A Christian Call: Be Defined by Love

What is love and how are we to act? In the book of Acts, Stephen was stoned for his presentation and defense of the good news of Christ’s coming. Jesus’s disciples were persecuted. Early on the Apostle James was killed by the Sword. Throughout the 1st century, the Hebrew and Greek Christians lived lives of good works, suffering the world’s hatred and persecution. They suffered loss of property, work, and even their very lives. They lived lives in this world, but not of this world. What of us in these trying times? Let us be defined by love.

Loved Defined

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Co 1:4–7)

God Is Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 Jn 4:7–12)

Reference:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo: Giovanni Battista Lucini artist QS:P170,Q3766693, Giovanni Battista Lucini – Martyrdom of St. Stephen, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

What is love and how are we to act? In the book of Acts, Stephen was stoned for his presentation and defense of the good news of Christ's coming. Jesus's disciples were persecuted. Early on the Apostle James was killed by the Sword. Throughout the 1st century, the Hebrew and Greek Christians lived lives of... Continue Reading →

Your Work is Worth It.

The Apostle Paul reminds all Christians that our work for the Lord is worth it. The daily grind, the elbow grease, the grunt work, the noticed and unnoticed all make a difference. We are to be resolute, prepared, and abounding in our efforts because Christ gave us – even us – victory over death.

Paul proclaims the true end of vanity. Our physical death will not put to waste all that we have worked for in this life. He writes, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

        “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 
        “O death, where is your victory? 
         O death, where is your sting?” 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Co 15:54–57)

As a result, we should rejoice and heartily work for the Lord. Paul reasons, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Co 15:58)

Be Steadfast

Have a loyal, fixed, steady commitment to the Lord’s work. Do not fix your gaze onto another. Know that loyalty to your savior and true rock is the fountain of all good things. He will reward your steady, sober meditation on his word. It will renew your soul like no other substitute.

Be Immovable

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let your attitude and behavior be rooted, moored, unbudging, and anchored in his work. Do not go far afield in your endeavors, searching for a foundation other than Christ. For he is the true vine which all good fruit comes.

Always Abounding

Determine that you will abound, being fully saturated, and awash in the work that God has set in front of you to accomplish. It truly is a blessing that God gives us the chance to be apart of his sanctifying work. In his letter to the Ephesian, Paul declared, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)

What a promise! We can discard the confusion, the baggage, the emptiness of this world’s idea of existence. We are called to be committed to his plan without wavering. As we stand fast in him, we can reap the rewards of such a full; meaningful life.

Nothing in Vain

One of the best promises of the Christian faith is that what we do truly matters. We are not born out of futility for a futile existence. Our life is destined for meaning. Meaning that is beyond fame, beyond the temporary, and beyond our own earthly expectations. One that was already uniquely established for just us by our master and creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

References:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Apostle Paul reminds all Christians that our work for the Lord is worth it. The daily grind, the elbow grease, the grunt work, the noticed and unnoticed all make a difference. We are to be resolute, prepared, and abounding in our efforts because Christ gave us - even us - victory over death. Paul... Continue Reading →

9 Qualities of Christ That We Need From Our Pen and Our Mouth.

The qualities of Christ’s words changed those around him and the World. His words mattered, both in the moment and for eternity. As Christ followers, we are commanded to emulate him. For unedifying, self-serving, ill-conceived, unwise, untruthful, and proud words may win the moment, the hour, the day, the decade, and even the century, but Christ’s followers are called to live as ones bought by Christ to produce eternal, fruitful results. There are only two options for our words: those that are unproductive for Christ, and those that are fruitful for his purposes. It is a hard lesson, and one that I have to continually be renewing in my mind in order to grow into greater maturity.

The world around us makes effective use of the improper language to achieve temporal goals, but Christ used his words to produce fruit for eternity. It does not mean what we say and write does not matter for today, but rather the focus is on its effectiveness forever. When we give a kind word to a stranger, or blessing to those who harm us, it matters now and for eternity. An impartial word or a lie matters for now, but is of no benefit in heaven. Remember, that as Disciples of Christ, we already have a King on the thrown who gives us orders as faithful subjects. We are to speak and write in light of that fact.

Like a faithful soldier, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Php 1:21). What about us? Can we also be faithful despite a society that uses many words to produce desired effects at home, in law and politics, in sports, and at work? What are they, except things that will pass away as we enter eternity. To put bluntly, forever is a much longer time than one’s life during a single century. Let us take courage and make our words benefit us and others for eternity. We often act as God does not know the future, or have providence over our lives. The future is known, and we are called to let God be the arbiter of his hidden will. We are called to speak with care and in accordance to his known will – the very precepts given in his word. Every idle or meaningful word we write or say is known by God. Let it be praised by him. Below is simple non-exhaustive list of 9 qualities of Christ that we should use before we communicate via our pen and our mouth.

Gracious and Wise

Graciousness and wisdom go hand in hand. It is hard to have one without the other.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Col 4:5–6)

Blessing instead of Vengeful

In this modern culture, we rarely see those in the public square, who are being persecuted, bless their persecutors. Despite this, we are not to take vengeance on those who slander us. We are to repay others with good. Let God be your just judge in the matter.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Ro 12:14)

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Pe 3:9)

Meek and Respectful

The embers of Christian meekness are set aflame by Christ. His inner gentleness is an example for our obedience. His Spirit, living through us, bursts forth as a comforting radiance onto our lives and those around us.

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pe 3:15)

Wholesome in Attitude

Quick, pithy communication rules the day. Often used with anger, slander, and malice to win the objective in a soundbite, tweet, or post. Let Christian communication be set apart. If God is sovereign, he does not need evil to accomplish good. Remember the life of Christ. He never broke this command to win the universe. We must live by faith and follow his lead.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Col 3:8)

Truthful in Knowledge and Testimony

If all truth is God’s truth, it is imperative to both understand and represent the facts to the best of our ability. The spirit of the commandment not to bear false witness is in effect. We need not intentionally or unintentional slander, mislead, or misinform others.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Col 3:9)

Impartial Between Parties

Who wants to be in front of an impartial judge? We are all too often partial, biased by our culture, education, and environment. May we speak with wisdom and humbleness so as to be like Christ.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” (Dt 10:17–18)

Slow to Anger

The wisdom of James takes years to understand and put into practice. It is like a teenager growing into adulthood. May God benefit your life and soul with its practice.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (Jas 1:19–20)

Bible References:

All verses are quoted using The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

The qualities of Christ's words changed those around him and the World. His words mattered, both in the moment and for eternity. As Christ followers, we are commanded to emulate him. For unedifying, self-serving, ill-conceived, unwise, untruthful, and proud words may win the moment, the hour, the day, the decade, and even the century, but... Continue Reading →

Christians are Adopted by a Giving God

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.

The great Apostle Paul, a Christian, the chosen messenger to the gentiles, had just been stoned with rocks, dragged out of the city of Lystra, and left for dead by the people of the city. What was his crime? He was charged with heresy against the living God by Jews from Iconium. The same men that he was trying to persuade to the Way (the name of the sect of Christ following Jews) came to Lystra to stop him. He and his companions had recently fled that city after uncovering their plot to stone them.

His opposition was passionate and persistent. Knowing Paul had already escaped once, his enemies caught up and confronted him with the crowd’s support. They were so irate they attempted to execute him on the spot without a trial. The apostle had just suffered one of the two stonings recorded in the New Testament. How could Paul go through such persecution and still faithfully serve the Lord? He was convinced that God was not only with him, but had adopted him into his family.

Calling on Our Father

Paul held to the New Covenant teaching that we are now encouraged to speak boldly and directly to the Lord as his children. We can now cry to Yahweh as Father in our distress. Yahweh, a name considered so sacred that no Jew wrote or uttered it for centuries before Christ’s birth. Now, Paul, a trained Rabbi, taught that we have an inherited right to be considered God’s sons with all the rights and privileges. Even to use his most holy name and call him Father.

This radical message was clearly understood in the Roman culture because adoption was commonly used by the ruling class to pass down wealth, property, and succession. Paul exploited this familiarity to explain that Christians were now adopted into God’s royal family. A family that is heavenly and holy. Holiness provided through Christ himself, and not of their own doing or natural birth, but as a gracious gift from their new Father. The earthly adopted Cesar and senators enjoyed power, privilege and wealth through a legal means. Likewise, Christians obtained the right to great honor and spiritual wealth, now and in the future. Paul believed in a spiritual adoption that had answers for anxiety, pain, and tears.

Roman Adoption.
A statue of the first Roman Emperor Augustus (r. 27 BC - 14 AD) as a younger Octavian
One of the most famous Roman adoptees
A statue of the first Roman Emperor Augustus (r. 27 BC – 14 AD) as a younger Octavian
One of the most famous Roman adoptees

God Gives Freely

Through this conviction, Paul and the early Christians held to a steadfast belief that God freely gives his grace and love in all circumstances. He lavishes us with the honor and the rights of a true child. Those rights are bestowed on his children and give us the freedom to cry, “Abba, Father,” during times of joy and desperate need. Consequently, when life here on Earth is a struggle, we can hold onto the very reasonable conviction that the Gospel proclaims: we are the adopted children of a most generous and freely giving God. The almighty Father who knows how to give good gifts and a home to his children.

A Child of the King | Harriet E. Buell written in 1877

  1. My Father is rich in houses and lands,
    He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!

    Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
    His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
    • Refrain:
      I’m a child of the King,
      A child of the King:
      With Jesus my Savior,
      I’m a child of the King.
  2. My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men,
    Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
    But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
    That we may be His, when He comes by and by.
  3. I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
    A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
    But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
    An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.
  4. A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
    They’re building a palace for me over there;
    Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
    All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.

References:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 14:1–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:14–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo by Henley Design Studio from Pexels

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” - Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. The great... Continue Reading →

Titles are Done, Keys are Ready

We all have troubled hearts at times. The circumstances of life can be sudden and seemingly unforgiving. No chance to recover, no chance to change the outcome. Our world is replete with examples of things we would like to see different. A kinder, safer, more hopeful, and more equitable one. A world that was right in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, on this side of heaven, there is no one that has experienced a life without such distress. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had a troubled heart at the last supper.

The Apostle John records Jesus prophesying about his betrayal by Judas. He said, “After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.” For several years, the twelve disciples had been with Jesus, learning, and imitating him. Who could it be, they asked? Furthermore, Jesus also told them that he was going to leave them. While not directly stated in the Gospel account, I expect a large amount of uncertainty and apprehension entered their hearts after these two statements. As a loving shepherd, Jesus promptly answered the disciples’ concerns with comforting words.

Jesus Promises a Home.

Jesus proclaimed, “’Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’”

Look Toward the Heavenly City

The Hebrews waited for generations for their redemption both spiritually and in their daily lives. A cycle of regional powers (Egyptians, Philistines, Syrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and the Romans) often dominated their physical territory. They not only ruled over key practical matters like taxes and laws, but also wanted to suppress their religious practices. The writer of Hebrews reminded the keenly suffering Christians that the faithful for centuries looked past their circumstances toward the future Kingdom. He wrote, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

Your Address is with God

The future is very exciting. A new home. New neighbors from every language, culture, and age. A neighborhood filled will be nothing but joy. Living together with expectations fulfilled. Think to these things when times here on Earth are full of trouble. John, in the last letter written to the Church, summarizes our hopeful future. He writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”

Bible References:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 13:21–22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:1–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 11:13–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 21:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo by Diego Muñoz Suárez from Pexels

We all have troubled hearts at times. The circumstances of life can be sudden and seemingly unforgiving. No chance to recover, no chance to change the outcome. Our world is replete with examples of things we would like to see different. A kinder, safer, more hopeful, and more equitable one. A world that was right... Continue Reading →

Shelter Your Heart in the Lord

Paul the Tentmaker

The Apostle Paul knew something about shelters. His trade profession was tentmaking, a well established trade developed in the ancient world to provide housing and protection from the elements. Despite being called to be the Apostle to the gentiles, he routinely worked as a tentmaker to support himself and not burden the early church. Paul drew on this real world imagery to explain the brief existence of the followers of Christ here on Earth and the implications for eternity.

We Groan for the Eternal

Paul reminded the Corinthians that on this Earth suffering is commonplace but temporary. Just like today, life in the Roman Empire was filled with disharmony, heartache, societal conflicts, sin, and wrongful death. He encouraged them through his own experience and present circumstances in Asia Minor.

Photo by Michael Giugliano on Pexels.com

He explained why he and his companions did not lose heart despite these hardships. He testified, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

Your Heart has a Heavenly Home

Knowing that our life here on Earth is not the goal or focus of Christian endeavors, Paul taught the Colossians to keep their thoughts directed above towards Christ and the promised future inheritance. He revealed that our entire future is hidden safely away in Heaven. He exhorted the brethren, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Make His Attributes Fill Your Home

Since we have a new home in Christ, we are obligated to fill it with all the appropriate furnishings. Just as new wine doesn’t go into old wine skins, so our old earthly attributes should not decorate our new spiritual home. We need to establish new ones that are centered on Christ.

As a wise teacher, Paul directed the Colossians to, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Encourage yourself and others to fill the rooms of the heart with such qualities as these.

Compassionate heartsXPatiencex
KindnessXBearing with one anotherX
HumilityXForgiving each otherX
MeeknessXLoveX

Rejoice in Your Permanent Home

Remember, Paul’s encouraging words that are recorded for our posterity in the letter to the Romans. He writes about this type of everlasting love, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Let us learn to take heart like Paul. He had to learn through daily perseverance by the unbounded grace of Christ. Be motivated! The same living Lord loves you, and he is ready to shelter your heart. Just ask.

Bible References:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 4:16–5:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:12–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:38–39). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo by Marius Venter from Pexels

Paul the Tentmaker The Apostle Paul knew something about shelters. His trade profession was tentmaking, a well established trade developed in the ancient world to provide housing and protection from the elements. Despite being called to be the Apostle to the gentiles, he routinely worked as a tentmaker to support himself and not burden the... Continue Reading →

Casting Anxiety Away onto a Caring God

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Apostle Peter

The Apostle Peter understood we all have anxiety come upon us due to the events in our life here on Earth. Financial stress, illness, death, family crises, strife, unfair treatment, job loss, and school problems are all real and alter what happens to us, often in profoundly painful ways. The awesome thing about Christianity and suffering is that God majors in our suffering, and He wants to take on our burden, bestow peace, and provide for us through it. He provides both examples and a template to get through the difficult times here on Earth. He both encourages and commands us to lean on Him and to reap the benefits of faith in His promises.

Cast Anxiety onto God

Ongoing anxieties can be an unremitting burden which causes deep emotional and chronic physical problems. God wants them far from us. Daily worries need to go somewhere and if they remain inside our mind they not only hurt us, but they often lead to misguided, wrong behaviors. In our efforts to deal our problems, we often harm the ones we love.

Peter wrote to Christians spread throughout Asia Minor who were suffering persecution and hardship for their faith. He drew on his former profession as a fisherman to create an example on how to handle their expected anxieties. No mater the source of our anxiety, Peter’s advice is sound. In his first letter, he wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul, a wise man, was very familiar with suffering in this world. As a lead persecutor of the church, he coordinated efforts that caused untold anxiety and suffering in the early Christian church. He threw some in prison and even cast his vote for the death penalty. Once an apostle, he went through repeated, intense episodes of suffering as predicted by our Lord in the book of Acts. “…For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” His advice is a practical road map born out of God’s promise and loving care lived out in his own life.

The Lord is at Hand

Paul wrote to the Philippians while in a Roman prison. His freedom, food, clothing, and daily desires all under the supposed control of another person. Despite his earthly circumstances, he understood that the Lord was with him and was the ultimate provider. He called on the believers to, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus on God’s Provision for You

Jesus teaches us throughout the New Testament that God loves us. God loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin and live among his people. He served his people, healed his people, and provided a way of salvation for his people by his crucifixion and death upon a cross. Not only does God provide an ultimate way to life eternal, but he provides a way here on earth. It is a promise to be held onto and not abused by excessive wants and desires, but by faith in our Father, the true source of all goodness.

God Our Faithful Provider

Matthew records in his gospel what Jesus teaches regarding our daily anxiety. He says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Biblical References:

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Pe 5:6–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 4:4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 9:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:25–34). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

"...casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." Apostle Peter The Apostle Peter understood we all have anxiety come upon us due to the events in our life here on Earth. Financial stress, illness, death, family crises, strife, unfair treatment, job loss, and school problems are all real and alter what happens... Continue Reading →

How God Loves Your Foster Family

Feeling inadequate in yourself to parent? I know I do. I knew God called us to adopt our sons, but I did not really know that I was getting into a battle for their best life. Oh, I knew the love and hard work of raising an adopted infant, but not the unique challenges of foster adoption. The unseen effects from prior trauma presented challenges that we could not conquer on our own. We were not meant to do this in our own strength.

We continually need God, and those he puts in our life, to support and love us. When the days are filled with hardship just to get through a simple routine that other kids master. When attempts at reading, writing, and math are monsters too large to face. When the break downs and phone calls from providers happen at a pace that demands we seek him. God provides both a model and support system to help us.

Tending Children in the Orphanage in Haarlem by Jan de Bray

God is a Model for Us.

Psalm 68:5 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”

God is deeply concerned with both the protection and provision of those without a home and the physical support provided by parents and family members. He identifies himself as the ultimate father of those without such support here on earth.

Psalm 82.3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”

He calls us to follow his lead as a parent to love those in such need. The father equips us to intervene in the lives of those children. We are designated to be the physical hands assisting their everyday growth. We are to be bold, sober in mind, and walk in faith – God placed the child under our care as his or her designated stewards.

James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Notice that the Apostle James calls us to act, not just sit back or withdrawal into ourselves as parents and Christians. We are to be proactive and go and visit (take care) and have fellowship with those in true need.

God Provides Others to Support Us.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

We are to seek guidance with a commitment to faith. That is not to say that we believe anything we hear, but that we hold fast to the promise of God to provide the answer we need at the moment.

Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Practical experience tells us that we do not know all the answers. It is wise to seek advice of those who have been there before, or that have helped others through the struggles that your family is facing. However, it is important to recognize that our plans may not be God’s plans.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Remember: He will be faithful to your family and lead you along the correct path establishing his plans as you act in faith.

Romans 8:31-32 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

References:

Bible Verses: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Jan de Bray artist QS:P170,Q541789, Jan de Bray – Tending Children in the Orphanage in Haarlem – WGA03132, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Feeling inadequate in yourself to parent? I know I do. I knew God called us to adopt our sons, but I did not really know that I was getting into a battle for their best life. Oh, I knew the love and hard work of raising an adopted infant, but not the unique challenges of... Continue Reading →

Be Men of Courage

Men, it is easy to lose focus in life as life’s trials and tribulations build up and create stresses that we do not want to handle or just plain can not handle.  We look to retreat into our work, our hobbies, or physically retreat to get away from our families, others, and life.  Instead of acting in a way unbecoming of our Christian calling, let us look at how Paul encourages us to act in his letter to the Corinthians.

1st Corinthians 16:13-14 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.”

Iranian_-_Cylinder_Seal_with_a_Lion_Hunt_-_Walters_42797

Be on Guard:

The further we live in life the more we realize that life is not easy, and we have to face choices that affect us and our families for the rest of our lives.  People will get hurt either physically, emotionally, or financially despite our best efforts.   Men, we need to always be aware that there is a roaring lion out to destroy us and our families.  The Apostle Paul’s counterpart, the great apostle Peter put it succinctly.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Stand Firm in Your Faith:

Stand Firm!  Put simply, don’t wilt under the ever-increasing pressure.  Not wilting is an admiral thing, but as a Christian that is not enough.  We must stand firm in our faith. Why our faith?  Again, Peter brings some additional light.

1 Peter 5:9-11 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Be Men of Courage:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the proper response to it.  Without our fear, there could not be courage.  It is a word with a combined Latin and French origin denoting the heart – the seat of our feelings/emotions.  Our Christian life should never be founded in the wrong response to fear: hate, strife, division, rebellion, alcohol, drugs, adultery, lust, and abandonment of our families and wives.  Look at Moses’s reminder to God’s people before they entered the promise land.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Moses’s is reminding the people how God is faithful, and does not forsake his people – ever!

Be Strong:

Strong.  A good word.  Do the below definitions resemble you at work? At home? When you are alone to your own thoughts?

strong \ˈstrȯŋ\ adjective
stron•ger \ˈstrȯŋ-gər also -ər\ ; stron•gest \ˈstrȯŋ-gəst also -əst\
[Middle English, from Old English strang; akin to Old High German strengi strong, Latin stringere to bind tight — more at STRAIN]
(before 12th century)
1 : having or marked by great physical power
2 : having moral or intellectual power
3 : having great resources (as of wealth or talent)
4 : of a specified number 〈an army ten thousand strong〉
5 a : striking or superior of its kind 〈a strong resemblance〉
b : effective or efficient especially in a specified direction 〈strong on watching other people work –A. Alvarez〉

Merriam-Webster, I. (1996). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Do Everything in Love:

This may be the hardest phrase of all.  Humans have a knack of living a life of some.  We are full of good intentions with our human frailty and sin getting us in trouble along the way.  Our own soberness, our own strength, our own courage, all fall short of the mark.  Remember, God sent his Son and the Spirit to be all that for us.  We are bought with a price. We are not our own. The Christian walk is more than a simple half-truth, or a behavior when it is easy.  It is designed for us to take hold of the word and live it by truly emptying ourselves, and picking up our cross.  Without being a dedicated and willing vessel, we will limit the outpouring of God’s own power to love others and love God.  The Spirit is willing.  How about you? Be men of courage! May God bless you in devoting your daily lives to this en-devour.

Questions to contemplate:

  • Where are you living out your life courageously?
  • When you look at your life today, how can you devote yourself more to loving others?
  • In what areas can you ask God for help in being strong?

Bible References:

The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (1 Co 16:13–14). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (1 Pe 5:8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (1 Pe 5:9–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Dt 31:6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Images:

Última Cena – Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Walters Art Museum, Iranian – Cylinder Seal with a Lion Hunt – Walters 42797, CC BY-SA 3.0

Men, it is easy to lose focus in life as life's trials and tribulations build up and create stresses that we do not want to handle or just plain can not handle.  We look to retreat into our work, our hobbies, or physically retreat to get away from our families, others, and life.  Instead of... Continue Reading →

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