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Posts Tagged ‘good works’

Live Selflessly

February 21st, 2014

“Let your good works shine out for all to see.” Matthew 5:16 NLT.

Love neither notice nor credit from men; both are addictive and destructive.

My thoughts and comments today are that you “live selflessly.”

How you live everyday is important; why you live the way you choose to live is even more important. Summing up the eight character qualities of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus described the uniqueness of those who exemplify the Kingdom of God as being, “the salt of the earth and light of the world.” Matthew 5:13-16. Salt and light have distinctive purposes, only of use and value when fulfilling their purposes – an appropriate metaphor for us and our use and value to the Kingdom of God on earth. A Godly life offers an enticing flavor to the blandness of life apart from Christ and brilliant illumination dispelling the darkness in which others live.

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 NLT. Your life and mine are unique only when accomplishing the eternal purpose for which God intends. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT. It is important that you understand the measurement by which your life succeeds. Your purpose is always for, “all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” The first part becomes irrelevant if the latter part doesn’t occur. In an exemplary life, God is the One who is seen and praised.

If your motive is to be seen and praised by men, every effort remains inconsequential. “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12 NIV. A meaningful and satisfying life is lived, “for the praise of His glory.” Love neither notice nor credit from men; both are addictive and destructive.

I remember my Dad often quoting, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” (Harry Truman, 33rd president of the US 1884-1972). That is very true. “Having your conduct honorable among [others], that . . they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God . .” 1 Peter 2:12 NKJV. Your most successful achievements might well be the most noble, while you serve merely for His pleasure. But know this, nothing done in His name and for His glory will go unnoticed or unrewarded. “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV.

Jesus had strong words about doing even the right things for the wrong reasons – to be seen of men. Matthew 23:5 NKJV. When the Pharisees gave, they did so for the applause of others; they prayed where others would hear and admire. Read Matthew 6:1-6 NIV. For their efforts, they received no reward from God. You live selflessly when you live for the applause and approval of One. See Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. This is a practical way that we can help ourselves and one another: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT. Any outbursts lately?

My prayer for you today is that all you do is done in love and sincerity.

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Grace and Gratefulness

June 12th, 2013

He gives us more grace.” James 4:6 NIV.

Extending grace to others is your fitting expression of gratefulness for God’s grace.

My thoughts and comments today are about “grace and gratefulness.”

I have been blessed. Our life, family, and ministry have been blessed by the grace of God and the graciousness of people. I have received more than I could ever have earned from both God and others, and am thankful for every kindness shown me. Such recognition is a key to gratefulness.

Here’s what I have learned in life. When a person receives less than they were owed, they feel ungrateful. When a person receives only what they earned, they may take it for granted. When a person receives more than they know they have ever earned, or was ever owed, or would ever deserve, the Godly attitude is gratitude. The difference is not really how much is received, but rather your estimation and attitude about what was received. God initiates grace; your response is gratefulness. In your thoughts, attitudes, temperament, charity, efforts, involvements, relationships, and conversations, be gracious and kind. See Colossians 4:6 NIV. Extending grace to others is your fitting expression of gratefulness for God’s grace to you.

Grace cannot be earned, always charitable. Grace is expressed in unmerited favor and undeserved blessing, most appreciated when received as such. “The exceeding riches of His grace . . is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:7-9 NKJV. Words are insufficient to describe the daring generosity of God. That may be exactly what is often troubling about grace; people keep trying to earn it. Paul reasoned, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6 NKJV. Maybe people are awkward about accepting such a gift because grace obliges our gracious expression toward others.

Grace is never superfluous, a necessity for life.He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourself to God . . come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:6-8 NIV. The surrounding context of James’ counsel is about times you struggle to do the right thing, when relationships are strained and disagreements arise. At that very time, God extends grace to you and simply asks that you do the same toward others.

Grace is always sufficient, plenteous in might and measure. Anyone who truly understands and embraces grace will testify of its abounding supply. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace after grace . . truth and grace came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17. Paul, an apostle, struggled with a troubling circumstance he could neither resolve nor any longer bear, “The [Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’ . . that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NKJV. Sufficient grace always strengthens and perfects.

God’s promise to Paul is His promise to you as well, “My grace is sufficient for you,” in all things, at all times. In eternal summation, the Bible closes with these words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21 NKJV. Grace can be the story of every man and woman’s history and destiny, yours included.

My prayer for you this day is that you will experience grace and always give the same.

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Amazing Grace

October 5th, 2011

“If by grace, then it is no more by works.” Romans 11:6 NIV

“God’s grace offers liberty from sin, not license to sin.”

My thoughts today are about “amazing grace.”

An old-fashioned work ethic teaches things like: you work for what you get, effort equals reward, nothing is free, you deserve what you earn, and you get what you deserve whether good or bad. And that seems to hold true in most areas of life. I was taught not to expect others to do for me what I should and could do for myself. As true as that may be in most areas of life, that complicates a proper understanding of the Biblical concept of grace.

Theologians describe grace as “unmerited favor,” receiving good you neither deserved nor earned. Some people have been shown kindness so rarely that they don’t know how to receive it with humility and gratefulness when offered. Others wrongly presume that favor is somehow owed to them. There are two kinds of people: those who take nothing and those who take advantage. The first assume self-sufficiency; the latter presume entitlement. Both are in error.

The Apostle Paul wrestled with the concept of grace until he accepted it as God’s response to His own character, not a response to man’s worthiness or reaction to a man’s unworthiness. “Though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” Read 1 Timothy 1:13-17 NIV. Paul knew who and what he had been; grace taught him who God has always been. Read Romans 5:6-11 NLT.

This is Paul’s reasoning: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6 NKJV. You have to read that a few times thoughtfully and slowly. God has eternally decided that He will relate to you with grace according to what He has done, not what you have or have not done. You are left to decide whether you will embrace that grace or attempt by your own efforts to earn and deserve God’s mercy and goodness. Let me assure you, God’s way is best! “God chose us . . He decided to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault – we would stand before Him covered with His love . . And He did this because He wanted to!” Ephesians 1:4-8 TLB. Why? Simply “because He wanted to” do so, if you will accept and receive His grace.

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more . . what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” Romans 5:20-6:2 NKJV. Grace is not God’s permission to continuing sinning; grace offers liberty from sin, not license to sin. Grace is God’s power to live free of sin and its compulsions. No wonder they call grace amazing; grace is for people tired of working for something God has already given them.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation . . teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in the present age . . Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-12 NKJV. Grace is redemptive, but also enabling. The old hymn said it well, “Be of sin the double cure; save from sin and make me pure.” Grace is not from good works; good works are the fruit of grace.

My prayer for you today is that you trust and rest in His fullness of grace.

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Good Works

July 24th, 2009

“Good works, which God has already prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 English Version

“A truly contented life is about doing the good things God prepared you to do.”

My thoughts today are about “good works.”

Too many people seem not to have a good idea of what their life is meant to be about. They are busy but not fulfilled, maybe even successful but not satisfied. Life is not just about doing good things or even things you are good at; a contented life is about doing the good things God prepared you to do. Have you given much thought for what that might be for you?

Just days ago, I spoke with a young man who had previously been very successful and financially prosperous in a job he did not enjoy doing. He was making a lot of money, but was not happy doing it. He is now preparing to go as a missionary – teaching in a Christian school in Europe at considerable financial sacrifice, and never more excited. I think the first part of his story is all too common; I wish the rest of his story were more typical.

Some years ago, Martha Stewart, apparently the culture’s final word on all things domestic, was known for her seal of approval on something by saying, “It’s a good thing!” Well, I have found good things are even better when you know “it’s a God thing!” You do not need to stumble around looking for what you should do, trying to find the things at which you are good. There is a divine assignment for your life. That’s where your greatest joy and satisfaction will be found.

That assignment for your life will be consistent with the spiritual gifts that God has placed within you. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms . . do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV. Your talents, skills, giftedness and interests will often reveal what God has been preparing you for all along.

What God has prepared for you, will involve serving others in some meaningful way. Sometimes you only discover where your gifts lie while in the process of serving the needs of others in Christ’s Name. Your God-given gifts and abilities are not for your personal benefit alone, but as a Godly means of contributing to the welfare and well being of others God will bring into your life. Use them for yourself alone and you will find them never to be enough – never enough to bring you the measure of joy and contentment God intends.

Every day bless someone by doing something kind and helpful without being asked or expecting anything in return. Jesus said that “giving a cup of cold water in His Name” would not go without its reward. See Matthew 10:42 NIV. Good works are rarely large and impressive things as you might presume; more often God’s works are found in the ordinary, simple, everyday things – a helping hand, a kind word, an unnoticed benevolence, a bit of time shared, a note of encouragement, a prayer on behalf of a friend, or sincere thankfulness.

My prayer for you today is to use your giftedness to serve God and bless others.

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