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Archive for the ‘believers’ Category

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

Henry David Thoreau

I came across Michelle Lesley’s blog while searching for something else, something utterly and entirely different. I don’t know if I could count it as an accident. I just know that I can count this as a discovery in my book, and that carries a lot of weight as I evaluate where and how to spend the limited commodity of time.

Michelle Lesley got me thinking when she served up the blessing of social media for believers. I looked to the Simple Preacher, hoping his feed would clear my head, but he merely indirectly confirmed some of this woman’s findings.

Stop for a moment and consider what this Christian blogger did by simply adhering to the content calendar credo and posting an item for Throwback Thursday. She used a name that is attached to both our faith identity and our answer for who is our Savior.

“Live out your beliefs. . .”

Believers.

In a word, our identity is summed up. We believe, so we are to live differently. Yet, we are called out and expected to live differently due to those beliefs. We walk out our beliefs, and we put our faith on display in the flesh as we engage other believers and those who remain in unbelief.

“. . . and you can turn the world around.”

We are now identified differently because we live our beliefs. Since we believe, we live out those beliefs and accomplish the miraculous. I don’t mean water into water. We achieve the impossible before the eyes of the hopeless and helpless. We overcome the insurmountable as our enemies and other bystanders look on with awe and amazement. We survive and stand out as miracles of the Maker.

We are to “turn the world around.” And I believe that to be part of our calling. That is why I started my podcast Coffee & Chat with Rev Bruce. That is why I launch the video live stream for Coffee & Chat with Rev Bruce on YouTube ad Facebook.

It is not enough for us to say that we believe. We need to get over it and get on with it. We need to get busy and get to what the Lord has for us to do. If we are called to “turn around the world” as a result of our beliefs, then we can definitely do so by living differently, offering inspiration and encouragement for people from all walks of life to better themselves.

“The highest human act is to inspire”.- Nipsey Hussle

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For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10 (NASB)

standing-man-in-blue-dress-shirt-praying-3229850

Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

 

Do we find favor? Or, vice versa, does favor find us?

The question lingers on.

Yet, favor with God is entirely different from favor with men.  The Lord is said to look at the heart, while man is caught up in the outward appearance.  The world looks on and assesses what is on the outside and obvious, but the Lord searches the innermost parts of man and in His secret places for what is hidden from the natural eye.

Paul’s argument to the Galatians is that seeking to please man disqualifies you as a servant of the Lord, according to Galatians 1:10. The context of his argument is based on the profession of the Good News as the gospel and that there is no other gospel for consideration. His argument was rooted in the inherent defense of the Word of God against those who would twist and manipulate it to lead others astray with unnecessary ritualistic demands. What Paul was saying to the Galatians was that their faith should remain rooted in the gospel that touched their hearts and changed their lives.

When we read the early chapters of Galatians, we can sense how deeply immersed Paul was in the upkeep of the faith of these fellow believers. But we also get a sense of how much Paul did not worry about the favor of men.

22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” – Galatians 1:22-23 (ESV)

Something here shows us that Paul was not seeking notoriety for His Damascus Road experience or a warm reception from those whom he once persecuted. Paul just sought to be known for “preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” That was the case with Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen Baldwin. Their efforts to disprove and destroy the effects of the Good News on others led to their own conversion.

unusual suspt

But can one find both favor with God and man?

The words from Proverbs 3:4 simply say it is possible: “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” The upbringing of the Lord Jesus demonstrate it is so, saying: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52, ESV).

Proverbs 19:6 helps us to understand that: ” Many seek the favor of a generous man. . .”  People will desire the favor of those who seem to have power and authority as in Proverbs 16:15 and 19:12. The problem is seeking man’s favor alone will never truly satisfy our souls.

So, it is possible to have favor with both God and man. We just cannot allow the pursuit of favor with man to outweigh our desire to find favor with God. Favor with man is just an added benefit that might come along with favor with God.  It is not a given that those who find favor with God will automatically also find favor with man.

The prophets experienced this firsthand. They were given the message of the Lord for the people, but they also were viewed as troublemakers and considered disruptive to the prosperity and peace that the people of God had discovered and tried to enjoy.  Oftentimes, the prophetic books of the Bible open with the fact that their message was a burden to bear for the sake of the people and in obedience to God.

Look at the life of David. He was anointed as a lad but not appointed until later.  Imagine living that life under the nose of King Saul. He served under him and you were married to his daughter as well as best friends with his son. But he was also destined to rule in Saul’s place. This put David at odds with Saul later.

Just imagine if what made you special made others skeptical.

What if it made them suspicious of your motives?

What if you being marked out for something special also left you marked as a target for ridicule and resentment by others?

Take a brief moment and think back to the last time you graciously showered someone else with favor. Was it a transforming experience or was it purely a transaction? Have you ever shared your power and influence in favor of someone who cannot even get their foot in the door?

Maybe it is time that you reflect back to the times when you needed favor.  Even better yet, think about the times when you fell out of favor and how badly you desired to regain your status.

To be a little more godly, we’re all going to have to figure out how to be a little more gracious and generous. When we do so, we can freely give to others without seeking anything in return.

 

 

 

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Shame Shimei

II Samuel 16:5-8 NKJV

Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”

Shimei should have been ashamed of himself. He confronted David and his men. He went all in. He went all the way off like a mad man.

He threw things.

He cursed.

He called David out.

Imagine what would happen if he had not went off like that. Just think if he had not chosen to go that route.

David was at a low point.

David had lost everything.

David had lost the kingdom.

David had lost the kingdom to his own son Absalom.

The last thing he needed was a Shimei to kick him while he was down. Yet, David exercised restraint. He didn’t take Shimei out. He didn’t allow his men to do so either.

II Samuel 16:11-12 NKJV

And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

What is your Christian response to what others do to you?

Get even?

Get upset?

Go off?

Let the shame be on them. You have to deal with what you have to deal with anyhow.

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14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

-Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)


God is available to us.  We do not have to await a mediator in the form of a priest or anyone else.  Jesus serves as our “great high priest” who “did not sin.” He is our mediator, seated at the right hand of the throne of God and advocating for us before God.  

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 
– Mark 15:38 (NKJV)


He makes our access to God available to us.  The work of Jesus upon the cross brought about the torn veil that led to the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the temple where access to God was limited to those of the priestly order.  That was destroyed and torn in two by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We, as believers through His shed blood, now have access to God.

Take some time and spend it with God, meditating on the sacrifice of Jesus.

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And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. – Mark 7:20

Imagine how it would be if everyone could what was inside of us.

They could see your thoughts.  Every one of your thoughts would play out like a movie scene before every person who came in contact with you.  You would be viewable by anyone and everyone.

People could see what you had in your system.  What you ate for breakfast would be in plain view.  What you put in your system would be apparent to every single person who approached you, both the good and the bad.

That doesn’t sound too good.
What about that time when I only had a few drinks? It was just something to do.


How about the time when I  held her close for only one night? Will those smudges of sex and lust still be apparent on my hands and the rest of my body?

Will everything that I laid my eyes be revealed when people look in my eyes? Magazines? Videos? Websites?

Uh-Oh!

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

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For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.
-Mark 6:17-20 (NRSV)

Pastors have a long history of political involvement.  That is in contrast to the popular sentiment in America that tosses out the separation of church and state oftentimes during election years and controversial debates on issues like Planned Parenthood, stem cell research and gay marriage.  Regardless of the platform, pastors have a history of braving the foray of politics through political involvement.

Adam Clayton Powell stands out as a pastor who turned to a life of politics for many years.  Prior to ever campaigning for a political office, Powell spent much of his time outside of the pulpit pressuring New York’s city hall for policy changes. Powell demonstrates one manner by which pastors stood out in the political spectrum.

Jerry Falwell was involved in politics.  Falwell led an evangelical Christian movement to bring morality back into the mainstream of American life.  The Moral Majority pushed and pulled on all sorts of matters in the political arena from indecency and pornography to issues like prayer in schools.

Today’s pastors find themselves under fire when congregants and others share that they only want to hear the gospel message from the pastor.  Many will argue for pastors to stay in the pulpit and stay out of politics.

The case can be made for pastors to go beyond many of their predecessors, though.  Look at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  There is an element of unrest in America today.  Jesus could view a plasma TV screen today or an iPad and look on compassionately, seeing plenty of sheep without a shepherd in this plentiful harvest. 

The fact is that we need more pastors involved in politics through advocacy and activism.  We need them to stand in the midst of the mayhem like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a nonviolent stance for civil rights and the poor.  We need them to push the agenda with local and national politicians.  We need them to testify the depths of disparity that exist on the streets and in our communities that extend beyond the homeless to the working poor and shrinking middle class of America.

In essence, we need more pastors who can deliver stirring words outside of the pulpit as much as we need them to handle the Word of God within the pulpit.

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“Accept God’s will in every situation.” – Andrew Murray
Things happen.  If you read it on a bumper sticker, you would probably get another version of what happens.  We just have to come to grips with the reality and fact of the matter.  Things just happen.
Things happen that are out of our control.  Things happen that are caused by our bad decisions.  Things happen because of what do or don’t do, what we say or fail to say.  Things happen.
We have to learn to accept God’s will.  We cannot simply toss around the notion that Satan is out to get us every time that we come across an uneasy situation.  We have to realize that God’s will is perfect.  He allows things to happen, even to us as his children, so that He may get the glory in the outcome.  He is always at work.  He may be working on us before He ever works it out in our favor.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trialsJames 1:2 (NASB)
God is able to work everything out.  He has a plan that is carried out through His will.  Both are perfect.  His will is perfect and so is His plan.  How He works it out will work together for our good and His glory.
 

Read God’s Plans for You by Andrew Murray and discover some of the unique things that God desires you to through your life and your ministry for His glory.

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They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. – Acts 1:14 (NIV)

The church needs to team up.  The body of Christ needs to join together.  As the verse says, the disciples of the Lord all joined together.  When people team up, they can share and support one another.  The common ground for each and every individual sets the stage for further collective action.

The acronym T.E.A.M. stands Totally Engaging All Members.  The work of the church requires an engagement.  Engaging others requires energy and effort.  The people who are part of the body of Christ are to be engaged under the name of Christ, living out their lives in Christ and like Christ. 

Our commitment to engage others will reveal our dedication to the goals and objectives of the team.  The church may have some business functions, but it is an organization at its core.  The church is organized under the Lord and in His name.  Its essence is a universal body of believers in Christ, the Lamb of God and the risen Lord.

Team up! Exercise T.E.A.M. in your church and ministry.  Take the time to engage other people.  Engage people in love with grace, forgiveness and mercy.  Truly, if you do so, you and your people will grow together as you strengthen one another.  T.E.A.M. up!

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6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,  with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not YetAnd what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy The Book of the Twelve Prophets Commonly Called the Minor: Amos, Hosen and Micah. with an Introd. and a Sketch of Prophecy in Early Israel. 1896and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:6-8– (NIV)

Doing Good: A Grace-Filled Approach to HolinessWhat does God want you to do?

Have you ever pondered the question? Has your mind ever wondered about it? Have you ever had to search for such an answer?

Look at the prophecy of Micah.  He offers the believer insights into pleasing and honoring God.  We are dual citizens, living both on earth and prepared for heaven.  Our bodies dwell here, but our hearts desire heaven.

Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern FictionThe Prophets as Preachers: An Introduction to the Hebrew ProphetsMicah’s prophecy sheds light on social responsibility in combination with brotherly love.   It shows us how we can offer social justice and equity in the light of oppressive conditions.  We,as believers in Christ, owe the Lord a lifestyle dedicated and devoted to following His ways as well as His Word.  We need to follow His example and offer ourselves entirely over to Him in submission.  He is our King.  He is our Lord.  We need to see Him as the supreme authority over our lives.

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.) (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.) (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.)Do good for God by doing some good.  Get in some good works.  Share a good word with someone. 

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The Body
Ecclesia = the “called-out ones”

We come to understand that the church is beyond a building.  it is not a place but the people of God.  We, as believers in the risen Savior, make up the church.  The church is called “the Body of Christ” as well as the “Bride of Christ.” The believers make up the body that is gathered together in His name.

The Complete Works of Watchman Nee as Published by Christian Fellowship PublishersThe question is simple: How are we living?

Have we lived up to the expectations that Christ has of us as His church? Are we making disciples who are prepared to be presented as the “bride of Christ” and the “body of Christ?” Let us examine our works and their worth.  We will one day stand before our Lord and he will weigh the value of what we have done in His name and for His sake.  Will burn and become consumed? Or, will it withstand the fire and come out as refined precious metals?

Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. –1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV)

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