Here’s a verse that stood out to me today. May it be an encouragement to continue to be faithful to serve God.
9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.10 So then, [b]while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
From my many posts it should be clear that the Bible teaches salvation is by God’s grace. Nevertheless when we serve God faithfully and not lose heart we do reap rewards. Again the reward is not our salvation; but this is in reference to reward after our salvation.
When serving God is hard, when you feel like giving up this verse tells us don’t give up! Don’t become weary. Be motivated with the truth in verse 8 that what we reap we will sow from God. Press on!
As Samuel listened to the Israelites, a pang of grief shot through his chest. For as long as he could remember, he had been in service to Jehovah. His mother told him the story each year when she came to visit him, of how he had been given to her by the Lord and why she had given him back to God. The years flew before his eyes in a flash, and he gazed mournfully at the group assembled before him.
He had served faithfully all these years—and they were rejecting Him.
The people said, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Dejected, Samuel consulted the Lord in prayer. As always, God faithfully responded with an answer. The sound of the Lord’s voice still filled him with a mingling of joy, fear, and awe, even after all these years.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8.7-9)
Samuel’s heart ached for the Lord’s sorrow far more than his own. God was grieved! He did as God commanded, explaining to the people all the challenges and problems associated with an earthly king. Surely now they would see their foolishness.
But the people said, “No! But there shall be a king over us,that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8.19-20).
The Israelites wanted to be like all the nations surrounding them. They desired a king who would provide them with Security, Happiness, and Pride, not realizing they had rejected the blessings of God through their own pride and disobedience.
Are we guilty of wanting someone or something to care for us besides God?
Do we seek other kings to rule in our hearts so we can be like everyone around us?
The King of Security
This world is an uncertain place so we seek security.
living in “safe” neighborhoods
installing security cameras
carrying a weapon
carrying insurance (life, health, home, auto)
invest in retirement
pursue well-paying, stable careers
None of these things are inherently bad. It is wise to save money, particularly for emergencies. It is smart to try to live in a good neighborhood. Carrying insurance is usually required by law, but it is also useful in a crisis.
The question we need to ask ourself is, in what (or whom) do we actually place our trust? Do we count on God to provide security or do we rely solely on our own measures? Do we want earthly security or eternal security? Do we set our spiritual relationship aside in pursuit of a “secure” earthly life?
If Security is your king, disappointment will come. Only in God can we have the security of sure promises, eternal life, and transcendent peace of heart.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
The second king we seek is The King of Happiness. This is the king that should give us “the good life.”
A Pinterest-Perfect House
The perfect spouse
New Stuff (latest tech, a boat, a motorcycle, craft supplies, books, hobbies…)
A strong and prosperous country
Doing whatever makes us happy without consequences
There is nothing evil about working toward a good marriage, a restful vacation, or even a nice house. These are pleasant things, but the Happiness King only gives us temporary satisfaction. God alone is able to supply a lasting joy that cannot be stolen or destroyed.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
C.S. Lewis wrote, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
We think too much of and about ourselves and not others–even God! Our pride blinds us to our flaws and magnifies the flaws of others.
Do not allow pride to be king in your life. He talks a good talk, but his walk is destructive.
Who or what is your King? Which of these kings are vying for your allegiance, or are all three reigning like a triumvirate?
Samuel kept the Lord as his king in his heart from his youth to his death. The Israelites, by contrast, sought the triumvirate—Security, Happiness, and Pride. Even Saul was not enough for them because he truly couldn’t give them their desires. They rejected God as their king and their lives were all the more pitiful because of their choice.
Keep God as King in your heart. He provides eternal security and joy beyond mere happiness. He deserves to be exalted above anyone and anything on this earth.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Elihu Anderson is a California refugee currently thriving on the West Texas plains. She is the founder of elihuscorner.com and is a contributor to Kirk Cameron’s website TheCourage.com. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she is sipping on some iced homemade chai and enjoying time with a good friend. Come by and say hi at elihuscorner.com or visit me on Facebook.com/elihuscorner View all posts by Elihu
The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Matthew 9:6
Consider here the Great Physician’s mighty power: the power to forgive sin! While He lived here below, before the ransom had been paid, before the blood had been literally sprinkled on the mercy-seat, He had power to forgive sin. Has He no power to do it now that He has died? What power must dwell in Him who to the utmost penny has faithfully discharged the debts of His people! He has unlimited power now that He has finished transgression and made an end of sin. If you doubt it, see Him rising from the dead! Behold Him in ascending splendor, raised to the right hand of God! Hear Him pleading before the eternal Father, pointing to His wounds, declaring the merit of His sacred passion!
What power to forgive is here! He ascended on high, and He gave gifts to men. He is exalted on high to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. The most crimson sins are removed by the crimson of His blood. At this moment, dear reader, whatever your sinfulness, Christ has power to pardon, power to pardon you, and millions just like you. A word will speak it. He has nothing more to do to win your pardon; all the atoning work is done.
He can, in answer to your tears, forgive your sins today and make you know it. He can breathe into your soul at this very moment a peace with God that passes all understanding, which shall spring from perfect remission of your many iniquities. Do you believe that? I trust you believe it. May you even now experience the power of Jesus to forgive sin! Waste no time in applying to the Physician of souls; hasten to Him with words like these:
Jesus! Master! hear my cry;
Save me, heal me with a word;
Fainting at Thy feet I lie,
Thou my whisper’d plea has heard.
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
It almost seems as if James has taken a change of direction here, as he moves on to another subject. Now the subject is the audacity of a group of men and their plan making without considering the plans and wishes of God in those plans.
A case can be made that this section still bears a substantial relationship to some of the previous discussions. The linkage here is pride. We can see from earlier writings in this chapter the things pride and a desire to operate our lives independent from God causes. In the first part of Chapter 4 we saw how this has made us love the things of the world rather than God. We saw later how this has made us think we can be the judge of our brethren instead of God.
Finally, we see here that James’ readers just had to seize one more opportunity to use their pride as a reason to shake their fists in God’s face and go their own direction. We will explore in the next day or two exactly what these men were about to do, as they put together their own plans with no regard for God’s desires.
But, let’s chase a rabbit for a bit first and recap some things we know about pride so that we can truly understand the seriousness of this issue. We tend to treat our pride as somewhat of a minor issue, when in fact a case could be made that pride is actually the driving force behind every other sin.
It was pride that made Lucifer fall and take one third of God’s angels from heaven with him. We can read how Lucifer started out as one of God’s most beautiful creations and chose to rebel in Ezekiel 28. We can read of Satan’s five “I Wills” and how his pride caused his fall in Isaiah 14.
Of course, we all know the story of Adam and Eve’s Fall in the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis Chapter 3. The Apostle John later tells us that the “Pride of life” is one of the things which places us in the world rather than in God. 1 John 2:16
So, is pride serious? Of course, it is. Is it the most serious? Maybe so.
“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world’”(John 4:42).
Like most couples, my husband and I have some significant differences – like the way we drive. I am a “straight-shot” driver – give me the most direct route with the fewest turns possible. He likes to take -shall we say – alternate routes as he drives. He is constantly trying to tell me his “better ways” to get from point A to point B, and I usually smile and go my own way. One of his shortcuts is a wide swing on a country road to avoid a city with heavy traffic. I usually fought through the traffic because I wasn’t sure I could navigate his preferred route. Until we moved a few months ago and we actually live right on this very road. Now, because I travel this road all the time, I am confident I can navigate it successfully and I’ve found it really is a better way.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He changed her life and she ran to tell her neighbors that she had found the Christ. They came to meet this man and heard His message in the two days He stayed in their town. John says, “Because of His words many more became believers.”(v. 41). They didn’t believe the woman’s claims about who Jesus was until they saw Him with their own eyes and heard Him with their own ears. Then they understood that Jesus was indeed God’s Anointed One – He was the better way.
In every life challenges and difficulties come and situations take us by surprise. Health struggles, joblessness, relationship battles, loss and heartache happen and we’re left wondering where to turn. My family is experiencing some of those right now and we are turning to God. Why? Because over the years, we have come to know Him through experience. We’ve found Him to be able and faithful. We’ve tried Him and are confident of His love and care.
Every challenge in life is an opportunity to discover who God is. Sure, you read about Him in the Bible and you’ve heard other’s talk about what He’s done in their lives, but what do those stories mean for you? Not much until you experience Him for yourself. A recent health issue reminded me that God is my Healer. In this present season, we are trusting in God as our Provider. A dear friend recently experienced loss and now confidently claims God as her Comforter. You can’t really know who God is until you have tried Him and found Him to be exactly what you need. Just as He said He would be.
Beloved, whatever your season, whatever the need – may I encourage you to try God? I am certain you will find He is able and faithful. Then you can say with confidence – “I believe because I have experienced Him for myself – I know He is everything He claims to be.”
Whenever we talk about discipleship, it is helpful to start with defining what we are talking about.
Ann Swindoll defines it this way: “What is discipleship? Put simply, discipleship means intentionally partnering with another Christian in order to help that person obey Jesus and grow in relationship with Him—so that he or she can then help others do the same. Jesus taught His disciples to follow Him and obey His commands so that they could lead others to do the same after His death, resurrection, and ascension. The Apostle Paul continues the pattern with Timothy and encourages him to keep the cycle going: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).”
I love the reminder that one of my primary duties as a pastor is to equip the saints for service to God and his kingdom. But this service, to be precise, is not some new way for us to earn favor with God because good deeds do not save us. Discipleship is not some new code word or term for Salvation through adding new requirements on the backs of believers. Discipleship is a response to God’s love shown to us through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Foundational facts about discipleship
Christian discipleship addresses every dimension of life. It is concerned not only with doing the right thing in every circumstance but also doing the right thing for the right reason.
“Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together, to remain faithful to the gospel.” Phil. 1:27
Christian discipleship is a work of grace. It is the Holy Spirit who transforms life, not someone who tries to be good. The term, disciplined grace describes this process. While God transforms, a believer’s spiritual practice creates the transforming environment in which the Holy Spirit works
“But stay away from the godless myths that are passed down from the older women. Train yourself for a holy life! 8 While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has the promise for this life now and the life to come.”1 Tim. 4: 7-8.
Christian discipleship requires more than preaching alone can achieve. I love the analogy that preaching to make disciples is like going into a nursery and spraying the milk on the newborn babies. Preaching is powerful, it has behind it the full power and might of the Holy Spirit. But notice Jesus did not just preach at the disciples, he lived a mission with them. You need to be on a journey with the people you are called to equip for service.
Christian discipleship should involve a ton of celebrations. This may sound odd to you, but here is why celebrations are essential. What you celebrate from the pulpit and in your general assemblies expresses to your members what you value. If you value equipping people for ministry, are those the announcements you get excited about and lift up before your people? Season vigorously in your sermons what God is doing in discipleship in the lives of your people.
Christians want to grow in discipleship, but they usually just need direction. You may have heard it said, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do.” Unfortunately, that does not work as a plan to develop disciples. We must emulate the behavior we are expecting from our people. Jesus didn’t just write a book of rules and regulations. He wrote a book, the Bible, that describes in great detail how dearly loved we are by God and his Son Jesus Christ. Then Jesus goes the extra mile and models the life he would have us lead. He said to follow this example.
This is the foundation that I will build on over the next four blogs. I welcome your thoughts and discussion on this. May God bless you and our country as we see every day the need for us to be prepared to witness in a hurting and broken world. Our responsibility as pastors is to prepare a people ready to face these days ahead grounded in the Word of God and strengthened for the journey ahead.
When once asked, ‘What is the definition of sin?’ Billy Graham gave the following answer:
A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.
The Bible actually uses a number of examples or “word pictures” to illustrate what this means. For example, it tells us that sin is like an archer who misses the target. He draws back his bow and sends the arrow on its way—but instead of hitting the bull’s-eye, it veers off course and misses the mark. The arrow may only miss it a little bit or it may miss it a great deal—but the result is the same: The arrow doesn’t land where it is supposed to.
The same is true of sin. God’s will is like the center of that target—and when we sin, we fall short of His will or miss the mark. And this is something we do every day; as the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even when we aren’t aware of it, we commit sin by the things we do (or fail to do), or by the way we think.
This is why we need Christ, for only He can forgive us all our sins, and only He can help us live the way we should. We can’t forgive ourselves, nor can we change our hearts and make ourselves better in God’s eyes.
Mr. Graham has also been asked whether all sins are equal in God’s eyes. This was his answer:
It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …”(Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.
At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people. Sins may also differ at their root.
Theologians have sought for centuries to determine what the essence of sin is. Some have chosen sensuality, others selfishness, and still others pride or unbelief. In the Old Testament, God applied different penalties to different sins, suggesting variations in the seriousness of some sins. A thief paid restitution; an occult practitioner was cut off from Israel; one who committed adultery or a homosexual act or cursed his parents was put to death (see Exodus, chapter 22 and Leviticus, chapter 20).
In the New Testament Jesus said it would be more bearable on the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum because of Capernaum’s unbelief and refusal to repent after witnessing His miracles (Matthew 11:23-24). The sins of Sodom were identified in Ezekiel 16:49-50 as arrogance, gluttony, indifference to the poor and needy, haughtiness, and “detestable things.”
When Jesus spoke of his second coming and judgment, he warned that among those deserving punishment some would “be beaten with many blows” and others “with few blows” (Luke 12:47-48). He also reserved His most fierce denunciations for the pride and unbelief of the religious leaders, not the sexually immoral (Matthew 23:13-36).
However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life.
Find Peace with God The BGEA is committed to reaching the lost with the Good News that our sins can be forgiven when we make a decision for Christ. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, we invite you to find peace with God today.
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