Archive for the ‘ Works ’ Category

VerseD: Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2, ESV

It is impossible to rightly serve God if we are not focused on Him. Loving others will fall apart if we are not rightly loving Him, even if we are trying to help others but stay focused solely on physical needs and worldly issues.

VerseD: 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV

May we never say “Do as I say, not as I do” as Christians.

We have the Word of God, but our faith is so much more than words. We must interact with our world in real and physical ways! And He will empower, strengthen, and move through us!

VerseD: Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8, ESV

What many fail to realize about the Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) is how deep this rule goes.

We know about pursuing justice and showing kindness and mercy to others, but without the humble acknowledgment of the need for God’s love and wisdom those are basically meaningless.

VerseD: Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23‭-‬24, ESV

Do you realize how central Jesus is to everything?

We not only serve for Christ, but in all we do we are serving Christ.

Whatever you did to the least of these you did to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

VerseD: John 15:5

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5, ESV

We can try doing all sorts of things for God, but if we are not first found in Christ it will all be useless.

In Escrow …

Winnow out wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

Buying a House

My wife and I are in the process of getting a house.

There have been many issues to arise along the way.

Obviously there is a lot of paperwork. Our entire history is looked into, and a massive amount of money has to be spent.

One of the more amazing parts of the buying a house is the escrow account.

The escrow account holds funds to help with closing costs during the buying process, and it collects money throughout the year to help pay taxes, HOA fees, and insurance. The bank takes care of all of this for us.

However, we do not see anything on our investment until the end of the process. We have put in all of this money and time, and everyone already considers this house as ours. For the time being, we must eagerly wait to get all of the benefits of our work.

Already/Not Yet

There is an interesting part of theology known as the “Already/Not Yet” part of Christ’s work and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ has paid the closing costs of our redemption through His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.

We join with Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the work of reaching out to our fallen world.

It is a lot of work that requires a lot of time and energy. The cost is high, at points costing a Christian everything.

Now, you see, we are already redeemed for Christ in anticipation of eternity and for His work in this life.

However, we wait for the final redemption.

The payment has been made, and we continue to do the work. Eternity with God is already considered ours.

While we work, we await the redemption of our fallen world and our physical bodies that is not yet come to us. Our work with and for God is God preparing us for a world we do not yet see.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 8:18-30, NIV

Engine Change

Firstly, here is your regular reminder to get some good ol wisdom from Proverbial Thought.

Perhaps you have heard the line – or even said it yourself – “I believe I can get to heaven, because I am basically a good person. I do a lot of good things, at least way more than the bad I do!”

There are a few reasons why this is wrong, and I will explain this some a little later.

First, a story:

Engine Change

You are a car. You were built with the modern combustion engine, and you run on gasoline. As you drive around, you occasionally speed or roll through a stop sign; but overall you follow the rules, let people merge ahead of you, let people take the closer parking spot at the store, and do your best to keep your engine running well.

One day, you realize that the way you are living is actually harming your surroundings and causing some issues within your engine, because it runs ever-so-hot and fills the air with corrosive and poisonous gases. You decide to clean up your act! You switch to a biofuel, like E-85. You still live much the same way, but now you have much less of an effect on your surroundings. Good for you! You are now the envy of so many other cars who wish to live the same way as you!

There is still one problem: No matter what kind of fuel you use or how well you drive, you are still polluting your environment even just a little. No matter how well you drive, even if you follow all of the rules of the road and let every one else get ahead of you on the road and in the parking areas, you still pollute your environment at least a little. Your good intentions will always stain your environment and hurt the air.

One day, you learn of the Master Mechanic. When you choose to let the Master Mechanic work in your life, he offers an upgrade you can not get on your own. He switches out your engine for a fuel cell and tells you to obey all traffic laws and offer your spot on the roads and in parking areas. He tells you that you have to come to Him regularly to ensure your engine is running smoothly. In the process, you will no longer pollute the air or run too hot. Instead, all you produce clean, pure water. You may still drip the occasional break fluid or wiper fluid when you forget to check in with the Master Mechanic, but He fixes you right up and helps you clean the spills when you remember to spend time with Him.

Did you get it?

Perhaps this was a little too straight-forward, but here is the explanation:

Our hearts are like the engines. While we eventually come to realize that our actions have consequences, that we can do many things to make our bodies run efficiently and healthy by changing habits or diet, we still have a problem. We may occasionally do truly selfless acts, but we all have selfish motives at one time or another. We all deny God in some way at one time or another. We all put ourselves in the place of God at one time or another.

This is called sin. One sin is enough to taint every part of our lives. No matter how good our intentions, we all will fail in the end to live perfectly pure and clean lives. A car that runs on biofuels will still require oil to help the engine run smoothly. A person doing good works will still do many things with selfish intentions, or make something (including their good works) more important than God, or they may think they might have the control that God alone has to decide who suffers and who does not or who lives or dies.

Good Intentions

What a person like this fails to realize is that even good intentions can lead to horrible results. I know of someone who once was told by his dad not to let anyone touch the car in the driveway. It seems like a simple enough request. His friend called and said, “I need a ride to the store, can you help?” He thought, “Sure. What could be the harm of a quick five-minute drive?”

His friend came over, and they pulled out of the driveway. At the stop sign at the end of the block, they rolled through the stop sign and were struck by another car. His friend was killed almost instantly.

You see, his dad wanted no one to use the car, because his dad had gone to find new brakes having taken the ones from the car to match.

This young man had good intentions, but his desire to do something good at the sake of disobeying his father led to drastic repercussions.

It must be remembered that even our good intentions may have unintended consequences. Think of the age-old cliché “Be careful what you wish for!” As the show Once Upon a Time … puts it, “Magic comes at a price.” There are countless ways to express this.

The Whole Point

Here is what it all means:

Apart from the work of Messiah Jesus through the Holy Spirit living in us, we can do nothing on our own to get us to Heaven. While we are capable of good works on our own, they are meaningless without God. We must believe in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, that He brought us grace, forgiveness, and peace for our sins.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6

As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .
Romans 3:10-18, 23

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:17, 14-15