Have you ever seriously tried to forgive someone who has wronged you? Have you ever seriously tried to be compassionate and patient? Have you ever tried to let Christ’s peace, Christ’s words, Christ’s name be the reality around which you order your life? If you have, You’ll know it’s not easy. It takes serious prayer and real moral effort. And people who engage in that effort tend to be people that are also capable of taking difficult decisions and engaging in difficult activities in other spheres as well.
Excerpted from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters by N. T. Wright
It is possible to be “in Christ” and be immature, not understanding fully what it means, not grasping the new possibilities and responsibilities set before us. The road to maturity is through teaching and instruction. What you need for that is teachers with boundless energy; and what you need for that is the life-giving power of the King Himself, working with Paul then and Christian teachers ever since. Great demands will be made on them. But the energy which Jesus inspires within them is always more than equal to the task.
Excerpt from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters by N.T. Wright
2. I have a special appeal that goes out to jointly to Euodia and Syntyche: please, please, come to a common mind in the Lord. 3. (And here’s request for you too, my loyal comrade: please help these women. They have struggled hard in the gospel along side me, as have Clement and my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life,) 4. Celebrate joyfully in the Lord, all the time. I’ll say it again, celebrate! 5. Let everybody know how gentle and gracious you are. The Lord is near. 6. Don’t worry about anything. Rather, in every area of you life let God know what you want, as you pray and make requests, and give thanks well. 7. And God’s peace, which is greater that we can ever understand, will keep guard over your hearts and minds in King Jesus, – Philippians 4:2-9
You never know when it’s going to happen. Two people who one day are good friends, working alongside each other in the church, can suddenly get cross with one another. A sharp word from one, half-heard by the other: a bitter response, said hastily and without quite meaning it; then the slamming of doors, the face turned away in the street, the sense (on both sides) of hurt so great, and offense so deep, that nothing can mend it. I remember my grandfather, a pastor himself, telling me of such things. I in my turn have had to deal with such incidents, and I guess most pastors have done the same.
It is particularly sad and tragic when it occurs within a Christian community where the whole ethos ought to be one of mutual love, forgiveness and support; but the chances are that since each one will accuse the other of being the first to break the code, neither is prepared to back down. It then calls for a certain amount of shuttle diplomacy on the part of a pastor or wise friend before any progress is made.
But a word addressed in public to both parties might just break the deadlock (though you’d have to know what you are doing; it might make it worse.) We can assume that Paul knew what he was doing in verse 2. These things are better dealt with sooner than later.
Excerpted from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters written by N. T. Wright
What do you do when the storms of life come? To whom do you turn? Where do you seek comfort and security during such tumultuous times?
Throughout our lives, these storms come and go unexpectedly, but they do not have to throw us off-balance. Scripture assures us that we can maintain a steady footing regardless of the circumstances. So how do we do this? There is an amazing truth in the Bible that will keep us steady during the most trying times. Our anchor for the storms of life is simply this: Jesus Christ never changes.
Why is this so vital, and what do we mean by an “anchor”? Consider that every single thing in your life—career, relationships, finances—is in a state of constant change. You yourself are aging and changing every minute of each day, and there is nothing you can do to stop this process. In fact, even the current heaven and earth will grow old and perish, and like a garment they will be changed (Revelation 21:1). Yet through it all, Christ remains the same.
If we try to hold tightly to any of these earthly things during our hardships, we will be tossed about in various directions since we’ve affixed ourselves to an unstable foundation that’s continually shifting. However, if we place our hope in Christ, we can be sure that the anchor will hold because He isn’t moving, changing, or leaving. In fact, Jesus Christ is the only sure footing in a world of movement, and He will steady all who trust in Him.
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
It’s so easy to ‘speak Christian’ but not really communicate. When we tell people to follow Jesus, it may feel like we’re telling people to stand in the corner of a round room. Phrases like “Give your life to Christ” and “Surrender to Jesus” describe a decision . . . a specific event, not a day-to-day guideline for living ‘this way of life.’
So I came up with eight practices that together, can make ‘this way of life’ a reality. I believe God’s Word supports all of these. So here goes . . .
- Love and accept people – Just as they are. Forgive them when they fail. Don’t create expectations for other’s behavior, especially for those outside the faith who don’t have the faith you have.
- Trust God with the outcomes – Peace over panic. Do the next right thing, remembering that He loves you, wants what’s best for you, and never leaves you.
- Relax in your identity – Strive no more! You are an adopted child of the King of Kings. You can’t be unadopted.
- Be generous – Trusting God allows you to give rather than hold back. Freely give your time, money, and grace without regard to being appreciated or getting anything in return.
- Develop your character – Faith in God makes it safe to do the right thing, as God defines it, even when nobody’s looking and when it’s going to cost you something.
- Live in community – Connect and commit to a church but even more, get connected and do life with at least one other Jesus-follower who knows your dark corners and whose life is headed toward Christ.
- Pray all the time – Listen to His voice in Scripture. Listen for His voice in your thoughts. Get in the habit of praying and listening, even a simple prayer like “I love you, Lord, I trust you, Lord, I need you, Lord, I thank you, Lord.”
- Intentionally mentor – Live your life for others. Be intentional about engaging with people for the purpose of helping them find and follow Jesus. Look for mentors to help you grow as you mentor one, two, or a group of folks who may be behind you in their spiritual journey.
Faith empowers us to live ‘this way of life.’ But faith in God as a concept won’t cut. It takes faith in a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Faith in an omnipotent God who wants you to trust Him enough that you can do all eight of these things consistently and with confidence in order to “have life and have it to the full.”
Scripture: Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)