Saturday, January 10, 2009

#23 Well Read

" are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but
with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of
human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3

I can recall when I was much younger-probably around 12 or 13-and I loved to
read. You have to realize that I was not in the church at this time so my
reading choices were not exactly the most spiritually enlightening among
what was available. At that time my taste ran more in the vein of Steven
King and Tom Clancy. Yes, I filled my mind with some material that was less
than elevating. Despite the fact that I was reading things that were not
the most conducive to spiritual growth, I developed a love for reading. I
would also read non-fiction works about our country's involvement in the two
World Wars. Video games were quite expensive when I was growing up so we
were not availed of those types of things. This of course gave me lots of
time to feed my love for the written word.

After coming to Christ my eyes were opened to a whole new world of
literature. I began to hear about a woman named Ellen White who wrote over
100,000 pages about God and His wonderful love for fallen humanity. I
gained deep insights as to how Jesus came and died for me to grant me
forgiveness for my sins. Of the things I began to read I fell in love with
the Bible the most. At first it was difficult for me to follow because I
was not sure who Abraham or any of the other Bible characters were. But as
I spent more time in the word of God my horizons were expanded and the vast,
wonderful picture of the plan of salvation and the story of how God has
moved among His people over the ages came together in a beautiful panorama
of hope.

I praise the Lord for my lovely wife and her family. It is because of them
that I was fully introduced to Christ, and it is because of their love and
acceptance towards me that I developed an intense desire to know what made
them so different from any other family I knew. When I first came around
Ginger and her family I was your typical worldly teenager who knew nothing
of God and His will for my life. But after spending a lot of time around
them I knew there was something very different about them and it was
different in a very good way. They showed me a love and acceptance that I
had never known before. They were kind not only to me, but to everyone who
came through the doors of the church. As I spent time with them I began to
read the story of their live in the way that they lived. The story that
unfolded was not one of perfection because they are all human and have their
faults too, but there was and is a kindness about them that expresses the
love of Christ to all they meet. Truly, their lives became one of the best
books that I ever had the joy of reading.

As we venture into 2009 I want to challenge each of you who read this. I
want you to consider the fact that your life is a living epistle. In our
focus text from above, Paul is asking the Corinthian believers if he has
need of presenting credentials by way of a letter of commendation. He
answers his own question by saying that his letter of commendation is
evident by the letter of Christ that is written by the Spirit of God upon
the table of the hearts among the believers. In other words, Paul is saying
that the greatest testimony that could ever be given as evidence to the work
that the Lord has done through him and his fellow workmen is the testimony
that is lived out each day in the life of each believer that had accepted
Jesus as Lord and Savior. The living epistles have the power to speak of
what Christ has done for them, and their testimony can be lived out each day
in every aspect of life. The question that I have for each of you is, "What
does your life say to the world around you?" Friends, our life says
something to the world around us whether we like it or not. The question
comes down to, "What do we allow it to say?" Do we allow our lives to speak
of the wonderful way that Jesus has worked to save us, or does our life say,
"Christians are miserable-stay away!"

As I meet with fellow Christians on a daily basis it saddens my heart to
meet some who have lost their first love. In Revelation 2 Jesus sent a
message to the church in Ephesus. Jesus commended them for their good work
and refusal to tolerate "evil men", but He also had to rebuke them because
they had lost their first love; the love we should all hold for our Lord
Jesus. How is it with you today? Have you been going through the motions
of doing good things for the Lord while quietly aching inside because your
first love for Jesus has waned? I beg each of you to rediscover that first
love and to reconnect with Christ as we begin this new year in earnest. I
firmly believe that the last chapters in this earth's history are going to
come to end sooner than later. Because of that we need to make sure that we
stand rightly with our God. We do not have the luxury of coasting along
waiting to get right sometime down the road.

Today is the day of salvation and who knows? This could be the year that Jesus comes to take us home. I am not date setting friends because no man knows the day or the hour (Mark 13:32), but I am calling each of you to renew your stand with the Lord Jesus and to claim the promise to the overcomer. Jesus said, " Therefore remember
from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first
{and} To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is
in the Paradise of God." Friends, please make the decision today to repent
and do the deeds that poured from your heart when you first came to Jesus.
Let the world around you be blessed by the living epistle of your life. Let
your light so shine before men that they too will be drawn to the Lord Jesus
so that they too will have hope beyond the crisis that looms over our world.

Dear Father God,
As we come to You just now we praise Your holy name for giving us an new
year and more opportunities to serve You and the world around us. Lord,
please forgive us for the way that we may have lived in the past. Please
forgive us if our epistle has been flawed before the world. Please write
your love upon the tables of our hearts and let us live in humble submission
to You that the world may be drawn to You. Please help each of us to be
overcomers that we may eat of the tree of life in Your midst. It is in
Jesus' name that we pray, Amen.

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