apostle

Receivers Instead of Achievers

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A paradox is defined as something that sounds contradictory but is actually true. We find such a paradox in the first letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. There he told them to make it their ambition, to be zealous and to strive eagerly - but let’s not complete that sentence just yet...

When I see a phrase that calls me to STRIVE or to be AMBITIOUS, I instantly think of the culture of the world we live in, and conclude that I need to "strive" to be a “mover-and-a-shaker,” or have "ambitions" to become an influencer or motivator; a heart charger who yearns for impact in this world. That is what I would expect would follow a call to "strive" or "be ambitious."

Paul, however, had no such conclusion to that phrase. Instead, he said that we should strive to be quiet; that we should be ambitious to mind our own business and take care of our own work. Pretty strange command, isn’t it? Not really though, when you think about it. We are made by God as human beings, called on the first full day of our existence in Genesis 2 to REST! Oh, we went out to work on the 8th day, but we worked from a position of rest. We labored, but not to achieve, because we had already been given everything by God. WONDERFUL!

Man sinned, however, and we bought the lie that we should eat from the tree of right and wrong, and in that instant we went from a human being who received all that they needed from the hand of God, to become human doings, achieving for themselves. This became our new normal, our default mode – to perform. To do.

The glory of the New Covenant placed us back into relationship with God and provided the potential for us to once again become receivers instead of achievers. To rest instead of LABOR. To simply be significant in Christ instead of trying to achieve significance. This is not easy for anyone, because we have been conditioned to achieve instead of receive. That is why the author of Hebrews said, “Labor to enter into the rest.” In other words, it is hard work to rest. And that is why Paul here in Thessalonians said that we should make it our ambition to lead quiet lives.

We have been made some kind of special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to really believe that and let it dramatically influence the way we live.

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Is the Truth on Your Lips Lived Out in Your Life?

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Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t care what others think. Though I agree that it is the Word of God that is to be the main source by which we order our lives, we should lend some consideration to what others think about us – especially the unbelieving world.

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian believers that they should be quiet, work hard, and mind their own business; that they should strive to do so. It is pretty clear from what Jesus said that there is more than enough on our plate every day to concern us. In fact, there is so much on our plate, that we should not even worry about tomorrow. This also means that there is so much on our plate each day that we should not have occasion to worry about what is on the plates of others. As it has been well said, “If you are not busy, you are in danger of being a busybody.” A point well taken, and it is this diligent pursuit of our own responsibilities in daily living, that will have such a great influence on what the outside world thinks of us.

Paul told the Thessalonians that when they follow his counsel to work hard, be quiet, and mind their own business, they will not be lacking. What he meant by this, is that we will be working, and barring some calamity, will be able to provide for the needs of our own lives. In other words, we will not have to go on the rolls of some charity in order to meet our needs.

It is at that point that Paul added that this hard-working lifestyle will have a dramatic effect on the unbelieving world, and we will win their respect because of it. The truth is that we are performing on the stage of life, and the unbelieving world is the audience. They are watching to see if the truth that is on our lips is also in our lives.

One anonymous saint put it this way, “Before we tell others about Jesus with our lips, we need to make sure they can see Jesus in our lives!” Perhaps Francis of Assisi said it best, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words!” I love that! Don’t you? Let’s preach Jesus with our lives!

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.

Go. Be an apostle.

If ever there was a man who LOVED to herald his role in life, it was the Apostle Paul. Dare we say that he "boasted" in doing so? I am comfortable with that because I believe he also proclaimed just as loudly why he boasted so in his role.

Allow me to explain.

In I Timothy, even to a letter that was NOT written to the church, but to a close friend, he stated loudly that He was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Hmmmm.... Strange! I would have expected him to so identify himself as Timothy's friend...

But if you read on, we learn why he was so amazed to be an apostle. After what he had done in life, persecuted the church, sought out and murdered Christians, he found that God could so deal with his sin, remove it so far from him, transform him, crucify, bury, and resurrect him so brand new, that even this kind of man could be put into the service of God. When Paul boasted that he was an apostle, he was really boasting in how great the grace of God was.

Oh my friend, have you committed "that sin" that the enemy has you thinking that you could never, ever again be used of God? Please know, that the grace of God is bigger than your sin. Though you and I can never be an Apostle, we can be an apostle. 
What?

The technical form of the word 'apostle' means one of the original followers of Jesus, a man who was personally trained and commissioned by Jesus Himself. Paul is included in this of course, because of His Damascus road calling and training from the Holy Spirit during his three year hiatus from public life.

So, we can never be an APOSTLE, but we can however, be an apostle. The basic root of the word meaning one sent to equip. I believe every one of us should boast in that calling. Just like Paul, we may have sinned horribly, but even if we sinned horribly after becoming a Christian, there is not a man nor a woman that has ever sinned bigger than the grace of God! God can take you and make you so brand new that He will consider you worthy to be used in His service. Why? To tell others of His marvelous grace! I found this poem I would like to share with you:

"Life can never be dull again... 
When once we've thrown our windows open wide...
And seen the mighty world that lies outside,
And whispered to ourselves this wondrous thing,
We are wanted, for the business of the King!

Go! Be one "sent to the world', share your story of how the grace of God has touched your life so that others can be equipped to face this world with His grace too!"