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Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

What would others say your words seem to be seasoned with?

Think about before you try to answer. Don’t just try to squeeze yourself into the textbook Sunday school answer. Think about what others would say about your words.

How do you come off to other folks? Is it like your words are seasoned with grace? Or, is it like you sound almost a if you forgot that you yourself have been saved by grace and forgiveness mixed and blended with the lovingkindness of God?

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A Goal of Graciousness

Paul’s words to the believers in Colosse seem straightforward and stern: “Let your speech always be gracious. . .”

Let’s just focus on that for a moment.

Could you imagine the number of insults that would incrementally decrease as a result of maintaining a goal of graciousness?

Can you picture how many souls would turn to us and ask about God if we as Christians just focused on our “speech always be(ing) gracious?”

The wonder is not what would happen if we did set graciousness as our goal. The wonder is why we do not set gracious speech as our goal time and time again.

To Whom Much Grace is Given…

I know that is a poor paraphrase, but walk with me for a moment on this one.

What if we just identified what we have been given much of in order to fulfill the requirement in turn? In other words, what if we looked at it deeper when we read this portion of Luke 12:48? What if it was about much LOVE or much FORGIVENESS? We cannot take Christianity as a robotic religion when He has endowed us with free will and His Spirit, the Helper, to quicken us in response to His urging and imploring us to be different and live differently. We have to accept that God desires us to meditate on His Word day and night.

If nothing else, we can set a course for change. We can determine within ourselves to make the change and seek to keep gracious speech as the gateway to offering grace to others as we go to and fro. In our various settings, whether in line at the coffee shop or at the table in the board room, we can choose to speak to others with much grace as we keep in mind that it was with much grace that God sacrificed His only begotten son for our salvation.

Speak with grace today and every day.

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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)

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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.

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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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He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

– Colossians 1:13 (ESV)

We have been saved.

Our deliverance has come through Divine intervention in the Son of man who suffered, bled and died for sake, only to rise again from the tomb and conquer death itself to reign and rule this kingdom forever.  He did it to save us and he asked for very little in return other than for us to accept Him as Lord and live under His Word as his servants.

However, He did share a caveat with His followers.

We will suffer for His sake.

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. – John 15:20 (NKJV)

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you,delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. – Luke 21:12 (NKJV)

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. – Matthew 5:11 (NKJV)

We may not see it, but many suffer for His sake.  They claim His name in places where they face firing squads and lifelong imprisonment for doing so.  They preach His Word in places where death stares them in the face for uttering a word of the sacred text that others find to be blasphemous.  They walk in His ways in places where they are persecuted, punished and put out due to their newly found joy and freedom.

These are modern day martyrs.  They are not the early church believers of the First Century of whom we read about in Acts.  These are not the famed Apostles of Jesus who endured persecution by the Sanhedrin for speaking in His name.  No, these are men, women and children who were once Hindu, Muslim (Moslem) and countless other faiths prior to coming out of the darkness that Paul speaks of and into the kingdom of the Son of God.  They face terror and treachery, not for fame or glory.  They do so for the sake of the Savior.

For those of us in the United States and other free countries in the West and elsewhere, we must look at all of the freedoms that we take for granted and all of the freedoms that He has granted to us in light of the realization that we do not suffer like these other Christians.  The threat of losing your nonprofit status due to taking a public stance on abortion, immigration or same-sex unions/ marriages is not  persecution.  After all, there was a church that did good works and accepted free will offerings long before there was an IRS that provided an added tax benefit of a write-off for yearly contributions.

Let us renew our vision of working for the Lord.  Let us recharge our spirit of joy and thanksgiving as we exercise our freedoms to spread the Good News with fervor and tenacity.  Let use every ounce of our being to take this charge and calling of Christianity to a higher level of manifestation with prayer and through His power.  Let us awaken American and all of the communities, barrios, ‘hoods and trailer parks within it by a force of faith that sweeps every street and attacks every avenue with the Word of Jesus Christ.  Let us use Bible tracts, billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, Twitter feeds and hashtags, and everything else that we have within our legal means to spark a new spirit for the sake of the Savior.

There are those who still suffer for His name.  We may not see them.  We may never hear of them and their stories.  Yet, we must do our part for the kingdom in His name and for His sake.

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Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”c Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  – Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV)

Imagine if you would a place of sanctified bliss where the children of God lived without fault and without grumbling or arguing.  Paul painted the picture that such a state of being for the children of God would make room for them to shine like stars in the sky.  That’s a beautiful picture if you can capture a glimpse of it in your mind.

Now try it on for size.

Let the Lord use you to end disputes, bickering, and complaining, even petty arguments.  How? Just don’t do anything related to those actions.  Take all of your actions without giving cause for such reactions to arise.  Make team members really feel like part of the team.  Adjust your attitude about all things related to the activity prior to taking any action.  Pray for God to cleanse you and purify your spirit as you go into the work that He has set aside for you to accomplish in His name.

Do it like that a live as a child of God, blameless and pure. . . without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Do it so that no one can say that you have left a bad mark on God’s name.  Do it and do it without any shame on you or God the Most High.

Do it like that so that you can shine like stars in the sky.

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Many of us have heard the rallying cry of “Carpe diem!” at some point in our daily walk.  The romance language of Latin seems to give off a hearty scent like that of uncorked wine or succulent roasted meats over a crackling fire as it urges and encourages each and every one of us to simply: Seize the day! Take it for all that it has to offer and give it your all today, for indeed today is the only opportunity that we have at hand.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has yet to arrive.

So how are you going about seizing the day?

Matthew chapter 6 offers us a whole lot of how-to knowledge for implementation as believers.  It runs down how we should pray, fast, give and other related to-do items for us.  Yet, this chapter ends with some glorious advice attached to a warning about worrying.  Jesus points out that the birds and flowers do not have closets, but the Lord feeds them and clothes them (v. 26, 28-29).  He even poses the question: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (v. 27).  Jesus offers a simple warning based on biblical and ancient wisdom.  Worrying gets you nowhere and does little for you or your health, even your situation.

Worrying will not change:

  • Your Past: You did what you did and you have been through what you have been through in the past.  It is over.  You do not have to relive past mistakes and remain hostage to their haunting you daily or for a lifetime.  Get out of the past and live for today.
  • Your Possibilities: You can predict, prospect and project, but none of it is with any level of certainty.  The future is not promised.  The brother of the Lord, James said it best: Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14-15, NIV).  Don’t bank or bet on the future because you may just vanish.
  • Your Present: No, contrary to popular belief, you cannot change your present circumstances or situation.  That is to say that you cannot control what happens to you.  You can control your own thoughts and actions, keeping your emotions in check.  However, you cannot alter that situations arise to: build us up, buffet us or break us down.

Today is here.  You have a chance to make the most of it,  Go and get what He has offered you for today as your “daily bread.” Seek the best of His blessings, and then seize them as you seize this very day.

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