Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bringing Glory to God

"And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me." - Galatians 1:22-24

The Apostle Paul had an amazing conversion experience. The Lord Jesus appeared to Paul (who was named Saul at the time) on the road to Damascus in a bring light and challenged what Paul was doing in persecuting and imprisoning Christians. You see, Paul thought that he was doing God's work. As a Jew, he was zealous for following the law and for protecting his religion. But the Lord showed up and showed Paul that he was fighting against the work that God was doing through Jesus. You'll remember that Paul was then blinded until he found a man named Ananias who would help him. After that Paul began to preach the gospel and to defend what he once sought to destroy.

Paul's is truly an amazing conversion experience. Chances are that you didn't come to Christ after being blinded and spoken to by a voice from heaven. And chances are that when you came to Christ the world didn't stop and look in amazement when they first noticed you were going to church. No, probably very few people even knew that you had placed your trust in Christ's death and resurrection as satisfactory payment for your sins and received God's justification. Even though your conversion to Christ probably went unnoticed by the world, when you, as a Christian, faithfully proclaim the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, others will glorify God because of you. Others will see the difference between who you once were and who you have become--who you are becoming in Christ.

The challenge for us today is to live faithfully to what God has called us to. As Christians, God has called us to a life that proclaims the good news of salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the purpose. No matter the context, as you fulfill this purpose, you will bring glory and praise to God. Others will glorify God because of you. Make it your goal, not to make a name for yourself, but to make a name for the Lord. Let others see how great a salvation you have in Jesus.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Be An Example

"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." -Titus 2:7-8
Being an example is a daunting, yet necessary task. The Lord wants to put on display what He is doing in your life, namely changing you into a person that shows true godliness of character. He does this not so that you will receive the accolades of men, but so that you can have influence on the lives of those around you. Paul tells Titus here to model good works--godliness--in all respects. In every aspect of life Titus was to show himself to be a model Christian. He was to teach with integrity, dignity, and soundness of speech. Wouldn't it be great if every Christian lived with this kind of resolve? Your neighbors would be well-served if you lived with consistency of character, respect and respectfulness of others, and if you use the sort of speech that shows truth and grace.
Your example is a powerful thing. It has the power to lift someone up. As others look to you (and they are looking), you can encourage them and strengthen them in the Lord. Your example has the power to teach truth. Your life puts on display the measure of truth that you understand from God's Word. Whether you understand little or much of the Bible, your life will show it. Either you will display the godliness that the Lord desires, or you will display the sinfulness of the flesh that comes naturally and easily to you. Your example has the power to silence an opponent and prove accusations wrong. Opponents will come. Accusations will be thrown at you. Your way of life will either confirm the accusations or it will extinguish them. Seek to live showing yourself to be a model of good works, integrity, dignity, and soundness of speech.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Past, Present, and Future

"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:" -Colossians 1:21-22
Remember your past. There was a time when you were God's enemy. There was a time when you were estranged from the life of God. But then there was a change. By the blood of Christ's cross, your sin debt was paid and by faith you received cleansing, the forgiveness of sins, and have now been reconciled to God.
Call to mind the present. God is conforming you to the image of His dear Son, that you may be like Him in your thoughts, words, and actions. Every task you face, every trial that is patiently endured, every struggle, and every victory is being used to further this work.
Now look to your future. One day Christ will present you to the Father in heaven perfectly holy, perfectly blameless, and perfectly unreproveable in His sight--no more accusations, no more sin, no more regrets, no more pain.
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Monday, July 18, 2016

Reclaiming A Vision of God's Majesty

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." -Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah records for us a most awesome experience--Isaiah saw the Lord. He saw the Lord in all His majesty. He saw the Lord sitting on the throne of heaven. Isaiah heard the voices of the angels constantly singing God's holiness. Smoke, trembling doorposts, singing. Isaiah's vision of God was truly a most awesome experience.

Notice, first of all that Isaiah's vision of God came after the death of King Uzziah. You will remember that King Uzziah was a tremendous leader for Israel. He was the sort of king that people followed. He was strong, a good leader, and a godly man. Uzziah built cities, strengthened his army, and overthrew his enemies. However, near the end of Uzziah's life, he failed miserably when he attempted to do something that which was reserved only for the priests. Because of this failure, he lived as a leper the rest of his days. For Isaiah, Uzziah's death would have been a milestone, a date to remember. Uzziah would have been a hero of sorts for Isaiah. After Uzziah's death, Isaiah saw the Lord. Sometimes God has to remove our heroes before we can truly see the Lord in His majesty.

Secondly, notice Isaiah's response to this vision. Isaiah acknowledges his utter sinfulness in the presence of a holy God. Here we see a man that is broken because of his sin. Isaiah is literally undone at this revelation of God's holiness. Repeatedly in the Scriptures we see this same pattern. Joshua fell on his face before the commander of the armies of the Lord. Moses fell on his face at the burning bush. Paul fell on his face before the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Isaiah see himself for who he really is as he sees the majesty of God. This is true of us as well. As we look to the Lord of hosts and see him in all his splendor and holiness, we get a very accurate picture of our own sinfulness and inadequacy to stand before a holy God. 

Third, I want you to notice Isaiah' cleansing. This angel brought cleansing to Isaiah's unclean lips by the coal from the altar. As Isaiah saw this vision of God and reeled back because of his own sinfulness, God extended grace to Isaiah and cleansed him, forgiving Isaiah of his sin. If we are to truly see God's majesty, we must do so on the basis of God's grace in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 2 we are told that by Jesus Christ we have access to the Father. We can be forgiven of our sins and experience fellowship with God because of grace. God has done something for us that we could not do ourselves. Isaiah was undone--there was nothing Isaiah could do to fix his sinfulness. We to are undone before the holiness of God, but in Christ we can be forgiven and cleansed just as Isaiah was. 

Last, notice Isaiah's willingness to serve. When he saw the majesty of God and recognized his own sinfulness and received forgiveness of sins, Isaiah responded by offering himself in the service of the true King of heaven. Uzziah was dead. The earthly hero was no more. But Isaiah learned that God is the King and that He was looking for a messenger. 

Believer, I urge you to see the majesty of God. Don't settle for a small view of God. See him in all His glory. He is the only true God, the God of whom the angels sing night and day, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory!" Only when we see the Lord in all His fullness do we understand who we are in all our sinfulness. Lord break us, undo us, and forgive and cleanse us. Make us suitable for your service.