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)

So, be wise to the tactics of the enemy of your soul. He will keep on trying and seem to be succeeding. But, remember Job! He kept insisting that he had been a good man and deserved better. He kept focusing on his problems and himself. In so doing, he blamed God for allowing his pain and the destruction of all his possessions.

Once he started focusing on God and seeing His majesty, power, magnificence, and awesome compassion, then Job had that "aha, eureka" kind of moment! It became a revelation that changed his whole life! Then he exclaimed exuberantly:

"I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee." (Job 42: 2)

From that moment on, after repentance before his God, who was now very real and personal to him, Job's circumstances turned around. He was healed, blessed with a new family, and his possessions were multiplied after he prayed for the people who had given him wrong advice.

Meditate on that for a moment. Maybe you have been seeking and receiving wrong advice. You may have focused on the world's solutions. Perhaps you've relied on your own negative thoughts keeping you focused on the problems instead of His solution. Yes, your circumstances are real; as Job's were. But, your God is greater than any circumstance!

Do you really know Jesus Christ, and what He has accomplished on the cross at Calvary for you? Maybe you've been saved a long time and your adverse circumstances have obscured the marvelous miracle of your salvation. He is still God. He does not change; nor is He withholding His love from you. No matter what you have done or what problems you're facing, lay everything at His feet.

Seek His face daily and thank Him for all his marvelous works. It is good to remind yourself of all the blessings He has already given you. As you do, your faith will be stirred up, your peace will be restored, and your focus will be on His solution instead of the problem!

Be blessed and know that God is still on the throne. "Be still, and know that I am God." (Ps. 46: 10)

Ann Stewart, author of With Wings as Eagles, aims to encourage and inspire you to become the person God has purposed you to be: http://lifealteringwords.com/with-wings-as-eagles. You're welcome to subscribe to her free weekly, inspirational newsletter here: http://lifealteringwords.com.


Article Source: Article Vista

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Sermon on the Mount - Part 2

The Sermon on the Mount - Part 2 by Paul George

Beatitudes – 2
Matthew 5: 7-16

The first four Beatitudes reveal the initial work of the Holy Spirit in the heart awakened by the Holy Spirit. The next four Beatitudes deal with the subsequent fruits of the heart. In verse 6, the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness and than filled by the Holy Spirit. Verse 7, reveals the first effect and evidence of a satisfied heart. Having received mercy from the Lord, the saved sinner now offers mercy to others. God does not require us to be merciful in order to obtain His mercy that would overthrow the whole purpose of His grace, but having received mercy the disciples of Jesus act graciously toward others. God expects this from us.

The merciful Jesus refers to is the compassion of the soul moved to pity and goes to the relief of another in misery, a gracious disposition toward our fellowman and fellow Christians. It is a spirit of kindness and benevolence that sympathizes with the sufferings of the afflicted, so that we weep with those that weep. It ennobles its possessor so that he tempers justice with mercy, and scorns the taking of revenge. It is a holy disposition in contrast with that foolish sentimentality which ignores the requirements of justice, and is inclined to sympathize with those in deserved misery. Ignoring the requirements of justice is a false and unholy mercy that petitions the courts to cancel or modify a just and fully merited sentence passed upon some flagrant offender.

The mercy Jesus refers to does not have its roots in the natural man. True, some people make no profession of being Christians in whom we often find sympathy for the suffering, and a readiness to forgive those who have wronged them, though admirable there is nothing spiritual in it. Instead of being subject to the authority of God, it often opposes the law of God. The mercy Jesus refers to is different from and superior to natural graciousness, it is a graciousness approved by God and the result of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts. If the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, the same disposition in Him, however imperfectly manifested, we must reproduce it in our lives.

This mercy is something more than a feeling it is an active principle. It not only stirs the heart, but it moves the hand to render help to those in need. Jesus makes it very clear that no work of mercy is shown to those in misery except that it proceeds from inward compassion. The "mercy" Jesus refers to in this Beatitude exerts itself in doing good, being a fruit of the love of God shed abroad in the heart. It is an unmistakable trait of the new man. It is like the "mercy” Abraham extended to his nephew Lot after he had been wronged by his nephew when he secured Lot’s deliverance from the hands of his enemies. It is like the forgiveness Joseph extended to his brothers after they mistreated him. It was the "mercy" in Moses, after Miriam had rebelled against him and the Lord had smitten her with leprosy, which moved him to cry, "Heal her now, O God, I beseech You” (Numbers 12:13). It is like the "mercy" David extended to his archenemy Saul.

The one who shows mercy to others gains mercy, "the merciful man doeth good to his own soul" (Proverbs 11:17). We can find a personal satisfaction in the extending of pity and benevolence to others the selfish man cannot find.

The enemies of the Lord have grossly perverted the sixth Beatitude: those who have, like their predecessors the Pharisees, posed as the champions of the truth and boasted of a superior sanctity to that of the true people of God. All through this Christian era, there have been poor deluded souls who have claimed an entire purification of the old man, or insisted that God has completely renewed them and eradicated the carnal nature eradicated they do not commit sins or have sinful desires or thoughts. However, John tells us, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Of course, such people appeal to the Scriptures in support of their vain delusion, using verses, which describe the legal benefits of the Atonement, or one as that, has nothing to do with the sixth Beatitude.

The purity of heart in this Beatitude does not mean sinlessness of life is clear from the inspired record of the history of all God’s saints. Noah got drunk Abraham lied. Moses disobeyed God, Job cursed the day of his birth, Elijah fled in terror from Jezebel, and Peter denied Christ. While it is true these occurred before the birth of Christianity, it has also been the same since then. Where shall we go to find a Christian of superior attainments to those of the apostle Paul? What was his confession? Read Romans 7 and see. When he would do good, evil was present with him (v. 21); there was a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin (v. 23). With the mind, he served the Law of God nevertheless; with the flesh, he served the law of sin (v. 25).

By nature, the heart of fallen man is depraved and corrupt, deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). How can it be otherwise when each of us must make the humiliating confession, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5)? This purity of heart is by no means to be restricted to inward chastity or simplicity, without guile and deceit but has a far more comprehensive meaning and scope. The heart of the Christian is made pure by a fourfold operation of the Holy Spirit. The imparting of a holy nature at the new birth, bestowing a saving faith which unites its possessor to a holy God, by sprinkling him with the precious blood of Christ, which purges his conscience and a protracted process of sanctification so that we, through His aid, mortify the flesh and live unto God. The consequence of this, the believer has a sincere desire and resolution not to sin against God in thought, word or deed, but to please Him in all things.

What is this purity of heart? An accepted definition of spiritual purity is undivided affections, sincerity and genuineness, godly simplicity. It is the opposite of subtlety and duplicity, for genuine piety lays aside not only hatred and malice, but also guile and hypocrisy. It is not sufficient to be pure in words and outward behavior, purity of desires, motives, intents, is what should, and in the main does, characterize the child of God. Here, then, is a most important test for each professing Christian to apply to himself, Have I been freed from the dominion of hypocrisy? Are my motives pure and intentions genuine? Are my affections set upon things above? Do I meet with the Lord’s people to commune with Him or men?

A "pure heart" is one that has a pure object before it, attracted by "the beauty of holiness." It is one in which the fear of the Lord has been implanted and the love of God shed abroad, and therefore it hates what He hates and loves what He loves. The purer the heart, the more conscious it becomes of, and the more it grieves over, indwelling filth. A pure heart is one that makes us conscience of foul thoughts, vile imaginations, and evil desires and that mourns over pride and discontent, unbelief and coldness of affection, and weeps in secret over unrighteousness. It is sad it is to see a lack of a desire for this inward purity; the great majority of professors are content with a mere form of godliness, a shadow of the reality.
The blessing promised the pure in heart is, “they shall see God.” The promise of this Beatitude has both a present and a future fulfillment. The Christian’s purity of heart is only in part in this life, but perfected in the life to come. Now we see through a darkened glass, but then face to face; now we know in part; but then shall we know even as also we are known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). To "see God" is to be brought nigh to Him, to be introduced into intimate intercourse with Him, which is the consequence of having the thick cloud of our transgressions blotted out, for it was our iniquities which separated us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).

The pure in heart possess spiritual discernment and with the eyes of their understanding, they obtain clear views of the Divine character and perceive the Excellency of His attributes. Since, the privilege of seeing God is dependent upon heart purity, how essential it is that we give earnest heed to the exhortations of Isaiah 1:16; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 3:15.

The seventh Beatitude has to do more with conduct than with character. The first four Beatitudes describe the negative character of the heart of the godly. They are not self-sufficient, but consciously poor in spirit; they are not self-satisfied, but mourning because of their spiritual state; they are not self-willed, but meek; they are not self-righteous, but hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The next three describes the positive character of the godly, having tasted of the mercy of God, they are merciful in their dealings with others; having received a spiritual nature, they now hate impurity and love holiness; having entered into a peace with God they now wish to live in harmony and peace with all mankind.

In a world where there is no strife, there is no need for peacemakers. In a world filled with strife there is a need for peacemakers. The history of the nations proves there is a need for peacemakers.

The desire of the peacemakers is to live peaceably with all men and abstain from deliberate injury of others, promote unity and heal broken relationships. Peacemakers pour sooth oil on troubled waters, reconcile those who are alienated, right wrongs, and strengthen the kindly ties of friendship. As the sons of peace, they bring into the hostile atmosphere of this world the pure and calming air of heaven.
The disposition of the peacemakers is a vastly different disposition of the easy-going indolence that is often nothing but selfishness, of the wicked of this world. The peace they desire to establish is not a peace at any price but one God Himself approves of. In this life, we are to avoid all needless contention, to the point of sacrificing the truth.

It is the duty of every Christian to see to it that we conduct ourselves in such a way no just complaint can be filed against us. It is also for our own peace we do this because it is impossible to be happy when we are involved in strife and enmities. When disturbance and turmoil is aroused, we should diligently examine ourselves before the Lord as to whether the cause for it lies in us and if it does confess the sin to Him and seek to reconcile those offended. Peacemakers must constantly be on their guard against an invasion by the spirit of bigotry, intemperate zeal, and a quarrelsome spirit and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).

In order to develop a peaceful disposition we must first cultivate the grace of "lowliness," which is the opposite of pride, of meekness, which is the opposite of self-assertiveness, and the grace of long sufferance, which is the opposite of impatience. We are not only to do all we can to heal broken relationships we are to reconcile men to God. This is a contrast in the task given to Joshua and his officers under the Mosaic economy, of taking up the sword to slay the enemies of the Lord! In this age, the servants of Christ are to seek the reconciliation of those who are at enmity with God. Peacemakers are the ambassadors of God, calling sinners to come to God, throw down the weapons of their warfare and enter into peace with God. They know there is no peace for the wicked, and therefore they exhort them to make peace with God.

There is still another way in which it is the privilege of believers to be peacemakers, and that is by their prayers. In the day when the Lord’s anger is kindled against a sin-laden people and the dark clouds of providence threaten an impending storm of judgment, it is both the duty and the privilege of God’s peacemakers to stand in the breach and in earnest supplication plead with God to withhold His judgment as Moses did (Exodus 32:10), Aaron did (Numbers 16:47, 48), and David did (2 Samuel 24:14). This is indeed a blessed work of peace: to intercede as Abraham did for Sodom. Only in the Day to come will we know what the wicked gained by the presence of the righteous remnant in their midst.

The reward for being peacemakers is decisive proof that these Beatitudes are not directed toward the moral virtues of the natural man, but rather the spiritual graces of the regenerate. To be called a child of God is to be renewed in His image and likeness and to be a peacemaker. The Lord Himself is "the God of peace" (Hebrews 13:20), and where this peaceful disposition is manifested by His people He owns them as His children. Furthermore, their spiritual brothers recognize peacemakers as children of God. Ultimately, God will make it manifest to the entire universe that we are His children (Rom. 8:19).

The Christian life is one that is full of strange paradoxes that cannot be understood by human reason, but which are easily understood by the spiritual mind. God’s children rejoice with joy unspeakable, yet they mourn with a lamentation the children of wrath do not understand. They rejoice because they have been brought into contact with a source of peace that is capable of meeting every longing, yet they pant with a yearning for righteousness like that of the thirsty deer. They sing songs in their heart to the Lord, yet groan deeply and daily over the lost condition of the ungodly. Their life is often filled with pain yet they would not part with it for all the gold in the world. These puzzling paradoxes are among the evidences they are indeed blessed of God. However, who by mere reasoning would ever conclude that the persecuted and reviled are "blessed"! They are not compatible with the world’s idea of blessed but are actually a manifestation of the miseries of life.

The reason why the children of God are persecuted, reviled, and have all manner of evil said of them is the wicked of this world hate justice and love those who defraud and wrong their neighbors. They hate righteousness. If the children of God would cease walking humbly with God, they might go through the world, not only in peace, but also with applause. Because they refuse to cease their walking humbly with God they suffer persecution because their life reveals the ungodliness of men and this provokes their resentment. The wicked in this world hate God and those who bear His image.

The blessed in this world are those the world detests. Although those the world detests are persecution, it is really a blessing in disguise. The opposition the child of God encounters in this world enables him to be aware of his own infirmities and needs and the fact he cannot stand for a single hour unless Divine grace upholds them. By persecution they are often kept from certain sins into which they would most likely fall were the wicked at peace with them. Persecution affords the believer an opportunity to glorify God by his constancy, courage, and fidelity to the truth.
This persecution "for righteousness’ sake" calls upon us to honestly examine ourselves before God when we are being opposed "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters" (1 Peter 4:15). "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (1 Peter 4:16). This is a most necessary caution, that the believer see to it that he is suffering for doing what is right and not on account of his own misconduct or foolish behavior.

Jesus warns His servants what they may expect to encounter, and then defines how they are to respond. The glory worldly leaders value and crave is flattery and honor, but the glory the disciple of Jesus crave is conformity to Jesus who was "despised and rejected of men." Instead of being downcast over and murmuring at the hostility they meet with in this world, they are to be thankful to God for the high honor He confers upon them in making them partakers of the sufferings of His Son.

The Lord Jesus pronounced blessed or happiness on those who, through devotion to Him, would be called upon to suffer. They are "blessed" because such are given the unspeakable privilege of having fellowship with the sufferings of the Savior. They are "blessed" because such tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, a hope that will not make ashamed. They are "blessed" because they shall be fully recompensed in the Day to come. The child of God must not be dismayed because the fiery darts of the wicked are hurled against him. We must remember, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

The afflictions that come upon the children of God for their faithfulness are to be endured with patience and resignation, thanksgiving and gladness because they come upon them for Christ’s sake. He suffered so they must and they should rejoice to suffer a little for Him. Because they shall be richly recompensed, great is their reward in heaven. These are a reason to rejoice, no matter how fierce the conflict may be.

In verse 10, Jesus said the blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. It verse 11 it seems like Jesus’ attention is turned from the multitude to His disciples. Persecution is the usual experience of God’s people, but it is the special portion of His servants. Jesus confirms this in verse 12, when He told the disciples “For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The ambassadors of the Lord are in the same position as the "prophets" of old, namely those called of God to act as His mouthpiece and interpret His will. Additional proof is found in what immediately follows, where after further designating them the "light of the world" Jesus added, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” a figure fitly pertinent to the disciples of the Lord who are made a light in the world. What Jesus said in verse 15 plainly pertains to the disciples of the Lord rather than to their hearers, for the candle on a candlestick again speaks of official office, and the giving "light to all that are in the house" is plainly the one man ministering to the many.

The two symbols, salt and light, used to describe Jesus’ plan for His disciples and what He expected of them has a definite purpose. He tells them they are to be like salt. They are to preach and teach the Word, both Law and Gospel, in such a way as to express the qualities of salt. When salt is applied to raw flesh, it will sting. It is annoying. When applied to meat it makes meat savory to our taste, it preserves meat from putrefaction by drawing out of it superfluous moisture. Salt is an indispensable necessity of life. It is found in the rocks and soil of earth so that the waters filtering through them become purified. It is a necessary element of the blood, which is the life of our bodies. How well suited it is then as a figure of the truth, by which means the soul is sanctified, as salt arrests natural corruption, so the Word of God arrests moral corruption. This figure, then, furnishes clear direction to every minister of God as to his manner of preaching. Since the Word alone is the savory salt whereby souls are seasoned for the Lord, then it ought to be dispensed purely and sincerely. If salt is mixed with dust and rubbish, it loses its pungency and efficacy, and if the Word is mingled with levity or exciting anecdotes, its power is nullified.

This figure plainly warns the minister it is "salt" and not sugar coated candy he is to use in his preaching and teaching, something that the ungodly are more inclined to spit out than swallow with a smile, something that will bring water to the eyes rather than laughter to the lips. The minister, then, must not expect faithful preaching to be acceptable and popular. Faithful preaching is contrary to human nature. The faithful minister must be prepared to face the displeasure and opposition of the ungodly. This is a testimony that their ministry is “salt” that it has bitten into the depravity of their people. Instead of being, discouraged and dismayed they are to endeavoring to season their congregation more and more with the pure salt of God’s Word.

If salt loses its savor it loses its effeteness and is cast out, and trodden underfoot of men. Jesus This was spoken by Jesus to move His servants to fidelity and diligence in their ministry by the danger in doing the opposite. Infidelity in the ministry is like unsavory salt: ineffectual, worthless, despicable, subject to a fearful curse. This is the great danger of the pulpit: to become men-pleasers, to yield unto the demand for smooth speaking, to tickle the ears of their congregation with novelties. Such preachers become unsavory salt, unprofitable in their ministry, failing to season souls so that they are not acceptable to God. Ministers become unsavory salt when through lack of prayer and continuous study they fail to increase in spiritual knowledge, or when adopting false doctrine they preach error, cease to denounce sin, or fail to practice what they preach.

Jesus points out the greatness of the danger to ministers who become unfaithful and unprofitable in His words "how can it be made salty again?” Those who become unfaithful and unprofitable are seldom, and then only with great difficulty, recovered and restored. Read what is recorded of the false prophets in the Old Testament and the New Testament, where is there an instance that any repented. How diligently, then, do ministers need to take to heart that injunction, "Meditate upon these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself and them that hear you" (1st Timothy 4:15-16); and “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1st Timothy 6:11).

Using the term “You are the light of the world" Jesus likens His disciples to "light," it was as though He said, your position and condition is such that your sayings and doings are open to the ear of man, therefore be careful to please God. Spiritually the world is in darkness (2 Peter 1:19) and sits in the shadow of death (Matthew 4:16), because in Adam it turned away from Him who is Light. However, ministers of the Word carry with them a Lamp of Truth, and by the illumination of their ministry, they are to shine upon the darkened souls of men. By their preaching their hearers, may be "turned from darkness to light" (Acts 26:18). Since ministers are the light of the world it is incumbent upon all who hear them to raise the blinds of carnal prejudice and open the windows of their souls so that the illuminating message may enter into their heart.
Jesus said, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house" (vv. 14, 15). Such is the case with God’s ministers by virtue of their calling. Therefore, it follows that God’s ministers cannot without great sin hide the gifts and talents which He has bestowed upon them, for they are as lighted candles which must not be put under a bushel, they are to let their shine before men, that they may see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven (v. 16). Let your light shine refers to ministerial teaching, whereby the will of God and His grace made known to His people, backed up by a godly example. The ministers of the Lord by their calling are to be conspicuous in the world that God’s people and the ungodly may not only hear their doctrine but also see their good works, and moved to follow the same, and bring honor and praise to the Lord.

The New American Standard Bible

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com

The Sermon on the Mount - Part 1

The Sermon on the Mount - Part 1 by Paul George

Beatitudes - 1
Matthew 5:1-12

The Sermon on the Mount does not present the way of salvation but the way of righteous living for those who are in the family of God. It is a contrast between the new way and the old way of the scribes and the Pharisees, a detailed explanation of the call to repent. It is a comparison between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. It is for the benefit of the disciples of Jesus because they are to teach others and it is necessary that they have a clear and distinct knowledge of these things.

When Jesus had placed himself in a position where the disciples and the people who followed Him up the mountainside could hear what He had to say, He taught the disciples and the people according to the promise in Isaiah 54:13. He taught them what evil they should avoid, and what was the good they should do. He begins His sermon with blessings because He came into this world to bless us as the great High Priest of our profession. In Him, all the families of the earth are blessed. He came not only to purchase salvation for us, but also to pour out and pronounce blessings on us; and in this sermon He does it as one having authority, as one that can command the blessing that have been promised to the believers.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us eight characteristics of the blessed and truly happy in this world, their inner qualities, and their future blessings. The inner qualities of the blessed contradict the proud thinking of the scribes and Pharisees who believe they can attain righteousness and true happiness through their good deeds and their relationship with Abraham. Jesus points out this error in their thinking when He tells us righteousness, blessings, and happiness are not through good deeds or a relationship with Abraham, but through a relationship with Him.

Jesus did not open this sermon with the pronouncing of judgments on the wicked, but blessings on His people. The poor in spirit are not blessed because they are poor but because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The ungodly and unrighteous of this world claim it is the rich who are the blessed and happy people for theirs is the kingdoms of the world. What they do not understand the kingdoms of the world are fading away, the kingdom of heaven is eternal, it will never fade away. Jesus said the poor in spirit are blessed because the kingdom of heaven is a kingdom far greater than all the kingdoms of the earth.

When we compare what Jesus said about the happy people in this world we need to remember there is a vast difference between being poor in the spirit and financial poverty. There is no virtue and often disgrace in financial poverty. Financial poverty does not produce humility of heart. Generally, you do not find the poverty of the spirit Jesus speaks of in the majority of the religionists. We often see and hear advertised a conference for "promoting the higher life," but who ever heard of one promoting the lowly life? You will find books telling us how to be "filled with the Spirit," but where can we find one telling us what it means to empty ourselves of self-confidence, self-importance, and self-righteousness. In His sermon concerning wealth Jesus said, "That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15), it is equally true what is of great price in His sight is despised by men. Almost all of the so-called "ministry" of this generation feeds pride, instead of starving the flesh; puffs up, rather than abases; on the other hand, soul searching is frowned upon by the pulpit and unpopular with the pew.

Spiritual poverty is the opposite of the proud, self-assertive and self-sufficient disposition that the world admires and praises. It is opposite of the independent and defiant attitude of men and women who refuse to bow to God and say "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" The poor in spirit have arrived at the point in life were they know they have nothing to offer to remedy their situation, can do nothing in themselves to rectify their situation, and have need of all things.

Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of their emptiness, the result of the Spirit’s work within. The poor in spirit see all their righteousness as filthy rags, their best deeds are unacceptable, an abomination to God. Poverty of spirit brings us to our knees before God, acknowledging our utter helplessness and deserving the judgments of God. It corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country.

Poverty in spirit is realizing God’s great salvation is free, "without money and without price," the most merciful provision of God’s grace. If God put a for sale tag on His grace and salvation no sinner could purchase them because he has nothing with which he could possibly purchase them. Most people do not understand the Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of the sin blinded. Those have passed from death unto life become conscious of their spiritual poverty, take the place of beggars and are glad to receive Divine charity, and begin to seek the true riches. Poverty of spirit is the realization of our utter worthlessness that precedes the laying hold of Christ. It is the Spirit emptying the heart of self that Jesus may fill it: it is a sense of need and destitution.

The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God. Through false teaching or worldliness, a person may leave his proper place before God, but God knows how to bring him back; and in His faithfulness and love, He will do it because this is the place of blessing for His children. It is the spiritual poor and not the financial poor who are pronounced blessed because they have an attitude opposite of what was theirs by nature. They have in themselves the evidence of a Divine work of grace and are heirs of the kingdom of heaven in the present and in the hereafter.

The blessed are also those who mourn. By nature, mourning is hateful and irksome thing. However, Jesus said the blessed in this world are those who mourn. Only the child of God has the key to this paradox, for "happy are they who sorrow" is at complete variance with the world’s logic. Men in all places and in all ages believe the prosperous to be the happy people of this world, but Jesus said those who are poor in spirit and who mourn are the blessed

It is obvious Jesus is not referring to every form of mourning. There is a natural, a sinful mourning which is a disconsolate and inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a hopeless remorse like that of Judas when he betrayed Jesus. There is a "godly sorrow," of which the Holy Spirit is the Author. The "mourning" Jesus is referring to is a spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of thought here: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "Blessed are the poor," not the financially poor, but the poor in heart: those who realize they are spiritual bankrupt the opposite of the Laodicean that says, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." In like manner, Jesus is referring to spiritual mourning. Further proof of this is Jesus pronounces the mourners "blessed" because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace within them, and awakened so that they see and feel their lost condition. They are "blessed" because God does not leave them at that point, "they shall be comforted."

The mourning Jesus refers to is the initial mourning that precedes a genuine conversion. Thousands acknowledge that they are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact. The prodigal in Luke 15 before he left the far country said, "I will arise and go unto my Father and say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son." The publican of Luke 18 "smite upon his breast" and said "God be merciful to me a sinner"? The prodigal and publican felt a sense of sin in their heart and confessed.

The mourning Jesus is referring to springs from a sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His will. In some cases, it is grief over the worldly things the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness that has caused complacency. It comes from an agonizing realization our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. It is these tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome and receive the Savior. It is mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated God and us. Such mourning always goes side by side with poverty of spirit and not confined to the initial experience of conviction it is a present and continuous experience. The Christian has much to mourn over, the sins which he commits both of omission and commission that should be a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be if his conscience is kept tender. The surging of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his failure to produce good fruit should make him cry "O wretched man that I am."

"Blessed are they that mourn" refers to the convicted soul sorrowing over sins. Jesus does not call them blessed because they mourn. He calls them blessed because they will be comforted. A true comfort we cannot find in self but in Jesus. When the Holy Spirit produces in the heart a godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave us there, but brings us to look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then we are comforted.

The fulfillment of the gracious promise of comfort occurs with the removal of the burden of guilt. This comfort is the peace of God that passes all understanding and the filling of the heart with the assurance we are "accepted in the Beloved." It is a continual comforting by the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The one who sorrows over his departures from Jesus is comforted by the assurance that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The one who mourns under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise “it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). The final comfort comes when we leave this world. Then shall "sorrow and sighing flee away." To the rich man in hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at his gate, "now he is comforted (Luke 16:25). The good news is the comfort of heaven will more than compensate for all the mourning of earth.

Jesus said the happy people in this world are the meek. There have been many debates as to exactly what meekness consists of. Some defined meekness as humility. This definition does not fully reveal all that is included in meekness. Its usage in Scripture reveals a link between meekness and lowliness that cannot be separated (Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 4:1-2) It is associated with and cannot be separated from gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1; Titus 3:2). The psalmist tells us God “leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way (Psalm 25:9). In the Beatitudes Jesus is describing the orderly development of God’s work of grace in the soul.

Meekness is a by-product of self-emptying and self-humiliation; or, in other words, a broken will and a receptive heart before God. It is not only the opposite of pride, but of stubbornness, fierceness, and vengefulness. It is the taming of the lion, the making of the wolf to lie down as a lamb. In the ungodly and religionist the meekness that is found in the love of ease, absence of sensibility, stability, and other passions, is susceptible to change in form or nature, must be separated from biblical meekness. It is susceptible to modification in form or nature, from good to evil, often found in ungodly men and in the character of the religionist.

Biblical meekness enables men of the most intense, passionate, impetuous, and merciless character, by looking to Jesus through the grace of God, learn to curb their tempers, cease from resentment, avoid offending by injurious words and actions, and forgive injuries. It is the opposite of self-well toward God, and ill will toward men. The meek Jesus refers to are those who quietly submit themselves to the will of God, His Word, His rod, and follow His directions and comply with His plan for their lives and are gentle toward their fellowman.

The fruits of meekness are first God ward. Where this fruit is dominant the enmity of the carnal mind is subdued, and its possessor bears the chastening of God with quietness and patience. Second, it is man ward, inasmuch as meekness is that spirit of mildness brought into obedience to the will of God through discipline and suffering. It causes the believer to bear patiently the insults and injuries, which he receives at the hands of his fellowman and makes him ready to accept instruction or admonishment, and moves him to think more highly of others than of himself. Meekness enables the Christian to endure provocations without being provoked to anger or vengeance. Paul told the Galatians, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). This means, not with a lordly and a domineering attitude, a harsh and censorious temper, with a love of finding fault and desire for inflicting discipline but with gentleness, humility and patience.

Contrary to what the ungodly believe, meekness is not a sign of weakness but a manifestation of the yielding to God’s will in an individual who will not yield to or compromise with evil. God-given meekness enables His people to stand up for God-given rights. When the ungodly profane the glory of God, we must denounce the profanity and those who profane God’s glory. We need to follow Moses’ example. He was "very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3), yet when he saw the Israelites dancing before the golden calf he broke the two tables of stone, and put to the sword those who had dishonored Jehovah. The apostles firmly and boldly stood their ground when they were beaten for preaching the gospel message (Acts 16:35-37). Jesus in concern for His Father’s glory made a whip of cords and drove the desecrators out of the temple. Jude tells us we are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (v 3). Biblical meekness is never in conflict with the requirements of faithfulness to God, His cause, and His people.

The spirit of meekness is what enables us to get enjoyment out of what God has given us. It delivers us from a greedy and grasping disposition, the psalmist wrote, “a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked" (Psalm 37:16). The proud and covetous do not "inherit the earth," though they may own many acres of it. The humble Christian is far happier in a cottage than the wicked in a palace. The author of Proverbs wrote, "Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble with it. (Proverbs 15:16). Writing to the Corinthians Paul said, "let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all things belong to you” (1 Corinthians 3:21-22). Our right or title to the earth is twofold: civil and spiritual, the civil approved by men according to their laws and customs. God approves the spiritual. Adam had this spiritual right to the earth before he fell, but by his sin, he forfeited it for both himself and his posterity. However, Jesus has regained it for all God’s children.

Our inheritance is an Old Testament promise with a New Testament meaning. A further inducement to “seek the Lord” is the promises, "The meek shall eat and be satisfied" (Psalm 21:26), "The Lord lifts up the meek" (Psalm 147:6), "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord" (Isaiah 29:19). From these passages, we should be able to see it is foolishness seeking earthly possessions without any regard to the Lord’s will. Just as we cannot purchase an earthly inheritance, we cannot purchase a heavenly inheritance.

The first three Beatitudes deal with the attitude of those who have been awakened by the Spirit of God. There is a sense of need, a realization of nothingness and emptiness. There is a judging of self, a consciousness of their guilt and sorrowing over a lost condition. There is an end of seeking to justify self before God, an abandonment of all pretences to personal merit, a bowing in the dust before God. In the fourth Beatitude, there is a longing after that which the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek know they do not have but need.

There have been many questions about the word “righteousness" in this verse and most commentators has failed to grasp its fullness. In many Old Testament passages, "righteousness" is synonymous with "salvation." In verse 6 of the Beatitudes "hunger and thirst after righteousness" means to yearn after God’s favor, image, and mercy. "Righteousness" is a term denoting all spiritual blessings: "seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). In verse 6 "righteousness" refers to the righteousness of faith whereby a sinner is justified freely by Divine grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. As the result, the believer stands legally righteous before God. As sinners, we have constantly broken the Law in thought, word, and deed, and are utterly destitute of righteousness. However, God has provided a perfect righteousness in Christ for all who believe.

Second, this "righteousness," for which the awakened sinner longs, is an inward and sanctifying righteousness. It is an intense desire of the soul. Just as in bodily hunger and thirst there are sharp pangs and an intense longing for their appeasement, so it is with the soul. First, the Spirit brings before the conscience the holy and uncompromising requirements of God. Next, He convicts the soul of its destitution and guilt, so that he realizes his spiritual poverty and lost condition and sees there is no hope in and from him. The Holy Spirit creates a deep hunger and thirst that causes him to look to and seek relief from Jesus.

There is a paradox in verse 6. Is it possible for those who brought into a vital union with Jesus who is the Bread of Life and in whom all fullness dwells be found hungering and thirsting? It is. Listen closely to what Jesus said, He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” He did not say, “Blessed are those which have hunger and thirst.” Hunger and thirst for righteousness is the experience of the renewed heart.

The promise “they shall be filled” has a double fulfillment: an initial, and a continuous. When God creates a hunger and thirst in the soul, it is so that He may satisfy it. When the poor sinner recognizes he needs deliverance from his lost condition and seeks deliverance, he receives the peace of God that passes all understanding. This deliverance results in sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to the One that delivered him from his lost condition. The goodness and mercy he enjoys is a foretaste of what God has prepared for those who love Him: in the day to come. In that day, we shall be made "like Him" (1 John 3:2). Then we shall we be done with sin forever and "hunger and thirst no more (Revelation 7:17).

This fourth Beatitude has been a storehouse of comfort to many a tried and troubled believer, by Satan-harassed believers, by those whose faith is little and weak. There are many in God’s family who sincerely long to please Him in all things and to live in no sin against their conscience, and yet they often do not trust Him and doubt God’s mercy. Conscious of their doubting faith they question their position before God. Here, then, is Divine comfort for them, if they genuinely hunger and thirst after righteousness, those who are displeased with their unbelief, who truly desire to be purged from distrust, long and pray for increased faith and assurance shall “be satisfied.”

The New American Standard Bible

Article Source: http://www.articles.narrowisthepath.com