Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

Remembering Without Ceasing Your Work of Faith

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

What a testimony! What a way to be remembered! What an encouragement! What a blessing! Wouldn’t you like to be remembered the way Paul describes in the passage above? Paul recalls and prays for the Thessalonians and their example of three of the greatest ingredients of all Christians’ walk and witness. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered for your faith, hope and love? Wouldn’t you like the three greatest graces people recall about you to be your faith, love and hope?

But just what specifically were Paul and his co-workers thanking God for and praying without ceasing about these Thessalonian believers’ faith, love and hope? Paul and his co-laborers were praying for these believers’ work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope.

Does it surprise you that such pleasant identifying evidences in believers’ lives are intricately inter- woven with work, labor and patience? Look a little closer at this passage with me. As we stand at the beginning of a new church year let God’s word both inspire and challenge you. Let Paul’s thankful prayer do a little ministering in your own life and commitment.

Notice in this passage that Paul isn’t posing works against faith but is actually talking about the work(singular) our faith is. “Ergon” is the word he uses here with faith. Our closest equivalent in English is employment. The occupation that should employ most of our awakened hours is our very faith. The job that should occupy most of our time and pay the best benefits is our faith. It takes daily working at it for our faith to grow and mature as it ought. One of our main jobs (if not the main) in this life should be nurturing our faith.
But when Paul starts talking about our godly love (agapao) that you and I should not only exhibit but practice, he uses an entirely different word for the work associated with that love than he uses with faith. It is not the joyous job that you and I often envision with a labor of love. It is not a task made easy by our love. Rather Paul refers here to a wearisome toil. He speaks of an exhausting “kopos” kind of labor. He talks of a dragging down, beating down, laborious struggle. If you really want to understand just how exhausting this kind if labor can be just commit to loving with a godly love someone who is totally unlovable.

Paul is thankful and prayerful about these believers’ day to day work of faith, their toilsome labor of godly love and their patience of hope—“hupomone elpis” in the original Greek. It means cheerful anticipation, enduring expectation. How cheerfully expectant are you in Jesus Christ? How enduring is you confidence in the Lord?

Sometimes our Christian walk and witness just gets more difficult and demanding than we ever imagined it could or should be. Just to keep the faith some days is a struggle. It is work to keep the faith let alone grow our faith. We live in such a fallen world it becomes a wearisome task at times, just to love people as we ought. It is hard to keep a cheerful expectant disposition even though we are in Jesus Christ.

If you find yourself battling that way, may I offer you two other scriptures as encouragement and advice? The first one is 1 Peter 1:13—Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And the other is Hebrews 6: 10—For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love. . .
Ask God to not only help you but your fellow saints as well to keep you cheerfully expectant as you laboriously toil to love even the unlovely and work not only to grow your faith but to share it. I can’t think of a better way to start a new church year, can you?

Hold Fast

“holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Titus 1:9

On a commuterflight in 1987,from Portland, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts the pilot, Henry Dempsey, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small aircraft. Henry turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check things out. As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an air pocket and Dempsey unexpectedly found himself tossed against the rear door. It was then that he quickly discovered the source of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to take off. So as Henry fell against it, it flew open and he was immediately sucked out of the jet.

The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated an open door, radioed the nearest airport requesting per-mission to make an emergency landing. He reported he was certain that the pilot had fallen out of the plane and requested an immediate helicopter search of the area of the ocean over which they were now flying.

After the plane had landed however, the ground crew found Henry Dempsey holding onto the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had managed to grab hold of it as he was sucked out of the opening. Somehow he had been able to hold on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet. And then somehow upon landing he had kept his head from hitting the runway–a mere twelve inches away. According to news reports, even once the plane was safely stopped on the runway, it took several airport personnel more than a few minutes to pry Dempsey’s fingers from the ladder. Are there values in your life that are worth holding onto with that kind of white-knuckled intensity? Convictions are not just those notches on the belts of prosecuting attorneys. They are those beliefs, those truths, which we clutch in the same way Henry held onto that ladder for dear life. They are values we hold to that have life-altering (even eternal) consequences.

The apostle Paul had left Titus in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting. (verse 5) In other words Titus was given the duty of tying up the loose ends—of making sure the churches in Crete were well established and sustainable. As such Paul immediately reminded Titus that the success of the churches would be very dependent upon the leadership appointed to the task.
With that said Paul then proceeded to lay out for Titus no less than sixteen characteristics needful of believers to be good leaders within and for the church. The sixteenth one that sort of tops all the others off was the one alluded to in the verse above. Good church leaders must always be holding fast the faithful word. They need to be “white-knucklers” not just of their interpretation of the word of God, but of the faithful word. That’s because I have found that without and within every church there will be gainsayers—“opposers” of the church. Those within will be more concerned about their own power and position than they are the health and well-being of the church. And those within and without will often be more concerned with traditions than they are the truth.

Paul told Titus for such people as that, you need to have such a grip on the faithful word that you’ll be able to exhort them. Do you realize that word exhort is the exact same word that is used of the Holy Spirit in other scripture passages. It means to “be called alongside.” In other words good leaders have such a hold of the faithful word that they can pull up right beside someone who’s being ugly and obnoxious and over time convince them of the real truth. That is not an easy task. People like that often don’t really care what the Word says; they just want what they want. Such are not easy to love nor get close to. But it’s God’s calling to good leaders.

Want to be a good leader in his church? How well are you hiding the word of God in your heart? How well are you making his word a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path? How well are you drawing near and winning over that gainsayer?

Fight the Good Fight

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

The date was March 23, 1775. The place was St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. The meeting was that of the Second Virginia Convention. They had opted to meet at St. John’s rather than at the Capital in Williamsburg. The speaker was Patrick Henry. Most all of us are familiar with his closing line that day: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” But I’d like to share with you a few other lines from that speech. They still speak to us and to our present day situations.
Here goes: If we wish to be free . . .if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have so long been engaged, and which we pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight—I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us! . . .Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. This battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
As July 4th approaches and I ponder our freedom as well New York’s recent vote to legalize homosexual marriages, I can’t help but think about what it takes to truly be free. Immediately I am reminded, by Paul in the scripture above and Patrick Henry in his speech, that fighting and freedom go hand in hand. Like it or not, to maintain our freedom we are always at war.
Romans 6 & 7 indicates that there is a war going on within each of us who have given our lives to the Lord. Once we were saved, there was a new us born that wants to be faithful and obedient to God. Yet there is an old side of us that rears up at times that wants to live like we did before Christ came into our surrendered lives.
Unlike an unsaved person, though, you and I have a choice! We possess a freedom to decide—will we be free from sin and a servant to obedience or will we once more allow ourselves to be free to sin and risk being enslaved to it? Though Christ has secured our freedom from sin we can turn our back on that freedom. Thus the call to arms! Ephesians 6 tells us to dress for battle.
It takes the sword of the Word. It takes the helmet of knowing we are saved. It takes a protective breastplate to preserve our righteousness. It takes feet prepared and willing to share the gospel. It takes cinching our belt of truth. It takes picking up that shield of faith to ward off those fiery darts. It takes prayer and perseverance.

The simple fact of the matter is that if we fail to hear the battle cry and commit ourselves to fight the good fight then in all likelihood we have never truly trusted Christ. And Romans 1 warns that professing ourselves to be wise we will instead become fools. We will change the truth of God into a lie. Then for such he will give us up to vile affections. Women will turn against God’s natural plan and be sexually attracted to each other. And men instead of having natural relationships with women will burn in lusts for each other. And since we do not see fit to acknowledge God, God will give us over to a reprobate mind and improper conduct.

…..We are there! A nation that claims to be Christian doesn’t have six states legalizing gay marriage unless there are a vast majority that merely think they are Christian. The issue is not homosexuality. The issue is commitment to God and fighting the good fight to stay free from sin. What does it take to be free? It takes a heart surrendered to God and a personal commitment to fight, to labor fervently, to contend, to struggle to keep it that way.

Some things are worth fighting for and freedom is one of them. How free are you? Are you dressed for battle? Are you fighting the good fight? Have you truly laid hold on eternal life? Are you trusting God to fight by your side?

Wanted: A Pair of Shoes

A pair of shoes is needed. Nothing fancy. Any kind will do. The main requirement is that they be motivated by a heart of love-love so strong that it causes feet to walk to a distant apartment or the house next door to tell the people who live there about the love of God.

Search your closet to see if you have a pair of shoes that might be willing to get involved in the ministry of telling others about Jesus Christ.

Associational News

New Town Baptist will be sponsoring a Women's Conference on Saturday, May 4, 2019, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm. Cost $10, lunch provided. Frances Worthington will be the speaker ...
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