Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16 Thought for the day...can you be imitated?

Every Christian wants to be like Jesus. We read the Bible we know we are supposed to live and act like Him but knowing what that should look like is not easy. The writer of Hebrews tells us a way to start.

"that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Hebrews 6:12

There has got to be someone in your life that you look up to spiritually. While no one is perfect, there are those in all of our lives who have been walking the faith and are accomplishing a fulfilled destiny in Christ. This passage says, recognize those who you see who through faith and patience are inheriting the promise and imitate them. The word translated "imitate" stresses mimicry, more like an actor learning to portray someone for a movie. It is the intense study of a person's character, nature, and actions so you might imitate them precisely. It is what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1. There should be someone in your life that is imitating Christ well enough that they can be an example for your growth so you can also inherit the promises.

If an actor portrays the person long enough, everyone will be convinced that they are the person they portray. God brings people into all of our lives that are, through their faith and patience, becoming more like Jesus every day. An easier way for each of us to grow is to watch their lives and become more like them as they become more like Christ.

If you are feeling bad, afraid, anxious, choose instead to "act" like the person you know who is walking like Christ. It is not hypocritical to act this way we are told in Romans 13:14 to in every way put on Christ. When we don't feel like smiling we smile to help people see Jesus, we love when we feel unlovable because someone has a need. Then we go to those that we are imitating and ask for their help to become what we have portrayed to help others.

I know this may be a hard thing for some to grasp but this is simply a way that we die to ourselves and live as Christ for others. Imitating others to grow to become like Christ. Laying down our pain, insecurities, anxieties to minister to others then allowing those we trust to minister to us.

I hope you have someone in your life you can imitate. It will only help you to grow to reflect Jesus! One last question...if others were to imitate you would they be reflecting Jesus in all things?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15 Thought for the day...not cinderella's slippers

How many times have you been "run over" by the enemy? For most of us, we are able to go through our daily routine and living our lives, growing in faith, reasonably unheeded. But then there are those days when literally all hell breaks loose, every tactic of the enemy has been deployed, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Believe it or not, for both types of days we need something Paul outlines in Ephesians we need killer shoes.

"and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesians 6:15

I have taught about the armor of God but for today's "thought" I need to add a bit to it. Having your feet "shod" in the Greek means more than simply putting shoes on, it implies tieing the shoes on tightly. We must bind peace onto our lives very tightly so as never to lose it. It should be bound so tightly to us that it is part of us.

The shoes Paul is talking about where not just simply sandals they were "killer shoes" they were made of thick leather with spikes that came out the bottom. The spikes had a two-fold purpose. The first was to cause the soldier to hold his ground against the enemy when the enemy pushes back a soldier is to never lose ground but keep moving forward. The peace we walk in causes that to happen. Secondly, the shoes were an offensive weapon for with them, one quick kick in the right place the enemy was either disabled or killed. If disabled, the soldier merely had to trample his enemy under his feet, and he would be destroyed. Ironic isn't it, that peace could be a weapon.

Paul is saying that when you have peace, chose to bind it to you, all the tactics of the enemy can be easily trampled under your feet and you can keep moving forward! Choose peace today and see what happens!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14 Thought for the day...God always repays

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you sacrificed, loved, gave of yourself and either nothing was mentioned (not that you were really looking for it) or worse someone else got or took the credit? Unfortunately, in the world and in the church this happens more often than you would think.

"So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!" Hebrews 10:35

God will never be outdone. When we are trusting the Lord He knows, He sees, and He will not be outdone. The word translated "great reward" means to get reimbursed in abundance. The idea is if you pour out of your time, talent or treasure the Lord will make sure you are blessed more in return.

The question is what was their "confident" trust in the Lord. The word "confident" has to do with bold, frank, action. Their bold, frank, action,  was their faith in the Lord. With such boldness, you can feel free to proclaim the things you have done for the Lord. Things that may have been overlooked or gone unappreciated don't be disappointed.

What the writer of Hebrews is saying here could safely be said “I know what you’ve done to serve Me. I am aware of the time, talent and treasure you have spent to do what I had asked you to do. Go ahead and tally up what is owed you, and boldly declare that you will be reimbursed. I will see to it that you recoup everything you spent along the way. You’ll get everything that you’ve spent and more, that you’ve been declaring by faith!”

(This is what happened to Nikola Tesla by Thomas Edison.  Unfortunately, it would seem neither man had faith in Christ. A little history in this thought)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13 Thought for the day...overcoming failures

Have you ever had a time when things just went wrong? Maybe you had control over the situation, maybe not, but regardless you still felt responsible, felt like a failure. Timothy felt that way, so Paul encouraged him with this...

"Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:1

Timothy was the pastor of the most extensive church in the world at the time. The apostle John, Mary Jesus' mother, and many other key leaders attended his church. It had grown in significance but as Nero's persecution began many left the faith to save their lives and others began to rise against Timothy attempting to divide the church. It could not have seemed or felt worse for this pastor. If you think about how you feel as a parent when one of your children is hurt that is how pastors feel when some in their flock are wounded. Timothy was beaten up he felt like a failure, he needed a touch from God!

Paul says to young Timothy "be strong" the Greek understanding here is explosive power, like dynamite. Paul is saying to Timothy it is time to allow that explosive power loose in your life. You and I both know when you are down, struggling with depression, battling feeling like a failure it is nearly impossible to feel that way. Feeling like an overcomer doesn't come naturally especially when we have all the weight of feeling like a failure on us. It takes a supernatural move of God to get us to where we need to be!

The supernatural power is exactly what Paul stresses when he says "through the grace that God gives you." Grace isn't something we get because we deserve it because we are strong enough or good enough, grace is given to us freely because Jesus loves us and died for us. When we are down the devil kicks us when he can. He lies and says we need to be better, more faithful, more righteous. Paul is breaking those lies to young Timothy by saying, "Timothy get ready to be powerfully explosive, I understand what you are feeling but I need to remind you God loves you, Jesus died for you, and He will give you all you need right now to overcome. Just allow Him to love you and show you the way out!

If you are there right now or the next time you find yourself there, remember these words and allow the Lord to get you there!

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12 Thought for the day....revenge never, love always

Have you ever been hurt by someone and felt like "getting even?" Perhaps you felt that severe but rather than approaching someone who hurt you and working it out you simply decided to ignore them or just walk away. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ either of these situations Paul would label as "evil."

"Never pay back evil with more evil." Romans 12:17

I know it is hard when you feel, hurt, rejected, or offended by someone but Jesus gave us the example of how we should respond to this, we should love! We prove we are His disciples by our love. Paul is further emphasizing that with this phrase.

The phrase "pay back" literally means to vehemently get even with someone, to retaliate, or to take revenge. It is a very human reaction, but we are supposed to be dead to our flesh and alive to His Spirit making that response a failure in the eyes of Christ. In fact, the Greek word translated "never" here means that it is absolutely forbidden, not even to be considered in any way, ever. Does that sound serious to you?

Evil is wrong, and we know it. When someone is evil to us that word describes an action that is harmful, hurtful, or injurious or something is done with an evil intent. These are the actions of a person who intentionally acts to cause some kind of damage or ruin in someone else’s life. God sees it all. You are His child. If you have done something sinful that has brought on this evil, God will correct you, discipline you but it is not about you and the other person you must choose to forgive. However, if the evil has been done and you are innocent, still choose to forgive but allow the Lord to defend and protect you. If there harm has been intentional it doesn't mean you have to return to the situation, but you still must choose to forgive, or you will not be set free.

Sometimes things are done that we interpreted as evil but are merely a misunderstanding. Regardless of the intent, Jesus gave us an example to follow to always walk in love and forgiveness, helping others to come to that freedom as well.

We are loved with a great love as much as we can let's live and share that love with others so that might come to know the freedom and love we know!

Friday, March 9, 2018

March 9 Thought for the day...tough times are coming

For all of my life, someone has been saying Jesus is coming back soon. They are correct, every day that we march forward in time, Jesus' return is sooner. He is coming back some day, and He defined that day as when everyone will have heard the Gospel message.  However, there are things we need to look for as "signs" so we might be aware to not become like them. Paul warns us in

2 Timothy 3:1  "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come"

Feel free to read these signs in verses 2-13. What I want us to focus on today is what Paul is actually saying here. The phrase "but know this" is written in a tense that suggests to us that we need to continually be aware of the things He is going to outline. It is not simply, pay attention once and move on, but instead to always make yourself aware of what is happening around you. We are to always be aware, alert, but never fearful, anxious, or angry. Paul is simply saying, it is human nature to go the way I am about to describe, so always be aware that it is not happening in you or those around you.

His use of the phrase "last days" literally means just that, the things I am telling you will be at their absolute worst right before the end of the age. You think these things are bad now wait and see just how bad they will become.

The phrase "perilous times" Paul is saying, these words are going to be hard to hear, they are harsh, unrelenting, these times will be like wild animals that have been provoked, exceedingly fierce. These will be times when reason goes away, and men are acting more on instinct and nature than God.

Why share such a grim picture? First, to remind you while things are bad, that aren't as bad as they will be. Second, as Paul was sharing with young Timothy, be on the alert that no one in the church begins to act like this. Listening to the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us will cause us to overcome and have the victory every time, but we must be aware of what is in the heart of mankind. It also comes down to, do we read and know God's Word. We are being trained now for things in the future, but we must accept the training and discipline if we are to overcome.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 8 Thought for the day...handling stress

We have all been there. The stress to get a project completed, handling an event, making sure everything is ready for the baby, wedding, party, etc. Our world is full of stress, not all stress is terrible it pushes us on, overcomes laziness, helps us do better. Then there are the times when it is just overwhelming! Paul's answer

"and to give you who are troubled rest with us" 2 Thessalonians 1:7

The Thessalonians were constantly persecuted. They were not only being persecuted by the Romans but just as heavily by the Jews. Many had been tortured, some killed, businesses stolen from them, enslaved. This church was unable to get a break. Yet despite all of this, the church stood strong and would not give in to the threats and persecutions, they stood their ground to overcome.

It is truly honorable to do this, but continual stress will eventually wear you down. The Holy Spirit through Paul is saying "rest." We must understand the word "troubled" first to its fullest. It means everything I described above but add to that the feeling that you are being crushed under a heavy weight. This was a torture method that was used, they tied a person down then placed a heavy boulder on them to slowly crush a person. This is how extreme the stress felt to the church. Do you remember feeling that way at times?

Then the "rest" word comes in. Sometimes the pressure comes from the outside, but many times we put it on ourselves. This word means to relax, lay down, let off on the pressure, shake it off, and let it go (no Disney singing here please). The word choice and placement encourages us to take some time to smell the roses, do some fun recreation, find something you love to do and do it.

Remember being overwhelmed, or being overcome by stress is never God's plan. Paul's encouragement is, there are times you just have to stop and do something to relieve the pressure. It may give you a better perspective on handling the problem and also give you the strength you need to do so, as well. He fights our battles for us...let Him!