Thursday, October 29, 2020

Well Done, Or Just Done

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

In a school, you will take classes about different subjects and for each class you will receive a grade when that class is done.  Sometimes a person does an excellent job with the subject they are learning about in class and they receive a very good grade, and sometimes people do not do so well and they receive a poor grade.  The main goal is to pass the class, and while everyone wants a good grade, some people are just happy to finish the class and pass.

In Acts 20:24, Paul talked about finishing his course, with joy.  In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul said he had fought the good fight, finished his race, and kept the faith.  Paul did not just say that he finished the course, but he finished with joy!  Paul did not say he just fought and had faith, but he said he fought the good fight and that he had kept the faith.  Paul's goal was not just to finish and be done with what God called him to do, Paul's goal was to finish in the best way that he could!

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the faithful servants were commended for doing a good job with the words of "Well done" and not just, "Well, at least you are done".  In the same way, Paul did not want to just barely cross the finish line of the race that God gave him to run, Paul wanted to fulfill the will of God as best he could. Paul did not want to just pass the class and make it through, Paul wanted to get the best "grade" he could for doing the will of God.  We need to have the same attitude that Paul did and strive to do the best we can in the will of God.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

All The Weights

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) 

For most of my adult life, I have run for exercise and even for fun.  When running, you want to be sure you dress correctly and wear clothing that is designed for running.  With the shoes and clothes you wear, weight is always a consideration.  You never want to carry more weight than you need to, because the more weight you have the harder it is to run and the sooner you are tired out.  With less weight, you can run faster and longer than you would when you carry more weight. 

Hebrews 12 talks about us running our race, which is talking about living our life, doing the will of God.  Hebrews 12 tells us to lay aside all the weight and sin that would hinder us from running our race for God.  Most people will acknowledge that sin is bad and we need to eliminate sin from our life.  But what many people don't realize is that while sin is bad and will hinder us from fulfilling the will of God, the weights we carry in our life can hinder us just as much as sin can. 

It is easy to realize that robbery and murder are bad, but what about bitterness and lying?  Bitterness and lying can be weights in our life.  We could also spend an excessive amount of time on social media, watching movies, television, or sports and that can be a weight in our life.  These types of things are not really bad in themselves, but too much of them can become a problem.  We all need to examine our lives, and allow God to show us if we have any extra weights in our life that we need to get rid of, so that we can run the race that God has called us to.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Pufferfish

"Now concerning things offered to idols: we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." 
1 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a Pufferfish?  This is a type of fish that can inflate itself to look larger than it actually is.  Normally a Pufferfish will just swim around and act like any other fish, until it feels that it is threatened, and then it will inflate itself.  The Pufferfish will do this by filling its stomach with water, or even air, to increase its size.  After the Pufferfish is inflated, it will swim around in this condition until it eventually expels the water or air and it then goes back to its normal size.

Sometimes people, including Christians, can be like the Pufferfish.  This kind of a person will try to inflate themselves to appear to be something they are not.  They may feel that for some reason they need to exaggerate something about themselves, or something that they have done, in an attempt to seem bigger than they really are to other people.  The reason that people do this is that they may feel threatened by someone else or by another person's experience. 

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, Paul points out that knowledge puffs up but that love edifies.  At times, we may feel pressured to try to put our knowledge or experience on display to try and "puff ourselves up" in the eyes of others.  We may feel intimidated by someone else and think that the solution is to show off something in our own life.  The truth is, that by doing this, we are only displaying our spiritual immaturity.  Rather than feel concerned about how we appear to others with our knowledge and experiences, we need to focus on doing what we can to build others up in love.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

A Testimonial

 "And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.

However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you."

And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled."

Matthew 5:18-20 (NKJV)

Very often when something is being sold, the company selling the product will have someone give a testimonial.  Some person who has bought the product will tell what a great thing the product is, or how the thing was helpful for them.  People who work in sales realize that they can talk about their own product and have limited results, but if they have someone else give a testimonial about that product, other people are more likely to buy it.  A testimonial can be very persuasive.

In Matthew 5 we can read the story about how Jesus delivered the man who was possessed with demons.  This man who had been tormented by these demons was so happy to be set free and he wanted to just go with Jesus.  But Jesus told this man that he should go home to tell his friends about what had happened.  The results were that people were amazed at his story.  All those people knew that this man was possessed and now he was free; this was a great testimonial to Jesus and the power of God.

Everyone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior can share their own personal story with others as a testimonial to how good God is.  Everyone has a story, and while some may be more dramatic than others, everyone has something from their own experience with God that they can share to help others get closer to God.  Although not every Christian is called to teach and preach, each and every believer can share their own story of how Jesus set them free. What testimonial do you have to share about what God has done for you?

Friday, October 2, 2020

A Beacon Of Light

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

Lighthouses were used more in the past that they are today, but lighthouses can still be found in some places.  Originally, lighthouses were used to help guide ships, and today much of that same guidance comes through technology.  A lighthouse had a light that would shine so that sailors could see the way that they needed to go.  Without this beacon of light from the lighthouse to help people navigate their ships, it would have been harder for the sailors to know which way to go to safely reach their destination.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world, we are a beacon of light for others.  Based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5, we are those who must provide the light that the world needs.  In the same way that ships would not have a light to guide them if the lighthouse was taken away, the world will not have the light it needs if we do not shine our light.  So many people in the world are floating aimlessly through life with no real direction.  They need the light we can, and should, bring to help them to see where to go.

In John 9:5, Jesus said He was the light of the world, and we need to reflect the light of Jesus to others.  In Psalm 119:130 it tells us that the entrance of God's Word brings light, and we need to bring the light of the Word to the world.  If we as believers do not shine our light, then there will not be any light for the world.  One of our great responsibilities in life as Christians is to bring the light of Jesus the Savior to the world and the light of God's Word to the world, it is up to us to be a beacon of light.