Week of January 2, 2011
A Jesus Teaching:
As we relate or reach out in the world around us, Jesus suggests, "you will be like sheep among wolves". Some people, who appear to be Christians, act more like they are apart of this world. They may encourage political correctness regarding things of this world. Politicians may use them to make political advances. Some are confusing to other Christians, as they may promote in the name of love reaching out to sinners by telling them that their sins are okay. They may promote what they call "spreading the kingdom" by encouraging others to be a part of the political process. They may advocate beliefs that will grow their Christian group or church while appearing to be sheep and yet it is hard to tell them from the wolves. Frequently they are serving themselves, not God. They may confuse loyalty to the government with loyalty to God. As we follow Jesus, we have to be careful of the dangers of people we are around. Jesus gives the advice, "be as smart as snakes. But also be like doves and do nothing wrong". Years ago before I was in ministry, a Christian man who later became a pastor used the first part of this scripture and another scripture to justify his unethical conduct, when I confronted him. One of the reasons I had business dealings with him was because he claimed to be a Christian. In general, Jesus tells us to "Be careful of people". Unfortunately, at times it seems wise to be extra careful around people who publicize their Christianity. Having raised doves and other birds in the past, I can assure you that Jesus illustration utilizing doves is very accurate. Doves are gentler and less aggressive than most birds. We can be gentle and trust God. If are confronted unfairly because we are followers of Jesus, God will give you guidance how to respond or as Jesus says, "The Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you". Although Jesus words are comforting, your faith will be stronger in times of need, if you are used to trusting God and hearing His guidance on a daily basis.
It seems difficult to imagine that people will "arrest you and take you to court" because you are a Christian, but it happens frequently in other countries and in our own country, Christians are frequently treated with disrespect in ways that would have been unheard of a half century ago. Much of the mistreatment of Christians in other countries comes from followers of Mohammad, yet it is common when they commit acts of violence, for the media and the politicians to wonder when they got "radicalized" instead of observing when they got "stronger in their religion". That is an example of not being wise. It is common in the news to read that Mohammadanist frequently cut off people's heads and it may not be a coincidence that John saw souls of people in heaven, "who had been beheaded because of their testimony"2. There was a time in our country that Jesus statement; "All people will hate you because you follow Me", seemed inconceivable. Today more Christians are concealing their belief, as they do not want to be disrespected. In many environments such as work, school, TV, movies, etc. in the US today, it is politically incorrect to be proud of being a Christian. More Christians are "joining the secret service" or keeping their Christianity a secret.
Jesus' solution is not to retaliate or work against evil people but to be "harmless as doves". We are to stand firm or grow stronger as a Christian because "the person who continues strong until the end will be saved". Whenever I read the words of Jesus about standing firm or enduring "to the end", I am reminding of a religious teaching from years ago "once saved, always saved". Like many religious teaching, people like it and it promotes church growth built on deception but it does not agree with the "truth", which is Jesus. For many years God has protected me from religious contamination especially, Christian TV. Once in the 90's I had a couple in my office and because of their life style, the woman felt she they were living a sinful life that would be corrected by getting married but the man told me no problem, "once saved, always saved". As we start a new year, may I invite you to rededicate your life to God and seek God's guidance how to "endure" or grow "strong" in your walk with Him. He may encourage you to be more faithful in your prayer life or the read the red letters in your bible, which are the words of Jesus. There are many things God could encourage you to do to help you. Hopefully you will grow stronger in knowing Him personally and in hearing God guidance1.
Let's pray: "God, in Jesus name we come to You and ask your guidance on the things we can do to help us be stronger in doing what You want us to do. Thank You for Your guidance, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Mt 10:16-22 (IC)
2. Rev 20:4 (NI)
note: click here for bible verse and translation abbreviations
A Psalm for reflection "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Ps 56:3 (NI)
Understanding the Teaching: What I share in the teaching is what I believe God wants me to share. All the direct quotes from God are highlighted in royal purple. Of course the words of Jesus are in red. Rather than follow some made up doctrine, remember that Jesus said that every thing He said (Jn 12:49) and everything He did (Jn 14:31) comes from God. All teachings and all opinions should be supported by what we learn from God or Jesus (see the scripture referred to in the footnote).
Marriage Workshop Moment
To refresh what you have learned in our Workshop or entice you to experience our Workshop
"Remember, all marriages can be better, if you use what you learned."
Filters: we all have them and they affect the very fabric of our marriages. Filters can be inattention, emotional states, expectations, communication styles or self-protection. All of these can effect how you hear or process things in your mind. One example of an emotional state could be if your boss yelled at you and put you down at work in front of others. When you come home, recognize your filter that you may hear things differently than intended because you are stressed and emotional. Try not to jump on your children for the least little problem. You may wish to announce your filter by sharing with your family that you had a rough day, so hopefully they will treat you considerately and it may cause your spouse be more sensitive to you. Another illustration would be a wife came home late after a long day. Her husband thinking this would be a great time to take her out to dinner said, "What would you like to eat?" Through her tired filter she heard, "What are you going to fix for dinner?" And her response was anger, which resulted in him getting angry and they never did go out to eat. Recognize that all kinds of filters become barriers to intimacy and openness. Try and be sensitive to your spouse and detect their filters. Take responsibility for understanding your filters. If you recognize you have a situation that may cause you to filter, announce it.
The Better Half "When your partner won't support your efforts to make your marriage better" Without your spouse's support to improve your marriage, you can still pray daily for God's will to be done in each of your lives and your marriage. Jesus said, "all things are possible with God", Mark 10:27 NIV). Recognize that all kinds of filters become barriers to intimacy and openness. Try and be sensitive to your spouse and detect their filters. Take responsibility for understanding your filters. If you recognize you have a situation that may cause you to filter, announce it. If you feel like your spouse will not care about your filter, you may try to not allow it to influence what you hear.
Hi Followers of Jesus,
NEW YEAR RESOLUTION A New Year resolution you can work on all year, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to be angry." Shared from our Marriage Workshop, (Ja 1:19).
Many sexual perverts or homosexuals want to be considered normal as they enjoy their perverted lusts. They want to call their relationships a "marriage" and some adopt children and recently a leading "news" magazine published a birth announcement of a couple of male homosexual's reactions "to the birth of the couple's first child via an anonymous surrogate". There is some humor in these pathetic desires for appearing normal but they are still offensive to God.
An Arab politician in the Promise Land who follows Mohammad, referred to Jesus as their first martyr. They want to be considered followers of Jesus while actually they follow Mohammad. These squatters in the Promise Land (aka Palestinians) follow a religion that is built on deceptions. They can only benefit from Jesus death by turning away from their false religion and believing in Jesus 100%. Yes, they say they believe Jesus is just a Prophet but calling Him a Prophet is like calling Jesus a liar, as Jesus says He is the "Son of God" Jn 10:36 (KJ).
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