Live it! Blog

Wednesday, 20 July 2022 00:00

Sheep or Goat?
Matthew 25:31-46
Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Picture this amazing scene: The Son of Man returns in all His majesty and glory, followed by innumerable angels. The purpose for this coming is to separate true Christ-followers from those who did not follow Christ. It’s a sobering event.

How will Jesus judge?

We know that we are saved by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  On the birthday of the Church, the Apostle Peter, quoting the prophet Joel, said: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:21). From the beginning to the end of this age, this truth remains unchanged. 

So, what is going on here?  Jesus doesn’t flip the script when he returns to judge, does he?  No.  We are saved by grace through faith.  However, genuine faith will produce the fruit of faith.  Our choices in life confirm or undermine the authenticity of our faith. 

Christ’s description of judgment here highlights that the genuineness of our faith will be judged by how we have treated others.  In other words, those who truly believe in Jesus are those who treat others like Jesus. 

“Here is the time that you refused to give even a penny to this dear widow who was so needy.  You knew you could have helped her. Your wallet was bursting with bills that would have relieved her poverty.  But you didn’t.  I don’t know you.”

“You were in the church building every time it was open, yet… Remember that man in shoddy clothes you found sleeping on a pew?  He was a refugee from the war in the neighboring country, and he just needed some rest. You kicked him out. You could have given him your coat for warmth; he had traveled by foot for many miles. Where was your heart? Where was the fruit of your professed faith?  I don’t know you.”

“You stepped out of the line, so that the orphan could get that last cup of food. I saw that.  You were excited in your heart to be next, knowing the serving bowl was almost as empty as your belly.  But that dirty, little urchin looked up at you with those hollow eyes, and you knew she was desperate for just a bite. You stepped aside.  Now, I’ll step aside.  Enter into the joy of the Lord.  I long to spend eternity with you.”

“You say you have faith. But did that so-called faith work itself out? Remember that lady with the broken-down car? She asked for just a gallon of gas to get to the station.  Your gas can was in the trunk, full for mowing your lawn. ‘Hope it goes well for you,’ you said, as you drove on.  I don’t know you.”

"Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." (James 2:17, 18b).

Life Application Questions

Are the deeds of your life going to prove your faith?

There is time – you are still alive.  How can your life reflect Christ’s heart toward the hurting?

How about your neighbor? Might he actually be Jesus waiting for you to show evidence of your faith?

~jlh

Tuesday, 19 July 2022 00:00

Pregnant Expectations

Pregnant Expectation
Matthew 25:14-30
July 19, 2022

There is joy in expectant waiting. Matthew recounts a parable from Jesus that urges us to be faithful in the waiting. We need to be equipped and then we use those resources to be prepared. Pregnancy comes with expectations, equipping and preparations just as this parable highlights our need to be expectant, equipped, and prepared Christ followers who are waiting. What expectations did you have as you began life as a Christ follower? How have those expectations changed or grown over time? 

Pregnancy is a precious opportunity that is fraught with expectations, equipping, preparation and delivery (whether you are prepared or not). Jesus’s parable about the three servants has some similar facets to pregnancy in the expectations, equipping and preparation and the return of the Master. Expectations about pregnancy come in a wild array of emotions. John Steinbeck in East of Eden states, “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children…” What expectations about parenting have you observed? Our parable from Matthew 25 comes pregnant with expectations of what their Master expected. The servants who received 5 bags and 2 bags both increased what they had been entrusted by the Master. What was their expectation of what the master desired them to do with the wealth that he had entrusted to them? Read Matthew 25:24-25-how did the third servant’s expectations differ from the other two servants? What should Christ followers expectations be about what the Master has entrusted to us?

Getting prepared for a baby’s arrival requires a huge amount of time and energy. There are birthing classes that you can take. Free advice is handed out like candy at a parade. There are gadgets and gizmos galore that can be added to a baby nursery, while some infants come into the world with a much more scaled down nursery. No matter how you approach the imminent arrival of an infant, the arrival is coming and preparation is required. In the same way, the servants in Jesus’s parable felt the responsibility of their assignments and went to work much like expectant parents. One buried his head in the sand, while two others went about their business with a great sense of urgency. The good servants did their work promptly, with perseverance, with success and they were ready to give an account when their master showed up. Hopefully, expectant parents do not behave like the other servant. The other servant didn’t think, didn’t work, didn’t even try, and when the master arrived he made excuses. Are you a prepared Christ follower? Just like the baby eventually arrives, Jesus will return and expect an accounting just like the Master in the parable. What has been entrusted to you? Do you have joy in your expectant waiting for your Master’s return? 

The dependent infant is not asking his parents about their 401k or their popularity on social media. The infant is looking for the return on your preparation. The infant is calling into account; what will I eat, who will change my diaper and who will help me go to sleep? You want to hear that “well done good and faithful one” in the contented sigh of a happy infant. The Master in the parable looked for goodness and faithfulness in His servants. The master was looking for character qualities and not a specific amount of return on the investment. How have you invested what you have received from the Master and are you prepared to give the Master an accounting when he returns? “It is not ‘well done, thou good and brilliant servant;’ for perhaps the man never shone at all in the eyes of those who appreciate glare and glitter. It is not ‘well done thou great and distinguished servant;’ for it is possible that he was never known beyond his native village” (Spurgeon)

lkb

Monday, 18 July 2022 00:00

What Time is the Wedding

What Time is the Wedding?
July 18, 2020
Mathew 25:1-13

In today's world (at least in the West) we do everything by the clock. And most of us have schedules that are busy from morning to night. We have our calendars and alarms on our phones to alert us to our next appointment.

When we're invited to a wedding, the invitation says what time it will be. Not so in Jesus' day. Weddings were very different in the Middle East. Late pastor and author Ray Stedman explains:

The background is an eastern wedding in which the bridegroom, rather than the bride, is the center of attention. In Oriental weddings it is the bridegroom who bears all the expense of the wedding . . . and thus has the prime spot. Weddings were always held at night and it was customary for the bridegroom to go to the house of the bride and take her to the wedding. As they walked through the streets they would be joined by guests at various places along the route. Our Lord's story of the ten maidens is the story of such a group, waiting for the bridegroom. (Stedman: Authentic Christianity)

So... what does this story mean to us?

One! We should keep watching and waiting. Are you tempted to forget (or even doubt) that our bridegroom, Jesus, has promised to return? Peter reminded the early church that their friends and neighbors would ridicule them because Jesus hadn't shown up. “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (2 Peter 3:4).

Have you stopped looking for Jesus?

Two! We should stay busy while we are watching and waiting. Over the years some have chosen to withdraw from their daily routines of work and service. They have taken family, friends, and provisions to a remote location to wait for Jesus' return. Essentially, they've "checked out." So, what should we be doing while we're waiting? Working, worshipping, serving, and caring for our families with a continuing awareness that the Groom may show up tonight.

What are you doing while you're waiting?

Three! Weddings are for family and friends. Most of us probably wouldn't try to "crash" a wedding. We might be invited to attend with someone who had an invitation, but like the man who tried to attend another wedding Jesus talked about, we may be turned away because we aren't wearing "wedding clothes." Is it possible that you think you're ready for Jesus' return and eternity in heaven, but, like the virgins whose oil had run out, Jesus will say to you, "I don't know you."? If you think because you have Christian friends, your parents are Christians, or even that you go to church, you will be included, think again. There's an invitation just waiting for your name. 

Four! It's worth the wait!! 

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matt. 25:13)

jbd & gmd

Thursday, 14 July 2022 00:00

repeating wisdom

1 John 2:7-11
Repeating Wisdom

Jesus taught the first disciples to prioritize relationships with other disciples. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). We dare not treat this instruction as if it were a third-class teaching.

The Apostle John’s recitation of Jesus’ instruction arrives as an ever-flowing river. After recoding Jesus’ words in the Gospel bearing his name, and apparently much later in life, this maturing follower of Jesus renews the life-giving spiritual water by recalling Jesus’ words. He now writes to individuals and churches living through stressful times. “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning” (1 John 2:70).

Tightly tying these two portions of Scripture together permits us, more than twenty centuries later, to see our Lord’s priority for relationships between disciples. As our turbulent societies churn, possibly not knowing they are desperate for a cooling drink of spiritual water, we, the current disciples, acknowledge our absolute need to deeply care for one another.

Disciples demonstrate the refreshment of God’s presence in what is often a dry and desert-like world. With the leverage of a handle, the command of my voice or any touch of a 21st century facet, I can bring water to my household. Disciples bring life-giving spiritual water in their own generation at the sound of the Master’s command. “You must love one another."

This is not a trivial matter and must rule over our personal relationships, communications and words to one another, lest the world not believe our proclamation of the Gospel.

Life Application Questions

What is the meaning of loving your brother or sister in 1 John 2:9?

Is there an implied testing recorded in 1 John 2:10-11?

If Jesus refreshes your life, what then?

When your soul colors with tragedy is there soothing power in Christ’s refreshment?

~ajs

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 00:00

was it the holy spirit who led

Was it the Holy Spirit Who Led?
John 16:9-17
Wednesday, 13 July 2022

What is the truth about the leading of the Holy Spirit? There are many false teachings about the Holy Spirit – maybe that is what Alva J. McClain was trying to address in this section of his little book, Bible Truths. If you want to know what position the early Grace Brethren – now Charis Fellowship – founders held regarding the Holy Spirit, here is one teaching McClain discussed from John 16.

How does the Bible speak of the Holy Spirit as a real Person?

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” (John 16:13, KJV, emphasis added).

Let’s focus our thoughts on a key passage highlighted above. The Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself. J.I. Packer in Knowing God (p.38), speaks to the believer’s relationship with Jesus after His resurrection (the Holy Spirit today), “so that anyone, anywhere can enjoy the same kind of relationship with him as the disciples had in the days of his flesh. The only differences are that, first, his presence with the Christian is spiritual, not bodily…second, the Christian…knows from the start those truths… about … Jesus …and third, that Jesus’ way of speaking to us now is not by uttering fresh words, but rather by applying …words …that are recorded in the Gospels, together with the rest of the biblical testimony…”

The Holy Spirit reveals to us as believers what Jesus and the Father have to say, but speaking from the Word of God. The unity of the Trinity is such that what the Spirit says is from the Word of God, which is the same as what Jesus spoke and what the Father spoke. "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30. See also John 14:9).

The Holy Spirit does not initiate new thoughts contrary to the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ. “Any movement supposedly led by the Spirit which focuses most of the interest on the phenomena of the Spirit is contrary to this statement of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is honored when Christ is glorified in our lives.” Homer A. Kent, Jr. Light in the Darkness pp. 187,188.

“It is essential that we see that the work of the Spirit of God is never divorced from Jesus Christ or the Word of God…'He shall glorify me' (John 16:14).” Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Transformed. p.59.

1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." But how actually might we test this spirit? The main way is to see if it is in alignment with the Scriptures, since they are the Word of God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t go off on his own. He is in agreement and in perfect alignment with the Father and the Son (John 10:1), so if this spirit is contrary to the Word, it is not from God.

"But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ" (1 John 2:27, NLT).

Life Application Questions

Are you feeling “led by the spirit” to do something too good to be true? Is it biblical?

Is your friend about to do something he/she feels “led by the spirit” to do? How might you help the friend “test the spirit?”

How is your relationship with Jesus? Can you hear His voice speaking through His Word?

~jlh

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