How Can I Charge for a Labor of Love?

I would like to draw your attention to a matter that we should all consider in the living out of our faith.  In the letter Paul wrote to Philemon, he makes a defense for Onesimus.  Onesimus was a slave to Philemon who had apparently ran away.  On his journey he apparently ran right smack into the Apostle Paul who had previously converted Philemon to Christianity.  Now Onesimus had his appointment with Jesus Christ through the evangelism of Paul. Now that Onesimus was a believer, Paul sought to return him to Philemon.  Paul asked that Onesimus be received as a brother in Christ, and forgiven of his wrong doings, as Philemon had also been forgiven in Christ.

If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. (Philiemon 18-19)

It is clear that Paul is showing to Philemon that Onesimus should have nothing put to his account, and that Paul himself will reimburse Philemon of any costs that he deemed should be paid by the actions of Onesimus or the costs incurred by his absence from his duties. However; is what Paul says – albeit (notwithstanding, although) I know I do not need to mention that you are indebted to me.  What exactly that debt was is not specified.  However, being that Philemon owned slaves it is not likely a financial debt.  It is more likely that Paul was making a spiritual reference to the conversion of Philemon.  In this manner, Philemon’s very soul would have been what Paul was referring to.  His salvation was brought through the evangelistic efforts of Paul, and Paul was reminding him of the great debt that was relieved when Paul led him to Christ.  In this we see that Paul is reminding him that those who have been forgiven must also forgive.  Moreover we should not add to the debt of fellow believers. 

In the early development of the church the office of the Deacon was established.  Do you know why?  The church was in an uproar because the distribution of needs to the believers was not being distributed properly.  So the apostles told the church to select men to appoint over this duty of distributing to the needs of the church.  These men were the deacons of the church.  It was their responsibility to ensure the benevolence ministry was ran properly.  Now something related to this is the fact that all the believers of the church gave towards the needs of the church and they shared all things in common.  I know where are you going with all of this? I gave you all of this background to say this.  If a member of the body of Christ has a need, and you can assist them, then you should, and you should NOT charge for your services. You should not as a believer put a debt onto any believer’s account for something that you freely volunteered to do to assist them in their time of need.   

If this were the case and the church assisted you, for anything, then you should expect to make amends to the church.  Now I am not saying that if you want to repay the church you cannot, quite the opposite.  You are to assist the church and its body of believers out of gratitude, not debt. Once again I wish to be clear on this matter.  I am not talking about a professional service where it is agreed upon that the believers are in a business agreement.  I am speaking of a need that was requested to the church, and members of the church responded to the need, and then wanted reimbursement.  Especially if the member who is asking for reimbursement has received gifts and support from the church body in the past to cover finances, food, lodging, counseling, or anything else. 

What would the church be like if when you, as a believer and member of the congregation, needed assistance after a personal disaster, or a natural disaster like a hurricane or a fire, and then the church shows up and says we will help you if you pay us?  What of that? Would that be considered the “Christian” thing to do?  Even so, an individual member should never show up to assist another member and then demand money for their services. 

If the offer is made from the requester to pay, that is another matter, and it is not what I am speaking of either.  We who are indebted to Christ are to look after our brothers and sisters in Christ as we would our other relatives.  I would never charge my brother to assist him in moving, or in repairing his home, or even looking after his pets when he was out of town.  To receive payment for such services in his time of need it to strong-arm him.  How is that love? When Jesus said that they will know you are my disciples by you love…. I think we can say that this would be a demonstration of our love. 

We need to be ever mindful of the debt of which we have been forgiven. We also need to keep in mind that most all of us have an inherent debt we owe to our fellow members in the body of Christ. We should be willing to unashamedly seek the assistance of the fellowship, and to freely give assistance as needed to the fellowship with a joyous heart.

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Abortion: God Forgive Us All

What I relay to you is a true story of a young couple.  It was told as a matter or confession, not to a priest, but to any who would listen.  I don’t feel the necessity to identify the couple, as this could be any couple in modern society.

http://Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

This young man was seeing a young lady, and their attractions grew to one another as often young people do.  They were both working and soon decided that it would be best to move in with one another and therefore save on some of the costs of living.  This would make things financially better for the both of them, plus there would be other “fringe benefits”. 

The young man admitted he was self-centered and was concerned more about having freed up money to have a good time and to have the benefit of sexual pleasures at will.  He wasn’t concerned about taking precautions to avoid pregnancy; that was her problem, not his.  He remember how great it was to be living with her indulging one another’s fantasies without regard to God or anyone else.  Until she got pregnant.

The pregnancy alarm “slapped him in the face”, as he put it.  They were both shocked and caught off guard. Suddenly life stopped for them.  All of their future plans, their relationship, and collage would all have to change.  He remembered thinking that his whole life was suddenly snatched from him with the realization of this permanent change.  He regretted his foolish arrogance and disregard for not avoiding this predicament by listening to his parents warnings.  He was scared.  She asked what to do.  He lined up the options: marriage, bail on her, abortion, or just ignore it. 

She wanted marriage and to keep the baby, but he wasn’t ready, so he just pushed her away ignoring the issue.  She moved in with another friend but still sought his advice. He wouldn’t return her calls.  In fear and desperation she scheduled an abortion. 

When he found out his heart was sickened.  Guilt flooded over his whole mental and emotional state.  He was shamed that he had failed her and the baby.  He wanted to tell her not to go through with it.  But his cowardice had left him unable to move, he had forsook his responsibilities and left the burden to his girlfriend.  Eventually he mustered up the strength to accompany his girlfriend to the clinic. 

When he walked in there were others like him waiting with their family members.  He could feel their eyes on him. He knew that they knew that he was the father of the baby that was being aborted.  He was murdering his own child.  He was sacrificing his own baby for what he perceived would be a better lifestyle for himself.  He knew that his girlfriend was struggling. She want to keep the baby, but was afraid that without his support it would not be possible.  She thought that he loved her.  She realizes now, too late, that he loved himself more.

The abortion was quick.  After the abortion she left with other friends who had come to support her.  He left all alone.  They never spoke again.  The guild and shame of the murderous act had destroyed their relationship.  Decades later this time period of his life would still haunt him.  Wondering what his child would have been like.  Wondering what his marriage with this young lady could have been.  How many memories did he forsake for his selfish act? 

Later he married a Christian lady.  He started going to church.  He would here the pastor teach on how God said that children are an heritage of the Lord (Psalms 127:3-5).  He read how scriptures like John 16:21 remarked on what a joy it is that a man can be born.  He heard in Provers 17:6 where it said that Children’s children are the crown of old men; and they glory of children are their fathers.  He felt such sorrow and remorse.  He had missed out on those blessings.  The blessings of seeing the birth of his baby.  He missed out on the joys of running with a kite with his baby.  He missed the times of teachings, like riding a bike, or driving a car.  More than that he missed out on the joy of having his grandbabies sit on his lap.  Unable to keep his façade up any longer. He spent hours confessing to his wife. 

He confessed his selfishness to her.  He relayed the shame of his cowardice avoidance of his responsibilities to his girlfriend and to his baby, and to God.  In tears he poured out his regrets and a lifetime of torment that he has lived with all of those years.  His wife took him in her arms and for two hours she told of the forgiveness available from God in Jesus Christ.  He eventually pleaded his cas before God, and poured out his sorrows to him.  He repented of his selfishness and lack of courage in doing what he knew was wrong.  He confessed the murder of his own child. 

He received forgiveness.  He has reached out with the support of his wife and his church to the once young lady, who he had failed before.  She too had spent a life time of dealing with the guilt and anguish that comes from the shameful act of murder we call abortion. She too has been redeemed by Jesus Christ. 

It is a terrible thing when society and governments condone the murder of innocent babies.  It is a terrible testimony to the state of a nation that prefers mothers to kill their babies for profits to be fed to special interest corporations.  Surely they will be held accountable before Christ in the final judgement.  So will the Christians who stop silently and watched this atrocity unfold before their eyes.  Especially those who live in countries where they have the right to vote on such matters of conscience.  It is not just those who need forgiveness. God forgive us all.

Luke 15:11-32 – What About My Child?

Ref: Luke 15:11-32

I spoke with a friend a day or two ago.  She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now.  She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about.  If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about.  This is a heart wrenching time for a parent.  It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child.  They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day.  All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult.  Have they been good parents?

What if their young one fails?  How will they be able to help?  Will their child ask for help?  Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?

In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education.  There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church.  That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion.  Most just get caught up in their new busy life.  Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities.  Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return.  Probably when they start their own families.  There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure.  Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.

In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son.  In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home.  This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless.  After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand.  When he returns his father is overjoyed.  The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party.  The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received.  He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.

This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application.  I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned.  If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right.  He raised his kids in a God-fearing home.  He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord.  He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men.  He instructed them in the way of their faith.  Yet one of his children fell away.  This is the case for many of us parents. 

We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith.  We can do everything right.  Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God.  I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God.  The point here is that faith is a personal decision.  Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ.  Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle.  We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions.  But the decision is up to them.  Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves.  This is why the father rejoiced. 

The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road.  He also knew that he could not stop him.  He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually.  I am sure that his heart was broken.  Something that we cannot miss though.  The father knew his son had to make the decisions. 

When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him.  His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it.  His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is.  He could have struck out in anger.  The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things.  Instead he listened.  He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed. 

This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home.  I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6.  The father had hope.  He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did.  He knew that God would not abandon his son.

This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15.  It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son.  He expected the Lord to deliver his son.  He rose up and looked for him every day!  We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent.  The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences. 

This story can tell us so much about the love of God.  When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done.  He only say his son.  His baby was coming home.  I think about this and I think about my own son.  He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth.  I know the heart of God by this memory.  With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands.  That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us.  This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home.  This father who loved his son, put his arms around him.  Nothing else mattered. 

This is what Jesus made possible.  No matter how far we go.  No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been.  Jesus made a path home for us, for our children.  Have hope in the Lord.  Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter.  Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn.  No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions.  However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

John 14:13-14

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Radio Alleluia 

When most people pray they are really just praying and hoping.  That is when we pray we are saying some words, hoping that we said is correctly; hoping that we used the proper syntax and keywords, like some Google search.  We hope that God is even listening and that when He gets around to it that He will answer if he feels like we deserve and answer the way we want him to for our benefit.  But this is not what prayer is like in scripture.  When the patriarchs and the apostles prayed, they expected results.

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When we pray we should believe and be expecting results.  Scripture approached prayer with an expectation that it is heard, and will be answered.  Why would Jesus tell us the whatsoever ye shall ask, that I will do?  Twice in these two verses Jesus says, “I will do”.  That is a fully loaded promise.  So why don’t we experience this kind of prayer life?

Looking here at verse 13 we see that Jesus first says, “ask in my name”.  Whatever you need, ask in my name.  I heard a story recently of a conversation between two believers.  One was struggling with his prayer life and did not feel as if God was listening to him.  He had been praying earnestly over and over and was not seeing an answer to his prayers.  The other Christian, in an attempt to help him resolve the issue, told the first Christian that he was praying incorrectly.  The encourager told him he was using the wrong name to call to upon God, and because he was using the wrong pronunciation of Jesus (Yeshua), that God would not answer him.

I can see the logic in his argument.  I mean right here in this very text is says to ask in his name.  Does this mean that if I don’t use the correct pronunciation or dialect of the name of Jesus, or worse, that I don’t even say, “In Jesus name”, that God won’t hear me and answer my prayer?  No, God Forbid.

There are some groups that say that we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we will not have our prayers answered, these groups have a false doctrine that even says that it is a sin to pronounce the name of the Son of God incorrectly.

Some say that we must use:

  • The original Greek in which the New Testament was written: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced Há-soos´);
  • The Hebrew (pronounced <Joshua>Yeh-hah shoo´ah or Yeh-shoo´ah);
  • The Aramaic Yêšû` (pronounced Yá-soo´);
  • The Greek Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus);
  • English Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus´).

We need to understand that if there are no original texts from the Hebrew, and the Greek and Aramaic texts are not believed to be the originals either.  The Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are our references for the modern day translations of the bible.  There the Greek translation is Jesus Christ which comes to mean “Yahweh is Salvation” in the Hebrew name of Joshua. Now we can see how vain an argument over Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus, any other dialect issue is over the pronunciation of the Son of God.

In the Bible there are over 955 names and titles that are given for reference to God.  Most of these are actually descriptive of God’s character or his attributes. Some of these are:

Abba – Greek: Father

Abba- Aramaic: Daddy

Abir (Abhir)- Hebrew: The Mighty One

YHWH (Jehovah) Hebrew: Lord, in fact in the King James Version when you see the capitalized “LORD” it is in reference to this term.

El Shaddiah – Hebrew: Almighty One

Bara – Hebrew: Creator

El – Hebrew: Which is a borrowed term from Canaan which means “God”

You see the Hebrews believe that the name of God is so sacred that you cannot even pronounce it, or even write it in its completion.  So when Orthodox Jews write out even reference to God they leave out a letter for example writing Lord would be “L_rd”.

In truth we must ask ourselves, first, are we a Christian?  You see it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God that we can receive his offer of Salvation, believing He has the power and authority that only the Son of God has, and that His Word is trustworthy, and that He committed Himself to become a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and then conquered death in His resurrection.  His name, however pronounced, still speaks of the Son of God.  My name is Harvey, but some people call me Havier. I don’t ignore them, I understand that they are speaking to me from a Latin perspective.  I still respond to their calling me.

So what does it mean to “Ask in My Name”?  It means to ask in his weight. That is to ask in his merit.  Or in the provision that he has made.  We come before God in Christ’s standing.  This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) (John 14:6). No man can approach God the Father in his own merit.  Of ourselves, there is no reason why God should hear any or our prayers, much less to answer them.  God does not owe any of us anything.

Still we come before God thinking that if we review our memory verses, or if we recite enough scripture, or even if we have done enough Bible study to show God how good a Christian we are, then! He will hear us!  We feel all spiritual and even invoke the name of Jesus in the proper context and then God has to hear and give us what we prayed for.  WOW! What arrogance we have!  We forget the warning of James that says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

Jesus did not put a bunch of conditions on the prayer.  He didn’t say:

  • If you sin, don’t come pray to me
  • If you stumble, don’t ask me for help
  • If you fall, I wont be the one picking you up
  • If you didn’t read your bible today, don’t even bother to approach me.
  • He did not say, if you call me by my proper name, or #IN JESUS NAME, then I will answer you.

No he did not say any of that foolishness.  He said, if you know me, and who I am, that I am the Son of God.  That I am your way to the Father.  I you believe in me, then trust me. So then “in his name” means to come in the merit of his righteousness.

We can also come as his representative.  We are ambassadors.  When an ambassador comes to another country they do not go in their own name, they go representing the country from which they came, and they act accordingly with the authority granted to them by their own leader.

We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have authority on behalf of the Kingdom, through Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah).  See Jesus came to do the will of his Father.  He came on behalf of His Father and acted in his Father’s authority.  He did not step out of his Father’s will, nor the authority granted in that will.

So, when we pray, are we praying in the will of Jesus and in the Authority given in his name?  Are we acting on behalf of Jesus? We are praying for his will, not ours.  Now don’t miss hear me.  Listen to this, just because we are to pray in his authority for his will to be done, it does not mean we cannot intercede for our loved ones, or ask for ourselves.

The example that Jesus gave us in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father” shows us how a prayer should be prayed in faith.  It should first give glory to God.  How can you ask something of someone without having an understanding that they can and are willing perform what you ask.  Then we are to pray for the things that we need in order to continue the work of faith that he has wrought in us.  Recognizing that all things are given to us, even our daily sustenance.  The Holy, Creator of the universe and all that is within it, the one who stands from before time began, and will be here after time is ended cares about your individual needs, especially with regards to sustaining you in all matters of grace. Not enough praying “in his name” is in real acknowledgement of full dependence on His righteousness for access to the throne of God and seeking His glorification and His will to be done.

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in Matthew 6:8 you can find Jesus telling us, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  God knows what we need and is willing to give us abundantly.  The ability to speak to God is given directly to each individual believer in Jesus Christ.  We have this gift because the Lord wants real fellowship with us.

God gives us opportunities to exercise our faith in him by our dependence on his grace.

He said that he will supply everything we need, but we do have to come to him.  He wants to hear your prayers, he wants that acknowledgement that you understand who he is and where all good things come from.  God will do his part in your life.  We need to pray and believe that the things we seek in him, for his glory… He will do.  He has promised it, and what he has promised he will perform.  Not because he is a Djinni. But because he is a God of love, and it makes him happy to give to us.

In closing I want to read to you John 17:20-26, this is Jesus’ prayer for his followers.  In particular this portion speaks to you and me.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. 

Be Not Weary in Doing Well

“But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” (II Thessalonians 3.13)

Life can get overwhelming sometimes.  We can often overstretch ourselves in trying to be there for everyone in every situation.  Our finances get overtaxed, and our patience gets a little run down.  We sometimes mean to do well, but we just keep hitting barriers.  It seems that the good things we try to do for one another are just taken for granted or even misunderstood.  Sometimes the things we need to do out of love, are just painful.

Paul tells us, relax, and just keep going.  Don’t let yourself get run down or frustrated.  Paul tells us in this chapter of Thessalonians that some of us just turn into busybodies. Work for the Lord should be done to the Lord, and not to men’s eyes.  Don’t be busy trying to please men and seeming to be busy with the work of the Lord, when in actuality you are just busy trying to be a people pleaser.  Remember you are NOT God.  You don’t have the authority to sit in judgement over others.

The best way to help someone is to pray for them.  Lift up their needs before the One who CAN make a difference in their lives, and their lifestyle.  We should always do everything in love, not out of a burdened grudge.  Remember to take time in the Lord for yourself.  Jesus said that the Sabbath was made form man, not man for the Sabbath.

At one time Jesus sent his disciples out to spread the Word and when they returned he asked them, how did it go?  They then replied with all they had said and done.  When they had completed, Jesus told them no go away to a private place and rest.  You see it is necessary for us to take time to rest.  Just as you need sleep at the end of the day you also need to recharge your spirit.  Jesus would often get away and pray in private.

I was reading through my studies and found a card my wife had wrote me.  The card was very nice and encouraging. It did not ask for anything, it just expressed her desire to be with me. Sometimes just a simple encouragement is all we really need to give someone.  The card she wrote me said this;

“All I want is to love you for the rest of my life… to wake up every morning with you by my side, knowing that no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come home to your loving arms.  All I want is to share everything with you… to talk to you about our ideas, our dreams, the little everyday things that make us laugh, and the not-so-little things that we can’t help worrying about.  All I want is to give you my love… as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings when things left unspoken can still be understood.  All I want is to grow old with you… to watch our live unfold, our dreams, one by one, come true.  All I want is to love you forever. – Love Me”

Every morning my wife and I get up, we start the day with a cup of coffee and some quiet time with one another before we start our daily routines.  I cannot tell you how valuable this time is to me, and how it helps my day.  Then when she gets off to work, I spend time in prayer and in reading my daily bible readings.  I start every morning the same way, no matter what day of the week, if I am working or a day off.  I spend time with my wife and my Jesus, before anything else.  If I did not, I don’t think I could get through the day.

My wife and I talk, text and pray for one another throughout the day.  My Savior and I talk and sing together throughout the day.  These are the things that keep my battery charged.  I look forward to spending time with them every moment of the day. I enjoy having time alone with the Word and to feel the presence of the Spirit of the Lord.  Knowing that Jesus is coming back to take us home is the hope that we should all have, and express.

1st hand knowledge our Lord is why we should not be weary in doing well.  We should always work with the end game in mind.  Just as I look forward to the end of the day when I can have some quiet time with my wife and to the next morning when I can sit with her over coffee.  Just as I know the Lord is right there with us as we pray for our loved ones and our friends, just as we know that the Lord is coming to bring us home.  Just as we know that the Lord is returning soon, we should be motivated to please him, not man.

To many Christians are caught up in trying to be everything the world thinks that they should be.  Instead, be what is pleasing to your Father in Heaven.  Be a child of the Father.  Live with this focus in mind and you will do well.  Do well because it pleases your Heavenly Father, and also take time with Him and let Him know you love Him too.

Advice?

Advice?

When listening to advice, we need to ask ourselves these 6 questions:

  • Is the advice biblical?
  • Is the advice factual in foundation?
  • Is the advice necessary?
  • Is the advice teachable?
  • Does the advice acknowledge the imperfection of the individual giving the advice?
  • Is the advice given in love?

“Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.”- Job 5.27

This is the summation of the end of a long string of advice that Eliphaz gave to Job, when he was trying to encourage him.  He came from a false assumption that Job was being punished for sin, or disobeying God.  His advice was to confess, repent and beg for mercy.  He told Job that God would surely deliver him out of his troubles if he would repent.

Sometimes people offer advice, meaning well, they do however not have a proper understanding of God or you, or your situation.  Sometimes the advice is sought out, and sometimes it comes unsolicited.  Whenever we receive advice or move to give advice, we should really examine our motivations and intent.  First we need to make sure that the advice in biblical.

Advice received or given should always come from the Word of God.  It should be plain and straight forward, and in context with biblical doctrine.  We should always test everything against the scriptures, whether it is a sermon, Sunday school, or even advice.  Even advice from a church elder of Pastor needs to be tried by the Scriptures.  This means that you have to have a foundation in place, prior to your trials or testing.  In order to know if the advice is biblical you need to have a familiarity and understanding of scriptures.  You need to have a daily walk with the Lord.  Daily prayer is a necessity to hear the Spirit of the Lord.

Daily reading and study helps to develop a foundation of faith. How can you say you believe in the Bible if you do not know what it says?  In reading the scriptures we see examples of people who have gone through trials, and had to make decisions.  We see how those who sought God’s counsel and searched the scriptures have been rewarded.  We also see how those who did not seek God’s counsel and acted on the poor advice of others failed to overcome their trials or made poor life decisions.

While I was in the army they taught me what is called the problem solving process.  It goes something like this. (1) Identify the problem, (2) Gather information, (3) Decide on a course of action, (4) Implement the course of action, and (5) Evaluate the course of action.  In simple terms it would mean to gather the facts.  Make sure what the problem actually is.

For instance, if there is a problem with a relationship between two individuals you would first have to determine what the root of the problem is in the relationship.  The problem could be one of selfishness, pride, jealousy, or some other sin.  It could also be that there is only a problem of perception on one or both sides of the relationship.  If someone have been wronged in the past, they are likely to be on the watch for certain types of behavior that indicate that they may be harmed again.  Getting the facts straight may be exhaustive, but it is necessary to develop possible courses of action.

When developing courses of action, one needs to take the time to consider all the options available.  This is not only when giving advice, but when receiving.  Seeking the scriptures, and advice from a Pastor or others who have actually been through a similar experience can show you different avenues.  Seeing the different ways this trial or problem can be approached can be invaluable in later deciding on the way to handle the situation.  In seeing how others have handled similar situations you will be able to further identify pitfalls and successes.  Prayer, and possibly fasting, should be a part of this process.

The scripture say we should seek the Lord first.  Before making a decision we should take to time to ensure that the advice is necessary.  Based on the facts and scriptures, does this advice actually require action?  Sometimes we receive advice on things that are not actually necessary to change.  Sometimes, things will resolve themselves through natural processes.  Sometimes in the process of the before mentioned considerations, the situation will reveal that the advice is bad.  If considering to open your mouth, maybe you should evaluate your own reasons for offering advice.

Often times we give our opinions as advice.  We assume to know more than we do about a situation.  We think that we know better than someone else.  We call that “giving out two cents”.  Other times we have a genuine empathy for someone going through a difficult time, and inadvertently offer insensitive advice.  An example would be when someone has lost a loved one, or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and we tell them, “God has a plan”.  Yes, he does have a plan, but as a friend, it is probably best just to be there.  Let them know that they have support and be silent, hold them while the morn. Grief is a natural part of the healing process, and you are not there so you can feel better, but to allow them to go through the grief process with someone there to help them pass through the fire.

Something else to consider is if there is a teachable lesson in the advice.  Is there a life lesson that is revealed in either the advice or the omission of the advice?  When considering the advice someone gives you look if this is something that is going to have a good positive change in your life.  If you are planning to give the advice, look to see if the advice you give is going to have a good impact.  Is the advice teaching and edifying? Does it teach a truth about God?  When teaching a truth about God, again refer back to scriptures.  Does it teach a biblical truth?  Is it a lesson that can then be passed on to someone else for their benefit?

Mentioned earlier is the person perspective.  Consider the advice, whether it is given with the understanding that it is not infallible.  Scriptures can be misquoted, and pulled out of context.  Our own personal perspectives and twist our view of proper avenues.  Sometimes advice, like that from an advice column, is purposely given with an end result in mind.  The actual intent of the advice is to control the outcome.  An example would be a young girl who, got pregnant and went to seek advice on how to best deal with the unexpected pregnancy.  Questions like, “How will I get medical treatment?’; “How will I afford to raise a baby?”; “How can I ever expect to have a life again?”; “How do I tell my parents?” Would not receive the same advice from a Pastor, or a woman’s shelter as they would at a company who’s primary business is performing abortions.  This brings us to the final question.

Is the advice given in love? 1 Corinthians 16.15 says that all things should be done with love.  Love should be the primary motivation for everything we do.  When someone gives you advice, or when you give advice make sure that the reason is that you love them.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  Advice given out of spite, fear, envy, or anger should always be ignored.  We should never in anger curse one another, and that includes in giving bad advice.  In the same measure we should never listen to advice in anger.  Cool down, go through your mourning process, seek the Lord.  Study the scriptures now, so that you will have a firm foundation to discern trials, and the advice that comes while your in them.  Scripture tells us, to seek wisdom, pray for wisdom both before and during trials. Pray always.