A Timely Christian History Lesson

Most of the information below was taken from “We Believe In God” posted on 7/25/2019.

If you missed it, please take a few minutes to check it out here.

HOW JESUS’ APOSTLES DIED

  1. Matthew: Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.
  2. Mark: Died in Alexandria, Egypt after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
  3. Luke: Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
  4. John: Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
  5. Peter: Was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
  6. James: The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation.
  7. James: Was the Son of Zebedee, a fisherman by trade, when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded in Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
  8. Bartholomew: Also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
  9. Andrew: Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the Body of Christ hanging on it”. He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
  10. Thomas: Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the subcontinent.
  11. Jude: Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
  12. Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot. He was stoned and then beheaded.
  13. Paul: Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.

Perhaps this biblical history lesson is a reminder to us that our sufferings are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their times for the sake of their faith in Jesus Christ. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

  • Why do we feel sleepy in prayer but stay awake through a 3-hour movie?
  • Why are we so bored when we read the Holy Bible but find it easy to read other books and magazines?
  • Why is it so easy to ignore an online message about God yet we are addicted to all the crazy stuff on Facebook and YouTube?
  • Why is attending a church service becoming more unpopular while hanging out in bars, night clubs, and many other entertainment venues becoming more popular?
  • Why is it so easy to worship a celebrity but very difficult to engage with God?

You may find the answers to these questions, and a whole lot more, in a book I recently wrote, What IN the World Is Wrong With This World?

Please pass this on to all other Christian brothers and sisters you may know as encouragement to stand fast in the face of ridicule and persecution. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

What God Has In Mind For The Future Of Israel And Its Enemies

Picking up where I ended with my last post, A News Flash For The World: Israel Will NEVER Be Defeated, here is what we know and can expect based on the Truth of God’s Word in the Holy Bible.

The Future Of Israel’s Enemies and All Non-Christians: Eternal Pain and Suffering

“They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:14 & 16)

“Armageddon” is a transliteration of the Hebrew for “mount of Megiddo. In ancient Israel, Megiddo was a key city overlooking a major travel route between the great kingdoms of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Huge armies could assemble in the neighboring Plain of Esdraelon. Thus it is a fitting name of the location for the climactic end times battle between Israel and all the nations who will gather together against her to annihilate Israel once and for all!

I had the privilege of visiting Israel for ten days in 1997. One of our many stops was in Megiddo and I can tell you it is the perfect place for huge armies to assemble for that final battle between the forces of good and evil!

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of His wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.” (Revelation 16:17-21)

And I (the Apostle John) saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city (Jerusalem) He loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:1-3,7-10)

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Future Of Israel and All Christians: Eternal Life With a New Heaven and New Earth

Then I (the Apostle John) saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'” (Revelation 21:1-4)

This is extremely GREAT news for Israel and all Christians! Consequently, it is horrifically bad news for Israel’s enemies and the enemies of Christianity!

No one knows how long God’s Holy Land of Israel and all Christians around the world will have to endure persecution and death at the hands of evil forces. However, the one thing we absolutely know for sure is in the end, WE WIN! “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:57)

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

 

A News Flash For The World: Israel Will NEVER Be Defeated!

If it’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way over the years, it’s NEVER say NEVER! However, I’ve also learned the hard way in some instances, that when God speaks through His Holy Word in the Bible, He means it and it will come to pass. So when God makes a promise, it can NEVER be broken!

God’s Chosen Land For His Chosen People

“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; . . . He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan (modern-day Israel), and they arrived there. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land. . .'” (Genesis 12:1-7)

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make My covenant between Me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan (modern-day Israel), where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’

God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael (father of the Arab nations) might live under Your blessing!’

Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.’” (Genesis 17:1-21)

“Therefore, (Moses) say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ” (Exodus 6:6-8)

On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into Canaan (modern-day Israel), drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. . . Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’ ” (Numbers 33:50-56)

Unfortunately, Israel did not drive out all the inhabitants of Caanan (modern-day Israel) as God had commanded them to do and to this very day the Arab Muslim nations living in and around Israel continue to be barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides!

God’s Blessing to Jacob (Israel) Through His Father, Isaac:

“May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you (Jacob and his descendants – the nation of Israel) and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” (Genesis 27:28,29)

God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.’ So He named him Israel.” (Genesis 35:10)

God’s Blessing to Esau (the Arab Nations) Through His Father, Isaac:

“Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You (Esau and his descendants – the Arab nations) will live by the sword and you will serve your brother (Jacob and his descendants – Israel). But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” (Genesis 27:40)

God’s Reminder To His Chosen People

“‘When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following Me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. . . For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. But those who hate Him He will repay to their face by destruction; He will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate Him.'” (Deuteronomy 7:1-10)

God’s Hand Of Protection On Israel

Throughout Israel’s long history, tensions between Jews and Arab Muslims have existed. Since Muslims do not, or will not, acknowledge the Sovereign God of the Holy Bible, the complex hostility between the two groups dates all the way back to ancient times when they both populated the area and deemed it holy.

In May 1948, Israel was officially declared an independent state. While this historic event seemed to be a victory for Jews, it also marked the beginning of more violence with the Arabs.

Since Israel’s independence in 1948, numerous wars and acts of violence between Arabs and Jews have ensued. Israel’s enemies have tried every terrorist tactic possible and God has always been faithful to protect His chosen people and the land He gave them thousands of years ago. And, over the course of the many wars waged against Israel, God has chosen to minimize Israel’s casualties in comparison to the lives lost by enemy forces.

Here are just two examples of the despicable tactics Israel’s enemies have used and the final outcome of those wars:

  • Six-Day War: In what started as a surprise attack, Israel in 1967 defeated Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq in just six days. The combined forces against Israel totaled 1,010,000 while Israel had only 200,000 troops. Enemy forces lost approximately 18,000 lives while Israel lost 776 lives.
  • Yom Kippur War: Hoping to catch the Israeli army off guard, in 1973 Egypt and Syria launched air strikes against Israel on their holiest of Holy Days, Yom Kippur. Another despicable “surprise” attack that didn’t surprise God’s chosen people! The combined forces against Israel totaled 1,210,000 while Israel again had only 200,000 troops. Enemy forces lost approximately 19,000 lives while Israel lost 2688 lives.

God’s Hand of protection has always been on Israel and it will always be that way!

Israel’s Enemies Are Fighting A Losing Battle

Why are Israel’s enemies fighting a losing battle? Because they are either blind to the truth, or more than likely, they are choosing to ignore the truth!

I believe they are both blind to the truth and are choosing to ignore the historical truth that is clearly documented by Moses in the first five books of the Holy Bible.

And don’t kid yourself, the enemies of Israel know full well what is written in the Bible about Israel and the “promised land” God clearly gave to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants thousands of years ago. A land that was not their own, but a land that was promised to them by the One who owns it all! A promise that will NEVER be broken, reversed or overridden by human hands or war machines.

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

 

Is The “Great Tribulation” Coming Soon?

Last month, on Easter Sunday, we witnessed the horrific bombings of three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka by radical Muslim terrorists that killed over 250 Christian worshippers and wounded approximately 500 more!

And just this morning, in the West African town of Dablo in Burkina Faso, terrorists burned down a Catholic church during mass and murdered six people, including the priest!

Lately, here in America, we have also witnessed an escalation in the burning of Christian churches and the killing of Christians and Jews even as they worshipped in their churches and synagogues.


Some Food For Thought

The outrageous, but not surprising, persecution and blatant cold-blooded murder of Christians and Jews seems to be on the rise in every corner of the world today, including here in the U.S.A.!

In the Bible, Jesus’ prophecy makes it perfectly clear what has happened throughout the ages and seems to be escalating today. “. . . in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:2-3)

Jesus goes on to prophesy about what the end times will look like:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

For then there will be great tribulation (my bold), such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” (Matthew 24:4-14, 21-22, 29-44)


In some corners of the world where people are currently facing horrible living conditions, starvation, deplorable health services and diseases, and religious and political persecution even to the point of death, you have to wonder if they aren’t already in the midst of experiencing their “great tribulation”?

So, how might the wealthiest most powerful nation in the world experience this “great tribulation”? What might it look like and what might possibly ignite such a catastrophic event?

To be clear, I have absolutely no idea what this “great tribulation” will look like in every corner of the world, no one does except God. I am not a prophet so the content below only reflects my thoughts, not predictions, on what it could look like here in America.

In light of all the news swirling around after the release of the Mueller Report on President Trump, and especially since he was found innocent of colluding with the Russians or obstructing justice to effect the outcome of his election, here is what I’ve been thinking about lately relative to biblical end-times prophecy:

I shudder to think what might happen if Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into who really planned and instigated the spying on the Trump campaign, and when it actually started, leads to the indictment and prosecution of Hillary and Bill Clinton, John and Tony Podesta, Paul Campetta, Judith Casper, Barack OBama, Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarret, James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Nellie and Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, James Baker, Rod Rosenstein, Bob Mueller, Andrew Weissman and the rest of Mueller’s staff of left-leaning lawyers, all of whom tried to frame Donald Trump for crimes they themselves clearly have committed as the real facts are beginning to reveal. Then, some or all of the above individuals are found guilty and sentenced to major jail time.

If all of this were to happen, which I must admit seems next to impossible, how difficult would it be to imagine radical militant groups like ANTIFA and others once again being  quickly and systematically organized and paid to rise up and rain down death and destruction on anyone and anything that represents a threat to their ideology and the above individuals they have placed their faith in?

This kind of radical hateful behavior could lead to another civil war in America that would dwarf the death and destruction documented in the war between the North and South!

This time it could be a civil war between conservatives and liberals, between believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and unbelievers. The division between these groups seems to be getting wider and uglier by the day!

America, let us all wake up before it’s too late! We have got to stop hating and hurting each other just because we think differently, speak differently, favor different political parties, and have different religious beliefs.

Let us all commit, or recommit, to respecting and defending the wisdom and rights found in our amazing, one-of-a-kind, time-tested Constitution and our rule of law which insures that no one is above the law and that a person is innocent of any crime until proven guilty.

And, most importantly, if we all committed to live out God’s command to “. . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 12:31), it might go a long way to restoring broken relationships.

Lord, have mercy on our great nation You have so richly blessed since its founding, in spite of our sinful ways!

In closing, if you are seriously concerned about the direction America and our entire world is heading, and more importantly, if you are seriously concerned about where you personally will spend eternity after the “great tribulation” Jesus warns of, then the book I recently wrote, What IN the World Is Wrong With This World?/Are You Ready For the Truth? has some interesting and factual answers for you to consider.

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

 

Merry Christmas

The best Christmas present Lynn and I will be blessed with this year is both of our daughters and their families will be with us to celebrate the real reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Next to our relationship with Him, there is nothing better than being surrounded by a loving family and great friends during the Christmas season!

Christmas Tree

Yes, most of us have family members and friends who are no longer with us, and even though we still miss them, we will fondly remember them and all the fun Christmas celebrations we had while they were with us.

Sadly, as I was writing this post, I received word that my favorite cousin died! Fortunately, the many memories of our summers together will live on and will still put a smile on my face!

The Christmas Story

Many folks are familiar with the biblical version of the Christmas story. Even if you don’t attend church on a regular basis, like most folks, you probably make it a point to attend a Christmas service. If you do, then you’ve probably  heard some version of the Christmas story documented in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.

Having said that, I wonder how many folks stop to ponder, especially during this time of the year, and sincerely reflect on this critically important historical event and it’s real significance to humankind?

So, my Christmas gift to you is a reading from the Gospel of Matthew documenting the “real” Christmas story:

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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.’ (my bold and underline to emphasize God’s plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ, for a world lost in sin.)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet (Isaiah): ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”). (Isaiah 7:14)

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a Son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25)

Christmas Nativity

It’s both important and amazing to note that God is speaking through His prophet Isaiah about the birth of Jesus more than 700 years before He was born!

Just as the Magi brought gifts and just as we will give and receive gifts on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us not forget who is the greatest Gift-giver of all: “For God so loved the world that He gave (my bold and underline) His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Also, a little piece of Bible trivia: Notice that the nativity scene at the very top of this post includes the wise men (Magi) bringing gifts while the nativity scene above just shows baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and three shepherds.

Which one is technically and biblically correct? And, how can we know this? Of course, the Bible tells us so: (Take your guess and see the correct answer below)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet (Micah) has written: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’

Again, this time God is speaking through His prophet Micah about the birth of Jesus more than 700 years before He was born!

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the Child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.’

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, (my bold and underline) they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1-10)

Answer: The nativity scene without the wise men (Magi). Notice that the Magi went into a house to see the child, Jesus. The Magi had not yet arrived when Jesus was born and laying in a manger. “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

I hope you have enjoyed reviewing the “real” story of Christmas.

As I mentioned in my opening, with the holiday festivities quickly closing in and with our daughter and her family visiting, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off to enjoy our time together making more memories and celebrating the “real” reason for the season!

I hope and pray you and your families will do the same too!

Lynn and I want to wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.

See you on the first Sunday in January, 2019 for more Wisdom Matters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Restore Civility To A Chaotic World

Cultural Decay

With every new day, we are witnessing growing tensions and turmoil in societies around the world. Foreign and domestic terrorism, school shootings, violence and unrest in our streets and on college campuses, drug addictions, broken families, crime, corruption, and religious persecution all seem to be escalating at warp speed.

In the books of Galatians and Ephesians, found in the Holy Bible, the Apostle Paul is writing to Christians with a message for Christians. Even so, it’s a message Christians and non-Christians alike can gain a great deal of wisdom from.

Choosing to reject the “acts of the flesh” Paul outlines below and committing to live by the “fruit of the Spirit”, the whole world might just become a much better and safer place to live.


Living by the Spirit vs. Living by the Flesh

In Galatians the Apostle Paul writes:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:13-15)

“So I say, walk (live) by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery (wickedness); idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 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 5:22-26)

In Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

Paul speaks of (4) virtues important to Christian living and the key in all four virtues is getting rid of something first:

1. Be humble (humility) – To have humility, we must renounce self-centeredness. Humility is a continual awareness of God, our own sinfulness and frailty, and of the equal value of all other persons.

2. Gentleness – To have gentleness, we must renounce harshness and violence. Gentleness conveys a sensitivity, a desire not to harm, and a valuing of the other person. Gentleness nurtures people, respects them, and allows them to drop defenses and deal more objectively with issues.

3. Patience – To have patience, we must renounce the oppression of our own agendas. Patience is that scale that values other people enough to give them room and time to fail, learn, and develop.

4. Tolerant love – To have tolerant love, we must renounce our rights. Insisting on one’s rights never leads to healthy relationships. Christians must be willing to forgo rights and practice tolerance with others, in love, who believe and think differently.


I believe these four virtues hold true for all people, not just Christians. However, if Christians are to take God’s Word (the Holy Bible) seriously then we have no choice but to commit to living as the Apostle Paul exhorts us to do.

Christian or not, it’s hard to argue with the Apostle Paul on the topic of living by the Spirit rather than living by the flesh!

It’s up to each of us to decide how we will walk, talk, and live. Both choices have consequences; some can be positive and some can certainly be negative.

Choose wisely grasshopper!

WhatInThe World-Front Cover     Learn More Here

See you next week for more Wisdom-Matters!

 

 

A Broken Heart vs. A Proud Heart

Below is a sermon message I heard years ago which offers some very interesting wisdom.

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite (repentant/changed) heart. These, O God, You will not despise.”

The truth is everyone of us has had proud moments in our lives; graduating from high school or college, securing that first good paying job, etc. And maybe many of you reading this have experienced a time in your life when you’ve felt completely broken and hopeless!

It’s important to note that the “proud people” referenced below are people who have taken their pride to unhealthy levels. See if you can relate to one side or the other, or both!


Proud people focus on the failure of others. Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people are self-righteous; have a critical, fault-finding spirit; look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescope. Broken people are compassionate; can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven; esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit. Broken people have a dependent spirit; recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right. Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; have a demanding spirit. Broken people yield their rights; have a meek spirit, not a weak spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation. Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served. Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement. Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious. Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length. Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others. Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see when they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are defensive when criticized. Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, what others think; work to protect their own image and reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real; what they care about and what matters to them is not what others think, but what God knows; are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual needs. Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; instinct is to cover up. Broken people don’t care who knows or who finds out; are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you forgive me?” Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got caught. Broken people are genuinely repentant over their sin, which is evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in relationships. Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is a misunderstanding or a conflict in relationships.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor. Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition and don’t think they have anything to repent of. Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival and are sure that everyone else does. Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God.


If you are a God-fearing individual, then the message is clear. God is pleased with a person who recognizes his/her sinful nature and brokenness, and who sincerely desires a change of heart and mind. A heart and mind willing to flee from all kinds of evil and hold fast to what is good.

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

 

A Nation Divided Cannot Stand!

Whether you agree with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court or not, one thing is certain, our nation is becoming more and more divided and it’s not looking very pretty at all! In fact, it’s getting downright scary!

It’s one thing to disagree with someone who doesn’t think like you do, or doesn’t see the world as you see it. It’s quite another thing to let that disagreement run rampant into unbridled anger and crazed outrage on either side where people start actually hurting one another, both verbally and physically!

The Bible teaches that Satan is the author of evil and there is a spiritual war being waged between the forces of evil (Satan and his angels), and the forces of good (God’s angelic forces) for the hearts and minds of all of us living in this imperfect world.


Biblical Truths About Spiritual Warfare

In his book, The Invisible War, Chip Ingram outlines the basic truths about spiritual warfare and backs it up with plenty of scripture verses:

  1. There is an invisible world. The invisible world is just as real as the visible world, and both the Old and New Testaments refer to it often.
  2.  We are all involved in an invisible war. This cosmic conflict has eternal implications; lives are at stake. The enemy’s strategies affect us every day. When was the last time you honestly considered that some struggle or relational conflict was rooted in satanic opposition?
  3. Our foe is formidable. The goal of Satan is to destroy God’s people and discredit the cause of Christ. He is not to be taken lightly. He is real. He was an angel, the highest of all created beings, who rebelled against God out of pride.
  4. We must respect our foe but not fear him. Our responsibility is to become acutely aware of Satan’s methods but not be preoccupied by them. We can become educated about his schemes by examining his name in Scripture; all of them reveal something of his tactics.

Satan’s names reveal his tactics:

  • Satan (adversary)
  • Devil (slanderer)
  • Lucifer (son of the morning)
  • Beelzebub (lord of the flies)
  • Belial (a false god)
  • Evil one
  • Tempter
  • Prince of the world
  • Accuser of the brethren
  • Representations include: Serpent, Dragon, Angel of light

Satan attacks God’s program, the church, by:

  • False philosophies
  • False religions
  • False ministers
  • False doctrine
  • False disciples
  • False morals

Satan attacks God’s people by:

  • Directing governments
  • Deceiving people
  • Destroying lives
  • Persecuting the saints
  • Preventing service
  • Promoting schisms
  • Planting doubt
  • Producing sects and cults
  • Provoking sin: Anger, Pride, Worry, Self-reliance, Discouragement, Worldliness, Lying, Immorality, and so much more!

Satan’s power is limited. Balance and wisdom are crucial in our assessment of spiritual opposition. To assign too much or too little credit to the reality of demonic activity is to err greatly.

  • He is created, therefore not omniscient (all knowing) or infinite (only God is).
  • He can be resisted by the Christian: James 4:7
  • God places limitations on him: Job 1:12

The Bible teaches, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24,25)

If we, as a nation of predominantly God-fearing people, want to begin repairing and healing the pain and division we’ve caused by our angry words and actions, then we’ve got to remember who we are actually doing battle with and against!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephisians 6:12)

May we all continue to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!

To God be the glory!

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

 

Living With Purpose – Part 6

This week we’ll look at Part 6, the conclusion, of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. Even though this is a Christian-oriented book, the wisdom Warren treats us to is for everyone desiring to live a life filled with purpose and meaning.


Part 6 – You Were Made For a Mission

Chapter 36. “Made for a Mission: God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him. This assignment is called your mission. God wants you to have both a ministry in the Body of Christ and a mission in the world. Your ministry is your service to believers, and your mission is your service to unbelievers. Fulfilling your mission in the world is God’s fifth purpose for your life.

Fulfilling your life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God’s glory. The Bible gives several reasons why your mission is so important.

  • Your mission is a continuation of Jesus’ mission on earth. Jesus calls us not only to come to him, but to go for him.
  • Your mission is a wonderful privilege. Your mission involves two great privileges: working with God and representing him.
  • Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them. We have the greatest news in the world, and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone.
  • Your mission has eternal significance. God wants you to share the Good News where you are…you should continually look for people God places in your path with whom you can share the gospel.
  • Your mission gives your life meaning. If you fail to fulfill your God-given mission on earth, you will have wasted the life God gave you.
  • God’s timetable for history’s conclusion is connected to the completion of our commission. What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it.”

Chapter 37. “Sharing Your Life Message: God has given you a Life Message to share. When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Your Life Message has four parts to it:

  1. Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus
  2. Your life lessons: the most important lessons God has taught you
  3. Your godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most
  4. The Good News: the message of salvation”

Chapter 38. “Becoming a World-Class Christian: You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian. Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They are saved, but self-centered. In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for a mission. They are eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God. World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet.

How To Think Like A World-Class Christian

  • Shift from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking…think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever you talk to them.
  • Shift from local thinking to global thinking. The first way to start thinking globally is to begin praying for specific countries. World-class Christians pray for the world.
  • Shift from “here and now” thinking to eternal thinking. To make the most of your time on earth, you must maintain an eternal perspective.
  • Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission. God doesn’t want to use just some of his people; he wants to use all of his people. We are called to be on-mission for God. He wants his whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”

Chapter 39. “Balancing Your Life: Your life is a pentathlon of five purposes, which you must keep in balance…they are summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus. These two statements sum up what this book is all about—God’s five purposes for your life:

  1. ‘Love God with all your heart’: You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.
  2. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’: You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.
  3. ‘Go and make disciples’: You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.
  4. ‘baptize them into…’: You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.
  5. ‘teach them to do all things…’: You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship.

A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will make you a great Christian.

This is what purpose-driven living is all about. Regardless of your age, the rest of your life can be the best of your life, and you can start living on purpose today.”

Chapter 40. “Living with Purpose: Living on purpose is the only way to really live. Everything else is just existing. Most people struggle with three basic issues in life. The first is identity: ‘Who am I?’ The second is importance: ‘Do I matter?’ The third is impact: ‘What is my place in life?’ The answers to all three questions are found in God’s five purposes for you.

It’s easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course. To prevent this, you should develop a purpose statement for your life and then review it regularly.

  • It’s a statement that summarizes God’s purpose for your life.
  • It’s a statement that points the direction of your life.
  • It’s a statement that defines “success” for you.
  • It’s a statement that clarifies your roles.
  • It’s a statement that expresses your shape.

Here are five questions you should consider as you prepare your statement:

  1. What will be the center of my life? This is the question of worship. Who are you are going to live for? What are you going to build your life around?
  2. What will be the character of my life? This is the question of discipleship. What kind of person will you be? God is far more interested in what you are than what you do.
  3. What will be the contribution of my life? This is the question of service. What will be your ministry in the Body of Christ? Knowing your contribution of spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences (SHAPE), what would be your best role in the family of God?
  4. What will be the communication of my life? This is the question of your mission to unbelievers. It should include your commitment to share your testimony and the Good News with others.
  5. What will be the community of my life? This is the question of fellowship. How will you demonstrate your commitment to other believers and connection to the family of God?

At the end of your life it isn’t going to matter at all what other people say about you. The only thing that will matter is what God says about you. Will you be a person God can use for his purposes? Will you serve God’s purpose in your generation?”


I can’t emphasize enough how this book will help you develop a “purpose-driven life”, a life filled with meaning and direction, in every area of your life!

You can download a free copy of “Part 6 – You Were Made for a Mission” outlined above at my website Wisdom-Matters by clicking on the “Free Resources” tab.

I hope you have enjoyed this amazing overview of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. As I said before, this is a book everyone, especially every Christian, should read and reread every year because Wisdom Matters!

See you next week!

NOTE: Please see my full disclosure policy on my usage of Hyper-Links for additional information.

Living With Purpose – Part 5

This week we’ll look at Part 5 of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. Even though this is a Christian-oriented book, the wisdom Warren treats us to is for everyone desiring to live a life filled with purpose and meaning.

This one is a little longer than the others, but I hope you’ll find well worth it!


Part 5 – You Were Shaped For Serving God

Chapter 29. “Accepting Your Assignment: You were put on earth to make a contribution. You weren’t created just to consume resources…God designed you to make a difference with your life. God wants you to give something back. This is God’s fourth purpose for your life, and it is called your “ministry”, or service.

  • You were created to serve God. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.
  • You were saved to serve God. You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service. We are saved to serve, not to sit around and wait for heaven.
  • You are called to serve God. Your call to salvation included your call to service. Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling.
  • You are commanded to serve God. Jesus was unmistakable: ‘Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life.’ (Matthew 20:28)

You are going to give your life for something. What will it be—a career, a sport, a hobby, fame, wealth? None of these will have lasting significance. Service is the pathway to real significance. It is through ministry that we discover the meaning of our lives.”

Chapter 30. “Shaped for Serving God: Each of us was uniquely designed, or ‘shaped,’ to do certain things. Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. Whenever God gives us an assignment, he always equips us with what we need to accomplish it. This custom combination of capabilities is called your SHAPE:

Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience

Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts: God gives every believer spiritual gifts to be used in ministry. These are special God-empowered abilities for serving him that are given only to believers. Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit.

Listening to Your Heart: The Bible uses the term heart to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations—what you love to do and what you care about most. Your heart reveals the real you—what you truly are, not what others think you are or what circumstances force you to be. Your heart determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.”

Chapter 31. “Understanding Your Shape: God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world.

Applying Your Abilities: Your abilities are the natural talents you were born with. All of our abilities come from God. Even abilities used to sin are God-given; they are just being misused or abused. To discover God’s will for your life, you should seriously examine what you are good at doing and what you’re not good at. God will never ask you to dedicate your life to a task you have no talent for. On the other hand, the abilities you do have are a strong indication of what God wants you to do with your life.

Using Your Personality: When God made you, he broke the mold. There never has been, and never will be, anybody exactly like you. Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities.

Employing Your Experiences: You have been shaped by your experiences in life, most of which were beyond your control. God allowed them for his purpose of molding you. In determining your shape for serving God, you should examine at least six kinds of experiences from your past:

  • Family experiences: What did you learn growing up in your family?
  • Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school?
  • Vocational experiences: What jobs have you been most effective in and enjoyed most?
  • Spiritual experiences: What have been your most meaningful times with God?
  • Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past?
  • Painful experiences: What problems, hurts, thorns, and trials have you learned from?

Using your shape is the secret to both fruitfulness and fulfillment in ministry.”

Chapter 32. “Using What God Gave You: Begin by assessing your gifts and abilities. Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. The best way to discover your gifts and abilities is to experiment with different areas of service.

Consider your heart and your personality. Ask yourself questions: What do I really enjoy doing most? When do I feel the most fully alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? Which do I enjoy more—competing or cooperating?

Your shape was sovereignly determined by God for his purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. Instead of trying to reshape yourself to be like someone else, you should celebrate the shape God has given only you.”

Chapter 33. “How Real Servants Act: How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?

  • Real servants make themselves available to serve. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever he needs to.
  • Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others.
  • Real servants do their best with what they have. Servants don’t make excuses, procrastinate, or wait for better circumstances. They just do what needs to be done.
  • Real servants do every task with equal dedication. Whatever they do, servants ‘do it with all their heart.’ The size of the task is irrelevant. The only issue is, does it need to be done?
  • Real servants are faithful to their ministry. Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments. They don’t leave a job half undone, and they don’t quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable.
  • Real servants maintain a low profile. Servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they ‘put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.'”

Chapter 34. “Thinking Like a Servant: Service starts in your mind. To be a servant requires a mental shift, a change in your attitudes. God is always more interested in why we do something than in what we do. Attitudes count more than achievements. Real servants serve God with a mindset of five attitudes.

  1. Servants think more about others than about themselves. This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.
  2. Servants think like stewards, not owners. Servants remember that God owns it all.
  3. Servants think about their work, not what others are doing. Real servants don’t complain of unfairness, don’t have pity-parties, and don’t resent those not serving.
  4. Servants base their identity in Christ. Because they remember they are loved and accepted by grace, servants don’t have to prove their worth. They willingly accept jobs that insecure people would consider ‘beneath’ them.
  5. Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation. It doesn’t matter what your age is, God will use you if you will begin to act and think like a servant.”

Chapter 35. “God’s Power in Your Weakness: God loves to use weak people…God will use us if we allow him to work through our weaknesses. For that to happen, we must follow the model of Paul (the Apostle).

  • Admit your weaknesses. Own up to your imperfections. Stop pretending to have it all together, and be honest about yourself.
  • Be content with your weaknesses. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. The things you’re most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, and most reluctant to share are the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others.
  • Honestly share your weaknesses. Humility is not putting yourself down or denying your strengths; rather, it is being honest about your weaknesses.
  • Glory in your weaknesses. Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace. When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him and fill your heart with praise for Jesus.”

I can’t emphasize enough how this book will help you develop a “purpose-driven life”, a life filled with meaning and direction, in every area of your life!

You can download a free copy of “Part 5 – You Were Shaped for Serving God” outlined above at my website Wisdom-Matters by clicking on the “Free Resources” tab.

Next week we’ll complete the 6-Part series on Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. Wisdom Matters!

NOTE: Please see my full disclosure policy on my usage of Hyper-Links for additional information.