Tag Archives: good works

Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Today we can reflect on our contribution to the churches we all love and support. What are you doing with your life to build the ministry of your local church? Please read 1 Corinthians 3:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3 [ESV]).

First we are to support one another and not be divisive in the local church. Are you supporting your leaders praying for them regularly and those you serve with?

Second are doing good work in the church that will only be purified by fire when we meet Jesus? Or are our works so full of wood, hay and stubble that we will smell like smoke when we enter His presence?

Third, do you know where your place is in the local church? You find that out through discovering how the Holy Spirit has gifted you. Some of us are teachers others administrators. Some are craftsman(women) and others exporters. Be who God has created you to be. Don’t try to be someone else.

In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul calls out two women Euodia and Syntyche. They were arguing and it had broken out in the church. Extra biblical documents show that the church in Philippi was still arguing with itself 100 years later long after Euodia and Syntyche were gone. Don’t be a part of establishing that kind of pattern in your church.

I have friends who said that when the church in Ukraine had to make a decision — do we register with the government or don’t we — many broke into tears as they realized their church was being split down the middle. And today even with 26 years of religious freedoms those churches still remain separate. What a loss.

Let’s be the people that do good works in our local churches that last through all eternity and let’s not do anything to destroy our unity in the gospel.

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1 Chronicles 15, Amos 9, Luke 4, James 2

The kids and I have been reading a book together called “Kisses From Katie”. It’s a story about Katie Davis who, at age 19 left her home in TN and became a missionary in Africa and within eight months began adopting 13 children and caring for hundreds more. It’s so important to read inspiring stories and not just for the sake of our kiddos but also for us! I think I am learning more than my kids. What is inspiring most of all is not the specific good works that Katie has done (which, by the way are truly amazing) but it’s her heart that shines and inspires me to think about my own life.

Katie traveled to Africa after high school planning to stay only one year. But very shortly into her stay the Lord began to change the passions and desires. She realized, it wasn’t enough to just pray for these people she needed to DO something about their needs.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

After reading a portion of the book the other evening, my seven year old daughter and I ended up having a very long conversation about works and faith. I could see the wheels turning in her brain and I remember asking the same questions as a child. “Am I doing enough good to go to heaven? What happens if I sin? Am I good enough?” “My friends say they are Christians but they don’t act like it.” “How do I know my friend is a real Christian?”

I have struggled with many of these same questions for nearly 3 decades and this passage in James has been a love hate relationship for me. Though I know I am justified by Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I still question am I doing enough. Is my faith really genuine? I am an all or nothing person so when I miss an opportunity to serve or worse, when I sin, I feel doomed. It was in explaining to my daughter the beauty of God’s grace, Jesus’ sacrifice and the joy of serving Christ that I was able to realize the truth for myself.

Katie’s story left me asking questions of myself and my family. Am I (are we) intentional with my time, money, resources, and love? When I (we) hear of or see a need around me do I respond quickly with love, compassion and resources or do I (we) offer a quick prayer and move on? Not all of us will be called to be full time missionaries to Africa or to adopt thirteen children but ALL Christians are called to love everyone like Christ loves. That can be sticky and hard and ugly and beautiful and joyous! Good works are the fruits of our genuine faith in a God that gave the ultimate sacrifice. They come from a heart that desires what God desires not our own selfish desires that store up treasures on earth. Genuine faith says, “yes” to God when he asks us for our time, our resources, our love.

Like Katie, I am flabbergasted by the statistics. There are more than 2 billion people claiming to be Christians. If only 8% of them provided food for 1 child, there would be no more starving children IN THE WORLD. Modern day Christianity has become watered down and easy, particularity in the US. We offer our prayers and canned goods but only if we have time to stop by the local grocery store and grab a few items. Many people believe in Jesus but so do the demons. This Thanksgiving and Christmas our family is taking more time to first of all, appreciate this season and worship our Lord and Savior but also be more intentional. The shoeboxes we packed for Operation Christmas child looked different than before. The amount of money we will spend on gift giving will be different as well as the source they gifts are coming from. Not all of us will become missionaries in a foreign country but God’s people are everywhere and the needs are great. We will start by opening our eyes and hears and meeting the needs of the people God places in front of us today.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice that granted me eternal life. Thank you for the privilege to participate in doing kingdom work, not out of obligation but love. Help us to serve your people with the royal law of love and place their needs above our own. Amen.

kateredding

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Joshua 5, Psalm 132-134, Isaiah 65, Matthew 13

13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13: 10-17

 

There are many times I wonder why God’s word can be so plain to understand for some and not for others. I wonder about that in my own life and with my friends. How is it that I can read God’s word and understand the stories told by Jesus and yet others don’t make the same connections?  There were some parables that Jesus told that were later explained but many were left a mystery.

Truly understanding God’s word doesn’t just happen overnight but through many years of studying, reading, memorizing, and praying. When I was younger, I would read the parable of the sower and wonder which type of seed I was like. I would wonder if I was missing something or if my understanding of the parable was wrong. I was always wondering if I had understood enough of God’s word and believed “enough” to have salvation. Then reading one tiny little line at the end of that story changed everything. Sandwiched in between the story of the sower and Jesus’ purpose for speaking in parables was an important line that changed my thinking.

“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13: 8-9

All my life I have felt like I wasn’t doing enough or being enough for the Lord. I believed that if I was really a believer I would be “doing” more than living a mundane, simple life. So, naturally that must mean my soil was bad, my roots not deep and my faith not good enough for salvation. There has often been so much second guessing that I torment myself but this line is a game changer. Jesus said that the seeds that fall in the good soil produce different amounts. He didn’t say one was better than the other for his kingdom or that a greater reward was offered for one or the other. The seed that produced one hundred-fold was not promised anything better than the one that produced thirty.

Our understanding of God’s word (and Jesus’ parables) increases with time as our relationship grows. Our walk with the Lord is not something attained at once or overnight but over many years of study and prayer. The truth is, my faith is never good “enough” and my works are never good “enough”.

Why does the Lord reveal his mysteries to some and not others? Because he is the Lord! That is not for me to understand but I can thank him and praise him for revealing them to me!

Father, thank you for revealing your mysteries in your word through your Holy Spirit. When I am tempted to believe a lie that my faith is too small, remind my heart that Jesus’ death was sufficient, not my works. Amen.

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Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” (Celebrity quote)

Although there have always been naysayers and critics of God’s true word, I feel like we are living in a culture that is more self dependent and selfish than other times in history. The days of common moral values are gone and people are out to get everything they can. It’s truly a dog eat dog world and why not? Aren’t we all entitled to the American Dream?

Slogans are so common you could finish these off without me typing the words. Slogans such as “Live everyday like it was your last” or “Create your own happiness”. We are conditioned to believe that we are responsible for our happiness and our own good fortune and outcomes.  We are quick to take credit for our own accomplishments and good works but can just as quickly turn around and blame God when “bad things” happen.

Even in Solomon’s day he knew there was a balance between good works, enjoying life and being accountable for one’s own actions. We are called to live each day to the fullest but who are we living it for is the real question that differentiates good works for the kingdom of God rather than for selfish and prideful gain. Solomon’s wise words also come with a warning:

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.[b]

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain[c] from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Yes it is important that we live each day to the fullest but it is only by the grace showed to us by Christ and the washing of our sin with his blood that any “good” work is seen by God as righteous.

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

The irony in the celebrity’s quote above is that the very thing he is trying to avoid (wasting life) is exactly what he is doing by living for himself and his own glory. Without Christ, everything is meaningless. May our enjoyment and blessing of each new day be evident in the our good works, done not for self pleasure or advancement in to heaven but in gratitude to our Savior who gave his all for our sin!

Dear Jesus, than you for your blood that washes over my sin. Thank you for dying in my place so that when the Father looks at me he see’s your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help me to live each day joyfully devoted to good works that bring you glory. Amen!

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Ruth 3 & 4, Acts 38, Jeremiah 28, & Luke 7

Ruth: For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.

Acts: And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

Jeremiah 38: Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.  So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon.

Luke 7: …she washed my feet with her tears

The Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man: “Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.”  It seems the Scriptures are filled with stories of good deed doers – there are the unnamed who show hospitality to strangers, foreigners who show mercy to their enemies, defenders who rise up to protect the weak, and even women of ill repute who use their only resource, their own tears and hair, to bathe One condemned.

These are vignettes of God’s love for His children.  I don’t always feel that love; I sometimes stay ‘up in my head’ with my thoughts, worries, frustrations, and seemingly unsolvable problems.  desperation sends me spiraling. I’m in the mire, like Jeremiah stuck in the king’s dungeon with only strands of hope – too afraid to believe.  Or maybe I am just confronting my sinful self, believing that I cannot hope for rescue from the decisions that catapulted me headlong into this pit.

How many times will God forgive my faithlessness and my performance based understanding? Why would He, and hope beyond hope, when will He move in my favor? Will I recognize the life boat?  Will I take the hand offered to pull me up out of the mire?  Will I change direction when the signs clearly point away from the path I am on?  If the answer is “No,” to these questions, then I will have lost my testimony of needing my Savior which leaves me with nothing to give to another.  I always want to be the giver. I do not want to be the recipient.  To be a good deed doer, however, one must also know how to receive from others this love of God.  Therefore, I can accept the hardships as opportunities of how to rely on God so that I can humbly give to others what I humbly have received.

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament