Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Week Forty-Seven - Well


“Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.”  Deuteronomy 12:28
God’s promise is simple and clear.  If we will follow his commands, things will go well.  It means they will be good, pleasing and make us glad.  The goodness with which we choose to live our lives will be passed on to the next generation.
My personal heritage is testimony to this fact.  My great-great grandparents were Christians.  They spoke directly to their grandchildren about their position in Christ, even while on their deathbeds.  They wanted the family to be in Christ and together in eternity.  Every generation of my family bears testimony to the activity of Christ and to the blessing He has brought to our family as a whole.
A life of doing well, being pleasing and good, is a matter of decisions.  The initial decision to follow Christ, the decision to do what is right instead of what is easy, and the decision to teach truth to the next generation all lead to a life that is good and right in the sight of the Lord.
The opposite is to live life according to our own ideas – doing what is right in our own eyes. Doing so brings us to cynicism and we finally declare along with Solomon, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”  Left to our own ways we end up destroying ourselves and everything else that is truly worthwhile.  Living life as God has directed will always lead to a life of joy, peace, and fulfillment regardless of the trials we may face.  God’s promise will always be true. 
Are you observing and hearing God’s commands?  Are things going well for you?  Do you need to make some adjustments?

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?  And if thou doest not well sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. “  Genesis 4:7
Cain is hearing directly from God about the temptation that is knocking on his door.  He has made a wrong choice by presenting a sacrifice not of blood as required.  He is angry that his sacrifice was not accepted and jealous of his brother. Scripture records that his countenance fell – his face and attitude showed his anger and jealousy.
God’s instruction is clear – “I see that you are angry, but what is the reason?  If you do right, then things go right.  If you do wrong, then things go wrong.  And that is a certain sign that your actions are based in sin.  If you don’t deal with this attitude and wrongful action, it will overtake you.”
Sadly, Cain did not accept God’s encouragement to repentance.  He allowed sin to have mastery and it led him to deeper sin – that of murdering his brother.
Blackaby writes:  “Temptations come at unexpected moments.  Sinful thoughts may cross your mind.  Selfish feelings may begin to invade your heart.  The promptings of the Holy Spirit will warn you that God is not pleased with the direction your thoughts and feelings are taking you.  At that moment of conviction, you must master the sin that crouches at the door of your life.  Sin destroys. Sin brings death.  Sin is not something to toy with or take lightly.  God’s Word to you is the same warning He gave to Cain: master the sin at the door of your life before it brings its inevitable and disastrous consequences.”
Are you doing well and good? Or, is sin crouching at your door?

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”  Galatians 5:7  
This definition means beautifully, finely, excellently, rightly – so that there is no room for blame – nobly, commendably.   The Galatians had started out well, but ended up hindered.  It is interesting that Paul puts the question to them – “who did hinder you and bring you to disobey the truth?” 

Here is the issue – they had wandered away from the truth.  They got off track because they had begun to listen to the Judaizers who wanted to bring them back under law and away from Grace. 

Throughout the Bible we see people who started out well enough, but allowed something to hinder them.  1) Lot’s wife allowed the allurement of the world to cause her to look away from God’s leading.  2) The rich young ruler allowed possessions to hinder him from following Christ.  3) Martha allowed earthly concerned to draw her away from precious time with her Saviour. Other succumbed to pride, self-pity, lukewarmness, anger and excesses of the flesh to draw them away from truth.

We must look honestly at our race and see if there are any hindrances in our own lives.  Are we allured by the world?  Are we clinging onto the things of this world – temporary things and overlooking the true riches?  Are we so busy that time with our precious Saviour is a commodity we think we can’t afford?

Running well requires that we lighten the load and get back on track running well and in the right lane – the lane of Truth with our eyes set on our Saviour.

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”  I Timothy 5:17 
The elder that rules well is a beautiful thing.  Again it means to rule beautifully, finely, excellently with no room for blame.
The work of elders is a great work. It carries a great responsibility.  We should not fail to hold them in honour for the work they do.  The consideration today, however, is not so much on the honour we should give them, but on the way they perform their duty of leadership.  Do they rule well? Is the service they perform beautiful, excellent and finely executed?   
When we compare the Scriptures in Timothy 3 where Paul gives a list of the requirements for leadership we have then a measure.  Is he blameless – of good report?  Is his marriage sound and biblical?  Is he a worker, grounded, well mannered, hospitable and able to teach?
Does he have self control in the areas of food and drink, physical and emotional restraint and finances?  Is he patient and does he lead his home rightly?  Are his children submissive and secure?   Does he have experience that has taught him humility?  Does he have a good reputation among the community?
A good pastor/leader is a beautiful thing – and worthy of the pedestal upon which we so often place them.  We do good to honour them.
Plyer said, “While we may know of some occasion or "elders" who were spoilers of the vineyard, let us not fail to hold in honor this great work and those faithful godly men who are now "ruling well." It is possible for us to fail to "count worthy of honor" such brethren especially when we hear of and see those who are not "tending the flock of God." (I Pet. 5:2). But we should not judge all by some who have left a "bad taste in our mouth" through corrupting the office.”
So it poses some questions.  If you are an elder – someone with a position in the church – are you fulfilling your office sincerely and honestly?  Are you doing it well – without blame?  If you are a pastor – are you taking heed that you fulfill your ministry?  And, if you are a church member, are you honouring and showing appreciation to these men and women that so beautifully serve you in Christ?

 “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”  II Thessalonians 3:13
Matthew Henry is very direct on his estimation of the meaning of this verse.  He says, “You must never give over, nor tire in your work. It will be time enough to rest when you come to heaven.”
Fausset and Brown explain – “be not weary--The oldest manuscripts read, "Be not cowardly in"; do not be wanting in strenuousness in doing well. Edmunds explains it: Do not culpably neglect to do well, namely, with patient industry do your duty in your several callings. In contrast to the "disorderly, not-working busybodies"
Guzik makes some interesting considerations.  He says, “Do not grow weary in doing good: This was a proper encouragement for those who were working as they should. Few things are more wearying than seeing others take advantage of Christian generosity. But we should never let the manipulations of some discourage us from doing good to the truly needy.”
Further, he says, “There is plenty of well-wishing in the world, well-resolving, well-suggesting, and well-criticizing are also found in plenty. Many people are good at well-talking, but there is not enough of simple well doing.”
Doing well means exactly that – to go good in a good fashion or uprightly.  We ought to be about the Father’s business and that might mean rolling up our sleeves and getting down to the harder and dirtier jobs of life.  It means attending to the duties that come from life and arise out of our relationships.  Spurgeon said, “attending carefully to them, and seeing that in nothing we are eye-servers and men-pleasers, but in everything are seeking to serve God.”
“There are many excuses one might make to allow weariness in well doing, but they should all be rejected.
- "It takes so much effort to keep doing good" - but you will extend effort towards the things of the world.

- "It takes so much self-denial to keep doing good" - but it is worth it when we consider the reward.

- "It just brings me persecution to do good" - but your persecutions are nothing compared to that which others have suffered.

- "People don't respond and there are little results when I do good" - but remember how slow you were to respond to Jesus Christ.
- "It doesn't earn much gratitude when I do good" - but God sends many blessings even to those who do not thank or appreciate Him.” (Guzik)
Doing one good deed each day – an old adage, but one we would do well to exemplify – are we doing enough good to others in our lives, or are we growing weary and making excuses?  Time for a heart and attitude check!

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