Think About It

Philippians 3:17-19 ESV

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

When I was growing up as a child and as a young adult in the 50’s – early 80’s, I could name a handful or so of truly godly people in my life to whom I looked up to, and whom I admired for their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. They weren’t perfect people, but they loved Jesus, and they walked in his holiness. They took him and his Word seriously, and they believed in the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles.

They lived what they said they believed. They walked the walk instead of just talking it. They knew what it was to fellowship in the Spirit and with one another. They shared their faith with others consistently. They prayed for guidance about decisions in their lives. They showed God’s love to others. And, they prayed for one another, too, and encouraged and built one another up in the faith. And, this was part of their day-to-day routine, too.

At church gatherings, they were also dead serious about the Lord. The Word of God was taught in its fullness. Holiness was stressed regularly, as were repentance and obedience to Christ. We often shared our testimonies of faith with one another, not necessarily speaking of our salvations, but of how the Lord Jesus was working in our lives every day, and regarding what he was teaching us in our daily times with him and in his Word. And, in this way we encouraged one another.

But, in the mid 80’s – 90’s, I began to notice a shift in the church and in the lives of God’s people. Maybe this took place before this, but this is when I really began to become aware of the change. Worldliness was majorly creeping into the church as well as was big business. There didn’t seem to be much of a distinction between the church and the world anymore.

Worship services were turned into game shows hosted by the pastors, or they were turned into stage productions to entertain the masses (the world). Pastors now became actors, entertainers, and clowns to keep the people entertained, laughing, and coming back for more of the same. And, “fellowship” was nothing more than parties, games, entertainment and food, and Jesus’ name was barely or never even mentioned.

In fact, unless it was a Bible study or a church service where we were supposed to talk about God, it seemed so many Christians were uncomfortable talking about Jesus and their faith and their daily walks with him. Conversations, instead, revolved around all the same things the world was talking about – TV shows, movies, video or computer games, secular music, superstars, sports, and worldly possessions, and the like.

Bible studies were no longer studies of books of the Bible, but they were studies of books written by mere mortals (not God-breathed), and they began to accept these authors almost equal with those who penned the scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And, many of these authors took/take great liberties with scripture, too. For, many of them twist and manipulate the scriptures to teach what they want to teach.

And, what took the biggest hit of all was the gospel of our salvation. It was diluted to a half-truth gospel where sin, repentance, judgment and obedience are never or are rarely mentioned. Instead, the gospel message is presented more like an invitation to make Jesus our pal, our buddy, but not our Savior from our bondage to sin, and not our Lord (owner-master) of our lives to whom we surrender our wills and submit to his purposes and walk in obedience to his commands.

And, this breaks my heart. And, I do weep over the church that has gone the way of the world, and my heart longs for true Christian fellowship with the saints of God face to face, like I knew in my younger years, and which I do experience on the internet, but not much in person anymore. For, so many Christians have adopted the ways of the world, and so many of our leaders in our churches are feeding their own appetites and are deserting the sheep.

Philippians 3:20-21; 4:1 ESV

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

But, we can be encouraged, because this world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven with God, and one day Jesus will return and he will take us home to be with him. And, we will no longer live in a world of sin. And the church (the saints of God), now living in adultery against her Lord, will no longer be walking in the ways of the world, for she will have purified herself and made herself ready for her Lord’s return before he comes back to get her. For, this is what the scriptures teach (Rev. 19:7).

But, while we wait for our Lord’s return, what kind of people ought we to be? What kind of lives should we be living 24/7? What can we do to impact this world of ours for Jesus Christ and for his eternal gospel of salvation?

We need to stand firm in the Lord and in his holiness and righteousness. We need to be walking the walk and not just talking it. We need to be conducting our lives in the Holy Spirit of God and not according to our sinful flesh. And, we must be living lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world and not blending in with the world to be accepted.

For, the grace of God, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts, desires), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await our Lord’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 4:17-24).

And, we absolutely must be sharing our faith with others, not just in sharing the gospel presentation, but sharing with others what difference our faith makes in our lives 24/7. And, we need to be encouraging one another in the body of Christ to live holy lives, and we do this by sharing with them what the word of God teaches, and how it is being realized in our own lives, and by us living the Word of God where others can see our faith as genuine.

Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We need to rejoice in the Lord always, in good times and in bad times. It doesn’t mean we won’t cry out to God in our suffering, but that we will rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus. For, we can be rejoicing while tears are streaming down our cheeks, too. For, we can be thankful to God for all his many blessings in our lives, even when all hell is breaking loose all around us.

No matter how crazy this world of ours gets, especially from this time forward, we don’t need to have any cause for worry. God is completely sovereign over all of creation, and he had this all planned out according to his purposes and will even before he formed the earth. He has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives, and he wants us to submit to him and his purposes and let him work his will in our lives despite what this world of sin throws at us, and despite Satan’s evil attacks against us.

Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Too many professing Christians these days are filling their minds up with the junk of this world. Daily they ingest the filth of this world via numerous TV shows, movies, games, music, entertainment, videos, and the like. Many of them surf the net indiscriminately, and they regularly end up places no godly person should ever go.

Their minds are set on the flesh, and not on the Spirit of God. But, they have desensitized themselves to the filth via regular use, and they have bought into the cheap grace gospel which sears their consciences, too.

But, if we are to follow Jesus Christ with our lives and to be his true sheep, then we need to put out of our lives and minds what is contrary to God’s moral character and what is contrary to his divine will for our lives. And, instead we need to be filling our minds with what is godly, holy, pure, righteous, and what is for the praise, honor and glory of God.

For, what we take into our minds goes into our hearts and it comes out through our words, our attitudes and our behaviors. So, if we want to be followers of Jesus, and we want to practice (in lifestyle) what is holy and righteous and good, then we must cut out of our lives what is opposed to God’s holiness and replace those things with what is pure and honorable. And, the God of peace, and his peace will then be with us.

My Jesus, I Love Thee

Hymn lyrics by William R. Featherstone, 1864
Music by Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

*Copyright status is public domain

Friday, January 25, 2019

2 thoughts on “Think About It

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