Attracting Grace

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." James 4:6 (NASB) You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. 1 Peter 5:5-6 (NASB)

We have not one but two Scriptures in the New Testament to let us know the value of humility and the consequences of pride. I started genuinely asking God to show me how to walk in greater humility. After several weeks I told my husband, “A large part of humility must entail understanding what is none of my business.” I would be going about my day and find myself wondering why a person was doing this or that. For instance a friend was in a financial pinch and yet owned a horse. My internal dialogue was mulling over why in the world they didn’t sell it because surely that wasn’t a priority. They never seemed to do anything with the horse other than feed it. As clear as a bell, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “That’s really none of your business.” It wasn’t. They hadn’t asked me for my great wisdom, and I certainly didn’t have enough information to be forming an opinion on what they should do. My concern was good, but needed to be straightened out. God showed me that pride sits on its perch and judges. Humility gets on its knees and prays. I need to be reminded of this daily. Do you?

Lord, you clothed yourself with humility. You came to serve and to save, not to judge. (John 12:47) Help me to get off pride’s perch and down on my knees. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Carol (North Carolina, USA)

ON BEING HOLY

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Be ye holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16

 

This precept enjoins holiness, and our first business should therefore be to enquire what holiness is. It is plain that the Bible uses the term as synonymous with moral purity; but the question will still return--What is moral purity?

I answer--Moral fitness; that which we see to be morally appropriate; it is in substance, moral propriety; in other words--perfect love; such as God requires. It is sympathy with God and likeness to him;--the state of mind that God has. Holiness in God is not a part of his nature in such a sense that it is not voluntary in him; but it is a voluntary exercise and state of his mind.

The same is true of all beings. Holiness is not a thing of nature as opposed to free action, but must always be a free and a moral thing. It is not possible to any beings but such as are made in the image of God in the sense of being moral agents. They must have free will, and then must voluntarily conform themselves to rectitude. Nothing less or other than a voluntary conformity of themselves to the moral law can be holiness. In them all, holiness is that state of mind which is precisely appropriate to their nature and relations. This state is expressed in one word--love, meaning by this, benevolence--good will to all. When this term is used in its widest sense, it includes all moral duty. Hence this command to be holy requires that we bring ourselves into a moral adjustment to God and our entire moral duty.

Why should we be holy?

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THE SALVATION OF SINNERS IMPOSSIBLE

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"--1 Peter 4:18.

 

I said in a former sermon--that the doctrine of the text is that the salvation of the righteous is difficult and that of the sinner impossible. In that sermon I discussed at length the first part of this subject, showing how and why the salvation of the righteous is difficult. I am now to take up the remaining part and show how and why the salvation of the wicked is impossible.

Here let me premise in general that by the righteous is not meant those who have never sinned. It could not be difficult to save such as had not sinned against God. They are in fact already saved. But these righteous ones are those who having been sinners, now come to exercise faith in Christ and of course become "heirs of that righteousness which is by faith." Vitally important to be considered here is the fact that the governmental difficulty in the way of being saved, growing out of your having sinned, even greatly, is all removed by Christ's atonement. No matter now how great your guilt, if you will only have faith in Jesus and accept of his atonement as the ground of pardon for your sins.

Hence the difficulty in the way of saving sinners is not simply that they have sinned, but that they will not now cease from sinning and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

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All Means All

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:7 (KJV)

Growing up with nine brothers and sisters means accepting certain things or realities that may not exist in a smaller family. If I had a quarter for every time someone said: “give some to your brother”, or “give some to your sister”, I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d have a lot of quarters. The concept of getting “all” of anything is quite foreign to me. In fact, when I first moved out on my own, I bought a pack of cookies, and ate them all, not because I was hungry or even wanted them, but I just wanted to feel what it was like to have “all” of something. 

The concept of "all" extends beyond our carnal lives, and into our spiritual ones. We want “all” of God’s attention when we pray. We want “all” of the blessings that God has for us. Likewise, God wants all of some things from us. In the passage of scripture listed above, God, according to Peter the disciple, wants all of our care. He wants us to place at His feet all of our issues and challenges, and to trust that He will do what’s best for us. Do you trust God with all of your care?

I find it quite interesting that the Bible uses the word "care", and not the plural "cares". We look at our issues as being separate and unique. We struggle with challenge after challenge, and wrestle with many issues. It seems like as soon as we put one down, we decide to go and wrestle with another one. But God does not see them individually, He sees them collectively. To God, whatever it is, it is one care that is weighing heavy on His child. To God, it is not a bunch of things, it is one care that rests on the minds of His children, and (sometimes) keeps them from focusing on the things that He wants us to.

We all need to practice putting things in their proper place. The best place for our “care” is the altar of God. Let us tonight, today, right now, whatever time you are reading this, place your care at the altar of God, and pray that He handles it. 

Heavenly Father, we come today casting our care on You. Lord we place at the altar whatever it is that is keeping us up tonight. We place at Your feet whatever it is that has us concerned today. We place on Your altar the struggles of everyday life, and pray that the God we serve would grant us internal and external peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Alien in a Foreign Land

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits. 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV)

Since my move to the United States I have come to far better understand the Bible references to Christians being “aliens in a foreign land’.

Moving from Canada to the USA, I did not expect to find many differences and thought my transition would be a smooth one. I had justified my thinking after visiting several times before my move and noted that the majority of the things I was accustomed to remained the same, after all “I will still be living in a North American country. How much could really be different?” I would reassure myself.

In my 11 months here I have seen the subtleties that make each country unique from each other. Though the daily routines in life may remain somewhat the same, it’s in the little things you begin to notice the things that are different. To look at me no one would guess that I am foreign to this land, only in the little things you notice; and begin to ponder “There’s something different about her!” As people get to know me, they begin to discover what it is that makes me different. Maybe it’s my slight accent, or a variation in food choice from the average
Missourian etc. 

The same is said about our lives here on earth. In the scripture we find many references to life being temporary. Throughout its pages we read that we are “aliens and strangers” in this world. From a glance at our outward appearance we may look no different, but it’s in the little details that the world takes notice that there is something very different about us. It’s in our inner pursuit to be more like Jesus, and to follow him that the subtleties are found to be not so subtle after all. 

Jesus is the perfect example of how to be an alien in a foreign land. To many he was a teacher. But to those who knew him, they discovered the truth and were changed by it.

As I am learning through my move to Missouri to no longer hide my heritage and simply blend in with the crowd, I am also learning to take the same principles and apply them to my life as a follower of Christ. Embracing the scripture listed above from 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV).

Jesus, I thank you that you are constantly showing us through your word how to live in and among a fallen world. Yet you show us how to be set apart so that your glory might bring light into a dark world and bring them hope. Amen.

What is Your Gift?

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Yes, the above scripture says that God has given us all gifts, yet many of us have a hard time trying to identify which spiritual gift He gave us. If you were to ask someone, what was their gift; the response might be, “I’ve no idea as I don’t appear to be gifted at anything.” This is so far from the truth, and often times it’s others who see our gifts long before we do.

For instance, I realized a long time ago that God gave me the gift of giving. I try to take advantage of every opportunity He puts on my heart, to help others by giving my time, money or whatever is needed, to help those less fortunate. A friend told me recently that I also had the gift of encouragement. She said that I was like a coach who motivates people to believe in themselves and work towards reaching their goals. When I think about it, God has blessed with many gifts; I just didn’t realize it.

What about you? Maybe yours is the gift of hospitality. You graciously welcome visitors into your home by offering food and lodging. Someone else could have the gift of mercy; they show compassion for those who have physical, spiritual or emotional needs and do what they can to help them. Being kind and thoughtful to others is another gift that pleases God.

We don’t have to limit ourselves to one or two gifts; God will gladly give us more, all we have to do is ask and be open to receive them.

Dear heavenly Father, help us to recognize the gifts that You have bestowed upon us, so that we might use these gifts to serve others. Amen.