VIDEO Word and Works

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Even though Mark tells us it was not the season for fig trees to bear fruit, Jesus cursed the tree when He found no fruit on it (Mark 11:13-14). This mysterious act of cursing the tree was an illustration of judgment on the Jews for their lack of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus connected true spiritual life with spiritual fruit on more than one occasion (Matthew 7:17-19; 12:33).

There should be fruit associated with faith in Christ—that fruit being a changed life manifested in good works and righteous behavior. Paul made this connection in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He commended them for having received “the word of God” which was “effectively” working in them (2:13). Their works and labor for Christ served as a model for others (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 7-10).

Is your reception of the Word, resulting in faith, being demonstrated by good works and a changed life?

In short, good works are the fruit of saving faith. R. B. Kuiper


Paul Washer | 1 Thessalonians 2:13 | 2014-02-05

Jesus Is Here

[Teach] them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

My elderly great aunt lay on her sickbed with a smile on her face. Her gray hair was pushed back from her face and wrinkles covered her cheeks. She didn’t speak much, but I still recall the few words she said when my father, mother, and I visited her. She whispered, “I don’t get lonely. Jesus is here with me.”

As a single woman at the time, I marveled at my aunt’s proclamation. Her husband had died several years earlier, and her children lived far away. Nearing her ninetieth year of life, she was alone, in her bed, barely able to move. Yet she was able to say she wasn’t lonely.

My aunt took Jesus’ words to the disciples literally, as we all should: “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). She knew that Christ’s Spirit was with her, as He promised when He instructed the disciples to go out into the world and share His message with others (v. 19). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “be with” the disciples and us (John 14:16–17).

I’m certain my aunt experienced the reality of that promise. The Spirit was within her as she lay on her bed. And the Spirit used her to share His truth with me—a young niece who needed to hear those words and take them to heart.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

How are you encouraged by the reality that Jesus is with you today? How have you experienced the comfort of the Holy Spirit?

Thank You, Jesus, for sending Your Spirit as my comfort and companion. Remind me of Your presence throughout this day.

The Right Perspective on Riches

Trusting God with our money means prioritizing how much we can give away, not how much we can keep

1 Timothy 6:6-11

We all need a certain amount of money to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. But few people are satisfied with the bare essentials. Many of us have been blessed with far more than mere necessities, thanks to God richly supplying us with good things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). However, we must guard against fixing our hearts, minds, and hopes on earthly possessions rather than on the Lord. 

Earning the money to support our desired lifestyle may sound like a reasonable idea, but living to maximize spending power is a self-centered philosophy, not a God-centered one. While the world advocates accumulating more for oneself, the Lord instructs us to do good with our wealth and readily share with others.

Instead of focusing on how much we can keep, it’s better to think in terms of how much we can give away. God has promised to supply our needs (Philippians 4:19) but often lavishes far more than the basics. And He delights to see His children joyfully sharing what He has given (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

To the natural man, denying oneself and having less money seems illogical. But the opposite is true for God’s children. The more closely we follow His way of managing money, the greater our satisfaction and sense of security will be.

The Battle for Purity

“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 2:19)

One of Paul’s major messages to his young disciple Timothy was to strive for purity in every area of his life. Compromise and impurity were not to be glossed over; they were to be vigorously opposed.

Concerning purity in doctrine, Paul charged, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He was to “charge” his followers not to wrangle over trivial issues and not to listen to false teaching (v. 14). They were to “shun” vulgar and empty talk, knowing that such will only lead to more impurity and doubt (vv. 16-18). Furthermore, he was to actively “oppose” those who taught or lived by any other code, doing everything possible to “recover” those ensnared by satanic lies (vv. 25-26).

A prerequisite for an effective battle for purity in doctrine is purity in character. A Christian leader must be prepared for the work. “If a man therefore purge himself from these [i.e., false teaching, practices, and attitudes], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (v. 21).

Finally, a Christian leader must have proper and pure relationships with both those who are under his influence and those who must be opposed. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves” (vv. 24‑25). This is a difficult task, but as in our text, our foundation is sure, and we are known fully by the One who leads and empowers us in the work ahead. JDM

A Disciple in Training

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.Proverbs 3:13

A disciple is one who is in training. Being a disciple of Christ brings us to the day-by-day realities of such terms as discipline, rebuke, correction, hardship. Those are not pleasant words….

In times of testing and hardship, I have heard Christians cry in their discouragement, “How can I believe that God loves me?” The fact is, God loves us to such a degree that He will use every necessary means to mature us until we reach “unity of the faith” and attain “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

A critic may cringe and charge that God is breaking our spirits, that we will be worth nothing as a result….Oh, no! That is not true. What God plans is to bring us into accord with the wisdom and power and holiness that flow eternally from His throne. JAF094-095

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with….He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile. ROR016

Joy—Always There

A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit.Proverbs 15:13

Joy is a central characteristic of the Christian—and yet so many know nothing of it. They are under the lash of duty and not unabashed delight. They are artificial, not artesian. Someone once described such Christians as “creaking in body and soul as they limp along the highway toward glory.” They walk the road to glory, but they are certainly not walking the glory road.

The word “joy” (Greek: chara) is a strong and robust word. It is not resignation wearing a wan smile. It means a joy that is exuberant and overflowing. The summons to rejoice is sounded no less than seventy times in the New Testament, and the word chara occurs close to sixty times. The New Testament is a book of joy. Dr. William Barclay says that joy is the distinguishing atmosphere of the Christian life. He wrote: “We may put it this way—whatever the ingredients of Christian experience and in whatever proportions they are mixed together, joy is one of them.”

Even in the first year after the death of my wife, I was wonderfully conscious of Christ’s joy quietly breaking through the layers of my sadness and grief. Joy is always present in the heart of a Christian. It may not always be felt or recognized—but it is always there. And eventually it will break the surface, no matter what our situation or our circumstances. I have always maintained that joy is an inevitable part of the Christian life. Now I am sure. Oh, so very sure.

Prayer

Father, thank You for reminding me that when joy has its roots in You, then its fruits will eventually appear—no matter what happens. Eternal honor and praise be to Your wonderful name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 16:11; 30:1-12; 126:1-6; Neh 8:10

What does joy bring to our beings?

How are tears linked with joy?

Sow Generously

Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.—2 Corinthians 9:6

You are called to be intentional about your Christianity. You must be determined to experience the fullness of God in every area of your Christian life and never to settle for a shallow, lackadaisical relationship with almighty God. God will bless you according to how you respond to His invitations. If He finds in you a generous heart that willingly and freely gives what it has to others, then God responds toward you in like manner.

When the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to help the Christians in Jerusalem, he promised them that if they would sow generously, they would reap a generous return from God.

This truth holds life-changing potential for us. If we invest everything we have in our relationship with God, we will experience the full dimensions of being children of God. If our desire is to know God more intimately, and if we spend ample time studying His word, God will generously enrich our relationship with Him. If we discipline ourselves to remain in prayer even when praying is difficult, He will reward us with a deeper, more powerful prayer life. If we reconcile any broken relationships and prepare our hearts before worship, and if we participate fully and reverently in every part of worship, God promises that we will meet Him and our lives will be changed.

Why is it that some Christians grow rapidly in their Christian faith and others remain unchanged year after year? Our Christian maturity is deeply affected by what we sow. Let us choose to sow generously in everything we do in our Christian lives. The harvest we reap will be Christlikeness.