Because we have been commanded to love each other, we should always show concern and compassion for others. We are instructed in Paul’s letters to support those who minister to us. This includes our local pastor as well as other ministries where God directs us to help. But we should never just give randomly, but pray about it and ask for discernment. Giving money to unfruitful ministries would not show good stewardship with the finances God has entrusted to us. Remember that Jesus was supported by others and sent his disciples out without even a change of clothes. A good Pastor is worth all that we can afford to pay him.. He is God’s anointed and has been appointed to shepherd us. We should show our love for God and for our pastors by supporting them, not just with money, but with prayers, encouragement and helping out wherever we can physically.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were instantly given the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we received that Spirit, we become a part of the bride of Chirst and He has so much more that He wants to share with us. God placed Him in our hearts to lead us and to guide us into all truth. The Trinity longs for the time when we will allow the Holy Spirit to do just that. They are jealous of the time we spend focused on worldly things. Just as new lovers and newlyweds want to spend all of their time together, so does God want to spend His time with us. Just as Jesus warned us that we have committed adultery with a woman/man when we allow immoral thoughts to remain in our minds, we commit adultery with the world when we spend time on worldly things. To the extent that those things become more important, take up more of our time and cause us to make comments that hurt other people, we have become friends with the world and enemies of God. We are incapable of serivng two masters.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.— Matt. 6:24 NIV
We could replace the word money in this verse with other words, such as drugs, grandkids, popularity, power, sports, vocations, possessions or you can fill in the blank and the verse would still be just as true. Anything that we put above being obedient to God in any and every respect becomes our idol and we become enemies of God. When we face a choice in what to do or say and we feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit, we must learn to stop and think. Do I really want to hurt my spouse, my Jesus who died for me? If not, then we need to temper our words and/or actions or completely change them so that they honor and glorify God. We need to remember David’s request:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.— Psalm 19:14 NKJV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
What an honor to be called friends by God, the Creator of the universe. What a great privilege to be chosen to join Him in His work to expand His Kingdom here on earth. If we accept Him and His call, we will spend an eternity with Him and each other. As friends of God, we are to learn from Him and bear fruit worthy of that friendship. As Jesus said, we must do what the Father does. We can know what the Father does by studying the lifestyle of Jesus because He only did what He saw the Father do and only said what He heard the Father say. If we believe in Him as our Savior then we will love each other. We will go about doing good because He has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”. We will trust the Holy Spirit completely to lead us into His truth.
Maybe because His name is Holy Spirit we tend not to think of Him as a person. But the third person of the Trinity is just as much a person and just as much God as Jesus, the second person and God the first person. Each has a different office and duty but they are One and the Same. When we ignore God or reject Jesus, we are doing the same thing to the Holy Spirit. When we grieve God, we cause sadness in the whole Godhead. When we are obedient and faithful, we bring joy to the Trinity. There is a person living inside of every Christian who feels grief, sadness, pain and joy just as we feel those things. None of us like to be ignored, neither does He. How long would a friendship last if we walked with a human friend 24/7 and never acknowledged his/her presence or spoke to them? What if we never invited them to join in our conversations and our mealtimes? What if, for all practical purposes, our words and actions denied that we had a friend with us? Yet, hour after hour, we treat the Holy Spirit exactly this way. We deny that He is within us by our actions but more often by our lack of actions. How many times and places do we have an opportunity to introduce our Friend but we don’t? How many times does He asks us to introduce Him by that little nudge we feel but we won’t? If we say that we have never felt that nudge, what does that say about our relationship with our Friend? Let us all pray that the next time we feel that nudge, we will have the boldness to introduce Him to our other friends and acquaintances.
4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. 6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.–James 4:4-7 (NLT)
The Greek word (moi-kho’s) that is translated as adulterers has more than just a sexual connotation. It is anyone committing an act of infidelity or unfaithfulness to God. These actions are what depict us as “friends” of the world. If we live a lifestyle that is filled with these kind of actions, then we show by our actions that we are “enemies” of God. Our flesh is constantly warring against the Spirit that God has placed inside us. We need to be guided by God’s Holy Spirit not by our fleshly desires. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.–Gal. 5:16,17 (KJV)
We cannot win the war by ourselves, the flesh is too strong. But God gives us grace and mercy. He is made strong in our weaknesses. If we are faithful to walk “in the Spirit”, God will fight and win every battle for us.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. 5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.–2 Thess. 1:2-6 (NLT)
Most Christians in the Western World have not experienced the kind of persecution to which Paul is referring. Probably the worst persecution that we receive is losing (temporarily, hopefully) the friendship of someone close to us because of our belief in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here, Paul is talking about those early Christians who gave their lives for the Gospel. I would guess that most of us have wondered, at some time or other, how far we would go for the Gospel. Would I really lay down my life for Jesus? Let’s look at Romans 8;10 (NCV): 10 Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God. Since this is true, we should consider our physical bodies already dead. But our Spirit will always be alive because of what Jesus did for us at Calvary. So, if we are attempting to live the lifestyle that Jesus wants us to, isn’t the decision already made? We agreed to die with Christ and mortify (put to death) our fleshly desires so that we will be raised with Christ in our new immortal bodies. It is all about faith and trust. Will God do what He said or not? The answer is “Yes, of course, He will.” In His mercy, He will protect and perfect us and in His justice, He will repay the persecutors. “19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,” says the Lord.–Romans 12:19 (NCV). Our part is to love and obey and leave the rest to God.