Archive | January 2014

Living for the Great Things

But the Greatest of These

Every human being who has ever lived has had the same number of hours in each day.  From the most famous president or king to the least-known person of all time, each has had the same amount of time given for each day.  Our Lord Himself, as He entered time and walked upon the earth, had twenty-four hours in each day.  Do you know how our Lord spent His time?  Jesus said that He always did those things that pleased the Father (John 8:29).  What are the things that please the Father?  What are the things that He considers “great” things?  How should we spend each day that we have been given upon this earth?

When asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Do you want to live for the greatest things?  The greatest things in this life will never be the grandiose, showy things admired by men.  The greatest things that one could ever hope to attain to are loving God and loving others with the love of God.  This love will require all of your heart, all of your life, and all of your time.

The Bible speaks of important and great things, yet none is greater than love.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

How great is faith?  Certainly, it is a great thing.  The Scriptures teach that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that by grace are ye saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).  Most surely, faith is a great thing, but the greatest of these is love.

What a wonderful thing hope is!  Hope is that confident, sure expectation that God will do what He has said – and that confident assurance that He will come again.  Truly peace and rest come from hope, but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest of all things?  Perhaps it is because it brings much glory to our Lord, for it reflects Him as He is.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Look closely:  it was because of His great love for us, even knowing how sinful that we were, that He died for us.  You see, He did what was for our true good, no matter the cost.  And indeed, the cost was great – it cost Him His only Son.  In this act, we see such demonstration of His love (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-11).

Did you know that on the very evening that Jesus was going to be taken and eventually be crucified, He called His disciples together to emphasize some things to them?  Listen to the words of Jesus:  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).  These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:17).  And the final words of the final prayer of Jesus to the Father:  And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it:  that the love wherewith Thou has loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Listen as the Apostle Paul teaches why love is the greatest of all things: … For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet”; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor:  therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10).  The Apostle Paul speaks this same truth as he writes to the Galatians:  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Galatians 5:14).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Do you want to live for the great things?  The greatest thing you can do for anyone is to love him or her as God has loved you.  No matter the depth of their sin, no matter the cost to you, no matter the response, you do what is for their truest good.  That is how God has loved you!

What is the greatest thing that you can do for your husband?  Love him, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for your children?  Love them, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for whoever comes to your mind?  Love them, as God has loved you! The Apostle John, who was taught by Jesus Himself in those final hours, declares:  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (1 John 4:8).  And speaking of the sacrificial love of the Father in sending His only Son to bear our sins for forgiveness, John says:  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:11).

Yes, the greatest of these is love!  Die to yourself, and live for the great things.  You only have twenty-four hours in each day.  And living for the great things is the most fulfilling life that you can find!

On that fateful night before Jesus was bound and taken away, He said to His disciples:  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11).

Lord, renew our minds.  Remind us that we need not spend our lives consumed with ourselves.  You are a perfect Heavenly Father, and You care perfectly for Your children.  You will care for our needs.  Help us seek the great things – the truly great things.  And thank You, Lord,  for the great love wherewith You loved us. 

Submit or Resist?

Authority is of God

In our world today we see so little of true submission. We live in a day and time where the prevailing thought is both individualistic and assertive. We have been steeped in the thought of, “Do your own thing.” The world boldly proclaims, “Look out for number one!” In the “me” society in which we live, we see so many who spend all of their time, energy, and money seeking only after things for themselves, exalting themselves, asserting themselves, and demanding their “rights.” And though we may see the error of their way, we, too, must be very careful that we are not drawn into that worldly thought.

Biblical submission stands opposed to all that the world proclaims. Biblical submission understands that it is God who has ordained all authority. For there is no power (authority) but of God. Authority is ordained of God. Therefore, whoever resists authority, resists the ordinance of God (Romans 13:1-2). Biblical submission declares that because the Lord has set in place authority, we must submit ourselves to that authority if we are to be in submission to our Lord.

Let us remind ourselves of the meaning of the word submission. Sometimes translated as submit yourselves, sometimes translated as subject yourselves, and sometimes translated as obedience, the Biblical word for submission is hupotasso in the Greek. The literal translation means: to arrange oneself under; to place oneself under in an orderly fashion; to appoint oneself under; to ordain oneself under. The word is from the root word tasso, meaning to appoint; to ordain; to arrange. The prefix hupo has the meaning under, hence the combined meaning of hupotasso is: to arrange under or to appoint under.

Now let’s look at the Greek word for resist (antitasso). Interestingly, this word is formed from the same root as hupotasso. But notice carefully the prefix – anti, which means against. Therefore, the meaning of resist is: to arrange oneself against. Can you see the contrast between the two – to arrange under (hupotasso) and to arrange against (antitasso)?

Now let’s refer to the Scriptures: For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Romans 13:1-2).

Now for a final thought – Do not miss the fullness of the truth of the Word of God. If one resists the authority that God has established, she resists the ordinance of God. The word ordinance is diatage in the Greek, and is the noun form of the word diatasso. Did you catch the root of the word? The prefix dia means: through, thoroughly, or completely. This prefix is combined with the root tasso, again meaning to ordain, to arrange, to appoint. God has thoroughly and completely arranged the authority that is to be over each individual. When someone resists that authority, she resists God’s order, God’s arrangement, God’s appointment.

If indeed there is no authority but of God, and all authority is ordained of God, when we resist that authority, we resist God Himself. What a hopeless state in which to be!

We find this Biblical truth: Yea, all of you be subject (hupotasso) one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Yes, God resisteth (antitasso) the proud. God’s Word says that He arranges Himself against the proud!

But how wonderfully we find this truth: He gives grace to the humble.

May we not find ourselves resisting the Lord Himself.

May we humble ourselves and arrange ourselves under the authority which God has ordained over us, for it is there where we find the preciousness of His grace!

Take time to reflect upon these truths and these questions:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers … (Romans 13:1). Will you submit or will you resist? Will you arrange yourself under or will you arrange yourself against?

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder … (1 Peter 5:5). Will you submit or will you resist? Will you arrange yourself under or will you arrange yourself against?

Servants … be subject to your masters … (1 Peter 2:18). Will you submit or will you resist? Will you arrange yourself under or will you arrange yourself against?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). Will you submit or will you resist? Will you arrange yourself under or will you arrange yourself against?

There are only two responses to the authority that God has ordained. One will either submit or she will resist. She will either arrange herself under that authority or she will arrange herself against God.

Lord, help us seek to do those things that are pleasing to You!

Word for the Day – Faith

FaithI have been reflecting for the past couple of weeks on the word faith.  I can recall, as a young Christian, being plagued with many doubts about truths in the Scripture.  I vividly remember softly appealing to The Lord to increase my faith. I am sure that I didn’t really understand what I had prayed.  But The Lord put me on a path to do exactly that – to increase my faith.  

Shortly after that simple, but heartfelt, prayer, The Lord placed me in a Bible study. I went into the study keenly aware that this study would be a part of the answer to my request to increase my faith.  Interestingly, I met a young wife and mom who openly talked about her faith.  Almost everything she said she expressed as “believing for this” and “believing for that”.  It seemed as if most of the things that she was believing for were physical things – material things. She had her sights set on a piece of property that she wanted, and she was “believing” for it.  She already had the house plans that she was “believing” for as well.

Although I was such a young Christian, something just didn’t seem right. But I did not have enough of an understanding to sort things out.  So I just wondered about it, and continued on in the Bible study.  God was growing me so much through the Bible study and I just couldn’t get enough of it.  I looked so forward to the time that I had set aside each day to study.  I had a young child and each day when he took his afternoon nap, I studied.

One day as I was in the book of Romans, God opened up a passage of Scripture to me that forever changed my life.  The implications of this passage continues with me till this day.  We were studying the life of Abraham, known as the Father of Faith, and here is what I read: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God: and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform.  Romans 4:20-21

What I saw opened my understanding to such a greater place.  Abraham was described as being strong in faith, but what he was trusting was not in what he wanted.  He was trusting in what God had said!

I pondered those verses over and over.  Faith was not about me!  It was not about me deciding what I wanted from God.  It was about me learning what God has said, and being fully assured and confident that He has done what He said He would do, that He is doing as He said He will do, and that He will do in the future what He has said that He will do.  No matter what the circumstances around me may look like, I must trust what God has said! Remember Abraham considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb. In spite of the circumstances, he trusted what God had said! That is what strong faith looks like!

I have learned that circumstances will betray you.  Circumstances will cause you to doubt.  Circumstances will cause you to forget what God has said. Circumstances will cause you to give up hope! I understand a little bit more of what the Bible says that, for the Christian, we walk by faith, not by sight!

Then my understanding of faith grew yet again.  We all well know the verse: Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17. If faith is being fully persuaded that God would do as He has said, I now saw the absolute necessity of knowing what He has said.  I could not be fully persuaded of something that I did not know.  His Word became of supreme importance.  It really didn’t matter what I thought or what someone else thought or said,  the only important thing was what has God said.  Then, I needed to be fully assured of that truth, no matter the circumstances and no matter the arguments.

I was back in Romans again, and decided to read the book in its entirety.  I smile now at the naivety of my young Christian life.  The depths of doctrine! But off I went reading throughout! When I got to the end of the book I found a phrase that that I had also found in Chapter 1: the obedience of faith. Actually, I was a little bit confused.  If faith was simply trusting what God had said, what did obedience have to do with it?  I asked a couple of people my question, but they were about as “knowledgeable” as me, so I didn’t get my question answered.

But I continued to study.  I ended up in the well-known passage called the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. It was here that I saw the obedience of faith exemplified. And again my understanding grew.

What I had learned so far:  To live by faith 1) I must have heard what God has said and 2) I must believe it, being fully persuaded that God will keep His Word

What I was about to learn:  Obedience would be the proof that I had actually heard God and believed Him.

I reflected on several of those saints of old named in Hebrews 11.

By faith Abel:  Abel had heard God, believed Him, and did what God had told him to do.

By faith Noah:  Noah had heard God, believed Him, and did what God had told him to do.

By faith Abraham: Abraham had heard God, believed Him, and did what God told him to do.

By faith Moses:  Moses had heard God, believed Him, and did what God told him to do.

The list goes on.  But what I saw was that faith and obedience are inseparably linked.  When a person has heard God, and believed (trusted) Him, it will be seen as that person does whatever God has spoken to him.

So let’s get very practical:

Have I heard from God about the Creation?

Have I heard from God about His Son?

Have I heard from God about my sin?

Have I heard from God about how I am to treat others?

Have I heard from God about the necessity of forgiveness?

Have I heard from God about my words?

Have I heard from God about being a loving and helpful wife to my own husband?

Have I heard from God about how to raise the children that He has given me?

The questions are many, but I would encourage you to write a list of the things that God has very clearly spoken to you and taught you. Then trust Him with all of your heart to bring them to pass. Next, change the things in your life that He shows you that need to change to get in line with His will and His Word!  I plan to do the same. Remember, James 1:22 says that if we are hearers only, we deceive our own selves.

Lord, you have spoken to us about so many things.  Help us be strong in faith, in spite of the circumstances and in spite of our own weaknesses.

Humbly, I pray once again, Lord, increase my faith!