The future belongs to God, and we are not God.
Yet how quick we are to guarantee the future.
People frequently speak about the future with certainty, but God rarely discloses our personal future. When we speak about the future with phrases like “I will never” or “This will never” or other such phrases of future certainty, we are pridefully blind to the actual uncertainty of our future and our limited ability to change it. Speaking with certainty about the future seeks to elevate us to godhood and eliminate the walk of faith, neither of which is possible.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
Sincere requests for forgiveness, which is evidenced in words and actions, is all that is needed to be saved and forgiven by God.
Christians should require nothing more to forgive their offenders, for to do so is to dishonor grace.
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8).
Giving thanks to God without the omnipresent conjunction “but.” Rare!
It is easy to give thanks to God because it is right, and we have so many things to be thankful for as long as we do not have to be unguardedly thankful.
Try naming everything that you are thankful for with regard to your job, spouse, house, day, etc., and then stop. You will find it more difficult than you may have thought it would be. We seem ever so prone to give thanks only if we can take a breath before reciting our woes.
I love my children and I am thankful for the following reasons. STOP RIGHT THERE! Now you have a new level of thanksgiving, which is rare indeed.
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
We should not come to Scripture to find a verse that seems to support an idea drawn from the wisdom of the world, but labor in the Word of God to build Christ’s church with the wisdom of God. At times, someone will quip that he is only interested in going to heaven and is not looking for rewards. However, it will be a tragically sad day for a Christian to stand before His Lord Jesus with no rewards for faithfully obeying Christ’s Word, using the gifts he has been given, or sacrificing in even the smallest of ways to help build that for which Christ gave His life.
“But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward” 1 Corinthians 3:10b-14.
Some believe that prayer is seeking to pray what God has already determined for you, but the Scripture is clear that while God has predetermined many things, He sovereignly chose to predetermine not to predetermine everything, but to incorporate the prayers of His people into the outcome.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Anyone can rebuke a Christian for his or her sin, but it takes a mature spiritual Christian to give godly rebuke with a heart for restoration. A true heart for the restoration of a brother includes a willingness to be intimately involved in the process and a keen awareness of one’s own propensity to be overtaken by sin.
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
The familiarity with sin, human need, and tragedies can transform compassion into cold conversations. For example, the forty-year war in this country to end legalized abortion, which has taken the lives of fifty million innocent babies and wounded an inestimable amount of relatives and friends can seem so uncorrectable that Christian compassion, which requires involvement, can degrade into little more than concerned conversations.
Do not everything, but by all means do something!
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).
Humility rather than confidence is the apparel of security.
In the security of lives going well, we can often envisage ourselves acting supremely in future difficulties or suffering the present peril of others.
We should learn from Peter. Christ told Peter of his future denial of Him, and Peter argued that he would not fail Christ in His hour of need. When Peter was with Jesus (life going well), he was confident of his ability to handle the future.
What Jesus knew, and Peter failed to see, was that the future challenges to Peter’s faith would not happen in the security of the present. Peter’s faith would be challenged when Jesus was forcibly taken from Peter’s side, leaving Peter ever so alone. Also, Peter would be encircled by Christ haters, and the sun would have given way to the darkness of night. In that crucible of temptation, Peter would fail and weep over his pride.
Humility and trust are always more suitable than confident predictions.
“And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’…And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:72, 75).
Without love, we shall all hang.
Wrong is wrong and sin is sin. Neither love nor anything else can make a wrong right or a sin sinless, but love can hide sins. This Christian love is not blind to the sins and frailty of others, but neither does it require others to measure up before Christians are willing to accept them and sacrifice for their good.
Marriage can be a wonderful example of love’s ability to cover sins. We know our mate’s weaknesses better than anyone, and yet we love them, sacrifice for them, enjoy their companionship, and will quickly come to their defense if others attack their weaknesses.
Without the covering of love, relationships vanish and humans die of loneliness.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
God forgives sinners based upon the finished work of Christ when sinners repent and ask God to forgive them.
Can Christians do any less regardless how egregiously they believe they have been wronged?
One might seek to escape granting such forgiveness by saying, “Well, I am not God.” While it is certainly and eternally true that Christians are not God, we are to think and act like God (be godly).
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).