But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people; but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Pet 2:9-10
I have to admit that I have called a person or two a snowflake. And I hate participation trophies and awards. It seems like everyone is getting something for nothing these days. But why does that bother me so? Well, perhaps its because I want kids to work hard and succeed in life, to show them there is reward for their hard work, not just everyone getting the same thing.
However, this need to be acknowledged, this need to belong stems from a deeper need and conviction of the Holy Spirit. There is one place where everyone is rewarded regardless of work and that is in Jesus, who saves all with His loving sacrifice and it doesn’t cost me anything and I don’t have to work for it.
It isn’t surprising then the parallel in society. As we get rid of Jesus more and more in our society overall, the more people feel like they don’t belong; like they are not being acknowledged for something. People want something they don’t have to earn, that is the conviction of the Holy Spirit to come to Christ, who asks for nothing upfront.
Salvation is free and if we want to belong and felt needed, then we need to come to the cross. If you know someone out there who doesn’t feel good enough to belong, introduce them to Jesus. He will not reject anyone and loves everyone.
So, I have fulfilled my need to belong by coming to Christ. I am now a part of a royal priesthood, God’s special possession. We are the Church and belong to one another. I always have someone to call friend and brother and sister. I will never be alone and I will always be good enough because God through Christ has made us righteous. Don’t you want to belong? Then come to Christ and join the family.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. – 1 Pet 1:14-17
Is my life holy? Do I live as a foreigner in my own land? What does it mean to be holy? Well let’s start there. To be holy means to be set apart. For God has chosen His people, to be set apart from the World. To live in the World, but not to be a part of the world. We ought to look, act, speak and love differently than the world does.
So what about my life? As I look and do some reflection, I have to ask, do I speak differently than the world does. Do I use curse words, do I lie, and do I just talk about superficial things that do not really matter? No, I must be different; my speech must reflect that of the God’s, it must be seasoned with salt and the Spirit that I may bring light to the World.
It is the same with my actions and my love. As I commit a sin, I must repent, not indulge like the world. I must also stand on some pretty tough moral grounds, especially in our country and in this world today. Often times, I find that I have to stand on the side that is not popular but is righteous. I have to stand on the side that is not winning, but will win in the end.
No, my friends, I must be different. I must act, speak and love different. I have to love the unlovable. I have to love the outcast, I have to love those in need. In all of these things I will be holy because it is different than the world thinks. That is what it means to be set apart, it is to be about the work of God and many times it will not be easy and many times it will not win me a bunch of friends, but it will please God and that is what is important to me.
Church, are we set apart? Today is a good day to start. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. I am not saying that the change is instant or easy, but each day should bring about some change. When we fail, that’s OK, His mercy is new every morning. All we have to do is get back up, repent and go at it again. When people see us, they should ask, why are you so different. Then we can honor the Savior with our answer, it’s because someone died for me, that I might live.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Gal 6:14
I don’t belong to the world! What a great notion that is and so I will only boast in Christ and what He has done for me, so that I do not have to serve or be slave to the flesh any longer. Paul starts this last section off by telling them to continue doing good, to everyone, but especially the family of God. In doing good we boast in Christ and what He has done for us.
How is that so? Well, when I serve others instead of myself, I am doing as Christ as done and therefore honoring Him. Then when people ask why I do what I do, I reply, “Because of Jesus and what He has done.” I can then usually get into asking if they know Christ and what He has done.
So, I have to chose each day, not to rely upon my accomplishments, but one what Christ is doing through me. And He is able to work through me because I have died to the world through the cross and the world is no longer interested in me. And so, I cling to the relationship I have in Christ, which brings me peace and love, therefore, I can boast in Him and Him alone.
And I want to boast, I want to tell others about Jesus, probably one of the biggest reasons I became a pastor. I cannot believe I get paid to tell people about Jesus Christ, it is an amazing thing the Lord allows me to do and so, I will go on doing good and go on boasting in Christ Jesus today and every day I am alive.
So, today let’s boast about Jesus. Let’s start with today and make it all about Him. We will see what tomorrow bring tomorrow, but let’s make today all about Jesus. Let’s go boast about what He has done for us to the World. Let them see our light and praise God. Let’s boast about the sin He has removed and the salvation He has given. Let’s boast about Jesus and watch as people come to the Good News.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Gal 5:22 & 25
There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit, this means that when we are in Christ that we can let the fruit of the Spirit lead our lives, we are no longer constrained by the Law, but set free from the Law in Jesus Christ. We can experience and dole out the fruit as often as we like and in a manner that gives glory to God, as much as we like.
What an amazing gift Jesus has brought us, the gift of freedom to live according to the Spirit, to have no limits to how much we can tap into the power of God. That means, God is always available to us. 24/7, I can always count on God and His power, found in the Spirit to tap into the fruits of the Spirit.
So, I must then, keep step with the Spirit. Why? Because if I do not I will fall back into the deeds of the flesh. For the flesh and the Spirit are at war with one another until the day I pass from this world. If I want the Spirit to win, then I have to keep step with the Spirit, I have to be about the fruits of the Spirit, using and handing them out as much as I can, to keep my flesh in check.
And I have the freedom to do this in a manner that suits my person and my personality. Meaning that if I find joy in raising my hands, I can do so. Or if my kindness is in handing out kindness to the one who doesn’t deserve it, then none can say I cannot. Or if my faithfulness includes coming to Church regularly, but I wear shorts, then there is no law against such things.
But in my freedom, I will not waggle it in front of others and so diminish their freedom. It says in the next verse, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” No, instead let us rejoice in each other’s freedom and respect one another in their freedom. Let honor that freedom but supporting them in their works and fruit of the Spirit.
God wants us to be free, it says at the beginning of the chapter, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” We are not supposed to confine or limit one another. We cannot allow the Spirit in a person to be quenched because we don’t like how they worship or hand out the Fruit of the Spirit. So, let’s instead rejoice when one person does come in freedom to the cross. Who lays down their flesh and picks up the Spirit. Let us rejoice in the work of the Kingdom by whomever and however, it is being done as long as it is for the glory of God, to defeat the flesh.
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. – Gal 4:17-18
As much as God loves us and seeks to have all men under His grace, the world seeks to bring people under the yoke of slavery. The world will tempt and try people and will allure them with all kinds of false promises. In the case of the Galatians, it was trying to bring them under the yoke of the law. The worldly people were trying to oppress those who had been freed by Christ to once again have the yoke of slavery.
Now the Devil has all but abandoned Scripture to win people. Now he uses the internet and social media and bench watching to woo and distract people from God and His love. He is zealously seeking you and I out to take us away from the freedom of Christ and to bring each one back into a yoke of slavery.
Do not be deceived, I have to tell myself this all the time. When I watch television, I have to ask, what is the message, what is being conveyed here. When I listen to music, does it distract me and try to bring me into sinful thoughts. When I see the world and its changing status, I see that many are being deceived, but I will remain faithful to the Lord.
When society tells me to be tolerant, and telling me with zeal, they are forcing me into a yoke of slavery to accept sin. When I accept sin and tolerate in and around my life then I am just one step away from being in sin myself. Tolerance is a message of Satan wrapped up in a pretty wrapper of peace.
Do no be deceived people. The world is coming at the Christian faith with zeal to destroy and bring those who are faithful to God back under the yoke of sin. I know I don’t want to be there and I know you don’t either. So defeat this zeal with Godly zeal. Zeal to serve and love; zeal to overcome sin with freedom in Christ; zeal to offer life to any who would listen and in doing so, defeating Satan and destroying the yoke of Sin.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Gal 1:10
Paul was warning against preaching any other Gospel but the one of Jesus Christ. Teaching some other way of heaven besides Jesus Christ as Lord and grace as the force of salvation. They were trying to win the approval of men over the approval of the Gospel of God.
As a Pastor, I must always be careful to search my sermons and to test the Spirit behind them. It is OK to motivate people in the Gospel and to draw their minds and hearts to Christ. However, I cannot compromise the Scriptures in order to win people. I must only preach the Gospel and Word of God that has been given to all of us in the Bible.
The minute I comprise on the Scripture or its instruction on salvation, I have become a people pleaser. I cannot worry about what people think of the Bible, no instead I must remember that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is unchanging. The Bible does not need to be rewritten to keep up with the times, no instead we need to change to God’s Word.
So, I will watch my doctrine and life closely, I will see if it is a pleasure to God or a pleasure to men. Do I seek God’s approval or man’s? I will seek God’s, period. Not everyone is going to like what the Bible says. It will not fit their worldly lifestyle or the sin of their flesh and they will seek to change its wording and twist what it says.
I want everyone to know that the Devil is the father of lies and is a master at twisting the Scripture and using it out of context. So, I will test and measure my word and deed to ensure it lines up with Scripture and I will preach from the Gospel of Jesus, for their no is no other way but His way and no other light buy His light.
Won’t you join me today in standing for the Scriptures. Won’t you proclaim today that God alone is Lord and that we will seek only His approval. When we bend our will to His Word, we will see great things happen for Him and in His name. May it ever be so with you and me that we will always follow His Gospel and revel in His grace.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. – 2 Thes 3:6
Paul’s command is to not be idle which will create disruption by a natural course. It is often those who are idle with nothing to do that stir up trouble amongst believers. They nit-pick at things and without biblical support or understand cast stones of accusation, all the while putting their own faith to the test. This is exactly what has happened in Thessalonica and why Paul gives this warning.
It is when I fail to be diligent in my faith practices that I become idle. God wants me to fill my life with the work He has set before us. It doesn’t matter if I am 8 or 80, God has work for me to do. Some days it is just in study of the Scriptures and others, it is out and about with people, loving on them and bringing them the love of God.
Whatever God’s plan is for me today, I pray that I fill my life with its work. I do not want to be idle and cause disruption, instead I want to be about the work of God. For God is the God of order and not chaos. He is the God of peace, not disruption and upheaval. So, let my heart, mind and body be focused to God’s work.
Let us all be focused to God’s work today. Let us be given to the Word and prayer that Spirit would come upon us with a great message and direction for our lives today. Whatever we are about today, whether typing on a keyboard, changing oil or turning wrenches, or driving a plow or heard of cattle, let our thoughts and focus be to God’s work.
When we do this, we will not be idle. We will not have time for disruption or dispute, instead we will be too busy saving the people God has for us to save. We will be too busy with the work of the Lord to cause trouble. When we do God’s work we become like minded in what we do and God honors that.
Part of Paul’s closing in the letter to the Thessalonians says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thes 3:16) May we all have that blessing in our lives as we work for the Lord and may He touch each one of us that we may be filled with peace as we lay hand to work and throw out idleness.
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. – 1 Thes 4:1
More and more, live in His ways more and more. Why is that? Well it isn’t like God is this insatiable diety that cannot get along without us. No, He calls us to more and more, because He wants to pour out more and more blessings upon us. He wants us to have more and more by living according to His ways. More and more peace, love, hope, grace, mercy, kindness and encouragement to get through our lives.
That is what more and more means, especially in the context of 1 Thes 4. God doesn’t not delight in restricting me, but He delights in my having a “Good Life.” That can only happen if I live according to His teaching. When I step outside of that teaching, I find my life takes on a whole new level of chaos.
If I want goodness and peace in my life then I will live according to His ways and all the more as I see the day approaching. Because I have tested the Lord’s promise and found Him faithful to me. When I live inside the Lord’s direction and will, I am never disappointed. I am never let down by God.
Do bad things still happen, well of course. However, I can make it through the tough times because I know my God is with me and will deliver me as He has countless other times in my life. Life isn’t about what we think is good and bad, but what God thinks about it and how He can use it to bring more people to His blessings.
So, today let us join together in more and more. Let us serve more, let us give more, let us live more in His Word and Way, let us love more and offer the same to others. Let us test the promise of the Lord by doing as He has called and seeing if He does not bless us along the way. Let us test God’s promise and in the resulting blessing, teach others to do the same. “And so we will be with the Lord forever.” – 1 Thes 4:17b
Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the Lord. – Ezek 13:22-23
The people had gone astray and no thanks to anyone, they got into a whole mess of trouble and did not repent. Even the spiritual leaders lead people to wickedness and ensnared the people with evil all for a small profit or gain. God had a special judgement against those leaders, but in the midst of it all, He rescues the people from evil, because that is the love of God.
God never forgets about us. If we call upon Him, He is there for us. And when times look the worst, He will be there to rescue us from the midst of evil. God is bigger than the evil in my life. I know because I have faced addiction and trouble of all kinds and the Spirit rescues me from this nonsense when I call upon His power.
James 4:7 states, “Submit, then, yourselves to God. Resist the Devil and he must flee from you.” For God is stronger than even Satan. I have to remember that in my life, when I face the greatest of evil and temptation. My God will rescue me from the clutches of the evil one who prowls around to devour me. A buddy of mine once told me, today is the day to kick the Devil in the teeth.
Now, I don’t do any of this of my own power, but I have confidence in the power of the Spirit, in the power of my God to deliver me. Therefore, I have confidence and can call upon the power of Jesus to drive the Devil and his wicked demons away from me. This is great news because it means that I have something greater than me to rely upon, an anchor to keep me safe in the harbor from the storm.
You too can have this power. For God loves everyone and wants them in His power and safety. He will rescue you if you will call out to Him. This does not mean that He will recuse me from my physical situation, but He will save my soul and bring me into safe harbor from the storm, but I still have to make it through the storm. I can do this with confidence because I know I am safe.
So, today, let’s call out to Him who has power and authority over all things in heaven and earth. Let’s come forward with confidence that He will take us out of the storm and into safety. Let’s give glory and call out to the one who saves and He will save you, so that you will know that He is the Lord.
God is My Strength,
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is Risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell the disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.’” – Mark 16:6-7
Jesus made it very clear to everyone that He would not stay in the grave, but would rise. He spoke of this when He talked about rebuilding the temple in three days. Yet, they were still shocked to find that He was not in the grave, that He had risen. But even then some still doubted until Christ appeared to them.
I serve a risen savior, I serve a risen savior. Why am I so surprised at this? Why is it I think He isn’t watching over me sometimes or I can elude Him sometimes? It is because I forget, He is risen! I have to remember this each and every day. My Jesus does not have shifts or times that He takes vacation, no He is ever present in my life.
This is of great encouragement to me, because it means in the tough times, Jesus is there and still risen. He will fight for me and bring me out of the miry clay. He will set me on my feet, He will never fail me or forsake me. That is what it means to serve a risen savior.
As I take communion each week and proclaim His death until His return, it is a reminder that He is risen, that He is not in the grave. I have to remember that communion is a celebration of His sacrifice, not a funeral as if He still remains in the grave. No, my Jesus lives and I know He lives because of all that He has done for me in spite of myself.
I love the hold Hymn, “He Lives,” at the end of the chorus it says, “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.” Such a great reminder and great truth, Jesus is risen and has conquered both sin and death so that I may never fear again. He has taken care of the hard stuff, so I can go out and tell people the Good News.
Today, as you have a quiet moment, talk to your Risen Savior. If you don’t know Him, what a great time to find out who He is. But if you do, won’t you just talk with Him today, let’s remind ourselves that the Savior lives and is at the right hand of God. He has sent us the Spirit to live within us. Let’s us rejoice and spread the Good News of a risen Savior.