Christianity 201

February 5, 2019

“Well Done” Starts Today

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Matthew 25.21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

which repeats 2 verses later as:

Matthew 25.23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Don’t know the story? Read it here.


A year ago we introduced you to the writing of Chicago area Youth Pastor Joshua Nelson who writes at The Sidebar Blog.  Tomorrow we’re linking to two posts he wrote about youth in the church, and older members of the church. (They’re also linked below.)

Click the header below to read this at source.

Well Done

It is hard to express in words alone the torrent of emotions that accompany laying a loved one to rest.

Even for those who were not particularly close to the person being grieved for, the whole experience can still be incredibly emotional.

Thankfully, joy can be found in the midst of the mourning if the loved one knew Jesus as Savior.

As Billy Graham said when speaking of his own passing, “I will be more alive on that day than ever before.” And he was right. For believers, when we pass from this temporary life into the eternal we will, in fact, be more alive than ever before because we will be with our Lord, the giver of life itself.

But the process is still, understandably, painful. I think that one of many reasons why funerals are so difficult for us humans is because death causes us to reflect. Death causes us to think about life. How did they live their life? How has my own life been lived thus far? How will I now choose to live?

Recently, I attended a funeral service of a faithful and incredible man of God. And it may sound weird to say, but I was truly and deeply blessed. (You know that someone lived their life well when their funeral service is a blessing to people, and a true celebration of life.) I was encouraged to hear about his love and devotion to his God and to his family. I was awed by his steadfast and upstanding character. And I was grateful for the legacy that he left behind.

There is no doubt in my mind that the moment when this man stepped into eternity he heard the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Those words actually come from a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25. You should read the passage for yourself, I promise it will be worth it. But one of the main takeaways is that what you do today matters for tomorrow.

Jesus tells of a master who entrusts a few of his servants with various amounts of money and then he leaves to go on a journey. He returns and discovers what each of his servants has done with the money. The master is very pleased with the servants who have done something with what was entrusted to them and have doubled it.

He tells them “well done.”

But one of the servants was lazy and did nothing with what was entrusted to him, and the master was very displeased with him.

I want to live my life in such a way that at the end of the road I will hear “well done.”

But “well done” starts today. The choices that we make today are literally forming our character. Each and every day needs to be a “well done” kind of day.

There are no shortcuts in a life well done. We cannot just simply hide what has been entrusted to us away and wait till the end and expect a pat on the back.

The only way to hear “well done, good and faithful one” at the end of your life is to do well during your life.

I am thankful for godly men and women who set examples for us to follow and be encouraged by. I am thankful for a God who doesn’t just leave us in the dark, but actually gives us answers to our problems and frustrations in the Bible. I am thankful for Jesus and the promise of eternal life.

And I am motivated to live my life in a way that will please my Lord.



Two more articles by the same author:

  • Regarding the youth in his church, someone once suggested to him they should “just sit on the sidelines until their time came.” That prompted the article Too Young For Church. However…
  • …Then, a week later, the other side of the coin: “Just as the Body is deprived if young people are not championed, so too is the church deprived if the elderly are forgotten.” Check out Too Old for Church.

 

 

 

January 7, 2015

Special Moments With God

For our weekly installment from Clarke Dixon, we mined an earlier article that he wrote in a series on the church. I hope that each of you has something in your experience that will relate to the story he describes. To read at source, click the title below; to see other posts in the series, select the archives for January, 2013.

Special Moments With God - Seeking God's GloryWhy Church? Seeking God’s Glory . . .

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18 NIV)

I find that my most embarrassing moments at church tend to also be the most poignant. My most embarrassing church moment thankfully came on a Sunday off, sitting in the back pew of a church rather than standing at the front for all to see. This church was a Pentecostal church, but it did not seem to be a very lively Pentecostal church, indeed the people present could have passed for Presbyterians in their expressiveness, but I was definitely being a typical Baptist, being in the back pew and all. The embarrassment came during the song “How Great is Our God.” A simple enough song, and simply done but for some reason on that morning I was really struck. The tears flowed from somewhere very deep and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I wanted to alright, especially as I seemed to be the only one expressing any emotion at the time, but there was no tap for the waterworks. I had an overwhelming sense of the greatness of God and smallness of myself. I tell you this, not so that you will think that I am super-spiritual (because I’m not), or that I am “losing it” (because I haven’t, yet!), but to remind you that God does make Himself known, and that knowing Him can be a deeply emotional experience.

How often do we pray that simple prayer of Moses, “Now, show me your glory”? We may pray often, with our petitions, intercessions, and pleas for God’s guidance and the strength to follow, but how often do we find ourselves praying with Moses, “now show me your glory”? James MacDonald in his book, Vertical Church points out that this prayer of Moses is answered by God through a deep experience of His presence which you can read about in Exodus 33. To experience God’s glory is to experience God’s presence. Isaiah gives us another great prayer that we don’t pray often enough:

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! (Isaiah 64:1, 2 NIV)

Perhaps we don’t pray this kind of prayer often because we have in our minds the very true idea that God is omnipresent. But we can point to times and places where God’s presence has been more evident, more palpable, more of an experience held in the heart than a truth held in the mind. James MacDonald in the aforementioned book would say that we confuse the omnipresence of God with the manifest presence of God.

Have you ever experienced that real heart filling, perspective changing presence of God? If you have trusted in Jesus you will. You may experience it someday when you least expect it. You will experience it on that day when we are ushered into God’s presence in glory, in the hereafter. And when we experience that presence and glory of God we will worship, not out of obligation, nor with an eye on the clock, but with joyful and humble hearts that desire to bring Him glory.

Why do we bother with church? Because this is the people with whom we seek God’s glory, to see it, and to bring it, then to live it. Do the prayers of Moses to see God’s glory, or of Isaiah to experience God’s presence sound like your prayers? To gather together Sunday by Sunday is to make being in His presence, our lives bringing Him honor, the prayer of our hearts.

July 27, 2012

Wanting to End Well

CEB- II Chron. 29:2 He did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, just as his ancestor David had done.  II Chron. 32:33 Hezekiah lay down with his ancestors and was buried in the upper area of the tombs of David’s sons. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death.

Dr. R. T. Kendall shares some of his greatest fears in this article.  If you don’t know him, he is the author of many, many books and pastored at Westminster Chapel in London for 35 years.  There are a number of scripture references here; for your convenience, here is the link to Bible Gateway.

The older I get, the faster time flies; the older I get, the more I find myself crying to God, ‘Let me end well’. I have been stunned to discover how many esteemed leaders in church history did not end well. Even some of my Puritan heroes went to their graves with a lack of assurance of their own salvation, and many today – for various reasons – may find themselves in this situation. Oh Lord, let it not be so with me!

I share with you some of my own greatest fears.

First, that God would take his hand off me – and leave me alone. Billy Graham expressed that this has been his greatest fear. It is what actually happened to King Saul (as I said in this column before) – a man who was chosen of God (1 Sam.9:15-16), who had a brilliant beginning (1 Samuel 10:9-10), who lost his anointing (1 Sam.16;1, 18:12), yet whose prophetic gift flourished on his way to kill his enemy, young David (1 Sam.19:19-24). When I ponder the thought that if the Holy Spirit were completely withdrawn from the church today, ninety percent of the work of the church would go on as if nothing happened, I fear that could happen to you or me. It is so easy to let either a natural or spiritual gift camouflage our true, secret relationship with God.

Second, that I would teach what is not exactly true. I cannot bear the thought that I would pass on any measure of theological error. Some people do not worry too much about sound theology. But I do. I want to get it right in my thinking before I stand in a pulpit or take pen in hand. I will have to give an account of every word I have uttered, including every ‘careless’ word (Matt.12:36). What is my assurance that I will not accept or teach heresy? One thing – but not my training, reading or level of intelligence; it is unconditional obedience to the Holy Spirit. I put all my eggs in this basket, Jesus’ words: ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17 – KJV). I conclude from this that if my relationship with God is right, I will be kept from any serious error.

Third, that I could be out of the will of God and not know it. If this could happen to Joseph and Mary, it could happen to you or me. They went an entire day without Jesus but assumed the whole time ‘he was in their company’ (Luke 2:44). I based my book Sensitivity of the Spirit (Charisma House) largely on this. I am sobered to recall that God is no respecter of persons, that he will not bend the rules for any of us. If we proceed without him, we too are on our own. The only prevention that I know of is to develop such an intimate knowledge of the ways of the Holy Spirit that I instantly sense his absence when I move ahead without him. To be fair, I don’t think anyone can get seriously out of God’s will for very long whose heart does not long for his Presence. But I do not want to go a day, not even an hour, knowingly, without his conscious Presence.

Fourth, that I might discover that I could have had much more of God and be used in a greater manner but for my stubbornness to recognize his warnings. I have just finished writing a book called How to Forgive Ourselves – Totally. I have made so many mistakes, would give anything to have a second chance in certain areas (especially with my family). I know I am a forgiven man. I have forgiven myself – totally. Furthermore, I hang on to Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good to them who love God and are the called according to his purpose. I believe this promise with all my heart. But at the same time I cannot help but wonder how much better it might have been had I listened to clear cautions from the Lord over the years. This is why I am so keen not to brush aside any loving word from a friend or stranger – lest I miss all that God would do with me. The older you get, the more you want to avoid any past mistakes.

Fifth, that I might not hear God say to me, ‘Well done’. You may say that all Christians get that very same commendation when they get to Heaven. I don’t agree. A ‘rich welcome’ is promised on certain conditions (2 Pet.1:11). I hold that not all who go to Heaven also get a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor.5:10). Some will be saved by fire – their works burned – and lose their reward (1 Cor.3:15). I have heard people say, ‘I don’t care about a reward, I just want to make it to Heaven’. I reply: you won’t feel that way then! You should know that a reward (also called ‘crown’, ‘prize’ or ‘inheritance’) was very important to the Apostle Paul (1 Cor.9:27). Martin Luther once said that when he gets to Heaven he expects three surprises: (1) there will be people there he did not expect to see; (2) there will be people missing he expected would be there; (3) that he is there himself! If I could paraphrase that, I expect three surprises: (1) there will be those who receive a reward at the Judgment I did not think deserved it; (2) there will be those saved by fire I thought would receive a reward; (3) that I get to hear from the lips of Jesus himself, ‘Well done RT’ at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

In a word: I want to end well. Like you, I want to live a long time. We all want to end well. In a day when there are more and more shocking revelations of those we esteemed so highly, I urge every reader to fall to his or her knees and cry out, ‘Oh Lord, let it not be me’. This means following Paul’s example: ‘I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize’ (1 Cor.9:27). One of the reason we are told about the Judgment Seat of Christ is that it would make a difference in the way we live.

~ Dr. R. T. Kendall

April 30, 2011

Unfashionable Worship

A shorter post today to make up for yesterday! This is from the worship.com blog where it appeared under the title, Worshipping Unfashionably.

Isaiah 6 teaches us something foundational about public worship. If you read the first few verses you’ll notice the first thing Isaiah encounters in the house of God is the glory of God. It doesn’t first say he encountered friendly faces or hot coffee, or soft bagels or a booming sound system. It says he encountered the glory of God. In the Bible, the glory of God is God’s “heaviness”, his powerful presence. It is God’s prevailing excellence on display. In God’s house, Isaiah meets a God who is majestically in command.

What does this mean for our worship services? It means we ought to come, first and foremost, expecting to encounter the glory of God–his powerful presence. We should come ready to sing of who he is and hear of what he’s done. We come to feel the grief of our sin so that we can feel the glory of his salvation. We come, in other words, to see God on display, not preachers or musicians. A worship service is not the place to showcase human talent. It’s the place for God to showcase his Divine treasure.  A worship service that contains the power to change you is a worship service that leaves you with grand impressions of Divine personality, not grand impressions of human personality.

Isaiah did not leave the temple thinking, “What great music, what a great building, what a great preacher.” He left thinking, “What a great God.” This is why songs and sermons need to be about God first. Everything done in worship ought to communicate God because it is God and God alone who can transform your life and mine. Seeing me will not help you. Seeing God is the only thing truly capable of moving you from one place to another. This is why John Piper rightly asks, “How shall entertaining worship services – with the aim of feeling light hearted and friendly – help a person prepare to suffer, let alone prepare to die?”