Pastor Keith’s Blog

Better Than Facebook!

They say that Facebook is a powerful app for connecting with old friends and for making new friends.  Are you on Facebook?  If so, how many friends do you have on Facebook?  Do you regularly check to see what is happening in the news and notification sections?  How often would you think of those friends outside of the context of Facebook?

 The Apostle Paul did not have Facebook to help him connect with those whom he had ministered to, but he did do something else, perhaps even more important and more powerful than Facebook.  In 2 Tim 1:3 Paul states that “without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day”.  This was not just a sentimental statement spoken to Timothy his young apprentice, it was a perspective and lifestyle that Paul expressed over and over throughout his letters.  (For a few of these examples see Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:6; Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:11; Philem. 1:4.)

There was something about Paul’s commitment to the people that he knew.  To Paul it was more than just a distant friendship – him being in one city and them being in a different country, a different city.  Paul was so committed to these people that he prayed daily for them.  These were not just a few friends for whom he regularly prayed, these were people in all the churches of Asia Minor.  He didn’t pray only when a need arose or there was a problem, he prayed for them daily.

I was challenged when I read this aspect of Paul’s life, it’s easy to scan through Facebook to see what is happening in people’s lives, but much harder to pray daily for all whom you know.   Lord Jesus help us so that our friends and those whom we know would be a more consistent part of our prayer life.

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In The Middle

If you were to start at the beginning of the Bible at Genesis 1:1 and at the same time take the last verse of the Bible, Revelation 22:21, then pair Gen. 1:2 with Rev. 22:20, Gen. 1:3 with Rev. 22:19 and continue working toward the middle of the Bible; in the King James Version of the Bible you would come to the middle verse of the Bible.  This would be Psalm 118:8 which says, “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man.”

I realize that in the earliest manuscripts there were no chapter and verse designations.  These were added to the scriptures back in 13th century to enable people to better access or reference the scriptures.  The numbering of the chapters and verses were not considered to be inspired, but they are helpful.

Nevertheless it is interesting that the middle verse encourages us to trust the Lord and to put no confidence in mankind.  This does not mean that we doubt everything that people say or question the motives of everyone.  But it does encourage to realize that God is the most faithful one, He is worthy to be trusted.  Others will let us down but God will be faithful , as we keep our trust in the Lord Jesus.

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He Sees Them Differently

 

There are people all around us.   Some demand time or energy from us.  We might not choose to have some of them as friends; perhaps because they are self-seeking, mentally confused, simple minded, arrogant, abusive or inconsiderate of others.  Some are wealthy or poor; old or young; male, female or both; weak or strong; educated or illiterate; healthy or sick.  Some are professionals or laborers; extroverts or introverts; helpful or lazy; kind or rough; loud or quiet. The list of attributes used to describe the people around us could continue, each new expletive would show a new perspective of the individual.  Each account of that individual’s qualities or characteristics would define how we see that person and would define what our relationship to them would be like.

Think of the people around you, those that you work with, your neighbors, your family, your friends, those that you would never want to be your friends.  From what perspective do we see those people that are around you?  What thoughts do you have towards and about them?

In 2 Cor 5:16 the Apostle Paul states how his view of people has changed. “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!”

Many people look at others from the point of view of their own bodily life, with its needs, desires, and pleasures. Consequently they see others only as men of flesh and blood, like themselves.  To the apostle Paul, the former life had so completely ceased that people around him are no longer viewed that way. He saw individuals not as rich or poor, Jews or Gentiles, enemies or friends, but as people for whom Christ died.

There are many people around us whom we see as irritable or offensive.  From our perspective they may be hard to get along with.  Lord help us to see them through a new set of eyes.  Help us to see them as precious people whom You value.

 

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The Stranger and the Wall

“Our country is being overrun with foreigners.” “Everywhere I go, I see people from different ethnicities, different cultures.”  “Maybe we should build a wall or develop a policy to keep them out.” 

These statements are sometimes thought.  But God speaks to the Children of Israel in Leviticus 19:34, “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

God does not see ethnic diversity as a threat.  Other people groups and “strangers” were not to be ostracized from the sphere of connection but instead are to be drawn into the closeness of our families.  The Israelites and ourselves are to love the stranger as if they were a part of our family, born in our house.  This may not be easy.  It may not be what we would naturally do, however this was God’s command to His people.   Elsewhere God gave exhortations about not taking the values or the gods of the foreigners, but this did not mean that they were not to welcome the stranger and encourage them.

Perhaps if we were more loving and considerate to those that are strangers in our midst there would be more peace and understanding.  After all, we were all strangers to God, and He loved us enough to bring us into His family.  Could we not love and care for others?

Take a moment to consider who is the stranger in your midst that you need to spend more time with.  Then pray and ask our Lord to fill you with a heart of care and compassion that embraces the foreigners and the strangers in your midst.

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