Do troubles and trials push you toward God – or away?
Today, look back over your week. How is your spiritual health? Has it been a week with any trials, troubles, and struggles? Did pressures increase at work, at home, in your health or finances? And then what happens inside of you? Did you cry out to the Lord, fall upon His grace, turn from any wicked way? Or did you seethe in anger, wallow in self-pity, or worst of all harden your heart to spiritual things?
The test of pruning (which is affirmative) and chastening (which is disciplinary) is in our response.
That is one of the simplest ways to test what is going on in your life.
Pruning always draws us closer, chastening initially can push us away.
Today God wants to know how serious we are about following Him, as we open to 1 Timothy 4:7-10. God’s Word is explaining to us that we have an appointment for a workout in the gym. God Himself wants to train us in how to live, walk, and grow in Christ. The Discipline of Integrity means we choose to do what God’s Word says we are supposed to do.
As Paul continues to relay God’s message to each of us, we remember from last time Paul used the highest level of emphasis that is possible to convey in the Greek language. Remember those bright colored words that stand for the emphasis God placed on them grammatically?
God’s Word teaches us a doctrine called “believer’s baptism” which means that: God has only designed baptism to be applied to believers. Believer’s Baptism started when Jesus Christ said that the way that people were to declare God’s ownership of their lives after they were saved, was when they were baptized in His Name. Jesus included this baptism of believers into the plan for the church.
Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost; and that is what it says as we open to Luke 19:10. Jesus spent three plus years talking to groups, and individuals, pointing them to salvation. Then He died for sinners, commending God’s love towards us, as Paul said. That is the heart of our Savior. That is the love of Christ. Jesus is still seeking and saving the lost, every day, all over the world; and He will keep doing that until the last moments of human life on Earth before the end.
The Eternal, Infinite God of the Universe is a Savior, and offers to anyone who will call upon His Name some amazing, supernatural transformations within. That is what the Gospel has been doing from the start: changing humans from the inside out. That is what Paul watched happen across the pagan world of the Roman province of Asia.
SALVATION: THE MIRACLE FROM GOD
Salvation is also the most amazing miracle that we get to see up close throughout our lives as believers. That we were even saved is in itself is a miracle of God’s grace; and those around us who are saved are also part of a constant stream of miracle we get to see and touch personally through life. Getting to disciple a miraculously saved individual is such an encouragement for our faith and walk.
From God’s perspective all humans are born into this world infected with a blinding, crippling virus that left alone: leads to eternal death in darkness and endless pain. So as God looks down He sees us all sitting blindly in the dark on the edge of a deadly chasm. Salvation is when He opens our eyes and turns us from sinful darkness lovers: to God loving and following saints.
Of the millions and millions and millions of people that lived before and during the time period of 15 centuries when God’s Word was written, the vast majority are nameless. People were born, lived, and died without most of the rest of humanity before or after them even knowing their names. The Washington DC think tank called the Population Reference Bureau calculates that by the time of the first century over 40 billion humans had lived and died.
God has given us an amazing picture of salvation in Acts. Salvation has only one Door (Christ), but has many descriptions (these accounts). Every one of us who comes to Christ, finds that He does what these accounts describe when He enters our lives.
God wants to use people. He provides everything needed. All God wants is willingness mixed with humility. When He finds that mix there is no limit to what God can do.
GOD WANTS TO USE US
Paul is an example of the limitless ways God can, did, and continues to use Paul. As God already told us in 1 Chronicles 16:9, His eyes are searching today, as they have always been, looking for those who will seek Him wholeheartedly. God found a whole-hearted servant in Paul. Just the fact that we are reading this account is quite a testimony to what God can do if we invite Him to control our lives.
Have you ever been discipled? By that I mean, have you ever sat and learned about the basics of following Christ from someone, one-on-one, where you could pause them and ask questions?
As we open to John 10 this morning, we look at the very foundation of Christianity.
Whose birth do we celebrate as God with us, Immanuel? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Who lived the only perfect human life ever lived? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Who dies a substitutionary, atoning death on the Cross of Calvary? Jesus Christ the Lord.
We are to go through life as the Great Commission says, leading people to follow Who? Jesus Christ the Lord.
In Romans 15, Paul who had never been to Rome was writing to the church there and commending them on their living out the truth of Christ. He describes many elements of their lives that were what he noted as good, healthy, and part of a normal life of one supernaturally saved.
Mature, normal, healthy believers display compassion for believers who differ with their convictions (Romans 15:1-3).