lunes, 21 de junio de 2010

Pure heart

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." -Matthew 5:8

A good dictionary will define pure as "conforming absolutely to a standard of quality; faultless." When a thing is pure, it is unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated, uncontaminated or undefiled by anything foreign to itself. Depending upon the context, it can take on such senses as clear, entire, true, perfect, sterling, chaste, virginal, immaculate, spotless, untainted, good, moral, impeccable, honorable, principled, ethical, guiltless, flawless, sincere and many more.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Obviously, the quality of the heart is the issue in this beatitude. Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." Our Father directly addresses the book of Proverbs to His sons (Proverbs 1:7). It assumes our hearts have been purified by His initial cleansing, that we have received His Spirit and are in the process of sanctification and going on to perfection. Ezekiel explains this process:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

So.. That’s it! That’s the goal of the Christian life! That’s what we are living for – that we may live our life in such a way that we see God. If we see God, that will open up the treasure trove of all the blessings, not only for eternity, but also for life here and now. And the key to open that treasure trove is a pure heart!

This is the most central and the most significant of all the beatitudes mentioned in this fifth chapter of Matthew. You cannot be poor in spirit without having a pure heart. You cannot mourn for the things that displease God without having a pure heart. You cannot be meek, you cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness, you cannot be merciful, you cannot be a peacemaker or be prepared to stand persecution for the name of Christ without having a pure heart. Actually, this is one of the most central principles of the Christian life that we see in the whole Bible. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

What Is It to Have a Pure Heart?

1. Living by the rule of God, living a life that is pleasing to God.

2. Living for the purpose of God, having a single-minded devotion to God.

miércoles, 3 de marzo de 2010

Start spreading the news!!

He Gave Himself for Us
Titus 2:13-15

Look at the beginning of verse 14, "Who gave himself for us…" Of course, the "who" is speaking of Jesus Christ.
  • We see this same truth reiterated in other passages of Scripture:
  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Galatians 1:4; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:2;
  2. 1 Timothy 2:6
It is a simple truth, yet so deeply profound - He gave himself for us. It is a truth we can forget in the busyness of life. We can take it for granted and fail to really appreciate it. Nobody forced Jesus to give His life, not even the Father. He willingly, of His own free will, chose to lay down His life for you and me. He said, "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself." John 10:18

So real was His free will that He said to Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Matthew 26:53

Yet, He gave Himself for us! Isn't that amazing and incredible? Jesus Christ hung on that cross, giving His life as a sinless sacrifice for you and me. Why would Jesus do this? Have you ever thought about that? This text explains why.

He gave Himself for us: That we might be forgiven of all sins. vs. 14a
  1. 1. The word "redeem" means "to ransom." How do you ransom somebody? You must pay a price.
  2. The Bible says that Jesus redeemed us from all iniquity. • "Iniquity" simply means "a violation of a law, wickedness."
  3. What is the penalty for violating God's moral law found in His Word? Romans 6:23 states that "…the wages of sin is death." • So, in order for Christ to redeem or ransom us from all iniquity, what price did He have to pay? There way no way around it - death. • When Jesus died on the cross, our sins were imputed to Him. Our sins were put on His account. 2 Corinthians 5:19
  4. The moment a believing sinner trusts Christ to save him, God takes the righteousness of His Son and puts that on the believing sinner's account. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  5. Notice it says in Titus 2:14 "all iniquity." cf. Ephesians 1:7 • This means that at the moment of salvation we receive total and complete forgiveness.
  6. In all other religions, the followers are trying to do something to earn their god's forgiveness, but in the gospel of Christ, God did something for us. He reached out to us in order that we might be forgiven.
  7. In other religions, they have to keep working and working in order to earn forgiveness. They never know when they've done enough. But with the gospel of Christ, the believing sinner is saved and forgiven instantaneously because of Christ's finished and completed work.
  8. We aren't waiting to be forgiven - we are forgiven. Why? He gave himself for us.

He gave Himself for us: That we might have purpose in this present life.
vs. 14b
  1. We are cleansed and forgiven eternally at the moment of salvation, but it doesn't end there. In fact, it is just the beginning. God saved you for a purpose.
  2. Notice, He purified us unto himself. God has cleansed us and completely changed our identity. We are new creatures in Christ. God has delivered us from this present evil world and translated us into the kingdom of His Son.
  3. We are now unto God a "peculiar people." The word "peculiar" does not mean weird or strange. It means to belong especially to someone. • Illustration: This Bible is peculiarly mine. It is mine in a special way that is not true of anyone else. It may even seem strange to others. Why? It isn't their Bible.
  4. We are peculiarly God's. What is the result of this? It should be that we are zealous of good works. God didn't just redeem you, forgive you, and then leave you and say, "That's it." God is interested in the out-working of His purpose in your life. Ephesians 2:10
  5. God has bestowed His grace upon you so that His grace can now live through you in the form of good works. God wants you to be fruitful. Titus 3:14 • Through our good works we impact other lives with His grace. Titus 3:8
  6. Are you zealous of good works? This is God's purpose for you in the present. God bestowed His grace upon you and placed it in you that He might do something through you! 1 Corinthians 15:10

He gave Himself for us: That we might have glory in the future. vs. 13
  1. 1. Sometimes there isn't much glory in this life - there's pain, heartache, misery, trouble, trials, and hurt. You may do good works and evil is returned to you.
  2. But God's plan in sending His Son to die for us involves more than just now, the present.
  3. God has an eternal plan of glory for us in the future. • Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 • Praise God, as we live our lives for His glory on this earth, God has promised us a bright future! • God desires for us to live our lives "in time" in light of what He will do out there in eternity. This requires that we walk by faith, not by sight. Colossians 3:2-4
In Conclusion:
1. Do you see now why Christ gave Himself for you?
2. There was a plan and purpose.
• It starts with forgiveness, but it doesn't end there.
• God forgave you and cleansed you that He might place His life in you and give you purpose in this present life.
• Christ also gave Himself for you because God has an eternal plan of glory for you in the future, in the ages to come.
3. Do you know this Jesus who gave Himself on the cross for you? If not, will you trust Him and believe on Him today?
4. Christ gave His life for you, that He might give His life to you, that He might live His life through you.

martes, 12 de enero de 2010

Social Club or Army?

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. One the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

No more playing patty-cake with the devil. No more letting him rule over your precious souls. This is war! And Jesus invites you to get into the action. He tells you that the violent—the “forceful” ones—will lay hold of the Kingdom. He is looking for young men and women—just like you—to join Him in the battle of the ages, to aggressively participate in the battle He started.
The Bible refers to the Christian life as being like a battle—a Holy war. But think about the Christians (and maybe even some youth groups) around you. Do they look like an army or a social club? There’s quite a difference:

Social Club or Army?

A Club Member…

  • pursues a common interest
  • consumes some free time
  • gathers acquaintances
  • passes the time to make the day fun
  • considers preparation as optional to staying involved
  • finds courage unnecessary

A Soldier…

  • pursues a common mission
  • dedicates a whole life
  • gathers fellow warriors
  • seizes the day to make the battle count
  • considers preparation as crucial to staying alive
  • finds courage indispensable

    Did you join or enlist?

    With the above contrasts firmly in mind, consider: When you became a Christian, did you join a club or enlist in an army? Before you answer, remember that in a club, people often have to be persuaded to stay involved. Or they have to be begged to come back. But in an army, the commander’s attitude is, “Please don’t come back unless you are ready to give your all.” (Jesus put it like this: “Anyone else want to leave?”)
    My point: Jesus didn’t give His life to start a social club; His church was meant to be an army. If this is the case, then we are to be soldiers, enlisted men and women of God. And certain key qualities of a good soldier will apply to our service in the Kingdom.

    A good soldier keeps his/her eye on the battlefield.

    As I’ve said, most Christians don’t realize there’s a real war going on. They view our struggle as purely symbolic. There’s nothing symbolic about 33 million of your peers caught in the current of MTV’s hypnotic spell. This isn’t a pretend war for the millions of teens out there whose parents divorce each year, many of whom claim to be Christians. The pain is real, and many of your friends and the kids you know at school (maybe even you) are the casualties of war. Their wounds range from the secrecy of emotional abuse, to the desperate loneliness of Internet addiction, to the misery of living under the same roof with parents who are strangers to them. There’s damage being done, and in many cases, real blood is being shed by teens who don’t realize the ways they are being attacked!

    A good soldier lives the code.

    Joining any branch of the military means taking on certain obligations. Soldiers know that upon enlisting, their lifestyles will change dramatically. They know the “code” before signing up, so it isn’t a surprise when their commanding officer insists they arise at 4 a.m. to exercise, do drills, and get to work. It’s all part of the package. They have no say over their way of life any more; they knew what was expected going into the deal. It is not an option to say to the commander, “Well, I really don’t feel like doing push-ups right now.” Even the thought is absurd.

    Joining God’s army includes a lifestyle that our loving Commander-in-Chief insists we live. When we become Christians, we declare our loyalty to the person of Christ and to the lifestyle He requires of us. Some who come to Christ do not show by the way they live their lives that they have truly enlisted as soldiers.
    As enlisted soldiers, we can’t silently vote on which part of the Bible we feel like living from day to day. As if God’s code (His Word) is up for debate! Soldiers go to church services every Sunday because we want to learn how God wants us to live. He is looking for the kind of commitment that says, “Even if I don’t understand why You want me to do it, I will obey.” But instead we tend to think, “If I only knew why, then I would do it.” We think that somehow God is plotting to keep us from fun. Strangely, we become wary of the greatest Lover of our souls.

    A good soldier finds his/her assignment.

    I’ve never met anyone who enlisted in the army just so he could go through boot camp. Instead, enlistees know that boot camp is just preparatory; it’s not the final goal. After this intense period of training, they anticipate being assigned to a mission that will make a difference in the world. There’s a place for them to plug into, and in doing so they will advance the cause of the army. They didn’t join in order to sit on the sidelines and watch the action from afar. They never intended to sit around and listen to generals tell stories about strategy and tactics. No, they want to make those stories.

    Too often Christians have been curious about the war, hoping to see the highlights from it, but unaware that they have a battle mission. This is evidence they have not truly enlisted. Every enlisted soldier knows he or she has a place to fill. Club members find jobs, hobbies, activities, and stuff to fill their time, but a soldier is fully engaged in his assignment.

    There is an assignment that only you can fill. People are waiting to be rescued until you find that assignment. Just as a team member says, “Put me in, Coach; I want to play!”, the soldier cries out to know his assignment. Christians who’ve enlisted for spiritual battle in a real war for real lives come before God with humble hearts pleading, “O Lord, show me my part. I want to be deployed into the battle for this generation. Please show me my mission.”

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I Timothy 6:12

(taken from a devotional from Ron Luce)