Monday, August 15, 2016

A Challenge for "That" Day


So as I walk through the two letters from Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, I thought I'd pause and share some of my thoughts in writing. I often wander away from any series I tend to start on my blog/journal as I don't like to keep God in a box, but I think sometimes it's also important to finish an idea that I start. So in an attempt to finish said idea, I had a few things that I thought I'd share this week from his letters ...

This is Day 5: Click for day(s): 123, 4

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV

God's judgment is not something many people like to discuss. I'm not naive in understanding the general reason why people don't like to discuss it as it may feel uncomfortable and judgmental to a humanistic worldview.  Though just because something makes us/some feel uncomfortable we choose not to discuss it?  To some it's the ignorant understanding that because I believe God judges others that it must mean that I dislike, hate, condemn, or judge them myself.

Today however I'm not going to defend that. Today I'm not going to go down a path of what Hell is, looks like, or who I think is going. I just want to talk to my Christian family today and simply ask two questions:
  1. Have [I / you] thought about eternal separation from God?
  2. What [am I / are you] doing about it?
I don't think there is a greater fear of mine than to be in need and know that God is no longer with me. That I am separated from Him - forever. Game over, pieces put back in the box, victory/defeat declared - done.

There are two days in my calendar: This day and that Day.

- Martin Luther
Can you ponder that for a moment?

I light of that - if we believe what we profess to believe - what are you doing about That day, today?

Matt, what do you mean?

Well, we plan diets, exercise routines, vacations, career paths, errands, educational pursuits, purchases, etc. Some of us even plan our day around movies or television shows. The list could go on and on for what we actually take time out of our day for to make tangible plans.

Well ... a much more important Day is coming. Any plans?

I seem to defend this each time and I suppose I can again. I know we can't earn our salvation, and it's free by Grace, but if we really understood what we earned - eternal salvation - wouldn't a natural knee jerk reaction be to show our thanks? When we meet Him face to Face I don't think our reaction will be to respond in pride that we didn't do much and spent more time focusing on our own life because we knew that He saved us by Grace. Just a guess ... I don't think it's going to go like that ... much more likely like Isaiah.

So anyway ... what are you and I doing to prepare? What required work cool thing have you done for God today? What required work blessing have you been to someone in need today? How have you been the required works hands and feet of Christ today?

Anything on your agenda?

It's just a question.

While they are great things, and foundational things, I would challenge you if your answer to me is that you go to church, study, and read your devotional. Great ways to grow and know God for sure, but we are His Hands and Feet, not just a reflective mind.

My loving and supportive wife would likely tell me that I am doing a lot ... I would disagree, but even if I didn't, most of my serving and giving is routine now. I think the more we are churched the more we need to stretch - else we don't grow. I want to do something more - not out of guilt, but out of love and even nervous excitement because I know how exciting it can be to see Him work through me!

Some people wait until that doctors visit to get serious about their health. Some people wait until they are behind on bills before they realize their financial plan isn't working. Some people wait to take their car in until that little noise turns into being broken down on the road. Some people wait ... until it's too late ...

In some of those things we may not have a choice (or know) ... but we do with this.

So my challenge to you (and myself) is to put something on the agenda for today (or tomorrow depending on when you ready this) but it should be tangible ... and let it be a stretch too! Let Him stretch you! It builds our faith ...

Then come back and share how God used you ... I'd love to hear as it would be a blessing and encouragement!

His,
~Matthew

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Measuring Sticks


So as I walk through the two letters from Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, I thought I'd pause and share some of my thoughts in writing. I often wander away from any series I tend to start on my blog/journal as I don't like to keep God in a box, but I think sometimes it's also important to finish an idea that I start. So in an attempt to finish said idea, I had a few things that I thought I'd share this week from his letters ...

This is Day 4: Click for day(s): 123

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.





1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 ESV
This list of final instructions from Paul is a great measuring stick for us today. I sometimes lay my head down on my pillow and think over my day (a period of time that I used in exchange for this gift of life I've been granted). Some people consider the worth of their time when pondering various activities.


I know how to change the brakes on my car, but with the heat, my schedule, having to run to the store, is it really worth the savings I would gain or should I just take my car in for service somewhere? What is my time worth?

Yet each day when you get up, you make a decision on a much more important reality ... what will you choose to give up in exchange for one more day of your life? How much is one day of living on earth worth to you? If your view of life is temporal, this may make you squeamish to even think about. My anxiety can make it difficult too, but I choose to ask the question nonetheless. It's a great measuring stick.

We are saved by Grace, but that doesn't mean we should not set goals - eternal goals - for our day.

Paul's exhortation leaves us with questions. Today, did I:

  • Admonish the Idle?
  • Encourage the Fainthearted?
  • Help the Weak?
  • Be Patient with All of the Above?
  • Seek to do Good (both with the body of Christ and outside)?
  • Rejoice?
  • Pray?
  • Give Thanks?
  • Quench the Spirit (or did I fan it into Flame)?
  • Hold Fast to Good?
  • Abstain from Evil?
If you are a Christian you have undoubtedly had days where you laid your head to rest, and in peace and joy (not pride) were pleased with how you let God work through you that day. You were pleased with what your life transaction that day returned. Don't you want to feel like that more often? Don't you want to feel like that every day?!

Perhaps this simple list (Hey, I didn't make it up) is here for a reason *gasp* ... maybe it applies to us even today!? *gasp* ... so perhaps you ... and I ... can sit alone with God tomorrow morning (or right now) and simply ask where He wants you to go. Let us stop trembling in fear of where He will take us when we know He is a trustworthy Leader.

One more note. This is not a measuring stick to be held against others or used to compare yourself to them. We all know some amazing Christians that have it all together. However I got a little secret ... They don't - they're messed up too!

So let's just look to God ... stare at Him ... not others ... and see where He calls us.

And then ... move!

Blessings,
~Matt

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Let it Twirl!


So as I walk through the two letters from Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, I thought I'd pause and share some of my thoughts in writing. I often wander away from any series I tend to start on my blog/journal as I don't like to keep God in a box, but I think sometimes it's also important to finish an idea that I start. So in an attempt to finish said idea, I had a few things that I thought I'd share this week from his letters ...

This is Day 3: Click for day(s): 123

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.






1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 ESV
If someone came up to you and said one of these two things, which would be more encouraging? Engaging? Acceptable? Well received? ... even if your name isn't Matt!

  1. Matt, you need to do more!
  2. Matt, you're doing ____ so well! You are shining in this area! I love it! Let me see more of it!

It's how Paul encourages here. He doesn't focus on what they are not doing well, he focuses on what they are doing well. He plays up on their strengths. and encourages them to grow in that area even more!

There are ways to encourage one another that are pleasant ... and then there are ways to encourage others that will make them glow!

My 5 year old daughter can walk up to me in a new dress and I could make her smile by simply stating that I like her new dress. That would be encouraging. That would be pleasant. However I could also pause, (really pause to take a moment out of my day) ... and then ask her to spin around so I can get a good look at that beautiful dress! When she does so, and the dress twirls around her, I could answer her in excitement and exclaim "That is such a pretty dress, and you make it look even more beautiful! Look how it twirls!" ... and she would go from feeling pleasant to absolutely glowing!

Odd comparison? Perhaps ... but maybe not. I could walk up to another brother in Christ and encourage them with a pat on the back, help them as their accountability partner, or some other typical way. Or ... or I could decide to listen. Really listen, you know? Not like waiting until they are done speaking to say the thing you wanted to say while they were talking. Not that any of us do that of course ... and instead simply point out their strengths, elevate them to highlight how I see God working in them, and encourage them to focus on the great strengths they have and keep pushing forward ... all while showing my honest excitement for them!

If we listen to somebody long enough we will see where God has gifted them and where His Light shines. Point that out, and celebrate it!

But what about accountability? What about pointing out our weak areas where sin resides?

I'm all for accountability and bringing sin to light ... but I'll tell ya what. When I'm on fire for Christ, sin has no hold on me. I could walk through a valley of temptations and not even look to the left or right. So let's encourage and fan into flame the beautiful gifts and strengths we see in our brothers and sisters in Christ around us; focus on that. Let them twirl around showing off His beautiful spiritual gifts He has given them and watch them walk away glowing in the Fire of His Holiness!

I know you have some gifts! Let it Twirl!
~Matt
Print Friendly and PDF

Want my journal entries sent to your e-mail address?

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Recent Posts

Search This Blog

Loading...