More and More

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. –1 Thessalonians 4:1 
Some Christian denominations celebrate a confirmation service for young teens at age thirteen, in which the teens publicly confirm their faith in Christ. In the Anglican tradition, a bishop prays: “[May this child] continue thine forever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more.” That last phrase is not a prayer for more of the Holy Spirit; rather more and more evidence, or fruit, of the Spirit in the child’s life “until [he] come unto thy everlasting kingdom.”
Paul used the same phrase—“more and more”—when writing of his desires for the Thessalonian Christians’ spiritual growth: “abound more and more.” His point was that there is no end when it comes to Christian maturity. The day of our conversion to Christ is the beginning point in a lifetime process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). That means we should never stop growing spiritually; we should never stop bearing fruit; we should never stop manifesting good works.

Wherever you are in your Christian walk, your journey is just beginning.

Measure your growth in grace by your sensitiveness to sin.
Oswald Chambers

  • David Jeremiah

No Longer Hopeless

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1
Think of the most hopeless situation you can imagine—being stranded, alone, in the middle of Antarctica, the most foreboding continent on earth. Antarctica is approximately 5.5 million square miles of ice, snow, and sub-zero temperatures. It is an island continent, surrounded by icy, gale-whipped oceans on all sides. What if, by some horrible circumstance, you were stranded there alone? Wouldn’t you call that hopeless?
It would not be as hopeless as the situation of someone living apart from God. At least in Antarctica you would be alive. Apart from God, Paul says, you are “dead in trespasses and sins…Having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:1, 12). Sounds like being stranded in Antarctica, but worse. Being apart from God not only means no hope in this world but in the next, eternal world as well. Thankfully, we are not without hope: “But God, who is rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Don’t be lost, without hope in this world or the next. Accept God’s gift of mercy and grace and new life in Christ.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
Edward Mote

  • David Jeremiah

Word and Works

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 

Even though Mark tells us it was not the season for fig trees to bear fruit, Jesus cursed the tree when He found no fruit on it (Mark 11:13-14). This mysterious act of cursing the tree was an illustration of judgment on the Jews for their lack of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus connected true spiritual life with spiritual fruit on more than one occasion (Matthew 7:17-19; 12:33).

There should be fruit associated with faith in Christ—that fruit being a changed life manifested in good works and righteous behavior. Paul made this connection in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He commended them for having received “the word of God” which was “effectively” working in them (2:13). Their works and labor for Christ served as a model for others (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 7-10).

Is your reception of the Word, resulting in faith, being demonstrated by good works and a changed life?

In short, good works are the fruit of saving faith.
R. B. Kuiper

 

  • David Jeremiah

Divine Encouragement

You have forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you.
Hebrews 12:5
What’s encouragement? Dr. Joel Wong at Indiana University Bloomington defines encouragement as “the affirmations people communicate to others, typically through the use of language, to enhance motivation within the context of realizing a potential or addressing a challenging situation.”[1]
That’s what our Lord does for us! He gives the affirmations we need by using the words of Scripture to keep us motivated and helps us fulfill our potential and address challenging situations.

A day without Scripture is a day when we’re in danger of forgetting the divine Word of encouragement addressed to us. The Lord has certain verses from the Bible to impart afresh into our minds every hour of every day. The Bible is the most encouraging book ever penned. It hums with encouragement like an electrical factory.

His Word encourages us to continue to follow Him. Make sure you keep your Bible open. Keep your heart open to constant doses of divine encouragement. And spread it to others!

We owe everything to encouragement—nothing to bitter cynicism.
Joseph Parker

  • David Jeremiah

How Peculiar!

But ye are…a peculiar people.
1 Peter 2:9, KJV

Many of the older translations of the Bible used the word peculiar to describe the people of God. In the King James Version, for example, we learn that Israel is to be God’s “peculiar treasure” (Exodus 19:5) and that Christians are to be a “peculiar people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Newer versions update the language, telling us we are a special people.

Peculiar now has a different connotation.

And yet…

A. W. Tozer wrote, “A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passes knowledge.”

How special we are!

Be not afraid to possess this peculiar character, for though it is misunderstood on earth, it is well understood in heaven. Charles Spurgeon

  • David Jeremiah

When All Is Said and Done

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8

When Lee Strobel researched his book on heaven, he interviewed Luis Palau, the Argentinian evangelist who preached to more than a billion people. “He knew he was dying,” said Strobel. “He had stage four lung cancer….I flew out to Portland because I wanted to interview someone who was about to go to heaven….He told me he’s not afraid of dying. He said, ‘I really believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’”[1]

For the Christian, dying means immediate entrance into the physical presence of the Lord in His great city of New Jerusalem. We leave behind (temporarily, until the resurrection) our bodies of sickness and pain. Yet, in the flick of an eye, we’re there with Jesus among all His golden and gleaming cityscapes.

The Lord will give us extra grace for the moment He takes us home. For that reason, we are confident—even well pleased—to be with Him.

I can tell you from personal experience that, at the end of your life, when all is said and done, you’ll never regret being courageous for Christ.
Luis Palau to Lee Strobel

  • David Jeremiah

On Bended Knee

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.
Philippians 2:10 
Bowing out of respect, reverence, or worship has a long history. Throughout history, most nations were monarchies ruled by a king or queen and bowing before the monarch was commonplace. We still see it in modern monarchies like Great Britain where bowing to the current Queen is a sign of respect for her position. What we don’t see often is monarchs bowing to anyone. But a day is coming when everyone on earth—including monarchs—will bend the knee before the divine King of kings, Jesus Christ.
The bowing of humanity before God’s Messiah was foreseen by Isaiah, an image the apostle Paul then used in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10. The prophet Zechariah foresaw the nations streaming to Jerusalem because they will have heard that God is with the Jews (Zechariah 8:23). Exactly how and when this bowing before Christ takes place remains to be seen. But it will happen.

Bowing in prayer and worship is a rightful posture for those who serve the King of kings and Lord of lords—today and in the future.

Jesus will not be a Savior to any man who refuses to bow to Him as Lord.
Walter Chantry

  • David Jeremiah

Anchored

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.
Hebrews 6:19
During World War II, the HMS Neptune hit an Italian minefield off Tripoli on December 19, 1941. Lost were 764 British and New Zealand sailors and crew. Only one man survived. He was twenty-year-old Norman Walton, and he escaped by clambering down the chain of the ship’s anchor and grabbing onto a floating raft. He was captured by an Italian ship and spent the next fifteen months as a prisoner of war. He had no idea he was the one-and-only survivor. When told, he didn’t believe it. It took a long time to accept.
There’s a lesson in that tragedy. We need to stay near the anchor that stabilizes our lives, ready to grip it tightly when the winds and fires come. We can’t sink when we’re holding to the anchor, and we can’t be lost when gripping it. When we anchor ourselves in Christ, our faith cannot be shaken.

Our anchor isn’t cast downward into the water but upward into the sky, and one day it will carry us upward, toward the Rock of our Salvation.

I’ve an anchor safe and sure, / That can ever more endure. / And it holds, my anchor holds!
William C. Martin, “My Anchor Holds”

  • David Jeremiah

God Doesn’t Give Up

[Jesus] said to [Peter] the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
John 21:17 
We grieve for Peter, who “wept bitterly” after denying Christ three times (Matthew 26:75). But who among us has not failed the Lord? What are we to make of our unfaithfulness? What hope is there for us?
The same hope Jesus conveyed to Peter following the Resurrection. By the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1), Jesus commissioned Peter to be the shepherd of His flock. Just as Peter had denied Christ three times, so Christ commissioned Peter three times. We must take heart from this exchange: God never disowns or gives up on His children. Paul wrote that the good work God began in us will be completed because it is God working in us (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). We may be unfaithful, but God never is (2 Timothy 2:13).

If you have failed God in some way, take heart! God will complete the work He began in you (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

O Jesus. . .open thine arms, and take me in. . . and love the faithless sinner still.
Charles Wesley

Cross Purposes

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

If you browsed through The Economic Times last October, perhaps you saw the editorial titled “Life Has No Purpose.” The writer said, “The most significant thing to remember is that life is not a business. It does not exist for any particular end. It exists for the sheer joy of existing. There is no goal as such.”[1] The writer blasted the concept of purposefulness, saying life is supposed to be nothing but sheer joy, playfulness, fun. It’s not to fulfill some purpose, just to be fulfilling within itself.

Most people don’t state their philosophy of life that plainly, but that’s a fair description of how much of the world lives.

“But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, TLB).

What a blessing to know that God has a purpose for each of us.

[Worship] is what we were made for.
Vernon Whaley

  • David Jeremiah