Expectations

“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received…” (Ephesians 4:1)

We all face certain expectations in life. Our employer expects us to work hard at our job. Our teachers expect us to come to class and to finish our homework. Our parents require us to follow the family rules and live up to the basic standards of our home. Our friends expect us to be loyal and loving toward them. No matter where you turn, you are expected to maintain particular style of life in every part of our life. 

In the first few verses of Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul describes some of the expectations God has for a Christian. 

In verse 1, he says that God EXPECTS us to live a worthy life. Don’t ever fall for the line that says being a Christian requires nothing from you. That’s just not true. To live as a follower of Christ requires our most heroic efforts. Be careful however. Don’t forget — WE ARE NOT SAVED BY OUR EFFORTS — we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone through God’s grace alone. But once we are saved, we should strive for the mature faith that God desires for us.

In Ephesians 4:2, Paul outlines four parts of this life we are to strive for.

“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love…”

HUMILITY — Humility is NOT marked by cowering or crying. Instead, Godly humility refers to a realization that we owe all our being to God alone. Humility is not a feeling of inferiority toward others, but a feeling of complete dependence on God.

GENTLENESS — This word refers to a condition in which people hold their passions and anger under the control of God. It doesn’t mean that we never get upset or angry. This gentleness refers rather to THE WAY a Christian confronts anger.

PATIENCE — This is a picture of a Christian who is able to endure every circumstance that threatens them with discouragement. A patient person will never give in to the temptation to take revenge or to toss in the towel when life gets tough.

The final thing Paul mentions in verse 2 is “accepting one another in love.” Only Christian love can do this. Paul understood that in order for us to maintain an attitude of true acceptance, we have to be willing to overlook the hurts and slights that we have in life. 

The acceptance Paul is speaking of is far different than what we see in our culture today. Christian acceptance realizes that we are all sinners and that it is only by the grace of God ANY of us are saved. But it also recognizes that ALL sin is an abomination to God and that we ALL stand guilty before Him because the Bible says “there is none righteous — no not one.” True acceptance is an attitude of benevolence toward one another. When we accept one another in Christ, that includes confronting sin in the lives of others in an attempt to restore them to a proper relationship with God and with the body of Christ (the church).

When we begin to achieve these four traits, we will reap the benefit of harmony within the body of Christ and the glory of God will be proclaimed throughout the world. I pray these four traits of humility, gentleness, patience and Christian acceptance will be evident in my life as a believer. In that way, I will be a more effective witness for my Lord.

Have a great day.

 

We Need Some True Prophets!

“The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

As I observe the many conversations going on about the so-called “culture war” in our society, what I find lacking is the clear voice of a prophet. Instead, I see and hear everybody spouting off their own opinion of what they THINK God would say and what they THINK Jesus would do — but little Scripture to back up those feelings. Instead of preaching convicting sermons that call sin what it is and that proclaim that God loves us in spite of it — but He will not allow us to continue to wallow in it — I observe men who are conforming themselves to the world in order to appease the world. Their theology is based on the “felt-needs” of their followers – whatever that means.

And so, we have churches filled with people accountable to no one and whose Bible study consists of getting together and talking about how they FEEL about what this says. Our pulpits are filled with skinny-jean, pointed-toe shoes, sissified men who have “conversations” with people instead of bolding proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord.” And the people cheer and applaud and have become at the Athenians in Acts who “spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21).

In the long struggle of the Jewish people to be a people pleasing to a HOLY GOD, the prophets appeared, for the most part, in times of crisis as models of what God wanted His people to be. As a true spokesman for God, the prophets sounded clear warnings and gave specific direction to the nation that they should repent of their sin and turn to God. 

Oh how we need some prophets in the church today! 

Now before you start getting your feelings hurt and your britches in a wad, let me explain what I mean. A prophet is NOT a superhuman being. Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were all humans with their own sinful nature and problems. James, in speaking of Elijah said, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land” (James 5:17).

A prophet is NOT a windbag or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Jesus warned us against those kinds of men in Matthew 7:15. He said, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit.” So much of what we hear today is nothing more than pretenders who predict peace and prosperity. They smile and offer cheerful words and encourage self-reliance and human pride. That is NOT a prophet of God.

So what is a prophet?

A prophet is someone who is called and commission by God. Look at what God told Jeremiah in today’s verse — “I set you apart — I appointed you.” A prophet is an individual who has been called on a mission and given a word that is not his own. He has a divine commission in his authority. 

A prophet is a true PREACHER. He is not a fortune-teller looking off in the future and telling the events to come. Instead, a true prophet is a FORTHTELLER. He is God’s spokesman. He is a preacher whose purpose is not self-gratification or self-expression, but communication. His message is that God loves us and sent His Son to die for us. His message is that Hell is HOT and Heaven is SWEET. His message is that sin is offensive to a Holy God and the only remedy is REPENTANCE. A prophet is not only a censurer but also a consoler. 

Vance Havner said that it was his job to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That’s a prophet!

A prophet is often the object of scorn. A prophet must challenge and defy the defenders of the status quo. The prophet is a lonely man. He alienates the wicked as well as the good. Hosea 9:7 says, “The prophet is a fool, and the inspired man is insane because of the magnitude of your guilt and hostility.” A prophet tells the truth regardless of who is offended and who disagrees.

A prophet is the conscience of the nation. His life is not futile. Though the people may remain deaf to his message, they cannot ignore his existence and they will never forget his words. The prophet’s duty is to speak God’s word to the people — whether they hear or refuse to hear. 

We need some prophets. We need men who will stand upon the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God and proclaim the message without fear or compromise. We are not here to draw a crowd — Jesus actually thinned out the crowds pretty quick when they found out what He required of them. We are not here to make people feel good about their sinful natures. We are here to proclaim the Word of the Lord to a lost, sinful, wretched world. We are here to tell them that without a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, hell is waiting at the end of the line. We CANNOT allow people to go on thinking that God will just give a wink and a nod to sin. We may not take it seriously — but God sure does.

We desperately need some prophets today. We are losing a generation of Christians who have bought into a compromised message that doesn’t point people to Christ and the cross, but allows them to continue in their sin and flaunt it before the world. 

God help us. God please send us some prophets.

 

Another Counselor

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

Toward the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus concentrated much of His attention on the 12 apostles personally. I believe He was preparing them for the job He was going to give them to carry the Gospel to all people and all nations of the world. In John 14, Jesus gives some wonderful promises — including the promise of “another Counselor.” I’m convinced that the apostles didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time they heard it. I imagine had I been there, I might have said, “Excuse me, but what’s wrong with the Counselor we’ve got now? Why will we need another one?”

Throughout their time with Jesus, the apostles had been invited to draw close to Jesus. In John 1:43, Jesus called to Philip and said, “Follow me.” To James, John, Peter and Andrew, Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fish for people!” As they followed Jesus for those 3 years of His earthly ministry, they certainly experienced a transforming friendship. They visited crowded cities together. They sailed and fished on the Sea of Galilee. They prayed together. They worshiped together. Why in the world would they now need “another Counselor”?

I don’t know about you, but in my own life I have found that I get so excited about what’s going on RIGHT NOW that I find it hard to believe God could do anything in the future to top that! I get so caught up in the friendships, the worship, the opportunities for ministry that I wonder how could it get better than this. I wonder if the apostles had that same kind of feeling? 

I also know — from the Scripture and from my own experiences — that when you follow the Lord and are obedient to Him — whatever He has planned for you in the future is greater than anything you could imagine today. I find myself singing that little song — “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Every day with Jesus, I love Him more and more. Jesus saves and keeps me — and He’s the One I’m living for. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”

As I look at John 14, I am also reminded that WORDS are important. In the Greek language of the New Testament, two different words can be translated by our English word ANOTHER. The context determines which of the Greek words is used. ALLOS is used when “another of the same kind” is referred to, while HETEROS is used when “another of a different kind” is referred to. 

“Pastor Keith — right this second all I hear is ‘blah, blah, blah, blah. What does that mean?”

Hang on Sport! I’m getting to it…

When Jesus promised His apostles that God would send “another Counselor” — He used the word ALLOS. So in actuality, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor — another Counselor OF EXACTLY THE SAME KIND AS ME.” The word “Counselor” literally means “one called to walk by the side of.” That’s the kind of relationship Jesus had had with the apostles for 3 years. NOW — another Counselor — exactly like Jesus — was going to walk alongside the apostles. And unlike Jesus — whose physical body ascended back to heaven — this Counselor (the Holy Spirit) would be with this FOREVER!!!

John 14:17 describes this COUNSELOR — “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.”

I told you that whatever God has for us is greater than what we have right now! The Holy Spirit is a greater blessing than the earthly presence of Jesus because He (the Holy Spirit) is within each and every one of Christ’s disciples!

As Sister Shirley Ceasar would say — “Hold my mule a minute! I’m bout to have a spell!!!”

When you and I got saved, God gave to us His Holy Spirit who indwells us and walks with us. Listen for His voice today as He speaks to you today and be obedient to whatever He asks you to do. Remember God has wonderful things planned for us — if we will only listen and be obedient!

Have a great day.

We Have It ALL…IN CHRIST

“I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything — in all speech and all knowledge.” (I Corinthians 1:4-5)

Let me start today with an old “preacher” illustration.

“That shouldn’t be too hard for YOU to do, Pastor Keith.”

Really? You want to mess with me about how old I am?

“Sorry…Please continue.”

Thank you.

I heard about an IRS agent who was sent to see a poor preacher in order to determine the amount of tax the preacher owed. When the preacher met the agent, he immediate began to tell the tax man just how rich he really was. He said, “I am the possessor of a Savior who earned for me everlasting life and who has prepared for me a place in Heaven. I also have a virtuous wife and the Bible says that her price is ‘far above rubies.’ I am healthy and happy and I have four wonderful obedient children.”

When the preacher had told the tax man of his enormous wealth, the official said, “You, sir are indeed a rich man, but unfortunately for the IRS — none of that is taxable!”

In our verses today, Paul says that “by Christ” we are enriched in everything. God’s knowledge is such that it covers all of our lives and every part of our lives. His power and presence are such that when His conditions are met whatever happens will ultimately always be for our good and His glory.

Paul reminds us that Jesus Christ makes a difference in every facet of our lives. I’ve learned that He especially makes a difference in what I WANT. In Philippians 4, Paul said, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” When I am obedient to Christ, I find that what I want becomes what He wants for me. Instead of complaining about what I DON’T have — I am rejoicing in what I DO have IN CHRIST!

Back in our verse for today (I Corinthians 1), Paul says that we are enriched “in all speech and all knowledge.” Speech is outward and knowledge is inward. So, IN CHRIST — we have it ALL! That’s encouraging, isn’t it?

Today, I challenge you to focus your attention on all that you have IN CHRIST and don’t focus on yourself. When we surrender all aspects of our lives to Christ and are obedient to what He calls us to do — we are rich indeed — and SO FAR, the government hasn’t found a way to tax those kinds of riches!

Rejoice and have a great day.

Why Am I Here?

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

There are only 7 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes until OPENING DAY 2014 for Major League Baseball!

This is my favorite time of the year. I’ve always been a baseball fan. My love for baseball started in the 1970’s with the Oakland A’s — Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Ray Fosse, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, and Joe Rudi. I remember getting my “chores” done on Saturday so I could watch the Game of the Week on TV with Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek.

If you are a baseball fan, perhaps you remember the name John Martin. His nickname was “Pepper.” “Pepper” Martin played for the St. Louis Cardinals and was the MVP of the 1931 World Series. You should Google him — there are some great stories surrounding him and baseball in the 1930s.

My favorite story about “Pepper” Martin occurred after a game and a reporter asked him this question: “What is your chief ambition in life?” Martin thought for a minute and then said, “My chief ambition is to go to Heaven?” The reporter thought Martin was joking and said, “Oh, so you want to play a harp do ya?”

“Pepper” got quiet and looked at the reporter. He said, “My friend, I don’t think that’s funny. I know you don’t mean to be a smart aleck, but there’s something wrong with a person’s attitude when he’s flippant about serious things. If there’s anything foolish about reading the Bible every day and believing what it says, and if there’s anything funny about wanting to go to Heaven when you leave this world, then I’m afraid life here isn’t worth living.”

WOW! What a testimony. Martin understood that life is about more than just acquiring things in this world. We were not put on this earth for our own enjoyment. We were made for the pleasure of God. We were created to be like Jesus Christ. We can’t do that if our focus is always on the things of this world. 

How much to YOU actually think about Heaven and spiritual things? There were several things I didn’t agree with in Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, but one thing he got exactly right. The first line in the book says, “It’s not about YOU.” And it’s not. It’s not about my needs or desires. My life is to be all about God. My priorities in life should be focused on eternal and spiritual things — not on material gain and worldly pursuits.

I want my life to always bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. My understanding of grace is this. Grace is God not killing me after He forgave me. You see, that’s what I deserve. I don’t deserve anything that God graciously gives to me, and yet, He continues to bless me. WHY? So that I might bring glory to Him by the way I talk and the way I live.

“Pepper” Martin had it exactly right. My chief ambition in this life is to live in such a way that I bring glory to God. And when I leave this world, by the grace of God alone, Heaven will be my home!

By the way…Opening Day for Major League Baseball is only 7 days, 5 hours and 10 minutes. But who’s counting?

Go Ahead…Jump In Head First!

“When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51)

The party aboard ship was in full swing. Speeches were being made by the Captain. The guests were enjoying their week-long voyage. Sitting at the head table was a seventy-year-old man who, somewhat embarrassed, was doing his best to accept the praise being poured on him.

Earlier that morning, a young woman had apparently fallen overboard, and within seconds this elderly gentleman was in the cold, dark, waters at her side. The woman was rescued and the elderly man became an instant hero.

When time finally came for the brave passenger to speak, the stateroom fell into a hush as he rose from his chair. He went to the microphone and, in what was probably the shortest “hero’s” speech ever offer, spoke these stirring words: “I just want to know one thing — who pushed me?” (Ted Engstrom, Motivation to Last a Lifetime)

Do you every feel like that man? I know I sure do!

Life is like that sometimes. At times we face a crisis that must be met with courage. Many times we have to get a push in order to meet it. However, when you are faced with a crisis that demands great courage, look to Jesus Christ. Jesus never attempted to bypass the cross, but the Bible says that “He was determined to go to Jerusalem.”

Though Jesus was God incarnate, He was also a perfect man. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” As Jesus faced the cross, He had the courage to face that crisis with confidence. 

Where did the confidence come from?

Good question!

I believe it came from the fact that Jesus KNEW that God the Father was with Him every step of the way.

I also believe that is true for you and me today. When we face the crises of life, we must simply trust God and keep moving. When we resolve to trust the Lord and we are obedient to whatever He calls us to do, GOD provides the victory and He prepares us to better meet the next test we will face.

So today…don’t wait for somebody to push you in! Go ahead…jump right in and face your crisis head-on. Trust God and be obedient to whatever He tells you to do and KNOW that He will provide the grace and determination necessary for you to overcome whatever you face!

Have a great day.

 

Walking By Faith

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7)

The world in which we live says that “seeing is believing.” I disagree with that idea. If “seeing is believing” is true — be careful when you go to the grocery store and see some of those tabloid papers in the checkout line! If you believe it because you see it — you’ll believe that some 15 year old in the mid-west recently gave birth to an alien. You just can’t believe everything you see.

Christianity teaches that faith precedes sight.

That is a lesson that Edna and I have experienced over and over again in our 30 years of ministry. In our family, our relationships, and in our vocations, there have been many times when we have had to go simply on the faith that God was leading and while we didn’t know the results — God did — and whatever He does is right and good. I’m not suggesting that is an easy thing to do. But I am saying that as we grow in our Christian faith, walking by faith becomes more and more important in our journey toward Christian maturity.

Walking by faith requires that we step into the unknown simply trusting the One who knows it all.

The time has come for Edna and me to take that step of faith again. It all started in 1983 when I accepted my first full-time ministry position as Minister of Music and Youth at the Princeton Baptist Church in Princeton, NC. It has continued as God has moved us to Four Oaks, Henderson, Hertford, Knoxville and back to Cary. Each step in this journey has strengthened our faith in God’s leading. Whatever He does and wherever He leads is always right and good. Thirty years ago, we said “Here we are — send us” — and He has.

For the last six years, I have served as the Senior Pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina. I could tell stories of how God has grown us, kept us and blessed us through these years of service in this church. And every part of this journey has required Edna and me walking by faith. I can guarantee you it hasn’t always been easy — but it has always been worth it!

And now…we take that step of faith again. On May 1, 2014, I will become the Senior Pastor of Valley Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is a bit of a homecoming for us. I served this church in 2007/08 as their Interim Senior Pastor. Valley Grove presents us with a new challenge in ministry and while I have no idea how it will all turn out — I know God has a plan and I will simply walk by faith.

I ask for your prayers over the next few weeks as we say goodbye to the folks at Good Hope. Pray for the pastor God already has to take my place. Pray for Valley Grove as I prepare to step in to the position there. Pray that the Holy Spirit would prepare all of us for the new ministries He has for us. Most of all, pray that Edna and I will continue to be faithful servants — always seeking and listening to the leadership of God. 

Walking by faith is not just a “nice idea.” It is a necessity — in every area of life. Colossians 2:6-7 reminds me, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” That’s my prayer. I pray that Edna and I, members of Good Hope, Valley Grove and all of us will “walk in Him — overflowing with gratitude!”

Have a great day and thank you for your continued prayers and support of this little blog.

 

Sometimes It’s Hard to Tell…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

Who are your enemies? 

“Pastor…do you REALLY want to start off with that question this morning?”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that sometimes it is hard to tell who my enemies are. It would be much easier if they would all wear some kind of sign or something.

When World War I broke out, the War Ministry in London dispatched a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of Africa. The message read: “War declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.”

The War Ministry received this prompt reply: “Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with.”

E.C. Mckenzie said, “Some people make enemies instead of friends because it is less trouble.”

There probably is more truth there than we realize. But in our verse today, Jesus told us to do the very opposite. He said that we should “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Again, I don’t know about you…but that is not always so easy for me.

I read a piece written by Corrie ten Boom once in which she said, “When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with that command, the love itself.”

It is only the grace of God that ever can enable you or me to rise to the spiritual level of being able to love an enemy.

Perhaps my favorite story about General Robert E. Lee says that General Lee was speaking — in only the highest terms — to President Jefferson Davis about a certain officer. Another officer, greatly astonished, said to General Lee, “General, do you know that the man of whom you speak so highly to the President is one of your bitterest enemies, and misses no opportunity to malign you?”

Lee replied, “Yes, but the President asked my opinion of him; he did not ask for his opinion of me.”

Are you following God’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” today? Perhaps we should all begin to follow that command. Remember, God will give us the love if we will just be willing to spread it around.

Have a great day.

Objects of the Grace of God

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” (Hebrews 4:16)

It’s hard for me to pick a “favorite” story in the Bible, but one that has to rank near the top is the story of Queen Esther. Do you remember how Queen Esther courageously approached the throne of King Ahasuerus to plead on behalf of God’s people? By coming to the King without an invitation, Esther was taking her own life in her hands. Even though she was the Queen, any displeasure on the King’s part could have meant her certain death. On this particular occasion, Queen Esther found favor in the sight of the King.

I just LOVE that story!

You know — every time I read the Bible, I see something new — something that I had not fully thought about before. That happened to me with the story of Queen Esther today. Let me explain.

Queen Esther found favor with the King THIS time — but there was no guarantee that she would be kindly received the NEXT time she came to see the King. Every time Esther came into the presence of the King without invitation, she was taking a chance. 

I bet you already see where I’m going with this — don’t you?

That’s is a great contrast to our relationship with God, isn’t it? Esther came into the presence of the King with FEAR. You and I can come into the presence of God with CONFIDENCE! How is that possible? Since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sin and is now in Heaven as our Intercessor, the Bible says that we are to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

What a marvelous thought when we realize that the Creator of the universe has called me to be a member of HIS family! Even though I am a sinful creature, by His grace, I am an heir with Christ to all the blessings of Heaven. And so are you if you have repented of your sin and accepted God’s free gift of salvation through His Son.

I can now approach God without fear of being rejected because He has accepted me IN CHRIST! The only appropriate response to that wonderful knowledge is worship and praise! You and I are the objects of the grace of God.

That’s enough to make even an old Baptist shout!!!

Have a great day.

Who Are You?

“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:3-4)

Who are YOU?

“What’s your problem Pastor Keith? You know me!”

I’m not talking about your name. I really want to know who you are. I suppose what I’m asking is do YOU know who YOU are…

You see, understanding our identity is vital to our eternal purpose. So, what is our “eternal purpose?” 

“OK Pastor. This is getting deep and it’s a little early for that so why don’t you just go on and tell me whatever it is you are trying to say.”

I hear you! I’ve been thinking (a dangerous exercise I know). As I observe the world around me, it seems that our society has fooled many of us into thinking that we are autonomous, self-sufficient, and free to do whatever we want to do. We are teaching our children that MAN is the center of the universe. 

Even churches today seem to be more focused on MAN as the center of God’s purpose. I look at the sermon series that are being presented in modern churches and what I see is a bunch of stuff to tell MAN how to be better, have a better relationship with his spouse, how to win friends and influence people and generally devoid of the Gospel message that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. These churches are filled to overflowing with people in love with themselves and they are being told they are doing God a great service by just attending the services. 

As I read the Scripture, it seems to me that God has always been most interested in His own fame and glory — and rightfully so! He is the center of the universe. John Piper wrote, “For God to see anything as more important than Himself would be idolatry.”

That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. He most certainly does love us. John 3:16 reminds us that God loved us so much that He gave His one and only son. In fact, Romans 11:36 says that it is because God is the center of the inverse that our relationship with Him is the best thing for us.

In Ephesians 1, Paul reminds us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in eternity past so we would be holy and blameless. Because God chose us, we can bring glory to God. We’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Our sin debt was paid by the very blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So…back to my original question. WHO ARE YOU? If you are a Christian, you have been chosen by God, and you find your identity IN HIM. Jesus Christ has redeemed us and forgiven us. When we truly understand our position in Him, the proper response becomes praise and obedience to Jehovah God! I’m not doing Him a favor — I give Him my life!

Have a great Thursday.