Christian Living · Encouragement · Prayer

Laboring in Prayer for One Another

Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV

One of the amazing blessings and privileges we have as bondservants of Christ is to pray for one another. As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the believers at the church in Colosse, he includes remarks pertaining to the active work of the believers in the church to support and encourage each other.

Epaphras is only mentioned twice in Scripture, once here in the letter to the Colossians and also in Paul’s letter to Philemon. In this passage Paul specifically speaks of Epaphras as “…always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” What an incredible statement of the Christ-like character and behavior of Epaphras. His steadfast commitment to prayer for other believers is commendable all on its own. But Paul states the specific nature of Epaphras’ prayer stating that he was burdened to pray for more than just the day-to-day things that fill another believers days, but that these fellow bondservants would “stand“, or be completely confident, unwavering in their faith, and in the knowledge and purpose of living a life completely yielded to the will of God.

What an incredible blessing that must have been to be a part of the church in Colosse and to know that there is a fellow believer praying fervently for them that they might be living a confident, faith-filled life in the perfect will of God.

Perhaps this is something each of us can consider and commit to making a part of our personal prayer lives in the days ahead. Perhaps we can commit to pray for our own churches, for the fellow believers in our life, and perhaps even for a church that we used to attend. Perhaps we can pray specifically that they “…may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

In Christ…Tim

Encouragement

The New “Normal”

For the past 10 weeks or so I have been recovering from ankle surgery and every day since I have been using a knee scooter to get around. I have unknowingly developed habits of how best to approach certain doorways, how to back in to my favorite chair so that getting up is easier, and when to use the brake so that I don’t lose control and tip over. There was no training course, no teacher, just day to day living that influenced my thinking and actions and that created habits that are now almost instinctive.

Perhaps that is part of the reason for why I woke up this morning thinking about habits and patterns in my life. I have a feeling it is more likely because I have just 2 days left at a job that I have worked at for more than 33 years. I have been thinking that the pattern of my days, the weeks, the months, is all about to change radically. Everything from the invisible push to “get ready for work” in the morning, to the sense that my “lunch break” is over and I need to “get back to work” will change. The ever present drive to perform and grow, to meet a standard of performance, doing all things as unto the Lord because that is who I serve.

They say that you can develop habits in just 30 days…I expect that there is some truth to that. I can only imagine what habits I have developed in more than 30 years of working at the same place. There are habits and patterns of thinking that have become instinctive through the years that I don’t think I have even noticed. How I approach relationships with people, time management, even how I deal with stress. All of them have, over time, perhaps become a bit too familiar and unconsciously have become my “normal”. Just because it is normal, may not mean it is good though.

When I finished my masters degree and the intense class work was finished, I experienced what I like to call “school withdrawals”. For several weeks I had this voice in the back of my mind that seemed to be reminding me that I needed to be reading, preparing for a test, or writing another paper. The years of concerted, intense effort had created in me a “normal” state that was abruptly stopped…but my mind still thought it needed to perform at that level and in that way.

During this current pandemic perhaps I have developed new patterns of behavior, new habits in my day-to-day, that have changed the way I view different areas of my life…for better or for worse. How about you? Has the new normal somehow impacted how you relate to the Lord? Has it changed your spiritual walk with the Lord? Those changes have happened in a fairly short period of time and may have developed a new normal that is familiar and comfortable. But is it a good normal?

The impending changes in my life have served as a reminder to me to commit myself more fervently to those disciplines that develop godliness in my life. Prayer, study in the Word, gathering together, worshiping and other habits that will bring glory to God. First Timothy 4:7-8 God’s Word says this: “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

It is never too late to make changes. It is always a good time to remind ourselves what God says are to be the most important things in our lives. It it always a great day to commit to making our new normal a pattern of life that develops godliness in us and brings glory to Him!

Encouragement · Worship

He Does…

I have been reading through the book of Daniel this week. As I read through chapter two I came upon Daniel’s prayer of blessing to God for revealing the truth about a dream. The declarations that Daniel makes about God’s sovereign direction and will are so encouraging.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.

“I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

It is such a privilege and blessing to serve a God that is control, that gives wisdom to those that seek Him, that reveals His will to those who ask and seek His face.

Praise God for His immutable character. Unchanging and enduring forever.

In Christ – Tim

Encouragement

A Simple Matter

And this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.” 2 Kings 3:18

Have you ever found yourself faced with a problem and there just doesn’t seem to be a solution? A place where no matter how hard you try, it is just beyond you to come up with a solution. I have worked in the technology world for more than 30 years and while there were some incredibly complex technical issues, some that took weeks or months to solve, they ultimately were solved.

Life isn’t like that. There are not always clear and discernible answers. Sometimes the puzzle seems unsolvable.

The story found in 2 Kings 3 tells us of how an army was in a place with no water for the soldiers or the horses. There was no humanly identifiable solution for how to get water. but as Elijah told them “…this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord.” Not only did the Lord provide victory over the need for water, he went beyond that and provided a victory in the war.

God does not see things the way we do. He is not limited by a finite mind or earthly solutions. He alone is able to take those seemingly impossible, complex trials, problems, and decisions in our lives and provide answers. The answers may be complicated and multi-faceted. They may take seasons to solve. But for the Lord they are simple matters. Our challenge is to have faith and trust in Him..for His solution…in His timing…and for His glory.

Philippians 2:12-13 says “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Trust in Him, have faith in Him, and have complete confidence in Him to take and to own those seemingly impossible puzzles in your life and remember… “this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD“!

Encouragement

Our Mission Hasn’t Changed

The image above is a sunset over the harbor in Plymouth, MA. The bay is filled with pleasure and commercial boats. The waterfront is covered in numerous seafood restaurants and hotels. There are fish markets, tourist spots, and ice cream shops. There are also the memorials to the people and events that declare the history of the countries “hometown”.

The waterfront has changed radically in the 400 years since the Pilgrims first landed. But change is normal and expected. The choice to leave England and the life changes that resulted for the Pilgrims were radical and in many ways were a leap into the unknown. That is just how some changes in our lives are…radical, sudden, and extreme. Other changes are slow, barely noticeable, and nominal in magnitude. Regardless of the nature, scope, or magnitude of the change…it is still change. Everything seems to change…well, almost everything.

The instruction from the Lord to go and make disciples has stood the test of time. Since the day that Jesus spoke the words to the disciples in Matthew 28 and then again in Acts 1:8 the church has been called to go and make disciples. From Jerusalem, to Judea, to the ends of the earth we are to go. As we go we baptize and teach the Word. While each of our situations and lives may change, the mission never changes.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord will return. Guaranteed. That truth will never change either.

In the meantime we have a never changing responsibility, a God-given privilege, a high and amazing calling to share the truth of the Gospel wherever we are and whenever we can. The Holy Spirit equips, prompts, and guides our work…we just need to stay faithful and committed to the never changing mission.

Encouragement

“Amazing Love”

Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?And Can It Be, Charles Wesley.

This week we remember Christ’s atoning work on the cross and blessed victory over death through His resurrection. All of it, every bit of it, was because God loved us. When we think of John 3:16 it starts with the statement “For God so loved the world…” but have you ever given any thought to how much the “so loved” really means? In chapter 17 of his Gospel, John records the words of Jesus in his High Priestly Prayer saying of his church “…that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” God loved and loves us as much as he loves Jesus himself.

That truly is an Amazing love!

During this season, as we take time to recall the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, let’s also take time to remember his amazing love. Remember to thank God for his loving mercy. Be encouraged and rejoice in the truth that you are so loved and then share the truth and proof of God’s immeasurable love for you with others!

Encouragement

Our Father – Amen

In the midst of this current trial we pray.

We pray for our children. We pray for our parents. We pray for each other. We pray for those in authority.

We pray for safety. We pray for healing. We pray for comfort.

We pray for an end…

We pray for God’s mercy.

All of these are things we should be praying for.

This current season may be unlike any other we have ever experienced.

I would argue that it is always a season when we should be praying this prayer:

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

May God’s will be done in an through all of this and may he be given all the glory and honor.

Encouragement

Don’t Be Cheated

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

As always context of scripture is critical. This passage was a warning from Paul to the church at Colosse regarding the philosophy and false religion of Gnosticism that was tearing at the heats and minds of the church. Much like Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden, the lies of Gnosticism were directed at the intellectual and physical/emotional desires of mankind’s mind and heart. The promises of uncommon, God-like knowledge and the unconstrained permission for even the most forbidden human sin is an attractive offer for even the purest of created beings. Adam and Eve, created for communion with God and initially without sin, could not resist the temptations of these desires.

Paul’s concern for this young church was enormous and exceeded only by the gravity and truth found in his warning he gives to them. It is clear, concise, and Christ centered.

BEWARE! The temptation is present and very real, Paul declares. It is not a possibility of a future deception…it is here and it is real. The “philosophy” of Satan’s schemes are deceitful and empty but they are ever-present and have been around since the creation of the world. They were present in the garden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve with physical and emotional “fruits” of deception. Christ himself was tempted by the same deceitful, God-separating philosophies that related to Christ’s physical “desires” and spiritual untruths. Guess what…Satan is still using the same bag of tricks. Sadly, we are not immune to those same schemes and temptations. So BEWARE! We need to be vigilant in standing prepared and to cling tenaciously to the truth of who Christ is and how desperately we need Him more than anything else this world has to offer.

Second, Paul declares in Christ alone we are made complete. All spiritual knowledge we seek and need, and all satisfaction for our physical desires are met in and through our Creator. Paul writes in verses 9-10 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” We are complete in Christ for in Him we find everything we need in this life and in the life to come.

So let us live with the a keen awareness of the dangers that are ever present, but with the confident knowledge of who Christ truly is, who we are in Him, and live our life satiated in Christ alone.

Encouragement

I’m Positive!

How are going to go into 2020? Do you enter a new year and new decade with confidence or trepidation? Do you make resolutions but question your ability to stick with them? Are you concerned about the country? The economy? Your future? What are you sure of?

I woke up this morning with this incredible sense of confidence and peace in some important life changing truths. I woke up feeling like Miss Vito in the movie My Cousin Vinny when she made bold statements in her testimony about tire marks and when asked is she was sure of her testimony she declared “I’m positive.

So what are these things that I am confident in. In John’s letter to the church which we read in 1 John, he wraps up his letter in chapter 5 with these powerful reminders to the church and to us, of 5 things that we can be positive of and have confidence in.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

As a child of God I have confident knowledge in these five things:

  1. I know that I have eternal life in the presence of my Lord and savior in heaven.
  2. I know that if I pray according to His will He hears my prayers.
  3. I know that I have victory over sin and Satan cannot touch me.
  4. I know that I am God’s and he keeps me securely in His hands forever.
  5. I know that Jesus Christ is God’s one, true Son.

No matter what this next year holds in store for me I know these things with certainty. I’m positive! My faith is not in something uncertain. My confidence is not in some man-made system of finance or government that is certain to disappoint me at some point. No…the things I know are a blessed assurance and let me wake up each and every day with the confident knowledge of my salvation, my security, and my savior.

I pray that you have this confidence. I pray that if you don’t know these things for certain in your heart, that you believe in Christ as your Lord and Savior, that you trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins, and that you come to know these truths and can live with confidence.

Tim