How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 7

1Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

You know what is becoming obvious to me this morning? (Not that I didn’t know it but sometimes things just hit you between the eyes.) When I think about the last six lessons, I remember this – I cannot be holy without my Holy God’s help. It is impossible. There is no way I can be ready, be clear minded, hope, be obedient or even speak as I should without Him.

Being holy is not something unattainable. Most of the time when I think of being holy I think about walking around in drab clothing with my face down, humming hymns. But that is not realistic nor is it holy. Keep in mind that Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came from Jesus. He told us that He could not send the His Comforter to us while He was still here (John 16:7).

So if the Holy Spirit came from Jesus and He is to show us how to be holy, I guess that means that Jesus is our example of being holy. How about that! (Smile with me here! Sometimes the simplicity of it all is enough to smack yourself in the head!) Did Jesus walk around all down in the mouth and humming hymns all day? No, He was vibrant and alive and interacting with people. He was meeting people where they were at, all kinds of people. He was smiling at them, laughing with them, crying with them, eating with them, walking with them, hugging them, healing them and so much more. Jesus took time for Himself. Jesus took time for others. Jesus always lived with the end in mind. He did not let His impending death deter His fruitful life.

We have that same opportunity, princess. We have the capability to live so differently that people are drawn to us. People want to know about why we have such joy in everything we do. Everything – from the way we savor a good cup of coffee to the way we handle the death of our closest friend. You can be holy in each and every situation in your life. You can be ready to do what needs to be done in each situation. You can be clear minded by thinking before you act. You can show hope in the promise of our future. You can display obedience by making the right choices. And you can speak as you should when you respond to someone. You see, being holy is not just one act. It is the culmination of a lifetime. It’s like building something with Legos. One piece doesn’t make the project. It takes hundreds of pieces before the project takes shape.

So, don’t give up on being holy. A good friend of mine ALWAYS says, “one step at a time.” That is how we live a LIFE of holiness – one step at a time.

How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 6

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation”

I enjoy talking. I like to talk to all different kinds of people. People have such interesting stories to tell. You know, words are very powerful. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose mom has said to them, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That old adage has kept me out of trouble many times. And not adhering to it has caused bucket loads of grief.

There is a reason that Peter is encouraging his readers to be holy in conversation. Our conversations should be holy because our heart and mind are holy. Matthew 12:34 – “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Just like “you are what you eat”, so to “you are what you think”. If you put junk in, junk will come out. Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

One verse that I sometimes wish I could hang in front of my face consistently is this: Matthew 12:36,37 – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” If I could hang that out there like you would hang a carrot on a stick for a donkey, then maybe, O maybe, I would remember it! There are times when I feel like my “idle words” are the only things that come out of my mouth. My conversations are not holy.

I am trying so hard to guard my words. But you see, that is my problem – I am guarding my words. I need to let the True Guardian guard my words. I need to let Him have reign over my tongue. Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” I need to ask Him to make my words and my thoughts what He wants them to be.

Today, princess, I want to encourage you to let The Guardian manage your conversations today. Let Him have your words (and your actions, because sometimes actions speak louder than words). Don’t speak unless you would say your words in front of Jesus. Let me tell you this, that will put a halt to several things that come out of your mouth. And don’t worry when others start to think you are weird. It’s all part of the process – being holy in a modern world of weird.

The little things

Matthew 25:40 – “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

I worked with the elderly yesterday. You never know what you are going to get yourself into when you work with them. There are so many people needing someone to love them and show them attention. So many opportunities to show God’s love to someone.

What God reiterated to me yesterday was that sometimes it is the little things that mean so much. Getting someone milk for their cereal or a hot cup of coffee. Painting someone’s nails pink. Listening. A warm smile. Telling someone they look beautiful and meaning it. Encouragement to get up and face their day.

Sometimes as followers of Christ, we think that we need to do big, earth-shattering things to make a difference. But Jesus reminds us in this verse that it is the little things that make a big difference. He was teaching His disciples on the Mount of Olives and speaking in regards to the coming judgement. And to the ones on His right that had done all these little things that they really didn’t put much stock in but obviously made a big difference, He called them “blessed of my Father” in verse 34. And to the ones on His left that choose not to do any of these little things, He sent them away into “everlasting fire” (vs. 41).

Every day we have an opportunity to do those little things that can make a big difference. Sometimes we take them and sometimes we don’t. But today, princess, choose to take hold of that opportunity and be blessed by it. See the smile on someone’s face from a random act of kindness. Hear the joy in their voice when they say “thank you”. Feel the strength of their gratitude in their hug. Be someone’s blessing today. Don’t neglect the little things. For the little things all add up to be something huge!

The unusual scene

Acts 12:24 – “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”

A few weeks ago, we were out getting ice cream. As we sat by the water enjoying our treat, I was watching this young lady. She was college-age, sitting by herself enjoying her ice cream. Then these two other young girls came over to her table. The place was pretty crowded and they asked if they could sit with her. She said yes. And they began chatting. You don’t see that kind of thing everyday, so I was interested in what the conversations would be. I’m nosy that way. I thought they would talk of college, summer break, yada, yada, yada. And they did. But as the conversation continued, the girls that had sat down began to talk of Jesus. I was surprised. I hadn’t seen that one coming. I was impressed. These two young ladies just went up to a total stranger and began sharing the Message of salvation to someone they didn’t even know. How awesome is that!

It was a beautiful moment filled with awe and…..shame. Shame on me. I have never done anything like that in my life! Here I am trying to live my life so that others can see Him and I can’t go up and share the Good News with a stranger.

Then I thought about it all for a minute. Jesus said that we all have different gifts. As I thought about the scene even more, I remembered that the one of the two girls didn’t say a word. She was there for moral support.

We have all different strengths that we have been given. I feel that God has given me the ability to show His love to others in my actions and reactions. Some people can go up and talk to total strangers. Some people are the moral support – the prayer warriors. Some people are card writers. Some people are huggers. Some people are good listeners. We all have our strengths.

God wants us to use them. Whatever He has given you the ability to do, do it.

So what does all of this have to do with the above verse? When we use our gifts, our talents, our strengths, God’s Word grows and multiplies. His reach extends to more and more people. His love is shown to more and more people. And the beautiful thing about it all is that we don’t have to do anything to make it happen. Oh, we do have to flex our muscles and actually do something but we don’t have to make anything happen. What I’m trying to say is we just have to toss out the seed and He does the rest. He prepares the ground. He plants. He waters. He makes it grow. Our strengths, our talents, our gifts – those are all seeds. Seeds that He uses to grow, in and through us, a beautiful scene.

So this week, princess, flex those muscles. Use those gifts. Engage those talents, whatever they may be. Spread the Word just by being the princess that God has called you to be.

I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N!

Acts 11:26b – “And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

What does it mean to be called a “Christian” these days? It is kinda hard to say. So many people claim to be “Christians”. Yet, so many do not reflect a Christ-likeness. Truthfully, I rarely use the term “Christian” because so many people use it and abuse it. I prefer the term “follower of Christ”. But that aside, what does it mean to be a “Christian”? Can people tell that you are a “Christian”?

Here’s what the Christian instruction manual says: Ephesians 4:1-3 – “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let’s look more closely.
“Lowliness”, or humble, means putting others in front off yourself, thinking about someone else’s needs before your own. For some, this is a foreign concept. But for a follower of Christ, it should become second nature.
“Meekness”, or gentle, means that you don’t easily flip out. You roll with the flow. You get along with others. You play nice.
“Long-suffering”, patient, means you can wait. Your not a “I need right NOW” kinda person.
“Forbearing one another in love” means that you help each other, not because you have to but rather because you want to. It is providing support because you care. It is a hug when there are no words.
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” means your not going to stir up trouble just to have something going on. You are going to do your best to get along with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Being a Christian is a challenge, especially when you have people in your life that make you want to scream. It is a challenge because people don’t follow the same rules that you do. They don’t play the same game.

But you, dear princess, are called to be different. Your called to be a bit weird because you play by His rules, not your own. If someone were to meet you for the very first time today and observe you only today, what would they say about you? Would they recognize Jesus in your life? Would they see that you play by a different set of rules than most people? Or would they see the same thing that they see in everyone else?

Be free!

1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Does God really care about me? I mean, He is God – the Creator of the universe, the One who holds it all together. He has billions of people to be concerned about every day. And there are people that have way bigger issues than I do. How can He be concerned about how much I spend at the grocery store? Why should He be concerned that my kids are driving me up the wall? I have so many issues that I should be able to deal with, right?

Here we have Peter encouraging a lot of people. He is telling them, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to “cast(ing) all your care upon him”. “All your care”. What does that mean? “Distracting solicitude” (there’s a $5 word for you!). Solicitude means to care or be concerned about something or someone. So this “all your care” means any care or concern that you have about something or someone that is preoccupying you. Sounds like worry to me.
This is the stuff Jesus wants! We choose to carry this stuff around like a badge of honor at times. We share our worries, our concerns with everyone out in the world. But do we share it with the One who really wants it?

“For he careth for you”. Do you really grasp that, princess? I mean, truly? In the original language, the word for “careth” means this: to be of interest to, i.e. to concern – it matters. Take a moment and wrap your brain around that one. The Creator of the universe, God Himself takes a personal interest in YOU! You, mom. You, daughter. You, aunt. You, sister. You, wife. You matter to GOD! Everything about you matters to God! You are of interest to Him.

What does all this mean? It means He wants to carry it for you. He wants to be the Ultimate Gentleman. Let Him be! Give Him all your worries, all your concerns, all the things that are keeping you up at night, all those things giving you heartburn, all those things that make you bite your nails – all those things. Be free today, princess. Cast all your burdens upon Him. He is strong enough to bear them.

The Armor and the Sword

Ephesians 6:17b – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Swords are really neat to look at. My husband collected swords for a while. He had long swords, short swords, practical swords, all kinds of swords. Swords come in all shapes and sizes. They have different purposes. They have special meanings. They are made of different materials. But the one thing that all swords have in common is their main purpose: to cut something, to make something come apart.

In all the verses relating to the armor of God, this is the only weapon we are told to bear. Of course, there were no guns at this time but their were daggers that could be concealed that one could carry. But no, we are told to a bear the sword of the Spirit. And Paul leaves no room for doubt as to what that sword really is – the word of God.

The word of God as a sword has been used before in Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yowza! That is quite the sword! Not only does the word of God have the ability to cut out sin in our life, but it also has the ability to rip through the body, even to the point of determining your very thoughts and intents of your heart. That means, the word of God has the ability to help you determine if what you are doing is being done for God’s honor and glory or your own. And this is the very same sword Paul is encouraging us to carry with us into spiritual battle. This is a serious sword. It can do some major damage.
Revelation 1:16 – “And he had in his right had seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Here, John is giving a description of Jesus. Read a few verses before to get the full effect. But it is powerful. Here, we see Jesus with the sword coming out of his mouth. Crazy mental image, right? But when you think about this verse linked with the verse above, that is His words. They are powerful. I don’t think that we really understand the power of Jesus and the power of His words.

The Spirit is God living in us. It is us allowing God to lead us and guide us and empower us. This power is in the sword. And the sword comes from His word. And the only way we can engage this power is to know how to use it. And the only way we can know how to use it is to faithfully read it, to learn it, to ingest it, to apply it. You can’t pick up a sword and expect to win a battle if you have never been trained on how to use it. You can’t expect to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil if you don’t know how to handle your sword. Practice, practice, practice!

Let me encourage you today, princess, to pick up your sword. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Carry it with you and learn its burden. O, the burden is light (Matthew 11:30) if you carry it with the right attitude. But bear it nonetheless. Ask the Giver of the sword to show you how to use it, when to use it and when to stand. Times are a changing, princess, and you have to be ready.