Let Nothing Move You – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

This verse reminds me very much of a recent picture making the rounds on Facebook. In the center of the picture is a lighthouse setting on a rock in a storm. The waves are crashing around the lighthouse. But it’s foundation is firm and the lighthouse stands secure; no matter what the storm throws at it, nothing moves it.

Even so, as a believer in Christ Jesus, stand firm in the hope we have in him. Don’t let the storms of life move you from him. Instead, like that lighthouse, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).”

When life is at its roughest, remember the lighthouse, stand firm, and be a light in the darkness. Your faithfulness will not be forgotten.

let nothing move you
Standing firm through the storm

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Faithful Stewardship – 1 Corinthians 4:2

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. – 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

If you are familiar with church-speak, when you hear someone talk about stewardship, it is likely that the first thing that crosses your mind is tithing. In this usage, stewardship means giving the church a portion of your salary or other income. But stewardship is actually much more than that. If you read the story of Joseph, in particular Genesis 39:2-7, you would see a good example of what stewardship is. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his household, and Joseph then managed it for Potiphar. A steward was just that, a person entrusted with the possessions of another to manage it on their behalf. And stewardship is executing the responsibilities of a steward. A good steward is one who is faithful to the trust given them by their master / employer.

In this verse Paul is talking about his stewardship of the mysteries that God had entrusted him with. But the application is broader than that. If you are a believer, a member of the body of Christ, then you have been entrusted in some way to serve both God and the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7-11). My stewardship is as a teacher. Yours is likely is some other area. But what is most important for each of us is that we prove faithful to our Lord. I would encourage you to faithfully execute the responsibilities of your stewardship. If you do, you will receive the Master’s commendation (Matt. 25:21).

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Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant – Matthew 25:21

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:21 CSB

In the parable of the talents, the master entrusted his servants with some money to invest. Ultimately he called on them to give an account of their stewardship. Those who had invested wisely were rewarded, while the one who did not was punished. So what do we learn from this parable? I believe it is another of ‘the kingdom of heaven is like’ parables; Jesus is illustrating something about the kingdom to us. What do we do with what he has given us?

What has God entrusted you with? It might be physical resources, time, or abilities, whether natural or spiritual giftedness; all that we are and have ultimately comes from him. Are we faithful stewards of what God has entrusted us with, investing wisely in the work of the kingdom? Or are we neglectful, investing poorly? Will we be given additional responsibilities in the life to come, sharing in the master’s joy? Or will we suffer loss?

When I stand before my Lord someday, I long to hear him say to me, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’

To Whom Shall We Go? – John 6:67-69

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:67-69 ESV

Jesus’ teaching in this chapter was confusing and challenging to those who heard him, and many had turned away and no longer followed him. I am sure that it was just as confusing to the twelve, but when Jesus asks them if they will leave also, Peter essentially says, we often don’t know what you are saying, and the homeless life following you through Israel is difficult. But we are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. Who else could we find to follow that would have the words of eternal life?

Many people today do the same thing that the crowd did; they follow Jesus so long as he is feeding them and the going is easy. But when the teaching gets hard, when life gets in the way, or the novelty wears off, they turn back and no longer follow Jesus. But blessed are those who, like the twelve, recognize Jesus as the Holy One of God who brings eternal life. And, like the twelve, they remain steadfast, walking with Jesus wherever he leads.

Hold Firmly to the End – Heb. 3:14

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. – Hebrews 3:14 NIV

Common among many denominations is the belief that once I have committed my life to Christ, that nothing can take me from him. Sometimes this is called ‘eternal security’, and other times ‘once saved always saved’. But if it is as simple as that, why do we have the frequent warnings, like this verse, of the necessity to remain faithful to the end? Could it be that only those who are faithful to the end are ever actually saved? That salvation is not based on how you start the journey, but on how you finish it? I believe that there are many who have made a public commitment to Christ and have been baptized who will be quite surprised when they stand before the judgement seat of Christ and hear him say, ‘‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Don’t let that be true for you. Hold firmly to your faith in Christ and let that be reflected in your life. Finish the journey!

Willing to Die for the Lord Jesus – Acts 21:13

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13 NIV

How much grief and suffering are you willing to endure to follow where God leads you? Paul is on his way to Jerusalem, knowing that trouble awaits him there. He had expressed to the Ephesian elders earlier that the Spirit was compelling him to go. And on a subsequent stop on the journey the believers, through the Spirit, had warned him not to go. And now once again he is being urged to stay away from Jerusalem. We might think Paul foolish to march into certain trouble. I can see myself joining in with others in pleading with him to let the rest of the team take care of business in Jerusalem. And had I been in Paul’s place I likely would have been on the next boat out of town. But Paul’s response is an echo of what he later tells Timothy: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Tim 1:12). What a wonderful example he gives us of faithfulness to our Lord Jesus, regardless the personal cost.

Forgetting the Past and Looking Ahead – Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

Paul’s goal was to become totally identified with Christ, his own self dropping by the wayside and becoming one with his Lord.  It was a goal that he was working hard to achieve, and doing two things to help him reach that goal.

The first thing he was doing was forgetting the past.  Now Paul did not forget the past entirely.  He never seems to have forgotten just where he had come from.  And he remembered what others had done for him as well as conflicts with others.  But he did not live in the past.  He did not allow either his past failures or victories keep him from pursuing his goal.  And both of those can be a major impediment if we allow them to.

My past failures can be very discouraging.  If I try and fail, especial several times, it can become easy to believe that success is out of my reach; I am doomed to always fail.  I know there are areas in my own life that I struggle with, and fall short over and over.  Will I ever have victory over this thing?  And sometimes it is tempting to just give up even trying.  But I need to forget those past failures.  They are in the past and there is nothing I can do about them.  But I can prepare for what lies ahead.

I suspect everyone likes to succeed.  We feel good knowing that we have accomplished something worthwhile.  But there is a danger there as well.  I could easily become satisfied that I have accomplished enough, that I have arrived and am where I need to be in my faith.  And when that happens I can become complacent and quit growing and developing the way I should.  Especially if I am comparing myself with others around me, rather than comparing myself to Jesus and seeing that I still have plenty of room to grow.

In forgetting his past, Paul choose to turn his attention to what was to come.  I don’t believe that Paul was referring to his upcoming itinerary here, but rather to eternity.  God had called him to something, and his focus was fixed on that.  His energy was devoted, not to making a name for himself, preparing for retirement, or trying to be successful in this life; but rather to win the prize that God had set before him.  And he was not going to let anything get in the way of that, either his past or his present.

And what was this prize?  Toward the end of his life Paul looked back on his years of service to his Lord and had no regrets, expressing confidence that a crown awaited him.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV

This crown of righteousness is not a physical crown like we sometime might visualize.  Rather it is the affirmation of the Master of a life lived in devoted service and an invitation to eternal service in the kingdom.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21 & 23 NIV


Paul, in his life and service, was looking forward to hearing God say to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  That kept him persevering through all of the challenges he faced, as well as putting aside his own desires in order to be useful in the kingdom’s work.  How important is it to me to hear God say to me “Well done!”

Philadelphia: The Enduring Church – Revelation 3:7-13

In the second and third chapters of Revelation are letters from Jesus to seven of the first century churches in what is today Turkey. While I believe these letters were addressed to real churches of that day, I also believe they have great application to our churches today. The sixth of these was to the church of Philadelphia.

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.  Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 3:7-13 NIV

Jesus seems not to be too impressed with many of the things we typically look for in a church.  I want to be a part of a church that provides a good worship experience, where the preaching is challenging, where the teaching is Biblically based and draws me to God.  A church whose facility is clean and in good repair; where the people give enough to comfortably meet the financial needs of the church; and the people themselves are actively involved in the life of the body.  A church where the people are excited about God and what he is doing through them.

Some of the churches Jesus addresses in these letters seem to come close to the above, and Jesus commends them for that.  But those ‘comfortable’ churches seem to have other problems that are a threat to them.  Instead it is the poor church of Smyrna and the weak church of Philadelphia that Jesus commends without finding fault.  Churches that humanly have little going for them, and yet they appear to be the models that we need to learn from.

Philadelphia was a church with little strength.  You might picture them as meeting in a run down facility, struggling to pay their bills, without trained workers; hard to see how they could make much of a difference in the world around them.  But they were faithful to Jesus, and in His eyes that is worth more than anything else.

Jesus knew their deeds.  They were likely not newsworthy or impressive.  But they were faithfully serving and what they did, they did for Christ.  And because of that, Jesus had opened a door of opportunity for them that they were walking through; a door that this world would be unable to shut.  What was that door; was it the same door as in 3:20, the door that brings us into Jesus presence and fellowship with him?

Philadelphia had little.  But they faithfully endured.  They kept at it with what little they had.  They were not judged by how great the things they had accomplished were, but rather by what they had done with what they had.  And Philadelphia passed the test, and were promised that would be protected from the time of trial that would come on the whole world.

Rather than look at why we can’t accomplish something as a church, we would do better to follow the example of Philadelphia and just be faithful in serving Jesus.  Taking advantage of the open doors he provides and giving him our all, regardless of how much or little that might seem to be.

 

 

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