saved & judgment

Over the years, Matthew 25:31-46 has become one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. Jesus is teaching about the serious reality of life and death and faith and works and heaven and hell and judgment. The passage is so attention-grabbing. I cannot help but really get focused when studying it.

Here is what I am learning:

We are saved because of what we Believe! And we are judged because of what we have done!

Both of these are true and both of these are clear in the Bible.

If anyone is going to be saved, it is because God in His grace has given them Faith. Being saved is always a gift and has to be. This way no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In judgment, we are judged and therefore either saved or condemned due to what we have done. In Revelation 20 at the Great White Throne Judgment it says twice that they were judged according to what they had done.

Now to bring it all back to Matthew 25. Verse 34 says the King (Jesus) will be on his throne separating the Sheep from the Goats. The Sheep will get heaven and the goats will get hell. The deciding factor is based on what they had done. But the whole Bible teaches us that we are not saved by works and cannot be saved by works. Our works our filthy rags. They fall short.

So Faith has a look! Saving Faith has a way of life! It is that a new heart produces good works. Salvation creates in the person the desire to feed the hungry, and give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. Those things don’t save you. We all should know that. But they are going to be the very substance of the judgment.

Is it any wonder at all that James would write so adamantly that “Faith without works is dead.”

Remember, We are saved by what we believe, and we are judged by what we have done.

We must be careful to believe the right things. And when we do, we will start doing the right things.

give us only what we need

Several years ago, I had a new young teenager come to our church. Valeria and I took him out to dinner, and he was really looking for help. Over the course of our conversation, I asked him “so, what do you need? How can we help you?”

He replied, “I dont know. At this point, I cannot tell the difference between my needs and my wants.”

That is a very wise statement for a young man.

Many of us struggle to know what we really need. We often want more. We often aren’t content or satisfied.

Tonight I will continue teaching through the Lord’s Prayer (model prayer) of Matthew 6. Verse 11 says “give us this daily our daily bread.” Jesus is teaching us that we are to pray to God for Him to give us the food we need.

I notice a cross reference to Proverbs 30:8-9

“Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.”

Notice what these verses are saying in regards to what we need. God, do not give me poverty or riches. Because too much money leads to too much food which leads to full and content bellies that forget about God. But not enough money leads to not enough food which leads to hurting bellies that will reject God by stealing and not depending upon God himself.

When Jesus teaches us to pray “give us this day our daily bread” He is meaning for us to live God-centered lives. Dependent on God for every single thing. From the food we eat to the money we get, it all comes from Him. And lets be careful to not desire too much.

We want just enough that is needful for us!

sanctuary

Today I had a little more time to myself than usual. It was nice. I took a walk to the gas station to get a drink. ( I found 5 different coins on the way.) While walking and praying for Fairdale, God brought to my mind that great old chorus “Sanctuary”. I remember years ago, my buddies and I would sing this song together desiring that God might use us somehow, someday.

Here are the words. I hope it still ministers to you as it does to me.

“Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”

My desire is for more and more people in Fairdale who have hearts like this. Oh God, make us usable so that you may use us!

a goal for you

Proverbs 3:4 “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3 is one of my family’s favorite chapters in the whole Bible. We love it. This statement in verse 4 is loaded.  ‘favor and good success in the sight of God and man’ wow! That is a high calling.

That would be a dream. Too often we seem to see it as an ‘either/or’ or ‘one or the other’. We often think that the only option is to be in favor with God or man but not both.

That is why I call this “a goal for you” because it is a very good goal and calling. I want to live a life that pleases God and people. I want both to think well of me. This verse in Proverbs 3 tells me that there is such a thing. Verse 3 says it comes from love and faithfulness on my heart and around my neck. I pray God would give us that.

Its not too far fetched either. We have seen it before… in Jesus. Check out this verse, Luke 2:52.

Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

One must be humble in Christ to ever faithfully exhibit Proverbs 3:4.

wow… He’s working

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Let me tell you a story…

We recently had a lady come to faith in Jesus. She was baptized a few weeks ago and will soon be voted into the membership of our church. We love her dearly, and we celebrate the fact that she is now a member of the family of God.

About seven years ago, we randomly met her little brother in a nearby neighborhood. He began coming to our Youth services. He was very involved. He played sports. He went to Youth Camp. He contributed to fundraising. He did it all. Some time after that, God saved him and he was baptized and became a member of our church.

From that time until now our church has a wonderful relationship with his family. Many of them have come to visit on various occasions. We have helped him and his family if ever there was a need. We have really become close.

Some time after he was saved, his sister (the lady first mentioned above) called me and asked if we could possibly baptize her children.  I commended her for desiring for her children to be baptized and took the opportunity to explain to her the meaning of baptism, conversion, and the gospel.

Months and years went by and nothing much ever became of anything. We knew her and her family. We continued to love them and that is about it. The brother continued to be an active youth in our church.

Then after some more time passed, the lady called me again and asked if I knew of anyone who could be a ‘big brother mentor’ to her son. I told her we could find someone. We had a very faithful young man in our church volunteer to do that. Over the next several months, that volunteer college student and her son spent countless hours together hanging out, eating fast food, throwing football and going to the movies.

Then after a few more months passed, this same lady came to one of our Wednesday night dinners. After dinner she stayed for our prayer meeting. At our prayer meeting I introduced a challenge to everyone to read the entire New Testament in 30 days. After church she asked me for a New Testament stating that she wanted to read it. She admitted that she really didn’t know what one was. I gave her a New & Old Testament (whole Bible) that night. Over the next 30 days she completed the challenge and read the entire New Testament of the “living and active” Word of God.

Since then not a week has gone by that she has not been at one of our services.

During this time another lady in our church invited this lady out to lunch and they had a great time eating together while discussing what it means to “be saved and follow Jesus.”

Some time after that at a WMU women’s meeting on a Tuesday night, she heard the call to believe in Jesus and God saved her. Many ladies in our church rejoiced that God had forgiven another sinner and that another child of God had been redeemed.

Shortly after that, an older lady in our church began to meet one-on-one with this lady to disciple her and teach her what it means to be “in Christ”. She is also teaching her how to read the Bible and know God better.

Now the lady is very involved in our church, serving in various capacities, loving and being loved by the church.

There is not one, or two or three, little areas that one could point to that were the key to her coming to Christ. It was everything. It was the life of the church. It was the work of God. It was some planting, many watering, but God giving the growth. And for that we rejoice and give him the glory! May we be faithful and ask God to do it over and over and over again.

“If we keep our places in all lowliness our Lord will use us; but if we exalt ourselves he will leave us to our nothingness.” -Charles Spurgeon commenting on these verses.

what does Jesus want us to understand

Often times when people repeat things over and over again, they are doing it intentionally because they really want you to get the point, the message, the emphasis.

Notice what Jesus keeps repeating:

Matthew 18:4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 20:26 “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,”

Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 9:48 “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

LETS BE CAREFUL TO NOT MISS THE POINT! JESUS MEANS WHAT HE SAYS. LORD, MAKE US SMALL!


raising children

“I have no greater desire than for my children to know and love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ministry is a blessing. And I do hope and pray that God would be pleased to use me to lead others to Him. But when it comes to my very own children, my passion is deep and heavy and intense. God gave Valeria and I JJ. Then He gave us Eli. And very soon, Lord willing, we will have Noah. (i’m thinking of calling him NoMo, which is short for Noah Morris) Valeria and I want God to use our boys lives for the sake of the Gospel. We want their lives to count for the glory of the King.

We are sensing more and more in our daily affairs an acute focus upon disciple making- in our home.

This is great for Valeria and I too. Our faith has nothing to do really with what we do at various times in our week. But has everything to do with who were at all times. We pray that God would be discipling our sons even now into faithful followers of Jesus. The type that will so mimic and resemble Him that others know their identity is found in Christ.

  • We want them to know the Bible is something we absolutely stand upon. From it we understand everything. From it, we especially understand ourselves and our God.
  • We want them to know that essential to life is being a servant. Jesus was, and we are not greater than Him. Others really are more important than us.
  • We want them to know that prayer is our power. We pray a lot. And we want our sons to always respond first to every situation, good and bad, by praying. Let’s go to our Father with this.
  • We want them to know that happiness is found in making others happy. That is one reason giving is so important. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • We want them to know that everything is a gift and that nothing is deserved. Therefore, we take nothing for granted. We can rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord… like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” Ps. 127

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6

JJ’s new bed

With our third son on the way and due very soon, we needed to get JJ moved out of a crib and Eli moved into JJ’s room. We did that this past weekend. Here is a video of us surprising JJ with his new bed. There are countless joys in parenting. This is one!

fasting: how to & how not to

After preaching on Fasting recently, I’ve learned this about fasting:
(it comes from Matthew 6:16-18)

How not to fast:

  • do not look gloomy
  • do not do it to be seen by others
  • do not do it looking for earthly reward (which is praise of man)

How to fast:

  • anoint your head
  • wash your face
  • do it not to be seen by others
  • do it to be seen by your Father in Heaven
  • do it looking for the reward from the Father

Conclusion: we need God much much more than we need food!

selflessness

Life is not about you. This quote is good. We need to not be so selfish.

“To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.” -Thomas Merton