Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Team

When you hear the word "saint," what comes to mind? Depending on your background, you might think of a person with a glowing Frisbee above his head. Or you might think of heaven: "Oh, yes, that's where all the saints live!" (You might even think of a football team.)

I looked up "saint" in the dictionary and found this: "An officially recognized person through canonization, as preeminent for holiness; one of the spirits of the departed, now in heaven." So according to Webster, a saint is a near-perfect person, now dead.

But what is a saint in the Bible? In most of Paul's letters, he makes reference to "the saints." Here are some from Philippians: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi" (1:1). "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus" (4:21). "All the saints greet you" (4:22).

So the Word of God says saints are on earth, living with us. You could take all of humanity and separate them into two categories, the saints and the "ain'ts." You either belong to God or you don't. If you belong to Jesus Christ, you are a saint. You are a "separated one." That's what the word means, one who is separated for God's purpose here on earth. Here are some traits of saints.

A saint belongs to two kingdoms. Though they has a physical address, here on the earth, they have a spiritual address as well: "in Christ Jesus." They have a dual citizenship. They live as an alien on the earth because their true citizenship is in heaven. And therefore they keep a light touch on this life because they knows it's only temporary.

A saint behaves submissively. That's because they are also a slave. Saints are bondservants to Christ (1:1). They have been bought with a price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and they willingly obey Him. They are committed to the command in James 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."

A saint believes in the scriptures. This is a telltale sign. A saint loves the Bible. Some people will read the Bible, but the saint will feed on it. There's a direct correlation between your love for the Bible and your relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible is the saint's lifeline.

A saint benefits spiritually. Paul always started his letters by talking about grace. If God owns you, you'll be reaping the benefits of experiencing His grace and enjoying His blessings of peace, joy and contentment.

So the bottom line is this: Does God own you, or are you earthbound? Measure yourself by the four criteria above. Are you a saint or an "ain't"?


Love God – Love People

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trying to be Descriptive

If I asked you to describe yourself, what word would you use? Would you say you are peaceful, tranquil, and satisfied or would you have to admit you are restless, anxious, and worried? If you could go back in time and ask the apostle Paul what word he would use to describe himself, he would most likely say, "Content."

Contentment doesn't come easy. In fact, Paul admitted it was something he had to learn. He said, “Not that I was ever in neeed, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether its with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”(Philippians 4:11-12). Paul chose to place his contentment in the Lord regardless of his circumstances. He made a conscious decision, whether he had rags or riches, was full or famished, hurting or healthy, to be satisfied with what God provided.

You know, society feeds our feelings of discontent, enticing us to buy the newest product, the better car, or the fashionable clothes (which will be out of style tomorrow!). But remember, when we complain, what we're really doing is telling God and others that we're not satisfied with His provision. In reality, true contentment doesn't come from what we have but Who we have. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have everything you need! Jesus promised, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added). In other words, if you worry about His things, He'll worry about your things.

So the next time you find yourself complaining, turn your protest into a praise. You'll find that you, like Paul, can learn to be content regardless of your circumstances.

In Love,


Chuck

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Partners

We were living in Tennessee and I was doing a project at the house. Allison was six or seven, Kayla was four or five and Derrick was real little, three I think. As I was getting the tools ready, I said, "Hey, you guys want to help Daddy?" And they said, "Yeah!" We got the tools ready, and I started working on the project while they were busy playing with the screwdrivers, kicking the hammer, twirling around, and singing songs. Every once in a while I'd say, "Hey, bring me that hammer." And they'd bring it to me, and then they’d go back to what they were doing. Now, did I need them to help on the project? No; truth be told, not at all. But I loved the association. I loved the time we spent together.

It's like that with God. God is interested in the association with us. It's a partnership. We work with Him. In Joshua 1:2-3, God said, "Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them--the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses."

God could have just given them the Promised Land, with no enemies to bar their way. He could have engineered it so that they just stood at the edge of the river and the Canaanites would say, "Here's the keys to our houses and our chariots. They're all yours. We surrender." No, they had to actually cross, walk, fight, move, and believe, so that each step was a step of faith.

In Joshua 3 when they put their feet into the waters of the Jordan, the flow of the river stopped upstream and they crossed over on dry ground. It wasn't until they moved out that the water stopped. And they had to tread on the land before it was theirs. So with each step they were saying, in effect, "OK Lord, I'm taking this step, but I'm trusting that You've given this to me. Here's another one..."

Please don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying "God helps those who help themselves." That's not where I'm going, and besides it's not scriptural.

What I'm trying to say is that we work with God in His work. It's a partnership. We do it with Him, not apart from Him. And it's not just Him doing it--because He could do all the work by Himself. It's a partnership, because He loves to do things with us, and to just "hang" with us. I hope you learn that beautiful secret of fellowship with Him!

We will learn even more about partnerships this weekend as we dive into Genesis 3.  Hope to see you this weekend!  Invite a friend and join us on this foundational journey through the first book of the Bible!

In His Love,


Chuck