UNBELIEF

No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keeps us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief. (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts 2:21)

JESUS CAME FOR US

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (Mark 2:14 ESV)

Every culture has people who are unpopular for one reason or another. How would you feel if you answered the door bell to find an agent of the IRS who has come to audit your taxes? However, Levi was a very different type of tax collector than we have experienced.

Levi was considered to be a traitor and collaborator by the Jews because he worked for the occupying Romans who ruled Israel during this time. Tax collectors in Israel were hated men because they not only worked for the enemy, they were thieves. The Romans sold tax collecting franchises to anyone who could afford them. Once you owned the right to collect taxes, you would collect so much to give to the Romans and then you were allowed to add whatever amount you wanted to the tax for your fee.

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PRESSING FORWARD

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 ESV)

Life is often about moving forward. If we stop moving forward, our lives frequently become stagnant and pointless. Even our spiritual lives often suffer from failing to move forward. I’m not talking about embracing every new idea or popular fad that comes along; this article is about God’s calling upon your life and not stopping short of the goal.

In the verse above, we find Paul describing his own efforts to move forward in the Christian life. He is certainly not the man he was but he is not yet the man he should like to be either. Doesn’t he sound very human – just like us? Paul recognizes his shortcomings and yet he presses on striving to become more like Jesus.

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WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE BIBLE?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Many of us read the Bible with the purpose of knowing it better. Often, however, we read the Bible without allowing it to change our lives. We may scan the Scriptures daily looking for some reinforcement of our own “core values” but without allowing the Scriptures to speak to us personally about sin and righteousness.

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TAKE YOUR SINS TO CHRIST

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-42 ESV)

Jesus_healing_lepersLeprosy is a terrible disease in which the early symptoms are almost imperceptible and occur slowly. It may begin with a single small red dot on the skin which eventually multiplies into painless skin lesions over the entire body. One form destroys the nerve endings so that parts of the body lose the feelings of touch and pain. Pieces of the body begin to rot and drop off. This includes the ears, nose, fingers, toes, and other parts of the flesh. Leprosy also increases vulnerability to all kinds of infectious diseases.

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THE FAITH THAT SAVES

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

There are many Christians who never know the assurance of their salvation because they do not believe they have been good enough to earn it. Such people have confused ideas about the meaning of grace and the role of faith and works.

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THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalm 25:7 ESV)

Physical beauty is fleeting. Physical strength is used up by time. Even the mind of a genius is slowed by age. Yet, in our youth we often carry a false sense of immortality in which we view ourselves as invincible. We demonstrate this by magical thinking (i.e. self-absorbing daydreams & fantasies) and through foolish actions that may injure us or change our lives for the worse in years to come. We blind ourselves to inevitable consequences for a few moments of pleasure. We too quickly reject the traditional beliefs of our parents and the church without really trying to understand them. We reject anything that is not popular or the current fad. Our lives are consumed by sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, jealousy, envy, strife, and drunkenness, which prevent our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV) If we ever, over the years, learn the truth of these matters, the majority of our lives may have passed us by. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the Chinese proverb: “Too soon old; Too late wise.”

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