When I sit down to hear someone preach the Word I desire to be challenged, not just given warm fuzzies!
Today, it is my hope that what I share will challenge you, disturb you even and stretch you out of your comfort zone. Hopefully, having done that it is my prayer that something of what I share or the understanding or insight you gain from it will place in your heart a stronger desire to know the Lord more deeply; to know his Word more intimately, and to desire to be more obedient to Him and to have a more eternal perspective on your life today.
Along the way I hope you will learn more about how truly good our God is!
Before I begin I would like you all to list the five greatest blessings that god has given you. List them in any order and don’t look at anyone else’s for inspiration!
Now underline which is the greatest of these.
Finally for now list the three greatest disasters or curses in your life, again in any order. Please don’t discuss with anyone for now and don’t put your name on it – this is between you and God.
[Give 5 mins to complete] – now fold away for later.
Let me summarise the lives of three men of God:
The first – lost great wealth; his servants were killed; his sheep burned; his camels taken; his sons & daughters killed; his body tortured with painful boils, etc; his spirit broken; lost his friends and his relatives deserted him; he was despised by his own; and his wife found his breath offensive!
The second – imprisoned at least twice; threatened with abuse & stoning; stoned and left for dead; beaten many times; shipwrecked; bitten by a deadly creature; and finally beheaded!
The third – imprisoned many times and for the first 4 years of his first child’s life; in prison for half of his married life; beaten many times to the point of being crippled; very sick with terminal illness; starved; and severely electrocuted!
Was God good to Job, Paul & Brother Yun? From a non-Christian perspective we would surely say NO! But from an eternal perspective God has and will continue to greatly bless and reward these men!
What about Isaiah? A stately gentleman with a good education who was married with 2 sons and knew Christ intimately – the ‘Paul’ of the OT yet after 60 years of ministry he was sawn in two!
God is good – surely that would seem self evident and yet it isn’t a popular world view – the god of Islam, Allah is not a good god – they may say ‘god is good’ but the Sura/Koran says that God lies – surely that is not good. The Koran also says “that God has no son.” Obviously, if true, this denies that Jesus is the son of God. This would mean he died in vain and we believe in vain and as Paul says “are to be most pitied.”
Most non-Christians and perhaps many Christians also believe God is a kill-joy! For example God gives us the wonderful pleasure of sex and then tells us not to have it outside of marriage and also within marriage commands us to have sex even when one partner may not want to!
Is that good?
God gave us the ten commandments and many think these moral laws restrict our freedom and pleasure – and yet these laws are like the physical laws such as gravity. Whether we like it or not we can’t escape the effects of gravity, we must factor gravity’s effects into our lives – similarly, if we want our life to run more smoothly we must accept God’s moral laws and work with them not against them.
The problem is that we often have such a short-sighted view that God’s laws that God’s way seems to be dull, boring, lacking in fun, etc.
What do I mean by sort-sighted – our view is a worldly view which only considers the here and now not the eternal.
To quote C. S. Lewis: "If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
God’s goodness – what about SEX?
Many both young & old will say something like "But we really love each other" as an excuse for sex outside marriage. But this has no bearing on the ethics of sexual intimacy. Sex does not become permissible through subjective feelings, but only through the objective, lifelong commitment of marriage. Those are God's rules. There's nothing we can do to change them. The rules are always enforced. When we break them they always break us.
A smart traveler doesn't curse guardrails. He doesn't whine, "That guardrail dented my fender!" He looks over the cliff, sees demolished autos, and thanks God for guardrails.
God's guardrails are his moral laws. They are there not to punish or deprive us but to protect us. God doesn't forbid us fleeting pleasures out of malice. Rather, he calls us to higher and lasting pleasures out of love. His warnings stand between us and destruction.
Temptations always look good—otherwise they wouldn't be temptations. We must believe God that what Satan says will be good, will in fact turn out bad. Always.
Resisting temptation is a gutsy, courageous, stubborn refusal to violate God's law. It's repeatedly calling upon Christ for the strength to say "no" to the world, the flesh, and the devil—to say "yes" to God instead. We do this in pursuit of the ultimate joy that can only be found in knowing God.
Our desires, without an eternal perspective often draw us to sinful pursuits.
But if you act supernaturally, drawing on the power of the in-dwelling Christ, you'll enjoy great personal benefits, now and later.
Sooner or later, sexual sin will be exposed.
"You may be sure that your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
Solomon said, "The man of integrity walks securely, but the man who takes crooked paths will be found out" (Proverbs 10:9).
Here's a thought that should give everyone pause - There's no such thing as a private moment.
Jesus warned His disciples: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (Luke 12:1-3).
One of Satan's oldest tactics is to weave a phony web of secrecy, casting an illusion of privacy over our sinful choices. He tells us, "No one is watching. No one will know."
But he's lying. Someone is watching-the Audience of One. Someone already knows. And in time, many will know.
We never get away with anything.
A sexual image lures my mind toward lust. The world, the flesh and the devil barrage me with messages: I will feel like a man or a woman; it will relieve my pain, disappointment, stress. I'll be happier if I surrender.
God's Word shows the lie for what it is. It tells me that real happiness can only be found in Christ.
I'm left with the choice—trust Satan or trust God.
I must choose between sexual fantasies and intimacy with God. I cannot have both. When I see that God offers me joys and pleasures that sexual fantasies don't, this is a breakthrough. But that breakthrough will come only when I pursue God, making Him the object of my quest-and when I realize that fantasies are only a cheap God-substitute. Running to them is running from God.
When my thirst for joy is satisfied by Christ, sin becomes unattractive. I say no to the passing pleasures of immorality, not because I do not want pleasure, but because I want true pleasure, a greater and lasting pleasure that can only be found in Christ.
Those who drink of immorality are never satisfied (John 4:13).
Those who drink of Jesus are fully satisfied (John 6:35).
I can either have my thirst quenched in Jesus, or I can plunge deeper into sin in search of what's not there.
The rest of your life will be greatly determined by how you answer this question:
Who will you believe? Satan or God
If you will believe God and therefore desire to protect your purity you need to set mental boundaries.
On a scale of one to ten, adultery or pornography addiction might be a ten, at the top of a ladder. But the question is, what were the bottom rungs of that ladder-the ones, twos, and threes? When we identify those, disaster prevention can take place.
Of course, prevention's not always easy-but it's a lot easier than the alternative: misery.
Often we say we want purity, but then we make choices which sabotage purity. Choices have consequences.
If we want different consequences we must make different choices.
Job says, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl" (Job 31:1).
Job made a commitment to guard his heart by guarding his eyes. The verses that follow spell out the terrible consequences should he not live by this covenant of purity (Job 31:2-12).
A covenant is an agreement between God and man. Are you prepared to make a sacred commitment to God-and to your family and comrades. This agreement would be to not look at - and to immediately turn away from - whatever pulls us toward lust.
Have you already made a contract with your eyes, to not look where they shouldn't?
Are you practicing this purity covenant when you walk down the street? When you work out? When you drive? When you select television shows? Even when you're at church?!
Have you announced your covenant to others? Have you asked them to pray for you and hold you accountable to it? Have you restated your covenant before God?
If not, why not consider it now?
Let me share the Parable of the Doughnuts:
Imagine someone whose weakness is eating doughnuts. His doctor says, "No more doughnuts." He vows to God, "No more doughnuts." He promises his family "No more doughnuts." He calls the church and gets on the prayer chain. He even goes to a doughnut deliverance ministry to have the demon of doughnut desire cast out of him.
Here's a guy who means business, right?
But then what does he do? Well, if he's like a lot of us, he goes right on reading about doughnuts, listening to doughnut music, and watching television programs about making doughnuts. He spends his time with other doughnut lovers talking about doughnuts, joking about doughnuts at the office, where he often glances at the doughnut calendars on the wall. He looks through the newspaper for doughnut coupons and subscribes to Doughnut Desires, with its glossy, colour photos.
It's not long before he's driving to work the long way that "just happens" to go by a doughnut shop. He rolls down the window and inhales. Pretty soon he's buying the morning paper from the rack right outside the doughnut shop. He's lingering just long enough to check out doughnuts through the window.
Then he remembers he has to make a phone call, and hey, what do you know, the doughnut shop has a pay phone. And since he's there anyway, why not have a cup of coffee?
Now, remember, this man has no intention of breaking his vow and eating doughnuts. But the totally predictable and inevitable result is—what?
That he will give in and eat doughnuts!
And can't you just hear his sad lament? "What went wrong? I prayed! I asked others to pray. I asked God for deliverance. Why try? I give up. You do your best and look what happens!"
If we learn nothing else from the parable of the doughnuts, we should learn that sincere intentions, and even prayers, are not enough. To have victory over temptation we must have clear goals and sound strategies, and we must diligently carry them out.
What's our first line of defense against impurity?
Romans 13:14 instruct us to "make no provision for the flesh."
It's really stupid to deliberately put ourselves in a position where we'll likely commit sin. Whether it's the lingerie department, the swimming pool, the workout room at an athletic club, if it trips you up, stay away from it.
Proverbs describes the loose woman meeting up with the foolish man after dark (Proverbs 7:8-9).
We must stay away from people, places and contexts that make sin more likely.
If it's certain bookstores or hangouts, STAY AWAY FROM THEM. If cable or network TV, or old friends from high school, the Internet, or computers are your problem, GET RID OF THEM.
Just say NO to whatever is pulling you away from Jesus.
Remember, if you want a different outcome you must make different choices.
So have you made this covenant with God? If not, will you do it now?
[Break here – Think of at least one area where you put yourself into tempting situations. Decide to stop and share this decision with someone now!
Is there someone here today prepared to lead us in prayer for our covenants before God?]
God asks us to be obedient to Him – is that good? Is that an example of God’s goodness.
Yes indeed, He offers us incomparable riches, but He also has laid down the law which tells us that ‘the wages of sin is death’. We are all sinners – to enter into the indescribable riches of the Coming Age we must first accept Jesus as Lord.
What does this mean – clearly we must believe that He died to save us but also to accept Him as Lord means to give Him mastery over as lives as much as is humanely possible – that means we must be obedient to Him – to be obedient we need to know what He instructs as to do – the only sure way of knowing this is to study and continue to study His Word.
In being obedient to Him, we will, in our actions serve Him and His kingdom. The more we do for the Lord the more we will gain rewards that will last an eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. God gave us desires for pleasure, power, possessions … - He offers the greatest fulfillment of these desires to us for eternity in the Coming Ageif we chose to obey..
God is eternal. His Place is eternal. His Word is eternal. His people are eternal. Centre your life around God, his place, his Word, his people, and those eternal souls who desperately long for his person and his place. Do this, and no matter what you do for a living, your days here will make a profound difference. An honest activity-whether building a shed, driving a bus, pruning trees, changing nappies, or caring for a patient-can be an investment in God's kingdom.
God calls us to obey Him not simply because it’s right but because its smart.
Similarly, disobedience is stupid.
Matthew 7 24 "Therefore
whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise
man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the
floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall,
for it was founded on the rock.
26"But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
A man who obeys is not called a righteous man but a “wise man”. The point is not that he is virtuous to follow God’s commandments but that he is smart to do so.
Similarly he who disobeys is foolish because he has chosen the self-punishing consequences of foolishness.
Jesus in Mat 6 encourages us to store up treasures in heaven from where, upon redemption, they will last for all time, not on earth where they will be lost. He encourages up to be smart, not stupid!
Revelation 197Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." 8And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Immediately after Paul says
our salvation is “not by works” he adds” Ephesians
10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God has a lifetime of good works for each of us to do, including many works with our money and possessions. He will reward us according to whether or not we do them.
Christ will say to some but not all believers “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matt 25:21. Not “Well said” or “well believed” but “Well done”.
God is good – so why is this world so full of evil?
Surely, you might argue, if God were full of goodness He would create a place where “ … himself (personal) will wipe away every tear." No evil. No fear. No abuse, rape, murder, drugs, drunkenness, no bombs or guns. Where we can walk streets at night. No miscommunication or fear of misunderstanding.
Yes, God is good and God will provide all of this and more, but only in the Kiingdom of God.
The Kiingdom of God will be deeply appreciated by the handicapped who will not be handicapped any longer. Think of those who can’t walk and run and hear. Think of those blind from birth who will see for the first time. The hymn writer Fanny Crosby said, "Do not pity me for my blindness, for the first face I ever see will be the face of my Lord Jesus."
There will be great joy in the Kiingdom of God. "In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forever more. – Ps 16:11" Of course, the greatest joy of the Coming Age will be being joined to Christ. If we truly love Christ we long to be with him. As a bride is incomplete without her bridegroom, so are we without him. We long for the wedding, we long to consummate the relationship. Every other concern in life is secondary.
Perhaps the next greatest joy will be being joined to our departed loved ones. The great reunion. That's what 1 Thessalonians 4 is saying--we will be together again.
1 Thess 4:16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
The certainty of ultimate reunion is so sweet that it makes the parting bearable and almost exciting. None of us like to be away from our families, but the one redeeming feature is the anticipation of reunion. And the longer the separation the more glorious the reunion. Some of you will meet parents you've not seen for fifty years, some will meet for the first time your child or grandchild who died before birth.
God’s goodness: Money
Christ's words were direct and profound when He said "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6 : 21) What we do with our possessions is a sure indicator of what's in our hearts. Jesus is saying, "Show me your checkbook, your credit card statement, and your receipts for cash expenditures, and I'll show you where your heart is." What we do with our money doesn't lie. It is a bold statement to God of what we truly value.
But what we do with our money doesn't simply indicate where our heart is. According to Jesus, it determines where our heart goes. This is an amazing and exciting truth. If I want my heart to be in one particular place and not in another , then I need to put my money in that place and not in the other.
You may have heard people say "I want more of a heart for missions. " Perhaps we should respond, "Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put your money in missions, and
your heart will follow."
Do you wish you had a greater heart for the poor and lost? Then give your money to help the poor and reach the lost. Do you want your heart to be in your church? Put your money there. Your heart will always be where your money is and not where your money isn't.
If most of your money is in mutual funds, retirement, your house, or your hobby, that's where your heart's going to be.
Suppose you're giving to help African children with AIDS, or you're sponsoring a child in PNG. When you see an article on the subject, you're hooked. If you're sending money to plant churches in India and an earthquake hits India, you watch the news and fervently pray. Why? Because your heart is where your treasure is.
You may have heard people say "My heart isn't in all the things of God." Is it because your treasure isn't in the things of God? Put your resources, your assets, your money and possessions, your time and talents and energies into the things of God. As surely as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow.
Our time on earth in this mortal body is very short – it is a dot. Eternity in comparison goes on and on like a line. Are you living for the dot or for the line?
Giving is living for the line.
We'll each part with our money. The only question is when. We have no choice but to part with it later. But we do have the choice of whether to part with it now. We can keep earthly treasure for the moment, and we may get some temporary enjoyment from it. But if we give it away, we'll enjoy eternal treasures that will never be taken from us.
Foolish people live for the dot. Wise people live for the line.
It's all about perspective. The believer's view of reality should be radically different than the nonbeliever's. We should live differently because we see differently. We witness the same current events, but interpret them differently.
We eat the same food, exchange the same currency, but live according to two different purposes. These purposes are based squarely on two different perspectives--0ne that looks at life in the short run and the other that looks at life in the long run.
When our eyes are set on eternity, the news that someone has come to know the Saviour means a great deal more than the news of a salary raise or the prospect of getting the latest high-tech gadget. Of course, the salary raise, and perhaps the gadget, can be used for the kingdom of God. But the point is that neither one in itself is ultimately important, whereas new birth, which affects the eternal destiny of a precious human being, is vitally important.
The Christian, who accumulates land and houses and bank accounts, but doesn't invest in eternity, isn't depicted by Jesus in his sermon as unrighteous, greedy, or selfish -though he might be any or all of these.
Rather, he's depicted as shortsighted. Blind. Unwise is too weak a word-this person is stupid, stupid on the grandest scale, as stupid as the rich fool of Luke 12. As stupid as the man who found the treasure in the field would have been to hold on to his paltry possessions instead of trading them in for what was of far greater value.
The one with good eyes, the one with an eternal perspective, is accurate in his or her appraisal of what is important.
Like the poor widow in Mark 12, this person is eternally wise. With vision corrected by biblical "laser surgery," this person sees life through the eyes of eternity. Unlike the average person, the believer stares through the haze and peers beyond the horizons of this world to another.
Suppose I offer you $1,000 to spend today however you want. Not a bad deal. But suppose I give you a choice-you can either have that $1, 000 today, or you can have ten million dollars if you'll wait one year - then ten million more every year thereafter.
Only a fool would take the $1,000 today. Yet that's what we do whenever we grab onto what will last for only a moment, forgoing something far more valuable we could enjoy later for much longer. A year may seem a long time to wait. But after it's done - as when our lives here are done - it will seem like it passed quickly.
The money God entrusts to us is eternal investment capital. Every day is an opportunity to buy up more shares in his kingdom.
You can't take it with you, but you can send it
What you do with your resources in this life is your autobiography. The book you've written with the pen of faith and the ink of works will go into eternity unedited, to be seen and read as is by the angels, the redeemed, and God himself.
When we view today in light of the long tomorrow, the little choices become tremendously important. Whether I read my Bible today, pray, go to church, share my faith, and give my money - graciously empowered not by my flesh but by his Spirit - is of eternal consequence, not only for other souls, but mine.
At death we put the signature to our life's portrait.
The paint dries. The portrait's done. Those who've dabbled in photography understand the "fixer." In developing a photograph, the negatives are immersed in different solutions. The developing solution parallels this life. As long as the photograph is in the developer it's subject to change. But once it's dropped into the fixer or "stop bath," it's permanently fixed. The photograph is done. What you see is what you get. So it will be when we die and enter eternity-the lives we lived on earth will be fixed as is, never to be altered or revised.
This life is our opportunity. Scripture does not teach what most of us seem to assume--that heaven will transform each of us into equal beings with equal possessions and equal responsibilities and equal capacities. It does not say our previous lives will be of no eternal significance. It says exactly the opposite.
Can’t we also claim great wealth now, based on Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:29?
Mark 1029"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. What did Jesus mean here?
First, Christ was speaking here to the apostles – they were not wealthy in this life.
Many of the prosperity preachers who misuse this scripture have not for a start meet the conditions of this passage – unlike the disciples, they haven’t given up their material goods or left their families to follow Christ.
Third, the phrase “in this present age” does indeed refer to this world, but in what sense does it mean we are to receive “many times” or “a hundred times” as much in terms of homes, brothers, sisters, parents, children and fields? The only words of a material nature are fields and possibly homes. Yet even the word for home (oikia) may mean not the house itself but the household or inhabitants of the house – that is, the family.
Even if Christ was referring to a physical house, is he promising that all believers who give up the roof over their head will literally own many other houses in this life? Clearly not, because everything we know about the apostles to whom he was speaking, from biblical and extra-biblical sources, suggests none of them were wealthy. Indeed, if the hundred fold blessing was a literal promise of houses, those receiving it would have to own a hundred houses and a hundred fields, not just merely a half a dozen or so!
If Jesus literally meant to say that the faithful believer would own large numbers of houses and fields, did he also mean to say that the disciples would have a hundred children and that hundreds of older folks would become their literal parents? Obviously not!
Christ was saying that those who would follow him, in leaving behind what was theirs would become part of a larger family of faith, where relationships are deep and possessions are freely shared. Everywhere the apostles went they would find “homes” that were theirs for as long as they wished to stay, meals prepared from the harvest of “fields” freely shared with them. They would have “brothers” and “sisters” to fellowship with, “parents” to give them wisdom and guidance and love and “children” who would learn at their feet and whom they would guide into Christ-likeness.
The same rich reservoir of relationships and possessions is available today to all who would follow the Lord.
Note that its also striking that prosperity preachers who quote Mark 10:30 almost never comment on the phrase “and with them, persecutions.”
God does choose to prosper his people in material ways. Luke 6:38. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
God is a giver by nature, he loves to give to his children and he rewards our generosity.
The question is “Why does he prosper us?” When he blesses us financially what does he expect us to do with the abundance?
John 13 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
In the context of financial giving Paul says” God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need (not want!), you will abound in every good work”
2 Corinthians 9 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work)
That is God provides us with abundance precisely so we can use it to do good works
2 Corinthians 9 11while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. God entrusts riches to us not so we can keep them, but so we can generously give.
2 Corinthians 8 13For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack--that there may be equality.
Giving away our excess does something for us that keeping or spending it doesn’t. It makes us dependent on God, and keeps us open to the possibility that at some point we may need to depend on others, just as they are currently depending on us.
It’s all really God’s anyway – broken pencil demonstration here?
When righteous Job lost
everything, including his own sons and daughters, he fell to the ground and
worshiped God saying:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Job 2 9Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" 10But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
[Break here – give a commitment to give of your first fruits to some new area of ministry – name it if possible and share your vision – again prayer]
You’ll be in heaven anyway if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord & Saviour so does it really matter whether you do things now for God?
2 Corinthians 5 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
“whether good or bad” this is a disturbing verse. This verse rubs against the grain. We say to ourselves “But we can’t experience recompense or consequences for bad things we’ve done – that contradicts grace and forgiveness!”
Equally disturbing is the direct statement to Christians that not only will they receive reward from Christ for their good works, but
Colossians 3 25But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
Since Christ has paid the price for our sins, if we have confessed and received forgiveness of our sins, what can this mean?
Our sins are totally forgiven when we come to Christ and we do stand justified in Him (Romans 5 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.)
Scripture is empathic on this point. Nevertheless the Bible does speak about a coming judgment of our works, not our sins. When we commit sins OR neglect doing righteous acts we should have done, we are not doing what we could have done to lay up precious stones/treasures on the foundation of Christ. Therefore this contributes our “suffering loss”. Through this loss of reward, the believer is considered to be receiving his “due: for his works, “whether good or bad” What we do as believers whether good or bad will have eternal consequences.
God’s greatest gift: ‘The greatest gift of God is life … ‘I am the life, the way & the truth …’
His greatest example of good – the grace by which we are saved through Jesus paying for our sins!
John 1:1, 14 "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth"
Jesus is full of two things: grace and truth.
When Jesus stepped onto the world’s stage, people could not only hear the demands of truth but see Truth Himself. No longer fleeting glimmers of grace, but Grace Himself. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
Grace is a delightful, fragrant word. It intrigues. Attracts. Compels. Dazzles.
Birds need two wings to fly. With only one wing, they’re grounded. The gospel flies with the wings of grace and truth. Not one, but both.
The apparent conflict between grace and truth isn’t because they’re incompatible, but because we lack perspective to resolve their paradox. The two are interdependent. We should never approach truth except in a spirit of grace, or grace except in a spirit of truth. Jesus wasn’t 50% grace, 50% truth, but 100% grace, 100% truth.
Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they’re quick to judge and slow to forgive. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.
Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect biblical study and see moral standards as "legalism." They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.
Countless mistakes in marriage, parenting, ministry and other relationships are failures to balance grace and truth. Sometimes we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other.
Our minds don’t seem big enough to hold onto grace and truth at the same time. Like a dog chasing two balls, we go after the grace ball — only to drop the truth ball to make room for it. We need to stretch our undersized mouths/minds to hold them both at once.
A paradox is an apparent contradiction. Grace and truth aren’t really contradictory. Jesus didn’t switch on truth, then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are permanently switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.
Truth without grace breeds a self-righteousness legalism that poisons the church and pushes the world from Christ.
Grace without truth breeds moral indifference and keeps people from seeing their need for Christ.
Attempts to "soften" the gospel by minimizing truth keep people from Jesus. Attempts to "toughen" the gospel by minimizing grace keep people from Jesus.
It’s not enough for us to offer grace or truth. We must offer both. That is a great challenge and another need for prayer!
Perhaps you can recognize in yourself a tendency toward a lack of truth or a lack of grace in your life?
Perhaps those who are in the truth camp need more empathy, and hence more suffering??
Perhaps those in the grace camp need more revelation, more of God’s Word and to see more clearly the consequence of moral indifference in their lives and the world around them.
Let us pray!
God’s goodness? Adversity & Curses?
Even our adversity and apparent curses can be used for good by God.
Romans 8 28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We make many bad choices but the fact that we are here today making a choice for God shows that He can turn those bad choices into growth and learning experiences that ultimately benefit us.
He will not normally take away the consequences of those bad/sinful choices, just like He doesn’t switch gravity off just to suit a foolish person who has jumped off a building. But he will/can heal us if we seek his healing.
God even blesses us against our will at times – because like a good father, he knows best.
Now unfold the paper you wrote your lists on at the beginning – are they still the same on reflection? Can you see where one or more of the curses/worst mistakes of your life have been used for good by God?
A possible top 5 blessings:
1. Being saved for eternal life in the Coming Age, the Kingdom of God,
2. Knowing God now thru His Word – how precious is your Bible!, Christian writings and your pastor,
3. Having a relationship with your fellow believers – your brothers & sisters in Christ who you will share eternity with,
4. Your rewards to come after the return of Jesus for doing God’s work now,
5. God’s presence in your life today:
a. In the blessings He bestows to bring you joy now
b. In the discipline He administers to help you become more obedient to Him and maintain your faith in Him (eg the guardrails)
c. In the suffering he has allowed which brings you into a deeper relationship with Him and helps you understand and empathize with others to enable you to reach them for Christ.
Reflection on sexual purity:
Is there some area of you life where you put yourself under too much temptation and which you see now you need to remove yourself from?
Reflection on giving:
Have you been given a conviction to give more; to give of your first fruits even/regardless of your debts?
Reflection on your knowledge of God:
Have you come to know something of God in a fuller or deeper way?
Have you been challenged in any way to go from here today and make different choices?
May we close in prayer – Lord thank you!!!!!