Working Hard Has Benefits

Working Hard Has Benefits

We can’t bring any glory to the Lord or to the Kingdom of God by being lazy.  There is no honor in laziness, nor is there any glory in being idle.  I want to make it clear that I’m NOT talking about people who yearn to work, who have searched rigorously and urgently for employment, but haven’t been able to obtain it.  That’s not the same thing. 

What these Scriptures are addressing are people who prefer to be idle, and those who choose to engage in gossip and spreading rumors rather than performing true, diligent labor.  

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  (Pro 14:23 NIV)  This verse teaches us that working hard brings us the benefit of being paid for our labor.  Those who only talk about working, but who actually do nothing, earn no wages and can buy no groceries.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.  (2 Thes 3:10-11 NKJV)  This excerpt from 2 Thessalonians demonstrates the truth that people who won’t work will have nothing to eat.  In addition, when people don’t work they have lots of time on their hands which the enemy can turn into opportunities to sin against God.  While all sin is displeasing to God, the sin of gossip displeases the Lord greatly. It is the reason that the Scriptures describe such persons as busybodies.

And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.  (1 Tim 5:13 NKJV)  Here again, the Bible warns us about idle hands and minds being turned toward evil, unrighteous pastimes. 

As we see from Proverbs 14:23 (above), the Holy Spirit says that ALL hard work brings financial gain and advantages to the ones who work diligently.  The Bible encourages believers to work hard, to be responsible and kind, and to live honorably within our communities so that we are an asset to them.  God will reward us with His blessings as we live obediently to His word. Praise His Name!

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

Let’s see where the Bible addresses this topic of turning believers into a blessing.

And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.  Do not fear, let your hands be strong.  (Zec 8:13)

Though their present state was humble, God wanted Israel to trust in His promise of blessing.  He also wanted them to allow His promise to inspire them to diligently and robustly serve the Kingdom of God.  In the above passage, believers are instructed to have no fear and to be strong.  Notice that the Lord says that AFTER He saves His people, THEN we will be a blessing to other people. 

In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”  (Isa 19:24-25)

As we read above, the Word says that God’s people shall be a blessing in the heart of the earth.  The truth in this Scripture is based upon the fact that the Gospel of salvation was birthed in Israel through the birth of Jesus Christ; and through Israel and the gospel of salvation, all mankind would be blessed to learn of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.

‘Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’  (Hag 2:19)

In Haggai, the Lord declares that His blessings shall be upon His people.  We may safely put our trust in God’s promise to bless us, though we see no observable indication of its realization.  For our God cannot lie (Tit 1:2), and His Word is unfailing—it is always fulfilled.  (Ezek 12:28; 1 Thes 5:24)

We’re called and designed by God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the earth, and in doing so, fulfill our destiny to be a blessing on this earth.  Glory to God!

Jesus Shall Stand Upon Earth

This topic is dealing with what is called the End Times; End of Times; the Last Days; or the Final Days.  This is a complex and difficult topic, which I don’t typically address.  There are different approaches and different conclusions offered by various Bible scholars on this subject.

This article is going to focus on just one facet of this broad and complicated subject.  We’ll be contemplating the statement that Jesus shall surely stand upon the earth at some point in the future of mankind.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.  (Job 19:25 ESV)

This verse clearly says that our Redeemer (at the last) WILL stand upon the earth.

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.  (Zech 14:4)

In this passage, the Bible tells us that one day Jesus will stand upon the Mount of Olives—a very specific location on this earth.  This area of the map may serve as a focus for our attention in coming months and years.

For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.  (Mic 1:3)

This is a poetic verse from the Bible informing us that Jesus, the Lord, will come from His place (Heaven) and walk upon the “high places” of the earth.  When the Bible refers to “high places,” it is referring to places of worship on elevated areas of ground.

The truth is that wherever the Lord Jesus will stand upon the earth shall instantly become a “high place” because Jesus is worthy of all praise, worship, honor, glory, and power forever and ever.  (Jude 1:25; Rev 4:11; 5:12)

Jesus is the Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer sent to earth by God the Father.  When He does, indeed, stand upon the earth again, Jesus’ presence will stimulate and provoke uncontrollable worship and praise from all over the earth.  (Rev 15:4)  All who have served the kingdom of God will rejoice in that day.  Glory to God!

King of Kings

King of Kings

Back in the 70s, there was a sweet worship chorus that said, “Oh!  Let the flag fly high on the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there.”  Since we serve Jesus who is the King of Kings, it is fitting that our hearts be portrayed as the castles where the King mercifully reigns in love and righteousness, in power and glory.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (Mt 6:10 ESV, emphasis added)  Every kingdom has a King, and Jesus is our Redeemer King.

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 …  (Mt 25:34, emphasis added)  Our King has prepared a kingdom for each one of us.

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner …  (Ex 17:15)  The Lord Jesus is our banner:  His image is on the flag that flies high over our lives; He is our standard—the rallying point for all spiritual power and resources in battle against the forces of hell.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isa 11:10, emphasis added)  This verifies that Jesus, a descendant of Jesse, is our banner.

The King whom we serve is filled with love and compassion; mercy for the lost and the wounded; and health and healing for those who are sick.  He is good all of the time, and His plans for us are good and give us hope and a future. (Ps 34:8; Jer 29:11)

He brings reconciliation to relationships and to families.  (Jer 31:17; Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18-19)  All glory to His name.

Jesus is a King whose grace humbles us without ever demeaning us, and who exalts us without causing us to puff up with false pride or ego.  Walking in a consistent relationship with Jesus, the Lamb of God, will mature us and grow us into mercy-filled, loving servants of the Kingdom of God.  Praise the Lord!

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Ac 7:59-60)

Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed!  Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them.  Then he dies. What mercy!  What forgiveness!  Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.

According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.  The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness.  (Ps 130:7 GW)

In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons.  As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows.  The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom. 

Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both.  This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.

Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God.  History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them.  Glory to God!

Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things.  Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death. 

This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.

God Provides for Us

God Provides for Us

The Word of God reminds us that God cares for all of His creation, including the birds of the air.  And it states that we are far more valuable to the Lord than His birds!  So, of course, He provides for our needs daily.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  (Mt 6:26, see Lk 12:24)

By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches.  13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.  (Ps 104:12-13)

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  (Phil 4:19)

Knowing that God is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, should fill us with confidence and reassurance in a very deep and meaningful way.  Hopefully, it liberates us to focus upon God and His goodness.  It will spur us to praise and worship the Lord daily, and to work diligently for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is the Lord, our Righteousness!  (Jer 23:6; 33:16)  Along with Christ, the Father God has given us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness.  (2 Pet 1:3)  So rejoice in your many blessings and spread this gracious, Good News to others.  

Leaders, Shepherd the Flock

Leaders, Shepherd the Flock

Here are standards for those who are Pastors, elders, or leaders in a church.  If you would LIKE to become a Pastor, elder, or leader, study the Scriptures to discover what is required of such a person.  Then begin to live that out in your life; behave as if you already ARE a Pastor, elder, or leader.  It will not go unnoticed by God, and He will put you into the position that you desire.  (1 Tim. 3:1)

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords (masters) over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  (1 Pet 5:2, 3 NKJV)

  1. Shepherd the flock of God AMONG YOU! That means everyone that you come into contact with daily!  Make an impact for GOOD on those with whom you connect regularly—including your own family members.  (Mk 3:14; 16:15; Ac 5:42; 8:4; Heb 6:10, 11; 2 Tim 4:2)
  2. We’re to serve as overseers. An overseer is an administrator, manager, or someone who gets things done.  We were not elevated to our responsible position in order to prosper financially or to charge people fees.  We never saw Jesus give us such an example.  We’re to help people—help them receive all that they need by whatever means that the Lord directs us to use.  Whatever a person’s needs are, the salvation of Jesus Christ has already met that need!  We’re put here to help people to see this truth, and to help them to receive God’s blessings.  (Mt 6:10; 16:19; 18:19; Ac 20:28; Phil 4:19; Col 1:27; 1 Joh 5:14, 15)
  3. We are supposed to serve willingly and eagerly, with a good attitude and cheerful heart. We are called, each one of us, to BE a blessing!  (Col 3:23-24; 1 Pet 3:9)
  4. We are told not to “lord” it over people. Instead we are to sacrifice and humble ourselves even as our Savior, Jesus, sacrificed and humbled Himself to provide and secure our salvation.  (Mt 18:4; 23:12; Rom 12:1, 16; Eph 5:2; Phil 2:8; Heb 13:16; 1 Pet 2:5; 5:6; Jas 4:6, 10)
  5. The sheep have been entrusted to the care of their church leaders, and we are NEVER to harm the sheep. We are serving as an under-shepherd under the authority of Jesus, the Good Shepherd!  (Jer 50:6; Eze 34:10; Joh 10:11, 14; 1 Pet 5:4)
  6. The Word tells us that we should be examples to the flock. Jesus was our example, and we’re to follow in His footsteps.  (Joh 13:14-16; Phil 3:17; 1 Pet 2:21)

May God bless you and flood you with His love and grace, as you pursue your leadership role in the Kingdom of God.

Being a Witness Where You Are

Being a Witness Where You Are

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  (Mk 16:15)

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.  (Ps 96:3)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.  (Mt 24:14)

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is not willing that any should perish.  Jesus obediently fulfilled His assignment to the fullest, and has purchased our salvation.  We are instructed by the Scriptures to share our Good News with others! 

We don’t need to embark on a mission field in some far-flung country to do this.  We’re called to be witnesses of God’s goodness right where we are!  We may do that in a variety of ways:  by serving our neighbors through acts of kindness and mercy; by being helpful and considerate; by sending a card, making a meal, or visiting someone who is not feeling well.  God has made us to be creative, and every individual can think of creative ways to be a light in this world—thereby bringing glory to God.

Sharing the Good News isn’t about preaching at someone or beating them over the head with verses from the Bible.  It’s not about condemnation, but love.  It’s about lovingly reaching out to those we know, and interacting with them in ways that are meaningful to them.  And while we’re doing that, we take opportunities to share our own life experiences with them.  We may quote a succinct Scripture to support a comment, or share a brief testimony of answered prayer.

Being an effective witness for the Kingdom of God means connecting with our friends and neighbors during good and bad times. (Eccl 3:4)  As a witness, we should also strive to be a good citizen and neighbor—a good example.  (2 Cor 5:20)  We need to speak from our hearts, and show respect and sympathy towards others.

Witnessing means being genuine with our friends and neighbors, and even admitting when we may be struggling with something.  (2 Tim 1:8)  As we are open with others and allow them to see God resolve our circumstances for us, our life becomes a window into how the Kingdom of God operates.  This style of candid testimony affirms our authenticity.  Other people can sense how deeply we honor Christ and value our relationship with Him as they see us trust Him to work out the difficulties that we encounter in life.  (1 Pet 3:15)

As we live this way, the Lord will faithfully open the ears, minds, and hearts of those with whom we interact.  He will allow others to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and His Spirit will then be able to move upon them to minister to them. 

All we need to understand is that the Lord will draw the unsaved to Himself through us—if we’ll cooperate with Him.  Praise God!

It’s Never Too Late for Peace, Part 2

It’s Never Too Late for Peace, Part 2

We continue our study on making peace.  We serve the God who is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6), so we must always cooperate with Him.

Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  (Ps 34:14)

Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  (Jas 3:18)

A very vital spiritual discipline is to pray for the other person involved in the broken relationship.  Never try to “get even,” because that motivation does not come from the Spirit of God but from the pit of hell.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you . . . (Mt 5:44)

Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.  (Rom 12:14)

Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people.  (1 Thes 5:15)        

If you’re the offended person and you receive a text, email, or note in the mail similar to what was described in our previous article, pray deeply and sincerely about your response.  Weigh the pros and cons of what actually happened between you. Was it an uncommon occurrence on the other person’s part?  Was it out of the ordinary or some kind of misunderstanding? 

Ask the Lord to give you His supernatural grace to forgive; and understand that when you ask Him to do something according to His will (1 Jo 5:14-15), that He hears you and gives you exactly what you’ve requested. 

Remember that you are also forgiven by the Lord.  The Lord said:  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Mt 6:15) 

If you’re able to forgive the other person, it is a victory for the Kingdom of God!  And it will enrich your life and the lives of those who may be aware of the problem.  Forgiveness and reconciliation is a testimony to God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. 

If you honestly and sincerely feel that the circumstance(s) that caused a rift between you was a predictable event, and that it will certainly happen again, then you still need to forgive the person.  But you can choose NOT to resume a relationship with the person who hurt you.  However, you should respond to their overture and let them know that you do forgive them, and that you wish them the very best.  You can then indicate that due to the history between you, you feel it’s best for you that you don’t resume a relationship with them. 

In following these guidelines, you will have cooperated with the other person (and with God) in establishing peace between you.  (2 Cor 13:11) God bless you.