Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:8
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:8
Philippians is one of those inspiring reads prompting some to plaster its verses on tee shirts, wall plaques and coffee mugs. It’s been called by some the epistle of joy. With that thought in mind, I’ll be including “scraps” from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi in my blog over the next several weeks.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1:6
The good work being referred to is the work of grace in the heart of a believer in Jesus Christ. Consider Charles Spurgeon’s comment on God’s desire to complete the good work He began in the lives of his children:
“Where is there an instance of God’s beginning any work and leaving it incomplete? Show me for once a world abandoned and thrown aside half formed; show me a universe cast off from the Great Potter’s wheel, with the design in outline, the clay half hardened, and the form unshapely from incompleteness.”
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” Philippians 1:9
Believe with all your heart that God has a purpose and a plan for your life!
Trustworthiness; an important quality sorely lacking in leadership.
If you met someone who’s aware of everything you’ve ever done, who knows you better than you know yourself, willing to meet your every need, and guide your footsteps, wouldn’t you want to follow him?
Jesus, creator and sustainer of the universe is worthy of our trust.
I heard a sermon recently about being an authentic Christian. I wouldn’t describe my pastor’s words as comforting. I have been thinking about two words ever since; grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
I understand that grace and truth are a part of the Christian’s salvation experience. But for some reason we followers of the gospel end up gravitating towards one of two camps over the course of time as we journey.
Grace without truth is meaningless. You might know them as chameleon Christians who are tossed by the wind when they encounter change or challenging issues. Conversely, truth without grace leads to legalism. Often times people find them to be an angry, condescending bunch when others make different choices than they do.
Having found myself in each camp at one time or another in my life, my pastor’s message troubled me. Grace and truth are both needed as we journey. Truth says to me, “You know right from wrong, yet you still make wrong choices sometimes. You are in constant need of grace.” Grace whispers, “I have embraced you time each time you have asked for it, so why not demonstrate it to others by loving God and your neighbor.”
We do need both. Truth grounds us in the faith, and lovingly extending grace to others affirms our witness. Thank you Pastor H. for bringing this to my attention.
Let me begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year! This is my final installment of the series entitled, “table scraps” (words likely to be used at family gatherings over the holidays). As you might expect, I chose a word closely associated with this time of year: “resolution.”
In 2013, Dan Diamond, a blogger and contributor to //onforb.es (www.Forbes.com), states that 40% of Americans are likely to make New Year’s resolutions but only 8% of them will achieve their goal. According to Diamond, “More often than not, people who fail to keep their resolutions blame their own lack of willpower.” He cites a desire for self-improvement as the leading factor in making resolutions.
My reasons for making a resolution would include, a desire to act on something that’s been bothering me, whether it is guilt from neglecting something or someone, or inaction (not doing something I feel I should be doing). Like many other people, I would include health related reasons; two of my favorites are losing some weight and exercising more.
Our culture has adopted the practice of making our resolutions at the start of a New Year. I guess the new calendar symbolizes a fresh start and makes the starting date easier to recall. Add to that the social buzz created by a host of others also making resolutions and you have a strength in numbers kind of thing going on. For people of faith, having just celebrated the birth of Christ on Christmas, a new calendar year offers a convenient starting point to resolutely draw closer to God.
This year, before you jump on the bandwagon and vow to make a resolution, you may want to give more thought to the word’s meaning. Google defines “resolution” as “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Synonyms include: intention, decision, commitment, pledge, and promise. Words closely related to resolution are: “resolute,” (purposeful, determined, and unwavering) and “resolve” (defined as a “firm determination to do something”). Making a resolution, then, can be likened to drawing a line in the sand, and vowing not to cross it.
Returning to Dan Diamond’s piece for a moment, he gives the following advice for making a resolution: (1) keep it simple (small, obtainable), (2) make it tangible (eliminate vagueness), (3) make it obvious (have visual reminders), and (4) keep believing you can do it (have willpower).
If you are a Christian you can add a fifth point: involve God in your resolution making decision and seek out His help in seeing it through. He is very much interested in the little details in our lives. Take Romans 8:28 for example, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
A quick peek at my Bible concordance (TNIV translation) yielded two scripture passages using the word “resolved,” Daniel 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 2:2. Since the book of Daniel is one of my favorite books, I decided to check that verse out.
“But Daniel resolved to not defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.” (TNIV translation)
Here Daniel resolved not to do something – not to eat of the king’s delicacies. He was a prisoner of war taken to a foreign land, to be assimilated into a pagan Babylonian culture. To resist assimilation meant facing the possibility of being killed. Many scholars feel he was a young teen when he was taken to Babylon and made this resolution.
As a true believer in God, Daniel believed there was no separation between his religious beliefs and the world he functioned in. (Many of us need reminding of this fact on a regular basis.) The former (his faith) governed the latter (his work). His resolve to resist defiling himself came from within; he purposed not to do this in his heart. His decision was an act of worship, not one of self-affirmation or self-improvement.
On the surface the resolution seems trivial until you look at its broader implications. Daniel was being asked to abandon his devout faith in God and adopt a pagan way of life. He made the resolution out of a need to preserve his relationship with God. God honored Daniel by working on his behalf and making it possible for Daniel to eat the food and water of his choosing. By keeping the resolution he made, Daniel’s life became a conduit for the miraculous workings of God.
What, if any, resolution will you make this year? Will you be including God in your plans?
This week’s quote affirms a dog’s willingness and capability to address one of our most basic needs–companionship. Canine companionship, however, has one major limitation, it doesn’t last forever. A dog’s presence in our life, however, does point to an everlasting companion.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT
I am leading a group study of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. I began our study today with a question. “The key to happiness is _______. A simple, fill in the blank answer. I did get a few great answers from the class, but no one thought of my suggestion.
The key to happiness is a glass of water.
I proceeded to pour a half glass of water. As I poured, I posed another question to them, “Are you a glass is half full or a glass is half empty kind of person?” People from both persuasions participated in a show of hands. I asked the “glass is have empty” folks, “At any time did you see me empty anything out of the glass?” I had not emptied anything out. I only filled it half full.
I proposed to them that this glass of water represented a solitary persons life essence; their successes, achievements, financial well-being, family, etc. Everything valued in life.
My questioning continued…So, are we thankful for what we have (water already in the glass) or are we focused on what we don’t have (empty portion of the glass). The challenge we face is being happy and content with what we already have in our glass.
I poured water into a few more glasses. Some were filled to the brim, others appeared clearly more than half full. This batch of glasses, I said, represents a truly blessed society of peoples. The person with the half full glass, if they continually mingled with the richly blessed group, would naturally start wanting their glass to be filled more. Contentment, they believe, can only be found with more ________ . (Fill in the blank)
Next, a handful of other glasses were poured. This time the glasses received varying degrees of water, each much less than half full. Some glasses with barely enough water to cover the bottom. If, our half full glass subject mingled with the less fortunate, wouldn’t he or she be more appreciative of what they had in their glass. They may even be compelled to share some of their water it with the less fortunate. It is becoming apparent that perspective may have something to do with happiness.
To make another point I poured all the water out of each glass, including the half full one. “Which glass had the advantage now?” I asked. None of them. This, I said happens to each of us. When we die our glass is empty. Hence the opening lines of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity, Vanity all is vanity!” Where is the advantage for all our toil?
For my final point, I filled each of the empty glasses to the brim. As believers in Jesus Christ, life does not end when we die. Jesus, In John 10:10 said that he came to give us life, abundant life! This abundant life can be enjoyed in the here and now as we journey through life.
I decided to give the class a homework assignment. The next time each of you pours a glass, stop halfway and think of something that you are thankful for. Then, fill the glass the rest of the way. As you continue to pour, remember the abundant life we have in Christ.
Yes, the key to happiness can be found in a glass of water!