Lose to Gain #449

7  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9)

People put a great deal of stock in things that pale into insignificance when compared with spiritual treasures (see Phil. 3:3-6). Paul had once viewed his Jewish attainments with great pride. As an accomplished pupil of Rabbi Gamaliel, his education credentials were stellar (Acts 22:3). His Jewish purity and zeal for the law were above reproach. He had taken delight in his unblemished record and advancement in Judaism which included persecuting the church of God (Gal. 1:13-14). But, Paul’s salvation in Christ far outweighed those achievements of the flesh. Now, he counted these things as refuse. You will have to choose which you value most: trusting in fleshy credentials and advancement or relying upon heaven’s approval through the gospel. You cannot serve two masters. Which master do you serve?

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Companions #448

And  I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9)

The apostle John, now aged and exiled, was a co-participant with his Asian brethren in three important things. First, they were partners in the tribulation of Jesus Christ. They were under persecution, and so was John. Second, they were companions in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. John and his brethren were not looking for a future kingdom; they were in the kingdom of Christ at that very moment. Third, they shared in the patience of Jesus Christ. As Jesus endured “hostility from sinners”, so did they (Heb. 12:3). When you are faithful to “the testimony of Jesus Christ” you, too “will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). But, take courage and patiently endure. You are a citizen of the kingdom of Christ. Your king and His kingdom is greater than every kingdom on earth (Dan. 2:44; Mk. 9:1; Col. 1:13).

He rejoiced, having believed in God #447

30  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:30-34)

Too many people stop at verse 31 when telling the lost how to be saved. Clearly, one must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved. But since “even demons believe–and tremble”, there must be something more to believing than mental assent (James 2:19). Verse 34 says the jailer and his house “rejoiced, having believed in God”. So, how to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is found in verses 32-33. Faith was produced by hearing the word of God (v. 32; Romans 10:17). Repentance is implied in the washing of the stripes that were faithlessly applied and ignored (vss. 33, 23). With believing repentance they were immediately baptized (v. 33). After hearing, believing, repenting and being baptized came the rejoicing of salvation; now they “believed in God” (v. 34).

The Lord is Faithful #446

3  But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4  And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. 5  Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5)

Christians are secure in heart and able to endure present trials and live for heaven because the Lord is faithful. Here the apostle explains that the Lord strengthens and protects His disciples from evil as they “do and will do the things we command you” (v. 4). There is no expectation of divine resolution to strengthen and protect the Christian who is given to disobedience (the “disorderly” of verse 6). Let us not fight against the apostolic commands. By continually obeying them the Lord will direct you into God’s love and the steadfast endurance which gives eternal comfort.  The Lord is faithful. The probing question is, are we?

Great is the Lord #445

1 Now I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2  Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:1-3)

We worship and praise God because of His great power and exalted name. Our King rules the universe by His great power. Not a day passes that we shall not admire and praise His name. The unfathomable greatness of God is the very reason we honor Him. People of faith do not cease to bless His name precisely because there is no end to His greatness. Lift up the name of the Lord and praise the King for His greatness!

Genuine Mercy #444

10  Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13  But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)

Some use the fact that Jesus ate “sinners” to justify not explaining sin to the sinner. (One might recall that every person Jesus ate with was a “sinner”, since “all have sinned”!). The issue is not that Jesus ate with sinners, but rather what did Jesus do when He ate with sinners? Did He ignore their sin? No. Did He redefine their sin? No. Did He rationalize their sin? No. Jesus identified their sin, presented Himself and His truth as the solution to their sin, and called the sinners to repent of their sins. Thus, the Son of God shows us the meaning of the mercy he desires us to show those lost in sin. As our Master did, let us call sinners to repentance, pointing them to Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Breaking Tradition, Keeping Faith #443

10  For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 11  But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 12  Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:16–18)

Jesus was not a Sabbath-breaker. If he was, then he was a sinner; he was not (Exodus 20:8-11; 1 Peter 2:22). However, Jesus did break Sabbath traditions which came to be viewed as binding on people as the law itself. Here is our clear lesson: Human traditions and the will of God are not equivalent. To make them so invariably elevates man’s will above  God’s will (Mark 7:1-13). We must not bind on others those things that God does not bind. Neither should we think because we hold some religious tradition that it necessarily pleases God. The religious tradition you hold as binding must come from God, not human beings (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:4).