Christ Above All, the reason we should worry less and trust God more

How well do you know Jesus? If you’re a Christian, you know that He’s your Savior and the Son of God.

But what if you wrote down everything you understand about Him? Would you be able to fill up both sides of even one sheet of paper? Becoming a believer is simple—we only need to believe that He died to pay the penalty for our sins and then ask Him to pardon us. But we can’t stop there. After salvation, we have a responsibility to continually grow in our knowledge of Christ.

Here’s a test to determine how you’re doing: Are you anxious or worried about anything? Have you become discouraged because of a situation that seems hopeless? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may need to broaden your understanding of who Jesus Christ really is. Most of the things that trouble us result from a limited perception of the Savior. He is so much bigger than we can possibly comprehend, and none of our circumstances are beyond His ability to handle.

Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians, who were beginning to doubt Jesus was enough. After listening to false teachers, they became convinced that they needed something more. But Paul’s description of Christ in  Colossians 1:15-20 refuted this misconception with a stunning portrait of the sufficiency and grandeur of the Savior. In this short passage, Paul uses the word all seven times to show that Jesus is supreme in power and wisdom.

THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER
Verse 16 tells us, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” John 1:3 says that nothing came into being apart from Jesus, so we can be certain that He didn’t start with some form of matter and craft it into all that fills the universe. Hebrews 11:3 explains how He did it: “The worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Christ spoke everything into existence, and His energy was in no way depleted. He was still omnipotent after He finished because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The first chapter of Genesis describes how the Lord said, “Let there be … ” before each element of heaven and earth came into being. And because of the plural pronouns used in Genesis 1:26—“Let Us make man in Our image” (emphasis added)—we also know that all three members of the Trinity were involved in the process. From the intricacies of a single atom to the massive expanse of the universe, all came into existence at Christ’s command. This is the amazing power of the Son of God.

To catch a glimpse of our great Savior’s handiwork, all we have to do is lift our eyes to the heavens on a dark, cloudless night. Too often, our time is spent indoors as we focus on earthly concerns. We’re usually so busy rushing around that we fail to stop and marvel at Christ’s grand nighttime display.

From the intricacies of a single atom to the massive expanse of the universe, all came into existence at Christ’s command. This is the amazing power of the Son of God.

That’s why I love being out in the wilderness where there are no manmade lights or sounds. As dusk falls, I watch the stars begin to appear. At first only a few are visible, but gradually the darkness fills with countless shining dots. Did you know that starlight travels 186,000 miles per second to reach us? That’s over 16 billion miles in a day. And from our earthly perspective, we can see only a fraction of the stars in the universe. There are an estimated 100 billion galaxies, and the one nearest to ours is an amazing 25,000 light-years away.

There is no way for a human mind to grasp the enormity of such a vast and unsearchable universe, but Christ knows exactly where every star is because He hung each one in space and holds them all in the hollow of His hand. The universe moves according to His precise order: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). The Son of God maintains the earth’s orbit around the sun and keeps it spinning on its axis at just the right angle and speed to sustain life. Everything Christ created is under His sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent control.

A NEW SPIRIT
Considering how vast and immeasurable God’s creation is, we can humbly agree with David’s words in Psalm 8:3-4: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Think for a moment about the power, glory, and majesty of the Son of God, who is so far beyond our comprehension. How could such a one as this condescend to come to Earth as a helpless baby and be crucified on a cross in order to reconcile human beings to the Father? Yet that’s exactly what He did (Col. 1:20).

Peace and trust come when we realize He’s the one who has us in His eternal grip and will never let go.

Although the universe is a magnificent manifestation of Christ’s supremacy, there’s another aspect of His creative power that affects every believer personally. The moment someone places trust in Him, He comes into that person’s life and recreates his or her spirit. Before salvation, we were spiritually dead, but now we have Jesus’ very life through the Holy Spirit who indwells us. This means we are the possessors of His eternal, indestructible being.

What’s more, the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have been given the mind of Christ. That means we can now understand what He has revealed to us through His Word, His Spirit, and His creation. A result of our new life in Christ is that we can grasp spiritual truths in the Bible as His Spirit teaches us. And digging into His Word helps us discover who Christ really is—then we see the evidence of His power and the imprint of His hand everywhere.

Each aspect of creation is one more example of how great and infinite Christ is. If He can hang the stars in space and keep oceans within their boundaries, can He not deal with our problems? We are held securely in His hands, but sometimes we act as if we have to scramble so He won’t drop us. Peace and trust come when we realize He’s the one who has us in His eternal grip and will never let go.

No one is more sufficient, powerful, or loving than your mighty, majestic Savior. Jesus has all the creative and sustaining power to handle whatever you’re facing. He wants you to stop fretting, so make that list of everything you know about Him. Read each of those truths and rest, knowing that He cares for you and will meet all your needs according to His good will.

 

Adapted from the sermon “Christ Above All” by Charles F. Stanley

Article and Photography by Charles F. Stanley

Let the Spirit Control Your Mind

Romans 8:5-8

A spiritual battle rages for control of our minds because the way we think determines how we will behave. If we want to conquer our sinful tendencies, we must learn to see ourselves as God sees us—new creations no longer under the mastery of sin. Because of the presence of Christ’s Spirit, we have the capacity to be “more than conquerors,” regardless of our previous sins (Rom. 8:37 NKJV).

We also need to recognize the enemy’s lies that tell us we are weak and will fail again. We are to fight back with God’s truth that declares Christ’s Spirit is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). We are to focus our minds on spiritual things (Phil. 4:8) so we will learn to distinguish between what fits us as believers and what doesn’t. Finally, we must choose what’s suitable (Matt. 5:3-11) and reject what’s ungodly (Gal. 5:19-21). The longer we’re Spirit-led, the more sensitive we’ll become to His warnings about temptation and the greater our strength will be to win the battle for our thought lives.

The Spirit-filled life starts with the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It becomes a reality as we place ourselves under the Spirit’s control. It’s best lived out by using the divine power He releases into our lives. It also requires diligence on our part to resist temptation and to maintain our surrendered state.

Going into the new year, give yourself a gift. Trade in your “independent mind,” and experience the victories that God gives to those who are Spirit-filled.

Judgment from the Word

“I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.” (Psalm 119:121)

The Hebrew word mishpat is one of the eight terms used in Psalm 119 to identify the Word of God. The psalmist used mishpat in the opening of this stanza (Psalm 119:121-128) to declare obedience to God’s “judgments”—especially regarding those who oppress the Lord’s people.

Sometimes the Lord seems to delay action against those who rebel against truth. The prophet Habakkuk lived during such a time:

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! . . . for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

During such times, we need “surety” (Psalm 119:122) from God to strengthen our minds. Paul warned Timothy of “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1) ahead, but also reminded him of God’s pledge: “They shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was” (2 Timothy 3:9).

After pleading his case, the psalmist stated: “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalm 119:126). He expressed his love for the commandments—exceeding his desire for wealth—and concluded: “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128). May our hearts be as resolute and as strong amid our opposition. Make it so, Lord Jesus. HMM III

Long Eternity to Enjoy Ourselves

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him…. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. —1 John 2:15, 17

Any appeal to the public in the name of Christ that rises no higher than an invitation to tranquillity must be recognized as mere humanism with a few words of Jesus thrown in to make it appear Christian….

Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name. He calls them to forsake the world; we assure them that if they but accept Jesus the world is their oyster. He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords. He calls them to self-abnegation and death; we call them to spread themselves like green bay trees or perchance even to become stars in a pitiful fifth-rate religious zodiac. He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers….

We can afford to suffer now; we’ll have a long eternity to enjoy ourselves. And our enjoyment will be valid and pure, for it will come in the right way at the right time.

Lord, may I be faithful to call people to that which is important to You, at whatever cost. Amen.

Sinful Men May Now Become One with God

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…. 2 Peter 1:4

Here is the whole final message of the New Testament: Through the atonement in Jesus’ blood sinful men may now become one with God!

Deity indwelling men! That is Christianity in its fullest effectuation, and even those greater glories of the world to come will be in essence but a greater and more perfect experience of the soul’s union with God.

Deity indwelling men! That, I say, is Christianity and no man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality.

Everything else is preliminary to this! Incarnation, atonement, justification, regeneration; what are these but acts of God preparatory to the work of invading and the act of indwelling the redeemed human soul? Man who moved out of the heart of God now moves back into the heart of God by redemption!

God who moved out of the heart of man because of sin now enters again His ancient dwelling to drive out His enemies and once more make the place of His feet glorious!

That visible fire on the day of Pentecost had for the Church a deep and tender significance, for it told to all ages that they upon whose heads it sat were men and women apart. The mark of the fire was the sign of divinity; they who received it were forever a peculiar people, sons and daughters of the Flame.

Better Than Gold

That ye might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 CORINTHIANS 2:12

Every Christian believer should be aware that our God has given us definite promises of an amazing inheritance to be realized in the eternal!

The blessings and riches of our divine inheritance are not riches that will come to us for anything that is worthy or superior in ourselves, but will come because of our relationship in faith to the One who is the fount of every blessing.

We must remember that an inheritance has not actually been earned. Such bequests come from One who owns everything and gives to another whom He delights to honor and who can establish his rightful claim.

Inheritance is a right resulting from a relationship. In this case, the right belongs to the children of God by virtue of the fact that their identification as children of God by faith in the eternal Son of God has been established and is in the heavenly records! The apostle said of us: “Men and women cannot imagine or even dream of all the things which God has prepared for those who love Him!” (see 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Lord, I pray that in the coming year my relationship with You will grow stronger through spending time in prayer and reading Your Word.