What Will Be Different In 2014?

What Will Be Different in 2014?

Over the next 12 months is the major difference in your life going to be the fact that you look at a calendar with a 4 at the end of the year and not a 3?

Will the most significant change be that you write 14 instead of 13 on your cheques or documents?
My aim is to challenge you to ensure that the coming months are more than a turning of calendar pages and a changing of a number.

Our Duty
Solomon sums up a potentially depressing review of life by pointing to how meaningless life is without the centrality of God in our lives. Indeed, he makes it clear that our whole duty is to fear God and keep His commandments.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Is it then reasonable to ensure that in 2014 we do everything to give God centre place in our lives?
As we chart our course and make our plans, is it not wise for us to start first with identifying what is it that God would have us to do?

Should we not immediately dismiss plans that have the potential to put us in conflict with the principles of Godly living?

Here is a serious consideration:

The whole duty really means that this is our job description. It is THE assignment that we are required to complete.
When you look at what you did in 2013:
• Are you satisfied with your performance on the job?
• Are you at a place where you can’t imagine how you could have done a better job?
• If there is any room for improvement, commit now to working on fixing that in 2014.

The first place to start is with the issue of focus…. with the tuning of our minds.

In 2014, we must be constantly mindful of the need to be respectful and in awe of God. We must face up to our responsibility to be always doing His will.

We must see ourselves as being immersed in a mission. This is not about Sunday worship or our moments of personal devotion. Our every waking moment must be guided by our sole duty….doing the will of God.
With that mindset, we will be more resilient in the face of temptation. We will also get to the point where we have a desire to channel more energy and resources into things that are above.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Getting trapped in the rat race of the world will become more meaningless in our sight.

Let 2014 be different. Let us commit to taking more seriously the call to discharge your whole duty.
Decide now to spend more time thinking about God and having His will become more apparent in your life in 2014.

Study
In order to let God’s will be manifested in our lives, we need to know what His will is in fact.
One critical difference in 2014 must be a commitment to learning more about who God has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures.

We need to commit to internalizing His precepts and promises.

We need to buckle down to the task of understanding and displaying the mindset that Christ wants us to have.

Developing Christ-like thinking requires devotion to regular study and discourse with others. Commit in 2014 to be more involved in personal and group study of the Bible.

Let us follow the example of the Bereans and commit to significantly increasing our knowledge and application of the doctrines and teaching of Christ in 2014. (Acts 17:11)

Great Commission
Even as we step up our own focus on God and studying His will for our lives, we must pay closer attention to the commission that has been given to us.

We have been commanded to take to the world the message of sin, its wages and the pardon for sin that is available.

Matt 28: 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As you reflect on 2013, are you comfortable with the role you have played in carrying out the “great commission”?

Will you right now, right here make a commitment to sharing the Gospel message in 2014?

Will you make every effort to better prepare yourself to effectively defend the faith (Jude) and to share with others how God is blessing your life?

Here is a practical action that I invite you to take on board in 2014:

We speak a lot about “inviting your neighbour”. The focus has been to get them to come to a worship service or Bible study.

I suggest that we add a twist to “invite your neighbour” in 2014.

Invite one or two of your neighbours or colleagues for a simple “getting to know you better” session.

This should ideally be in your home but if that is not convenient, you can go to a not too crowded, low cost location.

The objective of this session is not to conduct a Bible study or to present a message. The aim is merely to build a bond.

We are committed to friendship evangelism. Without friends the plan cannot even get started.

Let 2014 be a year in which we work seriously on developing and rekindling strong friendships.

Let us set about catching up with friends with whom we have been out of touch.

Critically, let us reach out in friendship to members of the body who have been missing.

Brother’s Keeper
As we look outside of ourselves to others, 2014 should be a year in which you take more seriously the call to be your brother’s keeper.

There is a desperate need for mentoring today. Family units are not what they need to be and a lot of the guidance and support that should be offered by families is in fact missing.

We invite you to implement another practical solution in 2014.

We encourage you to commit to passing on a skill, wise counsel or a personal experience to at least one additional person in 2014.

If you are handy in the kitchen, why not invite a small group over to show them how to prepare one of your favourite dishes?

If you are good at handicraft, why not pass on some of your skills and share your interest with others?

If you are able to provide wise counsel or encouragement to others, why not take the time to share insights with others?

If you feel that you have nothing worth sharing, give a listening ear. Make yourself available to simply listen.

2014 is the year in which you are going to set out to impact the lives of others in meaningful and lasting ways.

Daily walk
As we reflect on practical factors impacting lives, we also need to turn the spotlight on non-spiritual yet vitally important components of our daily walk in 2014.

The first consideration is the treatment and care of “God’s temple.”

2 Corinthians 6:16
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Our health is central to the experiences that we encounter in life.

Good health is a blessing that we celebrate with unbounded joy. Ill health is a challenge that darkens our outlook and burdens our minds.

Consequently, in 2014 we must commit to paying closer attention and discipline to our diet, our exercise regimes and our thought processes.

Will you commit today to eating right in 2014? Will you be more disciplined with respect to what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat? Will you do this consistently throughout the year?

Will you commit to a regime of regular exercise or physical activity?

Will you commit to freeing your mind from the stress-inducing thoughts that are endangering your health?

Will you engage in the kind of positive thinking that is a platform for healthy living?

Finance
Talk about money tends to get some Christians nervous. The misunderstanding about wealth is widespread among the brotherhood and many of us are ill-informed about financial matters.

Yet, money matters are central to so many of the challenges, conflicts, distractions and even temptations that we face.

In 2014, let us get awake to the importance of wealth management in our lives.
Let us commit to learning more about how to acquire, manage and appropriately use wealth.

Generosity Encouraged
2 Corinthians 9:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Let us forsake the notion that wealth is taboo.

Commit now to stepping forward to use the talents that God has given us to create and use wealth in His service.

Outreach

Let us now take on the perspective of the congregation.

• What is going to be different in 2014 for the congregation?
• Will there be growth in membership?
• Will the members be more grounded doctrinally?
• What will change the culture with respect to a consistent commitment to evangelism?
• What is going to cause us to be more attentive to the needs of brethren and those in need?
• Is this the year in which we achieve stronger bonds among members?

Then let us also look beyond our congregation to the wider society.

Is 2014 the year in which we stop moaning in our private circles about the decaying society and step forward and make a practical difference?

Could you be so moved to write a letter to the media or make a post on Facebook about an issue that runs counter to a firmly held principle?

Would you raise objections to inappropriate behaviour wherever you are planted?

Would you be willing to go against the tide and redirect naysayers to positive thinking?

Will you commit even now to resist with every cell of your body the consistent drive to remove God from the public sphere?

Year of salvation
If you have not followed the plan of salvation as outlined in the Bible, let 2014 be the year of your salvation.
If you are a Christian – repentant sinner, who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and been baptized for the removal of your sins – then let 2014 be the year in which you are influential in bringing at least one person to Christ.

The Plan of Salvation:
A review of all the conversions in the New Testament and supporting passages point to the following process for putting on Christ:

You must hear the good news of Jesus, His atoning sacrifice for your sins and His resurrection.

Romans 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

You must also believe the good news.

Heb 11: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is not enough. We are called to act on our belief and to make a decision to no longer let sin reign in our lives but to seek to live in obedience to God. This is the very important act of repentance.

Luke 13: 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

You then have to confess Jesus as Lord. This is a public declaration of your belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God:

Rom 10: 8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Another major step is that you must be baptized for the removal of our sins. This is a step that is either left out completely or is comprised in attempts to make salvation more convenient.

Gal 3:26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

1 Peter 3: 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

At that point you have put on Christ and you are in Christ. Many opportunities are now opened to you. One is that you are added to His Church. There you are able to access the exclusive blessings that are in Christ. You have now met the requirements to be called a Christian.

Baptism comes from the Greek baptizo which means to immerse. Sprinkling is not the same as immersion. We have to ask if God who is fussy about the kind of fire that is used to light sacrifices to Him and who will punish one of His leaders for using a tried and proven method to get water for his people will notice the difference. Is it worth it to take the chance? Why not just do what He commands, however childish and petty it may appear to our human minds?

Baptism is also for the remission of sins. Therefore, baptizing infants who are without sin does not appear to fit the pattern laid down for us in the New Testament.

If you are accessing this information and you are in any doubt about whether you are in Christ, do not delay, do something about it now.

If you have questions as to whether the process for putting on Christ that you have gone through is in keeping with what I have just outlined, make a commitment to investigate your status fully. We are willing to go respond to any questions you may have.

If you have not been immersed for the remission/removal of your sins, then I urge you to do so before it is eternally too late.

Advertisements

3 Fatal Dangers of Failing to Live in the Shoes of Others ….Christian Living from Inside The Shoes Of Others

The objective of this lesson is to share insights as to how we can make “love your neighbour as yourself” become a reality and a feature of how we relate to others.

I suggest that one essential and sufficient component of our quest to love our neighbour as ourselves is the need to consistently place ourselves in the shoes of others.

I invite you to reflect on whether someone who consistently appreciates the circumstances surrounding the actions and mindset of others is not ideally placed to be more considerate towards them.

On the other hand, is it not reasonable to conclude that someone who seldom sees things from the perspective of others is more prone to be engaged in conflicts and to be challenged by requests for empathy?

I want to highlight three sets of dangers that hang over our heads when we fail to “live” in the shoes of others.

 

Esteem issues 

One of the goals of our socialization is to get us to feel good about ourselves.

That process has the side effect of inviting comparisons with others.

That is the first danger we face when we are not able to put ourselves in the shoe of others.  We run the risk of getting caught in the trap of comparison.

Remember that our traditional socialization seeks to position us in a favourable light.

This often means that we are more likely to view others less favourably. We might be led to think that if we dim their light ours may appear brighter.

This, however, runs counter to the Scriptures which commands us to esteem others better than ourselves. (Ph 2:3)

Sometimes when we compare we fall short. We do not always come out feeling that we are better off than others.

When that happens too often we might be driven to question our own self worth.

The tendency towards comparison opens up risks to our Christian walk.

When we perceive that others are more favourably placed than we are, we open the door to the fatal sins of covetousness and envy.

Our socialization strongly encourages us to be ambitious. In satisfying our ambition we face the ever present danger of falling prey to envy and covetousness.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

What happens when we weigh ourselves in the balance and come  away with the sense that we have the advantage?

A sense of feeling better off than others has as a constant companion the risk of being proud. Pride has been identified as one of the deadly sins and the Bible is a strong advocate of humility.

What then of this living in the shoes of others concept?

The starting point is the recognition that as humans, we are not in total control over our circumstances. Our actions do impact how life unfolds for us but we are also subjected to influences outside of our control.

We appreciate and accept that the shoe that someone else is standing in is not entirely of their design and construction. We also note that but for the grace of God, those very shoes could be ours.

Do not imagine it to be unthinkable that you could find yourself in the situation in which some people find themselves. Life is a great leveller. The unthinkable can become our reality without notice and despite our protestations.

So we proceed from the foundation of the recognition that the shoe in which we stand is not necessarily of our design and creation.

From that foundation we can learn to see people where they are and to respect their position. We also arrive at a place where we recognize that there is no need for comparison.

If your shoes could be mine and mine yours of what value is to me to compare?

I learn to come to a perspective of life which understands that the shoes that I am in are not entirely of my own creation but these are the ones I am required to wear. They are mine. I had better learn to be comfortable in them.

Fixating on how much more or less attractive and comforting other shoes are is not particularly helpful. That thinking is not going to change mine.

Competitive Instinct

The second danger of failing to consistently live in the shoes of others is that comparison has a tendency to encourage competition.

The nature of competition is that it involves opposing sides. Further, the objective of a competition is that one side will defeat the other side. Victors emerge from competitions. There is the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.

Consider going through the socially required comparison with the neighbour next door. Once again, they come out ahead of you in your evaluation.

Your socialization coaching yells at you that you are betraying a lack of ambition and a defeatist attitude when you continue to let the balance be tipped in the favour of your neighbour.

Wake up and show some spunk!

Responding to the strident and persistent coaching you reflect on your neighbour. You blame yourself for helping to create the imbalance because you have always been so supportive and willing to help.

That has to stop!

No more offers of help. You are on your own neighbour. In fact, I now fully recognize you as my opponent.

That is the very real danger that comparison invites.

What about the neighbour on the other side?

Truth is I have been putting out a lot to help him through difficult times. But with my new understanding of the fact that we are in fact competitors and opponents, I fear that it is only a matter of time before he catches up with me and passes me…………. with my help!

Sorry neighbour — er opponent, I can no longer be as receptive to your call for help. I have challenges of my own. I am so far back in this competition that I have to start paying attention to catching up.

I just can’t afford to channel my time and my resources to address your needs.

You could see from this how variations of the Parable of the Good Samaritan could play out itself with this mindset.

The scary truth is that this mindset is prevalent and attends to our own personal doors more than we would like to admit.

It is cleverly disguised and is not manifested to us in this unvarnished state. But be not fooled, some element of fallout from comparison and competitiveness is at play in our lives.

The socialization is so deeply ingrained that it is difficult to totally root out the competitive instinct. Indeed, the NEED to be competitive is reinforced daily.

We can see then that a logical extension of comparison with others can quickly lead to feeling a need to be victorious over them. The world loves winners. We all crave being in the winners circle.

This mindset if left unchecked can produce serious challenges to Christian living. In our worldly thinking, those that we believe come out better than us in the comparison need to be brought down.

Those who are worse off need to be kept down.

With that mindset, the thought of providing assistance in a time of need is alien.

It is great that high riders are brought low. Let them look to their own kind to rescue them.

They do not need my help.

If they are lower down on the rung, then we really do not want to get caught up in their misery. We are past that and want to move on.

Either way, the misadventure of others gives us a competitive advantage. It gives us a higher place in the competition.

From this we can more readily understand some of the mindset that underpins the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

It builds on the philosophy of a Scarcity mentality. A belief that there is just not enough to go around and so the more I can prevent others from getting the more will be available to me.

The provision of manna and the exposure of those with a scarcity mentality reinforces the weakness of this philosophy.

Lack of Understanding

The third set of dangers arising from the failure to live in the shoes of others is the fact that it discourages longsuffering and forgiveness.

When we put ourselves in someone’s shoes, we come to a deeper understanding of what is going through their minds. We come to appreciate the factors that are influencing their thinking. We have a sense of how they may have been prompted to act.

From the perspective of their shoes, we have a better handle on how events unfolded and we are positioned to respond appropriately.

One immense advantage of ensuring that we are in the shoes of others before we respond is that it gives us cause to pause.

An emotional reaction is triggered when an incident takes place. This is a raw gut reaction to stimuli.

We sense that we have been insulted so we react be sending out an even more caustic insult.

The call of the renewed mind is to quickly step in the shoes of the insulting party. Come to appreciate the circumstances that led to the incident.

That process provides us with precious cooling off seconds. We are now no longer being driven by fickle and dangerous emotions but by rational thinking.

That simple pause that shifts the game from emotional gut reaction to thoughtful reasoned response makes a huge difference in being Christ-like as it relates to longsuffering and forgiveness.

One feature of the old man that must be mercilessly slain is the tendency to be led by our emotions. An indication of our level of maturity is the extent to which we are driven by our emotions instead of being guided by the Scriptures to respond appropriately.

Impatience aside, there is also the challenge of un-forgiveness.

If we can fathom why someone behaves as they did, we are better placed to be understanding and to forgive them.

This is especially true if we recall that shoes may move among people. Your shoes today might be mine tomorrow.

So, what is the conclusion of this matter?

Empathy or living in the shoes of others is the bedrock on which loving others as you love yourself is grounded.

We must bear each other’s burden and be united in a common cause (Gal 6:2). That is the very opposite of the spirit of competitiveness where each one seeks their own good – totally ignoring the needs of others.

We must be patient with others and forgive them they way that God forgives us. (Col.3:13)

Philippians 2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The bottom line is that when we fail to live in the shoes of others we set off a C chain:

We Compare, We Compete and we are quick to Condemn.

From the shoes of others, we replace Comparison with Celebration or Commiseration.

We no longer Compete instead we Cooperate.

Instead of swift Condemnation we Comfort or Correct.

Safe Haven – Shelter From The Storm

Safe Haven

Christians face many challenges in their lives on a daily basis. For some, it might be health issues. For others, it may be struggles with finances. Still others face uncertainty with respect to their careers. Relationship issues burden yet others. Some are even more unfortunate as to face multiple difficulties all at once or in an seemingly unending sequence.

The Psalmist also has experiences that cause him to “wrestle with his thoughts” and to “have sorrow in his heart everyday” Psalm 13.

We do well to draw on the Psalmist’s response to the challenges that we face in this life:

“But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

He encourages us to “Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

1 Corinthians 13: Love

Love

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Love is patient

There is a tendency for us to more readily spot flaws in others than in ourselves.

Matt 7:3

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

One challenge is that having identified the flaws, we want them to be removed quickly. We get upset when the change that we require does not take place immediately. We are increasingly upset when the undesirable behaviour occurs.

There is an important fact that many do not recognize or accept.

In many instances, we are especially frustrated and annoyed at behaviours in others that we have struggled with in our own lives.

This is usually some event or action or behaviour that happened or continues to occur in our lives that we detest.  Our feelings about it are so strong that we want to hit out at it – wherever it appears with a passion.

We project the frustration that we have about ourselves (past or present) unto the offender with increased intensity.

Consequently, it is useful to review those things that bring out your wrath to see if at some stage they were or still are issues for you.

1 Corinthians 13 is reminding us that in the context of the overarching command to love our neighbours, patience is required.

Colossians 3:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

A charge to you today is the examine ways in which you are impatient. See if in those moments of frustration a feeling of deep and sincere love for the other person is your primary motive.

When love is at the heart of what we do, the level of impatience with others is not as great.

 

Love is kind

One key to letting kindness be an active part of our lives is to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

If we were in their position, what would we want?

That mindset has a way of bringing out the best in us.

It is important to remember that being kind is not only about providing money and things.

At the same time, sometimes our kindness should extend to providing for physical needs.

I John 3:

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 

Love does not envy

Aristotle (in Rhetoric) defined envy (φθόνος phthonos) “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others”, while Kant defined it as “a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others” (in Metaphysics of Morals). Source: Wikipedia

If we go back to wanting for others what we want for ourselves then we will be happy with whatever blessings they have received.

The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” directly opposes any thought of envy.

 

Love does not boast and is not proud

Boasting and pride are linked to our EGO or deceived SELF.

Recall the two main highways that lead to a corrupted way of thinking.

The first one leads us to getting attached to things, people and positions.

The more things we can claim as “mine” the fatter the EGO and the greater the level of deception.

The second highway takes us to a place where we focus on thinking how different we are from others.

The more different we are the bigger the EGO and the more deceived we become.

Christians are called to renew their minds (Romans 12). They are to reject the corrupt way of thinking that is wrapped up in “Mine” and “I am not like that”.

The key is to recognize that we are merely stewards of our material possessions and the positions that we hold. That situation can be dramatically changed without warning.

When we realize that things and positions are not an intrinsic part of who we are, then we deny self the right to boast or to be proud.

Only the insane will boast about a castle on a hill as if it belonged to them when they have no connection at all with it. Be careful how we use “my” and “mine” to impress others and to feel good about ourselves. We really do not own anything in a real sense.

The love of which 1 Corinthians 13 speaks comes from a renewed mind. This mind no longer conforms to the dictates of the EGO – the deceived Self. It does not hang on to things and positions.

 

Love does not dishonour others

Something that is unique – one of its kind – is highly treasured. A normal man who runs 100 meters in 11 seconds will not be widely celebrated. If you are the only one that runs it in 9:59 seconds then respect and adoration for you abounds.

The EGO feeds on adoration and on being celebrated.

If you put these two thoughts together you will recognize why it is important for the EGO to work hard at being different. The more we are just like everybody else the less respect and adoration we can claim.

A well fed EGO – our deceived SELF – actively puts down others in a drive to elevate itself.

Alternatively, it constantly reminds others of things that make them standout so others feel diminished and “less valued.”

Think about the “My father..” verbal contests among young boys or the “Your Momma” insult trade off of adolescents.

The love that comes from a renewed mind is humble. It seeks to relate to others where they are and to respect them.

 

Love is not self-seeking

The scriptures consistently prod us to become “equal opportunity thinkers”.

We should have a mindset that wants the best for not only self but for all others.

Php 2:3  Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. (Good News Bible)

2Ti 3:1  Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. 2 People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; 3 they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; 4 they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; 5 they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people. (Good News Bible)

 

Love is not easily angered

Anger is a melting pot of many ingredients. These include:

An action/event … a stimulus

Personalities

Relationships

Historical events

State of mind

How the event is processed

Implications & Consequences

Circumstances under which event took place – private/public etc.

Mindset

Col 3:12

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The Mindset has the power to overwrite the impact of all the other elements. That is why with a renewed mind, we can turn the other cheek.

We cannot overemphasize the importance and value of working on the way we think and getting to the point where we are more Christ-like in our thinking, feelings and actions.

 

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Col 3: 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

The false sense of “ME” that we embrace and protect so vigorously is a major contributor to the difficulty we have in dealing with what we perceive to be the wrongs of others.

The more highly we think of ourselves the greater the chance that someone is going to do or say something that does not fit well with our self image.

That is why some people get the feeling of being disrespected so easily.

Amazingly, people who have low self esteem are also very easily hurt by the actions of others.

The arrogant and conceited personality as well as those that have doubts about their competence and self worth tend to hold on to hurts for a long time.

When you feel good about who you are, the darts that others throw at you tend to bounce off more easily.

Another mindset that promotes unforgiveness is the desire to take revenge and punish the offender.

This is the eye for eye mentality that Christ warns against.

Matt 5: 38

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Lev 19:18  Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.

Rom 12:

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;     if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is associated with a transformed and renewed mind.

It is tied to a mind that manifests the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal 5: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

It is clear here that the flesh (our sinful nature) is the source of behaviour that wars against the Spirit.

Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

Love always protects

Think about the love that a mother has for her newborn baby and you get the picture of what this means. Nothing more needs to be said here.

 

Love always trusts

Trust is the glue that holds healthy relationships together.

When we act in ways that betray that trust, we weaken the bond of love and place the relationship at risk.

At the same time, trust is a two-way street. The failure of one party to trust makes it difficult for true bonding to take place.

In the scriptural framework, it is far better to trust and be betrayed than to withhold trust and be constantly imputing dishonest actions or motives on the part of others.

 

Love always hopes

When we love someone we want the very best for them. We hold out great hope that their wishes and aspirations will be achieved.

No surprise then that a love that is anchored in loving God with all our heart, loving ourselves and loving others as we love ourselves is full of hope and positive expectations.

The mind that allows the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in it will demonstrate a pure love and will rejoice in hope.

 

Love always perseveres

True love is not fickle. It is not easily disappointed or discouraged.

There is a sense of looking beyond faults and focusing on the end goals.

 

2 Peter 3:9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Love never fails

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 overcomes all obstacles.

Its poster example is reflected in Romans 5:8:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The challenge to you today is to let love be central to your very existence.

Repent of the unloving ways in which you have acted and continue to act.

Develop a deeper relationship with Christ and His teaching. Obey His commands and follow His example.

Why Jesus

Why Jesus?

1.      Why Jesus? He Makes Sense Out of Nonsense

A man cuts down a tree, uses a part of it to create a “god” and sets aside the remainder to cook the meal that his created “god” will provide for him.

Today, we laugh at that as the nonsense that we associate with primitive minds.

Yet, celebrated lyrical icon Bob Marley declares in the anthem “Get up, Stand Up” …

“We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game – Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord. We know when we understand: Almighty God is a living man. You can fool some people sometimes, But you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Marley and the Rastafarian movement have moved the game up one notch from wood to human flesh and blood. They look to man who has no idea about the source of his first, last or next breath to guide, protect and provide for them.

So, some dismiss that set as being intellectually unsophisticated. The intellectually sophisticated do not need the drug that religion is to navigate through life.

They replace the ‘wood god’ and ‘man god’ with the idea that life is just one big accident. There is no intelligent design to be respected as the Source and to be revered and respected as God.

Knowing what we know about life, what we see about us, what our experience has taught us – does any of the above explanations provide a sensible answer about how this game of life came into being?

Can you reasonably expect that Ras Tafari –  whose rotted remains lie in the earth – can respond to your prayers? Can Jah really “Guide”?  Does Jah really “Know”?

Would you believe that it is by mere accident that the earth and the sun coordinate their movements so that they have not missed a sunrise or sunset for thousands of years?

Would you then also believe that there was an accident last month on the highway and out of it emerged a highly sophisticated space craft with a power source that is unknown to man but with the capacity to go to the moon in six hours?  Check google….

On the other hand, Jesus states clearly that He has been there from the beginning and knows exactly how it was designed and created.

John 8: 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!

John 8: 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.

John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” 

Jesus clearly states that He has the answers to our questions. He knows the truth.

The wood has not yet been able to make any claims. Selassie disclaimed divinity. The intellectuals create theories that are less rational the worshipping wooden idols. At least they could be seen. It is hard to “see” the logic in the arguments of our intellectuals.

1 Cor 1: 20 Where is the wise person?Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signsand Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified:a stumbling blockto Jews and foolishnessto Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishnessof God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weaknessof God is stronger than human strength.

2.      Why Jesus? He Answers Our Questions

Jesus and His Apostle’s who carried and reinforced His teachings give us clear answers to questions that have occupied the minds of humans throughout the ages.

What is this game of life about?

How do I know when I win?

What are the rewards for winning?

What are my chances of winning?

What are the rules?

Is there a winning strategy?

Marley expresses a philosophy that is embraced by the intellectual unbelievers:

“But if you know what life is worth, You will look for yours on earth:”

This view is that the game of live is entirely about what happens during our brief stay here on earth.

On the other hand, the Christ-anchored philosophy highlights the misery and hopelessness that is ours if everything is confined to this life on earth. (1 Cor 15:19)

Removal of intelligent design from life takes away its meaning.

If we remove the rules and objectives governing Scrabble or Monopoly or Football then they lose their meaning. Anyone could come up with their own rules and the end – confusion.

That is what we have when we remove Divine Intelligence from life – confusion.

The Christian understanding of the game of life is the clearest and most logical.

The game was conceived and created by God…..the bearer of the intelligent design that is the source of the jaw-dropping complexities and creativity that is common place in nature.

The concept of God is in itself complex but Christians understand that there is a God-head of three Divine Beings – God (the Father), Jesus (the Son) and the Holy Spirit (the Counsellor).

God – not an accidental explosion of non-existent materials – created the universe. How He did it and how we choose to explain how it could have been done – using our limited scientific knowledge – is irrelevant.  Nothing about the order and the description of the creation process has been discredited by scientific research.

God states that He created man. His grand design was that man would spend eternity with Him. The concept of life being confined to our life on earth is flawed.

Gen 1:26 – 28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 

Man has a soul that outlives his body. The soul never dies.

God is a spirit and so any image of God in us must be in spiritual form – our souls.

Our souls are of critical importance

God is particularly interested in our souls.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The soul is more than our physical parts.

Our souls are far more important that our bodies.

 “Soul” occurs 458 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

Our souls are to be treasured and are beyond the reach of man.

Matt 10: 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What we do here in this life on earth determines what happens to our souls when our physical bodies die.

Matt 16: 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come  in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

This is the most credible reason why it would make sense for us not to look out for our own benefit at the expense of others.

If we are playing a game without objective rules and nothing matters outside of the game, why would I not play in a way that suits me?

If there are 10 of us and 10 pieces of chicken in the buffet, why would I not go to the front of the line and take 3 pieces?

Jesus gives us a compelling reason.

We are advised that if we play the game of life right we will be rewarded. Our reward is differential treatment of our souls after we leave this physical body. If we play the game poorly we are condemned to eternal torment.

Jesus goes further by giving us the simple strategy for winning the game:

Matt 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

That is why it makes sense to put the common good above our selfish desires.

Matt 16: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

This respect for a higher authority, rules and rewards is the most credible reason for doing good.

The description of a carefully designed, ongoing game with well documented guidelines and rewards and punishment gives us clarity as to how to go through life.

We understand the why, the what and the how.

 

The Why:

We were created to fit into God’s carefully designed plan. We have one guiding principle to follow:

The key principle is the need for man to do the will of God. That is our duty.

Ecc 12:13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

We messed up through Adam’s failure to be obedient.

Rom 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one manthe many were made sinners,so also through the obedienceof the one man the many will be made righteous.

 

3.      Why Jesus? He saves us our souls

Acts 4: 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

What must WE do to save our souls?

1. Hear the Word – the Gospel

John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

What must we do to save our souls?

2. Believe

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

 What must we do to save our souls?

3. Repent

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

 

 What must we do to save our souls?

4. Confess Jesus is Lord

Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 What must we do to save our souls?

5.  Be baptized for the remission of your sins

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  What must we do to save our souls?

6. Remain in Christ

John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

4.      Why Jesus? He provides solutions to our problems in this life

Now that you are in Christ, the amazing rewards are open to you.

Is 59: 1.Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Eph 1: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed us in the heavenly realmswith every spiritual blessing in Christ.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is the Father who says:

Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there any thing too hard for me?

 

Why Jesus?

Because it makes SENSE!

Who has the write of way? ….. A literary masterpiece

Who has the write of way?

A literary masterpiece

(Captured from live rapid exchanges online)

A:  It is frightening sometimes the level of illiteracy. I have come to realize how much of a blessing proper education is and being able to know when you are making errors.

B: The amount of people who confuse “to” and “too” is amazing two me!

C: …and then there is Desmond Tutu…..and ……’s tootoo…..

D: U got me their!

D: Anyone nose what I was doing their?

A: Know weigh! Ewe lossed me as usual!

D: I feel like I am going to laugh until I dye!

E: I’m in tiers over heir.

D: I am still laughing. That was grate!

D: I can’t weight for the next one. I am in suspends.

A: The hole of use are a set of thyme waisters!

D: Don’t pint your finger at me!