“3Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 8This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.” (Titus 3:3-8 NLT)
This is the Gospel. The simple Gospel message – and it is embedded in one of the shortest “books” of the Bible; but our brother Paul never neglects an opportunity to share the Truth of salvation through Christ. Do you?
We are commanded to preach the Gospel and to live the Gospel as we submit ourselves to the power of Holy Spirit – to grow more and more int eh image of Yahweh, The Most High. The Truth is simple; but the Truth is so powerful that it divides the world itself. It divides the world into those who believe and submit and those who do not. No, there is no middle ground when it comes to the simple Truth of salvation through the Christ. Your “goodness,” your upbringing, your status, or your “spirituality’ will not save you. Remember, Yahweh is a loving God – He loves you so much that He will only tell you the Truth and He will always give you what you seek.
If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will receive Him by the power of His Holy Spirit and you will experience eternal life with Him on the re-created Earth. If you seek the god of this world, you will receive him and you will experience eternal life with the Satan in hell. Like I said, God is a good and loving God – He will give you what your heart truly desires.
22Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? 27“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 29“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 33“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Luke 12:22-34 NLT)
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” I really enjoy this particular teaching style of Jesus. It is inductive, that is, He teaches all of the points first and then culminates with the BOOM statement. Here we see all the reasons why we as His creation should not worry about our lives and our everyday needs, and I think that is a great message in and of itself (of course) but did you pay attention to the BOOM statement? The final statement speaks more to the very desires of our hearts than to the little things that make up our existence. In other words, are our hearts set on Jesus or on all of the little things that make up our days? Do we see the big picture – or are we too engulfed in the thousands of little pictures? Do we trust God, our Father – or do we trust ourselves and the things that we have, or think that we need?
1Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” 7“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” 8Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” 9Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! (John 5:1-9 NLT)
As you read this scripture, let me ask – what part of it really sticks out? What part of it really speaks to YOU? It is, of course, a picture of salvation; but there are so many facets to what is happening here that speak into the individual, into the church, into what it means to be in a submitted relationship with our Lord and Savior. Lets review: The lame man laid there for 38 years and NOBODY would help him! What does that say about the depths of human selfishness and depravity? Jesus asks the lame man, knowing that he has suffered all of this time, “Would you like to get well?” Why would he ask? Wouldn’t it be more “charitable” to just do it? Who Wouldn’t want healed after 38 years of suffering? But wait, the suffering man’s response is – “I can’t, sir” not YES SIR! The suffering man didn’t say, “what have you been waiting for?” or, “What a stupid question!” He says, “I can’t, sir.” Notice also that the response that the man gives is not even to the question Jesus asks! Jesus does not ask if the man can make himself well, Jesus asks if the man would like to get, or be made, well. Interesting. Oh my, and we didn’t even get into how “the church” reacted to the authentic power of God! Please, read on and tell me if that sounds in any way like your church leadership.
Jesus does not touch the man; he does not make a paste and place it on the man; he does not make a big show of prayer or call attention to the situation in any way, shape, or form. Jesus simply speaks. Jesus, the Word, speaks and His creation is healed. Powerful. We forget that our God is a creator God. We forget that Jesus is the Logos – the Word – and the Word was with God and the Word was God Re: John 1. We speak to Jesus. Jesus Speaks to us. We can’t heal ourselves. Jesus desires to heal us. If you declare with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Re: romans 10) You will be healed. You will be redeemed. You will be transformed. You will, “pick up your matt and walk!”
1And so, dear brothers and sisters,a I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 3Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12:1-5 NLT)
It is an amazing thought to have that we are called to sacrifice ourselves as a part of the New Testament church. Under the Old Covenant followers were called to present unblemished sacrifices at the altar – Under the New Covenant, fulfilled by Jesus Christ, we are called to BE the sacrifice and LEAVE the altar! We are made holy, unblemished, by the blood of the Messiah and, as scripture then teaches, we are called to sacrifice ourselves to His body. See what happened there? He sacrificed himself for our sakes – now we are called to sacrifice ourselves for HIS sake.
Oh but that is hard, isn’t it? See what I did there? But, But, But – as in when God shares His will with us – his “good and perfect will” with us – and our first response is, “but…” “But I don’t have the time.” “But that is not what I had planned.” “But my kids need to be in a youth group.” “But I don’t have the training for that.” Our selfish nature rears its ugly head and we begin to stammer and stumble over all of the reasons why God is wrong and we are right and how what we are perceiving as His will is impossible and won’t really lead to anything that is “good and perfect” with me – and so on, and so on, and so on.
First of all, DUH! If it was possible in our own strength then we wouldn’t even need God. Secondly, it must be an intentional decision made of our own free will. The challenge, of course, is to set aside ourselves and our own free wills and TRUST our savior. Oh my, there’s that word again – the “T” word – Trust. Nobody is ever perfect in their submission, this is true, but ask yourself, “Do I trust? Can I possibly trust? Or do I trust God only when it seems to suit me or benefit me?” Good questions that only we as individuals can answer. Actually, we spend our redeemed lives answering them, don’t we?
8“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 10“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry. 11It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11 NLT)
Confession time… I had to be reminded of this last Sunday. I went into the service with a rather bad attitude – not expecting much and, quite frankly, not expecting to do much. My intention was to wrap up the sermon from last week, maybe 10 minutes, and move on. I had a negative attitude and I allowed it to dictate to my thoughts and my behavior. I’m sorry. I have repented. Actually, I repented on Sunday as I felt the rebuke of the Holy Spirit as HE took over and did what HE wanted. It was amazing how the Word of God went out Sunday and in spite of my negative attitude and energy, was used to inspire more than a half an hour of confession, discussion, testimony and prayer! I sat on the stool, worrying about how long it was all taking, STILL not understanding or submitting to the power of The God as He manifested Himself among us. Shame on me. Lesson learned. Of course, like the imperfect human being that I am, there is no doubt that I will have to “learn” it again sometime.
Scripture teaches us that in our weakness, we are made strong by the Lord. (Re: 2cor. 12) Sunday I realized the fundamental fact of church – I and/or WE are not in charge, HE is. We are weak and left to our own devices will give into that weakness and purposely stand in the way of the will of God. We sorta can’t help ourselves given our selfish natures; but knowing that, honestly, is half the battle. Submit your weakness to the Lord. Understand that HE is in control and that HIS purposes will be se4rved REGARDLESS of how we feel or what we think or even if we intentionally stand in the way of THE WAY. Sunday, God sat me down, told me to be quiet and showed me what it means, once again, to be submitted. Thank You Lord.
Pastor Brian is the senior pastor of Churchtown Church of God and regularly shares his thoughts & insight here - he invites you to join in the discussion of life & faith!