1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV - "Now godliness with contentment is great gain."
Godliness - The very character of God expressed through the lives of His children. This fits in with our being "conformed to the image of Christ." Romans 8:29. This is God's plan to fulfill His desire to fill up this earth with those who bear His image and will bring Him glory.
Contentment - the graceful acceptance of whatever God allows in my life, without complaint or pride. As Paul said in Philippians 4, he accepted the "wants" and "abundance" that God permitted in his life. He could be content whether he had a lot or a little.
This is considered a treasure of "great gain!" More than riches, fame, prestige, or pleasure, the Christian is blessed when they live godly, contented lives for the glory of Christ.
PPIL - Powerful Passage Impacts Life
Luke 14:33 NKJV - "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
Many a Christian has pondered the impact this verse has had on their lives, especially in the matter of dedication. How dedicated is someone to the Lord if they say they will truly follow Him? What must they do to show their complete surrender to His will? What tangible way can they declare their utter dependency on the Lord?
The answer to that is how each dedicated disciple interprets what it means to "forsake all he has..." Does this mean literally to sell everything they own and follow the Lord totally depending on Him to provide for their needs? Or could there be another legitimate way to determine "forsaking all"?
Think of OWNERSHIP. Forsaking everything doesn't have to mean selling everything. What it can mean is GIVING UP OWNERSHIP OF EVERYTHING!
As long as I claim something to "be mine" I'm claiming that I have the right to do what I want with what is mine and I have the right to decide what someone else can do with what I call my own. But if I give up ownership of that particular thing to God then I'm also giving up the right to use that thing for my own purposes and I'm recognizing that God now has the right to do what He wants with what is His own!
Who owns what you call "yours?" Who has the right to do whatever they want with what you call "yours?" How you answer those questions will help show the degree of your dedication to being a true disciple of Jesus.
Romans 1:8 NKJV - "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world."
Ever consider that your faith has touched the lives of others? Sure, most of us would assume our trusting Christ has blessed our relatives and friends who are believers. But what about people all around the world? Could your belief in Christ bless others in distant lands?
The way Paul speaks here in his letter to the Roman Christians is that their coming to Christ was great news for believers everywhere! It was a joy not only to hear of their salvation, but to also know the zeal these Roman believers had for the Gospel to be heard in distant lands.
Many believers in local churches around the world have seen the same thing happen. Consider this: when you hear of someone coming to Christ in a place where one of your missionaries is serving doesn't your heart rejoice for that person's salvation?! And doesn't it bless you to know that they're grateful for your part in their faith? You prayed your prayers and gave your gifts so the Gospel could be heard everywhere. And aren't you glad to hear of the growth in Christ and the zeal these new believers have to share their faith, not only in their lands, but they are burdened for the rest of the world too!
May we continue to rejoice in our own salvation but may we also rejoice that we can have a part in sharing the Good News with others we'll never see "this side of Glory." But one day in heaven, WOW, what a joy we'll have in meeting those who came to Christ and know that we had a part in their hearing about Christ!
1 Thessalonians 1:6 NKJV - "And you became followers of us and of the Lord..."
This is one of those verses where one phrase can say so much. Paul applauded the Thessalonian believers for their outstanding response to his ministry with them. He was thrilled that they turned to the Lord after Paul had spent only about three weeks with them - see Acts 17:1-9. What excited Paul was to learn how these believers were taking Paul's example and following it.
Does that bother you? It did make me sit back and think about it the first time I read it years ago. My question was, "How could a man like Paul want people following him when he should be encouraging them to follow the Lord?" I think a lot of Christians feel the same way. But as I've been reading the Scriptures, God gives us many people as examples of how to trust the Lord and live the Christian life. And Paul is one of those chief examples God has given to us, not only as we watch him through the book of Acts, but also as we read of his understanding the way God wants to work in and through our lives.
Please note: Paul spoke of the believers following him "as he followed the Lord." He knew that his example would put "flesh and bone" on his teaching and give Christians a clear picture of what they were to do. And God still uses mature believers in the same way today. Note what Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, "...but be an example to the believers..." We all are examples! Think about that! We may not all be good examples, but our lives do influence others. Are you living the kind of life that you would not be ashamed if others followed your example? If they did, would they be "following the Lord" too?"
PPIL - Powerful Passages Impacting Life
Philippians 1:21 NKJV - "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
This verse puts the whole of the Christian life into one phrase: "For me to live is Christ..." Once we received the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives as our Savior and Lord we experienced the dynamic and powerful impact of being born again into God's family! We now have Christ living in us! Galatians 2:20. And that is basically how our Christian life is to be lived - Christ living His life in the Christian.
Someone once said something like this: "There are a lot of people trying to live a life they don't have while there are many Christians who have a life they don't live!" So many unsaved people try to live like a Christian but they don't have the indwelling Christ to give them that life! Then, on the other hand, there are so many saved people who have the indwelling Christ living in them but they don't let Him! How's that? For many Christians there's too much "self"! This is why Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "...If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself..." If we would get "self" out of the picture Jesus could shine through our lives! (More about this in a future study).
What does it mean, "...to die is gain."? Think about it - being with Christ face to face and enjoying the eternal blessings of heaven is far greater than our earthly life could ever be! That's why a Christian in love with Jesus yearns for the day when God "calls them home!"
Proverbs 15:23 NLT - "Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!"
Little comment is needed. The verse itself speaks so clearly!
BUT, the question is often asked, "How do you know what to say?" We ask that when we're confronted with a situation outside our "comfort zone." Here are a few helps:
First, spend time in prayerful reading of the Scriptures. God's Word provides the right response to any and every situation. The more you meditate on the Bible the more you'll be familiar with the right passages that can bring the right response.
Second, don't forget to learn what you can from every situation. You'll find your understanding grows when you face troubles and deal with them. Remember 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 regarding being comforted when you're in need. Use the same comforting words with others when they face troubles of their own.
Finally, believe that God places you at the right place and at the right time to say the right thing.
Proverbs 14:12 NKJV - "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Many years ago when I first heard this verse preached I immediately understood the primary thought taught in this passage. I knew that every person was born with a sinful nature and had a "proneness" to wander away from God. Actually, the condition of everyone is that they are already away from God and need Someone to reconcile them back to the Father.
People are born with a self-centered approach to life. If they can make themselves feel good and do what they think is best then they feel they're on the "right road" to please God. Of course, we know self-centered living leads to self-righteousness. And God makes it abundantly clear in Scripture that our form of righteousness will never be sufficient to please Him. The Bible teaches we need God's righteousness if we are ever to please Him. And that will never happen "going the way that seems right to a man!"
This is why Jesus said in John 14:6, "I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me." He is THE WAY to eternal life and a righteous standing before His Father in Heaven. He is also the way to live the kind of life here and now that He is pleased with. That is why the Psalmist said, "Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths." Psalm 25:4 NKJV. This is seen also in the famous passage of Proverbs 3:5,6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." NKJV. "In all your ways..." emphasizes that you do have a choice to choose which "way" you'll follow: Your own way which leads to death, or God's way which leads to an abundant life here and eternity in Heaven!
Hebrews 3:19 NKJV - "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
This passage refers to that experience in the history of Israel when they were in the wilderness at the edge of the "Promised Land." This event is recorded in Numbers chapters 13-14. When Israel had the chance to go into Canaan, which is the Promised Land, they wouldn't believe that God would keep them safe there. They were afraid their "little ones" would be killed by the people of that land. God was angry with their unbelief and basically said that the older generation would never enjoy that new land, but He would allow their children to win the battle against the Canaanites which is exactly what happened as recorded in the book of Joshua.
God wants to be believed! And He rewards those who put their faith in Him. Another PPIL (Powerful Passage Impacts Life) verse that I'll comment on sometime soon is Hebrews 11:6 - "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." God speaks and He expects us to believe what He says! And when we find Him faithful we should have no reason to disbelieve Him!
Now, what about "doubts?" Is "doubting" a sin? The answer is "yes" and "no." Its "YES" if the doubt is masking the real issue: unbelief. If you know the facts, God wants your faith in Him. The answer is "NO" if the problem is lack of knowledge. Some people have honest doubts simply because they lack the knowledge of what God says. But, when they get that knowledge and continue to doubt, God calls that "Unbelief!"
God has so much to do in our lives if we would just believe Him!
Mark 2:22 NLT - "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskin, and the new wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins."
This little fact was a way for Jesus to illustrate that the Gospel of Christ doesn't make an old nature new. What Christ gives when He comes into a person to save them is a brand new nature. Peter tells us we are partakers of a "divine nature" 2 Peter 1:4, and Paul tells us we become "new creations" 2 Corinthians 5:17 when we got saved. The old life we used to live can't be changed from its self-righteous religion. We never could save ourselves and even after salvation can our old nature live a new life. The new wineskins illustrate the new nature we have in Christ whereby the Holy Spirit lives the life of Christ in and through us. Our new nature is designed by God to live a new life.
We don't preach a gospel of reconstruction! We preach the Gospel of Resurrection, as Christ came back to life we are given His resurrected life to live! "Old things are passed away, all things become new!"
Jeremiah 16:17 NLT - "I am watching them closely and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from Me."
This is one of those passages that makes it very clear that God is aware of literally everyone on earth. No one is outside God's notice. Take time to look at the "Weekly Connection" on this website this week. It will reveal a number of other passages in the Bible where it is made clear that God watches all of us.
This passage in Jeremiah is a quote from God Himself! He pays attention to everyone's life. And He can see in the darkest, most remote places on earth. Far too many people think they can merely ignore God and hope He will just go away! He says that such people don't even have "a hope" that that would happen! God will not be ignored, and if someone thinks that they're outside God's "radar" they will have a very abrupt reminder when they face Him in judgment! No one will be excused from meeting God after death.
The joy for the believer in Christ is that though God knows all their sin, He still welcomes them into His presence and forgives them! Thank God for your gracious Savior who covered all your sin and washed it all away!
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288