Finishing Well??? Bible Ballistics: Vol. 12 No. 08

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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 12 No. 08     Finishing Well???

 

I’m not much of a follower of track and field sports, but I do love to watch the runners fly along that track (probably because I do good just to walk without stumbling J!!!) and see the winner lunge for that ribbon to be the one to break through to gain the prize. It’s important for a runner to get a good start, but it’s equally as important that he finish well; for without a good finish there is no prize. Scripture often compares our spiritual life to a race, and we are called to run faithfully and consistently by keeping our eyes on JESUS!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about

with so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight,

and the sin

which doth so easily beset us,

and let us run

with patience

the race that is set

before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus

the author

and finisher

of our faith;

who for the joy that was set before him

endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and is set down

at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him

that endured such contradiction

of sinners

against himself,

lest ye be wearied

and faint in your minds.”   Hebrews 12:1-3

As a spiritual runner, we are called to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” and run patiently—for we are running a marathon not a sprint, and this requires stamina and faithfulness to the task—the race “that is set before us”! Did you get that? We are to run the race that God has set “before us”, not the race that HE has set before someone else! While I don’t know a lot about running, I do know that the runners must stay in their own lane, and keep their eyes on the goal, not the other runners; the runners keep their eyes forward and don’t look back to see what the other runners, or swimmers or hurdlers are doing! It is the same way with us spiritually!!! We aren’t to compare ourselves to the race that others are running (other than to share encouragement with each other, but not to copy the race that others may be running or failing to run!), but we are to keep “Looking unto Jesus” our Lord, our goal and our prize!

Runners lay aside everything that will slow them down, and we must lay aside the things that will hinder our race for Jesus! Sometimes that is hard to do, but just as runners sacrifice time, pleasures and indulgences to prepare for the race, we must keep our hearts and minds on our Lord and not this world if we want to run successfully. But unlike the runners of a physical race, we have a source of power, strength, and encouragement and hope that they don’t have (unless they are also ‘spiritual runners for Jesus’). Our source is the One who called us to salvation, and keeps us by His love, power, and grace all through the blood of Jesus that “cleanseth us from all sin”! It is HIS power that will empower us to finish well, but we must keep our eyes on HIM, rather than being distracted by the world, or allowing the enemy to steal our victory and our prize—even though he can’t steal our relationship to Jesus

Being confident of this very thing,

that he which hath begun

a good work

in you

will perform it

until the day

of Jesus Christ:”   Philippians 1:6

Paul reminds us that it is God who saves, and God who keeps and he told us in Romans 8 that God is ever working to conform us into the image of Jesus (See Ro. 8:28-39)! That’s HIS job, ours is to yield to His work within our hearts and minds and follow Him each day. We can pursue God’s will, His Word and His ways or we can allow ourselves to loose our ‘crown’ and our ‘reward’ by neglect! Jesus reminds us of this in His letter to the church at Philadelphia.

Behold,

I come quickly:

hold that fast which thou hast,

that no man take thy crown.” Revelation 3:11 

We must strive to ‘finish’ well and receive the prize that awaits us, and hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” when we stand before our Lord Jesus to give an account of what we have done with the life and race that HE set before us. Will you/I hear that “well done”; or will we hang our head in shame for the things that distracted us from HIS service and took our crown? Oh to know HIS pleasure in our service to HIM!

His lord said unto him,

Well done,

good and faithful servant;

thou hast been faithful

over a few things,

I will make thee ruler over many things:

enter thou

into the joy of thy lord.”   Matthew25:23

It is the desire of my heart to hear my Master’s greeting of pleasure in the opportunities that He has provided for me to serve Him, and my prayer is that I will finish well. Starting well is important, and getting back up when we stumble is also important. As I’ve often heard it said, “Success is simply getting up one more time than we fall down!” Paul gives us a powerful picture of our accountability before God! While teaching this passage recently, someone asked if this will be a public judgment, and my reply was simple—I don’t know. But even if it is public, I truly think that I/you will be so concerned about what Jesus has to say to me/you, that we won’t be focused on what HE is saying to anyone else! I’ll simply be focused on what I will hear my master say to me! How about you? Let’s dig into Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian believers.

I have planted,

Apollos watered;

but God gave the increase.

7 So then neither is he that planteth

any thing,

neither he that watereth;

but God that giveth the increase.

8 Now he that planteth

and he that watereth

are one:

and every man shall receive

his own reward

according to his own labour.

9 For we are labourers together

with God:

ye are God’s husbandry,

ye are God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God

which is given unto me,

as a wise masterbuilder,

I have laid the foundation,

and another

buildeth thereon.

But let every man take heed

how he buildeth thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay

than that is laid,

which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation

gold, silver, precious stones,

wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man’s work

shall be made manifest:

for the day shall declare it,

because it shall be revealed by fire;

and the fire shall try

every man’s work

of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide

which he hath built thereupon,

he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned,

he shall suffer loss:

but he himself shall be saved;

yet so as by fire.”    1 Corinthians 3:6-14

Paul also reminded the Romans believers of this same principle of our accountability as God’s children.

For whether we live,

we live unto the Lord;

and whether we die,

we die unto the Lord:

whether we live therefore,

or die,

we are the Lord’s.

9 For to this end Christ both died,

and rose,

and revived,

that he might be Lord

both of the dead

and living.

10 But why dost thou judge

thy brother?

or why dost thou set at nought

thy brother?

for we shall all stand

before the judgment seat

of Christ.

11 For it is written,

As I live,

saith the Lord,

every knee shall bow

to me,

and every tongue shall confess

to God.

12 So then every one of us

shall give account

of himself to God.”   Romans 14:8-12

Every one of us “shall give account of himself to God”; and while this passage is referring to believers, the universal truth is that every one—saved or unsaved—will bow before God and give an account. The saved at the “judgment seat of Christ”, and the lost will stand before the “great white throne” for the deeds they did in their life, and be cast into the “Lake of Fire” because they rejected Jesus! (See Rev. 20:11-15).

But I want us to understand that me running “my” race may not look like you running “your” race; yes there are some essentials that will align—the truth of the Gospel, the authority of the Word of God, the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the truth that HE is the Only Way to God, etc.—yet God calls us to a service and ministry for which HE has and is equipping us, for each of us is totally unique by God’s perfect, sovereign design. And while our “races” may look different on the outside, God will judge us according to our love, devotion and faithfulness to HIM that comes from the inside. So my dear friend, my question is, “Are you running your race faithfully?” Will we finish well, or will they simply say of us when we are gone, “He/She started well, but he/she stumbled and never got up?” What a sad epitaph for a child of God. May we not be the one who is “saved; yet so as by fire”; but may we pursue the holiness, righteousness and pleasure of God in all that we do. May we not be distracted by the “wiles of the devil”, but press on tirelessly for His glory! May we feast on HIS Word and live it out in our daily lives as we follow our Lord’s direction in our every step. And remember God knows—even if others don’t, HE knows your heart!!! Amen and Amen!

Though he slay me,

yet will I trust in him:

but I will maintain mine own ways

before him.

16 He also shall be my salvation:

for an hypocrite shall not come before him.”    Job 13:15-16

Order my steps in thy word:

and let not any iniquity

have dominion over me.”    Psalm 119:133

Study to shew thyself approved unto God,

a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,

rightly dividing the word of truth…..19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,

The Lord knoweth them that are his.

And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ

depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 1:15 & 19

HE Has Today!!! Bible Ballistics: BBs #499

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #499     HE Has Today!!!

 

Boast not thyself of to morrow;

for thou knowest not

what a day may bring forth.”    Proverbs 27:1

Jesus walked this earth knowing where HE was going, what HE had to do, and what it would cost! We on the other hand must rely on the ONE who does know today and tomorrow and remember to leave it in HIS hands. Because I believe Jesus and His Word, and because I have walked with HIM for some 40 years, I have come to know that HE Is faithful in every way, every day! As we talked about recently, HE has promised to “never leave” us, or “forsake us”, no matter how dark the clouds may look. We may not know what today holds, and we certainly don’t know about tomorrow—but if you belong to Jesus, remember, HE does!

I simply want to share one of my favorite passages where Jesus reminds us that we must keep our eyes on HIM and not our circumstances. Circumstances change—they come and go—but JESUS never does! And He will order our steps according to HIS Word if we will but look up, trust HIM and press on in faith and obedience!

Which of you by taking thought

can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought

for raiment?

Consider the lilies of the field,

how they grow;

they toil not,

neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you,

That even Solomon

in all his glory

was not arrayed

like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass

of the field,

which to day is,

and to morrow is cast into the oven,

shall he not much more

clothe you,

O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought,

saying,

What shall we eat? or,

What shall we drink?

or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things

do the Gentiles seek:)

for your heavenly Father knoweth

that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first

the kingdom of God,

and his righteousness;

and all these things

shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought

for the morrow:

for the morrow

shall take thought for the things of itself.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”   Matthew 6:27-34

Whose kingdom are you seeking and following? Let’s be sure we are seeking “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (which is only found in Jesus), and He has promised to take care of the rest….the “rest of the story” and the “rest” to our souls!!

Amen and Amen!

 

 

What I’ll Never Say??? Bible Ballistics: BBs #498

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #498 What I’ll Never Say???

 

Two are better than one;

because they have a good reward

for their labour.

10 For if they fall,

the one will lift up his fellow:

but woe to him that is alone when he falleth;

for he hath not another to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie together,

then they have heat:

but how can one be warm

alone?

12 And if one prevail against him,

two shall withstand him;

and a threefold cord

is not quickly broken.”   Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We all face things that are tragic, hurtful, frightening, and just plain heart breaking, but when we belong to Jesus, we will never face those things alone!!! Never alone! Solomon describes the benefit of help and cooperation, whether it is for work, companionship, or defense; and we all know that good friends are a special treasure—if you have one you are blessed–and if you have more you are blessed beyond measure. I thank God for the wonderful friends that HE has blessed me with through the years. Some have stayed the course, some came only for a season, but each one has contributed to my life’s journey, and I’m grateful for them.

But there are times when even our closest friends can’t touch the hurt, or grief or confusion that we face, but we can rest assured that our Lord Jesus Christ, God our Father and the precious Holy Spirit who are ever with us can!

And I will pray the Father,

and he shall give you another Comforter,

that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth;

whom the world cannot receive,

because it seeth him not,

neither knoweth him:

but ye know him;

for he dwelleth with you,

and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless:

I will come to you.”   John 14:16-18

So, my friend, whatever you are facing today—you don’t have to face it alone. If you are a follower of Jesus, HE is there with you. If you don’t know Him, you can call on Him today in repentance and faith in HIS substitutionary (for you), atoning (Paying the debit of sin in our place), sacrifice (His death so that we could live with HIM forever!) for sin and salvation. He loves you/me and gave Himself so that we could have life IN Him!

Behold,

I stand at the door, and knock:

if any man hear my voice,

and open the door,

I will come in to him,

and will sup with him,

and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

You can rest assured that you will never walk alone! Jesus loves you/me and HE cares, so we can walk with Him in total confidence, no matter where you are right now or ever!

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”   Hebrews 13:5-6

Amen and Amen!

What Comfort??? Bible Ballistics: Vol. 12 No. 08

Bible Ballistics:What Comfort??? An Editied Repost of Vol. 02 No. 15

 

After a week helping a friend during a difficult time in the hospital, I feel led to look at the Biblical perspective of trials and comforts.  We all have those times when we don’t understand the things that go on in and around our lives.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 declares,

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 

Often God uses our circumstances to equip and train us to help others around us in their times of need.  That seems a bit unfair to many but let’s think this through.

Who has trouble?

Everyone!!!!

Ever since Eden we have lived in a fallen world and will experience trials and difficulties because of the fallen nature of our world, until the Savior returns to establish HIS OWN KINGDOM!!!  But we can have a confidence and a perspective that the world can’t understand. As James 1:2-5 says,

 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

We are called to “count it all joy”, when we face the trials and temptations of life, and the word patience here is referring to “endurance”.  While rials are a given in life, when we walk with Jesus Christ we have the ability to:

Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4).

And Phililippians 4:6-7 goes on to say:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”    

We are enabled by the Spirit of Christ to walk in confidence and joy no matter the circumstances we are encountering.

Why?  Because Christ paid the price for our victory.  Job 14:1 tells us that:

Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” 

We are born into a broken world and Job reminds of this clearly but Job also reassures us that we can have confidence in the God who saves and keeps us.

Job 19:5 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” 

And 1 Cor. 15:54-58 proclaims that coming “victory”,

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  

OUR VICTORY IS IN JESUS….!!!!  (That would make a marvelous song…)

So how does this work out in all practicality?  Well, simply but not necessarily easily.  We must remember that God is sovereignly in charge.

He knows all,

sees all,

and controls all.

And even more importantly in application—I can trust HIM (and I do–how about you?).

Psalm 73:1 declares that, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.” 

And Psalm 143:10 says, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Micah 6:8 also tells us that God will show us what is good for us to do/be, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” 

And Jesus himself tells us in Mark 10:18

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”  

 God is “good”!! All the time!!

So our hope is in HIM!

I have the “blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin”,

I have been “made the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus”,

and I can be and do “all things through Christ which strengthens me”.

I can have “victory” in Jesus. And because I have “victory” in Jesus as I go through each days trials and difficulties, I am enabled by God’s Spirit to not only receive that comfort/victory but to be that “comfort” to others who need God’s

comfort,

strength,

and grace.

How?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given.  James 1:5

GOD has promised that if I’ll but ask for His wisdom-he will give it.  In 2 Cor. 1:12  Paul tells us,

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.  

We are to seek and apply God’s wisdom to our own lives and circumstances, and as we do God shows himself faithful to our needs and circumstances. We then learn to have confidence in Him, not with fleshly wisdom but with “God’s” wisdom.  Producing a confidence that we can boldly share with others in their times of need.

Right back to our beginning verses in 2 Cor. 1,

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”. 

Our God -“the God of all comfort”…–

the one who brings joy to my sadness,

strength to my weakness,

answers to my questions,

and as we talked last week, hope to any hopeless situation.

I pray this will give you food for thought this week and that you will lean on your “God of all comfort”, and be a comfort to those around you.  Let’s press on together for Jesus.

 

 

Praying In Confidence!!! Bible Ballistics: BBs #497

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #497 Praying In Confidence!!!

 

Seeing then that we have a great high priest,

that is passed into the heavens,

Jesus the Son of God,

let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest

which cannot be touched

with the feeling of our infirmities;

but was in all points tempted

like as we are,

yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly

unto the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy,

and find grace to help

in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 

I love these verses, which called the original recipients to remember who had saved them, and keeps them. They were called to “hold fast” to their faith in Jesus—He whom they had professed to believe. We can take comfort in these precious verses—for they bring hope to our hearts as well.

We learn so much about our Lord Jesus in this brief section of scripture—

HE is our great high priest—

HE is our heavenly advocate—

HE is “Jesus the Son of God”—

HE was tempted in every way that we are—

HE overcame temptation and completed HIS work—

without sin”—

HE calls us to pursue HIS throne for help!!

Oh, what a glorious thought—we have a Savior—a Redeemer—a glorious Lord—who loves us and calls us to come to HIM with our needs. We can “come boldly” to our Lord to find mercy and grace when we are in need, and for most of us, that is almost continually. That is one beauty of the relationship that we can have with The Lord Jesus Christ! Yet while we are called to come “boldly”, it’s never to be in arrogance or presumption. Boldness means, “without hesitation or fear” not manipulation of God, for our boldness is based on ‘WHOM’ we serve not on who we are!

Prayer is a means to walk with God in continual fellowship, not a practice in “arm twisting” that many today seem to think it is. God loves us and calls us to trust Him with our lives—every issue in our lives—there is no insignificant prayer ever offered to God when it’s in faith and submission. We must remember that Jesus Himself told us how to pray, but some today seem to have forgotten this pattern.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father

which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

in earth,

as it is in heaven.”    Matthew 6:9-10

Our confidence is in the total sovereign care of our God—and because of that assurance we can pray with hope and true confidence, knowing that our God has us in HIS hand! You can trust to HIS care. So don’t hesitate or fear coming to God with your needs, concerns and stresses today. He is waiting to meet you at that “throne of grace”. Amen!

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth

to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:25