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A Prayer for Me

I missed writing yesterday, but not reading. I hope you’re keeping up too. Today we finish 2 Thessalonians. I’m headed to Habakkuk next. It’s three chapters.


honor2 Thessalonians

SCRIPTURE

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

In my last post I offered up a prayer for you based on the words of Paul in chapter 1. Today I ask that you offer up a prayer for me based on Paul’s words in chapter 3. This too is my prayer for you.

APPLICATION

In our day the message of the Lord has certainly spread rapidly and continues to do so. What’s missing are people who will honor that message. I don’t expect non-Believers to honor the message. I would be grateful if they would give it an honest listen. It would be nice if they would have the same patience and deference for the gospel as they do other systems of belief. But that’s not something I can expect by right. It’s a level of respect that must be earned.

Either way, it’s up to those who believe the gospel to honor the gospel. It’s up to us to live in such a way that non-believers would want to listen. So the first part of this prayer is that God would spread and magnify the gospel through me (and you), not simply through our words, but through our lives, through the stories we tell, through the choices we make and through the way we treat others and one another.

The second part of the prayer is for protection. There are some who will never believe. They will never receive. They will make themselves enemies of the gospel and deliberately stand in the way of all who believe. Paul asks God’s protection for people such as this. We should too.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the life you’ve given me. I pray for those who read this, that the gospel would spread rapidly because of them and be honored by them. I pray that you would protect them from those people who have deliberately made themselves enemies of the cross. Fill us with your spirit and the fruit of your spirit. Do in us what only you can do.

Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Good For; Good To

Do you ever meet a couple that seems mismatched? Maybe they’ve been married for 15 or 20 years but something just doesn’t seem to fit. How could a couple with a woman that smart and a man that daft stay together for so long? How is it possible that someone so driven and organized could endure someone so listless and free-spirited? What is it that holds together a relationship that seems built on a foundation of contradictions. She’s a little bit country. He’s a little bit rock and roll. She likes long walks in the park. He likes good seats at Fenway Park.

I think ‘good for; good to’ is part of the answer. I love to talk with couples about what brought them and keeps them together. There’s all the standard comments: Love, respect, communication, patience, an occasional knock on the head with a frying pan. But sometimes they cut through the usual list of responses and say something truly interesting.

“She’s good for me.” I heard one friend say. “Before I met her I was a knucklehead. Today, I’m a recovering knucklehead with occasional relapses.” We had a good laugh. I thought I’d get in a friendly jab, “That explains why you’re with her. Why does she stick with you!?”

He got serious for a moment and didn’t miss a beat, “She’s good for me. I try to be good to her. It just works.”

Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us a brief snapshot of how to have a healthy, happy, even holy marriage. It could be summed up in this one principle: “Mutual submission out of mutual respect.”

It could be said as a series of questions:

  • Will you be good for or good to your spouse today?
  • Will you look out for their interests and their needs before your own?
  • Will you give more of yourself to them than you think you can afford and trust God to provide? (A good definition of sacrifice.)
  • Will you be willing to repent when you’re wrong and forgive when you’re right?
  • Will you value your relationship more than your own rights or opinions?

How we answer questions like these determines whether or not those mismatched couples will go the distance.

Good for | Good to – which are you?

Hate Religion; Love Jesus

This video has been floating around Facebook lately. Give it a spin, read my comments, then make some of your own.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

Well produced and well said.

Scripturally, he’s right about self-righteousness. Politically, Jesus isn’t a Democrat either. Culturally, he clearly articulates why so many people are disenfranchised by religion.

I’ve heard people say, “I like Jesus, but don’t like the church.” If what they mean is religion, I’m right there with them. Religion is a fish out of water trying to teach a drowning man to breath.

There is a difference between the Church and religion. By Church I don’t mean a denomination, building or system of organization. I mean the Church described in the Bible. That Church is the body and bride of Christ. Saying, “I like Jesus, but don’t like the church,” is like telling your friend,  “You’re great, but your wife is hideous!” It’s like telling someone, “I find you attractive. You don’t sweat much for a fat boy.”

The Church is what forms when Believers come together. It has a universal expression because of our unity in Christ. It’s why I can go to an underground church in China without being able to speak the language and still experience sweet fellowship with complete strangers as we worship together in spirit and truth.

The Church also has a local expression. When Believers assemble on the local level they are committing to God and one another. They are saying, “This is the place and these are the people I want to grow with, be accountable to, and partner with in ministry.” Anytime people come together there has to be some level of organization. Where and when will we meet? What will we do while we’re together? How will we decide what to do when we disagree? And the most important question of all, who’s making coffee!?

Like people, each of these local bodies of Believers has a personality. Some churches are very formal in their organization, others more free. Some are focused in their mission and methods while others try everything under the sun. None of these organizational expressions is Biblically superior to the other. The Bible gives remarkably few details about the day-to-day operations of the local church. However, the Bible speaks clearly about how Believers are to relate to one another and to people outside their fellowship. It’s almost like Scripture tells us, “How you do what you do is more important than the structures you use to do it.”

The reason churches, and people, fall into religion is because we value our structures and systems, our own opinions, more than our relationships. We choose to walk in self righteousness rather than risk getting too deeply involved in the glorious mess that is people. We ignore the Scriptures that command us to relate to one another in a spirit of mutual submission out of mutual respect. We forget the language of repentance and forgiveness with one another and refuse to recognize the one truth that  ties us all together – we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Anytime people get together mistakes will be made. People will fail. It’s not a question of, ‘if’, but ‘when’, and how bad it will be. How we handle those moments defines the difference between dead religion and a living relationship with Christ and one another.

Religion – or the church – are easy targets. We blame the nameless, faceless, ‘they’ and ‘them’ for all the reasons why we don’t participate with other Believers. When will we recognize that the church is not ‘they’.

The church is me, with you, learning how we can honor God together.

Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”