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All Things New

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

— Philippians 4:4

I remember the words of the classic song, “Old Man River”: “I gets weary an’ sick of tryin’, I’m tired of livin’ An’skeered of dyin’.” Tragically, that is the picture of so many people.

But Paul the Apostle is a great model to us on how to live and how to die. He had become the possessor of a new life through Jesus Christ, who makes all things new. He tells us: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though he sat in a Roman prison waiting to face a possible death sentence, he still rejoiced, and again he said, “I will rejoice.”

He said for me to live is Christ. There is the secret of the fullness of life: Me, live, Christ.

Someone said it is like an arc lamp. When the two components of the self and Christ are put together, they glow with a brilliant incandescence. But if you replace Christ with anything else—with fame, or fortune, or wealth or success or whatever—then you have the smoldering dim smoky lamp that is produced by anything other than Christ.

When the love of Christ takes over the life of a soul, it produces the power of a life which can have a magnetic attraction even for the most scandalous and can change even the hardest of hearts.

Whatever happens in life, we can choose to complain or we can choose to rejoice, through it all. Paul chose to rejoice, and, therefore, they couldn’t keep him down.

Dear Father, give me strength for today to rejoice even when I don’t feel like it. Help me to remember that in You all things work out for the best for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
REJOICE IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

To Be or Not To Be

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

— Psalm 23:6

We can’t always say that what Shakespeare’s characters say is what he believed. Nevertheless, I believe Shakespeare was a Christian, and his testimony on that is clear.

Consider the character Shakespeare paints of Hamlet, the melancholy Dane. Consider his view of life as contrasted with that of the devout Christian.

In this famous scene, Hamlet has an unsheathed dagger in his hands. He is wondering whether he should kill himself or not:

To be, or not to be: that is the question…
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause…

The philosophy of life and death reflected in this passage is vastly higher than the awful secular philosophy of life portrayed by much of the media today, who believe that by simply committing suicide, by flinging the gift of life back into the face of the Giver, by deserting our post, by showing our cowardice, that we are going to solve all of our problems. Hamlet chooses against suicide because the Almighty has set His canon (law) against self-slaughter.

What a vast difference there is to those who come to know Jesus. Through all the difficulties of life, the Savior can sustain us until He brings us safely home.

Lord of life and death, we acknowledge that You decide when we are born and when we die. Thank You that our time is in Your hands. When life becomes too burdensome for us, then help us to cast our burdens on You…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN ENDURE
LIFE UNTIL WE’RE SAFELY HOME.

A Contrasting View of Life

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

— Romans 8:32

There is a big difference between a Christian view of life and a pagan one. For example, the prince of atheists, the Frenchman Voltaire, once said: “I think we human beings are indeed contemptible creatures. I exhort you to enjoy as much as you can life, which isn’t much.”

Of course Shakespeare’s Macbeth said:

Life’s but a walking shadow
A poor player
That struts and frets
His hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But the Christian view says that God has made us in His image. He has made us a little lower than the angels. The Scriptures say that God cares for us so much that Christ left the glories of heaven and became man in order to suffer a horrible but atoning death on our behalf. We are a part of His bride, which He has bought with His own precious blood. We are looking forward to the beginning of eternity with Him by attending the marriage feast of the lamb. Thus, life to the Christian is of infinite worth and value.

Lord, give me strength for today to live life to the full for Your glory and others’ good. Thank You for letting us bear Your image and making us “just a little lower than the angels.” We are so grateful for all the gifts You give us so freely…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
SEE HIS LOVING HEART.

What is Life?

“What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

— James 4:14

I am convinced that the vast majority of people on this earth live and die without ever having the slightest idea of what life is all about. Now that is a sweeping judgment. I make it, however, in compassion and love. It is tragic beyond words. I have given my whole life in an effort to try to solve that problem. Many live as if it will all end after their life “vanishes away.”

May I call to witness a few people who should, because of their education and their genius, understand what life is all about. One of the most applauded authors of the twentieth century, no doubt, was Somerset Maugham. He said this: “When I look back on my life, it seems to me strangely lacking in reality. It may be that my heart, having found rest nowhere, had some deep ancestral craving for God and immortality, which my reason [his fallen reason] would have no truck with.”

Or consider the British author—another skeptic—Thomas Hobbes, who gave us that concept of government as “leviathan.” He said this: “The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Not a very high view of life.

For such unbelievers, there was no future, there was no hope, there was no meaning for life. What a contrast we have with a Christian view of life where we are eternal beings created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Too bad so many will miss out on that which human beings were created to enjoy.

Lord of life, thank You for giving me life abundantly. You came to give us this rich and full and purposeful life, and You gave Your own Son to make it all possible…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE LIVE
FULL AND PURPOSEFUL LIVES.

Something To Really Look Forward To

“But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”

— 1 Corinthians 2:9

For the Christian, death is not an enemy. It will lead us to the great blessing as we come to meet Him face to face and experience that joy of which this world has never conceived. Of course, we should do nothing to hasten our death. That is in God’s hands.

There have been many reports of people who have “died” and found themselves in heaven. Then they come back. I have known some personally who told me their stories. All such reports must first and foremost be tested by the Word of God.

If for you to live is Christ, then for you to die is unspeakable gain. You will be rejoined to all in Christ whom you have loved, and restored to all you have lost. You will walk through the meadows of flowers that never fade; alongside of rivers whose waters forever sparkle; near fountains whose spray is crystal diamonds; through bowers whose leaves are never seared; through gardens whose fragrance never surfeits. You will then know what it means to be among the immortals. Your body will be filled with an energy that never flags, with a power that you have never known. Your mind will enlarge and dilate with electric thoughts, noble ideals, and vast expansions.

Above all, you will see Jesus face to face and spend time with Him. He is the one who opened up heaven to us in the first place by His death on the cross.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You have made us for eternity. Thank You for preparing a place for us and for the total restoration that awaits our souls, bodies, minds, and spirits…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH,
WE CAN ENTER HEAVEN.

God and Predestination

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.”

— Ephesians 2:8-9

The Bible teaches that God is the sovereign Lord and controls all things. And in His sovereignty, He allows men to do what they wish.

Now when He allows a person to sin, it is the person who is acting according to his own evil nature that does it. Now this is where people say, “Well, is not predestination simply allowing people to act according to their own will and to receive Christ?” But it won’t work that way because the whole world is a fallen race. We are all totally depraved. We are dead in trespasses and sin. We are blind to the Gospel; we cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. Therefore, if we are left to our own natural inclinations we will one and all decide to continue in our sin to the very end.

For anyone to be saved, God has to come down into this stream, this mass of humanity, which is pressing ever downward in more and more ungodliness and sin, and He has to come and pluck people out of it, bring them unto Himself, and turn them around. He then steers them upstream and gives them empowering to go the other way. That is why when we get to heaven all of the praise goes to God. He did it all. There is none that seeks after God, no not one. That is why we should be most humble about salvation. It is accomplished by the Savior.

Beautiful Savior, thank You for choosing me to be Yours forever. I thank You for Your work in my life and the grace that You have so freely given…

BY HIS STRENGTH AND POWER,
WE CAN KNOW HIM.

God’s Guarantee of Success

“This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise.”

— Joshua 1:8

“It’s guaranteed,” the sign says. “Double your money back,” the label declares. Many a product has been sold with such a promise only to have the purchaser discover later that it contained a slight flaw. The person who made the guarantee, as you often see on TV, is counting on the fact that you won’t bother to pack it up and ship it back; or if you try to get your money back, find that the salesman has skipped town and left you with a very faulty product.

Today, I would like to talk about a guarantee that can never fail; a wonderful guarantee that is backed by the bank of heaven. In the promise of the above text, we have the guarantee of success.

Theologians have a Greek phrase, hapax logomenon—the only occurrence of the word. Sometimes in the Bible there is only one instance of something. That is the case in Joshua 1:8 with the word success. God, who can never lie and who will never go out of business, has set forth a divine guarantee of success.

Let us consider what the conditions to this guarantee are. The conditions are predicated upon meditating on and obeying God’s book. In Joshua’s time there existed only the first five books (the Pentateuch) given through Moses by God. Today, we have the completed volume, the Book of God, and what a wonderful book it is. Meditate on His Word, and you will succeed in life.

Almighty God, Your Word is precious to us. It is our inheritance. Lord, give us strength for today to live by it and pass it on to others. Thank You for the wisdom it gives us…

BY HIS STRENGTH, WE CAN
BE KEEPERS OF THE WORLD.

Mother’s Day

“…remembering the genuine faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and that I am persuaded lives in you also.”

— 2 Timothy 1:5

On Mother’s Day, we need to remember that there is no gift that we could give them that compares to the gift that they have given us—the gift of life.

In fact, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, for without the moral law of God taught them by their godly mothers, men find it extremely difficult to govern rightly. This has been echoed by innumerable great men of history. Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Sometime ago a lady in this church told me she had been at a large social occasion, a dinner I believe it was, and before they sat down the people were milling around the room getting acquainted. One man walked up to her, introduced himself, and said to her, “And what do you do?”

She replied, “Oh, I’m a wife and a mother.”

He gave a small smile and turned to a woman standing nearby and said, “And what do you do?” She said she was deeply hurt.

“And what do you do?” What should she say? Well, I told her what I am going to tell you moms and housewives when you are asked that question, and you frequently are. “And what do you do?”

“Oh, I . . . well sir, I rule the world.” And then walk away. Mothers play a pivotal role in God’s design for our world.

I thank You, Lord, for my mother today. Help me to honor and love her (or her memory) and be a good child of hers all the days of my life…

BY HIS STRENGTH, WE CAN PASS ON
THE FAITH TO THE NEXT GENERATION.

Beware of Those Who Pervert the Gospel

“…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…and these things I want you constantly to affirm, so that those who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”

— Titus 3:5, 8

Paul tells us that we are saved not by our works. But once we are saved, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit in order that we might endeavor to keep God’s law to show our love and gratitude to Him. That is the biblical doctrine.

But there are some perverters of the faith who are turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. This antinomianism (anti-law) error sprang up early in the church.

We have this idea today, too; it is rampant everywhere. I could probably produce 100 books that have been written in the last five years that are popular even in evangelical circles which teach antinomianism; i.e., that now that we are Christians we don’t have to obey the law.

We have professing Christians engaged in all sorts of sexual perversions, and they act as if it’s okay because we are under grace.

But they are following the very example of Sodom and Gomorrah, having the absolute audacity to form themselves into churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, practicing the same perversions that brought Sodom and Gomorrah beneath the fierce wrath of God.

True Christianity always results in true transformation of the human heart. Many people may profess salvation, but not everyone who does so possesses salvation.

Dear God, I know grace is not cheap. It cost You dearly, and I want to praise and thank You for my salvation. Lord, give me strength for today to live in obedience to Your commandments…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN STRIVE
TO LIVE ACCORDING TO HIS LAWS.

The Problem of Antinomianism

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them.”

— Ephesians 2:10

Nomos is a Greek word for law. “Anti-nomianism” would describe the position of those who are against the law. They do not realize that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in order that we may serve God, and that we can only serve God by obeying His commandments.

There is nothing that anyone of us can do that is pleasing to God except to obey His commandments, even as Jesus humbled Himself and showed his humility by becoming obedient, and He always pleased His father by keeping His commandments.

So also, since we have been saved by the grace of God, we are saved unto good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith. The next verse is the text above. This does not mean we are saved by faith plus good works. No. We are saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone. If it is genuine, it results in good works.

Paul says in Titus that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy that He saved us.

Antinomianism is the spirit of the age. Some have perverted the Gospel to mean that we can live like we want and not have to worry about a holy God because He has already forgiven us. This is cheap grace. Salvation actually is by good works—the good works of Jesus Christ who died on the cross on our behalf.

My Savior and Lord, thank You for Your work on my behalf. Thank You for living in perfect obedience and for always pleasing Your Father. Lord, give me strength for today to do with joy the works You have laid before…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
LIVE LIVES PLEASING TO HIM.