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Corinthians 13:13 And now
abide faith, hope, love (charity), these three; but the greatest of
these is love (charity).
permanent gifts of the Spirit are faith, hope and charity.
The greatest of these gifts is love or charity.
This is the love that God had for the world when He gave His Son
to be the substitutionary sacrifice for sin.
Notice that for God, charity is natural. For men, it is a gift,
which implies that it is not a natural part of our make-up.
We know a lot about the love of friends, and the erotic love of
romance and the love of things. But
how much do we know about a love that is not self-centered but is
Biblical description of faith
is found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped
for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The Net Bible translates this, “Now faith is being sure of what
we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.”
Faith in the Bible is not a leap in the dark.
It is the willingness to believe the promises of God even when
the promises of God make no sense. Faith
in the promises of God is based on sound reasoning.
For example, because the promises that God has made in the past
with regard to the first coming of the Lord have been fulfilled, we
believe that God will fulfill His promises with regard to eternal life
and with regard to the Lord’s second coming. That
confidence in the future is called hope and is based on faith in the
Biblical description of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “For we were
saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one
still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we
eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Hope always has to do with confidence (faith) in
future promises. The future
that God offers is always better than the present.
Some preachers say that we have our best life now, but the Bible
says that the best life for the Christian is still to come.
Hope in the Bible normally has to do with the blessings
associated with the Lord’s second coming.
or charity is described and defined for us in John 15:12, “This is My
commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love
has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”
We get further instruction on this kind of love from Romans 5:8,
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Wow! Do I have this
grace in my life? Would I
lay down my life for my friends? Christ
not only laid down his life for His friends, He laid down His life for
His enemies. Unfortunately,
most of them will be condemned eternally because they won’t
believe on Him (John 3:18). He
loved His enemies, but those who remain enemies after the Lord has
offered them His love, obviously do not love Him.
Thessalonians 1:3 mentions these gifts of the Spirit.
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love,
and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God
and Father.” When we have
faith, we will manifest it by works.
When we have love, labor will be involved—it will be costly.
When we have hope, we will manifest that by patient endurance.
are told in John 15 that apart from Christ we can do nothing.
Judas did not abide in the vine.
Israel as a nation did not abide in the vine, but disciples are
to abide in the vine. My
understanding of this passage is that we abide in the vine by keeping
the Lord’s commandment to love one another as the Lord loved us.
No wonder I feel so alone and weak at times since I confess I
have never loved as Christ loved
me. There is no way apart
from the enabling Spirit of the Lord that anyone could honestly say that
they have measured up to this standard.
But we should want to measure up.
Corinthians 13 makes it clear that we don’t have “all faith”.
Neither do we always live for the future so hope is not always
what motivates us. Obviously,
we have not consistently had the love or charity that the Lord had for
sinners. I am glad
that the Lord is merciful to sinners.
He didn’t die for the righteous or for the good.
He died for sinners. Which
means He died for me. And
now He is trying to make me more like Him.
He has His work cut out.
for the week of June 7, 2015
3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
am meditating on a very solemn subject this week.
That subject has to do with the consequences of offending God.
Our society today is much like the Roman society that Paul was
describing in this epistle. Paul
uses Old Testament references to describe the wickedness of his day.
He concludes that description with what seems to be the reason
for all of this wickedness. That
reason is that there is no fear of God before their eyes.
is the Fear of God?
say that the fear of God is just reverential trust and respect.
For those obedient to God that may be true; but for the
disobedient, fear involves trembling and even terror.
Fear in the Bible and even in this chapter involves God’s
righteous judgment. Paul
says in verses 5 and 6, “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the
righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts
wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly
not! For then how will God judge the world?”
God’s judgment always concerned me and it should concern every
one of us. I am saved today
from “the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10)” because I feared
was raised with a healthy respect for authority.
As a result when God talked about His wrath, I assumed He meant
wrath. When he talked about
a rich man lifting up his eyes in hell, being in torment, I believed
that is exactly what happened to the rich man in Luke 16.
When he talked about a place where the worm dies not and the fire
is not quenched, I assumed that there was a place like that for
unbelievers in eternity. When
Revelation 20 refers to a Lake of Fire as the final destination of the
person who wants to be judged by their works and who finds out their
good works didn’t offset their bad ones, I believed that was a real
place. I certainly did
not want to go there.
still believe that one aspect of the fear of God is a healthy respect
for His anger against those who reject Him and who worship other gods.
Many people criticize the preaching about God’s wrath.
They believe that we should only preach about the love of God.
However, I would not be preaching today if I didn’t believe in
God’s wrath. And because I
believed in God’s wrath, I didn’t want to get on His bad side.
And I don’t want my friends and loved ones to get on His bad
is Demonstrating Love!
don’t have a problem telling people that there are consequences for
drinking and driving. One of
the consequences may be death and another may be bankruptcy if a
policeman stops a person who is drunk.
The fines, penalties and insurance costs are enormous.
We don’t have a problem “scaring people” with the signs of
cancer or diabetes or stroke because we believe that those warnings will
ultimately save lives. We
actually believe we are showing love to those we are warning about those
things. I believe that we
should view the warnings about the wrath of God in the same way.
We who preach the Gospel would be unloving if we didn’t warn
our audiences that God is going to hold them accountable.
Sin is real, we cannot deny that.
We might call it by different names and we might try to justify
it, but sin is sin. Sin
offends God. Either we have
our sin forgiven through faith in the death of Christ or there will be
eternal wrath on those who reject God’s solution and God’s Son.
If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be saved today. If
I didn’t believe that, I
wouldn’t be preaching today since if God does not hold us accountable,
we don’t need to worry about life after death.
If I didn’t believe that. I wouldn’t be concerned about
making sure that my preaching and worship of God is Scriptural.
We should be concerned about the consequences of our decisions,
particularly when those consequences will affect us for eternity.
Questions that have to be Asked
know many people will read this and say that God is not like this. And
of course what they are really saying is that the Bible may contain
truth but it isn’t always true.
If you should be one of those who say this, I have to ask
you, “How do you know that you are right?”
If the Bible cannot be depended on, what can we depend on to know
how God thinks?
who say that they believe in the Living God of heaven today, have by and
large rejected the full description of God as given in the Bible.
Many want to believe in the God of love Who gave His Son to save
sinners, but they don’t want to think about His wrath and anger on
those who reject Christ. So
again I ask, “If you have rejected the God who gets angry, what if
your concept of God is wrong?”
for the week of June 14, 2015
Lord wants to be your Chef!
107:8-9: Oh, that men
would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies
the longing soul,
fills the hungry soul with goodness.
just finished eating a wonderful breakfast.
menu was eggs over easy, hash browns with onions, whole wheat toast with
grape jelly and turkey sausage patties.
I also had a gourmet cup of coffee.
I am satisfied. But
one thing is sure, in a few hours, I will be craving a good hamburger
and another cup of coffee. I
won’t get them because the nutritionists tell me that what I like and
what is good for me is two different things, and I have had enough of
what I like for one day
Lord tells a woman in John chapter 4 verse 10 through 14 that He can
provide her with water that will completely satisfy.
He compares His water to water from a clear cool stream or
perhaps water from an artesian well where the water bubbles to the
surface cool and filtered and satisfying.
His water is not the dead water that has been caught and kept in
a cistern. In John 6:35, the Lord gives us further explanation and says,
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he
who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
the Lord is talking about spiritual satisfaction rather than physical
satisfaction. The water is
the Holy Spirit which satisfies, and the bread is the Lord Himself.
We partake of that break and of that water when we believe in
Him. We believe in Him when
we believe His promises and revelations as found in the Word of God.
many of us are really satisfied?
How many of us really want to be satisfied? From
a natural stand point, eating is one of our greatest pleasures.
Who would want to lose their appetite for another good meal?
Who would want to never crave a clear cool drink again?
The only people who would like water that completely satisfies
would be people for whom a drink of water is not readily available.
The same would be true of those who do not have enough quality
food to eat. If a person
were to go to bed hungry and thirsty, these blessings would be very
satisfying. Never having to
worry about dying of thirst or starvation would be a great blessing.
But for someone who has never been really hungry or really
thirsty, I suspect that there would be little desire to have their
hunger and thirst quenched once and for all.
woman at the well in John 4 was burdened by her need for water.
She had to carry the water in a container.
She was ready to give that chore up.
She was also burdened by five failed marriages and a present
live-in relationship. She
confessed her sins to the Lord who knew all about them.
She then found out that the One she was talking to was in fact
the Messiah of the Jewish literature.
This Messiah had come to her personally.
She believed, she was satisfied and she left her water pot at the
well and went and told others. She
would need physical water again, but she would always be satisfied by
the drink that the Lord had given her spiritually at that well.
It had become a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
She had been satisfied.
Lord had done a great miracle in John 6.
He had fed the multitude physically but they had not been fed
spiritually. He says that
they were seeking Him because of the miracle but He also says, in John
6:36, “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not
believe.” They liked
eating of his loaves but they didn’t want to believe In Him.
They were never satisfied.
is there so much arguing and striving about spiritual things today?
Is it because we are like the Athenians in Acts 17 who think that logic
and philosophy have the answer as to Who God is and as to how we can
know Him? Is it because we
are not simple enough to just believe what God has said about His Son in
the Bible? Is it because we
try to explain away the miracles associated with the Lord’s first
coming? Is it because we do
not believe the witnesses that saw the living Savior after the
crucifixion? Is it because
we do not think we will be held accountable for our sin and our
unbelief? Even those of us
who take the title of Christian today seem to have problems with being
simple enough to evidence real satisfaction in their relationship with
satisfies the longing soul.
Most people are
searching for something new and exciting even in spiritual things.
But real satisfaction is right in front of us.
The woman at the well was satisfied.
She believed in the Lord. The
multitude that ate of the miraculous loaves was not satisfied.
They did not believe in the Lord.
And that makes all the difference.
for the week of June 21, 2015
have Sinned (Except for the Man on the Middle Cross)!
Peter 2:23 Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He
suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges
is God really like?
it be nice if we who claim to be Christians were all Christ-like in our
lives and attitudes? Wouldn’t it be nice if we never reviled, that is,
we never spoke with contempt or abusive language?
have been having trouble explaining to some of my friends who study the
Bible with me, how God can be as vengeful as He seems to be in the Old
He also seems to be vengeful in the book of the Revelation
from chapter six on to chapter 20.
One of my friends told me that the God of the book of
Revelation was “criminal.” I have explained to these friends that
while I do think that the “wrath of God” is real and literal, God
has worked in different ways during different dispensations or
administrations of His rule on this earth.
We live in a day when we know God through Jesus Christ.
And Jesus Christ exhibits mercy and love in this dispensation.
He died for us in order to save us.
He does not ask us to die for Him in order to be saved although
many have died for Him because they are saved.
He loves us even when we don’t love Him.
Even in the Old Testament, He shows mercy unto thousands of those
who love Him and guard His Word (Exodus 20:6).
Mercy has always been one of God’s graces, but we who live in
this present dispensation are particularly blessed by it.
We have seen and experienced the love of God through His Son
But we also know that those who reject this love and mercy will
be exposed to God’s wrath.
As I have said before, one of the reasons I preach the Gospel is
that I believe in the wrath of God against unbelievers and I don’t
want anyone to experience it.
should mark a Christian?
I have trouble explaining some aspects of God’s personality to my
friends, I have just as much trouble explaining the attitudes of those
who call themselves Christians to my friends.
They see Christians as judgmental, hypocritical and cruel.
By judging Christ by some so-called Christians, many have no
desire to be identified with a movement that in many cases is very
Many of the articles that have been written by Christians on the
current LGBT controversy have been confrontational and divisive. The
language has been that of a reviler.
Many who are against gay marriage on Biblical grounds as they
ought to be don’t seem to be too concerned with lying and cheating at
business, or with heterosexuals living together without marriage, or
with slandering people that they do not like, or with not showing
respect to governmental authority, and I could go on. Couples
that have gotten pregnant before marriage are often congratulated rather
than being admonished.
Christians, shouldn’t all of these moral issues be important to us? But
it is quite obvious that many so-called Christians pick and choose which
parts of the Bible they want to accept and which parts they want to
Many Christians want to distinguish between the major doctrines
of the Bible and the minor ones and they are willing to ignore the minor
The only problem is, the minor doctrines wouldn’t have to be
labeled minor if we were all willing to believe that the whole Bible is
divinely inspired and that God meant what He said.
I am wondering under this framework, how we know that the LGBT
issues are major rather than minor issues with God?
Even though God says the practice of a gay lifestyle is sin, he
also says that we have ALL sinned.
Perhaps we have not all sinned in the same way, but certainly we
have sinned in ways that are major in God’s eyes.
blessing of living in the day of grace
am glad that I live in the day of God’s grace.
I am glad that I have been delivered from “the wrath to come (1
Thessalonians 1: 10).”
I am glad that my God is not willing that any should perish (2
I am NOT glad that those who reject God’s grace and mercy as
shown through the sacrificial death of Christ will perish, but perish
I am also glad that Christianity should not be judged by me or my
life, or by many Christians who down through the years have not been
very Christ-like in my personal opinion.
Christianity should be judged by the humility and sacrificial
love of Christ.
And again, I quote, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile
in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself
to Him who judges righteously.”
need to remember that it is possible to sin in trying to remedy what
many of us consider to be a great sin.
Let God do the remedying.
After all He is the one who is being offended.
Let those of us who preach the Gospel preach about all sin, not
just one sin.
Let us make sure that we are being criticized for our good
behavior and not because we have become filled with pride in our own
for the week of June 28, 2015