Known by Fruit

“They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.  They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”- Titus 1:16

There is a quote by Brennan Manning that says “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and get on with their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”  The world is watching what we do, and Christ said that we will be known by out fruit.

If we are genuine believers in Christ then good works will flow from our lives.  We may not start charities, but we can be charitable to the person on the street, at work, or anywhere else.  In today’s verse Paul calls those who proclaim Christ, but not live it, as disobedient and unfit.  Does this describe you?  I pray that it does not, but it may describe many who call themselves Christian but whose lives don’t match up.  Our profession of faith and our lives should not be a contradiction.  When it does the book of James calls our faith “dead”.  A faith that produces no work is a dead faith (James 2:17).  Examine your life today.  Is your lifestyle in line with your faith?  Have a great day and God bless!

I can do all things

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”- Philippians 4:13

Next to John 3:16 today’s verse is probably among the most popular.  It gives us motivation, encouragement, and a reason to go on.  It is also one that has a tendency to be abused and misused.  Paul has endured numerous beatings, shipwrecks, prison time, stoning, and abandonment to spread the Gospel around the known world.  However he is obedient to the Lord, and as a result the Lord, through His grace, is giving Paul the strength to endure and carry on.  That same strength is available to us, and does not mean that God will bless whatever we set out to do.

The grace of Christ is more powerful than what is going on around us.  If we are battling an illness, lost employment, or a loved one has passed away the grace of Christ gives us strength to go on.  What are you going through today?  Allow Christ to be your strength to get you through what is going on.  We will have failure and disappointments, but we serve a savior that is stronger than all that.  As theologian Paul Tripp says, “If God has granted you a place in eternity, then he has also granted you all the grace you need along the way.”

Rescue Mission

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”- Colossians 1:13

There is a popular movie series entitled “Mission Impossible”.  A spy has to complete missions that are seemingly impossible to save the world.  Somehow, someway the spy always finds a way to complete the mission.  God has a rescue plan of his own, and it came to its apex at the most unlikely of places…the cross.

In the Old covenant God rescued the Israelite’s from slavery in Egypt, and in the New Covenant He rescues us from Satan’s control to that of Christ and his kingdom.  Through faith in Christ we are transplanted and find our home in the heavenly kingdom.  Through Christ we are now adopted sons and daughters of God.  There is no way we would ever be able to do that on our own.  Set aside some time today to pray and reflect on this mission that God launched.  Attempt to understand the love and suffering it took to complete this mission.  It is a mission of love and grace that is available for those who believe.  Give your life to Christ and accept his mercy.  Step out of the realm of darkness and into the light only Jesus can bring.

Love is Manifested

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.”- 1 John 4:9

As I look back on life there are many times where I thought I understood things clearly, but looking back it is very evident that I really didn’t have a clue.  I thought I knew what love was, but then my wife and I had our first child.  He is seven years old now, but this awesome child gave me a whole new definition of what love is.  It is something that I could not even begin to describe, because I love my children more than myself.

My mind can’t even fathom how much God loves us.  He sent Christ into the world on a very unique mission.  The mission seems to be mission impossible…to die for the sins of the world.  The mission was accomplished now, if we put our faith in him, have eternal life.  That is what John means when he writes in today’s verse “that we might live through Him.”  There is no way we could atone for the sins we commit, but Jesus came to be that atonement.  What an awesome love he has for us!  Take some time to reflect on that today and everyday.

Leave conceit at the door

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves.”- Philippians 2:3

We like recognition.  We want to be acknowledged for a job well done, for landing the big client, or for anything else.  Nothing is wrong with recognition, but there is danger when it becomes all encompassing and that is all we seek.  It transforms us, and to much of it can make us conceited and start to look down at others as inferior.  The church is not immune to all this.  We must remember to look to the ultimate example of humility, Jesus Christ, and follow his example.

Being self-seeking and vain will eventually destroy the unity of the church.  As Christians we must remember that we should be seeking the approval of God, and not men.  This does not mean that we should not listen to criticism.  We must be corrected be our brothers and sisters if we are in need of correction.  Leave conceit at the door.  This will help us grow in many ways.  Lastly we must maintain the Christlike spirit of humility.  Put the needs of others ahead of the needs of your own.Check your conceit at the door, seek to do the will of God, and seek to have the same humility of Christ.  This humility and servanthood will speak volumes to unbelievers who are looking at you and your church.

Jars of Clay

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”- 2 Corinthians 4:7

One of the central themes of the book of 2 Corinthians is human weakness.  In the ancient world in which the apostle Paul is writing earthenware, or jars of clay, were brittle and easily broken.  It was also a common metaphor for human weakness.  Yet God triumphs in spite of human weakness.

As believers we are members of the priesthood of believers and have a part in ministry.  We may not be in the pulpits or writing commentaries, but we may be ushers, greeters, or website technicians.  No job is to small when it comes to advancing the Gospel.  The Gospel is not a product of human ingenuity, and yet God lets it be spread by men of clay.  The question is are we willing to allow God to break our jar of clay so we can be reconstructed into something stronger?  Are we willing to put him first, seek his face, and allow him to work through us so his message can spread?  The success of ministry relies on how much we point to the glory of God.  If we point to ourselves we will do it a great injustice.

Give it up

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”- 1 Peter 5:6-7

We all worry.  We worry about that exam tomorrow, we worry about that angry customer work, or we may worry about where our next meal is coming from.  I often tell people that I’m not worried, but most of the time I say that to keep others from getting worried.  In today’s verse Peter tells us that we are to give everything to God.  Humility, in a biblical sense, is different than the definition ascribes to it because it is one of confidence.

Humility is almost a bad word in our world today.  Being humble means that we are assuming the role that God had for us from the beginning and does not mean “I’m nothing, I can’t do it.”  Quite the contrary, it means “This is what God wants me to do, I will.”  By humbling ourselves to God we submit to His grace, and that grace will help us with what we are going through.  By submitting ourselves 100% to him we discover a greater purpose, because it is his purpose.  Lastly if there are things worrying us Peter encourages us to take it to the Lord.  Why?  The answer is quite simple, because he cares for you.  No matter the situation, no matter how bad, no matter what we have done we are encourages to lay it at the feet of God.  He cares so much for us that he sent His son to die on the cross.  We are his children and he wants to hear what is on our minds.  Is something on your heart this morning?  Humble yourself and give it to God in prayer.

Pray for Everyone

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people.”- 1 Timothy 2:1

Today’s verse is important because we all need prayer.  We all need the encouragement that it can provide.  When we are going through a rough time it seems to be natural to ask others to pray for us.  Is this truly what we do?  Or do we just pray for our own wants and desires when we pray?  There is nothing wrong with praying for something, but scripture urges us to pray for those around us as well.  We must not neglect this fundamental duty to our brothers and sisters in Christ, or for anyone else.

The Apostle Paul urges us to intercede with confidence, confidence, and to give thanks.  The words used mean that Paul encourages more than a couple words, but urges giving thanks for specific things.  I have a challenge for you.  Make a list of everything you are thankful for, and include that in your prayer.  This will be a reminder of the blessing you have been given by our great God.  Also make a list of those who have asked you for prayer, and also include them.  If you can’t make a list I encourage you to start one.  Pray for everyone and remember the many blessing that you have been given.

Overcome evil

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”- Romans 12:21

There is little doubt that we live in a world that has been overcome with evil.  If you don’t believe me just turn on any news outlet and listen for five minutes.  It is inevitable that some of this evil with be propelled our way.  Whether it be gossip, theft, or something else it is a certainty that something will happen in our lives.  It will happen because spiritual warfare is real, and the enemy will do anything to make us stumble.  He will do anything to make us less effective in the battle in which we are engaged.

How do we respond when evil occurs in our lives.  Do we plot to get revenge?  Do we resolve ourselves to get justice while showing mercy?  As believers the desire for retaliation, and do good to those who wish us harm.  It is a radical idea, but it is one our Lord did very often.  Remember his last words on the cross, “Father forgive them.”  By doing so we exhibit a life that has been transformed by the Gospel.  It is a great witness to those around us.  At some point today you may feel the desire to get even.  Instead of that say a prayer for the individual or situation.  Maybe say some kind words to diffuse the hostility.  Show yourself as a living sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ.  God bless you!

No wood, no fire

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”- Proverbs 26:20

Our culture loves gossip.  There are whole industries built upon it from tabloids, websites, and even our own social media pages.  We often turn to gossip as a means of getting revenge on another person.  Gossip has the very real potential of being character assassination.  It can cause great damage not only to a person’s character, but to their career and family.

So what do we do if presented with a juicy piece of gossip.  Do we need to be a catalyst that spreads a fire?  Do we need to place more wood on the fire?  Not at all!  We can help prevent an inferno by not participating.  Would you want others to gossip or spread rumors about you?  I would venture to guess that answer would be a resounding no.  In situations like these e must remember the words of Christ in Matthew 7:12 where He states, ““So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”