Saturday, October 25, 2014

E.G.R.

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." - 1 Thessalonians 5:14
As every snow flake is different, so each one of God's children is different. We are different in many ways and our spiritual journeys differ in both speed and level of maturity. A lesson I had to learn early in my ministry was this: everyone is at a different place in their walk with God and I need to be attentive to this fact. I need to be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Paul urged the Thessalonians to warn, encourage, help and be patient. Some brothers were idle, some were timid, some were weak and some just needed patience. I recently heard someone use the term "E.G.R. people" (Extra Grace Required people) for those who had special spiritual needs. Showing the love of Jesus is needed by everyone, but especially by "E.G.R. people". Be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Who are the believers that live in your circle of ministry? Are they all up to speed spiritually? Or do you find many of them are still struggling in their stability and growth? Be a good brother or sister and be patient and kind to your "E.G.R. people.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Improvements

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more... And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." - 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10
We live in a world that's all about improvement. Improve your looks, your job, your education, your car, or your house. We're never satisfied with the status quo. As in the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist, we are always asking, "Please, sir, I want some more".
What about our spiritual lives? Paul mentioned the phrase "more and more" twice in this chapter. He instructed these believers to "live in order to please God" more and more and "love all the brothers" more and more. In both cases he noted a current lifestyle of Godliness, but he didn't want them to settle for just enough. He wanted to see spiritual improvement, "more and more".
Have you become satisfied with your spiritual life, while being driven for more worldly gain? What efforts are you making to improve your walk with God and your love for the brethren? The next time you want bigger and better or you're planning some home improvements, ask yourself, when was the last time you did some "heart improvements"?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Caring

"So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them." - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
Some time ago twin babies were found abandoned outside a fire station in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A note attached read, "Take care of my babies. I'm poor and can't do it." Over a period of twelve months, 570 other children have been abandoned in the state. Such stories are sad and quite troubling when children are born into the world and left alone without care.
There is another type of birth when someone is born again into a spiritual life. Paul knew that such children needed care and protective love. With this concern, "when he could stand it no longer", he sent Timothy to provide the proper spiritual nurture. Paul never led someone to Christ and abandoned them, alone without care.
Have you lead someone to the Lord recently? Do you have plans to care for their spiritual needs as new babes in Christ? Will you make the time to follow up their "new birth" with spiritual mentoring and discipling? Or, do you know someone who has recently been born again and abandoned? Allow God to use you as spiritual parent and give them the nurture and care that they need.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Glory and Joy

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." - 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Over the years our church has been blessed with a Cherub Choir that would often sing during the worship service. The group was made up of children from first through sixth grade. Our attendance was usually bumped up with parents, grandparents and extended family members. Relatives would come out of the woodwork to see, hear and encourage their young ones. Children are a glory and joy.
Paul was a busy missionary who also wrote volumes of Scripture and planted churches throughout his world. Yet, his greatest thrill was to lead a person to Christ and nurture them in the faith. He found this to be the very foundation of his ministry. Paul loved people in the Name of Jesus and cared for believers as a mother and father would. To Paul, spiritual children were his glory and joy.
Where do you look for true satisfaction in life? What brings you the greatest sense of fulfillment? When was the last time you led someone to Christ and nurtured them in their faith? My friend, this will bring you the thrill of a lifetime and it will last a lifetime. Love people like Jesus, lead them to the foot of the cross, encourage them in their walk with God and they will be your glory and joy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Motivation

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Years ago my father worked for a nationwide retailer that gave its employees a vested interest in the company. The more they sold, the more shares they would be awarded. As they succeeded, the business succeeded, and as the business succeeded, so did they. This company learned that success comes from a healthy motivation.
Paul greatly appreciated the work, labor and endurance seen in the Thessalonians. He noted that they were a motivated group of believers who were driven by a much deeper commitment than most. Their faith empowered them to work hard, their love encouraged them to labor diligently and their hope invigorated them to endure to the end. Three spiritual qualities kept them motivated in the most difficult hour.
Faith, love and hope; every believer has these qualities, but not often drawn upon for motivation. From time to time, we will face the giants, but every day we will have to deal with the little foxes that pester us in our spiritual walk. The work, labor and endurance will be difficult at times, but trust in the Lord with all your heart, love the Lord with all your heart and hope in the Lord with all your heart and you will be sufficiently motivated for the greatest success.

Monday, October 20, 2014

People

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:5-6 
It has been well said that one minute after death no one will say, "I wish I had spent more time at the office!" Or, "I wish I had put more time in home improvement!" When the tally sheet is opened for evaluation, I believe the greatest regret will be that more time wasn't spent with people.
While it is true that "you can't take it with you", it's also true that you can certainly "send it ahead" by making the best use of your time with people. Be wise with your use of time my friend and embrace every moment to be a blessing to others. Give them love, mercy, and grace, but above all... Give them Jesus!   

Think about this: "Jesus... wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them."
         - Rebecca Manley Pippert

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What to wear

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12 
They say that clothes make the man. That may or may not be true, but clothes often tell a lot about the person. An immoral person will dress promiscuously, and a moral person will dress modestly. Most often the outer appearance is a reflection of the inner attitude.
Throughout this chapter Paul emphasizes the believer's daily choice of dress. He is focused on the spiritual clothing, not the material. When we have put on a "new self" (vs. 10), our heart changes and our outer appearance takes on a whole new look. When we are God's chosen people, we dress accordingly.
You are a child of the King my friend. The kingdom attire isn't expensive suits and gowns; the clothing of the court is "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience". Before you spend time in your clothes closet thinking about what you will wear today, spend time in your prayer closet putting on the clothes that reflect a new heart.