Our hope as Christians is that when we leave this world we will be with Jesus for eternity. This hope is not only built on the Word of God, it is guaranteed by the death and resurrection of His gift to us, His Son. We receive assurances that this hope is true in our own life experiences. As a child, my Mom told me “Son, you are going to have problems in life because you don’t take other people’s word for things, you have to experience them all yourself”. That prophecy came true, much to her regret in a lot of cases. And looking back on my life much to my regret in a lot of cases. But looking back also gives me confidence that my hope is built on Jesus and His Word because of the many times He has rescued me and brought me safe this far.
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12
My life has lots of Ebenezer stones and the remembrance of those times assures me that God’s word is true and that He is faithful all the time. What a great hope we have because our salvation is based on His word and His faithfulness.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
This is an amazing story in more than one way. The name of the pool, Bethesda, can be translated as “house of grace” or “house of mercy”. It tells us of an amazing event that happened at certain times when the angel came down and stirred the water. It shows us God’s amazing grace when Jesus healed this man. But the most amazing thing is the man’s answer to Jesus’ question. “Do you want to be made well?” Here is a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. You would have thought his answer would have been more along the lines of “I certainly do” or “Yes, yes, yes, I do” But instead he goes in a completely different direction and says “I have no”. Does this type of answer sound vaguely familiar? When Jesus asks us to help with His work, is our answer, “I can’t talk to people about that”, I don’t have any abilities” or I don’t have the resources”? To those responses, Jesus says to us: “Take up your ______ and walk” We can fill in the blank with whatever excuse we used, our weakness, our inability, our brokenness, our lack. Just as Jesus healed this man, He will provide whatever we need to do whatever He has asked us to do. It is not about our abilities, but it is about our availability. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send more workers into the field.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
This passage should not be interpreted to mean that we must work for our salvation. That would be in direct conflict with other passages that clearly state that we are saved by”grace through faith”. What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that doing good works after we are saved is how we lay up rewards in heaven. This should encourage us to help our neighbors and others that we see in need of food, housing, clothing, etc. God gave Adam and Eve the job of tending the Garden of Eden. Work in and of itself is not a curse. God expects each of us to be busy doing good works. We are instructed to “redeem the time”. James tells us that we show our faith in Jesus by doing good works. If we want to enter into the rest mentioned earlier in Hebrews, we must continue in faith and be patient. The day will come soon enough when we will receive our rewards.
We should never put our trust in money, men, or any earthly thing or person. We should trust in God alone. He gives us everything we need. 3 As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!—2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) We should use those resources to do good works and help our neighbors and others who are in need. Using God’s blessings to help others is laying up rewards in heaven. We should guard (use wisely) every gift and resource God puts at our disposal. If we spend our time studying God’s Word and doing good as Jesus did, we will find it is much easier to avoid foolish discussions and quarrels with those around us. And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.–2 Thessalonians 3:6 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Paul warns the new converts about idle minds and idle hands. We should show others the love of Jesus Christ by being a good example to them. Paul worked as a tentmaker to buy his own food. He admonishes us to always be a help and not a burden to those around us. We should encourage each other in doing good deeds and helping unbelievers. If there are those among us who are unable to work either permanently or temporarily, we need to help provide their needs. Jesus tell us that when we do this for others here on earth, it is the same as doing it for Him. We should always be working for our Lord and Savior. James tells us:: 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.-James 4:17 (NKJV) When we see a need, we need to meet that need to the best of our ability. Doing good works here on earth is how we lay up rewards in heaven.
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. — Gal. 6:1 NLT
When we see others doing things that appear to be sinful in our eyes, what is our response? Are we quick to think the wrong thoughts or do we remember that we have made mistakes as well? Do we criticize or do we correct? Criticism is most often a knee-jerk reaction and usually destroys. If it destroys, then it mus have come from the destroyer (satan) himself. Our reaction should be to pray and then humbly help that person back to the narrow path. To do that requires us to be a channel of God’s love to those around us. This helps us to understand that when we feel condemnation, it comes from satan, but when we feel conviction, it comes from God’s Holy Spirit. God doesn’t condemn Christians for their failures, but He doesn’t wink at sin, either.
15 So on October 2nd the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. — Nehemiah 6:15, 16 NLT
Rebuilding the wall that surrounded Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time was a major construction project. Although we can’t be sure of exactly how much of the wall they rebuilt, we can be sure that at the very minimum, it would have exceeded two and a quarter miles. Compare that to how long it takes a construction crew to repair a section of interstate that exceeds two miles even with all the equipment and ready-made materials they have available to them today. Then add to that, the fact that they had to build the final portions of the wall using one hand and carrying a weapon in the other. And the whole time, they were being harassed and ridiculed by their enemies. It was quite a miraculous feat. There is no way Nehemiah and his people could have even started this project without the direction and the power of God working through the people involved. From the king of Babylon to the least of the workers in Jerusalem, God worked through each of them to provide for the people and the project. When satan sees that God has raised up people to do a great work, he is always there to try to thwart what God is doing. He was there in Nehemiah’s time trying to discourage everyone with bluster and lies and he is still up to his old tricks today. We need to pray that God will raise up Ezras and Nehemiahs in our day to rebuild the body of Christ. So that satan and his allies will once again be “frightened and humiliated” when they see God helping us.