Sunday, April 15, 2012

Being the Example of Christ

Romans 12:9-21
(9)  Love sincerely. Hate evil. Hold on to what is good.
(10)  Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.
(11)  Don't be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord.
(12)  Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually.
(13)  Share what you have with God's people who are in need. Be hospitable.
(14)  Bless those who persecute you. Bless them, and don't curse them.
(15)  Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad.
(16)  Live in harmony with each other. Don't be arrogant, but be friendly to humble people. Don't think that you are smarter than you really are.
(17)  Don't pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble.
(18)  As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.
(19)  Don't take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let God's anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, "I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord."
(20)  But, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed."
(21)  Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with good.

I was just reading this passage in my personal devotion and wanted to divulge some simple truths.

  1. . Love Sincerely.  One thing I have discovered in life is don't say you love someone unless you mean it. For me, I mean it.  I really don't desire to hate anyone. Hate takes too much effort, so why do it. Being bitter over what some may or may not have done to you is too tiring. I personally don't desire to waste my time on hating or being bitter over someone. It is too over rated. We are commanded to love sincerely and not throw it out like watermelon rims into a rubbish pit. If the greatest love of all lives inside of you and I is it really that hard to love others?When I think about LOVE SINCERELY. I think of the life of Corrie Ten Boom. She lived during World War II. Her family harbored Jewish refugees and protected them from the Nazis. When they were discovered, her family was placed in concentration camps. Her father died 10 days afterwards. Her nephew, brother, and sister were released but Corrie and her other sister Betsie where still held in the camp. Before Betsie died she wanted to teach her sister not to hate but love those who persecuted them. On her death bed she told Corrie,  "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."  Corrie Ten Boom was the only survivor from the camp. Once she was released;she later devoted her life traveling the world preaching on God's love and forgiveness.  How far does this LOVE inside of us go?
  2. Hate Evil and hold on to what is good: We are commanded to hate evil in many places in the word of God. What is evil? How do we show our hate to it? Evil is anything opposite of God's goodness.The bible tells us to hate evil. To fear the LORD is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and twisted speech. (Proverbs 8:13)  Does that happen all the time for me? NO!!!! I wish I could say yes.   I am reminded of the following scriptures. Oh wretched man that I am. I AM THE CHIEF OF ALL SINNERS like Paul the Apostle said,  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I know not. For what I desire, that I do not do; but what I hate, that I do. If then I do that which I do not desire, I consent to the law that it is good. But now it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I do not find. (Rom 7:14-18) Maybe if I hated evil more; I would not fall into sin sometimes. LOL!!! What about you? One day, as a child, my family was visiting my Aunt and cousins. In the woods at my cousins' house was this huge tree and way up in the air was a massive branch stretching out as far as I could see. Dangling from the branch was a long 6 inch thick cow rope. There was a knot tied at the end. This became our Tarzan swing. We would swing for hours. Because we were high in the air, we had to hold on tight to the rope or we would fall off. The rope became your life line. You knew letting go would be disastrous. It is the same with holding on to the goodness of God. We must treat it as our life line and never let go. For it is!!!!!
  3. Be devoted to each other:  Having devotion means committing to some purpose or laying down your life for something you believe in. We are commanded to have devotion to one another.  We all have families but did you know that the Christian family should be the extension of our regular families. God designed it that way. Families are important and should be loving to one another,  but there is something about being a part of a Christian community as well. You feel like you can conquer the world and walk on fire. We need each other like it or not. We need to have passion for each other and be willing to lay our lives down. This is the word of the Lord. Read this story about a mother who had cancer during her pregnancy with her unborn child and decided not to abort the child.
  4. Show Respect to one another: There are certain levels of respect but the basic level of respect should be given at all times to each other. We are not savages or evil people set out to destroy the world. We are believers,  and Jesus has placed an expectation on our character.When I was in Suriname years ago. We were walking in the downtown district.  Sitting on the side walk was a man with no legs. They were cut off at the groin area.  He was an older gentleman and he would scoot himself along with cardboard underneath him. Many just walked by him and did not once stop to speak to him. I stopped and stared into his huge puppy dog eyes. I could feel the tears muster up inside of me. I simply said hello to the man and greeted him with kindness. His face changed from a painful demeanor to a great big smile. He just wanted some respect. We all want it. We all need it. Believers should readily give it. Everybody deserves just a little bit of respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  5. Don't be lazy, use your energy to serve the Lord.  All of our life should be devoted to the Lord's work wherever that may be. Be faithful over the small things and God will give you much. Every modern day revival was first saturated with a group of people praying and fasting. A group of people willing to lay their lives down for the gospel. Charles Finney and a group of Christians fasted and prayed for 6 years before the second great Awakening took place. Evan Roberts and some fellow believers fasted and prayed for 5 years before the Welch Revival became a phenomenon. The Welch Revival sparked other great moves of God all around the world. These few individuals used all their energy to serve the Lord. They reaped the results of their labor as well.
  6. Be Happy in the Confidence. Rejoice in the blessed hope we all have in Jesus. Our hope is the fuel to our faith. We have plenty to be thankful for.There is one person who sticks out in my head of being someone happy in the Confidence he had obtained through Christ. His name was Philbert Herinques. He was a 6' plus of a man. He was always smiling and always showing the passion and love of Christ. Every time I was with him on my mission trips to Guyana; my spirit would be encouraged. I knew of the many struggles he and his family had endured over the years, but he still trusted in the Lord. His confidence and faith was infectious and I miss him. He died doing the work of the Lord. We are taking a team from our church down to Guyana this summer, and they will see first hand the legacy this man of God has left behind. It is on the faces of his wife and children. Truly he was a man who was confident in his Lord. I am forever grateful for his friendship and his faith.
  7. Be patient in Trouble:  Sometimes when we are going through things we want to rush God and get the pain over with. We fail to see that He is using the situation to do His work within us. Oysters form pearls because they were first introduced to an irritant which lodged between the mantle and the shell. The Oyster's natural reaction is to cover up the irritant with nacre which is the same substance that forms the shell.Over time this cover up or defensive measure does not get rid of the irritant but forms it into what we know as a pearl. All of our troubles and pain can produce something priceless within us if we allow Holy Spirit to work. Troubles will come what we do with them will make the difference. 
  8. Pray Continually: Paul must have felt this was an important task to do. He mentioned it again to the Thessalonians. 1Thessalonians 5:17  Never stop praying. Prayer shakes the nations and puts the heart of man in right standing with his God. We have to communicate with the Lord. We have to talk with Him and build relationship with Him. The more you spend time with the Lord; the more His character begins to reign in you. Jesus prayed continuously and showed us how to do the same. The times I have fallen into sin are due to a lack of an active prayer life. Prayer changes things because we are putting our whole trust at the feet of the living God. When I was younger I read a biography of a true prayer warrior. His whole life was wrapped around prayer. His ministry was effective because of his active prayer life. His name was Rees Howells. I still have that book. I strategically placed it into my kids bathroom,so they can discover some nuggets of truth from a man of God's life. Here is a clip from Wikipedia.
    Rees Howells (10 October 1879 – 13 February 1950) was the founder of The Bible College of Wales.Howells was born in Brynamman in Carmarthenshire, Wales. When he was 12 years old he left school and worked in a tin mill and coal mine. He was affected by the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival.He and his wife were later missionaries in Africa. He was led down the path of intercession for many years, before seeing Revival across Southern Africa from 1915-1920. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the outbreak of World War II also marked a period of strong activity in Howells' ministry of intercession.In 1924 he founded the Bible College of Wales, now called Trinity School of Ministry.
  9. Share what you have and be Hospitable: The next great revival is not going to be one of spectacular outward appearance but one of true Christian devotion to each other.  Christians sharing what they have with each. Believers welcoming people in their homes and loving on them with the love of Christ. Believers genuinely caring for each other. This is what the world needs to see. True revival should change our character and repel us out to reach the world. John the Baptist preached about this idea of sharing what we have. Luke 3:11-14  He answered them, "Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who doesn't have any. Whoever has food should share it too."  (12)  Some tax collectors came to be baptized. They asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?"  (13)  He told them, "Don't collect more money than you are ordered to collect."  (14)  Some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He told them, "Be satisfied with your pay, and never use threats or blackmail to get money from anyone."   On one of my trips to Mauritius, I was waiting in the airport  to board my plane which would bring me back to the US. A Cyclone was expected to hit the island minutes after my plane was to leave, but it could hit sooner.  I was concerned about my family and just wanted to let them know how much I loved them. There was a business man from the States waiting for the same plane. He was a Catholic brother. He had an international phone , and I remember hearing him talk to his wife and kids on it. He had the same idea I had. You never know what could happen. It could have been our last taste of life on this side of glory. After he got off the phone, we started to talk and just share about basic personal life things. He could see the anguish on my face. The Storm was moving faster inland, and we were not sure if our plane was going to be able to leave. He reached out with his phone and said " Here call your family." I thanked him a thousand times over. I called my wife. I was able to hear the voices of my kids Andrew, Joel, Kirsten, and Rachel. I told each one of them how much I loved them and how proud I was of them. They did not know that daddy was crying on the other side of the world. I missed them so much and didn't fully know if I would see them again. Finally I talked to my precious wife and expressed my undying love to her. She had no idea either that I was crying on the other end of the phone or what possible tragic event could hinder her husband from coming home. I was so grateful to this businessman for his generosity. He truly showed hospitality to me. I shall never forget him. I still have his business card in my possession as a reminder. Give of yourself because it is not about you or I. It is about sharing our life with others.
  10. Bless those that persecute you: When I read this saying. I am reminded of the story which took place in an AMISH community. Hollywood made a TV movie about it. There was a gun man who came into an Amish school and opened fire. He killed several children before killing himself. The Amish community was shaken to the core and some of the mothers had a hard time forgiving the gun man for his horrendous act. He took their children away from them. Suddenly this Amish community did something remarkable which stunned a nation. They attended the funeral of the gunman. Nobody else attended besides a few tattered family members. They showed the mother of this gun man the love of Christ. They refused to allow the acts of one to stop them from showing the love of Jesus. This is powerful!!!!! Blessing those that have done you wrong does not let them off the hook for what they have done. It lets you off the hook from harboring unforgiveness and bitterness. Two things which can kill you physically and spiritually.
  11. Give Empathy to each other. Taken from Wikipedia: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. Giving empathy to someone means sharing in with their pain. Crying with them. Rejoicing with them. Letting their burden or blessing be your burden or blessing. This is the life for all believers.
  12. Live in Harmony with each other: I have a lot of friends which are not Christians. We joke around and have fun at work together. We are called to live at harmony with others. If people don't want to believe in my Jesus that is ok with me. It should not stop the Christ in us from being shown. When we are at work; we should give the example. We shouldn't talk bad about our bosses. We should be positive and lifting them up. We should not allow the job to become our place of discomfort. We work unto the Lord not unto men. Which means when we are not showing Christ like behavior; we are insulting God not man. We are called to live at harmony with each other.
  13. Don't return evil for evil:  When people are hurt by others; they try to lash back in hopes of making themselves feel better. Evil for evil never turns out like it is originally planned. Look at the story below.

    Revenge gone bad? Man firebombs the wrong house

    Published by newsfreak
    Robert Holt, 25, of Thomson (Georgia) wanted to take revenge from his ex-girlfriend. He came up with the brilliant plan of throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of her home. On the day of execution of the plan, he did everything right, except for the fact that he threw the bomb in the wrong house!

    We live in a society where revenge and returning evil for evil is the norm. Just look at how many times people sue each other in this country. Suing is a billion dollar industry and growing. Anyone can sue anyone. If you want to get back at someone just take them to court. Christians should not fall for this trap of selfishness and evil. Believers should be the example for the world to see.  Doing evil is more than getting revenge. Evil is anything against the nature of God. It is anything against what God has designed for man kind. It is anything that we try to rationalize away but knowing deep down it is not of God.  We have built inside of us the knowing of right and wrong. Here is the scary part. When we allow evil to exist inside of us without repentance; then our hearts become cold. 1Timothy 4:1-2  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  (2)  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 
  14. Think Noble thoughts and don't let evil conquer you:  Evil is lurking. We all have to fight in order to stop the hostile take over. Fortunately we have a Savior who gives us the grace and the strength to overcome. 2Thessalonians 3:3  But the Lord is faithful and will strengthen you and protect you against the evil one. Our hearts are commanded to follow after purity. The Lord has been speaking more and more to me these days about purity and holiness. I am on this journey to allow the pure heart of God to take over more and more of my life.  Titus 2:6-8  Encourage young men to use good judgment.  (7)  Always set an example by doing good things. When you teach, be an example of moral purity and dignity.  (8)  Speak an accurate message that cannot be condemned. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed because they cannot say anything bad about us. Call out to purity and don't allow evil to take you over. This should be the cry of every believer.

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