VIDEO All Efforts of Worth and Excellence Are Difficult – It will be costly … it will be worth it

All Efforts of Worth and Excellence Are Difficult

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult.  The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in— it stirs us up to overcome.  Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory?

God saves people by His sovereign grace through the atonement of Jesus, and “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). But we have to “work out” that salvation in our everyday, practical living (Philippians 2:12). If we will only start on the basis of His redemption to do what He commands, then we will find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not yet put into practice what God has placed within us. But a crisis will reveal whether or not we have been putting it into practice. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has placed within us by His Spirit, then when a crisis does come we will find that our own nature, as well as the grace of God, will stand by us.

Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God’s grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life. And it is always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The main characteristic which is the proof of the indwelling Spirit is an amazing tenderness in personal dealing, and a blazing truthfulness with regard to God’s Word. Disciples Indeed, 386 R


It will be costly … it will be worth it

 

Declaring Dependence

Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Laura’s mom was battling cancer. One morning Laura prayed for her with a friend. Her friend, who had been disabled for years by cerebral palsy, prayed: “Lord, you do everything for me. Please do everything for Laura’s mother.”

Laura was deeply moved by her friend’s “declaration of dependence” on God. Reflecting on the moment, she said, “How often do I acknowledge my need for God in everything? It’s something I should do every day!”

During His days on earth Jesus demonstrated continual dependence on His heavenly Father. One might think that because Jesus is God in a human body, He would have the best of all reasons to be self-sufficient. But when the religious authorities asked Him to give a reason for “working” on a legally ordained day of rest because He healed someone on the Sabbath, He responded, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19). Jesus declared His dependence as well!

Jesus’s reliance on the Father sets the ultimate example of what it means to live in relationship with God. Every moment we draw breath is a gift from God, and He wants our lives to be filled with His strength. When we live to love and serve Him through our moment-by-moment prayer and reliance on His Word, we are declaring our dependence on Him.

I need You for everything, Lord! Help me to live to serve You. I praise You for being my Savior and my strength!

Prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God. Daniel Henderson

By James Banks 

INSIGHT

In John 5, Jesus had just performed a remarkable miracle by healing a man disabled for thirty-eight years. This feat indisputably established Jesus’s unprecedented power, yet He encountered controversy despite the miracle. When challenged by religious critics, the Lord didn’t grow defensive, as we might have. Nor did He flaunt His great power, though we are often tempted to boast of “our” abilities. Instead, the One who created everything directed attention away from His own remarkable works and toward His heavenly Father (v. 19).

Am I tempted to take credit for my abilities and deeds? Do I feel a need to vindicate myself? When we understand our inherent dependence on God, we are far less likely to boast in our accomplishments or to retaliate in the face of opposition.

Tim Gustafson

The Consequences of Drifting

Hebrews 3:12-13

Spiritual drifting­—the gradual wandering away from God and His will—takes place when a believer ceases to steer toward the Lord. Like a boat without oars that is set loose upon the waters, he or she makes a slow and lazy glide away from good practices like obedience, regular Bible study, prayer, and assembling with fellow Christians. And there are consequences for slipping into uncharted, dangerous waters.

A life adrift is outside of God’s will and therefore in sin. The Holy Spirit pricks the conscience to send a message when a believer is off course, but a drifter is prone to ignore such warnings. If a Christian continually excuses his wandering ways and denies sin, his conscience gradually gets numbed. A person who becomes desensitized to wrongdoing has paved the way for more sinful behavior with less guilt. Can you imagine a more dangerous situation?

As the drifting believer’s conscience becomes anesthetized, his spiritual ears are also deadened—truth cannot gain entrance, because he has invited wrong attitudes and philosophies into his thinking process. What’s more, his heart hardens to the things of God. Shrinking away from testimonies about divine power, grace, and mercy, he avoids situations that might reawaken the conscience and stir his spirit to repentance.

People drift from God in search of more—more freedom, choices, and pleasure. But since the consequences are a hard heart, a numb conscience, and dead ears, what they end up with is less. The drifting believer sacrifices the victorious life in Christ for an existence devoid of permanent satisfaction.

Your Eternal Life

“. . .that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

Although this powerful, five-chapter letter from the apostle John is full of vital insights into the Christian life, it is written to “little children” (1 John 5:21) so that they might “know” the majesty and wonder of eternal life.

John begins his epistle with a reminder that he “knew” this Jesus from whom the promise of eternal life came (John 1:1-3). John was an eyewitness to Christ’s resurrection (John 20), which is the most powerful proof of the claims and promises of the Lord (Acts 17:31).

Much of that which is applied in John’s epistle is based on the precise teachings of the Lord Jesus Himself, heard by John and recorded in John’s gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 20:31).

Those who believe will “not perish” (John 3:15-16).
The “water” of Christ springs up to “everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Whoever has everlasting life “is passed” from death to life (John 5:24).
Those who come to Christ will “never hunger” (John 6:35).
No one is able to “pluck” the believer out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-30).
“Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:26).

Based on the Word of God, John gives us several experiential tests by which we can know that we “live”:

We love and keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).
We know and love the truth (1 John 2:20).
We love the brethren (1 John 3:14).
We have God’s Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13).

HMM III

Behold, the bridegroom cometh

Matthew 25:1-13

Our Saviour continued to instruct his disciples as to the solemn judgment of the last great day, and in so doing he delivered the instructive parable which follows:—Matthew 25:1-13.

Matthew 25:1

As attendants on the bride they represented her, and went forward to meet the Bridegroom, even as many profess to belong to the church and to be waiting for the coming of the Lord.

Matthew 25:4

“The oil which the wise virgins carried in their vessels, as distinguished from that which burned in their lamps, points to the Holy Spirit, as a spirit of grace and supplication dwelling in a believer’s heart. All the ten virgins experienced convictions, and made profession, as is indicated by the lamps lighted and borne aloft; but some had nothing more than convictions and professions, while others had passed from death unto life, and had received that life which is hid with Christ in God.”

Matthew 25:5

Either having grown weary through the weakness of nature, or else having given way to sloth they fell asleep.

Matthew 25:7

When the Lord is proclaimed as near at hand all classes of professors begin to examine themselves to see if they are really ready for his presence.

Matthew 25:9

As an old writer says, “They turn themselves to the wise, whom, perhaps, they had lately laughed at, with the prayer ‘Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.’ They betake themselves, if they are Catholics, to the dead saints, if they are Protestants, to the living, whom they have been accustomed to revere as their guides on account of their wisdom and grace, and they plead, Help us, comfort us, pray for us, that we may be brought into a state of grace. In vain. They answer, Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you. What you desire is impossible. None of us has any surplus merit out of which he could give a portion to another.”

Matthew 25:12

Their fate was wretched indeed, they were so near heaven and yet lost, so much associated with saints and yet shut out of their bliss. It is vain to be a hearer of the word, a Bible reader, a church member, or a teacher of others, unless the oil of grace be in our hearts.

Matthew 25:13

“Short is life; fleeting is time; quick is death; sure is judgment; long is eternity. Therefore, what thou desirest to do, do it quickly.”

 

Ye virgin souls, arise,

With all the dead awake!

Unto salvation wise,

Oil in your vessels take:

Upstarting at the midnight cry,

“Behold your heavenly Bridegroom nigh!”

 

He comes, he comes, to call

The nations to his bar,

And raise to glory all

Who fit for glory are:

Make ready for your full reward;

Go forth with joy to meet your Lord.

 

Has Discipline been Dismissed?

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. (Matthew 4:19-20)

We live in a land noted and favored for its freedom; a country where Protestant Christianity is popular and well accepted.

I noted this to speak of one of the great spiritual dangers inherent in Protestantism, the fact that there is no discipline involved. Anyone in our churches is pretty much free to do anything he wants to do. If he does not like one church he has only to cross the street and go to another. If he does not like the preacher, he can leave and soon be attending a church where he is quite pleased with the preacher and with the music and with the atmosphere.

You see, he is demanding Christianity without discipline. He is refusing to acknowledge that the Christian faith makes its own demands of obedience to God and humility of spirit.

When his personal desires take the upper hand, the voice of the Spirit of God is stifled and silenced. There can be only one result—the human soul will become starved and deformed!

 

A Mountain Choir

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” Isa. 49:13

So sweet are the comforts of the Lord, that not only the saints themselves may sing of them, but even the Heavens and the earth may take up the song. It takes something to make a mountain sing; and yet the prophet summons quite a choir of them. Lebanon, and Sirion, and the high hills of Bashan and Moab, He would set them all singing because of Jehovah’s grace to His own Zion. May we not also make mountains of difficulty, and trial, and mystery, and labor become occasions for praise unto our God? “Break forth into singing, O mountains!”

This word of promise, that our God will have mercy upon His afflicted, has a whole peal of bells connected with it. Hear their music — “Sing!” “Be joyful!” “Break forth into singing.” The Lord would have His people happy because of His unfailing love. He would not have us sad and doubtful; He claims from us the worship of believing hearts. He cannot fail us: why should we sigh or sulk as if He would do so? Oh for a well-tuned harp! Oh for voices like those of the cherubim before the throne!

 

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