Friday, February 8, 2019

Gains and Losses

By Jesse LeMay

When it comes to finances, companies and individuals alike concern themselves with gains and losses. Naturally, the desire is to have more gains at the end than losses. When it comes to the passing of a loved one and our own inevitable transition, it is understandable how we can sometimes dwell on the loss and forget about the gain. Without question, a loss is present when someone we love goes to be with God. A common thought is that it is our loss, but heaven’s gain. While that is true, there is also incomparable gain received by the one who has passed. In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he writes about the wonderful gains of the Christian who has fallen asleep.

                There is the gain of SALVATION – because of God’s eternal choice (2:13). He who holds time in His hand and is not bound by time, has eternally chosen the Christian for this salvation. This comes by God’s Spirit sanctifying us because of our faith in the truth.
                There is the gain of the outcome of our GOOD HOPE (2:16). That confident expectation we live our lives with as Christians will be fulfilled.
                There is the gain of ETERNAL COMFORT (2:16). Such comfort from God can apply to both while we are in the realm of time and of course when we leave for eternity. At a time of loss, the gain of God’s eternal comfort is what is needed most.
                There is the gain of the GLORY of our Lord Jesus Christ (2:14). This is perhaps the most magnificent gain of all! We get to see the amazing glory of God. This comes from being called through the gospel.

When either we or a loved one passes there will always be a great loss felt. At the same time, there is also tremendous gain on behalf of the one who passes. We can take solace in knowing the gain which our loved ones have received, and which also awaits all of us who “stand firm and hold” to God’s word. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

“It is Done”

By Jesse LeMay

                Some things in life make us long for them to be over. This is especially true when it comes to the hard, the painful, the sad, and the suffering. Nobody enjoys experiencing such hardships, especially for prolonged periods of time. However, no one is exempt from the trials of life, which when endured and overcome can bring positive results (James 1:2-4). We are subject to such things because we are human and because of the fallen world in which we live. Despite the growth that can come from persevering through life’s adversity, we do look forward to them coming to an end. Thanks be to God that there will be a day when every form of suffering will be done away with.
                In the revelation that Christ gave John, He spoke of such a time. That time will be when God brings about the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, which He Himself will dwell in with His people. Not only will God live among those who have overcome sin, but He also said He will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore…” (21:4). Oh how wonderful that will be! The Lord is going to abolish all the suffering and sorrow and make a new world where none of those things will exist. We won’t have to wait anymore for the day when either we, or our loved ones no longer have to endure such anguish. For on that day our Creator will say, “It is done!” (21:6).
Even though we may struggle in the here and now, we can take comfort in the fact that God has promised such a day. A day when there will be no more pain, or sickness, or death. We can live in confidence knowing that those who have overcome through Christ will inherit this wonderful world. May we all keep pressing on until that day when we hear our Lord and Savior say, “It is done!”    

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Godly Giving

By Jesse LeMay

                From the very beginning (Cain and Able) God has expected His creation to give to Him its very best. God is the giver of all things. Therefore, by sacrificing something and returning back what has been given to the giver, we are expressing not only our gratitude and our understanding of where all things come from, but also our faith. Godly giving has always been about giving our best, about making a sacrifice. This was true with Cain and Able, with Abraham offering Isaac, with the Israelites making a holy and unblemished offering, and it is also true with the Christian under the new covenant. Godly giving is about the heart. A terrific example of this can be seen in the sacrifice of a woman who probably thought (along with others) her contribution was insignificant.
                Not long before Jesus would be crucified, He was teaching and answering questions in the Temple (Mark 11:27ff.). At one point He began watching people put their offering into the treasury, and He saw that “many rich people were putting in large sums,” followed by a “poor widow” who only put in “two small copper coins” (12:41-42). It is easy to think that those who make the bigger contributions are somehow doing more for God. However, Jesus said that this poor woman gave “more than all the contributors,” because they had given “out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (12:43-44).
                What a great lesson on godly giving! Yes, the rich were putting in a lot of money, but it would make no impact on their lives, it was no sacrifice. Conversely, that woman put in mere pennies, yet to God it was worth more than all the other contributions combined. Why? It was costing her something. She was showing her faith in God by giving all she had. If we fix our budgets and just give to God what we have left over (our surplus), are we truly trusting Him, are we giving our best? Godly giving is more about the amount of our heart than the amount of the contribution. Let each of us give to God from our hearts, “not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians. 9:7).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Christ – The Real Superhero

By Jesse LeMay

                This past Monday Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. Lee was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and the main mastermind behind the creation of many of the famed superheroes such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, and more. People all over the world, young and old alike, have become avid fans of these characters. These heroes are loved for their super powers, courage, sacrifice, and because they always seem to save the day and the world from utter destruction from some evil arch enemy. Perhaps there is a sense that we wish there could be such heroes in the real world. Well, there once lived such a hero, and His name was Jesus.
                Think about the qualities of Christ in relation to Lee’s superheroes. Jesus possessed extraordinary powers and abilities. He could transform and multiply food and water (John 2; 6). He had power over the weather (Mt. 8:23-27). He could walk on water (Mt. 14:22-33). He knew what others were thinking, what they would do, and what the future held in store for Himself. He was an amazing architect (John 1:3). He brought others back from the dead, and He Himself was raised. He could walk on water (Mt. 14:22-33).Just by His touch or word, the terminally ill and permanently lame were healed. Thus, Jesus saved the day for countless individuals. Furthermore, because of His love for all people, He sacrificed His life, saved the world, bringing hope to all (John 3:16-17).
                What a hero indeed! No comic book character can even come close. Especially because Jesus actually lived and did all these things. There are many other characteristics of Christ the superhero which were not mentioned. One in particular is the other-worldly realm where Jesus came from and where He went (John 14:1-6). All who belong to Christ will join Him in that world of glory and endless day!

Friday, October 12, 2018

“I” Marks the Spot

By Jesse LeMay

                Searching for and finding hidden treasure is something that has always fascinated people. There are all sorts of stories which date back hundreds and even thousands of years about vast fortunes being either lost or intentionally buried somewhere. Such treasures are out there just waiting for someone to find them. In pirate legends, there is always a map guiding the seeker to the treasure. At the final destination an “X” marks the spot where the awaiting goods lie. All one has to do is follow the “X” and the treasure is theirs. Following the “X” and acquiring this new-found wealth would be life changing. As appealing and exciting as such a discovery might be, there is however, an even greater and more impactful treasure out there for all people.
                The Apostle Paul speaks of the gospel of Christ as the “Light of the glory of God,” and a “treasure” (2 Corinthians 4:3-7). This treasure is hidden to some because their eyes are blinded, keeping them from seeing the light of the gospel. Despite being hidden to such people, God’s invaluable treasure can be found easily by all who are searching. Unlike the “X” marking the spot to the buried pirate treasure, “I” marks the spot for the treasure of the gospel. Scripture says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, … always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body” (4:7-10). Christians are the location of the treasure! We, you, I, are the end of the map.
                In order for others to find this incomparable inheritance which God has offered to everyone, they have to first come to us. It is hard to understand why our Lord would place such a valuable item in something so frail and faulty at times; nonetheless, you and I are where He has buried His eternal treasure. While it is true that there is the written word, we are to be those who live out and share that word. Uncovering some lost pirate treasure may temporarily change your life; however, leading others to discovering the precious treasure of the gospel will change eternity. So, never forget that for those searching the map for God’s treasure, “I” marks the spot!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How are We Remembered?

By Jesse LeMay

                Most of us have likely thought about how others will remember us after we leave this earth. Many in the world have the desire to be remembered for having fun and living life to the fullest. As Christians, hopefully we have a different set of things by which we hope to be remembered. What if others remembering us wasn’t just something that came post-mortem however?

In the introduction to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he said, “we give thanks to God always for all of you,” and twice he mentions what he and others remember about them (1:2-3). This remembrance is something that is ongoing, something which is taking place while they are still alive. Paul gives no less than ten areas worth remembering about these Christians.

First is their “work of faith” (1:3). Hard times come and remaining faithful can take work. In addition, as James tells us, true faith produces work.

Second is their “labor of love” (1:3). Putting others first takes effort and does not come easy.

Third is their “steadfastness of hope” (1:3). Despite sufferings and persecution, they never lost hope of eternal resurrection with Christ.

Fourth Paul says they became “imitators” of he, the other apostles, and most importantly of Christ (1:6).

Fifth is how they “received the word” with joy, despite all the affliction it brought (1:6). How do we receive the word?

Sixth is how they “became an example to all believers” (1:7). Is our example worth remembering and emulating?

Seventh is their evangelistic efforts which caused the “word of the Lord” to be “sounded forth,” and in “every place” their faith toward God had gone forth (1:8).

Eighth is the “reception” they gave Paul and the others (1:9). How do we receive others who visit our church?

Ninth is how they “turned to God from idols” (1:9). They completely left those vain idols behind. Have we put behind us that which is ungodly and turned wholly to God?

Tenth is their service to God. They didn’t just come to have faith in God, but to serve him, to give Him their lives.

Paul thanked God always for these Christians, and constantly remembered these aspects and efforts about them. Individually and collectively as the church, is our conduct worth remembering? How do others remember us?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

                People have long thought about what their destinies might be. Some believe their destiny is fixed and nothing can be done to change it. Others view that they hold their destiny in their own hands. While God knows everything that will happen in our lives, we have free will to choose what to do or what not to do. One thing God has predetermined however, is His plan of redemption. In Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he wrote “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9). What a wonderful destiny for those belonging to the Lord! Since we know we have such a destiny, what should we do about it? Paul gives a long list of commands for Christians to apply to their lives because of their destiny.
No less than nine of those commands have to do with our interaction with one another as Christians. Among those are to “exhort,” “build up,” “be in peace,” “encourage,” “help” and “be patient” with one another. As partakers of the same destiny, everything we say and do should always be to aid each other, not hinder.
We are also told to “recognize” and “esteem very highly in love” those who “diligently labor” among us as leaders of the church. Being an elder is a major responsibility. They are tasked with protecting, overseeing, and shepherding God’s sheep, to help them reach the wonderful destiny that awaits them. As such, they will give an account to God for the work they do (Hebrews 13:17).
Our destiny of eternal salvation is offered to us through the Holy word of God; therefore, Paul says not to “despise” or reject the word, but to “examine everything.” We should also be those of “good” character, abstaining from all forms of “evil,” not quenching the “Spirit” by living a sanctified life.   
Because we know our destiny, Paul reminds us to “rejoice always,” “pray without ceasing,” and to do God’s will by giving “thanks” for everything. Life is hard and can be painful in many ways at times. However, if we focus on the fact that God has already supplanted our destiny through Christ, then we can rejoice, pray, and always give thanks to the Lord. Live life in confidence, knowing that “whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him!”

Written by Jesse LeMay