Any system of religion that teaches faith as the source of eternal life rather than the result and provision of life has the fruit before the root.
Faith having its origin in God and end in God is the provision of God in the child of God to press forward in this world. It is the aspect of the new creature to receive and understand spiritual things. It is the potential to exercise ones self in the ways of God to overcome the trials of each day. Without it we fail miserably.
Faith will find its end in glory at the resurrection in the presence of God. Faith is not had or expressed before an individual is born again and is for the born again to endure and find rest now in Christ. It does not seek riches, physical comforts, health, position, power, acknowledgment, or the praise of men. It seeks and stretches the inner man toward Christ in every challenge, every task, every opportunity, every day.
It is born of the Spirit, grows in trials, flourishes in oppression, watered by grace, yields in glory. It is for NOW and does save those that have eternal life. Don't get the fruit before the root.
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
The charge of the ministry of the gospel of Christ Jesus is, and always has been, to be fishers of men. That is rather than gathering followers to promote opinion and traditions, we are to seek out men that will be leaders and teachers of truth that live it as well as tell it.
Lord forgive us our desires of vainglory and pride. Use us to be planters of seeds and tillers of ground, that we may keep the garden that you have placed us in till you come. May young plants be tended and trimmed and much fruit be gathered to your glory, now and always in the Church, world without end. Amen.
2Timothy 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
This little verse from the inspired record of the Apostle Paul's second letter to his son in the ministry, Timothy, strikes with the reality of life.
Paul states that 'he' left this brother Miletum sick. Yep, sick. No, he did not heal him. We could begin to speculate on reasons and probably all be wrong. The fact is that not everyone that came in contact with an apostle, those of the ministry of Christ in the first century church, were immediately healed from their sicknesses.
Paul had written Timothy to take some wine for his stomach. Wonder why he didn't just send him a napkin and settle his stomach and all other ills? Not trying to be negative or confrontational. Just being honest with what scripture states.
If we are under the impression that we are exempt from the struggles and ills of this world and life because we carry a bible around or sit on a pew, we will become disillusioned very quickly.
Yet, God does know our situations and struggles and cares. He is able to deliver us from our troubles and has provided a way to bear us through them. That being said, most of the time He delivers us in our troubles.
Be encouraged God knows and cares. Paul understood and acknowledged the reality of life. He was delivered in many troubles and suffered many things. Yet, he continued on in Christ.
Be of good courage today and know that God has not forsaken you, don't forget Him in your situation. He is there and hears. Call on Him and find strength and help in time of need. Amen.
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
"Why in the world would the apostle pray for something that is predestinated to happen?" So was the question posed.
The answer is: He is not.
He is sincerely stating that he prays for the salvation of his own people. He is praying for people that are zealous toward God, active and committed to doing what they understand is right. Their lives are consumed with the weight of their sin, conviction, and regret. They struggle daily with their lot in life and their own failures overwhelms them.
They have accepted a form of religion, been raised to submit to it. They sincerely believe that their efforts and errors assure them a place in heaven or else earn them a cell in hell. Paul's prayer is for such people, his own folks, to be free of that torment and burden.
The message is to them that Christ has done for them what they can not, would not, never will do or accomplish. Eternal life is theirs or else they would not concern themselves with their present condition. Their desire to seek God and do what is right is evidence that God has already given them life and they sit in the same cell of ritual with the door opened to freedom and refuse to stand up and leave.
So, how do you tell God's children they are free? How do you tell them that believing in Jesus' finished work is the end of the law. How do you tell them that their ability and belief is because they are children? How do you tell them that life is theirs to have, just submit to the truth and by faith walk out of your own prison? How do you tell them that you pray for their release because they have already been pardoned?
Maybe I just did? Are you listening?
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
And so I confess to this being my daily struggle. I do acknowledge myself not to have apprehended. I am still seeking.
Yet, it is the warfare within that constantly looks back and wonders and hesitates to move forward toward the unknown.
But, faith stirs hope to know better days and things ahead as the focus is again lifted from self to Christ. The race is before us, not behind us, and is to be finished. We compete not with those around us, but that within.
Our quest is not to be #1, but lay hold on ONE. May we look to Him today and labor to find that rest with Him. May the crown of life be realized to all that love the Lord Jesus. Amen.
Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
This statement of Paul to the churches of Galatia, inspired statement, reveals a sharp contrast as to the gospel of Jesus Christ and religion.
Paul points out that because of his raising as a Jew and his zealous belief and enforcement of the traditions of his fathers, he persecuted and wasted the church, all the while profiting above many of his equals in his inherited religion.
Just a few points to be learned here are that our raising establishes our traditions. While all traditions are not evil in and of themselves, it is worthy of note to admit that traditions fuel our religion.
The enforcement of our religion either promotes and defends truth or, as Paul confesses, undermines and destroys the church and the faith of Christ. Strict adherence of tradition can win position and popularity among religious zealots and be quite profitable. Yet, cripples and silences true Christianity.
The gospel of Jesus Christ stands in stark contrast as a light in the darkness, as a gracious embrace rather that a stiff armed restriction. The gospel points to the answer and source of our hope, rather than condemnation and perishing to the hopeless.
The gospel does not condone or excuse sin, but rather declares the only cure and end to sin. It points above, not beneath. It lifts the head, rather than pressing down. It gives the hand up and in, rather than the push down and out. Ultimately it is about Jesus and not us.
Thus the gospel that Paul preached and the church upholds remains distinctly in contrast to the legalistic rituals and ceremonies of traditional religion as its origin is of God and not man. Its unchanging, consistent truth is stability, not isolation.
May the Lord bless those that know the truth to say so. May those that hear and seek come to where Christ is honored above all. Amen.
2Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
A very passionate passage of scripture as Paul expresses his concern as a father would to his married daughter. His fear is that there might be someone, other than the man to whom she has been committed, that would sway her attention and affection away.
He states that such would be the working of the devil as was done with the very first wife in the beginning, Eve. Her mind was beguiled and deceived to think that was more than what she had been given and her position in life to which she had been placed by God.
Yet, we are to be reminded that Paul is writing to the Church at Corinth and not an individual as such. His concern is that contention within the Church would result in schism and divisions.
He says that this would be done by another Jesus being preached, or another spirit being received, or another gospel being accepted. Incredible to note that Jesus, spirit, and gospel are to be united in focus. Thus, the simplicity of Christ is the oneness, the single vision of the faith by which the Church is to progress and prosper.
Differences in any of those breeds contention and will lead to separation. The Church will lose its focus and splinter when the members are not together. When the minds of those that make up the Church are divided and committed in various pursuits of life Christ is forsaken of that which is to be known as His Bride.
Paul's fear is valid and should be seriously studied and shared. We stand as a Church together in the faith of Christ. Alone and in our own strength or opinions and interpretations, we come apart and fall. May the Lord give us the heart of a father for his child and warn against and defend against the corruption of the message preached and the spirit in which it is shared and lived among us.
Our commitment to Christ here in and as the Church is to be for life and in hope of eternal life. So may it always be. Amen.