Have You Ever


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

 

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Immature


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

Church Conflict


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

Defeating the Devil’s Strategies


Reposted from In Touch Ministries

All of us make tracks through the valley of failure. Then the key question is, What we will do next? Sadly, many believers who stumble give up a vibrant kingdom-serving life for a defeated existence. But failure can also be a chance for a new beginning of living in Christ’s strength.

In pride, Peter thought his faith was the strongest of all the disciples’ and swore that even if the others left Jesus, he never would (Mark 14:29). Yet when the time of testing came, he denied even knowing Christ–and did so three times (Matt. 26:69-75). Satan hoped the disciple would be so wounded by his own disloyalty that his faith would be undermined by shame, condemnation, and despair.

Likewise, when the Enemy sifts believers today, his goal is for us to become shelved and ineffective for God’s kingdom. That’s why he goes after our strengths, especially the areas in which we proudly consider ourselves invincible. But if we’re willing, the Lord can use our failures to do spiritual housecleaning, as He did in Peter’s life. After the resurrection, Jesus met with the disciple personally and restored him, preparing him to become a great leader in the early church. He made it clear that Peter’s potential to serve was defined, not by failure, but by his unwavering love for Christ.