Levels of Reward and Punishment

Luke 12:

47"That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Zechariah 4,5,6; Luke 12 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

This is a fairly difficult teaching but an important one I think.  I have heard many people over the years say things like, "Sin is sin and one is just as bad as the other."  I don’t really agree with statements like that.  I will say that any sin, big or small is enough to condemn us as we stand before our Holy and Righteous God, that’s why Paul was correct in saying that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We are all sinners there is no doubt about that, from the most holy person you can think of, to the rottenest scoundrel on the planet, we are all on the same boat when it comes to being a sinner.  However, that does not mean that every sin is equal. 

Furthermore, not every sin is the same for every person.  The same act may be more of a sin to me than it is to you depending on our understanding of right and wrong and our relationship and knowledge of God.  47"That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.  That says that someone who does something wrong but doesn’t know that it’s wrong may be punished, but that punishment will be much less than a person who knows its wrong and does it anyway.  So we can see that there are levels of punishment.  Woe to those who know the truth, who have been raised with the proper knowledge of God and Jesus but refuse to accept it, to those who have been given much, much will be demanded. 

And while we are talking about this, we might also think about rewards.  Earlier in the same chapter Jesus said. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  He’s telling us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven.  When I was growing up there were two songs we sang about heaven one is "I’ve got a mansion"  and another is "Lord Build Me a Cabin in the Corner of Glory Land."   I love both of these songs, and there is no doubt that just being in heaven, and living in a cabin would be wonderful, but why wouldn’t we want the mansion?  How do you get the mansion?  You get the mansion by laying up treasures in heaven, by doing good deeds, serving God, sacrificing and loving your neighbor as yourself.  By producing those fruits of the Holy Spirit that resides within, these are the things we do in order to provide for ourselves that purse that will not wear out. 

Have you ever known a student in school that is very smart but just skims by and passes by a few points because he or she just didn’t want to put in the effort and work hard enough to get the A+ that they are capable of?  I think sometimes Christians are guilty of this as well, we do just enough to get by, just enough so that we think we can "Make it" into heaven – "Just build me a cabin in the corner." 

The message I’m trying to share with you today is not intended to scare you into obedience and good deeds, but rather to encourage you to go above and beyond your normal levels of service and love so that you may increase your rewards in the life to come where our deeds from this life will certainly follow us.

Prayer:

Holy God,

Thank you for providing us with The Way to salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that you made through Him on the cross. Please help us all to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven by serving you on earth and loving one another.  Keep us ever watchful and expecting your return so that on that day we may rejoice as we see The Lamb of God returning as The Lion of Judah.

In Christ Name –

Amen

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A Powerful Word

John 1

The Word Became Flesh

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Here at Chapel Hill UMC we have just recently started a new Bible study class that I’m leading from my study.  We hadn’t really nailed down any specific direction to go in the study yet and so today I was thinking about what to do when the opening verses of John came to me and I looked around my office and noticed the Pocket Testament’s that are laying around and it became clear that John is where we should begin.  So for any of you who may happen upon this entry before tonight and are attending the Bible Study, you’ll now have a leg up on everyone else by knowing what we will be studying!

You know when we read the scriptures from the Pulpit we usually end by saying “This is the word of God for the people of God.”  I believe that the Bible contains the word of God, I have no trouble or issues with that statement after reading scripture, but – (I bet you could feel that conjunction coming couldn’t you) I think think there is much more to God’s word than what is printed between the leather covers of our most sacred book. 

What is the opening words of the gospel of John talking about?  It’s certainly not talking about a book of any kind, I think most Christians would recognize right away that the Word is in fact Christ.  So we have the written word in the Holy Bible, we have the Word which is Jesus  AND – – we can have the Word of God in us!  That’s right, the Word of God can also come from our own lips as it emanates from our hearts.  When God created man, he made us in His image, yes we fell away through sin, but Jesus Christ is all about getting back to that thing that we lost when we left the Garden of Eden.  That divine spark  is still accessible to us through acceptance of God’s Son as our Lord and Savior.  

Have you ever heard the saying, You may be the only Bible some people ever read?  We should always be aware of the power of God’s word within us.  It is powerful enough to speak all of creation into existence, powerful enough to heal the sick, raise the dead and change lives.

Prayer:  Loving Father,

Thank you for your Word which is alive and powerful.  Thank you for the power of your word in the Holy Bible, in your Son Jesus Christ and in Your Spirit which resides within our hearts.  Help us all to recognize the powerful Word that can change lives and use it to do just that.

Love Michael

 Sharing your faith is as easy as giving someone a letter from God

Fisher Of Men

Mat 4:18-20

Mat 4:18  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Mat 4:19  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Mat 4:20  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

In the short time we have been in Chapel Hill we have had many experiences, I don’t want to say any were bad because I know that God uses all of these things to work together for our good (Rom 8:28) but some have been painful, as you know.  We have been blessed in so many ways though, and I can really feel the presence of God working with us here, I know we are right where we are supposed to be and I praise him for that today.

One of the things that has been a fun blessing to me since we came here is I have a renewed passion for something that I loved as a child but hadn’t done very much of in years.  FISHING! I had only been fishing once or twice in probably the last twenty-five years but when we got to Chapel Hill and I met our next door neighbor Larry, he invited me and Beth to go.  He took us out on his boat to Normandy lake and we had a really fun day fishing, didn’t catch anything but that was ok, we had a great time nonetheless.  So I really don’t think I had fully caught the fishing bug until  I went out with him a second time and managed to make this big catch…  (sarcasm intended)

image Yes that is an actual catfish.  I know it looks more like bait than a catch but there it is anyway and I was happy to get it!  When I posted this picture on my face book, my aunt said…

  • Frances Ledbetter Matthews Well Mike at least you are a fisher of man…

    Ha Ha – very funny! (I love ya Frances!)  But at the same time, what an honor it is to be thought of in that way.  I have worked very hard to be a fisher of man as Jesus called his disciples to be.

    So this brings me to an interesting fishing tale that happened over the labor day weekend.  I was out at Henry Horton Park fishing with Beth, we had been there for a few hours when some of her friends from school showed up on the other side of the river and were swimming and splashing around.  We made our way over to them so she could join them and I was wading in the water casting a line, with absolutely no luck whatsoever.  Then I heard a voice from above me at the campsites say “Hey Preacher!” I turned to look and saw a curious sight.  It was a lady whom I had never met, she had a broken leg, purple hair and was wearing a Christian T-Shirt.  She asked me if I could baptize her, this kind-of threw me for a loop.  I had no thoughts of doing a baptism while I was out fishing, I was in no way prepared, it was very odd.  To make a long story short, we worked it out and I agreed to do the baptism.

    image You never know what you’ll catch when you go fishing in the Duck River. When she came up from the water she quoted Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

    Mary has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective for me.  When I went home, the first thing she asked was if we caught anything.  I told her no, then told her about the baptism.  She said “You never know what you’ll catch when you go fishing, you caught what you were supposed to catch.”

    WOW – you know?

    God works in mysterious ways!

    Thank you God!

    Thank you for putting us in the right place at the right time, and presenting us with opportunities to do your work.  Even though we may not know how or why, you are always there, always leading and guiding and watching over us.  Thank you for allowing us to experience the spark of Divine nature that can reside within when we allow you to have your way.

    Love Always,

    Michael

  • Treasures In Heaven

    Matthew 6:19-21 (New International Version)
    19″Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

    41047_1594400897571_1162408002_31748495_7672520_nMost of you know that it’s been a difficult few weeks for my family.  Last week shortly after I sent out the church E-mail newsletter, our family dog Buddy passed away.  We miss her very much but know that we will see her again.  I truly believe that animals are part of God’s creation and that they will be a part of heaven.  It’s not only Buddy that we’ve lost recently but, we also lost my grandpa Vance Rockwell early in the year.  Mary pointed out to me last week that Buddy and Pa would be hanging around together, having a good time and waiting for us until we get there.  Yesterday when I came into the office the big fish (not Noah, but rather the Algae Eater that we were given) in my tank was dead.  Kim was looking for him today and I told her about him dying yesterday and this scripture came to my mind.  I said “I guess we are laying up treasures for ourselves in heaven and we are looking for a big reunion up there someday.” 

    That’s a new way of thinking about treasures in Heaven.  I always thought of treasures as being things we got there (Heaven) for doing good stuff here.  But you know, for me and I think a lot of people, the biggest and best treasures of heaven will not be the things we have, but it will be the people we get to be around again.  The treasures of heaven will also be the reencountering of the connections of love that we made here in this life.  It’s not that we have stopped loving them, it’s not that they have stopped loving us, it’s just the communication that has been temporarily interrupted.   I look forward to the day when we can all be together again.

    Lord God,

    Thank you for the time I’ve had with those loved ones whom you have called home to be with you, and thank you for the treasures of their fellowship which are awaiting me when I finally reach my eternal home with you and them.

    Love Michael