Heavenly-minded Christians

Perhaps you have heard some Christians described as being "so heavenly-minded, they're of no earthly good." To be honest, I don't know many Christians that fit that description. In fact, usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so preoccupied with the things of this world that they hardly give heaven a passing thought. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christian's can have it all, so they pursue "the good life" with a vengeance. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:30: "Our citizenship is in heaven; from which we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." That's why we are exhorted to set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1-2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences. Seek to live your life with a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this [Read more...]

The True Meaning of Christmas

If we were to sum up the true meaning of Christmas in one word, I think the word "Emmanuel" would be a strong candidate. Christmas is all about "God with us." In the word Emmanuel, we discover the incredible love and sacrifice displayed by Christ in His incarnation. According to what the Bible says in Philippians 2:5-8, before Jesus came to this earth He was in very nature God and lived in equality with God. There was no higher position in the universe. Yet consider what He did. The Bible says that He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:6). This could literally be translated that He "laid aside His privileges." Christ surrendered His position in glory. He gave up His position in heaven with God for our sake. He emptied Himself and made Himself nothing - all for us. He took upon Him the very nature of a servant so that He could meet our need. This attitude is counter-cultural. We live in a society filled [Read more...]

An Infallible Source of Guidance

How do you determine what to believe and think?  How do you determine what is the right choice to make or the right course of action to pursue?  Guidance is a fundamental issue for every Christian.  We must all make decisions.  How can we know we are making the right one? Many non-Christians resort to a variety of methods to make "right" decisions.  Some people just do what they want to do.  Others consult horoscopes, palm-readers, astrologers, spiritists, and mediums.  Little do they know the danger in such pursuits.  James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits."  On the other hand, describing the opposite kind of wisdom, James 3:15 reads, "This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish."  One wisdom is heavenly, the other is earthly.  One wisdom is from God, the other is demonic.  Many people are putting themselves in danger of receiving demonic direction when [Read more...]

A Hope That Sustains Us

We live in an age where hopelessness is on the increase.  People have bought into the lie of Satan that we are hopeless creatures in the hands of fate and unable to do anything about it.  Hopelessness is a strategy of Satan to keep us down.  He wants us to live in defeat, discouragement, and despair.  If he can fill us with hopelessness, he has won a great victory in our lives. Hope is really a matter of perspective.  What is our perspective in life?  Paul refers to those whose perspective is on earthly things in Philippians 3:19.  This would encompass the vast majority of people today.  Most people are focused on earthly things rather than eternal things.  Even in the church many people fail to have an eternal perspective.  They see life as here and now.  While they may believe that they will go to heaven when they die, their view of life is almost indistinguishable from non-Christians. But what happens when Christians adopt that perspective on life?  If we adopt a perspective [Read more...]

God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is a relationship.  There are many religions throughout the world.  But most religions have something in common and that is they are based on works.  They seek to please God by some form of self-effort. Sadly some view Christianity in much the same way.  They are convinced that in order to please God they must live according to certain rules and regulations.  Their creed might be summed up in the saying, "God helps those who help themselves."  I am convinced that a majority of the people in churches believe that this is a verse of Scripture.  But the Bible never says God helps those who help themselves.  It's a uniquely American idea, but not a biblical idea.  God helps everybody and especially those who can't help themselves.  The idea that God only helps the hard working is a concept based on the idea of keeping the Law.  It is Old Covenant. And here's the problem  We've developed in many churches a Christianized version of the [Read more...]

The Certainty of Eternal Life

Most of us know that we are alive.  Although there may be some exceptions, generally it is pretty obvious that a person is living.  Even if they are sleeping soundly, you can generally tell that they are breathing.  From a distance they may not appear to be breathing, although for some of us, you can definitely hear us breathing when we are asleep.  We breathe loudly.  We call that snoring, and snoring is an indication of life.  So that is a good sign! But spiritual life is not as easily discernible as physical life.  There are some people who do not know whether they are spiritually alive or not.  Some hope they are, but really can't say for sure.  Others do not believe that anyone can really know for sure. Is it possible to know you are spiritually alive?  Let's allow the apostle John to answer this question.  "He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.  These things have I written  unto you...that you may know that you have eternal life..." [Read more...]

The Source of Peace

We are given a wonderful promise in Isaiah 26:3,4: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Perfect peace.  Even in the midst of chaos and turmoil, this promise holds true.  The reason is the source of this perfect peace.  It comes to us from the One who is declared to be the "everlasting strength" or literally the "rock of ages."  How comforting to know that in a world where everything seems to be shaking and shifting, the Christian can stay his mind upon the Rock of Ages.  He is the changeless and eternal One.  Within the cleft of that Rock is perfect peace. There is one requirement, however, for our receiving this peace.  Our minds must be stayed on Him.  It is within the area of our thoughts and imaginations that unrest, turmoil, and fear begin, but to stay our minds upon Jehovah is to know perfect peace and rest. Satan knows that a victorious [Read more...]

Abiding in the Word

"Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning.  If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in  you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father"  I John 2:24 Far too many of us in the Western church have thought that if we only understand the truth, that is enough.  After all, doesn't the Bible say that we would know the truth and that knowing the truth would set us free?  Yes, that is indeed what the Bible says.  But when the Bible speaks of knowing the truth, it means far more by the word know than most people understand.  What is in view is not a casual knowledge of the truth, but an intimate, life-changing commitment to obey the truth.  This is a deep, personal knowledge which impacts every area of our life.  Unless we know the truth in this way, we will never experience the life-changing power of the truth. In the above verse, John sets forth the key to everything for the Christian, and it begins with the Word abiding in [Read more...]

How to Know that we Know God

We live in the information age.  Never before in history has the increase of knowledge been so rapid.  For thousands of years of human history we only added to our knowledge.  Today, knowledge multiplies.  We used to measure the doubling of knowledge in centuries.  Now we measure it in months.  We are all traveling on the information highway and at breakneck speed. Having so much knowledge available to us is a wonderful thing.  But there is an area of knowledge that is much more wonderful and far more important than anything else we might seek to know.  And that is how do you know that you know God.  The truth of the Scripture is that we can know! John tells us "we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands."  The real litmus test is that we obey Him.  Obedience is essential for the Christian life.  By obedience we can know for sure that we know Him. Many people evaluate their Christian life based on their experiences they have with God.  But experiences are [Read more...]

Christ: The Source of True Joy

"And these things write we unto you, that  your joy may be full"  (I John 1:4).  According to the Declaration of Independence all men are endowed with the unalienable right to pursue happiness.  The problem however, with pursuing happiness is that you have to catch it.  And this proves easier said than done. There is a good reason why people have trouble discovering true and lasting happiness.  Happiness depends on what happens.  Happiness is linked to our circumstances.  When things are going great, then I am happy.  When things take a turn for the worst, then my happiness evaporates.  What people really want is a happiness that lasts.  People desire a happiness that doesn't depend on happenstance.  But, does such a thing exist? Such a thing does exist.  But it is not called happiness.  In fact, we find this thing on the pages of the Bible.  There we see a better alternative to happiness in what the Bible calls joy.  Joy, unlike happiness, does not depend upon my situation in [Read more...]

An Abundance of Joy

If there is one thing that is clear, it is that there is a poverty of joy everywhere.  Certainly in the world we see this poverty of joy.  We all no doubt know people who suffer from an inability to find anything positive in life.  For them, life is merely an existence.  Everyday is filled with drudgery.  And it is a tragedy.  It's a tragedy because life doesn't have to be like that. But, even in the church we find a poverty of joy.  Now this is really tragic.  The church ought to be a place where joy abounds.  Sadly, this is often not the case. Christianity does not have to suffer from a poverty of joy because God has given us a promise of joy.  In John 15:11 we read, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  Here Jesus is telling us that His joy would be in us and make our joy full. Jesus came to give us life, but it was a certain kind of life that He came to give us.  He came to give us eternal life, but He also came to give us [Read more...]

Christmas: God’s Perfect Timing

In the Bible we find that God always acts according to His own timetable.  And sometimes God's timetable and our own are in conflict.  We often desire that God would act, and act right now; when in God's wisdom, He chooses to delay for our good.  But there is a real truth in the saying that God is never late.  He who created the universe and who sees the end from the beginning, who is, in Himself, all wisdom and knowledge, works all things out perfectly at the right time.  It may not be "in our time," but it is always "in His time." Christmas reminds us of the fact that God always works according to a divine timetable and it is always perfect.  We are told in Galatians 4:4 that "when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son..."  That is an amazing statement.  There was one time in all of history when all things were perfectly in line for the first coming of Jesus.  God planned it, God orchestrated it, and God brought it to pass. The working of God in preparing the [Read more...]

An Encouraging Reminder this Election Season

Recently during my Bible reading time I was directed to Psalm 33.  In verses 10 - 12 we are reminded that "The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing: He makes the plans of the people of no effect.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord..." Proud man is convinced that he is steering the course of history.  He believes himself to be accomplishing his own agenda.  But the Bible is clear that God sets up and takes down the most powerful of rulers for His own sovereign purposes.  Whether it was Pharaoh, Nebuchadnessar, Cyrus, or Artaxerxes, God used them to further His purposes for His chosen people.  Of course, none of those men knew God or were seeking to follow God.  They were making decisions that they thought would further their own agendas.  But behind the scenes, God providentially used their decisions to further His agenda.  They were responsible for their decisions, yet God [Read more...]

Are we in Sync with God?

"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion..." (Amos 6:1).  Amos speaks here to the people of God concerning the danger of growing apathetic in our commitment to God.  Then he brings this charge against them: "but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph."   In Amos' day this charge meant that Israel was unconcerned about the fate of their brethren in the South.  God was concerned.  His heart was broken.  But their heart was unmoved.  They were out of "sync" with the heart of God. If we would apply this to ourselves, we must ask a very pointed question.  Are our hearts in "sync" with the heart of God?  Are we moved by the things that move Him?  Are we people who care about the things God cares about?  Is our passion His passion? That should then lead us to another question.  What is God passionate about?  His passion is people.  He reached out to us when we were without hope and poured out His grace upon us.  This is why Jesus came and lived and died.  We must realize that true [Read more...]

Beware of Traditions

As summer draws to a close we are faced with the reality of the routine.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Routines can simplify life somewhat and make us feel more comfortable.  But sometimes we allow certain routines to become full-fledged traditions.  By that I mean they take on significance far greater than simply being a convenient routine.  In fact, some things become almost holy and unchangeable.  When those things are tinkered with, people become very upset.  It is as if we have willfully flaunted a commandment of the Lord when we tamper with those things. But what is the ultimate test of tradition?  Well, Christianity is first and foremost a matter of the heart.  Jesus is after a transformation of the inner man.  He cares more about our heart condition than the observance of religious tradition.  So we might say that the ultimate test of tradition is "Does it deal with our heart trouble?" When traditions are established which assist us in knowing God and communing [Read more...]