Friday, February 24, 2012

One That Worshipped God
Luke 10:38-42
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.  But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Let’s go to a little village outside the city of Jerusalem, located approximately, 2 miles East of the temple. This little village called Bethany, is where Mary, Martha and Lazarus live. Jesus has been invited by Martha to come to her home, and while He is there, she becomes very involved preparing for Him. We all know how preoccupied we can become when guests come to our home and in Martha’s case, this was a very special guest, the Lord of Heaven was visiting.
Mary, the sister of Martha, finds a place at the feet of Jesus and lingers there–––listening to His every word. Martha, on the other hand, is absorbed in preparing for her invited house guest and is cumbered about with much serving. Martha is distracted, and in a frenzy, over the unnecessary and elaborate details of her preparation. She becomes so distraught and dismayed that she complains to Jesus;  “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? “  If she complained to the LORD and rebuked Him, I wonder what she would do to others in the house? Martha then gives the LORD a command, “Tell her to help me! Don’t You care?”
The LORD answers Martha, and tells her that she is anxious and troubled about so many things, and is allowing inconvenience and anxiety to smother her. “Martha,” He says, “Only one thing is necessary, and Mary is choosing that good part which shall not be taken from her.” What is it that Mary is choosing over serving, planning and preparing with Martha?  She is desiring to sit at the feet of Jesus, honoring Him. Mary is making a choice in her life; to be satisfied in Christ and in worshipping Him, first. 
Thought: Obviously, serving the Lord and others is part of the Christian life, along with expressing Godly attitudes, characterizing our faith in Christ. We will be known by what we do, and serving Christ will take place when we have devoted ourselves to worshipping, honoring and praising Him. There will be times in our lives when we will be like Martha, and become involved and burdened about much doing. The true worshiper of God, is the one who is consumed with praising and honoring Christ. How can we serve Him, if we don’t first, worship Him. Worship is synonymous with being a Christian or salvation. Acts 18:7a says, And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God. Acts 18:13 reads, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God ( a soul winner) contrary to the law. A genuine Christian will worship the true God, and anything that is treated with more concern than God in their life, is idol worship. When we serve God to gain self esteem or self-gratification, we are putting our own appetites before God and making what we DO, idolatry.
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deuteronomy 6:5).
 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who Shall Separate Us?

The Love of Christ
Romans 8:31-39
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?   He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.   Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.   Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To separate means to: disconnect, detach, breakup, split, parting (of the ways), estrangement, rift, rupture, breach, divide. Paul affirms Christ’s love for us by posing this question; Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The fear of separation from God is not possible to those who are Christ’s. If we are truly born again by the Spirit of God, we can know and experience the boundless, unwavering love of Christ.  What security this brings to the believer. There is no need to ever fear the past, the present or the future––– we are secure, safe and protected, in the love of Christ.
God, sparing nothing, freely gave up His Son on the cross, sacrificing His best for us. It is foolish for us to worry and fret about life, when God assures us that He gives us freely all things. If God takes care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, will He not love and care for us, His own? If when we were sinners, God gave us His best, now that we are His children, will He not give to us all that we need? Not only does He give to us what we need, but He justifies us and declares us righteous in Christ–––which never changes. Jesus paid it all, once and for all, which makes us, secure in Him. Oh! What love!
Scripture reveals to us our hope in the resurrected Christ, who sits at the right hand of God in great power and honor–––ever interceding for us. We are not only saved by His death, but we are saved by His life. Romans 5:9-10,  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Not only do we have the Savior who died for us interceding in heaven for us, we also have the Holy Spirit of God as our Advocate. Romans 8:26-27 says; “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
God assures us that the hard things in life are working for us and not against us. He encourages us that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. God allows the trials of life to come so that He may use them for our good and His glory. He will never desert us, for He is closest to us when we go through the most difficult times of our life. We, my friend, are victorious in Christ. We need not fear what my come into our lives because–––He gives the victory with no conditions attached.
Thought: If God be for us, who can be against us? There is no need for us, the believer, to be defeated, discouraged or depressed. God is concerned with the trials we face but we do not have to give way to frustration or despair knowing of His great love for us. All this suffering will one day be gone and we will be with Christ in glory. The best is yet to come! What hope we have in Him who will one day appear in the clouds, to take us home to heaven. This should cause our hearts to rejoice, knowing; victory is ours through Christ, who loved us enough, to die in our place. Oh, what love and what a Savior!

Friday, February 10, 2012

 Witnessing with Boldness
Acts 14:8-15
And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:  The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,  Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.  And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.  And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.  Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.  Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,  And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (continue to read up to Acts 14:22).
As we read the account of Paul and Barnabas in the city of Lystra, we will see not only Paul’s boldness in his witness for Christ, but also his humility. The stage is set for us in verse 8 of chapter 14, in the book of Acts. Paul is preaching in the city of Lystra, a Roman province of Galatia. There is no mention of a synagogue here, Paul is preaching to a crowd of people which may have gathered in the market place or town square. As Paul begins to speak, he fastens his eyes upon a man that has been crippled from birth–– perceiving that he had faith to be healed. With a loud voice, Paul commands the man to stand up and as he did the man leaped up and walked.
When this miracle took place, the men of the city lifted up their voices and cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”  According to tradition or folklore, the gods Zeus and Hermes visited Lystra incognito, asking for food and lodging but all turned them away except one old man and his wife. This so displeased the gods, that they took vengeance upon the people of the city drowning them by a great flood. The couple that took them in were spared this plight and their humble home was made into a temple where they served as a priest and priestess. The people of Lystra did not want to repeat the same mistake their ancestors’ had made and believed Barnabas to be Zeus, Jupiter and Paul to be Hermes, Mercury.
They could have allowed the people of the city to treat them as gods for one day, after all, some would say, they deserved to be treated with kindness and respect. The men of the city went to gather the oxen with garland placed around their necks to offer sacrifice with the people of Lystra. Paul and Barnabas didn’t become proud or haughty desiring this sacrifice or praise but, rent their clothes, a Jewish expression of distress or alarm towards blasphemy. They began to cry out to the people of Lystra, “stop this ritual we are men as you are,” and then continued to preach to them about the true and living God, the Creator of Heaven and earth.
Paul and Barnabas restrained the crowd from offering sacrifices to them but as they were in the midst of the people, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium had come to Lystra and persuaded the crowd to stone Paul. One minute they were wanting to sacrifice oxen for these two men and now they are stoning Paul and dragging him outside the city leaving him for dead. (Note: Paul was the main speaker that’s why he was stoned and not Barnabas.) Acts 14:20 reads, Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Notice the word, disciples. Paul had preached the Gospel to the crowds gathered in Lystra and souls were converted to Christ even amongst such great turmoil.
Thought: Paul is revived from his stoning, stands up, goes back into the city where he spends the night and leaves the next day for Derbe. What? He didn’t take a rest or turn around and quit? No, Paul, convinced that the love of Christ constrained him, continues to go forward and preach the Gospel wherever the Lord would lead him. His boldness to preach Christ is absolutely amazing and his humility to continue for the cause of Christ no matter the cost is truly distinctive of Paul. May we be as bold in our witness for Christ as Paul giving to Christ all honor of sacrifice and glory due His name.

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Other Gods Before Me

Worshipping Christ
Revelation of John 4:10-11

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What does the word worship mean?” The word "worship" has undergone a change in meaning in English. It comes from the Old English word “weorthscipe,” which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity. The word “weorthscipe” later developed into the word, “worship,”  meaning to attribute worth to an object or person. Worship is the “worthship” of the one you worship. When you worship Jesus Christ you attribute worth to Him and to His glorious name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth (Philippians 2:10).
In Revelation 4:10, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Christ, who is siting upon the throne in Heaven and worship Him. This is were you find true worship and were worship is defined so significantly. What a magnificent picture of true submission to the Creator of the universe that lives forever and ever. Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding (Isaiah 40:28).
It is important that we see the nature and succession of worship that is given in these verses. First, they fall down in submission to Christ and then they cast their crowns before His feet. The true worshipper of Jesus Christ will cast their crowns before His feet saying, “I want You to be exalted above all measure and You alone to be glorified.” In the days of the Roman Empire, when Revelation was being written, as kings were conquered by Rome, they were brought before the reigning emperor to prostrate themselves before this reigning magistrate and then cast their own crowns before their conquerors. This was an act of total submission to the ruling empire and complete surrender of their domain. 
Man desires glory, power and honor to be cast upon him using excessive means to ascribe his worth and bring praise and recognition to himself. Men have always made gods of other men which is certainly true in our country today and sometimes, even in our churches. It has been written in an American Magazine that John Lennon, of the well known rock group called, “The Beatles,” said, “Christianity will end, it will disappear, I do not have to argue about that... I am certain. Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more famous than Him (1966).”  On December 8, 1980, coming back from a recording session, John Lennon was shot 5 times in the back and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7). The First Commandment reads, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Whether that god is you or someone else we are to worship only One true God, Jesus Christ, for He alone is worthy.
Thought:  When ascribing the word, “worthy” to our Lord, we must understand the magnitude  of significance it embodies. The word “worthy” means: virtuous, righteous, good, moral, upright,  principled, irreproachable, blameless, guiltless, unimpeachable, honest, honorable, reputable, noble, and pure. Jesus Christ is all of these and so much more. He is worthy because He is righteous and because He is righteous, He is blameless and because He is blameless, He is guiltless and because He is guiltless, He is pure and because He is pure, He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory due His name. Amen!