Personal ambition and servant-hood aren’t always compatible. In fact, they are often at odds with each other. A servant’s goal is to please his or her master in whatever way is required, but personal ambition strives for self-advancement. Jesus’ words from today’s passage must have sounded foreign to the disciples’ ears since, according to the thinking of their culture, greatness was acquired by striving for it, not by serving.
Like them, we live in a world where many people are seeking to make a name for themselves. They set goals, make plans, and do whatever is necessary to achieve what they’ve set out to do. But as Christians, we’re to live by a different standard: exalt Christ, obey His commands, and serve Him faithfully by doing His will, not our own.
We’re not called to gain fame and fortune by leaving our footprints in concrete for all to admire. Our task is to humbly follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Whether our lives have a large or small impact is up to God, not us. The greatest acts of service are not usually flashy displays; more often they’re commonplace gestures like being kind to strangers, ministering to fellow believers, and praying for others.
Jesus humbled Himself, surrendered His rights, and obeyed God even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Being His servant begins with the same attitude. It requires helping others when it’s not convenient, doing tasks that are not glamorous, and obeying the Lord even if it’s costly. We aren’t on earth to build our own kingdom but to faithfully serve God as He builds His.
5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.—1 John 1:5-7
One of the main reasons Christians doubt their salvation is the presence of sin in their life. According to 1 John 1:6, people who profess faith while continuing in a sinful lifestyle are deceiving themselves and walking in darkness. Verse 7, however, offers reassurance to those who are truly saved: Though they’ll still sin at times, this doesn’t mean they’ve lost their salvation. Today’s passage explains how believers are to deal with sin when it occurs in their life:
Confess your sins (1 John 1:9). Confession should be our first response when we stumble and fall. It means acknowledging to God that we’ve acted in a manner inconsistent with His character and standards and are in need of His promised forgiveness and cleansing.
Know that Christ is your Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1-2). It’s never God’s will that we sin, but when we do, Jesus is our Defender in God’s courtroom. His sacrifice fully atoned for our sin and satisfied divine justice. When we repented and believed that Christ died for our sins, we were justified and declared righteous before God.
Know that sin is not a continuing practice in the life of a true believer (1 John 3:9). Since we’re born of God and the Holy Spirit abides in us, we cannot continue in sin. Although there may be brief periods of transgression, God’s Spirit works in us to change our desires and practices.
A believer’s disobedience brings the Lord’s discipline, not loss of salvation. However, as God’s children, we should never excuse our disobedience or abuse God’s grace by living in sin. Instead, we’re to pursue obedience and holiness.
(Presented with permission | © In Touch Ministries)
“God is strong and can keep you from falling. He can bring you before his glory without any wrong in you and give you great joy”— Jude 1:24 NIV
On what basis can we make it all the way to the glory of the next life and everything it includes? Does it all depend on us? Does it all depend on our ability to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong? Not according to our verse for today.
According to our verse, it all depends on God. It all depends on God’s strength. We will make it through to the end because God is strong. He is the awesome and almighty Lord of heaven and earth who controls the destiny of all things and He can make sure that we stand firm to the end. He can make sure that we receive the three things promised in our verse.
First, He can keep us from falling. That is, God can keep us from falling away from faith in God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the one who predestined us to be conformed to the image of His son and He can keep us from falling away from the son (Romans 8:29). Even though we may still sin, we will not abandon the faith. Although we may stumble, we will not fall, for the Lord upholds us with His hand (Psalm 37:24).
Second, God can bring us before His glory without any wrong in us. That is, God’s glory will be revealed on Judgement Day and He can make sure that at that time we are “blameless and holy” (I Thessalonians 3:13) and “without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22). Our righteousness before Him will not be due to anything we have done, but because He has sustained our faith in Jesus Christ.
Finally, He can give us great joy. On Judgement Day we will have great joy because we will be found acceptable in the sight of God. As a result, we will inherit all the blessings of the next life. We will have great joy knowing that we have been rescued from sin, sorrow, and an eternity in hell.
If you have stumbled, don’t forget that God is strong. He will keep you from falling all the way down.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“So, you think you’re pretty special?” the father asked the child. “Well, you know what? You are!”
God thinks of us the same way. In His eyes we are special and unique in so many ways. He made us in His own image. That’s pretty special don’t you think? We are all God’s children and because of that He loves us without end. No strings attached. He loves us so much that He also disciplines us when the need arises.
Fathers love their children without measure. No matter how big the mistake, the father loves the child anyway. God loves us the same way. He also knows when we sin and He knew that there was no way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins except through the blood of His own son Jesus.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s a very special love don’t you think? God sacrificed His own son so that we could be free from our sins. Wow!
Remember. The next time you start feeling as if you are unloved or that no one cares, Jesus is right there whispering in your ear, “I love you so much that I died for you. Take my hand and let’s walk together forever.”
“Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”—Deuteronomy 8:5
No one likes to be disciplined because it usually involves a degree of pain either emotionally or physically. When we are disciplined by God we scratch our head and wonder why. Suffice it to say God has a reason for it at that moment in time.
God’s word says in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” declares the Lord. There you have it. God doesn’t expect us to understand. Instead He desires that we remain faithful in our walk with Him no matter what our circumstances might be.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
In other words, when God disciplines us, we are the better for it. The next time you feel the weight of God’s discipline on your life, just realize He is polishing off the rough edges of your life so that you can be a shining example of His love for you.
As we grow in our walk with the Lord, we can be more confident in His protection and love for us. All good things in life are ours if we ask for and live for those things that are God’s will for us.
Meditating on God’s Holy Word daily will reveal insights into Jesus; how we should conduct ourselves; and provide a path to righteousness.
May God add His blessings to your life.
“For the choirmaster. Of the sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is transformed and the mountains are toppled into the depths of the seas.”—Psalm 46:1-2
At some point, you’ve probably been asked why a loving God would allow suffering in the world. Though He is able to stop it, He often doesn’t. And while we can acknowledge seeing Him at work during certain difficult situations, at other times it looks as if nothing is happening despite our many prayers.
We live in a sinful world, so the potential for anguish is great. Sometimes we’re troubled when people are driven by the evil within. Other times the cause is our own weakness or God’s discipline in our life. Still another reason might be persecution or simply the consequence of ignoring good principles. But whatever the origin of our distress, we can be sure that if God allows it, He has a purpose. He may want …
To get our attention. The psalmist realized affliction brought him back within God’s will (Psalm 119:67; Psalm 119:71). In times of distress, we often turn to Him for help.
To develop personal righteousness in us. God wants us to mature, so He will reveal areas of our life that we need to address.
To prune us. John 15:1-2 paints an excellent word picture of how God eliminates attitudes and actions that are not godly or fruit-bearing.
To teach us obedience. Jesus, who always did the Father’s will, is our perfect example (John 4:34; Heb. 5:7-9). As we are conformed to His image, we will increasingly learn to obey God (Rom. 8:29).
God may allow painful seasons in our life. When He does, ask Him to show you how He may be using suffering for your good.