Thursday, June 28, 2012


I enjoyed your answers to the question I posted on Facebook, and was very encouraged by them. The question was:

What is the Christian's great reward?

A better form of the question would have been:

WHO is the Christian's great reward? But that would have been too obvious, and I wanted you to ponder it for a while.

Some of you quoted Genesis 15:1 which says, "After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward." (NIV)

That verse leaves no doubt that God Himself is our reward. WE GET GOD!!!
Christ Jesus left His heavenly home to suffer the weight of God's wrath on the cross so that He could come and dwell in us now, and later take us to His home so that we can enjoy HIM for eternity. The Psalmist in chapter 27:4 says, "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple". What is the Psalmist's reason for desiring to dwell in the house of the LORD? To soak up the beauty of Heaven? No. His longing for heaven was fueled by his hunger to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD! He wanted JESUS!

Do you CRAVE Jesus? If you know Him and are known by Him, you crave Him. He is who we gain from the gospel. The gift of the gospel is Christ. Not one gospel blessing will be savored by anyone unless the gospel's greatest treasure is the LORD Himself.
2Corinthians 4:3-4 describes the gospel in this way: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST, who is the image of God." then verse 6 calls the gospel "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." So who do we gain from the gospel? Christ who radiates the glory of God! That's why the gospel is "good news".

The apostle Paul sums it up like this:
"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." (Phil. 3:8).

So....if Christ is the reward of the gospel, how does that effect the way we present the gospel? It's important that we don't "add to" the gospel, making it an unbiblical plea. The new heaven and new earth that God's people will enjoy for eternity is beyond our wildest dreams. It is a place of unsurpassed beauty, designed by the One who spoke the universe into being. But, as we've seen from scripture, heaven is not our great and final reward. Jesus is our reward, and heaven is where He is seated at the right hand of God. To present the gospel as a choice between heaven and hell is not the gospel. Heaven is the by-product of knowing Christ. It is the place where we will experience the enjoyment of God. Without God's glory in the face of Christ, heaven would be dimly lit.

I hope this has given you a sense of the God-centered nature of the gospel, redemption and the Christian's great and final reward.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Life of Plenty

My memory verses for last week were Philippians 4:11b-13:
… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low and how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who gives me strength.  (ESV)
Philippians 4:13 is probably one of the most quoted verses in the New Testament.  But I am not sure that it is always applied appropriately.  This past week, I actually paid attention to the two verses preceding Verse 13.  
Paul tells us in verses 11 and 12 that he has learned to be content with life, no matter what is thrown at him. 
Verse 12 is interesting.  Paul tells us that he knows the secret of facing times of hunger and of need.  The secret is Christ!  But Paul also states that Christ is his secret to handling times of abundance and plenty.   

I am thankful for the reminder that we also need Christ when we are facing times of plenty.  Just ponder that for a moment.  I think we often fail to recognize that times of abundance and plenty can be just as challenging as times of need. What do I mean by this?  I mean, we are deceived if we don’t recognize the existing temptations and potential pitfalls of possessing a lot of stuff.   I could go on and on about this, but I told myself that my post this week would be short (here’s hoping!). 
I truly believe that the consumerist landscape of American culture is one of the most challenging environments for believers to live out an authentic Christian life –this is because in the midst of constantly consuming material possessions, our desire for Christ can easily be muted. 
While quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Platt writes in his book, Radical, that “the first call every Christian experiences is “the call to abandon the attachments of this world.’”
Just to clarify - nothing wrong with having stuff.  Money and material possessions are blessings from the Lord.  But as sons and daughters of God, we must remember that our calling on this earth is not to fecklessly consume, but to use the blessings that God gives us (including money and material stuff) to the glory of God and the good of others.  The only way we can learn to temper our desire for material possessions in the midst of our lives of plenty is to set our hearts on Christ.  After all, He is the only one who can bring satisfaction to our souls.  The problem is not that we have stuff; it’s that we are trying to find contentment in our stuff.  We waste our God-given time and our God-given resources when we try to spend all of our money on ourselves.  This is not the example laid out for us in Scripture. The early church sets the standard for selfless giving (Acts 2:45; 4:34-36) We should follow their lead.  We must cultivate an awareness of the possible dangers of living a life of plenty - the secret is Christ (v. 14). 

This passage is all about knowing how to be content in whatever circumstances we may face, and that can only be done when we are content Jesus, even if He is all we have.  He should not just be our number one priority, but the all-encompassing reason for even getting up in the morning. If this begins to occur in our lives, when it comes time for us to decide what to do with our “plenty,” we will have a mindset not to consume, but to worship. 

The Underestimated God: God’s ruthless, compassionate grace in the pursuit of his own glory and his ministers’ joy. : Together for the Gospel

The Underestimated God: God’s ruthless, compassionate grace in the pursuit of his own glory and his ministers’ joy. : Together for the Gospel

Chill bumps and tears listening to this sermon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Read the story. Watch the video. Then redouble your efforts to be a servant to your spouse.