Apr 22, 2011
May we be unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16) Please note that this is a metaphorical take on the Gospel. It presumes a knowledge of the historic framework of the Cross, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. Though certain elements of the Cross-work are not fully explained herein (i.e. – Jesus’s fulfillment of all righteousness, His perfect match with all the Old Testament Messianic prophecy, and His bearing of the outpoured wrath of God in our stead), we in no way wish to diminish their significance and importance in the Gospel landscape.
The Gospel – http://www.ellerslie.com
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
Last summer, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow spent time ministering to children in an orphanage in the Philippines. It was a personal mission for Tim because he was born in the Philippines to missionary parents, and the orphanage had been started by his father, Bob Tebow.
Critics may blast Tim Tebow for his vocal faith, but it’s hard for them to criticize him when his Christianity goes to work caring for orphans in the Philippines.
Following Christ isn’t a popular path in today’s culture, and the world is quick to criticize us for being vocal or for our slightest faults or failures. But the world falls silent as we care for orphans, visit widows, feed the poor, rebuild communities after disasters, promote literacy, and provide clean drinking water for impoverished villages. Peter wrote, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV).
Our authenticity as a follower of Christ is often judged more by our actions than our words.
The greatest thing a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to… His other children. Henry Drummond
Hope is a desire for something, accompanied by the anticipation of receiving it. If our expectation of fulfillment diminishes, discouragement can set in. And prolonged disappointment can lead to despair. Perhaps that’s what led to the betrayal of Christ.
One possible explanation for Judas’s tragic decision is that he wanted to see Israel throw off Roman oppression and establish itself as the ruling power. Maybe he thought that having Jesus arrested would push God to force the hand of Israel’s religious and political rulers. If that was his thinking, then Judas failed to achieve his goal. We know for certain that his betrayal of Jesus cost him everything. Out of hope and overcome by guilt, he gave up his life.
We have an enemy who watches for our moments of weakness, when he tries to influence us away from the Lord. He wants to keep us focused on our circumstances and doubting God so we’ll complain, “This isn’t fair. If the Lord loves me, why would He allow such a thing to happen to me?” But we should never let the father of lies lure us toward hopelessness.
As children of the heavenly Father, we were birthed into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Because of our Savior, we have been taken from condemnation to full acceptance, from spiritual death to eternal life in heaven with the Lord. We have His indwelling Spirit to provide comfort in tough times and to guide us through them.
Because we’re eternally secure in the Lord, we are never in a hopeless circumstance. We may feel desperate, but emotions are not reliable. Our Savior and friend, Jesus Christ, is our constant source of hope.
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” (Philippians 4:1)
Several adjectives precede the command contained in this text. Not only does Paul twice use “dearly beloved” to describe his relationship with the Philippians, but he also insists that he longs for them and anticipates joy at the recognition of the “crown” he will receive in heaven.
These are intense words. Agapetos is the descriptive Greek term translated “dearly beloved.” The Heavenly Father uses agapetos to express His love for His “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Most of the New Testament letters freely use agapetos to describe various personal relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ. That unique and deeply spiritual love is what demonstrates our difference to the unsaved (John 13:34-35).
Since Paul is separated from the Philippian church (probably writing the letter from Rome), his love for them caused him to “long after [them] all in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:8). That passionate ache is mitigated by the joy coming from the certain knowledge that his work will result in a “victor’s crown” (Greek stephanos, today’s verse) when God rewards our service. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
So, “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Stand fast in the liberty that salvation provides. Don’t become tangled up in the bondage of legalistic burdens (Galatians 5:1). “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8). HMM III
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and mere is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. —Psalm 73:25
The teaching of the Bible is that God is Himself the end for which man was created. “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” cried the psalmist, “and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists there can be no place for a second object. If we love God as much as we should, surely we cannot dream of a loved object beyond Him which He might help us to obtain.
Bernard of Clairvaux begins his radiant little treatise on the love of God with a question and an answer. The question: Why should we love God? The answer: Because He is God. He develops the idea further, but for the enlightened heart little more need be said. We should love God because He is God. Beyond this the angels cannot think.
Father, I do indeed love You simply because You are God. May You continue to be the focus of my dreams and desires as I go about my ordinary day. Amen.
That thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (3 John 2)
Did you know that it is possible for a Christian believer to live day after day, clutching the book of Ephesians, and still not realize that he is spiritually lean and hungry?
If a pastor or evangelist suggests that this person could be in a more prosperous spiritual state, his reaction may be bristling: “Am I not accepted in the Beloved? Is not God my Father and am I not an heir with God?”
Holding the text of the will is not enough. It is necessary to come into the possession of the riches. Suppose a rich man dies, leaving a will which passes on all of his millions to his only son.
That boy borrows the text of the will from the attorney and carries it around with him. He is satisfied with the text of the will, but it has never been properly executed. Thus the son has never presented his legitimate claims to the inheritance.
He may be going around ragged, hungry and weak. In actual experience he has received nothing. He simply holds the text of his father’s will!
For thou art my strength.” What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we encounter toils, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings, when we can lay hold upon celestial strength. He is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side. Our own strength would be of little service when embarrassed in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord’s strength is ever available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the mighty God of Israel, we may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.