Renewing our Minds by the Word of God

There are two ways that we can think - the way of the world or the way that leads us to the mind of Christ.  In regard to thinking along the lines of the world, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3:19 that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."  Don't think that the wisdom of this world really has the answers to the deepest questions of life, because it doesn't.  With all of our technological understanding, the increase of knowledge, the amassed wisdom of human kind, we still have not solved the basic issues of life.  The problems of disease, poverty, racism, hatred, and a host of other concerns, continues to plague our society.  The fundamental problems of life are still with us because, for all our accumulated wisdom, we don't have any real answers to these questions.  We can make a better computer but we can't solve these issues. We need to understand that the place to find answers to the problems that confront us, namely the sin problem, is in the Bible, the Word of [Read more...]

Christmas is for giving

It's that time of year again - Christmas!  Just the mention of the word stirs up a myriad of mental images.  The sights and smells and sounds of Christmas are wonderful.  We anticipate seeing friends and family and relaxing from our regular routine.  Without a doubt Christmas means many things to many people.  But we must admit that the one aspect that rises above all others is the giving of gifts.  Christmas has become synonymous with giving. This isn't all bad.  It's good to have a holiday with a reputation for giving.  True, it has been exploited by some, but we have the right idea - giving.  Giving shows care, concern, and commitment.  Consider the greatest Giver - God.  He knows a lot about giving.  On the very first Christmas He gave just what the prophet foretold: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Is. 9:6).  The Bible teaches that God cared so much that He sent His Son to our planet.  This was not some insignificant token but rather the ultimate gift.  In [Read more...]

Our Inexhaustable Source of Strength (part two)

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30,31). The promise to those who wait upon the Lord is that they shall “gain new strength.”   Literally it means that those who wait upon the Lord shall “change” or “exchange” their strength. The idea is that as we draw near to God, waiting upon Him expectantly in faith, trusting in Him as our resource, that He will then impart to us His strength. The truth is that our strength runs out. What we need is new strength, and that’s exactly the promise that’s made to us.   We will “gain new strength.” As we wait upon Him, we bind ourselves together with Him and receive His strength. So when it says that we shall renew our strength, it means that we will exchange our strength for His. What an exchange it is! But look at the [Read more...]

Our Inexhaustible Source of Strength

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30,31) Sometimes I just get weary of it all. Sometimes I’m tired in body and in spirit. My strength is exhausted, my determination is shot, and I’m irritated with life. Have you ever felt like that?   I thought so! Unfortunately, one of the plights of people, even redeemed people, is that our strength is exhaustible. We are not superhuman creatures. Our strength runs out and we face the common problem of weariness.   While we must face the reality that all of us must deal with weariness, there is hope from the Scriptures of a deeper reality in which we can tap into the inexhaustible strength of God. The passage above reveals that although we all get weary, there is a source of strength for those who trust in and wait [Read more...]

“I’m Saved! Now What?”

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23) As Christians our new birth is something that we should never get tired of. We ought to praise God continually for the fact of our salvation. But we should also realize that there is more in store for the Christian following the new birth. God has something in mind for us. We are saved with a clear purpose in view. What God has in store for us can be summed up in a word. That word is sanctification. Sanctification simply means that we are caused to be holy. It carries the idea of being set apart by God for His use.   God has saved us with this as His ongoing purpose. It is not only God’s desire to sanctify us; it is His desire to sanctify us through and through. As Paul puts it, God desires to “sanctify you wholly.” The Greek word means quite completely, entirely or perfectly. The above verse [Read more...]

What is truth?

"What is truth?"  That question was asked of Jesus by Pilate in the course of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus during His mock trial.  It's a pretty good question and one that we all do well to answer correctly.  We live in a day where truth is relative.  You have your truth and I have mine.  Your truth may work for you but that doesn't mean that it has to work for me.  Is that the best we can hope for where truth is concerned?  Not if we are seeking the truth according to God's revelation of it. The fact of the matter is Jesus had previously answered Pilate's question.  He puts it this way: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except by me" (John 14:6).  Jesus is the embodiment of truth.  The problem lies in the fact that for many, the truth revealed by Jesus is an inconvenient truth.  The truth that Jesus brings is a narrow truth, a restrictive truth.  It is the truth that He is the only means by which sinful people can be made holy and can receive [Read more...]

The Other Son in the Parable of the Prodigal

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 does not end with the return and restoration of the wayward son.  Jesus continues the story by telling us of the response of the elder son.  This portion of the parable is directed toward the Pharisees who in the context were complaining that Jesus had been receiving and welcoming sinners.  Now Jesus is pointedly rebuking their attitude.  He drives His point home in verse 29 with the son's angry response to his father.  As Jesus tells it the son says to his father, "These many years I have served you, neither transgressed I at any time your commandment; and yet you never gave me a young goat so that I might make merry with my friends." This son pats himself on the back for his years of faithful service.  Certainly his father should treat him better than he is treating his brother.  It is apparent that he believed that the basis for obtaining his father's favor was his works.  And additionally, he has decided that the father's love can only [Read more...]

The Heart of God toward Repentant Sinners

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is given by Jesus to illustrate the heart of God toward a repentant sinner.  The prodigal rejects home, demands his inheritance and departs for a distant country where he wastes his inheritance through his living a wild, reckless lifestyle.  But in the story he eventually comes to his senses when he hits rock bottom.  It is then that he makes the decision to return to his home in hopes that his father will receive him back as one of his servants. It is at this point in the story that Jesus reveals to us the grace of the Father and how He responds toward His repentant children.  We see the father as anxiously awaiting and desiring the return of his son.  Jesus tells us that when the son was still a great way off "his father saw him and had compassion and ran" to him.  The father saw him because he was looking for him.  What Jesus wants us to realize is that when we stray from God, He anxiously desires that we would return to Him.  The father [Read more...]

Receiving answers to our prayers

John tells us in his first epistle how we can pray with confidence and know that God will grant us those things that we ask from Him (I John 5:14-16).  And it's pretty simple!  Pray in accordance to the will of God!  That sounds like a no-brainer.  But how often are we truly praying according to God's will and not our own wills.  It is very easy for us to pray our agendas to God.  To ask Him to do those things that will provide for us what we think we need to be happy, rather than pray for those things that will bring glory to Him. As an example John tells us to pray for our sinning brother.  This is the kind of praying that is in accordance to the will of God.  John places an emphasis on the spiritual needs of one another.  We tend to place the emphasis on the physical needs of one another.  Now we should pray for physical needs.  We have the scriptural support to do so.  But this should not be our primary focus when we pray.  The simple reality is we cannot know for certain [Read more...]

Finding a Solution to Anxiety

Life can be filled with anxiety.  We all have anxieties.  We worry about so many things today.  We worry about our jobs.  We worry about money.  We worry about our marriages.  We worry about our children.  We worry about the past, the present, and the future.  We worry about our retirement.  We even worry about our relationship with God. What good does worry do?  The simple answer is none - none whatsoever.  The truth is that you generally can't change what you worry about.  All your worrying is wasted.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25, "I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" The real antidote to worry is simple: trust in God.  God loves you.  God is in control.  God wants the best for you.  You can trust Him with your life and with your fears.  So why worry?  Trust God instead! An unanxious attitude comes from faith in the [Read more...]

Life is a Journey of Faith and Obedience

The life of faith is a journey.  The exodus undertaken by Israel out of Egypt is a picture of this journey.   There we find the Israelites moving from bondage into freedom, but they do not do so happily or without constant periods of rebellion. It is amazing that God did not give up on those rebellious, faithless wanderers.  Just three days after their miraculous deliverance they murmur due to their thirst.  God provides them with water.  A month and a half later we find them murmuring again.  They were hungry.  God acts once more to meet their need.  This time with manna. There was a condition, however, regarding the manna.  They were to gather only enough for each day, and no more.  Some disobeyed and gathered more, only to find if full of maggots the next day.  On the sixth day they were to gather a double portion.  Those who didn't went out on the seventh day and found none. Isn't it interesting that with only two simple rules about gathering manna, there were still those [Read more...]

Life’s Not Fair! Praise God!

If you're a parent, no doubt you have heard the statement from your kids, "That's not fair!"  To which you no doubt sympathetically respond, "Well, life isn't fair!"  And it's true.  Life throws all kinds of unfair circumstances and situations at us. But not only is life not fair, but God is not fair either.  At least not by this understanding of fairness.  And we can be thankful for that.  You see, if God were to treat us with fairness (that is give us what we deserve) we'd be sent straight to hell.  But God treats us with grace. The fact that God deals with His children on the basis of grace without regard to merit or demerit is a staggering concept.  It is opposed to everything we have been taught about life.  We have been conditioned to think that if we work hard and "pay our dues" in life, we will be rewarded in proportion to our efforts.  And most often it's true. But God's grace does not operate on a rewards for works basis.  It is much better than that.  God is [Read more...]

We Are Truly Blest of God!

If you are a Christian, then you are the recipient of many blessings from God.   Notice what Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). We are blest, even though we often take those blessings for granted. In Philippians 2:1,2 Paul reminds the believers in Philippi just what they have in Christ. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy…” The “if” of this passage could be translated “since” in order to convey the intended meaning.   Paul was reminding them what they had received because of their relationship to Christ. They had received encouragement. They had received comfort. They had received fellowship. They had received tenderness and compassion. And so have we. Indeed, every Christian has received these things. They are benefits that come from knowing Christ. Has being accepted [Read more...]

Is Christ preeminent in your life?

In Philippians 1:20 Paul writes, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." It is impossible to read what Paul has to say and miss the fact that his whole life was wrapped up in Christ. He was in prison for Christ. He trusted that his deliverance (vs. 19) would come through Christ, one way or another.  His expression was that he would "in no way be ashamed" or in other words would not be disappointed. Christ was not going to let him down. Paul was focused on Christ. His chief desire was that no matter what was going on in his life, Christ would be magnified in those experiences. And what is more, he knew it would be so "whether by life or by death." This was Paul's desire. This was his passion. Just as Paul was focused on Christ so should we be. We need to yearn for the preeminence of Christ, not simply [Read more...]

Finding fulfillment in the routine of life

All of us want to experience a sense of fulfillment in life. All of us want to enjoy life and feel a sense of accomplishment and meaning. I suppose we tend to think this way as we grow older. When we are young, we just assume that our lives will accomplish great things. We dream great dreams and fully expect that one day we will reach them.  And we do accomplish many things, some we set out to accomplish and some we do not. One of the problems that we all face in our search for meaning is the problem of just how routine life is. Indeed, life is defined by the routine. Often we are tempted to think that we are not accomplishing anything significant in this routine life of ours. Sometimes we even devalue the ordinary things we do. But we should not. Everything we do has significance. Meaning and fulfillment in life do not come from doing the big things. Life is lived in the small things and in the routine things. We'll enjoy our lives more if we put the process of living in proper [Read more...]