Thought for Today
love determines our values
“God’s Love in us defines the riches of life by relationship,
while the love of this world defines its riches
by the things it holds”
“God’s Love in us defines the riches of life by relationship,
while the love of this world defines its riches
by the things it holds”
“We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem!
Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun. Tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ. Make Him the source, the center, and the circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!” —Spurgeon
“I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray, till heaven I’ve found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!”
“Look unto the heavens, and see…”
“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself”
– Florence Nightingale
“And Abram journeyed, going on still…”
It is the nature of Faith to produce within true hearts a diligence to ever be “going on still” in their walk with God. Faith is relentless in its quest to seek and know its author. Faith generates in the life of every true disciple a “journey” and a quest for God Himself. This journey is the result of a heavenly vision which causes all earthly things to become dim and obsolete in comparison with the growing radiancy of God. There can be no division of heart when God is becoming the “one thing”. As Paul declared:
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”
We read of this same “One Thing” in Psalm 27 as David cries out with fullness of heart:
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple”
It is this “One Thing” which characterizes the pilgrims of faith; that separates the Christian Adherent from the True Disciple. Disciples grow in their love and pursuit of the “One Thing” for an individual cannot follow Him for long without being captured by His incomparable beauty. We cannot follow the ONE in whom resides Wisdom, Grace and LIFE and remain attached to the things of this world.
Who can save us from the misery of self? None but Jesus.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”
While to the believer Christ brings salvation, to the disciple Christ IS their salvation. To one it is an act, a decree and a doctrine (precious as that is). To the Disciple, salvation is the LIFE of Christ resident and abiding within. To one it is a very important thing, to the other it is the ONLY thing.
“For I determined not to know any thing among you,
save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”
1 Corinthians 2:2
May this burning desire become a growing reality in our lives by the wonder of the grace of God empowering, unifying and purifying our hearts; unto the perfect day where we can truly say the desire for the “one thing” has indeed become the ONE THING.
“And when they had lifted up their eyes,
they saw no man, save Jesus only”
“Being in Christ, it is safe to forget the past; it is possible to be sure of the future; it is possible to be diligent in the present”
– Alexander MacLaren
“Our confidence in Christ does not make us lazy, negligent, or careless, but on the contrary it awakens us, urges us on, and makes us active in living righteous lives and doing good. There is no self-confidence to compare with this”
– Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli
“In another filmed massacre, 11 Nigerian Christians were executed by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) over the Christmas holiday.
Wearing the orange jumpsuits made familiar by similar executions of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya, the first Nigerian victim was shot in the head by the black-clad terrorists who then slit the throats of the remaining ten. It is understood to be the largest group killed by ISWAP, a Boko Haram splinter group, so far“
“This message is to the Christians in the world,” stated the 56-second propaganda video, released December 26, in both Arabic and Hausa, according to The New York Times.
“Those who you see in front of us are Christians…”
A Report in “Christianity Today”.
These are people with whom many of us might not fellowship over here given our current state of division and lukewarmness; their doctrine may not line up with ours. Yet they stood true to their confession of Christ unto the end. May God work into us the common love of Christ which unites all who are true in heart and spirit. I pray that His grace would bring the power of a Love which unites all who are His into ONE HEART.
It is easy to love and feel empathy for someone we have not met, but unless His Love produces the deeds (1 John 3:18) of love where we live, we know little of the Love of God in Christ.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. He who doesn’t love his brother remains in death”
1 John 3:14
It is clear that God’s estimation of our walk with Him is measured by the Love we hold for our brothers (not our little segregated group or “church”) and not according to our “knowledge” or our confession. John goes on to say:
“He that loveth not knoweth not God;
for God is love”
1 John 4:8
There is a growing cry within my heart to know this deep and pure love of God; to Love Him and His people and to hate the sin and the selfishness within myself.
It is high time that we begin to measure our walk with God by our obedience, victory over sin and the authentic love of God in our hearts for His people. This love will be the matrix for the true ministry of one member unto another whereby we will see the ONE BODY of Christ arise in purity and truth. It will not be by compromise but by the vey fire of God welding us together!
God has sent His Spirit into the earth for this very purpose. The cause of divisions are the teachings of men; people growing in a knowledge which “puffs up” the carnal heart unto separation and division. True Love brings an “edifying” of the Body of Christ unto Him.
“Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth”
1 Corinthians 8:1
When people cannot edify and build up the Body of Christ it is a revelation of the lack of the Love of God within them. The reason for our lack of power and glory is the same as it was for the Church AT Ephesus: they had “left” their first love. This is the Day and the Hour when God’s Spirit is moving upon the hearts of those who are truly His to hear what He is saying. Many will refuse to hear the call of God and cling to their isolated little groups and churches and miss what God is doing.
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth”
1 Corinthians 2:13
Those who are taught of God must come to the liberating power of the Love of God in all truth and holiness. It cannot be otherwise! The absence of Love reveals a poverty in our knowing of Him.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God”
1 John 4:7
To measure our life in God by any other standard is deception.
“For I know with an absolute knowledge and stand persuaded in the Lord Jesus that not even one thing is unhallowed in itself except it be to the one who reasons it out to be unhallowed. To that one it is unhallowed. For, if because of food your brother is made to grieve, no longer are you conducting yourself according to love. Stop ruining by your food that one on behalf of whom Christ died. Therefore, stop allowing your good to be spoken of in a reproachful and evil manner; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the sphere of the Holy Spirit; for the one who in this serves the Christ is well pleasing to God, and because having met the specifications is approved by men”
Romans 14:10-13 (Wuest Translation)
Paul prefaced this plea to the Body of Christ with:
“Who are you who judge another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand. One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who doesn’t eat, to the Lord he doesn’t eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself“
(May the very Spirit of Christ be the arbitrator of our hearts).
My previous post (Thought for Today -Christmas) was in response to attending a school Christmas concert of one of my grandchildren. I sat there as each individual class got up to sing some silly song about Santa, reindeer or snow. I found it heart-breaking that there is a generation arising who knows and hears little of the precious Name of Jesus. After 6 or 7 classes, one got up and sang a beautiful song about my Saviour, His birth and resurrection; I found myself thanking God that there was one teacher who was making an effort to make known His Name. I discovered afterwards that she had written the song herself. To me she was a great light shining in the darkness and it made me want to be the same. It encouraged me that there was one who had a heart to make known His Name and do it in such a way that her whole class was being taught the message of His birth, death and resurrection. The ministration of the Gospel went forth in a very simple and yet profound way. She was not afraid of this contentious day; she used it for the Glory of God.
My own experience growing up was in a godless family with a violent father; at one point I was living on the streets at the age of 13. However, I remember back in one of my grade school days, while participating in a Christmas concert, I was singing a certain carol and there was such a joy that welled up in my heart! To this day I know it was God’s grace touching a very lost and lonely life.
My God is above all things; what Satan means for evil, God uses for good. While to some this day is “unhallowed”, to others it is “hallowed”; to me it is neither. I hope, just as this teacher did, only to make HIS NAME known in a world that is perishing for the lack of His Light.
Paul rejoiced whenever and wherever the name of Jesus Christ was made known.
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice”
Whether one esteems a day or not, let the LOVE of Christ show through as we are entreated in the Word of God. To me every day is the same; but regarding those who honour the day as unto the Lord and those who do not honour the day, I will not speak evil of them. This is not the spirit of compromise; it is the grace of God lending respect and honour to the faith of God in His people.
Everyone one of us will surely stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ for our words, our thoughts and our actions.
I was totally taken by surprise over the reactions and the flood of comments concerning such a trivial subject. Would to God we would be as zealous over our real issues of life! Issues such as the nature of our thought lives, our lack of charity, and our real need to overcome every vestige of sin and rebellion in our hearts; to the END that we would be immersed in the Love of God.
Be that as it may, to those who have been offended, I heartily apologize as it is not my purpose to stir up controversy or strife.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”
“Glory in the highest places to God,
and upon earth peace among men of good will”
(Wuest and the literal Greek rendering)
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”
(2 Corinthians 4:6)
“And when they were come into the house,
they saw the young child with Mary his mother,
and fell down, and worshipped him”
Even though, in the past, I have not been a real enthusiast of the Christmas “season” (Please read: Grace for Others), I have become more aware of the spirit of the world endeavouring to discount its message and to denigrate its observance. I personally go out of my way now in my personal and business interactions with others to make mention of this season. I do this in spite of the fact that it is not the actual date of Christ’s birth, and in spite of the need to ignore the mixture with the fable of some jolly fellow who goes around giving gifts to all who have been “nice”. (In some convoluted way it portrays to a large extent the “gospel” of our day; if you are “nice”, God will give good gifts to you). The real truth of Christmas is the gift of Christ Himself; His person, His Life and His majestic wonder. This may be the one time of year that some may hear His name in a story or a carol.
The three Magi came from afar; their journey was not an easy one nor a convenient one. They followed the heavenly sign and when they found Him, they immediately “worshipped Him”! The true worship of God comes from our seeing of Him. May we be worshippers in our hearts and give freely as we have freely received. His unspeakable Gift to us is one that we can never repay; but that is the purpose and the nature of any true gift.
“Glory in the highest places to God,
and upon earth peace among men of good will”
(Wuest Translation and the literal Greek rendering)
“And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that He might know how much every man had gained by trading.”
The magnitude of God’s grace and the abundance of His gifts are evident throughout the New Testament promises. The depth of His unmerited mercy can only be fully appreciated through the medium of walking out those gifts in faithfulness. We see this throughout the Gospels. The Parables of the pounds, the talents, the sower and others, show the variety and the wonder of His gifts AND their corresponding accountability. To each of the recipients of the Pounds in the above Parable the reward of Christ was determined by their “trading” of the thing given. The individual who received one pound without their diligence to the precious gift given were never able to fully appreciate the gift or the giver’s worth. It remained unchanged, undeveloped and unappreciated. For such the Day of the Lord holds no rejoicing. How did Jesus respond to the one who held His precious things lightly?
“Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant…
and he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound,
and give it to him that hath ten pounds…”
The great gifts of God require our full attention. They become far more developed and valuable as we are faithful to them. In this Parable (unlike the Parable of the Talents) every individual was given the same initial amount; through their faithfulness and investment the one pound became ten, and to another became five. Yet for the slothful one, the one talent remained one. In the Parable of the Sower the one seed sown in a variety of the soils, produced very different outcomes. The fruitfulness of the seed was determined by the soil, not the seed! The same Pound given produced different results in the lives of each of these individuals. The great eternal question to each of us? What have we done with the precious gifts allotted to us?
We read in the great chapter of Faith in Hebrews 11, the faith of our forefather’s lives and the testimony they have left for us that we might walk in like manner.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward”
The reason Moses forsook Egypt and chose to suffer affliction and reproach was because he had “respect” for the eternal rewards of Christ! He accounted the reproach of Christ to be of more value than Pharaoh’s riches! Men and women who fail to develop the great gifts of God hold a disrespect for His Gifts of Mercy and Grace. The verity of Moses having “respect unto the reward” is a New Testament truth declared in the Book of Hebrews; it is a truth of infinite value for the people of God in this day! We live in a Day when the Gospel preached minimizes or denies the reward and the Judgment Seat of Christ unto His Own! (2 Corinthians 5:10) We have a gospel today which speaks of a salvation regardless of how we live our lives where the faithful and the unfaithful all just go to heaven without any eternal consequences relating to the life they lived. Without the solemn truth of the “fear of the Lord” men and women, who are truly God’s children, see no reason to develop the gifts of Christ in their own lives. Much of the “ministry” in God’s house is satisfied with a people who are undeveloped in their “own” gifts and ministries in God. This false gospel is convenient for the leaders as they maintain their authority with little or no local accountability. It is also convenient for the people as they feel free of their responsibility to God in His purposes for their lives.
“…the priests rule by their own authority;
and my people love to have it so”
The result is a poor and impoverished church which lacks power, vitality and the raising up of the Body of Christ through the development of their own ministrations. This arrangement will not alter the accountability of each individual unto God for themselves. His Word is clear and our Day of giving an account of how we lived our lives unto Him remains true and unchangeable.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”
2 Corinthians 5:10-11
(I do not write these things to be contentious, but because I am compelled to be faithful unto His Word to all who read these things. We want our day of standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be a day of joy and great rewards, not of loss and sorrow.)
A gospel which denies our accountability is not only a deceptive lie but a robbery of God’s glory and investment!
“Will a man rob God?”
“Yet ye have robbed me”
But ye say, ‘Wherein have we robbed thee?’
In tithes and offerings”
The tithes and offerings of the New Testament is for us to give back to God the increase of His gifts to us. If one with a gift of healing, a word of knowledge, a ministry in the Word, or a thousand other ministrations He has lavished on the Body of Christ does not invest that in others, we not only rob ourselves of the reward of Christ but we also rob His Body which is to be built up “by the functioning of every part”! (Ephesians 4:16) If every part is not functioning, the Body of Christ will suffer loss!
Paul in his understanding of this vital truth exhorted and encouraged the people of God to walk and fulfill the ministry that God had given unto them.
“And say to Archippus,
Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord,
that thou fulfil it”
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee…”
1 Timothy 4:14
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance
that thou stir up the gift of God…”
2 Timothy 1:6
We must reject a gospel which presents ministry as something for a privileged few and began to read His Word in the truth and solemnity of its simple declarations.
“But to each one is given
the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all”
1 Corinthians 12:7
Read the context of this scripture and do not let any teaching, doctrine or cunning words of men deter you from the truth and grace which has been given to “each one” of us!
When we stand before Him, may we each hear:
“Well DONE, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”