If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:26, 27 NLT)
There’s very little on television I find worth watching any more. It seems that most programming today is void of, well, any thing close to any substance. I find the continuing trend toward “reality” shows almost unbearable with a very few exceptions. One reality show I some times watch is about some really gifted gunsmiths; they make some really neat weapons. However, I find it more and more difficult to watch them because of their actions: they use foul language with about every other breath and then show themselves in a circle of prayer!
In the Book of Romans Paul said that the Roman believers “blaspheme the name of God among the Gentiles” with their actions. I think that the folks in this program do the same thing; how much honor do they bring to the Lord with their profanity followed by prayer? None. If we act as the world and then proclaim the Name of Christ we are harming the cause of God, just as those addresses by Paul were doing.
I know that you have all read or heard that “the only Bible most folks see is your life” and it is true. When one claims Christ and then lives like the devil they are showing the world exactly what the world so desires to see: a hypocrite. And we wonder at times why lost people say if so-and-so is good enough to make it to Heaven so am I!
Think about it…
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the whole day riding the trike with my wife and three other couples that we go to church with. This was the first time this year that all eight of us have been together for a ride; I call our little “gang” the Baptist Bikers, in case you’re wondering.
As we rode along throughout the day we changed positions at times, one leading a while, then some one else; the one riding in the back would move up in the line and a different person would anchor the group. At one point or another, each bike occupied just about every different slot.
As the day went on I noticed that no matter where each person was riding we were going along pretty well but at times we were smoother and more in sync than others. I realized that each of us had a position in the pack that we were best suited for. It might not be the placement we actually preferred but that slot was our strong point.
This made me think of the church. We all have a spot or “vocation” in the church. And while we may function okay pretty much all the time if we will be obedient to God’s will and get in the “spot” He has chosen for us, even if it’s not what we are most comfortable doing, the church and her members will be much more effective and fluid.
If we want to see our people saved and growing strong we have to get in line where He intends for us to be.
Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
As most of you know, I enjoy doing leather work. There is some thing about it that just allows me to clear my head and all my aggravations just seem to leave. In fact, I often find that as I work on a project I’m able to focus more on the things of God. Perhaps the concentration I put into the project clears out the “cob webs” just enough to allow the Word to really penetrate; I can’t really explain it much clearer than that. But I do know that much of the most profitable meditation time for me comes when I’m tooling a belt, for example.
Jesus set the example for us in His words and deeds: We need to get away from the “multitudes” of life, what ever they may be for each of us, and have alone time with God. Christ often went into the wilderness to pray. I know a preacher that gets some of his best alone time on his riding mower. And I have some of mine at my leather work bench. We are all different, with different situations, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. But we all need to find our “prayer closet” to get into and away from every one and every thing that might distract us. That intimate time with God is vital, no matter where your’s occurs at, to our spiritual life and walk of faith.
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
The other day I received an email about the healthcare debate. The writer obviously disagrees with the whole idea saying:
“Let me get this straight: We’re going to be “gifted” with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t?”
While healthcare or politics are not the subject of this email the author quoted above brings up one good point: If you have go pay for something it isn’t a gift.
In today’s verse Paul tells us that our salvation is a free gift. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by God’s grace, nothing of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We cannot earn salvation; we don’t deserve it to begin with. We cannot pay for it; Christ Jesus has already done that. It is open to all who will receive it through and by Jesus. But we have to be open to the Gospel and receive the gift; there’s no other way (John 10:9; Acts 4:12).]
2 Timothy 4:1 …the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead…
Yesterday we looked at a heart-warming story that ended with the accidental display of the message “CHRIST WAS LOVE”. But this story doesn’t give us the whole picture and, as Paul Harvey would say, let’s look at “the rest of the story”.
Jesus most definitely was love; the Bible asks what greater love could you have than to lay down your life for another, which He did. But Christ still is love today; He is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us even now, and He still has the power to save any and all who will come to Him. Truer love than that of Jesus Christ will never be known!
However, there will come a day that that love as we know and understand it will cease. When a person stands before Him for judgment the Door of Mercy will be closed; if they had yet to enter it there will be no other chance then to do so. I imagine that He will still love that person and there will be no joy in His sentence. But the way has been clearly laid out for us all; He paid the price so we won’t have to. If we choose to ignore His mercy now it will be us, not Him, sending us forever from the presence of God, into an eternity of pain and sorrow.
Gifts are some thing we receive from someone with no merit on our part. We give them because we love the recipient. Christ did the same for us with salvation. What better gift could anyone receive this Christmas season than the free gift of salvation through Jesus? We will all most likely see folks we don’t usually see on a regular basis in the coming days at family get-togethers, parties, etc. Take time out of your schedule to share the Good News of this most precious gift with someone when God gives you that opportunity.
This is part one of two emails. This first one was forwarded to me by a friend. Tomorrow I plan to add some thoughts to this illustration.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
The “W” in Christmas
“Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.
I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.
Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old.
For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.
All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the
holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.
Those in the front row- center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.
As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up
the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”.
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little
one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.
In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
“C H R I S T W A S L O V E”
And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence…humbled by His love.”