Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Walk in Wisdom Toward Outsiders

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” -Colossians 4:5-6

Being kind to those outside the church is a command of Christ. To be gracious in the way we talk to them, kind and humble in our stance toward them, even stating biblical truth or opinions on life in a non-combative, caring way. We don’t lean forward like a pikeman in a charge to battle, but we walk and talk gently like a messenger. 

Kindness in our wise walk in life is against what comes naturally to us (Galatians 5:20). To keep in step in our wise walk in the Spirit who gives us gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-25) means we must have new desires. Naturally, we desire to win debates. To be right. Yet, the goal of our conversations or persuasion of others in biblical truth or opinions on life is to glorify God. We glorify God by having our speech gracious, seasoned with salt, so we know biblically wise answers to each person.

The wisdom Jesus commands us to walk in must have a sense of rest and peace to our hearts. Not angry, not anxious, not hostile, not “hyped up.” Our new heart has a calmness from which we speak. If our heart treasures Christ, we receive peace, joy, gentleness, wisdom to speak from the abundance of our hearts. If our heart treasures self, we will even fight for biblical truth with unwise fierceness and display Christ as hostile and bitter. Our Lord Himself called us weary sinners to come to Him for He is “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). If you lack wisdom in your walk toward outsiders, ask in prayer for wisdom (James 1:5).

The follower of Jesus is to speak gracious and salty; in other words, founded in God’s grace and possesses a warm, inviting character. Not from a sharp personality that pushes people away to protect yourself, but warm and open to outsiders. Outsiders should hear gracious words and smell the aroma of the love of Christ (II Corinthians 2:15) which fills your heart, be attracted to tasting and seeing that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), leaving judgment to God by the very same aroma rather than from a hostile stance or tone in our speech.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). May we be found faithfully wise in our walk, gentle and lowly in heart, gracious in our speech to those living in darkness, where we ourselves once were but by God’s grace are no longer.
Heavenly Father, search our hearts, examine and confront any hostility to Your wisdom. May our tongues be gentle and not sharp or a flame. We are Your messengers of Your gospel. Grant us wisdom. Make us useful by Your grace and use us for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Grace When You Are Unraveling

“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.” Psalm 18:6

Some of our greatest griefs are when others depend on us being strong, but we’re falling apart. I have to be strong as a dad and husband, as a pastor and friend. To be able to be trusted in feels good. What happens when others depend upon me but I’m unraveling, my heart aches or has become numb, or I find little rest in my mind?

There are people who need me. If I lose sight of my Lord’s grace, my pride will let that sentence make sense. People need me. Am I sovereign over creation? Where was I when God laid the foundations of the world (Job 38:4)? Do I have secret wisdom that I alone can give? Do I alone have power that God’s creation depends on and needs?

Although the Lord uses me to be a means of grace to others, encouraging them in the faith, discipling or caring or comforting or counseling or teaching, the Lord does not need me. Rather, I need Him. No moment teaches this glorious truth of my need for God than when I am unraveling, breaking, falling apart in the midst of others depending upon me.

When others need me rather than God in and through me, that is a problem. I don’t have the energy, strength, wisdom, or ability that God alone has. If I am not dependent upon God, and celebrate that dependence on Him, then I will unravel and break apart. 

However, in your distress, in your unraveling, you call open the Lord for help. Your tearful pleas reach His ears. He doesn’t turn away from you simply because you are unraveling. He knows those depending on you to be strong are in need. He is the only Savior. He comforts, guides, counsels, corrects, teaches, loves. 

Parents who struggle, knowing you are depended upon, remember to depend upon the Lord yourself. Pray. You don’t need eloquence, just a cry for help. When you are needed at work and needed at home, remember you are in need of the Lord’s help. When life, relationships, jobs, money, whatever wears you down, depend less on those things to sustain you. God’s grace sustains you and preserves His people (Psalm 55:22).

Are you unraveling now? Weep. The Lord who will wipe away tears for the last time (Revelation 21:4) hears your cry for help from His temple. He draws near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). He mends. Are you growing weary in doing good? Remember Galatians 6 is about carrying each other’s burdens as a church family, directing our attention to depend upon God together. God has given us each other to depend upon Him, and we rejoice in our dependence upon Him together.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for believing in our own strength and ability, as well as our pride believing we are needed. You are needed Lord. For the sake of others, bless us by Your mercies. For the sake of Your name, hear our cries in times of distress, rescue, lift, and carry us. May You be glorified in and through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

God's Grace in Bad Days

“The LORD’s anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Your alarm rings. The morning has come. Another day must be started. “Oh,” you think to yourself, “I hope today is better than yesterday.” Does God have grace for bad days?

Sometimes, bad days teach us something. Other times, we simply have bad days. We think that if we capture the meaning, or the lessons, waiting to be discovered when days get hard we will find some sort of comfort. Truth is, comfort is always there. Whether there is a lesson to be learned or, as in some days, the real pain and trial leave us simply having a bad day, God is faithful and good.

This verse describes both pain from God’s discipline (remember, He disciples those He loves!) and when painful days are simply that: a bad day. God is still faithful and good. His favor, or mercy, is for your good and His glory for a lifetime. His joy comes when the season of sorrow is over.

You see, dear weak and weary soul, the groaning you have when days get hard match the groaning for redemption of all creation since the fall. Paul’s thought shifts forward in Romans 8, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Our weak, failing, aging, groaning, perishable body will one day put on imperishable, raised in glory, power, and spirit (I Corinthians 15:42-44). All because of the work of Christ, dying your death and being raised from the dead as victorious. Christ is our high priest who understands our weakness in bad days, tempted in every way like us, yet He is faithful and without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

God’s grace is sufficient, even on days that are rough. Even when God answers our prayers in ways that bring challenges. God is still faithful and good. God is “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 1:3-5).

We may be wounded, weak, and it seems happiness is replaced with stress or an exhausted numbness. Even when you don’t feel like it, worship Christ. Pray. Pray in tears or groaning too deep for words, if you must. Sing. Sing the glad songs of a church triumphant in Christ. Encourage, even when you’re hurt. For He understands, He sees all your failings, and He is still faithful and good. God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Be humble before Him, even on bad days. For He has grace for bad days.
Heavenly Father, how weak we are in the flesh! How long must we wait for redemption, for Christ to right all wrongs? Grant Your church strength in our weakness, grace for our days get hard. Remind us once again of Your precious gospel! Remind us of the treasure we enjoy in Christ Jesus! Bless us, comfort us, by Your steadfast love and mercy, freely given in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord. Amen.