It Is Enough…!

WhatHeDoes

You may be wondering, “What is enough?” “What is the ‘it’ of ‘It is enough’”? We find the answer in the following verse.

The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. (Matthew 10:24-25)

Jesus tells us that it is enough for students to be like their teachers and servants like their masters. So the question for you today must be, “Is this true for you? Is it enough for you to be like your Teacher and Master, Jesus Christ?” Surely you could not desire being exalted above your Lord; would it be your earnest desire to receive a crown of glory on this side of the grave when your Lord received a crown of thorns? May God forbid it!

Throughout His three-plus years of ministry, our Lord was mocked, ridiculed, persecuted, betrayed, denied, condemned, abandoned, beaten, scourged, and nailed to a cross. He entered into this world among the beasts of burden, having been born in a manger because there was no room for Him in the dwelling places of men. He departed this world hanging on a cruel cross between two condemned criminals. Along the way, the Creator of the universe and the Savior of the world had no place to call “home.” As He said, “Foxes have their holes, and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

So if the student is not above the teacher nor the servant above his master, what are we to expect on our way into glory? If we are indeed His student and servant, we should expect to experience much of the same unpleasantness that Jesus received. Despite what some badly misguided “prosperity teachers” would have us believe, Christianity is not about living a life of health, wealth, and comfort; far from it!

The apostle Paul expected to get much of the same as His Savior did, and that is what Paul received at the hands of those who despised his Master. He briefly recounted his trials to the Christians at Corinth; multiple beatings and floggings, stoned nearly to death, shipwrecked three times, naked, cold, and hungry, in danger from the Roman authorities and from his own countrymen. And yet even in his final charge to his beloved companion and co-laborer Timothy, Paul provided the necessary encouragement to remind Timothy—and you and me—that it is indeed “enough” to be like Jesus.

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Is this not the desire of every Christian . . . to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? The more you become like your Master, the more you will face opposition and persecution. And in that persecution, regardless of what form it may take, it will be enough to know that you are like your Lord. The world will welcome you as long as you speak and live according to its ways. But when you choose to live according to the Word, the world will do everything in its power to ridicule you and shout you down.

Knowing that this was the life of our Lord, which ended on a hill outside the city nailed to a cross, let us be strengthened and encouraged by the truth that “It is enough” to be like Him in every way. And that, my Christian friend, includes His suffering.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Holy “Hill Difficulty”

Confident-People

Let me begin this message by asking you this: What “hills”—what problems, obstacles, challenges, or difficulties—are you facing today in your personal and/or professional life that you must climb and ultimately overcome? Whatever these hills might be, know this: because God is for you and not against you (Romans 8:31), every hill you face is a holy hill.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Sadly, many have misinterpreted this verse. They have taken it to mean they can do absolutely anything, regardless of what that “anything” might be. Well, this is simply not true. If you want to fly, you’ll do well to take a plane, because no matter how determined and trusting in God you might be, if you jump from the roof of your house to soar into the heavens, you flight will be short-lived and your crash landing painful!

Philippians 4:13 must be kept in its context. What Paul was telling us is that we are empowered to do anything God is calling us to do, because God never calls without equipping.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s classic allegory of the Christian life, the character named Christian came to the base of a steep climb called “the hill Difficulty.” At the bottom of the hill was a spring of water, and Christian paused to drink of it. Now, refreshed and recharged, he was ready to take on the challenge set before him and he began his climb up the hill, singing as he went.

Regardless of the “hill Difficulty” you are facing today, pause before you begin your ascent and refresh yourself from the spring of your Savior.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The psalmist provides the key that unlocks the door to every hill we face. Every child of God has been planted by streams of water (our Savior); Jesus is the source of our power to prosper in all we do for the glory of God. From problems in your relationships to a prodigal child, from challenges in the classroom to major health issues, before you start your climb, drink from the springs of your Savior and He will give you all you need to climb all the way to the top.

Remember, God not only knows everything you are going through, He has ordained it all. He created the hill! And ultimately He will use that difficulty for your good and His glory. Drink deeply from the springs of your Savior (soaking up His Word, maintaining your prayer life, seeking out the communion of the saints), and know you will be strengthened, as Christian was, to face every “hill Difficulty,” knowing God will get you to the top. And you should sing songs of praise as you climb!

The prophet Isaiah said, “You will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). May that be the confession of all our lives as we refresh ourselves in our Savior.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Father Comforts Like A Mother

mother-and-child

I have a sweet promise of God to share with you today. When I read today’s verse, I am taken back to the days of my youth and the many comforts my mother brought into my life. It seemed like Mom had a special cure for everything that ailed me, from her homemade chicken soup when I was sick to her inspiring words of encouragement when I had a bad game out on the field of competition.

My mom’s comfort was sweet and healing, but there is a cosmic that is available to you that eclipses even that!

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. (Isaiah 66:13)

To have God as our Father is a tremendous gift indeed; but does our Father God actually also act the part of a mother in His comfort of His children? Throughout the Word of God, we see that divine consolation is a promise we have been given. It is God’s nature and character to comfort His children. But for Isaiah to say that God will comfort us “as a mother comforts her child” seems to raise His comfort to an almost unfathomable height.

As a father of four precious children, I offer them all that I have in the way of comfort when they are discouraged or distressed. But as sincere and loving as my efforts are, they never quite seem to rise to the level of the comfort their mother gives them. Please don’t misunderstand; Kim and I both love our children fully and unconditionally. We both wipe the tears from their eyes. We both offer them words of encouragement. We both sit by the bed and speak words of life to them to meet them in their place of need. But Mom’s comfort simply provides a little more comfort!

God inspired the prophet to compare His consolation and comfort with that of a mother. In other words, God’s comfort delivers the best of both the father and the mother. The comfort that comes from God is complete in every way. It lifts us up when we are down. It calls us home when we have wandered away. It is as unconditional as it is unwavering, and it is available to us not only daily, but moment by moment.

Who reading this right now would not benefit from the comfort of a mother? Remember, in Christ, we have a Comforter who is both with us and in us. He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He has promised to bring to completion all that He started in us when we first placed our trust in Him. And He promises to do all of this with the comfort of a loving mother!

One final point: the comfort my mom brought into my life did not end when I became an adult. Mom continued to be a source of great comfort and encouragement until the day God brought her home into glory a few years ago. There really is nothing like a mother’s comfort in all the world . . . except for the divine, “mom-like” comfort that comes from our Father in heaven!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Greatest Title God Can Give Us-Pt. 3

three-crosses

Today I will present the third and final message of a three-part series about the greatest title that any human being can possibly receive: the designation “friend of God.” These three messages are all rooted in these words of Christ, as recorded in John’s gospel:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)

On Monday we saw the dignity of being called a friend of God; on Wednesday we discussed our duty as friends of God; today we’ll wrap up with His declaration over all those whom He calls “friend.”

His Declaration

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends!” Jesus, the Lamb of God, accomplished something that all the Old Testament lambs could never do: He laid down His life for us so that we could be called friends of God. And as He hung on that cruel cross and cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:28), He meant what He said! The payment for the penalty of our sin has been paid in full by the sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do we have a duty to obey God? As we saw on Wednesday, the answer to that question is most certainly “Yes!” But we are not friends of God because of anything we do. Our good works do not make us friends of God; our church attendance does not make us friends of God; our spirituality does not make us friends of God. Nothing we do or say can make us friends of God. Jesus made us friends of God by what He did on our behalf.

Let me make one final point about being a friend of God. That exalted appellation does not mean that you are now “perfect.” Perfection will not happen until you get to the other side of the grave. Remember, it is not perfection that makes you God’s friend. Moses was a friend of God, and he was far from perfect. Abraham was a friend of God, and he too was far from perfect. If you have placed your trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, you, beloved, are a friend of God, and you are far from perfect. It’s not our perfection, but the perfection of the Prince of Peace that makes us friends of God.

It is my prayer that you will be greatly encouraged by the incredible title you have been given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Even if all your friends forsake you, make no mistake, you have one friend who will never leave you or forsake you; He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother; His name is Jesus Christ. Let that truth set you free to be the friend God has called you to be!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Greatest Title God Can Give Us-Pt. 2

obedience-dog

We are in the middle of a quick three-part series which explains that we who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ have been given the greatest title that any human being can possibly receive: the designation “friend of God.” These messages are rooted in these words of Christ, as recorded in John’s gospel:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)

On Monday we saw the dignity of being called a friend of God; today we will look at our duty as friends of God.

Our Duty

Jesus told those who have received the title of “friend of God,” You are my friends if you do what I command. The duty of every friend of God is obedience. And that obedience includes more than just what we don’t do; it includes what we do.

Charles Spurgeon explained it this way:

Abstinence from evil is a great part of righteousness, but it is not enough for friendship. If a man can say, “I am not a drunk, I am not dishonest, I am not unchaste, I am not a violator of the Sabbath, I am not a liar,” so far so good—but such righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees—and they cannot enter the kingdom of God!

Remember, Jesus did not say, “You are my friends if you don’t break my commands.” Rather, we are His friends if do what He commands. Time and time again, the Scriptures encourage us to sow our seed by giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus made the importance of obedience very clear to those who have been given the title friend: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).

On Friday, we’ll look at the final aspect of this glorious title of friend of God: His Declaration.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Greatest Title God Can Give Us-Pt. 1

friend

This week I would like to encourage you by explaining the exalted title that God has given to all those whom He has brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves. I plan to break this message down into three parts: The Dignity . . . Our Duty . . . and His Declaration. All three messages are rooted in this passage from the inspired pen of the apostle John:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)

The Dignity

Let me start by asking you this question: What would you say is the greatest title in all of sacred Scripture that can be given to man? Is it that of a prophet—the advocate for God before the people? Is it a priest—the advocate for the people before God? Is it a king—the authority of God over the people?

The answer is, “None of the above.” The greatest title anyone can receive is FRIEND OF GOD.

As great as any of those first three titles (prophet, priest, or king) would be, none of them compares to the dignity of being called a friend of God. Scripture recounts the lives of dozens of prophets, priests, and kings, but only two men in all of holy writ have been set apart with the exalted appellation of “friend.” In Exodus we read, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). And the prophet Isaiah tells us, “You, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend . . .” (Isaiah 41:8).

I’m sure none of us would entertain the notion even for a moment that we are the kind of person who would be considered worthy to be regarded as possessing the same faith and commitment as Abraham or Moses . . . and yet we have just seen that Jesus has said “You are my friends . . . I have called you friends.” If you have, by grace through faith, placed your trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, you can be considered a friend of God . . . and there is no greater title that can be given to you!

I hope you’ll be encouraged this day, regardless of what challenges you may be facing in your personal or professional life. You are a friend of God, and, as God’s friend, you know that He will eventually work all things for your good . . . even those things that don’t feel “good” right now! You have His Word on it.

On Wednesday we will look at Part 2: Our Duty.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Black Friday Irony

black friday frenzy

Today is perhaps the one day of the year that is least likely to display the Christmas spirit. Yet today, “Black Friday” 2016, marks the annual kick-off to the Christmas holiday season. How ironic!

The on-line dictionary defines “irony” as the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite; an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

When you think about it, the word “irony” really applies to the idea of “Black Friday.” It’s pretty hard to demonstrate the Christmas spirit after you’ve camped out all night in front of the store you have identified as offering the “best deal” on the Christmas gifts you’re looking to buy. That would make me a bit cranky!

Many years ago, my beloved Kim encouraged me to go early in the morning—very early in the morning—to snag a deal on something she spotted in a flyer. I set the alarm and got to the store two hours before it was scheduled to open, only to discover a line that wrapped around the store, a line made up of people who had spent the night outside the store. As for me, after only waiting for a few hours and finally getting to the open doors to actually enter the store, I was lacking a bit of the Christmas spirit, if the truth be known!

So let me encourage you today, whether you are camping out overnight or sitting it out at home, let this day mark the beginning of the Christmas spirit in each one of us. And what does that Christmas spirit look like? Exactly the opposite of Black Friday. Christmas is about giving and Black Friday is about getting. God gave us the greatest gift ever in giving us the Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

It is not uncommon to hear this question throughout Christmas day and during the days that immediately follow it: “What did you get?” Because Christmas marks the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the better question would be, “What did you give?” The Christmas spirit is about giving for the glory of God and the good of others. The Christmas spirit is rooted in being “other-oriented,” which is so contrary to our human nature. It takes a work of God’s grace to help us to turn outward and upward, rather than collapse inward.

So . . . how are you doing with your Christmas spirit? If you are heading out for some of those deals today, just remember to take Jesus along for the ride. Keeping Him in view will go a long way toward keeping you centered in the Christmas spirit . . . not only today, but all the way through this Christmas season.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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