We sometimes act a certain way because someone is watching. In the presence of a teacher, we might sit up straight and pay attention. In the presence of a parent, we might stop picking on a sibling.
The same could be true with our faith. It is easier to act like a Christian when someone you consider to be a spiritual mentor is watching.
In the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . .” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) The Philippians have obeyed the gospel message about Jesus. They were to continue living by faith in Jesus, following the commands of God, whether Paul was with them or not. Living by faith should not only be done when seen by some kind of spiritual leader in your life.
The same is true for us: Our obedience and lifestyle of faith is based upon Jesus, not some other person.
Notice how v.12 says work out your own salvation. Own your faith. You can’t borrow it. The Philippians weren’t made holy by Paul; they were only made holy by Christ when they responded to Him for salvation. If their faith was authentic, then they should continue to work out their salvation, to let it take its effect in their lives.
Some people try to act better in the presence of certain people, but genuine faith is not a show. Paul was telling the Philippians to live a life committed to Jesus whether or not he was with them.
Some will try to take the title of Christian because they were born in America or because their grandmother was a godly lady and took them to church. But you can’t borrow someone else’s faith. You must make it your own by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus Christ.
Faith is not dependent on a spiritual leader. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
If Jesus already came and we know that God is with us right now through the Holy Spirit, then how can we still sing this song with any meaning?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel–this prayer should change your perspective during the Christmas season. It represents Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
The mood at the time of the birth of Christ
We know this song was written long after the birth of Christ, but let’s apply the lyrics to that time to see why we can understand the mood.
What we call the “Intertestamental Period,” between Malachi and Matthew was roughly 400 years. There is no record of God speaking during that time. Much was changing in the political landscape and impacting the Israelites. The first divine revelation since the intertestamental period came through an angel, Gabriel, who told Zechariah, a priest, that he would have a son. Zechariah’s son, John (the Baptist), was the forerunner to the Messiah who would come.
Imagine being in that time period: Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. Four hundred years without hearing from God. Changes in government. Different rulers, some of whom leave you alone and others who don’t. You’d be longing for the Messiah.
Now we are back to the same question: how can we still sing this song? Let me argue that:
We should still have the same mood.
Romans 8:22-25 is a great passage to show us that we should still be longing, aching, yearning, and hoping, even though the Messiah has come and He has accomplished the work of redemption that has secured our salvation for all eternity.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
God cursed the ground as a result of sin entering the world (Gen 3:17-18). All creation has been groaning in pains of childbirth, waiting for the joy that would come.
We can understand the pains of childbirth. It hurts, but a woman perseveres because a great joy is coming. In the same way, the whole creation is subjected to pains like childbirth. The verse before tells us the great joy coming for the physical creation: v.21– it is set free from this bondage and decay it is subjected to.
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
One commentator describes the firstfruits of the Spirit as “Spirit as a foretaste of the future” (Conybeare & Howson, The Life & Epistle of St. Paul).
It is likely a reference to the Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee of our faith and that which is yet to come, like Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 5:5. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit—there is more to come.
[we] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Here is the “now/not yet” of our salvation. Though we have Christ and our salvation is secure (NOW), inwardly we still groan for something more that is to come (NOT YET).
Do you realize that what you are experiencing right now as a believer in Christ is not all that you’ll ever experience with Him? There is much more to come. You have the salvation of Christ and all its blessings right now in your life. But you still have the not yet waiting for you!
This verse says we eagerly await our adoption—this is interesting because just earlier in this chapter (14-17), Paul writes of our adoption as God’s children in the past tense.
You are adopted by God in the sense that you are saved and you are His child (NOW). But verse 23 refers to the full culmination of our adoption, which is the glorification of our bodies (NOT YET).
We groan inwardly as we live in the now because we know that right now is not the end.
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope is a key theme in this passage, appearing 5 times just in verses 24-25.
We hope for what we do not see because we have not obtained that glorious inheritance yet. What we have right now is finished, fully sufficient. We were saved. It’s done.We are saved. And it changes your life right now, giving you purpose.
Now, when we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” we are not just thinking about the birth of Jesus. We are thinking about His coming again, about the time we will experience His full glory, which we have not yet seen. Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still in a sinful, fallen world and experiencing its effects.
Death takes away.
Disease leads to misery.
Calamity still strikes.
In Sutherland Springs, TX, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
In Las Vegas, NV, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still waiting for “…the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
We are still waiting for final deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
We are still waiting “for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5).
We are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. So yes, we still sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. God, be with us. Finally, eternally, in glory.Post Views: 970
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
My mom’s name is Deborah, and I’m thankful for her. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I am referring to the relationship between Deborah and Barak in the book of Judges (chapters 4 and 5). Deborah was a prophetess, meaning she spoke God’s word to His people. She was a wise woman, settling disputes under a palm tree. Barak was a military leader who faced the ruthless and technologically-superior Canaanites in order to deliver the Israelites from their oppression. This victory was an act of God’s grace for His people (Israel), and Deborah and Barak were major players.
In Judges 4:6-7, Deborah summoned Barak and said, “Hasn’t the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you: ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s army, his chariots, and his infantry at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.’”
When I was reading that recently, I noticed something–God had already told Barak what he was to do and had already promised victory. Deborah was admonishing Barak to be faithful to what God had already said.
My point: be thankful for the “Deborahs” in your life who admonish you to be obedient to Scripture.
God has spoken and we have that record in the 66 books the Bible. It can be painful to hear someone say, “Didn’t God say…,” pointing out sin in our lives, but we need to be humble as we’re admonished toward obedience to God’s Word.
Be thankful for the Deborahs in your life.Post Views: 859
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
This is the craziest request I’ve seen by a young man asking a potential father-in-law to marry his daughter.
Adoniram Judson, the first Baptist missionary from America, married Ann Hasseltine on February 5, 1812. They boarded a boat two weeks later and headed to Burma, where they had a rich marriage and a fruitful ministry.
Before he married Ann, she told him he had to get permission from her father. And so he wrote him a letter:
“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair.” (Quoted in Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson [Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1987], 83.)
If you have ever read about George Mueller, you will be familiar with the amazing accounts of how God provided bread and milk for the children in the orphanage where he ministered.
How could Mueller and Judson’s father-in-law lead with faith? Because they had confidence in God’s character; they could stay on track because of God’s track record.
I’m encouraging you to lead with faith, and I think we do that by being powered by God’s work in the past and persuaded by His promises for the future. I’ll explain the first part of this today through Jephthah’s example in the book of Judges, and then I’ll explain the second part next week as we seek how to lead with faith.
In Judges 11, Jephthah was brought in to lead Israel in battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah showed that he knew and was guided by God’s work in the past. He didn’t run recklessly into a fight. Though he was a “mighty warrior” he attempted diplomacy first.
He sent messengers to communicate with the king of the Ammonites, asking him why he was attacking Israel. When the king gave an answer, Jephthah gave a rebuttal. He gave historical facts (v.14-22), declared that it was the Lord’s work (v.23-24), questioned the timing of the fight (v.25-26), and reminded the King that his problem is actually with the Lord, not with Jephthah (v.27-28).
This was leading with faith that was powered by God’s work in the past.
Leadership can be scary ground. You might not know what to expect. You’re not sure which decisions to make or how it will affect people. But as a Christian, we have to be empowered by God’s work in the past. We find comfort in knowing the character of God and how He will lead us.
Jephthah had to find some comfort in knowing how God has worked in the Israelites in the past. He was confident that the king of the Ammonites was really battling against the Lord. That’s a battle Jephthah would stand in because he knew he wasn’t alone.
When you consider your leadership, always remember God’s character and what he has done in the past because that is going to remind you how He will continue to work.Post Views: 566