Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bite-Sized Bible Studies: Be Sure

Be Sure

Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:5-6).”

If we are not born again by a true faith in Jesus, than we are not “in Christ”, and will not remain in Him. We are lost, not saved. Peter, echoing Jesus’ warning said, “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless (2 Peter 3:14).” By sincere faith in Christ our sins are removed and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, “without spot and blameless.”

It is possible to have an intellectual belief in Jesus but not really be born again and saved, to not really have a true heart to the Lord. James says, “even the demons believe.” But they’re not saved! It is possible to falsely think we are okay because we’re generally good people or maybe even go to church or grew up in the church. That’s why Peter warns again, “beware lest you... fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” On the contrary, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18).”

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3:12).” “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest [to be sure we are truly His and saved through real repentance of sin and sincere faith] (Hebrews 4:11).” We must give ourselves, our whole life, heart, soul, mind and body, to Jesus as Lord and Savior “Today, while it is still called Today (Hebrews 3:13).”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bite-Sized Bible Studies: Be Ready

Be Ready

Jesus said that His followers should be ready to go at His return, watching and waiting for His return, and that we would be blessed if we do so (Luke 12:35-40). He said not to be troubled and that He would come again and receive us to Himself; that where He is there we may be also (John 14:1-3).

Because Jesus said this, we know that He can come for His church at the rapture at any time, and that nothing has to happen first or is holding that back. The church has always been taught this by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament, like Paul. Some call it the doctrine of imminency or speak of it as the imminent return of Jesus. It is true that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus will come for His church at any time and that we are to be ready! At the rapture we will be glorified, taken out of this world before the worst time of Tribulation in history, taken to be with our Lord where He is and to be like Him in eternally glorified bodies. This is just as true now as when Jesus first said it, but we are so much closer to our glory now than ever before!

"Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." -Jesus (Luke 12:40)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Under Law or Under Grace?

Following G. Campbell Morgan, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached from the pulpit of Westminster Chapel in the heart of London for 30 years. From 1955 to 1968, he taught weekly on the book of Romans (yeah, that’s 13 years in Romans!). His exposition was turned into a definitive set on the book of Romans. In his book Romans 6: The New Man (a book I would highly recommend for all), D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says,

"There are only two positions, we are either 'under law', or else we are 'under grace.' Being under law [that is, the principle of law, whether it be Mosaic or the conscience, etc...] means this, that you have got to attempt to justify yourself in the presence of God by your own actions, by your own works, by your own deeds. Law is always something that comes to a man and says, 'do this and thou shalt live.' It is the exact opposite to justification by faith. The Apostle [Paul] is very much concerned then to say that we are not under law. Why so? Because that is the only way whereby we can ever see or come to understand the truth which he has already stated, namely, that 'sin shall not have dominion over you (p. 182).'"

A friend of mine recently reminded me of a great passage of Scripture that I have always treasured very much. This particular passage has also been troubling and confusing for many Christians throughout the ages. In Matthew 7:15-23 (NIV), Jesus says,

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

As a young Christian, when I came across this Scripture I would always pray, "oh Lord, I hope this isn’t me, I hope I have a true faith." It wasn’t until I discovered that we are dead to the law and alive to God now through faith in Jesus that I realized this passage isn’t meant for Christians at all! When you think of it in light of the whole NT, how could it be?

Let’s take a really quick look at this passage in Matthew 7 and try to see just what the Lord was saying. I really want to focus on the "Lord, Lord" section in verses 21-23, but I quoted the previous verses to give a bit more context.

Jesus tells the crowds to watch out for false prophets and that you will know true from false "by their works." I think the first question we have to ask ourselves here is, "who is He talking to and what is the context of the discussion?" Obviously He is talking to huge crowds of Israelites, Jews, there in Israel. All the way back in chapter 5 it indicates that His disciples were there. We see throughout the gospels a mixed crowd following/listening to Jesus. Disciples, interested onlookers, law abiding Jews that doubt Christ’s claims but are open to hear Him, and those that are just dead set against Him. I think it is fair to say that there was a fairly large group of people listening to Him here, and that included the strict followers of Mosaic law who were rejecting Jesus’ claims.

False prophets then, in this context, are those that teach the law and traditions of men, requiring it of the people, and yet not keeping the law perfectly themselves. Those that do not follow God by faith, but by their own standard of works are false God followers. You’ll know them by their bad works, which are works done in their own strength and not by God, and that is why the works are worthless like a fallen tree limb, they are dead and will shortly be thrown in the fire.

So, when Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven," we have to view the statement in light of it’s context. Who is he speaking to? Jews. People that have been listening to the teachers of the law for years, many of whom have been teaching salvation by works instead of repentance and faith. So many times, Christians today make it seem like Christians could say, "Lord, Lord" but they may be rejected because they do not have enough good works to support their faith. But I reject that completely as impossible! The text rejects that, not to mention the whole of the New Testament. Those who say "Lord, Lord" in this context, are Jews! Christ rejecting, "law only" Jews! And I would say this clearly applies, not to Christians, but to religious folks (anywhere) that base their right standing with God on their own standard of good works. Jesus says only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What is the will of the Father? According to Jesus, the work of God is to "believe in Him whom He [the Father] sent (John 6:28-29)." Notice that the false believers in verse 22 had plenty of works to show for their good standing with God. But Jesus rejects them. Why, because of a lack of fruit or good works? No, no, no. Because of a lack of relationship. He says, "I never knew you."

Oh brothers and sisters in Christ, do not let misinformed Christians condemn you because you do not meet their particular standard of perfection of the day. We are the Lord’s by faith and not by works. Christians are not the target of this Scripture in Matthew 7. The religions of the world are the target because they are all coming to God based on their good works. But the whole of humanity is always falling short of the glorious standard of God and are made right with Him by His grace, through faith and not by works (of the law or conscience or whatever other standard, as Lloyd-Jones said above).

Christ died once and for all. When He died for our sin, He died to the realm of sin and death (He will never die again or be subject to the punishment of sin again). And Paul says in Romans 6 that when we were united to Christ by faith, we also died to sin and the power of sin and death. We are no longer under sin, but under grace. If we were under the law, sin would still have dominion over us. But it does not because Christ died to transfer us from the kingdom of sin, darkness and death, into His glorious kingdom of righteousness, light and eternal life (Romans 5). We were transferred into God’s eternal Kingdom when we were united to (made one with) Christ by faith! If you call yourself a Christian, be sure that you are in the faith that is by grace, and not the religion that is by works.

Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. ...All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor [grace] that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms--all because we are one with Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1-6).

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

If you are a Christian, born again by the power of the Spirit of God, if you know Him and have His Holy Spirit in you, if you believe in Jesus and have given your life to Him, whether you are on fire or backsliding, you are not under law, but under grace. Make a billboard and hold it up high and shout it from the mountain tops, "You are saved by grace through faith and not by works!" You will not hear, "I never knew you," but rather, "welcome home my child." Not because of what you did or do, but because of what Jesus did for you. What a glorious freedom! What a wondrous truth. What a merciful Father we have! Thank you Jesus for the work you did for me. Rest in Him alone. And if you do not already know the Lord, give your heart to Him today.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4). The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom. 5:5).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Love & Grace

Grace is simply this: what God has done for us. Grace is the undeserved, merciful kindness of God toward us. It is the work of God that flows forth from His unending love. The result of God’s grace working in us is God’s grace working through us. Grace includes the power of God working in and through us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). God’s plan of the redemption of mankind to Himself is the gift of His grace alone, and He has accomplished this through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sin. And we continue to walk with Jesus by His grace, the leading and empowering of His Holy Spirit.

Love is defined for us in 1st Corinthians chapter 13: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NKJV).

John tells us that “God is love (1 John 4:16).”

God has revealed His love for us in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus set aside His own life and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2). God did this because of His immeasurable love for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

I am in awe of God’s love and grace for me. What an incomprehensible but wonderful truth to contemplate and revel in! Yet, as I continue to walk with the Lord, He has revealed to me that I do not usually extend the same kind of love and grace to others in my life as He has extended to me in Christ. I love to worship God and to receive from Him. So how can I go right out of church and be rude to someone and act selfishly? How is it that I show so little grace when it comes to someone doing wrong by me? James said, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so (3:10).” If I am to be a follower of Jesus, I must follow Him in His love and grace, and in His humility and sacrifice.

Jesus said, “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 one's life for his friends (John 15:12-13).”

This is a tremendous call for our lives, and impossible outside of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in us. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. Paul said, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).”

The Christian life can be summed up in these two words: love & grace. The love and grace of God toward us, and the love and grace flowing forth from us to the friends and enemies around us in our lives; flowing forth like God’s grace flows forth to us from His heart of love.

Lord, help me to be loving and gracious to those that You bring across my path. Empower me to walk in Your way. Fill me with Your love and give me victory over my selfish flesh. Change me into a servant. Change my heart to give undeserved kindness to those who do me wrong. Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me. Empower me to suffer long, to be kind, to not seek my own and to endure all things for Your glory.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139). In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He Comforted Me

In Ruth 2:13, Ruth says to Boaz, "Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

This verse is reminiscent of our own prayers. “Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you, Lord. You have comforted me and been so kind to me. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me and showing so much patience with me. You have given me such an indescribable inheritance in Christ. Lord, thank you.”

Here, in the book of Ruth, we have a beautiful love story unfolding against the dark backdrop of the time of the Judges. In a world of violence and injustice, disobedience and ignorance, true love reveals the strength of two people who are more than conquerors. Ruth has lost her husband, her father-in-law and her brother-in-law. She has only her mother-in-law, Naomi. Though she is surrounded by death, she is faithful to trust God to work out her circumstances.

Boaz was an extended relative of Ruth’s husband. Her husband had died many years previous to this reunion of Boaz with Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. Boaz was Naomi’s (and Ruth’s) kinsmen redeemer, her close relative. As events unfold, we see Boaz fulfilling his duty under God’s law (Lev. 25:25 and Deut. 25:5-6), of redeeming the wife of a relative that died, to support her and carry on his relative’s family name. In this short story, probably told to us by the prophet Samuel around the inauguration of David as king, we see a beautiful type of Christ revealed. Boaz is a picture of Jesus, and his wife Ruth represents the bride of Christ, the church. Jesus is our Kinsmen Redeemer. The eternal God became a man, and therefore could redeem mankind from it’s death, from our separation from God; to make us right before God and to take care of us. In verse 13, after Ruth has found favor in Boaz’s eyes, she says softly, “you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not one of your maidservants. Ruth was not an Israelite, she was from Moab. As Christians, we are said to have been outsiders to the covenant and grace of the Lord, but now through faith in Jesus, we have been brought into the family of God.

In this quick paced and distracting society we live in, these words of Ruth’s soften a busy heart! To contemplate the Lord’s kindness, and to bask in His comfort is something I could do all day long! He is our comforter, and He has spoken the truth kindly to our hearts. He has redeemed us from spiritual death, and given us eternal life with Him, as Boaz, in love, redeemed Ruth to take care of her and honor his relative’s name. God has honored His promise to Abraham by blessing people of all nations through Jesus.

Now, as we get down to verse 14, Boaz instructs Ruth to come, and eat of the bread, and to dip her piece of bread in the vinegar. This verse reminds me of our communion, with our Lord. The eating of the bread, representing the body of Jesus broken for us. And the drinking of wine, His blood shed for us.

It also reminded me of the words of Jesus in John 6:51 & 55, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.” “For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink.” He came to give us new life in abundance, as Boaz did for Ruth.

What a wonderful reminder of communion and intimacy with our Kinsmen Redeemer, tucked away nicely in this little book written about 3,000 years ago. Jesus is our sustenance and our life. Our communion with Him is a continuing romance that will carry on into the eternal glories of His Kingdom. Come quickly, Lord! Call us home to the wedding feast.

Also, in the book of Ruth, we have a necessary reminder of all that the Lord has redeemed us from: loss, pain, want, worldly desires and death; to ultimately be united with our God through His sacrifice. Though Ruth was a Moabitess, she is chosen by God to be David’s great-grandmother, and the ancestress of the Messiah, our Savior and Lord, Jesus. Oh, how God’s grace abounds eternally! Though, like Ruth we were on the outside, Jesus has redeemed us to God and we have been brought into His glorious Kingdom forever. If you have not received God’s wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ, why not ask Him now to forgive you of your sins and let Him into your heart. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Grace Is Sufficient For You

Paul, speaking in 2 Corinthians 12 of his “thorn in the flesh” (given to him, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he be exalted above measure), said that he pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from him. In response, the Lord Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Grace is what God does for us, and has done, despite what we’ve done. Paul said, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul equates the power of God with Jesus’ statement, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” Paul says, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The power of God, His grace, works through us, whether we are weak or strong. But the weaker we are, the stronger the Lord will be for us! But, we have to let Him, we have to trust Him, we have to seek Him, we have to give it all to Him.

Seek the Lord and be filled with the joy of the Lord, knowing that you have God’s grace in all that you do for Him and in Him. In our infirmities, His power is available to work in and through us, to strengthen us and to accomplish His will. We need to call on Him. When we are reproached for our faith, His grace is sufficient in our weakness, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We need to ask him to give us the words to speak and the power to live for Him. In needs, in persecutions and distress, these are our opportunities to see God work in miraculous ways in our lives, to draw closer to Him than ever and to be built up in our most Holy faith.

His grace is sufficient. He has done the ultimate deed for us, in sending His Son to die for our sin. He has done that for us because we were dead in sin. We are weak and unable to do it for our self. He has given us eternal life in Christ. We could not work to achieve that, He has given it freely to us.

Paul said, “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh (Gal. 3)?

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17).”

We received the Spirit of God by the hearing of faith. We can not do the work of God in the flesh. We can not make it through this life as Christians on our own, in our weakness. We need to do all things after coming to Him, then do them in His power as He leads. It is so easy to get off course and to trust in our own strength, ingenuity or ability. But I have the Spirit of God, His grace, His strength, His perfect knowledge, perfected in my weakness, “to press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (Phil 3:12-13).”

We have access to the throne of the Creator of all things, our Maker and Father, through our faith in Jesus Christ. He will give us all things that we ask in His name, to accomplish His will. But we need to ask. We need to spend time in prayer, worship and study in His Word every day. We need to access His grace and allow His Spirit to work in and through us. We need to become dependent on our God! We need to be close to Him. Let us come to that throne often every day. Let us seek His will first, and His power first before we venture out in His name.

Oh merciful Father, empower us in your Spirit. May my strength come from you. May my every step be led and moved by You. May it be true of us as it was of Paul, that in our weakness, You are strong in us. May your Son be glorified in my life today. Be strong in me today Lord, in my weakness be glorified. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Give Thanks and Enter In

There’s a worship song by Henry Smith called Give Thanks. It goes like this,

“Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son. And now, let the weak say, “I am strong,” let the poor say, “I am rich,” because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks.”

Let’s give thanks today for all that the Lord has done for us. Are you weak? You are strong in the Lord (2 Cor 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” and Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”). Are you poor? You are rich in the Lord (Luke 6:20, "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God”).

The mystery that God has revealed is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Us in Christ and Christ in God. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph 1:22-23).”

Ephesians 1:3, 7, 10, 11, 18, 19; 2:5-6, 19; 3:17, 19:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace… that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him… In Him also we have obtained an inheritance… the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints… and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power… even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God…

Romans 8:16-18:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

With such a hope and future, we can rejoice here and now in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in our glorious inheritance in the Lord. May we enter into His rest today. May we be filled with His peace that passes understanding, and the joy of the Lord. Oh, Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you and your plan for me, in this life and the life to come. May I enter into your rest now, Lord, and may I glorify your Son in and through this new life you’ve given me.

Hebrew 4:8-9, 11, 16:
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God…Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience…Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Phil. 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalm 150: v1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! v2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! v4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! v6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! Ps 22:26

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Ps 30:4

He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God… Ps 40:3

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Ps 104:33

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Ps 106:1

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. Ps 147:1

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Word of God is Living

The word of God is living and active. In the world there are so many words flying around, ideas and philosophies trying to convince us of their truth and value. Some Christians say that the Word of God is not contemporary enough. "People don't want to just hear about the Bible and go to some boring old church where they talk about the Bible all the time," they say. So many leaders in the church today have messages of health and happiness, how to be financially responsible and how we should protect the environment. Obviously, I don't think those things are bad, I live here, too. But, as Christians, we have in our possession the very Word of God to humanity, and it is alive. Many generations have come and gone, their contemporary cultures dying with them (those roaring 20's were hip once upon a time). But God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What we are doing now, that seems so hip and so now, in the future will look the way the roaring 20's look to us now; outdated and far removed. But God and His Word is always now, always contemporary. His Word speaks into our lives now because it is Him speaking through it to us. In fact, the Scripture says that the Word of God can discern what is happening in our hearts and that we've been born again through it.

Hebrews 4:12 says that "the word of God is living and powerful (active in the NIV) and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. In 1 Peter 1:23-25 Peter says, "we have been born again through the word of God... which lives and abides forever." Peter then quotes Isaiah 40:6-8 which roughly says "that the glory of man is like a flower, it's glory falls away, but the Word of the LORD endures forever."

In eternity, there will still be God's word. This current, foolish world will be changed and the Lord will reign in righteousness and peace. Should we be listening to men's wisdom or should we turn to the Living Word? Should we be trying to please people with our own cunningly devised anticdotes or giving them the eternal, life giving Word of God? Paul said in Romans 10:17, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The Bible says, "where is the wise? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:20)?" Paul also says, "I did not come to you with excellence of speech or of wisdom, for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-2)." "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor. 3:19)." "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us." Do ambassadors take their own words or the words of the one who sent them? And what is the word? "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:20-21)." "We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake (2 Cor 4:50)."

There is a watered down Christianity out there. There is a "Christianity" that isn't even Christianity! And it's not that I am judging or saying I am any better of a person, I know that I am not. But "how will they hear unless someone preaches the word?" This "contemporary" culture we live in is only temporary. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. There is only One that never changes, and His message is the same as it was 2,000 years ago from the cross of Calvary, and His plan of the redemption of mankind was known to Him before creation.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom (Col. 3:16).

That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26).

Receive with meekness the implanted word (James 1:21).

Holding fast the word of life (Phil. 2:16).

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you (2 Thess. 3:1).

For You have magnified Your word above all Your name (Psalm 138:2).

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).