By Faith We Claim God’s Promises
Each book in the Bible has its own special theme and message even though it may deal with many different topics.
Genesis is the book of beginnings. Matthew is the book of the kingdom. Galatians is the book of liberty. Ephesians states its theme in 1:3: The Christian’s riches in Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
J. Paul Getty, said to be the richest man in the world, at the time of this lesson, is worth an estimated 13 billion. The weekly income of some of the oil sheiks runs into millions, yet all of this wealth is but pennies when compared with the Spiritual Wealth we have in Christ.
There is always more Spiritual Wealth to claim from the Lord as we walk with Him. The Bible is our Guidebook; the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. As we search the Word of God, we discover more and more of the riches we have in Christ.
These riches were planned by the Father, purchased by His Son, Jesus Christ, and presented by the Holy Spirit. There is really no need for us to live in poverty when all of God’s wealth is at our disposal. By faith we can claim God’s promises and draw upon His limitless wealth found in His promises.
Luke 12:15 (Jesus speaking)
And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Again and again citizens of the United States are assured by political leaders that our country has the highest standard of living in the world. We have supermarkets overflowing with food and other items, huge department stores crammed with merchandise of all kinds, parking lots and superhighways clogged with expensive automobiles, stores making available television sets, telephones, air conditioning, even private and commercial planes being made availabe. We are used to driving on well-marked highways with route numbers and destinations clearly delineated.
Have you ever traveled away from the main roads in a rural area, seeking a church building or home? Perhaps you stopped and asked directions and were told to go so many miles on a certain highway. Maybe they answered, “You can’t miss it; there is a red barn right near the road” but before you got there, you came to a fork in the road, both roads seemingly equally well blacktopped, but only one could be leading where you wanted to go. At this point, a choice had to be made.
So, in life, we are confronted with spiritual and ethical choices. In making these choices, we determine the direction our lives will take. Is our general direction to be self-seeking or self-giving?
Is our quality of life to be positive, joyful and friendly or negative, gloomy and antisocial? As Christians it is vital for us to realize that we are accountable for our actions.
Only the life that finds its direction, purpose and goal in the living and eternal God can endure. Only God’s way is fulfilling.
Many years earlier the psalmist spoke of two roads that stand before all men. We can take the path that is beaten down and made wide and be accompanied by many travelers or we can choose the road that is straight and narrow. This road promises all times to be steep, narrow and lonely. It may cause its travelers some difficulty at times, yet to those who willingly choose it, and persevere, it will make a greater deal of difference, for this is the road that leads to life. Yes, the Christian life is a life of sacrifice, but when one devotes himself completely to Christ, joys and blessings he receives are worth far more than what he gives up.
A person may give up his family to serve the Lord, but he becomes a member of a much larger family. He may give up his house and lands, but finds he is welcome in a thousand homes across the land and around the world.
Jim Elliot, who lost his life while taking the Gospel to the Indians in South America, said, “A man is no fool who gives up what he cannot lose.”
It is easy to make a good start and fail when the testing comes. Thirty-two thousand responded to the call of the Spirit through Gideon, but only three hundred had the dedication and commitment to pay the price needed. Let’s read about it in the book of Judges.
34But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. 35And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. 36And Gideon said unto God, If Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said, 37Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said. 38And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39And Gideon said unto God, Let not Thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray Thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Judges 7:1-8 (The LORD speaking)
1Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, mine own hand hath saved me. 3Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. 8So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
It is easy to make a good start and fail when the testing comes. Thirty-two thousand responded to the call of the Spirit through Gideon but only three hundred had the dedication and commitment to pay the price needed.
Think of how many homes have instruments and tools around that were used with enthusiasm and then laid aside to rust or decay. Perhaps, there might be fewer people to fall by the wayside if converts were encouraged to count the cost instead of being rushed into an over-emotional decision: the kind Jesus used, no gimmicks, no high pressure methods to get people to follow Him, yet the crowds came. They saw in Him One Who was available to meet their needs, One Who would not turn them away.
Jesus knew that most of them did not really want to pay the price of self-denial to follow Him, because God knew their hearts. They wanted the crown but not the cross.
Jesus wanted to challenge them to a depth of commitment they had never known. Jesus said that discipleship calls for carrying one’s cross; commitment and discipleship demands cannot be made on the spur of the moment.
Discipleship not only involves us in building for the kingdom, it puts us into battle. We need to be sure we know what our resources are before we get involved. Some folks feel that they can make one great decision, fall back into their old careless, self-centered ways and still make it to Heaven.
Jesus compares Christians to salt. Christians are the light and salt of the earth, but salt that has lost its saltiness is worse than useless. A Christian who does not maintain the commitment, devotion and self-sacrifice demanded by cross-bearing discipleship is worse off than if he had never made a start.
Peter’s own life gives us background for the message on Christian development. In his youth Peter was often self-willed and impetuous, but Jesus saw what he could become and named him Peter, meaning a rock.
Peter did not become a rock overnight. Even after his great confession Peter resisted Jesus’ teaching and had to be rebuked. His denial of Christ showed that even after three and one-half years of listening to Jesus, he was still unstable, but before that denial Jesus again promised that Peter would change.
He would truly become a rock of strength; he would then be able to strengthen his brethren. Maturity and fruit of the Spirit do not grow and develop automatically.
Any farmer knows that the only kind of automatic growth he gets in his field is that of weeds. Peter knew from experience also that one consecration is never enough.
All of us need daily consecration and frequent reminders. One consecration for an entire lifetime is no more workable than one gigantic meal, one great drink of water, one long period of sleep or one spurt of work or one act of kindness.
We live a constantly repeating cycle each twenty-four hours during which we must renew our efforts, refresh ourselves and repledge our lives to God. It’s a daily process.
Jesus wants us to concentrate on inner loveliness, the part that really counts, the part that will live forever. The part of us that is made in the image of God can grow lovely growing old.
Someone has said… “In one respect Christians are much like tea. Their real strength does not come out until they are place in hot water.”
A well-ordered life is the result of carefully chosen priorities and Jesus gave us a perfect example. Nothing is more characteristic of God’s love than the word “give”. God loves a cheerful giver.
Who is more important, the pilot of a commercial airliner or the mechanic? Who is more important, the doctor who does the surgery or the anesthesiologist? Who is more important, the farmer who produces grain or the truck driver who transports it? The answer is obvious.
Both are needed. Their importance depends upon the task needed at a given moment. The pilot is more important if the need is for someone to fly the plane, but the mechanic is more important if the need is to repair the plane. Importance is tied to service.
Jesus’ concept of greatness is narrowed to one idea: serving. Are we helping other people?
Greatness does not come by grabbing but by giving, not be demanding recognition from others, but by rendering the service due them. Greatness is not measured by how many servants a person has, but rather how many people “that person” is serving. That is a complete reversal from the way of the world.
God has been serving mankind since creation. He is both man’s LORD and Servant. That means He is love. He cares about us. He provides. He reaches out. His greatness is seen in His grace as well as His glory.
The ransom Jesus paid liberated sinful man. It frees us from hatred to love, from bitterness to joy, from animosity to peace, from rudeness to gentleness, from condemnation to salvation.
The ransom frees us to become what we were created to be: sons and daughters of God with the indwelling Holy Spirit equipping us to do good works that glorify our Heavenly Father Who is in Heaven.
God’s satisfied; man’s justified; the devil’s notified and victory is verified!
Thank God I’m saved! That’s “Spiritual Wealth”!