FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
“I must work the work of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work (John 9:4, NKJV).
Have you ever suffered for Jesus or for his righteousness sake? When you get through, you feel like you did a whole day’s work. You look around and you have a reward for all that you went through. Then you establish that you are created for the future things that you may do. God has prepared for you better days. If that would be enough, you would have just furnished the life you have always wanted. You must work the work!
Do you like to get rewards for things you do or maybe for good deeds? Our god just likes to give rewards for “just because.” Because He loves us and knows we want to be obedient. When your parents saw that you were doing well in school, they liked to reward you for it. Life can be filled with reward. Will your reward stand? Is it clear, so that you can work the work. “Each one’s work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (I Cor. 3:13-15).
Have you ever made an outfit, a picture, or created something out of dough? God created us in the image of his Son so that the work that we do would be good. God doesn’t make junk. So, I can work the work while it is day, for night is coming. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
Every night we go to sleep thinking about things we have to do, but are we prepared for what God has for us? He wants us to be cleansed so that our latter days may be used for the work we must work. “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).
Imagine being completely furnished to do the work that you were born to do, equipped for the Master’s use – to have the word, to speak, to love, so that you “of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
Thus you would have the perfect job that you would receive a reward for. And you were created for this special job. It was prepared so that you would be furnished with a position just for you. Yes, you. God sent you this message. It’s time. For “I must work the work of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” Be ready to work!
– Smith is the pastor of New Life Wake Up Ministries and director of Sojourner Truth Ministries in Williamsport.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
“Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16: 25)
Christianity begins with a death and ends with a promise of new life. I am sure that many would be glad to do away with the death and dying part. The first disciples of Jesus wanted no part of death or denying themselves for the gospel; Jesus had to rebuke Peter for rejecting death immediately after praising him for his confession of faith in Matthew 16.
Real faith costs something as Peter found out – die to yourself! We would like to forget this part of the good news, but it is too important. It is in every gospel, every letter, every book of the New Testament. Jesus won’t let us forget it. From the first, he said leave everything and “follow me,” and then to his earthly end, which was death on a cross, Jesus showed his disciples that we must regard God as being more important than our own life.
The Christian life today begins with our death to self and that is when the real living arises. Jesus said that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Unfortunately for many, the thief is winning, and they are losing. Jesus said if you save your life you will lose it. Focus on yourself, ignore God, and you have entered a path that leads to self-destruction and death. Try to live for yourself, satisfy yourself, and you will live a life of self destruction.
Even an atheist like Sigmund Freud saw that our desires never are fully satisfied, which leads to frustration, neurosis and ultimately self destruction and death. That is the way of the world. The Apostle Paul said much the same thing 2,000 years ago. He declared that our self seeking desires are sinful, arousing destructive behaviors and causing spiritual death. All of this happens under the illusion that by focusing on ourselves, we can find happiness; or that we really know what is best for us; or that we are equipped to imagine our own best future. In truth, we cannot do any of these things. The road of self-satisfaction leads to death.
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians is to know the love of Christ, “who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph 3: 20). God knows us better than we know ourselves. If we start with the death to our own desires, then we can really learn to live. When we deny ourselves, Christ comes into our lives more fully and transforms our desires and our lives. We “put on Christ” more easily and live for God more effortlessly.
If you give up trying to get what you want, and place yourself in God’s hands, then you can really start to live your best possible life. For then, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
– Manzinger is the pastor at First Baptist Church, 380 W. Fourth St.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
How many of us enjoy waiting? If we really are honest, we don’t like to wait much at all. We live in a ‘let’s go,’ ‘instant’ society. One that toots the horn at the car in front of us because they are not responding fast enough to the green light! Sound familiar?
The other day while driving in town behind a rather s-l-o-w driver, the driver in back of me thought I was the cause for holding up the flow of the traffic line. I could tell by the way he was riding my bumper! But to his surprise, (when I turned quickly down another street not wanting to wait for the slow driver either) he still was forced to wait some more. I really couldn’t help but smile.
Beloved, God is unlike us, and really doesn’t mind waiting. His love is steadfast, enduring and patient and His love is right now for you. God’s love is ever present and although He desires all to know Him, He does not rush your decisions but continues to wait for you, even when the wait can seem long.
What is our response to this now kind of love? Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to give your all to Him. We love Him because He first loved us.
God’s Word says that He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10) that is right now and it continues on until He takes us home with Him. That doesn’t mean that we will never have any trials or face any hardships, but it means that the abundance the Lord provides is His grace upon our lives to come through every circumstance of life. The now kind of Love promises to supply all that we need.
Right now beloved. Thanks be unto God who leads us in triumph in Christ and through us His fragrance can permeate any sphere where it seems foul or unpleasant bringing beauty. To Him who is able to do exceedingly far abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power within us! The now love of God is above and beyond any of our human expectations. Now there is no need to wait another second longer. To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
– Whaley is a member of Citychurch, 36 E. Fourth St., and the northcentral regional director of Yokefellowship Prison Ministry.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
It is a great honor to be able to have this opportunity to share a part of my faith tradition with the community of Williamsport. I am the priest in charge of three parishes of GLEAM (Greater Episcopal Area Ministry). We are about to enter the liturgical session of Lent. Lent begins Feb. 13 on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a session where many Christians focus on their mortality and preparing their hearts and minds for God’s judgment. The imposition of ashes is both a sign to the person of their mortality and to the world that they are in a relationship with God, the giver of life.
The intent of focusing God’s eventual judgment is not to beat up on yourself. It is to improve your relationship with God by increasing the openness and honesty of the relationship with God. Solomon prayed, “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth – you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way” (2 Chronicles 6:14). This quote shows us that that God both loves us and wants us to follow in God’s way wholeheartedly. I submit that the best way to do this is through increasing the strength of your relationship with God.
Most of us recognize that the best way to increase the strength of a relationship is to increase the communication between the individuals in the relationship. Linear communication has a sender and receiver. Most Christians believe that the primary way we communicate with God is through prayer. One reason that Christians live in community is that we believe that God not only communicates with us through our own thoughts but also through the other people within our faith community. Our faith community helps us discern the gifts that God has given us and the best use for those gifts. Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to illustrate the importance of Christian community. In his metaphor Paul makes it clear that we are all different and that these differences are our strength. The faith community is the main way in which God communicates with us.
Even if you do not practice the tradition and practice of Lent, I hope that you will use this opportunity to improve your communication with God by increasing your time in prayer, letting God know what is in your heart and soul, and spending time with others of faith so that you can spend time listening to what God may be saying to you. May you be blessed through your time of reflection.
– Kerr is the rector for GLEAM (Greater Episcopal Area Ministries).