Christians greatly favor Romans 8:28 because it seemingly gives us assurance especially in troubled times. Though in final analysis that is true but the subject here is God’s works with each believer. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We know it is believers whom God calls but for what purpose?
God knew before creation who would be called – who would believe. He also predestined for those who believed to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ so He might have many spiritual brethren, the church. (Romans 8:29) Therefore all that transpires in a Christian’s life is God fulfilling His purpose of conforming us in the image of our Savior Jesus Christ.
God’s predestination is just the beginning of God’s purpose. God then calls those He has predestined whether it is past, present or future. After calling believers God justifies them – gives them a guiltless or righteous standing with Him. After calling and justifying God glorifies the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:30) This means Christians are bestowed honor and praise like their Savior Jesus Christ.
All these wonderful works which God freely bestows upon those He calls is due to the sacrificial work of the Jesus Christ. Considering all that has been said concerning God’s purpose the questions are asked, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. What shall we say? PRAISE GOD! Who can be against us or who can deny God’s purpose in our lives? NO ONE! WE CAN’T LOSE!
Are you a Christian? Ponder this: God predestined your Christianity before He made the world. When you answered His call and became a Christian God pronounced you justified. He now sees you without sin – righteous after His Son, Jesus Christ. Lastly, you have been glorified. You have been given honor and praise by Him who called you and you will receive honor and praise with Jesus Christ. AMEN and AMEN.
When we get low in spirit, and we will, or the gloom of the world weighs on us, and it will, we need only to remember WE CANNOT LOSE! God is working His purpose in us. We just have to let Him. What a wonderful God who works marvelous and miraculous works for those He has called.
Aren’t true friends a real blessing? Friends can be a much welcomed source of comfort, help or just an enjoyable companion. True friends are few in number. It has been said that we are fortunate if we have two or three “true-blue” friends. We all have been unexpectedly hurt or let down by supposed friends, fringe friends, who weren’t the true friends we thought them to be.
Friendship problems plagued Bible persons. Remember Job? Three of his friends came to comfort him but ended by accusing him of not being right with God. Of these friends Job said, “My friends scorn me…” Job 16:20. Of course we are familiar with the most infamous unfriendly act by one’s friends – that done to Jesus Christ by of His brethren, the unbelieving Jews.
The O.T. Prophet Zechariah spoke of the Jews’ depraved deed against their Messiah and friend, Jesus Christ. “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thy hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Zechariah 13:6. Jesus will forever bear the physical scars of His crucifixion compliments of His unbelieving friends.
Israel’s greatest friend whom they sent to the cross is now the friend of Christians. He is our one true friend because of what He did for us on the cross. In Luke 12:4 Jesus addressed the disciples as “my friends.” Unquestionably that applies to Christians also. Unlike many of our earthly friends, Christians included, Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
There is a qualification for being a friend of Jesus which He set. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14. That suggests that friendship varies in degree. We all have friends that are closer than others because of the relationship. Generally the relationship that we have with another is determined by the degree to which we make that person our friend. That falls in line with what Jesus said.
We are as much a friend to Jesus as we love and obey Him. He as much said that we prove our friendship to Him by our obedience to Him. Surely we agree that some Christians love and serve Jesus more than others. By implication Christians who love and serve Him the most are His better friends. He doesn’t determine the level of our friendship – we do.
JESUS IS OUR ONE TRUE FRIEND. Agreed? In return should we not wish to be the best friend we possibly can to Him? Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you for giving to us Jesus Christ, our one true friend. Please help us to be a true and loyal friend to Him.
Matthew recounts the occasion when Peter unwittingly was following Satan instead of Jesus. After straightforwardly telling His disciples He was going to be killed and be raised the third day Peter pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22
The disciples thought that Jesus, their Messiah, would rise up and cast off the Roman yoke of oppression and become Israel’s king. They did not understand, nor could they accept, the idea that their Messiah must first be killed. God forbid! That cannot happen was the thinking of Peter as he tugged Jesus aside to rebuke Him.
Jesus faced Peter but spoke to Satan, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23. Did Jesus call Peter Satan? That seems unlikely because Peter wasn’t Satan, who, was the gravest offense to Jesus. He rebuked Satan because Peter’s thinking reflected Satan’s diabolical intent rather than God’s plan. Satan didn’t want Jesus to be crucified because he knew the outcome.
No, Jesus did not say “shoo” to Satan. That wold have been silly and ineffective but He did order Satan, “Get thee behind me.” (In other words, Get away from me Satan. God’s will be done not yours.) Jesus rebuked Satan and ordered him to remove himself. Christians too must dispel the influence of Satan on their lives. How do we shoo Satan away when we recognize his influence on us?
Jesus showed the best method for shooing Satan. In chapter 4 of Matthew we read of Satan personally tempting Jesus. Three times Jesus rebuffed Satan by citing the Word of God. When Satan offered Jesus the world’s kingdoms Jesus said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thous serve.” Matthew 4:10. The next verse says, “Then the devil leaveth him…” Satan will leave us if we properly reject him as Jesus did.
This is the best method (there are more) for shooing or driving away Satan. First, demand Satan to go away. Jesus said, “Get thee hence, Satan.” He followed that by quoting God’s Word that fit the occasion. That emphasizes our need to know God’s Word. Our ability to shoo Satan will be weakened if we cannot speak Words of God that fit the situation at hand.
Christians are tempted daily by Satan’s worldly influences. God forbid we submit to his deceitful and destructive ways. We must send him away and refuse him by speaking the Word of God.
GOD, HELP US TO RECOGNIZE SATAN’S PRESENCE AND TO SHOO HIM AWAY FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE GIVEN US BY JESUS.
As the Apostle Paul writes his second letter to Timothy he expects to be martyred soon. (II Tim 4:6) He therefore encourages and instructs Timothy to faithfully continue the ministry upon his demise. One particular portion of Paul’s letter of appeal to Timothy bears significant importance to all Christians – the Word of God.
Paul urges Timothy to continue in the faith which he had been taught and to keep in mind who taught him (Paul himself) as being a faithful and true mentor. Timothy is asked to remember (to follow) the Holy Scriptures which he had known from childhood.
God’s Word serves two vital functions. First, “…the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.” II Timothy 3:15. This pertains especially to the lost souls. They must come to the realization of their sin and their need for salvation through Jesus Christ. The only book in existence that can bring them to that point is God’s Word. Man’s words draw men to themselves.
The second function of God’s Word is to equip the person who comes to Jesus Christ for salvation with the spiritual tools to perform faithfully. How does it do that? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” II Timothy 3:16. Doctrine – what to believe. Reproof – disproving or censuring others. Correction – setting wrong beliefs and actions right. Righteousness – the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We’ll not find these spiritual tools in any of man’s literature.
After addressing the two basic functions of God’s Word Paul charges Timothy in this manner. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” II Timothy 4:2. Though this charge was directed to Preacher Timothy I believe it applies to all Christians in our worldly association. How else can we win the lost to Christ if we don’t skillfully use God’s Word?
The scriptures are sufficient. They are sufficient for the lost to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. They are sufficient to teach and enable Christians to perform faithfully. Also important, the scriptures sufficiently foretell our future. After a short time of trials and tribulation we will enjoy an eternity with the Jesus Christ of our faith and of the scriptures.
Knowing the sufficiency of the scriptures should we not be more diligent to search and to know them? ONLY THEN CAN THE SUFFICIENT SCRTIPTURES PRODUCE EFFICENT CHRISTIANS!
All Christians know, and many heathen, that Jesus is the Lamb of God? He was and remains God’s sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Jesus was sacrificed (offered as an appeasement) to pay God’s demand of death for sin. John the Baptist first called Jesus the Lamb of God. John the Apostle saw the Lamb of God twenty eight times in the Revelation.
Then there is the other Jesus for those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. To them the other Jesus is another beast – a predatory lion. He is pictured as the Lion (capital L) in the Revelation. John wrote, “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Rev 5:5
When John turned to see the Lion he saw the sacrificed Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Why then was John told to look at the Lion? Because Jesus Christ the Lamb is also the Lion. How is He the Lion? The basis for this is found in Jacob’s blessing of his sons in Genesis chapter 49. (1) Israel’s tribe of Judah was symbolized by the lion. (2) Jesus’ legal lineage was that of King David who was of the tribe of Judah. (3) Jesus is the prophesied Shiloh (Ruler) of Jacob’s blessing to Judah, the lion tribe.
Surely we know that lambs and lions differ greatly in their ways. Mainly, lambs are gentle and herbivorous while lions are predatory carnivores. These two animals typify the two comings of Jesus Christ. He came the first time in the likeness of a lamb. He was gentle, meek and submissive even to His enemies who crucified Him making Him our sacrificial Lamb. He will forever be the sacrificial Lamb.
The other Jesus will assume characteristics more similar to a rampaging lion. A hungry lion on the prowl will chase, capture and consume prey. When Jesus returns all unbelievers will be His prey. He will destroy the armies gathered against Him in Israel. (Rev 19:11-21) All unbelievers who survive the Lion’s return will live under His “rod of iron” rule. Psalm 2:9 Yes, Jesus will return as the Lion to the lost world.
We Christians are so thankful for knowing Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. Many lost people have heard of Jesus being the Lamb of God but have not heard about Jesus as the Lion. Perhaps if we could tell them about the Lion of God they would be persuaded to come to the Lamb of God. Everyone will meet either the Lamb or the Lion.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we are so thankful for knowing Jesus as the Lamb of God. We will never meet Him as the Lion but we know there are many who will. DEAR LORD, HELP US TO TELL THEM ABOUT THE OTHER JESUS, JESUS THE LION, WHICH MAY BRING THEM TO JESUS THE LAMB.
In His most acclaimed “sermon on the Mount” Jesus spoke a set of beatitudes which are highly revered. Among them was this one. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6. It almost sounds like a meal is being offered here does it not? Well, it was as we shall see.
The real curve ball here is the meal that Jesus offered was Himself, which many refused to ingest and still do. Even the disciples didn’t grasp that the meal Jesus was setting before them was Himself. This single item menu which Jesus gave the world is not only unusual but is disgusting to many. Nonetheless Jesus is our heavenly meal.
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” John 6:54-56
Jesus Himself is our spiritual meal which when consumed will nourish us with eternal life. Yet multitudes go hungry and thirsty because they won’t taste of our heavenly meal, Jesus Christ. They will spend eternity with their pangs of hunger and thirst because Christ won’t be the menu ever again.
The disciples were stumped by what Jesus said about eating His body and drinking His blood. How was that to be done? Certainly barbaric cannibalism would not be the proper eating method. Jesus had explained the method of consumption before He described Himself as our heavenly meal. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” John 6:47
Jesus is to be consumed through belief and He tells us how we can acquire belief. “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. It is not the physical body of Christ which gives us life when consumed but the words of truth which He preached. When we read His words and believe we spiritually eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus Christ.
We eat food every day for our physical bodies which eventually die anyhow. What we really need is more spiritual food for our soul. God’s Word is meat and drink for our eternal spirit. Paul referred to the Word of God as meat and milk in I Corinthians 3:2 and Hebrews 5:12. The meat and milk of the Word equate to the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
DEAR LORD, MAY WE EAT A GENEROUS PORTION OF YOUR HEAVENLY MEAL DAILY!
There is a wise saying which we don’t hear enough. It goes, “Only one life to live, ’twill soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.” How true that is. We know the world does not appreciate that saying but Christians have cause to not only believe it but to live it. It deserves our attention here and now.
“One life to live” – a true and sobering thought, the profoundness of which, escapes most people. Outside Christianity people are void of the reason they have life which is plainly given in God’s Word. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelations 4:11. Pleasing our Creator begins with accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.
“It will soon be past” – “…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14. Young people, because they don’t think about it, act as if they will live forever. In later years the shortness of life dawns on them causing some to change their lifestyle hoping to extend their life. Christians on the other hand change their lives to meet with Christianity which certainly produces a better earthly life plus an eternal life in heaven.
“Only what is done for Christ will last” – Lost people can live a long life of “doing” but none of it will count except for loss on judgment day. Christians too will have discounted works at the judgment seat of Christ. (II Corinthians 5:10) Paul characterized our works as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. If our works are of the gold, silver and precious stones quality they will withstand Christ’s judgment. If they are of the wood, hay and stubble categories they will be incinerated. I Corinthians 3:12-15
Christians will receive a reward for each work that passes Christ’s fiery test. For every work that is consumed we will suffer a loss. That should sufficiently motivate us judge our work ourselves before Jesus does. There are two criteria for judging our works. (1) Motivation. Is what we are doing for Jesus Christ or for ourselves? (2) Acceptation. Is what we are doing acceptable and pleasing to Jesus Christ?
We may not be infallible judges of our own works but by consciously assessing our works we will live a better Christian life which will count for more when Jesus judges us. ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ‘TWILL SOON BE PAST, ONLY WHAT IS DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST.
The Apostle Paul struggled with a problem which harries all Christians – that of doing wrong over right. Doing right is not an automatic or passive action. Unfortunately being saved does not eliminate the power of our self-willed minds. Christians must constantly guard against succumbing to urges of our sinful flesh and self-will.
Lest one might think that the faithful Apostle Paul had no real problem with doing right we only have to read Romans chapter 7. Therein Paul delineated with disgust his struggle to do right and sometimes losing. “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate that I do.” Romans 7:15. Again he said, “I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Romans 7:21
Every Christian, like Paul, will have this struggle of refraining from doing wrong when they know what is right. We know it is not always an easy choice to do right when tempted by wrong because of the abiding sin nature within us. In spite of Paul’s failure to always do right I think he was victorious much more often than not. Here are some truths that undoubtedly helped Paul and will us with our struggle to do right.
Paul’s first help, and so for Christians, was his penchant for the Word of God. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” Romans 7:22. Paul loved the Word of God that spoke to and guided the inward man or righteous man. A daily meal of God’s Word fortifies us against the wrongful impulses of our fleshly self.
A second aid to Paul in his desire to do right was the Holy Spirit of which Paul wrote, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. To walk in the Spirit means to be under the control of the Holy Spirit – letting the Holy Spirit be our leader in all things. When we wrench control from the Holy Spirit we become susceptible to the urgings of our sinful nature.
Another truth that can assist Christians in doing right was written by the Apostle John. “He that saith he abideth in him (Jesus Christ) ought himself also so to walk, even as he (Jesus Christ) walked. I John 2:6. Any Christian who walks (conducts) himself or herself like Jesus surely will surely choose right over wrong when faced with the option.
Yes, Paul struggled with the Christian dilemma of doing wrong at times when he knew to do right. We all do but we can consistently win the struggle if we hold to God’s Word of direction. (1) Read and ponder God’s Word every day (2) Let the Holy Spirit control us in all things (3) Conduct ourselves after the manner of Jesus Christ. He had no problem with doing right.
No, we cannot be perfect like Jesus was but we can experience more victory than defeat in our struggle if we diligently apply these three truths to our lives. GOD, HELP US WITH OUR STRUGGLE TO DO GOOD!
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen…” Revelations 1:17-18
While in the spirit of worship on the Lord’s Day the Apostle John had a vision of Jesus Christ. He fell in a limp form at the Savior’s feet being overwhelmed by heightened emotions including reverent fear. John was in the presence of the risen Christ, the living embodiment of all authority and power as He had proclaimed to His disciples in Matthew 28:18. Jesus lovingly touched John and spoke the above words to him – words of assurance and hope.
Let us look closer at Jesus’ exclamation. He said, “I am he that liveth….” John had not doubted that Jesus lived for he had seen Jesus after His resurrection and watched Him ascend into heaven from Mount Olives. This sighting of Jesus however was far more memorable and meaningful. John was looking upon Heaven’s Judge of mankind and the Head of the church as pictured in Revelations 1:12-20. The world will meet the Judge and the church will meet her Head. Are we ready?
Jesus continued His exclamation, “and, was dead…” Jesus, as the Son of God in the flesh experienced a physical death – the penalty for sin. Jesus committed no sin Himself but took the sins of all mankind, you and I included, upon Himself while on the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion was a substitutionary death – He died sin’s death for us and how great was His death. We die once for ourselves but Jesus died for everyone. UNFATHOMABLE!
As cruel and agonizing as Christ’s physical death was His spiritual death was worse. Sin separates man from God and Jesus was carrying all the sins of the world upon Himself. As He hung on the cross of death He hung alone. His Father God had turned away from Him – left Him alone in sin’s judgment. THAT WAS MOST TERRIFYING which caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46. Think of this: Jesus will never forsake Christians as He was forsaken by God.
Jesus further exclaimed, “…behold, I am alive for evermore…” For a short space Jesus Christ the God man was in death – not alive. Then as promised He arose from the grave – from death – and was seen by many believers. The disciples watched as He ascended to His Father in heaven. Acts 1:1-11. Now many years later John was given an electrifying vision of the risen Christ who will live for evermore and because He lives for evermore so will those who believe in Him. HOW EXCITING!
In complying with the Lord’s command (Revelations 1:11) John faithfully recorded his vision of the risen Christ for the church – for you and I. We Christians should visit John’s Revelation account of his meeting the risen Christ daily and let it cause us to fall at His feet in our hearts. It is this risen Christ that is coming back one day for you and me. HALLELUJAH!
Christians are apt to think Jesus’ disciples had a greater faith than what Christians possess today. That is not wholly true. On many occasions the Bible shows the disciples as being weak in faith – tentative and unsure. Their faith suffered because they often did not understand Jesus’ speech and ways. Furthermore, Jesus was often required to correct or rebuke the disciples for their attitude or actions.
Was the faith of the disciples greater than the faith of Christians today? I think not. Jesus made a very interesting statement to His disciple, Thomas, about faith. “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed.” John 20:29. Two very enlightening thoughts are to be gleaned from the Lord’s words to Thomas.
Jesus told Thomas that his faith resulted from a physical relationship by which Thomas was able to see and hear Jesus daily. That was true of all the apostles. Their faith stemmed from the physical presence of Jesus. Do you think they would have believed on Christ as they did if they had never seen him? According to Jesus’ statement to Thomas they would not have believed had they not seen Him.
The second thought verbalized by Jesus was “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” I think Jesus clearly implied that those who believe on Him without ever seeing Him exhibit a greater faith. One thing is for sure. The number of people believing on Jesus without seeing Him is immeasurably larger than those having come to him by sight.
Walking with Jesus by faith rather than in His physical company is God’s will for the church. Paul wrote, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7. Christians show a greater faith because they come to Christ by faith through the words of the disciples who came to Jesus by sight. To believing Jews who had not seen Jesus Peter wrote, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing…” I Peter 1:8. Peter was aware of the advantage that seeing Jesus presented.
Be assured, dear Christian, that we are not being short-changed in our faith because of our inability to observe Jesus Christ. As His disciples walked with Him so will we. That was Jesus’ promise to the believers in His Revelation letter to Sardis. “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelations 3:4
All who walk with Jesus now by faith will one day walk with Him in person in heaven. Our faith will be turned to sight. HOW WONDERFUL THAT WILL BE!