Bearing The Marks Of Jesus

A body was stoned and left, in all appearances, as dead on the outskirts of the city of Lystra (Acts 14:19). Shortly before this event, this man had been exalted and proclaimed as a god, but he refused the worship of the inhabitants (Acts 14:14). Paul and Barnabas vigorously restrained the people from unwanted and undeserved adoration as gods. Instead of accepting exaltation as a god, they had directed the people to the one true God, “who left not himself without witness” (Acts 14:15-17).
Along with the angered Jews of Iconium, the Jews whom Paul had enraged at Antioch, made it their duty to travel some 130 miles to stir up the people of Lystra. They did not consider Paul and Barnabas being chased from their own cities as sufficient punishment, but wanted Paul adequately “marked” for preaching about Jesus. Later, Paul describes his scars as, “for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” (Galatians 6:17).
Paul’s experience was not unlike another Man who endured the pain of the cross, and despised the shame, but looked beyond the suffering of the cross that men might be reconciled to God (Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:13-16; Colossians 1:20-22).
Jesus’ body bore the marks of the nails in his hands and feet and a Roman sword in his pierced side. The reason that Paul called the scars he bore the “marks of Jesus” was because they were identifiable with the righteous cause of Jesus. He had shared in some small way the same kind of suffering that Jesus had endured (cf. Mark 10:38-39; Mark 13:9; Matthew 10:17-18).
There are some folks who go looking for suffering. They seem to think that when they are obnoxious, rude and arrogant, and then suffer because of their own wrong doing, they must be blessed of heaven (cf. 1 Peter 4:15; Matthew 5:10-12). But whatever marks they bear are not the “marks of Jesus.”
Suffering for the sake of suffering may comfort the masochist, but it has no value beyond the salving of a perverted conscience. Seeking suffering is like spilling water to quench a thirst.
Brethren, if we are righteous, suffering will come (2 Timothy 3:12). However, in whatever form that suffering occurs, let’s not be terrified by the enemy. Rather, let us wear the “marks of Jesus” as a proud soldier displays his medals. The scars considered as shameful by the world, should in reality, be considered as evidences of courage by the Christian (1 Peter 4:13-19).

What Are You Willing To Give Up?

The world that we live in is not one of spiritual-mindedness. It is not a world of godliness or one of righteousness. The world in which we dwell is one full of sin and all kinds of evil. It is a sad thing to look at the world knowing that most people are not going to make it to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). What is perhaps even more sorrowful is looking at attitudes that individuals have in the church.
Think about all the blessings we have as children of God. Look at all the many things He has done for us and what a debt we owe that we will never be able to repay. Yet, although we understand and say, “Yes, I owe a lot to God”, we often fail to act as though we truly believe that. Why is it that we claim to understand the blessed state of being a child of God but do not put our best foot forward to be pleasing to Him? Do we not believe that only the faithful will make it to heaven? Do we not believe, as Jesus said, that only he who does the will of the Father will make it to heaven (Matthew 7:21)?
I believe a major reason why Christians are not as committed as they should be is because they aren’t willing to give up the things of the world to live for the Lord. John said in I John 2:15, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The world and God are on opposite ends of the spectrum. How can you have both? John says later in vs. 17 that the world is passing away. It’s only the one who does the will of God who will abide forever. We forget just how temporary our lives are here on this earth. We get caught up in thinking that this is most important, the here and now. It’s not!! All that we have on this earth won’t be here eternally. It is going to be passing away. Does it make more sense to concentrate on the things that will one day be passing on or is it better to put our efforts into that which will be here eternally? Most anyone will tell you, “Yes, we have to concentrate on spiritual things”, but how many are doing just that?
What are you willing to give up to go to heaven? Many in the world expect to go to heaven but do not do anything to insure it. Many Christians expect to go to heaven but do not want to give up worldliness. Paul told Timothy that times would come when men would be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God“(II Tim. 3:4). The same thing is true today. People just have too many things to do. “I’m too busy to serve God”, would fit a lot of peoples actions. Those whose busy lives interfere with their commitment to the Lord will have much time in eternity away from God to think about all the times they were too busy to be spiritual.
I ask again, what are you willing to give up to go to heaven? Are you willing to give up things that would interfere with your attendance in worshipping God (hobbies, concerts, sports, etc)? Are you willing to give up the short, tight, and low cut outfits designed only to be seen by others? Are you willing to give up talking, acting, and behaving like those of the world? Are you willing to give up worldly associations that might hinder you from being a faithful Christian? If you are not willing to give up even these few things, how can you say you are willing to sacrifice to go to heaven?
Heaven has its cost and so does the life of being a Christian, but the benefits of the sacrifice involved far outweigh the burdens of this life. Think of what Christ was willing to give up so that you could have these blessings (II Corinthians 8:9). He gave up His very life. How much of an inconvenience is it for you to live a faithful obedient life to make it to heaven? It should not be a burden at all but simply a small sacrifice for the love and kindness He showed to us. Do not let the world stand in the way of you reaping the reward of heaven!
– Shane Williams

MOLDING LIVES

I have no idea who the author might be, nor do I know the title of this poem, however there is a lesson contained in it of which all parents should be aware. As parents, God has given us a grave responsibility in the training of our children (Eph. 6:4) and this short poem expresses better than I ever could the seriousness of this responsibility.

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past;
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it still it bore.
But I could change that form no more.
I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress wore,
And I could change it never more.

Parents have the power to mold young lives as they please. They must understand an awesome responsibility is given to them. There are many things in this life which depend on the way we mold these lives: the church, the community, and the country, just to name a few. When we realize this, are we still so unconcerned about where our children are and what they are doing? I would suggest one of the basic causes of the trouble in our country today is the unconcerned attitude of parents toward the training of their children. Only when parents wake up to their God given responsibility will the church, community, and country be as they should be. Consider carefully what the writer had to say on rearing children (Prov 22:6; 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14). Parents must realize that they are molding the future generation, and once it is molded it cannot be changed. Sobering thought, isn’t it?