Friday, April 27, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Imagine for a moment that I could offer you a life that is guaranteed to give you: joy that is greater than any human feeling on earth, a blessing that is happiness in its fullest measure with access to all the resources of the earth, a peace that surpasses all human understanding, and an assurance of entering the eternal rest in the arms of the Almighty God at the end of it all..... Would you be interested?
I know I cannot, but Jesus can. In fact, not only can He - He is also willing, and has even been longing to give you all that has been stated above and even more. In the Bible Book of John 10 verse 10, Jesus Christ declares His aim for visiting mankind 2,000 years ago: “I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” He also promises everyone who believes in Him this same life of abundance, no matter what situation or circumstances they have faced or are still facing. Jesus gives the assurance that if you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew chapter 6 verse 33). He promises to meet all our needs and to give us more than enough if we will let Him direct the affairs of our lives.
There are several kinds of abundance that we are promised as believers in Christ. First and foremost, there is spiritual abundance as indicated in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Then there is the promise of abundance of good health as found in Jeremiah chapter 33 verse 6, “I will heal this city and its people and restore them to health. I will show them abundant peace and security.”
Then there is also an abundance of material resources and means to earthly livelihood, as found in 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 3, “Jesus has the power of God, by which he has given us everything we need to live and to serve God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus called us by his glory and goodness” (New Century Version). We also enjoy a life of righteousness when Jesus (who is the righteousness of God) is made the one and only Lord over our lives (1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 30; Philippians chapter 3 verse 9).
Its true that in life, times may come when we face difficulties of diverse forms. In James chapter 1 verses 1 to 12, the Bible advices us believers to consider trials and temptations to have an end result of joy because endurance is being produced in our lives. We are directed to ask God for wisdom so that we can see and understand the benefits of the trials we face. Jesus however promises in John 16 verse 33, “I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jesus paid the highest price of death on the cross so that you and I can enjoy every blessing in Him. This is worth holding on to in times when life isn’t quite exactly the way we desire it to be and ultimately gives us a hope of the promised abundant life in Christ.
"Abraham looked for that City, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).
God designed the Church to function as a unified community of spiritually gifted, ethnically diverse, men and women loving and serving one another in humility, availability, and submission; thereby presenting to the world a compelling case for trusting Christ alone for salvation.
If we are faithful in following the teachings of the Bible, and are being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit (who authored the Bible), then this is the Church we will become. To the measure that we are not becoming this Church, then we are following the teachings and traditions of men, and are being filled with and led by the spirit of another instead of Christ.
Satan, who is called the Accuser of the Brethren, takes great delight is soliciting our unwitting participation in his campaign to divide and discredit the Church. The Greek word for accuser is kategoros, from which we get the English word category. It means to be against another in a criticizing way; to put another down by elevating oneself as a judge. The moment you find your heart categorizing other believers who differ from your traditions of faith, you are at risk of being complicit in Satan's destructive schemes against the City, whose builder and Maker is God.
While you may enjoy God's presence, and experience His power in the context of your local assembly, with its particular history and practices, never lose sight of the fact that you are nevertheless part of a vastly larger Kingdom — in which diversity plays a major role. Rather than sitting in judgment over those who may do it different from you, or who emphasize things other that what you personally deem most important, rejoice in knowing that Christ is being preached far beyond your own borders and abilities.
It is His Church, not yours. He is the Head; not you. Take your place with humility, and give thanks to God that many others are also taking their place as the Lord directs.
Remember, the Church is both local and global. On a global scale it appeals to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and therefore is filled with such variety of people that there is no other organization on the earth that rivals it. Yet, on a local scale it may be more tempered to a particular people group than the broader audience of the world, and thus might seem somewhat narrow and exclusive.
Both are legitimate expressions of the Body of Christ and, as such, should be held in highest esteem. Neither holding the other in contempt, nor seeking to defame in any way those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Be a part of a local church, but also be a citizen in that City whose builder and maker is God. That is what the Lord is doing in today's world.
What are you doing?
Adapted from Daily Devotions by James Ryle
Posted by House of Virtue at 8:23 AM
Sunday, April 8, 2012
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand
In Christ Alone lyrics
Songwriters: Getty, Julian Keith; Townend, Stuart Richard