Category Archives: New Posts

Imitate God

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
 
As a dad I look back on years when I was keenly aware that my son was watching me.  Watching to see how I did something, learning how by watching me.  When I realized he was imitating me as he learned how to be a man it made me profoundly panicked.  Suddenly I realized I was modeling for this boy how to live, how to be a man.  It made me look for someone to imitate in my own life so my son would have a good model to follow.
 
That’s when I really understood the words of Paul, “Imitate God.”  It’s an invitation to follow him around, to learn how he does things and do the same things.  It’s an invitation to mold your life to be like his.

But where do I see him to follow him, to imitate him, where do I find those examples?   I realized, quite to my own surprise, that the gospels gave me the pictures I needed.  All I had to do was follow Jesus around in the gospels and imitate him!
 
And that is what Paul is inviting us to do…follow Jesus, imitate him, be like him…do what he did…in other words, be his disciple.  
 
The key thing Paul noted for us to watch for was this- “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”  In every story of the gospels I see Jesus loving well.  He loved everyone in such a way that they were drawn to him.  Or, they were convicted by him.  His love draws all eyes to God.
 
His love and how he lived it out draws me to follow him.  I don’t do it well, but I’m working on it.  I don’t always say the right thing, do the right thing but I want to…I want to look like Jesus.
 
And, it’s possible as Paul invites us to do it, to “Imitate God” and do it first of all by loving well.
 
Of all the religions ever to touch human life only this one tells of a god who is first of all a lover of men. This God has invited us to imitate him and as we do others will be drawn to him too.
 
Imitate God=loving well.
 
Lord, help me to imitate you well as I encounter others each day. Help me to love them well and show them how much you care for them too.
 
Let my life, my love for others, be a pleasing aroma to you and draw others to seek this God who loves them through me.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Smell Of Smoke

Have you ever sat by a campfire and found, that even hours later, the smell of smoke had permeated your clothes?  It lingers, it clings and others can smell it too.

Often, as I live in a world that reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah, I’m aware that the smell of the culture has clung to me, that I’ve sat by their campfires too long.

I know, having experienced it, that by simply walking by a campfire the smoke of it easily and quickly permeates your clothing and the smell goes with you.  Some of that is unavoidable as we live in a world walking away from God, but it’s not the aroma I want others to smell in my life.

Paul writes of another aroma, another smell that permeates a Christian, that’s what I long to smell like,

 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” 2 Corinthians 2 

I live in a world that smells of smoke, the smoke of rebellion against God, but in the midst of that aroma God has given us a new fragrance, the smell of Christ, the aroma of life.

Lord, help me to live in the world, but not smell like it.  Let me smell like you, having walked by the fires of your Spirit burning in the lives of others, and may that aroma linger with me, the smell of Christ, and might it be a sweet aroma that draws men to you.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Most High God

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;

    wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;

    he deposes kings and raises up others.

He gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;

    he knows what lies in darkness,

    and light dwells with him.”

Daniel 2

Believe it or not there is a King in heaven in charge of everything.  He rules the kingdoms of this earth.  He raises up one leader and removes another.  HE is in charge, he rules the Universe…every molecule of it.

HE is King.

Then why are we afraid?  Why are we fighting over this politician or that one?  None of them can help us.  None of them can fix our problems.  They are just men placed there by God.

Why are we so angry, so afraid?  Why all the frustration, the name calling?

Is there a God in heaven or not?

If there is a God who rules then trust him.

If there isn’t then you aren’t fearful enough!

I’m saddened by what I see in the Christian world as “Christians” verbalize their fears in the public forums as if a man will be our solution.  Why do we trust in man?  Even David wrote of the foolishness of trusting in the strength of men.

Like Daniel, I’m so glad there is a sovereign and he does not rule from Washington or any other city.  He rules from heaven!

One of the worst kings of all time said this about that God, words that came after God humbled him,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“The Most High God”

There is a ruler over the affairs of man.

Oh that we would trust him and rest in his care.

He is in charge of everything, even who rules this little nation of ours.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Are You “Walking on Eggshells” in Your Marriage?

I remember the first time a friend took advantage of me. We were sitting in the theater, around age nine, and I had a box of Junior Mints. Because of the noise involved in opening and dumping the candy out, I had most of the box contents poured out onto my palm. As I sat there, I realized my friend might want one. She didn’t bring any money to the show, so I whispered, “Hey, do you want some?” I held my hand out, piled high with the little brown orbs of peppermint yumminess.

I thought she’d take a few and be thankful. She proceeded to scoop them off of my hand and into both of hers.

I was surprised. Shocked. Confused. Angry. I couldn’t believe she had done that. I wanted to say, “HEY. I meant a few of them! What’s wrong with you?” But I said nothing, because I was afraid I would upset her. And I didn’t have any experience with exercising my voice – I thought the only option I had was voicing my anger, which seemed mean, so I kept my mouth shut.

I didn’t realize at the time that I neither had a boundary of what she could take from me, nor had I communicated it to her. I was also missing a healthy way of dealing with her behavior.

I spent the rest of the movie feeling sad about my three leftover pieces in the box, and lied to myself that it was all fine. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.

I know now what my negative feelings were that day – they were caused by a combination of being taken advantage of by another, and failing to speak the truth.

Feeling taken advantage of hurts because of two reasons:

  1. The person who is treating us poorly is failing to love well in that moment, and
  2. We betray ourselves by failing to communicate our injury

The residue of inaction damages our self-esteem. It’s important that we deal with these little situations as they occur – but do so in a way that doesn’t trample on the esteem of another person.

Many wives often feel as though they are taken advantage of by their husbands. They feel as though they are carrying the weight of the housework, the relationships, the kids’ activities, etc. They also may be working part-time or full-time and are physically exhausted. What’s interesting is that many men also feel the same way – burdened by providing for their families, responsible for the more strenuous and physical home care items, and then expected to participate in relationships at a level that often frustrates and confuses them. All too often, conflict ensues between husband and wife, voices raise, and unhealthy and even damaging behaviors start spilling out onto the family landscape as a result of stress and lack of self-control.

What we don’t easily acknowledge is that far too often, the behaviors of either spouse can fall into the categories of verbal or emotional abuse – even if neither spouse intends to do the other harm. Repeats of these behaviors often cause the damage that occurs in abusive relationships – regardless of the intent of either spouse.

There’s a trend in our culture to label everything – and to espouse answers from positions of the extremes.  If you are in a marriage where you have some of the signs but know your spouse doesn’t intend to hurt or dominate you, some healthy changes and awareness can help a lot.  I’m going to suggest today that we fear GOD, instead of fearing our spouse. It is the beginning of wisdom, and it is Biblical. We know He hates divorce, so we should keep that in mind as we deal with these issues. Check the following “signs” below – if you have those in addition to fear, if there is a sense of “walking on eggshells” in your relationship, keep reading to learn how you can help your marriage heal.

Sign #1 –

If you have emotional control, you go to her and say something like, “I know you love me, and I know you didn’t mean to, but when you did ‘A’ it made me feel ‘B’ and I’m really struggling with what to do about that,” and she responds by discounting your feelings, arguing with you, defending what she did, minimizing or mocking you.  If she turns the discussion into how you’ve hurt her and suddenly you’re the one apologizing, and this is how it goes most of the time when you bring up an issue, then guess what? You have some REALLY unhealthy stuff going on – things that can damage a person’s soul, things that are labeled in the culture as “abusive.”

Sign #2 –

If you are excited about something good that happens to you, or you have an interest that feeds your soul and you are met with degrading, mocking, put downs, name-calling, or other remarks that make the clear point that there’s something wrong with you, what you like, or the success that you achieved – this is also unhealthy and harming to a person. Ideally, BOTH spouses should be enthusiastic and supportive of the other – regardless of how different or similar to the other they are.

Sign #3 –

When you are sad, sick, discouraged, etc., and you are demeaned or dismissed instead of being helped or treated kindly.  When your spouse behaves in an unkind way toward you regardless of how you are feeling – the absence of kindness (If anyone knows the good he should do and does not do it, sins.  James 4:17) or the presence of general unkindness is also damaging.

Much information exists in the realm of psychology about how these behaviors (and many more) damage the esteem of another. Tons of research and writing has been done on outcomes of abuse and what happens to victims. So we know what damage occurs, and we know how to help both the abuser and the victim – BUT – there’s a problem with the “labeling” of either.

 The culture we live in recognizes “abusers” as people of heinous motives. The signs above assume he or she is trying to control, trying to coerce, trying to manipulate.

I don’t believe the majority of Christian “abusers” are doing these things with the intention to harm their spouses.

This would never fly in a marriage, but how often have you seen men work out their issues with each other by physically going after each other in basketball, etc.? I don’t get it, but it’s a thing. They don’t naturally do conflict the way we do. I’m not excusing their behavior in marriage, nor am I intending to discount abuse victims (I’ve been one, just so you know. This post barely skims the surface of the bullying of my school years, nor does it cover the rape…) but I’m asking us to be wise enough, afraid of God enough, to see the whole picture, not just see what things look like from only our own perspectives. To not label, which is a form of judgment. I think this is also mature, healthy behavior.

Esteem IS destroyed – as is the case in the traditionally labeled “abuse” case – and the behavior may be classified as “abusive” BUT – the motives of the abuser aren’t evil, and too often, the “victim” (and I’m using quotes out of respect for those women (and men) who truly are victims, ones who are being beaten on a daily basis and those women who are raped in their homes, etc.) the “victim” in these other situations is actually contributing to the high levels of conflict and abusive behavior by responding in kind, AND by lacking healthy boundaries.

In other words, if we will learn how to stop responding abusively back and consider that “silence” and “lack of affection” – natural responses to being screamed at – are also listed as abusive behaviors, and set healthy boundaries for ourselves, not as a parental and punitive response to our spouses, if we’ll do those things, we can change our marriages. I know this to be true.

Want more proof?

I personally know women who have been in these situations, some which classify as legitimate abuse, including some with husbands whose motives were even questionable – and they’ve overcome these situations and God has healed them and their marriages!

The other thing we need to remember is that Shaunti Feldhahn’s research in The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages shows that “thinking the best” and “giving the benefit of the doubt” are MAJORLY important.

So know this: if you label your spouse as an “abuser” and yourself as the “victim” you are adding an element of toxicity to your marriage that will infect it like a plague. Seriously. There are a number of ministries and authors who work to help women (and men) who recognize that their spouse is treating them in abusive ways – here’s the problem – I’ve talked to many of these authors and some of the ministry folks… and their success rate for restoring the marriages is very low. Less than 5% of the marriages are healed. Most end in divorce.

What we are suggesting instead, is an approach that combines Biblical truth of not accepting abusive behavior, protecting yourself and your kids, but also heals your marriage. It is not easy, but neither is the path walked by ascribing intent to your spouse and labeling him an abuser, which often results in divorce.

The choices become fairly clear when we look at things this way.  We can:

  1. Judge our spouse’s intentions and label him/her an “abuser” and ourselves as a “victim” – which most of the time leads toward divorce
  2. Choose to label both of us as “sinners” then do the hard work of establishing healthy boundaries, while still loving and respecting our spouse
  3. Actively pursue healing for ourselves if we have been on the receiving end of unhealthy and damaging behaviors

I’m suggesting #’s 2 and 3.

Most of the men I talk to who have hurt their wives have done so unintentionally, however, if your spouse DOES intend to hurt you, control you, destroy you, then you are dealing with something completely different and you require the help of a licensed psychologist, preferably a Christian. Even with that, some of the second and especially the third options above will still help a lot.

What I’m saying is there’s actually something we can DO about unhealthy behaviors – including the ones from others that result in a destruction of our esteem.

Interactions with our spouse may leave you feeling worthless, suicidal, damaged – BUT he or she may or may not be intentionally “abusing you.” If your spouse claims to be a Christian, Matthew 18 is there to help – although most people will not do the hard work of walking through it, or do so with someone who is ill-equipped to help.

What solves these problems in marriage is both spouses establishing healthy boundaries, while treating themselves and their husband or wife with love and respect. When both of you get on the same side of the fence to protect the marriage, you can work in the same direction. Labeling your spouse an “abuser,” even if his or her behaviors fit in that category, do not help the marriage. Dealing with your own mental health to heal from these behaviors by joining Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or our Strength & Dignity eCourse (for women) will help you find healing.

I started our free Strength & Dignity eCourse to deal with these issues in a meaningful and life-changing way.  I see too many families being destroyed by good people who mean well who are missing some healthy alternatives to interaction AND are being coached in all the defensive ways to deal with being “abused” or “get control” of their families.  These tactics “work” by getting the women to safety, BUT – the marriage is destroyed. I want better options than that for us all.

May we all love and respect better today.

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a deeper connection with God & your husband (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and leads the free Strength & Dignity eCourse for wives who are suffering in verbally and emotionally difficult marriages. You can read more of her work at www.NinaRoesner.com .

Suicide

This morning a friend asked me to address suicide and my thoughts on this topic.

It’s a very personal topic for me.

My niece took her life several years ago and the thoughts of her are still near to all of us.  Suicide leaves questions for those have chosen it and for us left behind.

Why did they do it?  Was their life that bad?  How could they leave us like that?  And for us left behind, will the pain ever diminish?

As one author described it “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  If only they had asked for help, if only they had waited till morning, if only…..but all we have are unanswered questions that leave us empty and hurting.

And, in the area of faith and eternity these questions arise,

Is suicide a sin?

Can someone who commits suicide be forgiven?

Many have written that this is an unforgivable sin because we don’t have an opportunity to repent of it.  It’s a final choice, taking our lives into our own hands, leaving us no opportunity to repent.

One wrote that this situation leaves the person without forgiveness…doomed.

But let me address this topic in light of what Jesus did on the cross.
(Let me make clear that I’m speaking in reference to a Christian who would take their life.  If we are speaking of a person who hasn’t trusted Christ we have a completely different discussion to work on.)

Here are a series of questions that will help us get to some basic answers, are you ready?  (If you want all the scripture references do ask, but I’m leaving them out for the sake of brevity.)

1. When Jesus died on the cross how many of our sins did he die for?  If you know the bible the answer has to be “all of them”.  (Do you remember his last words? “It is finished.”  The total price was paid….it’s called “grace”.)

Hebrews tells us Christ died “once for all.”  (7:27, 10:10, 12, 14) What that means is that he made one sacrifice for all men, for all time, for all sins.

2. Now, if he died for all sins, when he died how many of your sins were still future?  If you’re thinking you have to respond, “all of them!”

3. So, when you trusted him as savior how many of your sins did he forgive?  You can see where I’m going, can’t you?  Again, you will have to reply, “all of them!”

I’m sure you are asking what does this have to do with suicide?  But be patient, we will get there….you can’t deal with such a difficult issue so easily.

One person wrote that when you commit suicide you don’t have a chance to repent and they are right, but based on what I have asked you already, what does repentance have to do with forgiveness?

Did you understand the implications of what I just asked?  IF you have trusted Christ then all your sins, past, present and future are forgiven already.  All of them!  Even my last choice of taking my own life.

Some will quote 1 John 1:9 in this discussion.  I’ve heard it many times as a response to grace, but read this verse in context and you will see it’s a once for all verse-  “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 fits perfectly with what we have discussed already.

Repentance is important, but it’s a response to forgiveness, not a way of getting it.  Forgiveness was done at the moment you trusted Christ.  Repentance is the right response on my part to sin and deals with my relationship with God, not my forgiveness.

Am I giving approval to those thinking about suicide? Not at all!

God forbid!

It’s a sad, terrible, painful choice that scars those left behind….but for the one who has chosen, in that dark moment, to take their own life and not trust God with the days ahead, they will still find themselves with the Lord, forgiven of sin, regretting their final choice to not trust God with the situation they faced.

Is a Christian who commits suicide forgiven and in heaven? YES!

Do they regret their choice? YES!  Because, in light of eternity, they realize they didn’t wait to see what God could do with their terrible situation.

I’m sure my niece wishes she could undo her choice, but she can’t and we live with the pain….missing her daily.

Are you thinking about taking your own life?  Please don’t!  Get help, tell someone, wait till morning…you will never regret the choice to trust God, but for the dear saint who is so broken that they sin and commit suicide you will see them in heaven.  And we will rejoice at a wonderful savior who provides all we need, even when our last choice is the worse one of all.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

And Others….

Faith is an essential part of the Christian life.  We came to God by faith, we live by faith, all we have is the result of faith.

Faith in God is at the very heart of the Christian experience.

There is a chapter in the bible that speaks exclusively of men and women who lived by faith, trusted God, made choices, built boats…all by faith.  They believed God, acted and saw the results of their faith in their lives.

But others (and this is where we struggle with the passage) lived by faith and died, lost everything, struggled, were tortured and seemed to fail.

We have a problem with that because we have adopted the belief that if we have faith good things will happen, prosperity will come, prayers will be answered, mountains will move.

But not for everyone, not all the time.

Some will live by faith and have nothing,

be hungry,

struggle to live at all

and others will lose their lives.

All these things will happen in the lives of people of faith!

How can this be?

Doesn’t faith do things?

Doesn’t it have good results?

Here are the words from this chapter on faith that we try to ignore,

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”

These were men and women of faith and it appears their faith “didn’t work!”  But faith is not a gum ball machine…put in your coin and get your prize…it’s trust in God with no idea of what will happen next.

It’s living with eyes on God regardless of the outcome.

Faith is trust in God.  It’s not a magic lamp I can use for my desires, but it’s a decision to trust in the God who loves me no matter what happens!

So what if I’m one of the “others”, those who don’t see their faith “work?”  What if I trust God and lose everything?  I still win!  I’m trusting God, even if I have nothing at all, even if I’m tortured, even if I lose my life…I still win and my faith in God will take me into eternity!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Verses on Comfort

verses of comfort

 

Sometimes when our heart is in so much pain we can’t think of verses that will bring comfort.  Bookmark this page, print out these verses and keep them in your Bible or pin this page.  Whatever you need to do to help keep the verse handy.

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 71:21 – You will increase my greatness and comfort me again

Psalm 77:2 – In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

Psalm 86:17 – Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 119:50 – This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life

psalm 119 50

 

Psalm 119:76 – Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant

Jeremiah 31:13 – Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

2 Corinthians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort   (Did you catch that dear Christian? the GOD of ALL COMFORT!!) 

2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you

1 Thessalonians 3:7 – for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith

2 Thessalonians 2:16 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace

 

What Verses do you turn to for comfort?

Do you have any printed out?

Will you share them in the comments below?

May the JOY of the Lord fill your heart today!

 

The Captain’s Face

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to go sailing with a good friend of mine. Ray was an oil man who had literally gone from struggling to pay the bills to millionaire overnight. In the 80’s it happened to a number of guys, but Ray was a Christian and a friend, so we talked about our faith, God’s provision and his blessings often.

After his new fortune Ray bought a boat he had always wanted, it was a 38′ sailboat. He had it delivered to Grand lake in eastern Oklahoma. It’s a large lake and a great place to sail.

There was a day one spring when we both had some time and Ray asked me to go sailing with him. I was thrilled to join him. I had never sailed before and looked forward to the experience. We met at the lake and got on the boat to get underway. Slowly we motored out of the inlet into the lake and then put up the sails. It was a great experience! I loved the sounds of the wind in the sails, the waves on the boat and the experience of sailing by wind power alone. We had a great time and a wonderful visit.

Then it happened.

Suddenly, and really without warning, a storm came up. It was a big one. 50-60 mile per hour winds and gusts, 3-4 foot waves, black clouds moving overhead. Quickly the lake cleared of other boats. Within minutes we were in a storm I can imagine the disciples experienced on the sea of Galilee when they woke Jesus and declared, “Don’t you care that we are drowning?” I think I understood the fear they experienced.

Our boat was leaning with the storm winds at 50 degrees or more. The waves were washing over the deck. The skies were black. The rain was intense. I WAS AFRAID!

But then I turned around and looked at Ray as he steered the boat across the lake. HE WAS SMILING!

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t he see what I saw? Didn’t he know this was bad? In my amazement I yelled through the storm, “How can you smile in this storm? Don’t you see the wind and the waves?” I heard the disciples in my own voice as I said, “Don’t you care that we might drown?”

Ray smiled back and said, “You don’t understand. I know my boat. It has a 9,000 pound keel. This boat was built for the oceans. This storm is nothing! We are fine! Relax, enjoy the ride.”

Suddenly, my fear subsided. I had looked at the captain’s face. He knew things about our boat that I didn’t. He knew we were fine.

Within a few moments my fear turned to calm. Because I trusted the captain I began to enjoy the ride. Nothing had changed….the wind still blew, the rains still came, the waves still washed over the deck, but something was different….I had seen the captain’s face.

The Christian life is much like this little adventure of mine. We are often caught in the storms of life and fear for our lives, our finances, our health. This life is often overcome by a storm when we least expect it. Fears overwhelm us. Death feels close. Panic is in our voices…..but then, with fear growing, we look at Jesus and discover that he is smiling! How can he smile in this storm? Doesn’t he know we are about to go down? And he replies, “You don’t understand. I know this boat. I know what I have planned for you. We are fine. I’ll bring you safely home. Enjoy the ride.” It’s funny how a glance at the face of our captain, Jesus, can change a fearful storm into an exciting adventure. A look at the captain’s face makes all the difference! …

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Who’s Slave Are You?

As a speaker/teacher I pray about each speaking event. A study on Biblical Servant hood would be my next teaching. After all I sign my correspondence, “Saved to Serve”. I began my study by looking up the word servant. I had to carefully read and re read the online concordance. “Does the word servant really mean slave?” I checked many verses and found that in the word servant was used instead of slave. This made my skin crawl and the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. “How could this be Lord?” Thoughts of the horrific treatment of slaves in America and elsewhere ran through my mind.   As I continued my study, God showed me what biblical slavery was all about. It may not be what you think. I am not a theologian. I cherish the Truth of the Word of God and make every effort to handle it correctly. This post only touches on some of the basic points. Please do a more in depth study on your own. You will be blessed.

Servant

Old Testament-“ebed” Slave/servant

New Testament- “doulos” Slave

The Greek word “doulos” is used many times in the New Testament. It is never interchangeable with the word servant in the original text. There are about 5 other words in the bible that mean servant and doulos is not one of them.

SLAVES IN BIBLICAL TIMES

Slaves were common during Old Testament and New Testament times.   There were laws concerning the treatment of slaves.

Leviticus 25:43 “You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God.”

Deuteronomy 15:12-14 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your wine-press. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. “

In the New Testament Jesus did not free the slaves. He gave instructions.

“Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. ” 1 Corinthians 7:20-24

“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.” God is over the master and he will deal with them if they are abusive.” 1 Peter 2:18

JESUS THE ULTIMATE SERVANT

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulos), and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7

WHO’S SLAVE ARE YOU?

Romans 6:16- “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Are you a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness?

My prayer is righteousness. No matter what, you are a slave.

God redeemed His children out of the pit of hell and brought them into His perfect light.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” Galatians 3:13

He purchased us with His own blood. We belong to Him.

“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

God adopted us.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Our relationship with God is multifaceted. Being His slave is just one.

My attitude has changed from this study. I used to wake up praying” God bless my day.” I set the agenda for my day and wanted God to bless it.   Now I wake up and ask, “What adventure do you have for your servant (doulos) today, Lord?

 

Cherrilynn Bisbano
Speaker/Teacher/Writer
godsfruit@juno.com

Visit Cherrilynn at Pelican Promise

 

 

Peace, Peace….Oh For Peace

The world we live in is filled with anger, rage, violence and pain.

We look for peace, long for peace, but fail to find it.  

We call for tolerance, but it eludes us. 

How can we find that one thing we all want, desire and need….peace?

As I’ve watched the events in my own country in the last weeks I grieve over lost lives, broken hearts and bitterness of soul that has made peace, forgiveness and love more elusive than ever.

But, there is a passage of scripture that offers the solution to all of this.  It’s a difficult passage, in fact it’s impossible.  It means we have to set our own desires, our own wishes aside and put others ahead of ourselves.  It’s impossible without the help of God.  

It’s impossible unless we humble ourselves and put others first.  

Here’s how Jesus described this life that can change everything,

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  

If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.  

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Can you imagine how our world would change if we treated each other in this way?  But it goes against all that is in us.  We each put ourselves first, we each want “our rights”…we all want what’s fair, but this  is an invitation to a way of life that sets all that aside and says that you are more important than I am.  

Without God’s help that’s impossible,  but imagine a world where this is the way everyone lives…..

…..I think you might call it heaven.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Thoughts On The Life Of Brittany

Brittany Maynard just took her own life as she faced a painful end of life from brain cancer.  I’m sure there will be many things said about this.  Many of those who write about it will be critical of Brittany’s choice.  I will not.  The whole situation is a sad one.  I feel a deep sadness for her, her husband and family.  There is no need for moralism at the moment, only grieving.

Was it the right choice?  Should she have waited for “life to take its course?”  Was there a right choice in this?  Opinions will all be voiced on the Internet.  Many will be harsh and hurtful.  The only emotion I give to this is grief.  I’m sad that this disease has taken such a young life.  I know many others suffer in the same way, but her choice to end her life in this way only magnifies the grief and sadness of her death.

We all face death.  Whatever the vehicle we will all be driven from this life to the next.  The debate over her choice is not the real issue we each must face.  Whatever we face that will one day take our lives are we ready for the life ahead?

Some will tell you that death is the end….when you’re dead, you’re dead.  Others believe eternity lies ahead.  I believe this life is only the beginning of life…eternal life.  We grieve over the death of someone we love in this life, but we rarely talk about the grief of losing eternal life.  100% of us will die physically, but it isn’t the end.  Ahead is eternity and for some a fate much worse than a painful death here.  For others eternity means real life and a walk with God that never ends.

I grieve over Brittany’s loss.  I pray she did not lose real life as well.  Sometimes I fear we argue and fret over the wrong things and focus too much on the temporal and not enough on the eternal.  I hope and pray that as Brittany made a choice about this life she had also made a choice about real life.

As you read the news and the debate about her choice remember that this choice was not the most important one….for her or for you.

Visit Mike at FinishingWell.

Fearsome Days

These are scary days we live in.  ISIS/ISIL beheadings weekly, wars breaking out on every continent, earthquakes, floods, plane crashes, Ebola, zombies, politicians (or are those last two the same thing?), and the fear inspiring news!  If you are tempted to fear, our culture and the news will help you.

These are fearsome days.  Every day we are given new reasons to be afraid and yet the bible invites us to a different focus, a different direction for our vision and emotions.  These words from the last book of the bible invite a different look, a look up, a look away from fearsome things in dreadful places to a person…but not just any person….here is the invitation to a different look,

“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

Don’t be afraid.  Why? Because there is one who is the A to Z, the living one who died and lives forever, the one who holds the keys to everything.  In those few words following the command, “Don’t be afraid” are all the reasons you need to not fear anything ahead even as the fearsome days get worse.  

This person, as John discovers, is Jesus Christ, risen King, eternal Lord, God of everything.  

In the fearsome day Jesus’ invitation is this, trust me.  I have all of this under control, I’m Lord of it all.  Nothing happens without my permission.  I’m fully in charge and I will take care of you.  Will you let go of your fears and look to me?  Will you change your focus from a fallen world to a risen Lord?  

Don’t be afraid!  The King of Glory, Jesus Christ, is alive and Lord of all.  Relax, enjoy your day, pray for the suffering, love the lost, help the poor, let go of your fears and know that God is sovereign even when it appears “all hell has broken loose.”  Don’t be afraid.  The King is king of even this, even now, relax and rest in him.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Failure

I don’t know if you have ever felt it, that feeling of complete and total failure.  It’s one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced.

Many struggle with it.  Jobs lost, marriages ruined, relationships destroyed, children alienated.  All of these make us aware of our weakness and failure to do those things well, to be a success at something…at anything.

There is a partner to failure, it’s depression.  It may be, at times, that the depression arrives first and failures are then unavoidable, but that’s just a thought I’ve been dwelling on for a while.  I’ve noticed as well that I find myself feeling an overwhelming sense of failure when there is really nothing wrong at all.  It’s a terrible cloud, but one that plagues us all at times if we are honest.

We each struggle with failure.  We don’t think we are pretty enough, happy enough, successful enough, good enough, that we don’t have enough friends, enough money, that we don’t do anything “important”.  On the list goes, but in the midst of whatever we do many of us feel the tug of failure pulling us down constantly whispering in our ears…”you’re not good enough, you won’t make it, you don’t fit in, you won’t get that job.”

Knowing that this cloud hangs over us all at times makes it clear why we so desperately need God.  Our expectations and goals are far above our abilities and so we live with the high jump bar at 20′ knowing the highest we have ever jumped is 5′.  Failure is sure. Doom is near.

At least that’s the way it feels.

Then comes Jesus to deal with all of this in the gospels.   In those amazing encounters with failures he embraces them, loves them, forgives them.  He tells them he really likes them!  He loved eating with “sinners” and they loved him.  Why?  Because as bad as the world considered them to be and as bad as they felt about themselves there was one person who loved them and really liked them….Jesus.

The rich young ruler, the woman caught in adultery, the leper begging for help, the tax collectors, the foreign mother with a sick child and so many more.  All of them, if they could tell us their stories, would admit they felt like failures, but there was one who didn’t see them that way.  He really loved them….even in their mess.  He enjoyed their company…even when the “religious people” wouldn’t even look at them.

Jesus loves failures because failures know they need Jesus!

I’m really glad that the story of Jesus is the story of God loving broken, struggling, failing people.  People like you and me.

Here’s what God says about people like us, the failures of the world,

1 Cor. 1:26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose those the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose people that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.28 God chose the ones who are despised by the world, some of us considered as nothing at all, and used us all to bring to nothing people the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

So, if you find yourself struggling with self-doubt, the cloud of failure, failing at everything, failing at anything….know there is a God who loves people like you and me.  Isn’t that great?

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.