The 7 Traits of Godly Wisdom

wisdom sign

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17

Godly wisdom is demonstrated in a life surrendered to God. This person does not have to boast about how wise they are, all will see it lived out in front of them. James earlier told us that anyone who was religious but didn’t keep a tight rein on their tongue, their religion was worthless.

To be a Christian is more than saying we are a Christian, we must prove it by the life we live.  James outlines how this is done. He says in  3:13 that our good conduct, our works, will be evidenced by seven traits found in verse 17.

1. Pure—The word means clean or innocent. This is the wisdom that accomplishes good works with no false motives involved. It is a person whose life is a testimony of pure character and honesty before God.

2. Peaceable—This doesn’t mean a push-over. It is someone who strives to be at peace. One who remains calm under stress and has let go of anxiety.

3. Gentle—a person who is mild-mannered and patient.

4. Willing to Yield—This is not one who is easily persuaded, but one who can listen to all sides and is willing to do the right thing even if it isn’t their idea. They have a teachable spirit.

5. Full of Mercy and Good fruits—Their life is a life of compassion and honesty. They are known for their forgiving spirit and their impeccable character.

6. Without partiality—They do not take sides or involve themselves in frivolous arguments. They seek to be peacemakers.

7. Without hypocrisy—They are genuine. What you see is what you get. They will not tell one person one thing and another something else.

This is how our conduct is supposed to be. We are to demonstrate these traits in our daily conversation. Our daily conduct should resemble Godliness. It’s not that we can’t do this. It’s that we too often fail to be filled with His wisdom.

Why not choose today to let His wisdom be ours?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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What Makes Christianity Different?

I recently attended my daughter’s graduation baccalaureate service. Students from varying religions addressed the audience to express why their faith was important to them. I found their answers quite intriguing.

“I was born a Jew.”

“My faith, Hinduism, is the oldest religion and therefore, must be true.”

“It is how I have been raised by my family.”

“My religion provides a moral compass. In other words, it is how I know the difference between bad and good.”

 Finally, a young man talked about Christianity. It varied from all the other religions because of one singular reason: JESUS. All of the other faiths spoke of their efforts to reach up to God. Only Christianity spoke of God’s effort to reach down to mankind. All of the other faiths discussed their efforts to appease their god by being a good person. Only Christianity spoke of a personal relationship with God because God chose to set His affection on us, despite our continual bad behavior. Our relationship with God is not hinged on a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather on admitting that we need a savior. We can never be good enough on our own merits. All of the other beliefs had much to say about their God, but only Christianity focused on Jesus and the resurrection.

Unbelievers may have a general sense of who God is…they may recognize that creation came into existence somehow or by someone…they may even acknowledge there is a God. Remember, even the demons believed in God. Listen to James 2:19 (NIV), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” However, they do not have Jesus. And since they do not have Jesus, their prayers are like flare guns being shot aimlessly into the dark.

As believers, we are promised a mediator, whose name is Jesus. On our own merit, we are not better than an unbeliever. We are not smarter. We didn’t come to the conclusion that God exists on our own. No…we all are sinners according to Romans 3:23. We all deserve to die (Rom 6:23). We all are broken. And God is a holy God and cannot bear to be in the presence of sin. It is only because of Jesus that we have an advantage. It is only because of the work that Jesus did on our behalf on the cross. It is only because God has chosen us. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Because of what has been afforded to us, it only makes sense that we would want to know God.

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God

We pray so that we can know God more. Prayer, in its fullest sense, is our pursuit to know God. It is an ongoing, continual conversation with Him that begins in His Word and pours out into the fabric of our daily lives. Into our struggles. Our celebrations. Our encounters with the glory of God.

Have you forgotten about the privilege of knowing God? Are you overly focused on being good enough? To measure up? Remind yourself today that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He is most after relationship.

Sue Allen

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And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

 

We Have A Story to Tell

story

What is your story?

“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Acts 1:1-2

Here Dr. Luke who wrote this account to explain the acts of the apostles tells a story of about 30 years, from 30 AD to 60 AD.

Dr. Luke had a story to tell to a man named Theophilus. A story of faith and trust in Jesus. But, we all have a story to tell and here Luke writes this to a man we know nothing about. To tell him the story of the Gospel, it’s roots, and how it spread like wildfire all over the world.

It reminds me of the old hymn:
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.
Refrain
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noonday bright;
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.

Or the hymn tell me the story of Jesus write on my heart every word. Just like the first church we have a story to tell.

The story is like what Winston Churchill said, “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning.”

The cross was the end of the beginning.

That’s our story. Our lives didn’t begin until Calvary. The cross was the beginning of everything we are or ever hope to be. Think where we would be without the cross.

Life eternal, life empowered, and life enriched began when Jesus died for us.

Someone need to hear that. Someone needs to know what our lives are now that we met Him. Your story and mine matter.

Let’s go tell the world our story.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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So I Have to Love Them?

tic-tac-toe-love

Love done right is about giving. Giving and not expecting anything in return. Basically, love done right is about loving for the sake of loving. And therefore, giving others a glimpse of Jesus in a world that is in desperate need of Him.

If you were to ask me if loving people is a challenge for me, I would immediately say no! I persistently strive to love regardless of the level the love is reciprocated at.

Well…as long as you are referring to family and friends and people who treat me well. In fact a pretty impressive list of people comes to mind.

But then there is that one Scripture passage that also comes to mind. You know, the passage we could all do without? The one that if it was somehow removed from the inerrant, inspired Word of God, we would not raise too much of a fuss?

However, every Bible I have checked still contains these words found in Matthew 5, from the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said , ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

I can proudly proclaim that I am killing it when it comes to loving those that are easy to love. (Which, by the way, is not much of an accomplishment,) But when it comes to enemies? That is another story.

In this world where rebellion is revered and absolutes are avoided, it is a good idea to remind ourselves of the good old-fashioned truth that if God tells us to do something, we should.

Period.

Loving our enemies is a bold example of loving like Jesus does. It is most certainly a time when you can safely not expect anything in return! It is against our human nature to show love toward those that have hurt us and treated us badly. ESPECIALLY when we know or suspect that the love will not be reciprocated.

I have pondered spending a little time trying to find a Biblically-based teaching on NOT loving our enemies; one that justifies gossiping about, giving dirty looks to, and silently wishing bankruptcy or a mildly sprained ankle upon my enemies. However, I would be wise not to waste my time looking for a loophole…The bottom line is: God says we need to love our enemies.

Oh, and pray for them too. He does not command us to do something, and then NOT give us the ability to do it. You know what that means, right? We cannot use the excuse, “I have tried, but I just can’t do it…” when attempting to justify why we aren’t following the “Love your enemies” command. If He tells us to do it, then it is possible to do it!

With God’s help, we can love others. ALL others. Imagine: love done right can come from us. What a blessing. What a responsibility. What a gift.

Lord, help us love like You. Help us give others a glimpse of Who You are by showing this world love done right. Amen

Gwen Thielges

Visit Gwen @writewhereheleads.wordpress.com

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Is Social Media Hurting the Cause of Christ?

social-media

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Social Media has provided a way for people to say anything they want without physically interacting. Many brothers and sisters in Christ have chosen to be critical of lost people, politics, and far too often each other.

It is almost as if we have decided that we must “stand up” for the way we view Scripture by “putting down” anything we disagree with.

Some have chosen to be overly critical. A nice Christian post that quotes someone another Christian doesn’t like is immediately condemned in the name of God. Today “heresy” is not noticing WHO said, “Jesus loves you” in a scenic picture quote.

What is more disturbing is fellow pastors and self-proclaimed theologians are attacking well meaning Christians who simply want to post encouraging words on social media.

Why?

Why do we have to be critical of each other? Why can’t we simply scroll through our news feeds without attacking other brothers or sisters in Christ?

It’s NOT God’s way for us. We are to “let no corrupt talk come out of our mouths.” Corrupt means, evil, filthy, and even abusive. There is no doubt some Christians are being “abusive” on social media.

But Paul doesn’t end with what NOT to say. He adds the way our speech should be. “Only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Building up, fits the occasion, and there it is—Grace.

Have we forgotten grace? Have we forgotten our speech is for building up the church? Can’t we find it in our hearts to encourage each other? Or better yet, can’t we use social media to brag on Jesus?

He is who we should be talking about. The One who purged our sins. The One who forgives us time and time again for our sins.

We could be flooding social media with the Gospel. As lost people spew filth, we could be speaking purity. As lost people speak hate, we could be showing love.

Sadly, if we cannot speak love to each other, why should lost people see us any differently from themselves?

I pray we can change.

Pastor Rodney

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3 Evidences That it Was a Virgin Birth

virgin-birth

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:22-25

Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?”

King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” —from Just Thinking, RZIM, Winter 1998

Some may say the virgin birth doesn’t matter. But if Jesus wasn’t born by the miraculous power of God, then Christianity is a lie.

Matthew gives three evidences for this miraculous birth.

1.It fulfilled prophecy (v.22-23)

He states, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,.” This is a quote from Isaiah 7:14—the cornerstone prophecy of proof of the Messiah.

700 years before Jesus was born the prophet told Israel how this would happen.

2. It was a promised name (v.23)

Isaiah and Matthew give us His name, “and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’”

This makes Christianity different from every other religion. God came down from heaven and stayed with us. Jehovah, the one true God, came to be with us. Jesus came to save us because we couldn’t save ourselves.

3. It was plainly stated (v.25)

If Mary had just been a young girl who got pregnant, why would Matthew have written this: “and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.”

Everyone knew and knows what Isaiah and Matthew are talking about.

Matthew provides evidence of who Jesus is, where Jesus came from, and the proof of a 700 year prophecy of this miracle of God.

Without the virgin birth, Jesus is just another man born to a young girl.

With the virgin birth, Jesus is the very Son of God.

Do you believe?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Why Did They Name Him Jesus?

baby-jesus

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

Naming a child in our modern culture comes with some creativity and sometimes a sense of flair. Many parents want their child’s name to stand out.

In BabyCenter’s annual baby-naming survey, 43 percent of parents reported liking unusual names. Here is a short list:
Arantxa
Atlas
Chichi
Diem
Drishti
Esma
Fenella
Frooti

Those names can be tied to hope for the future of the child. But in Jewish culture the naming of the child was connected to their destiny.

When God gave Joseph His Son’s name the definition was definitely His destiny.

Jesus. The Hebrew name Joshua in the Old Testament. It means “Yahweh is salvation.” We could also translate it simply as “Savior.”

Jesus. He saves us from the penalty of sin, paid the payment for our sin, and one day we will no longer be in the presence of sin.

Jesus. The name itself was common but this baby was not going to be common. Just like we hope for our children, God gave hope with His Son. Joseph couldn’t understand it all yet but his son was to be his Savior.

Jesus. When you called on Him to save you, His name became the most precious of all. You never get tired of saying it. You never wear out in worshipping Him. All hail King Jesus becomes our heart’s cry.

And if the name Jesus wasn’t enough, God told Joseph what His Son would do, “He will save His people from their sins.”

All who are His are saved.

Say it again with me, JESUS.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Will God Keep His Promises?

promises

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”
Matthew 1:1

Sometimes promises aren’t kept very well or very long but consider the Christian couple Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher who broke The Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. They were married on May 13, 1924. In 2008, they earned the record for longest marriage at 84 years.

When we consider our walk with the Lord we have to ask ourselves have we seen Him keep his promises.

Looking at the first verse of the first book of the New Testament we uncover God’s track record. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”

After 400 years of silence from God from the Old Testament to the New Testament we have the announcement of a promise kept to two of the top Old Testament heroes. Jesus genealogy would be from “the son of David,” (2 Samuel 7:12-16) and “the son of Abraham.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Thousands of years before Jesus was to be born, it was promised He would come through the line of David, Judah, and Abraham, the father of the Jewish race. Verse after verse reinforces this.

We are not living some random events that somehow, hopefully, connect into something great. We are believers living the grand plan of God.

Matthew’s Gospel details Jesus as our King. And the King of kings would be born through a lineage of promises that culminate in Christ. We are even told: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Every promise made to every child of God is finished in Jesus.

We can count on God keeping His promises because He has done so countless times in the past. There is not one promise He has made, He hasn’t kept.

Take heart believer. Soar high Saint. God has and will keep His Word.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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The Field of Dreams Approach to the Church

Millennials

(This article originally appeared in the Baptist Courier.)

I still like the movie Field of Dreams.  I must confess that I get choked up every time I watch the end of the movie where Ray (played by Kevin Costner) ask his dad, “Hey Dad!  You want to have a catch?”

Early in the movie, Ray hears a mysterious voice stating, “If you build it he will come.”  In response he builds a baseball field among the cornfields near his Iowan house and witnesses a spectral baseball team that converges on the field to play ball.

Sadly, a number of churches approach their communities with a Field of Dreams mindset regarding their facilities.  Although they are not evangelistic and have dusty baptisteries, they believe renovating their facilities or building new facilities “to attract young people” will cause Millennials and young families to flock to their church buildings in droves; however, when we look at what Millennials actually say is important to them regarding the church, we see a much different picture.

Here is a short list of some of the things Millennials say attract them to churches:

1 They want preaching that is not shallow.  Millennials want biblical preaching that asks and answers hard questions in life.  To appeal to this generation of young people, preaching must have depth.
2 They want authentic worship. Young adults are not as concerned that churches utilize a particular style of music in worship.  They are attracted to authentic worship that reflects the culture of that local congregation.  They do want worship to have both authenticity and quality.
3 They want community. Millennials are attracted to congregations that promote biblical community where church members actively participate in making disciples.  They also want multigenerational small groups where they can learn from believers who are further along in age and spiritual maturity.
4 They want community ministry involvement. Young adults desire to serve in churches that are actively ministering in their communities.  They want to address social needs and concerns within the area surrounding the church.  Millennials also are concerned with justice issues around the world and want to participate in churches that address these issues.
5 They want church buildings that are functional. Millennials aren’t so concerned with being a part of churches that have flashy or “cool” worship centers.  They will worship at churches who are being the church, regardless of the style of the building or the worship center.

So, rather than focusing on renovating or building worship space to attract young people or young families, churches should concentrate on making disciples of people in their surrounding communities and being authentically biblical congregations.

To be growing and healthy congregations, churches must consist of church members who regularly share the gospel in their everyday interactions and relationships with their family members, friends, and acquaintances.  Such congregations are welcoming and open, but are led by pastors who do not shy away from preaching biblical sermons that address hard topics or hard questions.

You can build it; however, if you are not an authentic church that prioritizes building gospel relationships and making disciples, they won’t come.

Dr. Tim McKnight

Read more from Tim @drtimmcknight.com

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The First 3 Things to Do at a New Ministry

ministry

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Very often pastors are called to a new ministry. However, if we are not careful we can carry over some of the baggage of the past and allow that to impact what God can do with us in a new place.

So what did we do to avoid ill feelings and potholes that may trip us up as we begin this new chapter in our lives? Let’s look at the first three things to do:

1.Rejoice in the Work

Celebrate it. God has moved us to something that can be the greatest place we have ever been. It may be that all our ups and downs were meant for this time in our ministry to see God do great things,

Build new relationships. This is the time to get to know new people and reach out to them as their new pastor. They may have heartaches and struggles that they have gone through. They may have been hurt in church (we all have). We need to pour ourselves into them.

Use this time to be grateful and thankful. God has called us into His work for a reason. God called us here and the people are ready to do a new thing. We should be too!

2. Learn From Your Past Mistakes

Regardless of what happened in our last ministry, we have to evaluate the mistakes we’ve made. Maybe it was a blindspot in leadership. A style the old church preferred or we simply didn’t understand the why of what went wrong.

The reality is we have to honestly look at ourselves and not repeat the same misstep.

We may need to visit more, show more love, not snap in a meeting, or really examine our preaching. Maybe it is our study habits, or something we need to strengthen. But we can’t allow pride to keep us from being better.

3. Don’t Look Back

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62

Don’t bring up the past hurt. You may have been deeply wounded by people you thought were your friends and wonder why things went wrong. But reliving the failure or heartache does’t help anyone.

Avoid looking at what is going on in the old church. We shouldn’t stop by their website or listen to the interim preacher. We shouldn’t celebrate, even secretly, if people have left and things are going wrong.

Limit conversations with that past congregation. Doesn’t mean we don’t love them. It simply keeps our focus on where it should be—our present ministry.

That is the important thing to remember. God has allowed us a new thing. It is imperative that we realize we need to go forward. Just as church people need to forgive the past, we do too. For the sake of the kingdom, and the community, may we enjoy what God is doing.

God is never done with us.

“God never loses sight of the treasure which He has placed in our earthen vessels.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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