Ephesians 4:17 reads "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind," Ephesians 4:21-24 reads " 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old [p]self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new [q]self, which [r]in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
I used weed-killer on my lawn and let me tell you it killed the weeds! It also left four, 4 foot by 6 inch patches in the yard. Even though here in the South summer is well underway, I decided to over-seed and water the patches to see what might happen. After several days of watering and seeding, I only saw progress in the areas that were already green but no progress on the patches.
I came outside one day to assess the yard's progress. My eyes went straight to the patches still in the yard and I was crestfallen. It took me a minute, but I eventually noticed that all the patches, while still there, were smaller.
Upon further inspection, I noticed that in some areas there was only dry, barren soil, while in other areas the grass had grown and become thick so quickly that it escaped my detection. Grass that sprang up from the newly fertile areas had begun to grow over the barren patches as well as new grass that grew along the edges of the barren patches. I had trained my eyes to look for new grass only in certain areas of the patches. In the places where I saw no new grass, I had assumed there was no progress. I know that the extra watering and seeding will cost me on this month's water bill, but I was encouraged by the growth!
I want to say to the Church that we are planting during a tough season for growth and it is costly to us. I also believe that we are making a difference one barren area at a time. However, some of the seeds that have been planted are now multiplying and doing work we don't see. Hallelujah! Here a little, there a little. Continue to fight the good fight of faith!
by Iris E. Foss
Few questions confuse us more as Christians than what it means to live by faith. When does it mean sitting still and leaving a need completely in the hands of Christ? When does it mean taking prudent initiative to solve a problem or reach a goal?
Many Christians assume that faith usually means the former and not the latter. Robert longs for a new job that would make better use of his gifts, yet he fears he would be pushing God by going out and looking for one. “Shouldn't I assume that if Christ wants me in a different job, he’ll bring it along without any effort on my part?” he asks.
Jane, who wants to be married, wrestles with a similar question. She would like to change jobs or even move to a different city where the prospects of meeting someone compatible are better. Yet she wonders if this would be taking matters too much into her own hands. “Doesn’t faith demand that I simply wait for Christ to bring the right man directly to me?” she asks.
Both Robert and Jane would prefer to be doing something specific toward reaching their goals, and each see clear steps they could take. Yet they fear that their efforts to change things would usurp God’s authority. Surely faith must require that they sit still and wait for him to act.
A Time to Be Passive, a Time to Be Active
Scripture teaches, though, that we are called to exercise two different levels of faith at various times as Christians. At one level, we are to be inactive and wait patiently for the Lord to move. Here faith involves believing that Christ will bring about a solution apart from any effort on our end. It is shown in so many situations in Scripture where people were either told to be still or forced to be still and wait for the Lord to act. Examples include Joseph in prison; the Israelites at the edge of the impassable Jordan River; and Jesus’ disciples just before his ascension when they were instructed, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.” (Acts 1:4)
Yet Scripture just as frequently affirms the faith involved in taking personal responsibility. We find so many impressive pictures in the Bible of individuals who, without any divine revelation or special prompting, took bold steps to reach a personal goal: Naomi and Ruth moving from Moab to Bethlehem; Nehemiah courageously organizing the Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem; Paul knocking on many doors to find opportunities to preach--in his own words, “making it my ambition to preach the gospel.” (Rom 15:20 RSV)
In reality, there can be just as much faith involved in taking personal initiative as there is in waiting passively for the Lord to provide. While Ruth would have been commended for staying in Moab and waiting for God to heal the heartbreak of her husband’s death, she probably showed greater faith in going to Bethlehem. By moving forward, she placed herself in a vulnerable position where she had to trust the Lord to protect her, to open doors, and to make her venture successful. Interestingly, it was this very move that prepared her for the relationship with Boaz, who became her husband.
It is right, then, to speak of a second level of faith that we are to demonstrate as Christians. At this level, we are active and assertive. We take initiative to find the answer to a need. And by moving forward, we force ourselves to a dependence on the Lord that wouldn’t be possible if we merely sat still.
by Andrew Wells
A soldier of fortune or mercenary is a soldier who will fight for any cause for the promise of financial gain or adventure. If I were waging a battle for a singular cause, a cause greater than myself, it would not be my desire to use mercenaries. The issue is not their skill or abilities. The issue is their intentions, because their cause is themselves. Their loyalty follows their pockets or the fulfillment of a thrill.
A soldier of fortune, however, was first a soldier. Like any soldier, he was trained to fight the nation’s enemies, to take orders from a commanding officer, and to live a life set apart from civilian life and focused on military service. A soldier with a family would have two allegiances. He would owe allegiance to his nation and to his family. In 2 Timothy, the members of the body of Christ are likened to soldiers, told of the nation’s enemies (see Ephesians 6, 1 Peter 5, 1 John 4 and Galatians 5), and given weapons and armor for combat (see James 4, Ephesians 6, Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 10).
However, if we’re not careful, I believe that we can become soldiers of fortune. To avoid using our skills for selfish gain, we must keep the following thoughts before us as frontlets:
Be content with your wages –
A group of soldiers asked John the Baptist, as he was preaching on repentance and baptizing in the Jordan River, “What should we do?” John the Baptist’s reply was that they not extort money, or accuse men falsely and to be content with their pay. John’s instructions were appropriate for the soldiers because as soldiers they had the power to extort and bring false accusations.I also feel John’s instructions were appropriate because soldiers could be driven to extort or bring false accusations due to a discontentment with their wages. Perhaps they feel that the risks of their profession far outweigh the reward, or that there are rules and structures in place that deny them a sense of adventure and thus fulfillment in their work. As soldiers in the army of Jesus Christ, we must be content with our wages.
The principle here is to have contentment as the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” To have godliness is to have relationship with Christ, while contentment is a detachment or independence from money and possessions. So then having a life in Christ – free from the need of possessions for fulfillment – is great gain! Other forms of “wages” for Christian soldiers to be content with could be:
• their call to ministry
• God-given purpose
• the season of life they are currently in
This is not a call to abandon all aspirations and live in the jungle, but instead to be detached and not let your aspirations consume you and distract you from your enlistment in God’s army. Examine yourself, soldier, to see if your aspirations no longer fit God’s plan for your life.
Remain loyal and obedient; your training comes from God –
2 Peter 1 tells us that God has given us everything required for a godly life. God drew us by His marvelous glory and excellence into the Kingdom, trained us and endowed us with abilities. As we continue in the faith, we must examine ourselves and communicate with God (Him talking to you and you talking to Him). Be honest about your innermost thoughts and allow Him to correct, heal, and illuminate in His timing. Continued connection with God serves as a reminder of why we chose to enlist, which keeps us loyal. Obedience motivated by your growing love relationship with Him, keeps us willing to surrender to God. He cherishes this! Obedience truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Avoid chasing signs and being seduced by pride in your gifts. If we chase signs and emotions hoping to replicate a euphoric moment, we can become fools susceptible to those who would misuse our gifts in the service of their own aims. The signs or experiences then become idols and replace God in significance thereby leading to idolatry, witchcraft and apostasy. If you’re faltering in your faith, remember we are an army – no soldier fights a war alone!
God’s plan is greater than us –
God is saving mankind through reconciliation in Christ. He is preparing a special and beautiful place for us with Him. God is preparing a new body, new earth, and great supper in honor of the grandest wedding ever! He is preparing His chosen for eternity. God’s plan is greater than ours and a cause worth fighting for.
Active service limits entanglements –
The affairs and cares of this life distract us and pull us away from our ministerial purpose. Go about doing well. Serve your brothers in the faith as well as your neighbors. Advance the Gospel message, pray and exercise the gifts of the Spirit. Love everyone with godly love and the richness of your life in Christ will choke out the cares of this world. While God honors our commitment to family, our family affairs can also distract us. Naturally speaking, the military has a responsibility to the soldier and to the soldier’s family. God is greater than any military branch and even better at keeping His commitment to our families. Please consider these quotes from Mark 10:28-31:
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
And Luke 12:24-32:
24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have neither storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."
God bless you warriors of Christ!
By Malaika Wells
Protect our hearts from Sci Fi salvation.
That we don't need you to be Superman
an alien from another planet,
but accept that you were God and man.
Or fancy you a cyborg assassin,
engineered deliverer -
But recall that you took stripes and nails
as payment for our freedom.
As we whose eyes have never seen you
contemplate your majesty,
help us not to be confused by
Nor succumb to the need for you to be
some brawny titan -
"My God is better than yours" has already been won.
Help us now to see the Son
in his weakness and in his strength,
and emulate -
So for Love's sake, this bleak existence
by Malaika Wells
"Where in the world did THAT come from?"
I've been reading online (various blogs, FB pages, and websites), noticing how often folks write curse words (no need to list which ones, you know them) and then mention God, or Jesus, in the same text. EX: "What a s_ _ _ _ y week I'm having! I just thank God it's almost over. TGIF, right? LOL! I pray you all are having a better week than I am. :)" [I totally made up the above example!]
This is happening all over the place, but I think it's most problematic when you hear a believer (read: professed, follower of Christ) speak or write profanity.
Let me tell you something about me before I go any further. A few months ago, I was sitting on the side of my bed taking off my socks and talking to my husband. He made a comment, and next thing I knew, I had very nearly let fly the mother of all expletives! I was aghast. I wasn't even angry at the time; the topic of our discussion was pretty benign. My expletive wasn't directed at my husband at all. I remembering clapping a hand over my mouth while my husband, on the other side of the room was shaking his head, smirking, and talking 'bout some, "Uh-huh, girl, you betta watch yourself." And he's right!
'Cause where in the world did that come from? I reflected on what I know about the tongue and the use of profanity as revealed in James 3:2-12 and Ephesians 5:1-5. And following this incident, I had to ask, "Father, what's in me?"
Holy Spirit soon convicted me that I needed to discontinue watching some of the TV programs/movies I'd been watching. (I like suspense, gritty dramas, and comedies - but these are GREAT places to find LOADS of profanity!) And almost everybody is cursing on TV today - even in some commercials. I wasn't guarding my gates, and you know the saying, "garbage in/garbage out."
So I know it's tough to watch what we say, but I think it's worth the effort to censor our communications - spoken and written - so that we 1) show ourselves as doers of the word; 2) don't cause a brother or sister to stumble; and 3) don't (by our behavior) bring a reproach upon the name of the Lord. #christlife #workingitout #truth
So, what's your take on believers using profanity (ie, #cusswords #badwords)?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2
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