Money Issues

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Continue reading “Money Issues”

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Let your light shine

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Have you been to the country recently? Just recently, I headed down to Margaret River for a weekend away. We were driving, and there were no lights anywhere. We looked up and saw the stars. Having escaped the light pollution that cities normally give, we could see all these stars lighting up the sky. It was really amazing. Continue reading “Let your light shine”

You are invited

For many are invited, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:14

Jesus shows in this parable (Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Matthew 22:1-14) the sorts of people who will get into heaven.

Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”

Matthew 22:8-9

God invited the pharisees, but they weren’t willing to listen. So he invited everyone. But once invited, there are certain responsibilities. In the banquet, the one who didn’t put on the wedding clothes got the boot. Likewise, when we become followers of Jesus, we need to put on the clothes of Christ.

You’ve been invited to Christ’s banquet… What are you going to wear?

The servant who wouldn’t forgive

On Sunday, my officer preached on a passage from Matthew. It was the passage where Peter asks how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him. While the sermon was on forgiveness, there was one insight that really got me thinking in a way I hadn’t thought about it before.
When the master, having already forgiven the servant around 150,000 years wages of debt, found out about the servant not forgiving another servant three months wages, he was furious and threw the man in jail until he could pay back his debt. Jesus says that this is how people who don’t forgive will be treated by God.
It was just a passing reference, but the way my officer explained this made a light click on in my brain. When we have been forgiven and we don’t then forgive we are like the servant. in the same way, if we are a Christian, but decide not to give up our old ways, we are just like the servant who did not forgive.
It’s tempting to live a life of sin, knowing that Jesus will forgive, but this passage seems to say that if you know about salvation but do nothing about it, you are just as bad as someone who never knew. Often is is 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that is used to say that we should keep our lives blameless until Christ returns. However, that seems to be based upon a misinterpretation. Instead, I believe it should be this passage – which some may say holds more weight due to coming from the words of Jesus – should be our encouragement to live loving and blameless lives.

Postaday2011 links

His love endures forever

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

This passage is really full of meaning here, full of hope and more. It really could be the subject of a few blog posts, but there are a few things I really want to share with you today.

These words come at the end of the first letter to the Thessalonians, and in the NIV are headed “Final Instructions.” This is basically a list of things that Paul needed to share with the Thessalonians. It’s a great list of goals for a Christian. Acknowledge those who work hard, hold them in the highest regard. Live in peace with each other. Encourage the disheartened (sometimes interpreted as “Strengthen the disheartened”), help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. Those last three are wonderful calls to what we should do. We should always rejoice in what the Lord is doing in our lives. We need to pray continually as it’s through praying that we establish and maintain our relationship with God. We need to give thanks in all circumstances. Not just in the good times, but also in the bad times. Romans 5 says that “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” So in the bad times, in our sufferings, we should give thanks because we know that it will create character and hope. That doesn’t make it easy, but knowing that gives us hope. Thanking God always gives us hope, because we have God’s love, that “has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5)

Finally, Paul shares this benediction: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” We don’t know when Jesus will come. It’s difficult for us to make ourselves blameless. We must humble ourselves before God and allow him to chip away those things that keep us from being the reflection of Jesus.

My officer shared this video on the Sunday Night service yesterday. There’s all this stuff that we have in ourselves that keep us from being God’s original masterpiece. It’s like those paintings that are hundreds of years old. They need to go through restoration, and the difference at the end is incredible – it is the original masterpiece once again. Are you willing to let God chisel away all the things that have been added to your life, and allow yourself to be God’s original masterpiece once more?

Forever God is faithful. Forever God is true. Forever will his mercy flow to you, and forever will he embrace you, and be willing to restore you. Be faithful, because the one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

Postaday2011 links

God’s Love

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonour others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV, Paraphrased by me)

I love this passage, especially with this paraphrasing. I preached on this passage last year at a youth service. The basic premise of it was that God is Love, and when we look at the passage above in that light, we see what God’s love for us is like. God is patient – he will wait our entire lives if necessary to share in the joy of us accepting him as our Lord. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. But the most hope-filled verse comes right at the end: God never fails.

When you trust in God, and fully rely on God, how can you not be full of hope, because you believe, just like I do, that God never fails. He can do the impossible, and the improbable, and the unexpected. How can anyone be filled with anything other than hope when they know that?

Postaday2011 links

An interventionist God?

Do we want to use natural disasters as an excuse to judge people, or do we want to use them as a catalyst to spark Christian action, helping those we do not know?

This was a highlighter and uv light image.
I may not believe in an Interventionist God, but I do believe in a God who loves unconditionally (Image via Wikipedia)

The topic from The Daily Post today is a tough one. Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Why or why not? It’s a tough topic to look at, as a Christian.

See, as Christians, we believe that we have free will – God gave us free will, which led to the fall of man, and the need for Jesus to come to forgive all our sins. Yet, God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, and knows what we are thinking before we even think it. So does that change things, for although we have free will, God knows what we’re going to do before we do it.

There are also Christians who believe that God is an interventionist God – basically meaning he is still active and changing things in the world, and others who don’t. I tend to lean towards the non-interventionist God in a way, believing that he’s still active in our lives, but not controlling such things as the weather. This would not sit comfortably with those Christians who believe that the floods in Queensland were a message from God.

So, do things happen for a reason? Yes and no. Some things happen because we cause them – cause and effect. I know that if I pour a beer over someone, I’m likely to get punched in the face. Or if I help someone out who’s struggling with something, I’m likely to get warm fuzzies. However, somethings happen because it’s the way the world is designed, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t stop the wind blowing, the rain raining, or the sun shining (although sometimes I wish its UV was a little less potent to my skin). What we can do is control how we react to these situations. Do we want to use natural disasters as an excuse to judge people, or do we want to use them as a catalyst to spark Christian action, helping those we do not know?

Postaday2011 links

Jesus, Name above all names

Biblical Truth

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—’God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25, The Message Continue reading “Jesus, Name above all names”