Paul told the Colossians, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).
There is a reason we are called to live as Christ lived. Because the world will look at our lives, at the way we live, at the things we say and do, and reflect those images onto Jesus. They will see him as they see us. Nothing brings greater disgrace to the cause of Christ than people who claim to know him but live in anger and judgment and arrogance. People who live in sin and hypocrisy within the church.
And the reverse is also true. Nothing brings greater honor to Christ than people who exude a lifestyle of love and compassion and kindness. People who see others as Jesus sees them and treat other people the way that Jesus would treat them. People who live as Christ would live.
Every day you and I have to make that choice. It is already a given that our actions will reflect on Jesus, but what we reflect is a decision we have to make. A decision we make day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Will we choose to live in grace and kindness and mercy? Will we choose forgiveness over retaliation? Or will we live in bitterness and hypocrisy?
What we decide makes all the difference in how the world reacts to God’s message of hope and salvation. We can be sure the world is watching — so choose wisely!
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
When you kneel at the cross, you will not hear an easy, soft word — not at first. Even though the cross is the only door to life, you are going to hear about death — death to every sin.
At the cross, you face the crisis of your life and that is what is missing in so many churches today. The preaching of the cross brings about a crisis of sin, of self-will. It will speak to you with loving but firm words about the consequences of continuing in your sin: “Deny yourself. Embrace the death of the cross. Follow me!”
Repentance means more than saying, “Lord, I am wrong.” It also means saying, “Lord, you are right!” It is a place of recognition where you admit, “I cannot continue in my sin and have the Holy Ghost living in me. Lord, you are right about sin bringing death upon me and I realize that if I continue in it, it’s going to destroy my family and me.”
The glorious truth of the gospel is that if we die with Jesus, then we also come into the glory of his resurrection and into newness of life. His cross is our cross, his death is our death, and his resurrection is our resurrection, through our identification and union with him. That is the real cross we bear. Yet, this is the cross that many so-called ministers of the gospel have done away with. The real cross is not about lovely words describing our Savior’s suffering and bleeding on Calvary. No, the true meaning of the cross is that Jesus bled and died to bring our sin-sick souls into glorious liberty and freedom — to break every chain of sin that binds us.
Jesus comes to us and says, “Take my hand and follow me — into my death, my burial, my resurrection. Look at the cross and embrace it. Cling to my victory!” Thank God, you can have Jesus’ victory and power in your life!
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
This is a great promise of victory over all sin. You cannot produce this victory yourself. You cannot cleanse your own hands or purify your own heart. James is saying, “If you want clean hands and a pure heart — if you want victory over guilt, temptation and every evil pursuer coming against you — you must draw near to God and believe that he is near you.
It all hinges on this! Simply draw near to God and believe that he is near you. If you do this, he will take care of all the enemies in your flesh.
You may ask, “Well, how do I draw near to God?” The answer is a simple, childlike thing. Simply go to the Lord and talk to him — anytime, anywhere, all day long. On the way to work, on the job, everywhere. Talk to him and draw near in full assurance of faith.
A great evangelist, the late Kathryn Kuhlman, used to work seventeen hours a day. I often wondered, “When does she ever have time to shut herself up in her secret closet and pray?” Then I realized that she always seemed to be muttering to herself. She was praying! She prayed as she drove her car, as she rode in elevators, everywhere she went.
One day she told me, “David, the Bible says to pray without ceasing. I talk to the Lord all day because he’s just as real to me as you are. We’re friends.”
Dear saint, God is always there for you, as well. I believe in secret-closet praying, but your secret closet can be anywhere you shut yourself in with him.
Talk to God — practice his nearness — and he will do great things for you. You will know the grip of his hand at all times. Hallelujah!
“Those who follow after wickedness approach; they are far from Your law. You are near, O Lord, and all Your commandments are truth” (Psalm 119:150-151, AMP).
There is a glorious truth in this passage that can change your life, bringing you peace and giving you rest beyond anything you have yet experienced. You see, once you understand the truth of God’s constant nearness to you — that he loves you and is continually near you —all fear and anxiety must go!
In this text, David sees the wicked coming closer and closer in an attempt to ruin and destroy him. He is saying, “Vile, corrupt, plotting sinners are out to totally destroy me and they are gaining on me. They’re all around me and their power is mounting.”
We all have such an enemy — the enemy of our souls, the devil. He has always had only one purpose: to destroy God’s work and seduce and discourage his people.
Satan will not be satisfied until he sees the total ruin and downfall of every godly ministry, church and true lover of Jesus. Satan’s demonic spirits are not just imps who go around making life miserable. No, Satan’s purpose is much more serious than that. He is bent on the total destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ. His one goal is to cut us down and leave nothing more than a memory.
The devil was blatant in this purpose, even with Jesus. He took boldly wicked steps in tempting the Son of God. Satan will try everything in his power to destroy all that is righteous and holy. And he never stops! There is always a design out of hell.
What you may be going through is common to multitudes. How good to know that God is more prepared to keep his promises to you than the devil is to ruin you. Indeed, the nearer the enemy comes, the closer the Lord remains!
“[The Lord] brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).
What wonderful, reassuring words. The Father delights in us! In David’s case, he had just been through a terrible time of testing. Saul had put a bounty on his head and David was running for his life. But God came roaring in to rescue him and David could say, “The reason God delivered me from all my enemies is because I am precious to him. My God delights in me!”
These thoughts are echoed throughout the Word: “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11). And again, “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people” (149:4).
I can try to convince you of God’s delight in you by telling you, “You are precious to the Lord!” You may think, “Well, that’s a lovely thought. How sweet.” But this truth is more than a lovely thought. It is the very key to your deliverance from every battle that rages in your soul, the secret to entering into the rest God has promised you. And until you lay hold of it and it becomes a foundational truth in your heart, you will not be able to withstand what is ahead in this wicked time.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned” (Isaiah 43:1-2).
Right now, you may be passing through deep waters and you fear you may be destroyed. But understand from his Word that God does not always calm the waters or keep the floods from coming. And he doesn’t always put out the fires. But he does promise that he will walk with you through it all.