Thursday, November 27, 2014

New resource - Grace

I've added a new resource to the Resource tab on my blog: Grace. Grace is not a blue-eyed blond, but what is it and, more importantly, how do we grow in it? In this teaching we will look at the benefits of grace, how if differs from the law, and how we might grow in it. We will also look at the connection between grace and giftedness.

David Robison

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

From temptation to death - James 1:12-16

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (James 1:12-16)
There are trials that come upon us to test the genuineness and quality of our faith. These trials are represented by seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the promises of God in our life. Joseph, through a dream, had received a promise from God. "Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.." (Genesis 37:6-7) However, after relating this dream to his brothers, his life took a nasty turn. He was sold into slavery and, for the next several years, no one bowed down to him, especially not his brothers. For years he served as a slave and even as a prisoner; his circumstances mocking him and his promise from God. The psalmist relates that, "He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him." (Psalm 105:17-19) The Word of the Lord tested him in the midst of his trials to see if his faith was genuine or only opportunistic. In the end, his faith won out and he was elevated to governor of Egypt and saved his entire family, and the known world, from famine. Such trials and tribulations we are call to endure and bear up under for they are for our good and for the purification of our faith. Those who endure such trials are promised the crown of life in the age to come.

However, there is another form of trial, one that proceeds from within. Rather than being a trail of our faith it is a trial that is brought about by the raging of our flesh in its lusts and desires. This trial is the struggle between or flesh and spirit and is a struggle that we must overcome. This trial is not to be endured but to be conquered. Is is as God said to Cain, "And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)

Jesus said of Himself in relation to the Devil, "the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (John 14:30) However, when the "ruler of the world" comes for us, he often finds plenty in our lives to tempt us with. Our lusts, desires, and the impurity of our flesh provide him many opportunities to snare us and to lure us away from our continuance and love for God. James is very clear that such temptation does not originate with God nor even with the Devil, but originates with us. If we had nothing in us by which the Devil could tempt us then there would be no temptation. However, it is the residual lust and desires that provide opportunity for temptation; opportunities that we must over come.

The key to overcoming such temptation is to understand that sin is a process in our lives. No act of sin happens accidentally but is the result of a process that started, festered, and bore fruit in our lives. The process begins with our lust which is enticed by temptation, Temptation is yielded to and sin is born. As we continue to yield to sin, sin works its work on our lives sowing death and destruction to us and those around us. When sin has run its course, it leaves behind only death; spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational, and physical death.

The secret to overcoming sin in our lives is learning to "unwind" the process. We start by repenting of present and habitual sin in our lives, Next we learn to repent earlier and earlier of our sin so that it has less time to work its destructing work. We then learn how to spot temptation before it overcomes us. having spotted it early we are in a better place to overcome it and to resist its pull on our lives. Finally, we learn how to sanctify our souls to rid ourselves of our impure lusts and impulses. For where there is no lust there can be no temptation. With each step in the process we spend less time in sin and temptation until our mastery over it is complete. Such a process is not easy, but its rewards are eternal.

David Robison

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The lowly and the exalted - James 1:9-11

"But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away." (James 1:9-11)
In speaking of the humble, James is not referring to those who are humble in the attitudes or spirit but rather those who are of low estate in life; those who have been oppressed and humiliated by their station and circumstances of life. However, even in their low degree, they can still find reason to glory.

In the early church, the Christian gospel did more to unify men and women of all stations of life than any other religion past or present. During their gatherings, and in their Love Feasts, slaves and masters, rich and paupers, fellowshiped together around a common table rejoicing in their common salvation and their common hope of eternal life. They were no longer divided along class distinctions, nor along economic lines, rather they were all one in unison in the Body of Christ.

For the lowly, they were elevated to a place of importance; importance with God and with their brothers and sisters. They were given precious gifts that the world could not receive and they partook of a table of blessing reserved only for the children of God. Their lives were lifted from the ordinary to being kings and priests before God. Though they were poor in this life, and in what the world had to offer, God gave them consolation, benefits far beyond what the world could offer. Later, James will remind us, "did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5) The poor may be poor in this life, yet he is the inheriter of eternal riches both now and in the age to come.

For the exalted, James reminds them not to exalt in their present circumstances. This world is fading away along with their riches and pursuits. Those who glory in this life are glorying in that which is already condemned and is passing away. Paul reminds us that, "those who use the world, [should be] as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:31) There is a deception that overtakes those who are exalted in this life. "Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names. But man in his pomp will not endure; he is like the beasts that perish." (Psalm 49:11-12) The exalted man should glory that he has been delivered from this deception; that he has inherited a new life that does not consist of the things of this world. His glory is not that he has been made low but rather that he has been freed from being high. He is lo longer the slave of his position and possessions. He is now free to pursue a life of holiness, temperance, and generosity. He is no longer the prisoner of his wealth but its master. Finally, in his "humiliation" he is brought into relationship with other believers great and small; he has become part of a family that loves one another and is loved by their Father in heaven. What wealth could not provide him, he has found in the gospel.

The gospel should be that which unites us regardless of our standing in life. The gospel unifies us as one body, one family, and one nation before God. Paul tells us, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:27-29) Let us learn to live united before God.

David Robison

Monday, November 24, 2014

The double minded man - James 1:5-8

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8)
To reproach, at least here in the Greek, means to upbraid or to "dress down." It is to rebuke or to chide one for their wrong doings or their lack in some area of their life. There were those whom Jesus did upbraid. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not." (Matt 11:20 KJV) And He even upbraided his disciples for their unbelief and lack of faith. "Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen." (Mark 16:14) However, here, James makes us a promise that, if we engage in this one specific act, God will in no way upbraid or rebuke us for our actions. That action is asking!

When King David had sinned with Bathsheba, God rebuked David through His prophet saying, "It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!" (2 Samuel 12:7-8) We all have lack in our lives and, sometimes, we are ashamed of our lack and afraid to approach God thinking He will judge us for our lack, but God already knows what we need and He is ever standing ready to fill up what we lack. David's sin came because he tried to secure what he wanted in his own strength rather than coming to God and asking of Him what he wanted and needed. If David had too little, God was ready to give him more, if he would have but just asked.

Why is it that, when we are in need, the last place we turn for help is the one person who can actually help us in our need? If we would but turn to God we would realize that He is not waiting there to criticize us but rather to congratulate us for our faith and trust in Him? Throughout the life of Jesus we read stories where Jesus congratulates those who came to Him in need and in faith. "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22) Let us put aside our fear and come to Jesus for what we lack. "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

When James speaks of doubting and the double minded man it always bothered me, because sometimes my faith is not as strong as it should be. However, here James is speaking of the doubt of a double minded man. This doubt comes not from weakness of faith but from weakness of heart. Later, James will command the double minded, "purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:8) The problem is not weak faith but impure hearts. James is speaking of those who have duplicity in their hearts, who vacillate between faith and unbelief, between dependence on God and dependence on self. They are like the Israelites whom Elijah rebuked saying, "'How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.' But the people did not answer him a word." (1 Kings 18:21) They are like the Samaritans who, "feared the Lord and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile." (2 Kings 17:33)

The double minded man, the one who has two spirits within him, lives an unstable life; now trusting in the Lord, now trusting in himself. Such a person is at the mercy of circumstances and the forces that rage around him and that make war within him. His double mindedness undermines all he attempts and brings forth only failure in his life. Such a man is not the kind of man God is looking for. God is looking for those who are either "in or out," those who are either "with Him or without Him." The double minded man finds no pleasure with God. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Revelations 3:15-16) It is time to stop vacillating between opinions; either God is God or He is not; either we are with Him or we are not! Now is the time for decision, now is the time for choosing. Let us abandon everything else and give our lives whole heartedly to the Lord and to His mercy and grace.

David Robison

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New commentary - Jude

Having just finished a series on Jude, I've collected all the posts, edited them, and formatted them for easy downloading. You can find it on the Commentary tab on my blog.

David Robison

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The path to perfection - James 1:2-4

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)
Finding joy in our trials is usually not our first thought when we first encounter them. Trials, by their very nature, are not fun and often fraught with difficulty and danger. One who fails at a trial can suffer harm and loss through the process. Even one who successes in them is not immune to the pain and suffering they experience along the journey. However, the very thing we find difficult to summons is the very thing that will strengthen and sustain us through the journey. It was said of Jesus that, "for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) That joy was our redemption and it was His joy in seeing our redemption which enabled Him to endured the cross and the shame. It was for the joy of seeing us brought into the Kingdom that Jesus endured His trials and sufferings.

The reason joy in trials can be so elusive is because we often fail to see the ultimate purpose and good of the trials. Jesus saw clearly the purpose of His suffering and that purpose gave Him joy in the midst of great pain. For us, our trials are meant to produce something with in us; first patience, then endurance, and finally perfection. Often the path to achieve the very things we desire in our lives passes through times of trials and tribulations, but if we understand that they are there not to derail us but to produce in us the things we truly desire, then we can find joy even in their midst. We can have joy in the midst of difficult times because we know what they are working in our lives and that our suffering is not in vain. Our suffering produces within us the very nature and character of God.

When James refers to trials he is not speaking of random painful events that enter our lives. Rather he is speaking of opportunities to test the genuineness of our faith. It is an opportunity to either choose according to our faith or according to our fears, impulses, and unbelief. These trials allow us to see the true quality of our faith and the degree to which our faith in God is merely mental or truly integrated into our lives. For Abraham and Sarah, such a testing came upon them after God had promised them a son. Years of waiting had provided an opportunity for their faith to be tested. Did they really trust God and His promise or did they trust their own wisdom and strength? In the end, their faith faltered. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." (Genesis 16:2) However, failing at a test is not disqualification with God, rather it is merely meant to show to us the strength, or weakness, of our faith and the areas of our lives that we must strengthen so that next time, when faced with a similar test or trial, we will be successful rather than fail. Failing a test is a call back to God that we might continue to grow and to shore up the areas of our lives that are weak.

Like Abraham and Sarah, when faced with prolonged trials, we look for shortcuts or ways to exit prematurely, rather than submitting to the trial and trusting God for our eventual deliverance from its grips. God has already promised us, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) We may feel that we have hit our breaking point, but our faith in God ought to reassure us that, if we are still suffering, then we are still able to endure it and that God still has a way out for us. Exiting trials prematurely will only serve to rob us of the good God is working in our lives and will necessitate future trials to work into us what God intended for us in our present trials. However, such endurance requires patience, yet not a passive patience, but a joyful, hopeful, confident expectation of good. Often in our Christian lives faith alone is insufficient, we also need patience. "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Hebrews 6:11-12)

In the end, the goal is perfection; to be perfect and whole in every area of our lives. Some areas of our lives may only require mild affliction to perfect while others may require more strident trials. However, the end is desirable and for our own good. If there were any other way, God would avail us to such milder means. However, things of great value often come only at a great price. Jesus once prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39) Trials, difficulties, and suffering are inevitable, but if we can see their purpose, see the joy set before us, then we will be able to embrace them and endure them as Jesus did and we too will reap their benefits in our lives.

David Robison

Friday, November 21, 2014

James the just - James 1:1

"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings." (James 1:1)
Today we begin a new study of the book of James.

James was not an apostle, at least not one of the original twelve apostles, nor is he to be confused with James the brother of Zebedee or James the son of Alphaeus who were both apostles. Rather, he was the brother of Jesus our Christ. It was said of Jesus by an indignant crowd, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matthew 13:55-56) We also know that before Jesus' resurrection, James, along with the rest of Jesus' brothers, was an unbeliever. "Therefore His brothers said to Him, 'Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.' For not even His brothers were believing in Him." (John 7:3-5) However, after His resurrection, Jesus personally meat with James and he became a believer. "He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." (1 Corinthians 15:5-8) Finally, as a believer, he became one of the most promenade men in the church at Jerusalem. "and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship." (Galatians 2:9)

In his life, James was know to be a just and holy man; a man of unimpeachable piety. Still he had his enemies among the Romans and unbelieving Jews. In the end he would be martyred for his faith. However, many Jews would later believe the destruction of Jerusalem was the direct judgment of God upon their nation for the murder of such a righteous and just man. Eusebius wrote of James and the destruction of Jerusalem, "James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for no other reason than their daring act against him. Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, 'These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.'" (The Church History of Eusebius, Book 2 Chapter 23 verses 19-20) If the destruction of Jerusalem was due to divine punishment, I would have assumed it was for the death of Jesus, but the fact that many Jews felt it was do to the murder of James shows how many of them held him in high regard for his holiness and exceptional piety.

The letter of James is believed to be one of the earliest written productions of the early church, possibly even earlier than Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. What is interesting is that James expressly addresses it to the Jews who were living scattered throughout the world. James represents the Jewish Christian church of his day that had yet to really reach out to the gentiles. When the argument over circumcision broke out, James stood up to resolve the conflict and a separation of work was determined as Paul later related, "But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." (Galatians 2:7-9) It would eventually take the destruction of Jerusalem for the Jerusalem church to journey "even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) That being said, there is nothing particular of James letter that applies only to Jewish believers but rather provides wisdom, comfort, and instruction for all believers, both Jews and Gentiles.

I hope this study will be a blessing to you.

David Robison

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have mercy on some - Jude 22-25

"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 22-25)
One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to treat all people and situations the same. There is a great difference between people who believe wrong and those who teach wrong. Just because someone may have an in correct view of Jesus, the Trinity, and the church does not make them a false teacher. Just because someone has a different eschatology does not make them a false prophet. There will always be those in our midst, and even in our churches, that hold what we might conciser to be "new age" beliefs, but this does not make them heretics or believers in daemons. There are those whose teaching and agenda we should oppose, especially when pushed forward within the church, but there are others whom we ought to have mercy and compassion on, even while they hold incorrect views and ideas in their heads.

This verse has proven difficult to translate. Here is how Darby translates this verse. "And of some have compassion, making a difference, but others save with fear, snatching [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (Jude 22-23 Darby) Jude tells us to "make a difference," or to make a distinction between individuals, as each situation and person warrants. False prophets and false teachers we ought to oppose, but others, who may simply be wrong, deserve a more merciful response.

Jude distinguishes between two types of error: what a person believes and what a person does. On those who "are doubting," as some translate this verse, we are to have mercy. A doubting person, or a person who entertains incorrect ideas and thoughts, does not need our judgment, but rather our prayers and our instruction; our prayers that God would enlighten their hearts and our instruction that they might come to a more correct knowledge and understanding of God. As Paul was teaching the Philippians, he understood that there might be those who disagreed with him, yet he was not alarmed nor critical of them, rather he stated, "Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you." (Philippians 3:15) Paul was not threatened by believers that disagreed with him, trusting that God would reveal even that to them. Also, there will always be people who need our instruction. For example, there was a mighty preacher, Apollos, who taught the Gospel but only from an incomplete knowledge of it. When Aquila and Priscilla met him, they did not condemn him, rather they took him aside and taught him. "But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (Acts 18:26)

For those who believe right yet behave wrong, Jude also counsels us to have mercy on them. However, Jude makes a distinction between the sin, and the stain of sin, and the actual person. We are to hate the sin and everything associated with it, yet we are to have mercy on the one sinning and to reach out to them in mercy to snatch them from their sin and from its inevitable judgment. We are to see them as people being consumed by fire, the fire that is the penalty of sin, and to endeavor to spare them, least they burn and be lost forever. Paul commands us, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) Paul writes of those who are "caught" in sin. There are those who willfully choose sin, but there are others who are caught in sin, desiring to be free. On those we ought to have mercy; looking beyond their sin to the person and endeavoring to save them and to snatch them from the fire.

In all this, we must remember that we too might someday be the ones caught in error and sin. We too are fallible and capable of wrong. In that day we too would wish and desire the mercy of others to set us free; that same mercy that we ought to be willing to show to those today who are caught in such lies. However, whether trying to rescue others or wanting someone to rescue us, we must always remember to place our hope and trust is in God. He alone is able to save and protect us and He alone will lead us safely home.

David Robison

Monday, November 17, 2014

New commentary - Philemon

I have compiled my posts on Paul's letter to Philemon and included them on my Commentary tab as a digital download. I hope you enjoy this commentary,

David Robison

Do not participate - Jude 17-21

"But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." (Jude 17-21)
It is inevitable that false prophets and false teachers will arise, especially the more we approach the end of the age. No church is immune from false brethren who "creep in unnoticed;" (Jude 4) enemies of the flock and enemies of our Lord. These are the ones who destroy churches, tearing them apart with their sedition, and dividing Christ by their schisms. Their destructive work is advanced by drawing people after themselves and dividing the brethren one against another.

The solution for a factious man is to not participate with him in his evil schemes. Paul says to "Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned." (Titus 3:10-11) Notice that nether Jude or Paul say that we should fight them, argue with them, or contend against them in any way. Rather we should simply reject them and yield nothing to them in our consideration, action, or speech. To be drawn into their drama is to be become participators with them in their destruction. We must avoid them and their disputes all together leaving them no room for entrance among the true believers of Christ.

Instead, Jude counsels us to continue in those things we ought already be doing; to not be distracted from the course of our holy life by the raging of ungodly men. Specifically, Jude mentions four specific things. First that we build upon or faith. This is not in the sense of building bigger and bigger mussels, but rather like building upon a foundation with layer upon layer of faith. Peter put it this way, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love." (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Secondly, we are to pray in and/or with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes our finite minds lack the words and the wisdom of how best to pray for what we need, but the Spirit give us help. Paul reminds us, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26) While it is important to pray with our minds, there are times we must also pray with the Spirit, as Paul said, "What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." (1 Corinthians 14:15)

Thirdly, we must keep ourselves in the love of God. Its not as if God's love every diminishes for us, but we can, at times, wander away from His love, wandering away from His umbrella of protection and care for our lives. Paul asks, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Romans 8:35) However, there is one person missing from this list, us! These are all external things and, as such, are incapable of separating us from the love of God. However, we do have the power to keep God's love at bay in our lives. If we lack God's love in our lives, it's not God who is at fault, we must look to ourselves. John says, "but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1 John 2:5-6) If we would desire to keep ourselves in the love of God then we ought to obey the word of God in our lives.

Finally, our eyes ought to be set upon Jesus. The idea of waiting anxiously is to be looking forward to. It is not so much about anxiety as a hopeful and confidence looking for and waiting for Him. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:2) Our lives only make since when we view them through the eyes of heaven. All we need, all we desire and hope for, comes from above, not from the Earth. If our hope and logging is of the Earth then we will for ever be disappointed, but is our hope and expectation is from heaven, then we will truly receive the things we need and hope for and we shall never be disappointed again. Our hope is from heaven and those who wait upon the Lord "will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (Isaiah 40:31)

David Robison