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Archive for February, 2012

Prepare for Your Day

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Get ideas and insights on how to prepare for and plan your day.

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Prepare for Your Day

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Get ideas and insights on how to prepare for and plan your day.

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If you want to give, your gift will be accepted.
It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.
– 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NCV)

Usually, back when I was starting out in church, I would always hear the deacon say a prayer for the offering that somehow included the Lord’s love for a “cheerful giver.”  That always seemed to hit home in its own way.  The Lord, as shared by Paul to the believers at Corinth, does indeed love cheerful givers.  Yet, we may miss the mark if we fail to see the principles that Paul shared within the context of his message in 2 Corinthians.

Giving is noble.  The Christian is expected to give to worthy causes and unmet needs.  However, we should not be left feeling guilty when we hear someone else quote Malachi as if we are in the midst of robbing God.  We may have it in hearts to give, but we may not have it in possession to give like we desire.  In essence, Paul clarifies the matter by stating: It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.  That means that you cannot worry about what you do not have to give.  Your concern should be about what you have to give and your willingness to give it.  Jesus shared so when He pointed out the faith of the widow who gave two mites.  It was not the quantity of her gift that was impressive.  It was the depths to which she dug into what she did have in possession that caught Jesus’ attention and caused Him to call attention to her act of willingness.

God wants us willing to give.  We may have big hearts with small budgets.  God can bless us beyond where we are today.  We are not looking for the blessing out of giving since we are already blessed with “true riches” (Luke 16:11).  We have to be willing to give of what we have without seeking to gain what we desire.  We should give with no strings attached.  We should give to God’s glory, not seeking approval or kudos from others.  When we give according to the right principles, God is pleased and we can be assured that our gifts are accepted by Him.

Give with a willing heart.  Give out of what you have.  Give that God may be glorified through your gifts.

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Let brotherly love continue. – Hebrews 13:1 (KJV)

This walk of faith can seem lonely.  We can get to the point where it feels like no one is on our level.  We can feel as if we have grown into isolation.

That just should not be so.  Sadly, it is a real truth for many who believe in the Lord.  They are in church, but they feel very much alone.  They don’t feel the brotherly or sisterly love.  They feel on the outside.

Numerous churches have worked diligently on being missional and developing community.  They have worked tirelessly to create relevant ministries in their local communities.  In fact, some like Saddleback Church and Willow Creek have gone on to create resources such as study guides and e-books on ministry based upon what has worked for them.

Here I have listed some online communities of faith that may help others discover their ministry or a sense of Christian community:

Be sure to check out Christian Publications Available at Amazon

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Bear ye one another’s burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
-Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.  It is the way of Christ.  That’s what He did, right? Remember WWJD? Was that just a fad? Or, did you really take that to heart?

Bear ye one another’s burdens. . .

Wow! That’s heavy.  Literally, it is heavy due to what it really means.  We are to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters.  We are to feel their pain.  That means that we should empathize with others.  We are not called to simply stand off to the side and sympathize with them, feeling bad for them and going on. 

God wants us to live with the burdens of others as if they are our own.  If your brother suffers from addiction, you should live with it.  Even if you have never indulged, you are to suffer with your brother and sister as well as seek a remedy as if it were your own life in a shambles.  The same goes for homelessness, adultery, selfishness, greed and other things.  We need to share with our brothers and sisters.

Let’s be Christlike about it.  He went out of His way for us.  He suffered for our sakes.

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Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
 – Isaiah 53:10 (NKJV)

God’s people are to live in such a way that their lives please God.  God’s people are to live to please God.

It doesn’t sound like the Christianity that many of us signed up for when we walked down the aisle of our home church and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior in our lives.  It does not resemble the only-believe sermons that echoed in tent revivals throughout Middle America during the times of Progressives prior to the Industrial Revolution of America.  No, it does not even seem to resemble any of the tenets of religious righteousness that seem to make the headlines as the Religious Right.  That doesn’t sound like the normal Christian life that many pastors, evangelists and others have spread throughout the nation and the world about prosperity, being born again, and serving to be saved. No, it doesn’t sound like any of that at all.

However, that is what the Word says.  We are to live in a way that pleases God.  We are to model our lives after the service, sacrifice and suffrage of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah’s “Suffering Savior,”  the “man of sorrows,” presents us with a humble manner of submission that we can see and reflect in our own daily lives.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. . .

Sadly, we often interpret God’s pleasure as an image of the Heavenly Father looking down and smiling upon Jesus on the cross.  That sounds far from the accurate interpretation of the matter.  God’s pleasure in the situation is the satisfied debt of sins.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the debt of sin through the Lamb of God who was “without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19, NKJV).  Therefore, Jesus submitted to God and offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  As John says, He serves as “the propitiation of our sins.” Read Hebrews 2:17 and 1 John 4:10 about His sacrifice for our sins.

He paid a debt that we could never repay on our own.  He had to serve as the propitiation of our sins in order to satisfy the debt that we could never repay ourselves.  As Paul wrote, salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).  He stepped up and stood in for us, only to sacrifice all and suffer for our sakes.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:2-4 (NKJV)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

We need to reflect Christ’s sacrificial living.  Paul stated that we should have the mind of Christ.  Peter said that we should suffer just as Christ suffered.  James, the brother of the Lord, said that we should embrace being tested and tried.  We are to live in a manner that satisfies God.  We are to please God.

Our daily lives are to please God.  Let not Christ’s suffering and sacrifice appear to be in vain.  Do not disregard the cost of salvation.  God did not hold back.  He offered His best.  We, too, are called to offer our best.  God offered His best in Jesus Christ.  God expects us to offer our best by following the example of Jesus Christ.

Live to please God.  Live a repentant and revived life.  Live a renewed life as a new creation in Christ Jesus.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. – Psalm 147:11 (KJV)

“It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”
-Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi quotes)

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 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
  -Titus 2:1 (ESV)

There is nothing that comes naturally to us in this new life.  Our rebirth as children of God leads us to enter into a new life with a blank slate.  We are to put off the old man who has lived within us for so long, so that we may put on the new man who is to be developed and nurtured within us as new creations in Christ.

Sometimes it works.  At other times, it just doesn’t work.  We fail when we fail to rely upon the Holy Spirit.  We tend to not mature as steadily when we focus more on what we will get out of it or gain from it rather than simply submitting to the will of the Spirit.  We lose out when we lose sight of the unveiled mysteries that God has revealed to us through His Word and by His Holy Spirit.

Paul admonishes Titus to teach what is “sound doctrine.” In doing so, he shares with Titus how to lead multiple generations in ministry.  He offers a strategy for incorporating the people by empowering his people to teach one another in the Christian life.

Titus is to “exhort and rebuke with all authority”(Titus 2:15 ESV).  He, as the pastor and spiritual leader of the church, is to lead, guide, direct and provide the means for the older men to minister and mentor the younger men as well as the older women to do the same for the younger women.  In essence, according to Paul’s instructions to Titus, everyone has a role to play within the ministry of the church, ministering to each other in unity.

Read Titus 2 in its entirety.  Read through it, then study it.  See what God asks of us as believers when it comes to ministering to one another.  Pray over it.  Subject yourself to pastoral authority for the good of all concerned.  Do not simply go along to get along.  Give of yourself, sharing your experiences and lessons learned.  Let God use you to minister to your brothers and sisters so that the entire body of Christ will be strengthened in “sound doctrine.”

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