Friday, August 26, 2011

Get Ready!

As we check the news each day it surely seems that we are approaching the End Times, as event after event seems to fulfill Bible prophecy and Christ’s warnings of the end of the age -- earthquakes with increasing frequency and in unusual places, wars and rumors of wars, widespread famine, rising food prices, false prophets and teachers, and disease epidemics (Matthew 24). As millions on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard are getting ready for what could be the most devastating storm in half a century, we should be even more concerned about preparing for our spiritual destiny.

What should we do until the Rapture, when all who have trusted Christ as our Savior will be instantly caught up to meet with Him in the air, transformed into glorified beings, and spending eternity in the light of His presence? (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

First, we must be saved. We must turn from our sins and trust in Christ, and only Christ, to save us from the penalty of sin, namely death (Romans 6:23). We must have faith that His suffering and death on the cross paid for all our sins, past, present and future, so that when Holy God looks at believers, He sees not our sins but the perfect righteousness of His Son that reconcile us to Him (blog post). We must believe the Gospel of grace , that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ allows all who have faith in Him to have eternal life (John 3:16).

Second, we must know what we believe! We must stand firm in our beliefs (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17) and not be shaken by false teachers or scoffers! We must be ready, “in season and out of season,” (2 Timothy 4:2) to share God’s truth with others whenever the Holy Spirit opens the door to such an opportunity.

Third, we must follow God’s general will for our lives. This means following His Word to do those things we know He wants everyone to do, and not to do those things He doesn’t want us to do, which is not easy because of our sin nature! (Romans 7:14-25). He wants us to be joyful and thankful, to pray without stopping, to be led by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19), to study His Word, to tell others about how He has changed our lives, to attend church (Hebrews 10:25), to encourage and uplift others (1 Thessalonians 5: 11-19), to live together in harmony, and to have an attitude of submission, self-sacrifice, and love toward one another that will result in our meeting the needs of others (Colossians 3:12-25; James 2:14-17). He doesn’t want us to sin, i.e. to break the law of the Ten Commandments (Col. 3:5-10).

Fourth, we must follow the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). What a blessing that not only has God adopted us as His children (Ephesians 1:5), but that He has appointed us to be His ambassadors! (blog post). He has entrusted us with the awesome responsibility of going forth to spread His Word, to teach, and to baptize in His name. Not all of us can or should go to a foreign mission field, but each of us should be a missionary, or a witness for Him, in the unique sphere of influence where God has placed us, and each of us should support foreign missions through prayer and/or financial support.

Fifth, we must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) to be able to carry out God’s general will and the Great Commission. As we become more faithful in these, God will reveal to us more and more about His specific plan for our life, and to be in His perfect will is the greatest blessing we could ever have! We must recognize that we fight a spiritual battle daily (Ephesians 6:12), our sin nature warring against the Holy Spirit, and Satan and his demons fighting against God, His angels, and every believer. The world and its stress and empty values will try to seduce us from God’s priorities (Romans 12:2), but we should set our sights on heavenly things, lay up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6: 19-21), and keep our focus firmly fixed on Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4).

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.

Why should we follow these marching orders? Because Jesus is coming back soon, and time is running out! Let’s make haste to win crowns to lay at His feet (2 Timothy 4:8), to hear Him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21-23) and to enjoy the rewards He will give us throughout eternity!

1 Cor. 15: 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Ask Not What You Can Do For God!

Praise God that we don’t have to do anything to be accepted as His adopted children, because our salvation is not based on our works, but on His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). It’s true that once we are born again, we want to keep from sin and to do good works to further His kingdom, not because we have to, but because we want to! Our good works don’t get us saved, but they flow from us once we are saved because we love Him for taking us in despite our being so unlovable. Good works are the living proof of our faith (James 2:14-26).

But the amazing thing is that God loves us even while we are sinners (Romans 5:8). And that no matter what we do, He couldn’t love us any more or any less (1 John 4:8-10;19). Even though we were God’s enemies, He adopts us as His sons (Ephesians 1:5) once we turn from our sins and trust Jesus as our Savior. He doesn’t adopt us because of anything we can give Him, because He is completely self-sufficient and needs nothing, and because all that we have He gave us in the first place (James 1:17).

He adopts us because it is His will that all should be saved and come to repentance, and our coming to Him as children gives Him great pleasure because He loves us infinitely. Parents seeking to adopt a child don’t ask whether the child can pay rent, or if he can afford to pay for his own education, or if he will work in the parents’ business. It’s not about what the child can do for them; it’s about what they can do for the child because of the great love they want to share.

It’s the same way with Our Heavenly Father – we can’t earn His love or work our way to being adopted by Him – we can only trust in His infinite love and accept His gift of amazing grace. We are accepted by God because we trust in Jesus, His Son, and His perfect sacrifice on the cross to pay for all our sins. Jesus rose from the dead to give us eternal life, all of which is reason to praise Him! (Ephesians 1:6-8).

God’s mercy is to redeem us through the blood of Jesus, forgiving our sins that deserve eternal punishment in hell. Because of His grace, He gives us what we don’t deserve – eternal, abundant life with Him beginning at the moment of our salvation and continuing through Heaven and the Millennial Kingdom throughout eternity. We can trust His wisdom to give us what we need, not necessarily what we think we want. He created us for His pleasure, and nothing pleases Him more than to see us fulfilling His perfect will for our life.

Ephesians 1: 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God’s grace is to give us the inheritance worthy of His children, namely all His blessings including eternal life with Him in Heaven. He saved us for a purpose – which is to praise and glorify Him in all we do. So, ask not what you can do for God, but know through His Holy Word what He will do for you. And then, rest assured that as His child, you will want to spend your earthly days doing His will, praising, and glorifying Him!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, August 12, 2011

Come to Daddy!

Have you ever stopped to think how awesome it is that believers have the privilege of calling the omnipotent Creator of all “Abba Father,” a term of endearment similar to “Daddy?” (Galatians 4:6)

Like a little child, we can run into His outstretched arms knowing that He will catch us, draw us close to Himself and love us infinitely and unconditionally (Luke 15:20). He is even more approachable and available than the best imaginable Daddy could be. Unlike an earthly parent, He always has time for us (2 Peter 3:8), and He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will never reproach us or punish us because His Son’s perfect sacrifice was the complete punishment for all our sins, past, present and future (Colossians 1:14).

This is not to say that He will prevent us from suffering in this earthly life, but rather that He will only allow us to suffer when it is for our own ultimate good or for that of others (Romans 8:28). Like a wise earthly father, God may allow us to suffer if He knows it is the only way we can learn from our mistakes and turn away from our sin to His perfect will for our life. Sometimes He allows us to endure trials so that our character can become more patient and compassionate, like that of His Son (Romans 8:16-18; Phil. 3: 10-14), so that our faith and dependence on Him will be strengthened, and/or so that we will have the experience to counsel and comfort others going through trials.

Thanks to the mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all who have faith in that Gospel are no longer enemies of God condemned under the law (Romans 8:1). Instead, we are reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:20-22), sons of God and joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7). The Holy Spirit that enters us at the moment of salvation calls out to Abba Father, seeking fellowship with Him and urging us to be more like Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Oswald Chambers 8/8: Prayer in the Father’s Honor (from My Utmost for His Highest):

If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ’Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.

Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me…, or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.
Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled?

So let’s allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to direct our prayer life, our hope in eternal glory, and our fellowship with Our Father! Let’s turn the reins over to Him, to make us more like Christ in every waking moment and to do all for the Father’s glory!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, August 5, 2011

Don’t Squander Your Inheritance!

Have you ever inherited money, or even a house or a family heirloom, from a relative and wanted to make sure you used the gift in accordance with their wishes? Or perhaps you have written a will, entrusting whatever assets you have to your children and praying that they will use their inheritance wisely?

As believers, each of us has received an amazing inheritance from God Himself, because we are His children and joint heirs with Christ (Ephesians 1:5,11-14; Romans 8:16-17;29-30). That inheritance includes salvation, meaning that through God’s grace, we will have eternal life with Christ (John 3:16) rather than the eternal punishment our sins deserve. It also includes spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3-4), such as the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide, instruct, encourage, and intercede for us; 24/7 access to the throne room of God knowing that we can boldly approach Him with our prayer requests that are in accordance with His will (Hebrews 4:16); and the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Another aspect of our inheritance is that even though we once rebelled against God and were His enemies, He now allows us to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), witnessing to others so that they too might be saved, encouraging and uplifting other believers, and generally working to further His Kingdom.

Sadly, many believers squander their inheritance, and are glad to receive their “get out of hell free” card but let the rest of it go to waste. They ignore the Holy Spirit and follow their sin nature instead; they neglect prayer, God’s Word, and worship with fellow believers; and they put worldly priorities ahead of obeying Christ.

Although we usually think of an inheritance as bringing us obvious benefits, sometimes we have to go beyond the surface of the gift to appreciate its true value. As believers, our inheritance also includes sharing in Christ’s sufferings during our earthly life – an inheritance that we might at first consideration prefer to decline. But it is only through our trials and tribulations that we are progressively made to be more and more like Christ (Romans 8:18; Phil. 3:10-14).

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Our earthly suffering also strengthens our faith, brings us closer to God, and gives us patience, compassion and experience to help others going through similar trials (Romans 5: 1-5). We can therefore rest assured that God uses even our suffering for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

So let’s not squander our heavenly inheritance – let’s use it to glorify Christ, to help bring others to Him, and to invest in His Kingdom so that we will have more treasures to enjoy throughout eternity!

Matthew 6:19-21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett