Sept 1, 2016
Mina Sohn is a Christian, Korean woman living in Los Angeles. She runs a flower shop for a living and ministers to those around as her calling. When a young, Jewish lawyer shows up in need of a florist, the two sense an immediate connection. After a series of dinners and in-depth conversations about Christianity and Judaism, they eventually travel to Israel together where they both explore questions of faith, love, duty, and religion.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
When the pictures, problems, and questions of hundreds of people scroll across our social media accounts, it is difficult to discern when and where to lend a hand. The man questioning Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” was hoping for a boundary that would allow him to write off a group of people as undeserving of his love. As Christians who have experienced the generosity of God, the story of the Good Samaritan invites us to ask Him, “Who are You calling me to love?”
Instead of feeling inadequate or scared that God may call us to a grandiose gesture on behalf of a stranger, we can confidently await His guidance. Small acts of kindness build momentum in our own lives and in the lives of those we serve. A mustard seed becomes a towering tree. As we practice giving and receiving, our capacity for both expands. Although our gifts and impact may seem small, God delights in expanding them. Just as Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves after asking the disciples to feed the hungry crowd, He will provide all you need to do what He calls you to.
Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. C. S. Lewis
As believers, we all want the fruit of the Spirit, but how can we know if we truly have it? Even unbelievers display these qualities sometimes. The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is not what we do, but it’s who we are. It is primarily on display in Christians when circumstances are unfavorable. Two characteristics help us recognize these traits in our lives.
Fruitful believers are not controlled by their environment. Everyone experiences trials and pain, but those who are filled with the Spirit do not lose His fruit because of their situation. They keep their joy even when difficulties overwhelm. If someone speaks harshly, they respond with kindness. Because God the Holy Spirit is in control, He is free to produce His fruit no matter what the circumstances are. Even though such believers may feel pain, anger, or a desire for revenge, they choose to trust the Lord to protect them and direct the outcome.
Fruitful Christians recover quickly after a fall. These believers are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance. In fact, they are actually grateful for the correction and praise God, not only for revealing their weakness but also for drawing them back to obedience.
Believers can’t produce these qualities in themselves. Trying harder to be godly will never work. Character transformation occurs when we submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives. Only then will the Spirit be free to produce fruit that remains even in the deepest, darkest storms.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.” (Ephesians 3:2)
So-called “dispensationalism” has had both its advocates and opponents among Bible-believing Christians. The Greek word translated “dispensation” (oikonomia), from which we derive our English word “economy,” actually means an “economy,” or also a “stewardship.”
The number and nature of the various “dispensations” or “economies” through which the Creator has dealt with His human creation during the course of history has been the subject of considerable discussion and variation among commentators. Possible distinct dispensations might include the post-Eden economy instituted after sin and God’s curse came into the world, the post-diluvian economy established by Noah after the Flood, and the economy begun by Abraham when God began to work especially with the nation of Israel. However, none of these are actually called “dispensations” in the Scriptures, so any such listing is bound to be somewhat arbitrary.
There are two dispensations, however, specifically called such in Scripture. One is the “dispensation of the fulness of times,” when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). This will be the eternal economy of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22).
Then there is this present “dispensation of the grace of God.” We, like Paul, have been called as “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). So, like Paul, each of us could say that “a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:17), and that “I am made a minister [or ‘servant’], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me” (Colossians 1:25). Thus, the dispensation of grace is a real stewardship responsibility committed to each believer. HMM
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. —Matthew 6:20
As Christians we look at everything differently….
People of the world, for instance, hope for life, health, financial prosperity, international peace and a set of favorable circumstances. These are their resources—upon them they rest. They look to them as a child looks to its nursing mother.
Christians do not despise these temporal blessings, and if they come to them, they sanctify them by receiving them with prayers of… gratitude to God. But they know their everlasting welfare is not dependent upon them. These blessings may come or go, but true Christians abide in God where no evil can touch them and where they are rich beyond all the power of their minds to conceive—and this altogether apart from earthly circumstances….
The world’s resources are good in their way, but they have this fatal defect—they are uncertain and transitory. Today we have them, tomorrow they are gone. It is this way with all earthly things since sin came to upset the beautiful order of nature and made the human race victims of chance and change….
If the world’s foundations crumble we still have God, and in Him we have everything essential to our ransomed beings forever.
Thank You, Father, for the eternal treasure that can be mine when I serve You. Keep me from the lure of transitory treasure and focused on that which is eternal. Amen.
Forgetting things which are behind… I press toward the mark. (Philippians 3:13-14)
It is one of the devil’s oldest tricks to discourage Christian believers by causing them to look back at what they once were. It is indeed the enemy of our souls who makes us forget that we are never at the end of God’s love.
No one will make progress with God until the eyes are lifted to the faithfulness of God and we stop looking at ourselves!
Our instructions in the New Testament all add up to the necessity of looking forward in faith— and not spending our time looking back or just looking within.
Brethren, our Lord is more than able to take care of our past. He pardons instantly and forgives completely, and his blood makes us worthy!
The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful than we will ever be able to comprehend. If the “root of the matter” is in you and you are born again, God is prepared to start with you where you are!
We must manifest the spirit of Christ in meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness. Let us search and see if we truly suffer with Jesus. And if we do thus suffer, what is our “light affliction” compared with reigning with him? Oh, it is so blessed to be in the furnace with Christ, and such an honor to stand in the pillory with him, that if there were no future reward, we might count ourselves happy in present honor; but when the recompense is so eternal, so infinitely more than we had any right to expect, shall we not take up the cross with alacrity, and go on our way rejoicing?