During election season (don’t worry this post is not political in nature), I try to learn what I can about people and want they stand for. I am not bound by any stripe or affiliation, I just observe their behavior and I specifically look for how or if they exalt God in any way. Sadly, I seldom find any reference to God. In reviewing their rhetoric I see quite a few examples of a “trust me” attitude. It is almost as if they are asking me to accept them without question. So that led me to reflect on what it takes for me to trust someone, to accept what they say or do, or to honor their request.
In a letter to written to Philemon (in Paul’s own hand), we read of a relationship that Paul developed with Onesimus. From reading this account it seems that Onesimus was at one time not worth much, maybe we would call him a ne’er do well. However, during Paul’s imprisonment, Onesimus had become very profitable to Paul. In verse 10, Paul refers to Onesimus as his son. Paul goes on to say how much he means to him and how he would love to have him by his side but part of Onesimus' problem was that he had unfinished business with Philemon. Paul recognized this when he asked Philemon to allow Onesimus to stay. Paul said in verse 12 that his bowels or his heart were the same as in Onesimus. After stating his case, Paul pulls out his last request and in verse 17 says, “If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.” In other words, Paul is saying that whatever you think of me, extend that to Onesimus. Paul is asking Philemon to “trust me” and honor my request. Paul further says that if there is a debt or a wrong to apply it to his account and he will make restitution. Paul had a relationship with Philemon that gave him the comfort to make this plea.
So what type of person should I accept and honor their request? A friend and fellow believer (verse 1), a person of love and faith toward God (verse 5), someone whose faith helps them to appreciate every good thing in God (verse 6), someone who loves God’s people (verse 7) and someone who will listen and respond over and above (verse 21). Be careful who you trust and confide in. Make sure they have the same godly desires as you do. Don’t get caught up in the loose rhetoric…just allow God’s ways to direct you. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Now is the Time
When I was overlooking the city of Jerusalem, I could not help but to reflect on that time when Jesus must have beheld a similar view and said in Luke 13:34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” In this chapter, Jesus was going to Jerusalem wanting to gather the people to him. He had sent the prophets and they had no impact on the people. In verse 23, a question was posed to Jesus about the number of people who would accept him as Savior and he answered in verses 24-30 that you can enter as long as the opportunity exists. There would be few because people preferred their own ways instead of God’s ways. When Jesus said in verse 24 “I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” that was not because he did not offer the gift of salvation; it was because they had rejected salvation and now it was too late. In verse 25, we read that “once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door” there is no longer an opportunity to come inside. The sobering reality is that once the door is closed, there is no other opportunity to come inside. The harsh reality is that those who rejected Jesus and are left outside will forever be able to see and know those that chose God.
Today, there are those that have been sent to preach, teach, and share the Gospel with the world and the message of Christ is no more accepted today than it was when Jesus looked over Jerusalem. Professing to know Jesus invites ridicule, judgement, and condemnation because a child of God will not conform to the ways of the world. False preachers stand in pulpits all across America perverting the word of God to gain an audience. God’s word is still true today just as it was when he spoke it. Today, Jesus sits at the right hand of God wanting to gather all to him. I must admit that at times, it keeps me up at night wondering what to do to share the Gospel and get people here in Charleston to hear. I see in my mind Jesus thinking “how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.” Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Fools for Christ
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. He was the longest serving Justice; serving on the court from 1986 until his death. While he was labeled a conservative, he preferred to be known as an “originalist.” Antonin Scalia put a heavy emphasis on the original text of the U.S. Constitution in deciding his opinions. One of Scalia’s quotes was, “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools...and He has not been disappointed....If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
We live in a time when people feel free to call others “fools” if they do not agree with their view of philosophy. The Bible defines a “fool” in Psalm 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” God defines foolish as those that have chosen a corrupt path…a path that goes against God and his ways. Have we come so far that God and his word mean nothing? Believers today are looked upon with contempt when they stand for God and his principles. Our society perceives God as weak and inept yet his word says in Romans 14:11-12 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Understand this: no one will escape the judgement of God. We will give an account of how we lived according to God’s guidelines not our own.
The privilege of sharing the gospel in the face of opposition, the privilege of standing for godly principles in the face of ridicule, and the privilege of claiming Jesus as my Savior give me peace in a world of turmoil. Counted as one with Christ…I can live with that. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Words of Wisdom
In George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, the 65th Rule is “Speak not injurious words, neither in jest or earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.” I have a collection of books that cover a wide range of subjects. I know you may be thinking, "Who reads stuff like that?" and I admit, I do own the book. There are actually 105 rules that George tried to follow when in the company of others. This one in particular reminds me of Ephesians 4:29, which says “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” It would appear that the language of Godly people should avoid being harmful and instead be used to build others up. It seems, in the world we live in, it is much easier to tear another down that it is to build them up. It is much easier to tell a lie than stand up for the truth. There is a caution in the quote that in jest or in earnest you can cause harm in others. Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, gives the best reason of all to use decent language and tone toward another. He says our conversation “may minister grace.” Grace is receiving something that we would never deserve. Grace is what Jesus extends to us in spite of the fact that we deserve nothing.
What do others see in you? Do they know by your conversation that you mean them no harm and you desire to edify or build them up? We can do harm in jest or in earnest but in either case, harm is done. Let’s use this week to try and build each other up. A believer needs that word of encouragement and an unbeliever needs to know you care enough to share the Gospel with them. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
This past week, I have heard in conversation, “I can’t believe this month has passed so quickly. It just seems like yesterday we were celebrating Christmas!” Time is a fixed entity but is it not amazing how, at times, it seems that time just flies by? We reminisce about days gone by and how we may miss the “good old days.” Our memories of growing truly may seem just like yesterday but the reality is, we grow older and more mature by the day. Time is the same for each and every one of us. It is not so much how we measure time but how we spend the time that we have. In James 4:14, we read this: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” God tells us in the book of James that we have no idea what tomorrow may hold and the reality is all the time that we have is what we have immediately before us. We have no guarantees of tomorrow so how are we going to spend today? He even compares the brevity of life as a vapor that appears for a brief time and then, just as quickly as it appears, it disappears.
If you are reading this, then God has given you another day. What are you going to do with it? What plans have you made? Do they include God? Have you asked God to guide and show you what he would have you to do with this day? We read in James 4:15 that “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” The Bible tells us that we should not plan without God. We literally ought to ask God what he wants and we will do what he directs. There is no better way to spend the day than by letting God direct your path. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.