Friday, January 6, 2012

Live a Life Worthy

Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

I've been reading Ephesians 4, verses 1-6 over and over again the last week. God wants us to live a life worthy of the calling He's given us. It's a cry! Yes, it's instruction. Yes, it's a command. But I hear Paul saying "...I urge you..." It's a cry, a plea that is resonating in my heart.

In times like these, more than ever before, we need to live lives that are worthy, lives that are holy. Over the last week, different parts of the passage at different times have stood out. Yesterday it was, "As a prisoner for the Lord..." and the beginning of verse two which says, "Be completely humble and gentle..." I asked myself, "Why did Paul preface his instruction to live holy with his current state of imprisonment?" What was the importance of him introducing the instruction to live holy in that way? Paul was using himself as an example for them to follow.

Paul was a prisoner for the cause of Christ. Paul had been beaten, stoned, imprisoned, rejected and misunderstood for the cause of Christ. He could say with authority, "Live worthy of the calling you have received."

Let Paul's plea ring in our ears this year. Every day let us remember to walk worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus.

"How to Live Worthy" - Next Post (Stay tuned)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Remember Them

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I pray you all had a great start to the new year. I thank God for you.

Iraq & Afghanistan War Veterans
I am thinking of the troups returning from Iraq and those returning home from or still in Afghanistan. Amidst our busy lives, we need to remember them. Remember them in prayer, remember them in giving, remember them for jobs, remember them. Many of us have been personally touched by having family members or close friends serving in these wars and so it may be a little easier to keep them in the forefront of our minds. But in reality, we are all benefiting from their sacrifice and commitment and need to remember them.

Missionaries Overseas
They are fighting on the frontlines of a different kind of war, in an army of which we are all apart of. Let us remember them as we go about our lives in 2012. Remember them in prayer and financial support. Remember them and send care packages. They fight on the front lines and often go without recognition or support. Many of us are not called or wouldn't want to sacrifice all to do what these missionaries are doing for the cause of Christ. However, Paul said, "Remember those in prison as though they were your fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" (Heb. 13:3). Remember them.

Leaders (Church & State/Federal)
Satan is out to discredit the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and pastors/ bishops; the leadership of the church is the first line of defense. I find that there is a tendency for many Christians to do the devil's work and attack our leadership. I am not saying that they are not to be held accountable. On the contrary, we all are to be held accountable for our ministries, lives and callings. What I am referring to is the criticism that destroys. The gossip that wounds. If a survey were to be taken, I wonder what percentage of Christians would say that they pray more for their church leadership than criticize them? Being in leadership is no easy task. What if our lives- our families' lives were under a microscope daily? I am not saying that there are not those in leadership that should not be, but I can't help but remember that God is sovereign. Is it not He who when King Nebuchadnezzar raised up his head in pride and said, "Is it not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my might power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan.4:30), replied: "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you...Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes" (Dan. 4:31-32)?

It is God who exalts and God who humbles. Nothing is done without his knowledge. So whether we agree with our leadership or not, let's remember to lift them up in prayer. This, of course, includes our country's leaders as well.  "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4). How we respond and speak of those in leadership affects our witness. Our children, spouse, neighbors, co-workers, fellow believers are all spectators in our lives. It is very important to remember.

I witnessed two examples of how criticism of leadership can potentially damage or unnecessarily cause harm to listeners not long ago. I have a friend who did not regard the teaching of her pastor highly. She'd left her previous church when her pastor stepped down and had been going to this new church for about three years. She didn't like how this pastor preached or teached in comparison to the Word that she received from her previous pastor. I heard her criticize him a few times in the company of her two teenage children. As a result of her choice to disrespect him, it was difficult for her to receive from him. Then I noticed the last time I heard her criticise him in front of her teens that they also voiced disregard for his preaching style and said they to do not get anything from his messages. Her attitude towards him was also adopted by her children. Though I did speak up in defense of the pastor in regards to the level of respect we are to have for those God places in authority over our lives, I wasn't the parent.

The second incident I remember in reference to this principle of praying and being thankful for those in authority over us is in regards to President Obama. A millionaire acquaintence of mine remarked in grievance one day shortly after Obama's health care initiative was approved that he wondered where God was in all this and actually, how God could let this happen... (There were several hundred of us on the conference call, saved and unsaved and speaker was known to be a Christian.) He immediately followed his initial remark with, "I don't understand it, but God is sovereign." He caught himself and "saved face" as a Christian. Though in disagreement to the decision, he acknowledged God's sovereignty and ability to take care of us all.

Let's remember to pray as the time draws ever nearer to Christ's return. Pray for those in leadership. Pray for our veterans, our missionaries, our country and the lost.

May we as the body of Christ and our local bodies of fellowship, become more and more, "houses of prayer" in 2012.