Saturday, February 11, 2017

Beautiful, Part Nineteen

Can’t we have both?

No. The Bible is very firm on this. You can’t have one foot in and one out of your old worldly life. This world exalts pride and appearance, but God values humility and looks at the heart. We are not meant to blend in with the world and go along with the flow, but that is exactly what is happening among Christians in our country. We have not only accepted the world’s lax morals and practices, but we criticize each other if someone tries to live in a holy manner, saying they’re being judgmental, legalistic or trying to earn their way to heaven. But we were meant to be set aside for God and to be unified in spirit, by His Spirit. When we behave the same as unbelievers or argue amongst ourselves, God is not glorified. How can the world see how wonderful He is if we don’t show them?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. Ephesians 4:17-19

Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

There are warnings in the Scriptures about the dangers of wealth such as we have in this country. We are flooded with messages that we need certain things (LOTS of them) to be happy–that appearances are high priority. Any rich person will tell you that you can’t buy what is truly important–for starters: happiness, love, health. Christians know that the greatest gift of all, salvation, is free.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life." Mark 10:23-30

"'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see." Revelation 3:15-18

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:6-11

Paul scolded the believers of the Corinth church due to their filing lawsuits in civil court against one another. He told them it would be preferable to take financial loss than to treat fellow believers that way—and worse yet, they even dealt dishonestly with others themselves.

I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 1 Corinthians 6:5-8

Does God’s Word really have power?

This booklet is filled to the brim with Bible verses. Why? Because the Word builds faith. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 This generation reads the Bible less than any previous generation, despite having more opportunity than ever before. If we don’t know what it says, then how can we follow it? People have become satisfied with little snippets of Scripture and the interpretation of so-called teachers with an agenda (usually involving people-pleasing and profit-making). They don’t recognize when a verse has been cut short or twisted in order to fit the meaning to support a particular (unbiblical) viewpoint.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11

It’s popular today to say we’re “spiritual not religious,” but that could mean anything. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus—He’s perfect exactly as He IS. Many of us are uncomfortable with passages that don’t sound “loving” to us, but we need the whole Bible to get a true picture of the God we worship (or we have made Him into our own version of Him instead of who He really is). He gave us many warnings that we can’t heed if we don’t know about them. We need to get into the Word. It’s the key to eternal life as well as protection from the evil one. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. ... Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand your ground in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:11, 13

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

This is Part Nineteen of a series.  You may download the entire devotional in a "pretty" format here or in a basic, small file size format with highlighting here.