Be Patient #226

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)

The word patient means to be “long spirited” and is akin to forbearance. James’ illustration shows us a measure of waiting is involved in patience. In the farmer’s case, he waits patiently for the seasonal rains. By being patient in how we treat others (instead of being rash and impulsive), we avoid grumbling against one another. When the Judge comes He will avenge every wrong and unjust treatment you have suffered from others. Waiting for the Lord’s coming helps you develop a steadfast, resolute heart. Confident that He will set right every evil, you can concentrate on living by faith instead of being tossed about by grumbling animosity and personal revenge that leads to your own condemnation.

Know God by Knowing Jesus #225

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9)

If you truly want to know God, then learn about Jesus. Listen to His words and consider His actions. By understanding Jesus you will understand the Father in heaven. He is Immanuel (“God with us”, Matt. 1:23). He is “the imagine of the invisible God”, the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). In Jesus “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). All these Scriptures and more combine to persuade us of the deity of Jesus. Please do not say you know God if you do not know Jesus. Look closely at Jesus, and you will come to know God.

Do You Argue with God? #224

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

It is easy to let our expectations of what God should do run ahead of the Lord – even when the Lord clearly tells us His will. Peter had recently confessed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). But, when Jesus began speaking of his torture and death, Peter objected. Do you ever argue with God and oppose what He teaches in His word? If so, then you are minding “the things of men”. Like Peter, you become a stumbling block (like Peter was on that occasion). It is instructive that previously confessing Christ did not prevent Peter from sinning against the Lord. If you have confessed Jesus is the Son of God then willingly yield to His teachings and mind “the things of God” every day.

The Church #223

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18)

The church of Christ was not an afterthought in the mind of God. The church was not built upon Peter or any other man, but upon the foundational truth Peter confessed; Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which His church rests (1 Cor. 3:11). The church is important because Jesus purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). The strength of the grave could not prevent Jesus from building His church. Do not cheapen the church of the Lord by turning it into a social club, a political action committee or a creed-driven agency of human wisdom. The church is the body of Christ and He is its head (Eph. 1:22-23). The church and salvation are inextricably linked since the church is His body and Jesus is “the Savior of the body”. The church Jesus built is composed of souls saved by His gospel. He continues to add saved ones to it (Acts 2:47). We know the church is valuable to Christ. How valuable is the church to you?

Letters and Learning #222

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:14-17)

The enemies of Jesus viewed his teachings with suspicion and doubt; He had not been trained in one of their rabbinical schools! Many still judge teachers this way. If a preacher did not train at a renown university and obtain “letters” from a respected seminary, then what he says is diminished in the eyes of many. However, the words of Jesus are superior to all the words of men, including the scholars of that day and our day. Jesus spoke with heaven’s authority. His word contains the authority of God. Anyone who determines to do God’s will and listens to what Jesus taught will understand it. Put your faith in Christ and the authority of His word. The degrees and letters earned by men do not determine truth. The Bible is true, regardless of what “learned” men say.

Count the Cost, Pay the Price #221

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)

Jesus did not coerce people to follow Him. He did not entice disciples with promises of wealth or assurances of a comfortable life. Just the opposite. He was clear and exacting as He explained the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus requires loving Him more than those dearest to you – your family. Following Him requires loving Him more than life itself. Following Jesus requires accepting the burden of self-sacrifice and obediently following His teachings. Being a Christian is not about you doing what you want to do for Jesus; it is about doing what He wants of you. Count the cost and pay the price; otherwise, you cannot be His disciple. This is the teaching of Jesus. Make this your way of life and you will truly be His disciple.

Be Spiritual #220

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

The “natural man” is the person who refuses to be guided by divine revelation. He “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” that were revealed to Christ’s apostles and spoken by inspiration (1 Cor. 2:10-13). He lives his life on the basis of human reasoning alone. In his carnal way of thinking he does not have the spiritual discernment to receive them. To him, “the message of the cross is foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18). He is carnal, and he is perishing in his sins (1 Cor. 1:18). On the other hand, the “spiritual” person examines all things in the light of God’s word and refuses to try to tell God what His will should be. We have the “mind of Christ” in the apostolic word (the gospel). Those who are spiritual trust it and conform themselves to it. Be spiritual, not carnal.