Judge Others Or Listen?

Judge Others Or Listen?

“According to our Law we cannot condemn people before hearing them and finding out what they have done” (John 7:51 GNT).

 

Those close to me will often tell me that I am naïve.  I tend to be optimistic and take people at their word.  I am not cynical.   However, each day I am shocked by the level of hatred that I see among people.  Hatred can be manifested in many ways such as physical violence, racism, oppression, etc.   

Hatred is born as a thought and grows into an action.  During the thought process a judgment is made to justify or rationalize the pending action. 

One of my favorite characters from the Bible was Nicodemus.  He was a Pharisee, but he came to Jesus one night to listen and learn from Him (John 3:1-21).  One time the Pharisees were trying to judge Jesus without letting Him have a say or explain himself (without listening).  Nicodemus spoke up and said, “According to our Law we cannot condemn people before hearing them and finding out what they have done” (John 7:51).

Scripture warns us against the perils of judging others.  Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Scripture also encourages us to listen to others.  James 1:19 teaches, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” 

So, how do we stop from being judgmental.  Listen.  Be quick to listen.  Listen with compassion, honesty, sincerity, and fairness.

I wonder how many times I have judged someone without listening to their story first?  I wonder if I would have joined Nicodemus or sided with the other Pharisees when it came time to judge Jesus?  How would you have responded?

Imagine a world in which we all offer grace to sinners (each other) and encouragement rather than judgment.  Isn’t this what we are asking in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).

Leave the judging to God.  He wants us to listen and not judge.  After listening, then pray.  Don’t judge. Just pray.  Finally, be blessed as you bless others. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  We confess that we have judged others without listening.  We have pointed out the plank in our neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in our own eye.  Help us, dear God, to listen as you listen and to love as you love.  Help us to listen and listen some more and love and love some more.  Amen.  

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Doubting Your Doubts

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Doubting Your Doubts

“The world’s sin is unbelief in me” (John 16:9 TLB).

I have always been more interested in the root cause of a problem rather than dealing with the results of the problem.  As Christians we talk a lot about sin, particularly the separation of the sinner from God and the forgiveness of sin due to the blood of Jesus for those that repent and earnestly seek His face.

However, I wonder if we truly understand the basis behind our sin.  Some would argue that the root cause is a desire to live in the flesh, pursue our own desires rather than discern His will, the natural consequence of original sin, or perhaps another reason.  I think all of these are valid answers but there may be something a little deeper that we can explore. 

I believe that at the root of every sin rests at least a momentary doubt about God.  In John 16:9 Jesus says, “The sin is unbelief in me.”  When we don’t believe the divine or sovereign nature of our Lord, that is the root of all sin. 

At each visit to my doctor, my body temperature and blood pressure are checked to indicate my physical health.  Our emotions are an indicator of our spiritual health.  Some emotions reveal an inner doubt in God and will surely lead to sin and a separation from the Father.

As we grow impatient, it reveals doubt in God’s perfect timing. God has a plan for our lives, but His time is often different from our time but it is always better and perfect.  Scripture teaches in 2 Peter 3:8-9, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 

God is never going to be in a hurry.  In John 11 we read that Jesus delayed His departure for two days after receiving word that Lazarus was dying.  How often do we want things to happen our own timetable?  How often do we take action to accomplish our desires without waiting to allow God to act at the perfect time and perfect manner?

Another indicator emotion is resentment or bitterness.   These emotions reveal doubt in God’s wisdom.  We easily trust God during good times, but we truly trust in Him when we follow Him in bad times.   During the bad times do you become disappointed in God?  Also, during bad times do you doubt that He can bring good out of bad as promised in Romans 8:28. 

Guilt is a negative emotion that reveals an unbelief in God’s forgiveness.  I think short term guilt is healthy because it can serve to prevent us from making similar poor choices in the future.  However, the duration of your guilt should be commensurate with the time needed to confess your sin.  Long-term guilt result from an inability to forgive yourself because you don’t believe God has forgiven you.

At times we feel inadequate, which reveals we doubt in God’s power.  Scripture tells us repeatedly that God does not call the empowered, but He empowers those that He calls.  As Christians, we have all been called into ministry through our baptism and profession of faith.  True power never comes from the flesh but rather from the Spirit.  There is no power on this earth that is remotely close to His power. 

If you have these negative emotions and want to gain victory, then you need to start doubting your doubts.  If you believe in God’s Word, you can trust what it says about the nature of God and His love for you.  He keeps His promises, has perfect timing, is wise, forgives you, and works powerfully through you.  The right next step to victory is to read Scripture AND believe His promises and reject any doubt that is from the enemy. .

Prayer:  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;* the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic** church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Finding Joy While Suffering

Partner With God While Waiting

Finding Joy While Suffering

God lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand
(Psalm 40:2 NIV).

One of the more common questions from Christians is about suffering.  Why does a God that loves us as His own children allow suffering?  Perhaps the greatest challenge to our faith is to understand pain and suffering. 

Many people point to the Book of Job to understand suffering.  God did not cause Job’s suffering but allowed the devil to cause suffering.  Job was tempted and tested.  Job struggled in his understanding and cried out to the Lord.  God spoke truth and declared His sovereignty.  Job, in the end, chose God and was rewarded.

Job is useful today for us to understand suffering, and to then step out in faith to claim the promise of Romans 5:3-5.  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

There is nothing joyful about suffering.  We do not rejoice for the suffering but rejoice while we persevere through the suffering.  God never causes suffering but will allow it to bring us closer to Him (Christian perfection). Scripture encourages us to consider it all joy, even times of suffering because these times will help make us more like the One that was perfect.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Just like Job, none of us are exempt from suffering, loneliness, discouragement, false accusations, or unjust criticism. In fact, Jesus understands and experienced them all.  As we experience them, we can be bitter or we can persevere with joyful anticipation as we wait to see how the Lord will use it for good as stated in Romans 8:28.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  While we do not know the particular manner or time in which God will use the pain, we can rejoice that if we trust in Him, it will be used to develop the character of Christ in us.

So, what is the right next step.  First, build your house on the Rock.  This means to feed your faith during the good times (and bad times) so when the winds of suffering come, you will be better prepared to persevere. 

A personal relationship with Jesus is essential to finding victory before, during, and after suffering.  If we approach Him with trust and delight, we are then able to claim His promises of provision and protection.  For example, Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (emphasis added).  Moreover, Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart (emphasis added).

Trust is a sign of faith.  Go read Hebrews 11 to learn how God honors the faith (trust) of flawed people.  As we delight in the Lord, the desires of our heart become closer in accordance with His desires.  In times of suffering, do not be discouraged but instead rely on Him for provision and protection, which are far greater and stronger than anything from this world.  Our Lord experienced suffering and knew we would also when He said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  We can overcome the suffering if we stand steadfast in faith and delight and claim His promises.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us.  Help us to trust and delight in You during good times and bad. Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Anger Can Be Good

todd shupe

Anger Can Be Good

 “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11 NLT).

 

 

Many people think that all anger is bad or sinful.  We tend to associate anger with a loss of control, shouting, and aggressive behavior.  However, anger can be good and only becomes sinful when it is expressed in an inappropriate way.  There is nothing wrong with anger if it is properly directed.  We are taught, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  We are less likely to model Godly behavior, and sin, if we are controlled by our anger rather than we control our anger.

 

Sometimes the most appropriate response to a situation is anger.  I am angry when I see injustice occurring in the world.  I am angry when I see children, elderly, people with special needs, and animals abused.  I am angry when I see churches burned, people killing each other, and babies born that are addicted to drugs due to a drug habit of the mother.  I am angry at the lack of anger of others when they see oppression, injustice, and abuse.  I am reminded of an often-quoted line of a letter from Edmund Burke to Thomas Mercer – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

 

Did you ever consider that anger can be an act of love?  Of all of the Synoptic Gospels, I like the imagery of John 2 as it describes the anger of our Lord as he encountered the money changers outside the Temple.  Scripture tells us that He became angry, fastened a whip out of cords, and overturned their tables. I see this as an act of love for the Temple (God’s house), but also discipline for His children.  As parents we discipline our children out of love.  I can only imagine the love that Jesus had for His children then which surely extends to us all today.  The Psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord because He is good.  His love continues forever (Psalm 136:1).

 

The Bible says God gets righteously angry, and we are able to experience anger because we are created in His image.  However, anger certainly can, and often does, lead to sin, which separates us from God.  We often make poor decisions when we are angry so perhaps that is why Scriptures urges us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

 

While uncontrolled anger is a sin, controlled anger is beneficial because it gives us a clear-headed view of the situation and allows us, due to His grace, to turn the other cheek and respond with God’s love.

 

One of the greatest blessings we have from God is free will, and we can use that when we have been wronged.  Nobody can make us mad.  We choose how to handle our anger.  This is often not easy but with the help of the Holy Spirit it is certainly possible. 

 

Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”  Our relationship with Christ is critical to determine how well we master the anger in our lives.  When anger is managed wisely and appropriately, the fruit is great marriages, families, friendships, communities, and churches.  Our anger can be used to bring honor and glory to Him and reveal a powerful witness. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Please help us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

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Do We Realize Who Is With Us?

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Do We Realize Who Is With Us?

“… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

Some of the rotten “fruit” of the enemy is fear and doubt.   If we truly stopped and contemplated who is always with us, then fear would be defeated.   Eventually, Jesus will return, and the enemy will be destroyed along with all of his weapons of spiritual warfare.  In the meantime, we can exercise our free will to live in the dark or live in the light.   The darkness is scary because our own vision is useless.  I have always believed that we can learn something from everyone that we meet.   Blind people each day are walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  If we chose to walk in the light, we are walking with Jesus.  John 8:12 teaches us, “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So, what is the right next step here?  How do we actually walk with Jesus?  We use our free will and our mouth and heart and declare Him our Lord. Paul teaches us in Romans 10:9-10, “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

So, how do we walk with Jesus? We stay in the Word.  The Word became flesh when Jesus came (John 1:14).   The Word remains with us in the form of the Holy Bible.  The Pslamist writes in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  The Bible is an instructional manual for daily living.  Note, the emphasis on daily living.  God wants us to live for today and enjoy the blessings of today.  Yes, we are to plan for tomorrow but not worry about tomorrow.  Do you recall the words of Jesus when instructing his disciples how to pray?  “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  Please note the focus is on this day and not this week or this year.  Now, check out the Scripture at the top of this blog from Matthew 28:20.  Jesus is promising His disciples that he will be with them always.  That promise and invitation is still valid for you and me – this day and every day.

Prayer:  Dear God:  When we live in the flesh, we walk using our eyes and do what is right in our own eyes.  Help us dear Lord, to always seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness.  Thank you for loving us, walking with us, and being the Light that we so desperately need.  Please continue to shape us as you are the potter and we are the clay.  We could not be in any better hands.  Amen

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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Evil Can Occur During Church

Evil Can Occur During Church
Evil Can Occur During Church

Evil Can Occur During Church

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” 

(Romans 7:21 NIV).

I am angry about the continued shootings at our churches. Our churches are God’s house on earth.  Psalm 46:1 teaches us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).   I think we can substitute “church” for “God” in the scripture.  As Christians we seek out His refuge and strength, particularly on Sunday mornings as we gather with the Body of Christ.   This is a special, holy, sacred time.  It should also be a safe time. 

I understand that since the beginning “sin has been crouching at our doors” (Genesis 4:7).  The Psalmist later wrote, “…Their evil imaginations have no limits (Psalm 73:7). 

I stand on the words of Paul in Romans 12:9, and “hate what is evil and cling to what is good.”  I hate church shootings (and school shootings, mass shootings, and all shootings).  These attacks are pure evil and cowardly.  A strong church (and strong families) are the greatest threat to the enemy and attacks on both are evidence that the both pose a serious threat to his plan.

So, “I cling to what is good.”  I pray blessings for all those impacted in all shootings, including the victims, the entire congregation, family and friends of victims, and the pastor.  I know that I am also called to pray for the shooter.  We are taught in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”  On my own, I simply cannot pray for the shooters, but “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).  So, with His help, I pray for the shooters too.  They have sinned, but so have I.

All sin is detestable to God.  The late Rev. Billy Graham was asked if all sins are equal in God’s eyes.  His response follows.  “It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed. 

At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people. Sins may also differ at their root. 

However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life.” 

My church is now making plans for an active shooter situation.  I am saddened that time and resources that could be spent on evangelism and missions are being spent on this, but I know it is necessary.  Please pray for our churches.  It really is important. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Please protect us at church and everywhere we go.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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When You Walk Through The Fire, You Will Not Be Burned

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When You Walk Through The Fire, You Will Not Be Burned

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV).

 

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Please closely read the Scripture at the top of this blog.  Hopefully, everything is going great for you in your life right now.  However, if you are not in a period of adversity now, you will be sometime in the future.  More about that later.

 

As I think about Isaiah 43:2, my mind thinks of situations in which God has delivered His people from water and fire.  I can remember as a child in Sunday School listening to the story of the parting the Red Sea as Moses lead his people out of Egypt.  Exodus 15:4 states: “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea.”

 

The reference to fire in Isaiah 43:2 may be particularly relevant to many people today.  We don’t often have a 100-year rain event, but it sure does seem that we often have some sort of “fire.” There is an old expression, “The heat is on” when the pressure gets high. 

 

Daniel 3 describes the story of three friends of Daniel that were literally subjected to heat and fire.   Daniel’s friends would not bow in worship to a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar.  So, the king had them tossed into a fire and had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.

The LORD was with Daniel’s friends, and they were not harmed.  They actually lived out the last sentence of Isaiah 43:2. “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). 

How did this happen?  The furnace was seven times hotter than usual.  The men should have been instantly consumed by fire. The answer is in Daniel 3:24-25: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Jesus was with them in their actual fire.  He was the fourth man.  Jesus is also with us in our “fires” when the “heat is on.”  How do we know that Jesus also be with us in our “fires”?  We can take comfort that He will be with us because He tells us, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  Now go back to the top and read Isaiah 43:2 again.  Notice that it does not say if you pass through the waters or if you walk through the fire.  It states when you walk through them.  Scripture is promising that it will happen, but when it does God is also promising that He will be there with us and we will survive. 

One more promise – the fire, water, or other problem will ultimately result in good.  God promises that in Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for never leaving or forsaking us.  Please draw us close to You in both good times and bad.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the direction of the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is currently in training to become a Lay Minister under the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He enjoys writing inspirational Christian blogs at ToddShupe.com and Todd-Shupe.com .

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Look Past The Sin To See The Person – Examples From Godly Women

Look Past The Sin To See The Person – Examples From Godly Women

Look Past The Sin To See The Person – Examples From Godly Women

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 NIV).

Women have always been vitally important to Christianity.  Their love and compassion have been recorded since the beginning of time.  When thinking about the beginning, we often think of Eve and her sin of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.  Due to God’s grace she still had children and is forever known as the mother of all creation.  But we tend to focus on and remember her sin.  However, our focus should be on her redemption.

Sarah was the wife of Abraham, the great Patriarch.  She could throw fits and sometimes behaved badly.  She could be manipulative and even mean.  Sarah is also listed in the Faith Hall of Fame. “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

Rahab is first introduced in the Bible as an unsavory character – “a harlot named Rahab” (Joshua 2:1).  She was immoral and living in a pagan culture.  She knew of the greatness of God and provided assistance to the spies sent by Joshua to investigate her hometown of Jericho.  However, she is specifically singled out by name for her faith. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31). Rahab even appears in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1. 

So, how do we apply this to our life today?  I think the right next step is for us to reflect on how we view others.  For example, I have a friend that spent time in prison for killing a police officer.  He admits that he did it.  I did not know him until he had been released for many years and he was active in ministry.  Somebody else told me, “that guy killed a cop.”  However, by God’s grace it did not affect my perception of him.  I had already built my perception based on what I had seen.  I had seen the sincerity of his faith, the fruits of his witness, and the depth of his faith.  I was not really interested in the details of his prior life, regardless if they were true or not.  Don’t we all love to sing Amazing Grace?  I was lost but now found.

As Christians we are not immune to sin in our current life.  As I become aware of sin in the lives of others, I can offer my judgment or my prayers.  Judgment is the job of God.  Conviction is the job of the Holy Spirit.  My job, and yours, is to love and pray.  I try to use my words and thoughts to build up the Body of Christ.  That does not mean I agree with everything, but it does mean that we should let God be God and do His job.

As men, we should remember what Adam said regarding Eve in Genesis 2:23, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  As men we are called to honor the women in our lives.  One way we do so is to forgive them of their sins as we too seek to be forgiven and view them as Christ views us all.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the Godly women that you have placed in our lives.  May we always honor them as we honor you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Finding Peace During the Corona Virus Pandemic

God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord.  When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them.  I will rescue them and honor them.  I will reward them with long life; I will save them”

(Psalm 91:14-16 GNT).

Many people are scared due to the uncertainty regarding the Coronavirus (CORVID-19).  I think each time a politician tells the public “don’t panic” that it unfortunately causes some to panic more.  I am a person of faith but also of science.  As we wait in faith for this to pass, we all should remember a few things.

1.  God has power over every storm.

I take refuge in the passage from Matthew 8:23-27 when Jesus calmed the storm.   The disciples were afraid of the storm and woke up Jesus.  Matthew 8:26 teaches us that He, “rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”  Jesus will rebuke these winds.  It will be calm.  His divinity is often more clearly revealed in the midst of a storm or other crisis.

2.  Keep your focus on Him

The disciple Peter was able to walk on water as long he kept looking at Jesus.  Once his focus  was shifted to the water, he began to sink.  We can walk through this storm in faith  as long as we maintain grounded in Him, His truth, and His word, or we can struggle in the storm without Him. This is a battle, but the battle belongs to the LORD (1 Samuel 17:47).  Go read 2 Chronicles 20 for an example of how God fights for us in what seems like an impossible situation.

3.  Jesus is with us

The God of heaven and earth is always with us.  He wants nothing but good for all of us.  We have the greatest power on our side.  We are able to connect through prayer with Him at any time.  Remember this, “If God is with us, then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).  In Him, we have peace.

Storms, viruses, and other crises provide us an opportunity – worry or worship, faith or fear.   If we choose to look to Jesus above everything else, we will begin to see that the storms we face are nothing compared to the Savior choosing to walk through the storm alongside us.

So, how can we turn our worry into worship?  It begins with honesty.  Tell God exactly how you feel.  Trusting God with your feeling is a form of worship.  In the Old Testament, Job did this.  “Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20).  Don’t keep any negative emotions and feelings inside.  Give them all to God and just as important – leave them with Him.  God understands and appreciates our emotions.  We are made in His likeness and He has emotions.  The Bible indicates that God has feelings of love, anger, jealousy, and grief. God can handle your feelings.Lamentations 2:19 teaches us to, “Cry out in the night . . . Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord.”

When the Prophet Nehemiah heard panic-filled news about his people in Jerusalem, he did two things.  He “fasted and prayed before to the God in heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).  Fasting and prayer reminded him who God is, what He has done, and what He can do.  The same is true today.

As I typed earlier, I am a person of faith and science.  So, as for science we should also remember a few things.  You already know these, but repetition is the key to learning.

1.  Hand washing is an important tool to reduce our risk of exposure. We have all been told since we were children to wash our hands.  Now, we also know to follow good social distancing to keep ourselves and others healthy.

2.  Our bodies are more vulnerable to attack when we are not resting, exercising, and eating properly. Go to bed on time, exercise, and avoid junk food.

3.  Do not try to isolate your physical health from your mental and spiritual health. All are important and connected.  Stay positive and read Psalm 91, avoid hysteria, stay connected (skype, text, call) and safely help friends , family, neighbors, and elderly.

 So, click HERE to read the Bible, and  click HERE for the Center of disease Control (CDC) web page.  Both are important.

Prayer:  Dear God, We wait for you to rebuke this storm.  As we wait, may we find refuge in you and comfort in your promises.  LORD hear our prayer.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Finding Comfort During Grief

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Finding Comfort During Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV)

Finding Comfort During Grief

Grief is inevitable.  We grieve our loss – a child, spouse, parent, close friend, or pet.  I have grieved many losses in my life – sister, marriage, father, friends, and many pets.  It is important to understand that grief is a process and it never ends but does take one through different stages.  It is a passage to go through but not a place to linger until the final stage of acceptance.  Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith and trust in God.  Did Jesus not grieve when he learned that his friend Lazarus had died?  As Jesus grieved the death of His cousin John the Baptist, He withdrew to be alone with the Father in prayer.  Then, it is important to note that He then ministered to others.  He allowed the love of the Father to flow through him to others even though He still grieved his friend.  Grief is a clear and evident sign that love was present.  Healing begins when we realize that

love is still present.  God is love and understands our grief.  He experienced grief over His own pending death and modelled for us the path out of sorrow – prayer.  Jesus yielded to the will of the Father.  His will is always greater than ours and is a plan for us to prosper and live life abundantly.

Upon deeper reflection, I now realize that grief for the loss of a loved one is perhaps selfish.  We want to continue the relationship.  We want to maintain the status quo.  We think God should support our desires rather than we seek and support His will.   It is very important to realize that it is not God’s will for a young baby to die, a young father to die in a car wreck, or other tragedy.  However, He can and will use these tragedies as an opportunity to bring us into a closer relationship, and in a supernatural manner, He can and will make good out of the bad.  The best response to grief is faith in our Lord. 

Death is not the end.  It is the beginning of a life in paradise with the Father.  It is the end of pain for those that have been suffering.  If you are experiencing grief, I encourage you to read Matthew 5:4 and then ask God for His blessing and comfort.  Ask and you will receive.  The Lamb of God will comfort you and draw you near.  No, it won’t happen overnight, but day by day you will walk more in faith and the Spirit will grow in you.  As the Spirit grows, the blessing becomes more evident and you will find comfort that surpasses all understanding.

Prayer:  Dear God, we all come to you in different stages of grief.  We rejoice that our loved ones are with You.  However, we miss them.  Send your Holy Spirit and remove our grief and fill the void with your love.  We are broken as individuals but whole when we step out in faith and stand firm on Your promises.  We thank you for your grace and love.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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