“to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”Ephesians 1:6 KJV. It is a natural human instinct to desire acceptance. People go to incredible lengths just to be accepted by a certain group or a person. Teenagers risk and sometimes ruin their lives seeking acceptance with a group. And sadly, many people join churches and go through religious motions in order to be accepted in certain social groups. But this verse reminds us that God Himself has made a way for us to be accepted in His beloved family! This is truly a result of God’s incredible mercy and grace. As sinners and rebels against God we had totally disqualified ourselves from being accepted by a Holy God. As spiritual outcasts we were not worthy to be accepted into His beloved family. But thank God, through Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, we now can be accepted into the most important group there is! What a joy it is to know that our Loving Creator accepts us as His beloved children and makes us a part of His blood washed, royal family. What a blessing it is to have brothers and sister in Christ who accept us, not because of what we have or do, but because of what Jesus Christ does in us. As we gather for worship today, let us praise God that He has accepted us into His beloved family.
“They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious…) Psalm 49:6-8 KJV. These words remind us of the great worth of a soul. All of the money and riches of this world cannot redeem a soul. All of the combined wealth of every nation cannot pay the ransom for even one soul. This should cause us to cry out to Jesus to awaken and rescue the perishing souls all around us. Because of the incredible price He paid, He is able to redeem every soul who looks to Him. Thank God, He has already paid the ransom for us all! And we know that the price was His own life. Jesus suffered, bled and died to pay the price for our redemption. He made His very soul an offering for our sin. We will never fully understand in this world the price Jesus paid. But He did all of this because He does understand how precious souls are! He said one soul is worth more than this whole world. Let us realize as we go about our busy lives, that nothing of this world is so precious as the redemption of souls.
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 KJV. In warning the Galatians about being in bondage to the old law, Paul reminds them here that a part of God’s call to them was a call to spiritual liberty. And certainly we should know that same call is upon us today. God does not want us to be in bondage to anything. But the opposite danger is, that many people misinterpret this liberty and use it as an excuse to live a fleshy and carnal life. They imagine that since they are ‘saved’ and ‘free in Christ’ that nothing is off limits to them, or can harm them. But the real purpose of true spiritual liberty is to make us free to love and obey God. It frees us from the tyranny of sin and satan and grants us the privilege to serve God because we love Him. It frees us from our sins and inability and gives us the ability to live a holy life that pleases God. True liberty enables us to serve others in a spirit of true Christian love. True spiritual liberty gives us the ability, not to please our flesh, but to do as God pleases.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 KJV. In this passage Paul is warning the Galatian believers about the danger of becoming entangled again in the yoke of bondage brought on by the old law. Today, while we may not be tempted in that direction, there are still many things our enemy would try to use to entangle us. The things of this material world and the cares of life will quickly entangle us if we are not careful. And we should understand that if we become entangled, we will lose our effectiveness as Christian witnesses. That means that our life will not bring glory to God. Paul warns in verse 4 that being entangled can cause us to fall from grace. In the Parable of the Sower Jesus warns about the thorny ground. The good seed takes root and begins to grow, but it is choked by the thorns and weeds which have not been removed. That is a vivid picture of a Christian life that has become entangled with the things of this world. We must be diligent about the care of our souls. By God’s grace we need to take time every day to seek the Lord and keep the things that would entangle us weeded out of our hearts and lives.
“Is not My word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29 KJV. These words sound strange to our modern generation that has become accustomed to soft and gentle words from the pulpit. We have come to a place where very few people will listen to God’s Word about sin and evil. Most come to church expecting to have their ears tickled and made to feel good about themselves. But this verse reminds us that God’s Word is to have a purifying effect on our hearts and lives. The Word will be like a fire cleansing the dross from our lives. The Word will be like a hammer that breaks the hardness of our stubborn hearts. And for true children of God, how thankful we are that God’s Word does these things! Every time the Word of God exposes needs in our lives we should humble ourselves and receive with thanksgiving the correction our Heavenly Father sends to us. While it is true, God’s Word will bring comfort and healing, we should realize that only happens after it has cleansed us and brought our lives into harmony with God’s will.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 KJV. There are many times in our Christian life that our greatest need is simply to be still before God. We live in a world that assumes the answers to our problems will be found in more activity and more talk. In religion, many people imagine that the busier we get the better off we will be. But the truth is, our souls desperately need more quiet time with our Lord. Not time where we are reading or studying or listening to music or anything else. Just a time to be still before our Father and let Him speak to us as we rest in His holy presence. The less of this quiet time we have, the more we will become overwhelmed by the things of this world. The bigger our problems will seem. And the more we will focus on what the enemy is doing around us. But when we are still before God, we are reminded that He alone is God and there is none like Him! The more we quiet ourselves before Him, the more we will be assured that this is His world, that He is ultimately in control and He will be exalted in this world. For His pleasure and for our good, let us set aside time with our Heavenly Father.
“But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” Jeremiah 23:22 KJV. God spoke these words about the false prophets and priests of Jeremiah’s day. They remind us of the great responsibility of spiritual leaders to express the truth of God’s Word about sin. When leaders fail to get their messages from God they become soft on sin. They begin to tolerate sin. They tell people that everyone sins so there is no use to fight against sin and seek after a life of holiness. And when that happens we become like apostate Israel. This is the condition of most of this current religious world. They have a very relaxed attitude about sin because it is tolerated in their leaders. But what a difference there is when a man gets his message from the mouth of the Lord. When the Holy God speaks through His messengers we can be sure that there will be no light hearted attitude in regards to sin. True spiritual leadership will always try to turn people from their sins and encourage them to strive towards a life of holiness that is pleasing to God. Every true child of God should do our best, by our words and example, to turn people away from sin and to our Blessed Lord and Saviour.
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:16 KJV. In the previous verses Jesus is describing those whose hearts and minds have been dulled by sin. Their ears are not open to hear the Good News of the Gospel. Their eyes are dimmed so they cannot see nor comprehend the life changing message of the Gospel. But for us who can see and hear, how incredibly blessed we are! And let us realize, it is only by a miracle of God’s grace that we can see the truths of God’s Word and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. None of us developed this ability on our own. Once we were as spiritually blind and deaf as sinners. But in His great loving kindness God spoke to us and drew us to Himself. When we opened our hearts to Him, He touched our eyes so we could see and our ears to hear. How sad it is for so many who look at God’s precious Word and they see nothing! How tragic it is that people sit under the preaching of the Word and never truly hear from God. Let us praise God for this incredible gift. Let us thank Him that He has opened our eyes to see and our ears to hear from Him.
“For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:50 KJV. While religious men have always tried to place their own qualifications for spirituality, Jesus made it very clear in these words what it really means. Most churches try to fit people into their religious molds. They say you must believe this and take part in that. You must look like this or go there. But Jesus said those who were rightly related to Him are those who DO God’s will. How far religion is today from this holy standard! In most places today, people are encouraged to believe certain things and then promised that all is well. But what good does it do to claim belief, if that belief does not produce a life of DOING God’s will? Many are going to stand before Christ in that final day and claim they believed. But only those who have DONE the will of God will hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter in to the joys of the Lord”. Let us be clear on this truth spoken by Jesus Christ. True belief produces a life of DOING God’s will. Anything less is counterfeit and will not prepare us for eternity. Let us be thankful that when we truly believe God enables us to do His good will.
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.” Psalm 115:1 KJV. God is the only One Who is worthy of glory. He is the only One Who deserves our praise and adoration. And how different our world would be if people would give God the glory instead of trying to take the glory for themselves. How different the church world would be if preachers and singers and all Christian workers would give God the glory He is worthy of, rather than basking in the praise of men. This generation is so quick to praise the creature and so reluctant to give glory to the Creator. If we could realize, that ‘we are what we are only by the grace of God’, then we would understand that none of us have anything to glory in except Jesus Christ. “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I Am the Lord…”Jeremiah 9:23-24 KJV. Let us give God the glory that He allows us and has made the way for us to know Him.