The Right Prayer Is…

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The Right Prayer Is…

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV).

 

As Christians, we all know that prayer is our direct means of communication with God.  Through our prayers and petitions we communicate with God our needs, worries, and joys.  Some people have a poor prayer life because they are not certain how to pray.   What do I say?  Do I have to be alone with a candle?  Should I speak out loud? 

I feel it is much more important that we communicate with God rather than not communicate because we are paralyzed with uncertainty on how to pray.  Who you are talking to is so much more important than your words.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:8, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  Jesus then proceeds in Matthew 6 to bless us and tell us how to pray.  You may already know it as the Lord’s Prayer, which is found in Matthew 6:9-13

 

You may wonder if He already knows what I need and what I am going to say then why I should I pray?  As for me, I yearn for prayer because it is a key means to understand the One whose love for me is constant and unconditional.  My relationship with Jesus is not based on rules regarding how to pray but is based on mutual love.   Sometimes I am too tired to pray or simply too overwhelmed.   I am comforted that, “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

The Psalms are beautiful and moving prayers.   They express the range of human emotions from anger to love.   We all feel disappointed, frustrated, or with God or with others from time to time.  God wants us to take it all to Him in prayer and leave it with Him.  The enemy wants us to keep it and allow it to grow and separate us from Him.  God understands all of our emotions, and it is ok to express our anger, disappointment, or frustration with Him.  Many characters in the Bible did this.   I encourage you to read Psalm 13, Jonah 4, the Book of Job, Numbers 20, and Genesis 4 to name a few. 

 

So, what is the right prayer?  Is it the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10), or something else?  The right prayer is the one offered with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you. 

 

 

Prayer:  Dear God, We often do not know what to pray when life is so cruel.  Help us to find contentment in all circumstances.  We thank you for the Holy Spirit that intercedes for us in accordance with your perfect will.  We thank you for your son Jesus and the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.  And dear God, we thank you for always loving us and never leaving us.  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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  • Understanding Love Through Reading Scripture


    Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture

    Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture
    “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”(1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV).Perhaps the most common scripture that is read at a wedding is from 1 Corinthians 13. This is beautiful scripture that defines what is — and what is not — love.   This scripture reveals the deep and unbreakable love that God has for us.   Love is the heart of the Gospel because God is love.   When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all…
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  • Looking for Something Good to Taste?



    Looking for Something Good to Taste?
    “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8 NIV).
    The only thing I like better than eating food is eating food that is tasty.  We all love a tasty meal and many of us have our own unique spice combination to make a dish more appealing.  I think about all the elaborate cooking shows that are popular on television.  I too enjoy watching many of them.  Then, I consider the most significant meal that we consume is the Lord’s supper, Holy communion, Holy Eucharist, or the Blessed Sacrament.
    The consecrated body…
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  • Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It


    Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It2

    Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It
    “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”
    (Romans 6:14 ESV).
    We are created with a deep need to be loved.  There are two radically different kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. Conditional love involves bargaining and there are conditions that we must meet in order to receive love from others. Such conditional living is exhausting, involving a treadmill of constant doing in order to earn and maintain love.
    Unconditional love is radically different, involving a conversion of our motives. The Christian…
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Who Knows The Truth?

Who Knows The Truth?

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

One of my favorite Bible studies focused on the questions of God in the Old Testament and the questions of Jesus in the New Testament.   I would not pretend to fully know the meaning behind the questions.  However, it is apparent to me that the questions are, at least in part, designed to draw the listener into a deeper state of self-examination.

I enjoy my “red letter” Bible and understand the added significance of the words of Jesus.  I am drawn to one of the questions that was posed to Jesus.  It did not come from the disciples to better understand Him.  It did not come from the Pharisees to trap him.  It did not come from any of the witnesses to His many public miracles.  It came from the Roman governor Pontius Pilate in an effort to understand “the truth.”  John 18:28-40 details the complete encounter of Jesus with Pilate.  Jesus states, “I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Pilot responded, “What is truth?” (John 18: 37-38).

I find it particularly noteworthy that this whole discussion of truth is subsequent to an arrest of Jesus by the Jewish leaders based on false allegations.   I wonder how many times in my life I have heard allegations, rumors, or derogatory stories about someone and accepted the story as true.  Surely, some of the stories were true but again some were probably not true.  How many times did I pass these stories on to others?   We all have at times underestimated the power of our words.  Proverbs 18:21 teaches, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”   Jesus not only understood the power of our words but also their origins.   He taught, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:18).

Ephesians 6 is a well cited section of Scripture on how to use the Armor of God for spiritual attacks.   I am drawn to Ephesians 6:14, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”  In many, but not all, situations in life there are two “people” who know the truth about a given situation – you and God.

Pilate’s question is simple but so very profound.  He was not a Jew.  He did not know the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.  The Jewish leaders were intimately familiar with the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  They had heard Jesus read the scroll and declare, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).  So, even the Jewish leaders when the truth was revealed to them could not accept the truth.

As you go about your day, you can be sure that some have determined “the truth” about you.   Hopefully, you have not determined “the truth” about others.  One truth that I know is, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).  Even if I do know “the truth” about someone else, I am focused on trying to repent from my own sins rather than degrading someone else for their sins, regardless if their sin is “true” or not.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for being the way, the truth, and the life.  Help us to repent of our sins and not judge or speak negatively about others but rather to pray for their repentance.  Amen.

                       

Meet the Author

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

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  • The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven


    The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven

    The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven
    “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV).There is no greater gift from God…
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    “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say” (Isaiah 28:23 NIV).
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All We Can Do Now Is Pray?

todd shupe

All We Can Do Now Is Pray?

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV).

I was recently talking with a friend of mine whose wife is in hospice care.  He has been keeping in close contact with his pastor and passing along daily medical updates.  Each day the pastor told my friend to “hang in there” and then politely end the conversation.  Eventually her condition became critical and the doctors estimated that she only a few more days to live.  My friend spoke to his pastor that day and relayed the devastation news.  The pastor said, “All we can do now is pray.”

I was heart broken when my friend told me this story.  I was sad that he was about to lose his wife, but also sad that the pastor did not invite the Holy Spirit to be present at the beginning of the process.  Prayer is not the last thing we do.  It is the first thing we do.  One of my favorite Bible verses is, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).   We are made righteous through the blood of Jesus and our prayers are powerful.  Certainly, God does not always answer our prayers in the way that we want.  However, our prayers are a form of worship, and He will honor that.  We were made to worship Him rather than to fully understand Him.

Our prayers when offered in confidence and thanksgiving may not always bring about our desired outcome but they will bring about peace.  Philippians 4:6 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Unanswered prayers will certainly test our faith and an appropriate response might be to say, “God, I do not like this or understand this, but I know you will work this out for good so I trust you and I am claiming your promises.”

2 Chronicles 20 tells an amazing story of King Jehoshaphat when he was confronted by three overwhelming armies. I realize you may not be facing an army to overtake your kingdom, but we sometimes are placed in what appears to be a hopeless situation. The king modeled for us the proper sequence of steps to take in such a situation. First, pray to God. This is putting Matthew 6:33 into action. “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness.”

Then, take action based on His guidance. After the king’s prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came and said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). The people sang songs of praise (worship) and went out to watch the battle as instructed by the Spirit. The three armies destroyed each other. This is a perfect example of “the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47). All battles belong to the Lord, not just physical battles.

The faith of a mustard seed can do amazing things. It doesn’t always do amazing things, but it always has great potential. We can best position ourselves to tap into God’s power when we live in accordance with His Word. So, don’t pray as a last resort. Instead, follow the instruction and promise of Matthew 6:33. Be blessed as you bless others.

Prayer:   Dear God, Forgive us when we rush ahead and do what is right in our own eyes.  Help us to always pray first and seek Your guidance and know that the battle belongs to You.

Meet the Author

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

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  • The Biblical Roots Of Trust



    The Biblical Roots Of Trust
    Trust is an essential component to any relationship. Trust is essential for a relationship to move past a superficial level to a more intimate and personal basis. Our relationship with God is based on our trust that first, He lived and died for our sins and second, He has our best interests at heart and loves us unconditionally.The actual phrase “Jesus loves me,” cannot be found in the Bible but there are examples that support this fact. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “As I have loved you, you must love one another” and in John 15:9 He said, “As the Father has…
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  • Trust God, Not Your Feelings


    Trust God, Not Your Feelings

    Trust God, Not Your Feelings
    “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).Have you ever heard the expression, “trust your gut.”  This speaks to our natural desire to go with our feelings.  If it feels right, it must be right.  The problem is that often what feels right to us is not always right to God. The Bible teaches about a time when the world was in anarchy because of this attitude: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).   Today, do we do what feels…
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  • Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?


    Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?

    Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?
    “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14 NKJV).According to the website Brainboost.com, the average person will spend 10 years standing in line over their lifetime.  I wonder how much time will be added on if they factored in waiting on the phone, waiting for a movie to start, or one of my favorite past times – waiting on God.The Bible is full of stories of those who waited on God to move.  Joseph waited over 13 years before…
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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 we live by faith, not by sight.”  Faith is an essential part of our very life as a Christian. 

James 2:18 reads, “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 is describing a person who thinks faith can be separated from works (actions).  This is impossible because our faith and our deeds are inseparable. 

James is essentially saying if you claim to be a Christian, then your actions should support that faith and be visible for others to see.  He is passionate about faith because his life was transformed by his faith.  His faith in God was manifested by his service to God and others.  A fruit of our faith today should also be our works. 

In other words, our works are a natural product from our faith in God and are not done in an attempt to gain favor with God. Our works are not a means of salvation.  Jesus is the only path to salvation.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags.  This means that our attempts to be “good” are nothing compared to the true goodness of God because we are all sinners and fall short of His glory.

It is good and helpful to talk about our faith and use it to encourage others.  Faith cannot end with words.  Our words are important but must be accompanied by action.  Mother Teresa once said, “The world can be changed by your example, not by your opinions.”

So you may be wondering what does all this talk have to do with the title of this blog?  Faith is very similar to love in one aspect.  Love isn’t visible unless you are able to see it in action. In the same way, the only way you know if someone has real faith is by looking at how they live.  Faith and love are not ideas, emotions, or theological concepts.  They are actions.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for not only our lack of faith but also our lack of actions.  Send your Holy Spirit to walk with us and teach us as we walk by faith and show our faith with our actions.  We need you and love 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.

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  • The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat


    The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat

    The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat
    “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV).The Walk to Emmaus “Walk” is a three-day spiritual retreat that came out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement. The Walk to Emmaus is held numerous times during…
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  • Words Of Life Or Death


    todd shupe

    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…
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  • Boundaries Benefit All


    Boundaries Benefit All

    Boundaries Benefit All
    “Moses’ father-in-law replied, What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV).I just finished reading a book called “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  It is a New York Times Bestseller and has sold over two million copies since it was first published in 1992 and then revised in 2017.  This is a Christian book that uses appropriate Scripture to help readers take control of their lives by learning when…
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The True Meaning of Salvation

The True Meaning Of Salvation

The True Meaning Of Salvation

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NIV).

I had heard the term salvation for years, but was not entirely clear of its meaning. I have come to understand that salvation is “deliverance from danger or suffering.” To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words “saved” or “salvation” to refer to temporal, physical deliverance — such as St. Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19).

Salvation is God’s gracious gift to us.  Ephesians 2:8 teaches us,  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

St. Paul describes salvation in Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

So what is it then to be justified?  This means God treats us as if we were righteous. It is imperative that we remember that our righteousness comes from our faith in God and not our obedience to the Law (Philippians 3:9).

Jesus retreated from the crowds to find rest for Himself and His disciples.  According to Mark 6:31, “Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.’”  God wants us to life a joy-filled life.  He also wants us to show His love to others.  He realizes that we can do neither if we are worn out.  If we recognize the true importance of our bodies as indicated in 1 Cor. 6:19-20, then rest seems more essential than a luxury.  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 

Moreover, St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8, “it’s by His grace.” It has nothing to do with me; we are saved by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Redemption is simply a ransom that’s been paid for our sin and all of this is His free gift to us. Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-26). We are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel — the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe — fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19) and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Then as part of the Body of Christ, our service flows. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26) so I encourage you to accept this free gift and life everlasting. Stay in the Word and the Word will stay in you!  Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the free gift of salvation due to the Blood of 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.

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  • Making a Difference in the Lives of Men



    Making a Difference in the Lives of Men
    I encourage you to prayerfully consider joining me in donating to Rev. Mark Lubbock’s ministry – Gulf South Men. Please visit Gulf South Men’s website and GSMen.org to get a glimpse of the scope and impact of this ministry or give Mark a call at (225)252-3331. Mark’s ministry helps men become Disciples that are servant leaders as modeled by Jesus. His work cuts across boundaries of denomination, race, age, etc. His goal is to raise up Godly men that bring Christ into their homes and families and then out into the world. There…
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  • Service is Ministry


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    Service is Ministry
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  • Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop


    Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop

    Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop
    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).Jesus warned us that we’d have problems in life. No one is immune from pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. You may have heard the old saying “nobody is an atheist in a fox hole.”  Many of us turn to God during the difficult times in our lives but then go back to living…
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Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It2

Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”

(Romans 6:14 ESV).

We are created with a deep need to be loved.  There are two radically different kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. Conditional love involves bargaining and there are conditions that we must meet in order to receive love from others. Such conditional living is exhausting, involving a treadmill of constant doing in order to earn and maintain love.

Unconditional love is radically different, involving a conversion of our motives. The Christian dynamic is “not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (1 John 4:10). Unconditional love is a gift in which the initiative is God’s — and not ours. Human love always expects something in return, yet God’s love does not. Grace is the name for God’s incredible love. God loves us because of who God is; not because of who we are or what we have done.

There is nothing we can do to earn or lose God’s grace.  It is freely given. In fact, God has given us an abundance of grace. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). This grace is so large that “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:35-39).  This is astonishing, and I encourage you to pause and think about this.

Now that we have received God’s grace, what is our response?  First, never let your hearts be troubled.  Be confident and courageous and know that God’s favor is upon you. Second, extend grace to others. A few examples are teaching Sunday school, be involved in Christian service, give a full tithe to your church, pray for your pastor and the church, witness your faith and be engaged in the Bible daily and show compassion to the hungry.

Whenever you help the poor, incarcerated, homeless, and marginalized, you are helping our Lord. “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). Go with the knowledge and confidence that God’s grace is forever upon you. Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for pouring out grace upon grace upon us even though we do not deserve it. Help us to realize that Your grace is not to kept to ourselves but to share with others.  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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  • What Motivates You?


    What Motivates You?

    What Motivates You?
    “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord”  (Proverbs 16:2 NIV).
    We typically won’t do anything unless we are motivated to do so.  We take action based on a variety of motivations.  Our motivations can be positive or negative.  Some of the common negative motivators include pride, anger, revenge, entitlement, or the desire for approval or to impress others. These motivations are clearly negative and come from a sinful flesh and do not honor God (Romans 8:8).
    Nothing is hidden from our Lord.  He even evaluates the motivation of our hearts when we give offerings to…
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  • We Grow In The Light


    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…
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  • 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…
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The Great Question: Where Is God?

The Great Question: Where Is God?

The Great Question: Where Is God?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV, emphasis added).

The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.  The enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need.  Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.  Self-control is the very essence of “dying to self” and living in righteousness with God. Our righteousness cannot — and will not ever — come from ourselves, but only as a means of grace from God as a result of totally surrendering yourself to His will and becoming His disciple.

If you are struggling with self-control, then first begin with prayer and ask God for His help. Then, go into the Bible and study and memorize some particular verses that speak to you and your particular situation.

For me, my go-to verse in times when my patience is growing thin is Proverbs 29:11. It reads in part, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” We must remember that all wisdom comes from God.  So how does one obtain wisdom?  James 1:5 tells us, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The exercise of self-control will not only keep us away from our temptations but will allow us to be a powerful witness for God. You may ask, “How can I be a good witness for God by exercising self-control?” The best witness is one who demonstrates his faith with his actions. St. Francis of Assisi encouraged people to speak the gospel wherever they go and use words when necessary.

Self-control will allow you to remain silent when verbally attacked.  It will allow you to respond with love when confronted with hate. Self-control will also keep you pure when you are alone.  Self-control will also keep you sane in times of great adversity, such as a flooded home, divorce or loss of a family member. We freely and willingly yield control of ourselves to God and instead of worrying about what will happen, we stand steadfast in His promise of Romans 8:28. The passage reads, “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.”

Self-control does not mean that we are to go it alone. Life is tough and we need fellow Christians for the journey. We need accountability groups that are small, honest and safe so we can be vulnerable and encouraging to each other. Christ encouraged us to come to Him with our burdens and He will give us rest. Read Matthew 11 and then fasten your yoke to a friend!

Prayer:  Dear God, May the Fruit of self control be a blessing to us and a witness to others of Your grace.  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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  • Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November


    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. …
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  • The Great Question: Where Is God?


    The Great Question: Where Is God?

    The Great Question: Where Is God?
    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV.The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.  The enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need.  Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh…
    Read More

  • The ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes


    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes2

    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes
    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
    “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a Biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the…
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Significance of ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage

Significance of ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage

Significance of ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage

“He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:33 NIV).

I have talked to many Christians who believe they are destined for heaven because they have been a good person, attended church, contributed money and even helped their neighbor a few times and participated in committee meetings at church. They are essentially saying that they have “earned” their way into heaven. They may admit to believing in some sort of “higher power” and call themselves “spiritual.” They may even know some Scripture regarding God’s love and the miracles performed by Jesus.  My heart goes out to these people because they are deceived.

This notion that Jesus will accept everybody into heaven is false. On Earth, He calls us into a relationship with him. He offers His yoke to carry our burden. He offers the living water from Jacob’s well.  He even offered His own body for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

The Bible instructs us in Matthew 7:13-14, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I believe the life that He is referring to is a life in Christ in which He dwells in us and we in Him. We no longer seek earthly pleasures but rather seek to build His kingdom on earth.  We find a peace that surpasses all understanding and are content in all circumstances.  To truly accept Jesus we are called to “die to self.”  This means our old self-centered desires are gone and we now have an outward focus to our desires.  We are seeking His face and acting as His hands and feet.

In my opinion, the heart of the Gospel is Matthew 25. This contains three parables and all are warnings to us. The last parable is that of “The Sheep and the Goats.”  This parable is rarely preached in church, but is essential for those seeking to enter His kingdom. Some may argue that all they have to do is proclaim their allegiance to God as Paul writes to the Romans in 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Paul is teaching that we must confess our belief in God to be saved. As a “saved” person we do not have automatic access to Heaven.  Please consider James 2:14-17: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Now, some of you may be thinking, I thought that we could not earn our way into heaven. That is exactly correct.  Your good deeds for your church and neighbor will not earn your way into heaven. Heaven is reserved for those that (1) have accepted Jesus as their Lord and (2) have headed His call to feed His sheep.  Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We know from Scripture that God is love so if we love one another we truly have the Holy Spirit in us and are living in Christ. We feed the poor, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned not to curry favor with God but as a natural manifestation of our love for Christ and therefore our love for our fellow man.

Below is perhaps the heart of the gospel.   The parable of the sheep and the goats is from Matthew 25:31-46.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.”

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?’38 When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?”

40 “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.’”

41 “Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.’”

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?’”

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’”

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Prayer:  Dear God, May we never deny the opportunity to show Your face to our brothers and sisters.  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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  • Understanding Our Emotions


    Understanding Our Emotions

    Understanding Our Emotions
    16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do…
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  • A Joyful Life


    A Joyful Life

    A Joyful Life
    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).Our society has achieved a point of technological advancement that was unthinkable a mere 10-20 years ago.  In the Western world, we have freedoms of speech and access to clean drinking water that are unheard of in other countries.   All of us, even those barely out of diapers, have smart phones.  However, many Americans are without joy and are seeking answers from pharmaceutical companies to the bottom of a beer bottle.  I…
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  • Who Is In Your Foxhole?



    Who Is In Your Foxhole?
    “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV).
    A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Coach Jeff Kisiah “Coach K” at an Iron Sharpens Iron men’s equipping conference.  He spoke about the importance of foxhole friends and the strength of a threefold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  This man of God recently went on to Glory, but he left behind a legacy.  The basis for the annual, national conference is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.”
    Men…
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Finding the Fruits of the Spirit

Finding the Fruits of the Spirit

Finding the Fruits of the Spirit

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25-276 KJV).

I love to watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball games on television.  I played little league baseball but knew at a very young age that I would never play professional baseball at any level.  I simply did not have the talent.  It was not “in” me.  I had the gift of a strong arm.  However, it was not the strongest by far and when combined with an average glove, below average speed, and a weak bat, the pro scouts surprisingly did not come to my games. 

Many of us are familiar with the Scripture from Galatians 5:22-23 that describes the fruits of the Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-26 NIV).  This Scripture was important because Paul wrote to the churches in southern Galatia after having a hand in starting them on his first missionary journey to Asia Minor.  Paul’s letter was targeting the first real controversy that plagued the church in its early years—the relationship between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. Paul’s wanted the people to embrace unity in Christ, no matter their racial distinctions.  The fruits of the Spirit will always be essential for unity and peaceful living.

The fruits of the Spirit are “in” all of us.  Yes, some of them may be more developed than others.  However, all fruits are the product of growth.  We cultivate our fruit trees in order to maximize the yield of fruit.  Similarly, we should cultivate our spiritual lives to increase our fruit of the Spirit.  We are custodians of our Spiritual fruit, and the best thing we can do with it is to use it to build up the body of Christ.  We can’t give what we don’t have, but we can help all of our Spiritual fruits advance to the next stage of maturity.  Below are some tips on how to do this.

  • Love — We can sift every thought, word, and action through the filter of “Is it loving?”
  • Joy — We can be the source of smiles, laughter, and appreciation.
  • Peace — We can fill the atmosphere with our own sense of peace, a calm amid the chaos, so
  • Self-control — We can commit ourselves to no outbursts, no irritating reports.
  • Kindness — We can shower others with affirmation, encouraging the flickering candle of their best selves to burn more brightly.
  • Goodness — We can focus on the positives, rather than the faults, of those around us.
  • Faithfulness — We can be true to the blessed values of the Christmas season.
  • Gentleness — We can give our full attention to each person, one at a time, not omitting even the most troublesome

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please help us to cultivate and use our fruits of the Spirit so that wherever we go others will be attracted to our light and come to understand that our light is yours.  All glory and honor is yours.  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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Words Of Life Or Death

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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)

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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 from all sides.

To see all sides, I belong to many Christian-based groups on Facebook.  Current issues (social and political) are often a frequent topic of conversation.  As Christians we have a calling to be advocates for social justice – to hear the call of the needy.  We are also called to encourage and build up each other (Ephesians 4:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Romans 14:19).

In recent years I have noticed a progressively divisive tone of discourse in these Facebook groups.  I have seen name calling, slander, bullying, and vulgar language to advance their agenda or argument.  This is appalling and is evidence that the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is absent.  This is particularly troubling when these comments are coming from clergy, elders, deacons, and other church leaders who are held to a higher standard (James 3:1).  Yes, our words matter because, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).  Our words need to be consistently, not periodically, uplifting to the Body of the Christ.  James 3:11 addresses this issue by asking, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”  Matthew 12:34 tells us that negative words are evidence of an unhealthy heart. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” In the book Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer writes, “Judgment and criticism are fruit of a deeper problem – pride.”

It seems that people get more easily agitated and are more likely to make offensive comments on social media rather than in person.  The website Inc. posted an interesting article You Should Never, Ever Argue With Anyone On Facebook, According to Science.   According to the article there is a simple reason why this happens.  “We respond very differently to what people write than to what they say–even if those things are exactly the same. That’s the result of a fascinating new experiment by UC Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers. In the study, 300 subjects read, watched video of, or listened to arguments about such hot-button topics as war, abortion, and country or rap music. Afterward, subjects were interviewed about their reactions to the opinions with which they disagreed.” 

“Their general response was probably very familiar to anyone who’s ever discussed politics: a broad belief that people who don’t agree with you are either too stupid or too uncaring to know better. But there was a distinct difference between those who had watched or listened to someone speak the words out loud and those who had read the identical words as text. Those who had listened or watched someone say the words were less likely to dismiss the speaker as uninformed or heartless than they were if they were just reading the commenter’s words.”

I understand how this happens, but I do not condone it.  Fortunately, by the grace of the Holy Spirit I have been able to control my urges to engage in this behavior on social media.   As church leaders, we need to set the example of proper Christian conversation, particularly outside the church building.  Matthew 12:36 reads, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

Prayer:  Dear God, Please remove our fleshly desires of pride, and replace the void with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

 

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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