VIDEO For God So Loved the World

Dec 7, 2008

Joseph Martin’s choir anthems. Video accompaniment track. Song info: “For God So Loved the World” by Joseph M. Martin, based on John 3:16

(c)2005 Malcolm Music/Shawnee Press/Harold Flammer Music,

Costume Or Uniform?

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. —Romans 13:14

Eunice McGarrahan gave an inspiring talk on Christian discipleship in which she said, “A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.”

Her comment sparked memories of my first day in US Army basic training when we were each given a box and ordered to put all our civilian clothes in it. The box was mailed to our home address. Every day after that, the uniform we put on reminded us that we had entered a period of disciplined training designed to change our attitudes and actions.

“Cast off the works of darkness,” the apostle Paul told the followers of Jesus living in Rome, “and . . . put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). He followed this with the command to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (v.14). The goal of this “casting off” and “putting on” was a new identity and transformed living (v.13).

When we choose to follow Christ as our Lord, He begins the process of making us more like Him each day. It is not a matter of pretending to be what we aren’t but of becoming more and more what we are in Christ.

O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. —Chisholm

Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God’s Love Offered to the Hurting

John 4:7-27

Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). His life clearly revealed God’s loving character and compassion towards people. Let’s take a closer look at one of the examples mentioned yesterday: from the Savior’s interaction with the Samaritan woman, we can learn much about our heavenly Father’s tender love and care for us.

• Jesus initiated contact. Much to His disciples’ dismay, Jesus deliberately went out of His way to meet the woman from Samaria. In that day, Jews did not associate with Samaritans and in fact avoided traveling through their region. But God does not adhere to man’s rules or prejudices. He brings a message of hope and new life to all who listen and believe.

• Jesus knew her pain and heartache. She must have felt worthless, abandoned, and unloved after being divorced by five husbands. We all have emotional baggage that weighs us down and causes us pain. Our Father knows when we have deep hurt or secret shame.

• Jesus offered her forgiveness and love. He drew out the details of her situation in a nonjudgmental way so that she would be receptive to His offer of forgiveness and a relationship with God. He understood what she needed—to feel loved, valued, and accepted—and knew a relationship with Him was the answer.

God sees us today as clearly as He saw the Samaritan woman. He knows our hurts, and He wants to bring us healing and restoration. Won’t you accept His love? Submit to the Holy Spirit’s transforming work so that you can be brought to spiritual wholeness.

The Seed, the Water, and the Word

“So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)

This verse is a salutary corrective to the common somewhat boastful claim of the evangelist or the personal “soul winner”—that “I won John to Christ,” or “I led Mary to the Lord.” On the other side of the coin is the similar man-pleasing testimony that “I was won to Christ by Pastor Brown’s sermons.” While it is commanded and is urgently important that each Christian be a faithful and earnest witness for Christ, it is needful to give God alone the credit for one’s salvation, since it is only He “that giveth the increase.” We can be grateful whenever God uses something we have preached or written or said to bring someone to Himself, but He is by no means limited to such human efforts, and it is the sin of pride to take credit for what only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

The Christian’s ministry is necessarily limited to “planting” and “watering,” but these constitute a tremendous responsibility and a privilege of eternal value. And even these are productive only if centered around the Holy Scriptures, because both the seed which is planted and the water which enables it to grow are said to be the word of God. Even the great evangelist, the apostle Paul, must say: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Nevertheless, we do have many gracious promises that, if we are faithful in planting and watering, God will give the increase, and we can share His joy. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). HMM

I have fought in the good fight; I have kept the faith

“The last drops of my sacrifice are falling; my time to go has come. I have fought in the good fight; I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:6, 7.)

AS soldiers show their scars and talk of battles when they come at last to spend their old age in the country at home, so shall we in the dear land to which we are hastening, speak of the goodness and faithfulness of God who brought us through all the trials of the way. I would not like to stand in the white-robed host and hear it said, “These are they that came out of great tribulation, all except one.”

Would you like to be there and see yourself pointed at as the one saint who never knew a sorrow? Oh, no! for you would be an alien in the midst of the sacred brotherhood. We will be content to share the battle, for we shall soon wear the crown and wave the palm.—C. H. Spurgeon.

“Where were you wounded?” asked the surgeon of a soldier at Lookout Mountain. “Almost at the top,” he answered. He forgot even his gaping wound—foe only remembered that he had won the heights. So let us go forth to higher endeavors for Christ and never rest till we can shout from the very top, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

“Finish thy work, then rest,
Till then rest never;
The rest for thee by God
Is rest forever.”

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”
Of an old hero the minstrel sang—

“With his Yemen sword for aid;
Ornament it carried none,
But the notches on the blade.”

What nobler decoration of honor can any godly man seek after than his scars of service, his
losses for the crown, his reproaches for Christ’s sake, his being worn out in his Master’s service!

They have dealt treacherously against the Lord

“They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.” Hosea 5:7

Believer, here is a sorrowful truth! Thou art the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on thy way to heaven, and yet, “thou hast dealt treacherously” with God, thy best friend; treacherously with Jesus, whose thou art; treacherously with the Holy Spirit, by whom thou hast been quickened unto life eternal! How treacherous you have been in the matter of vows and promises. Do you remember the love of your espousals, that happy time—the springtide of your spiritual life?

Oh, how closely did you cling to your Master then! saying, “He shall never charge me with indifference; my feet shall never grow slow in the way of His service; I will not suffer my heart to wander after other loves; in Him is every store of sweetness ineffable. I give all up for my Lord Jesus’ sake.” Has it been so? Alas! if conscience speak, it will say, “He who promised so well has performed most ill. Prayer has oftentimes been slurred—it has been short, but not sweet; brief, but not fervent. Communion with Christ has been forgotten. Instead of a heavenly mind, there have been carnal cares, worldly vanities and thoughts of evil.

Instead of service, there has been disobedience; instead of fervency, lukewarmness; instead of patience, petulance; instead of faith, confidence in an arm of flesh; and as a soldier of the cross there has been cowardice, disobedience, and desertion, to a very shameful degree.” “Thou hast dealt treacherously.” Treachery to Jesus! what words shall be used in denouncing it? Words little avail: let our penitent thoughts execrate the sin which is so surely in us.

Treacherous to Thy wounds, O Jesus! Forgive us, and let us not sin again! How shameful to be treacherous to Him who never forgets us, but who this day stands with our names engraven on His breastplate before the eternal throne.

His ways are everlasting

“His ways are everlasting.” Habakkuk 3:6

What He hath done at one time, He will do yet again. Man’s ways are variable, but God’s ways are everlasting. There are many reasons for this most comforting truth: among them are the following—the Lord’s ways are the result of wise deliberation; He ordereth all things according to the counsel of His own will. Human action is frequently the hasty result of passion, or fear, and is followed by regret and alteration; but nothing can take the Almighty by surprise, or happen otherwise than He has foreseen. His ways are the outgrowth of an immutable character, and in them the fixed and settled attributes of God are clearly to be seen. Unless the Eternal One Himself can undergo change, His ways, which are Himself in action, must remain for ever the same.

Is He eternally just, gracious, faithful, wise, tender?—then His ways must ever be distinguished for the same excellences. Beings act according to their nature: when those natures change, their conduct varies also; but since God cannot know the shadow of a turning, His ways will abide everlastingly the same. Moreover there is no reason from without which could reverse the divine ways, since they are the embodiment of irresistible might. The earth is said, by the prophet, to be cleft with rivers, mountains tremble, the deep lifts up its hands, and sun and moon stand still, when Jehovah marches forth for the salvation of His people. Who can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? But it is not might alone which gives stability; God’s ways are the manifestation of the eternal principles of right, and therefore can never pass away. Wrong breeds decay and involves ruin, but the true and the good have about them a vitality which ages cannot diminish.

This morning let us go to our heavenly Father with confidence, remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, and in Him the Lord is ever gracious to His people.