Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

Christian Liberty: License or Love?

As evidenced in our current culture, the ideas of “liberty and freedom” are regularly misconstrued to mean that we are allowed to do whatever we want.

If you watch the news at all, you can see that this faulty idea of freedom only propagates an environment of anarchy and division, rather than creating an environment of unity and love. This is true in a nation, a family, or a church.

In Galatians 5:13, Paul tells us what true liberty looks like:

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Basically, he is saying that true liberty is more about loving others than about having license to satisfy ourselves.

In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul says “…all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”  His point is that real liberty focuses on what is best for others, not on what is allowable for me.

As believers, then, we have been freed from the bondage of selfishness and sin to have the liberty to serve others in love.

Is your practice of liberty based on “because I can,” or because you love others?

Big Church, or Strong Church?

There are a lot of big churches out there today that keep getting larger, but just having a lot of people in services does not mean that a church is strong.

God measures church growth by more than just attendance.

Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us that God gave the church specific types of leaders, including pastors and teachers. Their job is to help other people grow spiritually so that everyone can participate in ministry.

Big churches may not be strong churches; and strong churches may not be big churches.

Ephesians 4:13 defines the goal of a strong church:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” 

God measures church growth by the maturity of the believers that make up a local church.  And the more mature believers become, the more they will minister to others to help them mature in Christ as well.

The goal of church growth is not necessarily a large congregation.  God’s goal for church growth is a spiritually mature congregation made up of believers that serve each other.

The Foundation of the Church

In Matthew 16, when Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was, Peter quickly answers, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (vs 16). Jesus responds in verse 18, saying, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

At first glance, it seems that Christ was saying that He was going to build His church starting with Peter as the foundation stone.  That is the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Yet, Jesus was actually saying that He would build His church on the truth that Peter had just proclaimed, not on Peter himself.

This is evident in Jesus’ first response in verse 17 to Peter about his proclamation: “…flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”

Jesus Christ is both the founder and the foundation of the church.

1 Corinthians 3:11 tells us,

”For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 2:20 states clearly that Jesus Christ Himself is the chief corner stone.

The church was not founded by or upon a man; it was founded by and upon Jesus Christ, our rock and the cornerstone of our faith.

Controlling Our Flesh

Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

The point of this proverb is that a person who has no control over his appetites is prone to give in to all kinds of temptation.  He has no limits on how he fulfills his fleshly appetites and, therefore, has no control over what he becomes or how he acts.

As believers, we are instructed to be careful about feeding our fleshly appetites.  Galatians 5:24 says that

they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

As believers, we should not let our lives be controlled by what makes us feel good or what makes us happy. We should be controlled by what pleases God and what makes us holy.

Galatians 5:25 calls this “walking in the Spirit” and it is at the heart of temperance, or self-control.  It is about living less for and in the flesh, and more by the Spirit of God.

God’s goal for us is to become less like the world and more like Christ. 

If our goal is the same as God’s, we will limit how much we fill ourselves with the things of the world, and desire more to be filled with the things of God.

Meekness or weakness?

When we think of the character of meekness, many people associate it with being weak.

In fact, meekness is quite the opposite.  A good definition for meekness might be,” strength under control.”

While meekness is hard to put a solid definition to, it is easily seen in the lives of those who bear this fruit of the Spirit.

Moses is referred to in Scripture as being meek, and yet he was a great leader and prophet of Israel. When God was ready to destroy Israel because of their sin and begin again with Moses, Moses pled only for the well-being of the people.

Jesus is probably our greatest example of meekness. It was Jesus who, in meekness, drove the money-changers out of the Temple. Yet, when beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers before He was crucified, Jesus suffered in silence, even though He could have used His strength to free Himself and destroy His enemies.

Matthew 5:5 says,

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

As believers, we have a great inheritance waiting for us. But for now he has called us to be strong for what is right, while not worrying about standing up for ourselves and our own rights.

Called to Faithfulness

During the 1992 Olympics, Derrick Redmond from Great Britain tore a hamstring muscle halfway through his 400 meter race. Rather than giving up, he continued down the track, limping and leaning on his father for support, until he crossed the finish line. Although he did not win a medal as he hoped, he became an Olympic icon for perseverance.

Hebrews 12:1 calls believers to

“lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”

We are not promised that the race will be easy. We are not promised that we will not fall or get hurt in the process of running.

But God has promised that to those who finish well, despite the hardships and trials, He will reward and welcome into His rest with the commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Our faithfulness as believers is not evaluated by the great things that we accomplish in our lives for Christ.  Our faithfulness will be judged in how we persevered in the little things that God has called us to every day.

Good Enough?

The basic tenet of Humanism is that man is inherently good.  As such, many people consider themselves to be good people and are trusting their goodness to get them to heaven.

But Romans 3:10 tells us that

“There is none righteous (good), no not one.”

In fact, when the rich young man called Jesus “Good Master,” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

We have made goodness a relative term, trusting the fact that we are not as bad as others may be.  But God is the standard of goodness, and He is perfect.

There is no way that any of us could be “good enough” for God to accept us into Heaven.

Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our good deeds are as filthy rags.

Praise God that we have a perfect Savior who was perfectly good on our behalf, so that we might share in His goodness. And by His grace and the work of His Spirit, God’s goodness is ours to share with others who will never be “good enough” until they are in Christ.

Blessed Through Kindness

As children, most of us were probably taught to be kind to each other, and to treat others as we would want to be treated. After all, that is the substance of the “Golden Rule.”

Biblical kindness, the kindness that is the fruit of the Spirit, is not kind to others in order to get kindness back. It is given freely to others regardless of the return.

Proverbs 11:17 tells us:

The merciful (kind) man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

In being kind to others, we actually benefit ourselves, but that should not be the motivation.

Christ said that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Those who are willing to be kind out of love, expecting nothing in return, are those who will receive the greatest blessing, even as they bless others.

Are you ready to be blessed? Who can you be a blessing to this week through your kindness?

The Key to Successful Motherhood

Mothers are amazing women and are called to carry out some very important and difficult duties from God.

In addition to caring for their households and raising their children, they are also called to support and serve their husbands in love.  And sometimes serving the husbands can be more challenging than raising the children.

Regardless of the family situation, no mother will ever be able to fulfill God’s calling in her own strength. Proverbs 31 lists the characteristics and activities of the “excellent wife,” but verse 30 emphasizes the key to motherly success:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Being a good mother and wife begins with a proper fear and worship of God, understanding that it is only in Him that you will find the strength and wisdom to carry out all the responsibilities of motherhood.  May God bless our families with mothers that fear the Lord.

Patience with People

We all can relate to the prayer that one man prayed: “ Lord, grant me patience…and please give it to me now.”

In a culture dominated by “instant gratification,” patience is rare. But Christians are called by God to be patient, especially with other people and their failings.

In Colossians 3:12-13, the Apostle Paul instructs us:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (patience);  (13)  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Our patience with one another is the mark of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should be willing to overlook the offenses of others against us and forgive them, just as God has forgiven us.

Romans 2:4 challenges us: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”  If God was willing to be patient with us, shouldn’t we also be patient with each other?