Archive for the ‘#ThanksfulThursday’ Tag

It’s Not Brave If You’re Not Scared   2 comments

The Open Book Blog Hop is looking at courage in 2016. You can join us if you like
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Jesus Christ my Savior was a carpenter, so this is my carpentry metaphor. When wood is going to be contact with humidity (porch rails or against a concrete wall, perhaps), you can use pressure-treated wood to keep it from rotting. Pressure-treated wood has little slits cut in it. It is then placed in a tank of metal (often copper) which is pressurized to push that mineral into the wood. It causes the wood to last much longer.

The New Testament contains multiple examples of courageous Christians who were pressure-treated by their experiences, and endured what they faced with God’s grace.

My portrait in courage for this week is Paul the apostle. Several events in his life illustrate Paul’s bravery, but the most instructive is his final recorded letter to Timothy.

“The time of my departure is come…” he wrote (2 Timothy 4:6). Paul knew the end was near. It wasn’t his first rodeo. He had spent several years under house arrest in Rome pending a trial that had resulted in his release, but this time, he could tell he wouldn’t be released. When he wrote the letter to Timothy his execution was imminent, and yet he composed a letter with undaunted resolve to keep the faith, encouraging Timothy to do the same.

Timothy was encouraged, instructed, warned, and summoned by his mentor and friend, but Paul’s farewell admonition did not gloss over the Christian servant’s future. He warned Timothy that his faith and ministry would be challenged by antagonism. Paul’s personal condition indicated what might well happen to other Christians. The persecuted apostle used the word “suffer” six times. He was in bonds and treated as a criminal (2 Timothy 1:8, 12; 2:3, 9; 3:12; 4:5). He warned him about Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14) who seems to have offered testimony to the Romans.

Paul’s message was clear: Faithful service to Christ will bring antagonism — even persecution — but be strong and keep the faith (2 Timothy 2:1; 4:7).

Paul’s encouragement was not blind idealism. He had tested this way of thinking and living and had a genuine understanding and appreciation for God’s grace is all that is needed to face antagonists and hostilities (2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Timothy 4:22).

Paul rightfully warned Timothy that he would meet obstacles if he stayed true to the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), because a gospel-based Christian will engage those who have strayed from the truth and who have destroyed the faith of others.

Paul spok from experience. Hymenaeus and Philetus had been a gangrene in the body of Christ. Timothy was a young man and Paul send him a realistic message warning of obstacles, like false teachers, but encouragement to keep the faith, and preach the truth (2 Timothy 2:14, 25).

Paul knew from his own life a relationship with Jesus Christ is the stabilizing factor in a world of distractions. He encouraged Timothy to continue to heed the saving message of Jesus’ Word, which would make Timothy “competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

Paul knew that faithful Christians would also face discouragement, that there would be many who do not want to hear God’s message to the world. There will be others who want to do harm to Christians just because they are Christians. Some who claimed to be Christians and sometimes even ministers will abandon the faith. Christians may stand alone at times. Paul, as Timothy’s friend and father in faith, still encouraged Timothy to keep and preach the faith (2 Timothy 4:8).

Paul’s farewell address to Timothy encourages modern Christians as well — both by example and instruction. We need encouragement because many of us face antagonism, obstacles, distractions, and discouragement.We can meet antagonism with grace, overcome obstacles with truth, ignore distractions with focus, and withstand discouragement with conviction. God will deliver us into His eternal kingdom. He will give the crown of righteousness to all who have accepted Christ’s salvation. Those will be obvious to all as those who keep, live, and preach the faith.

For the courageous Christian, there will be no eternal regrets. We may never make the newspapers, but our names are written in the Book of Life which is a far more important place to be listed than Who’s Who.

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Thankful Thursday 10/29   Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for various reasons, the primary one being that it causes me to think about all the things I should be grateful for.

I think the world would be immensely improved if Gratitude Went Viral.

If you want to help make that happen, join us —

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One of the problems with much of our culture today is that we are too busy coveting what someone else has to truly count our own blessings. We want, we want, we want … the new I-Phone, the smart watch, the flashy new car, the latest “thang” in kitchen counters, more money in our paycheck, the rich to give their wealth to the middle class, the government to give the income of the working to the non-working, “free” healthcare, carbon-free energy, world peace … on and on and on … we covet and do not recognize what God has already given us. All of us are guilty of it … it’s an all-too-human trait going all the way back to the Garden when Eve coveted God’s fruit.

So here is my quirky take on thankfulness —

  • I am grateful for what I have today. It is sufficient. If I had less, I’d be in want and that would make me covet in a way that most people would say I was justified in doing. Their justification of my sin would help me to feel righteous in my covetousness. I thank God that He has given me what I need to survive today, so that I do not have an excuse for wanting more.
  • I am grateful today that God has not fulfilled all of my wants. I’m not wealthy. I have to work to pay my bills. My books are not flooding my bank account with profits. Other people have more stuff and better stuff than I do. And that’s okay, because my lack of wealth has taught me to be grateful to God for the little things. If I had more stuff, I wouldn’t be as grateful for what I have today. God knows that about me and it is that intimate knowledge of me that is more precious to me than gold or silver. I wouldn’t turn down financial blessings if they came my way, but I don’t need them to be content.

Philippians 4:10-14I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble.” (Paul the apostle, writing from a Roman prison)

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