Sunday, November 01, 2015

Doing Everything for Him

One thing the Lord has been impressing on my heart lately is the importance of doing everything that we do for Him. It is so easy to do certain things for Him, especially the more directly ministry-related things (church, Awana, etc.), while doing almost everything else just because it is what we do. Often times it may not be noticeable from the outside. When I'm sitting at my desk at work, coworkers might not see me typing extra fast and decide that it must be because I'm working for the Lord and not for men. But Lord willing, they will see me as a diligent worker and see the Lord through me. It is so vital that we do the right things... and not just the right things, but do them with the right motives.

This evening, we were putting some fliers on doors for a Grief Seminar in the community that our church is putting on next weekend. It was a constant battle in my heart when I'd see an open garage or someone in the yard to want to skip that house out of fear of awkwardness or whatever the case may be. I walked up to one garage with a few guys in there... shirts off drinking beer watching a football game. It's at points like that where the Lord really has to work in my heart and remind this often hard-headed guy that those guys need the Lord as much as I do. One of the other people I walked up to was leaving and I wasn't even going to go to that house yet, but this young man didn't look like he would be the kind of guy that would do anything but laugh at me handing him a card that says, "Grief" on it... and yet when I did (thanks to the Holy Spirit not letting me get away with walking on), he thanked me several times and said that he really needed this right now. It almost brings me to tears because I wasn't going to stop and hand it to him. I was going to put it on his door, but whoever was home likely would have taken it and thrown it away before he got back. Yet, God was gracious to him and to me by granting the courage to do it because of Him--because He is worth it. I feel so pitiful sometimes... so weak and lacking in boldness. People are dying every day because they believe in Jesus and I can't walk up to someone and hand them a flier. It comes down to motivation. Am I passing out fliers for Daniel, or am I passing it out for the God of the universe?

I was encouraging a friend recently that we work for a King--the King of the universe. We would do well to remember that as we go about our daily lives whether that be at home, work, softball, interactions with neighbors, grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank, etc. Take a look at this:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
This is something that seems to come back to me often. I wish I could learn this lesson one time. One of the two sermons that I've had the opportunity to preach was on this very thing--how quickly I lose focus! I am such a poor judge of people's hearts. Who am I to think that I know who needs and doesn't need to hear the message of hope that comes from the God of all comfort?! A friend of mine was challenging me on this very thing yesterday. As he was sharing about his own life and how he has often been wrong in this area... that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart, I was challenged but didn't do anything with that challenge. God gave me something to do this afternoon. I love how He is so faithful to teach me things. He can speak truth to me through His Word and through others and then follow it up with a chance to put it into action. I am so grateful that he works through our weaknesses and grants us more courage and more faith as we are obedient in small ways.

God, make Yourself so glorious in my heart that I'd do everything for Your glory! Cast down the idol of myself and fill me with Christ so that I might love Him and please Him. Grant me boldness to do whatever I do because of Him rather than for me. Show me when my motives are anything other than to glorify You. Thank You for Your faithfulness and grace.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Buried--but not still buried!

Our sermon last week was about Jesus being buried and what that means for us as God's children. I was reading in this morning in Acts 2 when the man who denied knowing Jesus three times stood in dependence on the Lord and spoke boldly for His name's sake. I love the way he compares Jesus' burial to David's burial (the king they respected the most). Take a look:
Acts 2:29-39 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
With David, all we have are memories... the things he has written... stories about him... etc. With Christ, He said that it is for our benefit that He died, was buried, and raised again to sit at the right hand of the Father, for if He didn't, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent to us (John 16:7)! The Holy Spirit is sent to guide us in all the truth (John 16:13). God made Jesus both Lord (Master, ruler, owner of everything, the one with all authority) and Christ (Messiah, the Anointed One, savior). What is David to us today? He is a man that died many many years ago, a man after God's own heart, but a man that made a mess of a lot of things during his life time. We have some of his words as encouragement to us as we try to live to please the Lord. But with Christ, we have the Holy Spirit with us! We have a living Savior! We have the hope of being resurrected someday (1 Cor. 15)!

It says that the people hearing this were pierced to the heart. I think we are often not pierced to the heart by His Words because we have hardened our hearts. But I think we would do well to understand why they were pierced to the heart and why we ought to be. It wasn't just them that crucified Jesus. It was us. Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The people listening asked an important question: "What shall we do?" We must ask the same question... whether we have a relationship Jesus or not, we must ask ourselves the same question. Peter says to these men and women that they ought to repent and be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit. For me, having repented and having been baptized, this is the most important decision one can make. To repent and submit ourselves fully to Christ is to have hope of eternal life with Him. But every day is a day of repenting for me as a child of God. No, we don't become perfect all of a sudden... and no, my repenting doesn't earn me salvation. Jesus' death and resurrection paid the entire cost of my sin. My repenting is the appropriate response to Him for all He has done. I must turn from my sin and turn to Christ as my ruler.

As we celebrate Easter, may we remember that He was buried, just like David... but He didn't stay buried. Since He didn't stay buried, "what shall we do?"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Counting the Cost

This concept is really well known in the business world, perhaps not as well known as it should be in our personal finances, but when it comes to our life direction, it is absolutely essential. In the business world, if we don't count the cost correctly, we might bid low on a job and lose money. In our personal finances, we might start a project and not be able to finish it... or in the worst case, have to declare bankruptcy. When it comes to our life direction, we either determine to follow the Christ or to live our own way. We need to count the cost for these choices.

Let's look at the cost of these choices:

If we determine to live for Christ:
  • We must give up living for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
  • We must be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ (Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 3:13-17, Matthew 10:22)
  • We must have new priorities--now Christ must take first place (Colossians 1:17-18, 1 John 5:21)
  • We must be willing to give up anything for the sake of Christ, perhaps family, friends, jobs, possessions, health, money, comforts, etc. (Luke 9:57-62)
  • We must commit for the long-haul... not just for the moment (Matthew 24:13

If we determine to live for ourselves:
  • We will spend eternity separated from God in hell (Revelation 20:11-15).
  • We will live a life of being humbled by God (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6)
  • We will find ourselves hoping in worthless things that will always let us down (Isaiah 44:9-20).
  • Our lives will ultimately be useless (1 Peter 1:18)
  • We will have no lasting peace (Romans 5:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:3)

We have a decision to make. We must count the cost of both options. We would do well to carefully consider the words of Jesus. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? This is not an easy choice, but is the most important choice we will make.