Pride

  Most people are quick to admit that they want to be well thought of, to be appreciated for what they contribute to the cause, whether it be scoring a goal for their team on the ball field, providing delicious desserts for a picnic, or challenging the masses to think by public oratory, article or essay.  But God has instructed us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1Corinthians 10:31)”  A problem arises when we desire the glory for ourselves—when we stand between God and His glory.

  The first sin in the universe was the sin of pride, and it was committed by Satan.  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

    Pride in a preacher might make him say things like, “I want people to like to hear me preach, so that they will come back for more.”  I have determined that, though this might sound innocent enough, it can easily be rooted in pride.  How much better to say, “When I preach God’s Word, I want people not to notice me, but to go away knowing that they have heard from God.”  Truth of the matter is, when we do something for the Lord, it is not about you or me at all.  We should consider the words of the Apostle Paul, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1Corinthians 4:7)”

  Whether we are talking about a preacher, a chef, a barber, a pilot, a doctor, a housewife, or a greeter in the local department store, God wants us to know that, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)” and “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (16:18)”

Mom

 Praise the Lord! my Mom is still living, and though over a thousand miles away, I’m still able to talk to her, and occasionally visit.  Thinking of her causes love to swell up in my heart.  She gave me life you know, and helped my dad to raise me so that I would, at age 7, make Jesus Christ the object of my faith.  Without my Mom, only God knows where I would be today.  Now she is old, but still out ahead, in a love relationship with her Savior God, that encourages me to be faithful too.  Who can ascribe a value to a loving mother, or what’s more, to a godly, loving mother?  I love you Mom!

   When God chose the young woman who would miraculously, give birth to His Son, He chose a Jewish girl named Mary.  It is only logical that we examine her life to discover what God regarded in one of the greatest mothers to walk on the face of the earth:

  Mary was a woman of moral purity, a virgin.  “…the angel Gabriel was sent from God …To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27)”  She was a woman of purpose—the most noble cause ever.  “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (1:31)”  She was a woman who was happy in the Lord.  “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (1:46-47)”  She was a woman of humility.  “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:… (1:48)”  She was a woman of faith in, and fear of, God.  “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. (1:49-50)”  She was a woman of simplicity.  “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (2:6-7)”  She was a woman of quiet spirit.  “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (2:19)”

  Motherhood was God’s idea, and as He said after His creative acts, “It was very good.”  Happy Mother’s Day!

Glorified Bodies

 Someone said, “Getting old is not for sissies!”  I guess they were talking about how my eyes don’t see as well as they used to; my ears don’t hear as well; my…  well you don’t need the whole organ recital to know what I mean.  I guess I’m just feeling my age.  Our present natural bodies are temporal (earthy, produced by natural processes), and naturally, they start wearing out shortly after birth.  After all, they are not made to last forever.  Because of sin, our present bodies are described in the Bible as: perishable, dishonorable, and weak. (1Corinthians 15:42-53)  Woe is me.

  But, it is interesting and exciting to know that the same passage of scripture declares that after the promised resurrection of those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ, we will receive glorified bodies.  Our new bodies will be made for our eternal home (heavenly, produced by a special act of God).  They will be quite different from the old: made to last forever, unaffected by time, sin (and its curse), no longer bound by natural laws, but fit for our new supernatural home.  Sickness, pain, hunger and thirst will be no more.  The same verses, in 1Corinthians, describe these new bodies as: incorruptible, glorious, and powerful.  Let’s take a look at some of those verses:

  “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  . . .As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.   And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1Corinthians 15:42-53)”

In Focus

 Several years ago, my wife and I were privileged to take a trip to Israel.  In preparation for the trip, I purchased a nice SLR camera to enable us to share slides of the Land of the Bible with our church family and friends back home.  It was then I learned some of the basics of amateur photography.  One of the first lessons was how to focus the camera properly on the subject, and then to hold it steadily so the subject would not be blurred in my picture.  I learned quickly that when I failed in either of these fundamental principles, no matter what else I did, the image would be a poor representation of the place where Jesus ministered 2000 years ago.

  After our trip, it dawned on me how my recent experience with the camera made a perfect analogy for presenting Christ to others in my day to day life.  In my analogy Christ Himself is the subject upon which I must focus, and my life, like the film in my camera, if developed properly, will bear His image.  “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,… (Romans 8:29)”

  The same two fundamental principles apply: Unless I keep Christ constantly in focus, and refuse to allow myself to become unstable (shaky), while I am being exposed to Him in my daily walk, my life will not become a clear representation of Christ.  Also, in order for my character to be the perfect image of His character, the ungodliness that was part of my life before I met Christ must be put off, so that I can, “…put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created [me]: (Colossians 3:10)”

  The process, therefore, must begin in my own mind and heart.  Paul told the Roman believers, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)”  Paul encouraged the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)” 

Shadows Of Things To Come

  In Genesis 12, God chose a man, Abram, and issued three covenantal promises to him: a land for his descendants, a son with successive generations of posterity (though his wife was barren), and a blessing (redemption).  This was the beginning of the Hebrew nation of Israel.  They are God’s covenant people through which He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for their sins, and for the sins of the world.  The Bible is the story of this redemption.

  Israel has had a rich history, filled with pitfalls and literal mountain top experiences.  They have suffered in times of rebellion and flourished in times of repentance and obedience.  And God is not yet through with Israel; it has a bright future, foretold explicitly in the prophetic Scriptures.

  Soon, there will be a time of Great Tribulation that will humble the nation of Israel and cause a remnant to turn to God and accept Jesus as their Messiah.  Nineteen apocalyptic events, described in Revelation 4-16, will get the job done. At the end of the Tribulation Period, Jesus will return to fulfill His promise to reign over Israel for 1000 years as King of kings (the Millennium).  

 While the end time events will be visible and predictable once they begin, until then we see only shadows of things to come:

Apostasy = Falling away from the body of truth delivered to us by God. (the Bible)  1Timothy 4:1; 2Thessalonians 2:2-4
False Deliverers = People claiming to be sent from God. Matthew 24:5
Wars and Rumors of Wars = Nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Matthew 24:6-7a
Famine, Pestilence (plagues, pandemics), Earthquakes = Matthew 24:7b
Persecutions = Matthew 24:9; 2Timothy 3:12

These and many other shadows loom on the horizon even now, and will become increasingly ominous until the end.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8-9).”  You Need Jesus Christ!