Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Season of Generosity

The Christmas season is the season of generosity and gift giving. Although, Christians know that we should be sharing the Good News, helping those in need, and living with a generous hear all year long, we tend to focus more on Christmas for giving and sharing. Certainly, it is important to focus on giving during the Christmas season because it is a way of remembering and honoring the greatest gift given to all mankind by God, which was His Son. For, Christ, the Son of God, came to earth as a small baby to bring Salvation to all mankind. This was the ultimate sacrificial gift of generosity and love given to us by God the Father. But as we remember this most wonderful gift of all, we must also focus on sharing Christ’s free gift of Salvation with as many people as we can. However, the month of December should not be the only time that we focus on sharing the gift of Christ or the gift of Salvation with other people. We should share this glorious gift and our Christian love of service all year long.

One of the things that Christians do during the Christmas season to demonstrate their love is to give food and gifts to those who are less fortunate. Many Christian denominations take up special Christmas collections to help those less fortunate. For example, the Southern Baptists always collect money for the Lottie Moon missions to help their missionaries help other people and spread the Word. Most Christians also have a favorite charity that they help or contribute to such as to “Toys for Tots” or other charity organizations where they can help fund Christmas gifts or food for those less fortunate. This is all wonderful! Please don’t stop! However, there is so much more that we can do for suffering individuals and others who are need of help all year long.

The Spiritual Needs of Others

Obviously, food, shelter, clothing, and the essentials for living are important things to focus on when giving. But, we should also be focusing on peoples’ spiritual needs as well as their emotional and physical needs. But, in order to do this, Christians need to get to know the individual first. This doesn’t mean that we have to become a close friend before we can reach out to another woman. However, we do need to form, at the very least, an acquaintance relationship in order to be able to speak openly to her. In other words, we need to introduce ourselves and ask about her life and her needs. We need to let the other woman know that we care and are willing to listen to her personal stories and needs. We have to have empathy.

Jesus had great empathy for the people of this earth. In fact, He loved us so much that He was laid down His life in order to give us the gift of Salvation and His cleansing blood of redemption. In addition, while He was here on earth, Jesus Christ even introduced Himself to strangers to find out what it was that they needed in life and in order to speak to them about their spiritual situation. He wanted to give people a chance to repent and change their sinful ways.

When people found out that Christ could heal them, large crowds of people followed Christ wherever He went. Individuals, or someone speaking for a specific individual, came directly to Jesus to ask for His help. Everyone who was sick wanted to be healed. We also read in the Bible that most of these needy individuals usually wanted help with a physical problem, but some even needed to be released from demon possession. However, it was when they were healed from their specific situation that many of these people suddenly recognized that Christ could also heal their spiritual problems as well. Indeed, it was in healing them that Jesus Christ was given the opportunity to explain to them about their sins and what repentance and living for God could mean to their lives.

There was one person in particular, though, that did not come to Jesus asking for help. Rather, Jesus reached out to him unexpectedly. This was the man Zacchaeus. In this biblical recounting of the story of Zacchaeus, we should notice that Christ introduced Himself to Zacchaeus, who had “climbed up into a Sycamore tree”. Even with a large crowd surrounding Him, Jesus Christ knew there was a person in a tree who needed to be healed spiritually. Why was Zacchaeus in a tree? Well you see, Zacchaeus was a very short man, and he could not see over the crowd. But, by climbing up in a tree Zacchaeus had the opportunity to see Jesus even over the large crowd of people who were surrounding Jesus.

Zacchaeus never expected the Lord to speak to him personally. He may not even have thought that he was worthy to be near Jesus, yet he wanted to see Jesus. So, he was caught off guard when Jesus looked up in the tree and calling him by name said, “Zacchaeus! … Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today.”  -- (Luke 19: 5. NLT).  We are told that Zacchaeus immediately came down very quickly and took Jesus to his home. While visiting with Jesus in his home, Zacchaeus began to truly understood how selfish and cheating he had been to all the people whose taxes he had increased and basically stolen for his own. So, Zacchaeus repented of his sins. Now, Zacchaeus wanted everyone to know how repentant and sorry he was for stealing from all the people. In repentance Zacchaeus then stood in front of Jesus and the other people and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor. Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!– (Luke 19:8. NLT).

Most importantly, Zacchaeus realized that he was not only talking to the Son of God, but that he needed to ask God for forgiveness and be cleansed from all his wrong doing. For, Zacchaeus knew that even though he had cheated many people throughout his lifetime, that he had to somehow make it right. He also heard the Gospel message from Christ, for Zacchaeus suddenly had a tremendous heart change and a spiritual re-birth. Moreover, Zacchaeus demonstrated his spiritual re-birth and the inner change of heart through his outward actions of the repayment of the people’s taxes and his public statement of repentance.

Salvation changes people both inwardly and outwardly. But, all true Christians have to demonstrate their re-birth and their changed heart by their outwardly changed behavior, because people cannot read their minds. In other words, we have to put our faith into action. Just like Zacchaeus, Christians have to put their faith in Christ in action. One of the ways of doing so, is to reach out to share our faith and our trust in God and Christ with others through our generosity of service and time, through our love for others, and through our willingness to mentor other women or help in whatever way is needed.

Where Do We Start?

It is only by talking to another person or by becoming acquainted with them that we can begin to speak into a person’s heart about Christ and explain the importance of knowing Christ as their Savior. That is why, engaging in conversation, being a role model, and offering to mentor another can make all the difference in the life of another human. But, it doesn’t take just a special time of the year in order to share the Good News or to Mentor another person. Rather, we need to be willing to reach out to the lost all twelve months of the year! We need to be of service to God and others throughout the year! We need to be generous in our giving and in our sacrificial life lived for Christ.

Billy Graham once said, “We are stewards of the Gospel. The power to proclaim the greatest news in heaven and earth was not given to angels, it was given to redeemed men (and women). Every Christian is to be a witness.”  -- (Billy Graham in Quotes, p. 139., c. 2011 by Franklin Graham).

As redeemed humans, Christian women have many opportunities to reach out to other women in need, i.e., through their need to have a friend, their need to have support, and most certainly through their need to hear the Gospel message. That is why, Christian women must try to reach out to women whom they might not otherwise reach out to help. We have to think outside of the ordinary box that that makes up our lives. We have to step out of our comfort zone to say “hello” to someone that we might not ordinarily speak to. We also need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show us who we are to speak to. We are to pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say and that we will then be able to say them at the right time.

Just as importantly, every Christian woman needs to get in front of a mirror and practice introducing herself to another woman (in this case, to the woman in the mirror). Then she should also practice speaking aloud and telling her Salvation story to the mirror so that she doesn’t have to stumble over her story when the opportunity arises to share it. No, you don’t need to memorize your story, because your story comes from your heart and it is true. But, you do need to build up confidence in telling your personal story of Salvation. In fact, the old saying “practice makes perfect” fits this situation nicely. For, when you have practiced it and feel comfortable telling your story, you can then either tell the whole story in one sitting or you can comfortably pull out the important pieces of your story at appropriate times when needed.

It is also important to memorize some of the Scriptures that will help another person understand the Good News and why Christ came to give them the gift of Salvation. In one of my previous posts I gave you all Scriptures that are generally used together to witness to people for Christ. This collection of Scriptures is called “The Roman Road”. These are a group of Scriptures mostly from the book of Romans that explain God’s plan for Salvation. So, I won’t write those Scriptures all down again. But, if you need them, just ask I will get them to you.

Women should also practice listening to other people without interrupting them. This isn’t always easy because most of us want to add something to the conversation. However, in mentoring, it is important to be able to listen to everything that is being said and to be able to distinguish between words for the sake of words and words that have a meaningful importance. For, it is those words that have meaning that will tell a Christian mentor what the woman is really trying to say or not say. Figuring out what the needs of another woman are, though, takes patience and a desire to be of help. All surface talk will not tell you whether or not the woman has a relationship with the Lord. All surface talk will not tell you if a woman is lonely or needs help in a specific area. But being willing to listen closely and occasionally ask a probing question will eventually give you, as a Christian mentor, insight into what the woman may need. Then offer to take the woman out for coffee in order to get to know each other better.

Every Christian woman should practice opening her heart to the needs of others. We can do this by being willing to share our gifts, talents, information, etc. and by being willing to make the time to share the Gospel with another. If you are willing to make the time to help another person, then you have taken the first step in generosity and in sharing a heart of love. 


In the Newer Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy who was over the church at Ephesus, which was a very wealthy church. Indeed, many of the church members were extremely wealthy. But, there were also many problems within the church at Ephesus that needed to be addressed. That is why Paul told Timothy that he needed to deal with all potential problems by first teaching these new Christians that with great wealth comes great responsibility. In other words, those Christians who have been blessed with much money should also have a generous heart. Christians should not put their hope in their money, but instead put their hope in the living God who is the one who gives security to all of His children. That is why Paul said, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”  -- (I Timothy 6: 18. NASB).

Unfortunately, we also live in a “me first” world. Everyone wants to do what they want to do and when they want to do it. But the more that we think of just ourselves the more selfish and unhappy we become. If you read the Bible you will notice that throughout the Bible God instructs us to share with others. Even in the Older Testament, God put in a special commandment for sharing the food with those willing to work for the food. This was called the law of gleaning. There are several other Scriptures throughout the Bible relating to taking care of those in need. For, it is through sharing and showing the love of God that a person receives blessings from above. What’s more, we are told that those who proclaim or live by the adage of “me first” will be last in God’s Kingdom (See Matthew 20: 16). For, “God loves the person who gives cheerfully”. -- (II Corinthians 9: 7. NLT). In other words, it is the attitude with which we give of our time, help and money that is the most important. Moreover, God will reward those who have an attitude of love and kindness.

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one way that we can share with others and quit just thinking of ourselves. For it is through ARCM that we can introduce ourselves to another, discover her needs, and find ways to help her meet her needs. Obviously, women can and should reach out to other women throughout the year, and yes, especially at this time of the year when many things seem to overwhelm women during the Christmas season. Moreover, as Christian women, we can be there to empower another woman if we are just willing to talk, give of our time and love, and be willing to help find answers to sometimes tough questions. Above all, Christian women need to share their story of Salvation and spread the Good News wherever we can. For, we know that “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.– (Proverbs 11:25. The Message).  

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is an important service that all Christians can perform for both Christians and non-Christians alike. In fact, throughout the four Gospels we find that Christ gave us example after example of active relational Christian mentoring every time He reached out to speak to individuals or when He specifically reached out to help an individual in need. Although Christ may not have personally known the individuals that He reached out to help, He was guided by His Father and His love for His created humans in all that He did. We, too, can be guided by the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit when it comes to reaching out to help others. We must also allow our Christian love to have precedence in our lives of service to others. We just need to pray for direction and then focus on having a generous heart filled with Christian love.

Christ came to earth to give us Salvation and to teach us how to love each other. Christ showed us the type of love that is sacrificial. Christ also gave us His love and help even knowing that others were watching Him and wanting to stop Him by killing Him. Indeed, when we read the Bible and look at the individuals that Christ reached out to help, we quickly discover that He was giving us examples of many different types of needs that humans have, along with examples of the caring and love that He expressed for strangers as He met the different needs of each individual. Christ was God incarnate and was being directed by His Father, so Christ knew that we would also need help in knowing when and how to reach out to others in need. That is why Christ has given every true Christian the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us and to show us when and how to reach out to other individuals in need. We just need to listen to the Holy Spirit. God has also given us many Scriptures to help us meditate and reflect upon what God has asked us to do. The following are just a few of those Scriptures:

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.– (Hebrews 13: 16. NASB).

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help.” – (Proverbs 3: 27. NCV).

When we have an opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers.” – (Galatians 6: 10. NCV).

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remember the words of Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – (Acts 20: 15. NIV).

My Christmas Prayer

Dear Lord, I come before You to glorify and honor You. Please help me to be a generous person now and all year long. Help me to be a person who loves others the way that You would have me love them. Please help me to honor You in all my giving. I know that true joy is found in giving, whether it is the giving of my time, my knowledge, my love, or my money to help another who has less than I do. Lord, please help me to focus throughout the year on giving and on sharing what you have graciously given to me. You have blessed me Lord in so many ways, and I thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed upon me. Now, I want to bless others, especially by blessings them with the Gospel message. So, at this joyous Christmas time of the year, please help me speak out to share the Christmas story and your gift of Salvation with anyone who needs to hear it. Lord, make me bold for You! Make my heart generous and full of love! Teach me to follow the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in sacrificial giving.
Lord, I also pray that the millions of Christian women throughout the world will reach out to share the Gospel message with other women and family members. I pray that they, too, will be generous with their love and generous in their Christian service for you. I ask all these things in Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

Learning More About Active Relational Christian Mentoring

The book, The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring by Vicky Lynn Thomas is an easy read, as it explains the importance of women mentoring other women in service to the Lord. ARCM expresses our Christian faith through personal action by the giving of our time and energy to help another woman. 

This book also makes a great Christmas present or Birthday present for another Christian woman who likes to read. It has true stories of Christian mentoring as well as true biblical stories about mentoring that show how easy it is to reach out and be there to help another woman. The book can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iTunes, Google Play and through Christian Faith Publishing Co.

The following is the link to Amazon:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Power of Prayer

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of …
 – (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

The liberal media, non-believers, and atheists have suddenly taken the opportunity to publicly ridicule prayer and anyone who states that they will pray for another person. Why is this outspoken ridicule and disbelief occurring in such numbers? Personally, I believe that the devil knows that his time is coming to an end, so he is using every means possible to defame Christians and hurt them. In fact, it is amazing just how desperate the devil has become to keep the blinders on those who do not believe in God so they will never believe. For, the devil does not want non-Christians to come to know God.

 The result of the devil’s effort to blind non-believers from the truth is that many of those whom he has turned against God are also unwittingly willing to work for the devil. Oh, they may never think that they are working for the devil, but when they circumvent the truth in order to reap their own agenda that is exactly what they are doing. For example, many atheists are not only desperate to get rid of the Christian faith any way that they can, but they are willing to do the devil’s bidding to ridicule anyone who believes in God or anyone who shows their faith in God through worship or prayer. Other non-believers refuse to believe the truth, because they have bought into the lies of the devil which are espoused by the non-believers throughout this world. Still others, though, have never heard the truth and the devil wants to keep it that way.

Some particular non-believers, and especially atheists who have succumbed to the lies of the devil, constantly work hard to turn other people away from God. They tell untruths about Christians and their faith, and they have become misinformed by professors and theologians of other religions who espouse false religions. Moreover, these converts to untruths and their willingness to accept falsehoods, fear that if they don’t do something to ridicule and get rid of the Christian faith that it will somehow intrude into their own lives. There is no live and let live in their eyes. Consequently, many non-Christian liberals and dedicated atheists do not want to allow other people to believe in or worship God even if they wish to do so. They want to take away the freedom of the Christian religion even as they support false religions where they can. To accomplish this goal they disparage, belittle, defame and vilify all Christians in whatever manner that fits a particular situation.

(I have again broken down this post into sections for those of you who do not have time to read the entire post in one setting. Take your time and digest each section slowly. I hope you enjoy reading this post because it has a great deal to tell you about the power of prayer. I would also like to apologize for not getting this post out sooner, but I had surgery and was sick for the greater part of November. I will try to do better in the future. Thank you for your patience and your willingness to keep reading my blog.)

The Current Catalyst for Defaming Prayer

A prime example of again disparaging Christians occurred shortly after the latest shooting tragedy that occurred in November this year. The shooting happened in a small Texas town where twenty-six church attendees were killed and other church members were terribly hurt. Although this shooting was an evil incident that was committed by a psychotic, evil, and angry individual, the incident was immediately used by the devil to stir up dissention and ridicule Christians. Unfortunately, the devil accomplished his goal of giving non-believers and disparagers of the truth the opportunity to belittle Christians by whispering in the ears of non-believers and atheists to publicly ridicule the idea of praying for those who lost loved ones or for praying for those in need. These liberal non-believers and atheists, who do not believe in prayer, don’t want others to believe in prayer or to use prayer to pray for those in need. They also wanted the whole world to know that they think prayer is useless and silly, so they were given air time by the media to express their disbelief and ridicule. How sad!  

Christians know that the time is coming when many people will no longer be able to tell the difference between right and wrong or between truth and falsehoods, because they will have chosen to follow the un-righteous ones and other false religions. We are seeing the beginnings of this prophesied time period now, as we watch on television and the internet people telling lies to promote their own agenda and power structure. But it isn’t just the media that is telling lies. There are also some powerful people in Washington and around the country telling lies to get what they want. Some of these lies are even told to bring down other people whom they do not want in power.

The Consequences of Not Heeding and Believing the Truth

If we study the God’s Word, we will realize that God has forewarned people throughout history and during specific time periods about the falling away of people from the truth of God. In fact, long ago, the prophet Isaiah was told by the Lord to tell His people this: “You will hear My words, but you will not understand. You will see what I do but you will not perceive its meaning. Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to me for healing.” – (Isaiah 6: 10). And that was just what occurred. 

Many times throughout history, people have refused to believe the truth of God. And from biblical history, which is recorded in God’s Word, we can know that God will again harden the hearts of those who refuse to open their eyes and ears or to refuse to understand with their hearts that they need to turn to God. In fact, centuries after Isaiah, the Apostle John, wrote that even with the witnessed miracles of Jesus that many people still refused to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. How could that be? They saw the miracles first hand. Well, to explain their lack of belief the Apostle John quoted from the book of Isaiah, which we can read in John 12: 38-40. For, what the Lord had once told Isaiah centuries before about hardening the hearts of people who refused to believe in Him was being written about again by the Apostle John in order to explain why these people also refused to believe. Now, here we are centuries later, and we still see that many people refuse to believe in Jesus Christ despite the evidence, the Holy Spirit’s voice calling to them, and the Word of God given to them to substantiate Christ as the living Son of God. Their hearts have been hardened.

Why do so many people fail or refuse to believe in God and His Son? Well just as in times past, God continues to “harden the hearts of people, to close their eyes, and to shut their ears so they can’t turn to Him for healing”. Certainly, this does not mean that God prevents people from coming to Him or that He prevents them from believing in Christ. Rather, God simply confirms their own free will choice to not believe, which results in the eventual hardening of their hearts. For, over the years, the Holy Spirit has called and called to them, and God has put evidence in front of them of His existence, but instead of believing in God they have chosen not to believe in God and to not believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Instead they have chosen to believe the lies of those who don’t want God and Christ to be known. Therefore, God gives them exactly what they wish, which is to have nothing to do with Him. He then simply closes their hearts, eyes, and ears from His presence and the calling of the Holy Spirit.

Between the devil’s devious ways of keeping people from the knowledge of God and the many people just disregarding the Holy Spirit’s call, are those people who have actually made the personal choice to not believe in God. Unfortunately, many of these, who call themselves atheists, do not want anyone to believe in God. Since they have chosen not to believe in God, these atheists do not want others to believe in God either. Their anger at life makes them want to pull other people down into their same deep canyon of anger and disbelief. In addition, they constantly have the help of the devil on their side. Now, with the devil’s help, these atheists have suddenly now turned their anger against the spiritual communication Christians use to talk to God, i.e., prayer. They have suddenly decided to attempt to stop the godly communication of prayer by ridiculing prayer and by suggesting that if God can answer prayers, then why does He let people die. Better yet, why did God not stop the shooting in Texas before it happened? Sadly, they really have no concept of God! Nor, do they have any concept of why we are living in a fallen world. What about free will? Do they understand that if God stopped all bad things from happening, we would either be robots or already living in Heaven? But because of the world that we live in and because we have free will, we can choose or not choose to pray to God in belief and ask for His help.

Even most non-believers will accept the idea of prayer simply because they have seen the power of prayer even if they have never prayed. They have seen prayers answered even if they don’t understand how. But, if the devil can get atheists and misguided non-believers to publicly ridicule and belittle those who believe in prayer, perhaps the devil can in the process not only stir up controversy and dissention, but also keep many non-believers from turning to God during a time of need. Therefore, if these particular ridiculing non-believers and atheists are able to get any people to not believe in prayer, then they believe they have struck a blow against God and His followers, i.e., against Christians. So, these particular groups of non-believing people are ridiculing, defaming, and vilifying the concept of prayer to God.

What is prayer?

At its deepest level, prayer is fellowship with God;
Enjoying His company, waiting upon His will,
Thanking Him for His mercies…
Listening in silence for what He has to say to us.”
– (p. 102. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011, Franklin Graham).

Prayer is a method of communication with the Most High, i.e., it is communication with the God of the Universe. Because God is spiritual, we have to use a spiritual type of communication to talk to Him. That spiritual communication is prayer. Indeed, this communication brings us closer to the One who created us. In fact, prayer specifically communicates with God through Jesus Christ the Son.

We can pray short prayers like in a moment of panic when we lose control of our car. In that case we may just yell out, “God save me!” or “God help me!”  For those of us who have prayed those types of prayers, we know that God answers right away. At other times, we may say a short prayer for someone who is sick or we may pray for understanding of a particular situation. Those types of prayers are to be sent up to God through Jesus Christ, the Son, and may or may not be answered immediately. For, we have learned that God’s answers to our prayers may be “no”, “yes”, or “not at this time.” However, remember that God sees the past, present, and future all at the same time, so He knows when something needs to be done right away or if it needs to be accomplished in the future or not at all. But above all, God always has His children’s best interest at heart.

We also need to remember that we all have free will to live in this world as we see fit. So, some of the things that we get ourselves into have nothing to do with God. Rather people have allowed the temptations of this world to entice them or they have simply made a bad decision. Of course, succumbing to temptations can cause some people to get themselves into serious problems, especially if they make a wrong decision. But, God has given us His laws and commandments to guide us in making right decisions. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. However, if we fail to adhere to God’s laws and commandments or fail to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can get ourselves into big trouble, because the devil is just waiting for us to make a mistake. Sometimes, too, the children of God may find themselves looking straight upon an evil situation that is no fault of their own. In these dire situations, only God knows what the outcome will be. However, we can rest assured that God has the best planned for His child, even if that means that His child is suddenly called home to live with Him. For God has said, “I know the plans that I have for you. … They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 11. NLT).

At other times, like after I was struck by a car while in a crosswalk, a person can have their whole world changed in a moment. However, God can see into the future, and He knows what you or I can become for the glory of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, the prayers of family, friends, and fellow Christians can have an impact on the outcome of any situation. In my case, my life was spared, and I was able to live a full life for the Lord even though I am handicapped. Yet, even when we lose a loved one through violence, evil, or just an accident, God will be there to strengthen us and give us peace and understanding, if we will trust in Him and pray for His strength to get through the situation. Moreover, God will never leave one of His children stranded without His love or strength. For, no one is ever alone if they trust in and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Indeed, God is always there for His children. God never gives up on us and we can’t give up on God. We just need to communicate with God through prayer and talk to Him about not only our needs, but talk to Him and tell Him how much we love Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Finding a quiet place to fellowship with God

 Longer and more meditative prayers of communication with God, though, should be said in a quiet place where we can also listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompting of us on how to pray. By setting aside a quiet time and place to meditate and focus on communicating with God we are honoring God and giving Him the respect and glory that He deserves.

The movie “The War Room” gives us a wonderful example of why we should find a quiet place to pray, which is to focus on God. In fact, the Bible tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” – (Luke 5: 16. NLT). Jesus did this to get away from the crowds and to be able to speak quietly and intently with God, His Father. Actually, it is this quiet prayer time with God that strengthens us and allows us to hear God’s Words within our heart.

Studying the Bible is Necessary for Effective Prayers

Effective prayers have at their core Bible Study and the acquired knowledge of the Word of God. This means that for truly effective prayers we are to quote verses from God’s Word or quote back to God His own words in order to validate that our prayer is in line with what God wants for us and that we are not asking for something that goes against God’s values, morals, and laws. For example, praying specifically to become a millionaire goes against God’s plans for His children. For that type of selfish prayer means that this person’s desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their desire to serve the Lord. In fact, when a person focuses only on money and acquiring money, there is probably no room in their heart for God. That is why Jesus specifically told his disciples and the crowds that “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – (Matthew 6: 24. NLT).

In order to have effectual prayers, we must also be in obedience with God’s Word. This means that we must live in obedience to God. Billy Graham tells us that “Obedience is the master key to effectual prayer.”  -- (p. 103. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011 Franklin Graham). Like a master key that opens all the doors in a house, obedience is the master key to a fruit producing life that is lived for the Kingdom of God. In fact, if we are always looking for ways to show our obedience to God, we will have many blessings bestowed upon us, including the blessings of answered prayers. Think about this: Why would God answer our prayers in a positive manner if we are always disobeying God or if we are not living up to God’s rules and laws. Like any father who loves His children, God wants to give us blessings. But a father who has to deal with a continually misbehaving child doesn’t want to give undeserved gifts. God is a good Father who wants His children to receive gifts from Him. However, He, too, will not give misbehaving children gifts. So, to receive blessings from God, we must learn to obey God, love God, and care about how we are living for and serving the Kingdom of God.                                                                                                                                                                    

Fellowshipping with God through Prayer

Billy Graham said that you are to “pray frequently as you read [the Bible] and you will discover a fellowship with God.– (p. 102. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011 Franklin Graham). Communication with God provides fellowship with God. Ultimately, developing that close fellowship with God is the reason for prayer. Yes, we can pray for ours and other’s needs, but God wants us to desire to spend time with Him. In fact, God created us to fellowship with Him.

Remember how God walked in the Garden with Adam; talking to Adam in the evenings? (See Genesis 3: 8). Well, God would have continued to walk and talk with Adam and Eve in the evenings in the Garden of Eden had they not disobeyed Him and eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But having eaten from that tree they were kicked out of the Garden for their disobedience and their lack of trust in God. From that time on the only way to talk to God and fellowship with God was through prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating with God.

It is important to take the time to pray to God and to be in spiritual fellowship with Him. For, it is in the process of fellowshipping and listening for God’s Words that Christians find that they can not only talk to God, but can ask for God’s help and that He hears their requests. Indeed, Jesus said to His disciples “If you get your life from Me (meaning that you are Saved) and My Words live in you, ask whatever you want. It will be done for you.– (John 15: 7. NLV). Yes, as a child of God’s we know that we can pray and ask God for not only our needs but also for His help. But, Jesus also told us that “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – (Matthew 6: 33. NLT). So, in living for God and working for the Kingdom of God we know that we do not have to ask for daily provisions, because God already knows our needs. However, we can ask for help with our spiritual needs and with our understanding of situations, and we know that God will give us what we have asked. But by understanding God’s Word, though, we should also realize how our desires and our needs should always relate to God’s Word. One of the things that we need to understand from God’s Word is that “faith” is an important part of believing in God, in living for Him, and in praying to Him. It is also an important part in our obedience to God.

Asking in Faith and Obedience

The Bible tells us that our prayers must be offered up to God in faith! That is, we cannot pray not believing that God will answer our prayer and then expect to get what we have asked in prayer. To not believe that we will receive what we have asked for in prayer means that God will not answer our prayers because we do not have faith that He will answer our prayer. In fact, Jesus told his disciples: “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that is required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”  -- (Mark 11: 22-24. NLT). The type of prayer that Christ is talking about here is prayer for the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God and it has to be prayed in faith. Although it may seem impossible for a mountain to be moved into the sea, Christ used this illustration to show the disciples that God can do anything.

This would also have to be a prayer of obedience as well. This means that there are certain conditions that would need to be met for God to answer such a prayer. First and foremost, the person praying would have to be a believer, i.e., he/she would have to be “Saved”. Secondly, the believer could not pray with selfish motives. In other words, just saying to the mountain to move into the sea because he/she just wanted it to happen or to show off to another person would certainly not lend itself to receiving an answer to this prayer. For the one praying would not be in obedience with God’s will. Next, such a request in prayer must be for the good of the Kingdom of God. In other words, praying for a mountain to be moved would have to ultimately benefit the Kingdom of God before God would answer such a prayer, and only God knows when something like that would be a benefit to His Kingdom. Finally, when we pray, we cannot have a grudge against another person or have failed to ask for their forgiveness if needed or failed to have given forgiveness to another if needed. If we can’t forgive someone or can’t ask forgiveness of another how can we expect God to grant our prayer request.

Of course, as in the above example, we should remember that our prayers must be motivated by God’s interest in our lives and not motivated solely for our own interest. For example, when Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Father to take “the cup of suffering” from Him, Jesus said: “Abba Father” … ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet, I want Your will, not mine.’” – (Mark 14: 36. NLT). Just like Christ, we can pray for our own desires, but we should always want God’s will for our life above our own desires for our life. Remember, that God wants good things for each of His children. Therefore, to be in obedience to God’s will, we must always look inside our hearts to see if we are truly focused on God’s desires and not our own.

No matter what we are asking for in prayer, we must remember that prayer is not just about getting things from God. Prayer is about spending time with God and about glorifying and honoring God. That should always be the first part of our prayers and it should be the last part of our prayers. Moreover, focusing on God’s Word, focusing on obedience to God and having faith in everything that God does, gives us a well-rounded time of spiritual communication with God. But, without Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we could not even come before God in prayer and expect it to be answered. For, it is Christ who takes our prayers and petitions before His Father. Christ is our advocate and He is the One who makes all requests on our behalf. What a glorious God that we have!

Even though mankind was banned from the Garden of Eden and from walking in communication with God each day, God gave us a way to spend time with Him, i.e., he gave us the ability to spend time with Him in prayer. God planned this process of spiritual communication through Jesus Christ, His Son, eons ago. In fact, God first foretold of His Son coming to earth to give people a hope and understanding way back in the book of Genesis. Then through subsequent prophets God continued to foretell of Christ coming to earth for our salvation. When the time was finally right years later, God fulfilled His promise of sending His Son to earth to die for our sins but then to arise from the grave conquering eternal death for those who would believe upon Him.

The devil was afraid of Christ and tried to get rid of Him. Although the devil had told lies on Christ and had convinced the Pharisees to crucify Him, the devil ultimately lost, for Christ arose from the grave conquering eternal death and in the processing giving every human a chance to believe on the living Son of God. Now it is through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that every “Saved” person can have their prayers heard by the father through Christ, the Son.

The devil cannot stand the fact that God gave humans a way to spend communication time with Him every day and every moment if we are willing to take the time to pray. So, the devil continues to try to keep people away from communication or prayer with God. He continually tries to defame and ridicule Christians any way that he can including most recently to ridicule Christian’s prayers. But, remember that the devil can’t and won’t win. So, don’t let anyone belittle your ability to pray. Don’t let anyone cause you to feel ridiculed or bad because you pray to God. They are the unfortunate ones. They are the ones who are missing out on knowing the greatest God and Savior and of knowing the greatest peace and love a person can feel through the salvation received through Jesus Christ, the Savior. Instead, continue to pray to God in Jesus’ Name. Continue to pray in faith and believing that God will answer your needs!

Do you know Christ as Your Savior?

If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, take the time to pray. Ask Christ to forgive your sins. Tell Him that you really believe that He is the living Son of God risen from the grave. Then, ask Christ to come into your heart and cleanse it from all sin. If you truly believed and if you truly meant what you said, you are Saved. You just need to do one other thing. You need to tell a friend, family member, or even a stranger that you are Saved! For, “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in Salvation.” – (Romans 10: 9-10. NASB).

There is Salvation power in this prayer to God! I hope that you take the opportunity to reach out to God and through prayer ask for His free gift of mercy and grace. You will never regret it. May God Bless each of you!  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Storing Up Treasures in Heaven

Our Real Treasures Come from the Investments that We Make for Eternity

All people have treasures that they have acquired in this life. Some of those treasures are worth a lot while other treasures are only worth something to the one that has acquired them. What kind of treasures have you acquired here on earth? Well, your treasures may be varied, from gold, cars, houses, boats, money, etc. to something that only you would cherish.  In fact, there are many different types of treasures that we can acquire in our lifetime.

But, we also live in a world where many of the material things that we acquire are not only fleeting, but disposable. Indeed, nothing seems to be forever, and most things such as refrigerators, cars, couches, washers and dryers and small appliances will not even last for twenty years. In other words, we live in a disposable society. So, even with all the treasures you may acquire and all the money that you may make while on your earthly journey, your treasures can disappear in an instant. Indeed, most people find that they will experience some loss, at some time or another, of at least one or two of the things they have acquired during their life journey. Others may lose all their material wealth and have to start all over again. The fact is, though, that all the material things in this life are fleeting. They certainly will not last throughout eternity, because we can’t take our earthly treasures with us when we die. Furthermore, many people will lose their earthly wealth even before they die, because no matter how much a person tries to accumulate, rarely does life go the way that they planned for it to go.

There are so many things that can happen to our accumulated wealth. Many people face such things as stolen vehicles, homes that are flooded from hurricanes and storms, buildings that fall down from earthquakes and tornadoes, or they accidentally just lose something they prized. In addition, many people also face the loss of personal items from theft. All these unexpected situations, losses, and many other difficulties that are faced within the process of accumulating wealth makes our Lord’s admonition to not store up treasures on earth or to not put our trust in this earth’s wealth become very significant or meaningful to us. Moreover, Christ as told us that we cannot serve two masters. Specifically, “… You cannot serve God and wealth.” – (Luke 16: 13. NASB).

In addition to the normal acquisition of wealth, we have all heard of those who hoard wealth and of those individuals who can’t seem to get enough money to satisfy themselves. But, no matter how much money or treasures that people accumulate, material wealth is only temporary. For, someday we will all die and when we do we certainly can’t take our money or possessions with us into the next life. We know this because we can't take our wealth and put it in the grave and then expect it to go where our souls go. Furthermore, Jesus Christ gave us the perfect example of not being able to take our earthly possessions with us as stated within a parable that He told about what happens to the one whose life is based upon greed and hoarding. Indeed, Christ’s parable enlightens us about the true treasures of life.

The Parable

In the book of Luke, it is recorded that while Jesus was out in a crowd, i.e., surrounded by people, “Someone in the crowd said to Him (Jesus), ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’… Then He (Jesus) said to them (the crowd), ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.’ And He told them this parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man was very productive. And He began to reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared? ‘So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and not rich toward God.’ And He (Jesus) said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. … For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  -- (Luke 12: 13-23, 34. NASB).

We learn from this parable that whatever you focus upon is where your heart is. Whatever you focus on becomes your treasure. However, only God is worthy of your focus. Only God is worthy of your heart! Moreover, no one can serve two masters at the same time. For, only one will have your true attention and your heart. So, who will you serve? Will you serve God or your desire to acquire earthly treasure?

Does Happiness Come from Earthly Treasures?

How many times have people thought to themselves: if only I could just have a better job and more money, if only I could have a bigger house, if only I could have designer clothing, if only I could have a boat and vacation home, if only I could have that really expensive car, or if only I could travel around the world and buy whatever I want, then I would be happy. But these types of material things or treasures here on earth will not make us happy. In fact, many wealthy people who have acquired these treasures or the things that they want are in reality extremely unhappy. That is because they have not found what really makes a person happy. Do you know what will finally make you happy?

The answer to that question is Jesus Christ. It is the love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, that makes humans happy. For, it is only through God’s love and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice that we can be forgiven of our sins and receive peace, joy, and happiness forever. The Christian’s true treasure is Salvation. Salvation is the treasure that we can take with us to Heaven. However, Christians can store up even more treasures in Heaven by sharing the Gospel message and by living for the Lord.

The material things or the wealth that we store up here on earth are not transferrable to Heaven. Moreover, these earthly treasures cannot truly make us happy here on earth, because they only bring temporary moments of happiness. In fact, our hearts know that earthly treasures cannot bring us true peace and happiness. Moreover, earthy treasures and material wealth can only give us momentary happiness and a false sense of security.  But still we think that by acquiring material wealth we will somehow get that sense of peace, happiness and security. In reality, we were created to live for God who is the provider of all happiness, joy and security. God is the only One who can give us peace, joy and security which will last for eternity.

Material wealth is not lasting; it is temporary. Only what God enables us to do for others will last both now and throughout eternity. In other words, only what we do for the Kingdom of God is lasting. This means that when we give of our time and resources: to become an Active Relational Christian Mentor, to disciple another Christian, to share the Gospel message with a non-Christian, to visit the lonely, to visit those in prison, or to help those in need, we are actually storing up treasures in Heaven. For Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” – (Matthew 6: 19-21. NASB).

Everything material on this earth is fleeting. Only what we do for Christ and others will last. Therefore, Christians need to shift their thoughts from self-centered thinking to “other-thinking”. What is “other-thinking”? Well, it is when we think about what we can do to help another human in some manner or another. It is when we share the Good News with someone who has never heard of Christ or Salvation. It is when we share a talent, gift, or some specific information that can empower another person to be all that they can be for God, themselves, their family, and their friends. “Other-thinking” is loving your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Becoming a World-Class Christian

What is a world-class Christian? It is a Christian who focuses on Christ and on living for Him as they follow His commandments to share the Gospel message with others. But, in order to become a world-class Christian, we have to first become an “other-thinker.” The Apostle Paul explained “other-thinking” best when he said, “I don’t think about what would be good for me, but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved.”  -- (I Corinthians 10: 33. GWT). How often do you think about someone else’s salvation? How often do you think about sharing the Gospel with another person? For unless you are not only thinking about sharing the Gospel, but are also actually doing so, you are not storing up treasures in Heaven. In fact, by not sharing the Gospel, by not mentoring or helping other people who are in need, by not visiting those who are sick and in prison, and by not living out daily your salvation for others to see, you are wasting your opportunity to acquire heavenly treasures and you certainly are not allowing Christ’s light to shine through you.

A Christian’s Mission

Once we give our lives to Christ and are re-born as a new person who sees the world through Christ’s eyes, we can then see clearly and understand through God’s Word that we have been given a mission. Actually, born-again Christians have been given the greatest commission of all. Indeed, that mission gives all true Christians the chance to participate in the most wonderful and significant cause in the world. That cause is to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and His free gift of Salvation to the entire world. But first we have to not only be reborn into a new person, but we have to then change our self-centered way of thinking. In fact, it is actually by changing our self-absorbed way of thinking into “other-thinking” that we can become world-class Christians who think first of others.

The Apostle Paul wrote to many of the Christian church congregations that he and the other Apostles had helped to establish by sharing the Good News of Christ and teaching the new Christians about living for Christ and others. His writings to the Corinthians have been divided into the two books of I and II Corinthians within the Newer Testament. It is in these books and from Paul’s teaching that we learn that we are to quit thinking like children and start thinking as mature people. For, Paul said, “My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people.” – (I Corinthians 14: 20 CEV).

When we think like children we become self-absorbed. As Christians who think like children, we only learn the introductory facts and facets of Christianity, thus failing to grow and mature as people of faith. So, Paul was saying in the above verse that Christians must focus on maturing in their faith and focus on their Christian actions toward others. Part of that maturing process is to change our selfish way of thinking to “other-thinking.” In other words, as Christians we are to no longer think the way that the selfish world thinks, but we are to start thinking as God would have us think. For, God thinks about love and about helping His children grow and mature in their faith. So, Christians should also be thinking about loving others, helping others, and about sharing the most important message that anyone can hear. It is the message of Salvation through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.

Although Christians still have many of the same needs as non-Christians in that we need a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs, we should also be focusing on doing what God wants us to do as we live our earthly life. Paul explains it this way: “I don’t think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved.– (I Corinthians 10:33 GWT).

The Apostle Paul wrote that “‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. … Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining the spiritual thoughts with the spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.– (I Corinthians 2: 9-10, 12-14. NASB).

As Christians, i.e., as children of God, we often do not know what God wants us to do. However, we can actually know what He wants to do in and through us. For, we have been given the Holy Spirit who indwells each born-again Christian. Therefore, we can listen to the Holy Spirit, who is privy to all the thoughts and directions of God. The Holy Spirit will show us the intimacy, power, freedom, peace, and spiritual blessings that we can receive from following and obeying the Lord. Moreover, when we seek the Lord, the indwelling Holy Spirit will enlighten us on God’s purpose and plan for our life through the Word of God and through Christ who is speaking into our life.

We do not ever have to doubt what God has in store for us, if we just ask, pray, read the Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our life. It is by walking with God in a daily relationship with Him that we can discover what He wants us to do for the kingdom of God and discover the principles that we are to live by. In other words, we do not have to be afraid of what tomorrow will bring, even when we suddenly have lost our job, our money, or our ability to maintain a life-style that we have previously had. For, God has something better in store for us, if we will just work at storing up treasures in Heaven. Indeed, God will never forsake His children, but unfortunately, His children have often forsaken Him. They have failed to store up ever-lasting treasures in Heaven.

Heavenly Treasures

What kind of Heavenly treasures can Christians receive. Well, they are treasures that will last an eternity. Furthermore, they are treasures that cannot be stolen, burned, flooded, or covered up by earthquakes. They are treasures that have to do with love, caring, kindness, sharing, and the Salvation of others. In fact, the Bible speaks of these treasures as crowns. For, Christians will receive crowns in heaven for the things that we have done for God and for others while here on earth. But, before a person can receive any treasure or crown, he/she must first be born-again. Indeed, Jesus said, “… Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” — (John 3:3. NASB). But with our re-birth or Salvation comes great opportunities to store up heavenly treasures. The following is a list of just a few of the treasures that Christians can lay up in Heaven for their eternity with God.

The Crown of Life

In the book of James, we learn that faith without works is dead faith. In fact, James puts it this way: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”  -- (James 2: 26. NASB). A Christian can say that they have faith and believe in Christ as their Savior, but if they do nothing to work to show the world that Christ is their Savior, their faith is dead. Indeed, it may not be easy work to tell the world or those individuals around us that Christ offers Salvation to all who would believe on Him as the living risen Son of God, but it is something that every Christian is supposed to do. Moreover, for those who work for the Kingdom of God even though they are persecuted, there will be a treasured crown awaiting them in Heaven. For the Apostle James says: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  -- (James 1: 12). This Crown of Life is a heavenly treasure or crown for the believer who finds strength to overcome temptation and who endures trials for the love of God. (See also Romans 5: 3-5).

The Wreath Imperishable

The next treasure that a Christian can lay up in Heaven is The Wreath Imperishable. We read about this treasure/crown in both I Corinthians and in the book of Hebrews. In I Corinthians Paul explains this wreath in terms that the Greeks and Romans would have understood in their day. Because the athletic games were so important to them, Paul used the Greek games to illustrate the spiritual race of the believer. The Greeks knew that in the early Greek games, one must have been born of Greek parents in order to receive a perishable wreath (usually made out of flowers and greenery) for winning just one of the games. But, Paul told the Christians that believers will receive an imperishable wreath or crown for serving the Lord.

Only born-again believers can serve the Lord. The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.’ Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  -- (I Corinthians 9: 24, 25. NASB). However, in order to accomplish much for the Lord and receive an imperishable wreath, we must continue training in our Christian life just as an athlete would continue to train for a race. So, like an athlete who trains for games, Christians must train by studying the Word, meditating on the Word, and praying. Furthermore, we must continue to pursue and obey the Lord daily and moment by moment. The only way to accomplish things for the Lord and to serve the Lord is to embrace the Lord’s purpose for our individual lives and by doing so dedicate our lives to carrying out His purpose.

Later the author of the book of Hebrews continued this idea of running the race for the Lord when he stated: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  -- (Hebrews 12: 1. NASB). For, all Christians have a race to run for the Lord. But we cannot succeed in this journey or race unless we give up the passions of this world and focus instead on eternal treasures and living for the Lord while we are living on this earth. To get the imperishable wreath we must focus on loving others as we love ourselves, spreading the Gospel message, and helping others whenever we can. Furthermore, we must focus on obeying the Lord, studying God’s Word and staying in communication with the Lord through prayer in order to stay fit for the race and then winning this imperishable wreath.

The Crown of Exultation

The third treasure that we can look forward to laying up in Heaven is the Crown of Exultation. This is the soul winner’s crown. The greatest work a Christian will be privileged to do for the Lord is to bring others to the knowledge of Christ so that person can ask Christ to be their personal Savior. The result of our leading someone to Christ brings Christ great joy or exultation. For, Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that your joy may be made full.”  -- (John 15: 8-11. NASB).

The Salvation of even one soul is a cause for joy in Heaven, and our willingness to share the Gospel message so that a person makes a decision for Christ brings Christ great joy. For, “those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of Heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”  -- (Daniel 12: 3. NASB).

Like Christ’s disciples, Christians today must do something to share the Gospel message for the harvest is ready. Jesus put it this way: “… Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages (i.e., treasures) and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”  -- (John 4: 35, 36. NASB). In other words, the soul winner will not rejoice alone, for all of Heaven will rejoice with him when he receives the Crown of Exultation.

The Crown of Righteousness

The Crown of Righteousness is another of the treasures that a Christian can receive. This Crown is not to be confused with the righteousness of God which a gift given to us by God when we are born again. The Crown of Righteousness is instead a reward to be earned by the saved. If the believer looks forward to and lovingly anticipates the second coming of Christ, it will affect his/her whole life. This love for Christ and looking for Christ’s return will lead the believer to remain steadfast in their faith. In encouraging Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote to him and among other things said, “But you be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the Crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  -- (II Timothy 4: 5-8. NASB).

What does it mean to love the appearing of Christ? Well, it means that Christians must not detour in our journey for the Lord. We must not look back, but instead finish the course with our eyes fixed on Jesus. Within our journey we are to keep the faith and never betray any of the commandments of Christ; looking with a heart of love toward Jesus’ second coming. In staying focused on Christ and in fighting the spiritual battles that come against us and Christ, one may receive the Crown of Righteousness. But, staying the course and keeping focused entirely on Jesus Christ is not always easy. For example, we read in the Bible that when a young man said that he wanted to follow Christ, he suddenly stated, “‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-by to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” – (Luke 9: 61, 62. NASB).

Those may seem like harsh words, but once a person has committed to Christ as their Savior, they must focus on living for Him and then fulfill their purpose in life for Him. Christians cannot give part of our lives to the past and to worldly pursuits and still live for the Lord. Indeed, the Lord wants us to be so devoted in our love of Him and in our service to the kingdom of God, that we will not allow anything or anyone to keep us from obeying Him and fulfilling our ministry and purpose for the Lord. (See Acts 20: 24-31). Do you love the Lord so much that you are willing to fulfill your purpose and ministry for the Lord? If you don’t know what your ministry is, think about and look into the ministry of Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

The Crown of Glory

The last treasure that I will mention today is the Crown of Glory. This reward or treasure is for the faithful and obedient God-called pastors, deacons, and elders. The Apostle Peter explains this crown within the book of I Peter. He says, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”  -- (I Peter 5: 1-4. NASB).

Although pastors or those that shepherd God’s people such as deacons and elders are specifically listed as those who can receive the Crown of Glory, every born-again Christian may share in the Crown of Glory by: praying for the pastor, deacon, or elder; encouraging the pastor, deacon, or elder in the work of the Lord; giving tithes and offerings (see Malachi 3: 10); and giving freely of your time to the service of the Lord. For, God delights in our desire to please Him and to serve Him. By exhibiting eager obedience to God’s instructions and by fulfilling our purpose for the kingdom of God, we are showing God just how much we love Him and His gift of Salvation. We are also storing up treasures in Heaven.

In Summary

If you haven’t thought about storing up treasures in Heaven, it is time to start thinking about doing so now. Why? Well, we only have so many days allotted to us here on earth. We only have so many days to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ before its time for us to go home to be with God. Each of us who are true born-again Christians should be fulfilling our purpose here on earth which has many facets. Our purpose is to glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to also share the Gospel message with as many people as we can. In addition, our purpose is to help other Christians in their times of need. We are to also help non-Christians understand who Jesus Christ is, so that they can someday perhaps make a decision for Christ. But if we think that our purpose in life is only to store up treasures here on earth, we are going to be very mistaken, disappointed and surprised when our time is over here on earth.

How many people have you shared the gift of Salvation or the Gospel message with? How many people have you helped in some loving and kind manner while not wanting anything for yourself in return? How often have you engaged in a ministry of servanthood that can further the kingdom of God? Think about these questions. Then, pray that God opens the door for you to help others. You can step forward to share what you know about Christ with someone who may not have ever heard the name of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t that be thrilling? Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many servanthood ministries that you can engage in to help others, while it also gives you many opportunities to store up treasures in Heaven. Mentoring often opens the door to share the Gospel message. Of course, there are many other Christian ministries you can choose to engage in, but whichever one you choose, start today! For, time is running out for all of us to do the work that Christ has asked us to do.

If you choose to look into Active Relational Christian Mentoring, you might want to read the book entitled: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring; Women Mentoring Women with Christ at the Center. The author of this book is Vicky Lynn Thomas and the book can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Christian Faith Publishing Co., iTunes, and Google Play. This book will give both the individual woman and even church groups information about mentoring which can then help lead them into establishing mentoring relationships for the Lord. You can do it! You can Mentor for the Lord.