Joyful Obedience

Joyful Obedience
Joyful Obedience

Joyful Obedience

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV).

If you were to list ten words to describe yourself, do you think “obedient” would be one of the words?  You probably hope that when others describe you that they see some evidence of the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

“Obedient” is not a fruit of the Spirit but is the conscious use of our God-given free will.  God has given us free will to either obey His commands or not. Since the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden we have failed to be obedient.  The Prayer of Confession prior to Holy Communion at some churches includes, “We have failed to be an obedient church.”  The prayer also includes “Free us for joyful obedience.”  We need to acknowledge our failure to obey (our sin) and seek joyful obedience (a Christ-centered life).

The Bible contains 5467 promises to us.  The promises of God reveal His divine purpose to which He is committed and upon which we can depend. These promises are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.  With every promise, there is a premise, conditions, and requirements.

As a child, you probably obeyed your parents out of fear and obligation rather than joy.  You may not have seen the benefits of obedience but only the consequences of failure to obey.  The benefits of obeying God are His provision and protection.

Isaiah 5:21 warns us, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”    The Prophet can see the future ruin of God’s people because they have turned away from God.  Proverbs 3 is an excellent part of the Bible for understanding the benefits of a life in Christ.  For example, Proverbs 3:7 reads, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.”  One of the better known Proverbs is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  This is the provision of God.  The Psalmist  teaches of the protection of God.  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

We are freed for joyful obedience as the Holy Spirit works within us and our will is the same as His will.  As we obey God, we receive His blessings of provision and protection.  We most certainly will still have adversity, but we can be comforted that the battle is not ours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 2:15).   What a friend we have in Jesus!

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us dear Lord for not being an obedient church.  Pardon us for our sins and transgressions against you.  Renew in us a pure heart that seeks to obey and please 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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Who Do You Listen To?

Who Do You Listen To?

Who Do You Listen To?

“Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say” (Isaiah 28:23 NIV).

Listening is essential to learning.  I hear many voices, especially on television, but I don’t really listen to them.  I hear them but am not listening.  I feel that much, if not all, of what they have to say is not important and/or is too depressing or divisive.  The story of The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 is a powerful reminder of the importance to listen to Jesus.

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”

There are many pieces of this story that are important for us to understand.  One particular area of interest to me is that Peter offered to put up shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijiah. surely did this out of love and respect for them all.   It is noteworthy that the following verse is the voice of God saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Listen to Him!”  The last three words particularly resonate with me – “Listen to Him.”  The disciples fall facedown to the ground and later arise and only Jesus is present.

I wonder if the words and timing of God’s words were meant to not only send a message to Peter but to all of us.  Perhaps that message is do not put good men on the same level as Jesus.  Do not worship your pastor, the preacher on television, or your favorite football player.  They are merely men and as such are sinners and no better than anybody else.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

This story reminds me of the first public miracle of Jesus.  The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.  Many of us know this story and marvel at this.  The part of the story that stands out for me is what his mother said to the servants when she noticed they had no wine.  “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  The counsel of a mother is always wise, especially that of Jesus.  I wonder how simple and blessed my life would be if I followed the advice that God gave to Peter and Mary gave to the servants.   Listen for His voice and be blessed my friends.

Prayer:  Dear God, There are some many voices competing for our attention. Help us to avoid anything that hinders our ability to hear Your still, silent voice. 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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    What Motivates You?
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Owners and Stewards

Owners and Stewards

Owners and Stewards

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10 NIV).

Stewardship at most churches is an awkward topic because most of us look at it as a means to give up “our” money.  We all have worked hard for our money and naturally want to protect it, which is in fact good stewardship.  According to a recent article in Church Leaders, Christians are now giving at 2.5% of their income but gave 3.3% during the Great Depression.   Both of these numbers are sad and do not reflect the Biblical instruction from Malachi 3:10 “bring the full tithe into the storehouse.”  However, isn’t it human nature during times of great stress to either grow closer to God or further away?  Clearly, God wants us to grow closer but not all of us do.  God has already given us victory in times of adversity.  His promise to Moses was passed on to Joshua.  Similarly, His promises as detailed in scripture are still as relevant today as they were in the beginning of time.  “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

So, what does this have to do with stewardship?  First, we must understand what is a steward and what is an owner.   Owners have rights, but stewards have responsibility.  We are stewards with all of our belongings, even our money and children.  James 1:17 beautifully expounds upon this idea.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).  So, it is clear we are stewards for God, and all that we have and see belongs to Him.  “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s… And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. (Leviticus 27: 30, 32)

A steward lives for the day he will return the Master’s goods to Him.  A good example is The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.  The third servant was given one talent (bag of gold) and the other two were given more.  The other two wisely invested their master’s money and returned the original money to the master along with the interest which greatly pleased the master.  The third servant greatly displeased the master because he had hidden the money in a hole and only had the original amount to return to the master.

Is there a lesson for us from the third servant? Perhaps we should see that our view of God will determine the choices we make. Do we see Christ as “a hard man” with unfair expectations of us? (Matthew 25: 24).  If so, it will lead us to live in fear.  It is important to note that the money that was given to the servants was not their own.  Also, the interest they earned with the capital was not theirs to keep. The servants were only stewards of the master’s investment, and it is the quality of their stewardship that the master sought to measure.

Isn’t it interesting that the ancient word for the weight of gold was “talent.”  Today, we consider a talent to be our skills and abilities.  We all have unique talents.   We should maximize the use of our talents (money, skills, time, witness, etc.) not for our own selfish purposes, but to honor God. The Parable of the Talents is not about salvation or works righteousness, but about how we use our work to fulfill our earthly callings.  The unfaithful steward in this parable didn’t waste the master’s money but rather he wasted an opportunity.  As a result, he was judged wicked and lazy.  We are responsible for what we do for God with what we have been given, and one day we will all be looking for the narrow gate and pass on the right side with the sheep.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to realize that everything that we have, including our financial resources, is a gift from You. May we be good stewards of all that we have. Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!

    Evil Is Happening in Our Churches!
    “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good  (Romans 12:9 NIV).
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Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24 NIV).

If you are like me, you enjoy a quiet and peaceful evening to rest and renew yourself. Noise fills our days from the time the alarm clock goes off to evening commute home. There is something special about quiet that appeals to many of us. Below are five benefits to setting aside some quiet time each day.

1) Peace:  There is a peace that comes upon us when we embrace the quiet and stop with our typical busy work. Palm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God is encouraging us to be still and take comfort in the fact that He is our God and I am eternally grateful for His peace.

2) Discernment: How can you expect to hear the whisper of God when there is so much background noise? One of the most important — but most difficult tasks for us as Christians — is to continually discern the will of God for us in our lives. Discernment is accomplished through many means: worship, scripture and fellowship with fellow Christians. However, discernment is also accomplished by quietly meditating and waiting for the Lord to speak to you. Recall the message about waiting from Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

3) Retreat and Pray:  Jesus frequently withdrew from people to be alone with the Father and pray. Jesus’ solitude is a major component in the Gospels.  Jesus showed us the importance of being alone with God to pray and to listen.

4) Mental Focus:  Quiet time helps recharge your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. If we can use the quiet time to “silence” our minds, it allows us to be able to listen and wait for God to move in response to a prayer or question.

5) Connect to Nature:  “I believe that God is most evident in nature. The landscapes throughout the world are His canvas and His work is beautiful. It is always special for me to retreat to nature and connect to God.  Jesus did not find an empty house to pray.  He retreated to be in nature among God’s creation to pray to the Father.

Prayer:  Dear God, I pray that all reading this article find quiet time each day for self renewal, prayer, and listen to God. Do not grow discouraged if you do not immediately hear from God. Be patient and remember Isaiah 40:31-1, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  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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Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes

Open My Eyes

“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 title of this blog makes me recall the two men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  After walking and talking with Him all day, they did not know they were with the Risen Christ.   It was not until He had joined them for dinner at the end of the day that their eyes were opened.  “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” (Luke 24:30-32).    I wonder how many times has Christ walked with me and I have failed to see Him?  It is easy for me to look back and give thanks and acknowledge His help but my eyes are often not on Him during a storm.  I realize that wherever I go and whatever I do, Christ is with me.  His presence is in my heart and that is a covenant from Holy Scripture.  “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

How about the woman at the well?  She spoke with Jesus at length, but she failed to recognize Him.  He told her many things about herself so she assumed he must be a prophet.  Her final words to Him are significant to me.  In John 4:25 we learn, “The woman said, ‘I know that the Messiah” (called Christ) is coming.  When He comes, He will explain everything to us.'”  I have often read this Scripture and thought – how can this woman not realize that she is speaking to Jesus?  I now realize how many times have I sat through a sermon and left and not realized that Christ was speaking to me?  Or how many times have I denied assistance to a beggar, the homeless, or the “least” of society and violated His instructions in Matthew 25:40?  We are proud to realize that Christ is in us and we are in Him.  We may even realize that He walks with us.  However, it is also important to realize that Christ is in all of us.  I pray that He opens my eyes to His presence in myself and others, and I treat everybody with the respect and kindness befitting that of a King.  Be blessed and open your eyes to the love, beauty, and grace of God that is in and around you.

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that you also walk with us today just as you did on the road to Emmaus. Send your Holy Spirit to open our eyes and explain the Scriptures as we read them. Amen.

Meet the Author

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

We welcome your comments below.

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

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What is Truth?

What is Truth?

What is Truth?

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).

In today’s society there is a constant battle over the truth.  I wonder how can something so simple as the truth be so difficult to understand and agree upon.  Facts are disputed, alternative facts are presented, and various groups all claim to have the truth regarding any issue: social, financial, medical, and even spiritual.

You will never grow closer to Christ unless you understand the truth. Growth requires truth.  We might disagree on how to best grow a flower.  Some will argue for fertilizer, others for water, and others for more or less sunlight.   I look at today’s problems and then ponder on Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Pontius Pilate was not a Christian and this was clearly evident when he said to Jesus “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

One of the more well-known statements of Jesus was, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  The truth brings with it freedom.   We all seek freedom but struggle with the truth when it is so plainly evident.  Jesus told Thomas about truth.  “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  We can argue about truth in many aspects of life, but when it comes to Christianity it is clear that Jesus is the truth. 

I think one of the hardest things for any of us to do is an honest self-assessment.  We frequently lie to ourselves or try to justify our actions and thoughts, but we know they are not really true.  As a disciple our goal is to grow closer to Christ.  The truth is that our earthly bodies are inherently sinful and to know Christ is to know the truth and to live in His word.   You can trust his Word.  His Word is the Bible, and it contains the truth to prepare us to live as disciples.  “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).  

There is one God, one Son, and one Holy Spirit.  The truth is that Jesus died for your sins and mine.  “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” (Romans 10:9). This is the truth.  This is the promise of God.  This is Holy Scripture. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to always seek refuge in Your truth. Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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

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Healing A Broken Relationship

Healing A Broken Relationship

“If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God” (Matthew 5:23-24 NIV).

One thing that is as certain as death and taxes is that others will let us down.  This can take many forms such as someone not living up to their end of an agreement, spreading gossip or taking advantage of our friendship.  It is natural to be offended in these situations. In contrast, the Bible says:  “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense”  (Proverbs 19:11).

God considers our relationships with others to be of vital importance. In fact, we are told to restore our broken relationships before worship. God desires our hearts more than anything and He knows that if we are in conflict with another person then our heart is not receptive to the Word. We are instructed in Matthew 5:23-24, “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”

God clearly wants us to take the initiative to heal a broken relationship. This desire is regardless if you are the offender or the offended.  Procrastination or waiting for the other person to make the first move will not work. This will only serve to deepen the resentment. Time heals many things — but not a broken relationship.

It is also important to act quickly to reduce the spiritual damage to yourself. The Bible tells us that unresolved conflict blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered. This is why Jesus commands us to restore our broken relationships before we worship. Job’s friends reminded him, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do,” (Job 5:2) and, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger,” (Job 18:4).  It has often been said that when you forgive someone, the prisoner you set free is yourself.

So, how do I resolve my conflict?  First, pray for God’s guidance and His words and His ears as you enter into the meeting with the other. Pray for the other person. The best meetings that yield the best fruit happen when all parties are at their best. So, avoid a meeting time in which either of you are rushed, tired, sick, distracted, or likely to be interrupted.  If your one-on-one meeting is unsuccessful then bring in a third party to help you resolve the conflict.  Matthew 18:16 teaches, “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  Jesus felt so strongly about resolving the conflict that he even offered another more extreme option if the meeting with the third party was unsuccessful.  “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17).

As for myself, there’s no question that the bottom line is summed up in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Sometimes we have done all we can do, and we move on and pray God’s blessing be on the other person.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to forgive others as You have forgiven 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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Christian Leadership at Home

Christian Leadership at Home
Christian Leadership at Home

Christian Leadership at Home

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV).

Men have been appointed by God as the head of the home. I understand that many women find this troubling and the Bible is full of stories of courageous women that have served the body of Christ. The truth is that many men have done a terrible job of leading their house in any capacity, particularly spiritually. Many men are not even physically present in the home or if so, they do not recognize Jesus as their Lord and savior and will not even attend church on Sunday.

A real man should be a provider. He provides identify to his family. It is his responsibility to let children know that they belong.  As men, we love projects.  We love to build something and to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Most men enjoy working with their hands and tend not be comfortable speaking to a group of strangers, especially about their faith.  We have many large tasks that we want to accomplish in life – pay off the mortgage, raise our children to love God and their neighbor, get promoted at work to get the coveted corner office, etc.  

A man who is also head of household gives direction and also serves as the spiritual head of the family.  A man should also be a protector. This is not simply physically protecting the family from harm, but also setting boundaries to safeguard the family from evil. The man is the professor of the family. He professes over the family and professes his faith.  

He teaches life skills to his children on how to endure hardship and builds up their confidence.  A real man will teach his son how to respect and love women. A man is the priest of his house. He is called to be the spiritual leader in the family. The grandfather should always be the priest at a family fathering. This means leading the family in prayer, scripture and blessing his children and grandchildren.

A man who is also head of household gives direction and also serves as the spiritual head of the family. A man should also be a protector. This is not simply physically protecting the family from harm, but also setting boundaries to safeguard the family from evil. The man is the professor of the family. He professes over the family and professes his faith.  He teaches life skills to children on how to endure hardship and builds up their confidence.  A real man will teach his son how to respect and love women. A man is the priest of his house. He is called to be the spiritual leader in the family. The grandfather should always be the priest at a family fathering. This means leading the family in prayer, scripture and blessing his children and grandchildren.

St. Paul detailed his instructions for Christian households in Ephesians 5:21-33.

21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

I feel that this scripture has often been taken out of context and has been used to make wives feel subordinate to women.  God has indeed appointed men as the head of the house but that does not make women subservient.  God and Jesus are equal but Jesus was subservient to the Father.  Recall when Jesus said, “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

God wants husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church.”  I had a woman tell me recently, “if my husband were to love me as Christ loved the church, then I could submit to that all day long.” What I heard from this woman is that her husband is not honoring her. Honor is critical for a marriage and it must be freely given by both.  Husbands must love their wives “as they love their own bodies.” A husband who is not loving his wife is not loving himself because upon marriage, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So, if your wife has a problem, you have a problem. If she needs love, you need love.

Marriage is a Holy Sacrament from God and every Christian marriage contains a husband, wife, and God. The husband must respect his wife but he must show her and his family that his primary responsibility is to God. When anything or anyone else becomes our primary focus, we are worshipping a false god and not adhering to the first Commandment in Exodus 20.

Husbands, you have been given much responsibility.  Recall the words of Luke 12:48,  “to whom much is given, much will be required.” You will be held accountable for your leadership of your house. In order to lead like Jesus, you must be a servant like Jesus.  A wife is to be honored, respected, and loved.  I want every husband when he joins the cloud of witnesses to be greeted by “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Prayer:  Dear God, May we always love our wives as Christ loves His church. 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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Use Your Words to Build Up the Body of Christ

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21 KJV).

We all say things that we regret and wish we could take back. Our words will invariably hurt somebody’s feelings and cause pain. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  The tongue is a symbol of life or death “Our words can be used to share the Good News with others or tear down the Body of Christ.

The Bible explains that what comes out of your mouth is simply what is in your mind, (Proverbs 12:18Proverbs 26:28).  James 3:5-6 explains the importance of the tongue:  “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The above passage spurred me to look inward.  I sometimes do a poor job of reflecting on Matthew 12:36 before I speak,  “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

A better use of our words is described in Romans 4:17.  It says that God “speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.”  That’s called speaking in faith — you announce it in order to experience it. Your words reflect your faith, which is critical to a strong prayer life. Matthew 21:22 reads, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

I admire people who have the spiritual gift of faith.  I certainly have faith in God and love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind (Matthew 22:37). I want to tell it like it could be, like it ought to be and like I think God wants it to be. I get too easily frustrated and begin to lean on my own understanding and then wonder why my path is not straight. I do not particularly enjoy a ministry that ONLY “tells it like it is” about the world. There are a lot of things in the world that are bad. Clergy and laity that only focus on the problems and not the opportunities are negative and depressing. They are in the “tell-it-like-it-is” business.  This does nothing to build up The Body of Christ.  A better option is to tell it like it could be! This brings life and hope to people.

For example, you could say to someone, “You’re a lousy husband and you don’t spend enough time with your family.” However, any label — positive or negative — will reinforce the behavior.  I think a better option might be, “I see enormous potential in you. I urge you to let Jesus Christ into your heart and become the godly man that I know you can be.” That’s the kind of talk that builds up others and motivates change! Speak it in advance and speak it in faith!

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to use words that build up the Body of Christ and bring honor and glory 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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Stealing' Credit From God

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“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV).

As a young man I was proud of ‘my’ accomplishments. I worked hard, graduated, and got a job.   I bought a nice house and we had a nice summer vacation. I was proud of “my” accomplishments for the first 40 years of my life. “It was at this age that I was a pilgrim on the Walk to Emmaus and my eyes were opened to who I was and to Whom I belong. I still enjoyed my work, but I began to engage in a much more fulfilling work – helping to build God’s kingdom on earth.

The number 40 has special significance in the Bible. In the Old Testament, when God destroyed the Earth with water, He caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12). After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks (Acts 7:30). Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:1825). The Israelites wandered for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-5). In the New Testament, Jesus was tempted after fasting for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3). There are other examples, but I don’t think God wants us to dwell on the number 40 or any other subliminal messages that some believe to be in the Bible.

I realize that all of us have been given fruits of the Spirit.  I was blessed by the opportunities I was presented with, and blessed with the ability to be successful in those opportunities; I now realize that all my blessings are from God. St. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 1:4-5: “I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.” I now realize that anything good I have accomplished has been because of His grace, and anything bad that I have done has been because I have lived in the flesh and not in the Spirit. The greatest blessing you can receive is to be a blessing to others. Apart from Christ, we are nothing. But through Him, all things are possible. So give credit where credit is due. Your accomplishments and mine are from the generous blessings of God.  Be thankful and be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us when we claim credit for ourselves. Help us realize that every good and perfect gift is from Your hand. 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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