Let’s Keep At It!

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6.9

I’m sure most of us have heard the phrase, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Paul is reminding the Galatian Christians, and us too, that when we are engaged in a work for God, we must not grow weary or get tired of what we are doing. I think it is safe to say that most servants of God who are involved in daily service for God would agree with this statement: “I do get tired in ministry but I do not get tired of the ministry to which God has called me.” For those who serve God through their local church, it may seem like you are just “spinning your wheels.” But think about this truth: serving God ought to be a lifetime of service. So often there are those who say, “Well, I’m retired now, so I am going to step back and “let someone else get the blessing.”

When we stop to consider God’s servants in the Bible, many of them died while they were still actively serving God. Some months ago I retired from my full-time ministry at the church I attend. Someone asked me later, “So, what is retirement like.” My response was simply, “I didn’t retire from serving God; I just changed horses.” That is nothing to brag about. God simply put in my heart to serve Him as long as my body would let me do that. Look at Paul’s encouragement here: “ … in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” If it seems like you are not seeing any results from your ministry, in due season you will see the change you are longing for.

Here is a good word for all of us today: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” When God gives us opportunity to be a blessing and an encouragement to one of God’s choice servants who may be struggling, let’s step up and do what God asks us to do. Who knows? We might get a blessing too! Just my thoughts …

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What’s the Hurry?

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3.1

While Solomon is the one who penned these words, it was God who told him what to right. Farmers certainly agree that there is a season for everything. That determines why they plant what they plant when they plant it. So, what does God want us to get out of this verse and others that mention the element of time?

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote these words: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6.1-2.) When a unbeliever hears the plan of salvation for the first time, THAT is the TIME to receive Christ. Paul is urging those reading his words not to gloss over them but to turn to Christ today.

If these are the words of God (and they are), then God has a time and a purpose for everything He does. Would you agree with me that sometimes we want to get ahead of God’s time? Or maybe we think God did something too quickly to suit us. A better understanding of who God is enables all of us to come to grips with what God does and when He does it. For example, we need to remember that God is omniscient, meaning that God ALREADY knows everything so He is never going to be early or late. He is always ON TIME. I don’t think it is enough to give mental assent to God’s omniscience. We need to fully embrace God’s omniscience and allow God to do things “in His own time.” Perhaps reminding ourselves of these thoughts each day will allow us to live life more fully, while trusting God to be right on time. Just my thoughts …

TRUTH Sets Us Free!

And the LORD he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31.8

The setting for this verse is when Moses is handing the leadership of the nation of Israel over to Joshua (about 2 million people). Take notice of the words of encouragement that Moses uses here with Joshua: (1) The Lord will go before him, (2) The Lord will not fail him, (3) The Lord will not forsake him, and (4) Joshua has no reason to fear or be discouraged. I would like to know how Joshua felt after he received these words from Moses.

Let’s take a moment to examine these words and see if they can apply to us. Does the Lord go before us as we journey with Him? And can we count on Him not to fail us? Yes to both questions. Psalm 23.1 David says: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The name LORD refers to Jehovah, the eternal Self-existent One. One key thing to know about a shepherd is that he never takes his sheep to a place where he has never already been. He makes sure there is enough food supply and that the enemies of his sheep have been driven away. Look at this phrase: “Thou preparest a table before me in the PRESENCE (emphasis mine) of mine enemies.” The enemy may be watching, but the shepherd has the protection of his sheep well in hand.

Can we count on God not to forsake us? Indeed we can. Since God is Omnipresent, there is NEVER any place we can go that God is not already there. Since God will never forsake us, we can count on His Omnipotence to protect us, and His Omniscience to have the answer to any problem we will ever face or could ever IMAGINE.

Finally, we have no reason to fear or be dismayed (discouraged). That fact that God “IS” means that God DOES all we will ever need. If I did not believe this truth, my life every day would be filled with despair. BUT I do believe it and my despair is no longer there. Just my thoughts …

 

Real Comfort!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all out 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. ” 2 Corinthians 1.3-4

When I read these verses and think about the things through which God has brought me, I went down a number of paths I would not have chosen. But looking back on those journeys, I would never trade them. God taught me so much in those unexpected detours of my life.

Let’s take note of how Paul describes our Heavenly Father: (1) the Father of mercies and (2) God of all comfort. God doesn’t just grant mercy to us; He is the FATHER of mercies. Mercy originated with God. When you and I receive that mercy, it is our Heavenly Father who granted that to us. But He is also called the God of ALL comfort. How many times have we felt all alone in a circumstance and we needed comfort? Rest assured that our Heavenly Father was there – we were NEVER alone – and He alone is capable of granting us the comfort we need when we need it most.

Let’s follow Paul’s logic for a moment here. When God comforts us in our affliction, He wants us to use that experience to bring comfort to others. How can we do that? We have experienced something just like it or something similar. That gives credibility to what we are going to say and do to help the one needing comfort. I am a volunteer at a local hospital and my primary responsibility is to visit the oncology floor and the oncology center where radiation and chemo treatments are being given. When I say to someone dealing with cancer that I too have had cancer, their reaction is, “so you know something about this don’t you?” That gives me credibility to reach out to them and pray for them. Let’s not waste our pain but use the experience that caused the pain to comfort someone whom God may bring across our path. Just my thoughts …

Let Love Be an Action!

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3.18

The Word of God is so practical when it comes to telling us how to live. 1 John is a book written to believers specifically. John wants us to understand that this Jesus of whom he speaks is real and He has real truth for us to learn. We must not separate verse 17 from verse 18. Here it is: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Can you imagine seeing someone beside the road with their car out of gas? You come along and you have just filled a five-gallon container with gas and it is in your trunk. You stop and say to the driver, “Man, I sure hope you can find some gas somewhere.” Then you get in your car and drive off. You would think, “What a heartless soul that person is.”

John is saying to us that we are not to waste out time just talking about helping someone, but we are to DO something to actually help him or her. We are to respond “in deed and in truth.” Do we see that? “in deed…” I realize that we do not do things so we can have enough good to outweigh the bad in our lives. But because we are believers – Christ –followers – His love in us moves us to do compassionate things for others. And we don’t do things so we can “look good.” We do them because it is the right thing to do – it is something we do to demonstrate the love of Christ in us. I don’t know about you, but I certainly want this lost world to KNOW that God is real and that I am HIS servant. Just my thoughts …

Small Word – Big Meaning!

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13.13

Paul has just spent the preceding 12 verses trying to convince the Corinthians and us that love (charity) is the chief ingredient in the believer’s life. Verses 4 – 8 give us an extended view of how unconditional love operates: (1) love suffers long, (2) love is kind, (3) love is not envious, (4) love does not boast about itself, (5) love does not have an inflated view of itself, (6) love never behaves in an inappropriate way, (6) love does not seek to have its own way, (7) love is not easily provoked, (8) love does not think evil of others, (9) love does not rejoice when someone acts in an evil way, (10) love does rejoice in truth, (11) love puts up with a lot, (12) love bears everything – no matter how difficult, (13) love embraces the words of another without question, (14) love is able to endure a lot in whatever the relationship, and (15) love NEVER fails.

At the risk of being too impractical with these words, what would change in our lives if all of these characteristics became active in our lives? Do you think our marriages would be different? Do you think our families would be different? Do you think our neighborhoods would be different? Do you think our churches would be different? As Paul attempts to get us to see the magnitude of difference between love and anything else (including faith and hope), he uses these words: “the greatest of these is charity (love).

Let me be pointed in my question. IS love the greatest quality in your life, or is there something else that gets in the way – pride, selfishness, narcissism, indifference, you name it? It might be good for us to list these characteristics of love on a sheet of paper and then ask ourselves, “How am I doing with this one?” If we are honest, the answers will change us. Just my thoughts …

Greatness Wrapped Up In a Person

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1.12-17

This is a longer passage than what I normally use, but it is difficult to separate one from the other when we are considering the greatness of God and His Son, Jesus.

I call your attention to the phrase in v. 12: “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” This is the only inheritance that I will ever get. That is not a complaint against my father, he always did the best he could and for most of his life he lived from paycheck to paycheck. But the inheritance spoken of here is so very real. Peter speaks about it in 1 Peter 1.3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you …

In addition to this inheritance that “fadeth not away” we are reminded of Who this Christ is … He is the one who provides redemption through His blood. He is the one by whom all things were created. He is the one who holds all created things together. I just want us to meditate on the immensity of this God who saved us. Think about His omniscience, His omnipotence His omnipresence and all the other unique characteristic of our great God. Just allow your mind and heart to dwell on these things today and express your gratitude to God for ALL He has done for you and me. Just my thoughts …

 

Law or No Law?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” Galatians 5.13-14

When Paul writes to the Galatian churches, he is dealing with some people who wanted to continue to do what The Law required, even though they were living under grace. That is still a problem in some places still today. So he addresses that throughout the Book of Galatians, but specifically in v. 13.

“ … ye have been called unto liberty … ” What does that mean? What The Law demanded no longer bound them. They were living under grace. Someone has made an acrostic out of this word grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Since Christ freed us from the constraints of the law, we must not pretend that we are still help captive by the Law. Consider Paul’s words in Colossians 2.13-14: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” When Christ went to the cross, He fulfilled the Law, thus nailing it to His cross. It was crucified with Him.

This next phrase is a call to a grace lifestyle: “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” So often we get wrapped up in what we want for ourselves that we forget the part about serving one another. This familiar phrase is familiar to most of us: Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. When we are living for Christ, it is not difficult to “serve one another.” And why is serving one another so significant? Here it is: “14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” When we choose to love our neighbor as ourselves, that is an act of grace and God is well-pleased with us. Just my thoughts …

Is There a Connection?

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1Timothy 4.8

It would be easy to look at this verse and simply say something like, “It doesn’t do any good to exercise.” But that is NOT what Paul is saying. He is drawing a distinction between that which profits us in this life only and that which profits us both in this life and the life to come.

So, do we know what godliness is? I am sure I would get as many different definitions as the number of people that I ask. But in the simplest terms, could we agree that godliness is living a life that pleases God, glorifies God, and allows the world around us to see God in us? I don’t think that is a stretch at all. If you are reading this and think, “Man, that changes everything in my life”, maybe that is what God wants – a total change of life.

“ … godliness is profitable unto all things … ” There is no DOWN SIDE to living a godly life. We win, God wins, and the world gets to see that God really does make a difference in the lives of those who trust Him. If my life does that on a regular basis, then godliness is profitable.

Let’s take a look at these last two phrases: “having promise of the life that now is … ” Paul is telling young Timothy that his life down here on earth will be better if he chooses a life of godliness. Remember, Paul is mentoring Timothy – telling him what works and what doesn’t work in the life lived here on earth. But he goes on: “the life that now is and of that which is to come.” I don’t believe we think enough about the life that is to come. First of all, it is difficult to imagine what it will be like. But, Satan is very clever in focusing our attention on the “here and now” and distracting us from the life that is to come. Let’s remember today that there is a connection between “the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Just think about it … these are Just My Thoughts …

It’s An Act of His Will!

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.38-39

Every time I read these words, I think about the man who wrote them, and I think about all the “stuff” he went through to serve the Lord, and I say, “Amen.” His confidence is expressed in these words: “For I am persuaded … ” Can I ask, are you FULLY persuaded that nothing can separate you from God’s love?

The barriers of which Paul speaks are significant. Any one of them would be enough to separate us, if that were possible, but all of them lumped together? Not even that. Let’s briefly review them: (1) death, (20 life, (3) angels, (4) principalities, (5) powers, (6) things present, (7) things to come, (8) height, (9) depth, nor (10) any other creature. Paul enumerates nine different things, and just in case he may have overlooked something he says, “nor any other creature …

It seems that we talk often about the love of God for us, but I don’t think we ever come close to comprehending its vastness. Many people seem to have difficulty believing anybody could love them, let alone God. If you are unwilling to accept your self the way God made you (i. e. love yourself because you are God’s creation), then you make it difficult for any other human being to love you. But God’s love for you and me is an act of His will, not some warm fuzzy feeling because we think we are ok just the way we are. Romans 5.8 says: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS (emphasis mine), Christ died for us.” God loved us BEFORE we ever knew He loved us. Share that good news with a lost friend today. Just my thoughts …