Out With The Old…In With The New!!!

 Psalms 51:10-12 “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (KJV).

As we journey through the last few days of 2014; we look forward to beginning a new year, many of us will consider making some resolutions. Personally, I don’t like to make New Year resolutions, but I do like to look back over the past year and reflect on my accomplishments and failures. This is a wonderful time for personal reflection; a time to examine our spiritual walk with the Lord. Before I discuss these verses let’s take a moment to ask ourselves some questions.

During this past year…

  1. How was my spiritual walk?
  2. How much time did I spend in prayer?
  3. Did I spend enough time reading my Bible?
  4. How many Bible studies did I complete?
  5. What ministries did I support? (Financially, prayerfully, physically, etc.)

These are just a few simple examples to help us reflect spiritually. These are not meant to be an exhaustive list but merely challenge us to think deeply and spiritually about our New Year resolutions. The most common resolutions include: weight loss, healthier eating habits, removal of bad habits, money (saving and debt reduction), etc. All of which are excellent resolutions that will help each one of us; but what about our spiritual resolutions?

David begins with “Create in me…” which is the most important ingredient for spiritual change. Create begins the process by cutting down and clearing out what has been standing in our way. It is like clearing out a forest in order to pour the foundation of your home. Once the trees have been removed the cleaning continues with the removal of the stumps and roots.

As we establish our new resolutions, it is critical to ensure our minds and hearts are cleaned, old things are passed away, removed, and forgotten. We now have the ability to fill our minds with a clean spirit and a new heart. As we enter into a new year, I pray we will all focus on creating a new spirit and a clean heart that allows us to grow closer to the Lord.

There are two things that stood out in these verses; the first is our ability to create a new habit that will focus on the Lord. The second is to restore what we have been doing for the Lord, allowing us to enhance and improve them. We can always improve our walk, relationship, and love for the Lord. As a Christian we never stop growing in the Lord, but just as it is important for us to eat healthy, we must eat a healthy spiritual diet as well.

Zabriskie (2014) encourages us to establish a resolution of reading through the Bible in 2015. The article listed 20 reasons and benefits that can be achieved from reading through the entire Bible in a year. It also discussed how quickly most of us fail at completing the common resolutions.

One key to remember when establishing any resolution is your ability and desire. We often fail because we do not allow enough time to perform the new task of change. For example, if you desire to read through the Bible in a year, make sure you set aside plenty of time each day to accomplish your reading. You must also take into account those events that will “pop-up” and keep you from completing your daily reading. This is an area that needs to be accounted for. Either establish an alternate time during your day or ensure you have the time to catch up on your reading. I like to set aside a couple of hours each day, this gives me plenty of time for reading and studying. When something comes up, then I have plenty of time set aside to make up any reading or additional research that I may need to accomplish.

Establishing my daily quiet time with the Lord and His word has not been an easy task for me, but I have to admit, it has been the greatest blessing. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, reading my Bible has allowed me to slow down and listen to what He has planned for me. It has also provided me a great opportunity to stare into the mirror of my life, showing me those areas that need some attention, cleaning, and redirection. I encourage everyone to do what they can to ensure they have set aside some “quiet time” with the Lord daily. The Bible is the only book that has the ability to continuously strengthen us on so many levels. Reading His word will allow us to grow and strengthen our personal life, marriage, parenting, family, work, and church life and fellowship. The Bible will never be outdated and we can never learn too much from it.

I pray the Lord will bless everyone who reads this post and help them grow closer to You. May the Lord speak clearly and strengthen you daily. May He lift you up when you are down and allow you to be His light to those around you. May His wisdom fill you each and every day. God bless you for taking the time out of your day to read my posts. It is an honor and privilege for me to have the freedom and ability to share what the Lord places on my heart.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Zabriskie, M. (2014). Resolved: read the Bible in 2015. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/12/26/resolved-read-bible-in-2015/

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When the Door is Closed…

Acts 16:5-12 “5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (KJV).

Paul is now on his second missionary journey and this time he takes Silas with him. It isn’t long before he meets up with Timothy and takes him under his wing. In verse 10 the use of the word “we” indicates that Luke has now joined the team.

As they continue building churches and teaching new believers, everything seemed to be wonderful then the Lord holds up the “stop” sign.

The Lord’s stop sign halted Paul’s original plan to spread and strengthen the gospel message in Asia. This caused Paul and his team to travel through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia. When they reached Mysia, the Holy Spirit put up another road block. This time the Lord sent him a vision to direct his path to Troas.

Once in Troas and receiving the Lord’s new plan, they immediately set sail for Macedonia and the city of Philippi. Along the way to Philippi, they stopped briefly at Samothracia and then Neapolis.

Application: When we are in a dark place, seeking direction from the Lord, we often sit still, waiting for a clear sign and direction before moving forward. Or maybe we are working in a ministry that seems to be slowly depleting itself. Members are falling by the wayside faster and faster, you have tried everything possible, but have no idea how to keep it afloat. So you sit and pray, waiting for the Lord to show you a new direction. Maybe you are waiting for the Lord to pat you on the back and tell you “well done my faithful servant; but I have shut the doors on this ministry”.

I would like to point out that these scenarios are perfectly fine for a Christian to experience. But maybe when the Lord holds up that stop sign, we need to look around behind us, because He is holding up the “Go” sign for us. It might mean that His new plan and direction might be for a new ministry or new location. I am reminded that Paul and his team could have become distraught, depressed, or angry when their plans were changed. But they didn’t, they simply said “Ok, Lord, but which way shall we go now”?

When we are faced with a closed-door from the Lord, maybe we should begin with prayer and keeping with the door analogy, try opening some of the other doors around us.

I can remember being on fire for the Lord, building and working in a growing ministry that was aflame for God. But it did not last long before He quickly shut that door. I was so confused and hurt, I felt like it was something that I had done. I spent a lot of time in prayer, seeking answers. A new door was opened when I stopped focusing on myself and turned it all over to the Lord. My prayer went something like this “Lord, thank you for all of the blessing that I have been given during my ministry and thank you for closing the door. Forgive me for trying to reason with your plans, I am at your service, use me as your will desires for my life and I will follow you anywhere”.

As I waited for the Lord, I dedicated my time in prayer and studies. It was not long before the Lord opened a new door for me and has been using me ever since. We should not be surprised when the Lord changes directions, as long as we understand that we are not the ones in control.

Isaiah 64:8 “But not, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (KJV).

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

Kyle Idleman’s (2011) book “Not a Fan” is a wonderful reminder of these verses. A fan is someone who gives up hope when their team is not doing so great. But when the team is winning, then they are the best fans. Here is just one of his many great quotes ““The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them” (Idleman, 2011).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Idleman, K. (2011). Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

Aside

Conflict Resolution

 Acts 15:1-9 “1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (KJV).

After returning from their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch. The church has accepted the new doctrine of witnessing to the Gentiles, which Peter played a major role in with the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10). As Paul and Barnabas fellowship and disciple the church members at Antioch, they run into some problems. They discovered that some of the religious believers from Jerusalem had made their way to Antioch.

The problem had to do with adding stipulations to the gospel message. The new believers were being told that they needed to follow the Old Testament law of circumcision. This was completely contrary to what Paul and Barnabas had preached to them. Salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, KJV).

The conflict was so important that Paul and Barnabas could not convince these legalistic believers what they were preaching was wrong. They had to form a debate team and journey to the original head church in Jerusalem (v.2).

As the made their way to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas continued witnessing and preaching the gospel message. Once they arrived in Jerusalem and began discussing this issue of salvation, it was obvious that some of the leaders still believed that keeping the Mosaic Law was a requirement to salvation. This was not a one-time meeting. Most commentaries agree that the debate was discussed during 4 separate occasions. The final outcome was an agreement that salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. They documented the agreement and sent witnesses back to Antioch in order sign, seal, and deliver the news.

There are a few important issues that I would like to discuss from these verses. Conflict in the church is nothing new and should not surprise us. The key to any type of conflict is the goal of resolution. Resolving conflict takes time; we must be willing to listen carefully and take the time necessary to handle it. When Paul and Barnabas could not find resolution at Antioch, they took the conflict to the next level. The focus was not placed on who was right or who was wrong; the focus was on 100% resolution. If there was no resolution to the doctrine of salvation; the church could not move forward. The division in doctrine would have caused the church to decay from the inside out.

Have you ever seen a church split over silly arguments? I have heard of a church dividing because they could not agree on the color of the new carpet they wanted to purchase. How does such a silly argument promote the gospel message to the un-saved? Why would anyone visit a church that can’t even agree on the color of a carpet?

The other issue to discuss is the legalistic view; which is considered the darker side of Christianity. When Christians add to the gospel, it creates a salvation message that is impossible to achieve. Let me explain: If I create a rule to the salvation message, I point sinners back to the Ten Commandments (Law). But that is not what God’s law is designed to do. The law is impossible to keep; therefore it is designed to point sinners to Christ. Not the other way around.

Galatians 3:21-25 “21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Her Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:36-38 “36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (KJV).

Luke writes and describes an amazing woman named Anna in 3 little verses. But Luke’s detailed method of writing allows us to learn so much about her. Yesterday I discussed the remarkable faith of the man Simeon and today we will look at Anna’s only Christmas present.

From the text we can deduce a few outstanding qualities of this woman. First, she is described as a prophetess. A prophetess is defined as a female who possesses the ability to see and describe future spiritual events, and this is done by an inspired woman (Strong, 1984). “As a prophetess, Anna receives insight into things that normally remain hidden to ordinary people; she recognizes who this child is and tells of his significance to selected people in Jerusalem” (Branch, 2013). Her actions affirm Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.”

She was a very spiritual woman who had a great family origin, “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asser”. “But she had much more than age and ancestry; she had a deep faith and a resilient piety: she did not depart from the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day” (Arias, 1984).

She would have been married at the age of 14 or 15; which lasted only 7 years before the passing of her husband. From the text we can place her at the age of at least 85; some commentaries place her age at 114-115 years old. The point to focus on is her long dedicated life and service to the temple.

She fasted and prayed regularly and this would indicate the she was probably thin. Her ability to move about the temple in order to minister to others shows us that she was able to move around and her vision was still acceptable (v.38). This is an amazing ability for a woman her age. After the death of her husband, Anna devoted her entire life to working night and day in the temple.

Notice in the latter part of verse 38 “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. She was still excited to be a witness of the truth and her long years of dedicated service at the temple was a testimony of her faith. After spending 80 plus years serving in the temple, Anna was still on fire for the Lord. God truly blessed her for her dedicated service by providing her with the one greatest Christmas gift she could have asked for…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

Arias, M. B. (1984). Simeon and Anna sodalities : a challenge to churches in transition. Missiology, 12(1), 97-101.

Branch, R. G. (2013). Anna in the Bible: Luke reveals the prophetess as a Biblical model for aging. Bible History Daily, Bible Archaeology. Retrieved from http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible

Strong, J., & Strong, J. (1984). The New Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible: With main concordance, appendix to the main concordance, key verse comparison chart, dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, dictionary of the Greek Testament. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

His Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:25-35 “25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (KJV).

Every year since salvation I have made a habit of reading through Luke 2 during the Christmas month. I also read this chapter Christmas morning. I believe this is a great way to be reminded of why we celebrate Christmas. While reading the chapter today, I was focused on the word “just” and how it is used to describe Simeon. I embarked on a quick word study; looking for other uses of the word “just”. Here are a few verses:

  1. Jesus spoke the same word in Matthew 13:49 “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” (KJV).
  2. Pilate used this word to describe Christ in Matthew 27:24 “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (KJV).
  3. Herod used this word to describe John the Baptist in Mark 6:20 “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (KJV).

Simeon was a man who lived by faith. A religious man, but he was different from the other religious Jews. Simeon was a prophetic man who was awaiting the coming Messiah. There was obviously something special about Simeon’s faith. I can only speculate, but I believe he was a religious leader who dug deep into the Old Testament writings. He dug so deep that he realized the true meaning of Christmas. Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (KJV).

I can remember how exciting it was counting down until Christmas morning. The excitement would begin a few weeks prior to the big day of opening new toys. But Simeon spent years waiting for this very day; a day he only knew by faith. We know that Christmas will come each year on December 25th and we have time to prepare for the festivities.

Notice in verse 26 “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”. As Simeon held the Lord in his arms, he blessed Him and then asked to depart in peace. All Simeon wanted for his one and only Christmas was to see the Lord. We can learn so much from this man’s faith; may we all be reminded to walk the same just and devout life as Simeon and stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

One More Day

 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (KJV).

In keeping with the theme about past mistakes and dwelling in history, I think these verses are worthy of another post. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. Notice how Paul addresses his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, calling for their immediate attention. His desire for the church is heartfelt and passionate. He is saying “Please don’t ignore the past mistakes of your forefathers, learn from them”. His focus was on the blessings they had received and yet, they were overthrown in the wilderness. Paul gives us an important reminder that our need for Christ should not be measured or weighted through our circumstances.

I’m afraid that many un-saved people today have the same ignorance that Paul speaks about. They believe that salvation only applies to those who are poor, drug addicted, or suffer through an habitual cycle of “bad things” in life. Paul reminds me that salvation is for everyone. Romans 3:22-23 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. People may put on a persona and make it look like they are doing wonderful, but deep down they are hurting. Regardless, keep on sharing the gospel. Plant the seeds and let the Lord provide the Light and Water. My point is not to judge how others view salvation, but to address the need for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, we are reminded that the blessed days of our walk with the Lord are just as important as the darker ones. Whether we are on the mountain top or sitting in a valley, our faith needs to remain constant. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV). Good days or bad days, it just doesn’t matter…They are all worthy of giving thanks, to the One who has blessed us with…one more day!

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Numbering Our Days

 Psalm 90:12-17 “12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. 14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. 16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it (KJV).

Moses is the author of this remarkable Psalm. It is also recorded as the oldest of all the Psalms written. I covered the first 4 verses in a previous post titled “Dwelling in History”. Moses begins his petitions to God in verse 12. He is not praying for himself but for God’s people. He prays that God will allow his people to learn from their past mistakes; not only to learn from past mistakes but to take them to heart.

When we take a look at our past mistakes, we have a few options:

  1. We can learn from them and never make the same mistakes.
  2. We may forget about them and continue making the same mistakes.
  3. Or we may dwell on them, allowing them to be a constant reminder of our failures.

I believe Moses’ prayer gives us some wisdom and instructions about handling past mistakes. Numbering our days is a great illustration of the Lords forgiveness, grace, and mercy. When we number our days, we have the power, ability, and authority to change. We are wise to remember our past mistakes, but foolish to think that the Lord replays them over and over. Those past mistakes are gone, they are numbered and that number can’t be replayed, unless we forget to number them (Repent).

In verse 13 we are reminded of the need to repent from our mistakes. After we repent we can rejoice and be happy. The day of salvation is such a wonderful day for new believers, so wonderful that angels in heaven rejoice. Jesus said “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” Luke. 15:10, KJV).

Numbering our days allows us to reflect on how important it is to repent our mistakes and learn from them. Think of it as a negative and positive. Those past mistakes are negative moments is life. When we repent we turn a negative into positive, and a positive points us to the cross +. Dwelling on your past mistakes will only hinder you from being all that you can be for Christ. We do not know how many days we will be able to number. Live for Christ today and be all that He desires for you to be.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Teachable Moments

  Zechariah 1:2-6 “1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us” (KJV).

The prophet Zechariah is delivering the Lord’s message and begins with a call to repentance. Not only is this a wonderful reminder of our need of repentance today, but the Lord’s call gives us a beautiful answer to the question “why”. The Lord was not pleased with the way the previous generation responded to His word. How could His people not learn from the mistakes made by the previous generations? Easy, we all possess some of the character traits of our parents and grandparents. This leads right into an easy application for us today. As parents, we must be careful about how we live in front of our children. It is important for our children to be part of a local church, they need to attend, and they need to be involved with the ministries.

Have you ever watched those infomercials where they always end their elaborate sales pitch with “But wait, there more”, then they attempt to offer you some additional product either for free or half price. As the Lord reminds his people, he gives them a beautiful call to repentance and there’s more, don’t be like your forefathers. Learn from the mistakes they made.

This leads me back to parenting. Parents have the ability to undo some of the poor examples they have set before their children. Meaning that the time is now, not only is it important to change your ways that are not in accordance with His word, but you have the obligation to teach your children why. Sometimes a parent will make better choices in life, but never take the time to explain the “why” to their children. These teachable moments are important, they may be the link of wisdom that will help them grow into adults who know the right things to do, but they will also know why they should do them.

Teaching a child by telling them what to do and not do, is only one method of teaching, and it is the simplest form of teaching a child. But adding the “why” allows the child to experience a deeper level of learning. But wait…there’s more, a parent needs to share those moments when they turned from doing something wrong and turned towards the Lord. Those moments will take a child’s learning to a Christ-like level. Be humble and teach your children the right way, through the examples written on the pages of your life.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV).

Malachi 4:5-6 “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (KJV).

Matthew 18:3, Jesus speaking, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Finding Balance

 1 Timothy 6:1-11 “1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (KJV).

Paul is speaking to the young Timothy, reminding him of the importance of maintaining a proper Christian perspective. As a Christian, living in a world with those who are opposed to our beliefs, it may become difficult to find the right balance. We are to live according to His word, follow His instructions, and defend His truth. Paul also reminds Timothy that it is important to remain respectful to others. The picture given is that of a slave working for his master.

In today’s workplace environment, there are Christians who struggle with maintaining a balanced life of faith. The boss or supervisor may not be a Christian; in fact they may dislike everything Christianity stands for. This may cause a great deal of stress in the life of a Christian. Paul reminds us that we need to be respectful toward those we work for and with, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

How do we balance our faith? The word “Balance” may be a poor word choice for this application. A Christian does not have to balance their faith in the workplace. It may seem impossible to live your faith in an office filled with people who want nothing to do with Christ. Everything you are trying to live for and by seems foolish to others. How we live our faith at home or at church seems impossible to do at work. But this is exactly what Paul is addressing. We may not be able to openly bring the gospel message into the workplace, but we are told to continue living the gospel through our actions, deeds, and words.

Paul explains in the latter of verse 1, “…worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed”. We should not be focused on “how we are being treated as a Christian in the workplace”. The question should be, “how am I treating others, including my supervisor or boss”. Paul gives us a great reminder to “Lift Up” and not to “Put Down” others. That includes putting ourselves down because of the way we are treated.

Paul continues in the remaining verses, describing what happens when we focus on our own self-pity. We become filled with pride, envy, and strife. The “woe is me” syndrome is the opposite of how we should be as Christians. Self-pity is defined as the “psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have the confidence nor competence to cope with it”. 1

Our Lord was not treated kindly, but yet he walked this earth teaching us to love others, through our actions, words, and deeds. Paul reminds us to continue in our faith, walking, talking, acting, and living with a greater goal in mind. We are to respect our supervisors and co-workers; we do it because He did it for us on the Cross. When we respect others, work hard, and do the best we can do, we are putting the Lord first in our lives. Showing others what and who Christ is. There are many ways to share Christ, how we act is the outward display of what the Lord has done for us on the inside.

 Maybe the word “balance” is the right application here. The Christian balances what the Lord has placed on the heart (inside), in order to be able to share with others (outside). If the Christian has too much weight on the inside (heart), then it becomes difficult to shift the weight to the outside (others) and vice versa.

Think of it like this…A man who walks a tightrope has to shift his weight back and forth; otherwise he ends up leaning too far to one side and falls off. His balance must remain centered on the rope. He may use his arms or a long pole to help keep his balance, but no matter what, his focus must remain on the center of the rope.

Walking the rope is how a Christian should walk, straight and centered on truth. If we lean too far in either direction we fall off the path of righteousness. The longer we walk the rope, the more people will see our accomplishments, but if we don’t walk the rope, then nobody will be able to see how wonderful it is to live for Christ. In the workplace, we don’t have to stand around saying “look at me, I’m walking a tightrope”. All we need to do is stay focused and centered on the rope. The further we get, the bigger the crowd. It won’t take long until people will be curious or inspired and want to try walking the tightrope. The applications are endless.

Proverbs 12:28 “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is not death” (KJV).

Matthew 7:13-14 “13 Enter ye in the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

1 Self-pity Wikipedia definition. Retrieved 12/16/2014 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-pity

Striking While the Iron is Hot…

 Haggai 1:14 “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,” (KJV).

The chapter begins, with what I refer to as a “teachable” moment. God’s people were hard at work rebuilding their homes. The detail and quality of their work is worth mentioning. They were building fancy interiors, lining the stoned walls with custom wood paneling. The type of interior you would find in a palace.

Haggai delivers a wake-up call, reminding them that the Lord’s work was not being accomplished. Instead of building His house; they were building their own. The rebuilding of God’s house was being delayed. In the latter part of verse 5 Haggai asks an important question “Consider your ways”. He continues with “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Hag. 1:6, KJV).

The chapter reminded me of some familiar excuses. I’ll get to it later… If I work long hours, I can get that promotion…I’ll worry about my soul later… Mark 8: 36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul”? Working hard, earning a living, having nice things, and climbing the ladder of success are commendable, but we have to slow down sometimes and ask ourselves to, “Consider our ways”.

Setting priorities can be a daunting task. You may spend hours or days establishing your priorities, figuring out a way to accomplish them all. But all it takes is one more item to “pop-up” and your carefully designed priority list goes out the window. I am reminded that my priorities need to begin by placing the Lord at the top of my “to-do” list.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV). Proverbs 3:6 “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (KJV).

I thought about the saying “strike while the iron is hot”. The Lord stirred their hearts at a time when they were extremely busy. I have to wonder how many times the Lord tried to stir my heart, but I was too busy to listen. Quiet time in His word keeps the iron of our hearts warm.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher