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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(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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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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“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

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

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Obstacles to Joy

Obstacles to Joy

Obstacles to Joy

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33 NIV).

Obstacles to Joy

We all have stress and anxiety.  These are obstacles to the happiness that we all seek.  I think what is important is how we deal with these obstacles.  A little bit of stress is natural and no problem.  It can be helpful and protect us from dangerous situations. 

Regardless of the source of our stress, we as Christians have a proven method to rid ourselves of it but it takes courage and faith.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:7).  Think about that for a moment – a peace that surpasses all understanding.   Below are a few thoughts that hopefully will help us all find that peace and navigate the obstacles to happiness.

1.

Make peace with your past so it won’t impede your present and future.

Everybody has regrets from their past.  Our hindsight is always 20/20.  Your past is your testimony today and not your destiny for tomorrow.  The enemy will constantly seek to remind you of your past failures to rob you of the joy that God wants you to enjoy today.  God wants to give us a future with hope.  “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

2.

Do no worry about what others think of you. Teenagers are often obsessed with what others think of them.  As adults we also want to fit in and be held in high esteem.  Our identify does not come from our social media profiles, gossip of others, or even the support of others.  Our identify comes from Jesus.  The Bible states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

3.

Time heals most wounds.

There is an old saying that time heals all wounds.  This is not from the Bible but is generally true in my experience.   Some wounds are healed within days, others years, and others are healed upon death.  We often struggle with patience while we wait.  The Psalmist wrote, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).  God will heal us mentally and physically in His perfect time, not ours.

4.

Do no allow others to control your happiness. We let others control our happiness when we worry about what others think of us or when we are jealous because of the success of a neighbor.  Our true joy is based on the fact that we are children of God.   You will always have people that gossip about you behind your back.  That is their burden to carry, not yours.  We are blessed when we “learn to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

5.

Avoid comparisons to others. Jealousy is a terrible emotion and a favorite tool of the enemy.  If somebody else has success, we should celebrate with them.  God does not have a finite number of blessings to bestow.  The Parable of the Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 tells of a woman that has lost a coin but sweeps the house in search of it.  “And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (Luke 15:9).  Surely, we should rejoice and not be jealous when God’s favor is on our neighbor.  Don’t we want them to join us in times of celebration also?

Prayer“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace”  (Numbers 6:24-26).

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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Reached the End of Your Rope?

Reached the End of Your Rope?

Reached the End of Your Rope?

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV).

If you are not at the end of your rope now, I am certain that you have been in the past.  Also, I am certain that you will be again in the future.  This is as certain as death and taxes.  Also, this feeling of frustration is as old as the Old Testament and a good example of this is presented in the story of Elijah as detailed in 1 Kings. 

Elijah was a prophet who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BC). In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal.  Elijah grew frustrated and scared and fled from Jezebel, wife of king Ahab and follower of Baal.  When Elijah reached the end of his rope, God led him to do three things that helped him recover—and they’re things that can help us recover.

Rest your body.  In the most famous Psalm the Word teaches us, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). Sometimes God will force you to lie down because you’re unwilling to do it on your own. You can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while you’re physically depleted. You cannot be of service to others if you are exhausted.  That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not  scold Elijah but rather He simply let Elijah sleep. The Bible says about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5, “Then he lay down  under the bush and fell asleep.”  Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do when you’re emotionally exhausted is to take a nap.

Release your frustrations.  Releasing your feeling is the beginning of healing. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah says this to God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He told God his frustrations.  God isn’t shocked when you complain to him. He’ll listen to you until you run out of words and then the Holy Spirit will intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27).

Remember and refocus on God.  When you’re emotionally exhausted and nearing burnout, you need to remember what God says and who He is. When we do that, we shift our eyes away from our problem and toward Jesus. We get a fresh awareness of God’s power and God’s presence and God’s personality. We gain a new perspective on our problem because it is so small compared to God.  In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God demonstrated his power firsthand to Elijah. The Lord showed him who was in control. When we are struggling through burnout, it’s often because you’re trying to play God and control everything. When you refocus on God, you realize He is in control. You can stop exerting your own control and energy.

If you’re feeling burned out and emotionally exhausted, God hasn’t forgotten you. Just like God did with Elijah, God stands ready and willing to help.

Prayer: Dear God:  Thank you for your patience, grace, and love.  Please continue to help us through 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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    Thank God for THE False Accusation

    Thank God for THE False Accusation
    “Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame”   (1 Peter 3:16 ESV).
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    Rarely do we give thanks for false accusations.  The more serious the…
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