Our Labour is Not in Vain

Rewards1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56   The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

‪In this first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul had to deal with a myriad of problems. There was spiritual immaturity, division, hero worship, idolatry, immorality, abuse of spiritual gifts, drunkenness, a lack of love, and even some doubting of a future resurrection of the saved.

So, in the 15th chapter, Paul deals with the resurrection of Christ, and a future resurrection of the believers. In the above passage, we find Paul’s hymn of praise. Paul is praising God and reminding the Corinthians that there is coming a day when everything on this side of eternity shall pass away and we shall enter into the presence of the Lord. It’s a good reminder for us all. It’s good to keep ever before us this one truth:

Everything on this side of eternity will one day be gone. One day, over on the other side, we will give an account and be rewarded for the LIFE that we lived, the LOVE that we shared, the SACRIFICES that we made, the RISKS that we have taken, the SUFFERING that we endured, the TEARS that we shed, and the FRUIT that we bore.

Because this is true, we should heed Paul’s admonition in  1 Corinthians 15:58:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

BURDENYes, the burdens may seem heavy now, the cost might seem too much to pay, the risk to hazardous, and the tears may be overflowing, but if we follow Paul’s admonition we can rest assured that OUR LABOUR IS NOT IN VAIN!

JUST REFLECTING!

Convictions with Compassion

SAMARITAN 1Luke 10:27-37,   And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30  And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36  Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37  And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan may be one of the most convicting passages in all of the New Testament for those of us who know the scriptures and especially for those of us who are involved in ministry. The priest and the Levite in this parable were full-time servants. They knew the scriptures. They knew, and should have understood the importance of reflecting the love of God to a hurting man. Yet, they just walked on by!

BIBLICAL CONVICTIONS WITHOUT BIBLICAL COMPASSION ARE NEVER PLEASING TO GOD AND NEVER HELPFUL FOR THE HURTING!

Unfortunately, if we were totally honest, many of us, if not all of us, would have to admit we struggle with being a compassionate people at times. Our lack of compassion reminds me of something I read recently. The author writes:

When I get busy, I tend to forget the most important reason why I’m here, my prime directive— to make more and better disciples (Matt. 28: 18-20)! In fact, unlike Jesus, the busier I become, the more I lose compassion for the lost. It doesn’t take much for the multitudes to become more of a stumbling block to impede my effectiveness rather than a reason for becoming effective. Freeway traffic is a cause of frustration rather than compassion. A busy parking lot gives me a headache from the confusion rather than a heart that aches with compassion. A long line is an obstacle rather than an opportunity.

Compassion is not a common virtue today. It is hard to imagine how we can be surrounded by lost and drowning souls and not care, but it’s true. Perhaps because we see so much violence and death on the TV each night we have become hardened to hurting people. Perhaps the reality of their suffering doesn’t sink in. Perhaps we justify our inaction, thinking it is not our responsibility to care for the needs of lost people. Perhaps we leave it to people more gifted, more trained, more professional… more compassionate.

SAMARITAN 2God knows we need more men and women who have strong biblical convictions that are based on the Bible. At the same time, we are in desperate need to men today who not only stand for biblical convictions, but walk in biblical compassion! 

JUST REFLECTING!

 

 

Jesus Did Warn Us

#1Mark 13:9-13,   But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10  And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11  But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12  Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Matthew 5:10-12, Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

John 16:33,   These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

For those of us in the West, we are often surprised, and at times angered when the world hates us, criticizes us, and persecutes us. Of course, we shouldn’t be. Over and over again, Jesus warned His followers that persecution from a lost and dying world was to be expected. In fact, both Jesus and the apostle Paul taught us to rejoice when persecution and suffering comes from the and of our “enemies.”

Yet, why are we so surprised when it comes? Why are we so angry when it comes to pass?

#2Jesus not only taught His followers to expect hatred and persecution. He also taught them to forgive the offenders, to love them, pray for them, and do good to them. Jesus said absolutely nothing about criticizing them, cursing them, condemning them, or casting stones at them, which we have become accustomed to doing!

Matthew 5:43-48,  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Let’s heed the warning of Jesus and expect the hatred and persecution, and, at the same time, let’s follow His admonition to love, do good, forgive, bless, and pray for those who might bring it!

Just Reflecting!

Difficult Choices

Choices 1Mark 10:17-24, 29-31,   And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20  And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23  And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24  And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! … 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31  But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. 

Choices 2Forsaking all to follow Jesus, wherever He may lead, and obeying whatever He may ask, has never been an easy decision to make. Yet, it is always the RIGHT decision, and it is also the most REWARDING decision we could possibly make.

While reading the Gospel of Mark this morning, three truths stuck out above all others. The first, as mentioned above, is simply the importance of having the desire and the willingness to forsake all to follow the Lord wherever He might lead. Choosing to forsake all is never an easy decision to make, but it is always the right decision to make. Secondly, I was reminded of the importance of humility and servanthood [MK 10:35-45]. For the past 2,000 years, followers of Christ have strived for power, prestige, and position, but such has never, nor will it ever, be the way of Christ and His kingdom. Thirdly, I saw the importance of biblical faith. A total dependence upon Christ and Christ alone. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all a broken people. We all need help from God. Without biblical faith, we will never experience biblical wholeness God desires us to have and others need for us to have, no matter how hard we try [MK 10:46-52]!

CrossJeremiah 17:5-9,  Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6  For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

O Lord, create within my heart a faith that depends solely upon You, a willingness to forsake all to follow you, wherever You might lead, and humility that is willing to serve You and others!

Just reflecting!

To Be with Jesus

IMG_6144.JPGMark 3:14-15,   And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15  And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

Our journey with Jesus and our supreme calling as His disciples is, first and foremost, about being “with HIM,” and then, and only then, being sent forth to “preach” with “power,” and to make a difference in the lives of the hurting, helpless, and hopeless multitudes around the corner and around the world!

My reading of Mark’s Gospel this morning was a really good reminder of the importance of humility before God and men [MK 1:7]; the importance of being willing to leave everything and everyone behind to follow Jesus [MK 1:16-20]; the importance of spending time in a solitary place with the Lord, and at the same time, never using it as an excuse to no “GO” the the needy places [MK 1:35-39], and then, of course, the importance of recognizing that our supreme calling in life is to be with Jesus, to love Jesus, and to serve Jesus with all that I am and all that I have!

Matthew 22:36-40,  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37   Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

O Lord, help me to ever remember my supreme calling in life!

Just reflecting! 

As a Child, Part 2

Child 2Matthew 18:1-4,   At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 20:20-28, Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21  And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22  But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. 24  And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

As I mentioned in our previous post (if you haven’t read “As a Child,” part one, I definitely recommend you do so), there are few, if any topics found in the Bible more frequently, and dealt with more ruthlessly, than the topic of pride. You’ll find pride dealt with in the Old Testament, especially Proverbs, and in the New Testament, and especially the Gospels. Pride and humility are dealt with often by the Lord Jesus, the apostles Paul, James, and Peter.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you totally get it. We all struggle with pride. And, if we don’t think we do, that’s a sure sign that we are really struggling with it!

During their three years with the Lord, the disciples never seemed to get it.  Sounds a bit like us today! They were filled with pride, they wanted to be “top dog,” as the passage above shows clearly, They were often filled with jealousy, envy, personal ambitions, a competitive spirit, and they often lacked compassion for those who needed it the most. Sounds a little bit like us today wouldn’t you say so? Reminds me of another Andrew Murray quote:

Let him consider how all lack of love; all disregard for the needs, feelings, and weakness of others; all sharp and hasty judgments and words, so often excused under the plea of being outright and honest; all manifestations of temper, touchiness, and irritation; all feelings of bitterness and estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride, that only seeks itself. Will he open his eyes to see how a dark and devilish pride creeps in almost everywhere? Even the church assemblies of the saints are not exempt. Let him begin to ask what would happen, if in himself, around him, towards fellow saints, and the world, believers were really permanently guided by the humility of Jesus. Let him acknowledge that the cry of our whole heart, night and day, should be for the humility of Jesus in ourselves and all around us! Let him honestly fix his heart on his own lack of the humility which has been revealed in the likeness of Christ’s life and in the whole character of His redemption, and he will begin to feel as if he had not yet fully known Christ and His salvation.”

Powerful words right there!

Think about it for a moment. Aren’t most of our problems – most of our sins, rooted in pride and a love of self? Aren’t most problems at home, in the church, in the political realm, around the corner, and around the world, rooted in pride and a love for self?

Our Lord Jesus humbled Himself. Yes, God in the flesh, the Creator of the universe, humbled himself. He chose to serve, rather than to be served. If God could humble himself, shouldn’t we do the same?

Philippians 2:5-8, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

As I mentioned in the previous post, It is NATURAL to ask, “Who is the greatest?” It’s SUPERNATURAL to humble oneself and as a “little child.”  

ChildWe definitely need God’s help to deal with the pride liking in our hearts, and it will all start when we get a greater glimpse of Him in His majesty!

“Humility is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. … In the life of committed Christians, of those who pursue and profess holiness, humility ought to be the evidence of their righteousness. It is often said that this is not so. Couldn’t one reason be that in the teaching and example of the church, it has never been placed in its position of supreme importance?” – Andrew Murray

Just Reflecting!

 

 

As a Child

Child 2Matthew 18:1-4,   At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

There are few, if any topics found in the Bible more frequently, and dealt with more ruthlessly, than the topic of pride. You’ll find pride dealt with in the Old Testament, especially Proverbs, and in the New Testament. Pride and humility are dealt with often by the Lord Jesus, the apostles Paul, James, and Peter.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you totally get it. We all struggle with pride. And, if we don’t think we do, that’s a sure sign that we are really struggling with it!

Along with reading the Gospels, I have been reading one of Andrew Murray’s books on humility recently. Oh, my! Does he have a few thoughts concerning pride and humility that are both convicting and challenging:

“When I look back on my own religious experience, or on the church of Christ in the world, I stand amazed at how little humility is desired as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus. … It should be impossible for men to say they seek higher holiness unless their claim is accompanied by increasing humility. This is a loud call to all committed Christians to prove that meekness and lowliness of heart are the evidence by which they who follow the meek and lowly Lamb of God are to be known.”

That’s convicting and challenging. How about this one:

“Without humility, there can be no true dwelling in God’s presence or enjoying His favor and the power of His Spirit. Without humility, there is no faith, love, joy, or strength demonstrated in our lives. Humility is the only soil in which the graces take root; the lack of humility is the reasonable explanation for every defect and failure in the Christian life.”

Here’s another worth pondering:

“Let us admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so subtle and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will discover how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how inadequate we are to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride and our inability to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will come in to impart this grace too, as a part of His wondrous life within us.”

One more for the road:

“Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of our life in Christ is neglected and unknown? Is it any wonder that the joy of salvation is felt so little, when the humility in which Christ found joy and brings it to us, is so rarely desired? Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted, until such a humility is what we seek in Christ above our most important joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world.”

ChildAs with the disciples, when they came to Jesus in the passage above, it is NATURAL to for us ask (even if it’s simply asking in our hearts), “Who is the greatest?” It’s SUPERNATURAL to humble oneself and as a “little child.”

Just reflecting!

 

Leaving the Doubter’s Behind

Peter 1Matthew 14:25-33,   And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 

I love this story! It never ceases to amaze me that Peter was willing to step out of the safety, security, and comforts of the boat with his peers. To make it more of a challenge it was during the evening time and there was a storm to deal raging.

Not exactly what we would call condusive to walking on water! 🙂

Then of course, I am guessing Peter had to deal with the other disciples and their doubting whether this was a good move on his part. Anytime, we choose to step out of the boat, leaving the safety and security, comforts and conveniences behind, there are bound to be a few doubters in the crowd, even among those closest to us.

Of course, as I have mentioned in previous posts, for Peter, this wasn’t about walking on the water – it was all about going to Jesus!

Peter 2The first step to “walking on the water” with Jesus, and for Jesus, is a willingness to leave the safety and security of the boat. And, yes, to leave the doubters behind. Even those who are our peers!

Just Reflecting!

We are Called to be Sheep

Sheep 2Matthew 10:16-21, Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17  But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18  And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19  But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

Isaiah 53:6-7,  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Sheep 1In Matthew chapter 10, we find our Lord giving His disciples authority to go, a mandate, and He clearly warned them that they would face opposition from family, friends, and foes. Thus, for the follower of Christ, opposition or persecution should never take us by surprise, shock us, or cause us to lose our “sheep-like” nature.

We aren’t to behave like wolves, but like sheep. It is good for us to keep in mind that our Lord Jesus was not just a SPOTLESS LAMB, but, when persecuted, He was a SILENT LAMB, and so should we be!

Just Reflecting!

Lift Up Your Eyes

Harvest fieldsJohn 4:34-38, Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

I absolutely love John chapter four! In this chapter we find the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. In this story we find that our Lord Jesus was willing to GO where others refused to GO. He was willing to DO what others refused to DO. He LOVED those who others refused to LOVE. Jesus was even willing to FORGIVE those others refused to FORGIVE! And, to be honest with you, if you look at the passage above, you will find that, apparently, JESUS SAW WHAT OTHERS SIMPLY DID NOT SEE!

In past month, we have been in two countries (Cambodia and Laos) with a total population of 22 million people, and less than two percent of these profess to be “Christian.” Today, we head for Thailand, over 70 million people with less than two percent professing to be “Christian.” The needs in this part of the world are so great. Yet, the question remains, “Can we see it?” And, if we do see it, “What are we going to do about it?”

Folks, whether “around the corner” or “around the world” there is a great harvest field of lost souls. While the need is definitely greater “around the world,” it would be good to start today by seeing the need “around the corner”

Can we see the need?

Are we doing something about it?

What are we doing about it?

Just reflecting!!!