Week 38 Sept. 16-22, 2018

A basic truth of our human condition is that everything we do is either motivated by avoiding pain or pursuing pleasure.

Perhaps these motives are a fixed reality because God has designed our hearts to prepare us for eternal judgment at the end of our earthly lives. It is during our final judgment that God will determine whether we feared the pain of His wrath enough to repent of our sin, or that we celebrated the pleasure of His eternal rewards enough to make honoring Him the aim of our lives.

For all non-believers, they will face a judgement of salvation at the return of Christ known as “The Great White Throne Judgment.” This is when all unregenerate sinners will be declared guilty and bear the full penalty of their transgressions before a holy God because they rejected the offer of Christ’s atonement. The reality of this eternal punishment is one that is so painful it has led many people to flee from the darkness of the world and surrender to the light of Christ.

For Christians, however, even though they will avoid the pain of The Great White Throne once they have placed their faith in Christ, believers are still offered the pleasure of eternal rewards through a different judgment known as “The Judgement Seat of Christ.” This judgment will not be one of salvation, but a judgment of works where crowns will be handed out for those who served the Lord in faithful obedience until their final breath.

In 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, the Apostle Paul reminds us of this judgement by urging all believers to pursue the pleasure of being crowned a good and faithful servant of Christ. He states, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

So, as we seek to avoid the pain of squandering our rewards and pursue the pleasure of Christ’s praise on that final day, here are three ways we can aim to please the Lord in our daily lives:

First, aim to please the Lord in your personal devotion. Faithful believers value their devotion to the Lord as priority number one. We need to be intentional about blocking off time for prayer, scripture reading and meditation, silence and solitude, and public and private worship. There is nothing we can do to please the Lord if we don’t first make it our aim to be close to the Lord.

Secondly, aim to please the Lord in your family devotion. When God gives us parents, siblings, spouses, and children, He expects us to be faithful stewards of our family and devote our lives to loving and nurturing each member of our household. Our homes need to be sanctuaries where we come together to worship Christ and honor each other. A simple truth that is often overlooked is this: “A family that prays together stays together.”

Finally, aim to please the Lord in your ministry devotion. Many Christians often see ministry as something that only pastors do. However, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ you have a ministry. If you have a job, your ministry is to reflect Christ in the workplace. If you have a house, your ministry is to reflect Christ in the neighborhood. If you have a school, your ministry is to reflect Christ in the classroom. And if you have a volunteer role at church, your ministry is to reflect Christ in your congregation. God is not concerned with how big your ministry is; He cares more about how devoted you are to the ministry that you have.

So as we draw closer to The Judgment Seat of Christ, let us stay committed to our personal devotion, our family devotion, and our ministry devotion. If we make it our aim to please the Lord in these three ways, we can avoid the pain of earthly regrets and receive the pleasure of wearing eternal crowns.

When We Aim to Please the Lord

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THIS WEEK’S GOLD

The Hope of a New Heavens and New Earth

When people talk about eternal life in the kingdom of God, they often describe their hope in a distant heaven where they will dwell with God in a disembodied state forever. However, Scripture teaches that God intends to bring heaven down to earth and create a new world where we will live in new resurrected bodies and all the tears of this current world will be wiped away forever. As the Lord promises us in Isaiah 65:17-18, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.”

It’s Good to Be Near God

In Psalm 73, Asaph describes our earthly journey as one that either brings us closer to God or drives us farther away from His presence. Like many of us, Asaph was almost tempted to fall into sin and turn away from God because as he confesses in verse 3, “…I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” However, Asaph goes on to praise God for continuing to hold his right hand and keep him walking on the path of righteousness. As he closes out the psalm in verse 28, he proclaims, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”

Putting Our Pain in Perspective

The trials and tribulations of life here on earth would bring us little comfort if we didn’t believe that our current pain was producing for us a greater eternal reward. This is why the Apostle Paul went to great lengths to encourage the church at Corinth that all Christians need to put our pain in perspective because God has an ultimate purpose for all our tears. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Week 39 Readings:  September 23-29

-Day One:  Habakkuk; 2 Corinthians 7

-Day Two:  Zephaniah; Psalm 74; 2 Corinthians 8

-Day Three:  Jeremiah 1-4; Palm 130; 2 Corinthians 9

-Day Four:  Jeremiah 5-7; Psalm 75; 2 Corinthians 10

-Day Five:  Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11  

TOOLS FOR NEXT WEEK’S TREASURE HUNT

Tips to Keep You on Track

          This week our readings will take us all the way through the short book of Habakkuk. Written sometime before or during the reign of King Josiah in the early 600s B.C., the book centers around a unique dialog between the prophet Habakkuk and God concerning the prophet’s deep concern for the Lord to exercise justice and destroy the evil enemies of Judah. Much like the story of Job, the book of Habakkuk is an account of mankind’s quest for answers from a sovereign God in the midst of suffering. The dialog of this quest can be best understood by the following outline: (1) Habakkuk’s first question (1:2-4); (2) God’s first response (1:5-11); (3) Habakkuk’s second question (1:12-2:1); (4) God’s second response (2:2-20); and (5) Habakkuk’s psalm of faith (Chapter 3). While reading this short prophecy, take a moment to meditate on God’s trustworthy promise to judge all evil, and consider how the Lord sovereignly chooses to react in each moment of time with the intention of fulfilling His greater eternal plan. As the prophet proclaims in 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”