Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Are the First Works?

Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant when He told the Ephesian believers to "...Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else..." (Rev.2:5a) I used to think He was telling them they better get to work doing what they once had done or else they were in big trouble, mister! Actually, when we take a brief look at what other Scriptures, and especially what Jesus Himself says about this very thing elsewhere, we get a clear meaning of His words that will bless our hearts and make us love Him even more. The key I believe is when He tells them to remember from where they have fallen. They were once on a much higher plane, but they have fallen. We know first of all before we go any further that these were no doubt true believers, and we know that genuine believers can never fall out of salvation, again due to Jesus' own perfect Person and work for us. But that is for another day, for now, we know that this falling to a lower plane results in some fearful and sad consequences for a believer, and let me tell you, i have been there. I remember as a new believer, no longer sensing the joyous, precious nearness of my beautiful Savior, and sitting in my parents' living room and crying like a baby. I didn't understand. I was trying hard and working for my Savior, why did I feel so far from Him? I know feelings are not always accurate, but in this case, it was a genuine sense of something just not being right. I won't go into it all right now of what happened, but it's enough to say that God taught me a great lesson through it all. Paul told his Galatians that they had fallen from grace even though they were doing all kinds of works thinking that they somehow had to now finish in their own strength what Christ had done for them on the cross! No wonder Paul got so hot under the collar dealing with the false teachers that had put that wicked notion in their heads! He had tried that himself as recorded in Romans 7 and he ended up a wretched man! (v.24) 
So, after all this, what did Jesus mean by the first works from which these Ephesians had fallen? He gives us the answer when He spoke to the folks who asked Him what works they should work in order to do the works of God back in John 6, and His answer is so simple yet so beautiful in verse 29! "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." Ah! No wonder the Ephesians had to repent! They had a completely convoluted mindset, they thought they were to work themselves into a frenzy before God would bless them, but Paul and Jesus as well as all Scripture says they have it totally backward! Believe on Him, as Jesus says, Come to Me you who are weary, you who are worn out, worked to a frazzle, worn out trying to earn what only I can give you as my love gift of grace! Go back to realizing that we receive His wondrous grace by simple faith and then His power can and will flow through us out to others! " I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." (Jn.15:5) God Bless you all, I just had to share that with you!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

He is There!

The very last verse in the amazing prophecy of Ezekiel is fitting for such a tremendous Book! We see a beautiful name for God as well, which is simply, "The God Who is There!" Ezekiel saw quite a lot about the suffering of his people Israel, and how God would ultimately bring them through it all, just as He will for us as believers today as well.
Leaving Ezekiel and thinking concerning another Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk this time, we see a man who loved God, and was much like what I would term an Old Testament version of the apostle Thomas. Thomas is sometimes wrongfully in my humble opinion, dubbed "doubting Thomas" but his doubts were at least honest ones! If he didn't believe something, or didn't understand it, he didn't pretend he did and that all was well, he openly shared his heart! Habakkuk shared his heart, we might say he poured out his confused and hurting heart to his God while he saw what seemed to him unabated and increasing sin and wickedness on the part of his own people of Judah, and it seemed to him that God didn't seem to even notice what was going on. So, Habakkuk didn't pretend all was well, he went to God and laid out his heart to Him, and guess what? God answered him! What God said was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear, but he heard from God nonetheless! There are only 3 chapters to the prophecy of Habakkuk, but I believe you'd love to read it! God not only noticed what was going on among His people, He was working behind the scenes to deal with it, and His plan was so amazing that Habakkuk went from "God, You're not doing anything" to "God, You're going too far!"
Anyway, you can read this great story that's going on in Habakkuk, it has many modern parallels with life today. So much that seems to be out of control, yet as always, God behind the scenes often, is in complete control and we can rest in Him. And we can also pour out our hearts to Him because He cares and He loves to hear from us as His children. If you have not come to know Him yet, He loves you and would love to have you as His child. He sent His Son to die in your place, how much more love could He show than that? This is the kind of God He is. Just had to share that with you! God Bless you all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

He is our Everything!

I love 1 Corinthians 1:30. It states: "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption..." Boy oh boy, I seriously need all 4 of these things!
Wisdom! I can do and have done some truly stupid things. And guess, what,  I've repeated a whole lot of them. I'm even still doing some of them. But praise God if I'll let Him, He will direct me, because He is made unto me wisdom, and His is perfect!
Righteousness! I know myself well enough to know that Paul is absolutely right, that is in me, my flesh, there is nothing good. (Rom.7:18)  And if he said that about himself, then there's no need for me to waste a second looking in myself, there's just nothing good in God's perfect sight there. My so-called righteous acts on their own are so tainted with self-interest that they're filthy rags to God. But praise Him again, He is made unto me righteousness! In fact He IS my righteousness! (See Jer.23:5-6)
Sanctification! We all like to be called special, in the sense of set apart from the pack, like we have certain possessions that mean a lot to us so we set them aside for special use. In Christ, we're set apart for God! Also, according to Romans 8:29-30, in God's eyes because we're in Christ, we're already perfected!
Redemption! He bought me back out of the slave-market of sin and death! I had really made a mess of it all, and because of His sheer love for me and you, at Calvary He just gave His own dear Life for us! The whole process is His, we can just sit back and rest in Him! Of course we have holy work to do, but He does it through us if we'll just let Him. (Matt.11:28-30). What wonderful truth! I just HAD to share it with you. May the Lord bless you all.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being Made Whole

I have always appreciated the Book of Ecclesiastes, at one time if for no other reason, it seemed so intriguing to me. Here is Solomon, likely writing it as an older man, who had by that time made quite a few mistakes and had gone away from the Lord, yet under divine inspiration, wrote a great work for us, to show us basically that God alone is our Life. The verse that is the clincher, or the key at least to me is the next to last one in the entire Book, chapter 12 & verse 13: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." To say that as we would today, after Jesus has come and given His lifeblood for us on the cross and risen again, it is like, "Trust Him and be made whole!" The word "duty" is supplied by the translators and this seems to me at least one time when it would have been better left out since it was not in the original. His commandment is to believe on Him (1 Jn.3:23) and this certainly makes us whole! Just wanted to share that Good News with you tonight. May the Lord bless you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All that Believe

Good Morning to you! Or maybe it's good afternoon or evening, anyway, howdy! What a wonderful text of Scripture I came across that I just wanted to share with you, I believe I've already probably shared it but it is so wonderful that I just had to share it again! Paul is speaking to the Jews in Acts 13, and in vv.38-39, he says, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:  And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." That little words all is surely a wonderful one. ALL who believe in Christ are justified from all things! I don't know about you but I have a good idea that you're like me in the sense that we all, there's that word again, all of us have things in our past that we'd give almost anything if we could get rid of it. In fact, we probably have things in our present that we also would love to be rid of. This text should be staggeringly good news to us then! Jesus died for that sin, whatever it is, and when we believe in Him, we are justified from it as well as all things. Let's rejoice in that great news today, no matter what may be threatening to bring you down today, He is greater, and His love never fails. May the Lord bless you today.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Enemy Is Us

Have you ever had a moment in which you just saw yourself, I mean who you were before you came to Christ? Paul minces no words, when in Galatians 5:19-21 he says, "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." I want to be real blunt here, who of us thinks we can just stop this flood of wickedness? He tells us in 3 little words that this is only a sampling! He concludes this litany of lasciviousness by saying, "...and such like..." This is what lurks in the heart of men and women, boys and girls no matter what our background or upbringing. Jeremiah just lays it out when he says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (17:9) In other words, none of us can know the depth of wickedness in our own hearts. Why am I saying this? Because the days we live in are evil. They are evil because man is evil. There is only one way to stem this tide of evil, and that has already been done a little over 2,000 years ago outside Jerusalem. Jesus Christ said in Luke 19:10, "...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” You and I were surely lost. But He has done what we could never do. Paul said in Romans 5:6-8: "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." When our hearts were still full of what Paul sums up by "..and such like" Jesus died for us and rose again to do what Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." He didn't say that we're striving to make them new, he said they are new! That is who we are now in Christ! How do we then overcome the flesh? Paul says in Galatians 5:16, " I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." In other words, remember who you are! John said, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 Jn.5:4) I just wanted to share this today because I needed it, I hope it helped you too. Look to HIM, not yourself. May the Lord bless you.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2 Sides

Hadn't posted in awhile, and I just wanted to share something neat that the Lord helped me see from His Word while trying to help someone see the magnificence of our God's grace in Christ! Our salvation is like a coin, which of course has 2 sides. It is mighty hard to slice a coin in two, and separate the heads from the tails, but even if you could, you can't do that with God's eternal salvation in Christ! The "tails" side is our sins all being forgiven in Him because of His finished work on the cross FOR US! I just love Paul's joyful proclamation in Acts 13:38-39: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
BUT, the "heads" side of our salvation in Christ is one that many if not most believers are either unaware of or have forgotten, and that is that Christ's righteousness is given to us as a gift! Paul again says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new...For He [The Father] hath made Him [The Son] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Ain't that wonderful! (Pardon the bad grammar!) Once we believe in Christ and His finished work for us on Calvary, we have this as a forever gift that He will never take back! Wow, I know it's late, but I just had to share that wonderful news with you! No wonder they call it the Gospel, and Paul says we better guard it with our lives! (Gal.1:6-9). God Bless you all real good, and sleep well!