Do We Realize Who Is With Us?

Do We Realize Who Is With Us?

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.

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  • Keep Your Eye On The Prize



    Keep Your Eye On The Prize
    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)
    We all have so many distractions that it is very hard to stay focused.  We all want to obey the first commandment and put God first in our lives, but we are pulled in so many directions from family, work, and friends.  I love the expression “keep your eye on the prize.”  It is often associated with athletes that are focused on performing at the highest possible level.   The Bible speaks to this in 1 Cor. 9:25 “All…
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  • Be Childlike not Immature


    Be Childlike not Immature

    Be Childlike not Immature
    “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25 NIV).
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  • Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!


    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!

    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!
    “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good  (Romans 12:9 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…
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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

todd shupe

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).

 

todd shupe

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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  • Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!


    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!

    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!
    “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good  (Romans 12:9 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…
    Read More

  • Put On The ‘Full Armor Of God’ To Maintain Hope


    Put On The ‘Full Armor Of God’ To Maintain Hope

    Put On The ‘Full Armor Of God’ For Hope
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    We all experience times in our lives in which we feel hopeless. For some, these periods linger into years and years. Given these circumstances, I would like to equip readers with some thoughts on how to maintain hope when all hope appears to be gone. In this article, you’ll find some thoughts on the importance of hope in your life. For your consideration, Job was a strong disciple of God, but had…
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    A Prayerful Life
    16“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
    The Bible has much Scripture that encourages us to seek God through prayer.  The Gospels and the Epistles are particularly filled with Holy Scripture that encourages us to seek God’s face through prayer.   Our direct line of communication to God is prayer.  It is a deeply personal process by which we bring Him our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication.  We go into our inner room and pray to our loving Father with full confidence that He hears us and…
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Finding Peace During the Corona Virus Pandemic

Finding Peace During the Corona Virus Pandemic

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.

We welcome your comments below.

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

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    Return to the Father

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Finding Comfort During Grief

Finding Comfort During Grief

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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    Proper Casting is Essential for a Bountiful Harvest  “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7 All fishermen know that proper casting is essential to catching fish.  For some fish such as bass, we cast and then slowly reel the hook back in to attract a strike.  However, the opposite is true for some other fish.  For example, when I fish for catfish, I cast and wait.  1Peter 5:7 is a favorite scripture of mine because it tells us that we can cast all of our anxieties on Him.  The Psalmist gives similar instructions in Pslam 55:22. ...
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Recipe for Joy

Recipe for Joy

“I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance” (Philippians 1:18-19 NLT).

I love to cook.  As any chef will tell you, the key to a good dish is the proper ingredients.   Sometimes if I cook something good, I wonder what can I add to make it great?  God is known by many names but is seldom referred to as the “master chef.”  However, He provides all the ingredients we need to regain our joy. 

Sometimes in life things are simply falling apart and as men we try and try to put the pieces back together and get more and more tired and frustrated.  We cry out and ask, “Where is God?” when the fact is the He is right next to you waiting for you to trust in Him and let Him take the pieces of your old life and transform them into a new life that is centered in Him. 

We all reach a defining crossroad at times of great adversity.  Our options are to worry (depend on yourself) or worship (trust in God).  Paul modeled for us the value of choosing worship.  His ministry in Philippi was grueling.  When Paul went to this city to start a church, he was whipped, falsely arrested, thrown into prison, and survived an earthquake.  Despite these obstacles, Paul gave thanks.  “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).  Paul had learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12).

Paul reveals several “ingredients” for strength for being joyful in tough times.  Paul says in Philippians 1:18-19, “I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.”   Paul keep his perspective on God and not his problems.  I like how Paul writes “For I know.” In times of trouble we fall back on what we know to be true.   Paul was falling back on the promises of God that he knew to be true.   

Paul knew that he had people praying for him.  He also knew that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16).   Paul also acknowledges “The Helper” (John 14:16) and received support from the .   The passage ends with “This will lead to my deliverance.” Paul had faith that God would work out his problem for good (Romans 8:28).

Paul had God’s perspective, the prayer of righteous men, the Holy Spirit, and faith.   Paul had all the necessary ingredients to continue to rejoice.” We also have the same ingredients.  So, do we choose to worship or worry during hard times?

Prayer: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.   The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (Psalm 103: 1-6).

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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Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”  (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

I love the encouragement found in the book of Philippians.  One of the reasons Paul wrote this book was to thank the church at Philippi for their helpHe writes, “I thank God for the help you gave me” (Philippians 1:5).  He also wrote, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15); “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (Philippians 4:16).    The generosity of the Philippians to Paul compelled him to assure them “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).   This is quite a thank you letter.

It should be noted that Paul did not have a pleasant experience in Philippi.  He was beaten, whipped, humiliated, falsely arrested, thrown into prison, and survived an earthquake. Then, he

was asked by the city leaders to leave town.  In spite of all of this, Paul writes, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).

How can he survive such a difficult experience but express such deep gratitude?  Paul is consciously choosing where to focus his attention.  He has selected not to dwell on the painful memories but to express gratitude for the good things that had been done for him and through him.

I have a friend that lost his house and all of his possessions in a flood a few years ago.  We were recently talking about the flood and he said, “I do not really remember the flood itself, damages, or losses, but I vividly remember the angels that God sent to help rebuild and refurnish my house.”  What a testimony!  He saw the Hand of Christ throughout the flood and the subsequent recovery.

Our mental, physical, and spiritual health is connected.  Too often we allow painful memories to linger in our minds and then suffer the adverse consequences to our physical and spiritual health.  Scripture teaches us to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).   This process allows us to “weed out” negative thoughts and live a life of gratitude.  Paul was likely following his own advice that he gave the Philippians.  “… Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8).

Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people that helped him, and the work God was doing in and through them to build His church.  When we forgive others for their wrongs against us, then we can have happy memories even though we had difficult circumstances.  This attitude honors God, and He bless our relationships far beyond our expectations when we focus on His blessings.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for helping us to forget painful memories and focus our thoughts on you.  Please continue to lead, guide, and direct us in all that we do.   May others know that we are Christians by our 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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  • The Battle Within Yourself

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Finding a Way Out from Temptation

Finding a Way Out from Temptation

Evangelism Begins With Discernment

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

Finding a Way Out from Temptation

I recently ate lunch with friends at a local cafeteria.  As I walked with my tray to the cash register, I passed the desserts.  They looked really good, and I was very tempted to get one but did not.   In the overall scheme of things, this was a pretty mild form of temptation.

Temptation comes at us each day in a variety of forms.  It has been around since the very beginning when the serpent tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and gave in to the desires of the flesh and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The enemy later tempted Jesus immediately following His baptism.  You may recall that Jesus used Scripture to “rebuke” (2 Timothy 3:16) satan as Jesus was tested and tempted by satan

(Matthew 4:1-11).  Jesus modelled for us the power of Scripture.  Also, Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her.  Joseph modelled for us that we should remove ourselves from temptation.  As Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph’s cloak, he ran out of the house (Genesis 39:12).

The enemy knows that we each have a weakness and will use these as temptations to move us away from God and toward sin.  Temptation should be dealt with consistently, ruthlessly, and immediately because sin is “crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:7).

It is important that we realize the pathway and source of temptation.  James 1:13-15 teaches,  “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  Adam and Eve did not die in their physical bodies, but their sin separated them from God.  A life separated from God is no life at all.   

Yes, “the wages of sin are death” (Romans 6:23).  However, we have eternal life through the blood of Jesus because the complete verse of Romans 6:23 is: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  “As the Scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live” (Romans 1:17).

Temptation is clearly not from God, but we can use temptation to deepen our relationship with God.  John Quincy Adams, our sixth President, said, “Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God.”  God will provide a way out from temptation, and He is “the way and the truth and the life”  (John 14:6).

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please protect us as we face temptations that would serve to draw us away from you.  Grant us a keen sense of discernment as we seek comfort from you and not from this world.  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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Judge Others or Pray?

Judge Others or Pray?
Judge Others or Pray?

Judge Others or Pray?

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin”  (John 8:11).

It is so very tempting to judge others as we can go about our day.  We often do not say anything negative but in our minds, we condemn others.  Some of us will pass judgment when we see someone smoking cigarettes.  Others will pass judgment when they see a person with multiple tattoos and piercings.  We can even quote Scripture to support our case.  Don’t they know that their bodies are a “holy temple”?  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

If we harbor negative thoughts in our minds, it is inevitable that negative words will come from our mouths.  According to Matthew 12:34, “… for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”  Negative thoughts and harsh judgment places us on the road to hate.  “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” 1 John 3:15).

We judge harshly when a clergy has fallen to sins of the flesh.  We assume the worst when a brother or sister in Christ is accused of some wrongdoing.  We laugh when there is another political scandal, but if the accused is “our” person, we judge the motives of the accuser.

All sin is sin, and it is detestable to our Lord.  There is no big or little sin.  When we hear that a friend or neighbor is in trouble, rather than gossiping about them and accepting the accusation, let’s instead say a prayer for the accuser.   May they all be surrounded by God’s love, mercy, and grace.   Life will give us plenty of opportunities to pass judgment on others, but let’s use those opportunities to pass along prayers.

Imagine a world in which we all offer grace to sinners (each other) and encouragement rather than judgment.  To me, this would be the answer to the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).

We are all God’s chosen people. We have been given grace upon grace from our Lord.  Our response to such grace should be to extend it to others.  Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Prayer:  Dear good and gracious God, We have so many opportunities throughout each day to harshly judge our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We know that this dishonors you and us.  Help us to use these opportunities to offer prayers rather than judgement.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to 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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