Does God Keep Score?
Several years ago, I was having a conversation with someone about getting credit for ideas. I mentioned to them that it doesn’t matter to me if I get credit for an idea or not, because God knows who did what and I was content to let God handle such things. This person then wondered whether or not God really credited man with such things. In essence, the question can be framed, “Does God keep score?”
First, we need to understand that God does not keep score in the sense that if we could only get enough points, then we would win salvation. The Bible teaches us that salvation isn’t something that we earn. Jesus said in Luke 17:10, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” When we do everything that God tells us, we still haven’t earned our salvation. We are still dependent upon Him for eternal life. Salvation is a gift that God gives upon the condition of faith and obedience (see Hebrews 11:6 and Hebrews 5:9). Neither our faith nor our obedience earns our salvation; but God promises to give us salvation when we trust and obey Him. It is the promise of God in which we trust, not in our own faith or obedience. In that regard, God doesn’t keep score because no matter how high a score we get, we’ll never be high enough to earn our salvation.
Second, neither does God keep score as to how long we have been a faithful Christian as if that would make a difference in our salvation. Jesus told the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. In the parable, the vineyard owner agrees with laborers for the same wage though they begin working at different times in the day. At the end of the day, they all get the same pay. The ones who started early complain, saying that they worked longer than the others. The owner asks them whether or not they agreed to that pay. They did, so that is what they got. The lesson from the parable is that salvation is available for all and it doesn’t matter when you started working for God, everyone, whether young or old gets the same pay eternal life and for that we ought to be very thankful. No, God does not keep score in regard to one’s longevity of service in His kingdom.
Third, there is a sense, however, in which God does keep score. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. We learn from this passage that God takes note of those who do good things and He remembers those things. Moreoever, Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20). What are these treasures that we are to be laying up in heaven? He explains in Luke 12:33, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” When we do good things for others, we lay up treasures in heaven. Are they for earning our salvation? No. What then are these treasures for? There is only one explanation. It is because God wants us to appreciate the results of the good things that we did once we are in heaven. That will be our treasure!
Does God keep score? He doesn’t keep score when it comes to good works meriting salvation. Regardless of how high the score, it would never be enough to earn salvation. However, He does keep score when it comes to having treasure in heaven over which we can appreciate the results of our good efforts. And so John can write, Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward (2 John 1:8). God doesn’t keep score to determine who earned what, but to determine who IS what!
I May Be Old Fashioned
Many of you on numerous occasions have heard me say, “I may be old fashion but...” However, being old fashioned in the 21st century is not the most popular choice for sure, but it is not necessarily bad. In fact, my being old fashioned aligns me with those of daring character. For example: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16). Being old fashioned in Jeremiah’s day did not win friends or influence people. That was true in Jeremiah’s day and is still true today. Let me hasten to say there is a difference in being old fashioned, and being old and “cantankerous”. Cantankerous means “easily angered and difficult to get along with”. Being cantankerous has nothing to do with age. Remember I coach a little girls softball team! Most cantankerous people do not want to “hear the rest of the story”. Their mind is already made up. They are set in their ways. This is not the “old fashioned” I’m speaking of. Let me explain in the information below why I am “old fashioned”, and perhaps why others might consider me “old fashioned” as well. I may be old fashioned but:
1. I Know God’s Word, the Bible, is the Standard for our Lives and That it Never Changes. It is finial and complete (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 3:16-17). Just as its author who is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” - so is His word (Hebrews 13:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25). It will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
2. I Know There is No Such Thing as Same Sex “Marriages.” Marriage and the home was created and ordained by our loving God for the well being of society. God made them “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Husbands and wives complement each other in the very nature of the case (Genesis 1:24). Homosexual “marriages” are unnatural and described as “vile affections... which is against nature” (Romans 1:26-27). We are told now days that homosexuality is normal; just an alternate lifestyle. Even our President and many lawmakers believe this. But, friends there is nothing normal about such perversion. Are not our lawmakers familiar with past history? History shows that homosexuality reaches epidemic levels when society is in crisis and near a state of collapse. Is anyone out there listing! “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
3. I Know Young People Should be Taught to Respect Authority. I see to many youngsters today that do not know what “NO” means. One does not have to go far to see such rebellion. Take a trip to the local ball park, Wal Mart, or sadly to the assemblies of the church. It’s sad that daddy’s and mama’s, and granddaddy’s and grand mama’s have grown weary in teaching, training, and disciplining kids now days. One thing I was taught by my “old fashioned mother” was the meaning of “NO, STOP, and DON’T!” She used whatever means that was necessary to enforce these lessons upon me. Now as I reflect back upon some of her “classes” I thank God that she loved me enough to MAKE ME MIND! I often wonder where I would be today if mama had tolerated my talking, fighting or hitting back at her. I’ve lived long enough now to see her wisdom. The same “old fashioned wisdom” that I used in rearing Lisa and Keith to the best of my feeble ability. If you were to ask them if at any point in time they ever doubted my love for them, I’m sure they would say, “No never.” Even though some of our “teaching sessions” were less than pleasant. The Bible says, “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Proverbs 4:10). It’s hard for parents to understand that teaching children respect for authority is actually related to prolonging their days upon this earth. Because “the way of transgressors is hard”, always. Children who are not taught respect for the authority of their parents generally have little or no respect for any authority; teachers, police and especially God!
The Lukewarm Disease
From all sources that I can find, the “lukewarm disease” is by far the most fatal that man can contract, including such diseases as tuberculosis, leukemia, or cancer. All diseases seem to have certain symptoms. The “lukewarm disease” seems to affect most parts of the body. It is also highly contagious. It passes from one person to another and soon there are whole groups that are affected. If the disease is not stopped, its effects are not just external but also eternal.
Listed below are a few of the known symptoms of “lukewarm disease”:
• It affects the mind in that a person stops seeking to learn and teach.
• If affects the ears in that a person only hears what he wants to hear, thus destroying faith.
• It affects the eyes in that a person no longer sees or follows the “strait and narrow.”
• It affects the mouth in that a person no longer speaks the Word of God, or offers up singing and prayer on a regular basis.
• It affects the neck in that a person cannot bow his head in prayer.
• It affects the arms and hands in that a person no longer does the physical labors that are essential in a Christian’s life.
• It affects the heart in that a person’s love for God grows cold.
• It affects the legs and feet in that a person no longer gets to services or visits those needing encouragement.
Do you know of anyone that has the “lukewarm disease”? Not all have every symptom. Not all the symptoms need to be present to affirm that you or someone else has the disease. The “lukewarm” person is a most undependable human being. He faces separation from God. We might hate all earthly diseases, but the “Great Physician” dislikes the “lukewarm disease” most of all. As bad as the “lukewarm disease” is, it can be cured.
The “Great Physician” can cure you of this disease. The prescribed cure would be a big dose of Faith and a shovel-full of Work. If you have the “lukewarm disease,” now is the time to take the cure. Have faith in the Lord and His Word for the day is coming when man shall work no more. See Revelation 3:16 for what will happen to the lukewarm: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.”
Think About It!
Enoch’s walking with God was not interrupted by the common experiences of his life. “Enoch walked with God 300 years—and had other sons & daughters.” Some people suppose they could continue to walk with God if they were engaged all the time in ‘religious’ work; but they do not suppose it possible to maintain a life of unbroken communion with Him, when they have to be at work in the shop, in the office, or in the kitchen. But the truth is, we may stay near Christ just as easily when at our daily duties—as when we are at our devotions.
There is a legend of a monk whose great desire was to see Christ and touch the hem of His divinity. At his monastery, he waited in prayer and penance before his crucifix. He had vowed that he would see no human face—until his prayer was granted. One morning he seemed to hear a voice which told him that his wish would be fulfilled that day. With eager joy he watched. There came a gentle tap upon his door, & the plaintive cry of a child was heard, pleading to be taken in and fed. But the voice of the cold and hungry little one, was unheeded. The ‘saint’ was busy with his devotions, watching for the vision of the Master, & must not be disturbed. The candles burned low and the monk grew dismayed. Why did not the vision appear? All he heard was, “Unhappy monk, you may pray on forever. The answer to your prayer was sent today—it lingered, then sobbed, then turned away.”
God is quite as sure to come to walk with us, in the doing of some common task of love & kindness—as when we pray or sit at our Master’s communion table. “For I was hungry—& you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty—& you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger—& you took Me in; I was naked—& you clothed Me; I was sick—& you took care of Me; I was in prison—& you visited Me.” Matthew 25:35-36
Are YOU walking with God?
In The Shadow Of His Wings
One of the most comforting thoughts in Scripture is the idea of living in the shadow of the wings of Almighty God. The image of a mother bird with wings outstretched to shield her chicks from danger and the elements is one with which most are familiar. The story is told of park rangers in Yellowstone surveying the charred landscape after lightning had ignited a rather large-scale forest fire. While walking through the ravaged remains of the once lush forest, a park ranger heard the sound of young birds chirping at the base of a tree. He followed the sound to find a mother bird facing the base of a large tree with wings outstretched, singed to death by the heat of the blaze. As the park ranger moved the deceased bird, he found a number of chicks that had survived the fire because of the sacrifice of the mother. Jesus drew upon this imagery as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 22:37). God extends to all men the opportunity to dwell in the shadow of His wings. Just what do we find therein?
In the shadow of God’s wings we find AFFECTION. The psalmist wrote, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 17:8). David’s prayer was that God might always set His affections upon His faithful children. Jehovah set His affection upon the sons of Jacob (Deut.32:10) so that through the blessed seed-line the Christ might come into the world to bless all men. Even when Israel and Judah rebelled against the goodness and mercy of the Almighty, He still looked upon them as the apple of His eye (Zech.2:8). Job asked, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify Him? And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” (Job 7:17). While we are not deserving of God’s loving-favor, we are nonetheless grateful for it! The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous (1 Peter 3:12). Since He is faithful to keep us in His affection, shouldn’t we set our hearts upon Him? “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye” (Proverbs 7:2).
In the shadow of God’s wings we find PROTECTION. During a time of great duress and calamity, the psalmist poured out his soul: “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). In another place he would pen these words: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4). We serve a God who will protect His children! He is our refuge and strength (Psa.46:1). We can turn to Him in the storms of life, knowing that He will safely carry us through. We sometimes sing, “Dear Lord, whate’re the storm may be, I’ll simply trust in thee.” Children of God have the assurance that He will be with us, even in the difficulties of life. There is comfort in knowing that the wings of Jehovah are outstretched over the lives of His children.
In the shadow of God’s wings we find time for REFLECTION. As the psalmist had opportunity to meditate upon God and His word, he declared, “My mouth shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (Psalm 67:5-7). When we stop to consider all that God has done for us, how can we not be overwhelmed? Knowing that He loves me, provides for me, and protects me thrills my soul and fills me with gladness and gratitude. God is good to His people, and living in the shadow of His wings gives us time to pause and consider that goodness.
What Happens When You Get Offended?
It happens to any human that lives to be the age of ten. Sooner or later someone is going to hurt your feelings. Maybe they make fun of something you are wearing. Or a group of friends goes out to eat together and you are left out. Or maybe the attacks are much worse. Maybe someone attacks your character or says something about you that is not true. How do we deal with this? What is our normal course of action?
The honest truth is that Christians do not handle conflict very well. Too often we either do nothing at all, trying to avoid any form of conflict, or our emotions propel us to overreacting. Isn’t it interesting that the church is made up of individuals—many of whom have trouble getting along—and yet our pulpits often remain silent about what to do when you get your feelings hurt? I think many of the “problems” we have in the church today could be fixed or avoided if we would just spend some time discussing hurt feelings.
Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding getting their feelings hurt:
You will get your feelings hurt. In fact, I’ve probably already been one of the ones to hurt your feelings. Congratulations—welcome to the human race. This is one of those things that you will deal with the rest of your life, because people are not perfect.
The first thing I want you to do the next time you get your feelings hurt is to stop and ask yourself if you are really all that important. Part of the reason our feelings are hurt is because someone offended us—which means we probably have a pretty high view of ourselves. “How dare them do that to me?!” Or, “How dare them say that about me?!” Before you ask questions like that, check yourself—and remind yourself that you are not God or His sinless Son. In fact, what you are is a sinner in need of a spotless sacrifice. Don’t forget that.
Second, do your best to treat the offending person the way you would want to be treated. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus commanded, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This is a tough one, because if you feel hurt your normal tendency may be to lash out or punish the offender. Treat them how you would want to be treated. Because the reality is you may not know the entire situation. How many times are people wrestling with things (e.g., sickness, death of a loved one, stress at work, etc.) and you have little to no knowledge of it. Yes, they may have hurt your feelings—but you just be the recipient of something that is even more troubling in their life. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but hopefully you might be able to better understand and be more compassionate.
Third, follow Biblical principles. The Bible has advice to both those who are offended and those who offend. In Matthew 18:15 Jesus admonishes, “Moreover if thy brother shall sin against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thou brother.” So have the courage to talk to them. Likewise, in Matthew 5:23-24 we read, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave thy gift there before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Sadly, when someone hurts us we expect them to do what Scripture says and come to us, but rarely do we go to them as Jesus recorded in Matthew 18. Both parties have a responsibility. Part of the reason I wanted you to first ask yourself if you were that important is to check your pride. Pride has stopped more relationships from healing than probably any other issue. Swallow your pride and talk to the person. You might be surprised at how quickly something can be cleared up when you just sit down and talk.
Lastly, remember these are just your feelings. The Bible records in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Some people want to “speak their mind” when their feelings get hurt. However, what you should be doing is speaking the mind of Christ. At the end of the day God is what matters. Do not allow your hurt feelings to slow you down from your ultimate purpose. Satan would love for Christians to be caught up in petty feuds over hurt feelings. This one is a tough one—and you will have to constantly be working on it. Just remember when you lay your head on your pillow that even if all your friends make fun of you, there is still a God in heaven who loves you!
What’s so Important
About the Local Church?
At a time when there’s more Bible teaching than you could ever consume available through radio, television, & the Internet, why should it matter where & how you’re taking in God’s truth? What’s wrong with virtual, web-based congregations for the digital-age church? Why can’t your iPod be your worship leader, your tablet be your preacher, & your friends your fellowship & accountability? The Answer is Simple: That’s Not the Way God Designed it!
The N.T. repeatedly emphasizes the importance of the local assembly. In fact, it was the pattern that Paul’s used to establish local congregations in the cities where he preached the gospel. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands every believer to be a part of such a local body [church] & reveals why this is necessary. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25. It is only in the local church to which one is committed that there can be the level of intimacy that is required for carefully stimulating fellow believers “to love & good works” & it is only in this setting that we can encourage one another faithfully & Biblically.
The New Testament also teaches that every believer is to be under the protection & nurture of the eldership of the local church. These men can shepherd the believer by encouraging, admonishing, & teaching. Hebrews 13:7 & 17 help us to understand that God has graciously granted accountability to us through godly leadership.
Furthermore, when Paul gave Timothy instructions about public meetings, he said, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13). A part of the emphasis in public worship includes: hearing the Word, being called to obedience and action through exhortation, and teaching. It is only in the context of the local assembly that these things can effectively take place.
Acts 2:42 shows us what the early church did when they met together: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” They learned God’s Word and the implications of it in their lives, they joined together to carry out acts of love and service to one another, they commemorated the Lord’s death and resurrection through the Lord’s Supper [breaking of bread], & they prayed. We cannot do these things individually, but God has called us into His Body [the church] which is the local representation of that worldwide Body—& we should gladly minister & be ministered to among God’s people.
Active involvement in the local church is imperative to living a life without compromise. It is only through the ministry of the local church that a believer can receive the kind of teaching, accountability, & encouragement that is necessary for him to stand firm in his convictions. God has ordained that the church provide the kind of environment where an uncompromising life can thrive & His people can grow spiritually.
As a preacher, probably the most discouraging thing is poor attendance by some members of the church. Often, I have spent hours studying & preparing a sermon for my Lay Lake family. As Sunday approaches, I am excited about the opportunity to apply this truth in the lives of the congregation. Often, I can think of several in the church who are struggling in their Christian lives, and I cannot wait to preach the Word of God and provide answers; principles that will help them from the Word.
Sad to say, the Devil also knows what is happening in the lives of the church. He has greater access to them & influence with them, than the preacher or the elders. On many occasions (Sunday & Wednesday, devotionals, Gospel Meetings, etc.), when I have prepared a message for them from the word of God & they never got to hear it, because they let a hobby, beautiful day or even a rainy one keep them from the house of the Lord. I can tell you, it deeply hurts when this happens, & it happens far too often.
How many parents are teaching their children to also be unfaithful to the Lord. Often I grieve for the wasted lives of children, whose parents regularly kept them from Bible class & worship to spend the day pursuing some hobby, sports or recreational activity the parents wanted to enjoy. I often wonder how much grief rebellious children have caused their parents, that could have been avoided if they had just kept them faithful in worship & Bible class? At times, the unfortunate outcome is that the children of these professing Christian parents have little or no interest in spiritual things and they end up unsaved or unfaithful. In my years of preaching, I have never personally known of children of unfaithful Christian parents growing up & being faithful themselves. So often I think of the children I have been privileged to teach who showed great promise of being a faithful Christian, but as they grew older, they began to see the unfaithfulness in their parent’s lives. They began to follow their disobedient parents, & soon they too, fell by the wayside.
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