By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Through Jesus Christ, Christians have the ability to accomplish many feats. Sometimes these achievements are common and admirable, but other times they will be seen as impossible and arduous.
Hebrews 13:15-17 (ESV): Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
No matter the situation, Christians are expected to “continually” offer “sacrifices of praise to God”. When providing a few examples of what these sacrifices may look like, the first is the words we speak. It is tempting to get into debates and arguments over matters we believe we have the advantage, but it that bringing glory to God? When we accomplish something amazing, do we take credit or do we give the credit to God? Even when we are singing praises in His name, are we singing with all our heart, or are we just reciting the word without considering about the meaning? To constantly commit to using our voice to provide glory to God’s name is a sacrifice of praise to God.
Galatians 6:10 (ESV): So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The next two are examples of sacrifices you make for others in the name of Christ. When we find ourselves with the opportunity to help someone in need, we are encouraged to make that sacrifice. We see the consequence of someone unwilling to do so when we look at the parable of the Sheep and Goat. Jesus said how we treat the least among us is how we treat Him (Matthew 25:45). So when someone calls you because they need help moving, think of it as if Jesus were asking for your help. The second example is the sacrifice of “obeying your leaders and submitting to them”. To submit to anyone requires a touch of patience and a lot of humility. You must be humble in your interaction and respect their wishes more than your own. Keep in mind that sacrifices are not easy (that is what makes them sacrifices), but it does not mean that they are impossible. Stay focused on pleasing God and everything else will take care of itself.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Jehovah comforts all Christians whenever they find themselves in a difficult situation. Whether you are dealing with financial, personal, or professional (or a combination of them all) issues, know that God is there to comfort you.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV): Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Like other gifts that God affords us, He expects us to follow His pattern when interacting with others. Scripture shows the manner in which we judge others, we will also be judged (Matthew 7:1-6). We also see the manner in which we forgive others, we will be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). Because God comforts us, He expects us to comfort others in their time of need. Just as with the gift of forgiveness, God gives so much to us that we should feel compelled to share that gift with others.
Romans 12:14-21 (NKJV): Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
You will notice in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he did not qualify who Christians were supposed to comfort. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul reiterates in his letter to the church in Rome that Christians are expected to comfort everyone (even those who persecute them). Christians are commanded to never repay evil with evil, but to always repay evil with good. This task is too much for any person to endure on their own, but if you lean on God, you will find it easier than you think. A humble heart will remember Jesus Christ forgave and endured more for you than you will ever endure for others. A humble heart will also acknowledge you do not have the ability to provide as great of a benefit as God does. Christians can only forgive in the sense that they can show mercy to others when they are wronged. We do not have the ability to wipe away sins as the forgiveness of Jesus Christ does. In the end, our comfort requires much less effort and provides a much smaller benefit than God’s comfort. Therefore, remain humble and understand the gifts that God showers on you, you should shower on others in His name.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr
When looking at the law of the Old Testament, I am sometimes overwhelmed by all the laws the Israelites had to live under to remain holy. Even with all the burnt offerings, tithes, and food restrictions, the sins of the Jews were not forgiven. The best their imperfect sacrifices could produce was pushing their sins forward one more year. In the New Covenant, Christians are fortunate to have the perfect sacrifice. As a result, we are able to have our sins forgiven (completely removed).
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV): But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
An additional benefit of being under the New Covenant is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once you receive the Holy Spirit through baptism, you commit to living a different life. Scripture says we put to death our old fruits of the earth (“fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”) when we take on the life of becoming a Christian.
1 Timothy 1:9-10 (ESV): understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
When you live the life of a Christian and exhibit the fruits of the Spirit in your daily interactions, you have overcome the law. The law is not to condemn the acts of the righteous, but to highlight the misdeeds of the “lawless and disobedient”. When Paul says, “against such things there is no law”, he is letting us know we can free ourselves from the law’s punishment. We may not always think of living within the confines of certain rules as freedom, but that is because some laws of the world are unjust and unreasonable. However, the law of God is holy and righteous. So by living within the commandments of God, you will live a peaceful and content life.
Among the many differences between God and man, God’s desire is for all to be saved. Everything He has done and will continue to do is to provide an opportunity for the lost to find their way back home. It is in our best interest to listen and obey the will of God. Who would not want to live a life filled with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”? How many times has your life improved because you exhibited one of these traits in a bad situation? We all want love, joy, and peace from our live, but do we give, “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness”, and “self-control”? All of the gifts of Holy Spirit will improve our quality of life. Some will come in the way we are treated by others, but others will come as a result of how we treat others. By focusing on God and walking the path of righteousness, we will continue to be free of the law and receive the many blessings that come as a result.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
The will of God is for all to be saved. Sometimes, this means God is trying to help us get out of our own way. He knows that humans are a prideful bunch. We have the uncanny ability to forget all the help that went into our successes the moment the task is completed.
1 Peter 5:6-9 (NIV): Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
You will see throughout Scripture; Jesus warns us about forgetting the work God put into our salvation. Jehovah sent His son to die in our place, and Jesus lived the perfect life, so He could be the perfect sacrifice. Jesus then died on the cross in our place and rose from the dead on the third day. This is the difficulty I find within the idea of being a good person. Are there people who exhibit Godly traits, sure, but are they righteous?
Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV): Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Righteousness can only come by dying to your sins in the watery graver of baptism. It is God who exalts the humble, and it is the humble who are willing to admit they need a Savior. There was only one perfect man, and the rest of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, the only way we can become holy enough to enter the kingdom of heaven is by the washing away of our sins in baptism. It is not until our sins are washed away that we are truly clean enough to be a child of the Most High God.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
The characteristics and traits of God are as majestic as they are vast. We could talk about His love, His compassion, or His wrath. We could study His patience and desire for all to be saved. It can be overwhelming to think about God and all He has to offer. With the time we have, we will focus on His promises and the need for His followers to follow Him.
Psalm 33:4 (NIV): "For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”
God is consistent in His promises. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega; He is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. The fact we can rely on His word should bring us comfort in the worst of situations. God is never going to change His mind and if we obey Him, we can be confident we will remain in His good graces.
I like to think of two criminals being questioned separately. The interrogator is telling each of them the first one to testify against the other will have the lighter sentence. You can see the concern on each of their faces as they consider the likelihood of their partner remaining true. Christians do not have that problem. If they tell the truth in all circumstances, God will reward them for their actions.
Ephesians 4:14-16 (NKJV): that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, 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.
The apostle Paul knows it is not always advantageous to speak the truth, and that can result in well-meaning people altering the word of God. However, altering the word of God means you are no longer speaking the word. It means you have separated yourself from Him and created another body with you as the head. Paul emphasizes the fact that Christians are bound to the head of Christ. It is Christ who sets the example, and it is obedience to Him that creates growth. The imagery of being joined and knit together by our individual contributions, yet the contribution benefits the group is powerful. When we compromise the truth for personal gain, we are negatively affecting the entire body. By trusting in the promises of God, we can remain confident obedience is always the right answer. Even if the situation looks dim, compromising the word of God is never the answer. Be confident your heavenly advocate will always advocate for you (Hebrews 13:5).