Sept 26, 2013
Sept 26, 2013
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
For three consecutive years, my son participated in a piano recital. The last year he played, I watched him mount the steps and set up his music. He played two songs and then sat down next to me and whispered, “Mom, this year the piano was smaller.” I said, “No, it’s the same piano you played last year. You’re bigger! You’ve grown.”
Spiritual growth, like physical growth, often happens slowly over time. It is an ongoing process that involves becoming more like Jesus, and it happens as we are transformed through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).
When the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we may become aware of sin in our lives. Wanting to honor God, we make an effort to change. Sometimes we experience success, but at other times, we try and fail. If it seems like nothing changes, we get discouraged. We may equate failure with a lack of progress, when it’s often proof that we are in the middle of the process.
Spiritual growth involves the Holy Spirit, our willingness to change, and time. At certain points in our lives, we may look back and see that we have grown spiritually. May God give us the faith to continue to believe that “He who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Dear God, give me a desire to grow spiritually. I want to honor You with my life and experience the joy of the Spirit’s work inside of me.
Spiritual growth is a process.
Oftentimes we elevate serving God to the point that we overlook opportunities to have a real impact for Him. But the truth is, serving Him usually involves what’s happening in your life on a daily basis.
I remember my first Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Eva Crane, smiling at me and giving candy to the class. Her gentle spirit created a conviction in me that church is a good place—she made me want to be in God’s house. After 70 years, I still remember her smile.
Another example is my grandfather. Though I wasn’t able to spend much time with him, I clearly recall my one-week visit at his home. He listened to me and shared what was going on in his life. During that time, he gave me several principles by which to live, and they’ve affected me all these years. The lessons he taught me as we sat on his back porch come out in almost every sermon I write. So his wisdom has blessed millions of people.
Don’t underestimate what the Lord is doing in your life. You may not think it’s important, but it is. What you say to people, how you treat others, and the way you handle adversity are like stored-up treasures—God uses these things to reveal Himself to the world. When you stand for righteousness and refuse to compromise, you are bearing witness to Him.
How is God serving His purpose through you? Before starting your day, say this prayer: “Lord, I choose Your way. Accomplish Your will in me, whatever that takes.” When you do, things will happen in your life that you never expected. God will bless you beyond all measure.
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
The term “Godhead” occurs three times in the King James translation. Each time it translates a slightly different Greek noun, all being slight modifications of the Greek word for “God” (theos, from which we derive such English words as “theology”). It essentially means the nature, or “structure,” of God, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
The first occurrence is in Acts 17:29: “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Men have been guilty throughout the ages of trying to “model” the Godhead, but this leads quickly to idolatry, whether that model is a graven image of wood or stone or a philosophical construct of the human mind.
What man cannot do, however, God has done, in the very structure of His creation. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). His tri-universe (space, matter, and time, with each component unique in definition and function, yet permeating and comprising the whole) perfectly “models” His triune nature (Father, Son, Holy Spirit—each distinct, yet each the whole).
This analogy can be carried much further, for this remarkable triunity pervades all reality. The tri-universe is not God (that would be pantheism), but it does clearly reflect and reveal the triune nature of His Godhead.
The last occurrence of the word is in our text. Although we cannot see the Godhead in its fullness, that fullness does dwell eternally in the Lord Jesus Christ. All that God is, is manifest in Him. “And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). HMM
The mischief in the camp usually commenced with the mixed multitude, and it is the same with the church of God now: the merely nominal Christians in her are the tinder for Satan’s sharks. It is sad, however, to note that the Israelites were ready enough to follow the bad example of the mixed company. They murmured wantonly. They did not want for either bread or water, but pined for luxuries. Such complaining is sure to be punished.
Numbers 11:5; 10-15
The meekest man failed in his meekness. He was so provoked by the senseless clamours of the people that he spake unadvisedly with his lips unto God. The best of men are subject to infirmities. The Lord in Moses case was very pitiful towards his servant, and sent him help that he might the better bear the burden of so great a charge.
Numbers 11:16, 17
The Lord overlooked the petulance of Moses’ language, and met the real burden of his case. The seventy men would have been of no use without the Spirit, but with it they became valuable helpers. O Lord, give thy Spirit to all the elders and deacons of our churches, as well as to all pastors and evangelists.
Too much becomes nauseous. It is a most just method of punishment to make those things loathsome which have been the cause of lusting. The Lord often wearies men with their darling sins.
Moses began reckoning second causes, and then saw much ground for doubt; yet even then he left out a part of the calculation, for he forgot the fowls of heaven from which the Lord gathered meat for the people.
Unbelief is very grievous to the Lord: perhaps some of us are guilty of it. Is it so? Then let us humbly bow before the rebuke of this verse, and then hopefully expect to see every promise of the Lord fulfilled, for so it shall be.
Matthew 27:32, 33
When the soldiers brought Jesus out from the residence of Pilate, Jesus was already carrying the crossbeam that would serve as the upper portion of His Cross.
Most Roman crosses were shaped like a “T.” The upright post had a notched groove at the top into which the crossbeam was placed after a victim had been tied or nailed to it. The crossbeam, normally weighing about one hundred pounds, was carried on the back of the victim to the place of execution.
According to Roman law, once a criminal was convicted, he was to carry his own cross to the place of execution if his crucifixion was to occur somewhere other than the place of the trial. The purpose for exposing criminals heading for crucifixion to passersby was to remind those who watched of Roman military power. At the place of execution, vultures flew overhead, just waiting to swoop down and start devouring the dying carcasses left hanging on the crosses. In the nearby wilderness, wild dogs anxiously waited for the newest dead bodies, dumped by the executioners, to become their next meal.
After the person was declared guilty, a crossbeam would be laid across his back and a herald would walk ahead of him, proclaiming his crime. A sign with the person’s crime written on it would also be made, later to be hung on the cross above his head. Sometimes the sign bearing the person’s crime would be hung from his neck, so all the spectators who lined the streets to watch him walk by would know what crime he committed. This was the very type of sign that was publicly displayed on the Cross above Jesus’ head, with the crime He was charged with—”King of the Jews”—written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
Carrying such a heavy weight for a long distance would be difficult for any man, but especially for one who had been as severely beaten as Jesus. The heavy crossbeam on which He was destined to be nailed pressed into His torn back as He carried it to the place of execution. Although the Bible does not state the reason why, we may assume that the Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to help because Jesus was so drained and exhausted from the abuse He had suffered.
Little is known of Simon of Cyrene, except that he was from Cyrene, the capital of the province of Libya that was situated approximately eleven miles south of the Mediterranean Sea. Matthew 27:32 informs us that the Roman soldiers “compelled him to bear his cross.” The word “compelled” is the Greek word aggareuo. It means to compel; to coerce; to constrain; to make; or to force someone into some kind of compulsory service.
Matthew 27:33 says, “And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull.” This scripture has been the center of controversy for several hundred years, for many have attempted to use this verse to geographically identify the exact location of Jesus’ crucifixion. Some denominations allege that the place of Jesus’ crucifixion was inside modern-day Jerusalem, while others assert that the name Golgotha refers to a site outside the city that from a distance looks like a skull. However, the earliest writings of the Church fathers say this phrase “a place of a skull” refers to something very different!
An early Christian leader named Origen, who lived from 185-253 AD, recorded that Jesus was crucified on the spot where Adam was buried and where his skull had been found. Whether or not this is true, there was an early Christian belief that Jesus had been crucified near Adam’s burial place. As this early story goes, when the earthquake occurred as Jesus hung on the Cross (Matthew 27:51), His blood ran down the Cross into the crack in the rock below and fell on the skull of Adam. This history is so entrenched in early Christian tradition that Jerome referred to it in a letter in 386 AD.
Interestingly, Jewish tradition states that Adam’s skull was buried near the city of Jerusalem by Noah’s son, Shem. Tradition says this burial place was guarded by Melchizedek, who was the priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem) during the time of Abraham (see Genesis 14:18). Unknown to most Western believers, this history is so accepted that it is considered a major theme of Orthodox doctrine, and the skull of Adam appears consistently at the base of the Cross in both paintings and icons. If you ever see a skull at the base of a crucifix, you can know that it symbolizes Adam’s skull that was allegedly found buried at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.
These extremely interesting facts, although unprovable, have retained strong support throughout 2,000 years of Christian history. If it were true, it would be quite amazing that the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, died for the sins of the world exactly on the spot where the first Adam, the original sinner, was buried. If Jesus’ blood ran down the crack in the stone and fell upon Adam’s skull, as tradition says, it would be very symbolic of Jesus’ blood covering the sins of the human race that originated with Adam.
But what can we definitely know about the place of Jesus’ crucifixion?
We definitely know that Jesus was crucified like a criminal by the Roman government just outside the walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Whether or not He was crucified at the place of Adam’s skull is interesting but not important. What is vital for us to know and understand is that Jesus died for the sins of the entire human race—and that includes you and me!
Today we may not be able to say with certainty exactly where Jesus was crucified, but in our hearts and minds we should meditate on the scriptures that speak of His crucifixion. Sometimes life moves so fast that we tend to forget the enormous price that was paid for our redemption. Salvation may have been given to us as a free gift, but it was purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Thank God for the Cross!
This question of where Jesus was crucified is a good example of the way people tend to get distracted by unimportant issues and, as a result, miss the main point God wants to get across to them. People have argued and debated for centuries about the accurate location of the crucifixion when the truth they should have been focusing on is that Jesus was crucified for their salvation! The apostle Paul wrote, “… Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). Of this, we can be sure!
Aren’t you thankful that Jesus’ blood purchased the forgiveness for all of mankind’s sin? It is true that through Adam’s disobedience, sin entered the world and death was passed on to all men. But just as sin entered the world through Adam, the gift of God came into the world through the obedience of Jesus Christ. Now the grace of God and the free gift of righteousness abounds to all who have called upon Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their lives (see Romans 5:12-21). Now every believer has the glorious privilege of reigning in life as a joint heir with Jesus Himself!
Lord, how can I ever adequately say thank You for all that You did for me at the Cross? I was so undeserving, but You came and gave Your life for me, taking away my sin and removing the punishment that should have passed to me. I thank You from the depths of my heart for doing what no one else could do for me. Had it not been for You, I would be eternally lost, so I just want to say thank You for laying down Your life that I might be free!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood covered my sin, washed me whiter than snow, and gave me rightstanding with God. I have no need to be ashamed of my past sins, because I am a new creature in Christ Jesus—marvelously made brand new in Him. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new because I am in Jesus Christ. That’s who I am!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Here are seven truths that may help you in defeating worry:
1. If God gave us the great gift of life, surely He will give us the things necessary to support that life:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)
2. Since there is no worry in the birds’ lives, why should there be in yours?
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
3. Worry is useless and changes nothing:
“Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)
4. If God gives such beauty to a short-lived flower, how much more will He care for a person?
“See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:29, 30)
5. Worry is characteristic of the unbeliever, and not of one who knows what God is like. Worry is essentially distrust of God:
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:32)
6. Worry can be defeated by concentrating first on the kingdom of God:
“This, then is how you should pray:… ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.‘” (Matthew 6:9a, 10)
7. Worry can be defeated when we acquire the art of living one day at a time:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)