Where Are We Going?
Can you imagine heading out the door, getting in your vehicle, starting the car, and driving away without any idea where you were heading or what your destination was? Wouldn’t it be foolish to take a trip without knowing where you are going? You wouldn’t know how to prepare for the trip or what to pack for where you would end up.
But, in all reality, many Christians are doing that very thing! Every day, they continue on the trip of their life, without having any idea where they are going or what they should take with them. Oh, granted, they may believe as a Christian they are going to end up in heaven, but do they really know where they are going, or anything about what to take – or what they can take with them?!
In John 14, Jesus told the disciples about our future destination. He said He was going to prepare a place for them, and that He would come back to take them to be with him. Today, we are waiting along with all believers for Jesus to take us to the place He is preparing for us!
As we continue our “Focus on the Future” series this Sunday, we will be looking at the Bible and discover the answer to the question every believer needs to know – “Where Are We Going?” This is a message that you will want to invite all your friends to join with you in hearing!
Stuffed With Junk
by Ron Hutchcraft
The other day one of our team members shared a discovery she made during the remodeling of her kitchen. The counter top had been removed, and as she looked into this little 6″x8″ drawer by the sink, she saw that it was completely stuffed – with “stuff”! She realized that for 24 years she had been sticking things into that drawer – twist ties, rubber bands … you know, everything. There were some useful things in the back, but there were inaccessible because of all the “stuff.” Now, it had been a long time since the drawer had been opened very much – our friend just crammed things into it and occasionally pulled it open an inch or two to use something out of it. But looking down on it all from above, she was surprised to see what was in there. Almost everything in that drawer could be thrown away – but it was accumulating for years. And that drawer was much more useful now that it was emptied out.
You’ve got to wonder what God sees when He looks down on the contents of our life. The “top” is always off as far as His view of us is concerned. He sees directly into our heart, our motives, our every thought. And all too often, our life and our heart are cluttered with “stuff”… things we’ve filled our life with that are simply unnecessary to Him, useless to Him – actually limiting our usefulness to Him.
Some of us won’t realize how useless a lot of our life has been until it’s too late to do anything about it – we’ll wait until the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 3, beginning with verse 11, our word for today from the Word of God. He says, “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones (that’s filling your life with things that will last, that have eternal significance), wood, hay, or straw (things that are just “stuff”), his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light … the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” You get one life. You can fill it with things that really matter or with things that really don’t. With things that will last forever or things that will be gone in a moment. And often what this world stresses as being important is really just “stuff” – and what Jesus says is important, our world thinks isn’t much.
So when the Lord looks down inside your life, is it crammed with a lot of “stuff” that just doesn’t mean much? A lot of time in front of a television, hours on the Internet, listening to music, talking on the phone, following sports, pouring yourself into causes and diversions that won’t matter much in eternity at all? It’s not that these things are necessarily bad. The problem is when “stuff” that should be peripheral becomes central in your life. That’s when it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. It’s time to see your life through God’s eyes, and clean out what’s not useful – the trivial pursuits.
When you do, you become so much more useful to your Lord. And the more you fall in love with Him, the less you’ll be stuffing your hours, your days, your mind and your heart with “stuff.” You’ll be about what Jesus is about. You’ll be “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:33)
As seen in Ron Hutchcraft’s “A Word With You.” Reprinted with permission. “A Word With You” is a radio outreach of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
Finish The Race
by Steve Troxel
Paul was returning to Jerusalem at the end of his third and final missionary journey. By this time in his ministry, Paul had been a Christian for nearly twenty years. Twenty years since Jesus called Paul, “My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Twenty years of faithful service, and now… “In every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me” (Acts 20:23).
Paul was returning home, but his life was not going to be easy. He knew there were many trials ahead, but his life had a purpose far beyond his immediate surroundings. Acts 20:24 says, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of, testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
It was several more years before Paul wrote; “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12); yet here, when facing certain hardship, Paul showed he had already learned the secret. The particular circumstances in Paul’s life had become of minor importance. He knew his contentment was not based on current events, but on bringing glory and honor to God. His life had a wonderful purpose even in the face of great adversity and harsh conditions.
We were all created for the same purpose as Paul – we were created to bring glory and honor to God! Our specific tasks may differ and change from time to time, but we each have the same unchanging purpose. Everything we do, say, and think should bring glory and honor to our Heavenly Father!
God’s race is run in the deepest part of our heart, not in the flurry of activity. Running well is not defined by doing more; rather, we run a “successful” race as we do every little task we are given with the complete and absolute devotion of our heart.
His race is long and often difficult. There are many distractions which seek to slow us down and even pull us from the track; and at times we may even wonder why we’re running. But being a participant in God’s eternal race is infinitely more rewarding than standing on the sidelines and simply watching! He has called us to run – and to run well!!
We must run the path God places before us with all the strength He provides, and within the sure and calming protection of His grace. Let’s run with the motivation of bringing Him glory and honor by loving Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s continue to run well, and with a burning desire to finish the race.
As seen in the January 4, 2012 issue of Steve Troxel’s email devotional “God’s Daily Word Ministries”
by Alan Smith
A young private sought permission from his Commanding Officer to leave camp the following weekend. “You see,” he explained, “my wife’s expecting.”
“Oh…” said the Officer, “I understand. Go ahead and tell your wife that I wish her luck.”
The following week the same soldier was back again with the same explanation: “My wife’s expecting.”
The Officer looked surprised. “Still expecting?” he said, “Well, well, my boy, you must be pretty bothered. Of course you can have the week-end off.”
When the same soldier appeared again the third week, however, the Officer lost his temper. “Don’t tell me your wife is still expecting!” he bellowed.
“Yes sir!” said the soldier resolutely, “She’s still expecting.”
“What in the world is she expecting?” cried the Officer.
“Me,” said the soldier simply.
Christians are a people who live in expectation. We’re expecting that someday all the wrongs of this world will be brought to justice. We’re expecting that the sufferings of this life will someday be replaced by joys beyond our imagination. But, most of all, we’re expecting our Lord to return for us and we are anxious for that day to come. Paul seems to indicate that all of creation is earnestly awaiting the same thing (Rom. 8:19).
“Now when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while [the apostles] watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ ” (Acts 1:9-11)
Are you expecting?
This article by Alan Smith, Senior Pastor of the Helen Street Church of Christ in Fayetteville, North Carolina. You can visit his site at http://www.TFTD-online.com
What If Church Was Not Just About Me?
by Ron Edmondson
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4
Instead of going to be encouraged… we went to encourage others…
Instead of hoping to sing my favorite song… we hoped to sing “their” favorite song…
Instead of looking to be served… we intentionally served others…
Instead of waiting to be welcomed… we welcomed others first…
Instead of asking to be prayed for… if we sought to pray for others…
Instead of going to receive a blessing… we went to be a blessing…
What difference would it make in our church experience?
Of course, church is ultimately not about either of us… it’s about Jesus…
But, church is also where people who want to make much of Jesus gather to grow, fellowship and worship Jesus…
So, I wonder how our church experience would be made different, if we approached it considering the interest of others…
as seen at http://www.ronedmondson.com/2011/07/what-if-church.html
The Many Names of Christ
To the ARTIST He is the One Altogether Lovely.
To the ARCHITECT He is the Chief Corner Stone.
To the BAKER He is the Living Bread.
To the BANKER He is the Hidden Treasure.
To the BIOLOGIST He is the Life.
To the BUILDER He is the Sure Foundation.
To the CARPENTER He is the Door.
To the DOCTOR He is the Great Physician.
To the EDUCATOR He is the Great Teacher.
To the ENGINEER He is the New and Living Way.
To the FLORIST He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
To the GEOLOGIST He is the Rock of Ages.
To the HORTICULTURIST He is the True Vine.
To the JUDGE He is the Righteous Judge, Judge of All Men.
To the JEWELER He is the Pearl of Great Price.
To the LAWYER He is the Counselor, the Lawgiver, the Advocate.
To the NEWSPAPER He is the Good Tidings of Great Joy.
To the OCULIST He is the Light of the Eyes.
To the PHILANTHROPIST He is the Unspeakable Gift.
To the PHILOSOPHER He is the Wisdom of God.
To the PREACHER He is the Word of God.
To the SCULPTOR He is the Living Stone.
To the SERVANT He is the Good Master.
To the STATESMAN He is the Desire of All Nations.
To the STUDENT He is the Incarnate Truth.
To the THEOLOGIAN He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
To the TOILER He is the Giver of Rest.
To the SINNER He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the World.
To the CHRISTIAN He is the Son of the Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer and the Lord.
The Last Impression
An American businessman went to Japan on a business trip, but he hated Japanese food, so he asked the concierge at his hotel if there was any place around where he could get American food.
The concierge told him he was in luck, there’s a pizza place that just opened, and they deliver. The concierge gave the businessman the phone number, and he went back to his room to order a pizza.
Thirty minutes later, the delivery guy showed up at the door with the pizza.
The businessman took the pizza, and immediately began to sneeze uncontrollably. He asked the delivery man, “What on earth did you put on this pizza?”
The delivery man bowed deeply and said, “We put on the pizza what you ordered – pepper only.”
Since you received firstIMPRESSIONS in your email, chances are you are a believer in Jesus Christ. But, let me ask you this. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, will you be found in church this Sunday? You need to! Why? Because you will be encouraged in your faith, and you will also encourage someone else! Hebrews 10:25 tells us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I believe that “Day” – the day that Christ returns – is coming soon! So – let’s gather together and encourage each other this Sunday! See you at WFA!
Yours for HIM
Pastor Tim Satryan
WILMINGTON first assembly of God