Lucia's Blog: 2020-03-22
Google Logo
Image Caption goes here.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES"

"Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit."  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19



Being grateful is the key to spiritual victory.  Joy is the result of a grateful heart. A thankful heart is the product of a person who chooses always to give thanks no matter the circumstances.  It is the person who never compares himself to other people but always to Christ.  It is the heart that realizes he is rich beyond measure because he is a child of God and that in Him, he finds His portion. It is the heart that is always looking for reasons to be content and give thanks.

We have so much to be thankful for, even when it seems there is much to complain about.  We must praise God and be always mindful of the many blessings our loving God showers down upon all of us.  When the church first began in Acts 2:46, the disciples broke bread daily from house to house and ate their food with gladness.  They were so thankful to be partakers of God's family that they ate together with joy (gladness and sincerity of heart).

Sadly, life has become mundane for many of us. It is a constant search for thrills in worldly and sinful habits (drinking, drugs, spending, pornography, affairs, and many such as these that make us stumble).  Many refuse to be grateful for what they have. A thankful heart makes the ordinary extraordinary.   We must examine our hearts and focus on gratitude.  The grateful heart is always positive.  Such a heart knows and acknowledges God's manifold ways and blessings.  There is so much that we as His children need to be grateful for since He has blessed us so richly.  The right attitude always leads to a heart of gratitude toward our Jehovah God.

So what does it mean to be thankful, and how does one develop the right attitude (spirit) of gratitude?  How can one overcome an ungrateful heart or spirit?  Let us consider:


I.   DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE, THE SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE:

An ungrateful heart is darkened by human pride, human wisdom, and indulgence (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:2).  It refuses to acknowledge God as the Giver of every good and perfect gift (Psalm 103:1-5).  It is God's will that we be thankful for everything (1 Thess. 5:8).  It is a command that is as important as the command to repent and be baptized or to worship correctly (Acts 2:38; John 4:24).  Christians must always be thankful since Christ is our reason for living (Col. 3:3, 10).  A heart that is not thankful will always abound in anxiety (Eph. 5:20).  The grateful heart always acknowledges the benefits received.  Blessings come to us when we are thankful.   When one recognizes the Giver, our God, and that all blessings come from Him, there will never be room for boasting.  We are not worthy of God's blessings, and we do not deserve a single one!  (1 Tim. 1:12-13).

In James 1:17, we are taught that every good and perfect gift comes from above, God the Father of lights.  All that we have and possess (our families, beautiful homes, health, skills, jobs, etc.) God has made them possible for us.  So why not praise our Lord for such blessings and all His marvelous ways?  The problem of ingratitude has been around since the beginning of mankind.  It will be good to remind ourselves frequently what is of real value; that life does not consist in the abundance of things a person possesses (Luke 12:15); that all material things are temporary, no matter how much we enjoy them; that those blessings we enjoy now originated from our heavenly Father; that we must take time to be thankful day in and day out for all physical and spiritual blessings and finally that our God is the fountain from which every blessing flows.

To maintain and develop the right attitude, the spirit of gratitude, we must personally examine ourselves.  
  • Gratitude Requires Counting All of Our Blessings:
In Psalm 103:3-5 we read of God's blessings or benefits toward us.
"Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

This passage reminds us of what our Jehovah God has done for us.  I cannot help but be reminded of John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

In Psalm 103:3-5, David thanks God for six things which he regards as blessings:
  1. God forgives our sins.
  2. God heals us.
  3. God redeems us from death.
  4. God surrounds us with favor.
  5. God satisfies us with good things.
  6. God renews us with strength.
Undoubtedly, without God on our side, none of these blessings could take place.  We are God's sheep in His pasture (Psalm 79:13).  He cares for us and calls us to put our faith in Him (John 10:27-28). All these blessings are worthy of a lifetime of gratitude and praise toward our God.  So count all of your blessings one by one!

  • Gratitude Requires God's Goodness:
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.  He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.  8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  9 He will not always chide,  nor will he keep his anger forever.  10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,  nor repay us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103:6-10)

God's goodness is an excellent way of expressing God's righteousness, mercy, and grace.  David was thankful for God's goodness, and so should we.  We need to be grateful for God's righteousness and justice.  Though our lives might be difficult here on earth because of oppression, God will make things right on that Final Day.  He will indeed execute justice for us.  David was thankful for God's longsuffering and for being slow to anger.  He was aware of this since God could have certainly destroyed him after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.  But God didn't!! Let's face it if God was not longsuffering, how many of us would still be alive today?  I assure you, none of us.  He does not deal with His children according to their sins.  He does not punish us the way we deserve!  And though He does not ignore sin, out of His goodness, He gives us plenty of time to repent.  So let us be thankful that He is slow to anger, but realize that He does get angry.  His longsuffering and tolerance have a limit.  May we never take that for granted, but rather show gratitude toward Him all the days of our life.

  • Gratitude Requires God's Forgiving Love:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.  (Psalm 103:11-18)

God, in His goodness, manifests His love toward us.  His steadfast love toward those who fear Him is as high as the heavens are above the earth!  From everlasting to everlasting!  What a beautiful picture!  Notice that His steadfast love, His mercy, is only granted to those who fear Him and not to everyone; those who faithfully keep His covenant and obey all of His commandments (Psalm 103;11,17,18).

God, in His steadfast love, removed our sins when we accepted His terms and began to follow Him. As far as the east is from the west!  Notice that He did not say as far as the north is from the south. Now stop for a moment and think about the meaning of Psalm 103:12 and notice the beautiful words of this psalm and be thankful!  Why?  Because our God has removed our sins farther away than we can think or understand!  As far as the east is from the west!!  That is, when God forgives our sins, He washes them away completely and remembers them no more.  What a loving and merciful God we serve!!

Our Father in Heaven is a merciful God toward His children.  He is patient with us not willing that any should perish but that we all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  He pities His children the way a human father pities his children.  That alone is a good enough reason to be thankful toward Him!

  • Gratitude Requires Faith:
Without faith, it will be impossible to be thankful toward our God for the most precious gift ever given, the sacrifice of His Son, who died for our sins (2 Cor. 9:15).  God cares for the sheep of His pasture and commands us to put our faith in Him (John 10:27-28; Psalm 79:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Joy and Contentment:
As children of our heavenly Father, we are commanded to rejoice with a grateful heart always despite our circumstances.  You see, rejoicing and gratitude go hand in hand (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  Likewise, joy and giving thanks go together (Psalm 97:10-12).  We must learn to exercise our muscle of joy and contentment that we might be able to praise and honor our God always.  Contentment is not easier to learn, but we must learn it and apply it in every circumstance, whatever it may be (Phil. 4:10-13; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).

The one who is always anxious has a hard time expressing thankfulness amid his anxiety.  It is gratitude (rejoicing always) that nurtures the optimism that replaces anxiety and fear (Matt. 6:33-34; Phi. 4:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Giving:
When one is grateful to be working, he can easily provide for his needs and those of others (Acts. 20:34-35).  Generosity leads to unexpected blessings (Prov. 22:9; 21:13).


CONCLUSION:

Ingratitude is an ugly sin.  It portrays a heart that is blinded by pride, foolishness, and indulgence.  It often repays good with evil (Neh. 9:17; Lk. 6:35).  Ingratitude is always thoughtless toward God and implies that one deserves it all.  Ingratitude thinks about all that one doesn't have.  It never rejoices and always shows a frown.  Never smiles!  It is always unhappy and never finds contentment.  Ingratitude is proud and arrogant rather than humble and gracious (Lk. 14:11).  It focuses primarily on self (Jas. 3:14-16).  Ingratitude is rude, demeaning, demanding, grudging, ungenerous, and thoughtless toward others.  And while thankfulness looks outward, ingratitude looks inward, failing to acknowledge the contributions or good others do for us.  Ingratitude is expressed in the heart of murmuring, complaining, and bitterness.  Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the complainer and whiner to be thankful?  He is always seeing the wrongs and shortcomings of others and finds pleasure in it (Num. 11:1; 4:6; 21:4-5).   The one who complains forgets that when he's complaining, He is actually grumbling against God. 

When we grumble or complain, our faith is weak. You see, faith is developed and strengthened when one embraces the Word of God heartily, trusting in it as only truth (Romans 10:17).  This was precisely the failure of the Israelites.  Their faith was so weak that they found it difficult to trust God's Word.  They forgot God's promises to them.  They forgot all that God had graciously provided for them, the marvelous works that provided the food, shelter, and clothing that they needed.  We are no different today.  Why?  Because our faith is fickle.  We quickly forget to remember God's blessings and all the ways He pours out blessings on us day in and day out.  We just seem to lack faith, forgetting that He is in control.  We neglect to be strengthened through His Word as we should, and when all is said and done, we end up grumbling instead of trusting.  Some think that God is not all-powerful or all-knowing; they believe He doesn't care, so they feel hopeless and helpless and therefore complain. They forget that our God is great and awesome!  He will take care of His faithful children (Matt. 6:33; Heb. 13:5-6).

The apostle Paul tells us that he learned to be content!  It was a process.
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13). 

Contentment is like a muscle–the more you put it into practice, the stronger it gets. It is an attitude inside our hearts that whispers in our ears saying,
"God, I want to learn to be content, so today, I am going to seek to be grateful to You, for what You have provided and for the eternal life I will share with You, where joys beyond my imagination will be real, will be fulfilled and will be provided by You, because You love me."  

We need to choose to understand this contentment with humility and joy, whatever our circumstances. It is a significant gain in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this contentment, this character of heart in us, that will help us battle whatever our circumstances are and ultimately give us victory! 
“57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”  (1 Cor. 15:57). 

We have an abundance of blessings bestowed on us as His children for which we must be thankful. Consider some of the many blessings:  Our families, our good health, freedom to worship God, the Gospel of Christ, the Word of God, our redemption, our hope of eternal life, our many freedoms like being able to home educate our children, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and most of all our Lord and Savior who redeemed us, who cares for us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and who has sworn never to forsake us.  Therefore, we are more than rich since we have all these abundances of blessings.

So do you complain about your circumstances, your job, your health, your children, the church, God's commands, your responsibilities, etc.?  Why not choose to be thankful and grateful while there is life?  Be thankful that you are still alive, have medical care available to you, have children (our children are God's heritage to us Psalm 127:3), and finally that you are part of God's kingdom, His church (the church belongs to our Lord Jesus and not to you!).  Remember that blessings bring responsibilities.  Ingratitude deems or regards others with envy and jealousy (Gal. 5:20-21).  Have you ever seen a jealous and envious person full of joy and thankfulness or gratefulness?  So why not start tasting of God's favor in your life that you might be able to dispose of sinful attitudes and actions, 1 Peter 2:1-3?

I want to share a poem that I wrote.  I hope you find meaning in these words.


Thy Excellence Makes Me Glad!
By Luci Y. Partain

O that my heart may always be grateful to Thee, my Lord,
When wintry winds and stormy seas assail me,
When dreary days and troubled times seize me
And peace is hard to find,
When turbulent times come and go
And tears and sorrow abound,
May my heart rejoice in Thee.
When grief and fears surround me,
Let the memory of  sacred strains, Truth eternal and joy divine
Be Thy gifts bestowed upon me, my Lord.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may rejoice and be grateful to Thee
In hope and thanksgiving with a humble heart, my Savior, Lord, and King.
May I always bow before Thee, Lord, in gratitude and gladness
For every gift that Thou hast bestowed upon me.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Thou hast given me life and breath.
Thou hast blessed me richly with fruit and grain.
Thou hast given light of day and dark of night, sun, moon, and stars on high,
For that, my humble heart will always shout with joy and gratitude.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

The beauty, splendor, and majesty in Thy creation
Always surround me with joy and serenity.
My grateful heart shouts with joy and love.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I love Thee and praise Thee and will ever exalt Thee,
My Rock and my Anchor in whom my heart will ever trust.
I thank thee for all the blessings of joy and sorrow and 
For the wisdom that they teach me day by day.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I thank Thee for all my challenges and obstacles,
For rugged mountains to climb.
Thy Truth teaches me courage and abiding faith to keep me strong,
To face my fears on the fields of battle with honor and strength.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Thy goodness and steadfast love fill  my heart with gladness and thanksgiving,
Thy strong right-hand helps me to walk in Thy straight path of righteousness.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

My heart thanks Thee for the knowledge of Thy presence, Lord,
My heart can be still, For Thou art with me.
Thy lovingkindness and steadfast love comfort me.
Therefore, my heart will ever praise Thee,
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may ever praise Thee,
For Thy hand is always beside me to guide me,
Thy hand reaches o'er me..., 
To protect, direct, and secure me all the days of my life.
No matter how bad the tempest might frighten me,
I know that in Thee, my soul is secured and anchored forever.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!


May our Lord help us to give thanks always no matter what our circumstances are.  May we live in His peace, trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. May we always have a thankful and grateful heart that we may see the power of God and our faith in Him working in our life.  May we never forget that God is the Giver of all good gifts.  May we never fall into the temptation of complaining but rather learn to be content and grateful while we walk this path of life.  May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.

Luci


Thursday, March 26, 2020

A LIFE WITHOUT GOD

"The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.'" 
Psalm 14:1-3


What you believe in determines your worldview and purpose in life. If you believe that the God of the Bible made us and the world that we live in giving us laws to live by, that worldview will govern every decision that you make. Your worldview defines your reason for living, your purpose in life. What is your worldview and your purpose in life?

Truth is under attack today in our culture. Today's morality is painted in shades of gray. The days when right and wrong were painted black and white are gone. Faith in Christ is under attack in the public square. Where will it all end? Or better yet, where did all this begin? Our culture is defeating us because we are not winning our culture, for we’re not the salt of the earth. The truth is that what we believe determines how we behave. This is called one's worldview. Unfortunately, much of what our culture believes is entirely opposed to Biblical Truth. Many people hear the Gospel and are willing to respond to it but fail to see the need to change cultural practices which contradict their new faith. Many compromise their faith for the sake of their culture.

What makes us superior to animals? Some might say, “Intellect, superior intellect is what elevates man above the animals.” Others might say, “Self-awareness. Man is self-aware, and that translates into meaning and purpose in life. The animals do not have that.” Although these are very reasonable answers, they are incorrect. Why? Because God has created man to be superior and above the animals. He did not make the animals that way. God made man in His own image. He has given mankind dominion over all creation and has put the animals under man’s control (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1; 9:1-2).

You see, God has made man with a free will that is “moral.” He didn’t make animals in His image with such a moral sense or a free will. Man’s morality is possible because he has been made in God’s image. It is not an accident, nor is it incidental. It did not happen by chance through some evolutionary process. God created man with a soul and spirit, which are the basis of his morality and righteousness. So what separates us or makes us different from the animals? Our souls, our spirit. What can intellect and self-awareness accomplish without morality, which consists of God’s principles of righteousness? Nothing! Intellect alone can only make man smarter than animals. That’s all! But man’s soul characterizes his superiority over the animals. ​

So what about those who do not believe in God or refuse to accept God and His principles of righteousness? It is a sad case, for they are living a life of pure hopelessness. A life without God as our Creator, who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, has no purpose, inherent meaning, or spiritual essence, no soul or moral principles. It is a lifeless life, for we’re just smart animals. Godless people protest, saying that mankind can exist without God and His moral principles of righteousness. But is that true? Not for a moment! For morality to exist (God’s principles of righteousness), there must be a standard of morality and fear of God. The basis of that standard of righteousness is God’s revealed Truth. Everything except God’s Truth and His principles of righteousness is useless, helpless, hopeless, subjective, and changeable with man’s every whim, mood-swing, or wish. A man cannot define his own real morality.
“I know O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23

When we follow God’s absolute and higher standards of righteousness and morality, the result is not small. But when we take away real morals, we harm ourselves.  Morality cannot be defined or exist without God and His rule. It is pure futility! When man, out of his own will or mind, attempts to determine what is right or wrong, evil or good, moral and not moral, he brings nothing but chaos, lawlessness, anarchy, hopelessness, and despair. It is not for man to determine what is moral or righteous, but God, who is the only one who can set the right and perfect standard by which all men must live! 

When men reject God’s standards of morality and righteousness, each person draws different conclusions. Thus each individual becomes equally moral or immoral, for no universal standard can exist. So, helping anyone would be no more moral than putting a bullet in his head. Very shocking, no? Well, that is the reality of atheism, a rejection of God the Creator, and His principles of righteousness. Without God, nothing makes sense, has a purpose in life and matters! What would matter to those who reject God, and His principles of righteousness is a life of self-gratification and survival (survival for those most fit to survive). Again, it is a futile life, a reality of being just animals!

The Psalmist summarizes it by declaring, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Ps. 14:1). The fool rejects God, for to him, there is no God who can judge him. Atheism is mostly a negative philosophy, for it is foremost a denial of the existence of God and all things. Practical atheists see the concept of God's existence as useless and unable to make any real contributions to the advancement of any society. In fact, most atheists believe that faith in God brings more harm to the world than good. Ridiculous!

It is foolish to say there is no God because that implies there is no ultimate purpose in life. It is foolish to say there is no God because that implies that there is no absolute truth or morals in life. This was exactly the problem in the period of Judges when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). So if there are no absolute morals, then all behaviors or actions become morally equal, and everything is allowed or permitted.

It is foolish to say there is no God because it cuts oneself off from the faith, hope, and love of the Gospel. There is no doubt that an atheist worldview undermines and destroys the Bible worldview, which is the basis of faith, hope, and love. For the atheist, there is no God in whom we can believe; there is no life after death, no ultimate destiny for which to hope; and there is no objective basis on which to love our neighbor. An anti-Bible worldview or human philosophy produces lawlessness, doubt, pessimism, fear, despair, contempt, and selfishness. How foolish can that be! How much greater are Paul's words in First Corinthians 13:12-13

"And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 


The only truth that exists is that a life without God is a life without meaning, purpose, direction, and hope. How sad it will be when we come to our last breath and have lived a life without believing in God and His principles of righteousness, realizing that we have lived a life that was meaningless, without purpose and essence, and thus wasted! The soul is lost for eternity!  How sad it is to live a life according to human philosophy, for it is an empty life that is hopeless and meaningless! A life that leads to the destruction of our souls. A life that awaits the judgment of God, eternally without hope. 

My friends, a life without God is utterly hopeless! It is pure despair! When someone who does not believe in God comes to his last breath, he will look back on a life that was, in essence, meaningless. What is your purpose in life? Is it to please your Creator and Lord? Is heaven your goal?

Luci

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

GOD IS THE RULER YET

Bless the LORD, O my soul!  O LORD my God, you are very great!  You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. O LORD, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works... "
Psalm 104



Are we alone in the Universe, orphans of a great primordial explosion? If we are just an accident of the cosmos, we have no purpose, there is no order or beauty, or reason to do what is "right" or morally responsible. Thanks be to God, we are not alone and our benefactor is a caring, all-wise Creator who delights in beauty and fills the world with His glory.  The world is His handiwork. He is sovereign, and His magnificence fills His creation.  God has sovereign rights over the world because He crafted it as He willed. God is the Supreme Processor of all created things.  He owns all, for He has made all and is the unrivaled LORD of everything.

At His command, land emerged from the water.  God’s majestic creation brings me to my knees in reverence and awe, for the work of His fingers and the artistry of His mind reflect His glory.  God’s glory is echoed in the starry sky, His natural revelation.  The grand expanse, the work of His hands declares His majesty.  He has expressed His mind in His inspired Word and expects all men, all humanity, to fulfill His will, for He wants His creatures to proclaim His surpassing glory and grandeur.
"By Him (Christ) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him”  (Colossians 1:16).

The Word of the Gospel offers man the only perfect pattern of human conduct (the principles of righteousness) to help him walk in the Light that he may walk the straight path of God. As we walk His straight path of righteousness, we will be able to choose wisely and righteously in all areas of life and conduct. In matters of gambling, dancing, immodest apparel, profanity, alcohol, abortion, fornication, adultery, marriage, the home, the raising of children, and many more, for it is the only straight and truthful path for "such a time as this" (2 Peter 1:12; Esther 4:14).

The Word of God is settled forever, and no man dare change it, for it is the only perfect standard of Truth. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldliness that we might live soberly, righteously and godly in the midst of a perverse and crooked and twisted generation among whom we must shine our light brightly.

Though our Father's world might rebel at His Word and divine authority and though men might change God’s standards of principles of righteousness calling evil good and good evil; changing darkness for light and light for darkness; bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; and being wise and clever in their own eyes, God’s Word and divine principles of righteousness will be settled forever in heaven.

Therefore let us not compromise our faith and conviction, let us continue being lights that shine brightly in word and deed, doing all things in the name of the Lord by His authority (Col. 3:17). Remember, that only the Gospel, His Truth can make men free from sin (John 8:32; 4:23-24). So we must continue to take the Sword of the Spirit out of the sheath and move forward to fight against our society’s moral decay.

We must keep crying aloud the Message of the Gospel to them and not hold it back. We must lift up our voices like a trumpet, declaring all people their sins and transgressions that they might come to know God's goodness and grace and repent that He might save us from our sins and folly.  
"Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue; whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust"  (2 Peter 1:2-4).  

 I.   GOD IS THE RIGHTEOUS RULER OF ALL:  

Our Father's kingdom shall never be destroyed and He will triumph in the end, even when wrong and wickedness seems so strong.  God is still sitting and ruling on His eternal throne, a throne that does not tremble before the threats and darkness of this world.  Indeed, God as the righteous ruler of all will deal with those who eagerly try to destroy His kingdom and His cause.  But He will show grace and mercy to His faithful.  Thus, His faithful must fight tooth and nail the good fight of our faith until the end, for the battle is not done and we must confess Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords through His Gospel.  

Jesus is the perfect High Priest and still reigns as Priest on His throne (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14-15; 5:1-6; 7:22-25).  Our Perfect Priest was without blemish, that is, He had no sins though He came in the likeness "of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3-4who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 7:28).  We are reconciled by Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and priesthood in heaven.  Our God of peace and Prince of peace brought peace to all men.  Peace is the result of reconciliation.

 The blood of Jesus brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles.  You see, God removed everything that stood in the way of peace through the Gospel Message of Christ.  The Gospel Message urges us to be reconciled with God to have salvation.  This same approach must be put into practice with our enemies, for we are taught to love them.  Indeed, this breaks down the enmity that separates us (Matt. 5:43-48; Romans 1:20-21; Eph. 5:2). God's love was demonstrated in His Son's sacrifice (1 John 4:9-11, 19; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4-5; Titus 3:3-6).  Jesus paid the price, through His blood, for our deliverance from sin (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Under the Law of Moses, it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  There is no money, no animal sacrifice, nor are there perfect works that can redeem us, but only the precious blood of Jesus.  And since our God is all righteous, perfect, fair and justHe must be our standard of righteousness, for this is His perfect character.  Of course, all these terms involve law, rules, and standards of righteousness that are just and fair.   God will judge the world according to His standards of righteousness (Acts 17:31).

God's Law is righteousness.  Therefore, all humanity is compelled to listen to the Word of reconciliation, the Gospel Message and respond to it to be reconciled, that is, redeemed from sin, be justified and have access to salvation. There can be no justification without our active participation!  (Romans 5:1; Eph. 2:8)  God's Law will be upheld, for Jesus paid the price by dying on the cross that we might be reconciled.

The Gospel Message is God's revelation and righteousness.  God's grace is revealed through His Word, for His Word is the pathway to God's grace which teaches us to deny ungodliness and live righteously.  Thus, it is in the Gospel Message where grace is found (Titus 2:11-12; Gal. 1:6-9).  God's Law is the standard rule of belief and conduct (the Gospel, the mind of God, laws, statutes, ordinances, covenant, Word, Scriptures, Sacred Book, the Faith) and we must uphold such Law, for Jesus paid the price, His blood, for our deliverance of sin (1 Peter 1:13-20; Acts 4:24-30).

God has already spoken and given us instructions to be reconciled to Him.  Thus, we must continue to proclaim and live out His Gospel Message even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  And though God's world rejects God's sovereignty and righteousness and fails to submit to His rule, He is still Lord and King ruling from His mighty throne.  Satan cannot thwart God's victory of righteousness, even though he intends to destroy mankind with deceit and lawlessness.  We must continue being soldiers of the cross to defeat the evil one and his lawlessness with the Sword of God, the Gospel.
"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever"  (Daniel 2:44).  
"After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald"  (Rev. 4:1-3).
"This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith"  (1 Tim. 1:18).
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses"  (1 Tim. 6:12).  

II.   THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE:  

How beautiful it is to feel the presence of God and His Son in creation, His marvelous works!  God is near because He is omnipresent and because of His wonderful and magnificent works.  His wondrous works draw us near to Him in worship and gratitude for all that He has done for us in the past.  God's nearness and wondrous works can be seen in His providential judgment, His sovereignty, and His covenant faithfulness.

His beautiful Creation teaches us to trust in Him. And though we cannot literally see God’s face now, those who are pure in heart can see Him (Matt. 5:8) for we know that He is "in this place" (Genesis 28:16).  Jesus' sacrifice, death, and blood made it possible to see His Father's face in eternity, for He sent Him that we might have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Jesus, our Lord, was the "animal" of the sacrifice, and our High Priest who offered His own blood before the heavenly mercy-seat.  Through Jesus, God draws men to Himself, for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can come to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).  God extends His love to us by the preaching of the Gospel.

To  see Jesus is to see the Father, for they are one (John 10:30).  God's traits of Godhood are there for all to see through His Son.  We all can see who He is and what He has done.  Mankind can see the glory of God through His Son and have a better understanding of God.  We see God's face when we keep His commands.  We must know Him to see His face and have eternal life.


III.   WE ARE AT HOME IN HEART WITH GOD:  

In God's creation, we can be at home anywhere. Although our walk in this life is like a desert in a dry and weary land where there is no water, we can still see God's power and glory (Ps. 63:1).  Even in such times, we can see God's blazing glory like Moses did when he saw the burning bush (Exo. 3:1-5).  Our communion with the Creator is the highest joy in life.  No treasure can equal it, for this world has many amusements, but very few real joys or pleasures.  This world (the passing pleasures of sin) can never offer genuine and lasting pleasure and happinessbut those who walk with God in faithful communion will find enjoyment, happiness that is sweeter than life itself.

Walking with God even in the “desert lone” (during our difficult timeswill sustain us.  When we walk with God in our Father's world, we can rest assured that no problems in life will separate us from our real home, for we long to be with Him.  Victory will ultimately belong to God, for we live from triumph to triumph hidden in God through Christ, shielded from the devil's darts and life's difficulties.  We can be confident that God holds on to us with His mighty right hand of strength.

So, wherever we may wander and whatever might be our lot, we can still be confident that we are at home in heart with our God as we seek for the city which is to come.  We must continue bearing good fruit and be at home in heart with our God despite our lot in life, for we wait for the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (Hebrews 13:14).
"For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel"  (Hebrews 12:18-24). 

 CONCLUSION:  

As long as we continue living on this earth as faithful followers of Christour battle is not done, for the righteous must keep fighting the good fight of faith until our last breath.  Jesus who died for us shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven will be one in eternity because all the saved, the redeemed will receive their eternal home in heaven.  We understand and accept that we have a spiritual war that we must fight with the full armor of God to be victorious.  And though our fight seems to be difficult, we must still proclaim the Gospel no matter how much resistance we face. Our faith must not waver.  We must trust in God to help us fight our good fight of faith no matter how vigorously we are attacked or persecuted.

Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance, a confidence that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of Godnot our own philosophies, opinions, and feelings. We must pray for God's helpfor we have a strong enemy who is seeking to destroy us.  And while we are traveling upon this earth as pilgrims, we must always remember that this is our Father's world.  This world does indeed belong to God, for He made it and it is His.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of this world and all its fullness (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1; Jeremiah 10:10-12; 1 Corinthians 10:26; Hebrews 1:1; 11:3).

Our Father's kingdom shall never be destroyed and ultimately He will triumph even if His children fail in their duties and are lost.  For no amount of sin in this world, or indifference to sin can thwart the final victory of righteousness.  Thus, Christians must do the Father's work and live godly and righteously in this crooked and perverse generation.  Though Satan may be the ruler of this world (John 12:31), Jesus is still King and Lord ruling all nations from His eternal and mighty throne.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, who is the "father" of deceit, lies, murder, and every act of wickedness or lawlessness in this world.

John said that "the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19). Everyone that sins is of the devil.  We must remember that Satan has no power over man other than what man voluntarily chooses to give to him.  Eve didn't have to eat of the fruit but voluntarily chose to eat it instead of saying "no." But he, Satan, can indeed manipulate circumstances and pressure men in many ways to do what he commands.  He gets to mankind through the works of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life (1 John 2:16).  He has used these venues since the beginning.  Satan and his angels will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire, the second death.  Jesus came to His Father's world that we may have life and may have it abundantly.  He came to offer us eternal life which is abundant beyond anything this world has to offer.  Our goal, then, must be to attain eternal life. Men must know God to have eternal life.  Men must know God and keep His commands to have eternal life.

All humanity is compelled to listen to the Word of reconciliation, the Gospel Message and respond to it to be reconciled, that is, redeemed from sin, be justified and have access to salvation. There can be no justification without our active participation!  (Romans 5:1; Eph. 2:8).   So, soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armor on!  Be strong and quit yourselves like men!  Be eaten up with zeal for your Lord's honor.  Bow down before your Creator, your Helper and stand up and fight in His army for the souls of men!  Commit yourself to oppose all evil and lawlessness.  Don't let Satan have his way!  Go on the offensive and resist the devil.  Learn lovingkindness toward those who are Satan's victims and teach them the Gospel Message!  Weep for the erring one!  Lift up the fallen!  Devote your life to saving those souls wounded by sin! 

We show our love for the Lord, His world, and His cause when we labor in evangelism, for He is called Faithful and True and He judges in righteousness and makes war on His enemies.  He is the Word of God and those who obey His Word follow Him. He strikes the nations with His sharp sword, His Word.  He rules them with a rod of iron, for He is King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:11-16).

No matter our hardship, we can rest assured that our peace with God will bring us peace of mind so that we can approach life's difficulties with joy.  No matter our lot in life, may we always have a home in our heart with God as we seek for the holy city which is to come.
"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God"  (Rom. 8:6-8).    

May we never forget that though wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet sitting on His throne.  May we never forget that the battle is not done but will continue until the end of time and that we must fight tooth and nail the good fight of faith.  May God's Law be upheld, for Jesus paid the price, through His blood, for our deliverance of sin (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Luci

Monday, March 23, 2020

HOW DID JESUS TREAT SINNERS?

“He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’  
Matthew 9:12-13


We marvel at the single-minded way that Jesus worked at bringing the hope of a new life to people who were hopeless cases, mired in long habits of sin and corruption. He has shown us the way. Now it is our turn to carry His message to those marred by sin, redeemed sinners rescuing others still lost and dying in a twisted world of darkness and despair.

Jesus reached out to those who were nothing like Him.  He set a different standard to follow.  Jesus did not hesitate to surround Himself with sinners, for He had compassion and concern for their souls.  Jesus is the Great Physician for sinners and their Master Teacher.  He approached those whom we often want to avoid, the lawless among us.  Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was to be the Gospel, for He is the good news of God’s saving Grace.  Thus preaching and teaching is essential.  It was the only way of evangelism in the first century as it must be today.  One of the keys to trigger an explosion of evangelism today is to strive to understand how our Lord Jesus treated the lost and how He acted around them.  We must be willing to do likewise in evangelism.

Jesus has taught us a method of teaching sinners, for He came to this world to call and save sinners who are very sick because of sin and need a Great Physician to heal them.  This must be our motivator as well.  Jesus wants to heal those who are spiritually ill and weak.  It is marvelous how God can heal the sin-sick soul where there seems to be no hope for healing! So why must we seek to spend time only with the healthy and reject the sick among us?  Do we not care at all about sharing the Gospel, the Good News, with sinners, the lawless and immoral among us?  Do we look at the lost with compassion as Christ did?  Christ did not look at them with disgust, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, scattered, confused, hungry. They were vulnerable and in desperate need of a Shepherd, a Physician to guide and heal them.

Christians, how do you feel when you look at the world around you?  Are you motivated to show compassion by spreading the Gospel to them?  Do you feel only disgust for sinners?  Do you not care that they are going to die without Christ and thus be lost eternally?  Do you feel superior to them?  Are you too proud to associate with them and teach them the Gospel that can save them?  Do you prefer to associate only with those who are good, moral, and perhaps religious people?   These people need to be taught the Gospel! They need to be introduced to Christ’s love and ways! 

Do you forget that Jesus came to save sinners, which you and I once were?  Jesus befriended sinners so that they might know Him better because He loved their souls.  Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners!  Don’t ignore the power that there is in the Gospel to change the hearts of men into what Jesus wants them to be.  Let us not be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who were very unhappy with Jesus for spending time with sinners, because Pharisees didn’t befriend sinners.

Christian, remember who you were and how far you have come since you obeyed the Gospel!  God has been very patient with us since we first came to Him.  I know He has been very patient with me, and for that, my heart is grateful!  Don’t forget that sanctification takes time and that sinners need our love and patience.  God wants us to be merciful to sinners, the lawless.  Don’t be self-righteous by looking down at them!  Remember, Jesus reclined at the table with these lawless people to heal and help them have an entrance into His everlasting Kingdom one day.  Do your eyes see sinners the way our Lord Jesus did?  Let compassion motivate you!!  This is the heart of the Gospel! 



I.    JESUS TREATED SINNERS WITH COMPASSION LIKE THE HEAVENLY FATHER WOULD:


This is clearly seen in Luke 15, which records three well-known parables:  the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.  All three have a common theme of care, compassion, and concern.  Jesus told the narrative of these parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son) because the Pharisees and scribes had insinuated sin in Jesus’ relations with the sinners, for they said,
“This man receives sinners and eats with them”  (Luke 15:2).  

Our God is caring, concerned, and compassionate.  He yearns to save all men and not condemn them to destruction (2 Peter 3:9).  In Luke 15:1, we are told that the tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus teach.  How wonderful it is that sinners and scoundrels want to hear Jesus’ teachings!  However, the Pharisees and scribes were not too happy about that, for they were complaining.  They said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  This supposed Teacher sent from God was welcoming sinners!

Now go back to Luke 14, where God wanted a full house for His banquet.  The Master commanded the servant to go into the streets and hedges, compelling them to come to the feast (Luke 14:23).  Our Father in heaven loves sinners and wants them to return to Him.  Both Father and Son wait patiently for as long as they need to, for they don’t want people to be lost.  They are longsuffering allowing men the opportunity to return and be reconciled to God (2 Peter 3:9).  We can see the responsibility we must have toward the lost.  God does not want anyone to be lost.  Sadly those who refuse to come to the feast won’t be able to enjoy the privilege of God’s kingdom.  God is making the offer to all men to enter His kingdom and have a relationship with Him, the Father.

After they had accused Jesus of being friends with sinners, He startles them saying,
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”  (Luke 15:7). 

The Jewish leaders must have ground their teeth when they heard that!  They couldn't fathom how God might be more interested in one filthy, lawless sinner who came crawling back in repentance than He was over 99 righteous and just Pharisees.  Surely they were indignant to hear such a statement.  Jesus declared that there is joy in heaven when even one single sinner repents, for there is infinite value in even one single soul!  So often, we minimize the value of one soul compared to many souls, forgetting that one single soul has great value in the eyes of a loving and compassionate God (Matt. 16:26)

Yes, we must make it personal even though Christ came to die for the whole world Christ came to die for your soul and mine!!  Once the sheep was found, there was rejoicing rather than the beating or belittling of the sheep that had strayed.  We Christians must have that same attitude of heart with sinners and those who have wandered away from the fold.  Our goal must be to try to win them back to the Lord.  Whether they have never obeyed the Gospel to be saved from sin (1 Peter 3:21; Col. 1:13) or they are Christians who need to be restored because they have left the Lord and His kingdom of righteousness! (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15)  Let us never forget that we were like sheep that had gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) but who now have repented and turned back to our Lord.  So we must rejoice when sinners, the lost sheep, are found, just like the angels in heaven do!

Wait! Jesus didn’t stop with the parable of the lost sheep, for He presented the parable of the lost coin afterward (Luke 15:8-10). Both the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin show God’s care and concern for the lost, whether or not they were lost accidentally.  In this parable, Jesus spoke of a woman who had lost a valuable coin.  She had ten coins, but one day discovered that one was missing.  She did not make excuses but rather took responsibility for the lost coin.  She did not rationalize the loss, but got busy sweeping the house and seeking it diligently until she found it.  She even lit a candle to look for it in the dark to help her find it.  Once she found the coin, she gathered all her friends to celebrate that she had found what was lost.  Jesus declared once more how much joy there is in heaven when one sinner repents.  We must learn from this woman of the parable!  She took responsibility for the loss.  Like this woman, we have the responsibility to teach others who are lost because of sin and bring them to Christ (2 Tim. 2:2).  We must look for opportunities and open doors to be an Andrew (John 1:40-42), a Philip (John 1:45) and a Cornelius (Acts 10:24).

Since Christ is not here on earth physically, we must teach others the Gospel and make an effort to save their souls from eternal death.  Jesus has already left us His Word to help us make it to heaven.  To our Lord, one soul is of great value!  He was eager to teach sinners and publicans so they would repent.  He would have gladly taught the Pharisees and scribes in like manner, had they listened to Him.  We must make sure not to sin like the Pharisees, thinking that we are better than others and refuse to teach them the Truth because we think they’re not worthy of our time and effort.

Finally, Jesus went on to tell His disciples the parable of the lost son, which shows the lure, progress, and end of sin.  It gives us a concrete glimpse of God’s mercy and goodness.  It dissects the Gospel Message to show us salvation connecting the Father’s Grace and the active response of the sinner.  This parable demonstrates God’s willingness to accept the lowly and the lawless.  God’s love is expressed so vividly to the one who has intentionally become lost.  In this parable, the father had two sons.  The younger is immature, impatient, and wasteful.  He asked his father to give him his inheritance, which was at least one-third of his father’s estate since according to the Law,  the older brother got a double portion (Deut. 21:17).  To claim his inheritance was like telling his father he wished he was dead.  It implies that he no longer wanted a relationship with his father, for he wanted to receive his inheritance and leave.  The boy took his portion of the father’s estate and went to a far country of sin, wasting his money in sinful living (15:11-13).  He let the desires of the flesh run wild and behaved like a fool, wasting the inheritance that his father had given him.  He is called the “prodigal” son because he wasted his inheritance.  He lived a wild life without self-control (15:13).

This has been the story of all of us in one way or another, for we have rebelled against God.  Any kind of living apart from a relationship with the Father is reckless living.  When we do this, we are throwing away God’s blessings.  In verse 17, we move on to the scene of the story, which is repentance.  When his money was gone, and a famine came (15:13-14), he came to his senses. Deep degradation is obvious in his new job, feeding pigs (unclean animals, Lev. 11:7).  He was as low as he could get!  To make it worse, it looks like he wasn’t eating well, for the pigs were eating better than he, and he longed to eat the pig food.  When he came to his senses, he acknowledged that in his father’s house, there was plenty of bread to eat and to spare, even for the servants.  So there was no more reason for him to continue starving, for he said,

 “How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father”  (15:17-18).  

He finally realized what he had said to his father and what he had done.  His words in verse 18 are beautiful!  There is humility in his repentance, for he said,
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  

Repentance is recognizing our wicked ways and turning back to the Father with complete humility.  And this is exactly what this son does.  So what is the reaction of the father when the son comes back?  When the father sees his son returning to him, while he was still a long way off, he felt compassion, and he ran, embraced, and kissed him.  He called for the best robe, a ring for his son’s hand, shoes for his feet. He requested that they bring the fatted calf, kill it and dress it for a feast.  The father said,
“Let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”  (15:25-32).

In verses 31-32, when the older son heard the news that his brother had come back, he was angry and refused to go in.  The father came out and urged him to come to celebrate.  So why is the older brother so upset?  Because he felt it was unfair for his younger brother to be treated with so much honor.  He had faithfully worked in his father’s fields and had not rejected his father’s leadership and instruction.  But he was envious, for his father had never celebrated his faithfulness with such a feast like this one (15:29-30).  He thought it was unfair to celebrate with so much gladness, so he refused to recognize the returning of the prodigal brother.  Since he despised his sinful brother, he tried to change his father’s kindness and compassion (15:30).  Thus he tried to make his father look reckless, unwise, and sinful for receiving the prodigal son.

And though the oldest son did not show kindness to the returning brother, his father did show gentleness to him.  Instead of sharp and accusatory words, he pleaded with his older son to help him see and understand things as he did with joy, for he found his lost son (15:32).  The prodigal’s return took nothing away from the older son either, for he had his inheritance without being lost (15:31).  The oldest son’s behavior was unjust, like that of the scribes and Pharisees of whom Jesus spoke.  Notice the beautiful words the father said to his oldest son,
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”  

This is beautiful beyond words!  So what is the application for us today?  That we must avoid saying harsh things to hurt those who have gone astray.  That we must act like the father in this parable, always having an open heart of compassion and kindness when a sinner returns.  Our Father in heaven welcomes sinners.  But do we welcome them?  Do we look at them with disdain like the Pharisees did?  Do we even try to seek the lost and return them to the Father?  God makes a great effort to seek the lost, and so must we! 

He sent His Son to die for sins.  He spared the world of judgment because He wants the lost to return to Him.  He wants the dead to come back to life.  So we must rejoice when a sinner comes back from death to life.  The prodigal son might never have returned had it not been for his father’s compassion and lovingkindness.  Remember that the father in this parable is God, and this is how Jesus treats the lost, with compassion toward the penitent.  Our loving and merciful God runs toward the penitent one with open arms, and so must we do the same!  Jesus treated the lost as the heavenly Father does, with compassion.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!


CONCLUSION:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His disciples with instructions about going into the world to preach the Gospel.  They were supposed to preach the Gospel to every creature, to every human being, whether king or beggar in the street.  They were to preach the good news to everyone, all the lost.  So what is the good news?  It is the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  Jesus came to bring Grace and Truth to this world of darkness (John 1:17), bringing salvation, but we must have the faith to obey God’s terms of salvation.

Those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel must obey the Gospel to become God’s children.  That is, they must bury the old man of sin and wash their sins away in the waters of baptism, for one must die to rise into newness of life (Romans 6).  After we obey the Gospel, we must share and teach it to the lost, for it is God’s command!

This boils down to how we treat the lost in this world.  Are we treating them as Jesus did?  Are we treating the lost like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did?  Why not stop and think about it, for you will be judged?  Are we more like Simon the Pharisee or God the Father?  Do you suppose the Pharisee of Luke 15 would have welcomed or received the prodigal son as his father did?  What would have happened had you and I been on the front porch to receive this prodigal son?  Would we show compassion toward the one who has repented or show indignation?  Why is it that unbelievers treat others better than we who are Christians?  There must be something wrong! 

We must imitate Christ and treat the lost like friends and not enemies like our heavenly Father would do.  We must make sacrifices to give the lost a chance to hear the good news, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!

The Gospel is the power of God to save men that they may turn away from their evil ways to God for direction and guidance.  God saves men by the preaching of the Gospel of salvation.  It is the only WAY that Jesus is going to heal the sin-sick soul that is dying.  The Gospel is the power of God to change the hearts of men so that they can return to Him. The Gospel is given into our hands to teach it to all men that they might be saved from their sins.  Every day people are dying unprepared for eternity!  It is by the preaching of the Gospel that we are going to prepare these people and win souls for God.  God has already provided all the means and the Message to save the souls of men, and we must bring the two together (John 3:16; Romans 1:16).  Can we expect to find favor before God with the blood of the lost on our hands (Acts 20:26-27)?  Is there any other way of hope for a dying world?  What is the condition of the lost without Christ?  Is there any other place where the lost can turn to?  For that reason, we must carry God’s precious Message and guide the erring back to Him.

May we understand that the Great Physician is here among us, to heal those who are woefully ill, that our great Shepherd seeks those who are lost and gently restores them to the flock.  And so we should approach those He brings into our path in the same graceful manner as He did with gentleness, humility and a servant's heart.

Luci