Thursday, May 25, 2017

Be that One Today

Romans 15:5-6  " May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        We are each, but only one.  We might question what one person can do, but each of us have an influence on others beyond our realm of knowing.  Consider someone in your own life that didn't have a big part in your life, but still had a great influence and impact on who you are today.  We can encourage others by our presence despite the struggle to attend, our attitude despite the adversity,  our words despite the temptation to find fault, and our perseverance despite our weariness.
       How can we know how to be an encouragement to others?  We look to how God has provided for ourselves, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had."  One reason we go through trials is to share with others of how we kept going, despite the mud and the muck. We crack in the dark times of life, so that the 'Light of the World' might seep into our souls, not only to comfort but to convict us.  "The more patience and comfort we receive from God, the better disposed we are to love one another."
      Where do we derive our source of encouragement from?  We must encourage others with the like-mindness of Christ. "so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  When we struggle, it's tempting to want to sin by pointing blame at others, or even at God.  Job and his wife had this very conversation..." His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  We must cling to God's Word and promises, even when the world tries to get us to abandon our faith.
       When you are a light to someone, God may be answering that person's prayer through you.  We are meant to be a light into this world, so that Christ will be seen in us despite the darkness that surrounds us.  Matthew 5: 14-16  "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
       As for myself, I want to be a light to the world around me.  I want others to see how God has created me in this small frame, how He sustains me through multiple blessings and helps me to encourage others, with my words and actions, by what He has carried me through thus far.
      "In our world today—when good is often considered bad and bad is seen as good, when truth and error are switched around—people are looking for direction in life. May we be the ones who shine the light of Christ into our world."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Respect from the 'One Another' Verses

           Today concludes the 4 part blog series on the 'One Another' verses of the New Testament.  We have covered Unity, Humility, Love and if I could put these remaining verses in a category, it would be 'Respect.'  We should always maintain respect with one another, whether we agree or disagree.  We show respect in both our approach and gentleness of our words.
           We should not excuse ourselves in our duty to serve others, but we must also not grow weary in doing good either.  It's easy for all of us to get tired, frustrated or feel unappreciated for our efforts.  We must remember our motives should be from a Christ-like love, not a man-sought approval.  "How long should we keep praying and reaching out to those we love?  Galations 6:10  “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 
           "We should communicate our knowledge and experiences to one another. We should join in prayer and praise one with another. We should set a good example one before another. And it is the duty of those especially who live in the same vicinity and family thus to comfort and edify one another; and this is the best neighborhood. "
         "What do we fear when we will not submit to one another? Is it the loss of control? Loss of power? Do we fail to make peace with an offended brother because we are afraid of losing face? We see that pride keeps rearing its ugly head, causing us to feel that we are about to lose something."
         In practical ways, we make God's love a reality to others when we give them our undivided attention, show interest in what they think and do, and share the gospel and life with them in a gentle and respectful way.

The rest of the 'one another' verses...

  1. Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Ro 14:13)
  2. Greet one another with a kiss (Ro 16:161 Co 16:202 Co 13:12)
  3. Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical intimacy (1 Co 7:5)
  4. Bear one another’s burdens (Ga 6:2)
  5. Speak truth to one another (Ep 4:25)
  6. Don’t lie to one another (Co 3:9)
  7. Comfort one another concerning the resurrection (1 Th 4:18)
  8. Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
  9. Stimulate one another to love and good deeds (He 10:24)
  10. Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
  11. Be hospitable to one another (1 Pe 4:9)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Love One Another


         We continue today with the 'One Another' blog series and focus on Love.  One third of the 'one another' verses specifically instruct Christians to love one another.  I think love is at the root of which all the other verses stem from.  1 Corinthians 13:1  "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."  To love one another is to love fellow believers as Christ loves us. Those who love like Christ in the Holy Spirit’s power will give evidence that they are followers of Jesus Christ.
         From ...“How then can the believer in Christ love as Christ loved?” The believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit living within him (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). By obeying the Spirit, through the Word of God, the believer can love like Christ does. He shows that unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving love to fellow believers, but it doesn’t stop there. He also shows the love of Christ to friends, to family members, to coworkers, etc. (Ephesians 5:18–6:4Galatians 5:1622–23). Even enemies are the recipients of Christ’s love (see Matthew 5:43–48).
          "We must not only put off anger and wrath, but we must put on compassion and kindness; not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well; not only not do hurt to any, but do what good we can to all."
          Love one another "according to his command and in compliance with his authority, by strength derived from him, with an eye to his glory, and depending upon his merit for the acceptance of what is good and the pardon of what is amiss." 
         'Love one another' has no prerequisites or restrictions.  Yes, some are more lovable than others but God loved each of us first and while we were still sinners and separated from Him.  What an example to follow!  'Red, yellow, black and white.. they are precious in His sight...Jesus loves the little children of the world.' 
         As for myself, it's easy to love those in my circle but extending my circle to include more is not always my desire.  When I began going to a new church a couple of years ago, grace and love was extended to me that made me feel welcomed.  God's desire for me to be there soon became my desire.  Love extended is often love accepted by one another.


Ways in which we can show love to another...

1] Compassion to the sufferings of others
2]Kindness that promotes friendship
3] Humbleness in both mind and demeanor
4] Meekness to those that provoke us
5] Long suffering to those who continue to provoke us
6] Bear with others in what is disagreeable to us
7] Have a readiness to forgive.... Even as Christ forgave you, so also do you.

'Love One Another' Verses... 
  1. Love one another (Jn 13:3415:1217Ro 13:81 Th 3:124:91 Pe 1:221 Jn 3:114:711; 2 Jn 5)
  2. Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  3. Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)
  4. Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pe 5:14)
  5. Be devoted to one another in love (Ro 12:10)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Humility With One Another

Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

           I want to continue on today with my 'One Another' blog series and address the issue of humility.  About 15%  of the 'one another' verses in the New Testament stress an attitude of humility and respect among believers.  Humility is a difficult issue to grasp, because as soon as you think you've got it.. you've lost it with a prideful sense of self reliance.  "Pride has a way of distorting how we see ourselves while humility offers a realistic perspective."
          Humbling ourselves is not just about being a servant to others, but includes being humble enough to accept help.  Pride is the biggest deterrent to the helpful hand of another. Why do we hinder God's provisions for our 'real needs' with our limits on how much we will accept from another?  "It may not be easy to be the one on the receiving end—especially if you’ve usually been the first one to help other people. But with humility, we can allow God to gently care for us by a variety of means when we need help."
          From Matthew Henry's commentary on humility, "We must esteem others in lowliness of mind better than ourselves, be severe upon our own faults and charitable in our judgments of others, be quick in observing our own defects and infirmities, but ready to overlook and make favorable allowances for the defects of others. We must esteem the good which is in others above that which is in ourselves; for we best know our own unworthiness and imperfections." 
          As for myself, humility is an everyday reality I have to submit to.  It does get easier with practice but it's never truly easy.  Pride is ever-present when I have to let others help me but I must turn that prideful attitude into one of gratitude.  I must remember there are other ways of doing things, than just 'my' way.  I must think of my helper's needs, not just my own.  I must flip the 'M' in Me, to make it a 'We' state of mind.  
         The greatest act of humility was when God became human and sent His Son to be with us, teach us, suffer for us, die for us and conquer death for us.  He came to serve, not to be served.  "We must walk in the same spirit and in the same steps with the Lord Jesus, who humbled himself to sufferings and death for us; not only to satisfy God’s justice, and pay the price of our redemption, but to set us an example, and that we might follow his steps." Philippians 2:1-11 are verses that call us to imitate Christ's humility... what an example to follow with one another.  May we all be like-minded with the Spirit of Christ.

Proverbs 22:4
"Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life."
James 3:13
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."

Humility with 'one another' verses:

  1. Give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10)
  2. Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Php 2:3)
  3. Serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  4. Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
  5. Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind (Ro 12:16)
  6. Be subject to one another (Ep 5:21)
  7. Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pe 5:5)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Unity With One Another

1 Peter 4:7-11  The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

       The world is a divided place in all kinds of areas but 'the church' should be a united front for The Gospel and the fulfillment of The Great Commission.  God knew how our personalities and own agendas would try to interfere with His work through us so I think that is why 1/3 of the 'one another' commands in the New Testament deals with the unity of the church.  We should all strive to think of others before ourselves and when we do, unity will follow. "Misunderstandings and disagreements occur everywhere we find people. Church is no exception. If we don’t handle our differences in a healthy way, they can harden into divisions." "God's goal is cooperation, not competition."  
       As the verse above says 'love covers over a multitude of sins', so let us show the same forgiveness, compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and patience with others, as God has blessed ourselves with.   May we live out what we sing about... "We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity will one day be restored.  We will walk hand in hand and together we'll spread the news that God in our land.  We will work side by side and we'll guard each other's dignity and save each other's pride. And they'll know we are Christians by our love."
       Galations 6:10  "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

Specific 'One Another' Verses on Unity....
  1. Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
  2. Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43)
  3. Be of the same mind with one another (Ro 12:1615:5)
  4. Accept one another (Ro 15:7)
  5. Wait for one another before beginning the Communion (1 Co 11:33)
  6. Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another with quarrels and animosity (Ga 5:15)
  7. Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Ga 5:26).
  8. Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
  9. Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
  10. Bear with and forgive one another (Co 3:13)
  11. Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
  12. Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:115:9)
  13. Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)
     What a list to strive for!!  We can't achieve it on our own but with the Holy Spirit guiding us.. all things are possible through Christ.  May His Word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Your Response

1 Peter 3:13-17  "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

Ecclessiastes 7:8-9  "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.  Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,    for anger resides in the lap of fools."

      Do you ever feel trigger-ready with your thoughts and opinions?  Yes, me too.  We may feel the oppression of the world when we try to share our Christian beliefs with others.  As we are to be bold in our faith, we should always be respectful and gentle in both our words and approach.  In general, we should avoid indiscretion, injustice, falsehood and merciless speech with others.
         Our Christian faith can only be supported by a good conscience and a holy-led life.  " A good conscience and a good conversation are the best means to secure a good name; these give a solid reputation and a lasting one."

         How do we respond to uncomfortable situations?

1] We must be humble.
2] We must bear the spiritual fruit of patience.
3] We must control our passion with wisdom and grace.
4] We are to make the best of what is, without making it worse.

        "It is folly to complain of the badness of our own times when we have more reason to complain of the badness of our own hearts (if men’s hearts were better, the times would mend) and when we have more reason to be thankful that they are not worse, but that even in the worst of times we enjoy many mercies, which help to make them not only tolerable, but comfortable."
        God wants us to understand that our afflictions are not meaningless.  We can be rebellious in our response to hardships but that's not the path God intends for us to take. When sin and suffering meet, the suffering becomes extreme, unprofitable, unbearable and destructive to the mind and soul.
         As for myself, I can't control what is happening to my physical body but I can [try to] control my response to it's progressive weakening.  I try to choose daily to keep an attitude of perseverance, but I sometimes fail.  God gives us both mountains and valleys to make us stronger.  I don't just call it quits when I can no longer do something that I previously could. God's mercies are new every morning and what He gives I want to make the most of. Adapt and proceed forward!!  When God wants me to quit my earthly race, He will call me home. Until then, Lord please keep me humble and patient as I make the best out of what You give with wisdom and grace.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Worthy? That's Not The Question

"Love is not a matter of duty and bondage; rather, life in the Spirit is a life of care and concern for others, enabled by the Spirit."

         As you read the caption above, it is implied that we might think we ourselves are worthy of love but others might not be.  That's stinkin' thinkin'.  No one is good, no not one.. but God alone.  God is worthy of our praise and obedience.  Mark 10:18 "“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." So when God's second commandment commands us to  'love one another', there is no prerequisite required of the other upon which we show love to. Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"God, being good infinitely, originally, and eternally, is to be loved in the first place, and nothing loved beside him, but what is loved for him. Love is the first and great thing that God demands from us, and therefore the first and great thing that we should devote to him."

How can we love one another?

1] Have honor and respect for all.
2] Do not wrong or injure others by our words or actions.
3] Good will and thoughts for all.
4] Deny ourselves for the good of another.
5] Make ourselves a servant for the true benefit of others.

Love Fulfills the Law--Romans 13:8-10
" Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

       We teach children 'The Golden Rule'.. Matthew 7:12  “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."  "Jesus knew that people are naturally lovers of self, and the command uses that human flaw as a place to start in how to treat othersJesus’ Golden Rule is a positive command to show love proactively." We must not be hypocrites, but understand that 'but for the grace of God go I.'  So when you see hardship, despair or simple need... consider in what way you yourself might want a helping hand or kind gesture or loving word , if you were on the receiving end.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sharing Your Testimony

 Romans 14: 10-12  "For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;  every tongue will acknowledge God.’”  So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God."

      God works in a lot of ways through us to others.  We can be good or bad examples by how we live and respond to our daily encounters with joy and hardships. You may be the only 'bible' someone sees and reads.  I challenge you to write out and share your testimony, how God came in and changed your life for His eternal purposes.  I'm not saying it's easy, because this has been my toughest blog to write thus far.  It is rewarding though because you are reminded of His faithfulness, even if you don't put it all on paper to share everything.

My testimony…

          From the beginning, I was raised in the church.  As a child,  I faced the weakness of this body that my soul was in.  I found comfort in what I was being taught in children’s church and other youth activities.  I learned who Jesus Creator, my Redeemer,  my Healer, my Sustainer, and my Savior for my sin debt.  At the age of 9, I gave my life to the Lord and was baptized.  I wanted to feel secure in knowing where I’d spend eternity if my life were to end and to have my own relationship with Christ.

         At the age of 9, I had not really faced many temptations of the world, but I knew I was a sinner in need of His grace to save me.   As I grew older, I knew I did have the Spirit of peace within me as I dealt with life’s trials of surgeries, being different than my friends and just life as a young girl in a wicked world.  I found strength through prayer.  My downfall was the belief in myself, as much as the Spirit within me. 

Proverbs 22:6  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

         Even when I was away from church, the desire to seek more of God remained in me.  I know God has been working on my sanctification in many ways and opportunities.  One example, a church student union at college allowed me to park my scooter in their building.  After making friends there, I ended up in a bible study and back in His Word.

          My life wasn’t a ‘total’ surrender to His will until the age of 30. I’m guilty of wanting what the world offered and ignoring the cost of it.  God allowed me to have all that I wanted from the world…a marriage, a home, a career…but I failed to put Him first and above all things.. therefore I reaped the consequences.  I’m thankful for that discipline.

Ephesians 2:1-3  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath."

        My life was at a crossroad of choice.. will I hang on to my will or trust in His guiding?  My world was stripped away and what I thought was my end..was actually my new beginning.  I thank God for doing whatever it took..and yes it hurt a lot…to get my dependence centered on Him alone.  I thank God that since age 9, I've never felt truly alone.  I thank God that as much as I’ve failed Him and chosen the world, that He hasn’t given up on me and continues His good work in me.  I thank God that I am forgiven because of His sacrifice.  I thank God that I don’t fear death because of His resurrection and promises that He has prepared a place for me with Him.  I thank God for His continuing grace and mercy that provides for my daily needs, my desires according to His will and for my eternal salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-10  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."