Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Things I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  Here is a list of a few things I'm thankful for.

1) My new wife.  I thank God for her everyday.  She's amazing.

2) My family.  They've always been there for me and as I get older I'm more thankful for them.

3) My new family.  Christine's family has accepted me so warmly.  I'm glad I found a beautiful woman with a fun family.

4) My church.  Grace has helped me grow in so many ways.  They are my family in Waverly.

5) My friends.  There are too many to list and they are fantastic.

6) My job.  I don't make a lot of money and I don't have a lot of benefits, but how many people get paid to do what they love to do?

7) My home.  Our house is so perfect for us and our landlord is the best in town.

8) My community.  Waverly has become home to me.  It's hard to believe I've been here for the better part of eight and a half years.  It has everything I need and it feels like a small town.

9) My health.  I have been, and hopefully will continue to be, blessed with good health.

10) My Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  He is my rock and my redeemer.  He's the reason that I live.  He did what I cannot do and I owe it all to Him.

I have so much to be thankful for.  Far more than ten things.  I can't think of much more I could ask for.

That all being said, if I have numbers one through nine but don't have number ten, it is all a waste.  Life, health, friends, family and work are all a supreme waste of time without Jesus.  Why would I want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.  In fact, I hope to be able to say if I lost all of the first nine but kept the tenth that I'd feel like a king.

If you don't have number ten in your life, you are missing out on true blessings.  You are missing out on the real reason to be thankful.  You're missing out on the one thing that will keep you thankful for eternity.  If you don't have Jesus, you're life is a waste.  But here's good news... Jesus is available to you today.  Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.  Ask Him to take the wheel of your life and watch how thankful you will be.  You'll never regret it.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Be thankful for the blessings in life and the Great Blesser today.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to Run a Good Race

Take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 9.

There is a lot of great information in this chapter.  Please take time to read the chapter because reading it will do you much more good than reading this post.  That being said, I want to look at a few ways to run a good race.

1) Realize that God doesn't need to use you.

Paul writes in this chapter about his compulsion to preach the Gospel.  He also talks about the rights he had as an apostle that he chose not to use.  These rights include things like being paid and having a wife.  Why does Paul not use these rights?  I think the answer is in verse 18.

"What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the Gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it."

He says his reward for preaching without using his given rights is getting to preach without using his given rights.  Why is this?  I think it is because Paul intimately knows that God doesn't need him.  Remember who witnessed to Paul?  Jesus Christ Himself came to Paul on the road to Damascus.  Paul knows that the Lord could do this with anyone, yet God chose to use the Apostle Paul.  Paul knew that this honor was his reward.

When we realize that God doesn't need us we learn to enjoy the privilege of getting to be part of God's work on earth.  God could do it without out us like a father taking his child to work He lets us participate in His wonderful work.

2) Be adaptable.

"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do this all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings." verses 22-2

We should not be so full of pride that we can't adapt to meet the needs and expectations of others.  We should think of the joy of sharing the Gospel as being greater than the joy of serving ourselves.  We should keep our eye on the reward of getting to participate in eternal glory.

Does this mean that we compromise our beliefs and therefore sin?  By no means.  This means that we compromise our own preferences to serve others and Jesus.  If you are one to wear a t-shirt and flip-flops, you may need dress nicer if you want to serve and reach others.  If you are ministering in the inner city, you might not want to wear a three-piece suit.  Become all things to all men to save some.

3) Run with a purpose.

"Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, 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." verses 24-27

Keep your eye on the prize, the knowledge of the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ and the ability to participate in His work on earth.  Remember that you are running a race to win, so run with purpose.  Train daily for this race with disciplines.  Disciplines like prayer, scripture reading, meditation, worship, fasting, etc.

Running a good race is worth it.  We all want to receive a crown that will last forever.  We all want to hear, "Well done good and faithful servant... Come share in your master's happiness."  In order to run a good race we need to remember: that God choses to use us, He doesn't need us; to be adaptable in order to serve God and not our selfish desires; and to run with purpose.

This life is a race.  Run a good race.  Like the great theologian Coach Herman Edward said, "You play to win the game!"  You run to win the race.  Run with purpose the course set before you today.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Hope

This is such a simple Gospel message from Billy Graham.  Take time to watch it today.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Christian Freedom Gone Wrong

Please read 1 Corinthians chapter 8.  It is a very short chapter.

In this chapter the apostle Paul was addressing a question the church at Corinth had.  They wondered if it was okay to eat meet that had been sacrificed to an idol.  Paul answers this question but before he does he adds this key phrase, "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

Paul says that eating meat that had been sacrificed to an idol is absolutely not wrong.  It isn't wrong because the idols aren't really gods.  God is the only God.  See, in Corinth if you shopped in the marketplace and bought meat, it was likely that the meat purchased had been previously sacrificed to an idol.  Paul assured Christians that they need not worry about this in itself being a sin.

However, Paul did not encourage Christians to go out and flaunt their freedom to eat this meat.  Paul realized that some in the church at Corinth wouldn't know that it's okay to eat this meat.  To these people the eating of this meat was haunting their consciences.  In fact, if they believed it to be sinning if they ate this meat, then acting out this supposed sin would be a sin because they'd be, in their minds, intentionally defying God.

Paul never said, "Grow up you immature Christians.  Increase your knowledge about these things and lay off those eating meat."  No.  Instead, Paul says this to those okay with eating meat:

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?  So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.  When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Just because you know something is permissible does not mean you should do it.  We must remember others when we make decisions.  We must, as a church, submit one to another.  We must remember that Christ died for those in our church, not just for us.

See, when we flaunt our freedom in Christ and cause our brothers to fret we are not being loving.  When we do this we are being selfish.  When we do this we sin not just against them but against Christ as well.

So, the next time you want to exercise a freedom you have in Christ, ask these questions:

1) Does it puff me up or build others up in love?

2) Does it distress those around me?

If the freedom you're exercising builds another up... do it.  If it is a non-factor to another... do it.  But if it distresses them and hurts them... don't do it.  "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

As a footnote, remember that this passage works the other way as well.  To those of you distressed by something not forbidden by God, don't enforce those beliefs on others.  You are responsible to love them in the same way they are responsible to love you.  If something bothers you, voice your concern in a way that doesn't seem as if you are forcing a man-made rule on another Christian.  If they are loving they will not exercise that freedom in your presence.

Bottom line: submit one to another... love one another today.