Aug 31, 2007
Montreux Jazz Festival 1981, Paul Beasley soloist and Hampton Carlton on organ
Aug 31, 2007
Montreux Jazz Festival 1981, Paul Beasley soloist and Hampton Carlton on organ
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. Hebrews 10:34
Early in September 2011, a raging wildfire destroyed 600 homes in and around the city of Bastrop in central Texas. A few weeks later an article in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper carried this headline: “People who lost the most, focus on what wasn’t lost.” The article described the community’s outpouring of generosity and the realization of those who received help that neighbors, friends, and community were worth far more than anything they lost.
The writer of Hebrews reminded first-century followers of Jesus to recall how they had bravely endured persecution early in their life of faith. They stood their ground in the face of insults and oppression, standing side by side with other believers (Heb. 10:32-33). “You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (v. 34). Their focus was not on what they had lost but on eternal things that could not be taken from them.
Jesus told His followers, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). As we focus on the Lord and all that we have in Him, even our most precious possessions can be held lightly.
Lord, open our eyes to see You and to embrace what is most important each day.
Where is your focus today?
By David McCasland
Justification by Faith
If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. —Romans 5:10
I am not saved by believing— I simply realize I am saved by believing. And it is not repentance that saves me— repentance is only the sign that I realize what God has done through Christ Jesus. The danger here is putting the emphasis on the effect, instead of on the cause. Is it my obedience, consecration, and dedication that make me right with God? It is never that! I am made right with God because, prior to all of that, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals, the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ instantly places me into a right relationship with God. And as a result of the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, or because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The Spirit of God brings justification with a shattering, radiant light, and I know that I am saved, even though I don’t know how it was accomplished.
The salvation that comes from God is not based on human logic, but on the sacrificial death of Jesus. We can be born again solely because of the atonement of our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creations, not through their repentance or their belief, but through the wonderful work of God in Christ Jesus which preceded all of our experience (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-19). The unconquerable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We do not have to accomplish these things ourselves— they have been accomplished through the atonement of the Cross of Christ. The supernatural becomes natural to us through the miracle of God, and there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done— “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest. Disciples Indeed
When Christ has first place in our lives, we will experience many blessings. These include . . .
A quiet spirit. As we turn our attention to the Lord and meditate on His Word, He “leads [us] beside quiet waters,” where we find rest for our souls (Ps. 23:2). The Holy Spirit will help us shut out the noise of worldly distractions so He can provide assurance of our Father’s love and support. With a quieted heart and mind, we will be able to discern what God is saying to us.
A stronger faith. Studying Scripture will enlarge our view of God and give us insight and direction. Reading how the Lord has helped others, we will gain confidence that He is at our side, enabling us to meet life’s demands. Our faith will grow as we follow His direction and watch how He works on our behalf.
A purified heart. Like a mirror, the Bible reflects back to us who we truly are and reveals where we need to change. When we confess our sin, God promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
A prepared mind. We don’t know what’s in our tomorrows, but God does. He wants to prepare us for the future—both the joyous times and the hard ones. Through the Holy Spirit’s ministry, we will be equipped for whatever life brings (2 Pet. 1:3).
Paul’s life demonstrates what it means to give Jesus first place. Because the apostle made Christ the Lord of his life (Gal. 2:20), he knew joy amid trials and received the strength to face turmoil and difficulty. These blessings will also be ours when we give highest priority to our relationship with Jesus.
“And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)
The term pleroo simply means “to fill up.” We are “complete” with the power that “worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Many passages amplify and reiterate this concept. Once we are “born again” (John 3:7), the creation miracle that is the second birth is sufficient for “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). As “newborn babes,” we must “desire the sincere milk of the word that [we] may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). There is no instant maturity to be had, but the resources are innate to the “new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The key to understanding and applying both the authority and the ability of this “complete” resource is “use.” That is, confidence grows as our senses are “exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). All too often we apply the declaration “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17) only to the salvation moment. But that principle is the operative power throughout our lives.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Psalm 111:10).
“I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:100).
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
We are “filled up” because “all fulness” dwells in Christ (Colossians 1:19). We have been given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these [we] might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). HMM III
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. —Philippians 1:10-11
In life there will be found certain great fundamentals, like pillars bearing up the weight of some mighty building….
The wise man will simplify his life by going to the center of it. He will look well to the foundations and, having done that, he will not worry about the rest.
Life as we know it in our painfully intricate civilization can be deadly unless we learn to distinguish the things that matter from those that do not. It is never the major things that destroy us, but invariably the multitude of trifling things which are mistakenly thought to be of major importance. These are so many that, unless we get out from under them, they will crush us body and soul….
Every believer as well as every minister of Christ must decide whether he will put his emphasis upon the majors or the minors. He must decide whether he will stay by the sober truths which constitute the beating heart of the Scriptures or turn his attention to those marginal doctrines which always bring division and which, at their best, could not help us much on our way to the Celestial City.
Deliver us today from the trifling things and help us to spend every minute of the day on “the things that matter.” Amen.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… for all saints. Ephesians 6:18
Do you think the Christian Church genuinely believes God’s promises that He will respond to our prayers raised to Him in true faith?
This matter of prayer really bears in on the great privileges of the common people, the children of God. No matter what our stature or status, we have the authority in the family of God to pray the prayer of faith, that prayer that can engage the heart of God and that can meet God’s conditions of spiritual life and victory.
Our consideration of the power and efficacy of prayer enters into the question of why we are a Christian congregation and what we are striving to be and do.
Are we just going around and around—like a religious merry-go-round? Are we just holding on to the painted mane of the painted horse, repeating a trip of very insignificant circles to a pleasing musical accompaniment?
We are among those who believe in something more than holding religious services in the same old weekly groove. We believe that in an assembly of redeemed believers there should be marvelous answers to prayer.
We believe that God hears and actually answers our praying in the Spirit! Let it be said that one miraculous answer to prayer within a congregation will do more to lift and encourage and solidify the people of God than almost any other thing.
Answers to our prayers will lift up the hands that hang down in discouragement and strengthen the feeble spiritual knees!
Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul. PSALM 71:13
It was a gracious revelation to my human spirit when I discovered that the Word of God was actually on my side, operating in my behalf!
I was reading Psalm 71 and I came to this amazing statement: “Thou hast given commandment to save me!” (71:3). My heart has been warmed with that realization ever since. I believe that the Word of the living God has gone throughout all the earth to save me and keep me! Let the theological experts raise their eyebrows—I do not care! The living Word has charged Himself with responsibility to forgive, to cleanse and to keep me!
Let us not be guilty of underrating the Word of God operating on our behalf. I dare to say that there is not an uncontrolled stroke or force anywhere in all of God’s mighty universe that can take eternal life away from a trusting, believing, obedient child of God.
Let us thank God for the Word! It is living and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword (see Hebrews 4:12)!
Lord, it is so obvious that the truth of Your Word, which is alive and powerful, is one of the keys to world evangelization. Help me and other Christians to spread Your Word among our personal spheres of influence.