Sunday, August 30, 2015

Preparing Yourself for Mentoring and Investing in the Kingdom of God

Most new Christians and many long time Christians think that once they are “Saved” that the only thing they have to do is try to be good and be kind. Obviously, when we are Saved we are joyful in the Lord and thankful for our Salvation. But, there is more to our Salvation than forgiveness, cleansing from our sins and a ticket to Heaven, although that is what gives us so much of our joy and thankfulness. With our Salvation we are now to live for the Lord and are to do the things that He would have us do. To truly be able to live for the Lord, though, we have to learn what God wants us to know so that we will know how to walk for Christ. We have to acquire spiritual knowledge. But, how do we get this knowledge and how do we learn?

Well, God did not leave anything to chance. He gave us a world that has everything in it that we could possibly need to grow and develop into a people who can honor and glorify the Lord in all we do. Still, God knew that we would need more than just the earth and everything in it that He had created for us. God knew that we would need knowledge of Him and knowledge of the important things that He wants us to know. We needed instruction. So, God gave us His Word, the Bible, to help guide us and to teach us what every person should know about Him and the world that we live in.

From the importance of rotating crops to give the soil time to rejuvenate to the safest foods to eat, God made sure that His Word had the information we would need to survive. Furthermore, God gave us His commandments and directions for leading a productive and happy life. In fact, the Bible contains so much information about God, Christ, and life in general that those who don’t read the Bible can be lost in trying to live out their life and may be lost for eternity.

On the day of their baptism, which is a public acknowledgement of their belief in Christ and a water immersion to symbolically follow Christ into death and be reborn into a new cleansed being, individuals at our church receive a gift. The Pastor of our church gives each person a new Bible. But the pastor also stops to explain that the Bible is God’s Word and instruction for their life. He then tells them that no one can make them read it, but God would love for them to take the time to read what He has to say to them. The Pastor tells them that they can get to know God’s heart if they will read the Bible. Then, the Pastor asks them to try to read the Bible every day so they will be guided in the way to walk for Christ. Long ago, the Apostle Peter also explained the importance of reading the Word of God. He said:

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.

For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’

 – (I Peter 1: 22-25. NIV).

The Bible is not an outdated book! It is the Truth! It is just as relevant today as the day that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors to write it. Although, I have read the Bible through many times, I can still pick it up and find relevant information and guidance for my life. When I read from the Older Testament, I discover how God expects us to act and behave. For through the stories about God’s people, i.e. the Jews, I learn things such as the importance of truthfulness, obedience, love, discipline, and to be able to recognize evil. And, whether I read that the Lord had Moses build the tabernacle in a very precise way, or whether I am reading about Joseph being sold to the Egyptians because his brothers were jealous of him, I soon realize that all the precise details and the many specific stories “point to and find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ” Keep reading and you will soon discover that the Older Testament leads us right into the Newer Testament where we can discover our Savior. Jesus Christ is the Savior that God foretold within the pages of the Older Testament; a Deliverer that God would send to mankind to save us from our sins.

The Older Testament is about a group of people who struggled to draw near to God; often not understanding what God was telling them, because they often listened to the devil and their own fleshly desires rather than to God. They also made mistakes or were just blatantly disobedient to God’s commandments. Don’t most people today still listen to their personal desires and accept the evil influence of the world around them? So, nothing has changed that much, except -------- now we can know Christ as our Savior! Moreover, we can share Christ with others in this world too! We can read the Bible and find out how we are to live for Christ and His Father and how to be obedient.

In reading the Bible, we learn that we do not have to be controlled by this earthly life; rather we can control how we relate to our life and how we relate to other people. With our Salvation, we can show the love of Christ to others through our loving actions. We can also share the knowledge that we have received from reading God’s Word – His instruction Book for our life.

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

– (Hebrews 4: 12. NIV).

Wow! The Bible is powerful! So, if we read the Bible, we can learn what God wants us to understand. We can learn how to live for Christ and how to love others as ourselves. We can learn how to please God. But, if we fail to read and invest in the Bible, we are just wasting our lives while we are here on earth. For, failing to read the Bible means that we are giving up the power that comes from following the Word of God. Furthermore, by failing to read the Bible, we will not know what we are expected to do for the Lord, nor will we live the way that we are meant to live for Him. So, we need to read and invest our lives in the Bible and take it to heart.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote one of the Holy Spirit inspired books within the Bible. This small book is just a part of the entire Word of God, but it is powerful. James wrote for God,

Do not merely listen to the word (or just read it), and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard (or read), but doing it will be blessed in what he does.” 

-- (James 1: 22- 25. NIV).

In other words, we are to be “doers of the Word.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather read the Bible than not read it, because in reading the Bible I can learn what I need to know so that I can be the best Christian that I can personally be. I also want to ensure that I can share my Christ-light with others correctly and with truth. I want to be a “doer of the Word.” Then when I get to Heaven, I won’t be like the man described in the “Parable of the Talents (or loaned money)”.

In Matthew 25: 14- 30, Christ gives us more information about being “doers of the Word” and about Heaven through the parable or story of the loaned talents of gold:

 Christ said that a wealthy man had to go on a trip, so he called his servants and left them gold to invest for him while he was away. To the first, he gave five bags (talents) of gold, to the second he gave two bags (talents) of gold, and to the third he gave one bag (one talent) of gold to invest. The first man immediately invested the five bags of gold and soon doubled it. The servant with two bags of gold also went to work and doubled the money. But the servant with only one bag of gold dug a hole and placed the gold there for safekeeping.

When the master got back from his trip, he called his servants to him. The first man gave ten bags of gold back to his master; five more than he had originally been given. The master said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” You have been trustworthy and faithful in handling my money, so I will put you in charge of many more and even greater things.

The second man gave the master back four bags of gold. He, too, had doubled the master’s money. Again, the master praised the servant. He told him that because the servant had been faithful in handling that small of amount of money that he too, would be put in charge of more and greater things.

But the third servant just returned the one bag (talent) of gold that he had been given and had hidden for safekeeping. Why had he hidden the bag (talent) of gold? Well, the third servant said that he was afraid that he might lose the master’s money, and he knew how strict and demanding his master was. So, to be safe, he just hid the money. But, instead of praise, the master called him a wicked and lazy servant. The master told him that he should have at least put his money in the bank so that it would have drawn some interest. However, because the servant was untrustworthy and lazy, the master took the talent of gold that he had given him and gave it to the servant who had ten talents of gold.

Then the master said, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

– (Matthew 25: 29-30. NLT).

The main lesson from this parable is that we have all been given abilities and talents to use in serving the Kingdom of God. Our service for God doesn’t have to be mentoring, but whatever your talent is that God has given you, use it. However, to understand how to use your talent, you must increase your knowledge and understanding of the Word of God by reading and studying the Word, so that you can share the Word with others and so that you can live a more productive and honoring life for the Lord. In other words, we have to invest in the Word of God in order to expand our knowledge and grow our talents so that we can then give back to the Kingdom of God by being “doers” of the Word.

When we get to Heaven (assuming that we have asked Christ into our heart and we truly meant it) God will ask us what we have done for Him. Did we take God's instruction book, the Bible, and study it so that we could understand what God wanted us to learn?Did we invest in and share the Word of God with others? Did we apply the Word of God and God’s direction and commandments to our lives? Did we serve in and benefit the Kingdom of God through our kindness, caring, humility, love, patience, etc. for others? Did we grow our talents for the purpose of doing for the Lord and others? Or did we just sit on the assurance of our Salvation and do nothing with it to benefit the world and others? Perhaps, like the third servant in the story above, we buried our Salvation so deep in our heart that others could not see it?

When we get to Heaven, God will give out crowns of honor for the work that we have done within His Kingdom. We will get even more honor and responsibilities if we have invested wisely in the Kingdom of God. How do we invest in the Kingdom of God?
We invest in the Kingdom of God by studying God’s Word and by sharing our knowledge and our God given talents with others so that more and more people can come to know and live abundantly for the Lord. 

What kind of crowns and responsibilities will you receive when you get to Heaven? We will receive crowns and greater responsibilities when we get to Heaven based upon the work that we have done for the Kingdom of God while we are here on earth. Have you invested in God’s Kingdom by working for the Lord? Have you helped to increase the Kingdom of God or have you done nothing; not even taking the time to read the Word of God?

If you are interested in serving in and investing in the Kingdom of God through Active Relational Christian Mentoring, please start reading the Bible. You need the knowledge that God has provided for you within His Word. But, even if you don’t mentor, but provide some other service for the Kingdom of God, you need to know what God has written in His Word for you. In reading the Bible you may even find that you can do some other type of service for the Lord. Perhaps because you have read the Bible, you can answer someone’s question about the Bible and God's Salvation? At the very least, you will know how to explain to others what you believe, because you will have gotten your own knowledge from investing in the Word of God.

You can pick up the Bible and read any book or chapter any time, and it will bless your soul. But, if you truly want to get the full and big picture that God has given us, you may want to start by reading the Older Testament, for throughout the Older Testament books God points to Christ. Look for Him as you read, for He is there.

If you read further into the Older Testament, you will find that the prophets even foretold of Christ’s coming, and they foretell of the end times as well. But, please don’t use the old excuse that there are too many “begats” or that the list of genealogies is too long in the Older Testament. Yes, there are a couple of chapters on the genealogies. But they are not a large part of the Bible, so that is just an excuse not to read the Bible. Moreover, it would not be the end of the world if you just scanned the “begats” and then went on to the next section. I will tell you, though, that once you have read the Bible a couple of times, you will actually look forward to understanding some of the genealogies so that you can know about Christ’s earthly ancestors. But whether or not you read the genealogies, please read and continue to read the Bible every day. God gave us His Word for a reason, and it wasn’t to collect dust on our coffee table or book shelf. Don’t bury the knowledge in the Bible in a hole or on a book shelf.

Remember that we can’t tell others about the greatest true story ever told, if we don’t know it ourselves. It is also especially hard to mentor non-Christians if we don’t know the Word of God, because they will invariably ask questions that we can’t answer. But, even if you are never asked a question about the Bible, the Word of God will touch your heart each and every day that you read it. As you invest in the Word of God, God invests in you! I challenge you to read your Bible. I challenge you to invest in the Kingdom of God by serving through ARCM or some other Christian service. You Can do it!

Happy Reading!   

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