let the PEACE of God rule

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say, Rejoice.” (Php 4:4)

Considering the state of our world this seems like an impossible task. One thing we forget however, is that those words were penned while Paul was in a Roman prison.

Every generation has to figure out how to complete this command in themselves despite the ‘troubles’ of their times. We’re no different.

Since the fall of man, we have all had to deal with the troubles that come from a broken sin filled world.

Despite this can we still find a way to REJOICE? Yes. If there is a command, then it’s within our ability to obey. But how?

How do we rejoice in the midst of turmoil? Can we rejoice when there is no peace in the world? We forget that there is no true peace if we’re not at peace with God. When we find peace with God, we can also see how to rejoice.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col 3:15)

This verse comes in the midst of a list of instructions; it must then be true then, that when we follow these instructions, we might have that peace of God.

Going to the beginning of the chapter we find the first step. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1-4). Before we can have peace from God, we need to seek and to set our affections above. From this verse and others, we learn that the child of God is to PURSUE righteousness, the things from above (cf. Jas 3:17; 1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 2:22; 1Pet 3:11).

The child of God is then to, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Col 3:5-9). EVIL is to be put off of the child of God. How can any of us expect peace when we continue to participate in the earthly, carnal, sensual, evil of this world? “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” We used to live this way, but now we are to live differently (cf. 1Cor 6:9-11).

Removing bad habits is not enough, we must replace what we have put off. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col 3:12). We are to put on, ADORN ourselves with the new man. In obeying the gospel through faithful baptism, we are raised up to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). Failure to do this is why we often return to our old ways. It’s not enough to remove evil. We must replace it with good.

But we still have a little further to go. The elect of God is expected to go beyond just outer actions, we must engage our hearts. “And above all these things put on CHARITY [love], which is the bond of perfectness” (Col 3:14). Without love we are nothing (1Cor 13:1-3). Love is very powerful. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18).

There is just one more thing in this list. Love is more than an emotion. It’s obedience to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:” (1John 5:3). We see this instruction in our passage. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:15-17).

We must let the peace of God dwell in our hearts, and this is accomplished when we let the word of Christ dwell there also. The last line in this section explains what this means. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” “Whatsoever, do, word, deed, do all?” This covers EVERYTHING. The entirety of our lives is to be focused on serving God. A fitting bookend to the beginning where we were told to “set our affections on things above.”

Do we want peace? Do you want rejoicing? It’s possible. When we Pursue those things above, put off Evil, Adorn ourselves with the new, have Charity in our hearts, and let the word of God permeate the Entirety of our lives, then we can rejoice. We rejoice not because life is easier. We rejoice because we know we have hope of an eternal home in heaven where Christ sits.

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like to learn more about what the bible says on life and godliness, then let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.

To ASPIRE to a quiet life

The last few years have been a rollercoaster of uncertainty. The reality is, since the fall from the Garden, every year is a year of uncertainty.

time and chance happens to them all.” [Ecc 9:11b]

Even with all this uncertainty, the Scriptures show us that it’s possible to smooth out the hills and valleys.

As we approach the New Year, many of us will be setting resolutions for 2022. Before we decide on what weight we want, or financial goals, let us consider what Paul told the saints at Thessalonica.

Read 1Thess 4:9-12.

v9-10: “But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye ABOUND more and more;” (emph mine seb)

The first thing we notice is the goal to ABOUND in LOVE. That’s a worthy goal. Faith, Hope & Love are 3 great things, but the greatest of these is Love… [1Cor 13:13]

  • We start by Loving the Lord thy God (Mat 22:37),
  • We are to Love Others (Mat 22:39),
  • We must also Love being Virtuous in keeping God’s commands (1John 5:3; John 14:15),
  • We ought also Love our Enemies (Luke 6:27).
  • We ought also to Love His Appearing in the Sky (2Tim 4:8).

v11a: “and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business,”

The second thing Paul writes what we might say, STAY IN YOUR LANE. The word “study” is philotimeomai, and means, eager or earnest to do something: labor, strive, study. [Strong’s Greek Dictionary]

In other words, we are to STRIVE for peace, not to STRIVE with others. This is not to say we should roll over whenever someone teaches error. Rather, it’s about not STRIVING over pointless matters. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rm 12:18]. We’re to strive for a quiet life, which means that we won’t be busybodies nor disorderly [Rom 13:13; 1Peter 4:15; 1Tim 5:13; 2Thess 3:11-12]

v11b: “and to work with your hands…

Part of living a quite life is through working to PROVIDE for the care of our own households. This wasn’t the first time Paul wrote about working to provide for our own; [Eph 4:28] nor was it the last time [1Tim 5:8].

v11c “…, even as we charged you;”

This is not Paul’s own guess work; to live a quiet life is an INSTRUCTION from the Lord. [1Cor 14:37].

v12a “that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without,”

To live a quiet life ultimately is about our influence toward all. Paul wants us to have a good REPORT from outsiders so that we will not hinder the gospel. This is also a qualification of Elder. [1Tim 3:7; 2Co 8:21; Col 4:5; 1Pet 2:12]

v12b “and may have need of nothing.”

Finally, Paul concludes that we are to EXCEL in these things so that we “lack nothing.” Once you carry your own water, you will appreciate every drop. [Gal 6:5]. This doesn’t mean we won’t need someone’s help sometimes, just that we should be striving so that we won’t need it.

Paul often worked so as not be a burden on others so that the gospel would not be hindered. “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” [2Thess 3:7-9].

As we think about 2022, let us ASPIRE to Abound in Love, to Study to be quiet, as Instructed by the Lord, to have a good Report of outsiders, and to Excel more & more. May God bless us all.

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper st church of Christ in Borger Texas.

THAT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!

We all face frustrations in our lives. It’s a part of life for just about everyone. It comes because of unresolved problems or unfulfilled goals, desires, or needs. [These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33] The definition of frustration is;

(n) the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

Frustration is often manifested by feelings of discouragement, anger, and annoyance. Since each of these is condemned by scripture, we need to learn how to handle frustrations in our lives.

I’d like to offer a modification to the current definition of frustration:

the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because they DON’T KNOW HOW to change or achieve something.”

ANGER:  Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

DISCOURAGEMENT:  Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

The regular definition has a feeling of inability, helplessness and hopelessness. That’s just not true. We DO HAVE ABILITY to do something about those things that frustrate us. There is hope.

OVERCOMING FRUSTRATION: Below are a few ways we can minimize or even eliminate frustration using the example of evangelism.

LEARN / GROW: Ask Yourself, “What Is Working?” Arguing with folks is very counterproductive. Has anyone ever been won over by an argument? Evangelism used to be frustrating when all I ever did was use conjecture without ever opening the Bible. When we study, we can turn to passages and show them to people. Their anger with us then becomes anger at the Bible and they know they can’t do that.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 3:18]

LOOK AHEAD: Many sorrows come upon us because we just don’t pay attention. When speaking with someone about salvation they often jump around from subject to subject. Knowing ahead of time about this, we can prepare ourselves to remain on the subject at hand.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [Ephesians 5:15]

TRY AGAIN: We will face Mockers which can be very aggravating. However, it’s not new, Paul faced mockers when he preached [Acts 17:32]. What did he do? He kept on preaching, he just took those who wanted to hear and spoke with them.

So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed. [Acts 17:33-34a]

AUTOPILOT: Critics of the Lord’s church will use about 10 of the same arguments (i.e. thief on the cross, just love, the Roman road etc.). Rather then let that bother us, prepare an answer. If we’re going to get the same objections from most everyone we preach to, learn the answers. Now, instead of frustration, it makes me smile which always improves the interaction.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. [Col 4:6]

STOP FIGHTING GOD: We often believe that just because we’re having a conversation with someone that we’re doing God’s will. Not so. When we face the mockers, the disinterested or the haters we end up in an argument and, fighting against God. Jesus explicitly told us not to do this.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. [Matthew 7:6]

REMAIN POSITIVE: We need to acknowledge that we can’t change people, they must want to change. Once we admit that the only way things will change is when we change, then we can have a new perspective about frustrations and recognize them as just challenges to overcome. Challenges are good and very rewarding. [Mat 5:10-12]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. [John 14:27]

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-10]

A life of frustration is no way to live and can never glorify God because it contains no joy, it has no hope and it leads to sinful attitudes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23]

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

Please everyone Lose everything

donkey

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ”Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking.” The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, “How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride?!” The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next, they met some young men out for a stroll. “How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!” one yelled derisively. So, both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school. One girl shouted, “How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal.” The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

You know the moral of the story, if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything. We can say it another way, DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE TRYING TO KEEP OTHERS WARM.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. We are continually perplexed because we can never please everybody. The English poet, John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Another problem that arises from seeking others approval, is when we find out that they weren’t thinking about us at all. STOP TRYING!

We ought rather, to strive to please God and do unto others as we would have them do unto us [Mat 7:12], instead of worrying about someone thinking us foolish. There is a lesson here for all of us. We will be happier if we learn it.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” [1Cor 4:3-4]

There comes a point when you must realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. That’s their problem. The only One from whom we need any approval is God and He always knows what is right and what is in your heart. [Heb 4:12; cr. John 8:29; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 7:32, 10:33; Gal 1:10; Php 4:18; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1; 2Tim 2:4; Hebrews 11:6; 13:21]

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:9-10]

Did you think to pray?

Dallas prayers

 

Late Thursday evening, as bedtime approached for many, gunfire rang out in downtown Dallas. In an apparent response to violence against black lives, a shooter (or multiple shooters), took aim at Dallas Police officers, injuring 12. The trouble continued well into the morning and we awoke to the news that 5 officers had been killed.

This article makes no attempt to clarify the issues surrounding the racial tensions of our country, it’s only purpose is to ask; DID YOU THINK TO PRAY? In our songbooks we have a song of the same title. The scriptural reference for this song is Philippians 4:6.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

So, did you? Did you think to pray as peace has seemingly turned to chaos? For Christians, prayer is our first line of defense against chaos. Prayer should be continually offered by those calling themselves the children of God. It’s commanded; “Pray without ceasing.” [1Thessalonians 5:17]

Certainly we offered prayers for our family, friends and the innocent who may have been affected by the violence. Friends (sisters in Christ) of mine were mere blocks away from the Dallas shooting. Is that where our prayers ended? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the others? Did you pray for the police officers, the peaceful protesters, or the myriad of others caught in the crossfire? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the shooter? We are commanded to pray, but those prayers are to go beyond just the folks we like. Our Lord and Master taught;

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you[Matthew 5:44]

It may be difficult to pray for someone who has committed such heinous violence, just as it’s difficult to pray for those with whom we don’t agree, but the command is there. Can we ignore the commands we find uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, Christians ought to pray for ALL MANKIND…

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth[1Timothy 2:1-4]

It’s good that we pray for those we may call enemy, or those we dislike, along with those we love. It’s good because it’s nearly impossible to hold hatred in your heart for whose whom you’re praying. That is good, our God is so wise, for it’s hate that is the promoter of violence [Proverbs 10:12]. Hate can end in our prayers. It’s only then can we experience peace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus[Philippians 4:7]

Remember to Pray.

spencer

4 step formula for success

The other day in the panhandle of Texas, I heard of a lady that had been kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend. She had called her former employer, this person had only used her once to clean a rental house, seeking help. She wanted to avoid any shelters so as to be able to keep her kids, though her kids were with other people. She had no money, no one to turn, no place to go zip, nada, nothing.

Without trying to sound incompassionate, this question came to mind; How does one get to a point in their life that they have nothing? How do you burn every bridge so that you have no bridge to cross? I’m speaking about people that have options and without disabilities to prevent them from having some semblance of success. (incidentally, I’ve met folks with major obstacles in their lives and have overcome)

How do you live an honest life, lacking nothing?

Would you like a life like that? Honest living, lacking nothing? There are little treasures in the scriptures that God gives us to better enjoy our lives. He said in 2Pet 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, KJV. These “things” are more than just the churchy stuff. He provided information about life.

So, turning to the scriptures we find this little gem…

1Th 4:12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Here we see a worthy ideal, having an honest life toward folks, and a lack of nothing. This verse says “that ye”, meaning that the formula is in the previous verses where we find the 4 step formula….

1Th 4:9 ¶ But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

Let’s break this down for you…..

  1. LOVE – In vs9 He says that we are to love one another, then in vs10 to “increase more and more“. We should do more than just increase, but that He was urging us strongly to make this increase. Notice the word “beseech“.
  2. Pursue PEACE– In vs11 we see “study to be quiet“, meaning that we need to seek peace, a quiet life. Do you see how these first two steps can really change how our lives unfold?
  3. Mind your own business – Also in vs11 we see “to do your own business“. This is about being a busybody, or meddling. I think it’s referring less about what to avoid and more about what to do, take care of your stuff, look after your needs. This is not a selfish ambition, but rather making sure that the beam is removed from your own eye. Mat 7:5
  4. WORK with your own hands – now this may make sense to some of you, but to others this is a four letter word. From the very beginning, man has been assigned work to do. Work is the thing that provides all the necessities of life; food, clothing and shelter. If you don’t work, someone has to. Think of work as a blessing, not a curse. Though work is a struggle for mankind, it’s still the only thing that provides for our needs. On another note, there’s another benefit to work, Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. KJV

Love – Peace – Mind your own – Work

Had I told this to certain audiences, they would reject this formula simply for being from the Bible. If I were to share this without the scripture reference, they would hail it as just good ‘ole common sense. These things work whether you’re a believer or unbeliever……..

……if you’re an unbeliever, then what’s the point of any of this? If you don’t have a hope of heaven in Christ, then you’ve got nothing and that is one bridge you want to keep from burning. He’s told us how to cross that bridge too. Click here to see what saves you.

 

spencer
Borger, Tx
806/274-5021

Ask me how to make your calling and election sure. 2Pet 1:10