Growth by Faithful Sharing

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This is an iron on picture created years ago by a Sunday School Student…teaching Sunday School is just one of many ways to share your faith

Philemon 6 Share your faith with others, so you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Sharing your faith with others will help you to understand God better.  Sharing your faith, is an act of faith because you open yourself up as Jesus did for rejection and persecution by others, however, you also open yourself up for excellent fellowship, and a wonderful gift from God of both growing in your faith, and seeing others grow and come to Christ.  You also learn from experience how great it is to be a Christian and grow closer to God.  Also even when you are being rejected and persecuted, you will have peace in your heart and in your attitude so that you are a living example and will make your persecutors be ashamed. Reference (Titus 2:6-8)

Read the story of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)

In this story Philip is told to take a certain road by an angel of God, then sees a man reading Isaiah, but without understanding.  Philip takes this opportunity which God has given him to share his faith.  Thus is rewarded by the knowledge that he had part in this man’s conversion, and furthering the Ethiopian Eunuch’s understanding of God. 

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God Strengthens You

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Baptistry in St. John’s Basilica Ephesus Turkey was built in the 6th century A.D. in the time of Emperor Justinian

2 Timothy 3:12-17 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Note:  Job 1:1, and Genesis 6:9, both give us a definition of the word righteous or upright, as a man (or woman) who fears (respects) God, and shuns (turns away from) evil.

Read Acts 6:1-15, Acts 7:51-60 (Note that during Acts 7 Stephen recounts the old testament relationship of the jews to God up until Acts 7: 51 where Stephen berates them on God’s behalf for being stiff-necked, At this point the members of the Sanhedrin get pretty upset and attack Stephen, even though this was the Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen.  In Stephen’s speech he reminds the jews how powerful and great God is and that God created everything, and has worked on the relationship with the jews all along, but that they have let him down repeatedly. Stephen was strengthened and uplifted to show God’s glory and endure persecution with the grace of God evident to all who witnessed his persecution and death.  This is a great example of God strengthening someone through a great personal trial, and harsh experience.

There are many people still being persecuted in this world for their Christianity, on one level or another….even some unto their death.  There is a group called Open Doors if you have further interest in finding out more about this issue. 

Don’t Rely on Earthly Wealth

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The view from the Bridge of Sorrows in Venice Italy.  This was the last view a condemned prisoner would see as they walked across the bridge from the Doge’s Palace to the Prison.

1 Timothy 6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.  Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers.  Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.   These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.  If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who along is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you.

**Don’t rely on earthly wealth, you came into the world with nothing, and you leave it with nothing ….(you can’t take it with you!)

Rich people with worldly wealth are easier to tempt than those who have nothing, because they have more resources they are tempted to rely on their wealth instead of God.  (This is one reason why in the Beatitudes – Matthew 5 – in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stated that the  “poor are blessed” – they have no resources and cannot rely on anything else, but God thru prayer to solve their problems.)  Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and can cause you to wander from faith in God.  Look at David, when he was a poor shepherd boy with only a sling shot and stones, he was willing to trust in God to make his stones fly true and kill the evil Goliath for God’s glory so that the world would know that He is Lord of All.  And yet, once David was King and set eyes on Bathsheba, he felt that as King there was no reason he shouldn’t have another man’s wife as his wife.  That after all he, David, was the King.  He was so far from God, and so full of himself and his own power, that he didn’t even think twice about taking advantage of Bathsheba. 

Note:  It is the LOVE of Money that is the sin…NOT the HAVING of Money.

Read Matthew 19:16-30  The story of the rich young man.

Living by Faith

IMG_49482 Cor. 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight. (NIV)

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will succeed.

**We are to live by what God says, and believe his word entirely.  When we don’t understand something we should take it to him in prayer.  Sometimes  what is being seen by our eyes can be misunderstood.  If you live by faith, then God will open your eyes and help you understand what you are seeing or experiencing from his point of view.

Read  the story of David and Goliath: 1 Samuel 17.  Pay careful attention to  the verses telling of David’s conversation with Goliath, and his conversation with Saul before meeting Goliath.

1Sam. 17:33-37 (Saul and David), and 1Sam. 17: 42-51 (Goliath and David).  Remember that Goliath was about 9’9″ tall, and that David was probably around 5-6 feet tall.  Though there is some evidence that he was similar in size to King Saul as Saul tried to lend him his own armor.  Also one of David’s brothers was noted to be quite tall, with the same parentage it is quite probably that David was a tall young man also, though we are not told for sure.  We are told that David becomes a “mighty man”.  Saul also tried to dissuade David from going up against Goliath because of his lack of fighting experience based on his youth.  David’s told Saul that he wouldn’t be able to walk in it as he wasn’t used to it.  We do know that by the time David decided to accept Goliath’s challenge he had already killed both bear and lion while watching his father’s flocks, and he gave God the credit for his ability to do that also. 

Upon meeting with Goliath we find that David boldly tells Goliath that he cannot go against the armies of God and get away with it.  That he would be killing him and cutting off his head so that the “world may know” that his God is mighty and God of the world.  David succeeded against the giant Goliath because his motives were to show the world God’s power.  He was showing the world that God was God so that more people would believe in God and give their lives over to the one true God.  God’s ultimate goal is to bring humanity back to him, and that has not changed from the before the time of David until now.  David stepped forward to live his faith, and to demonstrate to the world that he trusted that God was with him in all that he did…even when the obstacle was overwhelming to look upon.  Even when the obstacle in front of him seemed impossible to overcome.  If David lived strictly by looking at what was in front of him then he would never have gone up against Goliath, but since he lived by faith he succeeded.

Encouraging Christians

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Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful.  This is Leia, she is always cheerful!

2 Cor. 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. (NIV)

Proverbs 16:19  Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

**Don’t Lord it over others with your faith (i.e. you are not a better Christian that they because you’ve been one longer), but joyfully help them build their faith because both of you can stand firm by your faith.  Uplift and support others in their faith journey. 

Read 1 Samuel 3:1-20 The story of Eli the Priest and Samuel.  Eli supports Samuel’s growth in God and builds up Samuel’s faith, and understanding of God.  Despite the fact that Eli is no longer in good standing with God because he did not discipline of his own children.  God still trusted Eli to bring up Samuel to love and know God because God didn’t have any issues with Eli’s faith, just his failure as a parent.  Eli could have “lorded it over Samuel” by virtue of Samuel’s just being “only a boy”, and Eli being a priest of God. However,  Eli did his best to be obedient and encourage Samuel in his knowledge of God.  Eli was human and made the very human mistake of letting his sons go undisciplined and behave badly, and God laid out the consequences to Eli for this mistake. God still loved Eli regardless of his mistake. God would have forgiven Eli’s sons also, but they did not ask for forgiveness.  They were not sorry for their actions.  Eli’s faith helped to build Samuel’s faith.

If you think of what it would be like to run a three legged race with someone the basic of being successful is that you have to work together with the person you are tied up with.  This is a good example of how we are to work together and encourage each other as Christians, we are all part of one body.  The church members being the body, and Jesus Christ being the head. (Romans 12:4-5).  If we are at odds with each other, or under cutting another person’s self esteem, then we will not successfully be able to be the body of Christ.  We won’t be attractive in the eyes of others who may be watching to see “what the difference” is between being a Christian and not being a Christian.  Everyone could tell that Jesus was different, so if as a Christian we are supposed to be the body of Christ then people around us should be able to tell that we are different from non-Christians through how we treat each other, and how we treat non-Christians.  We should be loving, encouraging, and uplifting and willing to say that we are wrong to others whenever we are wrong and apologize when need be.  

Remember that the goal of Christianity is to (once you have accepted your own salvation and become Christian) help bring others to salvation also.  How you treat people on a day to day basis will have an impact on how fruitful your work for the Lord is able to be.  The Holy Spirit is in charge of actually doing the conversion of the person’s heart, but serving the Lord in relationship with others gives you the opportunity to partake in someone else’s salvation.  Though you may never actually see what your impact is in another person’s life to that end, sometimes God does allow you to know your impact.  In those cases it is a beautiful blessing to attend the celebration with God.

I would like to challenge you to make or buy some greeting cards with encouraging verses on them.  If you have children have them help you to make the cards this will show them how to put their faith in action.  I have included some encouraging verses here for you and to help you with the cards you may choose to send.  Send the cards to people you haven’t seen in a while, or you know that are going through a tough time and might need some encouragement.  Sometimes, just a card from someone can really make their day.  Especially if the person is feeling alone.

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.

Proverbs 16:20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Proverbs 22:9 He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he gives his bread to the poor.

Psalm 67:1 God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear.

Psalm 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Not the Wisdom of Men – What happened to Wise Solomon?

1621052871410821 Cor. 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (KJV)

**Don’t have faith in men’s wisdom, but do put your faith in God’s power. Or remember that man is a creation of God, and any intelligence we have is from God, but mankind with all it’s wisdom and learning knows only a small part of what God knows. Remember with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) and with man many things are not possible.

Read 1Kings 3:1-28  Solomon asks for wisdom, and God rewards him with more than he asked for, and Solomon uses the wisdom God gave him to settle a dispute between two women over a baby. 

Read 1Kings 11:1-13  Solomon turns away from God

King Solomon is generally considered one of the wisest men in history…whenever someone considers that the book of Proverbs is credited to him it is really hard to understand that a person who had the wisdom of God given to them would ever turn away from God.  Yet, he did.  So then the question becomes, why? Why did he turn away from God?  Here is a Proverb that even warns us from the very thing that took Solomon away from God….Proverbs 4:23  Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.

Solomon took to himself many foreign wives, and he allowed these women to bring into his house their own foreign “gods of wood and stone”.  I wonder exactly when Solomon wrote Proverbs 4:23…if we go by the number, then you would expect he wrote it early on in his reign, but if that is so then he certainly failed to follow his own advice, didn’t he?

Then we have Proverbs 4:24  Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.  According to the dictionary perversity is the deliberate desire to behave in a way that is obstinate or contrary to what is considered acceptable. Solomon certainly did this when he was dealing with God in his later years.  It made God angry when he went to chastise Solomon for his behavior and Solomon basically told God that he didn’t care.  Solomon should have been listening to God, and following what God wanted him to do, but instead he let his house go to ruin because he did not set the rules in his home to be in line with being obedient to God.  Instead of having one wife, as was the standard that God had set with Adam and Eve, he had hundreds of wives, and concubines.  None of whom could he adequately be a husband to.  Instead of sticking with God and having his entire household conform to the rules that God established Solomon seems to have adopted the attitude of, “whatever makes her happy, and keeps her out of my hair” as his norm.  He did not guide the rules his own house.  In essence, Solomon became a law unto himself, and stopped recognizing that God was God.  He forgot that he was supposed to “fear God and shun evil”.  He forgot to guard his heart and keep perversity and corruptness off of his lips.

It is very easy in our day to day lives to slip up and into behavior that is clearly not in line with God’s wishes for us.  It is easy because God is quiet in his relationship with us…he doesn’t yell at you to get your attention.  This is unlike the world which is always yelling and shouting about the things that it deems are important.  It is very easy, unless you are spending plenty of time in conversation with God, and in studying his word.  Face it, the more time you spend with God and in his word, the less time and attention the world gets from you, the less influence the world can have upon you.  We are directed to be living in the world, but not to be part of the world, but to be set apart from the world by our Godly behavior. Solomon’s big mistake was that he started spending more time in the world, and less time with God.  He failed to guard his heart!  The world will pull your heart away from God, and it is Satan is quite sneaky about how he goes about it.  He has had century’s to practice his technique.  When reading about Solomon’s reaction to God’s chastening it becomes obvious that Solomon was worn out by the world to the point where he just didn’t care anymore….even if it was God talking to him.

That is really very sad, but it is a pointed illustration to us, as Christians, that life in the world and embracing the world view will wear you out. The world view is that you should nurse your grudges, and not be forgiving, that you should be afraid to admit when you are wrong, and not expect forgiveness, that you are worthless if you are not well educated and earning a high wage…these are all heavy burdens on the soul.  Being with God, on the other hand, will renew you, and renew your faith. God views you as valuable no matter your education or earning potential.  You are valuable to God even when you are wrong, angry, unforgiving and hurt!  You are always valuable to God!  God expects you to be loving and forgiving and admit you are wrong whenever you are, and ask for forgiveness.  God wants you to let go of your grudges and he wants you to rely on him for the blessings in your life.  By admitting you are wrong, gaining God’s forgiveness and releasing the anger in your life by forgiving others, you can obtain a peace of heart that there is no other way to gain…This is God’s peace.  The peace which surpasses all understanding.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.