Tag Archive | my dear friends

Idleness and Pity are not your calling!

It is a wonderful thing to be part of a church family. Just as with any family there are many different personalities and giftings among the members. You will not find any perfect people among either family. You will find people that hopefully are growing in love for one another and learning to reach out and touch the lives of others within the four walls of the church and outside the four walls. Just as our biological families should give us a place to grow and develop, hopefully in a safe environment, our church families should do the same.

The church is a place where each member should have a purpose and function. God has gifted each of us uniquely to minister to others in such a vast variety of ways. We are all to use our giftings. Sadly some come to church hoping to have their needs met without ever learning to help meet the needs of others around them. They get discouraged and disappointed when others seemingly let them down, yet seldom reach out and help others in need themselves.

There really is no place for selfish ambition or selfishness in the church. Paul gives us clear instruction on how we are to function as a family in Romans 12. As we can see, no where is there a place for selfish ambition or selfishness. We are all called to serve. If you find yourself disappointed in others or discouraged that your needs are not being met, perhaps it is time to start using your giftings to be a blessing to others. We are to live a poured out life, not a life sitting idly and waiting for others to pour out on us.  Time is too short to be wasted in pity and idleness. We all have been called for a purpose. Seek God for your purpose among the body and get busy fulfilling it!

Romans 12 NIV

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer

.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If we live each day serving as we have been called to serve, we will be too busy to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s time for each of us in the body of Christ to wake up and begin to live as we have been called to live, as a living sacrifice serving our brothers and sisters and reaching out to a world that is dying. Read and reread Romans 12 and perhaps write it out as a daily reminder of what we have been called to do. Let’s not waste another day!

This love doesn’t come natural!

John 15:35I am so glad that Jesus loves me. His love has transformed me and will continue to do so till either I go to be with Him or He returns. This is a promise from Him for everyone of us that are followers of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  

It is truly awesome to know that He will never give up on us.  He will continue to change us more and more into His image. One of the ways I have found Christ changing my heart is in my attitude towards others. Through the Word of God and His Spirit moving in my life, I am discovering that many of the things I used to feel and believe are no longer applicable. He truly does transform us and sometimes we don’t even realize when it is happening until we find ourselves seeing a situation from a different perspective than we ever did before. There were times in the past where I would take a haughty attitude towards others and their messed up lives. Christ is melting my arrogance and hardness towards others. It is a slow procedure but it is definitely happening.  My prayer these days is that God would break my heart with what breaks His heart!  It is too easy to get settled into an attitude of judgment and arrogance towards others.

I am not suggesting turning a blind eye to sin but I am suggesting that the only one worthy of  judging another’s heart is Christ. People that don’t know Him as Lord and Savior are not lead by His Spirit and until they are they will not behave in ways that bring glory to His name. They need Jesus and we need to tell them. What they don’t need is us pouring condemnation on them in anger or bitterness. God’s Spirit is more than capable of wooing them to Jesus. It is through sharing the good news,  prayer and  demonstrating the love of Christ that people will be won. Treating them like lepers or with bitterness will never draw anyone to the lover of their soul. Our focus should be on doing what comes the least natural to us and that is loving like Jesus does!

I want to share several scriptures today to encourage you to live a life that glorifies Christ. Though these are only a few verses, they are powerful ones and when we take the time to meditate on them and ask Christ to help us to walk them out they will bring about the kind of change in us our fellow believers and the world needs to see.

James 2:12 NIV 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

This is an incredibly powerful verse for us all to remember!

Matthew 18:21-22 NIV 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  

This is certainly not a popular teaching today!

  Luke 10:25-37 NIV 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

“Go and do likewise!”  Jesus used this parable to demonstrate to a man determined to live by the letter of the law that he was to show mercy, just as we are!

Romans 12:17-21 NIV 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And finally I will finish with  1John 3:15-16 NIV 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

When we find ourselves looking down on others in judgment, we need to examine ourselves and ask Christ to bring about the change that will result in our living as He lived, loving as He loves and allowing  us to each be a light in this dark world of ours. It is the fact that Christ died for us while we were sinners that demonstrated His amazing love! We didn’t have to clean ourselves up first. He took us just as we were. Thankfully He doesn’t leave us as we were but continues to change us from glory to glory! Just as He longs to do for all those who have yet to know Him as Lord. For those of our brothers and sisters in Christ, be an example and a source of encouragement. Love them as Jesus loves them. Rebuke when necessary but don’t allow any bitterness to spring up in your heart towards them.  We fail in our walk with Christ when our love is limited to those who we deem worthy. We are to love those, who at times appear very unlovable! Ours is a higher calling. Let your life demonstrate the love of Christ to others. By doing so, we are demonstrating our love to Him.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“That world outside there is not waiting for  another definition of  Christianity, it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

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Vengeance is not OURS, despite how we may feel.

We live in a world where the media tries to manipulate us every day. They encourage us to think one way or another and are quite happy to put their world slant on their reporting.  It is refreshing when you read or hear from a reporter that reports what they saw, heard etc. without putting an individual or corporate slant on their version of the truth. However, this is getting to be quite rare.

I have been amazed at the medias response to the Trayvon Martin vs George Zimmerman trial. They have made it into a racism case from the get go. NO one was there at the time of the confrontation except George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. I watched and listened to the trial and have my own opinion about it but the fact of the matter is, I have heard Christians calling out for revenge on George Zimmerman. This is wrong on so many levels. The fact is the case went to court, the jury decided and the verdict stands. Vengeance is not ours! I can understand non-believers being vengeful but NOT Christians. We have the Spirit of God in us. If we think the verdict in this case  is wrong, we still have no right to call out for vengeance!

I remember being sickened when I followed the Casey Anthony trial and she was acquitted.  It bothered me for days, but I did not have the right to call for vengeance on her. It’s not my call to make!  Jesus made it very clear, how we are to demonstrate our love for Him when He said in John 13:34,35 NIV 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

And as Paul tells us in the book of  Romans 12:19 NIV 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.

Instead of complaining and griping about the verdict, why not make a decision to do what you can during your lifetime to reach out and help others outside your own personal circle. God does not see us as different races in Christ.  He sees us all as His children and perhaps it’s time for each of us to do the same. Not just in our words, but in our actions!

Galatians 3:28 NIV 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 NIV11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

As followers of Christ, too often we spend more time complaining about the way things are instead of trying to make a difference in the way things can be. If you have followed the trial and believe the verdict was wrong, use this as a platform to try and make a difference. Reach out and show love and understanding to people outside your personal circle. If you happen to  agree with the verdict, do the same!  Complaining, tweeting and griping won’t do anything. Do something tangible to demonstrate the love of Christ to others! Make a real difference! Don’t be an armchair quarterback. Get involved and bless others.  Ultimately, George Zimmerman is answerable to God for his response in this crime, not us!

Luke 6:37 NIV 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

 

What are you putting before Him?

Isaiah 42:8

Isaiah 42:8

“Idol” definition taken from Oxforddictionaries.com

noun  -an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered:  a soccer idol.

I’ve been rethinking many of the things I have allowed in my life that could certainly fall into this category.  Particularly a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered.  Is it wrong for us to love those around us? NO, Jesus said that people will know we are Christians by our love for others! So when do people or things become an idol? I believe it is when we place their importance, opinions and or influence above our relationship and obedience to the King of Kings. Anything or person that we allow to detract us from our obedience to Jesus is an idol. Anything or anyone that we love more than Him is an idol. When we find ourselves compromising what we know is truth in order to accommodate others or to participate in something we know we shouldn’t we have allowed that person or thing to become an idol in our life.

For the last few months, I have begun to realize I am way too dependent on electronic gadgets! My blackberry is always within reach, facebook is readily accessible, the internet is a click away and tv is all too available. Though none of these things in themselves are wrong, when I allow myself to be caught up in never wanting them out of reach, I have made  them an idol in my life.

I feel a stirring in my heart that we may be facing some incredibly difficult days ahead as believers. Our Christian heritage is being attacked on every front. Things are changing rapidly in society and most of the changes are tearing down our Judeo Christian foundation. Though I do use my gadgets to share my faith in Christ and to keep in touch with others, I am realizing that I really have to discipline myself not to give them too much space in my life.  The only way for me to maintain an intimate walk with Christ is to spend adequate time in prayer and in reading my Bible and in fellowship. There have been occasions when I have been praying in my car on route to work and my cell phone has wrung and I have interrupted prayer to answer it!  Responding as if the world would collapse if I missed that  call!

Gadgets are but one thing that can become an idol. Other idols can be people. Perhaps a friend that demands too much time and keeps you  from spending time with the Lord. A boyfriend or girlfriend that has become an idol and has replaced the need for Christ in your life. A teacher, Pastor, neighbor or musician. A hobby, a sinful habit, food, tv, sports etc..  Anything or anyone that takes the place of putting Christ first is an idol.

Though all of these things and people may have great value in our lives, we have to keep them in perspective and not allow anything or anyone to steal our heart from God. If it keeps us from or causes us to run from intimacy with Him it is an idol.  The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God and wants us to put Him first. He knows how easily distracted we can become and knows it is vital for us to maintain intimacy with Him for the rest of our lives to work out according to His plan.

Let’s take a look at a few verses from God’s Word on idolatry….

Colossians 3:5-6 NIV 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.      This is a sobering verse of warning of God’s wrath for people continuing in this type of idolatry.

1 John 5:21 NIV 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 10:7  NIV 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

The following verse from the book of Samuel  simplifies the value of anything or anyone we put before God in our lives.

1 Samuel 12:21 NIV 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

Our hope is in the Lord. Other things and people have their place, but NONE are to take the place of Him in our lives. We are to put NO OTHER gods BEFORE HIM.  Though taken from the Old Testament ten commandments, this  word has never changed. He loves us so much and does not want to be second in our lives. Perhaps we need to ask Him  to show us people or things  that we have allowed to become idols in our lives and then ask for His forgiveness. The Word tells us He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we put anything or anyone before Him we lose out on the things God wants to do in us and through us. We get waylaid from the course He has set for us. Let’s determine to love Him wholeheartedly. Confess and set aside anything that will keep you from your intimacy with the lover of our soul! After all, in order to be used by God and a blessing to those around us, we need to keep our hearts right with Christ!