That Which is in Store For Us

I Corinthians 2:9  “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Today I had a wonderful meal.  I went to Cracker Barrel here in town and, well, what I ate is not important.  Let’s just say, it was a big breakfast.  What is important is that I enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed the company.  You see, my family and I were fellowshipping with three other families from the church.  Food and fellowship; these are staples to just about any Baptist out there.

The verse above made me think.  We’re going to be spending the an awful long time dining at the Master’s table once we get to heaven.  No matter how good the food is down here, and frankly, as good as Cracker Barrel is, it never beats my wife’s cooking, or my grandma’s, or my Nannie’s.  But when I get to heaven, I’m not even going to remember Cracker Barrel.  I’ll be dining with the King of Kings, and fellowshipping with the saints and martyrs.  Moses, Joseph, Rahab, King David, and Paul.  Stephen the evangelist.  Philip.  Perhaps I’ll run into D. L. Moody, or Scofield.

Eye hath not see, nor ear heard.  That is what the Bible says.  I had a great time out today with my friends.  It’s nice to talk about everyday things, and even spiritual things, with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  But how much more amazing to spend time with Jesus Himself.  We are supposed to love God, because He first loved us.  He sent HIs son to die for us, and all we have to do is be appreciative, and believe that He did.  And for that, we get an eternal life that puts this one to shame, quite literally.

Imagine the most precious thing you can.  Imagine the most beautiful thing you can.  Imagine the best day you could have.  And then realize that none of those things even come close to what God has in store for us on the other side.  God is preparing a place for us.  All we’re required to do is try to find more guests.

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Fear Thou Not

Isaiah 41:10  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am the God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

I understand that verses are often taken out of context to prove a point, and as a general feeling, I abhor that practice.  Yet, this verse provides me comfort at times, and not necessarily in the context of the original writing.  I am not an Old Testament Israelite, after all.  In the original context, of course, the Lord is reminding Israel that he will see them through their battles, and that their enemy will be gone.  Of course, to a Christian, all of these things are allegories.  Yes, they actually happened, and yes, there is historical application, but for my life, it’s spiritual.

You see, it isn’t that God is going to be with us whatever we do.  That would be ludicrous.  Yes, he is ever-present with us, but he does not approve all of our actions.  The last part of this verse tells me that He is holding me up with His own righteousness.  Besides the obvious implications regarding salvation and the impossibility of losing it, it tells me that what I’m doing better be righteous if the Lord is holding me up.

Think about it.  If God Himself is going to strengthen you, if He’s going to be with you, and if He is going to uphold you, don’t you think you ought to be doing something spiritual?  This verse tells me that when God tells you to do something, don’t worry, He’s there.  If He has called you to a mission field, He’ll be there.  Don’t be dismayed.  If He wants you to preach, or teach, He will strengthen you.  If He asks you to pastor a church, or give money to that struggling family, or take that missionary out to dinner, yea, He will help you.

And if you take a stand against immorality, or deceitfulness, or sin in your church or home, or society at large, the Lord will uphold you.

I’m not telling you to go out there and act like the Westboro Baptist hypocrites, because frankly, they’re a bunch of low-lifes that don’t know how to read the Bible.  No, I’m telling you to go out there and do what God tells you to do.  Whether it’s leaving a gospel tract for your server at the restaurant, or telling that young man or young woman at the gas station about Christ, listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit.  Nervous?  Sure.  But God says not to fear.  He is God after all, and His help is never far away.

Not That Bad a Day

James 5:16  “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Today’s verse did not mean much for me until later in the day.  I had a rough morning.  I had a few bad phone calls with cranky customers and some personnel issues.  It happens.  Today, since I had less sleep than normal, I was getting fed up with everything that was going on.  Yes, I know, I should be the one setting the example, letting people see the Christian having grace under pressure.
I failed today.
I was so disheartened and cranky that I neglected to look at my “verse of the day” until much later than normal.  When I did, I thought to myself, “Well, sure.  But how can I apply that to myself today?”  I was about to find out.
We had a couple of kids join our church a while back.  A couple of months ago, they moved up north to be with their mother.  I think that is wonderful.  Today I received a prayer request on their behalf.  Their car had been broken into, and the thieves set it on fire.  Their family is now without a car.
I immediately was smitten by the Holy Spirit.  Not such a bad day now, is it, cry baby?  Now, the Holy Spirit didn’t call me a name, but that’s how I felt.  I mean, was I really that upset because a couple people didn’t do what I asked them to do, and a few customers got mad because I called them?  I’m a collector; people don’t generally like me when I’m on the phone with them.  I said a prayer for that family, and the verse I read earlier came to mind.  “Confess your faults one to another.”  It does not say “Confess your sins,” because you are to confess those to the Lord.  The jist of this verse is this; let other people know where you fail, so they can learn from it.  Your mistakes can edify the brethren.  The best preachers preach from their own lives, and let you know that they are human too, not some being that spends the week in heaven with God, and then comes down Sunday to impart some wisdom to you.
Preachers are people.  I am a person.  People make mistakes.
And I let the world beat me today.  By God’s grace, I will endure tomorrow, be the example He wants me to be.

Whitewashed Sepulchers

Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

I look at the people around me at my place of employment and even those that I speak to on the phone. One thing is certain; Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness. It is inevitable. To the worker that claims he or she is the only one in their department that is getting anything done, to the customer on the phone that claims they have been the best customer ever, while trying to get you to waive their tenth late charge. Many people are proclaiming their own goodness.

What has this got to do with Matthew 6:1, you ask? The Bible is pretty well consistent in that it shows the depravity of man. And man, when he is his most religious, wants other people to see him being religious. This was the downfall of the Pharisees, and if we’re being honest, many preachers and teachers of the faith today. They get so wound up in their outer appearance that they completely forget to deal with their inner workings.

They are doing their alms before men, proclaiming to everyone how good they are, and they have neglected that more important thing; their own heart. Are you giving at church so that other people can see you give, or are you giving out of compassion for the poor, and brokenness for the lost? Do you help out on those pot luck dinners and youth outings and couples’ banquets so that others see you work? Or do you do so because you want those people to grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other?

I have been a purveyor of false humility, I have been a Pharisee. I know how shallow it makes me feel. And I know that there is no reward like the reward of doing something in secret, knowing the Lord will reward me openly some day. It may not be here on Earth while I yet live in this body, and it will probably be all the sweeter for that, but the Lord says he will recompense good for good.

Please, friends and saints, do not be a whitewashed sepulchers. Pray in secret, give without fanfare, and for goodness sake, don’t complain about how busy you are in the Lord’s work. He will not give us more than we can handle; we usually do that to ourselves.