We know that we are saved “by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast”. We also know that everything we receive while we are here on earth is a free gift from God. So, what is the purpose of “good works” and why are they important? Well, there are at least two good reasons and probably more it you want to break them down. The first is this; now, that we are Christians, Jesus is our example and He went about doing good works.
38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.–Acts 10:38 (NLT)
The second reason is this; doing good works here on earth is how we store our rewards or treasures in heaven.
.20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.–Matt 6:20,21 (NLT)
If we do good works for these two reasons, it will keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus and our final reward of living an eternity with Him. If we focus on that, it will make the burdens lighter and we can walk the path with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts and a song of praise on our lips!“
The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
19 The king’s officer had replied, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” And the man of God had said, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” 20 And so it was, for the people trampled him to death at the gate! –2 Kings 7:19, 20 NLT
Everything that Elisha had prophesied about the famine and then the abundance of food came to pass. Not one thing was left out. God had defeated an army by confusing them until they fought each other and then the rest ran away leaving all of their supplies which included the abundance of food they had stored for their sustenance during the siege. Israel did not fight the battle and they did not lose one single soldier in getting the supply that God had promised. The only person lost was the king’s assistant and he was trampled by his own people before he could get a bite of food. Every detail was fulfilled. God has made us many amazing promises in His Word. We can believe those promises, access them and enjoy the benefits of living in His presence or we can try to make it on our own and experience defeat and death. God is not a man that He should lie and He is not slack concerning His promises. There is no fine print or legalese to interrupt, just promises made in simple langauge that anyone can understand. Don’t be like Pharaoh and choose to live with the frogs one more night. Just believe God’s Word and start enjoying the benefits of lving in His resurrection power today.
God had just used Elijah to defeat the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, after that, God had given Elijah supernatural physical strength so that Elijah could catch and outrun Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. Now, Jezebel had threatened his life. She promised to kill him before twenty-four hours had passed. After seeing the miracles God had just performed, how could any human being think that they could do anything to one of God’s chosen people? Even worse, after all Elijah had experienced, how could he possibly believe that God could not protect him from the threats of Jezebel? Is the God on the mountain not still God in the valley? Yes, He is! We want to spend our lives living mountain top experiences. We should take notice that there is very little life on the mountains above the timberline. The view is great and the atmosphere is exhilarating, but there is not enough dirt or oxygen to sustain life. The life-giving elements are down in the valley and we need to spend some time there as well. Elijah was having his valley experience, wallowing in self-pity, as we so often do. God said “get up and eat”. He was preparing Elijah for a journey that would take all of his strength. When God calls us to do a work, He always provides everything we need to accomplish the task. It is up to us to decide whether or not we are going to “eat” the spiritual food that will prepare us for the trip through the valley and to the next mountaintop.
If we don’t eat the spiritual food God provides, the road will be rough and the journey will be miserable. But if we do eat and prepare, the road will seem to be smooth and the journey will be a joy as we experience the presence of Jesus leading us home.
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! — Psalm 66:16-20 NIV
There are thousands of books written in an attempt to make us feel better about ourselves. Do this and get rich, do this and influence people, do this and look better. Money, power and good looks do not come with bags of joy that can be opened at any time we need to feel good. All of these things are external and have nothing to do with the real problems of today.
The changes we need are from the inside out. It isn’t our natural diet that makes us who we are, contrary to what we have been told, we are not what we eat. The diet that determines whether we will be full of peace and joy is our Spiritual diet. Be filled with the Holy Spirit! The third person of the Trinity really is a person. He abides inside us to give us all the peace, joy and hope we need or desire. He knows our every need and is waiting patiently to give it to each of us. He weeps with us and when our hearts are broken, so is His. He feels the pain that we feel and He wants to restore our joy and hope when we are down and out. We need to learn to praise God and tell others what He has done for us. While we are praising Him, we will find that our joy will start to flow out from us to those around us. Praise and pray! God hears the praises and the prayers. He will not reject our prayers or withdraw His love from us. Eat your fill of Spiritual food each day, it is non-fattening, fulfilling and it purges us, pushing out all the sadness, worry and fears. Start with a taste and soon you will find that it takes a lot of Spiritual goodness to keep you satisfied!
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. —Psalm 34:8
6 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. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” 11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.–2 Thess. 3:6-13 (NLT)
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.