Spreading the Word Produces Joy

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You became imitators of us and of the Lord. In spite of a great deal of suffering, you welcomed the word with the joy that the Holy Spirit produces.
​- 1 Thess. 1:6 ISV​

God has chosen each of us and has a plan for each of us.  We are sanctified, set apart, for a particular purpose.  Our faith produces works that are a part of that process. We show our love for Christ by laboring and helping others. We are able to endure because of the hope we have in us, the hope that we have because God has poured His love into us. When the Gospel is preached, it goes forth with power to accomplish whatever purpose God has intended for it.  The power is the Holy Spirit which can cut us to the bone and convict us of our need for redemption.  This is the message Paul and his companions preached among the Thessalonians and in all the other places they traveled.  They were successful, not because of their powers of persuasion, but because they were completely obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is the same message that each of us should be preaching every day with our lifestyle and as St Francis of Assisi encouraged us to do: “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”  We should follow the example of Paul and live lifestyles that are worthy of imitation, just as we have become imitators of Christ.  Then those who are suffering will receive the message with great joy.  Their joy will be observed by others who will want to know the source of such great joy.  The kind of joy that endures in the midst of suffering and persecution, the kind of joy that is caught, not taught.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 07-09-2018

“Seasoned With Salt”

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5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:5,6 NIV

As Christians, we need to be constantly reminded that the “outsiders” , those that have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, are watching every move we make and listening to every word we say.  Not only to what we say but the tone of voice we use when we say it.  Every day, everywhere we go, we are witnessing.  Will our lifestyles attract others to Christ or cause them to turn away? Our conversations and our attitudes must be full of grace. The grace of God, in giving us Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior, is the one great difference between Christianity and worldly religions.  We are different.  We are the only ones who serve a living God.  No worldly religions make that claim. The fact that we serve a living Savior makes us accountable to Him.  That is why the name of Jesus always requires a decision.  When you hear that name, you either accept or reject Him, there is no middle ground.  This is a stand from which we cannot back down.

 

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. — Matthew 10:32, 33

 We must hold our position and do it with grace and love. We must study the Scriptures so that we will be instantly ready to answer anyone and everyone who questions us.  Our whole lifestyles should be seasoned with salt, the great preservative and flavor enhancer.  If we are seasoned with salt, we will attract others to our living God and they will remain forever.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-08-2018

Practice Perpetual* Praying and Praising

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2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  — Colossians 4:2-4 NIV
 
Here, Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, he instructs us to pray continually, always giving thanks. . How do we apply these instructions in our daily life?  Does Paul really expect us to be in our prayer closets all day interceding for ourselves and others?  Of course not.  So, how do we keep up with our busy lives and at the same time, follow these instructions?  Prayer isn’t about our body posture or whether our eyes are closed or not.  Prayer is about the posture of our heart and mind. So, truthfully, we can pray almost all of the time. While we are doing our daily chores or while we are having a conversation with someone, we can be praying.  But, just as we want the undivided attention of others, so does God want our undivided attention for a portion of each day.  We need to have a place we can be alone with God for a time each day, to truly communicate with Him and not just talk to Him. We can take some advice from Martin Luther who said:
“Work, work, work — from early till late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.“

If we start each day with some time alone with God, asking Him to lead us and prepare the way for us, the events of the day will go much smoother. Will they be completely trouble-free?  Of course not, but they will be peaceful and we will find that we have plenty of time to accomplish everything that God wanted us to accomplish. Either before or after we have presented our petitions to God, we need to take time to add adoration, praise and thanksgiving for all that God has done, is doing and will continue to do for us.

*perpetual – occurring repeatedly; so frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-07-2018

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. – Col 3:12 ISV
The characteristics that Paul talks about here are totally contrary to the flesh. Yet, these are the goals that we should be striving toward in our daily walk with Jesus. All of us have certain areas in which God has gifted us and the change from natural to spiritual in these areas are easier for us than for others.  The flesh is stubborn and wants to hold onto the old ways. Nevertheless, we must strive every day to improve in all of the areas. Being humble is hard for the flesh. When we do good deeds, we want to be recognized and praised for those good deeds. But, we must remember that we are doing these things for Jesus and laying up our rewards in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. —  Matt. 6:2-4

Probably the toughest of all of these things is to learn to truly forgive.  We say that we have forgiven those who have hurt us, but how do we treat that person after we have said those words.  Does remembering the incident still cause you to act differently toward that person?  Forgiveness is not a pardon for the person’s wrong,  It is not saying that what they did is okay.  It is saying that we all make mistakes and we all need forgiveness at times, so we should forgive others because of the forgiveness we have experienced in our lives, particularly, the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus. We need to forgive for our own benefit and not allow a root of bitterness to grow in our hearts that satan can use to destroy relationships with others and eventually destroy us.

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. — Ephesians 4:31

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-06-2018

“The Peace of the Messiah”

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15 Let the peace of the Messiah also rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be thankful. – Col. 3:15 ISV
 
The word that Jesus used for peace in John 14:27 when He said, “my peace I leave with you” is the Greek word “eirene” pronounced a-ra-na. Like shalom in the Old Testament, it has a much more complex meaning than just an absence of war or conflict. If you look up shalom in the Strong’s Concordance, you will find a long list of what shalom can mean to us.

 

According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. 

This is “the peace of the Messiah” and that is what the word conveyed to the disciples. It is also what Jesus has given to all of us who accept Him as our Savior and make Him Lord of our lives. Is there anything missing from this list that we need to live lives that are full of peace and joy?  Let us be thankful and allow this “message of Christ to dwell among us richly”.  To “dwell” means to live in a specified place.  For that to happen in our lives, we must meditate on the Word of God and store his Word in our hearts.  Then when problems arise in our lives and the lives of those around us, we can encourage ourselves and others with the Word, psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs. Jesus died on the cross that we might live abundant lives full of peace and joy.  So, when satan comes around with all of his lies, we can rebuke him with the Word, just as Jesus did.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 07-05-2018

Freedom to Witness as We Work

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23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – Col. 3:23 NLT
 
Most of us do not have jobs that are commonly considered to be “full-time” work for the Lord.  But, what we need to remember is that whatever our vocation is, that is where we are planted and where we need to bloom. Where we are right now is our mission field.  We have more opportunities to witness every day than those employed by the church.  The pastors and other staff are there to encourage us in our daily lives and minister to the flocks that God has given them.  Most of their conversations are with other Christians, whereas, we are on the battle front everyday. Their job is to equip us to minister in our workplaces. When we are out in the world working for others, we must do so cheerfully and efficiently.  We should be working to please the Lord.  If our work pleases the Lord, it will be found to be more than acceptable by man.  Will we always be recognized and rewarded by our employers and/or our fellow workers?  No, but that should be of very little concern to us. God sees all of our works and stores up rewards for us in heaven. When we are faithful in serving God in the workplace, we can be assured that He notices it.  We live in a work-a-day world, but we are bondservants to Jesus Christ.  He is our Master and our Provider.  When our work pleases Him, we can be assured that we will receive the promotions and rewards in His timing. Be thankful for the provisions that God has made for each of us. If we have a grateful attitude, we won’t need to “put on a happy face”, we can just let the joy of the Lord shine through us and that will attract others to Him.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 07-04-2018

Living the New Life

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Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.– Col. 3:2 
 
When we accept Christ as our Savior it should change the way we assess the things we see and hear.  There should be external evidence of what has taken place inside of us.  Our thoughts and our hearts’ desires should be focused on things above and not on earthly things.  If we find that we are still worried about the things happening around us, particularly those that we can’t control, we need to get into the Scriptures and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to assure us of God’s omnipotence and omnipresence.  If we find that most of our thoughts are still on the same things that we thought about before, we need to be sure that we have repented.  True repentance will cause a change of some of our habits and our thought patterns. It will cause us to reprioritize the things in our lives. Before, we evaluated things according to worldly standards, now we should be evaluating them according to God’s standards.  We have died and are now hidden in Christ. The flesh does not like this new us. It is a constant battle to put to death all those fleshly desires and satan will surely be coming around to remind you of how much “fun” you were having when you were serving Him. We have to put these fleshly things to death in our minds, while they are still in the idea or thought stage. If we allow them to take root in our mind, we have lost the battle. We cannot do this alone, we have to allow God to accomplish it through and for us.
 
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.-2 Cor. 10:3-5
Post 07-03-2018