Adrian Rogers: Standing Firm in a Pagan World [#2456]
We are moving away from a Christian consensus in America. Many people have come to believe that choice of one religious faith over another is irrelevant. And why do they say this? Because they say all religions teach the same basic lessons about life. Find what God’s word has to say about this.
Believers are on a continual growth track that ascends higher and higher. This side of heaven, none of us ever “arrive,” but we each have a responsibility to press on to maturity. Though many people think those who know a lot about the Bible are the spiritually mature ones, Hebrews 5:14 adds the element of practice to the growth equation. This word means a custom or habit. Christian growth requires the discipline of godly habits carried out daily.
The most important practice to cultivate is a personal devotional time. Since God is the source of all spiritual development, you can’t neglect Him and expect to become mature. Transformation begins with time in His Word and prayer.
Obedience is another essential element for advancement. When our desire to obey the Lord is stronger than our attraction to sin, we’ll know we are making progress in our spiritual life.
In terms of physical development, the goal is to become more independent and self-sufficient as we age. But in the spiritual realm, the opposite is true. Those who are mature in Christ recognize their own inadequacy and rely on the Holy Spirit within them. It’s His job to transform our character and empower us to accomplish everything the Lord calls us to do.
In God’s eyes, maturity isn’t the same as getting older. By digging into Scripture and developing God-pleasing habits, we can use our years to grow stronger in the Lord instead of wasting time with passivity. No one becomes mature accidentally. Spiritual growth requires a diligent pursuit of God.
“Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” (Matthew 27:65-66)
Pilate had endured many strange experiences leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Both he and some close to him (v. 19) had wanted to release Him, finding no fault in Him (v. 23). But, for political expediency, willing to pacify the Jewish leaders and quell a potential riot, Pilate had agreed to the execution. But once Christ was dead and in the grave, Pilate’s troubles did not end.
Perhaps we are justified in reading a tone of sarcasm and impatience in Pilate’s words “make it as sure as you can.” What is there to fear from a dead man? Guard the tomb if you want. But just perhaps Pilate was hounded by unexplained doubts; maybe a guard could prevent the bizarre fears from becoming reality.
From our perspective, however, we can see divine irony in these words. Satan had seemingly won a great victory on the cross, for the Heir had been slain. Thus, the one act that he had to prevent was that of the actual resurrection, for all of Christ’s message depended on His victory over death.
Note the limitation in the words “as sure as you can.” How tightly sealed and well-guarded must a tomb be to contain the Creator of all things? If His purpose was to die and rise from the dead, would man’s or Satan’s efforts be able to thwart it? “As sure as you can” was surely not sure enough!
Today we know that the tomb’s sealed entrance was breached, not so much to allow Him out but to allow us to see inside. Satan’s henchmen still deny the resurrection, but their efforts are just as futile as those who tried to keep Him inside. The fact remains, He left the tomb, triumphantly offering eternal life to all who believe! JDM
We have now to read a chapter peculiarly interesting to us Gentiles, because it shows how the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, which our Lord broke down by his death, was in due time practically removed by the calling of a Gentile household to the faith of Jesus. Before this time only Jews, proselytes, and Samaritans, all branches of the older family, had been converted, but now a Roman captain and his house were to be saved.
Yet something more was wanted, and he must send for one who would tell him of Jesus, the Saviour.
Acts 10:7, 8
The tanner’s trade was greatly despised, but this did not prejudice the centurion. Better to learn the way of God from one who lodged with a poor tanner than remain in ignorance. Meanwhile God was preparing Peter to comply with the centurion’s request.
The same Peter who formerly would not permit his Lord to wash the feet of his sinful servant now doubts whether that can be cleansed which, by the Jewish law, was unclean. How the old self comes up, even in the regenerated.
Acts 10:15, 16
Do not wonder if you have to teach children many times the same thing, for even an apostle needed to have his lesson repeated three times.
Acts 10:17, 18
See the hand of Providence. How well-timed were the vision and the arrival of the messengers!
These servants spoke well of their master, and that fact speaks well for them. God will surely bless those families in which the heads of the house and the servants love one another because they all love the Lord.
Humble as the lodging was, he offered it to them, and they accepted it. Christians should be hospitable even if they are poor.
Blessed is the man… his delight is in the law of the Lord. (Psalm 1:1-2)
It is my judgment that too many of us go to church on Sunday for the same reason that a child climbs into its mother’s arms after a fall or a bump or a fright—the child wants consolation!
We have fallen upon times when religion is mostly for consolation—for we are in the grip of the cult of peace. We want to relax and have the great God Almighty pat our heads and comfort us with peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of soul. This has become religion!
According to my Bible, there should be a people of God, a people called of God and subjected to a spiritual experience by God. Then they are to learn to walk in the way of Truth and the way of the Scripture, producing the righteous fruit of the child of God no matter what world conditions may be.
But there is a great misunderstanding among us. Too many tend to think that we get the flower and the fragrance and the fruit of the Spirit by some kind of magical shortcut, instead of by cultivation. Meanwhile, our neighbors are waiting to see the likeness of Christ in our daily lives!
“Their soul shall be as a watered garden.” Jer. 31:12
Oh, to have one’s soul under heavenly cultivation; no longer a wilderness, but a garden of the Lord! Enclosed from the waste, walled around by grace, planted by instruction, visited by love, weeded by heavenly discipline, and guarded by divine power, one’s favored soul is prepared to yield fruit unto the Lord.
But a garden may become parched for want of water, and then all its herbs decline, and are ready to die. O my soul, how soon would this be the case were the Lord to leave thee! In the East, a garden without water soon ceases to be a garden at all: nothing can come to perfection, grow, or even live. When irrigation is kept up, the result is charming. Oh, to have one’s soul watered by the Holy Spirit uniformly — every part of the garden having its own stream; plentifully — a sufficient refreshment coming to every tree and herb, however thirsty by nature it may be; continually — each hour bringing not only its heat, but its refreshment; wisely — each plant receiving just what it needs. In a garden you can see by the verdure where the water flows, and you can soon perceive when the Spirit of God comes.
O Lord, water me this day, and cause me to yield thee a full reward, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.