Christianity 201

April 24, 2019

Faithful in Little; Faithful in Much

Today we return to the writing of Sarah Jo who writes at Blind Insanity. Click the header below to read at source and then take a minute to look around the rest of her blog.

Faithful in a Little

I attended a leadership conference put on by CBMC (Christian Businessmen’s Connection). I am obviously not a businessman, but this was an open leadership conference, with five speakers; two of which were women…

The biggest takeaway I got … comes from a verse shared by one of the speakers:

 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (Luke 16:10)

As I kept meditating on that verse, I was reminded of all the times I’ve cried out to God for a greater purpose, a greater calling. And I just feel ashamed of that prayer.

Yes, it would be great to do big and awesome things for God, but He is the One Who decides what is a “big” thing, not me.

I have called my current life and ministries “little things,” but those are the things God has called me to be faithful in. Anything God has called me to do is priceless and worth whatever price I must pay.

Whether my calling seems grand or seems humble, my resolve to serve well and to make the most of every opportunity should be the same.

I am not a prominent business leader. I have not inspired hundreds of people, but if I have cast a vision of Christ into one soul, that is enough.

The whole purpose of my life is not the pursuit of happiness or the satisfaction of my basic needs; it is the glory of Christ.

I don’t always live like that.

Too often, I live like my purpose is to be comfortable and have everything I need.

Just last night, as I was about to leave my house to spend the night at my parents, I went downstairs and found that the drain for my kitchen sink and clothes washer was blocked up. There was a mix of soapy water just sitting above the drain in the floor.

My first response was, “Jesus, why?!” And I have to confess that it has weighed heavy on my mind since then… but that is a very little thing. The answer is simple; trust God, face the problem, and take care of it.

Ultimately, God provides, and the hardships we face become a part of our past; important steps in our growth in Christ.

So, I choose to make the most of the life God has given me right here and now.

I choose to lead well in the sphere of influence God has presented me with.

And I choose to glorify Christ every step of the way.

May 30, 2016

How Does This Advance the Kingdom?

Even Christians can get caught up spending time on internet rabbit trails that distract us from our spiritual purpose.

Even Christians can get caught up spending time on internet rabbit trails that distract us from the purpose for which God made us.

Starting out the day on social media most of you probably check into the minutiae of your friends’ lives. You wouldn’t have done this a decade ago, the option simply did not exist, and yet here you are, ten years later, finding it necessary to know how the sunset looked last night from the cabin where Jason is staying, and what Sandra had for breakfast. What were you using this time for previously? What has been sacrificed in order to pursue this level of awareness about your acquaintances and relatives?

As I’m preparing the news and opinion updates for Wednesday’s link list at Thinking Out Loud, I am suddenly arrested by the question, “How does this advance the Kingdom of God?” Truth be told, a lot of our energies and efforts go into things which are not necessary to the building of the God’s Kingdom.

As I thought about various verses that could anchor these thoughts, I came across the following devotion by Juli Camarin. (Click the title below to read at source.) One sentence in the 1st paragraph really stood out for me: “… it makes sense that everything we do should originate and proceed from faith, otherwise we are acting of our own accord.”

Everything that Does Not Come from Faith is Sin—Romans 14:22-23

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:22-23)

Faith pleases God. In fact without faith it is impossible to please God ( Hebrews 11:6 ). So it makes since that everything we do should originate and proceed from faith, otherwise we are acting of our own accord. Faith is relying on and believing in God’s provision instead of ourselves. Hebrews says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” ( Hebrews 11:1 ). The King James Bible says that faith is a substance and the Amplified says that is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope” ( Hebrews 11:1 Amp ).  So in the kingdom of God, faith is very important.

Paul says in today’s passage that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” ( Romans 14:22-23 ). This seems like a radical statement, but knowing how important faith is to the believer helps put into perspective everything he has been saying in this entire chapter. We are to exercise our personal convictions as if in God’s presence keeping ourselves striving to know and obey his truth and will. When we operate in this way, we are operating in faith and God is pleased with faith. This gives us the freedom to live without reservation in His presence and he accepts this. In fact the Bible tells us that we are blessed by this liberty ( Romans 14:22 ).

In the same way, the man who has misgivings or an uneasy conscience about the things he does, whether it is eating or drinking or something else, this man is not acting out of faith and so stands in condemnation before God. This is because he is not true to his convictions and brings judgment on himself. If our conscience condemns us then we will not have boldness before God. The awareness of sin will keep us from having the confidence we need to approach God in faith. This is why it is better not to do those things which go against our convictions, even if we see others doing it. Whatever does not originate and proceed from faith or is done without a conviction of its approval by God, is sin for us. It is better for us to keep a clear conscience before God so that we may boldly approach His throne and find grace.

As believers we are to live by faith. This is a process and comes by knowing God and His promises. If we do not know what he has said, then we cannot operate out of faith in accordance to those things. Today I encourage you to renew your mind to the truth that faith pleases God and whatever you do, should be done by operating in faith. I pray that you will hold true to your convictions and walk in the liberty to which you have been called in Christ Jesus. Do not let others hinder you. Let God reveal to your heart those things which are acceptable and good and live in this way. Live your life rooted and established in faith and you will be blessed in everything you do. May God continue to sanctify you through this word as you proceed and operate in it today, amen!

While Juli’s article takes the passage in several different directions — including sin and personal convictions — it also raises another question that takes me back to where we began today: Does this proceed from faith?

So two questions to leave you with:

  • Am I currently using a lot of time and energy on things which do not advance God’s purposes and plans and the building of His Kingdom?
  • Do my aims and activities proceed from faith

Go Deeper: Juli is blogging her way through Romans. Have you ever considered journaling or blogging your way through a book like Romans, one of the Gospels, Hebrews, or an First Testament book? WordPress and BlogSpot blogs like this one are free. You don’t have to do it daily (as I did) or keep it up for six years (as we have here), but you can simply, as you are able, write down your thoughts as you work through a few verses, a paragraph or chapter-by-chapter. Consider yourself challenged! You might even find yourself doing some research.

March 9, 2012

The Best is Yet to Come

Today’s contribution is from Sheldon Bungay, who not only happens to be the Captain of a nearby Salvation Army Corps, but is also someone I’ve gotten to know personally.  It appeared first on his blog under the title, More Tomorrows! and you’re encouraged — you get pictures — to read it there.  NOTE: This was originally published on Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday evening of this past week, my wife and I were watching a TV show in which an elderly man had taken ill. He was sent to a local hospital and then chose to go ahead with an elective surgical procedure which his family was totally against. Just before the nurses wheeled him to the Operating Room, his son tried in vain one last time to convince his father to not go ahead with surgery. “Dad, you are being unreasonable!” was his last attempted effort before his father put up his hand for his son to stop talking and then entered into an emotional discourse that immediately not only challenged the son, but also me the viewer. His words were these:

“But one day, you’re gonna wake up, and all the big stuff, all the milestones you’ve been looking forward to – graduation, wedding, having kids, your grandkids – it’s all behind you. It’s all over. All you got is a bunch of yesterdays, and very few tomorrows.”

I have replayed these words in my mind over and over again during the last three days and I am troubled!

I am sure the author of these words was trying to get the point across that this man had very few days left on this earth, and his son should let his father live his last days however he wanted, with a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, laughter, and fun. But I was left troubled, I was troubled because of the reality that so many people in this world today live their lives thinking the exact same way as this elderly hospital patient. They believe, I must live my life now to the fullest, because soon it will all end and everything I looked forward to will be over, and then what? Nothing!

I am troubled because this couldn’t be further from the truth in my life and in the lives of so many of my closest friends and family members. While we enjoy the events of our lives, and while we may experience a sense of disappointment or nostalgia for the past highlights of our lives, these things pale in comparison to the life that is still yet to come.

What I am referring to is the reward that is referenced by Paul in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”

This is his goal in life, his one true aim is to have God smile at him upon their first encounter in Heaven. ”Whatever we consider to be a joy here on earth will be heightened millions of times beyond anything we can conceive when we get to heaven. The apostle Paul put it this way: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Today is Valentine’s Day, and my day started perfectly. I awoke to see three of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen in my life, that of my beautiful wife, my princess daughter, and my mini-me son all handing me chocolates, cards, and gifts that they had created. These three people have brought more joy into my life than I could have ever imagined. And It is because of this reality that I am absolutely pumped and can’t wait to get to heaven. Because if the joy that they bring me here on earth is heightened millions of times by God in heaven, then heaven is something I’m looking forward to.

Yes, my childhood, my high school graduation, my wedding day, my ordination, the birth of my children, are all things that are behind me and things that I cherish from my yesterdays, but I don’t just have a few tomorrows here on earth, I have many more in heaven, and I hope I’ll see all of you in those tomorrows!

“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19

~Sheldon Bungay

January 23, 2011

The Difference A Life Made

William Tyndale

Because 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible, North American newspaper writers are tripping over themselves to write something relevant about a 400-year old book that many of them would never otherwise consider reading.

The Toronto Star was no exception yesterday.

I found it interesting that they traced the development of the Bible back an extra century to the work that William Tyndale did.

Reporter Ron Csillag notes:

William Tyndale, scored the first printed English translation of the New Testament in 1526. Working directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts, his was a plain and vigorous English, designed to make the work accessible to “the boy that driveth the plough.” Some 3,000 of Tyndale’s translations were printed in Germany. Many were smuggled into England, where most were seized and burned as heretical, and Tyndale himself was burned at the stake in Belgium.

I’d heard that part before.  But here’s the part that I didn’t know:

But the scholars who laboured for seven years under James’s royal mandate must have found his words inspiring: It’s estimated that 80 per cent of Tyndale’s translation was incorporated into the KJV.

Eighty per cent!  That part, I hadn’t heard before. The Bible that has served the English speaking world so well for many years is really, four-fifths of it anyway, the Tyndale Bible.

The translation laboriously translated from the Hebrew and Greek by William Tyndale, the Bible translation that he believed in, the translation work that ultimately cost him his life; four-fifths of that is the very same translation whose survival four hundred years later — a fact that would totally amaze Tyndale given how the language has changed — is still being read by some people and still being sold in some Christian bookstores.  400 years later!

That’s the difference his life made.

What difference is my life making?

What difference is your life making?

June 26, 2010

Fighting to Finish

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If you read I & II Kings, you see accounts of different kinds of kings who reigned over Israel and Judah. Generally their accounts fall into one of four categories:

  • Started badly, ended badly
  • Started well, ended badly
  • Started badly, ended well
  • Started well, ended well

A few years ago while driving, we listened to Gordon MacDonald and Bill Hybels discussing the importance of finishing well. These men, who admit to both good years and bad years, want to be remembered for finishing the race well.

But then, I began to wonder if we ever think in terms of finishing a year, or a month, or a week, or even a day well. A month ago, I made a list of all the personal goals I had been striving for last year. I definitely got some things accomplished. Next to a few, I wrote, ‘not done.’ Next to one I wrote, ‘…total confusion;’ and next to a couple I wrote, ‘disaster.’ There are some things I just didn’t get done this year, and there are some other things that sit on my personal horizon like an accident scene.

Despite this, I still feel that it was in some respects a good year. Each new one will probably contain an equal number of runs, hits and errors. My friend Ray, a symphony orchestra player, once told me, “It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you keep making new mistakes.” I would add, “…and learn from the old ones.”

This is the day, week, month, year… that the Lord has made. So how about you? Take a minute to honestly write up a personal scorecard or report cards, and then give yourself a rating in the areas that matter to you, and with a thought to how God sees our efforts and our motivation. Search me, oh God, and know my anxious thoughts.

Then set some realistic goals and personal vision; and in so doing, dream big.

~Paul Wilkinson, December, 2007