Saturday, April 29, 2006

Much to Rejoice About

Isaiah 60:10 states, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Do you rejoice greatly in the Lord? Deep down within you, do you delight in God?

When our basketball team wins a big game, we shout with joy. When we earn an A on a science test, we smile with sincere delight. When we pick up our paycheck, we take pride in the fruit of our labor. Joy, delight, and rejoicing are often the result of something done to us or by us.

Isaiah speaks of the greatest event that can ever happen to a person – our great salvation brought by the finished work of Jesus Christ. Although we were sinful from birth, Christ came to earth to save us. He lived a sinless life and died on the cross, bearing the full wrath of God in our place. When we believe in Christ, God grant’s to us the righteousness of Christ – he sees us as if we have never sinned. We have been robed in the righteousness of Christ. How amazing! How wonderful!

What is our response to this astounding news! Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, in our loving heavenly Father and in our selfless Savior. Delight that through his work on the cross we are no longer alienated from God, but instead we have been adopted into the family of God.

We truly do have much to rejoice about!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Heart & Actions

In Mark 7 Jesus corrected the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He made it clear that their hearts were far from pleasing to God, even though they said things that appeared to be godly. Jesus knew their thoughts and motives, and he rebuked them for acting godly but lacking godliness of heart.

Over and over in the gospels, Jesus corrected the Pharisees – the respected, religious leaders of the day. Despite their position as spiritual leaders and their attempts to follow the law, Jesus expressed his displeasure in them. Why did Jesus feel this way about this group, a group that would have been revered by Jews in Israel?

I believe it is because Jesus is much more concerned about our hearts than our actions. This doesn’t mean he overlooks our actions, but it does mean that he first and primarily is concerned for our hearts. Do we desire to please God? Do we want to follow his ways? Do we yearn to live for him? Do we seek to honor him in all our words and actions? Do we have a genuine love for him? Have our hearts been transformed and regenerated by the truth of the gospel?

A person doesn’t become a Christian by simply acting like a Christian. We cannot earn our salvation just by deciding to speak like a Christian and behave like a Christian. Ultimately, we cannot get right with God and please him simply by doing good things or speaking in a godly manner. We need our hearts transformed from stone to flesh – unbelieving to believing in him.

Once our hearts are regenerated, we can and should expect to see godly thoughts, words, and deeds in our lives – not to earn salvation but the fruits of salvation. A changed heart leads to fruit that is pleasing and honoring to God.

Growing up in a Christian home, we can easily be focused mostly on our words and actions. Our parents and church have specific rules and expectations. We can learn to talk like a Christian and act like a Christian simply because of what we see around us. We can even act this way to try to avoid disciple or correction. We can learn to live the Christian and fail to examine our hearts.

But what a shame it would be for us to learn to live like a Christian but not be a Christian at heart. We need to make sure we know and love Jesus personally. We need to examine our hearts to make sure we have genuine affections for Christ and desire to live all of life for him. We need to pause and examine our hearts to see if we possess true, saving faith.

Let’s learn from the mistake of the Pharisees and let the challenge Jesus gave them pierce our hearts. Let’s learn to focus first on our hearts and look for godly fruit in our lives to follow.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A New Week

It’s Monday morning, and the new week is upon us. Classes, after-school activities, homework, and part-time jobs await us. We can anticipate countless interactions with friends, family members, and co-workers. We can expect much good, but we also know we will probably face a few trials.

As you look ahead to the week, where does your source of strength and hope come from? Is it in yourself – your abilities, your intellect, your plans? If you are at all like me, you are quick to depend on yourself and slow to depend on God. I find myself, in my arrogance, counting on my wisdom instead of seeking God and his perfect way. I find myself trusting my plans and my abilities instead of trusting his perfect plans and infinite wisdom.

Let’s commit this morning to trust God instead of ourselves. Let’s trust the infinite, all-mighty, all-knowing God who works all for our good. Let’s trust God as he uses our parents, teachers, and pastors to guide us. Let’s trust God as we faithfully seek to do his will.

Have a great week!