Love and Hospitality

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 1 Peter 4.8-10

Peter was writing to Christians who were undergoing suffering. Several things were mentioned in the above verses that would help in the coming trials.

Christians should love one another fervently. This includes looking out for one another. That love can be shown in many ways. Love can encourage as well as correct. It keeps you open to spiritual growth. It helps one to acknowledge and confess sin that may be found in your life. It may help to bring someone who has lost their way back to Christ.

Hospitality by definition is the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests. In the first century, men would travel from town to town teaching and preaching. They would need a place to stay while in town. Peter wrote to show hospitality to one another without complaining. Through the years our family has received many visitors into our home and have been blessed many times by the encouragement and examples of others.

Each Christian has something to contribute to the Lord’s work and kingdom. We all have a way to serve others that is a part of who we are. As good stewards, let us use the abilities that God has given us to build one another up.

#risingjoy #1-Peter #stewardship

Positive Energy

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Romans 12.10-13

The Christian should not be a pessimistic person. If you look inward, it is easy many times to realize your own limitations, at least from your point of view. One should analyze where you are and how you are progressing. But, when you look inwardly all the time, you miss the opportunities that God puts in your path to serve him. When you serve others, you are serving him. When you serve others, you are able many times to forget your own problems and go about life with a better outlook. You allow God to use you for his glory.

Paul made service to others appealing when putting it in such positive and active terms. Eagerness, zeal, and enthusiastic are all words that bring energetic pictures to your mind. Contributing to the needs of others requires action of some sort on a person’s part.

Pursue hospitality. Do you invite others into your home on a regular basis whether it is to teach them or to feed them? Maybe someone needs an encouraging word and what better way to share that than over a cup of coffee! Before this year, you could already see people isolating themselves somewhat because of their busy schedules. There was no time to have people into their home to share the gospel or encouragement.

Let us remember the hope that we have, that others need, and that we can share in a loving and positive way. Get that coffee ready!

#risingjoy #Romans #service

Blood

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation of the true sanctuary – but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. Hebrews 9.24

Even though Christians are not under the Old Testament, an understanding of it is important, Romans 15.4-6. Today, God gives us unity in accordance with Christ. It is his testament that is valid today, Hebrews 9.15.

Moses built the tabernacle following God’s instructions and then purified it, along with all of the utensils of worship, with the blood of calves and goats. According to the law, almost everything was purified with blood, without which there was no forgiveness. This was the tabernacle on earth.

The heavenly things required better sacrifices than the blood of animals. Christ put away sin once for all by his sacrifice on the cross, Hebrews 9.12, 26. He entered into heaven itself. Now, he appears in God’s presence as our advocate. When he returns, it will be to call the obedient home to be with him.

#risingjoy #Hebrews #blood

Exalted

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2.9-11

What did Jesus do that resulted in his exaltation by God? Jesus was in the form of God. He was equal with God. However, he did not grab onto the situation and hold tightly to it. He emptied himself and became like a man, sharing in our human nature.

Now, if that were all, it would be amazing. Who do you know that would willingly demote himself or herself in importance? But, that was not all that he did. He obeyed the Father to the point of going through an agonizing death on the cross even though he was innocent of any wrong. The sins that he bore on that cross were not his own. They belonged to you and to me. Because of your sin, he was separated from the Father, for God will not remain in the presence of sin.

Due to his willingness to obey, God exalted him and at his name, all will bow. Every tongue will confess that he is Lord. The question remains if you will confess him here in this life and obey him to be received into heaven or will you confess him before being condemned for all eternity. God has given you the liberty to choose which it shall be.

#risingjoy #Philippians #exaltation

Bodies

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15.49-52

Adam was the first man that God created. He was created out of the dust of the earth. Upon his death, his body returned to dust. This is true of almost every human being with few exceptions. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, which is spiritual. Our perishable body is not compatible with the heavenly kingdom.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them to be firm in their faith. Not all Christians will die before the Lord returns. His return will be like a thief that comes in the night, 2 Peter 3.10. Unexpected! At that time, in the blink of an eye, those who are still alive will be changed and given a body that is imperishable, one that can pass into eternity and inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul’s message to Christians was to stand firm and not be moved from your faith. For just as your earthly body was like that of Adam, you will be given a heavenly body like the one from heaven.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #resurrection

Stephen

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7.55-56

Stephen was one of seven men who were chosen for the task of seeing to the daily distribution of food for the widows who were in need. He was well-attested, full of faith, of wisdom, and of the Holy Spirit. He was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. The Jews had argued with Stephen, but were unable to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke, Acts 7.10. They instigated some men to claim that they had heard Stephen blaspheming against God. He was brought before the council.

Stephen gave his defense to the council in Acts 7. It is a brief history lesson of God’s people from Abraham to Jesus. At the end of his sermon, he charges the Jews with murdering Jesus and not obeying his words. After looking to heaven, he stated that he could see Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Reacting in fury, they took him out of the city and stoned him. He prayed for forgiveness for the Jews as they stoned him which is similar to the prayer of Jesus on the cross, Luke 23.34.

Stephen was a man that was killed because of his preaching to which others were resistant. He did not let the fury of the crowd stop him from teaching. May we be ready to follow his example.

#risingjoy #Acts #Stephen

Authority

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

The one who comes from above is superior to all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is superior to all. John 3.31

Heaven is where God resides. It is a place that is hard for our minds to grasp. Jesus left heaven. He emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and looking like other men. He shared in human nature, Philippians 2.7. He spoke the words of God, John 3.34. God has placed all things under the authority of Jesus, John 3.35. Authority is power. Jesus has all power. It is his power that we should obey. He gives eternal life to the one who believes in him. However, just as there are two sides to every coin, the one who does not believe and rejects Jesus shall receive God’s wrath, John 3.36. It is important in whom we believe.

#risingjoy #john #heaven

Wealth

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19.23-24

The disciples did not understand. They believed that God blessed those who were faithful with wealth. This belief was based in the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus had just seen a young rich man who had been asking him in regards to what he must do to gain eternal life sadly walk away when Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. He walked away sadly because he was not willing to part with his wealth.

Riches can be deceiving. With some people, the more wealth they have, the more they want. It can quickly consume that person’s life destroying everything in the process, including their relationship with God, family, and friends. That is what makes it so difficult to be rich and enter into heaven.

The riches can also become the false idol that gives false security. You trust in the money that you have to provide for you instead of trusting God for the things that you need.

Neither attitude is an acceptable one to God. However, it is just as easy for a poor person to be more concerned with daily needs than with trusting God to provide for them. It is important to give God the throne of your heart so that he rules in your life independent of your financial status.

#risingjoy #Matthew #wealth

His Child

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Matthew 7.21

People can easily become arrogant if left to their own devises. This is even more visible in the religious world. Religious leaders have twisted God’s word to say what benefits them, 2 Peter 3.16. They do not respect God’s word; therefore, they lack respect for God.

In Matthew 21.28-32, Jesus told a parable about two sons. Their father had told them both to go to the field and work. One son refused to go, then changed his mind and went. The other son told his father that he would go and did not. Jesus asked which of the two had done the father’s will. It was the son, who, though in the beginning refused to go, had a change of heart and went.

You can call Jesus ‘Lord’. However, if you do not obey his word, you are unknown to him. He will not acknowledge you before God. You might be a good person in your own eyes, but what is important is how God sees you. This is why it is so important to read and study God’s word! You need to know what it says so that you can obey it. Otherwise, on the last day, God will not know you as one of his children.

#risingjoy #Matthew #Jesus-as-Lord

Investments

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6.19-21

For what do you work? What is worth getting up early every day, leaving home, and spending most of your time to accomplish? Or spend the majority of your time working on?

People tend to be focused on “things”. There seems to be a never ending list of items that they are willing to work like crazy to purchase. But, the latest purchase has barely made it out of the package before they have started after the next item on their list.

Items break. They wear out. They have to be replaced which means more work has to be done. This does not even consider the amount of energy that is used to maintain these things. Who suffers from this massive output of energy? You do. Your family does.

Jesus is probably shaking his head at so many who are running after treasures on earth. He tells us to accumulate treasures in heaven. When we deposit our time and energy toward a heavenly treasure, it helps keep us focused on what is important, where we get the most for our investment.

Where are you investing?

#risingjoy #Matthew #treasures

Daily Decision

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

This is what the Lord says: “The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me? Where is the place where I will rest? My hand made them; that is how they came to be,” says the Lord. I show special favor to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say. Isaiah 66.1-2

God is amazing! He is the creator of everything in this universe. He saved the best for last, humans.

God wanted a relationship with his creation. He would walk in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He gave only one rule to be obeyed: do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He placed the tree in the middle of the garden, not in some obscure corner where it would be hard to find. Every day, man would have to look at the tree and make a decision, to obey or not to obey.

That decision continues today: to obey or not to obey. In essence, to respect what God has to say through his son, Jesus. He calls upon us to deny ourselves daily, and take up our cross and follow him, Luke 9.23. It is our choice to die to our own selfish desires and follow him or not.

What will your choice be? Will you show respect for God?

#risingjoy #Isaiah #decision

God is alive!

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Our God is in heaven! He does whatever he pleases! Psalm 115.3

In this psalm, the author makes a comparison between the idols of the nations and the God of Israel. Several times, God took the form of man to appear to man. In Genesis 3.8, it is said that he could be heard moving about the garden. In Genesis 18.1-2, the Lord appeared to Abraham on his way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

God is alive! He can talk, walk, see, and hear. He can act on the behalf of his faithful followers. This is in sharp contrast with the gods of the nations that are man-made, Psalm 115.4. They cannot even clear their own throats,115.7. They are incapable of helping anyone.

God is the deliverer and protector of his people! He takes notice of his faithful followers and blesses them.

#risingjoy #Psalms #God

Trust

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

The Lord watches from heaven; he sees all people. From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions. Psalm 33.13-15

Humans can be arrogant. It is believed that if you put your mind to a task, you can accomplish it with hard work. Many times, God and his blessing never enter into the picture. At best, he is pushed to the side while man tries in his puny way to conquer ground. James 4.13-17 warns of the folly of leaving God out of your plans.

God is faithful, Deuteronomy 7.9, and is interested in man. He wants a relationship with man, Jeremiah 9.24. However, God will not force it upon him. He knows those who are his loyal followers; those who wait patiently for him to show his faithfulness, Psalm 33.18. To these, God is deliverer and shield. They can rejoice in him and trust his holy name.

Where have you put your trust?

#risingjoy #Psalms #sovereignty-of-God

Enthusiasm Level

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, along with all their multitude of stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You impart life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9.6

This verse is at the beginning of a prayer that was prayed by the remnant of Levites that were in Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall that had been destroyed by a conquering nation which had led most of the people away into captivity. Now, many years later, he had returned to Jerusalem and had led the efforts to rebuild the wall.

Upon completing the wall, the people asked Ezra, the scribe, to read the book of the law of Moses. From dawn until noon, he read from the scroll to the men, women and children who were old enough to understand, Nehemiah 8.3. The people were eager to hear the book of the law. Ezra stood on a towering wooden platform to read from the book. When he opened the book to read, the people stood up and remained standing, Nehemiah 8.5. There were other Levites present who also read from the book of God’s law, explaining it and imparting insight so the people could have an understanding of what was being read, Nehemiah 8.7, 8.

It makes one wonder if the same enthusiasm can be found today among God’s people. Would it be considered tiresome to stand for literally hours to hear God’s word read? Christians are blessed to have the word of God readily available. They can read it comfortably sitting in their own home. How enthusiastic are you about reading God’s word?

#risingjoy #Nehemiah #enthusiasm

God’s Presence

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

“God does not really live on the earth! Look, if the sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this temple I have built! … 1 Kings 8.27

King Solomon had finished constructing the Temple. The ark of the covenant had been moved to its new home. King David, his father, had gathered the necessary supplies and had left the actual task to Solomon, 1 Chronicles 22.11, 14.

Solomon recognized that God did not actually live on the earth. Jesus taught in Matthew 5.35 that the earth is God’s footstool. It cannot begin to contain him. The Temple was the place where God’s presence was recognized to be.

The Temple was destroyed long ago around the time of 70 A.D. Does that mean that we no longer have God’s presence on earth? No, God is present in those who are obedient to him, John 14.23. The body of Christ, the church, contains those who belong to God and have been added to it by him, Acts 2.47. Are you a part of that number?

#risingjoy #1-Kings #God