ABIDE IN LOVE
"As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends You are my friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15:9-14
We are told to abide in Jesus' love. Merriam Webster defines the word abide as:
a : to bear patiently : tolerate <cannot abide such bigots>b : to endure without yielding : withstand <abide the onrush of the enemy>
1. 2 : to wait for : await <I will abide the coming of my lord. — Alfred Tennyson>
2. 3 : to accept without objection <will abide your decision>
3. intransitive verb
4. 1 : to remain stable or fixed in a state <a love that abode with him all his days>
5. 2 : to continue in a place : sojourn <will abide in the house of the Lord>
Look closely at definition 4 because this is the form as used in the verse above - remain stable or in a fixed state. I know this is the definition because if we look at the Greek word used it is:
μείνητε (meinēte) - to stay, abide, remain
This abiding in love promises joy, but it requires commitment - commitment to God. We are not capable of this kind of love without Him. Why do I say that? Because we are not capable of love that is unconditional.
Look around you. We put conditions on love all the time. If you do this, if you say that, if you love me back, if you think like I think, look like I look, then I will love you.
"For God so loved the WORLD...." John 3:16 begins. He does not designate a certain part, or people, or culture. He just says world - all inclusive. No conditions are placed on his love. You do not have to accept Him or love Him back. In fact, you can hate Him and curse Him and He will still love you and want you to come to Him. God abides in love, it is a constant state for Him.
Now, here He asks us to do the same. Abide in love. ABIDE IN LOVE.
Earlier in this same chapter of John, it says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Again, that word abide - to remain in a stable or fixed state with Christ.
Everyone knows as soon as you pick a flower, it starts to die. Remove any part of a plant from its source and that part will begin to die. It dies because it has been removed from the very thing that provides what it needs to live. Sure, you can stick it in water and prolong the dying process, but it will die and there is nothing you can do to stop that.
What this tells me is if we want to love as Jesus commanded us to love, we must abide in Him, remain in a fixed state with him, stay connected to Him. Without that abiding, that connection, those conditions start attaching themselves to our love and anything that doesn't meet those conditions, well, it gets kicked aside.
What it doesn't tell me is you must agree with everything someone says or does. You can disagree, but you MUST love. You are commanded to love. When you disagree with someone you love, it changes the nature of the disagreement. It changes the desire you have for the outcome. If you love someone, you want a return to harmony, you want peace between you. You may still disagree, but you allow that disagreement and continue to love. You continue to love even if they do not love you back. This is how Jesus loves and how He commands those of us who are abiding in Him to love. That kind of love brings fullness of joy, God's joy, that no man or thing of this world can take away.
One last thought: the bible does not say what color Adam is. It just says God created him in His image. That image is love - the unconditional, constant state of love that results when you abide in Jesus. It has absolutely nothing to do with color or race. Adam's color was not important. We know it isn't because God didn't tell us.
LAST, last thought: If someone claims to abide in Christ and does not love, they are lying. True faith, that abides in Him, loves. It may make mistakes, stumble, and go astray for a time, but it will return to love, acknowledging its mistakes, righting itself, making amends where necessary and return to love.
"If only I wasn't an atheist, I could get away with anything. You'd just ask for forgiveness and then you'd be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt." Keira Knightley
That would be nice, wouldn't it? Do whatever you want, whenever you want, without fear, regret or guilt. Just ask God to forgive you and it's all erased, like it never happened. That's what it means to be saved, isn't it? Is that really what the world thinks? Is that what you think?
I am saved. I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and my sins are forgiven. Ms. Knightley is right that all I have to do is ask, but she is WRONG about the guilt, about getting away with anything. I get away with nothing! God is not a magic eraser that, when applied, removes all trace of my sin. Yes, He removes it on His side and I no longer have to pay for it with the death of my soul in hell, but the consequences of my sin here on earth, well, that's another story entirely.
I cannot cheat, lie, steal, hate, or kill with impunity. I may be sorry and I may repent and God may forgive me, but I still have to live with what I have done. I still have to repair relationships, regain trust, repay my theft, go to jail, pay whatever earthly consequences that exist to redress my wrongs. AND, even if I do not get caught, I feel guilt, sorrow and pain for my wrongs. I squirm beneath the weight of conscience and the knowledge that I have failed my God. I think about the next time I want to tell someone about Christ and how my behavior is going to effect my witness. I worry that people will think exactly what Ms. Knightley thinks - that Christians believe they are above the law.
King David was a man after God's own heart. He led Israel as a man of faith, loved the Lord and followed His commands. But, he was a man and, as such, subject to sin and temptation. He saw a beautiful woman taking a bath, wanted her, took her and got her pregnant. Okay he's the king, he could just take her for his wife, but she was already married. Her husband was away fighting a war - a war David had declared. David had her husband brought home from the front, hoping he would sleep with his wife and the baby could be passed off as his. Unfortunately for David, Uriah could not bring himself to sleep in comfort, to have the pleasure of his wife when others were still fighting, so David had him returned to the war, put in the front lines and killed. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. When faced with what he had done, in his anguish and guilt, David wrote Psalm 51 - a prayer for forgiveness. Verses 14-16 say:
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart--
These, O God, You will not despise.
A broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these are not the words of a man who does not feel guilt, a man who feels no sorrow over what he has done. When the child dies not long after it is born, David accepts this as the consequences of his actions, he does not blame God for the death of the child, he knows where the blame lies. He does not go dancing off into the sunset, uncaring that his actions brought this sorrow and pain.
Christians feel guilt; they suffer the earthly consequences of their actions.
As to doing whatever we want, well, that is not true either. As the Holy Spirit begins to transform us into the image of Christ, we begin to find we want to do things that are pleasing to God and stop doing things that aren't. On this earth we will never achieve perfection which is why God's grace is a such a wonderful thing, but His grace is not a license to do whatever, whenever we choose. Paul put it perfectly in his letter to the Roman church:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4
We come to Christ as sinful creatures, often reveling in our sin, but He takes us, forgives us and makes us new, clean, whole, fit companions for a holy God. The longer we follow Jesus, the more we seek Him and know Him, the more abhorrent sin becomes to us and the greater our sorrow and guilt when we sin. And yes, Christians do sin. On this earth we are still subject to the flesh, to temptation, we still fall. But glory be to God, we now have a way back, through faith in Christ. We can be forgiven and made new - over and over again - as many times as we need it until we reach heaven and are released from this sinful flesh forever. But, on this earth, we still bear the scars, the consequences of our actions. Paul says in Phillipians 3:12-14
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
or as the New Living translation puts it:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
We sin, we feel guilt and sorrow which leads us to repentance. We are forgiven, we press on and God gives us the strength to face our consequences until we finally receive our reward in heaven - eternal life with Him. This flesh is the jail, sin the chains, Christ, the Get Out of Jail Free Card, which He already played for us.
Sheep are stupid. No, I am not being mean, they really are stupid. They will eat until there is nothing left and then stand there and starve. They will drink filthy water. They will lie down in a hole and not be able to get back up, roll over on their back in the attempt and lay there until they die. They have no means of protecting themselves from predators, none. There are good reasons you do not see herds of wild sheep roaming the plains. Sheep are simply too stupid to survive and thrive on their own. They need a shepherd.
The Bible compares us to sheep a lot. Wow! That hurts. The Bible is saying we are stupid, too stupid to make it on our own. Our pride rears its head and says, “No, we can handle things. We don’t need someone telling us what to do, taking care of us. We can make it on our own!” Really?! Are you serious? Have you watched the news lately? Yeah, we are doing just great on our own.
You can tell if sheep have a good shepherd just by looking at them. Sheep can turn land into a paradise if properly cared for and a desert if not. It is all about their shepherd. A good shepherd keeps the sheep safe from predators, defending them with his life, if necessary. He makes sure they do not overgraze an area, moving them to new pastures as needed. Sometimes the route to those pastures passes through dangerous territory, but a good shepherd has already scouted the way in advance and walks with his sheep, never leaving them. A shepherd makes sure his sheep have clean, fresh water to drink. In fact, he leads them to the water and watches over them as they drink. If there are not enough minerals or salts nearby, he supplies the lack by planting sources of them nearby. If a sheep lies down and cannot get back up, the shepherd, ever vigilant, sees this and goes to their aid. He helps them to stand and holds them up until they can stand on their own again. He treats them for parasites, rubbing oils into their wool to soothe and heal. Sheep will not lie down to sleep unless they feel safe and at peace. The shepherd must provide that for them. Sheep know the voice of their shepherd; a good shepherd can calm his flock simply by speaking. A good shepherd will tirelessly search for a lost sheep until it is found and safe. The staff carried by a shepherd can be used as a weapon to defend his sheep, a hook to draw them back from danger, and to touch them gently in reassurance. In short, a good shepherd supplies all the needs of his sheep so they can live without a care and lie down at night in peace and sleep.
Ever heard of David? Most people have. He was the guy that killed the giant with a slingshot and later became king of Israel. But, before he killed the giant and before he became king, he was a shepherd. The youngest in his family, it fell to him to watch over the family flocks. As a shepherd, he became intimately acquainted with the needs of sheep and their relationship to their shepherd. He performed all the duties listed above and more. With that knowledge, he wrote Psalm 23. As you read it, keep in mind all the requirements and needs of the shepherd and his sheep.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
This psalm takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it through the eyes of a shepherd. And that last part, where it says surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, is not just speaking of those blessings in our own lives. It is speaking of what we, as sheep of a good shepherd, should leave behind wherever we go. What does the news tell us about the shepherd of this world?
“But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. John 10:12-13
We are sheep among wolves. We need a good shepherd, one who will no turn form the dangers of this world. Jesus said,
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. He gave all so we may have peace and rest. Then He picked His life up again, rose from the dead, so He could continue to guide and protect us, could lead us home to eternal life with Him. All He asks of us is to believe and to share His message with the sheep that are lost.
So, I ask you. Who is your shepherd?
It is a rainy 4th of July here in Kentucky. Lightning has captivated our eyes and thunder has infiltrated our ears in the place of fireworks. Board games will have to do today in place of pool parties and sprinklers. We’ll have to substitute the frying pan for the grill this year. But the indoors have given me a chance to reflect on the day and the importance of our freedom. It is commonly and rightfully said that “freedom isn’t free.” I can think of a few quotes about freedom to set that point home.
President Ronald Reagan said, “I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."
As a nation we should be able to see that the freedoms we enjoy were costly to those who made them possible for us. Men and women throughout the past couple of centuries have literally given their lives for our freedom and our rights as Americans.
President Harry S. Truman said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”
Certainly with fear and trembling, soldiers of the United States armies have braved scenarios that you and I can not imagine. They have felt the slice of bayonets, they have been pierced with bullets, felt the burn of bombs and perceived the power of tanks. They have flown over head in daring maneuvers and dove deep in the sea where no light could penetrate. They have sailed the oceans and have suffered the desert. This in an effort to keep their homeland safe, to keep the battle away, and to keep us free.
All of our freedoms as Americans have been purchased. We are not free because it is a natural born right of everyone. We have been blessed to be in a country that values the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have been blessed to be in the land of opportunity and these freedoms were purchased for us by those who have gone before us.
The price of freedom stretches beyond our borders however and seems to be a universal truth. All I have to do is point to the Lord Jesus to see that our freedom in Him had to be purchased as well.
We as people are slaves to this world and we are slaves to sin. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. (John 8:34)
We are slaves to sin and we don’t even know it, and the reason that we don’t know it is because we have never tasted or seen the freedom that Jesus offers. We are like a blind man who has never seen the world. Imagine being told of colors, but not actually knowing what that means. We have all sinned and we are all therefore slaves to its debt of death not able to understand true freedom.
There is freedom for our enslaved souls. It is a freedom that comes from Christ. Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Just like those soldiers have laid down their lives for our freedom, so has Jesus laid down his life to pay for our freedom in Him. He broke the chains of sin that hold us by taking the full payment upon himself. He thus died to set us free. His death for sin can be your death to sin. Paul said “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7)
Christ didn’t just die for you. For if he was dead, how could you and I call on Him as a Savior. Think of it this way- we don’t call on those soldiers who have fought for our freedom, we remember them, and they were the means, but that is as far as it goes. The freedom from sin that Christ offers is truly greater than even our freedom as Americans because the freedom that He is offering is literally eternal. Therefore you need Him as Savior and He is there as that Savior because He is risen.
Paul also said, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”
So I invite you this Independence Day to join in absolute freedom, freedom that is eternal, liberty that is everlasting, and joy that is unending. I invite you to salvation through the Christ, Jesus.
I teach the youth Sunday School class here at Salt and Light. Having recently finished a study in Daniel, I asked my class where they wanted to go next, if they had a particular book in mind or questions they wanted to explore answers to through God's word. One of my students, suggested Matthew. Since he is a new Christian, recently baptized and Matthew is the first gospel written and the first book in the New Testament, I found it an excellent choice and so we began our study the following Sunday.
As you may know, Matthew was a tax collector. As such, he was responsible for collecting taxes for the Roman government. His pay was any extra money he could extort from the taxpayers. Needless to say, he was not well liked. Yet, when Jesus called him to be His disciple, he dropped everything and followed. His heart recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah that had been prophesied of old. He walked with Jesus, witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy after prophecy and, very probably, was astounded at the Jews rejection of Jesus. Here was the Messiah they had waited for, watched for, and yet they did not recognize Him. He was standing right in front of them and they did not see Him. Their hearts were blind and deaf to the truth of Jesus. To this audience, Matthew directed his gospel. His gospel is full of references to Jesus fulfillment of the prophecies, prophecies he knew they had been taught since birth. Matthew records Jesus first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount and this is where we are studying right now.
I have read this sermon many times. What has struck me this time is what Jesus is saying about the state of the heart. It is all about the heart - the believer's heart. It begins with the blessings that follow a heart that is humble, merciful, righteous and pure. Unfortunately, apart form Christ none of these things are possible. Our hearts, by nature, are proud, selfish, lustful, and about as pure as a landfill of toxic waste. Yet, the Pharisees, Jewish leaders of the time, thought they could attain these blessings on their own. They thought all they had to do was follow the law, the law as set down by God through Moses, embellished and elaborated upon by themselves. They focused on the outward appearance of obedience. Certainly, they did not murder, commit adultery, steal, or outwardly break any of the laws. They kept the Sabbath, loudly and publicly, fed the poor, again loudly and publicly, and to all appearances were righteous men and excellent role models. Yet Jesus called them evil and a brood of vipers (Matt 12:34), hypocrites and whitewashed tombs - beautiful on the outside, but rotting within (Matthew 23:27). He called them these things because for all the outward appearance of piety, their hearts were evil, full of hatred, pride, a love of power and man's praise. They saw Jesus as a threat to their authority and their status in the community and it blinded them to the truth of Jesus saving grace. They did not understand the purpose of the law to show them how much they needed a Savior. They didn't get that outward obedience was not enough,. would never be enough. The law had to be followed perfectly in the heart, in the mind and in the body. The only one capable of that was Jesus, which is why He was and is the only answer, the only Savior, the Messiah, the Christ. That's why Jesus called Himself the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17-18).
Jesus takes it home to them when He points to the law and then goes on to explain the full meaning of it. When it says do not murder, it is not speaking of just the physical act of taking a life. Murder begins in the heart. It begins with anger, hatred, contempt. Jesus declared that state of the heart murder and commanded us to make peace with one another. (Matthew 5:21-26) He does the same thing with adultery. Adultery encompasses not just the physical act, but the lust in the heart, the desire and impure thoughts. (Matthew 5:27-28) Jesus held up a mirror to the Pharisees' hearts and they hated Him for it. That hatred led to its natural conclusion: the physical murder of Jesus on the cross.
Jesus continued to expound on the true meaning of the law and His word focusing on the state of the heart. He knew that what is in the heart denotes the true state of the man. He told us to distance ourselves from temptation, to be honest and have integrity, to go out of our way for each other, to forgive those who hurt us, to love our enemies, to be perfect. (Matthew 5:33-38) What?! Who can do that?
Let's take them one at a time:
1. Stay away from the things that tempt you, get them out of your life. Writing this, I am convicted thinking of all the times I have run headlong into instead of away from temptation. Simply going to a movie I knew was going to contain things I shouldn't be looking at breaks this one.
2. Be honest and have integrity - let your yes be yes and your no, no. "It's the truth, I swear to God!" How many times have we said that in this life, knowing full well we were lying through our teeth. Yeah, I am guilty of this one
3. Go out of our way for each other. Go the extra mile. How many times have I said no when I could have said yes just because I was tired or didn't want to turn off the TV, put down the book, interrupt my life, be inconvenienced? Or said no because I didn't like the person that much, or know them very well or at all? Too many, even if only once.
4. Forgive those who hurt us, don't retaliate. That is not our first inclination. We get hurt we want to hurt back, retaliate, get a little of our own back. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
5. Love your enemies, be good to those who persecute you, bless those who curse you. This one really hits home. The school bully, the opinionated neighbor, the guy that just cut you off on the interstate, the smelly homeless guy, the ex boyfriend, girlfriend, BFF betrayer...... Ah man, we do not want to have be good to those people. But, Jesus said only loving those who love you back or being good to those who are good to you is easy. Everyone can do that. He wants, no commands us to love the former too.
6. Be perfect....enough said. we have already blown that out of the water.
Our hearts are simply not capable of these things, unless......we have Jesus dwelling there. It is only through Him that we can channel that kind of love and obedience to the will of God the Father. What is in our hearts will out. And if it is not Christ, then no matter how hard we try, we can never measure up to what we should be. Even with Him, we are in a constant battle with our flesh and only victorious through and by His saving grace. No wonder the pharisees hated Him. We do not like to be told the true state of our hearts because if we acknowledge that truth, we know we are in trouble. At that point we have a choice. We can, like the Pharisees, hate the one who holds the mirror or we can embrace the only one who can change the image - Jesus.
It was five years ago that we planted Salt and Light Baptist Church. What started as a “Hey honey, what would you think about…” to my wife as I was finishing up my first degree, has lasted five years of our lives and changed our perspective forever. There have been many answers and many questions, there has been a lot of searching both within and without. Mistakes and missteps have thorned the path but the path has always been passable with a swing of the Sword of the Lord.
I can honestly say that I never pictured myself as a church planter, even while in the heart of it and yet that is exactly what the Lord has made out of me. I never wanted it, studied for it, or planned on it. However, I am ever so gratefully here with a heart that is bursting every time I think over the last five years. Therefore I would like to take the next several hundred words to tell of some blessings I have found in the past five years of planting a church.
1. To be cared about
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
It is an interesting thing when one is part of a church that actually cares about its people. Churches have a habit of being a revolving door. People come and people go. But in a church plant, every person is not just counted, but every person is cared about and cared for. Every person is actually longed for. We rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep.
Sometimes the tightest knots are made from the fewest ropes. A bunch of rope tossed in a bin will make a tangly mess, but just two ends of rope, consciously wrapped around each other make a tight knot that is not easily undone. So seems to be the church, as the pastor and new congregants get to know each other and really build relationships that last.
I continued through graduate school while pastoring the church plant of Salt and Light Baptist and found that no one person was ever upset with me for all the things that I did not get done. Rather I found that everyone was supportive, knowing that my plate was full. I remember having to write papers and take tests, having to call off Wednesday evening services, and not one single person shamed me for it. There was a unanimous encouragement that came from everyone to do good in school and work my hardest. True brotherly love and understanding was demonstrated.
I can testify that through planting Salt and LIght Baptist I have found a people that I care about and a people who genuinely care about me. My needs, my hopes, and my dreams are not just my own anymore, but they are shared with group of God’s people.
2. To be Content
(11) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
(12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I think every church planter has probably had delusions of grandeur like myself. I wanted to see Salt and Light being the biggest church in Oldham County, Kentucky. I was ready to baptize thousands. I wanted my weekly workout to happen during worship service because I was having to lift that many people out of the baptismal waters. The Lord quickly reminded me of my need to stay in His will and not my own.
We started the church with my wife and I making invitations to those we knew. Sunday, June 5th, 2011 rolled around; we had rented a building; we passed out flyers and sent out postcards; and the grand total for the day… 12 people came to church (5 were my own children). I remember one Sunday when we literally had 3 people in church.
I also remember packing the house for a candlelight Christmas service last year. I remember getting the opportunity to preach the Gospel to a full house. I remember when the first person came forward to give his heart to Jesus and the first baptism, and the second, and the third. From little children to grown men. From those who I knew were on their way, to those who completely shocked me in their desire to be committed to the Lord.
Through this church planting experience the Lord has taught me how to “be abased” and “how to abound.” He has blessed me by teaching me to be content.
To be Courageous
(13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
If there is one overarching principle that planting a church has taught me, it is to be courageous for Jesus. The Lord so regularly reminds me that you don’t have to be the biggest, you don’t have to all the money, or even all of the answers. As a matter of fact, you can be the smallest, have no money and no answers, and the Lord can and will still use you if your heart is set after serving Him.
A few years ago we sent out our first mission team. It was a team of three ladies that we sent all the way to an orphanage in Mexico. We had no idea what we were doing, but we did it. We had no idea how we would get there, but God got us there. We have since been to that orphanage 3 times.
The Lord provided a way for our weekly message to be recorded and put on our website. He also provided for us to be on the radio for a time. We have had testimony of persons all across the country listening to the weekly service of Salt and Light Baptist Church.
No matter what the task is in front of us, we don’t have to look with fear like when Israel was headed into Canaan, but refused to go because there were giants in the land. Instead we can rush ahead with strength greater than Samson’s, knowing that with Christ in us, we have the strength to do anything He calls us to do.
I’d love to hear from you. Comment below on some of the unique ways God has blessed your life.
Christians are always saying that reading the Bible is important. No matter how many times they have read the bible they still say it is important to read every day. Some Christians even read the bible through every year. Why is that? We don’t have to read and re-read other books. I remember reading Shakespeare in high school and I have never heard of having to re-read it. Why can’t we just read the Bible once and then put it away like other books?
In this article I plan to give four reasons we should read the Bible daily. It is a book that is unlike any other book in the world and therefore must be treated differently than any other book in the world.
1. We should read the Bible daily because it helps to guide our conscience and protect us against sin. We as humans can not trust our own conscience that is seared from an onslaught of immorality and unrighteousness. When we read God’s Word daily, our conscience is then shaped by the thoughts and intents of God. It is in this way that we end up having a heart after God’s own heart.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
2. We should read the Bible daily because it brings us hope. We all need hope. I don’t mean that in the cliche sense, rather I mean it as in like we all need water, we all need hope. Those who are without hope find themselves depressed and without a reason to live. God’s word brings hope which give us reason and meaning in life.
“Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.”
“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.”
3. We should read the Bible daily because it helps to direct our path. We can all agree that with every step we take in this life, every decision we make, there are consequences and reactions. Newton’s third law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I understand that Newton was speaking of physics but the application is certainly there. When we place the Holy Scriptures in our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts daily, our paths will be affected. When life throws a choice our way, God’s word will be a strong factor in guiding us correctly.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”
4. We should read the Bible daily because in it we find joy. The things of the world bring us happiness, but the Word of God brings us great joy. It is in the Bible that we find rest and peace. It is here that we are led to encouragement and told of the good news of the Savior Jesus. It is here that we are reminded that God loves us, He forgives us, He embraces us, and He cares for us. If it were not for God’s revelation of Himself through the Bible, we would all think like the pagan world religions, that God was angry with us and that we must do something to appease Him. However it is through the Scriptures that we learn of grace. We learn of the One God, who Jesus taught us is our Father and in this we find true Joy.
“Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.”
“I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.”
Truly God’s Word is important for a life of faith. A daily surrounding of ourselves with God’s Word will richly supply our lives. Psalms 119:140 says, “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment about why daily Bible reading is important to you.
I believe words are a powerful tool. God's word has the power to save, restore, edify, create and convict. I have been blogging for several years and find now, more than ever the world is in need of the truth as viewed through the lens of God's holy Word.
I love teaching about the Lord in any setting. From behind the pulpit, sitting in a class or writing a blog, I find fulfillment in sharing my faith through teaching.