1 Thessalonians 4:3 – “For this is the will of God . . .”
As each new year rolls around, we begin thinking in terms of resolutions and decisions that we must make. Our hearts and minds may be in the right place as we resolve to do this or resolve to do that, but without seeking God’s will in each new decision, we end up just spinning our wheels. The resolutions we make are either based upon our own fleshly wants and desires or are not based on what God wants for us. Many Christians have chosen to live by their own plans rather than seek the will of God.
We question whether we should take a new job – or buy a new car – or move to a new place – or change to a new church. As we contemplate these decisions, we should inquire as to what God’s will is. Whether the decision is one as large as these or one of many small day to day choices, it is important to seek God’s face. Let us cry out with the psalmist, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psa 143:10)”
But how can we know what God’s will is? We do know that God promised us in John 10:10, that we could “have life, and . . . have it more abundantly.” We can only do this if we will follow Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” If we are truly given over to Him, we can know God’s Will, but it is not some mystical idea, so His will cannot be determined by mysticism. According to Dr. Harold Sightler, God’s will can be known clearly by asking several questions about each choice we have to make:
1. Is that which I do true to the Scriptures? Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” and it leads us in His ways. He will never lead us to do that which His Word clearly forbids or lead us to disobey that which His Word clearly commands. If it is expressly forbidden in the Bible, we can be assured that it is not in the will of God.
2. Is that which I do ethical? God’s Word is our moral compass, from which He teaches us ethical behavior. And He expects us to measure each decision by that compass. If any choice that you make violates that ethical behavior, you can be assured that it is not in the will of God.
3. Is that which I do bringing glory to Jesus? 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything we undertake to do should glorify Him. If your decision does not glorify Christ, or if it glorifies anything or anyone other than Christ, you can be assured it is not the will of God.
4. Is that which I do governed by the true values of life? What are the true values of life? God – Family – Church – Morality – these are the things we should strive to fulfill in our lives. If the choice you make goes against the Christian values you have been taught from God's Word, you can be assured it is not God's will.
5. Is that which I do providing inward peace for me? God promises that “the work of righteousness shall be peace, (Isa 32:17).” When we do His will, he will bring about a peace in our hearts that assures us of being in the center of His will. He will show you His will – He promises – “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isa 30:21)” God will give you His perfect peace if your decisions are the right ones, but if not, you can be assured He's not in it.
6. Is that which I do altogether unselfish? Sometimes selfish motivations can affect our attempts to know and do God’s will. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)” If your fleshly lusts are the only motivations you have, you can be assured it not His will.
7. Is that which I do proving a blessing to other people? 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” We should make decisions based on how it blesses those around us – how it affects of family, our friends, and everyone we come in contact with. If it doesn't bring blessings to others - if it does not edify others - if it proves to be a stumblingblock to others, you can be assured God is not pleased.
Doing His will is the mark of true wisdom. "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:17)”
Sunday, December 31, 2006
1 Thessalonians 4:3 – “For this is the will of God . . .”
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The Christmas season is waning – and so with it is the “warm fuzzy feeling” that men have in their hearts for one another. Gifts have been exchanged – and returned. Workers prepare to return to their jobs, from which they’ve had a few days respite. And everyone readies themselves to get back to their hum-drum rat-race they call a life and wait for the next holiday that will get them off work for a day or two. But as we slip back into what we call normalcy, let us remember that Christmas doesn’t have to die down in our souls. We can continue to let the love of God and the peace that He gives live in our hearts all throughout the year. Keep the fires of Christmas burning in our lives as we continue to touch all those around us.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” the worldly wise preacher tells us. For some of us, youth has long since gone. For others, we are smack dab in the middle of youth. And for yet others, even youth is just beginning. Whether you consider yourself young or old, remember your Creator in all you do. There are several ways that you can remember your Creator.
First, if you haven’t done so, surrender your heart to Him. God loves you and wants you to accept His free gift of salvation. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).” “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23).” “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).” Accepting His free gift will bring salvation to your longing soul.
Next, surrender your life to Him. The Apostle Paul tells each of us in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” If you'll give Him your body as well as your soul, then He can use you to do His Will and glorify Him with your life.
Then, surrender your will to Him. Paul continues in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If you’ll give Him your mind, then He can mold your will into that which He can use to please Him in all things.
Last, surrender your all to Him. Romans 6:13 says, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” If you’ll follow the instruction in this verse, you’ll refuse to give yourself to sin – you’ll give your whole self unto God – and you’ll give your entire being to be used of God.
For him to mould, to form, to use
Or do with it as he may choose
Resistless in his hand.
What is a yielded life? A life whose only will
When into blest subjection brought
In every deed and aim and thought
Seeks just to do his will.
What is a yielded life? A life which love has won,
And in surrender, full, complete,
Lays all with gladness at the feet
Of God's most holy Son.
-- W. A. G.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Luke 2:11 – "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Once again, friend, we know that the exact date of Christ’s birth is not known – or even the time of year for that matter. And some would tell you that it is wrong to worship the birth of our Lord or to celebrate Christmas at all or to celebrate it at the time that we do. But one thing is clear – Christ was born into this earth, in human form, leaving the glory of heaven for the sole purpose of dying on Calvary’s cross, thus providing salvation for man’s fallen race.
“For unto you is born . . . a Saviour” – just as the prophets foretold:
Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Micah 5:2 – “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
We celebrate Christmas – not to celebrate a specific date – not to celebrate a specific night – not to celebrate a specific place or time – we celebrate Christmas to praise God for His incarnation in human flesh and “save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).” The time of the year is not important – the day of the month is not important – the season of the sun is not important – what is important is that we celebrate the Son for the salvation He has provided for all mankind.
Christ’s advent is a fact of Scripture and a fact of history. His coming so affected the history of mankind that He split time fore and aft. His coming was so important that wars have been fought in His Name. His coming was so crucial that martyrs have died with His Name on their lips. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”
So the date may be all wrong, but Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Happy Birthday, Jesus
Happy birthday, Jesus – I know we say it all wrong –
With Christmas trees and ringing bells and now and then a song,
And it’s quite plain that we don’t say it nearly enough,
But with all the worldly distractions, it makes it a little tough.
But happy birthday, Jesus – I’m glad your so forgiving,
Cause if we had to trust ourselves, life wouldn’t be worth living.
We’d surely make a mess of things – just look at how things are.
Even with you in our lives, we botch things up by far.
But happy birthday, Jesus – It’s a time of giving gifts,
A time of peace with fellow men – of healing up old rifts,
A time when hearts are full of joy, fond memories recall,
For ‘tis the time when God gave us the greatest gift of all.
So happy birthday, Jesus – Help us trust in you
To make us love each other more and to your Word be true.
Help us make a difference on this old sin-cursed earth
And help us start this very day as we celebrate your birth.
© 2006 Paul Stultz
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Now, we’re pretty sure that the events of this account did not occur in December as tradition has reported it. Experts disagree as to whether they occurred in the spring or the fall of the year, but it is a fact of Scripture and of history that they did occur. That innkeeper so many years ago did not know that the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, the Christ was about to be born on that chilly night. If he had known, he probably would have made room for the couple. But the fact is, he turned the pair away and forced them to seek alternate arrangements.
And just as the innkeeper turned Him away then, so the Pharisees and religionists of the day also decided that He did not fit into the mold that they had created for the Messiah. They didn’t want a humble-born Christ – they wanted a king. They didn’t want a meek and lowly Saviour – they wanted a triumphant conqueror. They didn’t want a personal Lord – they wanted a commander to overthrow their Roman masters. So they rejected Him and crucified Him. “His blood be on us, and on our children,” they said in Matthew 27:25. And they still bear the guilt of that decision.
Not only does Israel still reject Him on a national level, but most of the world reject Him on a personal level. We find ourselves too busy, or too educated, or too sophisticated to put faith in Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour. Those of us who do, still push Him to the back of our busy schedules. We don’t walk with Him daily as He desires – we don’t spend time with Him in personal devotions – we don’t tell others about Him. Let us not turn Him out; let us instead welcome Him in and fellowship with Him daily.
“No room in the inn,” is what they were told
On the night they reached Bethlehem.
“But there must be a place, My wife’s hungry and cold,”
Joseph pleaded with expression grim.
“I’ve a stable below,” the innkeeper said,
“To get out of the night’s chilly air.
It’s not very much, but there’s hay for a bed.
You’ll be welcome to stay in there.”
So the One who was come from Heaven above
In a stable was caused to be born.
He came down to earth to show God’s great love,
Was humbled that first Christmas morn.
“No room in our world,” is what He was told
By the religionists of Jesus’ day.
“You’re not our messiah – You don’t fit our mold.
So we’ve got to send you away.”
They gave Him over to Gentiles to be crucified,
To hang Him upon a cross.
Yet He forgave them as He suffered and died.
They did not even realize their loss.
The One who could save them from all of their sin
They rejected and cast Him away.
The One who had come their souls to win
They crucified that fateful day.
“No room in our lives,” is what He’s still told,
For Jesus we have no time.
We busy ourselves seeking silver and gold.
To us wealth and fame is sublime.”
So once again Christ is shut outside
By a world so full of sin,
While in your heart He wants to abide.
Why don’t you let Him come in?
Why don’t you give Him first place in your life
And let Him within you dwell?
He will release you from all sin and strife
And deliver your soul from hell.
© 2006 Paul Stultz
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Many years ago, Dr. Sightler said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?” It wasn’t original to him – he attributed it to Bill Harvey, who probably heard it from someone else. But do you think God was sitting up in the heavens one day and just decided to send a Saviour? I don’t think so. In fact back in the very beginning God knew that it would be necessary to send His Son as our Saviour. And then when man sinned in the Garden of Eden, He told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen 3:15).” The plan was laid.
This was a hard and fast promise of the Scriptures, and for centuries the Jews looked for that “seed of the woman,” their Messiah, that would come and set things right. All the prophets prophesied of Him, the Psalmists sang of Him, the Jewish historians and theologians wrote of Him. Jeremiah called Him “that prophet.” When John the Baptist came on the scene, the Pharisees asked him if he was “that prophet,” to which he replied “No, I’m just a voice.”
So millennia went by – but no Messiah. The time wasn’t right. God knew exactly the right time to send His Son. Look at the conditions of the world when Christ came. The Roman Empire controlled the world, and Caesar Augustus declared a census and a tax, so every one had to go to the city of their lineage. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth – they had to get to Bethlehem somehow, because according to the prophet Micah, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
And the “good news” of salvation would have to be spread throughout the empire by the first missionaries. The Greek Empire had Hellenized the world – Greek was the universal language. The Roman Empire had unified the world – one empire, one coinage, one language, one government, no customs at the borders, brick roads connected the countries of the empire. All this aided the spreading of the gospel from country to country. The “fulness of the time was come.”
When the fulness of the time was come,
God sent His Son to die.
He sent Him through the woman’s seed –
He sent Him from on high.
This promise to Eve was told of God,
When from His glory they fell.
He said He would send a Saviour here
His precious love to tell.
He gave the Law in ages past
Because of sin so vile.
The wicked serpent caused the fall –
God’s creature did defile.
He caused us to transgress God’s Will.
The Law revealed our sin
And made us live on borrowed time,
Till He our souls could win.
At Calv’ry’s cross the deed was done –
Christ died to save my soul –
That I might be the child of God
And I could be made whole,
And when I put my trust in Him,
His Spirit came to dwell.
He gave to me His wondrous grace –
My soul He saved from hell.
© 2006 Paul Stultz
Friday, December 22, 2006
Today is the first day of winter, the winter solstice – actually the exact time of the winter solstice for 2006 was last night at 7:22 pm – but the calendar is set by Universal Time or Greenwich Mean Time and 7:22 last night was 12:22 am on December 22 GMT – but who’s going to quibble over a few hours difference.
But what that means to us is that it is the shortest day of the year – on average about 9 hours of daylight from sunrise to sunset. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “Passing seasons change the habits and moods of people. Around November and December in the northern hemisphere, a gloominess nicknamed ‘winter blues’, ‘February blahs’, ‘Holiday depression’, or doldrums, is informally noted amongst people. The severest cases of this type of depression is diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms include sleeping more, tiredness, depression, and physical aches. Although causes include genetic disposition and stress, the prevailing environmental influence is decreased exposure to light due to winter weather patterns and the increased amount of clothing that must be worn to keep warm.”
And it is true, that in the bleakness of winter, we tend to get blue. But we must remember that in spite of the psychologists of this world and their predictions of gloom and doom during the winter months, as a child of God, we can always bask in the Sonlight of God’s love. We never have to allow short hours of daylight to have a dimming effect on our disposition. Let us rejoice! We have the king of glory as our Father!
Winter brings to our lives cold blasts of fury.
Days grow short and nights draw out –
Daylight comes and goes so quickly.
The grass has faded, the flowers withered,
The trees, having shed their leaves,
Stand like morbid specters in the wintry gloom.
There’s a chill in the air that reaches the very soul.
It’s as if all nature has died
And glumly awaits spring’s resurrecting power.
Yet we can also see winter as a time of possibilities.
The crispness of the morning air cleanses our lungs.
The smell of mothballs permeates the air as we
Pull out coats and long johns from their storage.
We hear the gleeful cheers of children at the first snow.
We enjoy the festivities of the holiday seasons.
We find a special warmth in snuggling up to those we love
Sitting by a cozy fire on a snowy evening.
We glow in that special feeling of affection.
© 2006 Paul Stultz
Friday, December 15, 2006
Turn for a moment from your hardsome toil;
Turn, if you will, from your earthly task;
Turn on a quest with no thought of recoil;
Turn with your heart, and your questions ask.
I’ll take you to a time in the far-spent past;
I’ll take you to a place upon a low hill;
I’ll take you to the feet of the First and the Last;
I’ll take you to the One who said, “Whosoever will.”
We first find Him in a manger low,
Born of a Virgin in a stable dim.
Angels and shepherds come and go
With peace and blessing as their glorious hymn.
Next we find Him in a carpenter’s gown
Hewing and planning with a master’s touch;
And then in the temple in Jerusalem town
Confounding the elders with His wisdom much.
Next by the Jordan being baptized of John,
Blessed by the Father and the heavenly Dove;
Then being tempted by the wicked one,
Fending off temptation with power from above.
Thus He began His ministry here,
Preaching and healing and raising the dead,
Expressing His love for His children so dear,
He and the twelve who went where He led.
This is the One of whom prophets spake,
The promised Messiah, the King of Kings.
He is the One who the worlds did make,
The giver of life and all good things.
And yet, here He is in the form of a man,
Come down to earth from Heaven’s bright shore,
Come to fulfill salvation’s sweet plan
That He might His wondrous creation restore.
To a criminal’s cross the Almighty did go,
Such suffering and shame He had to endure.
Yet, the cross was a must for grace to bestow,
‘Twas the only way our redemption to secure.
O see Him there, hanging between heaven and earth
Dying for the souls of Adam’s sinful race,
Creatures of flesh with no heavenly worth,
Yet He gave Himself to impart amazing grace.
Rejected of men whom He came to restore,
Betrayed and denied by those He loved most,
Forsaken by God for the sin that He bore,
All alone on the cross as He gave up the ghost.
The Christ of glory was laid within a tomb.
In death’s dark dominion the Saviour did lie.
All seemed so hopeless amid gathering gloom.
All nature stood breathless awaiting Heaven’s reply.
Had the hope of salvation come to an end?
Would the devil be victor o’er the soul of man?
Could the father of lies God’s mercy suspend?
Had he broken the back of God’s gracious plan?
But no, this was not to be Lucifer’s hour.
He couldn’t hold Christ in death’s ugly throes.
None can compete with God’s mighty pow’r.
With a burst of Heaven’s glory the Saviour arose!
© 2006 Paul Stultz
Thursday, December 7, 2006
The Bible is God’s apothecary shop. In its pages, we can find cures and answers for all of life woes. It is never outdated – it is never too complex – it is never too simple – it is always “just right.”
Here are prescriptions for:
Care: “Be careful for nothing.” Philippians 4:6
Doubt (as to doctrine): “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17
Doubt (as to duty): “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” James 1:5
Fear: “Perfect love casteth out fear.” 1 John 4:18
Greed: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Pride: “Be clothed with humility.” 1 Peter 5:5
Lust: “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
Selfishness: “He that loveth his life shall lose it . . .” John 12:25
Ambition: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” Jeremiah 45:5
Anger: “Let all . . . anger . . . be put away from among you.” Ephesians 4:31
Heartache: “He healeth the broken heart and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
These are but a few of God’s prescriptions for ailing hearts. But it’s plain to see that you can find an answer in God’s Word for any problem that you face. Got a financial problem? Remember Christ’s words in Matthew 6:24, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Get your priorities right. Are you tithing? The answer is in His Word.
Are you sowing to the flesh? Galatians 6:7, “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Emotional problems? Go to Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
And then, you can always call God’s phone number – Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Righteousness – the conscious act of doing right. To some it’s a chore – to others it comes with ease – but to all it carries with it the promises of a holy and righteous God. To Israel, God promised peace in the land, good crops, plenteous rainfall. He promised the blessings of God to be poured out upon their righteous heads. Isaiah continues in verse 18, “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” He promises them physical blessings for spiritual righteousness.
To the Christian, God says to “hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mt 5:6).” He tells us to “yield your members as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:13).” He instructs us to put on “the armour of righteousness (2 Cor 6:7)” and “the breastplate of righteousness (Eph 6:14).” He tells us to “follow after righteousness (1 Tim 6:11)” and reminds us that the Word of God gives us “instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).” He even encourages us in that chastening leads to “the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11).”
One message is very clear, whether to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament or to the saints of the church in the New Testament. God will bless righteousness with “peace… and … quietness and assurance for ever.”
I pillow my head at the end of each day
Without a shred of fear –
No worry about the end of my way –
No need to shed a tear.
The peace that only God can give
Dwells within my soul.
It helps me in this world to live –
It helps to make me whole.
The cares of life are hard to bear –
They cause an awful strain.
The threat of war, financial care,
And daily loss and pain.
But in spite of all of these,
He fills my heart with peace.
I try to live my Lord to please –
He gives me sweet release.
The Spirit of the Living God
Within my heart does dwell.
He guides me on this earthly sod
And causes me to tell
Of all His wondrous love and care,
The grace He does bestow,
From worldly fears my soul does spare
And makes me peace to know.