Thursday, July 17, 2008

SOAP - 7/17/08 (1 Thess 3:11-13)

Before I began I would like to say I was very tempted to skip doing this today. It was a busy day and it is now 10:17pm by my computer clock, but I want to be faithful and I was really looking forward to this time today. So here I am, tired, but spending time with God nonetheless.


1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

"Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."


First off, I have to say when Paul prays we need to listen. I love the Prayers of Paul and here is a short prayer for the Thessalonians.


"Now may our Father God, and Jesus Christ our Lord, enable us to visit you, and may he cause your love for one another (and for all) to increase and overflow as much as ours does for you. We pray this so that when our Lord Jesus comes back, with all his holy ones, you will be able to stand before God with a blameless heart."

What is God saying?

Love is the mark of a Christian. Jesus said "Love one another as I have loved you," and "The world will know you are Christians by your love for one another." It also says in the Bible that "love covers a multitude of sins."

Our B.C. (before Christ) years were filled with selfishness. In discipleship today we read this verse in Ephesians that said "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world...we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind..." All that we really lived for was ourselves. Within philosophy there is an argument concerning whether altruism is a reality. The argument says that even the good things we do are done out of thinking about how they will affect us. In a sense this is what Paul was saying to the Ephesians. "We all lived only for ourselves and no one else...and you know what? All of us were DEAD!!!"

The major difference between then and now is we can truly live altruistic lives. We can truly love others without even thinking about ourselves. God wants us to become more like him. This means we need to learn to put others above ourselves. Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourself. Do not only look to your own interests but look to the interests of others. Have the same mind as Christ!"

What will our hearts look like when that final day comes? Will it still be filled with selfishness or will it reflect God's own selfless heart. How do we make sure we have God's heart? We start doing things for others. We start loving others the way they need to be loved. One of the best ways to love one another is to limit our judgment of them. Only God has the right to judge others. Can we judge the fruit of others? Sure, but we also need to judge where they are coming from. Some people don't know any better when they do something. They need to be taught. Some people misunderstand and therefore they act out on their misunderstanding. We need to correct these people. Others know they are or are not supposed to be behaving in a certain way. We need to rebuke these people. We always need to be training others (and ourselves) to love. All these actions are done out of love.

Take time to think about what it truly means to love others. I tell the teens that loving others is doing the right and best thing for them. We constantly need to be asking ourselves "what should I do that is the right and best thing for that person?"

What is God saying to me?

I'll be honest. I judge just the rest of humanity and I really need to work on this. God gave me a sort of epiphany one day when preparing for the teen leadership class. I already shared it in the previous section. In 2 Timothy Paul says that "Scripture is profitable for correcting, teaching, rebuking and training." If it doesn't involve one of these then I don't need to be judging. James writes extensively about judging people in his letter. We are not to judge people based upon how they look. We are not to judge others based upon a first appearance. We are to look at a person's actions and decide whether they need to be taught, corrected or rebuked (and everyone needs to be trained), but we are to do this based solely on two principles. First, is this person a believer. If they are not they don't need to be rebuked or corrected, they need to be introduced to Jesus. Second, does this person know he or she is supposed to be like Christ. If the answer is yes then we need to find out if they know what Jesus is like. If they have a misunderstanding, we need to correct them. If they understand but choose not to be like him, we need to rebuke them. If they have no clue at all concerning what I am talking about they probably need to know Jesus.

I look at what I wrote and I think that what I am saying can be somewhat misinterpreted. None of us, including me, should make a judgment (write someone off) because of their actions. I might disagree with you smoking, but I shouldn't assume you are not a Christian or that you really don't know you are not a Christian just because you smoke. All of us are dealing with issues. All of us are undergoing a "transformation" and being "completed." We all have things we need to work on. Our job is to help each other learn to be more like Christ. What was Jesus like? Jesus was all about love. He was all about helping those in need. He didn't judge people based upon things they did on the outside. I mean come one, he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors...SINNERS!!!

Did you ever stop to think about the disicples and what kind of guys they were? They were Galilean fishermen!!! They were on the bottom of the Jewish totem pole. Rough around the edges. They probably swore. Thy probably drank. They probably told dirty jokes. They were GUYS!!!! I am not saying Jesus took part in these revalies, but I am saying that he met them where they were and changed them. They underwent a transformation with Jesus. We all are undergoing transformation. We need to understand this. We need to LOVE LIKE JESUS!!!


Our church is going to be starting a rehab program known as Celebrate Recovery. I was joking around with Melissa (she and her husband are starting it) and she said "Are you ready for the type of people who will be coming here? Because you better be!!" (something along those lines). I have to tell you, I have been giving some thought to this and up until now I wasn't ready. What kind of people are going to be coming to KCC? The sick kind. The kind who are hung up on some habit that is destroying their lives. Let me put it a different way. We are going to be having Galilean fishermen coming to Kingman Christian Church. You know what? I am a Galilean fisherman. Oh, I may not look like it from the outside, but I'm telling you, I really am one.

Jesus transformed those fisherman that were with him. We need to do the same. There will be hopefully hundreds, if not thousands, of hurting individuals coming through our doors over the next few years. Every single one of us, me, I need to greet them with open arms and show them the love of Christ.

The same goes for youth group. We have had some rough characters coming to youth group lately. The kind who don't want to listen, who don't want to understand, who just want to have fun and yet they keep on coming. They need Jesus. I need to greet them with open arms. I need to lead the way in showing the rest of the youth group and leaders how to do this.


God, I admit to you that I am a judgmental person at times. I try not to be, but it happens. I want to be like you Jesus. I want to love the "unlovable" and show them a better way. I want to introduce them to you. Please help me to do this. Please help me to not look at what is on the outside, but what is on the inside. Every person that I run into is a being who is made in your image. A being who has infinite value and worth. Please help me to see this always. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

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