Employee of the ___________.

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Have you ever felt unappreciated at work? Perhaps you’ve found yourself overlooked by your employer, while others who work with you are honored and recognized as employee of the week, month, or year. You’ve worked hard but have received no kudos from your boss. There’s no plaque in your place of employment with your name and picture on it. You may feel like you are working hard for nothing. You may feel overworked and overlooked. You may feel that your employer has treated you unjustly. You may have worked as hard as, or maybe harder than, others in your workplace but have not received the recognition you believe you deserved.

As followers of Christ, we are all called to partner with God in His work. We are called to do the work of God on earth, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the poor and destitute, and showing Jesus to others as we do so. But our work for God is never unappreciated. Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God is not unjust to those who work for Him. In the NLT, this verse reads:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

The work that we have done for God does not go unrecognized. God never forgets how hard we have worked. He never forgets how we have shown our love for Him by loving each other, by caring for those around us. Our earthly reward for doing His work is knowing that He is pleased and knowing that we have been the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. But someday, He will reward us in heaven for the things we do for Him on earth.

In the eyes of God, the acts of kindness and caring that we do for His people are done for God Himself and, as such, they will be rewarded. On the day of judgment, God will look at those of us who have worked hard for Him, who have cared for others, and He will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:34–36, NLT). And if we ask when we did these things, He will tell us that whenever we did these things to the least of His people, we did them to Him.

When we follow Christ, when we have received the salvation that comes from faith in Jesus, our response should be to work hard for His kingdom here on earth so that, one day, we will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that’s a recognition that far outweighs Employee of the Month!

Live, Love, Learn

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As I sat in a prayer service on Wednesday night, three words popped into my head. I wondered what these words were supposed to mean and why the three of them just came into my head. They had come out of nowhere, and I was sure that God was trying to tell me something. I felt that I should write them down so I turned to the back of my notebook and wrote them down. The words were live, love, learn. I felt that I needed to take these words and search God’s Word to see if I could determine what it was about these words that God wanted to tell me.

As I searched God’s Word, the easiest of these words to understand was love. The Bible tells us that we should love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). God is love and, when we abide in love, not only do we abide in God, but He also abides in us (1 John 4:16). Jesus commanded us to love each other, just as He loves us. Our love for each other shows the world that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). God’s Word says that we love because He loved us first. So love is important in the life of each of us who follow Christ.

Live was also an easy word to understand. From the beginning of creation, God’s intent was that we should live forever in His presence. But sin made eternal life impossible. Still, God wanted us to have life in Him and so He provided a way for us to receive eternal life: believing in His only Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin and to make us right in God’s eyes. When we have faith in Jesus, when we put our trust in Him and turn from our sin, we will have eternal life (Romans 1:17). In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul wrote that he had been crucified with Christ. He had turned from the ways and desires of the flesh, and so Christ lived in Him. Rather than living in the flesh, he lived by faith in Jesus, the Son of God, who gave His life for him. This is how we all must live: by faith in Jesus.

Learn was a harder word to understand. But as I searched the Word, I was brought to Matthew 11:29, where Jesus taught that we should take His yoke upon us and learn from Him. We need to learn from Jesus how to love and how to live. And, as it says in Colossians 3:16, we need to teach others, using the wisdom that we learn from Him so that they can also learn from Jesus. As I read that verse in Colossians, I looked at the verses before it and saw why God had put the words live, love, and learn in my head. Take a look at Colossians 3:10-17 from the NLT:

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

God was telling me that we must live in Christ, love as He loves us, and learn from Him. Why? So that the way in which we live our lives, the way in which we present ourselves to the world will make us the best representatives of Christ that we can possibly be.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Cause and Effect

Cause Effect

Have you ever heard of the principle of causality? You may know it better as the principle of cause and effect, the idea that one event or one action is the direct result of another. If you were to throw a bowling ball down a lane at a bowling alley, some or all of the pins will fall (unless of course, you throw a gutter ball!). In this simple example, the action of the pins falling is the direct result of the action of your throwing the ball. Throwing the ball is the cause, the pins falling is the effect. In Acts 2:42-47, the early church gives us a wonderful example of the power of cause and effect when it comes to a group of believers doing exactly what the church is called to do, make disciples.

Acts 2:42 tells us that the believers in the early church were continually devoting themselves as a community to the teaching of the apostles (the Gospel), to being in fellowship with each other, to the breaking of bread, and to praying together. The next several verses give us a beautiful picture of what that meant, what that looked like in action. Verse 43 tells us that all of the believers felt a sense of awe, or fear, and that the apostles performed many miracles, signs, and wonders. This was not fear as we may think of it. As the people saw what God was doing through the apostles, they were filled with a deep sense of respect, of reverence for God. Verses 43 through 45 tell us that the believers in the early church experienced a great sense of community. They were a community of believers who shared all that they had, caring for those who were in need.

Acts 2:46 tells us that, as a community, they worshiped together in the Temple and they met in small groups in each others’ homes, joyfully breaking bread together and praising God together. How often did they do so? In the NASB, Acts 2:42 tells us that they did so “day by day.” Not just on Sundays. Not just once or twice a week. They did these things every day of their lives. They met on a daily basis, they cared for each other on a daily basis, and they studied God’s Word on a daily basis. Their faith was shown in the way they lived their lives every single day. They didn’t just make Sunday the day that they practiced their faith. They did so every day.

So, what was the result of the actions of the early church believers, of these communities of fellow followers of Jesus Christ? If the actions of the early church believers were the cause, what was the effect? Acts 2:47b (NASB) gives us the answer:

And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The effect of the way in which the early church did life together, the effect of the way in which they showed their faith to those in the world around them, resulted in lives being saved. People came to know Christ because of the way in which those early church believers lived their lives. And this did not happen only during an altar call on Sundays; it happened “day by day.” The early church was a community of changed lives whose example changed the lives of those around them. What an amazing example for the church today. May we, as the body of Christ today, always seek to be like the early church, to be a community of people whose faith in action is the cause of souls being saved each and every day.

My Richest Gain I Count But Loss

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My late father-in-law, Henry Plona, was a great storyteller. His life was full of adventures, mishaps, and other things that made for quite entertaining tales. In the years that I knew him, I heard many of those stories, some more than once! One of the stories that I heard many times was about a time he went clamming. On that day, Henry went into the water with a belt around his waist to which he had attached the bags in which he would collect the clams. He waded into the water and would reach down to the ocean floor, grab the clams and put them in the bags, gradually moving deeper and deeper into the water as he collected the clams. This continued for a while and soon he had quite a haul of clams. And then it happened. His belt weighed down with clams, Henry took a step and realized that the heavy clams were about to cause him to go under. Thinking quickly, he undid the belt and let the clams go to keep himself from possibly drowning. He lost the clams, but gained life! He knew that staying alive far outweighed the value of a clam dinner.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul outlines why he, more than most of those he was writing to, had reason to be confident in himself. In accordance with Jewish law, he had been circumcised at eight days old. He was a pure-blooded citizen of Israel, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, and a Pharisee. He lived in strict obedience to the Law of the Jews, obeying it to the letter. His zealousness for the Law led him to persecute the early church (Philippians 3:4-6 NLT). But, after coming to truly know Christ, Paul realized that the things he had considered as valuable were worthless when compared to the value of knowing the One who went to the cross to save him from his sin. And, in realizing that, Paul chose to discard all of the things he once considered valuable. Looking at those things through the lens of his new life in Christ, Paul now saw them as nothing more than garbage. And so, he willing discarded them in order to gain Christ and become one with Him (Philippians (3:7-8 NLT).

In the beloved hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts wrote:

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

The cross of Christ represents life for all who choose to follow Him. When we choose to turn away from the ways and the desires of the flesh and turn to Christ, we, like Paul, are discarding the things of this world which, in comparison to what we gain from knowing Christ, are nothing more than garbage. Gaining the eternal life that is available through Christ is something far more valuable than anything the world has to offer.

 

Spending Time with God

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God created us for relationships, both with Him and with other people. For a relationship to work, we must spend time with the person with whom we want to be in relationship. When a man and a woman marry, they need to spend time with each other for that relationship to grow. When two people embark on a friendship, they need to spend time together in order to cultivate that friendship. Our most important relationship is with our Creator, with God. If spending time with a spouse or a friend is necessary for the relationship to flourish, how much more so is this true in our relationship with God? Yet, how often do we neglect to cultivate that most important of relationships by neglecting to spend time with God through personal devotions?

In order to grow as followers of Christ and to deepen our relationship with the God who created us, we need to set aside time each day for personal devotions, for that quiet time in the presence of God. We need to make time to sit with Him, to talk with Him, to listen for His voice. It doesn’t matter if that time is in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening. What matters is that we make that time a priority in our days, scheduling it on our calendars, if necessary, just as we would schedule appointments, time with friends and family, or dates with our spouses. God deserves nothing less than our full intentionality in making our time with Him the most important time of our day.

Jesus gave us the example to follow. In Mark 1:35, we read that Jesus woke in the early morning, before the sun had shown its face, and went off on His own to pray, to spend time with the Father. Jesus knew that He needed to spend that time in the presence of the Father. I would venture to say that, if Jesus needed that time, we need it even more. When we make time for our personal devotions, we are saying not only that God is a priority in our lives but also that we need that time to help us through each day of our lives. I can personally vouch for that! On days when I forget to spend time with God, the entire day can seem off. My mood and my attitude can even be affected. But when I make that time for personal devotions, I am strengthened throughout my day, my mood is better, and I have a more positive attitude.

Personal devotion time requires discipline. It requires intentionality. What that time looks like may vary from person to person. It may include time spent in worship (in fact, it should!). It may include time spent confessing any sin that has crept into our lives. It may include time lifting prayer requests to God. But one thing we should always include in our time with God is stillness, time spent waiting on His voice, listening to what He has to say to us. And when He speaks to us, it is a good practice to write in a journal what we hear from Him. No matter what form your personal devotions take, I guarantee you that, when you make it a priority, when you make it part of your life each day, you will treasure that time like no other.

Being of One Mind

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Fans of the classic sci-fi television series Star Trek likely will remember the Vulcan “mind meld” that occasionally was employed by the character, Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. In a Vulcan mind meld, the minds of two people were linked telepathically, which allowed for an intimate exchange of thoughts. In essence, the two minds shared consciousness, becoming one mind.

In the first letter of the apostle Peter, followers of Christ are instructed to be of one mind (1 Peter 3:8). Peter is not suggesting some sort of “Christian mind meld.” Rather, he is suggesting that we all should live in harmony with each other. As the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10, we must have unity of thought and purpose. We must have oneness in attitude. How do we achieve that? First, we need to be sympathetic with each other. We need to share one another’s feelings, the good and the bad. We must rejoice with those of us who are rejoicing and weep with those of us who are weeping (Romans 12:15). We need to love each other as family, as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Next, we must be tenderhearted with each other, meaning that we must care deeply about each other. The Greek word that is translated as tenderhearted, or compassionate, in 1 Peter 3:8 is one for which there is no adequate English translation. It is a word that indicates involving all of the emotions. We also must have a humble attitude with each other. We must have the same attitude that Jesus had when He humbled Himself in obedience to God and faced a shameful death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). When we truly belong to Christ, we will be of one mind, because we will have the mind of Christ. And when we have the mind of Christ, the love of Christ will flow in and through us.

Our Actions and Attitudes as Worship

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Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12–17, NLT)

What is worship? Music? Prayer? Giving thanks? Obedience to the Lord? The answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes. Worship is all of those things. We should sing our praise to the Lord, worshiping Him in song. We should pray to the Lord, spending time in His presence, talking to Him and listening to Him. We should give thanks to the Lord for all that He is, all that He has done, and all that He has given us. And we should be obedient to His Word, to His will for us. All of these things are worship. But what about the way we treat each other? Is that worship also? The answer to that question is also a resounding, “YES!”

In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul outlines the actions and attitudes that should be evident among members of the body of Christ. He stresses that everything that we do or say should be done as representatives of Jesus (Colossians 3:17). Our actions and our attitudes towards each other should reflect Jesus. And, in all that we say and do, we should be giving thanks, through Jesus, to God the Father. The things that we do or say should reflect our gratitude to the Lord. And when they do, I believe that it is worship.

So how should we act toward each other? What actions and attitudes would be considered as worship? In chapter 3, verse 12 of Colossians, Paul points out that we have been chosen by God to be the holy people that He loves. As such, the way in which we treat each other is important. We must show compassion (mercy), and we must treat each other with kindness, gentleness, and patience. We must display humility, putting the needs of others before our own desires. We must be willing to make allowances for each other’s faults (we all have them!) and must forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven us.

Above all, we must display love for each other. God is love, He loves us, and we must love each other. Peace, the peace that comes from Jesus, must rule in our hearts so that we can live with each other in peace. And we must always be thankful. The Gospel, the message of Jesus Christ, must fill our lives so that we can teach and counsel each other in the wisdom that He gives us. And then, added to all of these things, we must sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God, worshiping Him with hearts that are thankful.

When we choose to treat each other in the ways that Paul outlines in this passage from Colossians, our actions and our attitudes toward each other are not just pleasing to God, they are an act of worship, as well.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Everyone Has a Story to Tell

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On Sunday, September 9, my church hosted a guest speaker named Sujo John. Sujo was a survivor of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, and he had an awesome story to share about how God brought him through the horrors of that day. God really changed Sujo’s life on that day and is using him in an amazing way to reach people with the Gospel. Since 9/11, he has left the corporate world and has founded You Can Free Us, a ministry that fights against human trafficking (www.youcanfree.us).

As he told his story and shared about how God has worked in his life, Sujo pointed out that everyone has a story to tell. Our individual stories may not be as dramatic as Sujo’s is, but when we take time to look at our lives, we all can find times in our lives when God was there, leading us through a crisis, or guiding us in the path He has laid out for us. God knows us intimately. He knew us even before we were conceived in our mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1:5). He knows every hair on our heads and every cell in our bodies. And, as we go through life, He is there, watching over us every step of the way.

But God does not control our lives like a puppeteer controlling a marionette. God gave us free will and the ability to choose that path that we will follow in life. He allows us to write our own story. And, as we go through life, we will have many choices to make. We can choose the things we wish to learn. We can choose a career path. We can choose the person we wish to marry and spend our lives with, or we may choose to live single. We can even choose between good and evil, right or wrong. The choices we make will determine, to a great extent, the path that our lives will take.

While God does not make our choices for us, we can be sure that, when we need Him, we can call on Him and He will be there for us. Scripture tells us that God never changes and that He will be the same throughout our lives, even to our old age. God made us and He will care for us (Isaiah 46:4). He has cared for us since we were born, even before we were born, and He promises to be our God throughout our lives, until our hair is white with age. And He promises that, if we allow Him to, if we ask Him to, He will carry us through our lives. He will bear us up in times of trouble and will be with us in times of joy. We just need to choose to allow Him to help us to write our story.

Everyone has a story to tell. Who is writing yours?

Part of Something Big

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“BE PART OF SOMETHING BIG!”

Around the city of Houston, Texas, are a number of huge (14 feet by 48 feet!) billboards advertising Houston’s NBA team, the Rockets. The purpose of these billboards is to stir up excitement for the team’s upcoming basketball season. The idea is that people will come out to see the Rockets play because, after all, everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves, bigger than life itself. Deep down inside, everyone wants to be a part of something big! Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever witnessed something big and wished that you could actually be a part of it?

While exiled on the island of Patmos, the apostle John was given a vision by the Holy Spirit of something big. That something big, which John recorded in the book of Revelation, was the throne room of God. And the scene that John witnessed in that heavenly throne room eclipsed anything that could possibly be considered “big” here on earth. In the center of the throne room, God sat on His throne (Revelation 4:2). The essence of God was impossible to describe in human words. The best that John could do was to use comparisons to the precious stones, jasper and sardius (Revelation 4:3).

The throne was encircled by a rainbow and around the throne of God were twenty-four thrones upon which sat the twenty-four elders (Revelation 4:4). Flashes of lightning and peals of thunder came from out of the throne, and before the throne were seven lamps of fire and a sea of glass, like crystal (Revelation 4:5-6). And, in the center, standing around the throne, were four living creatures filled with eyes in front of them and behind them. One of these creatures was like a lion, one like a calf, one had a face like a man, and one was like an eagle. Each of these creatures had six wings (Revelation 4:6-8).

As John took in this heavenly vision, the four living creatures were continually saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come” (Revelation 4:8). And, as the living creatures gave glory, honor, and thanks to God, the twenty-four elders fell to their knees before God. They cast their golden crowns before God and said, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:9-11).

In chapter 5 of Revelation, the Lamb of God entered into the scene, which then became even bigger and more glorious. The Lamb, of course, is Jesus, and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before Him in worship, while holding a harp and golden bowls of incense. That incense is the prayers of the saints, your prayers, and mine. And then, the scene gets even bigger! The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are joined in their worship service by many angels, so many that the number of those now worshiping at the throne was in the thousands of thousands! (Revelation 5:6-12)

John’s description of the heavenly throne room of God, limited as it was by human words, is the picture of something bigger than all of us. One can’t read the words of Revelation and not be completely enthralled, in awe of the greatness and magnificence of our God. The picture that John gave us is a picture of something big that I’m sure all of us would like to be a part of. We know that we are represented there by our prayers, but here’s the best part! Revelation 5:13-14 says,

“And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Did you catch that? We are there! We are a part of the something that’s bigger than anything we could ever dream of. Look at what it says at the beginning of those two verses: “And every created thing which is heaven and on the earth…” Every created thing. “Every created thing” means everything that God created, and Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in His own image. He created all of us, both men and women. Since God created us, we are included in “every created thing” that stands before the throne of God, worshiping the One who sits on the throne, and worshiping the Lamb. We are part of something really big!

The Example of the Church in Corinth

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While ministering in Ephesus, the apostle Paul received an urgent message from some prominent members of the church in Corinth: division caused by quarreling was threatening to tear apart the church in that city (1 Corinthians 1:10-11). Paul knew that he needed to address this matter, as well as other matters that had been brought to his attention, and so he wrote what we now know as 1 Corinthians, in order to restore unity to the Corinthian church. So, what were the members of the body of Christ in Corinth quarreling about? Teaching. Some preferred the teaching of Paul. Others preferred the teachings of Cephas (Peter), while still others preferred the teachings of Apollos (1 Corinthians 1:12). The divisions in the Corinthian church were based on personalities and personal preferences.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers to remind them that it was not the messenger that mattered, but rather the message. That message was the message of the cross, a message that was foolishness to those who were perishing but was life itself to those who had heard and believed that salvation came to those who followed Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18). And that message was the same no matter who was preaching it, Paul, Cephas, or Apollos! These messengers of Christ were merely men, servants of Christ to whom God gave the opportunity to share the Gospel and bring others to faith. The messengers planted the seeds and watered them, but it was God who caused the faith to grow (1 Corinthians 3:4-6).

After establishing that the message was more important than the messenger, Paul pointed out that those who planted the seed of the Gospel and those who watered it were all one: God’s workers. And those who heard and believed the message were God’s field. They were also God’s building, His temple (1 Corinthians 3:8-9). Paul reminded the Corinthian church that, because they are God’s temple, the Spirit of God dwells within them. For that reason, God’s temple, the body of Christ, was considered holy. Anyone who destroyed the temple would be subject to God’s wrath (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). So, Paul was telling the Corinthian believers that, if they allowed their personal preferences to cause divisions in the church, they were destroying the temple of God.

In the church today, there are things that threaten to tear the body apart, to destroy God’s temple. And just as in the Corinthian church, many times those things that threaten to cause division among us are personal preferences. We prefer the teaching of one teacher over another. We don’t like the style of music that is used in worship. We should look to the message that Paul delivered to the church in Corinth and remember that it’s not the messenger that matters. What matters is the message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we remind ourselves of that, we can look past our personal preferences and be united as the body of Christ, God’s temple, filled with His Holy Spirit.

Come and Go

 

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Come and go. Words that signify action. Words that are very much connected to the Christian faith. Christianity is an active faith. We come to Jesus and we go into the world, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and making disciples throughout the world. That is our mission, it’s what we are called to do (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19). Besides “come” and “go,” there are many other words that point to the activity of the walk of faith. But let’s start at the beginning.

The walk of faith begins with hearing about Jesus. We may have heard about Jesus through a friend, or through family, or perhaps even through a total stranger. Jesus’ first two disciples heard about Jesus when John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to them and called Him the Lamb of God (John 1:35-36). Simon Peter heard about Jesus through his brother, Andrew, who was one of those two disciples (John 1:40-42). Jesus Himself found Philip in Galilee. As a result, Nathanael heard about Jesus through Philip (John 1:43-45).  When the power of the Holy Spirit filled the disciples in the early church, they were emboldened to preach the Good News, and many others heard about Jesus.

The walk of faith continues with coming to Jesus and learning more about Him. When the first two disciples heard about Jesus from John, they asked Jesus where He was staying. Jesus told them to come and see (John 1:38-39). After hearing about Jesus from Philip, Nathanael wondered how anything good could come out of Nazareth. Philip told Nathanael to come and see (John 1:46). As these new disciples heard about Jesus, their first step in the walk of faith was to come to Jesus in order to learn more about Him. In the walk of faith, our first step after hearing about Jesus was to learn more about Him. So we came to Jesus, reading the Bible in order to learn more about who He is.

Our next step in the walk of faith was following Jesus. As new believers, we made a decision to follow Jesus because we believed He is who the Bible says He is. Scripture tells us that faith comes through hearing and hearing comes through the Good News about Jesus (Romans 10:17). And when we came to faith in Jesus, when we came to believe that He is the Son of God, that He came to die for our sins, our response was to follow Him. As we follow Jesus, as we continue taking steps in our walk of faith, we strive to become more and more like Him. And, as we become more and more like Him, through the power of His Holy Spirit who dwells in us, our response should be to tell others about Him. And that brings us full circle as we go into the world sharing the Good News and making disciples throughout the world.

HONOR & Understanding: A Word for Husbands

HONOR

Marriage was created by God. When a man and a woman join together in marriage, they become one flesh, united together physically, mentally, and emotionally (Ephesians 5:31). Love is the cord that binds the two together. When it comes to loving a wife, Scripture is very clear in its instructions to  husbands. A husband is expected to love his wife just as Christ loves the church, meaning sacrificially. Jesus gave His life for all of us, for His church. His love was sacrificial, and so must a husband’s love for his wife be (Ephesians 5:25). Colossians 3:19 says that husbands are to love their wives and never treat them harshly. But, in the first letter of the apostle Peter, God has provided additional instructions that are directed to husbands, instructions that go beyond simply loving their wives (1 Peter 3:7).

Peter writes that a husband must honor his wife. The Greek word translated as honor also means value. A husband is to value his wife. How? By treating her with respect. That means respecting her feelings, respecting her thoughts, and respecting her desires. It doesn’t mean that the husband will, or even has to, share the exact same feelings, thoughts, or desires. Men and women were created differently, but they are also meant to complement each other in marriage. And, as a man, a husband can help make that happen by honoring, by respecting, his wife.

A husband must also treat his wife with understanding. The Greek word translated as understanding literally means knowledge. A husband must know his wife. He must know her moods and her feelings. He must seek to know her needs, her fears, her hopes, and her dreams. In order to do this, one thing is required: communication. A husband needs to communicate with his wife. He needs to share conversation, not just about trivial things, but about the things that are important to his wife, to himself, to their marriage, and to God.  A husband needs to talk, something that doesn’t always come easily to men, especially when it comes to feelings. But perhaps more importantly, a husband needs to listen. And he needs to listen not only with his ears, but also with his heart. It’s only by listening with his heart that he can truly “understand” his wife.

Peter points out that a wife may be weaker than her husband. He was not saying that a woman is weaker mentally, morally, or spiritually. He was saying that, of the two, she is the weaker in a physical sense. But, as he points out, while she may be the physically weaker of the two, she is equal to her husband when it comes to being a partner in God’s gracious gift of new life, which we receive through belief in Jesus Christ. And because she is an equal partner in this, a husband must treat his wife as he should, with honor and understanding, so that his prayers may not be hindered.

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