How We Treat Each Other

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul gives valuable instructions on how Christians should treat others, following the model of Jesus Christ.

First, we are to speak the truth. As we have always heard, “honesty is the best policy.” This phrase is often accredited to Benjamin Franklin. However, the idea can be recognized from the ten commandments given by God to Moses for the children of Israel. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” (Exodus 20:16) Wikipedia says this in relation to this quote, “Matthew Henry taught that the prohibition against false witness concerns our own and our neighbor’s good name. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” forbids: “1. Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor. 2. Speaking unjustly against our neighbor, to the prejudice of his reputation; and (which involves the guilty of both). 3. Bearing false witness against him, laying to his charge things that he knows not, either judicially, upon oath (by which the third commandment, and the sixth and eighth, as well as this, are broken), or extrajudicially, in common converse, slandering, backbiting, tale-bearing, aggravating what is done amiss and making it worse than it is, and any way endeavoring to raise our own reputation upon the ruin of our neighbor’s.”[61] 

Second, don’t let our anger cause us to sin against others. Our anger can give the devil a foothold that can change our attitudes, our desires, and our actions. “Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (https://www.brainyquote.com)

Third, we mustn’t take things that belong to others, thereby hurting them in some way. “Thou shalt not steal,” is very clear on this subject. (Exodus 20:15) Pastor Don Wilton admonishes, 

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Our Afflictions Are Temporary

With rheumatoid arthritis, every day is a struggle. That is just one of the things that can make life really hard. Not just for me, but for most people. There are many different types of struggles. But the good news is that, no matter what trials we face, we can know without any doubt that there are better days coming.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Knowing that my pain won’t last forever, I have hope. It makes me want to behave as though my life is not about the pain, because it’s not. My life is about being a Christian… the best Christian I can be. Because I have the assurance that the weight of my affliction doesn’t compare to the glorified life and body that are awaiting me. Even if my hardships here on this earth remain until I die, my eternal life will be without pain and strife. That promise is more than enough to keep me going.

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
Jesus knows our pain and our sorrows. He feels them. He loves us, and He will give us all of the strength that we need, if only we will truly let Him.

He gives me the power to arise every morning. His might carries me through each and every day. I can overcome the pain and strain from moving, toiling, and enduring throughout my life because He carries me. To God be the glory.

Why Die?

I know that I am not the first one to ask this question, specific to the apostles. Why would anyone choose to die a horrible death when they could easily conform to the demands of the authorities? By simply denying Jesus, they could have avoided the persecution and brutality they suffered.

Why? Because they were eyewitnesses to the truth. Because they knew, beyond all doubt, that Jesus is who He said He is. Because they knew that the truth is bigger and more durable than their fragile, human lives. And above all, Jesus was able to sustain them and give them peace, even while they were imprisoned, and/or tortured, and/or killed. Only John the Revelator died a natural death. The manners of death for the others included crucifixion, beheading, stabbing, stoning, and flaying.

Methods of crucifixion from the time varied, none of them pleasant. Beheadings were carried out by sword, the guillotine still centuries away from being invented. Therefore, death would have been less instantaneous. Stoning was, of course, like being beaten to death with big rocks. Flaying/scourging was accomplished by using a whip with many tails. Each tail was corded with metal or bone, in order to split skin and muscle. This method of punishment was almost always used prior to execution. Obviously though, a human body is only able to withstand so much flaying.

They became martyrs because they knew that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They knew that He performed real miracles, that He was crucified, that He died, and that He arose on the third day… because they saw it! They were there! They watched Him ascend into heaven. After all that they experienced with Him, and after being blessed with the Holy Spirit sent to them by God, they were able to endure and complete the mission that they were given.

“And they overcame [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11)

As missionaries, they expanded the Christian church. As martyrs, they made it possible for future disciples of Christ to point to the example set by the apostles and for us to pose the logical question…

Why would they choose death? Because they knew for a fact that what Jesus had told them was true. There is a better life beyond this one, an eternal life, and that Jesus is the  way to that life.

For the Martyrs

Paul, a Witness

Paul was arrested, more than once, for telling people about Jesus. Yet, he did it anyway. Why? Why would he willingly move from a position of respect and privilege, to a role as a fugitive and tormented individual? Why would he change from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle and servant of the Lord?

In his testimony before the Roman consul Agrippa, Paul related the words of Jesus, from their encounter on the road to Damascus.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of satan to God, that they receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”

Paul’s faith was strong, and he understood what was at stake… a battle for the souls of men. What if he hadn’t been willing to answer the mission given to him on the road to Damascus? He was the perfect example of the great commission…

“‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”

Eventually, Paul was executed by Nero. Until the very end, he maintained his faith Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Let It Start With Me

The Chick-fil-A Stand in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium Will Be Closed on Super Bowl Sunday — BCNN1 WP

Chick-fil-A is well known for being closed on Sundays to honor the Sabbath, and it turns out that even the prospect of huge Super Bowl Sunday profits won’t be enough for the fast food restaurant to make a change in that biblical policy. This year’s Super Bowl LIII matchup will take place Feb. 3 in […]

via The Chick-fil-A Stand in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium Will Be Closed on Super Bowl Sunday — BCNN1 WP

Paul, an Example

Paul is one of my favorite biblical people. In him, God creates an excellent example of what He can do to reach sinners, and how He can use a willing heart to further His kingdom.

When Paul was known as Saul, he persecuted Christians. He was so good at it, he was famous. He was admired by his superiors and was well-connected. There were few less likely to become a Christian. Therefore, he was uniquely right to be used to demonstrate the real power and truth of Christ.

In a later letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1: 13-14)

Someone as stubborn and dogmatic as Saul had to be broken in order to be reached. So that is just what happened. While he was on the road to Damascus, Jesus visited him in a flash of bright light.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’

‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.

‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ …

Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” (Acts 9: 3-9)

Once broken, Saul finally opened his heart to the truth of Christ, and His gift of salvation. Saul accepted the truth, and became a Christian. In doing so, he gave up his status, his certain future, and life as he knew it. In return, he gained  so much more, a place in Christ’s kingdom and eternal life. In this life, he became a whole new person… Paul.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

God sent someone to heal Paul’s sight, and then Paul began his mission to preach Christ to the world, to be a leader to Christians new and old.

In submitting to God’s call, Paul becomes a further example to all of us who come after.

Broken Vessels by Hillsong