Lucia's Blog: 2016-01-03
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, January 4, 2016

"THAT I MAY KNOW HIM"

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death... "
Philippians 3:7-11



The apostle Paul made his resolution but once when he obeyed the Gospel.  His resolution was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. What a powerful resolution!  It carried him throughout life and motivated him to sacrifice himself to the very end for the glory of Christ. How trivial our resolutions are sometimes! Because they are so shallow, most of them are forgotten within the first few days of getting back to normal.

As far as New Year's resolutions go, there is no better way to start the New Year than with the apostle Paul's words as found in Philippians 3:7-11.  The apostle Paul is not boasting about all his credentials.  His confidence is not placed on outward things or his personal worthiness.  In fact, he thinks that such things are worthless. His resolution was to know Christ more and better.  Did not Paul know Jesus already?  Indeed, he did. And yet, Paul yearned to know Christ and by faith to finish the work that the Lord had entrusted to him.  One of my biggest desires for this coming year and the rest of my life is to come to know my Savior better.  How do I propose to accomplish such a goal?  By simply spending time reading and meditating on His Word as well as spending time in prayer, asking Him for guidance, wisdom, and discernment.  I want to be a better Christian and follower of our Lord and Savior and bear much fruit for His glory.

As I look back and take notice that another year is passing by, I am reminded that we are one year closer to the day of reckoning, whether it be the day of our death or the day that our Lord returns. That day when we all shall stand before the Judge of ALL and give account for all of our deeds here on earth, 2 Corinthians 5:10.  That day when He will either say, 
"Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25:34)

Or sadly, He will say, 
"Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels."  (Matthew 25:41)

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to reflect on how we have used our past years and also to suggest some resolutions that we may discuss for the coming year.  My goal is to encourage you and me to make better and wiser use of the time the Lord has granted us.  Let us use this coming year to prepare ourselves better for that final day of judgment that awaits us.  Let us consider the following resolutions:


I.   DRAW NEARER TO GOD AND CHRIST: 
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."  (Hebrews 4:12-16)

  • By reading, studying, and meditating on His Word.  There is power in His Word (Hebrews 4:12).
  • By being diligent in prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16).
    • Let us be thankful Christians (Col. 4:12; I Th. 5:17-18).
    • By following the example of Daniel, who prayed three times daily (Daniel 6:10).

II.   STAY IN THE RACE:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  (Hebrews 12:1-2)
 
  • Let us run this race and not give up. Let us meditate on the words of the Apostle Paul regarding that race.
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."  (I Corinthians 9:24-27

 

  • We must get rid of the layers of distraction that hold us back and render us weak in running the race of our Christian journey.  Stay in the race!

III.   STOP MAKING EXCUSES:
"But he said to him, 'A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"  (Luke 14:16-24)

  • Let us not fail the Lord and His church in our duties or obligations.
  • Let us not take the command lightly to assemble to worship our Lord, and let us not be like those of Luke 14:16-24.  Take heed to what Hebrews 10:25 commands us to do.
"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."
Let us stop making excuses and do our best!!!


IV.   BE GOOD SOLDIERS IN CHRIST'S ARMY:
 "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him."  (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

 

  • This precious army is composed of all kinds of volunteers.
  • Our enlistment began when by faith (Hebrews 11:6), we repented from a sincere heart of our sinful way of living, Luke 3:3; confessed the name of our Chief Commander, Matthew 10:32-33; Hebrews 2:10; and were buried with Him in baptism for the forgiveness of our sins, Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27.
  • As a result of being enlisted in the Lord's army as well as being in total subjection to His will, we as soldiers need to "fight the good fight of faith," I Timothy 6:12.
  • God demands that His soldiers live godly, be diligent Bible readers; be prayer warriors; be faithful in attendance, and finally be loving and loyal.
  • Good soldiers are orderly.  They perform their services well.
    • A good soldier in the Lord's army is a doer and not just hearer, James 1:22.
    • A good soldier is a faithful follower of our Lord Jesus.
    • A good soldier imitates Jesus' example and does the will of the Father, John 4:24.
    • A good soldier hears and obeys his Chief Commander, for he knows he must do it to receive his reward, Revelation 22:14.
  • At the end of our volunteering journey, we all need to say like the apostle Paul, 
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."  (2 Timothy 4:7-9)


 V.   KEEP OUR GOD-GIVEN OBLIGATIONS TO HIM:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."  (Deuteronomy 6:5)
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."  (Deut. 10:12)
"And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"  (Matthew 22:37)

  • We, as His children, have obligations, duties.  Lest we forget, we promised Him that we would be faithful as His bride, the church.  We promised to love Him and His bride.  We promised to keep His commandments.  We promised to walk in ALL His Ways and to serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. 
Let us be true to our word as Christians!!


VI.  BE UNITED IN LOVE:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  (Ephesians 5:1-2)
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  (John 13:34-35)

  • Let us draw nearer to our brethren by learning more about them than just their names, 3 John 14.
  • Let us become more hospitable, making an effort to invite them to come into our homes for a meal, Bible study, or singing to connect and become better acquainted as a family in Christ, I Peter 4:9.
  • Let us love one another with a tender heart, I John 3:11;4:7, 16.  Sadly the lack of such love as portrayed in I John can cause serious harm and damage to the welfare of the body of Christ, Galatians 5:15.

VII.   BE UNSELFISH AND DIE TO SELF:
"And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."  (2 Corinthians 5:15)

 

  • He who died for us is worthy of ALL glory!  We deny self and die to self because we have been bought by His blood and have become His own possession, Ephesians 5:25-26; I Peter 1:18-19.
  • We must die to self by doing the will of God, I Peter 4:2; I Corinthians 10:24.
  • Let the love of Christ constrain us that we may die to self.

VIII.   USE OUR GOD-GIVEN TALENTS TO HIS GLORY:
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"  (Matthew 25:14-30).

  • Our God demands that we use our talents faithfully.  Let us use them well and not lose them!

IX.   WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL:

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel."  (Philippians 1:27)


  •  By our manner of life.
  • By our conduct that adorns the doctrine of God, Titus 2:10.  The word "adorn" means to beautify.
  • By revealing the beauty of Christ in us, doing His will, and walking in His narrow WAY.
  • By being pure and godly, living a blameless life.


Let us purpose in our hearts to show the world dying in darkness what a genuine and pure Christian is, Matthew 5:13-16!


X.   LIVE IN NEWNESS OF LIFE, IN THE REGENERATION OF OUR MIND & SOUL:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

  • Let us put off the old self of sin and slavery to death, Romans 6:6
  • Let us crucify self and live to righteousness and true holiness, Ephesians 4:24
  • Let us be Christ-like, Colossians 3:10
  • Are you Christ-like?  
  • Do you have the mind of Christ in you?  
  • Do others see a difference in you, the new you, or the old you, I Peter 4:4?

XI.   TEACH OTHERS THE GOSPEL AND SHARE THE HOPE OF OUR SALVATION:
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."  (1 Peter 3:15)

  • By revealing Christ and being ready to defend His Gospel, since there is power in it to change lives for salvation, I Peter 3:15; Romans 1:16

XII.  SUPPORT OUR LOCAL CONGREGATION:  

Consider how you can support and help the local congregation:
  • By living pure and godly lives.
  • By supporting those in leadership, such as elders and those who labor for the cause of Christ.
  • By promoting love and unity.
  • By walking in a manner worthy of our Lord, never bringing shame to the congregation.
  • By giving as God commands it.
  • By doing the best you can for the cause of Christ.  Working heartily as unto the Lord and not men.
  • By faithfully attending every service.
  • By putting God first above ALL.

CONCLUSION:

These resolutions are simple, yet they go a long way toward bearing good fruit that makes us genuine followers of Christ.  Let me suggest some reasons that our godly resolutions can help us to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

  • They will draw us nearer to the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).
  • They will develop in us a godly attitude of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving, no matter what our circumstances might be (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
  • They will purify our life from all evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22).
  • They will help us start trusting in God's faithful promises (Romans 8:28; 1 Peter5:7; Matthew 6:31-33).
  • They will help us to never give up doing what is right:  praying, giving, serving, and defending our faith (Gal. 6:9).
  • They will help us to stop wasting God's time (Eph. 5:15-16).
  • They will help us to grow diligently in our Lord (in our knowledge of Him) by not losing our zeal (2 Peter 1:5-8).
  • They will help us to become better servants to our family, the church, and all (1 Peter 4:10-11).

All of these godly resolutions will improve our relationship with our brethren and those who are lost in the world because of sin. Such godly resolutions are vital for those of us who want God to pour out His blessing upon us and create in us a clearer conscience.  When we think this way, it will make us conscious that life is short like a vapor, and therefore, we must redeem the time and walk wisely (Ephesians 5:15-16; James 4:13-15).

What are you going to do with the new year our God is giving to you?

May our Lord help us to rely on His strength and wisdom to help us run His race in a manner worthy of Him.  May we learn to develop the heart of a servant and be more like Christ, the Servant.  May we commit our life to Him, trusting that He will help us become righteous through His everlasting Word, that we may shine our light before all men and glorify our Father in heaven.  May we never stop growing in the knowledge of our Lord and His resurrection so that we may die to self and glorify Christ.


Luci

P.S.  I want to encourage you with the following beautiful poem:

   
"A New Year, A New Beginning"

   The old year ends, a new begins
   With pages clean and new;
   And what is written on each page
   will now depend on you.

   You can't relive the year that's past,
   Erasing every wrong;
   For once a year - or day - is spent,
   It is forever gone.

   But don't give up in dark despair
   If you have failed some test;
   Seek God's forgiveness and resolve
   Henceforth to do your best.

   Resolve each precious day to do
   Things good and kind and pure;
   Though days and years may pass away,
   These things shall still endure.

   You know not where your path may lead
   Nor what's beyond the hill;
   But know that God walks at your side,
   If you will do His will.

   All things are possible with God,
   Though days be bright or dim;
   So do your best and know that you
   Can leave the rest to Him.