• ENEMIES OF PEACE

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    “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
    Philippians 4:6, 7

    One of the beautiful things that God promises His children is peace. Sin robs us of peace with God, peace with ourselves, and very often, peace with others. But God is the restorer of that which sin has stolen. We can know peace because we know the Prince of Peace. Peace is part of our spiritual inheritance. However, even Christians can have their peace interrupted. We all have known days of confusion or turmoil, when peace was a stranger to our hearts.

    Our text speaks of the great blessing of peace, but it also speaks of the things that can hinder us from enjoying or experiencing it. One of the first things mentioned in our Scripture that affects our peace is worry. The Bible says, “Be careful for nothing.” To be careful, or full of care, is another way of describing being anxious or worrisome. Worry, or anxiety, is an enemy of peace. One cannot be filled with fretting and worry and at the same time experience God’s peace. Peace accompanies faith and trust, not worry.

    Another enemy of peace is prayerlessness. We are told in our verses to pray about everything, letting our “requests be made known unto God.” When we do not pray about things, taking our concerns to God, we are forfeiting the peace that God promises. By contrast, when we make it a habit to cast our cares on Him, trusting Him with the needs and situations of our daily lives, we will know the peace that He promises. We see still another enemy of peace in our lesson. It is the lack of thanksgiving. Our prayers are to be filled with thanksgiving, and the results will be “the peace of God.” If we do not thank God for the things that He allows in our lives, especially the difficult things, there will be the tendency to become resentful or bitter.

    We may not always know why God permits certain things to come into our lives, but we can be assured that God is good. He has a purpose. Therefore, we can thank Him, by faith, for the circumstances of life. If we can learn to pray about everything, thanking Him for His will and resisting the temptations to worry, we can know God’s peace.

  • BEFORE WHOM I STAND

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    “And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.”
    I Kings 18:15

    Elijah is a name among the prophets that is especially equated with boldness. He stood before Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, and pronounced divine judgment on the nation of Israel. He alone faced hundreds of false prophets on Mt. Carmel. Where did such boldness come from? What was the source of his unusual confidence? Perhaps those questions are answered, at least in part, in the words “before whom I stand” found in our text.

    Before Elijah stood before others, he stood before God. While he stood before the enemies of God, he knew he was standing in the presence of God. He knew whose messenger he was. He belonged to God and would answer to God alone for his ministry. He was not standing in his own name, authority, or might. He represented the Lord God Almighty and stood as His servant.

    What a difference it would make if more of those who claim to be called by Him could minister with the assurance that they stood before God! Men would not be so timid in declaring His truth if they knew they would stand before and answer to God. Preachers of our day would not be as interested in shaping their messages to appeal to men if they stood before God. We need men of God who have a message from God. We need men who have been with God in prayer and know that He has given His Word to be proclaimed with power. There is no question that time alone with God will be rewarded with His divine touch and a noticeable boldness.

    We too are called to share His message with a world that is often uninterested in His Truth. Before we stand before them, we need to first stand before Him. As Christian servants in many different capacities, both men and women, we need God’s blessing on our lives. We need the confidence that is emboldened by standing before Him. Time before God prepares us for time before men. It may be that this is one of the missing elements in our ministries. Our world is desperately in need of men of conviction who are not for sale. We need men who are not as tuned in to the popular techniques of the generation as they are tuned into the heart of God. God give us men who fear God more than failure and long for His approval rather than the applause of mortals. God, give us messengers who stand in Your presence.

  • GOD’S WORD IS NOT TO BE ALTERED

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    “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
    Deuteronomy 4:1, 2

    Israel was to be governed by the laws of God. His statutes and judgments were not subject to their vote or approval. They were to “hearken” or “listen intently, paying close attention to” what His Word taught. These holy commandments and principles were to be learned and then obeyed. The success of God’s people was dependent on their obedience to His Word. It has never been possible for the people of God to prosper and be blessed when they are leading disobedient lives. However, as long as they would let God’s Word guide them and faithfully follow His commands, no enemy could prevail against them. Therefore, God strictly forbids the altering of His Word.

    Our text clearly states, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” There have always been temptations to tamper with the Word. When the serpent came into the Garden of Eden, he was casting doubt on the Word of God. The devil hates the Bible. He despises the authority of the Scripture and fears the power of the Bible. Israel was to resist every tendency to alter the truth of God. This restriction regarding the Word of God has never been rescinded God’s Word is never to be changed.

    The Bible is not the words of men, it is the Word of God. It will never be outdated. It will never need to be revised. The modern translations of the past century are direct violations of this clear command of Scripture. It is the height of arrogance for Bible publishers to assume they have the authority to add to or diminish from the Words of God. When the Bible is added to or subtracted from, God’s Holy Word is profaned. God’s Word is to be revered, it is to be feared, and it is to be obeyed. We live in a day when those who should be proclaiming the truth are diluting the truth and claiming that the Bible as it is, is no longer relevant. The Holy Scriptures shall always be the unchanging standard of truth.

  • BUILDING UP YOURSELVES

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    “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
    Jude 20-21

    The Book of Jude is primarily devoted to the subject of false prophets and apostasy. Near the end of this very brief yet dynamic book, instructions are given to Christians for letting our lights shine in a darkening world. One thing that is called for is that God’s people would be “building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” The phrase “building up yourselves” clearly indicates personal responsibility for our spiritual condition. We must take the initiative to keep ourselves built up. Obviously, the Holy Spirit wants to work in our lives.

    God gives us pastors and teachers to admonish us. But God will hold each of us responsible for our spiritual growth and maturity. Where am I spiritually? Am I growing in grace? Is there continued progress in my Christian journey? Am I increasingly more useful in God’s work? Am I more Christ-like in my responses and attitudes? These are the things that should concern each of us.

    Along with commanding us to be “building up” ourselves, Jude details several basic, yet essential things that will contribute to our spiritual stability. He mentions “praying in the Holy Ghost.” There will be a definite correlation between our prayer lives and our spiritual strength. Our prayer times should be spiritual, as we are led and influenced by the Spirit of God. We don’t know what to pray for without the Spirit’s involvement.

    Jude also tells us to “keep yourselves in the love of God.” We are to keep ourselves loving God. When our passionate love for God begins to wane, it should be a strong signal that something is missing in our spiritual lives. When we do not love Him as we should, our service and worship will be affected. If we do not love Him as we ought, it is usually because we have taken our eyes off of Him and are focusing on other things. As long as we are gazing by faith on the Savior and contemplating His unconditional love for us, we will be enamored with love for Him.

    We also notice that Jude encourages us to be “looking” for Jesus to come. The thought of seeing Jesus, falling before Him, and worshiping Him in Heaven motivates us. An earnest expectation for His return will keep building us upon our “most holy faith.”

  • OPEN THE DOOR

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    “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
    Revelation 3:19-20

    Although personal workers often use these verses as an invitation to receive Christ as Savior, in its context, Jesus is speaking to the church of the Laodiceans. He is pictured on the outside of the church, knocking at the door, seeking to gain entrance. In itself, this is a somber image. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it. Of all places, He should not be on the outside looking in. Be that as it may, one has to wonder how many congregations are in the same situation. How do churches get that way? What would the Lord have them to do?

    The answers are found in this familiar passage of Scripture. The location of Jesus on the outside of the Laodicean church was the result of their sin, particularly their sin of being lukewarm. Their complacency and self-satisfaction was nauseating to the Lord. This would certainly describe many churches and Christians today. The passion for God is absent. Lethargy has replaced spiritual hunger. Zeal has given way to slumber. Where there was once sincere worship, ritual now reigns. The thing that makes this condition so serious is the blindness of those infected. They see nothing wrong with where they are, and are therefore comfortable.

    However, the Word of God helps us to see the need for revival. Jesus comes to this dying church, initiates dialogue, and offers intervention. In doing so, He gives them clear and nonnegotiable responsibilities. Out of love, He rebukes them and calls them to repentance. This is the response that God is looking for. When we have disobeyed God, there is no acceptable alternative. The Lord requires confession and repentance. They were to hear His knock, repent, and OPEN THE DOOR. He wants those who claim to know Him to listen to His warning, honestly recognizing the spiritual needs in their lives, and turn in a godly direction. He insists that we admit our woeful condition. We must admit the sin of seeking to live without His vibrant presence in our lives. We are to invite Him back into the place of prominence He deserves. Jesus wants renewed fellowship with His saints. He wants to “sup with” us. It is up to us to OPEN THE DOOR.

  • WANDERING

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    “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.”
    Proverbs 27:8

    In our Scripture, a comparison is offered that serves as a warning against WANDERING. First, we see a bird that wanders from her nest. When the bird is on her nest, she is usually either sitting on eggs or feeding her young. It would be a dangerous thing for her or the young if she were to get too far from her nest. God uses this as an illustration of the man that wanders “from his place.” Just as the bird’s place is on or near her nest, we have “a place.” God has a specific place in His will for us to occupy. The closer we stay to that place, the better off we are. We are not spiritual nomads, just WANDERING aimlessly or without a fixed station or purpose. God has a place for each of us. When people get out of their places, they expose themselves to temptations and dangers that can be disastrous.

    When God moves us, it is one thing, as with Abraham’s trek to the Promised Land. This is not the same as WANDERING, as though following some inclination or impulse. As with the bird, when we are out of our places, we are also absent from our duties. Her responsibility was to guard the nest and protect and feed the young. By WANDERING, she placed others in harm’s way. She left her offspring exposed to unnecessary dangers. Could we not say that the same thing can be true in our lives? When a person wanders away from his post, others will be adversely affected. When we wander from God’s place, we are forsaking our duties and God-given charges. When the prodigal left the father’s house, he was not only leaving his abode, he was also abandoning his responsibilities as a son.

    If a man wanders from his place, who will take up the slack and fulfill his purpose in God’s will? The word “wandereth” implies a careless venture away from a designated place. To wander means “To rove; to ramble here and there without any certain course or object in view.” This aptly describes how a man often gets away from “his place.” He becomes haphazard about his place, as though it is not important or divinely appointed. Initially, he may not intend to abandon his place or his duty. Instead, he carelessly drifts away from the place God has placed him, but the results can be devastating. It is a wise person who is resolute in remaining in “his place.”

  • STRENGTH THROUGH WEAKNESS

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    “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
    II Corinthians 12:9

    The apostle Paul experienced things with God that perhaps no other mortal would ever know. His salvation came from a direct encounter with the risen Christ. He was the instrument God used to give us much of the New Testament. His missionary accomplishments could only be attributed to the hand of God that was resting upon him. He testified of being taken up to Heaven and seeing things that he was not able to share. To protect Paul from being prideful, God allowed him to have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan that buffeted him. Whatever this thorn in the flesh was, it was so severe that Paul prayed three times for God to take it from him.

    Our text is God’s reply to His servant. God’s grace would be sufficient for Paul. What a great promise this was for the apostle and what a comforting assurance it is for us. None of us know what the future holds. Sometimes there are disappointments, diseases, distresses, difficulties, or discouragements. Whatever we will have to walk through or endure, there is something we can be confident about – God’s grace for us will always be sufficient. He does not promise a problem-free journey, but He does provide us with an adequate supply of grace.

    The next part of God’s answer for Paul was, “my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The weakness that Paul’s thorn in the flesh produced was the opportunity for God’s strength to be manifested. It is normal for us to think of our weakness as a liability or handicap. Instead, our weaknesses can be assets if through those weaknesses, God’s strength can be realized. In fact, it is dependence on our strength that makes us weak. Our human and fleshly strength will never be adequate.

    There will always be endeavors or situations that require more than we can supply. It is in our times of weakness that we experience God’s grace and strength. With these promises in tow, Paul announced, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Realizing that our difficulties are opportunities for God’s power to rest upon us, we can make friends of the things that weaken us.

  • I WILL WALK AMONG YOU

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    “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
    Leviticus 26:12

    This verse of Scripture is a promise that was given to Israel, provided they obey God, avoid idolatry, keep the sabbath, etc. If they did not walk in His statutes, they would experience God’s chastisement. One of the wonderful things about this verse is that it reveals God’s love for man and His desire to fellowship with man. This thought defies comprehension; that Almighty God, in all of His holiness, would want to have companionship with lowly creatures like us. This has been His intention from the beginning. God walked with the first man, Adam. He obviously walked with many other individuals as well. He stood with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. His presence accompanied the nation of Israel, manifested as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

    In the New Testament, we see Immanuel, our Savior Jesus Christ, walking with men. He came to His disciples walking on the water. His promise to those of us who are saved is that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He would be with us always. We see Jesus in the Book of Revelation walking among the candlesticks, which are His churches. God wants to walk with His creation. This is the great tragedy of sin: those who are unsaved will be separated from God both for time and for eternity. The good news is that God loves us. He wants to walk with us. He wants to be closer to us than we might imagine. The God who made the universe desires our companionship.

    The sins that have separated us from God’s fellowship can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ. This is our privilege as born again children of God. The Holy Spirit indwells us and Jesus is our Friend. By faith, we can walk with Him. Not only is this the greatest privilege in life, it is also a solemn responsibility. Fulfilling our purpose in life demands that we walk in closeness to God. Sometimes the Bible calls this “abiding” in Him. As we abide in Him, we are able to know and follow His will, our prayers are answered, and we experience the joy that only an obedient Christian can know.

    As we serve Christ, we are co-laborers with the Lord and for the Lord in the greatest work in the world. Are you walking with God today? His promise to walk among us is realized as we follow His will and obey His word.

  • THY WORDS WERE FOUND, AND I DID EAT THEM

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    “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”
    Jeremiah 15:16

    Jeremiah is testifying concerning his attitude toward the words of God that were given to him. We notice that Jeremiah’s language reveals that he was convinced that they were indeed God’s words, saying “Thy words,” and “thy word.” This is such a simple, yet powerful thing to consider. The way we view the Bible will have profound effect on how the Bible affects us. There are those who approach the Bible critically, seeking to find some discrepancy or holding it to be the words of mortals rather than the very Word of God. Their unbelief hinders them from experiencing the mighty power of God’s Word working in them. The words that Jeremiah found were not always pleasant words for those to whom he delivered them. The words announced severe judgment and identified false prophets that plagued the people. It was because of these words that Jeremiah found himself persecuted and in prison. Nevertheless, when he found God’s Word, he received it. Even though the message was severe and unpopular, he laid hold upon it. He said, “I did eat them.” He took God’s Word into his heart and life. “I did eat them” paints a vivid picture of how we are to ingest God’s Word.

    It is one thing to read the Bible or hear the Bible; it is another thing to engraft it into our lives. We are not to simply consider the Bible; we are to commit to the Bible. Jeremiah spoke of the truth as “the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” What a positive attitude toward the Word of God! He placed great value on God’s Word. We all should seek to cultivate a similar appetite for the Bible. Reading and loving the Bible is not the only thing that is required of consistent and growing Christians, but it is one thing that cannot be ignored. So often, we have found it to be true, that when a brother is struggling in His Christian walk, there has been neglect of the Word of God. Jeremiah said he greatly rejoiced in the Scriptures because of his identity: “for I am called by thy name.” This should be a characteristic of God’s children, those who are called by His name. There is something missing in the life of a professing Christian who is not interested in the Word of God. How can one love the Lord and not delight in what He has to say?

  • THE LORD HATH NEED OF HIM

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    “Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.”
    Luke 19:30, 31

    Jesus was preparing to ride into Jerusalem, where He would soon be crucified. In fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, He would ride upon a borrowed colt. Our text tells us that Jesus instructed two of His disciples to go into the village where they would find the colt tied. If anyone asked them why they were taking the colt, they were to say, “Because the Lord hath need of him.” They obeyed the Master and found the colt just as He had said. When the owners asked the reason they were loosing the colt, they replied, “the Lord hath need of him.” The colt was brought to Jesus, and He rode into Jerusalem. The owners of the colt offered no resistance. For them, “the Lord hath need of him” was sufficient. If the Lord needed their animal, the Lord was welcome to it.

    This should serve as a valuable lesson for us all. Whatever the Lord needs from us, we should readily give it. We do not know all the reasons the owners so willingly offered their colt, but I would like to suggest two reasons we should give God whatever He desires of us. First of all, we should give to Him because all that we have comes from Him. God is the owner of everything. We are only His stewards. The Lord has entrusted His resources to us that we might use them as it would please Him. How unreasonable and selfish it is to receive from God the things He gives us to manage, and then refuse to offer them when He needs them.

    Another reason we should enthusiastically give God all that He needs from us is because of all that He has done for us. How could we be unwilling to provide what God needs when He is always providing what we need? He has given us so much. God gave His only Son, and Jesus gave His life for us that we might have eternal life. He has given us a new start in life through the new birth. He has given us the Holy Spirit to be our constant Comforter. He has given us a vibrant church family to be a part of and to serve Him through. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has provided an eternal home in Heaven. How can we say “No” when He calls for us?

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