Hospitality

Hospitality is simply a friendly reception or entertainment of guest, visitors or strangers. In the Greek it means pursuing the love of strangers.

Hebrews 13:1-2  Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

God has placed people in our lives, and He wants us to show hospitality to them in order to show the world what the love of God looks like. To show hospitality is really to just share our lives. Sharing our lives is one of the most difficult ways to demonstrate love because we live in a hectic world with busy schedules and by the end of the week, we do not want to spend time with many people and especially give up any more energy than we have already given.

1 Timothy 3:1-2 and Titus 1:7 tell us that hospitality is a requirement to be a church elder which shows the importance that God places on hospitality. The church should be known as being people that open up their lives to others and it is how the early church made an impact on society.

Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

One of the problems we face in our world is people “FEEL” they are being social because of social media. Social media is a form of socialization and with it we get a false sense of community because we can share parts of our lives, we want others to know about. The problem with social media is it is lacking the intimacy that people long for. Many are finding out that social media as well as online church lack the ability to connect with other brothers and sisters in Christ and to enjoy the fellowship of being with one another.

We are made to be with others and people are longing to be in fellowship with other people. We know we are created to be in a relationship with God and with others because when God created Adam, He said it was not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) Although you may have plenty of friendships it does not mean everyone does and that is why Romans 12:9-13 says we are to seek ways to show hospitality and 1 Peter 4:8-9 says we are to show hospitality to each other without grumbling.

Romans 12:10 says Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor

Part of being a part of a church is to love one another but if the only time we spend time with people at church is one hour at the building then we are not only not being hospitable we are not demonstrating to the world what Christianity is about. If we opened our homes and our lives to other believers, we will actually do a better job at reaching our community for Christ because we will demonstrate to them what true love looks like.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

When we love God, we will love people (1 John 4:20) Hospitality is a way to demonstrate the love we have for God because we must use our time and strength to love other people. People are longing for real relationships with people who will demonstrate love to them unconditionally. Our world is longing for this and it is through Hospitality that we can have an opportunity to demonstrate what real relationships look like and who Christ is.

How can I demonstrate hospitality?

First, what you plan for you will do. In our fast pace world if you do not schedule your life, life will make your schedule. It will not happen unless you plan for it to happen because hospitality does not usually happen by accident.

Secondly you just must do it. Romans 12:13 says to practice Hospitality because it may not be something you are good at or something that comes to you naturally. By practicing it you become better at it so do not get discouraged if it does not go as well as you thought it should.

Thirdly you must Reach out to some people and see if they want to get together. This is where it gets tough because you might make the effort to get together with people, but they may not want to get together with you. Some people have been so hurt by churches and pastors that for them to take another chance with people is difficult. What most people do not understand is that Satan is compared to a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and just like a roaring Lion will roar to separate some of the herd so Satan uses bad church relationships to cause people to separate from the church. What they do not realize is that they are the most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks because they do not have people around them to help protect them and help them in their time of need. Therefore demonstrating hospitality is so important because we all need people around us to help us get through this life.

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Demonstrating Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends.

There is no such thing as silent love because love is always expressed in words or actions. Most people talk about love, but we must do more than talk about what love is we must put it into practice. In Romans 5:8 God demonstrated His love for us by dying for us and that was while we were still sinning against Him. Love does not have to be reciprocated to be demonstrated. Our world tends to show love if they are shown love but that is not what God does for us and He calls us to love others no matter how they treat us.

Love is expressed verbally. In John 14:31 Jesus says He loves the Father and in John 15:9 He says He loves us. Too many times we do not express our love for someone verbally because we just assume, they know that we love them. Twenty-Four times Paul addressed his readers as “Beloved” which expresses intimacy, affection, and love. Paul did not assume they knew he loved them he expressed it in the letters he wrote. Telling others, we love them seems to be difficult today, but it was no more difficult for the early church. The early church was criticized for loving people too quickly and for calling each other brother and sister.

Love is also demonstrated. One of the ways to demonstrate love is by showing appreciation for what people have done. In the books Paul wrote he repeatedly praised people who helped him accomplish the work that God had placed before him. He did not take those people for granted and he let them know exactly how much he appreciated them. The reason Paul did this is because he loved them as brothers and sisters. Although they were not blood related it was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that made them family and gave them a close bond only found in believers in Christ. The words brother or sister appear around 250 times in the New Testament which should show us how the church of Christ should act toward one another. Many times we have a shallow view of church and God is calling us to do something more than just attend a worship service for an hour or so.

1 Peter 1:22-23  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

One of the marks of being a Christian is your love for others (1 John 4:7-8) and 1 Peter 2:17 commands us to love the brotherhood and 1 Peter 4:8 tells us to love one another earnestly Just like a family a church family can take each other from granted. We do not show our appreciation enough for each other and then when the people are no longer with us we always wish we would have said more.

What would happen at our church if people knew when they showed up, they would hear words of love?

If your like me my sarcasm and my wanting to always say something funny can be harmful. We say things like, “Look who decided to show up” or “Look what the cat drug in” and by doing so we have made it so that those people do not want to come back. What if people longed to be at church because of the love and encouragement they would receive? What if people hated missing knowing that their friends were going to lift them up and not tear them down?

How can we get better at loving others?

The first thing you must do is to Pray that God begins to grow your love for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

You can pray that God increases your love for other Christians which is something He not only wants you to do but also, He is the one who can accomplish it. 1 John 4:7-8 says love is of God so if love is of God then we need to go to the source who loves to become better at loving others.

Secondly you must Review what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We cannot accept the worlds definition of love and we must continually put before us what true love is. The only way we can absolutely love is to love correctly and that is by accepting the definition of love that God has given us.

Thirdly you just must model it or put it into practice.  It does not matter what anyone else does at the church, but you can set an example by being the one who demonstrates words and actions of love to others regardless of how they receive it.

Why is this a big deal?

In High School when I first came to Christ our youth group was challenged to edify one another instead of putting each other down. This did not mean that we did not pick on one another but we did not leave without expressing love and affection toward one another. We became a youth group that encouraged one another. We put into practice what we should do and then it became natural to us later. Our youth group grew and people came to Christ simply because of how we treated one another. Jesus prayed for us in John 17 for this very thing.

John 17:20-21 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

The world does not believe our message because of how we treat one another and in the book of Acts it was their treatment and help for one another that caught the worlds attention. During this mess we find ourselves in as a nation there is no reason that we as a church cannot express love to one another, encouraging one another, forgiving one another, and not being so easily offended.

Who can you reach out to this week and let them know you appreciate them? For those who come on Sunday will you try with me to show appreciation and love to one another

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Bears, Believes, hopes, and endures all things, Love never ends

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

One thing you can say about love is that it is tough. Many people have to impression that love is weak when the opposite is true. People that do not love are the weak ones because they are the ones controlled by their self-centeredness and usually petty desires and usually leave any relationship that does not meet their desires. Love is different and it has God and others in mind as it relates to the actions of others.

Bears all things

To Bear means to cover, support or to protect.

Life is full of heavy loads whether it is a loss of a loved one, losing a job, bad medical report or even just the stresses and strains of everyday life. When things in your life become heavy it means that you are under a strain that is too much for you to handle by yourself. Many times, you will tell who just says they love you and who really loves you if they are willing to stay with you through whatever your going through. For some reason, some people cannot bear to be with others who are struggling. Maybe because of the struggles in their own lives or maybe because of selfishness but either way they do not love the person enough to be with them as they walk through the difficulty they are going through. To bear with someone in love in this sense is to come along side of them and help them through this difficulty by removing some of the burden and weight they are carrying.

To bear with someone also means that you are going to not expose all their sins and mistakes to others. When you cover for someone you are not making excuses for their sins you are just not announcing them to the rest of the world. You are holding them accountable to change with involving as few people as possible.

  1. Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins.

We are to never excuse sin but that does not mean we should not come under the weight of it or to help conceal it from anyone who does not need to know about it. (Galatians 6)  We also bear with people as they struggle to overcome the sins they have made into habits. Change is not easy and just like a child learning to walk some people will struggle with the sin habit they have grown accustomed to being involved in. Bearing with them means realizing they are not going to defeat some sins easily and because of that you will bear the burden of staying with them, encouraging and challenging them as they move toward what God intends them to be.

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

When you hate someone, you might want to embarrass them but if you love them then you do what you can to help them not look bad. Again, this does not mean we do not confront the sin or hold the person accountable, but we bear with them by protecting them from unnecessary embarrassment. Matthew 18 says you go to them, take someone with you and then bring them before the church. Hopefully if the person is willing to repent and change then there is no need for us to go any further than for us to hold them personally accountable.

Believes all things

Because most people have been hurt by others, we become cynical and we do not trust people or what they are saying. We start off with a preconceived notion about the person and it is with that perception that we view everything they do. If you think they are a jerk, then everything they do you will see it through the lens of them doing something because they are a jerk.  In Matthew 7 we are told to not Judge and that is because we cannot know someone’s heart or in other words, what is really going on in their life. Of course, this passage of scripture is used to say that we cannot judge someone at all but that is not what Matthew seven is talking about. Judge not in verse one is clearly talking about judging someone’s heart while later in the chapter it tells us to help them with the splinter in their eye.

To believe all things about someone means that you are willing to look at all the circumstances and really weigh what is being said considering what was done. Love always opts for a favorable position or possibility for that person. To love someone means you are not suspicious of them and you take them at their word until they prove otherwise in which case you would confront them.

Philippians 4:8 says we should think about whatever is true and many times we work up scenarios in our mind of what the person may or may not be thinking or what their intentions were. If you hear a bad report about someone and you say “It figures they would do that” it means you have a love problem with that person because you have made a judgment without hearing all the facts.  If you catch yourself or you hear others saying “I bet they were thinking…” then it is not true because it is you conjecturing what you think they were thinking. Most people have made up their mind about someone before they even get to know them either by something they witnessed or because of what they heard about the person already.

Believing in someone leaves room for you to get to know them and understand them better and to maybe understand their thinking better. I’m not saying you have to make yourself vulnerable to being hurt and this does not mean you believe lies, but it does mean that even if they have messed up you believe that they can change for the better. Faith in God and His redemptive plan for humanity means we can believe God can change a person’s heart and actions.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

God is about changing people which gives us hope for everyone He has placed in our lives.

Hopes all things  

When we get frustrated, we tend to walk away from the situation instead of working through it and seeing if the outcome can change. Hope leaves the possibility of there being a better ending. People are going to fail us, and we are going to fail other people because we are fallen human beings that do not live this life perfectly. Because we know the power of God to change a life we can always hope that God is working in our life and the lives of others to change them to be more like Christ. (Romans 8:28-29)

Endures all things

Endure was a military term and it meant to hold a position at all cost. No matter how difficult life gets Love will keep you going and help get you through difficulty and pain. In our throw away culture we tend to get rid of people as soon as things get tough or when they fail to meet expectations, we have for them. Those who endure with people will create bonds and friendships that can never be formed by  people who walk away at the first sign of trouble and they will see God work in their own lives and the life of the person they struggled with.

Love never ends

As Paul wraps up his description of love, he mentions that love never fails because most of the things we put our time and energy into will not last forever. The Corinthians were so focused on their spiritual gifts and Paul wanted to remind them that those things, as great as they are, will not last forever but love will. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love so love never ends or love is eternal because God is eternal. The things we do in love will be eternal and that should give us encouragement as we strive to love others the way that God has loved us.

1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Although every Christian should be characterized by faith, Hope and love the greatest of these is love.

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Not Resentful or Joyful over Evil

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

Love is not resentful

Resentful isfeeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having been treated unfairly. Some versions say “Keep no record of Wrongs” because it is abookkeeping term. The idea is that of an accountant who would keep good records so that they can go back and review, with accurate records, what has taken place. Whether we know it or not we tend to keep list in our heads of pain people have caused us and when the list gets to be too much the anger and resentment surfaces to the top. If you have ever been around someone who is not being loving they will have their list of all the wrongs that the person or a group has done to them. Sometimes that list has some really petty things on it because they are trying to make the situation sound worse than it really is because as they say it out loud they realize they are just being resentful for things that should have been addressed or let go of a long time ago.

For me to memorize something I must go over it repeatedly and that is what it means to grow in resentment or to keep a record of wrongs. We tend to replay the offense over and over in our minds which only makes us grow more resentful and more unloving. Reminding ourselves repeatedly of the hurt others have done to us only makes us miserable and the most irritating thing to me is that while I am thinking of the person that hurt me, they may not be thinking of me. In fact, many people that hurt people did not even know they hurt them. Therefore, the Bible makes it clear that we need to confront people in love because many of the things we hold onto are things that could easily be dealt with if we just had a conversation. Healing from the hurts that have been done to us cannot happen if we keep rehearsing the wrong that has been done to us instead of asking God to heal us. Oddly enoughmost people do not want to be healed of the things they have been hurt by because they want to stay angry, hurt, and bitter. Unfortunately, many people think that by harboring their anger that it will help justify how they feel and why they are the way they are.

John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Why would Jesus ask the man if he wanted to be healed? We would all think, of course the man wants to be healed, but that is not always the case. Some people want to stay angry and hurt and although it does not make any sense it is a reality for many people. Some people cannot accept the fact that people are humans who make mistakes. They may say something incorrectly, or because of an error cause someone pain. Of course, you always have evil people who are trying to inflict harm but most people are just hurt people who hurt people because they are hurt.

One way we can overcome being resentful is to just accept that we are going to be wronged by people. I am not saying we do not try and help them see how they hurt us but because some people will not see it, they will continue to hurt others because of their actions. The apostle Paul addressed the church in Corinth by asking them if it would be better to just be wronged rather than taking each other to court. (1 Corinthians 6:7) Our testimony for Christ is more important than the wrong we suffered and we serve a God who not only sees but He will punish those who continue to do wrong and He will reward those who suffered for His sake.

Psalm 58:11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

God calls us to not retaliate or to be resentful toward those who have hurt and God calls us to act different than the rest of the world.

Romans 12:14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Ephesians 4:32 says we should forgive as Christ forgave us and Romans 4:8 says blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not “take into account”. So, when we ask for forgiveness from Jesus then we can know that our sins are not going to be brought out and we need to do the same for others. Again, I am not saying you should not confront them as Matthew 18 says to do and I am not saying if you are in an abusing situation to just ignore it. What I am saying is that you have to realize that some people are so sick they do not realize the hurt they are causing others.

You are going to be hurt by other people, some intentionally and some unintentionally but when you choose to make a list and memorize the list you will grow more and more resentful and it will destroy you. Many times, we ask for physical healing, but people are walking around with emotional wounds that are ruining their lives. We need to go to God for the hurts that have been done to us and ask Him to help us forgive them even if they never change. As Jesus said in Luke 23:34 “Forgive them for they know not what they do” we to need to realize that because people are hurt and damaged from sin they will do things that they do not understand that will cause more hurt.

As Stephen was being killed in Acts 7:60 he asked God to not hold this sin against them. I pray for God’s Glory and for our own sake that we can ask God to forgive people even when they have not asked to be forgiven and even when they are going to continue in their evil ways.

Love does not rejoice with Wrongdoing.

To rejoice in wrongdoing means we justify things that God calls sin.  Romans 12:9 says we should hate what is evil and cling to what is good and Isaiah 5:20 says woe to those who call good evil and evil good. We must be careful that we are not taking joy in things that God calls evil and things that Jesus died on the cross for. When you think about the entertainment, we allow ourselves to enjoy you will soon discover that we all are guilty of rejoicing with wrongdoing. We tend to laugh at shows that glamourize sin even though the Bible says that those sins will destroy a person.

W. Graham Scroggie says, “What a man rejoices in is a fair test of his character.”

In Matthew 18 we are told how to confront someone who has sin in their life and the reason for that is because of the harmful damage a sin pattern can do to someone personally, their family and even their testimony.

Another Part of not rejoicing at wrongdoing is to laugh or be joyful when someone is finally punished for their sins.

Proverbs 24:17-18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.

Rejoicing at wrongdoing is done with actions we approve by participating or even when we are happy that someone is destroyed because of the sin patterns in their lives. True love is to not rejoice in wrongdoing by not encouraging sinful behavior, watching sinful behavior or rejoicing when sinful behavior destroys your enemy.

Love Rejoices with the Truth

The opposite of rejoicing with wrongdoing is rejoicing in the truth. John 17:17 says God’s word is truth and John 14:6 Jesus said He is the truth. So we know God’s word and Jesus are truth so as Philippians 4:8 says we should think about truth. What we fill our minds with impacts how we live because our thoughts impact our decisions. One of the reasons I am big on making sure our doctrine is correct and why I reject some famous preachers and teachers is because what they say is not true. I cannot rejoice with them because what they are saying is not true.

We also rejoice in the truth when we keep ourselves and others from believing lies about other people. When people come to us to talk about other people, we must make sure that what they are saying is true. Psalm 1:1 says blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. When we share lies or listen to lies of other people then we are walking in the counsel of the wicked.  2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take every thought captive to be obedient to Christ and that includes the thoughts we have about other people.

Saying something about someone is not always wrong because we need to help protect people from those who can harm them but we have to make sure it is true and it is imperative that the person we are sharing it with needs to hear it. So if a person is not a good employee for your company and a friend of yours is looking to hire them it is alright to share with your friend the truth about the person but it needs to be done in confidentiality and in love. Maybe if your friend knows the truth they can put some things in place at the new company to help them succeed.

Our conversations need to be in truth because true love rejoices in the truth. To speak in falsehoods is not of God and the opposite of what He has called us to do.

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Insist on own way or Easily Angered

1 Corinthians 12:31says, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

Love does not insist on its own way

Love is not preoccupied with self. We live in a world of individualism and what is best for me instead of looking out for the best interest of others.

Romans 15:1-3 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

The Apostle Paul said he did not seek his own advantage in 1 Corinthians 10:33 as he was trying to teach a church that was seeking its own way. Paul addresses the church in Corinth because they did not share food at their gatherings, they were suing each other, they were using the spiritual gifts God gave them for themselves and not for the benefit of others and they had a dispute about if you should eat meat served to idols. All the issues the Corinthian church was facing was because people were insisting on their own way. The issues they faced are similar to what we face and the Bible gives us clear direction on how we should act toward each other.

Romans 14:15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Paul was letting them know that it was not about their own individual rights or even their conscience before God but that love puts the needs of others above their own. Paul was saying if it bothers your brother then you should not do it. Part of following Christ is giving up our own selfish desires for the sake of others. The Bible says we should die to self. (Luke 9:23)

Philippians 2:3-4  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Think of how much our houses, our schools, our businesses, and our churches would change if we simply did not insist on our own way.

Love is Not Easily Angered

Anger is not a bad emotion it is a bad emotion when not controlled or when it is out of control over things you should not be angry at. Anger that is provoked because of wrong motives is bad but anger that there is injustice or that children are being abducted is a good anger.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says in your anger do not sin and 1 Corinthians 13:6 says love does not rejoice in wrong  doing. So there is a good anger that is necessary at times in order to right wrongs just like Jesus did when He cleaned out the temple from those who were abusing the people of God as they came to worship.

We become angry when we do not focus on the truth and we can fuel our anger by exaggerating a situation. Philippians 4:8 says to focus on what is true but most people make up scenarios in their minds and become angry over things that are just not true.

First Peter 4:8 says love covers a multitude of sins because we look past what was said or what was done and choose to love the person regardless of the things they have done. Miscommunication and misunderstandings are going to happen in life because we all make mistakes but when we respond in anger it shows more about us than about the mistake that was made. WE say things like “They are not going to talk to me that way” or “Did you see the look they gave me?” We get angry because instead of thinking “I wonder what is going on in their lives?” we selfishly only think about ourselves and become angry at how we were treated. When anger rules small problems become big problems.

Galatians 5:16-21  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

James 1:19-20 says anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires. Anger takes us the opposite direction God wants us to go as we are no longer walking in the Spirit of God. Fits of rage is listed alongside sorcery as a work of the flesh. Most of us would not see our anger as being that bad but it is just as evil as sorcery.

One of the things we are given as Christians is the ability through the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome any sin areas in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 goeson to talk about the fruit of the Spirit and that is what God is doing in and through you because of His power. We live in an angry world right now and people are yelling at each other in stores because of the mask or no mask debate, people who are walking the wrong way and simply because people are doing things that are hindering their day. We are called to be different than the rest of the world and one of the ways we can do that is by not being easily angered.

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

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A more excellent way Not Arrogant or Rude

1 Corinthians 12:31says, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

Love is not Arrogant

Arrogance is an attitude of being superior. The problem with arrogance is that it focuses more on oneself than on others, so it is the opposite of what we are called to do as Christians. The Greek word of arrogance is “Puffed up” and it means that it a person who is making themselves bigger than they really are. You do not have to be a star athlete or a famous musician to be arrogant it can show up by just thinking you are better than someone else.  In Luke 18 a religious leader was praying, and he prayed “God I thank you that I am not like other men.” and then he went on to brag about his religious achievements. Because the religious leader thought he was not as big as a sinner as the man praying near him, he puffed himself up. Of course the rest of the story is that the man who approached God humbly was the one who God honored.

Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus taught us to be humble and as Philippians 2 says Jesus was humble to the point of death. My friend Dan Colucci always says, “Christianity is upside down and backwards”. Christianity is the opposite of what the world promotes and does. In Isaiah 14:13 it shows that the devil is one who wanted to exalt himself and exalt himself above God.

C.S. Lewis said “It was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice: it is the completely anti-God state of mind. (Mere Christianity)

In 3 John there is a man in the church named Diotrephes and it is said that “he likes to put himself first” This man was known to want his own way and because of his arrogance he was hurting the church. Because arrogance is the opposite of love is tears down instead of builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

The Bible does not call us to put ourselves down but to only have an accurate view of who we are. 1 Peter 5:5 says that we should clothe ourselves with humility. TO clothe yourself means to dress yourself with it because it is something you do not something you feel.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil  and perverted speech I hate.

Love is Not Rude

You do not have to look extremely hard to notice that our society is rude. People talk over one another, make cutting remarks while they are speaking, bully each other, and do not show respect to another’s persons point of view. Just watch almost any talk show and you see this behavior daily. The problem is not that our world is rude but that we have brought those tactics into the church in how we treat one another. I am not saying that that is acceptable anytime but the problem with the Corinthian Church was that they were being rude to each other and it was hurting the church and their witness to the community. Even when the church met for communion, they were rude because some were eating so much that some left hungry and others were even getting drunk because they only cared about their own pleasure. (See 1 Corinthians 11)

One time I was on a mission trip to the Bahamas and our team had to bring all our own food and supplies. To teach a lesson the people that cooked the meal let everyone serve themselves. Because some people took so much there was not enough food for everyone, and they had to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of the group. You can say that it was a mistake, but rudeness comes in all shapes and forms and when we do not love we only think of ourselves and we can be rude to others because of our own selfish wants.

In the Corinthian Church they were trying to outdo each other in speaking in tongues and it was causing chaos in the church. People were making the worship about themselves and about their owns spiritual gifts and others were being pushed out or left out from participating.

The opposite of rude is to be gracious and the Bible always calls us to be gracious .

Colossians 4:6  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Did you know that even if you disagree with someone you do not have to be rude about it? We as Christ followers should not be rude even when we do not agree with each other or with those in the world. Some of the passive aggressive memes and comments are rude even if they are disguised as humor. We have to watch in our own lives and make sure that we are not being rude so that we can show the world a more excellent way.

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A Most Excellent Way: Not Envious or Boastful

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

To be envious is to hate that someone has something you do not have or to hate that they have more than you have. The problem with being envious is we tend to see the person in a negative way for what they have and we can become critical of their popularity, or possessions. Envy is destructive to relationships and if we are going to live in “the most excellent way” we must learn to overcome it.

In 1 Samuel we see King Saul become Envious of David’s success because they were singing “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (See 1 Samuel 18:7) Envy caused Saul to despise David to the point of trying to Kill him repeatedly and it drove Saul to focus on David instead of the kingdom God had placed him in charge of.

John 3:27  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven

Everything we have is because God gave it to us and what happens is we focus on what we do not have instead of what we do have. Saul was credited with winning many battles but because David was credited with more Saul became envious.

In His book Money, Greed and God, Why Capitalism is the solution not the problem Jay Richards says that in America 46% of all poor households own their own home, 76% of all poor homes have air conditioning, Only 6% of poor homes are overcrowded, The average poor persons home has more square footage than the average person living in Paris or London, 75% of poor households on a car, 97% of poor households have a colored television. (See Pg 87)  The problem in our country is not that some have more than others is that we are not satisfied with what we have and some people think others owe it to them.

Philippians 4:11-12  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

As Christians we need to set the example in our country that uses advertisements and even politics to breed envy in people to get them to not be happy with their situation in life.  Are you thankful for what you have, or do you only see what you do not have? When envy controls us we will not be grateful for the things we have and even worse it will affect how we treat other people.

The problem in the Corinthian church is that they were bragging and comparing the spiritual gifts that they had instead of seeing them as given to them by God. Some thought because of their giftings that they were more important than others in the church. Romans 12 is clear that no matter what gifts God has given to us they are  for the building up of the church. When we think our gifts are not important or if we are jealous because our abilities are not as good as someone else’s then we will not use our gifts for Gods glory. No one is excluded in the warning about envybecause we all can have our moments when we allow ourselves to have self-pity and self-centered envy of another person. We can have envy when we think God has given them more or better gifts but our responsibility is to use the gifts we have been given by God for His glory no matter how insignificant we think they are.

The opposite of King Saul was his son Jonathan who was the right heir to the throne but saw how God had chosen David to be King.

1 Samuel 23:17-18 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

Jonathan was to be the next king because he was the son of King Saul. Jonathan was giving up the kingship  because he realized David was to be the King but then he took it a step further and said that he would be by his side. Not only did Jonathan acknowledge that David was to be the King, he also was going to be by his side to help him be a successful king. Jonathan did not have envy toward his friend David, he rejoiced with what God was doing with his life.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

We should rejoice at the success or good fortunes of others and not be like the rest of the world who just screams that life is not fair. We should be thankful for what God has given us instead of being envious of what God has given others. We should also be supportive of the positions God has given them even if it is a position we might have wanted. If we are going to live “the most excellent way” then we need to not be envious of others.

Love does not Boast We live in a society that boasting is almost expected and if we are not careful, we can act like the world in our boasting. We do self-promoting to make sure we are recognized so we can advance in this society. It seems if you are not doing self-promotion then you will be left behind by the competition. One of the problems we have is that we see others as being boastful, but we do not see it in ourselves. The Corinthian Church were a bunch of showoffs who were using their spiritual gifts trying to get attention. They were thinking that some of the gifts were more important than the gifts God gave to others and this was leading to conflict in the church.  The problem with boasting is that it can cause others to be envious and put a strain on our relationships.

Proverbs 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Romans 12:3 says that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to but boastful people only think of themselves. Boastful people build themselves up, Envious people tear other people down, but loving people build up others.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

It is a fine line as a church to be thankful to post about what God has done and it not come across as bragging. Our mindset should always be that of a servant who places others as more important than themselves. We also need to be careful that we do not do things just for the praise of men instead of doing them to be obedient to God.

Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The problem with the Corinthian church was not that they were in the world but that the world was in them. We must be careful as individuals and as a church that we do not become what the rest of the world is and show them what it really means to love by not being envious or boastful.

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A More Excellent Way: Love is Patient and Kind

1 Corinthians 12:31says, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” 

Many people are looking for direction in their lives but the way they are going about it is all wrong because they are trying to do it the world’s way instead of trusting in God. The Apostle Paul said that there is a more excellent way that we as Christians should live to show people the way in which we should conduct ourselves no matter what is happening in our world.

When we do things for God without love we are like a child who does their chores with a bad attitude and makes the entire household miserable. Love is our motivation for doing things because God loves us and so we will in turn love others. It always comes down to understanding how God loves us that will help us understand how we can love others. The church in Revelation 2 did many things right but they lost their first love. They had great theology and works but they were not loving God and loving others they way they were supposed to so God calls them to repent and get the priority of love back. If we are going to show the world the way, we must renew our love for God and our love for others which is the greatest commandment that Christ gave us.

Matthew 22:37-39  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving God is easy because He is perfect, but Jesus also asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to do that we must know what it means to love. 1 Corinthians 13 is heard in many weddings as the definition of love and that is good, but it was written to the Corinthian Church as they were dealing with each other.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away

One of the reasons we avoid or run away from people is because we do not love them the way we are supposed to love them. We tend to love others the way that they love us but that is not what we are called to do. In 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul list 15 traits of what love is and what it is not and we need to learn the Biblical definition of love so we do not take the worlds definition of love.

Love is Patient

The first attribute that is listed is Patience. Patience means to be long suffering or long tempered especially when one is wronged by someone. No matter if it is in your marriage, your family, your church, your job or even in society you will be hurt by someone.

“John MacArthur says “Love’s patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and yet not be upset or angry.”

Life is full of hurt and frustrations and that hurt, and frustration will sometimes lead us to attack others verbally and others even physically. We will say, “NO ONE IS PERFECT” or “I am not perfect” and although we know this, we still somehow expect perfection from people. In every relationship, we have expectations that we want people to meet and when they do not meet it, we get mad and we become impatient with them.  We say things like, “They will never change” “They always do that” “They will never learn” and so we give up on them because of their failures.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

We are not commanded to be patient with them only if they deserve it but when they are weak, lazy and have lost hope to go on. The Corinthian church was known for not treating the Apostle Paul kindly and yet he demonstrated patience with them knowing that “God was not done with them yet” When we give up on people, block them on social media and block their numbers then we are taking ourselves out of their lives and the ability for God to use us to help them grow up in Christ.

Many churches have splits because people were either hurt by someone or they did not like something someone did and so they move on. Matthew 18 is clear how we are supposed to deal when hurt by someone but we must start with love if we are going to address what they did or it will be taken as an attack instead of someone who wants to help.  When we focus on the hurts done to us instead of the help, we can do for others then we have become self-centered. Hurts done to us can cause us to look inward because that is our natural reaction. Anytime one is hurt by someone the natural reaction is to focus on ourselves instead of addressing the person with what they have done. Jesus calls us to focus not only on our own needs but also on the needs of others.

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

If you want to grow more patient with people, then take your eyes off yourself and the false expectations you have for them and place them on God. This does not mean that you need to stay in a hurtful relationship that is physically or verbally abusive but it does mean that you can look past what has been done to you and see that it is their own selfishness and hurt that is causing them to hurt others. Hebrews 12 says that for the Joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross. Jesus looked past what was being done to Him to bring Glory to God and salvation to the world. In Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus understood that the people that were crucifying Him were deceived and broken and because of that they did not understand the ramifications of their actions.

Have you ever thought that God has placed those people in your life for a reason? Many times we take the selfish approach of what can people do for us but we need to look past that and realize that God places some people in our lives for us to help them. In Luke 10 Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan who did not benefit from the help he offered the man in the ditch. Sometimes the people God places in our lives are there for us to take time and money to help. Patience with them as they heal will be needed as God uses us in their lives to help them recover from the damage the world has done to them. This does not mean you need to stay at every church or in every relationship because even 3 John 1 says that certain people should be kicked out of the church, but it does mean we need to view people differently than the world in how we treat them and the reason that God has placed them in our lives.

Love is Kind

To be kind means to be useful, serving, and gracious. Alexander Strauch says, “Kindness is love with work clothes.” To be kind is to not only desire a person’s outcome of life to be better but to help them achieve it.

When you are patient with someone then you will in turn be kind to them. Most of the time when dealing with people in counseling they do not realize that what they are saying to each other is just not kind. They think they can say whatever they want because the person has done or said something to them that was rude, so they act rude back. To love a person means that even if they hurt you, you will not say unkind things to them or about them because that is the opposite of love. 1 Corinthians 4:12 When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure. The call to be kind to others is not because how they are treating us or even if they ever change, our call is from God who showed Kindness to us despite how we were acting toward Him.

Romans 2:4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Gods kindness is for a purpose to lead others to Himself and our Kindness should be to point people to God. Our world needs more kind people in it and we need to be the ones to show them a “More excellent way” If someone does not see things the same way you do that does not mean you cannot be patient and kind to them. If someone is walking the wrong way down the aisle of a store that does not mean you cannot be patient and kind to them. Let’s work on being loving this week by simply being more patient and kind an always remember it is not by “Might, nor by Power but by His spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6) so rely on His power to help you be more patient and kind.

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A More Excellent Way

If there is anything, we need right now in our culture it is for people to show us the way. Many decisions are being made about schools, sports and business and there is confusion, uncertainty, and disagreement about what should be done. Social media and even our public spaces have been filled with hate and the belittling of people and especially people that have been placed in positions of authority by God. It is a good reminder to every Christian that those in authority have been placed there by God.

Romans 13:1-2 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

In John 19:10-11 Jesus told Pilate that he would not have any authority if it were not given to him from above and 1 Timothy 2:2 reminds us that we should pray for everyone in authority. You many not agree with the person in charge but we as Christians must not act like the rest of the world in the way that those is in leadership are being talked about and treated.

As Christians we are called to be light in a world full of darkness and we are to let that light shine brightly so people can know what way they should go. (Matthew 5:14-16) When the Apostle Paul was addressing the church in Corinth, he wanted them to know that there is a way to live that was not just a good way but an excellent way. For Christians to be the light of the world they cannot live their lives with the same hatred, bitterness, and fears as those who do not know Jesus Christ. We are called to be different and we are called to live in “A More Excellent Way”

1 Corinthians 12:31says, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”  So, what is this more excellent way? It is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Every year I get a little older and I start realizing why the Grinch moved away from town to get away from all that “Noise, Noise, Noise”. When I go to the beach, I am the type of person that does not want any noise except the noise of the waves crashing in the ocean. Without fail there is always someone, for some reason, that must have music playing and playing loud enough for others to hear it as well. I guess those people are not aware that they sell headphones so you can listen to your own music without bothering anyone else. The noise of their music, even if I like the music, annoys me to the point that I cannot enjoy the crashing of the waves of the ocean. Although, the ocean is still there, and the waves are still crashing the enjoyment is somehow ruined because of music that you can literally listen to anytime and anywhere.

Paul says that doing good works without love is annoying just like I get annoyed at the beach by the music that is being played. The good things that are done are negated because it is like a loud annoying gong that continues to go off ruining the good that is being done. We all have experienced gifted people who can sing, preach, or teach and yet we are annoyed by them because they do not exhibit love. Paul is addressing this very thing as he points out that all your gifts and sacrifice are nothing if they are not exhibited in love. Paul wants the church to not just do good works but to do them with a heart of love for the very people they are serving. We are sometimes like disobedient children as we do the chores that were assigned to us but we do it in such a way to make the entire house uneasy and unenjoyable. Many churches have become like the church addressed in Revelation 2.

Revelation 2:2-4 I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

This church was doing many things right, but they left out the most important thing, and that was love. This was a successful church in the world’s eyes, but God noticed that among all their good deeds they were missing the most important ingredient and that was love. Things done without love not only are annoying but they make the work you do that much more difficult.  Love gives you energy and the ability to accomplish what you never thought was possible. If you think about the people you love and the long days and nights you have given them you may reflect and wonder how you did it. As they say, “Love makes you do crazy things”. Love gives you the energy to feed a baby in the middle of the night. Love gives you the energy to drive halfway across the country to see your kids or grandkids. Love gives you the energy to stay on the phone for hours speaking with a family member or friend as they are going through a difficult time.

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

In Revelation chapter two it is not specified if it was their love for Christ or their love for each other, so it is best to not speculate and just say it was both. Of course, you can make an argument when your love for Christ goes away so does your love for others, but we will just say that this applies to our love for both God and man.

As we grow closer to the end of time one of the things that we will notice as Matthew 24:12 says …” the love of many will grow cold.” So, one of the signs of the end times is that love for each other will stop happening and if you think the world is bad now just wait till even more people stop loving each other. If there is ever an area where Christians can stick out in a world full of hate it is by our willingness to love. We should have a love for God, our brothers, and sisters in Christ and for a world that is lost and struggling to find their way. If the people of God stop loving, then the world is really in trouble.

So what can we do if we see that we are not loving others the way we should?

Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

The Church that lost its love was told to confess those things to God and begin demonstrating love. The good news is there is always a chance to turn this around but to do that we must go back to the basics of Christianity.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

If we are going to renew our love for God and others, then we must remember what God did for us. The Apostle Paul never got over why Christ would die for Him and the love that Christ showed him. If we are going to renew our love to God and others, then we must remember that we love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) When we begin to understand what Jesus did for us and the fact that we could not be in a right relationship with God on our own then we are so grateful for the love we have been shown. Jesus demonstrates the love we were shown compared to our love for others in the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35.

1 John 4:9-10 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

If you are struggling with loving others let me suggest that you go back and reflect on what Christ did for you, confess your hatred to Him and ask Jesus to change your heart. If we are going to live in “the most excellent way” then we must start with how Christ died for us even while we were still sinning against Him. (Romans 5:8) and remember that when others sin against us.

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Isaiah 37:8-38 Handling the Threats of Life

King Hezekiah is learning to trust God with a situation that is ongoing, and the enemy is trying to get him to faulter in his trust and confidence in God. It is easy to read stories in the Bible and think they are over quickly, or that there is no daily battle mentally happening like what we deal with in our daily lives. When you are going through a struggle most people do not realize the daily struggle mentally you are dealing with as you try and do what God has asked you to do. It is easy to trust God when we see a quick response but when the situation drags on it can wear on us and become more difficult to trust God through it. King Hezekiah will get a written threat from the Assyrians which could shake his confidence in God and cause him anxiety as he rehearses in his mind the way the scenarios can play out.

Threat: a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.

The Assyrians want King Hezekiah to surrender so they do not have to have a difficult and a long drawn out battle to take Jerusalem. Most people who are Narcissist will threaten you because they are not getting their way and one thing we are promised as we get closer to the end of time is  that people will become lovers of self or narcissist. (2 Timothy 3) Their intent is to hurt and damage you and so although we may not be threatened with our physical lives we sometimes have people threaten our reputations or our business by talking bad about us and spreading lies. This is the exact tactic that the Assyrians are using against Hezekiah and we will see what we can do when we face these similar circumstances in our daily lives.

Isaiah 37:8-13The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush,[a] “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”

  1. Trust God when threatened by Men

As the army has surrounded Jerusalem part of the army left to go and help in another area but before they left a letter was sent letting them know they will return and when they did, they would attack. The Attack on Jerusalem would not be easy which is why the Assyrians wanted them to surrender rather than starve them out and or attack them and engage in a difficult battle. The King of Assyria has no regard for the Living God and says that Jerusalem will fall just like all the other cities that have fallen proving their gods were no match for the Assyrian army. For fifty Years the Assyrians have been conquering Mesopotamia and so the thought was, what chance did Hezekiah have to stand up to this powerful army?

Hezekiah is being asked if he really trust His God to deliver him a question, we all must answer for ourselves. Logical thinking is important but when it comes to trusting in God, we must be careful that our logical thinking means that God does not have the power to overcome any situation. Many times, it is the voice of people that can cause us to lose hope in God like Elijah running after being threatened by Jezebel. (1 Kings 19) The Assyrians were calling God a liar and a deceiver and were trying to get King Hezekiah and the children of Israel to faulter in their trust in Him and surrender.

Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

It is the mouth of people that cause us to fear and it is people, not God, that get our attention some unintentionally and some intentionally. We all can say we trust in God but when life is not going the way we want then it is difficult to wait on God for deliverance.  

The letter from the King of Assyria was a written notice as to what will take place and the final warning to King Hezekiah. The facts where on the side of the Assyrians because it was true that they had yet to be stopped but the God we worship and serve is not limited in what He can do. Do not let the voice of others cause you to lose your trust in God. Do not let the voice of others be louder than the word God has already told you.  Is God Able? Is a question we all must answer as we walk through this life.

Isaiah 37:14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

  • Take your threats to God

“He spread out the letter to God” King Hezekiah literally took the letter and went into the temple and laid it out before God and waited for God to respond. In King Hezekiah’s mind it was God’s reputation that was on the line not his, but the Assyrians were doing all they could to get King Hezekiah to doubt God. Word had gotten back to the Assyrians that it was King Hezekiah’s belief in God that was keeping him from surrendering. Yes, Hezekiah would be captured or killed but it was God’s reputation that was on the line not His because it would be God who would be the one who would save them. Do you live your life as if your reputation is on the line or as if God’s reputation is on the line? When we learn to trust in God then we know that it is God who has to come through with what He has promised and although we will be the ones who might get mocked it will be God whose reputation will be at stake. Too many times we care more about our own reputation in our world and so we make sure that we only do or say things that we can accomplish.

“Believers need to worry more about trusting God and glorifying his name, rather than trying to figure out the answers to all the how and when questions. God purposely keeps the details of his ways mysterious, for knowing the how and when can have a negative influence on some of the dynamics of trusting God.” (The New American Commentary, Pg 616)

King Hezekiah was a man who was determined to let God fight his battles for him. Waiting for God to act is difficult but there are many situations in our lives where we need to just wait and see what God does with the threats we have been given.

Isaiah 37:15-19 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.

  • Remember who God is

King Hezekiah list attributes of God because it is always good to remember what God has told us about Himself.

  1. Lord Almighty or Lord of Host; This indicates that God is the commander of the Heavenly Armies.
  2. God of Israel: God’s connection with His chosen people
  3. Above the Cherubim: Gods Rules on His temple throne
  4. Ruler of all the nations
  5. Creator: He owns the world and all that is in it.

When we have a small view of God then our problems seem bigger than they are or at least bigger than God. These are not new things King Hezekiah has just learned but like many of us we know the attributes of God, but we do not allow them to impact our everyday decisions. King Hezekiah knew the stories of how God intervened for His people when they were at Egypt and how God continued to show Himself again and again to not only save His people but to show others that He was the true God. The early church prayed a similar prayer when they were being threatened

Acts 4:24-31 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[a] said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’[b]27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Threats will happen to God’s children simply because people do not want to answer to anyone but themselves and so they will try and silence those who believe in a God who should have the ultimate say in how they live their lives. The disciples did not pray to take the threat away or even for protection, but simply to give them the power to continue to speak the truth even though their lives had been threatened.  Of course, God granted their request and filled them with the Holy spirit, and they continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Isaiah 37:20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

  • Ask God to Show Himself

The entire point of King Hezekiah’s prayer is for God to be honored not himself or even the people. His prayer was like Elijah’s when he took on the prophets of Baal and He asked that God show Himself. Do we live our lives in such a way that only God can get the credit?  Does our church operate in such a way that only God can be our explanation for what is accomplished?

Psalm 109:26-27 Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! 27 Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it!

This prayer is different from many of the selfish prayers we hear today but our prayers and our lives should be such that only God gets the glory.

Isaiah 37:21-25Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:“‘She despises you, she scorns you—
 the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you—the daughter of Jerusalem. 23 “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon, to cut down its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses, to come to its remotest height, its most fruitful forest. 25 I dug wells and drank waters, to dry up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.

  • God will deal with the threats

God spoke through Isaiah and Isaiah wrote down the answer to King Hezekiah’s prayers from God and God lets King Hezekiah know that the troops and the King of Assyria will retreat in frustration.

“Whom have you ridiculed and blasphemed?” (23) God wants it to be clear that it is His own name that He is defending against the King of Assyria who thought that he has become like a god.  Seven times the word “I” is used when God is saying what the King of Assyria has said about all his accomplishments.Although the King of Assyria never reached the Delta, he was confident that he could and now God is going to show him who truly is God.

Isaiah 37:26-27‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities  crash into heaps of ruins, 27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted[b] before it is grown.

God is reminding the King of Assyria that he was only allowed to do what he did because God allowed it so that God’s people would repent of their sin of false worship and sinful lifestyles. God was using the King of Assyria but the King of Assyria thought that it was by his own might and power that he achieved the victories that he achieved.

Isaiah 37:28-29 I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.
29 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.’

The King of Assyria will be carried away like a wild ox who has a ring in his nose going where he does not want to go.

Isaiah 37:30-35And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

“This will be a sign” When God gives a sign, it is something so clear that it can only be explained as something He has done or given. It will not be because of all the circumstances just happen to fall into place but it is something that when you look back you know that God did it. God was letting them know that it would be too late to sow after God gave them the sign and by the time it was over it would be 2 sowing seasons before they could plant again. The sign would let them know that once the Assyrians leave, they are not coming back and that is what history has shown us has happened. It will not just be survival for Gods people, but things will get to the point that it will be renewed and they will “ADD roots downward and produce fruit upwards” which was talk about the productivity they will see.

“He will not come into the city or shoot an arrow there” God is promising King Hezekiah that they will not even begin to set up mounds of dirt that will allow them to get closer and closer in order to strike. No King of Assyria ever returned to Jerusalem even though Assyria remained dominate in other areas God will do this to make His name great not because of the people and because of the Davidic Covenant (Psalm 89:3-4) which would lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus (Luke 1:32-33)

Isaiah 37:36-38  And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

An angel of God went out and smote 185,000 Assyrians. 2 Kings 19:35-37 indicates that this was the next night after the prophecy was given to King Hezekiah.  A field commander joked that one Assyrian junior officer could destroy 2,000 Jewish Charioteers (36:8-9) but it only took one angel of God to destroy 185,000 Assyrians. Smote can mean to strike or it can mean a plague, so we are not clear what happened, but we know that it happened because the Egyptians even wrote about it. The stories in the Bible are historical and not just made up fairy tales as some say but have been proven true historically time and time again.

Whatever happened the King of Assyria knew that this was the hand of God that he was going against and God had proven Himself true. Why did the angel not strike the King as well? Some speculate it was so he would have to live defeated especially after seeing the most powerful army at the time destroyed so easily. Isaiah 37:29 God said He would make the King Return home and it was there where he died.

The King of Assyria would rule for 20 more years never going back toward Jerusalem and would die at the hand of two of his sons while he was worshiping his god. The King that bragged about all his accomplishments would die by his own family members as Isaiah prophesied would happen in Isaiah 37:7. The king of Assyria put his hope in his god, but his god could not even save him from his two sons in the very temple he was worshiping the god in.

Prayer is humbling coming before God with the realization that you are not in charge. Prayer is admitting that we have no control over the future and so we humbly lay our request before Him and humbly accept His plans.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Just as King Hezekiah took the threat and laid it out before God so we are to take whatever cares or threats against us and give them to God. This does not mean that just because we humble ourselves and have faith that it means all our problems will go away. The Bible is full of stories of people of faith who were not delivered the way they thought they would be, but God had a plan that they could not fully understand.

“Faith is a commitment to trust the will of God for whatever he may ask one to experience; it is not a key that will force God’s hand to unlock his treasure house. Faith enables people to walk in a way that God honors and glorifies God, but in practical terms it daily echoes the profound words of Jesus in the garden, “not what I will, but what you will” (Matthew 26:39) (The New American Commentary, Pg 635)

What are you having to trust God for by faith? What is going on in your life that you need to lay down before God and ask for His intervention?

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