Pay Back or Pay Forward?

1 Thessalonians 5:15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Our ways should not be the ways of the world, but the ways of the Lord. Rather than crush a foe, we should try to win a foe. After all nothing is gained by defeating another, but we can gain a friend by winning (not defeating) them over.

My Advice – Don’t seek revenge. This is the way of the world. You are called to be different. Rather, be kind to those who would harm you.

Your Attitude Should Be…

Philippians 2:2-5Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Ambition is fine, as long as it is not driven by selfishness. Humility does not mean you have to have a low opinion of yourself, just don’t be conceited and drive others down. It is okay to look out for your own interests as long as you don’t do it at the expense of others.

My Advice – Watch yourself in your career that you do not become driven by selfish ambition. Do not let success make you vain and conceited. Don’t walk over others to advance yourself. Help others at work.

Burden Bearers

Galatians 6:1Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – And what is the law of Christ? Love God with all our heart, soul and might and love our neighbors as ourselves.

My Advice – Burdens are easier to bear when there is someone to help. Help others with theirs. God will certainly send someone to help you with yours when it is needed. It very well could be someone you helped previously, helping you because you helped them.

So Men Would Seek Him

Acts 17:26, 27From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It may still seem like a mystery why some people live their entire lives in the jungle, never hearing the Gospel. But this verse assures us of one of two things. Either they are in the most likely time and place for them to know God and receive salvation, or they would never have come to know God no matter what time or place they lived and no matter how many times they heard the Gospel.

My Advice – God placed you at this time in history for a reason. He placed you in this family for a reason. He even placed you in Sycamore (at least for awhile) for a reason. You came to know Him. He will put you someplace (job and city) else after graduation for a reason. Look for His purpose. It is not just to make a living. It is to further your life in Him. Continue reaching out to and seeking Him.

What’s Stopping You?

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Ephesians 2:10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – God solved the ultimate when He sent His Son to die for us.  That is His workmanship.  Now we are new creations with work to do that God has prepared for us.  That is our workmanship.  How are we doing?

My Advice – This week, only for myself.

Thanks(and)giving

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Deuteronomy 8:10When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – We are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. (I have readers and followers from other countries).  It originated with the Pilgrims as a harvest festival, and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, following a proclamation by the country’s first President George Washington (after a request by Congress no less).  Its celebration was intermittent until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Wikipedia)

As a nation, we have so much to be thankful for since that first Thanksgiving when the future might not have look so bright.  To a large extent, we (but not all) eat and are satisfied.  We’ve (but not all) built homes and settled down.  Our (but not all) bounty has increased and multiplied.  But perhaps also to a large degree, we (but also not all) have become proud.  Perhaps we’ve (but not all) forgotten Who is responsible for our blessings.  I think maybe (maybe not all) Congress has.

My Advice –  Give thanks to God, not just on the fourth Thursday of November, but every day.  Not just when we eat and are satisfied, but when we are in want.  Not just when we are settled in nice homes, but when we are left “out in the cold.”  Not just when our bounty is increasing and multiplying, but it is dwindling away.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV 1984)

And when we are satisfied, when we are settled, when things are bountiful, let’s not forget that after the thanks comes giving.  For there are many, in our country and many more abroad, that have little to nothing to eat.  They have no shelter over their heads.  They have nothing to multiply (zero times infinity is still zero).

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident. (Leviticus 25:35, NIV 1984, emphasis added).

God’s blessings to all my readers.

Where’s Brother Waldo?

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Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

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My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.