Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50

Jesus tells another parable, the last in this series of parables. This one has some similarity to the Parable of the Weeds, for its conclusion reveals something about the end of the age. Here we have fishermen as the example; they cast their nets and haul in a big catch. They drag their nets to the shore and sort their catch, for there are good fish, ready for market, and there are fish to throw back; Jesus likens this process to what will happen on the last day, when the angels of God will sort out the Kingdom. The “good fish” will enter, and the “bad fish” will be tossed out. To put it another way, the Kingdom of heaven is open to everyone, but not all will choose to enter, and when the day comes, many will find that they waited too long, and that the doors are now closed.

The above portion is a reblog from LifeReference @ wordpress

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Decide now that you want to be caught in God’s net of salvation and not the devil’s net of eternal separation from God. The choice is yours.

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Christian service outside of the church?

In yesterday’s post I talked about the difference between a believer in Jesus and a follower of Jesus. As I said, the first is sincere in accepting Jesus as Lord and savior of their lives but fall short on what it means to follow Jesus. To further define and provide examples of following Jesus, the remainder of this post discusses where you can provide Christian service both inside the church and in the community.

Any service that reflects Jesus’ love is “Christian service.” From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world. Very few involve activity within the four walls of the church.

The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service: show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Some examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as the act is done “in Jesus’ name”—that is, it is motivated by the love of Jesus—it is Christian service.

There are thousands of organizations outside the church committed to serving others. Homeless shelters, housing builders, and food banks always need volunteers and donations. Internationally, organizations like Compassion International provide food, clothing, and education for children in sometimes dangerous situations. Other ministries provide water, micro-loans, or resources such as farm animals to enable the child’s family to generate their own income.

The world outside the walls of the church offers many opportunities for those specifically educated in theology. Chaplains serve hospitals, military bases, and shipping ports. Foreign missionaries travel overseas to plant churches and train indigenous pastors. Parachurch ministries provide biblical guidance for families and others in need. And internet ministries like Got Questions are always in need of those who can explain the truth of God in a loving, easy-to-understand way.

The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others—not sentimentally, but tangibly. Every action performed out of kindness, powered by the understanding of Christ and His love, is Christian service.

Believer Or Follower?

When it comes to your relationship with the Lord are you a believer or a follower? Some might ask what’s the difference between the two? Aren’t they basically the same? Well, yes and no.

A believer in Jesus Christ is one who has accepted Him as their Lord and savior, sought forgiveness of their sins, attends church and tries to live a Christian lifestyle. Some might ask, “Isn’t a follower of Jesus the same?” Let me explain the difference.

The difference in the two is separated by one’s actions and not just mental agreement or belief that Jesus is Lord. As I said above, the believer attends church and tries to live a Christian lifestyle. But that’s as far as it goes for them. The follower, however, does all of those things but also commits to action in following the Lord. They serve at church, give of their time to others, give money above and beyond their monthly tithe offering. In other words they are “doers of the word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22-25)

In today’s culture, with our busy schedules, parental responsibilities and attending church it is easy to get caught up in the world’s view of what it means to be a Christian. Our mindset is more on getting things done and getting more from this worldly kingdom than giving for heaven above. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a nice car or home or even a large income but it’s what you do with those things that count in heaven.

In the end God looks at the heart of man and what he deems valuable. Don’t be one who stores up treasures on earth where moth and rust decay, but, store up your treasures in heaven and there your heart will be also.

If you are truly following Jesus then you are following your heart and laying up your treasures in heaven where it really counts. Your service, love, and action to others will be accounted for on judgment day and your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Do You Have A Plan for Prayer?

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others.

And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer, we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and his bounty, our misery and his mercy.

Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in him, and not in ourselves. “Ask, and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.” Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.

If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready.

We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut.

If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.

Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need mid-course corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer — for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.

Living In True Freedom

Citizens in many countries believe they are free because their governments allow them to worship, speak, and travel as they desire. Yet despite the liberties a constitution may guarantee, countless people from those lands live in bondage. That’s because true freedom isn’t something that can be legislated. Rather, it is the ability to live a righteous life in the mercy, grace, goodness, and power of God.

True freedom means:

Through Jesus, we are redeemed from bondage to sin and its consequences.

Our hope is secure.

God has enabled us to become all that He intended.

Through grace, Christ has freed us to relate to one another in a godly fashion.

Is anything hindering God’s work in your life or interfering with your peace and contentment? Understand that the Christian life is a paradox: We are set free from bondage to sin yet choose to be bondslaves of Jesus.

Only when we fully surrender and sacrifice to Him can we truly live in freedom.

Defeat Isn’t Permanent

Have you noticed it can take thirty minutes (or less!) to get outside the will of God, and thirty years (or more) to get back to the place you were before sin invaded your life? When we lose spiritual ground, when we retreat before the enemy, when we revert to our old ways, it is tough going back. We may confess, make restitution, and start over again with a clean slate, but somehow we don’t feel the presence of God like we did before.

Joshua experienced this. He led Israel to a great victory at Jericho. Then God’s people suffered a crushing defeat at Ai. When the sin at the root of that defeat was exposed, Joshua dealt with it. Then he humbly received instructions on how to win back the city he had just lost. It was nothing like the way he won Jericho. Joshua learned that following a holy, awesome, powerful God is not a cookie-cutter proposition. One day is not just like the next. One victory does not become the prescription for all victories.

Not only did God have a plan for the re-capture of Israel’s lost ground—He had a word of tender encouragement to his defeated leader. “Do not fear or be dismayed,” He told Joshua. Defeat is no cause for fear or depression. We will experience defeat in the Christian life, but it is not a permanent condition. It is only a temporary setback. Even when a Christian loses the battle, his God has won the war.