Do Everything in Love

Last year our church had a sermon series entitled Last Man Standing that was one of my favorites of the year and really impacted my life in 2016. My favorite in the series is the one entitled Men or Boys . I had written a post Act Like Men about this back then that is worth the few minutes to read and will give plenty of context into this post.

One of the verses I highlighted in that post was 1 Corinthians 16:13-14;

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.

The final part of that, “Do everything in love,” provides context for all that we are implored with doing in the first part of the verse. You could change the wording slightly and this verse becomes;

Be on your guard, in love.
Stand firm in the faith, in love.
Be men of courage, in love.
Be strong, in love.

A sidebar on word etymology.
I love learning more about the origins of the words we use as they are often far different from how we use them today. And when ancient texts, like the Bible are translated into our modern language often words are used that have the proper meaning, but our modern interpretation of those words could be different. So I enjoy looking at where the words come from and even learning the Greek or Hebrew that the Bible was originally written in so as to better understand the original meaning.

God’s Word doesn’t change and is true to what God is wanting us to hear, however our imperfect language that we use today can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations if you are not careful. While God will let His truth come through regardless of what language you read His Word in, it does help to understand what the writers were originally trying to convey.

The sentences sound a bit strange in our modern vernacular, but when you look at the original language the word for love used in the 14th verse is, agape. Of all the different words for love used throughout the Bible, agape is used to indicate the highest form of love. Often used to indicate the love God has for us or we have for God. It is a universal, unconditional love that is there regardless of circumstances.

In the King James version, this is translated as ‘charity’ which while we use that word typically as “benevolence for the poor”, it’s older usages from which it originated was defined more like “Christian love of one’s fellows.”

So what is being said here in this verse? What Paul was trying to tell his readers, is everything should be done in love to God. By doing these in love, we should be like Christ. Being like Christ should be the foundation for every decision we make and every action we take.

Be on Guard

As Christians we have a powerful enemy. One that tempts and attacks continuously, trying to thwart our work for God. So in that we should;

Watch against Evil: We need to watch for the evil in this world, but do so in the context of love. When we have the love of God in us and that love comes out from us, evil becomes easier to spot. With that context, we can judge our actions and the actions of others in that light. Does that activity we are about to take glorify God and show the love of Christ to those that might witness our actions? If not, be on guard. Do the words we speak to our spouse share the same love that God shares to us? If not, be on guard against those words.

That meaning of being on guard has us looking for negatives. But we should also be looking for the positives, for example, we should be on guard looking for opportunities to do good. James 2:14-26 tells us that faith without action is dead;

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:17

We should be on guard to see those opportunities that God puts in front of us every day to do good. It could be something big and in the open like being on mission over seas. It could be as small as a smile to a stranger. In fact, I believe those little things can have a big impact for God’s kingdom and they are simple easy things to do. But we need to be on guard to seize the opportunities we are given.

Stand Firm in the Faith

We need to stand firm in the faith that was given to us by the Word of God.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

We need to persevere in the faith, for if we don’t than this is an evidence that we never had the saving faith in the first place. Judas Iscariot, for example, eventually showed that he was not a true believer.

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. -Hebrews 3:14

A hallmark of a Christian saving faith, is continuing till the end. Many will hate Christians, they will criticize you, they will mock you, they may even try to harm or kill you…but the perseverance in persecution will be a sure sign of salvation.

Remembering the promises of God’s love will help us keep on. God’s love will never fail us and when we remember that, keeping our faith becomes so much easier. And when we stand firm in faith, showing the love of God to others, even those that oppose us, becomes natural.

Be men of courage

Men our judged by many things these days. Physical strength, money and possessions, their successes and status. But John MacArthur says it well in his sermon, How to Be a Man of Courage;

There is a trait that I think distinguishes a man most distinctively, the solitary foundation of manhood. And I want to sum it up in one word, it’s the word fortitude….Now I know that’s not an often used word today and that’s why I picked it. It’s not one that has a lot of baggage. It’s one that may come to you sort of from out of left field and you’re wondering what it means. Let me tell you what it means. Webster’s dictionary says, “Fortitude is that strength or firmness of mind, courage of soul which enables a person to encounter danger with coolness, to bear pain or adversity without murmuring, depression or despondency.” And then we could sum that up by saying, “Fortitude is courage built on strength of soul.” Fortitude is a good word because it combines courage with strength but it also has a third component and that is conviction. Fortitude is the combination of those three things: conviction, courage and strength.

We are to have courage in our faith, we are to be strong in our faith and we are to be sure of our faith. But remember this is all to be done in love. The love is a critical part. There are many strong and courageous people that believe strongly in something, but without the love, they can just become tyrants. We as Christan’s are called to have fortitude, but to be loving as well.

John again sums this is up very well;

They know that they must have the truth, they must have unwavering conviction about the truth, they must have the courage to stand for those convictions and the strength to withstand the assault. That’s what defines a man. A man is known by his character, by his fortitude.

 

Be Strong

With all these others, we are to be strong. We should put all our energy which God has provided in maintaining the truth. When we exercise this faith, we become spiritually stronger. When I physically exercise, I become physically stronger. It is no different when exercise our faith. When we do so, our faith become stronger and we are able to resist the enemy even more effectively.

The word used for be strong here krataióō is which is translated to be strengthened in a passive voice. The other actions talks about previously in the verse are things we need to do, things we can take action on. This call to be strong is a willingness to all God to strengthen us. Something God does to us and for us, not something we can do for ourselves. The thing we must do is submit ourselves to Him so He can make us strong in the faith. The more we submit, the stronger God can make us. When we become strong in the faith, we are able to do the others much more effectively.

In Love

So all these things Paul is admonishing us to do and we do them in love like Christ loved, they will draw us closer to Christ giving us the strength and courage to endure to the end and resist the enemy and allows us to be strong in the faith so that others can see the love of Christ in us.

The love is the key part to all of these. Christ loved us even though we are sinners and gave us a pathway to God that we could never follow on our own. Through Christ we can be made strong and fearless. Through Christ we can be sure we can persevere until the end. Though Christ we can be on guard against the enemy and be watchful of those opportunities that God gives us to serve. And through Christ we can share the love that he has shared with us.

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Am I an Exceptional Christian?

gummibarchen-fruit-gums-bear-sweetness-54633The title of this blog is Exceptional Christian, but what do I really mean by that?  Does it mean I’m a great Christian?  Nope not at all!  I’m far from it in fact.  I need a savior, if I was truly great I wouldn’t need one (nor would I be a Christian I suppose).

In that sense, will I ever become one?  Very unlikely.  I find that for every step forward I take, it seems I’ve taken a step or two backwards.  I learn and work on one aspect of my faith, only to falter in another.  Thankfully, I have a God that forgives and sent me a savior to lift me up.

So why the name Exceptional Christian?  Well I think we are looking at the word exceptional wrong.  My first inclination when I hear the word exceptional is just one of the definitions of the word.

Exceptional:  unusually good; outstanding

If we use that definition, then my answers above hold true.  But looking further at the definitions of the word I find this:

Exceptional: unusual; not typical.

I think this definition holds more to what my vision for this blog and for my Christian life is.  One that exemplifies what I mean by the title of Exceptional Christian.

We live in exceptional times.  Here in 2016, we see people around the world slaughtered almost daily, not because of some political war between nations,  no it’s really just a hatred of people who are not like them.  The innocents are killed, just to spread fear.  Just the other day, I read about a video that surfaced showing terrorists beheading a 12 year old boy.

Here in the US, we struggle with an economy that is less than exceptional (using the first definition).  People are out of work or working at jobs below their qualifications.   People live off of handouts because it’s easier to do so than to fight the day to day struggle of working and living paycheck to paycheck (and in some cases they do better with the handouts than they would working).

See every day we live in a world that is less that exceptional (1st definition), so we as Christians should strive to be exceptional (2nd definition).   Lets not be typical Christians (and by no means am I meaning to judge anyone as their relationship between God and themselves is known to God, not to me.)   So how can we do that?

Well first, remember we serve an exceptional God (using the 1st definition), he is able to use our weaknesses and failures for good.  He can take our flaws and use them for His glory.  Despite ourselves and our flaws we are exceptional Christians because we live for him.

Secondly, I think we can be more than typical Christians by letting people know we are and to then live that life out.  No greater harm is done to non-believers and their view of Christianity than that done by Christians  themselves.  I’m a believer that is happy to give a reason for my faith and my belief in Christ and will shout it from the roof tops, but I’m not going to beat you over the head with it.  You’re gonna know where I stand.  Too many times, we see those that expose to be Christians while they are around other Christians or in church, but once they leave that environment, no one would know.  One of the worse things someone could say to me is “I didn’t know you were a Christian.”

Thirdly, what can we do to change the world for Christ?   But before we can change the world, are we in tune with God and his wishes?  God places opportunities in our paths every day to live our lives for him.  Are we ready and willing to obey?  Sometimes they aren’t easy things to do, it will take us out of our comfort zones.  But are we willing to obey if we get that gentle nudge from  God?  It may not be big things either.  I learned a while back, while searching for my purpose with God, that it’s often the little things that God uses for his Glory.  The smile you can give someone in need.  The small gesture of kindness to a passing stranger.  A call to a family member out of the blue, perhaps when they are feeling lonely unbeknownst to you.  It’s those little things that God often uses to make a huge impact in the world.

Are we open to God all day, every day?  Or is that just for the weekends?  God doesn’t exist just on Sundays, it’s a 7 day a week, 24 hour a day thing.   God isn’t confined to the church building.  God should come to work with us, to play with us, out with the friends with us.  Can we live for God always, everyday and everywhere?

See it’s those kinds of things that make a difference in the world, and it’s that version of Exceptional that I mean by the title of this blog.   Lets not be typical, ordinary Christians, let’s be exceptional!

God Gives Us Enough Time

How many times have I said “I don’t have enough time”? I deliberately keep myself busy, because I hate to sit idle. This quote from Professor Bruce Hindmarsh struck me as I thought about being busy;

Busyness is moral laziness [because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people]. . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.

It got me thinking about why I’m so busy, is it out of a sense of self-importance? Or perhaps an unconscious reason to be inattentive to others? I had to stop to think about what this is saying and my own experiences.

Think back to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Jesus came to a village and was welcomed into the home of Martha and her sister Mary. Having someone like Jesus in your home was a big deal and Martha fell compelled to be busy preparing the meal she was preparing for everyone. Mary on the other hand sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. Martha was indignant and asked Jesus to tell Mary to come help Martha as it wasn’t fair that she was doing all the work herself. Jesus replied with something very important;

“My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42

Martha may have been felt the need to please everyone by preparing a large meal or she may have been using her busyness to show Jesus how essential she was. Do I keep busy to let everyone know how “needed” I am?

Or do I use busyness to avoid making harder, more costly choices? Do we use our busyness to mask our underlying laziness? Are we the “Lazy Busy” as Tony Reinke states in his article?

The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort.

Busyness can be an escape. An overflowing schedule can become a shield protecting us from the unpredictable, inconvenient, time-consuming needs of other people. Are we willing to dismiss the needs of those that need help, because we are “too busy”?

God always provides exactly enough time to do He has called us to do. He has given us the time, but are we good stewards of that time? Remember the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25;

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Matthew 25:14-30

God has given us the time to do what he has called us. Do we invest that time, use it in the moment he has given it to us and reap the return? Or do we squander that time by being to busy to invest it in God’s kingdom? If God fills our plate full of things to do for his sake, we need to remain faithful to our callings even if that means we need to refrain from doing other things. But God always gives us enough time.

He presents us with opportunities every day if we only take the time to notice them and act on them. Can we be attentive to the needs of others even if it means we take time away from our “busy” schedules? Can we act upon those that need help, even if it causes us discomfort. That’s a challenge I know won’t be easy to faithfully carry out. It is going to force me to slow down and pay attention. To not be so busy or use my busyness as an excuse. Not an easy challenge to undertake.

Egg Shells in the Cake Batter

My youngest son loves to help my wife cook. From his youngest days, he would ask to help. I can remember my wife patiently helping him along as he delighted in helping in some small way. One day, while my wife is making a cake, my son comes up and wants to cracks the eggs. Despite knowing the potential for a mess, my wife delights in letting him help her. Needless to say, taking a bite into the cake after it was finished, revealed an egg shell that was missed.

My wife didn’t need my son to help her make the cake. She delighted in him, just him wanting to help. To show an interest in what she is doing. Not for the work that was done, but for the heart that they had to do it all along. Now that he has expressed interest and willingness to help, we have encouraged him in this and have given him something that he enjoys doing.

That’s the way that God views us doing work in His kingdom. He doesn’t need us to do anymore than my wife needed my son’s help. But God delights in us helping Him, despite the mess we may leave behind, or the imperfect result of our work. And when we do it with the heart like my son had with my wife, God delights in us doing this work and will give us a passion for more. When we understand this, we can may just begin to understand the reason for the passions that God has give us in this life. We can use those passions to further His kingdom, not so we can accomplish things (because remember, He doesn’t need us to help), but so he can delight in us and our willingness to help.

We can also begin to fully understand humility. We don’t do things for God’s kingdom because he needs us to, but because it builds us up…it adds to us. Read what Craig Gross has to say in his book Go Small,

Here’s another aspect of humility we can draw from Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark: an understanding that our acts of service are all about Him and have nothing to do with us. What do I mean? I mean simply: God doesn’t need your ministry idea.

His plans aren’t going to come crumbling down if you don’t do your thing.

God’s kingdom is not contingent on you. Or me. Or any of us.

Does he use our works? Absolutely.

Does God want us to partner with Him in bringing about His plans and purposes for this world and all the individual people in it? You better believe it.

Does Jesus need you to do your part? No way.

Everything we do for God in our ministry is something that God could’ve done with us. He doesn’t need us… We need him!

My wife allowing my son to help her, helped build his passion and make him a better young man, she didn’t need him, in fact he needed her.

Thankfully God allows us to help Him in his work. God has given us passions and gifts. Start using them for Him, not so we can do something, but so He can delight in us!

Act Like Men

In my last post I shared a recent sermon on being a Gift to woman. The sermon if from a series our church is doing called, “Last Man Standing”. I woke up this morning at 4am, unable to sleep and came down and began thinking about the next post I wanted to write. I went back and began watching the first sermon in the series, entitled Men or Boys. Follow the link and watch if you desire, it really is good.  This post feeds off of that sermon.

This sermon was one that has moved me greatly, perhaps more than most. It reminds us that we were made men by God, and we should act like it. Now this may go against what our common culture teaches us today. Today, we don’t want boys to act like boys and we don’t like it when men act like men. But what does “acting like men” really mean?

In Genesis 1:27, we read;

So God created people in His own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.

God created us to reflect his image in us. He created men to be fully men, to show the masculinity of God, to provide the protection of God, to have the strength of God, the initiative of God. To reflect the God that is always watching, always on guard. We are meant to reflect that half of God. When some part of that is missing in us, we are missing the full likeness of God. We are missing what God intended us to be. If we don’t have an example of that in our lives, we were not shown the full likeness of God.

I am lucky and have a father that was a great example to me. He was strong and hard working, yet was always present in our lives and loved us unconditionally. Even when I was being disciplined, or I had disappointed him, I knew he still loved me. He was quiet yet you always knew that with him there, we were protected. So not only can I look to Jesus, but my earthly father showed me what it was like to be a man.

Women, you were created to reflect the other half of God. The compassion, the nurture, the love of God. If we don’t have the mother figure in our lives or one that was absent, we miss that half of God.

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth when he wrote these words. And note that he was speaking to the entire church.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.  -1 Corinthians 16:13

When he was saying be men of courage, he was telling us…to act like men. And not just us flawed men, but to act like the true man. As the title of the sermon series says, The Last Man Standing. Jesus, was the only man that lived the way a man is meant to live. We need to look towards Jesus whom reflected the glory and image of God.

We men are called to have the strength and courage of God to call it how it is. To have the initiative of God to speak out when we see sin. To have the truth of God in us to know what is not OK. We are called to be on guard and protect those we love. We as men need to stand up and be leaders.

What happens when we don’t? Well lets look back to Adam and Eve.

So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it too. -Genesis 3:6

Eve tends to get the bad reputation for being tempted and eating of the fruit. But Adam was with her! He was not acting like a man and keeping guard. He did not lead like God intended him to.

So men, be on your guard. Watch and pray for those in your life. Be present in their lives. Don’t just coast when you’re at home, with your family. Let them see you pray and make them a priority in your life.

Men, stand firm in the faith and be strong. Men we were made to fight. When we see the enemy coming at our family or at ourselves, use the weapons that God has given us and fight. Jesus taught us how to fight the enemy. But be tethered to God. Weapons are useless if we aren’t tethered to the one who gives us power.

Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” -John 19:10-11

Through the victory that Jesus had on the cross, he disarmed the enemy. Men, stand firm and look to the last man standing when the enemy comes your way.

Do everything in love. Let them see you live it out. People don’t care what we say, but what we do. Love them in the small, boring moments that no one but they will see. I’ve seen those who like to help those who have less, who need assistance. But it is not done from love, it is done selfishly to be sure that everyone sees how great they are. It is done to show others how generous THEY are, not to glorify God. They speak compassionately and actually do some kind things, but their actions towards those they love, their family and friends tell otherwise. I’ve stated before in another post, our lives may be the only Bible some people read.

I will end this post, the same way our sermon ended. With a short clip from the movie Courageous.

This applies to me as my heart is willing and courageous.

In my home, the decision has already been made.
You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will.
You don’t have to ask who will teach my children to follow Christ, because I will.
Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will.
Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will.
Who will pray for and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father. I will.

I accept this responsibility, and it is my privilege to embrace it.
I want the favor of God and his blessing on my home.

It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say, “I will. I will. I will.”

Increase, Don’t Decrease

…Increase in number there; do not decrease. – Jeremiah 29:6

jeremiahThis section of the 6th verse of chapter 29 of the book of Jeremiah, jumped out at me at our church service this weekend. It was part of a larger portion of Jeremiah that we were looking at this week. In fact, the sermon was a great service itself which spoke to me deeply in so many ways. Something I’m putting together for a later post. But this section jumped out at me as it seemed like almost on offhand comment in the section of scripture and could easily be overlooked.

For context, this is part of a letter that Jeremiah sent to the Jews exiled in Babylon. He talks about settling down and basically making the most of their current situation. Not to dream of the “good old days”, but to live in the reality of your day and make the most of what God has given you. The section ends concludes (or at least the section we covered) with probably one of the more famous verses in the bible. Jeremiah 29:11;

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

A great promise to hold onto when you are going through your darkest moments, but this is not the topic for today. Today I want to think about verse 6, “…Increase in number there; do not decrease.”

Jeremiah up to this point was telling the exiled people, don’t be discouraged. Build houses and settle down, plant gardens, get married and have children. Enter into the local economy and contribute. Make an investment of yourself and your family in Babylon. Then the verse we are focused on, “…Increase in number there; do not decrease.”

I wasn’t sure what to think of that when I first heard it, but after thinking upon it (and looking some things up as well), I’m convinced that God is telling them, increase in number and be God’s presence in the city which they had been exiled to and the city will be blessed because of their presence.

If we jump back to chapter 5 of Jeremiah, we see God saying,

“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the Lord. “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one person who is just and honest, I will not destroy the city.” -Jeremiah 5:1

God says, that the presence of even one godly person in the city will save it. As long as there are godly people in a city, it will never be captured by Satan. Although the presence of evil and the unjust can seem overwhelming, the presence of God’s people will keep the city from falling to evil.

You’ll notice that Jeremiah never says, “Go out and preach God’s word. Knock on your neighbors doors and tell them they are condemned without Christ”…no he says,

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. -Jeremiah 29:5-6

Just go out and live consistent, quiet, committed faith driven lives. This provides an example of God’s fruits as well as a moderating presence. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for evangelism or a more proactive approach, but as I stated in my post back in July entitled, Citizens of Heaven,

The only Bible that the unsaved are bothering to read, is the bible that is characterized by our lives. If our unsaved friends and neighbors do not see Jesus Christ in us, they may never see Him at all.

Most people know I’m a Christian, I’m not ashamed or afraid to tell anyone. Those I’ve never had that conversation with, see my posts here reposted on Facebook and Twitter, so they know where I’m coming from. If they read my words, but do not see them reflected in my life, then I’m not being a good representative of Christ. I’m not perfect, we never will reach the full glory of God, but our hope is that through our lives, despite our shortcomings and failings, through our presence and our works in our local community, we can make it a better place. And we do these things not make ourselves look better, but to share God through our lives.

Here are some hard words from the books of James:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:22-27

By the way a Christian lives, he testifies for or against Christ. If Christians are living out the Christian life before the world, they become a transforming presence. Their lives become a reminder to the quality of life that can be lived if one chooses to live in communion with God.

I’m honestly not quite sure how to end this post, as I could go on and on about this, but let’s suffice it to say, that simple statement, “Increase, don’t decrease” led me down a path of learning that I’d not anticipated and has got me reflecting on life and how I live it in my community in ways that I was not expecting.  I can truly be a positive impact, just by living my life according to how Christ wants me to.

Citizens of Heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…  -Philippians 3:20

As Christians, we hold dual citizenship, that of our home country here in the physically world, but ultimately we are citizens of Heaven.  Our highest allegiance is to Heaven where we await our savior to return.  One of the biggest struggles I face is not to become comfortable, to settle down in this world, in my home in the United States.  To remember that we are only temporarily living in this world.  We are to be in this world, not of this world.  But as citizens of of God’s kingdom, living here on earth how should we act?

One thing that is important and is consistently on my mind (though I’m as imperfect as they come in this), is to set ourselves as a pattern for how a Christian citizen is supposed to live.  We are to be human Bibles.  In a sermon I heard recently, the pastor said “There are tons of Bibles out there in many different translations, but the only Bible that the unsaved are bothering to read, is the bible that is characterized by our lives.  If our unsaved friends do not see Jesus Christ in us, they may never see Him at all.”

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. – Philippians 3:18-19

That is how the ungodly live….we are not to live like that.  We are to live as citizens of Heaven.

 

If others were to imitate our Christian life what would happen?  Would we want others to strive more like us?  The answer for myself is not the one I want it to be.  But if our goal as citizens of Heaven  is serving God and his kingdom, than we can be the model Christian citizens that Paul is talking about.  Something to work towards.