Remember 5

Romans 2:6-7

At Bible study the other night I told about the differences between me and my brother. My brother didn’t like to tell my parents where he was going and what he was doing. In response my parents were very strict with him.

In contrast I was fairly open about where I was going and who I would be with. In response my parents were very lenient and forgiving with my curfew and what I was permitted to do. We both got what we gave. If we were good we received good.

In the same way our faith life can receive good or bad from God depending on what we invest in it. What does Paul claim God will give to us? What is the reward for those who persist at doing Godly things?

It can be a very difficult thing to think of all those we have known who have passed on from this life to the next. Often the question arises about where that loved one will spend eternity. Will they receive the gift of glory and everlasting life? Were they good and holy examples of what it means to live as a Christian?

So many of the people we have known over the years, those who are no longer with us, have had an influence in our lives. So many have been an example that we could follow, an example of kindness and caring. We can take comfort in trusting that each one we have known who was a good example of holy living has received the glory that God has promised. Those who stood out as shining examples of Christ’s love and mercy most certainly have received the blessings of God’s grace. And all those saints who have gone on before were examples to us, showing us how we should live out our faith.

As we take comfort in the assurance of the eternal rewards that have been given to those we know, let us examine ourselves and our own attitudes and actions in faith. If we will be people who live out the teachings of Jesus, if we will show mercy, if we can be that example of holy striving and righteous living then we certainly can trust in the glory that awaits us. God will give to us according to what we have done.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to seek glory, honor and immortality?

Remember 4

Psalm 4:6

Putting jigsaw puzzles together can be a lot of fun even if it is challenging. It is the challenge and the success – or overcoming the challenge – that brings about the satisfaction of completing the puzzle.

I suppose it is possible to put a puzzle together through trial and error with all of the pieces, but I have the most success when I keep the puzzle box lid near at hand. That way I can look at the picture on the box so I know what it is I am trying to build. The picture serves as a guide for me.

Our journey of faith can be like putting a puzzle together. The psalmist relates a question that many people might ask. What is the question? What request is made?

Like a jigsaw puzzle our faith can raise questions. We don’t always understand or see what it is we are supposed to be doing. We don’t always know if we are doing the right thing. Like the puzzles we assemble for fun, our faith also needs a guide, a completed picture to show us where we should go.

These guides can be found in other believers. People we know who are strong in their faith, those who seem secure in their relationship to God, can be an inspiration to us. They can set the example we need to know what it is we are trying to achieve. Through them we might see the face of God because they have lived out or reflected God’s holy purposes.

The observance of “All Saints Day” is an opportunity for us as believers to remember the good work and good examples of those believers who have gone on before us. We can look at the legacy of these lives of faith and see them as that completed picture, that goal we are trying to reach.

But as we remember those who have been examples to us, let us remember that we too should be examples to others. We should pattern our lives in such holy pursuit that our own lives might serve as guidance for others. Through us perhaps the light of the face of God might shine on others.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you shine the light of God on others?

Remember 3

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

“It’s no skin off my nose.” Most are familiar with this expression. It is often said when advice is offered but not followed. It isn’t the person giving the advice who suffers when that advice is rejected, but the one who rejects it. Such an attitude could also apply to teaching about holy living.

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he addresses guidance for holy living. What has God NOT called us to? What has God called us to? If we reject holy guidance who are we rejecting?

Paul makes it clear – God does not desire that we live lives of sin and error. He does not want us to do harm to others and to ourselves, to be self-seeking and cruel. Rather, God desires that we strive to be the holy people we are called to be.

As we move forward in our faith journey we can receive guidance from other believers. Those who are strong in their relationship with God can help us find our way and give us help in growing deeper in our faith. We can look to those who are strong Christians as examples of how to live a good and righteous life.

As we consider those we know who have passed on we can recognize the good examples of faithful believers they have been. We can see that we can learn from what they have taught.

But it is up to us to embrace this guidance and the examples given. It is up to us to value what God desires for our life and to try to live out the love of God. It is our choice to live this way or that.

And who is it that is hurt when we choose to do wrong? If we choose to ignore the teachings of Christ, if we choose to ignore the lessons of Christian living, if we choose to turn our backs on the good examples of righteous believers we are not taking away from these wonderful saints. Our errant ways do not diminish the good that others do.

If we choose to turn from God we are not taking away from the good that has been done, we are simply rejecting God and His desires for us. Instead of rejecting the holiness God desires for us we should embrace it.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What do you do to avoid rejecting God’s desires for your life?

Remember 2

Luke 3:8

When my father had to travel to Europe for his job – repairing dry-cleaning machines – one of the company’s European sales representatives escorted him around. The man’s last name was Van Leu, and he was just an average man with an average job. But whenever he went to a restaurant he would make a big fuss and claim he was Doctor Van Leu. “You’ve lost the reservations for Dr. Van Leu?!” “You expect Dr. Van Leu to sit there?!”

My dad said he put on such an act that restaurant staff would really scramble to get him the best table, the best service, the best food, and so on. And it was all because of the name.

In Luke we have an account of John the Baptist giving warning to the crowds who have come to hear him. What should they do? What should they not do? Why not?

John’s comments here are addressed to the behavior that must have been exhibited by those who were coming out to be baptized by him. Apparently it had become the trendy thing to do, to go be baptized by this prophet. We can imagine those coming out were doing so because it was fitting for their position in society.

They could claim Abraham as their ancestor. They were devout Jews who obeyed the Jewish laws. They were doing the correct religious rituals.

But John was attacking their motivation. The name of Abraham was not important. It might impress this person or that, but it wouldn’t impress God.

What would impress God would be to do the holy work of a good person, one who was humble and penitent.

We can claim the title of “Christian.” We can claim that we have been attending church for years. But all of that doesn’t mean anything if we aren’t living out what it means to be a Christian. We must produce the fruit of our faith, the fruit of love and mercy and good works in the name of God.

As we consider those who have passed on in our lives, and consider the legacy they have left behind, we must think also of our own legacy. Will people remember our names and the titles we give ourselves, or will they remember the good we have lived out?

DAILY CHALLENGE: How do you live out the title of “Christian?”

Remember 1

Luke 16:27-31

The other day at church we had a new curtain hung over a small window. The curtain rod was not secure, however, as it was the wrong type of rod. Still, the curtain was functioning as long as no one touched it. Someone came up to admire the new curtain and I warned them, “Don’t touch it.” But as the words were coming out of my mouth the woman touched the curtain and it fell.

Today’s passage is part of a longer story Jesus tells of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man dies and goes to hell, while the poor man receives the comfort of heaven. What does the rich man request? What is Abraham’s response? What reason does the rich man offer for the request (verse 30)? What is the final decree?

We don’t always pay attention to the many warnings and advice we may receive in life. Sometimes we have to go through the experience before the lesson sinks in, and sometimes that is much too late.

A poorly hung curtain that must be picked up off the floor is no big deal in our lives. But the story Jesus tells is of a more important issue. He is talking about our eternal reward and eternal condemnation, the results of our actions in life.

Those we know who have passed on from this life to the next are aware of what awaits us in the great beyond. They could, if they were able, tell us very earnestly how we should be living our lives. Yet, it is not to be.

We do, however, have someone who is able to tell us about how we should be living our lives so that we might be spared eternal punishment, and how we should keep the focus of our attitudes and actions on the goodness we are called to live out. Jesus is the one who has shown us how it is we should be living.

Yet there are so many who still continue to disregard the good teachings of the Lord. There are still those who will not approach their spiritual lives with the commitment and heartfelt attitudes we are called to have. They will not listen to the teachings of the Bible and will not even listen to the one who has been raised from the dead.

As we think of those we have lost over the years, the great saints who have gone before us, let us remember the teachings and examples they have shown. Let us also commit ourselves to obeying the instructions of the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will help you remember the teachings of Jesus?