I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
‘Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ John 4:35
Suggested Further Reading: 3 John 5–12
Grind your sickles; you must go to work with such cutting truths as justification by faith, as the total ruin of mankind, as the hope that is laid up in the cross, as the energy of the Holy Spirit; and when you know these truths, and know how to use them, you shall then be made great reapers in the Master’s harvest. It is idle to say, ‘I will go,’ and then go with no tool in your hand. Get the truth; get a hold of it well, get it sharp and in good order, and who knows, under the blessing of God the Holy Spirit, what you may do! The next want of harvest is some close binders. When the wheat is cut down you must tie it up with sheaves. We want some of you who cannot preach, who cannot use the sickle, to go and gather up the wheat which falls under the sickle when it is used by others.
Invite them to come into church fellowship; talk to them, get them into union with the people of God. And if you happen to be in the church yourselves, try to keep the church knit together in love. Bind the sheaves together. We cannot have good harvest work without loving hands to bind the people of God in one. Then we want beside these some to take the sheaves home. The church of God is the barn; it is the Master’s garner here; he has another garner yonder on the hill-top in heaven, but here we want you to assist in bringing them into the church of Christ. When God has saved them, try if you can get them to practise the ordinances of God, and to be joined with his people. And we want some of you, if you cannot do anything yourselves either in reaping, or binding, or bringing the sheaves home, at least by kind words and loving speeches to bring refreshments to the reapers.
Sermon no. 706
29 July (1866)
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead – (James 2:17, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I remember a time, back in 1993, when I was swept up in the whimsical world of wedding planning. Every detail mattered. I was excited to be marrying Brad Smith and I wanted our wedding day to be a magical springboard to a life filled with amazing adventures and deep years of God-centered love. From the cake choices – to the dress choices – to the music choices – to the guest list choices – to the bridal registry choices: I was all about the business of wedding prep!
The bride of Christ is purposed to be all about the Father’s business – to prep for eternity by making choices to bring Him glory throughout our days; to intentionally worship the Lord through our service. As daughters of God, we are called to connect our believing to our behaving; our convictions to our conversations; our lip-service to our life-service.
The Biblical mandate for each believer is this: put your faith where your action is. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
Hear me out here. Service is not the key to gaining salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Christ alone (Romans 10:9-10). Service is, however, essential for the believer as a response to her salvation. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
No matter who you are or what your platform is in life, the truth remains that whatever you do and say is being watched. Everyone emanates something. A radiant Christian woman – a radiant bride of Christ – emanates the saltiness and light of Jesus through her life; displayed through the things she does and doesn’t do. Through things she says or doesn’t say.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV).
Today, I pray that you are spurred on to be a woman of action for Christ – no matter what the circumstances of your life or the complexities of your relationships may be. From your word choices – to your tone choices – to your television choices – to your music choices – to your service choices – to your activity choices … be all about your Father’s business. Go in His strength, and put your faith where your action is.
Holy Father, I pray that You will help my actions to line up with Your perfect will. Help me to be Your hands and feet to those around me. Shine through my actions so others might be drawn to Your healing hope.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What does your life radiate? What are your actions saying about your faith? Are you salty for Christ in what you do and say? Spend a few moments reflecting on this and then spend some time in prayer.
How can you serve someone today? Perhaps God is leading you to bless someone in your household … or someone in your church … or someone in your neighborhood.
Could you reach out to a single mom, a family member, a widow, or a hurting friend? Ask God to direct you to opportunities to put your faith into action in the lives of others.
Got some great ideas about this? I would love to hear about them! Visit my Facebook page and tell me all about it: http://www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.
More from the Girlfriends
Trust me, friend, in no way am I trying to place the burden of “you-must-do-more-things-in-order-to-please-God” on you. I just want to encourage you to make the most of every choice and every action. If you are drained and weary and can’t imagine being able to give anyone anything right now, get alone with God. His presence and His Spirit will strengthen you for each moment.
NEED HELP in putting your actions where your faith is? Gwen’s book, Broken Into Beautiful, will take you by the hand and shows you how God delights to transform lives. Yes. Even yours!! To order the book, go to Amazonor visit the store on Gwen’s website: www.gwensmith.net.
Our study of Matthew 18 now complete, we have seen how the church is to exhibit pastoral concern, guard the church’s holiness, and readmit to communion all those who, though they have broken fellowship, turn from their sins and seek restoration. Before returning to Matthew’s gospel, however, we need to look at the nature of the church in order to understand why discipline and forgiveness are needed to preserve the purity of the church. Dr. R.C. Sproul will guide our study through this subject with his teaching series The Bride of Christ.
John 17, which records the longest prayer in the New Testament, provides some of the most important teaching on the church. As we can see in this chapter, Jesus is concerned with the unity of His people, praying for His disciples and all those who come after them to be one in purpose and mission even as He and His Father are one (vv. 11b, 22–23). It is therefore regrettable that the church of Jesus Christ in our day evidences little visible unity. In the United States alone, there are hundreds of different Protestant denominations, including dozens of varieties each of Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and so on.
Faced with this scandalous reality, there has been a tendency in the twentieth century and now, in the twenty-first century, to try and correct this problem. As a result of the ecumenical movement, many new denominations have formed through the mergers of old ones, and there has been a push for believers to affirm what unites them over and against what divides them. This is laudable when those professing unity agree on the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, but such is not often the case. Many times those seeking “unity” are those who are most eager to jettison any real adherence to the confessional standards of the church. Such unity is merely visible, and cracks begin to show when Bible-believers in the church begin to rightly protest the excesses of the liberal wings of their denominations.
Consider today the importance of true Christian unity, one that is a unity of faith and not only an organizational unity. What type of unity is your particular church concerned to promote? What type of unity is your passion? Take time today to pray for your particular church and denomination that they would seek to be one with other Christians, but not at the expense of the faith once given to the saints. Do what you can to promote such unity with other believers.
For further study: Amos 3:3
The Bible in a year: Psalms 68–69
For the weekend: Psalms 70–72
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
[God’s Discipline Proves His Love] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ Romans 8:17
Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:23–4:7
The apostle has proceeded through a simple but exceedingly forcible train of reasoning till he gains this glorious point—‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ He begins thus—‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ This is a fact which he takes for granted because he has perceived it in the hearts of believers. We do cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ From this he infers that if God has given us the Spirit whereby we call him ‘Father,’ then we are his children, which is plain, fair, and clear reasoning. Then he adds—‘If children, then heirs’—though this does not hold true in all families, because all children are not heirs; frequently the first-born may take all the estate; but with God so long as they are children they have equal rights—‘If children then heirs.’
He goes on to say, ‘Heirs of God;’ for if they are heirs they inherit their Father’s property. God is their Father; they are therefore God’s heirs! Well, but God has another Son, one who is the first-born of every creature. Exactly so, therefore if we be heirs, as Christ Jesus is the heir of all things, we are ‘joint heirs with Christ.’ I think you will see that, like links in a chain, these different truths draw each other on—the spirit of adoption proves the fact of adoption; by the act of adoption we are children; if children then heirs; if heirs, heirs of God; but since there is another heir, we must therefore be joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Blessed is the man to whom this reasoning is not abstract, but experimental. Happy is he who can follow the apostle step by step.
For meditation: Christ has been appointed ‘heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2). His joint-heirs inherit, among other things, the earth (Matthew 5:5), everlasting life (Matthew 19:29), the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; James 2:5), salvation (Hebrews 1:14), the promises (Hebrews 6:12), righteousness by faith (Hebrews 11:7), and the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Are all things yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)?
Sermon no. 402
28 July (1861)
“He who belongs to God hears what God says.” John 8:47 (NIV 1984)
I poured a cup of coffee and logged on to my laptop to peek at a friend’s Facebook page.
When I tried hopping over to see her latest pictures, I couldn’t get her name to appear in the search bar. I was puzzled. This had always worked before. Glancing at the top of the screen, I realized I wasn’t logged in to my own account. My son had forgotten to sign off when he’d been on earlier so I was actually logged in as him instead.
I couldn’t get where I wanted to go because I had mistaken my identity.
With a quick click of a mouse I switched accounts and used Facebook as “me.” Under the right identity I was free to view pages, leave comments with ease, and get where I wanted to go.
Sometimes in life we encounter the same issue—we don’t realize we have mistaken our identity. We log into our day and encounter wrong thinking that makes us forget who we really are. This may happen when a voice from our past or our own negative self-talk urges us to forget our identity in Christ. When we do, we’re blocked by doubt and can’t get where God is calling us to go: to a life lived with our security and value rooted deep in His thoughts toward us.
Instead we hear:
“You can’t do that. You aren’t good enough.”
“You’ll never change.”
“Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
“If only you were more ____________ instead of so ___________.”
When statements of self-doubt seem to scream and discouragement sets in, we need to log out of the lies we believe and log into God’s truth. It’s the only way we will know and live in our true identity so that we can navigate our lives according to God’s Word.
Here are some truths we can tell ourselves to remember our who we are:
I am the daughter of the Most High God.
I am loved, redeemed and renewed.
I am chosen, blameless and holy.
I was bought at a great price.
God knows me thoroughly and yet loves me completely.
He has plans for my future that include hope, not harm; blessings, not banishment.
I belong to Him.
John 8:47a tells us, “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” We need to listen to His Word, let it take root in our minds, and allow it to eradicate any untrue, destructive thought patterns. Replacing the negative chatter with assuring scriptures will gently, but firmly, remind us who we are as children of God.
Yes, if we “belong to God” we will hear what He says. As we log into His truths daily, no longer will we mistake our identity. We will know the confident reality of who we are in Christ.
Dear Lord, when I am tempted to think of myself in a way that is neither healthy nor true, remind me both of who I am and to Whom I belong. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises by Renee Swope identifies lies we mistakenly believe and equips us to overcome them so we can take hold of our true identity and live confidently in the truth of who God says we are.
Reflect and Respond:
What are some counter-productive or self-doubting thoughts that race through your mind at times? The next time you sense this happening, find a promise to replace each doubt. Find more strategies on Karen’s blog today.
Romans 1:6, “And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” (NIV 1984)
1 John 3:1a, “Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are.” (GW)
© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.