Steadfastness No Matter What

August 25th, 2016

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it. (2 Timothy 3:14)

Christ commanded us that we should abide in his love continually - not just when the mood strikes us, not just when the circumstances seem right, not just when we find it convenient for our schedules, not just when it is noticed and applauded by others, but continually, in all circumstances, every day, no matter what.

Do you have this kind of steadfastness? Do you continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed even when it is difficult? Sometimes the greater challenges are not the moments when we face opposition - those situations can even motivate us to strive harder! But the situations that are mundane, tedious, even boring, when nothing seems to be happening - those are the more difficult ones to remain steadfast in.

The words of Paul to Timothy, quoted above, reminded him of the lifestyles of those who had discipled him. They revealed the love of God to him through facing hardships and enduring them steadfastly. Paul reminded him of his own conduct, faith, patience, love, and steadfastness that endured “persecutions and sufferings” (3:10-11). He reminded him of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice (1:5) who had taught him and modeled the faith before him from his childhood (3:15). Discipleship is not just teaching principles. It is also living out those principles before others.

We may think that our lives in Christ should be problem free, a smooth and gentle path to eternity. But rarely do lives work out like this. Proverbs 3:5-6 promises that if we commit our way to the Lord, that if we do not lean on our own understanding but instead trust in God’s greater wisdom, that He will make our paths straight. The meaning of this is not that He will remove all of the problems in life, but that He will show us the simple right path to take, even if it means removing some obstacles from the way ourselves.

For those who would like to remove mountains without getting their hands dirty, James speaks a clear word: “Without works faith is dead” (James 2:17). The meaning of that passage is not that works can replace our faith, for faith is primary. Rather he was saying that an un-involved faith is not a true faith. A faith that says, “I believe,” but does not lift a finger to help anyone or live a moment in a public witness for Christ is not faith at all.

Let me be clear on this matter. God alone is able to do God-sized tasks. Faith in Him, and not faith in faith alone, is what He looks for to do these miraculous things we call “moving mountains.” But the people whose faith God honors will have the dirt of some mountain under their fingernails, and they will match their faith with their actions. They will be steadfast in both motives and motions.

The issue is not whether discouragement, fatigue, or distractions have ever darkened our doorway. The issue is not whether we have ever stumbled and fallen, for, as Isaiah said, even young men do that (Isaiah 40:30). The issue is simply whether or not we are continuing to follow Christ in the means that He has given us to do so each day. Are we steadfast for Christ?

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Hallowing the Name of God

August 24th, 2016

Hallowed be your name. Mathew 6:9

When you lose someone’s address information, you can no longer find that person. My wife and I have made many wonderful friends over the years. Many of them we are still in contact with, but others we have lost their contact information. We would love to see them, and I am sure they would enjoy seeing us, but we just don’t know where each other are any more. We have lost each others address.

The world is in danger of losing the address of God by the disrespect that is paid to his name today. The name of God and the name of our Savior are thrown around today as if they were nothing at all. The average television drama or film today is laced with profanity, denigrating the things that are meaningful to our society. We are watching in our time the dismantling of almost every institution that our society has held dear for the past thousand years.

Just consider what subjects cursing takes on:

  • Sexual intimacy between husband and wife
  • Bodily excretions that are smelly and foul
  • The name of God and the name of our Savior

There are others, of course, but these alone represent values that have been turned upside down. We also see the dismantling of the family structure, where in the support of homosexual marriage even motherhood and fatherhood are replaced with some vague parenthood. And the time will come when even that institution will be destroyed.

Christ gave us six requests to make in the Lord’s Prayer, and the church of today needs urgently to remember the first of these: Hallowed or holy be your name. We must maintain in our own lives and from our own lips reverence for the name of God. We must promote respect for His name in this world.

Christ taught that prayer begins with reverencing the name of God, with understanding who He is, and desiring His name to be honored among people.

Here are some of the insight of scholars on this prayer request that Christ gave us:

God’s name means “Himself as revealed and manifested.” Everywhere in Scripture God defines and marks off the faith and love and reverence and obedience He will have from men by the disclosures which He makes to them of what He is; both to shut out false conceptions of Him, and to make all their devotion take the shape and hue of His own teaching. Too much attention cannot be paid to this. Robert Jamieson

To sanctify the name of God means nothing else, than to give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name, so that men may never think or speak of him but with the deepest veneration. The opposite of this is the profanation of the name of God, which takes place, when men either speak disrespectfully of the divine majesty, or at least without that reverence which they ought to feel. Now, the glory, by which it is sanctified, flows and results from the acknowledgments made by men as to the wisdom, goodness, righteousness, power, and all the other attributes of God. For holiness always dwells, and permanently remains, in God: but men obscure it by their malice and depravity, or dishonor and pollute it by sacrilegious contempt. The substance of this petition is, that the glory of God may shine in the world, and may be duly acknowledged by men. John Calvin

The word hallowed means, to render or pronounce holy. God’s name is essentially holy; and the meaning of this petition is, “Let thy name be celebrated, and venerated, and esteemed as holy everywhere, and receive of all men proper honours.” It is thus the expression of a wish or desire, on the part of the worshipper, that the name of God, or God himself, should be held everywhere in proper veneration. Albert Barnes

God has promised that the day will come when the heathen will glorify his name: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psa. 46:10). It is the need of our hearts each day to recognize this truth, to still our hearts and to find comfort and reverence in His Name.

And of Jesus Name, the scripture says:

God has highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name, 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, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

We are called to still our hearts before Him in reverential submission, to pray that His name would be honored on earth, and to live in such a way that we bring honor to His name through our good works.

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