Friday, 5 October 2018

How a Christian should Behave!

I am busy reading through Romans and loving all the nuggets of truth and guidance given by Paul.  Life can be very hard to navigate sometimes but God guides us through His word.

I came upon this whole section in Romans that really popped for me so I decided to post it as a list of how we, as Christians, should behave.  After all, in my bible that was the heading 😊

Romans 12 vs 9 - 21

BEHAVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN

(9) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

(14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (16) Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

(17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (20) Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

(21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Quite the "to be" and "to do" list right there!


Let me simplify it in a list:
  • Let love be without hypocrisy - be genuine in your affection for someone
  • Abhor what is evil - if you don't it won't be long and you will find it acceptable
  • Cling to what is good - know the truth and hang on to it!
  • Be kindly affectionate to one another - be kind and accepting of all people
  • In honor give preference to one another - put others first (practice in the traffic 😉)
  • Be diligent - thorough, not half-hearted
  • Fervent in spirit - giving 100%
  • Serve the Lord - wholeheartedly
  • Rejoice in hope - lifts the spirit and changes your attitude
  • Patient in tribulation - ouch! But yes, God deals with the heart in the tough stuff
  • Pray always - when things are bad, and when things are good!
  • Give to believers, be hospitable - share of your home and heart
  • Bless those who hurt you - yeah, tough one, but God has His reasons for this, and it is us who benefits from His wisdom to do things His way.
  • Rejoice with those rejoicing.  I think this speaks to being happy for others who have a reason to rejoice, even when you don't
  • Weep with those weeping - sympathy, empathy, a little understanding?  
  • Be of the same mind towards one another, treat everyone equally respectfully
  • Don't set your mind on higher things, but remain humble - there is wisdom in humility
  • Do not be wise in your own eyes - pride comes before a fall!
  • Repay no one evil for evil - leave vengeance to the Lord
  • Have regard for good things in the sight of all men - be the same in private and in public?
  • Live at peace in as much as you are able - do whatever it is you can do for peace
  • Do not avenge yourself - again, this is God's forte, He knows how best to avenge you
  • Heaping coals - do the unexpected good, it steals the wind out of their sails, but as a good friend of mine pointed out, do it with the right attitude! 😋
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good - It goes to the whole take the wind out of their sails thing.  If you do an unexpected good to someone who deserves or expects something negative, you are planting seeds of love and good, and this overcomes evil!

Quite a list to attain to.  For me, I need to polish up on ALL of the above.  It is a daily struggle challenge and one that the Lord knows we are incapable of achieving without His help.

I hope you feel challenged to extend a kindness today where you might not have.  Or, repay an evil with good.  Or treat someone who expects to be fobbed off, with dignity and grace.  
I know I am...

God's word always brings life.

God bless
Tracy


 My ABIDE scripture for today is:
Heb 4 vs 12:  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 8

Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James 2 vs 1 - 7: (1) My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (2) For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, (3) and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” (4) have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

(5) Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? (7) Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

This portion of scripture for me, is not only about favouring people because of who you think they are, or what their value is to you by how they present themselves.  It is also about how we treat people because of what we think they can do for us.

God says everyone is of equal value to Him, and thus they should be to us.  James points out that often times, the people we treat more favourably are the very ones who ultimately do us the most harm.  James says we make ourselves judge over others when we treat people unequally.

This is not to say that one treats people differently in terms of who they are in our lives.  EH points out that one would treat their spouse differently from a peer at work, or your children differently from someone on the bus.  The point is that we should respect everyone as a creation of God, and knowing their value to God, honour them with dignity and be gracious towards all.


EH also makes the point about good manners being basic Christian principles.  For example, a man opening a door for a woman.  Why not open the door regardless of who the person is?  Give up your seat for the elderly.  Why not give up your seat regardless of who the person is?  It is something to think about.  As a woman, I appreciate chivalry, but that does not excuse me from doing a kindness to and for others.  Something to mull on and seek opportunities to practice 😊.  Kindness is never ever a bad thing.

When reading Matthew Henry notes it occurs to me he makes the point that James is speaking to Christians about how they treat other Christians.

Matthew Henry Notes:
  • Jesus teaches us not to respect Christians for anything so much as their relation and conformity to Christ.  You who profess to believe the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the poorest Christian shall partake or equally with the rich, and to which all worldly glory is but vanity, you should not make men's outward and worldly advantages the measure of your respect.  In professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should not show respect to men, so as to cloud or lessen the glory of our glorious Lord:  however any may think of it, this is certainly a very heinous sin. 
  • Consider how commonly riches are the incentives of vice and mischief, or blasphemy and persecution: consider how many calamities you yourselves sustain, and how great reproaches are thrown upon your religion and your God by men of wealth, and power, and worldly greatness; and this will make your sin appear exceedingly sinful and foolish, in setting up that which tends to pull you down, and to destroy all that you are building up, and to dishonour that worth name by which you are called.  
  • The name of Christ is a worthy name;  it reflects honour, and gives worth to those who wear it.


Let us look to ways to treat all of the faith as we would want them to treat us, with respect and honour as any who bear the name "Christian".  And let us find ways to display kindness to everyone, as every person is a creation of Christ and thus a potential child of Christ.

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture for today is:
Galatians 3 vs 28:  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.





Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5
James - Digging Deeper 6
James - Digging Deeper 7

James - Digging Deeper 9 coming soon 😊

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 7


Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James 1 vs 22 – 27:  22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone [a]among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James says that if we just read the word, and not act on it, we will essentially forget it.  It will not be ingrained in us.  Like a man who looks at his reflection, and walks away forgetting what he looked like.  I think of it as, “acting on the word, experiencing the results thereof, will cement it into us, become part of us, and thus the word will change us”.  And James says, therein, the doing of the word, we will be blessed in what we do.

A valid point to consider as per EH is ‘ “Now that we have established that our knowledge calls us to action, we must pass our actions through this acid test:  “Do my words and actions reflect the priorities of Christ?”  This is imperative to finding out whether or not our religion is “pure and undefiled”. ‘  Does what we do bring attention to Christ, or attention to ourselves?


When we truly focus on the word, read it, absorb it, and then act on it, we are internalizing it and it becomes part of who we are and we pour out our lives for others, in the name of Jesus.  You know how it is with experience? Experience teaches right?!

Matthew Henry Notes
With regards to Vs 22:  True religion teaches us to do everything as in the presence of God;  and to seek His favour, and study to please Him in all our actions.

I think this is a very profound statement that we do whatever it is we do, as if in the presence of God.  Ultimately, God sees everything, but we don’t always behave as we might were we aware of the fact that God is present.  I know there are many times I may speak or act differently if I realized that Jesus was in the room with me every moment of every day. 

That wraps up Chapter 1 😊

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture for today:
Psalm 119 vs 9:  How can a man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.






Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5
James - Digging Deeper 6

James - Digging Deeper 8 coming soon 😊

Sunday, 2 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 6

Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James Study – James 1 vs 19 – 21
(19) “Understand [this], my beloved brethren.  Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.  (2) For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].  (3) So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.”  AMP

Meekness can be described as:
·         A deep understanding that God is on our side – Justin Kendrick
·         Power under control
·         Meekness is not weakness

Three behaviours that are near impossible without Jesus:
1                     Quick to hear
2                     Slow to speak
3                     Slow to anger



1                     Quick to Hear
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply!
If we are not listening then more often than not we are talking, about ourselves, others, our knowledge, me me me me me…  Listening implies trying to understand what it is that the person you are listening to is saying.  What is their intent?  What is their need?  How can I respond selflessly?  How can I respond in love?
Quick to listen is also necessary if we want to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.

2              Slow to Speak speaks to:
·         Don’t gossip
·         Don’t give unwanted or unasked for advice
·         Don’t share all your varied knowledge on a subject
Our ability to be slow to speak talks into our self-centredness!

3              Slow to Anger
Being angry seldom does anyone any good, and most times does not lead to the righteousness of God.  It hardly ever looks good on a person either!  And as EH points out, it often stems from something else, maybe fear, maybe rejection, maybe unresolved emotions…

Litmus test for righteous anger:  Next time you are angry, are your emotions in subjection to God or are you using “righteousness” as a pretext to scorch someone? 
Prov 16 vs 32:  Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Prov 14 vs 29:  A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Prov 15 vs 1:  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Psalm 86 vs 15:  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

All these skills are essential for our growth and our ability to share the gospel. 
All these skills are expressed in humility and selflessness.  If we focused on “self” we cannot listen to hear, keep quiet, or contain our anger.
All these skills demonstrate a growing meekness, a trust in knowing God is for us.

Implanted and Engrafted
Our hearts need to be rich soil to receive God’s word, a willingness to hear Him.  Thanksgiving, gratitude, humility.  None of these things work well without the ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  These things blind us to the richness that God offers us and wants to plant deep in our hearts.
In these few verses James is leading us to get rid of sin and selfishness and replace these with God’s word and in so doing we are renewing our minds to His will.
Rom 12 vs 2:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Matthew Henry
·         For thus the connection stands – an angry and hasty spirit is soon provoked to ill things by afflictions, and errors and ill opinions become prevalent through the workings of our own vile and vain affections, but the renewing grace of God and the word of the gospel teach us to subdue these – quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
·         It is our duty rather to hear God’s word, and apply our minds to understand it, than to speak according to our own fancies or the opinions of men, and to run into heat and passion thereupon. 
·         In hearing the word of God we are to receive it (graft it in) and assent to the truth of it, to receive it with meekness, hear in order to “do”.  (To hear and hear well is useless without applying it)

As I go through this study I am really loving the Matthew Henry Commentary.  He definitely brings a practical slant on the word that I find refreshing.

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture this week is:
James 1 vs 19:  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.






Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5

James - Digging Deeper 7 coming soon 😊

Friday, 3 August 2018

Flourish, where God has Planted you!

I am South African, and truly, of late, I have been very negative about being, well... South African!  Everything around us seems to be a struggle.  There is so much ugliness under the surface and so much corruption and there are those few outspoken "trouble-makers" who strive to promote hate instead of peace.

This country, South Africa, has SO MUCH potential.  The people in general want to get on with one another, grow together, find a way forward while embracing all our differences.  But those "trouble-makers" voices drown out all reason and objectivity, and encourage those easily influenced, to focus on the negative and harmful.

These very same "trouble-makers" in my opinion, seek only to make only their lives wealthy and opulent.  Their concern is not for those they influence.  But, I am no politician (thank the Lord).  I however have been questioning my existence here, and that of my family.

Do I really want to be here?
Is there really any hope?
History in those countries around us is not very encouraging...
Why bother?
Shouldn't we just go where there are more like-minded people?
Could we, even if we wanted to?
Will things ever change?

And the questions just go on and on, and buzz around my head, and I have of late spoken very negatively about my country and its people.  I have felt so anxious. 

So, in my anxiety, I went to the Word.  I decided to have a quiet time at a time I would ordinarily not, seeking peace and answers to my anxiety. 

My next chapter to read was Jeremiah 29.  It is a letter from Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon.

Jer 29 vs 5 - 7: (5) Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. (6) Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. (7) And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. 

I immediately felt the Lord had answered my anxiety about my country, about my city, about my home, and my part to play in it.


I felt the Lord say the following to me:

  • Build your lives, and commit to them
  • Plant gardens and establish yourself where you live
  • Increase in your lives, family, friends, business
  • Seek the peace of your city
  • Pray to the Lord for the peace of your city
  • For, the peace of your city will be your peace!

Is that not awesome?!  I feel as though God has spoken into all my fears and removed them by saying, "Flourish where I have planted you!"

I have wasted many anxious moments and words on being negative and losing hope.  Feeling at a loss and wanting to abandon ship so to speak.  But I feel God is calling me on this and saying, "No, I've got this, just flourish and trust the rest to Me!"

From now on, I choose to speak positively about South Africa, I choose to have hope in my country and its people, and in the God who placed us all here.  I will pray for Cape Town with fervor and for South Africa and its leaders as well. 

I hope this resonates with someone out there who feels hopeless in their city!  Don't give up hope!  God is aware of everything going on, and He is aware of you and your place in it!

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture for this post is:
Jeremiah 29 vs 11:  For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

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