Category Archives: Spiritual Life

“Throw Yourself into It”

Last week we mentioned that “just getting started is half the job”. That may be, but having started the job (i.e., those things that need to be done but often get shoved aside for less important matters) we still need to complete it, and it’s going to take more than “just getting started” to finish. So, using another idiom, “just throw yourself into it”; commit yourself to the task and “give it your all”. Once you’ve started some-thing – vital to your spiritual growth and service to Christ – if your heart isn’t committed to its completion, you’ll “run out of gas”. Okay, enough idioms.

Doesn’t God always finish what He started? Check the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament. If we’re going to be holy as He is holy, sanctified for His service, then we need to throw ourselves into those daily tasks that draw us closer to Him and serve His purpose. Paul would say, “fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). There IS NO fighting, finishing or keeping apart from throwing ourselves into the daily actions needed to accomplish the goal.

Josiah is a great example. “He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:1-2). Now that is amazing considering that his grandfather Manasseh was THE evilest king ever to reign in Judah. It would take too much space to describe how Josiah threw himself into the project of reforming Judah and bringing the nation back to God. Countless decisions had to be made every day to accomplish that mission. There was no rest for the weary, if Josiah was going to complete that project. Several mini projects had to implemented to complete the main one. And yet, with God’s help Josiah succeeded in finishing what he’d started. And so, his epitaph reads, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.” But then, we are startled by God’s response to Josiah’s commitment. “However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him” (2 Kings 23:25-26).

Do you think Josiah would have gone to all that trouble, knowing that throwing himself into the reforms as he did would bring about no lasting affect? I believe so, because “he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left”. You see, Josiah did what he did (every day) not for personal reputation or gain, but for the glory of Yahweh (the LORD God of Israel).

God is worthy of our commitment to the daily tasks that result in our spiritual growth, and the advancement of His Kingdom and King. As we fulfill those tasks, we may see the immediate advantage to ourselves and others. But ultimately, it is God who more than deserves our sacrifices and fulfilled commitments to His cause.

Jesus is the prime example. He threw Himself into the service of His Father; Jesus was totally and daily committed to God. When Jesus was driven into the wilderness to tempted by the Devil, Jesus resisted the temptation to take the wrong path by saying and doing what needed to be done (cf. Matt 4). What immediate personal benefit did He receive? Extreme hunger and weakness. Throughout His life our Lord rarely gained an immediate advantage from His daily commitments. But at the end of His life on earth, He could pray, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). We see that Jesus threw Himself into the work that needed to be done, because God is worthy of our glory!

Remember the men who promised to follow the Lord wherever He went, but had not considered the (daily) sacrifice necessary to do so? Jesus reminded them that commitments promised – yet unfulfilled – rendered the promise maker unfit for the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 9:57-62). By all means, “just getting started is half the job”, but to finish the job will require you to “throw yourself into it”. May Josiah’s epitaph be ours one day, to the glory of God. – By Boyd Jennings

“Revive Us – Again!”

A resolution is a firm decision to do or to not do something. Resolutions are about beginning something new, or starting over again; and it’s always easier to have a resolution than to finish it. It takes fire in the soul to keep one’s resolve, and sometimes that fire can burn out. God revived David many times in his life (Psalm 28:6–9). Do we need reviving? Does our faith need rekindling? The consequence of neglect is devastating (cf. Ecc 10:18).

I. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRE GOES OUT?

A. Worship is neglected (John 4:23-24)
B. Compassion is absent (Matt 9:11-13, 36)
C. Holiness is abandoned (Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 2:5, 9)
D. Faith is defeated (1 Tim 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7)

II. WHAT WILL SMOTHER THE FIRE?

A. Self-satisfied (Rev 3:17)
B. Hopelessness (1 Cor 15:57–58)
C. Apathetic people (Num 13:30–31; Matt 15:8; Luke 12:1)
D. No fear of judgment (2 Cor 5:10; Mark 9:40-48)
E. Insufficient love for Christ (Eph 5:25-27; Jer 2:1-3; Rev 2:1-4)

1. I don’t attend the Bible classes
2. I neglect the assemblies
3. I make excuses
4. I don’t’ bring a Bible to building
5. I don’t hunger for God’s word every day
6. I don’t read God’s word for transformation, just information
7. I don’t sing out, or sing at all
8. I am not moved by the hymns
9. My thoughts are consumed with this world
10. I don’t look forward to being with the church
11. I would I rather be somewhere else today
12. I complain about church members/leadership
13. I don’t try to encourage anyone
14. I don’t pray that often
15. I have no goals for spiritual growth
16. I am not indignant when God’s name is used in vain
17. I am amused by the sins that crucified Jesus
18. I’ve never taught the gospel to anyone
19. I’ve never started a spiritual conversation
20. I don’t spend any time thinking of Heaven

III. WHAT WILL REVIVE THE FIRE? (Rev 2:4–5)

A. Remember: relive the memories and emotions
B. Repent: get back to basics, quickly
C. Repeat: the deeds you did at first

“The cross is a blazing fire at which our heart is kindled,
but we have to get near enough to it to catch a spark.”

Rekindled the fire in Your heart with love for Christ.
Our Father is willing to salvage any relationship.
Be intense and intentional in turning to Him (Malachi 3:7)

Whether Ambulance or Hearse

Sirens scream, colored lights flash. A distant vehicle is zooming less distant by the milli-second. Is it an ambulance? … a police car? … a fire-truck maybe? Oh, I see it clearly now: never mind, it’s just a hearse! But wait: since when does a hearse sport siren and flashing lights?

And just why don’t hearses have sirens and flashing lights? What’s that? Yes, come to think of it, perhaps the condition of their passengers is a factor in the matter! Or more to the point: the impotence (powerlessness) of any living soul to alter that condition is definitely a factor.

Ironically, the reason that ambulances do sport sirens and flashing lights is because of that same impotence. Indeed, time is of essence! For if the ambulance passenger arrives alive at the hospital, somebody can perhaps do something to keep him from dying. But alas, the world’s ablest doctor can’t do much for the victim who turns up “dead on arrival.”

Consider then, that the Bible account of Luke 7:11-16 is not about flagging down an ambulance and performing some dramatic life-saving procedure upon the critically injured occupant. Rather, Jesus halts a funeral procession and addresses the dearly departed. The dead boy comes to life, at which point funeral services are terminated for obvious reasons. Jesus Himself would soon afterwards die, and would with great power arise from the dead (John 10:17-18; Acts 2:24). As the resurrected Christ puts it, “I have the keys of death…” (Rev 2:18).

Hear His promise: “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

But there’s more. The Great Physician can give life to the dead in more ways than one. For unlike the most skillful surgeon on earth, Jesus can extricate deadly sin from the soul (Matt 9:1-13). He can give life and hope to the spiritually dead (John 5:25; Eph 2:1, 5). It was in order to qualify for this saving role that He Himself died (Heb 5:7-9). As worded in Hebrews 2:14-15, Jesus was willing to die: “that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Thus, persons who are dead in sin may be baptized into Christ in order to die to sin and be resurrected to spiritual life: “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…” (Col 2:12-13).

The fastest ambulance can’t save you from the second death. Jesus alone can manage that (Rev 2:11; 20:14). So, whether you should find yourself riding as passenger in an ambulance or in a hearse, make sure that you have Jesus with you! – J.P. Simons