Truth for Today

APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES 

Grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ. 
~ EPHESIANS 4:15

Spiritual growth is simply a matter of applying scriptural principles, but there are many who believe only spiritual giants experience a great increase in faith.

I have read about mystics who knelt and prayed for eight to ten hours, wearing holes in the wood floors. I have read about Robert Murray McCheyne, who would soil the pages of his Bible and the wood of his pulpit with great floods of tears. And I have read Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, who spent countless hours in prayer. As I learned about these people, all I could think of was that I could never reach that level. But God uses each of us in different ways.

Spiritual growth is not some mystical achievement for a select few on a higher spiritual plane. Rather, it is simply a matter of glorifying God by confessing sin, trusting Him, bearing fruit, praising Him, obeying and proclaiming His Word, praying, and leading others to Christ. Those are the qualities every Christian needs in order to mature. When you focus on them, the Spirit of God will change you into the image of Christ, from one level of glory to the next.

Truth for Today

THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
~ PSALM 51:10

True confession cannot happen without repentance. Many times we don’t confess our sin because we’re not ready to let go of it. When I was a young Christian, I remember telling the Lord that I was sorry about particular sins I had committed and then thanked Him for already forgiving them. But that was all I did.

I reached a milestone in my spiritual life when I began to say, “Lord, thank You for forgiving those sins. I know they did not please You, and I never want to do them again.” That can be hard to say because sometimes we want to commit certain sins again. But we betray a lack of spiritual maturity when we want to eliminate the penalty of sin but retain the pleasure. For your confession to be genuine, you must turn from your sins.

Truth for Today

RESPONDING TO GOD’S GLORY 

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
~ 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18

As we glorify God, we begin to grow. Because of the great truths revealed in the New Testament, believers can now view God’s glory more clearly than those under the law could. As we do, we grow spiritually, moving from one level of glory to the next.

At the end of today’s verse, notice that Paul says the Holy Spirit is the one who energizes our growth. The Holy Spirit infuses our lives with His power, taking us through levels of glory toward the image of Christ. 

Don’t become preoccupied with the intricacies of the Holy Spirit’s work or with the details of your own activity. Make sure you focus primarily on the glory of the Lord.

Truth for Today

IS ANYONE LISTENING? 

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
~ 2 CORINTHIANS 12:15

There have been times in my ministry as a pastor that I’ve wondered if anyone is listening to what I’m teaching. Do people really appreciate me or the teaching of the Word? It’s easy to fall into that kind of woe-is-me complex. 

Maybe you’ve felt the same way in your ministry. If so, you must remember that as long as you look at the ministry you’re in as something you give, you will never have that problem. But if you look at the ministry as something you get, you will end up with a twisted view of what real ministry is.

If you’re ever tempted to view your ministry with a selfish attitude, adopt the attitude Paul exhibited in today’s verse. Even if the people hated him, he would still love them. The main characteristic of love is unselfish giving.

Truth For Today

Run in such a way that you might win.
~ 1 CORINTHIANS 9:24
 

Because I was athletic as a boy, I played on many different teams in various sports programs. I remember many boys with little or no athletic ability who would try out for these teams. Every once in a while, a coach would feel sorry for such a boy and place him on the team in spite of his performance. He would give the boy a uniform to make him feel that he was a part of the team even though he would never let the boy play in a game.

Fortunately, the opposite is true in the Christian life. The Lord doesn’t place us on the team just so we can sit on the bench. He intends to send us into the game. It is His grace that calls us to salvation, and it is His will that sends us into the world to witness for Him.

We are all like the boy who had no ability. God graciously puts us on the team, not because of our own ability, but purely by His sovereign grace. And He gives us the ability to play the game. So get in the game and give thanks for the holy privilege of serving Jesus Christ.

Truth for Today


A FEW WORDS

Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
~ 2 PETER 1:2 1

Only 297 words are required to sum up in English all of God’s moral law in the Ten Commandments. God distilled it even more when He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37–39). Only sixty-five words make up the definitive teaching on prayer—the Lord’s Prayer—in Matthew 6:9–13.

Man doesn’t have that capacity for essential brevity. There once was a governmental study to regulate the price of cabbage that ran over twenty-six thousand words! 

Thank God for the provision of His profound Word.

Truth for Today

A SLAVE FOR CHRIST 

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ.
~ 1 CORINTHIANS 4:1
 

The apostle Paul was a “servant” of Christ. It was a role he chose out of love, not fear.

There were perhaps millions of slaves in the Roman Empire. For the most part, they were treated not as persons but as objects. If a master wanted to kill a slave, he could do so without fear of punishment. Though it was a negative term to the Romans, the word slave meant dignity, honor, and respect to the Hebrews, and the Greeks considered it a term of humility. As a servant of Christ, then, Paul paradoxically finds himself both exalted and debased. This is the ambivalence every representative of Jesus Christ must face.

When I think of the honor I’ve been given to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am sometimes overwhelmed. There is no higher calling in life than to proclaim the gospel from the pulpit and to be able to teach the Word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet there is also a paradox that requires a minister of Christ to realize he does not deserve to minister. He must have the proper perspective of being an unworthy slave who has the incomprehensible privilege of proclaiming the gospel.