1 Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. 6 And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. 2 Timothy 2:1-7 (NLT)
Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples starting at home and working our way out to the rest of the world. Making disciples requires more than just the plan of salvation. We are to spend time with new converts teaching them the discipline of the Word of God. We must show them by example that we have to spend time with the Word and talking with God on a daily basis. We also must show them that it is necessary for us to spend time together as Christians. We are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need the encouragement and help of those around us to endure in our walk with God. There is the old example of removing a red hot ember from the fireplace and setting it out by itself. It is soon black and cold. You can put it back in the fireplace and it is soon red hot and giving off warmth again. Our spirits are the same way, we need that “togetherness” to keep our passion and compassion flowing for Jesus. Learn all you can and take the time to teach what you have learned to those around you. That is the way each of us can fulfill the commission that Jesus gave to the disciples and to us.
4 So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. 5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Romans 7:4-6 (NLT)
Before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were in bondage to our fleshly desires. After we accepted Jesus we wanted to do better but we were unable to do so in and of ourselves. Our physical and mental addictions had a real stronghold on us. Self-help courses helped us to stop doing some of those things temporarily but the effects were not permanent. The end was worse than when we first started. God tells us in Isaiah 50:11 (NLT)
11 But watch out, you who live in your own light
and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me:
You will soon fall down in great torment.
What this means is that we can’t change our bad habits. We have to allow God to do it through us. We are not sinners one moment and perfect the next. Accepting Jesus is not some magic incantation that removes all of our bad habits immediately. Though satan would like us to think that, so he can condemn us when we fail. We are to strive toward perfection knowing that we won’t reach it here on earth. Our new life with Christ is a journey. It is not a quick sprint, it is a life-long marathon. Just like a physical marathon, it takes discipline and daily training. Spend time each day meditating and conversing with God and you will find that when we allow Him to change us, the results are permanent and bring us great peace and joy. Once you have prayed, meditated and talked with God, be sure to give Him the praise He so richly deserves.
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
As Christians, we are so blessed to be able to meditate on God’s Word and have a conversation with God any time of the day or night. If we love Him then we will delight in obeying Him and pleasing Him. From the times that we spend with Him, we will receive Joy and grow stronger in His word. As long as we continue in this lifestyle, we will be able to draw strength, wisdom, and boldness from the Lord. then we will truly become like strong trees planted by the water and we will bear fruit each season. We will not wither, but prosper. But if we choose not to delight in God and meditate on His Word, we will become weak and bear no fruit. Does this mean that we should avoid unbelievers? Absolutely not. Jesus spent time with them in their homes and along the roads as He traveled. That is the example we should follow, witnessing as we go about our daily tasks.
Acts 18:1-4 (NLT) 1 Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
1 Corinthians 7: 20-24 (NLT)20 Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23 God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.
Somehow, we seem to have come to the conclusion that we have to be “called” into a special place to be ministers for Jesus Christ. And it is true that God does place a special calling on some people. He calls people to be apostles, preachers, teachers, evangelists, pastors, deacons and other positions. But it was never His plan that all of us should be called to those positions. It has always been His plan that each of us should be involved in full-time ministry wherever we are or whatever we are doing. How do we do that? Paul was a tentmaker and he continued to work at that trade for a time. He worked a regular job and preached and taught on the Sabbath. God tells all of us in the passage from 1 Corinthians to stay where we are and continue doing our regular work until He shows us something different to do. God has called some to be wage earners and workplace ministers. Pray this morning that God would show you how He is using you in your workplace. Every year, church attendance is dropping. Our society is to the point that God must have workplace ministers to show people the love of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10: 23-31 (NLT) 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(NLT) John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we experience a freedom of Spirit and liberty that we have never known before. As sinners, we were slaves to our flesh and satan’s demands. Now, we truly have a freedom to make choices to obey or disobey God. We are to follow after the example of Jesus in our new lifestyle. We are not, however, to use our liberty to hurt or abuse others in any way. We use should our freedom and our free gifts from God to draw others to Christ. Paul says not to use our liberties to cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble. Let the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit be abundant in your life. Against love, peace, joy, and patience, there is no law. Walk graciously and humbly before our Lord.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:16-18 (NLT)
11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11 (NLT)
38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:38,39 (NLT) 20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Acts 8:20,21 (NLT)
Everything that we receive from God is a free gift, from our initial redemption and salvation to our eternity in heaven with Him is totally free. He will not be obligated to us because of anything we have done. This is to keep us from boasting about our salvation. Jesus lived a perfect life and freely gave Himself on the cross for us. Everything good was created by Him and is freely given to us.
We should learn this lesson from nature. Do the trees pay anything to get the rain to fall on them? Does the day pay the sun to shine? Does darkness pay the sun to go away? Do birds and animals have a revenue system to pay each other for their food? If God takes care of all these little things in nature and He created us to have dominion over all that, why would He withhold any good thing from us? Does worrying change anything in our lives? Considering all this why don’t we just relax and worship God. Worry and fear are sins against God. Israel was destroyed because they would not accept that and enter into the rest God had provided for them. That rest was the Lord and our rest is Jesus. 7 All who found them devoured them. Their enemies said, ‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them,
for they sinned against the Lord, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors.’ Jeremiah 50:7 (NLT)
Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.
Verses 5 and 6 are well-known verses from Proverbs but how many times a day do we violate those scriptures? Instead of taking a second to whisper or just think a prayer, do we just react to a situation and say or do something that is unkind? In our modern, hurry, hurry society, we just don’t have the time to do that, do we? But, you see, it really takes a lot less time to do it right (seek His will) the first time then it does to have to go back and correct all those situations.
We are so impressed with our own wisdom that we think we can go through most of our day with little or no contact with God. How much is a computer worth to you when you have no internet connection? Your brain is the most amazing computer known but unless it is connected to the Spiritual internet (God) it isn’t worth nearly as much to you as it could be. There are some functions you can do on a computer without the internet, but you probably would not have purchased one for any of those functions. There are some life functions that the brain performs on its own, but it can’t make the proper decisions without being connected to the Great Server in the heavens. If you stay connected, you will truly find “healing for your body and strength for your bones”. And you will also find something else, a peace that passes understanding which is worth more than gold.