My sun porch

My sun porch

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NTC Day 31 - Love God, Love your Neighbor, Serve others

My memory verse for this week:
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." --  Galatians 5:25-26

NTC Day 31
Luke 10 and Ephesians 4-6

I missed writing a message yesterday, but today's readings were enough to fill a week's worth!

We're about half way through the challenge! I think it has been a challenge...both to stick with the daily readings and to understand all that I read. In fact, I DON'T understand a lot that I have read. Many chapters and verses make me question what I have known and believed before. Sometimes those questions make me want to study more, and to be honest, sometimes the questions I have frustrate me and cause me to want to give up. Why does God have to be so...mysterious?

But today's readings weren't mysterious...they laid the truth right on the line. Both Jesus and Paul gave important instructions to their audiences that are still very important for us today.

In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 more followers to prepare people for his messages and he gives them power to heal and cast out demons. Jesus had God's power over Satan and he gave some of that power to his 72 followers. I couldn't help thinking...if I am a follower of Christ, could I have a little of his power? At least enough to overpower Satan in my own with my temptations and my potential failures? I believe that if I lean on God's power instead of my own willpower, anything is possible!

Jesus also told a parable to a Jewish expert in the law that explained that anyone we meet is our neighbor. So...if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves...then we are to love everyone we meet as we love ourselves. This comes into play again later in what Paul says as well.

And speaking of what Paul says...Ephesians 4-6 are filled with some important instructions that we can put into practice today. 

Ephesians 4
God gives each of us a calling...and that doesn't just mean your chosen career. As believers and followers of Christ, we each receive a calling, or a job to do, to build up the church. That doesn't mean just the pastors and leaders of the church, but everyone...we are to build and take care of the church and bind it in unity. I don't think this is just talking about our own personal church, but all the people who claim to be believers and followers of Christ....WE are the body of Christ, which is the church. It doesn't matter the denomination, or the building...but we are to build the body of Christ by following our calling, whether it be pastor, choir director, Sunday School teacher, small group leader, secretary...or whatever job you've been given to do in the church using the gifts God gave you. If you don't have a job or a place to serve in the church...have a leader in your church help you find one! There is PLENTY of work to go around! We are preparing the people of our church (believers in Christ) to do works of service in our communities and in the world. It takes many hands to fill the needs of the world!!!

And Paul talks about our neighbors, just as Jesus did! Our neighbors are everyone we meet! Paul gives us some advice on how to treat our neighbors.
* Speak the truth in love
* Don't go to bed angry. Which means don't let your anger overcome your good judgement on how to treat those you are angry with. Acting in anger only gives the Devil room to work in your soul.
* Share with those in need.
* Don't let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only helpful talk. 
* Get rid of bitterness and malice
* Be compassionate and forgive others as Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5
Paul says we should be imitators of God. This means we shouldn't behave in immoral or course ways. Why? Why is the Lord against course behavior? Because it opens the door to sin. Every time you tell a dirty joke or act in inappropriate ways, you find it becomes easier and easier to do so. If we know we don't want to act in those ways, then we shouldn't practice them or even flirt with them. Does that mean we are going to hell if we tell or laugh at a dirty joke? No, I don't believe so. But touch a hot stove and you'll get burned. God is a loving Father who wants to keep us from making mistakes that will hurt us and cause us pain. So he instructs not to act in ways that could hurt us in the long run. Any good parent does the same thing for their children.

Chapter 5:21 says we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. While on earth, Jesus always put others' needs ahead of his own. It is by his example we should follow. The rest of Chapter 5 and part of chapter six explains the different relationships we have and how mutually submitting to one another creates better relationships.

* Wives to husbands (yes, I used to have a problem with this one until I realized it is a mutual submission.)
* Husbands to wives
* Children to parents
* Parents to children
* Slaves to masters (or in our case, workers to boss)
* Masters to slaves (bosses to workers)

And just HOW are we selfish human beings supposed to act like God, imitate Christ and put others needs ahead of our own??? That is expecting a lot out of us, don't you think? Paul explains that to this and to protect ourselves from the evil one, we are to put on the armor of God. God has given us everything we need to behave and love others and protect ourselves:
* Truth- God's truth and plan for our salvation
* Righteousness - We KNOW what to do to live right...we just have to DO IT. And...when we fail, we ask for forgiveness and allow Christ to forgive us and restore our righteousness
* Faith - in God's truth
* Salvation - KNOW that through Christ you are saved!
* The Spirit - Believe that he lives in you and will help protect you and help you to live righteously.
* Prayer - pray at all times, in all occasions, pray all kinds of prayers...just keep on praying.

WHEW! That was a lot of information and a lot of promises...but it sounds like good advice to me. There's nothing too mysterious in that! Love God, love your neighbor (EVERYONE) and serve others. Sounds like a way to live a life of love.

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