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Archive for March, 2017

Our Deeds Find Us Out

March 31st, 2017

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (1 Timothy 5:24-25 NIV)

Two principles in the realm of actions and morality are: (1) our thoughts will determine our actions and (2) our actions will eventually be revealed.

The influence of our thoughts: We are drawn away by our lusts and enticed to sin (James 1:14). We who have trusted in Christ for our salvation, and possess both the new nature and the presence of the Spirit in our lives, have the potential to be drawn toward the things of God and toward sacrificial service for Christ (2 Tim. 1:7). Our lives consist to a large degree of what our thoughts will make them. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace:

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-6 NIV)

If we will set our hearts on Christ, our affections on Him, and if we will live in faith and commune with His Spirit daily, we will find an increasing appetite for the things of God exists and even grows in our hearts. This anonymous little poem says it well:

Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

So it begins on the inside of us. An impatient man is first impatient in his inner thoughts, and a patient man is first patient in his inner thoughts. Whether or not our thoughts are placed upon the grace and mercy of God, whether or not we dwell in our minds daily in the assurance of His acceptance of us through Christ, of His love for us, of His call upon our lives, and of His promises to us will determine what we do with our lives.

The revealing of our actions: Eventually, either here on earth or before the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:10), our actions will be revealed for what they are - the thoughts and intents of our hearts. All of us live with some degree of pretense, hiding from others the lusts and pride of our hearts. We may take care of these things that are hidden from others by confessing them to God and receiving His cleansing (1 John 1:9).

But eventually, who we really are on the inside is revealed through our actions - our weaknesses, our lack of faith, our anger and fear, the impure things of our life - or the good and righteous work of the Spirit assuring us of God’s love, which will be acted out in graciousness and righteousness.

Our fears can take a verse like this above and produce a sense of dread to stand before Christ and have our lives examined. But God does not give us “a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And when we stand to be judged by Him, we are before our Savior and our Redeemer who loves us with an eternal love - love of eternity past that stretches out into eternity future. Though there should be a healthy respect for these matters and reverence toward God - the fear of the Lord - God did not give us this teaching to create in us an insecurity about Him. We can trust Him entirely.

Notice that the good is rewarded, and that is the major focus of this passage. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ is not forgotten but is rewarded (Matt. 10:42). The old adage - “Be sure that your sin will find you out” - is only half of the truth. The reality is that our good works done in humility for the sake of Christ also find us out. This is reason for you to rejoice and relax in Christ, and enjoy your Christian life. God calls us to joy.

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Home Responsibility

March 30th, 2017

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God… Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:3-4,8, NIV)

The church’s obligation to care for the neglected widows was not greater than the family’s obligation. We have responsibility to our parents and our grandparents, to provide for them.

There are some people in this world - and so far as I can tell they exist in every nation on earth - who are always looking for a way to make others pay for what they should pay for. They are users, manipulators, stingy, and greedy. When there is something that they should pay they first try to find a way for someone else to pay for it. They look for a way out of every responsibility and obligation.

They may appear simply as being careful with money, but something else is going on in their hearts. Many people are careful with money while remaining honest and responsible. There is nothing morally wrong with driving a hard bargain, with seeking to get the most for your money. But there is something wrong in shirking responsibility, of being blatantly dishonest and selfish.

Our attitude toward all that we spend - whether it is money or energy or any commodity - should be marked by faith in God and obedience to His command.

Faith in God motivates us to give to the things of God. It is marked by gratitude and expectation of God’s future blessings. We work and we give and we spend in faith that all of this comes from God. In faith we do not need to live in fear or insecurity. We can trust God in all things. While not being foolishly optimistic, or blatantly irresponsible, we can live and share and enjoy life.

Obedience is also an expression of our faith, and it should be heart-felt and not done begrudgingly. We should be grateful for our parents, recognizing the sacrifices they made for us and repay them in kind. We should be happy to do so.

We should also give to the support of the Lord’s work, the church, in gratitude, “For the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Our fears should not dominate our thoughts, rather we should exercise faith in God in all circumstances.

Suppose the whole economy collapsed and every investment you made was lost. What would your faith be in? What or who would you turn to for help? First, the Christian would turn to God and pray, looking for His hand. Secondly, we would look to see what we could do with our own resources that remained - our abilities, opportunities, etc. Thirdly, we would look to our family and perhaps to our friends.

So if that terrible day would come, how would you rather face it? With a God who rewards faithfulness? With a heart that is confidence in its own ability? With family and friends with whom we have shared life’s blessings? Or do you think you would be better to face this all alone?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will trust in Him and give Him the first fruit of our earnings. We will look for His provision and believe that He can enable us to work and support ourselves. We will be generous with family and friends and trust that, as the Scripture says, “A generous man will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).

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