Posts Tagged ‘Apostle Paul’

 

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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

 

I have a friend that always tells other men to “man up” when he thinks they are not acting in a manner worthy of their gender. He always laughs at their reaction because they are usually stunned when he tells them. Most recently, he surprised someone I know with this same declaration only this time it got me thinking about this idea that we have all been called by God to be something really special only many of us are just not living up to that call.

What I mean is, what this verse above actually says, “walk in the manner that is worthy of the calling”. Guys, this is Paul the Apostle talking. Remember him? He was a punching bag for almost his entire ministry but yet he continued to stand worthy of Gods calling throughout his many journeys. This guy was literally responsible for enormous church planting in the beginning in the early days of the gospel. Yet sometimes his message wasn’t received, and as a result, he was beaten, imprisoned or even worse…

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; (2 Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV)

Here is a guy that honestly could have quit early on in his ministry solely based upon injuries alone…but he didn’t. He could have chosen to quit when his message was rejected…but he didn’t quit then either. Instead, he constantly made statements like “he rejoices in his sufferings…”

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)

 

What is my point?

As a believer in Christ, you have been called to be His follower. That means something. That means you MUST act different than you did before you were a believer. Paul reminds us that we need to walk a walk that is truly worthy of His calling on our life.

Don’t assimilate into the culture… Separate yourself

It may cause some discomfort…but trust me…Christ has your back…

 

Until next time guys…

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Guys, if you can, please take just a few minutes and read this story in the book of Acts. This is about the beginning of Christianity and how once Christ had ascended into heaven, how ugly the Apostles were treated by the Pharisees.

Acts 5: 17-41

The Apostles had angered the high priest because they kept preaching in the name of Jesus and he was looking for a way to kill them. During this angry meeting of the Pharisees, another Pharisee leader stood up whose name was Gamaliel (the same man who Paul studied under), and gave the council some very wise words which are summarized in the verses below:

Acts 5:38-39

…So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!

As a Christian man, I encounter obstacles everyday just like you do. Unplanned problems rise up in front of me and seem to work just to thwart my plans every time I turn around. Does this ever happen to you? Your plans get squashed in front o your eyes? What I found was a huge encouragement when I read these verses again is what I want to share with you today…the very simple realization of:

If your plans are just YOUR PLANS, they will fail…

But if they are of God, NOTHING can stand in your way.

Guys, go with me for just a moment here. How many times have you made great plans for a project or a vacation or for that matter, your entire life? You may be busy organizing your finances or changing directions because of information YOU have that matters or refinancing or getting a line of credit or…I can go on and on.

You are probably planning right now am I right?

Guys, Please hear my words right now…planning is NOT a bad thing…in fact, it is a very good thing to plan and look forward to the future…what I am suggesting to you today is to make your plans WITH GOD INVOLVED. Look to Him for the guidance to those plans, because as was said above in Acts, if your plans are with God, He will be your guide and get you there in once piece.

Now there is one caveat to this conversation which is your understanding that God has plans for you too and if you get Him involved, He will want to guide you towards His higher plan for your life which trust me, is the direction you want to go…

Do His plans and your plans always coincide? Honestly, no they don’t; But I have found that when I am in the middle of Gods plan for my own life, I ALWAYS come out in far better circumstances and a much stronger person than I was before.

So consider what I am telling you today because God is very clear when He tells us this from Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Those words are for you and me…

Until next time guys…

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I found myself complaining the other day about something I now don’t even remember what it was about but it got me thinking about fundamentally why my first reaction was to grumble about the issue in the first place? Have you ever done that before? When something happens the way you don’t want it to your first reaction is to gripe about it? It can be about small or even stupid things like “why don’t you do this right?” or, “why can’t you put this away correctly?”…But the fact I was doing this got me thinking about complaining or the idea of complaining for really no good reason at all.

I think you would agree with me that there are people in this world who should be complaining or have a more valid reason to complain. For example, when you don’t have enough food to feed your family or when you have lost your job through no fault of your own…those are the folks that should be complaining. But what I find interesting is in some cases, these are the people who don’t say anything. They just go about their business and go on surviving. If they lose their job, they work to find another one. If they can’t feed their family, they find another job to make some more money to help. Please don’t misunderstand me here, this is not a commentary on work ethic or our society, it is my observation that when the going gets rough, there are people out there who simply DO and don’t complain about it.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Mark Woodard speak about his life experiences and his insatiable desire to be positive and to persevere, no matter what his circumstances. Guys, never in my life have I heard someone who should simply complain about his life and what has happened to him. Quick summary, when he was 10, a shotgun went off and blew half his face away. After many surgeries, he survived but he was totally blind. After receiving a 7-figure settlement, his drug-addicted mother stole most of his money and later on, a girl friend would steal the rest. Through many various struggles as a ward of the state, fights, adversity like I have never seen before, this guy struggles on. He won’t even think of quitting. He is now 25, and working to get a degree to teach blind people skills that he had to learn on his own. What I find inspiring is his perspective because complaining is not an option to him. He simply keeps persevering no matter what the odds are stacked against him. As I listened, I found myself asking what would I have done in his situation? Would I have persevered in the face of so many obstacles, or just given up? The fact that I began this blog with a confession that I was complaining about something unimportant made me realize that I wasn’t proud of myself in this area. Mark has somehow learned how to be content and persevere no matter what he faces in his life…and he can’t even see. Then I remembered something the Apostle Paul said in Philippians that brought the answer to me in a way I could understand:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:11-13

Suddenly I feel really stupid about complaining about anything. Sure, I have faced adversity in my life…we all have. But the key is understanding how to be content and NOT complain. The key is to keep on seeking God and persevering with all of our might…even when it makes no sense for us to do so. God has promised to never leave us or forget us…

 

Let me leave you with this very simple thought:

 

No matter what your circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful for…

 

Until next time guys…

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As I have gotten older, I have come to like Grace a whole lot. I like to hear the word, I like to see it carried out, but most of all I like to receive it. Usually, when I receive grace it is because I need grace. If I forget to do something on time and I find out I have been extended more time…I like that wonderful feeling of relief…of grace…

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness… 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have read these verses many times before but I think right now maybe some of you may need a simple refresh…The verse above are Christ’s words to the Apostle Paul as he wrestled with his “thorn in the flesh” which many scholars believe was poor eyesight. Even though Paul pleaded with God 3 separate times to remove this “thorn” from him, God chose NOT to do so…which is when we see Paul make reference to the verse above…why would God choose to NOT answer Paul’s prayer?

GOD WANTED PAUL TO TRUST HIM…

The “weakness” referred to here are the low points or the difficult times we experience along the paths of our collective lives. I know this isn’t a surprise to you but accepting Christ into your life doesn’t negate hardships…in fact, I believe we are presented with more challenges or “grace opportunities” as Christians simply because God wants us to learn to trust Him during the times we need Him the most. I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time with trusting. How do you handle adversity when it’s thrown your way? If you are like me, I am one of those people who have written about and believe that it is our Lords desire is to surround himself in heaven with people who understand and practice God’s power being made perfect in weakness (see verse above). In other words I believe that in eternity, God wants to hang out with the people who stood toe to toe against Satan during life’s battle and said, “Is that the best you can do?”…

And frankly, I have to admit, so do I…

But back to the beginning; if you recall, the first part of our verse talks about Gods grace being sufficient; sometimes I have struggled to understand what grace really means to me? Is it a “get out of jail free card?” or is it simply just a friend helping me get back up when I fall? Then I read recently an easier way to think of grace. Grace is simply the “presence of God” in our lives. So think of it this way, substitute the phrase “presence of God” for the word “grace” from now on and you will see what I mean. Grace is God’s physical strength from Heaven given to you, and to me, when we call on Him. I like that a lot. When I call on God you can bet I am wrestling with something and need His help. Isn’t it encouraging to understand and recognize that in our weakest points ever, God’s strength is made perfect in us? He is there! We are NOT alone…you are NOT alone. His grace, or His presence, is there to see us through our personal difficult path (whatever that is for you).

Brothers, I hope you can be encouraged by these words but even more important, consider extending some grace in someone’s direction that maybe needs it more than you do…

Until next time guys…