Who Are You?

Who Are You?

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV).

 

Years ago, I did a Bible study based on the 307 questions in the Bible that Jesus asked.  Each one offers us the opportunity for self-reflection and growth.   I think these questions are particularly profound because they give us a greater insight into Jesus and ourselves. 

As I think about all of the questions asked by Jesus, my mind is drawn Matthew 16:13-17.  “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to Him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

I think the first question is important because it reminds us that others may have an incorrect understanding of Jesus. (Note:  If somebody has an incorrect understanding of Jesus, they will not be able to have a proper understanding of themselves or others.) Our relationship with Jesus is personal and should not be based on the opinions of people that don’t truly know Him.  Yes, we are called to love others and be in community with others but our relationship with God is one on one.

The second question is critical – Who do you say I am?  How you answer this question will profoundly shape your Christian walk and inform your sense of self.

Jesus disciples witnessed his many miracles but yet after He calmed the seas in Luke 8, they still struggled to understand the true identify of our Lord.  In fear and amazement, they asked each other, “Who is this?”  We have the benefit of having the Old and New Testament so we all should be able to answer the second question.

Pop psychology is wrong when it tells you to look inside yourself and find your value.  Scripture teaches that you are good simply because God made you in His image. Period.  You were made so He could love you.  1 John 4:19 reads, “We love before He first loved us.”  1 John 4:9-10 reads goes a little bit deeper by reading, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  The sacrifice allows us to be presented pure and without blame to the Father.  Moreover, the blood of Jesus ensures that nothing can come between us and God (Romans 8:39).  The love of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son is fundamental in understanding ourselves and God.

Once we begin to realize how much God loves us, then we are better equipped to “consider it all joy” (James 1:2), “be content in any and every circumstance” (Philippians 4:12), and “be content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

So, once we understand who God is, then it helps us to understand who we are and gives us a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in life.  True satisfaction happens when you engage in your role as an image bearer of God. Such was the view of King David. “As for me,” he wrote, “I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).  David was on a journey to have more of Christ in him.  He knew that God was working in him to burn away the impurities just as a refiner of silver as described in Malachi 3:3.  The refinement is done when the refiner can see his face in the silver.  The Holy Spirit resides in you, but can a stranger look at you and see God?

Ephesians Chapter 1 is our basis for understanding who we are and our relationship with God.  We (1) were chosen, (2) are holy and blameless, (3) have been adopted, (4) have redemption, (5) were granted forgiveness, and (6) were sealed with the Holy Spirit.

As I was preparing this blog, I received the following from a friend.  He told me that the author was unknown.   It really goes to the heart of our identity as Christians.

 

I pray that your answer to the question, “Who do you same I am” is Jesus is my Lord and Savior.  Also, do not let yourself be defined by society or unhappy people on social media but instead commit yourself to living and knowing you are a child of God that was made in His image so He could love you.

When I encounter bitter and unhappy Christians, I realize that they do not know the truth about God nor themselves.  That is the sad result of a poor choice.  There is joy and freedom when we understand why God loves us so much.  It has everything to do with whose we are – we are His.  You are free to choose bitterness and hate, but as for me, I chose faith, hope, and love.  The choice is yours.  Choose wisely. 

Prayer:  Dear God, There is so much hatred and bitterness in this world.  We are a people divided and often over things that really don’t matter.  Forgive us for failing to forgive and love others as You have loved us and free us for joyful obedience 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.

We welcome your comments below.

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

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • A Man’s Role in the Family and in the Church

    A MAN’S ROLE IN THE FAMILY AND IN THE CHURCH A man must model genuine godly masculine behavior to his children so that they will grow up as godly people and seek godly partners for marriage. That was part of the message from Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin at the September Man Up men’s ministry meeting at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. More than 175 men attended. Interim Senior Pastor Tony Perkins says the men’s ministry program had become less active in recent years. His father, Richard Perkins, had to vacate his position as director of men’s ministries in 2015 due...
  • The Traits Of True Leadership

    The Traits Of True Leadership "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" (Matthew 20:26 NIV).If you are like me, you have seen several books on leadership. The books are typically authored by successful CEOs of large companies or military leaders. These books are often best-sellers and contain very useful information on the principles of secular leadership. The themes are typically along the lines of this: A leader is a visionary. A leader knows how to delegate. A leader surrounds himself/herself with good people. A leader leads by example. A leader is trustworthy....
  • Finding Comfort During Grief

    Finding Comfort During Grief “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV) 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...

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

todd shupe

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

todd shupe

 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV).

There was a hit song in 1967 by Aretha Franklin titled “Respect.”  Respect is important for both husbands and wives, and Scripture calls each partner to respect the other.  Husbands are specifically called in 1 Peter 3:7 to respect their wife and are given reasons.  “Husbands, also live with your wife the way you know is right. Respect her because she is a woman. She is not as strong as a man. Also respect her because God has given her, as well as you, the blessing of life. In this way, you will not stop God from doing what you ask him to do.” 

Husbands and wives both need respect and love.  I think the most important thing a wife can show her husband is respect, and the most important thing a husband can show his wife is love.  Ephesians 5:33 reads, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  This is the final verse of a section of Scripture dedicated to instructions for Christian households.  This verse is also the basis for the best-selling book, “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

Many wives feel that they cannot respect their husbands because their husbands are not worthy of respect.  This is a terrible situation for any wife.  Peter wrote to first-century Christian wives, and wives today, “even if your husband does not obey the Word they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wife when they behold your respectful behavior…” (1 Pet. 3:1-2, emphasis added).  It should be emphasized that in the book “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs,” husbands are encouraged to give unconditional love and wives are encouraged to give unconditional respect.  So, even if you feel that your spouse does not deserve or has not earned your love or respect, you should give it anyway.  Remember, we have done nothing to deserve our salvation, but Christ gave that to us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). 

Now, let’s return to our song about respect.   Aretha Franklin spelled out R-E-S-P-E-C-T and then sang out, “find out what it means to me.”  Rev. Larry Stockstill is a distinguished pastor and author from Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, La.  He once wrote, “Respect for a husband, according to that verse, is based not upon his “performance” but his “position.”  God made him to be head and leader of his family whether he knows it or not.  Treat him that way, regardless of his faults, flaws, and failures, and you have a real chance of winning him to Christ.”  I don’t think any woman can do this on her own.  However, I know that a wife of noble character as described in Proverbs 31 can partner with the Holy Spirit and do this and much more. 

Some women read Proverbs 31:23, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land,” and wonder was the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband a man worthy of respect when they got married or did he change into a well-respected man during their marriage?  Hillary Bernstein, Christian author and blogger, suggests, “Instead of wondering what comes first – a husband or a well-respected man –we need to be more concerned about how we are helping our husbands and treating them with respect.”

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote THE book on Christian marriages, “The Five Love Languages:  The Secret To Love That Lasts.”  Dr. Chapman identifies the five love languages as words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.  Many wives assume that the preferred love language for their husband is physical touch, and this may be true, but some wives may fail to recognize the importance of words of affirmation for their husbands if they focus on physical touch.

If a wife demeans or disrespects her husband, he will likely feel either anger or despair.  He may quit on the marriage, look for opportunities to leave or stay gone for extended periods of time, use drugs or alcohol as a means of escape, or look for another woman that makes him “happy” and gives him the respect that he is desperately, although foolishly, seeking. 

A better option for women is to encourage their husbands.  His efforts may fall short of your expectations, but they will never measure up if you don’t notice his effort.  Find out what is important to him and try to respect those things.  Hint:  His job, hobbies, and mother are likely very important to him.  Make a mental picture in your mind of the type of husband that you want him to be and pray boldly, confidently, and with thanksgiving for God to transform him into that man.  As you wait for God, continue to model good behavior for him according to 1 Peter 3:1-2 and praise him for his progress rather than complain about his shortcomings. 

Everybody has heard the old expression that a dog is man’s best friend.  The attribute that men love in dogs, and in their spouse, is loyalty.  A loyal wife supports and encourages her husband and does not speak negatively about him to others or allow others to speak negatively to her about her husband.  A loyal wife is showing respect. 

We live in a visual society and temptation and graphic images are everywhere.  The temptation for wives is to focus on outer appearances.  However, a wife respects her husband, and herself, when she shows him her inner beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-4 teaches, Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  I don’t think 1 Peter 3:3-4 is meant to discourage women from wanting to look nice but rather to remind women that true beauty is what is inside of you and God, and a godly husband, will recognize and honor true beauty.

If any husband has read this blog, and thinks he has the right to intentionally be unloving to his wife and then demand respect from her, he has misread this blog and is sadly mistaken.  Wives should respectfully and clearly decline to follow their husband into anything that is against Scripture, illegal, or immoral.  If either party is violent, immoral, unstable, or addicted, then then by all means the other must protect themself and the family.  The Proverbs 31 woman will love, honor, and pray for her husband even as he faces the consequences of poor choices.

The right next step is for wives to show their husbands unconditional respect, and for husbands to show their wives unconditional love.  If one party is not reciprocating, then continue to do what you can do and leave the rest to God. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of marriage.  Help us to model your love and grace to each other, especially our spouses.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • What Is The Meaning Of “Iron Sharpens Iron”?

    What Is The Meaning of "Iron Sharpens Iron"? I am a volunteer with a national men’s ministry known as “Iron Sharpens Iron.” The name of our group is based on Proverb 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Iron Sharpens Iron is a Conference Network made up of individual ministries that are working interdependently to most effectively offer local church resources for men.This group is accomplishing this by mobilizing ministries to resource local churches with a first-class one-day equipping conference that is designed for men age 13 and older.  These one-day conferences bring in world-class speakers to address...
  • The Unforgivable Sin?

    The Unforgivable Sin? “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.   For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24 NIV). Years ago a dear friend, let’s call him John, confided in me that he had made the “unforgivable sin.”  I was expecting him to tell me about how he had committed blasphemy against the Holy...
  • Special Needs Children & Special Needs Families

    Special Needs Children & Special Needs Families "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).My second child, Kyle, was born May 24, 2002. He was a big, healthy baby and was, and will always be, a tremendous blessing to me. We noticed at an early age that he was not reaching the typical milestones for babies and toddlers in terms of walking, talking, etc. We had him tested for hearing loss, brain function, blood tests and more. All of the tests came back normal, but...

We All Are A Child Of Peter AND Judas

Todd Shupe

We All Are A Child Of Peter AND Judas

Todd Shupe

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me’” (Luke 22:34 NIV).

 

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:14-16 NIV).

 

Judas and Peter are two of the most well-known disciples of Jesus.  They were both called and blessed to have been disciples of Jesus.   Although they were similar in many ways, we typically think of them as opposites. 

Peter was among the earliest of Jesus’ disciples (with James and John) and had been with Him the longer than the others. The Bible does not say why Jesus chose Peter, James, and John as His inner circle, but it is evident that they were closer to Jesus than the others. These three men were present with Jesus during special events and witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2–3), raising of Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Luke 8:49–56), and were with Him while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His crucifixion (Matthew 26:36–38).  Peter saw Jesus’ greatest moments of glory and His darkest trials. 

Peter is often remembered as the disciple that walked on the water toward Jesus but began to sink when he turned his eyes off of our Lord.  However, in the video “The Only Disciple That Got it Right,” Kristi McLelland indicates that another way to view Peter is he was the only disciple that got out of the boat and moved toward Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33).  Moreover, Peter showed discernment when he sought confirmation that the voice calling him to leave the boat and walk on the water was indeed Jesus.  “Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28).

Peter is also often thought of as impulsive, and Jesus even referred to him as “dull” (Matthew 15:16).  However, Peter showed humility when he fell to his knees and said to Jesus, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:8).

Peter was impulsive and dull and did make mistakes, but Jesus, as is His nature, loved Peter wholeheartedly and continued to disciple him. Jesus reminded Peter of his identity and importance in Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  The story of Peter gives hopes to us all because we are also sinful and make mistakes, but Jesus can use imperfect people to do His perfect work.

Judas is always portrayed as the “bad guy” in contemporary Christianity. According to Scripture, Judas went to the chief priests before the Last Supper and agreed to hand over Jesus in exchange for 30 silver coins.  Judas later was filled with remorse and attempted to return the money.  It is ironic that Judas used a kiss to identify Jesus to the soldiers of the high priest, Caiaphas, who later handed him over to the soldiers of Pontius Pilate.

Indeed, Judas Iscariot is one of the most enigmatic, but also one of the most important people in the ministry of Jesus.  Unfortunately, the Bible does not tell us nearly as much about Judas as it does Peter.  By identifying Jesus to the Jewish authorities, Judas set into motion a series of events that became the foundations of our Christian faith: Jesus’s arrest, trial, death by crucifixion, and resurrection.  Is it possible that these events may not have occurred if Judas had not betrayed our Lord?  The sin of Judas many years ago provides the way for not only the forgiveness of our sins but for the opportunity upon our healing to eventually be presented to the Father as “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22).

For me, the key similarity is that both Judas and Peter denied Jesus before his Crucifixion. They committed the same sin, but the difference was the way each reacted to his failure. Judas focused on his sin and not the forgiveness of God. His remorse overwhelmed him, and he ultimately took his own life.

But when Peter realized his sin, he prayed, repented, and asked God for forgiveness. Then Jesus chose Peter to preach on Pentecost, and 3,000 people were saved the first day (Acts 2:14-42). Jesus chose to build the church on the one that denied him three times.

We are all similar to both Judas and Peter because we are all disciples of Jesus, but we are all also sinners.   However, the sin is not what defines us as Christians, but rather our sinful flesh provides us an opportunity to choose our future direction.  Judas was unable to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).  Judas did not have the benefit of reading the gospels, but he did have the unique blessing of watching them unfold as Jesus revealed Himself as Lord and Savior to His disciples. 

Sadly, Judas became the fulfillment of the first part of Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Peter’s story can be summed up in the second party of that verse because Peter focused on Christ, rather than his sin, and found forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus.  

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the inspiration that we receive when we learn about Your ability to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.  Help us to throw off our sin and redirect our focus on 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.

We welcome your comments below.

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

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Do You Control Your Feelings Or Do They Control You?

    “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires" (1 Peter 4:2 (GNT). Our feelings are a gift from God and can be used for His glory or ours.  It is fine to have and express feelings.  The problem occurs when our feelings begin to control our life rather than God’s will.Our feelings of frustration, anger, etc. are often a result of not obtaining something we desire.  There is a recurring theme throughout Scripture of the inherent battle in man between the desires of the flesh and the...
  • Words Of Life Or Death

    Words Of Life Or Death “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36 NIV) You can turn on the tv news any day at any time to see that things are not peaceful.  People have strong opinions on political, social environmental, and other issues.  A variety of opinions and perspectives can help form a good decision.  However, we all tend to wear blinders and have a very limited field of view on certain issues.  This hinders our perspective and therefore our ability to see issues...
  • I Saw Jesus Smoking A Cigarette

    I Saw Jesus Smoking A Cigarette "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). Each week I join in with a handful of men from around the country for a one-hour meeting on Zoom.  I really look forward to these meetings and enjoy the conversation.   I have learned a lot about these men, life, love, family, and God.  I think it is so imperative to surround yourself with Godly people to help position yourself to hear from God.  I am...

The Holy Spirit Meets Us In Our Loneliness

The Holy Spirit Meets Us In Our Loneliness

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4 NIV).

 

We all love Christmas and Easter, but Pentecost is important too because it is the birthday of the bride of Christ, His Church.  Most pastors will use the second chapter of Acts as the basis of their sermon during Pentecost.  I love the imagery of the chapter as the Holy Spirit came upon the Israelites and gave them “tongues of fire.”

These tongues are with us today as we all go about in our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.  In my lifetime, one of the most successful and recognizable evangelists for the Great Commission was the late Rev. Billy Graham.  I enjoy watching old YouTube videos of him preaching the Word at large revivals.  Surely, the Spirit of our Lord was present in the tongue of Rev. Graham as well as the ears and hearts of the crowd.  I am convinced of this.

The Spirit is not limited to those with the spiritual gift of teaching and preaching.   You are a son or daughter of God and upon your baptism into the Church universal, the Spirit has not only entered you but also equipped you for your ministry.   At the baptism of our Lord, the Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).  I think God said something similar, although perhaps not as easily discernable, at your baptism and mine. 


I am concerned that many of us, myself included, have a poor understanding of the Spirit.  Yes, we understand the Holy Trinity, and we understand that the Spirit is moving during a God-breathed sermon.  We also know that the Spirit is our Advocate and provides intercessory prayers to the Father when all we can offer are “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26-27).  It is because of the presence of the Spirit and our faith in the Spirit, that we can do far greater things than Jesus.  John 14:12 reads, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” 

Indeed, the same Spirit in Act 2 is with us today, but some people sadly refuse to accept this gift. Scripture teaches that, “The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17, emphasis added).   A result of a Spirit-filled life is that the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) are manifested in our words and actions. 

So, if the Holy Spirit is with us and in us then why are so people lonely when they are alone?  It is no secret that humans are social creatures and are made for community.  In the book Loneliness:  Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, University of Chicago social neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo writes about his research on the effects of loneliness – “a sense of isolation or social rejection which disrupts not only our thinking abilities and will power but also our immune systems and can be as damaging as obesity or smoking.”

It should be understood that the pain of loneliness is raw and real for anybody, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.   It is damaging and hurtful to downplay the emotions of a lonely person. 

Let us circle back to the late Rev. Billy Graham.  He said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”  Perhaps Rev. Graham was referring to John 16:8 in which our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit.  “When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.”

The Holy Spirit has convicted me that my job is to love.  Jesus taught in Matthew 22: 36-40 that the Law and the Prophets hangs on our ability to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I think we have a unique opportunity to show our love for God in our loneliness.  Do we chase companionship at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or do we accept the Truth of the Psalmist when he wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  Do we accept that if our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, then He lives within us?   Do we accept the power of God, love of Jesus, and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, particularly in our loneliness, brokenness, and sin? 

The truth is we can partner with the Spirit to have victory over loneliness because He is always with us – in the valley of the shadow of death, in hospitals and nursing homes, and most certainly in our loneliness. 

Earlier, I mentioned my love for old-time sermons by Rev. Graham.  I am sure he would agree that there has been no greater sermon preached than the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 5:4, Jesus addresses the lonely and broken-hearted and offers the greatest gift possible, His blessing.  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  The Holy Spirit has convicted me of the truth and victory of this verse, and I pray the same for you.

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that through Jesus you have experienced the human reality of isolation and rejection.  Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to live within us and advocate for us.  Thank you for the fellowship we have with the Body of Christ.  Help us to embrace the fellowship of the Spirit, and to always remember that we are never alone.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Finding Peace in Times of Adversity

    Finding Peace in Times of Adversity "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7 NIV ).We learn at a young age that there are two things certain in life - death and taxes.  I would add a third to that list:  adversity.  We all have experienced some form of adversity in our life from death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, etc.  My first real experience with adversity was when I was 9 years old and my sister died in a car crash.  My Christian roots were shallow and so my coping skills...
  • Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November

    Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November "Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 GW).I love Thanksgiving!  It is a fun time of year to get together with family, eat some great home cooked meals, and watch football.  Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect on the past year and identify things which we are thankful.  In some families, they go around the table and each person states one or two things for which they are thankful. God has blessed us with many emotions with which we can express ourselves. ...
  • My Dream That Carried A Message From God

    My Dream That Carried A Message From God "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams" (Acts 2:17 NIV).I have lived 47 years and never felt that I had received a message from God.  I envied the people in the Bible that spoke to God either in person, through dreams or angels. I had decided that I was only going to hear God’s word through Godly friends, church, small groups, and reading the Bible.I longed to...

Different Roads but the Same Destination

todd shupe

Different Roads but the Same Destination

todd shupe

Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us? ” (Luke 24:32 NKJV).

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 9:3-4 NIV).

Each of us has our own personal story of how we came to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.   For some, the journey to Christ is sudden and dramatic as what happened to Saul, later to be known as Paul, on the road to Damascus. For others, the journey to salvation looks more like the road to Emmaus – a gradual realization that Jesus has been with us before we even realize it or accept Him due to His prevenient grace. 

The Road to Damascus is an exciting story as detailed in Acts 9.  Saul was a Pharisee on his way to Damascus to bring followers of Jesus to the high priest for persecution.  On the road, God revealed himself to Saul in a dramatic fashion and Saul immediately submits himself to our Lord. I love the imagery in Acts 9:3-6.   “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . I am Jesus. . . .’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’”  Saul was blinded for three days after the encounter, and I suspect that this experience later prompted him to write, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Scripture tells of other “Damascus” experiences in which a person has a sudden revelation or epiphany that radically changes their beliefs.  For example, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3) and meets Isaiah in the temple (Isaiah 6).  Mother Theresa has talked about her Damascus road experience when she was on a train at 16 years old.

The Damascus road experience is exciting and captivating.  Many Christians feel disappointed if they do not have a similar testimony.  The problem with waiting for our own Damascus road experience is that we may miss our walk to Emmaus experience.  Remember, God does not always reveal Himself in a dramatic fashion.  Sometimes, He is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire but rather speaks in a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

The walk to Emmaus story is detailed in Luke 24:13-35 and describes how Jesus can gradually and subtly reveal Himself to us.  The story describes how two of Jesus’ followers were sad as they walked to Emmaus because the person (Jesus) that they thought was the Messiah had died three days earlier.  Jesus comes along side of them as they walk.  He walks and talks with them and interprets the Scriptures to them, but they do not recognize Him until at the end of the day when He blesses bread and gives it to them.  Then, they finally recognized our Lord. 

As I read the Emmaus story my mind takes me to the story of the LORD calling a young Samuel into ministry in 1 Samuel 3.  God called Samuel three times, but Samuel did not recognize His call, and Scripture tells us the reason.  “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7).  Samuel did not recognize God because Eli was still teaching him about God.  Now, with regards to Saul, clearly, the word of the Lord also had not been previously revealed to him.  So, what about the men walking to Emmaus?  Had the word of the Lord been revealed to them?  Scripture tells us that the men were followers of Jesus and had hoped that “He was the one that was going to redeem Israel.” 

Even though the Emmaus travelers were followers of Jesus, they too were “blind” to His presence because they did not fully understand Scripture.  Their lack of understanding prompted this response from Jesus.  “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25).  Perhaps the word “blind” could be inserted for “foolish”? 

The people in both the Emmaus and Demascus stories have issues of blindness.  After Saul encounters God, he loses his sight for three days until a disciple by the name of Ananias lays hand on him and heals him. The two men on the road to Emmaus, were already followers of Jesus, but their spiritual sight was poor, so they failed to recognize Jesus as they walked.  

Now, let’s go back to the number of times that God called Samuel – three.  Numbers have symbolic purposes in the Bible, and number three stands out as one of the more prominent numbers featured in Scripture.  Scripture tells us that the journey to Emmaus occurred three days after Jesus was crucified, which is the same number of days that Saul lost his sight after his encounter with God.  You may recall that Jesus rose three days after His crucifixion.   There are other examples in Scripture regarding the number three but perhaps none more significant than the three in one Holy trinity.

I have spent more time journeying to Emmaus than Damascus. God will often move on my heart in a gradual, incremental, almost imperceptible or “Emmaus” way, and looking back after days or even years I might eventually realize that my risen Lord was truly walking with me.  Or after a moving sermon or a powerful small group session, I might look back and realize that God was using somebody else’s tongue to talk to me.  Your calling may not come at one of the extremes (Emmaus or Damascus) but rather somewhere in between.  Just as each of us are uniquely called into ministry by our baptism and profession of faith, we are also uniquely called and gifted to our unique positions within the Body. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for walking with us.  We ask of You what the Psalmist asked – “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”   Forgive us as we fail to recognize you and remind us of the promise of the Psalmist – “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Purpose

    Purpose “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV). Planning is critical in life.  Financial planners help us get our financial matters in order and plan for retirement.  Doctors help us by establish a wellness plan when we are sick.  Business leaders make plans to bring a profit to the shareholders.  Our pastors help us to make plans that will bring honor and glory to God.  We plan to accommodate our priorities.  A priority is a value, goal, relationship, or cause of leading importance in your life:  something for which you live, the shaping...
  • Love Must Be Shown

    Love Must Be Shown “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds’” (James 2:18 NLT).Some people think faith is a strong belief in something or someone.  Some may argue that it is a concept or a part of theology.  Faith is so much more than any of that.  The second chapter of James teaches us that real faith transforms lives.   2 Corinthians 5:7 is essential in this regard because it tells us, “For...
  • Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

    Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations "The greatest among you will be your servant" (Matthew 23:11 NIV) Volunteer work should be seen as a hallmark of every good Christian’s character. Those who want to live a life in God’s good graces should feel compelled to help out their brothers and sisters around them. The next question then is how to get involved with a volunteer effort, as it’s often one of the only ways to accomplish the goodwill work that needs to be addressed in this world. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations that need volunteers. I would...

Is Your Peace Temporary Or Permanent?

Is Your Peace Temporary Or Permanent?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

 

I think we all want peace.  Even the sound of the word is pleasing to the ear.  We differ in how we go about trying to achieve peace.   For some, peace is a quiet night with no children and no phone calls.  Others may find peace by drinking coffee in the morning or wine in the evening.  You might find your peace by owning a home security system and a gun!

The kind of peace the world gives is temporary. It has been reported that in the last 300 years, about 260 peace treaties have been signed—and almost none of them were kept.  As Christians, we not only receive the forgives of our sins and life everlasting, but we also receive His peace.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, emphasis added).  Jesus specifies the type of peace that He is giving.  This is not your typical peace, not conditional peace, and not earthly peace.  This is His peace. 

The peace that comes from the world is totally circumstantial.  If your peace is contingent on your income, home security system, or coffee, then what happens to your peace when these things are gone?  The peace that comes from a life lived in Jesus and for Jesus is different.  His peace is not contingent on your actions.  There is no quid pro quo or contract.  Jesus gives you a different kind of peace.  The Bible calls it “peace . . . which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The peace of Jesus is certainly hard to understand from a secular perspective.  His grace allows us to be at peace when there’s no obvious or visible reason why we should be at peace.  I have a good friend that lost his house and contents due to a flood a few years ago.   His life was in chaos, but for some unexplainable reason, He was at peace.  His confidence and peace at this terrible time was a strong witness to his faith.

The peace that Jesus offers us today is the same peace that He offered the woman at the well in John 4.  Jesus told the woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). 

Any areas of our lives that are full of worry, anxiety, or fear represent areas that we have not yielded to Jesus.  This could include our finances, marriage, job, etc.  Whatever it is, we have to let it go in order for God to take control.  You may have heard the expression “let go and let God.”  I think this is great, but I would make one slight change- “let go, let God, and rest in His peace.”

The right next step is to pray the prayer, or one of your own, below and then follow up with your pastor.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for your love and grace.  Send your Holy Spirit to search me and reveal any areas of my life that I have not surrounded to you.  Grant me the courage and wisdom to yield everything to you so I can truly rest in your peace.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Book Review: God Knows Your Story (and He’s Not Mad!)

    Book Review: God Knows Your Story (And He’s Not Mad!) by Carter Featherston “For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6 TPT).If you have never done anything wrong and do not have any regrets or shame, then this book is not for you.  However, I strongly suspect that all of us have regrets and feel some sense of shame for poor choices.  This is a Biblically based book that points the reader to the only true source of victory of sin and shame, Jesus. This book is valuable because it addresses a topic that all...
  • Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’

    Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For 'God Is Our Partner' "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). Waiting is a daily occurrence: We wait in line at the grocery store, post office or on the phone. Sometimes, we are waiting long-term for news regarding a loved one who has suddenly become ill or was in an accident. Waiting is also a part of joyous occasions such as the birth of a child or marriage....
  • We Grow In The Light

    We Grow In The Light “But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV). Light is essential for all life on earth.  Many plants will alter their growth to maximize the amount of light that their leaves can capture.  I love watching sunflowers move as the sun changes positions in the sky. The secular world thinks intimacy occurs in...

Real Faith Has Works

Real Faith Has Works

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? (James 2:14 NIV).

 

Most surveys show that the vast majority of Americans self-identify as Christians and have faith in God.  This is great, but James 2:14 puts this in context.  “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

In my Bible, the heading for Hebrews 11 reads “Faith in Action” and the first verse of chapter 11 teaches, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

I can tell you that I am a great baseball pitcher, but that self-identification does not necessarily make it true.  James 2:14 is teaching us what is the use of telling others that you have faith if it is not reflected in how you live and what actions you take? 

Please do not be mistaken and think that James is saying we are saved by our works.  Scripture is very clear in this regard that we are saved by faith in Jesus, nothing more and nothing less.  Galatians 2:16 reads, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”  Our actions are a natural manifestation of our faith.  They are the outward fruit.  “For the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).

Real faith takes action but does so out of love, not obligation or to curry favor with God.  Real faith is different from pseudo faith because the former is active in ministry outside the church and the later simply attends church every Sunday. 

Scripture contains thousands of promises from God to us.  We cannot claim these promises with an insincere faith.  We cannot expect God to hear our prayers if they are not offered in true faith.  And “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). 

So how do we know if we have real faith?  We must look at our actions and see if they are in agreement with our beliefs.  One of the most important things we can do in life is an honest self-evaluation.  It is also one of the more difficult tasks we can do.  But if we can successfully do this, then we can live out the Faith in Action of Hebrews 11.  The right next step is to sit down with your pastor or Christian friend and help them guide you through the process.  You will not regret this decision.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to maintain at least the faith of a mustard seed on our darkest days.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Love Must Be Shown

  • The Best Christmas Present

    The Best Christmas Present 18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf ofChrist, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).I love Christmas and the Advent season.   It is a special time of year for families and the church.   The Advent season allows us to prepare our hearts for the birth of the Christ child.   I also love all of the traditions that come with Christmas – decorating the tree with ornaments that have been passed down from generations, giving and receiving presents,...
  • Defeating the Giants in our Lives

    Defeating the Giants in our Lives “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel”   (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV). David was a young boy when he defeated the giant...

The Pillars Of A Powerful Prayer

The Pillars Of A Powerful Prayer

“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored” . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me'” (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLT).

 

 

Throughout Scripture we are encouraged not to be afraid.   In fact, we are commanded to go one step further and be strong and courageous.  This is the repeated command that God gave to Joshua prior to crossing the Jordan River to begin the long-awaited conquest of the promised land of Canaan.

The command that God gave to Joshua is also His command to us today.   Our strength and courage is not from our flesh but from the Spirit.  We tap into a supernatural strength and courage when we pray.   Sadly, many Christians grow discouraged if their prayers are not answered.  God has provided us with the key to answered prayers.  If we do our part, then He has promised to do His part.  One of my favorite promises is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Since we know what is required of us for God to hear our prayers, we have the confidence to pray boldly.  Bold prayers are an important part of a bold life, and God wants us to pray boldly.  Below are a few pillars of a powerful prayer as found in Scripture.

Base your prayer on God’s character. Nehemiah started his prayer by listing God’s character traits and deeds. He prayed with confidence because he knew the nature of God.  God knows His character better than we do so we don’t need to state them for His benefit.  When we say, “You will never leave us.  You are a faithful God. You are a loving God, etc. we do this to remind ourselves of His nature.  

Confess the sins you’re aware of.  God hates sin, and sin separates us from Him.  Nehemiah confessed his sins.  Nehemiah had not been born when Israel had gone into captivity, but he included himself in the sins of his people.  Confession is essential to a bold prayer and this connection is evident in James 5:16.  “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Claim the promises of God.  Scripture is full of promises from God to us.  If we do this, He will do that.  Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8).  What he was essential praying was, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, you’d give it back to us.”  Clearly, God did not need to be reminded of what He told Moses or any of His promises.  We “remind” God of His promises, and character, as we pray in order to help us, not Him, remember His promise.

 Be very specific about what you ask for. If you want specific answers, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if God answered them?  Nehemiah boldly and specifically prayed for success.   The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10 is another example of a bold and specific prayer. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”

Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example when we pray. Proclaim God’s character, confess your sins, claim God’s promises, and make specific requests.  After basing your prayer on the example of Nehemiah, then wait based on the example of the Psalmist.  I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Psalm 40:1).   We live boldly, pray boldly, and we also wait boldly.

Prayer:  Dear God, Your mercy and love are unfailing.  We confess our sins and ask for your pardon.  We ask for healing of our lands in the form of an immediate and permanent end to COVID-19.  We ask for this to happen in such a way that it can only be attributed to your grace and providence.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • A Christian Perspective on Marriage

    A Christian Perspective on Marriage "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh"  (Genesis 2:24 NIV). At almost every marriage ceremony that I have attended, the words “What God has put together, let no man separate,” are often spoken by the pastor or person conducting the ceremony. Rings are also exchanged by the happy couple. The rings are essentially a circle which has no beginning or end and is therefore a symbol of infinity. It is endless and eternal -- just the way love should be. The wedding ring is worn on...
  • Faith is the Cure for Stress

    Faith is the Cure for Stress “Since He did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32 TLB). The major cause of stress in your life is worry. Worry is a sign that we do not have faith in God to meet our needs.Worry can come from three sources:1) Ourselves- We worry about our ability to survive tomorrow and neglect the blessing of today.  Matthew 6:26-27 teaches us, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in...
  • The Spiritual Gift of Presence

    The Spiritual Gift of Presence “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13 NIV). Spiritual gifts are something every Christian is given when they receive the gift of salvation. Just as the gift of salvation is by grace through faith, so are the spiritual gifts. There are several different spiritual gifts. These gifts are not something we possess; they are God’s supernatural ability to act in our lives in various ways.  There are ministry gifts, manifestation gifts, and motivational gifts.According...

Confession Leads To Freedom From Sin

todd shupe

Confession Leads To Freedom From Sin

todd shupe

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

 

I have talked with many people over the years who feel they have either committed an unforgivable sin in their past or are struggling with sin in the present.  With regards to past “unforgivable” sins, the unpardonable sin is not some particularly grievous sin committed by a Christian before or after accepting Christ, nor is it thinking or saying something terrible about the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is deliberately resisting the Holy Spirit’s witness and invitation to turn to Him until death ends all opportunity.  I believe that if you reject Jesus until your last day but on that last day “you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9).  Your declaration must be sincere, and God knows what is in our hearts.

God understands that we are all struggling with sin.  God not only wants the mistakes we’ve made in the past, He wants the ones we’re making in the present.  Yours may be different than mine, but we all fall short of His glory and righteousness.  Are you drinking too much? Are you unfaithful in marriage?  Do you struggle with an immoral lifestyle?  Regardless of the sin, 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The good news is the Good News!  “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38).  In the Old Testament, the forgiveness of sin required blood, often in the form of a burnt offering.  Today, sin still requires blood, and that debt has been paid in full by blood, the blood of Jesus.   His blood makes us holy!  “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22).

Freedom from sin begins with confession.  The lack of forgiveness brings shame, loneliness, and death.  Freedom from sin ends with Jesus.  After confession, we repent and turn away from the sin and toward He who was without sin.  Romans 6:23 speaks to the duality of sin and life.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, start with your bad moments. And while you’re there, give God your mad moments. There’s an old story about a man that was bitten by a dog, and when he learned the dog had rabies, he started to write. The doctor said, “There’s no need for you to make a will—you’ll be fine.” “Oh, I’m not making a will,” he said. “I’m making a list of all the people I want to bite.” God wants that list, but He wants you to leave it at the cross.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the free gift of victory over sin and death as provided through Jesus.  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.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • You Can Not Please Everyone

    You Can Not Please Everyone “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT).I think many of us are searching for our purpose in life.  We want to follow God but are not sure what He wants us to do.  What is my ministry?  How can I build up the Body of Christ?  These are profound questions.  For many of us, we find our purpose with work and family.  We work to provide food and shelter for those that we love the most – our family.  Clearly, God wants us to...
  • A Man’s Role in the Family and in the Church

    A MAN’S ROLE IN THE FAMILY AND IN THE CHURCH A man must model genuine godly masculine behavior to his children so that they will grow up as godly people and seek godly partners for marriage. That was part of the message from Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin at the September Man Up men’s ministry meeting at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. More than 175 men attended. Interim Senior Pastor Tony Perkins says the men’s ministry program had become less active in recent years. His father, Richard Perkins, had to vacate his position as director of men’s ministries in 2015 due...
  • What Does God Want From You?

    What Does God Want From You? “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NIV).Through our prayers and petitions we make it very clear what we want from God, but have you ever stopped to think what does God want from me?  I had a friend once tell me that for years he viewed God as a “mystical vending machine.”  Many Christians believe that if we give our tithes and offerings to our local church, then we have “done our part.”  Moreover, we sometimes confuse God with Santa Claus and think that if we...

Entertaining Angels by Showing Hospitality

todd shupe

Entertaining Angels by Showing Hospitality

todd shupe

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV).

 

When we think of hospitality, we often think of the custom of feeding family, friends, and neighbors in our homes or even providing them a room in our home for a brief visit.  Many churches have hired a dedicated staff person to train the church members on how to staff hospitality to each other and particularly new members. 

The writers of the New Testament, however, were working with a significantly different definition of hospitality.  The ancient custom of hospitality involved welcoming strangers, often travelers, into one’s home while offering them provisions and protection.  Hospitality to strangers in the first century could be dangerous.   How many of us would open our homes to a stranger and provide just a single meal, let alone lodging for a night?   Many of us will not do this because we are concerned for the safety of our families and ourselves.  However, in the books of Luke and Acts we see an appeal for Jesus’ disciples, and ourselves, to practice hospitality in their lives and ministries.   Naturally, I think that today we should use some discernment and caution.  For example, I do not think we are called to offer hospitality to a dangerous person because we are called to provide and protect our families (1 Timothy 5:8) and ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Early Christians understood the blessing on both parties by extending hospitality to those in need.  An absence of hospitality would mean an absence of love for God and neighbor. This perspective is especially vivid in Luke’s writings. Luke provides an emphasis on hospitality in three passages: Luke 10:1-16, Luke 24:13-35, and Acts 9:43-10:48.

In Luke 10:1-16, Luke describes Jesus’ commissioning of seventy disciples who will travel in pairs to various towns to spread the news about his message and ministry. Jesus instructs the seventy to depend on the hospitality of the townspeople they encounter.

For instance, He prohibits them from carrying their own provisions. Instead, the blessing and peace of God (blessing) will rest upon those hosts who extend hospitality to Jesus’ servants (Luke 10:4-6).  Always remember this – blessed is the giver and receiver of hospitality.

He forbids the disciples, after they enter the home of a gracious host, from moving about from house to house. Rather than seeking more prestigious or luxurious accommodations, they are to accept willingly the provisions they have received (Luke 10:7). Finally, Jesus commissions the seventy-two to minister to their host families and communities. Rather than merely receiving provisions and protection, the traveling missionaries are to meet the needs they encounter along the way and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. “Whoever listens to you listens to me,” Jesus concludes, “and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (10:16). Jesus realized that some would not welcome His disciples so He told them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14).

Just as faith without works is dead (James 2:17), so is Christianity without hospitality.  The townspeople’s response to His disciples (strangers) served as their response to Jesus himself. Today, our response to the “least of our brothers and sisters” is our witness and stands as what we do for Him (Matthew 25:40-45).  Perhaps this is no more evident than in prison ministry. 

Jesus required His disciples to participate in the ancient custom of hospitality (Luke 10:4). He wanted them to be dependent upon their hosts, who are likely unaware of Jesus’ ministry. Their willingness to stay in the homes of people who are not yet followers of The Way opened a door for God’s blessing and work in their lives and communities.

Jesus demanded that His disciples be grateful to their hosts and content with what they have been provided. They must not seek out wealthier or more prestigious hosts within the same community. To carry out their mission properly, Jesus’ disciples formed deep and loyal bonds with those of all classes whom they encounter along the way. Hospitality is not just showing kindness to people that look like you, live in your neighborhood, and attend your church. The right next step is to be mindful that hospitality also includes showing kindness to those that will never be able to return the favor. Jesus taught that by doing this, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

 Prayer:  Dear God:  Forgive us for the times we have denied hospitality to others.  Help us to remember that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we also do for 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.

We welcome your comments below.

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

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • An Identity Crisis Hurts Men and Families

    An Identity Crisis Hurts Men and Families “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV).One of the saddest things I have seen is what happens on occasion to some strong and successful men when they retire from their job.  Yes, they might embrace new hobbies and have more time for old hobbies.  However, they sometimes miss their old job, especially if they were in a position of leadership or authority.  I had a friend tell me once that at work he was somebody...
  • You Have A Husband Now

    You Have A Husband Now … “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5 NIV). Several years ago, I was talking with a female friend, let’s call her Sally, about marriage.  Sally told me an interesting story about her first marriage.  Sally got married many years ago to her first husband.  Her father, let’s call him Dick, did not like her husband because he was a “loser.”  Sally was very close to Dick, and he was always her first phone call when she needed...
  • I Saw Jesus Smoking A Cigarette

    I Saw Jesus Smoking A Cigarette "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). Each week I join in with a handful of men from around the country for a one-hour meeting on Zoom.  I really look forward to these meetings and enjoy the conversation.   I have learned a lot about these men, life, love, family, and God.  I think it is so imperative to surround yourself with Godly people to help position yourself to hear from God.  I am...