Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven…(Colossians 1:16-23)~~ Why did God become man? This is the enigma of Christ. Only man should pay the penalty for his sin; because sin is, after all, a mess that human beings have made; but only God could pay this penalty. An imperfect prophet dying on a cross would at most be a martyr and a model. Jesus Christ was human, and also divine, His sacrifice had a human face on it, but His death in our place is the true divine offering. He is the image of the invisible God, and by Him all things were created, and all God’s fullness dwelt in Him. And so, because of who He was, He was able to reconcile to God all things by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. On that most violent of all days in human history, God was reaching out to those who were alienated from Him and at enmity with Him. He offered us reconciliation so we could end up holy in His sight, without blemish, and free from accusation. Our debt to sin is paid in full! Only God could do that!!
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isa 5:20)~ Mankind has lost its spiritual equilibrium and inverted its values. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of God’s word. There are those who have set their hearts on the wealth of the world. Not that it is sinful for those who have a house or car or nice things to purchase another; but the fault is, that some never know when they have enough. Those who set their hearts upon the world, will justly be disappointed – never satisfied – never fulfilled. There are those who are extremely fond of the pleasures and the delights of sense. God’s judgments have seized them, but they will not turn themselves from their pleasures. The enjoyment of life’s pleasures and treasures is lawful; God didn’t say we can’t enjoy life; but when it draws the heart and mind away from God, then it becomes a sin to us. There are those who set up in sin, and exert themselves to gratify their lusts. They are daring in sin, and walk after the lusts thereof. They misuse and argue to their own benefit the distinctions between good and evil. They create their own “reasonings” to divine revelations; prefer their own ‘choices’ to the counsels and commands of God. They deem it necessary to continue in profitable sins, and to neglect self-denying duties. How light we make of disorder and dysfunction in the world, in our homes and families, in our lives. We leave ourselves open to the wrath and curse of God. Our very judges and lawmakers pervert justice. It’s become that every sin needs another sin to conceal it and a new law to protect it. What’s worse is that there is an overwhelming desire nowadays to remain in this chaos! Where do we see the need to repent of sins and openly to avow our belief in Jesus as the Savior, by being baptized in His name? When will we take such energy to professing our faith in Him, that we may partake of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit? Those who repent of their sins, and give up themselves to Jesus Christ, prove their sincerity by breaking off from the influences of the enemy. We can’t do a little here and there and think we won’t get caught up – taking fire into our bosom will surely burn us! We must move ourselves to avoid it with dread and holy fear. SUBMIT yourselves therefore to God. RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17); And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. (2 Kings 19:6-7)~ Notice that when you abide in Him, God – the Creator of the universe – the most powerful being and the source of all life – says, “I myself will come against your enemies. I myself will come against that sickness. I myself will come against those who oppose you.” It says God is the one who caused Hezekiah’s enemy to turn around. That means God can cause that unfair boss to take an early retirement. God can cause that neighbor that’s giving you so much trouble to decide to pack up and move. God can cause that classmate to be transferred to another school. He can even cause your enemies to do favors for you… To look out for you and to be convicted, convinced and converted because of your faith! Where many may think evil against you; God will turn it into good, to bring to pass His glory! (Gen 50:20). Today, no matter what’s coming against you, NO WORRIES – Just keep pressing into God. Put His Word first place in your life. Honor Him in all that you do. Let Him fight your battles and bring you the victory He has promised you!
The Academy Award- winning World War II movie Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a young soldier (Private Ryan) whose brothers have been killed in battle. To spare his family the agony of losing all of their sons, the government orchestrates a rescue mission to save him and send him home. The rescue team is led by a no-nonsense army captain who seems to believe that the whole thing is a bad idea.
In the film’s final scene, the captain is fatally wounded while fulfilling his mission. With his dying words, he looks the soldier in the eyes and says, “Earn this! Earn it.” The film flashes forward many decades, and we see Private Ryan as an old man standing at the grave of that captain. You can tell he has been haunted by those words and trying to “earn it” all his life, but he never knows for sure if he has measured up. He pleads with the grave, seeking approval, but he finds none.
Many people believe they have put their faith in Jesus, but they also believe they have to earn what He did for them on the cross. Here’s the good news: when Jesus was hanging on that cross, dying to save you, He did not use His dying words to say, “Earn this.” Do you know what He said instead? He said, “It is finished!”
Did you catch that? It is finished!! That means done, complete, sealed, finished! That’s God’s gift of grace. Jesus has done all the work already. You couldn’t possibly earn it even if you tried with everything you had, and what’s better? God never expected you to!!!
The Bible says that if you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved (Rom. 10:9). It’s not a duty for you to earn; it’s a gift for you to receive by faith. Reach out to your Savior and love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. He’s already done all the work, and He did it out of love for you. It is finished.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed (Ps 37:25-26)~ The blessing of God is the spring, sweetness, and security of all earthly enjoyments. And if we are sure of this, we are sure not to want any thing good for us in this world. By His grace and Holy Spirit, He directs the thoughts, affection, and designs of His children. By His providence He overrules events, so as to make our way plain. He does not always show us His way for a distance, but leads us step by step, as children are led. Sometimes He allows us to fall…just a little, but God will keep us from being ruined by our falls, either into sin or into trouble. Though such a fall will sorely hurt, there is much wisdom and dependence on Him to learn from and His grace and mercy to experience. I have yet to see a consistent believer, or their children, reduced to abject, friendless want. Because God doesn’t forsake us in affliction; and in Heaven only the righteous in Him shall dwell for ever; yes..that will be our everlasting habitation (Ps 37:18). A good man may fall into the hands of a messenger of Satan, and be sorely buffeted, but God will not leave us in His enemy’s hands! Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand (Ps 37:24)!
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:29-30)~~ Can a person really believe and be saved? What if they still have sin in their lives? What if they know nothing about the Bible? What if Christian commitment is unknown to them? The response a lot of us may throw out there would actually be our own set of questions: Did you repent? Did you confess? Did you forsake everything? Did you pray a sinner’s prayer? Faith doesn’t even come into question because Faith alone doesn’t require a prerequisite event! Rather than trust in simple faith, we want to add endless qualifications to “real” faith. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple that man continually feels the need to complicate it. Too many of us wouldn’t be happy with Paul’s simple answer today, but it really IS this simple: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)~Here is the sum of the whole gospel, the covenant of grace in a few words. No rituals, no special ceremonies, no pre-qualifications, no prerequisites. Plain and simple: Believe in Him and have Faith in what you believe! It’s THAT easy!
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15:2)~ Not everything (nor everyone) that IS with you will BE with you. In the process of going to the destiny God has for you, there are a series of trials and tests in life you go through….everyone can agree on that. If you look back though, you’ll notice that during these trials, some things happen: people that used to have your back…leave! Things you used to have and do…are no more! While we who were comfortable with our circumstances and circles see this as a loss, God sees it as preparation and cleansing. Those things that don’t bring fruitfulness through your life must be removed from your life so that those things that do bring fruitfulness can be more productive. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1). When you are focused on what God is doing in your life, expect then that people, things and habits will fall away from you. Also expect certain things within you to become more intense and productive. As God intends that as we are in Him, we bear His fruit; that which is in and about us must also bear fruit or be cut off from us. When this happens, and it will, and it will HURT, don’t be dismayed for this is God’s work: And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go (Judg 7:4). If it goes, it goes! There are some people and things and habits that get pulled away from our lives that we should STOP TRYING TO HOLD ON TO!!! Yes, we must trust God and let them go! That and those which are fruitful to your life will remain! The rest, will and need to… fall away! Let Go – Let God!