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And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. – Titus 2:7 (NLT)

How often do you think of a Hindu as  good example of “good works” for a Christian to follow?

Would you really feel comfortable recommending an existentialist’s political views and ideology as a ‘pattern of good works’ that Christians could imitate?

Henry David Thoreau had such an influence.  His words of social change and individual ideological protest had an influence that span across decades and then centuries.  Walden and its escape from societal norms of the 19th century was combined with Civil Disobedience and its core message of anti-war protest and nonviolent, pacifist yet disruptive social action.

Gandhi bought into it over a hundred years later.  He used its powerful message to turn the British Empire upside down as he held hunger strikes and nonviolent protests to free India from the imperialistic reign and rule of the British.

MLK read Thoreau as part of his study of the social gospel.  His own words in Why We Can’t Wait exploded with the very essence of Thoreau’s fit with taxing Americans for the war with Mexico that no one really wanted except Texans and the federal government.

Thoreau’s influence went beyond these two and continues.  Yet, as Christians, we act as if a many of the faithful men and women of the Bible’s early church period and history’s Roman Empire were not persecuted for their faith.

Yet, Thoreau is a not  a sole voice speaking up against social ills and unchecked injustice and tyranny.  The Bible speaks of speaking up and taking a stand against such earthly rulers and social chaos.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

– Ephesians 4:1 (ESV)

Was Bonhoeffer influenced by Thoreau’s words of wisdom or the red letters of the New Testament as spoken by Jesus? Did not the Apostles stand up before the Sanhedrin in the Book of Acts, vowing to follow God rather than to listen to man? Was Paul not a persecutor of the people of the Way, later known as the church, as a Pharisee only to later be punished by the Roman government in spite of being a Roman citizen himself?

8 Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

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And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. . . And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. – Matthew 10:1, 7-8 (KJV)

good shepherd

How much of what you are doing today is

related to what He called you to do with your life?

Jesus calls us.

He calls us to salvation.

He calls us into service.

He calls us out from the world, to live set free and set apart.  He calls us from darkness into the light.  He calls us from sinful depravity to the free gift of salvation through grace by faith.

He calls us out from among the other sheep for service that will further the spreading of the gospel (Matthew 10:7).  His call upon our lives sends us along a different path than many of the rest of the flock.  He is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep who know His voice.

As you go about your routine business and affairs this week, continually ask yourself: How of what you are doing today is related to what God has called you to do with your life?

Don’t forget that He called you for two things:

  • He called you to salvation
  • He called you for service

crosses

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God

– Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)

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Let God Hear

I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. – Psalm 119:147

In the morning and in the evening are times when God should hear from us. It isn’t reserved just for in times of trouble.

However, many people just wait until it is troubling. They wait until then to call on God. They wait until a deadline is fast approaching. They wait until they are backed up against a wall.

Let God hear from you daily. Come before His throne and lay out your heart to Him. He’ll hear you.

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“…But wisdom brings success.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10

I think it is safe to say that we all hope for success in life. No matter how you determine and measure what success is for you, you can be honest about how you view it. Success, for many of us, is a goal. For others, it is a destination.

You can’t get there without some work. You can’t reach it without some determination. You can’t get there without some faith. But you surely cannot obtain it or sustain without wisdom.

Solomon appraised life in its entirety through the lens of wisdom. He advised and admonished through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. He pointed out how vanity led to misery and poverty, while humility led to honor.

Make it a point to be more successful. Add wisdom to your daily agenda and diet.

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Some folks feel that they are entitled. That is just how they see themselves.

It may not be an appropriate attitude, but that is how some of us see ourselves in relation to the church.

Yes, indeed, some of us do.

Look at the parking lot. When all of the other spaces are filled, some entertain the option of parking in visitor or staff spaces, even the handicap section.

Look at the pews.
Some will try to squeeze in on a particular row or section no matter what may be occurring in the worship service.

Let us not belabor the point any further. Some of us have reasoned and rationalized what we deserve since we contribute to the kingdom of God at our local church. It can be an offering or a volunteer contribution of time, but we do it.

Let us simply stop. Let us allow God to humble us somewhat. Let us live free if such a mindset.

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If It Had,Not, Been For The Lord, On My Side / Where Would I Be?, Where Would I Be? /

The classic gospel song that is derived from the Scriptures in Psalm 124.  It stems from a personal reflection amid the call for a collection reflection.  Each heart and every soul is to ponder and think deeply about the ways that the Lord has done miraculous things in their own lives as well as those both near and dear to them.  They would collectively look back upon how God had enhanced and enriched the lives of men and women throughout the ages.  In particular, the collective reflection would collide and combine with the personal reflection, bringing about a response from among people.

Think about what your response would be amid such a song of ascents.

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8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

As Christians, we say that we follow Christ.  If you can recall some early church history, prior to the label Christian being placed us at Antioch, Christians were called people of the Way.  We were all about the Way, the new thing that God would do among us as He had spoken of through the prophet Isaiah.  It was not until many had been martyred, tortured and persecuted for the sake of Christ that the name Christian  had become acceptable.

We see others suffering and we refuse to sit by silently.

We hear about torture of women and children who abandon the faith of their ancestors to become Christians and our hearts weigh heavily with compassion and sympathy for the Christ-like suffering of these modern day martyrs.  Yet, we refuse to let it go on without our voices speaking against such atrocities.

We see men and women turn their lives around and turn their entire lives over to Christ in rehab centers, halfway houses, homeless shelters, street missions, prison chapels and on street corners.  We praise God for His mercy, grace and forgiveness right along with them.  Yet, we speak out against the temptations and other ills that sucked the life out of them throughout their addiction, imprisonment and other ordeals.

We speak loudly.  Speak through bull horns.  We speak into microphones at press conferences and from pulpits as well as behind podiums and on top of city hall steps.

We speak boldly in public spaces.  Just as Elijah called out the king of his prophetic days, we stand boldly before leaders and hold them accountable for justice, equity and liberty among the citizens.  We spoke boldly of the truth being covered up for greed and gain.  We speak boldly about the crimes and corruption of the scoundrels and scam artists.  

We let our voices ring as loud as church bells.  We let our voices sound out like sirens.  We lift our voices and uphold our fellow man for the sake of common good regardless of his or her station in life.

Let your voice be heard.

Let people remember that you have a voice and that you are not afraid to use it.

Speak up.  Speak out.

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