Romans despised Christians because everyone knew they were horridly wicked people who were cannibalistic, incestuous, atheists. It was primarily these accusations that caused even the immoral Romans to despise, persecute and slaughter the “vile” Christians who deserved to perish.
Christians were atheists because they denied the existence of the Roman gods, cannibalistic because at their secret meetings they would eat flesh and drink blood (references to the Communion / Eucharist). And in the perverted mind of the Romans, talk of loving your brothers and sisters could only mean one thing, incest. Christians were evil people who held secret meetings to do the vilest of things and deserved torture and death. Read more
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
What a great passage to commit to memory and use as a motto for life. Whatever happens … good, bad or otherwise … whether I understand it or am totally clueless … whether it is fair or unjust … whether I like it or not … whatever happens as I pass through life may I conduct myself in a worthy manner.
May my actions, attitude, behavior, thought life, that which I look at, that which I think about, those I associate with, everything I do, may my conduct be worthy of the gospel … worthy of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Read more
Titus 2:4 makes a strange statement about older women teaching younger women to love their husbands and their children. Admittedly, sometimes men can make loving a husband quite a challenge but don’t mothers automatically love their children? Why would they need to be taught to love their children? We speak of a mother’s love being the closest thing on earth to God’s love. (I’m sure I read that on a Mother’s day card somewhere.) So what is it talking about when it says young women need to learn to love their children?
Categories: 1 John, Titus
(These hostile enemies of Israel) were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.
We know the Lord could easily erase every struggle and make our lives smooth sailing into glory. But He allows it to “rain on the just and the unjust”. Christians get sick, have money problems, relational stresses, auto accidents, are victims in tragedies, on and on. In fact, as one first century accuser said, “You Christians have more problems than the average person. How can you believe a God who takes such poor care of you in this life is able to take care of you in the life to come?” Read more
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
“Is that a genuine Rolex watch for $20?” Street vendors in Thailand are known for responding to such questions with, “Same. Same. But different.” It is the exact same … only different. It is an imitation.
The Holy Spirit tells us to be imitations of God. To be the “same, same” as God even though we are “different”.
There are cheap imitations that look good on the outside but their inner workings are not the same. Such fakes won’t last. At the first test, they break. Lord, I don’t want to be a cheap imitation.
The Holy Spirit is not telling us to be fake, to masquerade as something we are not. In fact, He is telling us to be what, in Christ, we genuinely are. We have a new nature, a divine nature. We are new creatures, spiritual beings. We have a new mind, the mind of Christ. Imitate God. Be genuine. Live like what we truly are, born again, drawn from God’s gene pool, “his dear children.”
1 Peter 1:14, 15
So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.
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It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, … The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, … But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
I used to wonder how you could “preach Christ out of selfish ambition”, “out of envy and rivalry”, with “false motives”. Going into ministry is not usually thought of as a road to fame and fortune. But the longer I’ve been at this pastoring thing the more I’ve seen a subtle temptation.
When you have been blessed, like I have, to pastor wonderful and gracious people they frequently encourage you, tell you how much God has used you to help them and generously express their love and appreciation. It is tempting to begin to look for those strokes, live for them and long for them. Suddenly you are ministering to meet a need in you instead of allowing God to meet the needs of others through you – selfish ambition and soon envy and rivalry. Slowly you can even begin to believe you are as wonderful as people say you are. Read more
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Someone was commenting on the deal they got on a new car because of “good financing”. Instead of minding my own business I let them know I think the term “good financing” is an oxymoron. How can anything that makes us a slave to another be “good”?
It is so easy to go into debt to demonstrate our love, or meet a “need” we feel we have, to comfort ourselves, pass time shopping, etc. Before we do however, it is wise to invest some time meditating on the warning of Proverbs 22:7. Read more
Now the LORD was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.
The Lord was with them and they took the high ground but was God impotent against iron chariots? Of courses not. Judges 4 shows even 900 iron chariots is no challenge for the Lord. So why couldn’t Judah drive out the “inhabitants of the valley”? Read more
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
He prayed long, hard and sincerely. He gave faithfully to the work of God. He fasted regularly and was at church every time the doors were open (probably even had a key to get in when it wasn’t open). He had a profound, unshakable belief in God that drove him onward and impacted his daily living. He studied and memorized Scripture and even believed Jesus was sent from God. Sounds like a guy you would want to welcome into your church.
But without pleasantries or pats on the back for all his religious zeal, the first thing Jesus told Nicodemus is that he couldn’t even see the kingdom of God if there was not a radical change in his life. He had to be “born again”. Read more
Categories: Ephesians, John
Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
What an important message for parents. When our children misbehave we are tempted to look away, ignore it, if in public to act like we don’t even know who these kids belong to. Sometimes it seems impossible to muster the strength to deal with it one more time. And sometimes our attitude (anger?) is such that we shouldn’t try to deal with it right now.
But this passage makes a promise for worn out parents who do rise to the occasion and rebuke, discipline, even chastise if necessary “one more time”. If we dig deep and find the energy (and self control) to make the effort, endure the grief and embarrassment it causes us, we “will in the end gain favor”. Read more