Friday, June 15, 2018

The Truth!

Idleness opens the door to dangers otherwise not present when we are busy doing something productive.

Paul talks to the Thessalonians again in 2nd Thessalonians 3:11 and says, “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” The definition of that original Greek word “busybody” is, “always working, but doing nothing.” The truth is this! If we do not take care of our own affairs, we will start trying to take care of other people’s affairs. That is dangerous!
Here is what I am getting at: work, service and ministry occupies our time and our tongue with meaningful tasks and meaningful words! Yes, everyone needs some time for pleasure, but all play and no work spells disaster. Gossip is bread out of boredom.

People who are not busy doing meaningful and productive tasks – people who are not busy saying meaningful and productive words -- find themselves looking for something to do like “busywork” -- such as being a “busybody.”

Idle ...

The word idle is most often used in our English language as an adjective. Just in case you have forgotten, an adjective describes another word.

Here is what a person is saying about you when they describe you as idle: inactive, one who avoids work, lazy, shiftless, not in use and lacking substance. How flattering is that? Can any one be successful for God’s kingdom by living an idle life? What do you think about the phrase, “Idol hands are the devil’s workshop?” The Thessalonians had become “idle.” In 1st Thessalonians 5:14, Paul writes, “…we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle ...” Paul knew that success was being hindered regarding kingdom growth because idleness had reared its ugly head! In 2nd Thessalonians 3:6, Paul talks about being idle again. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle….”

Isn’t there a happy medium between work and play, work and pray and play and pray?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What do you think?

There is a difference between status and success. What brings status?

God really does desire that we succeed as He defines success. What is God’s definition of success?

I wrote this for a funeral back in January of 2016. I think it was God inspired.

“I have come to realize that true success has nothing to do with popularity, possessions or prestige. Success lies much in someone feeling better about themselves after you have spent time with them because you have spent time with God. Success is seen in spiritual growth. Success is seen in being more like Jesus today then you were yesterday. Success lies in lifting people up and not lowering the boom. Especially considering God not lowering the boom on you. Success lies not in making fun of people, but instead, making friends with people. Success lies in not saying anything, if you cannot say something nice. Success lies in Godly conversations in the privacy of your own home knowing that God is in the room and listening. Success lies in not looking down on people. Success lies in putting away foolish pride. Success lies in being able to say, “You are Sorry!” or better yet, willing to say, “You are Sorry!” Success lies in not thinking to highly of yourself knowing full well that who you are and what you have has very little to do with you and very much to do with God. Success lies in not laughing at people, but instead, laughing with people. Success lies in being gentle with people and not bullying people. Success is putting away any notion that you are perfect. Success is appreciating people and telling them so. Success is not knit picking at people, but instead, catching people doing something right and then telling them to keep on keeping on. Success is not taking people for granted."

What do you think?

Success ...

In Psalm 118:25, David prayed, “…O LORD, grant us success.”
There is nothing wrong with that request! Success is not a bad thing when it is kept in the right perspective! However, praying for success all by itself is not as powerful as that same prayer for success coupled with a little hard work. Have you heard the old saying, “We must pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on us?” Does hard work still have a place in the local church? Does hard work inspire others? Even if no one is inspired, shouldn’t we keep working hard? Regarding God things, what should our ultimate motive be for working hard?

Yes, we cannot earn our salvation, but faith without works is dead!  

Thursday, May 31, 2018

You Hit Me ...

Matthew 5:38-39 is incredibly tough to live out. However, it is an evidence that Jesus is Lord as we deal with those who strongly dislike us, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 'But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.’”

What should we do when we are slapped? Why did Jesus speak of the right cheek? How does this apply to living with those who do not like us?

For the Jew, even to this day, slapping is done with the right hand. Now follow me here. Using the palm of his right hand, a Jewish man will slap the left cheek of his neighbor. However, to slap the right cheek, a Jew must use the backside of the right hand. Jews believed and still believe that slapping the right cheek with the backside of the right hand was and is incredibly offensive and terribly humiliating. So, Jesus was saying this, “Even if you are offended and humiliated by being slapped on your right cheek by the back side of one’s right hand, you must not hit back.”

Why? Because Jesus knew and knows that retaliation is dangerous.

The, "You hit me, so I will hit you back" syndrome leads to a third and a fourth blow.

Each blow becomes more severe than the one before. Soon it becomes a fight. This can only be prevented if someone stops hitting back and is willing to suffer a blow without retaliation. You do not have to get even. All you have to do is be like Jesus!

A thirst for vengeance will rot you from the inside out! An eye for an eye mentality will only cause spiritual blindness! That is probably why God is so adamant when He says that, “Vengeance is His” and not ours! (Deuteronomy 32:35)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Meat!

Acts 8:5 tells us that, “Philip went down to a city in Samaria…”

For 400 years, the Samaritans and the Jews had hated each other. The Samaritans mixed Old Testament Law with paganism and so the Jews looked down on the Samaritans as religious and racial half-breeds not to mention heretics. The Jews wanted nothing to do with, “those Samaritans” and the Samaritans wanted nothing to do with those, “snobbish” Jews. By crossing ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries, Phillip ignored centuries of hostility because he wanted to love a so-called enemy.

I wonder, when it comes to our enemies, to those people who plum dislike us, have we often found our mouths in drive while our minds remain in park?

Here is the meat: There is no better opportunity to represent Jesus and the difference that He can make in a person’s life than in how we treat our enemies!

Luke 6:27 is quite challenging, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Moving Forward ...

As we move forward, this truth must be celebrated at every turn.

No ministry is insignificant! No ministry is unimportant! Teacher, choir member, usher, youth worker, dishwasher and those who prepare our communion elements are all equally valuable because service to God is service to God. Let us all be grateful for each other! Everyone needs to know that they are valuable!

It was true last year! It was true 10 years ago and it is still true today! Little is much when God is in it! If your only service to the kingdom is to help put up Christmas decorations – then put up Christmas decorations! Little is much when God is in it! If your only contribution to the kingdom is to fill the baptistery, then fill er up. Little is much when God is in it! If your only contribution to the kingdom is to open and lock church doors and turn ac units off and on, well get yourself a key. Little is much when God is in it! If your only contribution to the kingdom is to set up tables and chairs for social functions, set ‘em up baby … set ‘em up. Little is much when God is in it! If your only contribution to the kingdom is to stand outside and welcome people on Sunday mornings, then get outside and welcome! Little is much when God is in it! If your only contribution to the kingdom is to work in our nursery, then love on those babies! Little is much when God is in it! All of us must get involved! 

Are you willing to serve?

Phillip could have bought into the fib that being a table waiter was playing second fiddle to other church members who had more glamorous ministries, but he did not because he realized that a Christian never plays second fiddle, when Jesus sits in the first chair!

Take My Ball ...

Philip was asked to be a table waiter! 

Acts 6:2 mentions, “waiting on tables.” Let us all be honest. Some might have seen waiting on tables as insignificant. Some might have wanted more of a glamorous ministry assignment. Some might have said, “If I have to perform that menial task, then I am going to take my ball and go home,” but not Phillip. Phillip was willing to serve, but why? Well, Philip had heard first-hand what Jesus had said in Matthew 10:44-45, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Have you ever noticed that the world’s definition of greatness differs from the Lord’s definition? 

In the kingdom, greatness is defined by faithful service!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Action Steps ...

What are some action steps for the friend who wants to encourage? 

… If an encouraging thought comes to your mind about a friend, share it immediately. Do not wait. Crabgrass is growing in the lawn of the people that you love. Hebrews 13:3 says, "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…"

… When you introduce a friend, add a few words of praise for that friend’s abilities and accomplishments. It is encouraging to be praised in front of others. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

… As friends, make celebration a more regular part of your relationship. Celebrate victories, large or small with a note, coffee together, a special meal, a congratulatory phone call, or just a high-five! Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice …”

… Be specific when you offer words of praise. It makes your encouragement more credible and concrete. For example, "You did a great job at …", "I really appreciate that you …", "I was really impressed that you …"

When is the last time that you told a fiend how much you enjoy the choir? When is the last time that you told a friend that he or she did a great job of cooking one of our fellowship meals? When is the last time that told a friend how much you appreciate him or her keeping the shrubs trimmed? When is the last time that you told a friend how impressed you were with how he or she loved on our teenagers? 

Crab Grass ...

1st Samuel 23:16 tells us this, “And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

That is the kind of friend to have. That is the kind of friend to be! Jonathan saw David at the lowest moment of his life. David was frightened and stumbling through the wilderness. Jonathan brought him encouragement. Jonathan was not just another brown cow.

Linus had just written a comic strip.

He asked Lucy for her opinion, "Lucy, would you read this and then tell me if you think it is funny?" Lucy read it and then asked, “Linus, who wrote this?" Linus with his chest heaved out and with a great big grin said, "I wrote it!" Immediately, Lucy wadded it up and threw it to the side saying, "Well then, I do not think that it is very funny." Linus bent down and picked up his comic strip, threw his blanket over his shoulder, looked at Lucy and sayed, "Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life.” A friend is never crab grass in your proverbial lawn. Have you ever served as crabgrass in the lawn of someone that you called friend? Listen Church! There is enough crab grass in everyone’s life as it is. We do not need so-called friends raining on our parade. 

So-called friends should not be polluting our lawns.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I just wonder ...

What are four steps to stifle gossip? 

… First, confess it as sin and ask God to forgive you. Be truly sorry for what you have done. Then, ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. 1st John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and then purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Acts 1:8 tells us that we will, “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on (us) …” and when God speaks of power, He speak of the power to be pure where we can live victorious lives over any desire toward chin wagging.

… Secondly, keep your nose out of other people’s business unless that nose is seeking to sacrifice and inconvenience itself to help and to be a blessing to a friend. 1st Thessalonians 4:11 says, “… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs …”

… Third, if your “friends” start bad-mouthing others in front you. Stop them in their tracks and refuse to partake. Raise a cross in the middle of that conversation. 1st Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’"

… Last, avoid 24/7 association with people who gossip. Proverbs 20:19 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.”

I just wonder? If we were all forced to carry around a recording device that captured every word that we spoke for an entire week, what would our recorded words say about whom our Lord is?