17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. — 1 Peter 1:17 NLT
1 Peter 1:17-21 NLT
We will all be judged for what we do and we will all be judged by the same standards. Jesus paid the exact same price for each of us. No one person is more valuable to Him than any other person. Because of the price He paid, we all owe Him everything. Giving Him everything does not even scratch the surface of what we owe Him. He paid a debt that we could never pay. While we were still leading those sinful lives filled with nothing, He loved us enough to shed His blood for us. Because of that and the example He set for us, we have come to trust in God. The God that has never broken a single promise and has never gone back on His Word. He is the Rock on which we can plant our feet and never be moved. He holds the future in His hands, therefore we have eternal hope because He raised Christ from the dead. He can also raise us from the dead and one day He will do just that. Without that hope, we of all people would be the most miserable. So let us continuously give Him praise and glory all day, every day!
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. —Hebrews 13;15-16 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking . – James 1:5 NLT
God has promised to fulfill our every need. If we need wisdom, we need to ask, but when we ask, we must believe that God will do what He has said that He will do. Jesus told His disciples that they had “little” faith and that is why they could not do certain miracles. We must have faith and doubt is the opposite of faith. As long as we have doubts, we will change our minds anytime anyone tells us “God is not going to do that for you”. Make a decision based on what you know, not what you feel. Feelings are unreliable and can be used by satan to bring us down. Study the Bible asking God to guide you and give you insight into His Word. Then you can be sure that what you ask for lines up with His Word and He will give it to you. Why would He not do that? After all, He has already given His most precious possession as a ransom for our souls.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
– John 3:16-17 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4: 12 NLT
This verse is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible. It may be very well-known but we had best not get complacent about it. Do we believe what this verse says? Is there really only one Name under heaven whereby we can be saved? Would you stake your life on it? In today’s society with its anti-Christian bent, we had better be sure we believe it if we are going to stand up for Jesus because there are thousands of our brothers and sisters around the world who are doing just that–giving their lives for Jesus. If we believe then why do we get so mealy-mouthed around the religious people of the world? There is not one religion that makes this claim, only Christianity. Our beliefs had better be rooted in Jesus and our lives built on Him. Otherwise, when the storms come and the winds of doubt and fear start beating us up, we will fall. If you read the full passage above, then you will know that verse thirteen says that the council of leaders knew that Peter and John “had been with Jesus”. Isn’t that what we want others to see in us? Enough of the likeness of Jesus that they will know that we have spent some time with Jesus. Jesus died for all sinners, we owe it to Him to let the whole world know. Are we ready to stand up, speak up and die if we have to? Let us all pray that if that time comes in our lives that we will be ready to meet the challenge and joyfully go home to be with Jesus.
13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! — 1 Kings 3:13 NLT
It has been said that when we get to heaven, if we should ask God why He didn’t answer our prayers, He will show us a list of all the prayers we have ever prayed and His answer to each one. Then, He will show us a list of all the prayers we should have prayed but didn’t and His answer to all of those. The list that we prayed will be in the thousands and the list we should have prayed will be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Why are we so hesitant to ask God for everything that we need? No, He isn’t some heavenly Santa needing a list of our needs, but He does want us to ask. We need to realize that every breath we take is an answer to prayer. God owes us nothing, but He wants to give us everythng. The old expression that “God helps those who help themselves” is not Biblical. God wants us to be totally dependent on Him for our needs. As long as we think that we can do it ourselves, He will allow us to struggle. We must reach the same point that Solomon reached and admit to God, that we can’t. As Solomon asked, “how can one man do this?”, we need to admit to God that we can do nothing without Him and that we believe with all of our hearts that we can do all things through Him. It is at this point of need and full realization that we are helpless, that God can move in and use the full force of heaven to accomplish what needs to be done. When we feel that God has not answered our prayers, He has either said “No” or “Wait for my timing”. That is the two answers we don’t want to hear, so we just say that God hasn’t answered. Instead of rebeling and complaining, we need to use that time of waiting to prepare for what God is going to give us that we didn’t ask for. After all, He gave us the most precious and expensive gift He could give when He gave us His Son, why would He withhold anything else?
32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? — Romans 8:32 NLT
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. — Mark 10:29-31 NLT
God has nothing against rich people or people that are successful from a worldly viewpoint. Riches, power and position are neutral and can be used for good or for evil. It is the misuse of these things that causes our issues with God. He allows us to have those things for His honor and His glory. We are to use whatever we have, be it little or be it much, as a means to an end, not the end itself. We should use those things for His glory here and now and be ready to give them up completely, if necessary. Any good thing that we have now comes from God and belongs to God. When properly used, it will bring glory to God now. If it is necessary for us to give it up to bring glory and honor to the Father, we will receive a return now and rewards in eternity. It is not about the amount we give, it is about the sacfrifice we make in giving to God. The poor widow put in two small coins, others gave much more, but only she recevied praise from Jesus. She gave her grocery money, they gave from their surplus. When we have the heart of the widow and give like she gave, then the blessings will come. Not because we gave a lot, but because we gave sacrifically, trusting God to meet our every need. Don’t be concerned about the amount or the percentage, don’t quit giving when it hurts, just keep giving until it feels good.
36 The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. 37 Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. 38 The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. 39 You will need 75 pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. — Exodus 25:36-39 NLT
For those who think God has something against money, prosperity and being rich, here is something to think about. Seventy-five pounds of gold is 1200 ounces. On today’s market, gold is listed at $1114.30 per ounce. That means that in today’s world, the cost of the lampstand and all of its accessories would be $1,336,800 in US currency. Extravagant? If you own all the gold in the world, does extravagant even have a meaning? One could object that God took all this money from the poor, homeless Israelis. Why would He do that? But, we must remember when they were slaves in Egypt, they had nothing and when God called them out of Egypt, He caused the Egyptians to give the Israelis all of their jewelry and gold. He was the reason they had the gold in the first place, they were just carrying it for Him. The same is true of us today, anything that we have came from God and we are just carrying it for Him. The next time the offering plate is passed, we need to remember where our gold came from and give a goodly portion of it back. When we have an opportunity to share the bountiful gifts God has so freely given to us, let us share it with a joyful, thankful heart. Take a moment to remember and thank God for His extravagance in giving us His Son. We will never be able to give to God more than He has given to us. When we seriously think about it, God doesn’t really require much of us.
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8 NLT
19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. — 1 Peter 2:19-21 NIV
As we look back and honestly assess the hard times in our lives, we can attribute most of them to bad decisions that we have made. Those decisions may have involved unkind words that we spoke causing ill feelings and anger between us and others. The decisions may have been based on our fleshly desires and caused us to commit acts that we should not have committed. The decisions could have been bad financial decisions we made because we did not want to wait until we were able to afford certain things. We get no credit or praise for enduring those times that were brought on by our own wrong doing. I cannot recall one time in my life when I had to suffer because of a good deed that I had done. I read the horror stories of our brothers and sisters being abused and persecuted for the good deeds they have done and are doing and I pray for them. Those events seem so far away and foreign to me. And I wonder what my reaction to that kind of treatment would be. Would I stay faithful to God and endure the pain? We are called to and warned to be ready for such acts. We have the examples of those in the Bible and in our daily news of those who do endure. They are the ones who make up the “cloud of witnesses” that surround us. I shed tears of grief as I listen to their stories and I feel so small and unworthy knowing that the tears they are shedding as they tell their stories are tears of joy, the joy of sharing in suffering with our Savior.
It should break our hearts to think about what pain Mary felt as she gazed upon the cross and saw her Son in such agony. What anguish she must have felt as she remembered that this was the little baby that she had held in her lap on the first Christmas day! It must have been hard for her to believe that it took that kind of suffering to redeem a fallen world. As we celebrate the season this year and every year. let us remember that there is no gift that can match the one He gave on the cross. He gave His all for us, so let us commit to living lifestyles that reflect His love for us. Let us rejoice because the cross is empty! Let us sing with gladness of heart, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come” and He has risen in our hearts!
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as afragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. — Ephesians 5:1-4 NASB
We are going through a time of thanksgiving and praise for all the blessings that God has poured out on us and also for His grace in bringing us through the rough times in our lives. Most had a few days off and/or our regular routine was changed for a few days. When we are at family gatherings and places of worship, it is much easier for us to praise God and give thanks. We have been surrounded by those who love us and we feel a kind of insulation from worldly influences. But what do we do when we retrun to our jobs or schools? We will be around those who are more concerned about worldly things than spiritual. We will be more likely to hear the kind of talk that Paul describes here in this passage. It is this kind of mindset and conversation that causes us to focus on the world and not on Jesus. This can cause our attitudes to change from thanksgiving back to the worldly attitude of greed and coveteousness. As we go back into those situations. we need to remember that where we are or what we are doing does not change who God is or what He has done for us. In the face of all that satan confronts us with out in the world, we need to show others the love of God by keeping our conversations pure. We just need to keep practicing the attitude of love and thanksgiving until it becomes a lifestyle, not just a season in our lives.
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. — 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 NIV
God hates sin, all sins, but He loved sinners enough to send His Son to die for us. And not just die, but to be crucified cruelly and mocked publicly. This is His example to us of how much we should love others, not just family and friends, but also strangers and enemies. The people that Paul was writing to at this time were those who gave of their resources to others who had needs and also gave to support Paul in his missionary work so that he could meet the spiritual needs of others and spread the gospel. How do we show our love for Jesus? By being obedient and helping those in need. Not just physical needs by giving of our resources, which we should do, but also giving of our time in caring for those with spiritual and emotional needs. A smile, a handshake, a hug, a word in season, a minute listening are all gifts that we can give each other and they are often much more appreciated than any monetary gift that we could give. These gifts we can give over and over since they don’t affect our budgets. So, we can do more and more. We need to be very careful of how we spend the time God has given us. The majority of our time should be spent in doing those things that will win the respect of outsiders and build up the Kingdom of God. By making it a habit to do these things, we will soon find that it is our heart’s desire to do them more and more. Not only will we receive a great blessing here and now, but we will also be laying up treasures in heaven.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matt. 6:19-21 NIV