From the minister's desk
As children of God “we have an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and does not fade away, reserved for us in heaven.” But to obtain this inheritance, we are told what we must do, how we must live and how long we must endure hardships. The danger of losing this inheritance is in not having faith in the word of promise.
We are so blessed in our times as far as the kind of suffering we face versus the sufferings the early church faced. We are in a country where food and water are plentiful, medicines abound, freedoms and creature comforts are the norm. But when we read about the early Christians and the sufferings, persecutions and scattering they had to endure, can we honestly convince ourselves that we could or would be willing to go through what they went through? Honestly? _____________________
They were boiled in hot oils, burned alive, thrown to wild beasts, beaten at will and often killed just for the sport and with no repercussions from the government, but usually at the hands of the government, just for being Christians. Again, would you put up with that type of treatment just to be a Christian and remain one? __
Knowing that this is a requirement for obtaining that “inheritance that is incorruptible and does not fade away” would you make the effort to endure and persevere? That is why many will not obtain that inheritance; many will not endure and persevere as God had commanded. Many do not have the faith to endure.
Peter is writing to the Jewish believers who are struggling in the midst of vicious persecution and he is telling them to conduct themselves courageously and rejoice in their suffering, as this is pleasing in the sight of God and that “the trial of their faith, if they endured until the end, they would receive the salvation of their souls.” If they had to endure such suffering to receive the inheritance, what are you suffering that comes close to that? It was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who said that we too must “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal.” Your treasures are eternally secured in heaven, but where is your heart?
Peter is encouraging the Christians to give their hearts to the Lord, for the suffering He endured for them. This would enable them to endure their suffering for a little while, that they may obtain their “inheritance that is reserved for them, in heaven and it will not fade away.” You have an inheritance in heaven. Don’t let these light afflictions that are for a moment prevent you from obtaining your inheritance. These things are temporary, but your inheritance in heaven is eternal! Don’t lose it.
Opportunities to Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
Just as we need “a few good men” we need a few more “good and faithful members.” Every day is another opportunity to do something to “lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.” There is so much to do in the short amount of time we have that even a new convert can “lay up treasures in heaven for themselves” before tomorrow comes. Paul told the early church: “Let us consider one another, how we can spur one another to love and good works. Let’s not stop meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing; but let us encourage one another even more as we see the day approaching.” Heb.10:24-25 We all have different talents and abilities, and all should be used daily pleasing God and “laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.” Think of the opportunities we miss when we do not.
God wants us, members in the body, “to edify one another, equip or prepare one another for the ministry,” which is seeking and saving lost souls and keeping souls saved. Here are a few opportunities many members miss daily; just letting a member know that you appreciate them, accepting a member as they are first, then spending quality time teaching, encouraging and helping them as needed. That’s a treasure! If you are shy, write notes, cards or letters to communicate your encouraging thoughts and wishes for a member. Introduce yourself to a member you see every Sunday, but never approach. You may be surprised at the things and people you have in common. That’s a treasure! Retired or even shut in members should never be bored or wallowing in self pity when there is so much they can do. We tend to limit ourselves and the work of the Lord is limitless. Call or visit when you can if welcomed. Your outreach in active love and concern is a small part. Then turn it over to God for the increase! Don’t do things to get praise or pats on the back from men, nor to make people feel like they are indebted to you. If it’s from the heart influenced by God, your reward is in heaven! Your joy is your inner satisfaction and gratitude to God for what He is doing with you. It is a privilege to be a child, a servant, a friend of God! There is much to do, there is work for every hand.
Don’t let another day go by or another soul die in your world, not hearing about the saving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t miss another opportunity to show your love and obedience to Jesus Christ for the life He gave that you and I might live. Our debt to Christ is unpayable. Our lives are not valuable enough to give to save another’s life, but our lives are invaluable and precious to enough to God that giving our lives to His Son, living for Him gives the Father glory!
So, in closing, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind. Let nothing be done in vain glory through self- ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each of us esteem others better than ourselves. Let’s not just look out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.” God will bless these efforts! Do this and “lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.”
What is the Matter?
Why can’t I forgive? Why can’t I feel forgiven? Why am I angry all the time? Why do I let the little things get next to me? Why do I feel so unworthy to be saved? Why does being a Christian seem so hard and depressing? Why do I worry so much? Why can’t my life be like other folk who have good relationships and nice things? I don’t know what I am doing wrong.
WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? Let the healing begin! Tear down the walls between you and God. Make up your mind today, right now that you are truly going to trust and obey the Words of Christ. Then listen to him counsel you as you read his powerful truths. Though the context of some of these words may differ, the principle and power in them remains forever. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” Mt.24:35 That ought to give you an anchor of assurance that you can always count on! Jesus said, “Come unto me and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 28:30 Jesus is the master of your soul. He must be your Lord, meaning He must rule in your heart and soul. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.” Mt.6:14-15 So you must learn forgiveness and forgive if you want to please God, be forgiven and be saved! Satan has more influence over you than Jesus when you can’t forgive. Once you learn forgiveness and forgive, you can feel forgiven. But you should know that you are not forgiven because you feel forgiven, but because Jesus declares that you are forgiven! “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgment.” Mt.5:22 “Be angry and sin not. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.” Eph.4:26 If you obey these words you won’t be controlled by anger, nor will you be prone to letting every little thing get to you. Remember, if anyone had a cause to be angry, Jesus did but he forgave and did not sin. He will help you do the same! You feel unworthy because you have not fully accepted what Jesus have done for you. He paid the price for you and your sins. He is the one who makes you worthy. He has sanctified you for himself. When you became a member of His body, you became a part of Him. Through Him and because of Him you are worthy. His Father is your Father now. He has no respect of persons. Therefore, you have no need to worry. Plus, He told you not to worry! Mt.6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient for today is its own trouble.” What is the matter?
We shared lessons to help those who are depressed, but they didn’t attend. Many are depressed and don’t know it, yet depression can cause you to leave, run or hide from God just as Elijah did. God dealt with depression long before the pill, psychotherapy and electroshock therapy. Why not learn from the Creator and deal appropriately with the matter, whatever it is?
So, What is the matter? We are! God is the solution to the matter! Let’s stop hurting ourselves our families, our friends and our relationships with God. Let Him help us deal with whatever the matter is! Learn to trust and obey Him today and began to enjoy His peace as He guide you into His rest. He will show you what the matter is and help you resolve it.
This month’s lesson will help us greatly if we honestly want to know and understand where we might be in our relationship to God in our everyday lives. Everyone of us has experienced ‘missed opportunities’ in one area or another in our lives. A few questions to ask are; what were they? Did you know? How and why did you miss the opportunities? What did it cost you? What was the result of the missed opportunity? Were there any changes to your approach to opportunities?
After reflecting and realizing the importance of not ‘missing opportunities,’ give serious consideration to the ‘missed opportunities’ in your spiritual life. This is what bible classes are set up for; to give us the insight and instructions God has provided regarding opportunities and how we should value them. In His word we have instructions regarding how we should treat strangers. Heb.13:2… No one has ever knowingly met or seen angels. These are messengers and helpers of God. We read of many accounts of angels appearing to certain people with messages from God, some good and some not so good. If we believe what we read, it should put us on guard and on notice to “be careful how we engage or entertain strangers, for some have entertained angels unaware.”
Since he, she or they are strangers, you may not respond to them in a way pleasing to God. But if we are bible believing and practicing Christians, we will ‘be kind to all people, treat people with love and respect, “be always ready to give an answer of the reason of hope that in you and if it be possible, as much as is in you, live peaceable with all men.” They could’ve been sent to you by God. Don’t miss the opportunity.
We miss opportunities to encourage, edify and exhort one another when we don’t spend time together, won’t attend bible classes, worship or fellowship activities. If God’s word says there are opportunities there, who are we to say there are not? We have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit to be a blessing to one another. 1Cor.12:7
When we miss bible classes we miss opportunities to learn and grow together in Christ. We miss opportunities to sing, making melodies in our hearts unto the Lord while admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. If you are assembled and are not doing as God said with the Spirit of God influencing you, you have missed the opportunity to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
So, in your spiritual life ask, what were they? Did you know? How and why did you miss the opportunities? What did it cost you? What was the result of the missed opportunity? Are there any changes to your approach to these opportunities?
Take advantage of the opportunities afforded you today and be a blessing to God and one another. Give serious attention to this lesson and grow spiritually in Christ.
"Weathering the Storms of Life "
Yesterday our sisters engaged in an excellent and timely topic; “Weathering the Storms.” We are all familiar with the actual storms in life like wind, rain, thunder and lightning, snow, hurricanes, tornados and the like. These are storms man can do nothing about except try to survive or weather them. We may or may not be able to find protective shelter in these storms.
To weather means ‘to bear up against and come safely through, to undergo or endure the actions of the elements.’ We can learn how to do this in all types of storms, even spiritual storms.
Storm- ‘a disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction, often accompanied by rain, snow, hail, lightning, etc.’ Then there are the problems we face in life we refer to as storms. ‘To rush angrily at’; to utter or say with angry vehemence and to attack or assault persons, places or things’ also means to storm. Like storms this behavior or action is a disturbance of the normal condition or situation in life.
These storms are often a result of decisions or actions we or someone else have taken. It could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of these. Here are a few examples of each; Physical- drinking too much alcohol to the point of drunkenness, drinking and driving, eating foods that cause us health problems, any of the many illnesses we may encounter, etc. We can weather these storms by understanding and obeying the scriptures like 1Cor.3:16-17; “Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” Let work and age deteriorate the body. Don’t eat, drink, smoke or engage in activities that are destructive to the body. Believe and obey the scriptures.
Mental- bipolar, schizophrenias, dementia and stress, etc. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of a sound mind.” 2Tim.1:7 For living in society, these disorders have medical physicians to treat them and family to love and care for them. In God’s economy, we too must work with, love and care for them among us. But the heavenly and salvation issues are and must be left to God. “Man was created in God’s image and likeness,” and God knows how even the mentally impaired live and think.
Emotional- relationships of all types, worrying about someone who does not care about them-selves, worrying about things and stuff which is temporal more than your soul which is eternal. Storms can make a person emotional to the point their decisions and actions are conducted from emotion rather than clear thinking. Come let’s reason together in the scriptures to better understand how to weather emotional storms.
Spiritual- a lack of faith or trust in God, no relationship or reverence for God, no prayer life, lack of study of the word of God, no interaction with brothers and sisters in Christ, etc. We can do something about all of these if we dedicate or rededicate our lives to Christ. We have words of instruction, comfort and encouragement to help us to “weather the storms in our lives.” We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.