Justified by Faith

If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say_ “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness

Romans 4

When I think of the old testament versus the new testament, one of the differences I tend to think of is law versus faith.  In the old testament, the people were under the law, and judged by the law.  Then in the new testament, Jesus changed things up so that we could be saved by our faith, with his sacrifice.  No longer were people required to perform sacrifices under the law.

Is that the right way to look at it though?  I’m not sure because I still find scripture that makes comparisons which lead me to the same conclusion.  However, in Romans 4, Paul talks about Abraham being credited by faith.  Verses 2 and 3 say:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ “

Paul goes on to say that David also talks about blessings that are separate from works, or in other words, by faith.  Verses 7 and 8 say:

“ ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been coveredBlessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.’ ”

So, how do I get this to fit with the laws and required sacrifices and such that were required for forgiveness in the old testament.  While the laws were all required to be followed, there had to be faith included with it for it to please God.  I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:17 as I am talking about the law of the old testament versus faith and grace in the new testament.  It reads:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

So, with our forgiveness coming through faith, it does not mean the law has been thrown away.  Instead, it means this is the perfect fulfillment of the law.

Why is this important to us?  Verse 16 says:

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”

We are all descendants through the faith of Abraham.  We can also have our faith credited as righteousness.  What a wonderful blessing this is.
– Andrew Hamilton
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A Coming Reward

Matthew 19

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Many of us have had to endure hardships because we chose to follow Jesus. Some of us have had to lose friends and family relationships, and endured verbal attacks. There are people all over the world who are being put in prison and literally risking their life to follow Jesus. So the big question for most people is, “Why?” Why do we choose to risk it all to follow this person who we believe rose from the dead? What do we get out of it?

 

This was the question that Peter asked Jesus also in Matthew 19:27. He asked, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” It makes sense that we are concerned about what our reward will be. We ask the same question before taking a new job; “What do I get out of this?”

 

Jesus’ answer for Peter should excite us all. Jesus promised them “100 times more” than what they gave up in the coming Kingdom of God. Whatever they had given up, they would receive even more! They would also get immortal life as well! What terrific promises that we have been given by the son of God!

 

Today’s devotion is simply supposed to encourage you. No matter what you have had to endure or give up to follow Jesus, the reward in the end is so much greater. You will have immortal, perfect life (John 3:16), you will have no more sickness or sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4), and you will get to see your loved ones again who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). What more could we possibly ask for? Jesus has promised us everything we can dream of if we choose to suffer now, just like he did. So be encouraged today that you have a tremendous, indescribable reward waiting for you when our king returns!

 

-Talon Paul

Loyalty in the Family of God – Ruth 1

Ruth 1 16
In the first chapter of Ruth we see a beautiful example of Ruth choosing her allegiance wisely. Some may think at the surface level, Ruth stayed with her married family for provision and protection. However, Naomi was a widow—poor, needy and vulnerable in the culture. Especially during the time of a famine in a foreign land. The most advantageous move Ruth could have made would have been to weather the famine, stay in Moab and remarry therein ensuring her safety and security. Naomi even encouraged her to do so in Ruth 1:8-9. However, Ruth remained steadfast in her loyalty to Naomi and the God she had come to know when she became one with her husband and family so many years before. Ruth makes a bold declaration after her sister in law Orpah leaves saying to Naomi,
“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
Ruth returned to Bethlehem as a Moabitess. She faced the possibility of being rejected and ostracized in a culture where she is not of the same heritage in Israel. Ruth takes this risk to lay hold to her loyalty to her family and God no matter the outcome as she goes alongside Naomi—who has lost all provision and security. What we can take away from Ruth’s example in this first chapter is the willingness to forsake all else as we follow God. Today it is common that we may have to renounce titles, friendships, status, position etc as we pursue a dynamic relationship with God. We are called to live differently and that is not without sacrifice. What may God be calling you to renounce as we die to self and commit our lives to knowing Him more deeply and allowing Him to love us fully?

The Passover

exodus 12 13

I had touched very briefly yesterday on the plague of the firstborn and the passover ceremony which spared the lives of those who followed God.  Let’s look at that a bit more today.

 

To prepare the Israelites for the passover they were to have each family take a lamb and slaughter it at twilight and take some of the  blood and put it on the doorframes of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb that night with bitter herbs. They were to also take care of the lamp for a week before they slaughtered it.  This would not be an easy thing to do and the meal would not taste good. This was meant to show the pain and sorrow that sin causes and the blood that is required to wash away sin.

 

Slaughtering the lamb in Egypt would also have taken a lot of faith.  Animals were of great value back then, which is why so many of the Egyptians worshiped them, and most likely many of the Israelites did as well.   Animals were of even greater value as well because of all the plagues that had just wiped out the animals in Egypt. Earlier we had seen that they could not do any sacrifices in the land of Egypt because the Egyptians detested it.  Now they are doing just that. In order to do this the Israelites are sacrificing their material wealth, as well as turning their backs on the Egyptian gods. If they were not able to let go of the wealth or culture then they would have faced the judgment.  He goes on to say,

 

Exodus 12:12-14

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

The plague of the firstborn was to be the final blow to the Egyptian culture/gods, and with it God is also implementing a lasting holy day in their culture by which they will remember what God has done for them for all generations, and the seder passover dinner is practiced around the world to this day.  The problem with the Israelites in Egypt was that they forgot what God had promised them. God was not going to let them forget again so easily.

 

In the Old Testament there were many festivals and holy days and cultural things that God implemented in the Israelites in order to remind them of his work and power in their past.  Even with these they often forgot and wandered away from God. After Jesus we do not live under these laws and we do not have to follow these feasts and rituals, but we still need to make a permanent change in our lives every time that God acts in our lives.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. The passover ceremony was designed to make people ask why they would do such a thing so that the Israelites could tell people the story of the Exodus. Similarly our stories of how God has changed our lives are our most powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.

-Chris Mattison

A Lasting Legacy

hebrews 11 4

One of the verses in the Bible that I love is in Hebrews 11 where Abel is mentioned. Genesis 4 mentions that he was born to Adam and Eve, gave his best as an offering to God, and was killed by his brother Cain. This seems like a tragic story but Abel is mentioned in Hebrews 11. This chapter is known as the faith chapter and the first person mentioned was Abel. Hebrews says, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4)

So many of us want to have a lasting influence. Some think education, work, family, sports, or any number of things we achieve will have a lasting impact. Matt.6 tells us to store up treasures with God and this will keep our heart devoted to him. The very little we know about Abel is important because the sacrifice he gave had eternal value. I once asked a 94 yr. old preacher from our area what advice he would give to our youth group. Preacher Ferrell said do one thing a day that has eternal value. What a challenge from a man who is still speaking to us through that challenge even though he is now gone.

Do you want to have a lasting legacy? We can start by accepting Jesus as our Savior and giving whatever is our best to him. What would Abel’s “fatty portions” be equivalent to in our lives. Is it your time, money or abilities. Give those in the service to God and our lives will speak even after we are gone.

-Joseph Partain

Where Do You Worship – Part 2

 

 

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In Romans 12:1 we are told to sacrifice our bodies, a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable (or true and proper) “service”. Service is also translated correctly worship. So, a Sunday Service is a time of worship. However, in verse 2 Paul tells us how to do the sacrifice.

romans 12 2 satisfy font

When we change our minds to obey God, leaving worldly things and performing God’s will, it’s worship. So, the place of worship is in our own bodies. Many people have been misled into believing that you must be in a particular place to worship. It’s better said you must be in a particular frame of mind to worship.

-Larry Rankin

 

Where Do You Worship?

WORSHIP

I have been asked many times during my trips if we have to worship in the chapel. Or, which chapel is the right place to worship. The word they use in the Philippines came from the Spanish priests. “Simbahan”. “Simba” means worship and “han” means place. So naturally they assume the building is the place to worship. Read Genesis 22:1-12 and notice in many translations verse 5 says Abraham worshipped on Mount Moriah.

EVERYWHERE (1)

And what did he do there? Sacrifice. This makes us think of sacrifice as worship. In fact what we sacrifice for God is our worship to him. It’s that we should worship God as we love God. With all of our being and available resources.

-Larry Rankin

 

SACRIFICE