(John 3:16, James 1:17)
We are saved by the amazing Grace of God. We will not be saved without it. Eph. 2:8, Eph. 2:4-5
We are saved by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will not be saved without it. Heb. 2:9, 2 Cor. 5:15
We are saved by FAITH (belief and trust) in Jesus Christ. We will not be saved without it. Heb. 10:39, Rom. 3:22
We are saved by CONFESSING the name of Christ before men. We will not be saved without it. 1 Tim. 6:12, Rom. 10:9
We are saved by REPENTING of our sins. We will not be saved without it. Luke 13:3, Acts 3:19
We are saved by BEING BAPTIZED for Forgiveness of our sins. We will not be saved without it. Acts 2:47, Acts 22:16
We are saved by Being IN the church (The body of Christ). We will not be saved without it. Acts 2:47, Eph.1:22,23
We are saved by Being CREATED in Christ Jesus for good works. We will not be saved without it. Eph. 2:10, James 1;22
We are saved by Being OBEDIENT to God. We will not be saved without it. Romans 6:17, 18, 1 Peter 1:13,14
We are saved by Being FAITHFUL unto death. We will not be saved without it. Rev. 2:10b, Acts 11;23
We can never do anything to deserve or earn our salvation. Which of God’s commands can we ignore and still be saved? Rev. 14:12.
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time, his throat became very dry. About that time, he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: "Pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it. If you do this, you will get all the water you need".
Now the man had a choice to make. If he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked, he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work, he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or, he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die.
After thinking about it, the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle. At first, nothing happened, and he got a little scared. But, he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out that he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find.
Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed.
Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveler. The man refilled the jug and added to the note: Please prime the pump, believe me it works!
We have the same choice to make. Do we hold on to what we have because we don't believe there are better things in store for us, and settle for immediate satisfaction? Or do we trust God and give up all that we have to get what God has promised us? I think the choice is obvious. We need to pour in all the water, and trust God with everything. Then, once we have experienced what God has to offer - "the living water", we need to tell other
people, Go ahead prime the pump. Believe me, It works!!!"
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will directs your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6
There are many identifiable characteristics found in the first century church that made them such a special group of people which are also seen here as well.
One of these characteristics is GENEROSITY. Luke shares in Acts 2:44-45, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” We read also about this in Acts 4:32-37. This trait made the early church a strong and close-knit family by responding beautifully to meeting one another’s needs. This wasn’t command at this time and was simply an appropriate response from the heart to those in need.
This trait was taught and shared by Jesus, witnessed and displayed by the apostles, and ultimately embraced and practiced by the early church. Generosity is a CHARACTERISTIC that permeates throughout the church and is a beautiful quality learned by watching the faithful response of generous people who meet the needs of their spiritual family.
** Jesus went about doing good and helping those in need (Acts 10:38), taught by our Lord (Acts 20:35), remembering those in need was a common practice in the early church (Galatians 2:10), taught by the apostles (Galatians 6:10), Paul taught this expression of faith to a young preacher (1 Timothy 6:18-19), expressed by the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 14:16), taught by Paul as an enduring quality (2 Thessalonians 3:13)**
I write about this because I have witnessed GENEROSITY first hand as a recipient by so many of you over the course of this last year. You have been so generous with me and my family in so many ways and we are grateful for each generous act given out of love.
Recently, we have received financial gifts in response to our adoption process. One was given by some children and another was given by a family. I mention these because they are generous acts of kindness like we find in the scriptures about the early church and, equally important, they were responses from the heart to help meet an important need.
These gifts of love were taught by the faithful example of parents who then passed this wonderful trait down to their children. It is ultimately lived out and witnessed by grandchildren who are now following in their grandparents’ and parents’ footsteps. What a beautiful sacrifice of love!
This is one of the many great qualities that makes this church such a wonderful spiritual family! We are indeed grateful for help meeting a major need and loving us like family!! “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” — 2 Timothy 2:1-2
I watched an episode from the TV series, “Gunsmoke”, which happened to be episode 21 from season 20 entitled “I HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP.” The show originally aired on March 3, 1975 – I was 3 years old then, and 44 years later this episode made me think about my responsibility as a Christian. This particular show is a great episode about a preacher who wants to build a church for native Americans on a small reserve but is met with bigotry from the citizens of a nearby town.
As I was watching this show, Festus is having a discussion with the old preacher after having faced so much difficulty about building the church on the reserve. Festus says something to the preacher about how he should be memorizing scripture instead of trying to build a church and help people. The preacher’s response is priceless. He tells Festus, “THE TIME I COULD USE MEMORIZING THE BIBLE WOULD BE BETTER SPENT TRYING TO DO THE GOOD IT RECOMMENDED!”
That particular thought resonates in my mind and is certainly a common thought throughout the New
Testament. Please don’t think that I DON’T value the importance of knowing God’s word and committing it to the heart. However, understand that I am saying that if we memorize, quote, and even share God’s word but never lift a finger to do the good it prescribes, then our efforts would appear meaningless. The old
adage, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is so very true.
Jesus was one who, “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). As disciples of Jesus we are told to also “do good to all men” and “not grow weary” while doing so (Galatians 6:9-10). James admonishes to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22). Our Lord says, “Everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and DOES them, I will liken to a wise man…” (Matthew 7:24).
I believe the old preacher gave some pretty good advice and we would do well to follow it!!
I can almost smell it now! My mom’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, were the best. When my mom was cooking the aroma was almost intoxicating and I knew something good was coming. A gift from her heart, a blessing of love, prepared by precious hands, with care for those she loves. I miss my momma and her cooking!
God has prepared for us out of His rich love and mercy a beautiful blessing of love --- SALVATION through His Son. Jesus was the ULTIMATE and FINAL sacrifice for sin once and for all (Hebrews 10:12). His sacrifice stirs in us a sense of gratitude, love, service, giving, and sharing. Our graciousness honors His sacrifice and pleases our Heavenly Father. Listen to the Hebrew writer as he shares God’s word in 13:15-17 - “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
We have the opportunity to give financially so the gospel can be shared locally and abroad in order to bring others into a saving relationship with God through Jesus our Lord. We also have the opportunity to be pleasing to God not only by giving but also by obeying our elders (God’s Spiritual Shepherds) in the requests they encourage us to participate in concerning HIS WORK in the Fulshear Family. A big request right now is to continue to sacrifice weekly and give for our new building. Meeting our weekly budget is paramount to ultimately building our new building. Also, PLANNING to sacrifice for our next quarterly Special Contribution (May 19) is essential to our missions and new building.
Remember, God does not require us to give what we don’t have but to certainly have a willing heart to do what we are able (2 Corinthians 8:12) knowing that He loves our gift (2 Corinthians 9:7) and that it is a Sweet Smelling Aroma to His throne of Grace and Mercy. You see, OUR GIFTS are a sweeter aroma than my mama's fried chicken and definitely better because when we give to Him we smell just like JESUS and that is a fragrance that God loves.
Listen to Paul in these two passages, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2 - “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Our Lord not only says but shows that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Let’s follow His lead!