Are you serving in some capacity in your church but you’ve gotten frustrated? Maybe you have been serving a long time and you are questioning if it’s worth it? Maybe the attendance is down some in your class or, you just question if you are effective any more?
Maybe you have gotten frustrated in your work. Perhaps some changes are being made that you don’t much care for.
In I Corinthians 15:58, the apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. He says, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (I Cor. 15:58).
“Be strong and immovable…” The picture here is of a strong tree that has survived several storms… “Be STRONG and immovable.” Maybe you have gotten beaten down some. You are trying to be strong but it’s tough.
Paul also says, “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord… for you known that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless…”
Let’s be honest… serving the Lord can get tough. You don’t question how important the work is. But, attendance can be up and down. Offerings can get low. People complain. it can be tough. Yet Paul said “work enthusiastically for the Lord.”
So, if you are discouraged… thinking about giving up… this verse is for you… “Be strong and immovable… work enthusiastically for the Lord.” In Galations 6:9 Paul wrote, “Be not weary in well doing, for in due time you shall reap if you do not grow weary.”
Have you ever done something that was foolish? You may be chuckling to yourself thinking, “Lord, how MANY times have I done something foolish?”
I gotcha. I’m the same.
We all make mistakes but some maybe more than others. I’ve most definitely made my share. As I look back, there are things I would have done differently and things I wouldn’t have done at all.
The Psalmist seemed to have the same experience. The Psalmist said, “My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.”
And, our foolish sins may cause us to wonder if God loves us or if God can forgive us? I can assure you God can forgive us and God does love us. But, you may think, “Oh, but you don’t know what I’ve done… ” I don’t need to. Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, God loves us and NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. So, regardless how foolish your sins may be, Jesus loves us and forgives us.
God forgives us… if we confess our sins and repent…. God forgives us… even our foolish sins.
Have you ever had the experience of someone breaking a promise? More than likely you have. It stinks. It can cause you to begin to doubt people. You don’t trust anyone.
Well, the Bible is filled with promises and, we can trust the Lord to honor His promises. One of them is found in Psalms 37:25. There the Psalmist says, “Once I was young and now I am old but I have never the Godly abandoned or their children begging bread.”
Think about that verse… “I have never seen the Godly abandoned…” The Psalmist isn’t saying we won’t go through adversity because we will. He isn’t saying the Christian is insulated from the world. We will face adversity. But, He promises to never abandon us.
Then, the Psalmist adds, “… or their children begging bread.” So, the Psalmist is saying that in his long life, he has never seen Godly people abandoned or their children begging bread.” In other words, God takes care of us.
Now again… he’s not saying that Christians won’t suffer. He’s not saying we can eat steak and shrimp eery night. But He is saying He will take care of us.
Maybe you are struggling right now to believe God. You won’t too but, things are getting tough. I understand. But, we can trust the Lord. We may eat sandwiches for a few days. We may even eat vegetables that someone gives us from their garden but… God will take care of us.
Right now, we are driving an old Chevy blazer. The thing is in bad shape. It rattles. When it rains, it leaks some around the driver’s side door. Lots of lights are lit up on the dashboard. But…. it gets us to work and back.
Today, if you are struggling to believe the promises of God, hopefully you can set your skepticism aside.
There is an old hymn that we used to sing in church that went like this;
“Standing on the promises of Christ my king.
Through eternal ages let His praises ring.
Glory in the highest I will shout and sing.
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing, standing on the promises of Christ my Savior.
Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.”
“Love is the theme, Love is supreme,
Sweeter it grows, glory bestows.
Bright as the sun, ever it glows!
Love is the theme, Eternal theme.”
Those are the lyrics to the chorus of an old hymn we sang in church. “Love is the theme…” Love is still the theme.
We are living in a time in our nation that doesn’t seem to be marked by love. Instead of love, we are yelling at one another, pointing fingers at one another and blaming one another for what’s going wrong in our nation. We hear about “hate groups.” Think about that… a group of people who are dedicated to hate. That’s not much of a life.
In I Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul wrote a chapter that has come to be known as the “love chapter.” Paul had just talked about spiritual gifts. He explained how the gifts were important in the body of Christ. Then, Paul says, “Let me show you, a more excellent way…” Then, he writes what has come to be known as the “love chapter.”
Paul writes, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Those are beautiful words. There have been times when I read the love chapter or, someone read the love chapter in weddings. We need more love today and far, far less hate.
If we had to describe Jesus to someone we would say Jesus is love. And He is! Jesus told us to love another. So, today, may our lives be marked by love… not hate.. not discord.. but love. May our churches be marked by love.
Paul concluded the “love chapter” with these words, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
May our lives be filled with the love of Jesus today.
I believe in grace. I believe that God loves us all. I believe we all slip occasionally.
But, I also know that God is holy and God wants His people to live holy lives which is something that is lacking today. God wants us to live Holy lives because God is holy.
In I Corinthians 11 Paul talks about the Lord’s Supper. There were some in Corinth who were observing the Lord’s Supper in a lackadaisical manner. They were not examining themselves before taking it. As a result, some were sick. Paul wrote, “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against[b] the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup” (11:28-29). Aren’t we glad God gives us all grace? If not, we might be sick at the Lord’s Supper.
God wants us to examine ourselves. Actually, this should be done daily. Are you at odds with someone? Do your part to work it out. Are you doing some things you shouldn’t be doing? Then stop.
We should examine ourselves daily and if we aren’t right, we need to get right with the Lord. God hates sin. Sin put His Son on the cross. God wants us, His children to hate sin rather than harbor sin in our lives.
We live in a pluralistic society of many gods. The United States of America has freedom of religion which means any one can worship their god. In a land of many gods, what makes Jehovah God the only God worthy of worship?
Psalms 35:10 says, “With every bone in my body I will praise him: “Lord, who can compare with you? Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?”
Notice the Psalmist says… “with every bone in my body…” The Psalmist was sold out to God. Every part of his being worshipped God. Why? Because God rescues the helpless and poor. This means that God cares. God cares for the helpless. Those who are helpless are, literally… without help. They can’t help themselves. How did they get in that position?
Maybe there are physical problems. Maybe there are financial issues. Maybe emotional issues.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who served in Vietnam. We were talking about some men he knows who are Vietnam vets. Many of them are living with post traumatic stress syndrome.
Maybe it’s a single mom doing her best to raise some children and make a living.
Maybe it’s an elderly person in a nursing home.
Maybe it’s someone who recently got laid off and has nothing.
Maybe it’s the person addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Regardless the circumstances, God loves us. God cares… That’s why we worship Him.
There are lots of hurting, discouraged people. Some are going through a divorce. Some have lost a job. Some maybe having emotional problems. But whatever the cause, they are down.. discouraged.
And when you are down, the devil can make you think no one cares. The Psalmist even thought this. Psalms 142:4 says, “No man cares for my soul.” It’s possible you have felt that way at times.
Psalms 34:18 encourages us. Those verses read, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”(Ps. 34:18) If you are down or discouraged, God knows that and wants to help you.
Now, you may ask, “Ok, that sounds good; but how does God help me? He encourages us as we read His word. He speaks to us through prayer. He may minister to us through Christian music or a book. Or, He may encourage us through a friend.
But let’s turn this around; God may want to encourage someone who is discouraged through us. God may want us to encourage someone or hug someone or help someone. Is there someone you know who is down? Someone who is going through a tough time? Reach out to them. God may want you to be an answer to someone else’s prayer.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted… He rescues those whose spirits are crushed…. and He may do that through us. Be sensitive to someone around you today who needs encouragement.