Why Are Not All Christians Nice?

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, once considered this question: "If Christianity is true why are not all Christians obviously nicer than all non-Christians?" Good question, right? What is the answer? Lewis answered his own question this way: "If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man's outward actions - if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before - then I think we must suspect that his 'conversion' was largely imaginary."

    According to Lewis, if a man claims to have converted to Christ, yet, has not changed in his behavior, the individual is clearly not converted as they think. In other words, they are not saved. Does Jesus teach this? If Lewis says this but it does not align with Christ, we should consider Lewis' statement as false. In fact, Jesus does teach this, He said: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenou…

I Will Rejoice: The Courage To Rejoice (Phil. 1:20,21)

As we continue to look at why Paul chose to deliberately rejoice, despite his imprisonment, we come to Philippians 1:20, where Paul states: "as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." In this devotion, you will find three reasons why you can have the courage to rejoice despite the difficulties you may now face. I pray this encourages you.

Paul made a conscious and deliberate choice to rejoice, even though he was in terrible situation, because he had an "expectation" and a "hope" that would not lead him to being "ashamed". Ashamed of what? Paul was put in prison for preaching his belief concerning Jesus as the Messiah and that Jesus, though nailed to a cross, had been raised from the dead. We call that the resurrection. He believed that though he was in prison for this belief, he expected and hoped that ever…

I Will Rejoice: Being Confident of Your Deliverance. (Phil. 1:19)

Yesterday we looked at Philippians 1:18, and we determined that, despite Paul being in a horrific situation, he nevertheless, chose to rejoice. We concluded then, that rejoicing while suffering is a purposeful, conscious and deliberate choosing on our part. Let's ask this question: Why did Paul make the purposeful, conscious and deliberate choice to rejoice?

   To answer this question let's look at Philippians 1:19. Paul states, "for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance." Observe what is underlined: "for I know....this will turn our for my deliverance." The word "for" means because, so when you combine this with Phil. 1:18, what you get is this: "...Yes, and I will rejoice, because I know...this will turn out for my deliverance."

   So, why did Paul make the conscious and deliberate choice to rejoice? Paul understood what was happening to him would turn out…

I Will Rejoice: Choosing to Rejoice. (Phil. 1:18b)

Imagine yourself in a place where you see no sun light, you're starved, you're dehydrated, you have a fifteen pound chain attached to one or both ankles and no privacy to use the bathroom. It would prove pretty difficult to find any happiness in that, right? That was Paul's situation. However, when you read Philippians 1:18, especially the latter portion, Paul writes: "Yes, and I will rejoice". For the next few blogs, I want to answer two questions: why Paul chose to rejoice in suffering and why we can too? The second question will be where we apply the Scripture. But before we do, I want to give you the one very important observation that began this journey and let you simmer on that for today.

   I want you to observe that phrase again: "Yes, and I will rejoice". Observe that Paul is not saying 'I may' or 'I might' or 'maybe I will' or 'if I feel like it, I will'. Paul, writes: "I will". When Paul writes th…

How Suffering Benefits The Church Pt. 2 (Phil. 1:14b)

I recently read a story of a Christian pastor in India who was beaten along side his congregation for preaching the gospel of Christ. Despite this, he vows to continue to preach the gospel saying, "Since I am working for the Lord, I have always prepared myself for any kind of eventuality, persecution, or danger. I am prepared to pay the price for serving my God." His name is Bengali Das.

   What an awesome statement by someone who has truly suffered for Jesus. When I read Bengali's story I cannot help but think if I would share in his same attitude. I question whether I am truly willing to suffer as Bengali did for preaching Christ? But, in saying that, reading Bengali's statement encourages me.

   We are looking at how suffering benefits the church for the second time. And I want to begin by saying that what happened to Bengali was not meaningless. I know to many it appears so, but when a follower of Christ suffers, it is benefitting to the church. To understand…

How Suffering Benefits The Church Pt. 1 (Phil. 1:14a)

As we continue to work our way through Philippians, we will now draw our attention to Philippians 1:14: "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear". Remember, Paul is in Mamertime prison. The conditions of which he is in the presence of are not well. Fifteen pound chains are attached to one or both ankles, he is intentionally dehydrated and starved, sees little to no daylight, and hygiene is poor. We know, according to Philippians 1:12, Paul's imprisonment is serving to "advance the gospel". And we know that through his imprisonment many were coming to know Jesus (Phil. 1:13).

   I want to draw one point regarding our question: How does suffering benefit the church? To understand this, let's look at the text and see how Paul's suffering benefitted the church and then let's apply that to our lives.  Let's look at the first part of Philippians 1:14: "…

How suffering Makes Christ Known. (Phil. 1:13)

As you know we have been working our way through Philippians. This previouse Sunday we asked: how does God advance the gospel & what is my role? The answer to the first question, how does God advance the gospel, is: He uses your suffering. Which was based on Philippians 1:12.
Now the second question: what is my role? It is important for you to understand where you fall into what God is doing in the world and especially in your life. I have three answer's to this question. Answer number one will be given today. So let us attack this question from this angle: how did God use Paul's suffering to advance the gospel? In understanding how God worked in Paul's life, we can get a better handle on how God works in our lives. 
To do this we need to begin in Philippians 1:13. It states, "so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ". Paul is expressing to the church of Philippi that his …

The Golden Rule

Jesus once taught in front of a crowd of many, "whatever you wish that others would to to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" in Matthew 7:12. We know this as The Golden Rule. Something I have not heard mentioned in a while, but believe that our society could stand to hear today.

Observation 1 - Whatever I wish for others to do to me, I do also for them.
   The word "whatever" can also be translated as "everything", thus implying the whole part, meaning, in everything do to others what I would have them do to me. If I should "wish" that someone be kind to me, then, I ought to be kind to them. If I should desire that another be respectful to me, I ought to be respectful to them. If I crave for other's to love me, then, I should love them. And so on.

Observation 2 - I should not wish for others to treat me a certain way and me not treat them the way I want to be treated.
    This is called selfishness and very much a f…

How Far Would You Go To Obey God?

How far would you go to show God you fear him? To what extent would you go in obeying God? I ask this because I read about Abraham and Isaac. God blessed Abraham with Isaac, his son, at hundred years of age and through Isaac God established the covenant spoken to Abraham. But what happens when God tests you with the child you have waited for, prayed for and desired your entire life?
    God instructed Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, whom Abraham loved, to the land of Moriah and offer Isaac as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:2). What did Abraham do? Genesis 22:3 explains that Abraham gathered the firewood and all that was needed to do as God had asked, and left for the land God had told him. What happened? Just as Abraham was getting ready to take the life of Isaac, an angel of God stopped Abraham and God provided a sacrifice. In the world today Abraham would have been considered as mentally unstable and arrested for attempted murder, then thrown into a mental institution for life.


Love Those Who Do Not Love You & Pray For Those Who Harass You

The Lord Jesus tell's us "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you" in Matthew 5:44. Many of us do as the old law states, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy" according to Jesus in Matthew 5:43, which He quotes from Leviticus 19:18,19. Upon reading this passage I had three observations followed with a series of questions.

Observation #1 - I am supposed to love my enemy. 
Question #1: Who is my enemy?
    They are those who feel a hatred for me. Those who desire to do me harm. My enemy is anyone who presents themselves as an opponent to my-self.

Question #2: What kind of love do I show towards my enemy? What does Jesus mean "love your enemy"?
     The Greek word for love here is agapao, and it means to actively do what the Lord prefers. So, Jesus is teaching us that He wants us to love our enemies the way He prefers and not how we prefer. And if you were to ask Jesus this question, I think, He would respond with this - "You shall l…