Friday, October 30, 2020

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" - Philippians 2:14-15 
Whenever I plan to make a major purchase of electronics, appliances or a car, I spend hours reading product reviews. They are some help, but the complaints are often beyond belief. Given the opportunity, people will complain about the silliest things and expend incredible time and effort in the process. It's such a joy to meet someone who doesn't complain.
Paul wrote about the humility and sacrifice of our Savior in this chapter. He pointed us to Jesus as our example for selfless living. This kind of lifestyle will always produce people who face life without complaining and arguing. As a result our lives shine like stars in the world, with quality, purity, and contentment. People will listen to our witness because they see our consistent joy.
No one likes to be around complainers. Arguments turn people away. But we have been sent into the world to bring the light and joy of the Gospel. The next time you want to complain, consider the Lord's selfless sacrifice for us and find reason to rejoice. To win people to Christ, you often have to woo them first.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:4-6 
During occasions of economic decline we often see numerous unfinished buildings. They are such a depressing picture of the circumstances. When the first hole was dug and the foundation was poured there was such excitement and expectation. But then the question began to plague the builder... will it ever be finished?
Paul was full of expectation as he prayed and worked for the Lord. He had great confidence that his labor would never be in vain. He knew that the Lord's work would certainly come to completion in those he had led to Christ. It is God alone who saves, sanctifies, and sustains us until the end. And God always finishes what he starts!
Are there times when you feel spiritually depleted and wonder if the Lord has given up on you? Did you begin your walk with God with great excitement, only to arrive at a place of confusion and doubt? Stop for a moment and remember... You are God's work and He always finishes what he starts! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free." - Ephesians 6:7-8 (NIV) 
Before I entered the ministry I worked in a quite a few jobs. On occasion I worked in management and  was responsible for a number of employees. Until that time I would never have believed how many people sleep on the job. With such experiences being  found, I believe that the work ethic of this country is in trouble. In such an atmosphere every believer who serves wholeheartedly can be a breath of fresh air.
Paul addressed a number of deep spiritual issues in this letter. Yet, he comes to one of the most practical and wide spread need for everyday life. While there only a few ministers, missionaries and Christian workers, the rest of believers make up a huge work force. The witness and testimony of each on is only as strong as their work ethic. If they sleep on the job, no one will listen, but if they serve wholeheartedly, they will be well received as a breath of fresh air.
Where do you work my friend? How well do you do your job? Do you go the extra mile in the Name of Jesus? Are you able to lay your day's work before the Lord as a sacrifice of praise for His glory. It doesn't matter what little benefits may come your way in this life, for the Lord will reward everyone for whatever they do. A job well done and the Lord's promised reward will always be a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." - Ephesians 5:33
When you plant a garden the possibility of colorful beauty and sweet fragrance is great. But the possibility is determined by the amount of time and effort you invest. If you walk away in early spring and only return at the end of summer, your garden will be ravaged by weeds. But if you visit daily with water, weeding, feeding and tender loving care your garden will be a show place. The simple truth is this: we reap what we sow.
Paul knew that every marriage was like a garden. If the couple says "I Do" and then goes about their daily activities living for themselves, they will drift apart and eventually be ravaged by the weeds of selfishness. But, If both husband and wife will invest love and respect then the end product will be a beautiful and fragrant relationship. The simple truth still applies: we reap what we sow.
If you are a husband, your investment is to show a Christ-like sacrificial love that protects, provides, nourishes and treasures your wife. If you are a wife, your investment is to respect your husband with Godly help, support and encouragement to build a Christ centered home together. When you each invest your part with a whole heart as unto the Lord, you will reap what you sow: a beautiful and fragrant marriage.

Monday, October 26, 2020

"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." - Ephesians 4:29
One of the more common complaints about media interviews lately is the amount of abrasive and critical attacks on one another. Rather than presenting constructive thoughts and ideas to make things better, the time is largely spent tearing others down with words of contempt. The best way to really make a difference is to build people up with words of grace.
Over the last two millenniums since Paul wrote these words little has changed. People are more prone to make themselves look good by making others look bad. This is just the way we are without a renewed spirit and mind in the likeness of God. In contrast, the mark of a true believer is clear: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) This is how we build others up with words of grace.
Take an inventory this week my friend. Jot down the nature of every conversation you participate in during the next few days. Look especially for "build up" or "tear down" content in each encounter. I have no doubt that you will be surprised at the results. We need to be intentional to "put on the new self" and find words of grace to "build up" others on every occasion.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-19
Some time ago a missionary friend of mine let me take a close look at a bottle he brought home from Vietnam. The bottle was filled with wine and a coiled snake with a scorpion in its teeth. Yikes! I was more than happy to quickly return the unique conversation piece. The simple bottle took on a very distasteful aura from the fullness that was inside.
Paul prayed for the Ephesians to be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Such filling would come from the Father's riches, being strengthened with the Spirit's power and knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.  As a result, the simple believer would take on a very tasteful aura from the fullness that was inside.
The day you came to Christ, the Spirit of God made his home in your heart. His desire has been to expel the snakes and scorpions of your past and fill you with his fullness. This process is a matter of daily growth. Will you pray Paul's prayer for yourself and other believers today? May it be the intentional effort of your life to have the very fullness of God inside!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." - Ephesians 2:1-2 
In 1998 Christopher Nolan directed a film entitled "Following". The plot tells the story of a young man who follows strangers throughout London for inspiration to write a novel. In time he is drawn into a criminal underworld as a result of following the wrong people. Following can be beneficial or it can be detrimental; it all depends on who you follow.
Paul referred to the life left behind in the passage above as one that "followed the ways of this world". Jesus called his disciples with the call, "Follow Me". In response, twelve men left the old world behind and followed the Lord in learning and serving. Their lives were dramatically changed for the better as they found someone worth following.
The most important question to ask when you rise in the morning is: "Who will I follow today?" Will we choose to slip back into "the ways of the world", or will we follow Jesus wherever he leads? The day can be a blessing or burden; it all depends on who you follow.