Begin With The End In Mind

Live each day as if it were your last day on earth: Begin with the end in mind, or in view; an eternal perspective.

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” Luke 19:26 NASB (Read the entire parable, found in verses 11-27)

Setting the scene: previously, Jesus was talking about His kingdom coming, soon, but not immediately. The event this parable is based on took place around 4BC when Herod Archelous inherited most of Herod the Great’s kingdom. He traveled to Rome to be crowned by Caesar. Caesar named him “ethnarch”, not king. Archelous was well known to reward those who backed him and punish those who opposed him.

In this parable, Jesus is referring to himself, also, as He will go away to heaven and He will return. Then He will reward those who supported Him and punish those who oppose Him. This is about the faithfulness of what God has given us and wants us to invest. He says “do business with this; occupy or invest this while I am gone.” We need to be prepared for when Jesus returns, because we will be called to account for our lives and what we were given – and not only financially. In verse 16, the first two are prepared for their masters return: “Your mina has made….” The master (boss) didn’t say “well planned” or “well intentioned” or “well thought”, but “well done.” Anything we can do, everything we do, are little things in God’s overall view, but He will reward us in a big way. Many of us are more like the third servant, who doesn’t trust the king and doesn’t know him. He hid his mina away and didn’t even attempt to invest it, as if he were uninterested in what happens to the king’s money. He didn’t want to be bothered with the king’s belongings. Are we so involved in ourselves and our own lives that we don’t invest the King’s gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

The significance of this parable is that while we know Jesus has gone away, we also know He will return. NOW is the time to invest in His kingdom; we can be Gospel entrepreneurs, strengthening our spiritual portfolios. It’s important to remember this, too: We do works for the Lord, but the ONLY work, the One work that will get us to heaven is the work HE did for us on the cross.

There are two kinds of people in the world:

“He who has the Son has the Life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:12 NASB

My thanks to Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church of Edmond, OK for the inspiration and the ‘meat’ of this post. If you are one of the people who doesn’t know Christ; who doesn’t have Life in Him, it isn’t too late to get it. Just ask Jesus for forgiveness. He’s ready, willing, and able; just ask.

copyright Roger Coles; from https://bible.com

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I Hate Her / Him

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:22‭-‬24 NASB

“The life we live today will determine the life we will live for eternity.” Mark Hitchcock (Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK)

Think about that for a minute. If I spend my time, my life, on earth holding a grudge against someone, hating them, how will that affect my eternal life? I know it can’t hurt my salvation, because that comes solely through God’s Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ. It can, however, affect my eternal life.

Every person who has accepted Christ as their Saviour enters into an undeniable, unbreakage relationship with the Creator Father. We are saved from damnation with the enemy for all of the ages. That is indisputable. The question of all time is what will it be like, and how will we be when we get to that glorious place called heaven? Does how we live on earth affect our lives in heaven? The Apostle Paul thinks it will:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬25 NASB

“….. for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

We are striving for an imperishable wreath, or crown, in our lives. One that will be rewarded to us at the Bema Seat when we first see Jesus, and that will stay with us throughout eternity. Those people I want to hate because of their actions – is it worth it to lose out in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it worth losing out on the rewards He wants to give me? Turn them over to Jesus. Lay them at His Feet. Let Him deal with their lies, betrayals, ugliness. I don’t need that trash cluttering up either this life, or the next!

Take A Break From Control

Reading my devotional this morning, I read this and it really struck home:

It’s leaving our work and striving behind to allow God to handle it, knowing that it’s not we who hold the earth in the balance, but Him. It’s trading the unhealthy illusion of control and the addiction of distraction for the beneficial gift of presence. It’s giving up the hustle and having confidence God will take care of things while we take a break.” (from Kate Merrick #HereNowBook)

Such truth! Everything we do seems like it comes back to trying to control our environments, and that is a completely impossible task. Doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much money you might have, you cannot control life. Oh, we might have a semblance of control, but it can be snatched away in an instant. Spouses and loved ones disappoint. Businesses fail. Money markets crash. Homes burn. People die. Hopelessness can overtake us in an instant, even for those of us who love the Lord and count Him as our King.

Can you even imagine how much more devastating such losses must be for someone who is doing it all on their own strength, by themself? I believe that’s why depression and suicide are so prevelant. There is really no hope outside of our Lord and Saviour. I deal with disappointment and loss and setbacks, seems like almost on a daily basis, and I cannot contemplate being here without Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NASB

Hallelujah! What a BLESSING we have in Jesus!

Lest We Forget

July 4, 2019. 243 years ago, a group of men gathered, in secret, to forge ahead with actions that would end up costing many of them – literally – their fortunes and their lives. They did it in the name of freedom. Freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, freedom to decide their own fates. Freedom to escape the rule of ‘class’. Were these men perfect? Far from it! Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Yet they forged ahead, determined that their children and their children’s children and so on would have a place to live in freedom.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. No country, no nation before us was ever started with a Populous government! With all of the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike’s decision to pull their shoe that displayed it because it is a “slave” flag, let me refer to Article XIII of the Bill of Rights:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Was there slavery? Yes. It was in the form of both outright ownership of persons and indentured servitude. Was it against the Constitution? Yes, it was. Is it still occurring in the United States? Yes, I am sorry to say, although it is to a much lesser extent than in other countries. Our ancestors fought wars to prevent undue rule and unjust rule. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, the Middle East….. We are still fighting over unjust practices and inhumane treatment. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery; it was about States rights!

What’s my point?

There will never be a perfect place to live on this earth, because humanity is flawed to the core. No man or woman is perfect, and we will all do and say offensive and stupid things. Bearing that in mind, and knowing that in these United States we are all responsible for ourselves, we are Blessed! What other country allows such blatant disrespect to it to flourish within it’s borders? Where else on earth can people publicly make fun of and disrespect their leader without experiencing dire consequences?

Since 1776, millions of men and women, United States citizens, have given everything for our freedom. There are currently hundreds, thousands, military personnel putting their lives on the line, every single day, for our freedom. Ditto for the Police officers, Sheriff departments, Border Patrol Agents, every type of Law Enforcement; all First Responders – Fire, EMT’s. Where else in the world do these freedoms and protections exist? Nowhere, to the extent of those in the United States.

It’s a day to be thankful. We can worship how and when we please, we can speak out – and act out – against our government in freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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The Well-Qualified Leader

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NASB

Leadership is critical both to the church and in business, and there isn’t a more well-qualified leader than Jesus Christ. He shows how a good leader leads by example. The scriptures are very clear in outlining what a good leader consists of, starting with servanthood: to be a good leader, you must first be a good servant. In 1 Peter, he writes to church leaders, but the instructions are equally applicable in business.

“…… Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as Lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” – 1 PETER 5:2‭-‬3 NASB

If a behavior is the standard for leaders, it will become the benchmark for everyone who follows that leader. We become like our leaders:

“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” – LUKE 6:40 NASB

To be a good leader, their followers need to know who is in charge. Not control, because that is trying to force everyone into the same mold. In charge allows the leader to actually lead by example. A good leader also needs to recognize that the how may not be the same between each person, as long as the why is the same – and the end result is met. We have to know what our leaders should be like in order to hold them accountable, and a good leader should recognize and acknowlege the validity of the actions of their followers. They have to “live” with their people to recognize when there are issues and situations when their oversight is needed, and to know when it is not.

A good leader, regardless of their age, will have maturity, character, and wisdom. There’s no age limit to those traits! A good leader is one who is actively involved, who exercises oversight, and watchs that their people know how to follow. It’s as much attitude as knowlege. The best leaders are the ones who know and love the Good Shepherd, and who shepherd among their followers, and who are involved with other shepherd-leaders. A good leader is humble not haughty. They take the job seriously, but not themselves. They have a willingness and a passion for what they are doing. It isn’t just their job, an obligation. A good leader is exemplary, not domineering – remember our perfect leader, Jesus, the Son of Man, Who came to serve, not to be served; to be the OverSEER, not the OverLORD.

A well-qualified leader, a good leader, reaps the benefits and rewards of a job well done.

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The End Is Coming!

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 PETER 4:7‭-‬11 NASB

How many times has the end of the world been predicted? Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands? Over the centuries, many leaders have convinced their followers that Jesus is returning at a certain time and a certain date. The Jehovah Witnesses have predicted at least 5 different dates, and we are still here. Nostradamus predicted 1999 (Still here). Google “end-of-the-world predictions” – it’s interesting to me that so many people seem to want the world to simply go away. Matthew, Luke, and John all recorded Jesus saying that no one would know when He was to return.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. …. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” – MATTHEW 24:42‭, ‬44 NASB

Peter wrote 1 Peter 4 as a guide of how to live in the end times; to live in the knowledge that our Lord is coming to see us at some point, and to take care of His people as if we expect Him now. In the Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, as Aslan prepares to leave Lucy he tells her he will return soon. I love her reply, because it is what we all want to ask: “What do you call “soon”?”

Are we living our lives like Jesus will return “soon”? Like there is no tomorrow? It is especially important as Christians to keep sound judgement and a clear head – don’t succumb to the panic of the end times. (Remember Y2K?) One way to avoid the panic is through a dedicated prayer life – sustained and energized, aware of the immenence of Christ. We have the only Love that can be stretched and strained to the max, but will never reach a breaking point, because it is a unique Love that comes only from the Father.

We need to be more fervent in our love of others, and let our love cover their sins…. not condoning the sins, but not broadcasting or highlighting and exposing them. We can be gracious putting up with other’s weaknesses – because we have so many weaknesses ourselves! Less isolation of ourselves, because hospitality is sharing the message that “you matter to me.” Finally, using our spiritual gifts shouldn’t be hard for us, because it will be natural act and will serve other people.

The end is coming. Just don’t get too excited about putting a time or date on it. Only the Father knows when it will be.

Sex = Sin???

In a word: No. God created sex as a beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman ….. in the right context.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18‭-‬20 NLT

Sexual sin. That’s a tough subject. Sex….. we can’t even get a consensus of what that means anymore. If you ask a teenage today to define sex, I think you’ll get a different definition than if you ask someone in their 40’s and up. Sexual sin is much more than the physical act of intercourse between a man and a woman, and there are quite a few scriptures addressing it as immorality and sexual sin. Hear what Matthew recorded Jesus saying about it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery’ (Exodus 20:14); but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – MATTHEW 5:27-28 NASB

According to JESUS, Who is the ultimate authority, just thinking the lustful thought is the same as actually following through with the physical act. The way I read the scriptures, there is only one way that sexual activity is correct and sanctioned by our Creator LORD, and that is two-fold: between a man and a woman, and within the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is a promise between a man and woman and God. It doesn’t have to take place in a church or place of worship, and it doesn’t have to be a ceremony ‘performed’ by a cleric. I believe that as long as it is properly witnessed and the committment of both the man and the woman is entered into whole-heartedly, it is as binding as any church or government ceremony….. and I believe God honors those committments. Anyone who is married, however they decide to commit, is bound to their spouse ‘until death’ and needs to honor that by being faithful in mind, heart, and body.

Sexual sin affects much more than just the one committing it. Whether it is ‘just’ mental or you follow through with a physical act, because you desire someone other than your spouse, it affects your actions towards both the object(s) of your lust and your spouse. If you aren’t married, it still affects you and any other party involved. You may think you have it covered and it’s a secret, but I promise you, everything – everything – will come to light sooner or later. Lust compromises your heart and your emotions, making simple things difficult. It’s a lie. A whole Pandora’s Box is opened: consequences follow wrongs. You may ‘get away with it’ the first time, or the 20th time….. or so you think.

Pray about it. If you find yourself attracted to someone, give serious thought and prayer to the matter. Go to someone you trust and talk about it. We have each other to lean on. Even the Apostles struggled with sin! Paul writes:

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” – ROMANS 7:19 NASB (Read all of verses 14-25)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – JAMES 5:16 NASB

By the way, for anyone who wants to play the “but I’ve fallen out of love with my spouse and I ‘love’ this new person …….” As Col. Potter on Mash used to say, “Beaver biscuits!” LOVE is a choice. If you have “fallen out of love” then you’d best climb up that ladder and get back into it. Just my ‘2 cents’ on love…..

For further reading and study: Matthew 5:31-32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21-22; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:1,11; 6:9,18-19; 7:2-5, 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 13:4; Revelations 21:8