Read Scripture And Then Use It

Read Scripture And Then Use It
Read Scripture And Then Use It

Read Scripture And Then Use It

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 NIV).

I enjoy reading the Bible, and I if you are reading this you probably do as well.  I also enjoy group Bible studies, Sunday School, small groups and any other means of studying and learning Scripture.  I study Scripture because I want to learn more about God.  I know “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).   I want to learn, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.  The Word is essential to our training (and continual retraining) in righteousness. 

The Word is more powerful that we can even begin to realize.  The Apostle Paul conveyed this in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

How many times do we read and study Scripture and then stop?  Yes, the Bible is to be read and studied, but it is also to be lived and shared.  Our salvation is not in our knowledge of Scripture, but rather our salvation is in the Blood of Christ.

In the time of Jesus, there were teachers of the Law that had a deep and profound knowledge of Scripture.  Jesus warned us about their hypocrisy in Matthew 23:2-3.  “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”  One of the many names used to refer to Jesus was “teacher” (John 13:13).  As a teacher, Jesus wants us to use His teaching and “go and do likewise.”  The evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives.”

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells the story of two builders – a wise one and a foolish one.

The foolish man builds his house on sand. When a storm comes, the house falls with a great crash. Jesus says people who hear His teachings but don’t put them into practice are like that foolish builder.  The wise builder, though, builds his house on the rock. When rain and winds come, his house stands firm. Jesus says: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

The Book of James speaks at length about putting into action what the Bible teaches. The first chapter of the book of James includes three characteristics that we will have if we are putting God’s Word into practice.  We will have:

1.

A controlled mouth: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

2.

A caring heart:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).

3.

A clean mind: “keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27 NIV).

The disciples learned the Word from the Word (Jesus).  Jesus knew that knowing and doing are different so He told, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Biblical knowledge is a blessing, but a greater blessing can be found when we put its teachings into practice.

I love the familiar Scripture in Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Think about the words “rejoice and glad.”  I think we can show these attributes by showing Christ.  We show Christ when we put our faith into Christ-like words, thoughts, and action.  Read your Bible and be a doer of the Word.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for revealing yourself to us through your Word.  Help us to not only study your Word but to put it into action in our daily lives.  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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Unanswered Prayers
Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered Prayers

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 KJV).

In 1990 Garth Brooks wrote a popular country song entitled, “Unanswered Prayers.”  The song described a time when he ran into a high-school girlfriend while he was with his wife.   In a recent interview Brooks admits that during the first two years of his marriage he still had strong feelings for this other woman and felt that she was the one that he should had married.  However, as he ran into his old flame, he realized that this girl was not the “angel he remembered in his dreams.” Time had changed him and her. The song expresses his awareness that he needed to thank God for the “gifts in his life.” He became aware of the fact that he needs to be thankful to God for the gift of unanswered prayers to reunite with his old girlfriend and the blessing of a good wife, which Proverbs 31:10 teaches us is, “far more precious than jewels.” 

We can all remember praying to God for something we thought was so critical.  We know that God hears our prayers and we approach prayer with confidence and thanksgiving.  The first time I read John 14:14 I thought I had found a genie bottle.  I could maybe rub the bottle and offer up a prayer and out pops my request, just like a vending machine.

Jesus used the Lord’s prayer to teach us how to pray.   The purpose of this prayer, and our lives, is to advance God’s kingdom.  A key part of the prayer is, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10, emphasis added).  Our will was done in the Garden of Eden, and the result is a fallen earth.  Sin allowed pain and death to enter the Garden and our lives today.

One reason we know God hears our prayers is because He has promised to hear them. Even if He doesn’t always answer the way we think He should, He still hears us. The Psalmist declared, “As for me, I call to God … and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17).

Why then, does God sometimes seem deaf to our prayers? One reason may be because we’ve allowed sin to take root in our hearts—and sin always separates us from God. It may be anger, or hatred, or prejudice, or an unclean habit, or anything else that we’ve allowed to pollute our souls. As we wait on God to act, He may be waiting on us to remove whatever separates us from Him.

God often doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should because He loves us, and He knows what is best for us. It’s often been said that God answers prayer in one of three ways: “Yes”, “No”, and “Wait.” We see only part of the picture—but God sees the whole thing. It is essential that we seek God’s will first when we pray and not just our own.

Sometimes we pray and the answer is “no” because God has something better and we need to wait.  Our faith is tested through prayer.  Why does God seemingly ignore prayers to heal babies that are born with cancer?  How can “something better” occur due to the death of babies.  To me, the best explanation is found in Isaiah 66:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Persistent prayer may not yield the answer that we feel is justified. The response may not be clear or fair.  However, by faith we proceed to forge ahead when the path is not clear.  Don’t be discouraged. Instead, thank God for His unconditional love and grace, and learn to commit everything to Him in prayer.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Great is thy faithfulness.  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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Run, Don’t Walk!

Run, Don’t Walk!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

Run, Don’t Walk!

As a child, I reminder being told to walk and not to run.  Today, many of us use the expression, “I am going to run to the store.”  In fact, we are going to get in our car and drive to the store and then walk in to shop.  I see many more walkers than runners in my neighborhood.   I prefer to walk than to run but sometimes in life we need to run.  Running is great for exercise, but we should also “run” or move quickly for other reasons. Below are a few examples.

If God is asking you to do something, then move quickly to do it.  The dishonest manager in Luke 16 is not a hero because of his dishonesty but because he looked ahead, made a wise plan, and acted

quickly.  Rahab is not a hero because she is a prostitute but because she quickly hid the men sent by Joshua into Jericho after the king’s messengers knocked on her door and inquired about the spies (Joshua 2:3-4).  Both of these people were flawed but were of great service to advancing God’s kingdom because they acted in faith and acted quickly.

Third, always be quick to keep your promises to God.  If you make a promise to God, keep your promise. Don’t be slow to do what you promised. God is not happy with fools. Give God what you promised to give him. It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).  Many of us are procrastinators, or we wait for the perfect time to do something.  The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” 

When you are faced with temptation, run.  2 Timothy 22 teaches, “Run from temptations that capture young people.”  Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce a young, handsome Joseph, but he resisted.  Genesis 39:12 tells us, “… he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.”

You should move quickly to accept God’s salvation. God has offered you salvation, and today is the day to accept it. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Right now God is ready to welcome you. Today he is ready to save you.”  How do you accept salvation? You turn away from yourself and toward God. You trust Christ to come into your life, forgive your sins, and make you who He wants you to be.

If you see an opportunity to do something good for someone else, do it immediately. God will put people in your life with needs. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for always welcoming us as we run to you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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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 his prophetic promise was fulfilled.  Moses waited 40 years before he had his divine encounter with the flaming voice of God.  David waited in a cave as an exile until he eventually became King. Jesus waited 30 years before He was commissioned for public ministry.  Jesus made Mary and Martha wait for four days on His return to heal Lazarus.

Waiting can seem like such a waste of time.  I now try to take advantage of time waiting to spend on time reading.  Ironically, I like to read books on waiting and patience as I am waiting, not so patiently, for the doctor, dentist, etc.

Waiting can be good if the time is used wisely.  Parents use the months of pregnancy to prepare for the new baby.  As Christians, we can embrace waiting with the knowledge that God is preparing us for glory.  The Hebrew word for “wait” is literally “to entwine” — like strands of a rope twisted into one.  If God acted immediately every time we cried to Him, we would be in control and not Him.   I am glad that God is God and I am not.

Having to wait causes us to either grow anxious or learn to trust Him, to trust His timing.  Waiting on God is not easy. Often it seems that He isn’t answering our prayers or doesn’t understand the urgency of our situation. Often God uses times of waiting to refresh, renew, and teach us. Make good use of your waiting times by discovering through prayer, Scripture, and talking with your pastor what God may be trying to teach you.

I love the peace that comes from Isaiah 40:30-31.“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  This is a promise from God of the blessing that comes from waiting – renewed strength.  My strength is limited, but “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Prayer:  Dear God:  As we wait on your Hand to move, please continue to draw us closer to you.  Help us to seek first your righteousness and always embrace your love, peace, and joy.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in 1965. The lyrics refer to secular frustration and commercialism, not Christianity.  However, there is a message in the song that has been true since the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon around 935 BC.  In many instances, we cannot get satisfaction, at least not on earth.  We may pray for understanding, but I think God is waiting for us to surrender and trust.  Proverbs 9:10 teaches, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

From the time we are children, we constantly ask questions that range from mundane to existential.  Are we there yet?  What’s for dinner?  Why is the sky blue?  Why did my friend die at

such a young age?  Why does evil exist?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches us, “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does.”   This Scripture is telling us that God made us to be curious because “He has given us a desire to know the future.”  As Christian we know that God is in control, but we are hesitant to walk by faith and not by sight.  We tend to want to lean on our own understanding.  This is particularly true for those with a predisposition toward left-brain logic. 

Jesus understood our desire for understanding.  He said in John 13:7, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”  Jesus’s speaking style did not give “satisfaction” to the crowds.  In Matthew 13 Jesus had finished the Parable of the Sower and the disciples asked Him a question that any of us would have likely asked.  “Why do you speak to the people in parables? (Matthew 13:10). 

His answer is revealing in many ways.  “He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’  But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:11-16). 

Jesus spoke in parables – earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. He did so that His disciples would comprehend His teachings and that unbelievers would be without comprehension. Those interested in understanding the truth of His message would understand while those not interested would remain without understanding.  I circle back to King Solomon.  He wrote in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  This provides me the satisfaction that I desire, and I am confident that when I meet my maker I will rest in complete peace, love and satisfaction.

Prayer: Dear God:  Thank you for steadfast love which endures forever.  Grant us ears to hear your Word proclaimed and the resolve to proclaim it to 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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Seek Unity Not Uniformity

Seek Unity Not Uniformity

Seek Unity Not Uniformity

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.   For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.   Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:21-31 NIV).

Seek Unity Not Uniformity

All members of most sports teams wear a uniform.  This designates they are a part of the same team.  However, each member is not uniform in terms of their role or skill on the team.  Different roles and skills are needed for any team to be successful.  Similarly, we are a part of God’s team.  We are according to 1 Peter 2:9, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood.”  We do not wear the same outward uniform, but inwardly the Holy Spirit resides in each of us.  We each were called into ministry through our baptism and profession of faith in Jesus and have been equipped and blessed with different skills and roles.  You are a unique member on God’s team because nobody has your perspective, experience, and skills.  Nobody else has your testimony.  Your authentic spoken testimony and witness is a powerful tool for evangelism.

We can speak words of truth and love or lies and hate. Scripture teaches, “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).  Words can cause division and hurt.  If a word slipped out of your mouth in anger or strife, take it back.  Apologize for it and tell your friend, partner, or family member that you said the wrong thing.  It should be noted that some people are toxic and prefer strife over unity.

Jesus spoke words of unity. The enemy spoke words of strife in Genesis 3 and Matthew 4.  Unity is not the absence of strife but the courage to refuse it.  Scripture teaches about strife.  “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14).

One of the greatest causes of strife today is a lack of humility. Our ego is easily bruised when somebody uses words to attack our character or our family.  We would be wise to heed the advice of James 1:19; “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  Humility helps us to be slow to anger.  Micah 6:8 reads “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (emphasis added).”

So, what does humility look like in our daily life?   The answer can be found in Philippians 2:3-4.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Nobody has modelled humility for us better than Jesus.  He willingly left the paradise of heaven and came to a fallen earth to knowingly be hated, tortured, and crucified on a cross.

Pray for unity in the Body of Christ.  It’s important.

Prayer:  Thank you for the blessing of children.  Be with us as we try to raise our children to love and honor you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver

Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver

Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.   Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV).

Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV).

As Christians, we know that we are called upon to be generous. Generosity is not just a financial issue but also includes giving of our time, talents, and prayers. A friend once told me that anytime someone helps another person, two blessings have occurred – blessed are the giver and receiver. For years we have had anecdotal evidence regarding significant improvements to the physical and emotional well-being of those that make a concerted effort to give back to others.

A study published in The International Journal of Psychophysiology indicated that people who give social support to others had lower blood pressure than people who did not. Another study by the National Institutes of Health found that the MRI’s of people who gave to various charities showed increased activity within the “reward center” area of the brain. Stimulation of this area triggered the release of endorphins, which gave the subject a pleasant feeling, that’s known as a “helper’s high.”

Most of us want to avoid high blood pressure and experience a “helper’s high.” Some avoid helping others because they feel to do so requires an abundance of money and/or free time.

Generosity does not have to be a big event. There are many easy and budget-friendly ways to give back to your community. Below are a few ideas. I urge you to talk to your pastor and friends and see what unique opportunities exist in your community.

  • Pray for the poor and homeless in your community and across the world.
  • Deliver cookies or a meal to a local fire station.
  • Create care packages for the homeless. Items can include essentials such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, granola bars, and water.
  • Visit a nursing home and hand out cards or simple gifts like books, lotion, or mints. I know a sweet lady that has a great voice and she sings each week at a nursing home.
  • Donate your children’s outgrown and gently-used winter clothing to a local school or shelter.
  • Bring canned food, clothing, or a small monetary donation to your church or a local charity.

Giving back during the holidays is a great way to make people feel included and cared for, but generosity doesn’t need to be limited to the brief period between November through January.

Prayer: Dear God:  Help us to be cheerful givers so we may sow generously and reap generously.  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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Loneliness Can Lead to Ministry

Loneliness Can Lead to Ministry
Loneliness Can Lead to Ministry

Loneliness Can Lead to Ministry

“It is not good for the man to be alone”  (Genesis 2:18 NIV).

We were all made to live in community.  How can we “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) if we are isolated from others?  Loneliness is not just a problem for older adults.  Younger adults that are single parents or divorced may experience loneliness when the children move out of the house.  Some have ridiculed the lonely and called them weak.  This is wrong and cruel.   It is wrong because most of society has confused weakness with meekness.   Jesus was meek but, He was certainly not weak. 

Perhaps what we know as loneliness is really a need for us to better understand God.   Deuteronomy 31:6 teaches, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  We are never alone because the Holy Spirit is always in us and with us. 

How we handle our loneliness is important not only for our spiritual health but also for our physical health.  Our actions also serve as a powerful witness to others – both Christians and non-believers.  Paul modeled for us in 2 Timothy 4 how to handle loneliness.  As he was alone in prison and waiting to be executed, Paul wrote to Timothy and asked him, “When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers” (2 Timothy 4:13). 

At first glance you make think this is trivial stuff (books, papers, and a coat).  However, there are great lessons there for us all.  Paul needed a coat because he wanted to take care of physical health.  History teaches us that Roman prisons were damp, dark, and cold.  Yes, he was lonely, but he knew it was important to take care of himself.  Paul wanted his books and papers to use his time productively.  The prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are so named because they were written by the apostle Paul during one of his incarcerations.  These books are a valuable part of the New Testament. 

If you are feeling lonely, you need to become comfortable and productive.  We can’t do anything if we don’t take care of our physical health.  Then, we are in a position to focus our efforts outward (local missions, volunteer, small groups, etc.) which will give us a sense of community.  The temptation is to do nothing, complain, or become bitter, but none of these are productive.  The real truth is that you will also benefit when you give your time to serve others.  The receiver of ministry is blessed, but the one providing the ministry is also blessed as well.

Speaking of Paul, he wrote the following about giving to the church in Corinth.  “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).  Remember giving is not just about money.  It also includes giving our time to serve others.  Be well, be a cheerful giver, and be blessed. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the Holy Spirit that is always in us and with us.  There is no where we can go in which you are not with 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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Never Grow Tired of Doing Good

Never Grow Tired of Doing Good

Never Grow Tired of Doing Good

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

Never Grow Tired of Doing Good

When I think of “doing good” I often think of John Wesley.  One of John Wesley’s most famous quotes was, “Never grow tired of doing good.”  I thought of Wesley and his quote as I was reading Galatians 6.  This was not a catchy marketing campaign.  This was part of his core beliefs which mirrors closely with Paul’s Epistle to the early church in Galatia (Galatians 6:9). 

Wesley believed that upon the death of our earthly bodies we will be questioned by angels, “What did you do for others?”  (Deuteronomy 15:11, Hebrews 13:16, Galatians 6:2).  Did you care about the poor and rejected?  (Ephesians 4:28, Leviticus 25:35, Proverbs 19:17).  Wesley knew that faith without

works is dead (James 2:17).  He also understood that we are saved by God’s grace and not our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Works are a natural product of our faith and not a means to gain God’s favor.

Clearly, Wesley believed in doing good.  It is believed that he traveled over 650,000 miles to preach his Holy message:  “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”  This belief transcends the Methodist church and is a key tenant of the Church Universal.  There are so many ways to please God, but the Wesleyan theology believed that the best means to do so was to be merciful and kind and always be compassionate to those who need compassion.

Thomas Aquinas, an immensely influential Catholic priest, philosopher, and theologian, was once asked, “What actions of ours best show our love for God?”  He answered, “They are the works of mercy toward our neighbor, even more than our acts of worship.”  He further explained, “Hence mercy, whereby we supply other’s needs, is a sacrifice more acceptable to God than many prayers and even Sunday worship.”  I think Wesley and most modern-day Christians would agree with this sentiment.

As I re-read the Synoptic Gospels with an eye on works of mercy, I am drawn to two parables and a lesson on adultery.  In Luke 15, our Father shows great compassion to the Prodigal Son.  This parable shows the unconditional love of our Lord.   John 8 contains the story of the woman accused of adultery.  Jesus offers grace and not judgment.  Jesus tells us the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 to remind us of His desire for us to show kindness to our neighbor.  There are many other examples in the Bible of God showing mercy, encouraging us to visit Him in prison, and asking for us to help those in need of help.

We all need the mercy and love of God.  As we move close to Him and progress in our sanctification, we begin to desire the things that He does.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to love you with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.  And help us to love our neighbor as our self.

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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A Spiritual Health Check-Up – How is Your Discipleship?

A Spiritual Health Check-Up - How is Your Discipleship?

A Spiritual Health Check-Up - How is Your Discipleship?

“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV).

A Spiritual Health Check-Up - How is Your Discipleship?

Our health is very important to us.  Many of us try to watch what we eat and try to exercise.  We go to the doctor each year for a flu shot and an annual check-up.   There has been an increased awareness in recent years regarding the need for mental health awareness.   Our mental health is related to our physical health.  I wonder if we give our spiritual health the same attention as we do our physical and mental health?  I see our overall health as a three-legged stool:  mental, physical, and spiritual, and they are all equally important and equally dependent on each other.

For many of us, when we think of our spiritual health, we think of prayer, service, witness, tithes, worship, and Scripture.  These are all good things, but hopefully, they are all equipping you as a disciple.  If you claim to be a Christian and are not engaged in discipleship, your faith is lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). 

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus and is committed to bringing others to Jesus.  To do so, we must be in a community with others.  This sense of community not only brings others to Christ but strengthens our discipleship and our spiritual health. 

Paul was an author of many of the books of the New Testament.  He was a mature Christian that was dedicated to raising up Christian disciples and leaders in the new Church.  Timothy traveled with Paul and was mentored by him.

It is important for us all to have a “Paul” and a “Timothy” in our life.  A “Paul” is typically an older mentor, has been a Christian longer than you, and helps you to grow spiritually.   A  “Timothy” is somebody who hasn’t been a Christian as long as you, and you are helping to disciple and encourage them.   I am a “Paul” and “Timothy” for some men, and some men serve these roles for me.  These roles not only help my personal discipleship but also honor God by growing His kingdom.  Also, having these people in my life builds up my support team and helps my spiritual health.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 teaches us, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul writes to Timothy: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  We see God’s plan for discipleship in this verse.  Paul wants Timothy to find somebody to mentor.  If Christian leaders don’t raise up new Christian leaders, then who will?  Who will help us with our spiritual health?  Who will help mentor and encourage the next generation of disciples?  Find a Paul and a Timothy and be a Paul and a Timothy.  Be blessed as you are a blessing to others.

Prayer:  Dear God:  We thank you for those that have walked before us such as Paul and Timothy.  Thank you for the peace that we have through the Bible.  Help us dear God to both find and be a Timothy and Paul.

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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