Archive for March, 2014

A Gentle Friend

March 21, 2014

 

    I wish I had a gentle friend.  My friend would always be kind and forgiving.  I would feel a sense of peacefulness when in the presence of my friend, either in person, or in my thoughts.  I wish I would be a gentle friend.

Gentleness begins with humility, as so many good things do.  It progresses through trust and finds its home in kindness.  Am I kind?  When someone hurts me, do I respond with kindness?  Jesus was kind to those who were hurting Him.  He didn’t order their destruction; He forgave them and offered healing for their hatred.  He is my model.  Do I believe that?

When I am kind and gentle it has a ripple effect.  Others are more likely to respond in a similar fashion to my behavior.  It won’t always work, but it often does.  Before you dismiss kindness as impractical, have you tried it?

If I am serious about following Jesus, I will be a gentle person.  I will allow myself to be vulnerable.  I will do that because I trust Jesus, not myself.  People will laugh, they will say I am naive, they will get someone else to speak to them because he tells them what they want to hear, but, it doesn’t matter . . . Jesus has my back.

There is too much hatred and violence in the world.  The answer is not more violence, though that is not what people want to hear.  The answer is the love of Christ, flowing through my life, to everyone around me.  Gentleness starts with me.  I am to be the gentle friend.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13 NKJV)

Thanks for reading . . . . . John

I Just Don’t Care

March 20, 2014

 

     “People will make fun of me if I don’t.”  “Everyone is doing it.”  “I want to fit in.”  “People will think I’m weird.”  Ever felt this way?  These are typical human feelings and they’re not spiritually helpful. 

Christians are called to be different from the world, not just a little different, but radically different.  Paul used the word “transformed” in Romans 12.  John warns us to not love the world.  We are to be God’s special, unique people, which means we are not to be like everyone else. 

Many times we are not different and special because we are afraid of what someone will say or think.  My response has come to be, “Who cares?”  If I am trying to do what I believe to be right from a study of the teaching of Jesus, and you don’t like it, I just don’t care.  With God’s help, my purpose will be to follow the teaching of Jesus whether others like it or not.  Others may be “friends,” family, co-workers, or even other “Christians.”  It doesn’t matter who they are. 

I guess if Jesus had cared what others thought of His mission, He wouldn’t have gone to the Cross.  He sure wasn’t the kind of messiah most were looking for.  They wanted a warrior king to drive the Romans out of town with a violent war.  He came as a spiritual leader teaching peace between God and man.  Then He showed the way to that peace through love, humility, and submission to a violent physical death. 

To choose the way of Jesus requires seeking Him and not the approval of others.  Most of the world is going to hell anyway, if you believe Jesus’ teaching on the broad and narrow ways.  Why would you want to please the majority? 

It’s not easy to be a minority.  It’s not easy to live a life that many ridicule.  This life of the few is called cross bearing.  If I am unwilling to bear the cross of Christ, I am not fit to be a Christian.  If I will shoulder His Cross, then He will help me and by His strength I will prevail no matter what others think. 

A Life Fully Lived

March 19, 2014

 

  This is a study of Colossians 2:9-10 with a particular emphasis on the phrase “you are complete in Him.”

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV)

“Complete” is also translated “filled” or “made full.”  Only by living a life dedicated to God are we complete and have a full rich life as humans.  To dedicate your life in some manner to self through materialism, sensualism, or whatever is to miss the fullness/completeness of our existence.  What does it mean to have a full and rich life (which is found only in Jesus Christ)?

A full life is living the way you were designed to live.  God made you and as your Maker He knows what will bring you happiness and what will bring you disappointment.  When you cooperate with God your life “works better,” you are a hammer driving a nail, not a hammer trying to turn a screw.  You are functioning in harmony with your purpose.  It is a sad hammer who tries to turn a screw.  He was not designed for that.  It is a sad person who tries to live a life apart from God.  You were not designed for that. 

A full life is filled with forgiveness.  Christians have been forgiven and they forgive others.  The “anvil on the chest” pain of guilt has been lifted for the Christian.  The burning fire of revenge has also been extinguished for the Christian because the Christian forgives others instead of trying to get even with them.  A true Christian is filled with the love of God and the attitude of Christ. 

A full life is filled with joy.  Hey, with all that guilt and vengeance replaced by love and mercy, what becomes the overriding emotion?  Right, joy.  The Christian knows that ultimately everything will be ok.  It will all work out in the end.  This means we have a good and positive feeling about us.  Even trials can be tempered by understanding that they give us a chance to show how a Christian deals with adversity.  They bring into vivid contrast the Christian’s emphasis with that of the world. 

A full life is filled with hope.  The Christian is a pilgrim.  The life of a pilgrim is not where he is, but where he is going.  The Christian is going to be with God forever and ever.  All the bad in this life will be absent from heaven and all the good from this life will be present in heaven and will even be enhanced.  Christians know this so their life is a life of hope.  Someone said, “When a person loses hope, he’s lost everything.”  There’s a lot of truth in that.  The Christian never loses hope. 

A full life ends well.  You have heard it said, “All’s well that ends well.”  Actually, that is not exactly true of the Christian because that life never ends.  The Christian is filled with the eternal.  In a sense, we experience the eternal here and now.  The attributes the Christian cultivates are the very attributes of God – love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, kindness, etc.  The more you are Christ-like, the more you experience heaven on earth. 

Life lived to its fullest is found only in Jesus Christ.  This life is available to anyone.  Thanks be to God!

The Dogs under the Table

March 18, 2014

https://i0.wp.com/truthbook.com/images/site_images/Harold_Copping_The_Woman_of_Canaan_350.jpg This is a short sermon from the story of Jesus healing the daughter of a Gentile woman.  The text is found in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30.  Here are five thoughts about the Gentile woman. 

She is persistent in making her request of Jesus.  Jesus did not respond to her at first, but she continued to “cry out” and “kept asking.”  It looked initially like Jesus did not care, but as the story continues, it becomes very clear that Jesus does indeed care.  When I think God has forgotten me and does not care – I need to remember this Gentile woman. 

She humbles herself before Jesus.  Jesus introduces the analogy of the family children and the family pet dogs.  In the analogy, the woman and her daughter are paralleled with the family dogs, not the children.  I believe Jesus is testing her faith and pride here.  She passes the test by accepting Jesus’ analogy and asking for the crumbs that the dogs would receive. 

She is focused on her goal – help my daughter, forget about me.  The woman is at first ignored and then potentially insulted.  She pays no attention to this and continues to go after what she wants, the health of her daughter.  If her focus had been on self instead of other, the story would have ended here. 

She is called out by Jesus as a hero of faith.  Jesus told her her faith was “great.”  What would He tell you about yours?  Had her daughter never have been sick, she would not have had this opportunity to model great faith.  She may have never found that she was able to have great faith.  But, now she knows, and so do you and me today so that her example can encourage us. 

She got what she wanted.  She received the Lord’s blessing – her daughter was healed.  Don’t give up, just believe.