Peace of Christ

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – COLOSSIANS 3:15 NASB

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – PHILIPPIANS 4:7 NASB

Peace. What a wonderful word. Sometimes, when I hear it, I have to chuckle as I recall the idealized thoughts of teenagers – “I want to see peace on earth; Give peace a chance; All the world needs is love, love, love…..” Sure, sure. Who doesn’t want all the fighting and evil to go away? It’s a nice thought, granted, but is it realistic in the world we live in? Unfortunately, no. As a follower of Jesus Christ – not as a Christian who is defined by the world – I believe it is for us to speak out:

“…… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness …..” – 1 THESSALONIANS 2:4‭-‬5 NASB

When I allow the Peace of Christ in my heart, it allows me to more easily see the evil, manipulating ways of the world, and enables me to speak out against it. His peace teaches me to be content in my circumstance ……. and I continually work on that!

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the Will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – ROMANS 12:2 NASB

Worried?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Verse 7, especially, is favorite verse of many, used to assure people that God loves them, and it’s true! He loves us very much, and He wants us to cast aside our anxieties, our worries, onto Him to carry instead of us. But, is it okay to just quote verse 7? It must be taken in context, as we should be diligent to use any scriptures. Verse 7 is not a new sentence, and must be included with verse 6. In humility, give your cares to God….. Are we doing this? Do we hand over our worries and our anxieties in humility? Worry is overwhelming! It is chocked off, divided; it gives a small thing a BIG shadow, and it can give us the ILLUSION of control. Worry is telling God we don’t trust Him to take care of the things that matter to our hearts. Our pride takes over, evidence of a prideful heart – the opposite of humility. Pride prevents us from giving our worries and anxieties to God. The word used here in verse 7 is singular, so it includes all of our anxiety, worry, and what if’s in one big bundle….. not some of them, ALL of them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get our concern confused with our anxiety. Concern is different; it’s a “good” worry. Concern isn’t self-focused or self-reliant. Jesus modeled the attitude and behavior for us; the perfect example:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. …..but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” – PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4, 7 NASB

Like David, in Psalm 55, we need to turn our worry and anxiety over to God, and have confidence that He will provide what we need. (Remember though, need is not always the same as want!) Concern is not worry. Trust God – Carry it or cast it on Him. Trade worry for trust.

Thank God for what He is going to do instead of trying to fix it myself. He already took care of our biggest burden, our sin burden. why wouldn’t he take care of our little burdens?

I Surrender

“Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.” Dwight L Moody

Continuing Pastor Mark Hitchcock’s sermon from Sunday …… he talked about humility in our Christian life. It makes me wonder why so many Christians are so proud.

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬7 NASB

“Pride is the soil from which all sin grows.” Mark Hitchcock

Merriam-Webster describes “servant” as “someone that serves other. A “subject” is “to make oneself amenable to the discipline and authority of another,” or, to be under someone, a servant, of service to someone else; humble. nothing we can do on our own, all depends on GOD. The phrase here, to “clothe yourselves” means to tie it on, like an apron on a servant – like Jesus did when He washed the disciples feet.

“….. and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to – continually fighting, open warfare – the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34, 16:5, 6:16-19) Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, ….” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬6 (Deuteronomy 8:2-6, James 4:10)

“Clothed in humility” ….. are we scantally clad?

Do you see what the message is? We must consciously come under the Hand of GOD. Not just in this moment, but continuously, as we go through life. It’s so easy to let pride, the I can do it attitude, creep in! GOD will exalt the humble, not man. It may be this life, and it may not be, but it will definitely be in GOD’s Kingdom and Eternity.

Remember these words of the old hymn by Judson W. Van DeVenter, published in 1896? This is what he said of his inspiration for the hymn:

For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing. (Emphasis mine)

I Surrender All
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Jesus, I surrender all.

Lest We Forget

July 4, 2019. 243 years ago, a group of men gathered, in secret, to forge ahead with actions that would end up costing many of them – literally – their fortunes and their lives. They did it in the name of freedom. Freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, freedom to decide their own fates. Freedom to escape the rule of ‘class’. Were these men perfect? Far from it! Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Yet they forged ahead, determined that their children and their children’s children and so on would have a place to live in freedom.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. No country, no nation before us was ever started with a Populous government! With all of the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike’s decision to pull their shoe that displayed it because it is a “slave” flag, let me refer to Article XIII of the Bill of Rights:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Was there slavery? Yes. It was in the form of both outright ownership of persons and indentured servitude. Was it against the Constitution? Yes, it was. Is it still occurring in the United States? Yes, I am sorry to say, although it is to a much lesser extent than in other countries. Our ancestors fought wars to prevent undue rule and unjust rule. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, the Middle East….. We are still fighting over unjust practices and inhumane treatment. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery; it was about States rights!

What’s my point?

There will never be a perfect place to live on this earth, because humanity is flawed to the core. No man or woman is perfect, and we will all do and say offensive and stupid things. Bearing that in mind, and knowing that in these United States we are all responsible for ourselves, we are Blessed! What other country allows such blatant disrespect to it to flourish within it’s borders? Where else on earth can people publicly make fun of and disrespect their leader without experiencing dire consequences?

Since 1776, millions of men and women, United States citizens, have given everything for our freedom. There are currently hundreds, thousands, military personnel putting their lives on the line, every single day, for our freedom. Ditto for the Police officers, Sheriff departments, Border Patrol Agents, every type of Law Enforcement; all First Responders – Fire, EMT’s. Where else in the world do these freedoms and protections exist? Nowhere, to the extent of those in the United States.

It’s a day to be thankful. We can worship how and when we please, we can speak out – and act out – against our government in freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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Of First Importance….

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…..” – 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3‭-‬4 NASB

This is of first importance. Aside from this, does anything else in this world really matter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD; that He was born of a virgin and lived as a human so that He could be hung on the cross, the ultimate and final sacrifice for our/your sins? Do you believe that He came out of the grave on the third day, triumphant over death? If you do, congratulations!!! By believing this, we get to spend the rest of our lives and forever more with our Saviour! Can it be so simple? Hallelujah; yes!

For those who don’t believe ……. Why? What is keeping you from believing? Is it that Jesus can be God and man in one person, Son of the Creator of the Universe and a young, human, woman? Is it the idea of the virgin birth, or is it the idea of a Creator, rather than the “science” of the Big Bang Theory*? (*I challenge you to look up the definition of the word theory. It’s a hypothesis, a speculation; i.e. a guess, “without any assumption of truth.”) I’m not a scientist, nor do I claim to be a great intellect; however, I can (and do) read voraciously. If you need scientific proof of a greater power and a created universe, there is plenty of compeling evidence to be found. I won’t argue between a 24-hour 6 day creation and a “big bang” because we don’t know. I will say this: I believe both!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – GENESIS 1:1 NASB

Were you there? He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing….. the atoms colliding had to come from somewhere, and, BANG, there it was! But, moving on to Jesus….. If God could create the heavens and the earth from nothing, why couldn’t He have His Son born to a virgin in order to save His people (that would be us, the human race) from our bad decisions? Giving us free will when He created us was His decision, because He wants us to choose to love Him and have a relationship with Him, just as we choose the humans we have relationships with.

Are you just not sure that Jesus really rose from the grave? Do you want to, can you, refute the testimony of hundreds of first-hand accounts, eyewitnesses to His resurrection?

“….. and {after} that He appeared to Cephas [Simon Peter], then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep [died]; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me [Paul] also.” – 1 CORINTHIANS 15:5‭-‬8‭

Still have doubts? I promise you that those doubts come straight from our enemy, the Father of Lies, who wants nothing more than to have you reject the Gospel. The enemy wants us to question the Bible, and especially to question the New Testament and its eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. If he, the enemy, can get you to doubt and to question, he wins. The enemy knows that without Jesus, His sacrifice and resurrection, we have nothing. We know that with Jesus, with His sacrifice, we have everything.

Choose wisely. Remember what is of First Importance.

Image: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, c. 1601–1602. Wikipedia

The Well-Qualified Leader

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NASB

Leadership is critical both to the church and in business, and there isn’t a more well-qualified leader than Jesus Christ. He shows how a good leader leads by example. The scriptures are very clear in outlining what a good leader consists of, starting with servanthood: to be a good leader, you must first be a good servant. In 1 Peter, he writes to church leaders, but the instructions are equally applicable in business.

“…… Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as Lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” – 1 PETER 5:2‭-‬3 NASB

If a behavior is the standard for leaders, it will become the benchmark for everyone who follows that leader. We become like our leaders:

“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” – LUKE 6:40 NASB

To be a good leader, their followers need to know who is in charge. Not control, because that is trying to force everyone into the same mold. In charge allows the leader to actually lead by example. A good leader also needs to recognize that the how may not be the same between each person, as long as the why is the same – and the end result is met. We have to know what our leaders should be like in order to hold them accountable, and a good leader should recognize and acknowlege the validity of the actions of their followers. They have to “live” with their people to recognize when there are issues and situations when their oversight is needed, and to know when it is not.

A good leader, regardless of their age, will have maturity, character, and wisdom. There’s no age limit to those traits! A good leader is one who is actively involved, who exercises oversight, and watchs that their people know how to follow. It’s as much attitude as knowlege. The best leaders are the ones who know and love the Good Shepherd, and who shepherd among their followers, and who are involved with other shepherd-leaders. A good leader is humble not haughty. They take the job seriously, but not themselves. They have a willingness and a passion for what they are doing. It isn’t just their job, an obligation. A good leader is exemplary, not domineering – remember our perfect leader, Jesus, the Son of Man, Who came to serve, not to be served; to be the OverSEER, not the OverLORD.

A well-qualified leader, a good leader, reaps the benefits and rewards of a job well done.

Image by https://www.modernservantleader.com/

Christian.

Christians. Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s become a common term in our languages, but have you ever wondered how the term got it’s start? Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party. The word is only used 3 times in the New Testament and each instance is referring to the first “Christians” of the early church. They were called “Christians” because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ Jesus. The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.”
Did you know that the word “Christian” comes from the Greek word christianos, meaning “little Christ”? And that the accusers of Jesus’s disciples used it as an insult…? “Check it out, there’s the ‘little Christs,’” they would say. So, what was meant to be a jeer became a blessing for billions of people as their actions made them part of this group called “Christians.” What a beautiful historical irony…

I guess the question we each should be asking ourselves is this: do I deserve to be called by that name? Am I worthy to claim His Name as my own?

Sources:
John 13:35, Galatians 2:11-17, 3:28, Colossians 3:10-11, Acts 11:26, 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16

Where the "Christian" Name Really Came From

Do you know where the word “Christian” comes from?

https://www.allaboutgod.com/what-is-a-christian.htm