Pastor John E. Russell
Senior Pastor
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Friday, April 29, 2011

Looking Forward to Our Reward

Just a few days ago, I was talking with a longtime, good friend of mine. In the course of our conversation, the untimely death of the "love of his life" came up. We reminisced for a few minutes about her and some of the wonderful things she had done and then God spoke to me that she was enjoying her reward. She had been a faithful wife, mother, sister, and daughter, but even more importantly she had been a faithful Christian. We talked a little more about how we were getting older ourselves and how we're glad we don't have to fear death. In fact, both of us are, without shame, "looking forward to our reward."

Believe me, it's not that I am in any great rush to leave here. I have much to live for, especially my family and church. I also know that I still have a lot of unfinished work to do. But, I'm confident that when my time comes, I will be able to embrace it without fear, knowing that my Father, who cannot lie, has promised me a great reward!

Hebrews 10:35-36: So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Revelation 22:12: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

Matthew 16:27: For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Let me be clear, I am not talking about salvation here. Our salvation is not based on works, but on our faith in Jesus Christ. What I am talking about is how we are how we live and what we do with our lives. Are we building God's kingdom or are we building our own little personal kingdoms? Are we building for eternity or for our immediate gratification?

The Apostle Paul left us some helpful instructions on this very subject in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
...But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

The only way we can build something that is truly worthwhile and lasting is if we build as we are led by God's Holy Spirit. This is the kind of work that will please our Father in heaven: Spirit led, God-honoring, kingdom-building work done in love. This is the kind of work that will bring us a great reward!

What really amazes me is that so many people are more concerned about the reward points on their credit cards than they are with the reward stored up for them in heaven.

How can we even compare anything on this earth with what awaits us in Heaven? We couldn't even begin to imagine what God has in store for us, but I do know this: God knows us intimately, and He knows the desires of our hearts. Considering what a loving, all-knowing Father He is, our reward will surpass even our wildest dreams. And that is something I can definitely look forward to. Another thing we can count on is that the rewards that come from God have no blackout dates. They don't expire, and there is no annual fee. The price has been paid, once and for all time.

When I start to think about our reward and how great it will be, it reminds me of an old song from Phil Keaggy called "What A Day." Here are a video and the words.

When I get Home I will see all
The holy men I read about.
Peter and John, James, Luke, and Paul
And brother Tom without a doubt.
And I do believe there will be
King David at the harp
A song of praise with every chord.
What a sight to see, the redeemed and
The angels gathered round worshiping the Lord.
What a day that will be
Oh what a day that will be!

When we get Home, our Eternal Home
There'll be no more sick and dying.
No one is sad, no one is alone
And there will be no more crying.
He will wipe away every tear
From His children's eyes
And put a smile upon their faces.
What a happy day when we see
Our Lord in Paradise
Crowned as King of Kings.
What a day that will be
Oh what a day that will be!

What a day, what a day,
What a day that will be.....

Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Fight the good fight of faith and keep looking forward to your reward. God has great things in store for you both here and for all eternity!

God Bless,
Pastor John

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Your View?

Every one of us sees things differently. Some see the glass as half full, and some see it as half empty. It all depends on our attitudes, our perspectives, or our way of understanding things. Let's take a moment and ask ourselves how we view our world. Is it half empty or half full? Is it good or bad? Getting better or getting worse? Can we make a difference or not? Should life be enjoyed or endured? Is there a purpose to life or not? I could go on and on comparing the opposite ends of the spectrum, and I'm sure there are many people who would find themselves on one end or the other - or somewhere in between. A lot will depend on our worldview - whether we believe that God is real, in control, and ordering events or whether life is purely controlled by chance and we are just accidents of nature, wandering about with no purpose and no destination.

What's your view?

The culture we live in is shouting out loud and clear that God is either not real or not involved. We are told that right and wrong are whatever we say they are. We are told that we came from nothing and are going nowhere, that no one way of life is better than any other, that animals and even plants are just as important as people are, and that the government is our provider and protector. And the list goes on and on! These are the times we live in.

Do we see how contrary today's views are from God's Word? We, as a society, are so far removed from God's standards and God's truths that if someone were to study the popular culture of today, he might not even recognize that God ever existed.

What's our view? Where do we get our viewpoint from? The only place that is safe and that won't lead to disaster is God's Word.

When we start to to take God's Word seriously, it may seem like we just came from another planet, at least compared to our popular culture. Sometimes we may feel alone, but let me let you in on a little secret - we are not alone! Not only is God with us and not only has He filled us with His Holy Spirit, but there are also other believers everywhere around us. God has strategically planted His people everywhere, and each one of us are one of those strategic plants, created to be used at just the right time to do God's work.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Others may not understand the times we live in, but we must. God's Word - His truth - is desperately needed.When we step up to the plate and interject God's truth and His love into certain situations, we can change the course of history in ways that may be farther reaching than we could ever have imagined! Don't think, "Oh it's only me, what can I do?" It's not only you - it's God in you - and we can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives us strength. Don't sell yourself short, and don't sell God short!

Let me ask you another question. How much difference can one person make?
Think of:
and so many more.

What's your view of yourself? Can you do this? Is it in you to make a difference? Do you have what it takes?

What it takes is God in you! Christ in you, the hope of glory!

I'm sure you can see that this world is in desperate need of help. Guess what....You're it!   You are the help it's been waiting for!

Go change the world!
Pastor John