Archive for the ‘Encouragements’ Category:

Approved to God

The apostle Paul gave the following exhortation to Timothy.  2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  I encourage you with the same exhortation, but let us investigate what the exhortation should mean to you.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.”  Diligent could also be translated to study, to endeavor, or to labor.  The idea is to put significant energy and effort into presenting yourself approved to God.  Many people, who call themselves Christians, do not put much energy into their walk before God.  They don’t read and study the Bible; they don’t meditate on God’s word.  Psalms 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”  They seldom pray.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”  They do little in the way of having a worthy walk.  Colossians 1:10 “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  They may have faith but they don’t add to their faith.  2 Peter 1:5-8 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Your genuine Christian life requires diligence and effort as you present yourself approved to God.

Your diligence and effort before God is not to earn your salvation.  Salvation is a gift from God.  Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Your motivation for your diligence and effort should be your love and gratitude for all that God has done for you.  Through Christ you have been redeemed.  You have received the forgiveness of sins.  You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1).  1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”  Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

“A worker who does not need to be ashamed.”  When Jesus was baptized, God spoke from heaven.  Matthew 3:17 “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”  Even though you are not Jesus, you also want to be well pleasing to God – you do not want to be ashamed.  In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the one talent servant did nothing with his Lord’s money; he should have been ashamed with his performance.  On the judgement day, others will be ashamed of what they have done as Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’“  Live your life so that you will not be ashamed before God.

“Rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The Greek word translated “rightly dividing” means to make a straight cut.  Figuratively it means to dissect or expound correctly the divine message.  It means to correctly handle, teach and apply the Holy Scriptures.  When you read and study the Bible and when you teach others, you need to give the correct meaning of the Word as it applies to your life and the lives of others.  Many people do not rightly divide the word of truth.  There are many false doctrines which abound from those who incorrectly interpret and apply the scriptures. There are multiple warnings in the Bible against false doctrines, heresies, and false prophets and teachers.  If you depend on the teaching of someone else, that person, even though very sincere, may be wrong.  It is important for you to rightly divide the word of truth for yourself.

In summary, I encourage you to be diligent and put energy into your spiritual walk – that you may do what pleases God so that you will not be ashamed when you stand before Him.  Be careful to correctly handle the Holy Scriptures as you apply them to your life and teach them to others.

Doing Good

Jesus Christ came from heaven to this earth to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37), to be the savior of this world (1 John 4:14), and to give us eternal life (John 17:2).  He also left us an example of how we should live (1 Peter 2:21).  One example that He left us was that He went about doing good.  Acts 10:38 “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”  Jesus described the good He had done in Luke 7:22-23 “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’”

While you and I will not perform the miracles that Jesus performed, we should go about doing good as He did.  Hebrews 13:15-16 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” 

You may ask, “What good can I do?”  Jesus gave you examples of doing good when he described the judgement in Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”  Certainly giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and visiting the sick and those in prison would be doing good.  Helping widows and orphans would also qualify.  James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  Jesus talked about just giving someone a cup of water to drink.  Mark 9:41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”  The possibilities for doing good are many and varied.  Maybe being courteous or encouraging someone or telling them about Jesus or praying for them is the good that you can do for them.  I recommend letting the Holy Spirit guide you into the good you can do.  Whatever good you may do, let that be a significant part or your life.

Knowing to do good and not doing it is sin.  James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  Doing good is a way of letting your light shine.  Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  1 Peter 2:15 “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”  Continually doing good is a factor in receiving eternal life.  Romans 2:6-7 “Who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” 

To whom should you do good?  To everyone, especially fellow Christians.  Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Luke 6:32-36 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”  Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

Sometimes it may seem that the good you are doing is not appreciated or fruitful. Maybe you want to forget about doing good to others and instead just do what you want to do.  My encouragement to you is to not grow weary in doing good.  Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Be a person known by God and man for doing good.

A Faithful Saying

What is a faithful saying?  It is a saying, statement or doctrine that is true and you should trust what it says without any doubt or hesitation.  Also, it is worthy of being received by all because of the value of the saying.  It is worth knowing, repeating and perhaps committing to memory.  I am sure that there are many faithful sayings, but in the Bible we find that the Apostle Paul gave four faithful sayings to Timothy and one faithful saying to Titus.  Let us look at these.

The first is found in 1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”  This is one of the greatest truths that we should believe and accept.  It is reinforced by the words of Jesus himself in John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God does not want people in the world to be condemned and perish.  Instead, He wants them to be saved and have everlasting life with Him.  For this purpose, He sent His Son so that whoever believes in Him should have everlasting life.  It is indeed a faithful saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  I believe that the words “of whom I am chief” are the Apostle Paul’s assessment of his own prior life.  You also should see your sinfulness before salvation.

The second faithful saying is found in 1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” The word bishop means overseer.  The apostle Paul spoke to the elders at Ephesus and told them in Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” From this we learn that elders are to be overseers (bishops) and shepherds (pastors).  So elders, overseers, bishops, shepherds and pastors are all words describing the same position or work in the church.  The faithful saying is that if a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.  This faithful saying does not seem to have the same importance as our first faithful saying.  And yet, it is important.  The church needs good elders/bishops/pastors.  Such leadership is needed to make the local church strong and healthy.  When done correctly, it is not an easy work.  For a man to desire this work demonstrates his desire for the success of God’s kingdom.  I hope more men will desire this work and prepare themselves to be qualified to serve.

The next faithful saying is found in 1 Timothy 4:8-9 “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.”  Godliness is reverence and devotion to God.  It describes an attitude that is centered on God and does that which is well-pleasing to Him.  Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  We are not saved by works, but God has saved you so that you will do good works.  The life that pleases God, or godliness, promises a good life here and now and it also promises eternal life that is to come.  To be reminded of that makes this is a faithful saying.

The next faithful saying is found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “This is a faithful saying:  for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  Here are other scriptures that support this faithful saying.  Romans 6:4-5 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”  Revelation 2:10b “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Matthew 10:33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”  Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

The last faithful saying is found in Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”  This faithful saying emphasizes godliness and is somewhat similar to the faithful saying in 1 Timothy 4:8-9 quoted above.  You should be careful to maintain good works.

Here are the five faithful sayings.   “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”  “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”  “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  “If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  “Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.”  I encourage you to accept these as faithful sayings.

What Do You Think Of Yourself

What do you think about yourself?  What do you think about your abilities, your potential, and what you have accomplished in life?  There are two extremes one can go to.  One extreme is for a person to see himself as nothing and incapable of accomplishing anything worthwhile.  He is unwilling to try to accomplish much in life because he has failed before.  He sees others as much more capable and so he is willing to sit back and let others do the work and take the lead.  He is constantly putting himself down.  He is willing to take a back seat.  The other extreme is also common.  Such a person has too high an opinion of himself.  He is proud of his abilities and accomplishments.  He boasts about what he has done or what he can do.  He wants to be heard.  He wants his ideas and opinions and plans to be accepted and followed.  He does what he wants to do because he believes that his ways are always right.

The Israelites initially did not have a king.  Since they wanted to be like the nations around them, they asked God for a king.  God told the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul to be king (1 Samuel 9 and 10).  Saul was very handsome and he was taller than any of the people; he was blessed physically.  But Saul had a low opinion of himself; he was from the smallest tribe of Israel and his family was one of the least in the tribe.  When Samuel called all the people together to proclaim Saul as king, they couldn’t find him because he was hiding among the equipment.  Saul was bashful.  After Saul became King, his feelings of importance changed.  Now, he was the one everyone looked up to.  He made the decisions on what was to be done.  One time, God through Samuel told Saul to punish the people of Amalek for the bad things they had done.  Saul was told to utterly destroy the Amalekites and kill all of the people and all their animals.  Saul and his army went and destroyed most of the people and animals.  But he saved the king and the best of the animals.  1 Samuel 15:17-19 “So Samuel said, ‘When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?  Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’  Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?’” Saul changed from having too low an opinion of himself to having too high an opinion of himself when he made the decision to disobey God and do what he thought was best.  From Saul you should learn to have the appropriate opinion of yourself.

Having too low an opinion of yourself can cause you to be like the one talent man that Jesus taught about in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.  The one talent man did nothing with what he was given and he did not make a profit for his lord.  His lord called him wicked and lazy and he was cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Having too high an opinion of yourself leads you to be like the Pharisee that Jesus taught about in Luke 18:9-14.   His teaching was for those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.  Luke 18:11-12 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.   I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’”  This Pharisee was proud and righteous in his own eyes.  But he was not justified before God.

You need to be careful in you self-assessment.  Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”  You need to think about yourself and whether or not you are walking in the truth or not and whether or not you are contributing what you can to the kingdom of God.  Galatians 6:3-4 “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”  If your honest assessment of yourself is good, then you can be happy.  If it is not good, then pray God to help you correct what is missing.

When you think about yourself, don’t compare yourself to other people.  2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”  All of your abilities and resources come from God.  1 Corinthians 4:6b-7 “That none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.  For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  Give God the glory for everything.  2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”  It is only by the grace of God that you are saved.

We need each other.  Every one of us is necessary in the body of Christ to serve in God’s kingdom.  1 Corinthians 12:20-22 “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”  Rather than having too high an opinion of yourself, it is better to be humble and value others more than yourself.  Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

My encouragement to you is to have a sober judgement of yourself, having neither too high nor too low an opinion of yourself.

Pass It On

During Jesus’ ministry, he sent out seventy disciples to prepare the way for Him.  Luke 10:1-2 “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.  Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”  The potential harvest indeed is great for those who would obey the gospel.  But there are few laborers to bring them in.

Of all His disciples, He then chose twelve.  Luke 6:13-16 “And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.”  These twelve, Jesus named as apostles.  The word apostle means “sent”.   To these twelve (less Judas), He gave the great commission and sent them to the world.  Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.   Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’  Amen.”

During His ministry, Jesus concentrated on the twelve apostles and taught them the things he wanted them to learn and teach the world.  However, there were times when He went with just Peter, James, and John.  These three went with Him upon the mountain of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), when He healed the synagogue ruler’s daughter (Luke 8:51), and when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).  It appears that He concentrated His special training upon these three.

Jesus taught His message to a select few men who were then instructed to pass the message on to others.  The apostle Paul used this same method in spreading the gospel.  We know he trained Timothy and Titus; we have Paul’s instruction to these two in his letters to them that we call the Bible books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.  Perhaps there were others that Paul trained.  He wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  This seems to be the example for us – to train a few who in turn will be able to train others.  I encourage you to find those in your life whom you can train who will pass the word on to those who follow them. 

The family is one good place to put this plan to work.  Ephesians 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  Some parents take the position that they don’t want to pass their faith on to their children but they want their children to develop their own faith; I think this is a foolish path for parents to take.  It is contrary to what the scriptures teach.  The fathers are given the responsibility to bring up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Mothers are also very instrumental in the spiritual training of the children.  In my personal situation, I had godly parents who trained me.  But my grandmother was especially instrumental in my early spiritual training.  There was a time in my childhood where I had a special time every day with my grandmother for spiritual training.  Hopefully my story can serve as an encouragement to you as a parent or grandparent to guide your children in the training and admonition of the Lord.  In time, your children can pass the word on to their children or others that they know.

The local church should provide training for those who in time will pass it on to others.  Some congregations have one man who does the majority of the speaking and serving.  I believe it is God’s plan that multiple men participate in the edification of the church.  1 Corinthians 14:31 “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.”  In our congregation, we had an elder who made it his mission to train the youth of the congregation.  The boys received training in public speaking, music and song leading.  As a result of those efforts of the past, today we have a good group of men who provide excellent edification of the congregation through public speaking and song.  These, in turn, now provide training to the youth of the congregation.

You can also share the gospel with a friend or acquaintance.  When the early church faced persecution, they scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.  Acts 8:4 “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”  There are likely many of your neighbors who do not know the word.  You can share with them and when they are converted, they can share with others what they know.

The laborers in God’s vineyard are few.  My encouragement to you is to find opportunities to pass your faith and spiritual knowledge on to others.  Instruct faithful individuals who will be able to teach others also.

Be Not Deceived

Do you think you could be deceived by someone?  That is, that you could be led to believe what another person tells you when they are not telling the truth?  Maybe they are trying to sell you something that is not really what they say it is.  Of maybe they are trying to make you believe a story when the story is not true.  Yes, you might be deceived by someone else.  But what about deceiving yourself?  Do you deceive yourself?  Do you convince yourself that your actions are good when they really are not?  Do you tell yourself that you love God when your actions prove otherwise?  Are you confident that you are spiritual when the truth is that you are carnal?  When you deceive yourself that your thoughts and actions are righteous when they are not, you mock God.  God knows your actions, your thoughts, and even the intents of your heart.  Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  You cannot deceive God.

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  Are you engaging in sexual immorality and deceiving yourself that your actions are righteous?  As a man, do you look lustfully at a woman and deceive yourself that your thoughts are righteous?  Do you tell a lie or bend the truth and deceive yourself that all is well?  Do you have a strong desire for physical things and deceive yourself that you are spiritual?  Do you spend much time in entertainment and self-pleasure and deceive yourself that you are walking according to the Spirit?  In other words, are you really sowing to the flesh?

Consider a field in which you might plant rice or corn or wheat.  What do you expect to reap from that field?  From the beginning, God has caused each plant to produce after its kind (Genesis 2).  You expect to get rice when you plant rice, and corn when you plant corn, and wheat when you plant wheat?  In the same way, if you sow to your fleshly desires, you will of the flesh reap corruption – that is, decay and eventual spiritual death.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  You were washed, sanctified, and justified by God.  Don’t be deceived that you can continue sowing to the flesh and expect to reap eternal life.

Instead of sowing to the flesh, sow to the Spirit because of the Spirit you will reap life everlasting.  What does it mean to sow to the Spirit?  It means to occupy yourself with spiritual matters.  Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”  Sowing to the Spirit is contrary to sowing to the flesh.  It might include studying and meditating on His word, prayer, serving God and seeing that His cause is increased, serving those around you, being a spiritual light to others, denying yourself for the cause of Christ, and walking according to the Spirit.  Galatians 5:16-17 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” 

It is easy to see the errors in Biblical characters whose actions sometimes mocked God – characters such as King David when he sinned with Bathsheba, or King Solomon who took so many foreign wives and let them lead him into idolatry, or Balaam who loved the wages of unrighteousness, or Peter who denied Christ or even Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  It is even easy to see errors in the lives of people around you.  But it is more difficult to see the spirit of mockery in your own life.  Do a self-examination.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6 “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.  But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.” Ask God in prayer to show you where you might be deceived about yourself.  You do not want to be deceived like those that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’   And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Be not deceived.  God is not mocked.  Do not sow to the flesh but sow to the Spirit to reap everlasting life.

God Is Faithful

In the world today, you should be careful about trusting people of the world.  There are those who would scam you or deceive you and dishonestly take your money.  If you make an agreement with someone, he may or may not keep his part of the agreement.  Who can you trust?  There is one that you can be sure will keep His promises, and that is God.  While the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).  You can trust whatever God promises.  You can trust Him with your very life.

God is a faithful God.  Deuteronomy 7:9-10 “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.”  Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

When Sarah was initially told by the Lord that she would have a child when she was almost 90 years old, she laughed at what seemed ridiculous (Genesis 18:12).  But then she trusted in the Lord.  Hebrews 11:11 “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”  You and I need to judge Him faithful as well.  Lamentations          3:22-26 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

You can trust God’s promises.  2 Corinthians 1:20-22 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.  Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”  He has promised to guard you from the evil one.  2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”  He will make a way of escape from temptation.  1 Corinthians 10:12-13 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  You should not feel guilty for your past sins, because he is faithful and just to forgive your sins.  1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God can be trusted throughout your whole life.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”  Your labor for Him is not in vain.  He will reward you and give you eternal life.  Commit your way to Him.  2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Do you trust in the Lord?  Are you thankful for His faithfulness to you?  Praise God for His faithfulness.  Psalms 89:1-2 “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.  For I have said, ‘Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.’”  Psalms 92:1-2 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.”

Psalms 37:3-6 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”  My encouragement to you is to trust in the Lord and praise Him for His faithfulness.  He is faithful throughout your life with assurance of eternal life.

One Another

Some people are believers in Jesus Christ but they desire to keep to themselves.  They see no need to be part of a “church”.  Maybe they like to pray and worship God in “Nature”, in the trees, plants, animals and rocks away from everyone else.  Or maybe they feel that if they have their Bible and time with God in prayer, that is all they need.  Maybe they aren’t very sociable or maybe they have trouble relating with other people.  Or maybe they let some conflict or disagreement keep themselves isolated.  Those who choose to be by themselves may be selfish and only thinking of themselves; other believers need help on their Christian walk.  God’s design is that there be a community of believers that work together and help one another in their Christian walk.  Many times in the New Testament the writers use the expression “one another”.  This is an expression that describes how we should function as a community of believers.  Let us look at some of the scriptures that use this expression.

The first and most important way that you relate to “one another” is in love.  Jesus taught His disciples in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Love basically means that you seek the good of the one loved; love is not selfish.  You owe love to one another.  Romans 13:8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”  Loving one another is how you fulfill the law.   Because of your love, you serve one another.  Galatians 5:13-15 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”  Of course, biting and devouring one another is not love.

The next way that you relate to “one another” is to encourage and admonish one another.  Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  The assemblies of the church are a great opportunity to encourage one another.  Do not forsake the assemblies.  The assemblies should not be the only time you encourage one another.  Ephesians 5:19-21 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  Romans 15:14 “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”  Hebrews 3:12-13 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  Since you love your fellow Christians, you need to exhort them so that they stay faithful and grow spiritually.

Another way that you relate to “one another” is that you seek to be one.  Romans 15:5-6 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  If you insist on your way there will be division; but if you submit to one another, it goes a long way towards being one.  1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”  1 Corinthians 12:25-27 “That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

You work for the eternal salvation of one another.  It begins by praying for one another.  James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  If you see someone in a trespass, restore him gently.  Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  We all have burdens – some greater than others.  Help one another with life’s burdens.  Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”  You certainly would not want to do anything that might cause your brother to fall.

My encouragement to you is that you be aware of your “one another” responsibility in your Christian community.  Love and serve one another.

Eternal Life

In the beginning, God gave life.  Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  God gave life to Adam and through him we all receive life.  In contrast to that, I am sure that you have witnessed death of friends and loved ones.  You know that you will die someday if Jesus doesn’t return first.  Life here in the flesh is temporary.  It is appropriate to consider whether or not death is the end.  Or is it the beginning of something more?

Jesus told us in John 3:14-16 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  God sent his Son so that you and I can have everlasting life – life without end.  That is something worth seeking; it is worth doing whatever is necessary to obtain everlasting life without death.

Consider a few of the things that the Bible says about eternal life.  Jesus said in John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Romans 2:6-7 “Who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.”  Romans 6:22-23 “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Do what you must to receive the gift of eternal life.  Matthew 18:8-9 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”  Galatians 6:8 “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  The way that leads to life may be difficult at times, but everlasting life is worth it all.

There is a Book of Life which contains the names of those who have eternal life.  Philippians 4:3 “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”  Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  You must have your name written in the Book of Life so that you will inherit eternal life.  Revelation 21:27 “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

What will you do for eternity?  Some people think you will be sitting on clouds, playing a harp.  Here is what the apostle John saw.  Revelation 22:1-5 “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”  You will be with God and Jesus.  You will serve them and you will reign forever and ever.

It is good to look forward to eternal life.  2 Corinthians 5:4 “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”  The apostle Paul encouraged the young man Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  I encourage you to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life.

The Exaltation of Jesus

After Jesus was crucified, he arose from the grave on the third day.  He was with His disciples for forty days and then he ascended into heaven.  On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they miraculously spoke in tongues.  The apostle Peter spoke to the crowd about Jesus.  Acts 2:31-36 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.  For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  God has made Jesus the Lord and the Christ, the anointed one.  Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father.  The right hand of an individual of power and authority was traditionally identified as a place of honor.  This communicates that God has honored Jesus and given him power and authority.

How exalted is Christ?  Ephesians 1:20-21 “Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”  Christ has been exalted far above all principality, power, might and dominion.  Not just a little above them, but far above them all.

The exaltation of Jesus Christ is foretold in prophesy.  Isaiah 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”  Look at the name He has received:  Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  How great is His name!  Daniel 7:13-14 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”  He has supreme authority, He rules over all peoples, and they should serve Him.  His kingdom will never be destroyed.

The apostle John describes what he saw in heaven.  Revelation 5:11-13 “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’  And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:  ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’”  Jesus is the Lamb.  He has received power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.

Jesus is now reigning as King in heaven.  He is described as Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 17:14).  In the end, Jesus will give the kingdom back to God the Father.  1 Corinthians 15:24-28 “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’  But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”

God exalted Jesus because Jesus first humbled Himself and became obedient in dying on the cross.  Philippians 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

My encouragement to you is to bow your knee before Jesus in worship and submission.  Serve Him.  Confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord, to the glory of God the Father.