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To Live Is Christ

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. - Philippians 1:21

God says life is short. The bible is replete with descriptions of its brevity. James calls it “a mist.” In the Psalms life is described as “a mere breath”, “a passing shadow”, and “like a flower of the field”.

You will die. You don’t know when. In Ecclesiastes 9:11 God says, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” With each day that passes, you’re one day closer to leaving this earth. Jesus will return. Judgement is inevitable. No one knows when Jesus will return—God does not give is that insight. Paul tells the Thessalonians it will be “Like a thief in the night.”

Knowing these simple truths, how are you going to live your life? It’s a profound question. Step one is obeying His gospel (good news). If you’ve entered that new covenant with Him, the next question is critical—how is living for Christ reflected in your life on this earth? Here are three things to consider as you do your self-examination:

  1. What you do is as important as what you don’t do—in James 4:17 it says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Don’t turn your back on doing good—for you that is sin.
  2. Life balance only comes with a Godly foundation—too many people try to balance God along with every other part of their life. God is a priority for them, but not the priority. The difference is important and transformational. God needs to be your foundation—everything you do needs to rest on that foundation. Nothing comes ahead of serving God. Make sure you can make that statement.
  3. Rest on His grace—You will try. You will fail. You will repent. You will try. You will fail. You will repent. All along the way you will strive to do His will and bless those around you. God will be glorified. And you’ll be deeply grateful for the grace of God that gives you eternal life even though you don’t deserve it. Read Romans five if you want a reminder of the power found in God’s grace.

Paul tells the Colossians, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Life is short. Don’t waste it. Make sure everything you do is tempered by the knowledge of your risen savior.

Paul gave us his “life-lived” blueprint when he told the Philippians, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

May God bless you as you live for Christ.

Chris Bethell - October 10, 2017

Always Knocking

Friday, August 25, 2017

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and him with Me.  – Revelation 3:20

One of my favorite parts of having a party is when people start to arrive. I get super-antsy, looking out the windows or sticking my head out the door, because I know that my friends are on the way and good times are just around the corner. This verse in Revelation captures that feeling perfectly.

Jesus tells the church in Laodicea that he is knocking at the door.  Remember the church in Laodicea?  It’s the “throw-up” church, the unpalatable, lukewarm church, neither hot nor cold.  Jesus warns them to “be zealous and repent”, because they thought that they were doing great, that they didn’t need anything, and in so thinking, forgot the one thing that they needed above all else.  Jesus tells this “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” church to get it together, to be zealous, and to repent.  And in the very next verse, Jesus tells them that He is standing at the door and knocking.

In spite of our wretchedness, in spite of our blindness, in spite of our unpalatableness, Jesus never stops knocking.  He never gives us up as too wretched, too blind, too unpalatable to open the door for Him.  His grace is endless.  His love is eternal.  His mercy is ceaseless. 

Daniel Stauss - August 25, 2017

Shining like stars

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. – Daniel 12:3

I don’t think I was worth bothering with, back when I first met the man who turned me to righteousness.  Let me back up.  I don’t think I was worth bothering with, back when I first met the daughter of the man who turned me to righteousness.  I liked a girl, and she was different than any other girl I’d liked before.  She didn’t really talk much like the other girls I’d liked before, and she didn’t really carry herself much like them, either.  There was something peculiar about her.  But I liked her, so I talked to her.  The amazing part, to me, is that she talked back to me. 

The peculiar thing about this girl kept picking at me, though.  There was enough different about her that made me ask the question, even though, at first, I tended to scoff at the answer.  But I liked her, so I kept talking to her.  Not that there was much on my end that she should want to bother with, back when I first met this girl.  But she did bother with me. 

And so we talked, and she put up with my scoffing and my rude comments, until one day she somehow convinced me to come along with her on a Sunday night and see.  Just check it out and see. 

And when I turned up again on a Sunday morning, and then another time, her dad made plans with me to sit down and talk about life, and about hope, and about a promise.  Not that there was much in me worth bothering with at the time.  That didn’t seem to matter much to him, for some reason.  And so we talked.  Just open the book and take a look, see what it has to say. 

That’s what I think about when I read Daniel 12:3. I think about that girl and the man who turned me to righteousness, and the man who turned him to righteousness, and the man who turned that man…and even though those men have all gone on, I can’t help but think of them all shining as stars, forever and ever.

Daniel Stauss - May 30, 2017

Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

I read this by accident as the “Verse of the Day”, and now it’s all I can think about.  Our God who created and sustains us, who set the stars in the sky and who ordered light from dark, land from sea and spirit from body…He is in our midst.  How can I not think about that? 

Do we stop and consider that our God, our Father in Heaven, rejoices over us?  That the Lord our God exults over us with singing?  Loud singing? Over us, who are but a brief wisp of vapor against the surging tide of history and of creation?  What an unbelievable notion, that “I AM” should find joy and gladness in me, with my sinus headaches and my inattentiveness and my shortsightedness…

But then I read on in Zephaniah, and His love overpowers my doubts and fears.  His love calms my worries and my anxious soul.  His love quiets my racing mind so that I can stop and remember.  I can remember what astounding love He showed me when, in my sin and in my rebellion, He sent His only begotten Son into the world, not that the world through Him should be condemned, but that the world through Him should be saved.  That’s a love that will silence any self-criticism, a love that will bear all things, a love that will never, ever fail.

Our God is in our midst, He is among us when we come together to praise and magnify His holy name.  Our God is in our midst, He is right there with us when we lift our voices in song and when we bow our heads in prayer.  Our God is in our midst.  He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.  Let us never forget to glorify our God, for He is in our midst.

-Daniel Stauss  May 16, 2017

For Example

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Pro basketball player Charles Barkley did a Nike commercial once where he looks straight into the camera and says, “I am not a role model.”  It’s a jarring image, seeing a successful athlete, admired by kids across the country for his hard-nosed basketball skills, rejecting the cultural role American athletes typically find thrust upon them.

For the Christian, the words “I am not a role model” should not be part of our vocabulary.  We understand that we are, as Jesus tells us, the light of the world and the salt of the earth.  We have the job of role model thrust upon us by Christ Himself, and we have a responsibility to Him to be the best role model we can be.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages the church, saying, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Philippians 3:17 (NKJV). What’s interesting in this verse is that Paul isn’t singling himself out.  Rather, he calls on the Philippians to “note those who so walk” amongst themselves, and to follow their example.

I was thinking about this verse in context of the church God gave us, the body we are part of.  God established His church out of many parts, with many different people of many different skills and talents and abilities.  He gave us this church so that we “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (NKJV).

Now consider that in context of noting those who so walk.  Every joint in the body supplies something to the growth of the body as a whole.  Every one of us brings something different to the table.  Some of us have a heart for prayer, and can speak to God with an ease and an eloquence that touches all who hear it.  Some of us have a mind to serve, and are always on the lookout for the chance to do good to those who need it most.  Some of us have a zeal for evangelism, and are ready in and out of season to share the good news of Christ Jesus with those they meet.  There are countless other ways in which our brothers and sisters walk the walk and talk the talk, each in their way and each helping us all to edify one another in love.

The point is, as we seek to grow as individuals in wisdom and understanding, we are to seek out those among us who are living exemplary lives under Christ and to note how they walk, so that we can follow their example.  God has richly blessed us, in that we are surrounded by role models on all sides.  Let us note their example, let us reach out and thank them for the example that they set, and let us learn from each other as we all do our share to grow in all things into our head, Jesus Christ, in love and joy.

-Daniel Stauss  May 4, 2017

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