VIDEO The Priority of Character

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless. 1 Timothy 3:1-2

Most positions of civic leadership have some qualifications that must be met: age, residency, citizenship, and the like. But there are other qualifications that are harder to define—but can be summed up in the word character. Paul wrote that church leaders must be “blameless,” which doesn’t mean perfect. But it does mean free from character blemishes that would hinder the important work they seek to do.

Paul said that desiring to lead is a good thing. Even more noteworthy is when one’s character is so outstanding that reason demands that the person be called to lead. That’s what happened to Daniel in Persia. His character was so pure that his fellow leaders were jealous and sought to find some cause for his disqualification. But none could be found! “They could find no charge or fault . . . nor was there any error or fault found in him” (Daniel 6:4).

May our character be blemish free so that others are able to see the life of God in us and give Him the praise (Matthew 5:16).

Everything in life is a test of character. John Blanchard


Sermon: “Gospel Character” from 1 Timothy 3.1-15 | 10 Distinctives of a Gospel-Centered Church

Plans Disrupted

Today's Devotional

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

 

Jane’s plans to become a speech therapist ended when an internship revealed the job was too emotionally challenging for her. Then she was given the opportunity to write for a magazine. She’d never seen herself as an author, but years later she found herself advocating for needy families through her writing. “Looking back, I can see why God changed my plans,” she says. “He had a bigger plan for me.”

The Bible has many stories of disrupted plans. On his second missionary journey, Paul had sought to bring the gospel into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus stopped him (Acts 16:6–7). This must have seemed mystifying: Why was Jesus disrupting plans that were in line with a God-given mission? The answer came in a dream one night: Macedonia needed him even more. There, Paul would plant the first church in Europe. Solomon also observed, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

It’s sensible to make plans. A well-known adage goes, “Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” But God may disrupt our plans with His own. Our challenge is to listen and obey, knowing we can trust God. If we submit to His will, we’ll find ourselves fitting into His purpose for our lives.

As we continue to make plans, we can add a new twist: Plan to listen. Listen to God’s plan.

By:  Leslie Koh

 

Reflect & Pray

How can you submit your plans to God today? How can you listen to His plans?

All-knowing God, give me the faith to listen to You when my plans are disrupted, knowing that You have a greater purpose for my life.

God’s Grand Plan For Us

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

God’s plan for us is greater than we can imagine. But not many people realize that. We usually get so preoccupied with the demands of life that few of us give much thought to what it will mean to be sanctified.

Sanctification is a process. When we get saved, God sets us apart for Himself. Then throughout the rest of our life, He works to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus. We all struggle with sin, but when we die, our spirits will ascend to heaven and be completely sinless. Then we’ll see Jesus as He truly is, and we won’t struggle with “all that is in the world” (1 John 2:16).

However, as great as this will be, it’s not the final step. Some day Jesus will descend from heaven and bring the souls of those who have died in Christ. They will be united with their resurrected bodies, and believers who are still alive on the earth will be changed (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Then sanctification will be complete—spirit, soul, and body.

Then, spotless and without blame, we will walk in the Lord’s presence for eternity. Knowing this, how will you live today? The promise of salvation isn’t meant just to give hope, but to encourage us to live a holy life.

David’s Son

“He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.” (2 Samuel 7:13-14)

These verses comprise the heart of the great “Davidic Covenant” made by God with David and his “seed.” As with many Old Testament prophecies, it had both an immediate and ultimate fulfillment. Initially, it applied to Solomon, who did, indeed, “build an house for my name.” Its complete fulfillment, however, had to await the distant coming (a thousand years in the future for His first coming) of David’s greater Son, the Messiah. It was only of Him that God could promise uniquely that He would also be the Son of the heavenly Father (Hebrews 1:5). To His mother, Mary, the angel Gabriel confirmed the Davidic promise: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

But before his eternal throne could be established, his iniquities must be judged. As far as Solomon was concerned, his iniquities ultimately cut his own seed off from the throne. “The seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3) came through Nathan, not Solomon (Luke 3:23-31).

Although Jesus Christ “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), “he was bruised for our iniquities,” because “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He deserved no chastening; nevertheless, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Thereby the Lord Jesus Christ, “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42), is indeed “a son over his own house; whose house are we” (Hebrews 3:6). HMM

Faith Must Be Demonstrated Not Just Mouthed

For by [faith.] the elders obtained a good report.

—Hebrews 11:2

 

The lesson that comes to us through the many dramatic illustrations of faith in Hebrews 11 brings us back to my earlier statement: Faith in God is to be demonstrated, not defined. Just as God’s church demonstrates Christian love, this demonstration of godly, humble faith is God’s ideal for His church.

It is not enough for preachers in their pulpits to try to define love. The love that God has promised must be demonstrated in the lives of the believers in the pews. It must be practiced as well by the man who occupies the pulpit.

We should put the matter of faith in that same category. God wants His people, including the ministers, to demonstrate all of the outworking of faith in their daily lives and practices.   JAF008

Lord, the pattern set forth in Hebrews 11 seems so unattainable! Strengthen me by Your Spirit to be able to demonstrate this type of unshakable faith. Amen.

 

A Religion Like No Other

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

—Acts 4:12

 

There are in the Christian religion three major elements: spiritual life, moral practice and community organization, and these all spring out of and follow New Testament doctrine; or more correctly, the first must and the others should….

Life comes mysteriously to the soul that believes the truth. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). And again, “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive)” (7:38-39).

The message of the cross offers eternal life and the blessedness of the Holy Spirit indwelling the soul. These distinguish Christianity from every other religion; and it is significant that these distinguishing marks are of such a nature as to be wholly above and beyond the reach of man. GTM044-045

Christianity tells humanity, “You have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your help.” It is a supernatural religion…the indwelling of the living God in human life. CTBC, Vol. 4/186

 

The Rightful King

Luke 19:37-44

On what proved to be the first day of Passion week, Jesus entered His capital city. The road to Jerusalem would be crowded with thronging pilgrims on their way to the Passover feast, which commemorated the most important event in their national history, the exodus from Egypt.

Jesus chose to approach and enter the city riding on a donkey. The humble pilgrims acclaimed Him, shouting “Hosanna,” but Jesus wept. Luke leaves us in no doubt as to the reason for those tears. He was foreseeing the dreadful consequences of the nation’s rejection of Himself, knowing that their choice of revolutionary action would lead to disastrous overthrow, as indeed it did.

Jesus entered Jerusalem in such a way as to make an open and unmistakable claim to Messiahship. The time for reserve was over. He was throwing down the gauntlet. It was as though our Lord deemed it necessary to give the nation a final chance to accept its King, and made His entry in this way to remind the people of the prophecy in Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9).

As their rightful King, Jesus had claims, but force cannot command love. His kingdom had to be rooted in the hearts of men, so He appealed to them in a way unlike anything they expected or desired. All emblems of power and authority were laid aside; there was only His personal dignity to persuade them. Any man’s acceptance of Christ must be free, completely unforced.

He, the Messiah, entered the capital of the chosen nation not on a war horse, but riding on a donkey, the symbol of humility and peace. Here was no political king, but the spiritual Lord of a spiritual kingdom. In the words of Henry Milman:

 

Ride on, ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die;

O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin

O’er captive death and conquered sin.

Harry Dean, Power and Glory

A Salvationist Treasury: 365 Devotional Meditations from the Classics to the Contemporary.