Christianity 201

April 25, 2018

Giving to Get

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:35 pm
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NIV Luke 14.12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Today we’re back with Mayfield, Kentucky pastor and counselor Josh Ketchum. Click the title below to read at source.

Life in the Kingdom

Why do we do what we do? Most things we do with an expectation of getting something in return.

Consider these questions . . .

Why did you have the last people over to your house? Why did you give your wives flowers for your anniversary? What was your expectation when you helped a poor person with gas? What was your expectation when you mowed the yard for a neighbor when he was sick?

What were you expecting? Why did you serve them? What was the repayment you were hoping to get?

Jesus gives us a challenging principle in Luke 14:12-14. He says for us to have a dinner and not invite our friends or family. Don’t invite those who have wealth or those similar to you that will “pay” you for the invitation. He says rather to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” The reason you will be blessed is because they “cannot repay you.” In fact, you may not receive any earthly payment or satisfaction, but you will be “repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Who loves like that? What if we did? What if we loved simply to love. What if we let our expectations of what we will (or should) get out of it go?

It would transform our relationships and our attitudes.

Consider these thoughts . . .

What if I loved my wife today without expecting anything, but only offering to her my service and complete acceptance for who she is? It would foster sincere and true love in our marriage. It would free her and me to love, rather than acting out of fear and pressure.

What if I chose to invite people to my home who are different from me, who I don’t really know, but people whom need a friend and whom I haven’t really learned their story?

What if I chose to love others in my family in a way that communicates I respect who they are and the choices they make, rather than punishing them when they fail to meet my imposed expectations?

What if I sought to release my focus on what I get and chose to simply love for the sake of Jesus? Isn’t this the love of Christ? Christ’s love is unselfish and done without the expectation of payment. He loved us on Calvary’s cross, while we were his enemies (Rom. 5:8-10).

Consider your motives for your actions toward others. Choose to intentionally love others without the expectation of anything in return. Choose to love without expecting any repayment. Even take it one step farther, go find someone to love who can’t really give you anything (a young child, a poor stranger, or a elderly person). You will be blessed when you do!

NIV Romans 5.8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

July 12, 2017

Entertaining Angels

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Once again today we’re paying a return visit to Biblical Proof, the blog of Alfred Shannon, Jr. There are some great articles here I would love for you to read, but they’re longer than what we use here. Click this link to visit the site. Click the title below to read this one at source.

Entertaining Angels Unaware

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

Have you ever entertained an angel? How about a stranger or someone unknown to you who came on the scene with a special need? Maybe they had a physical, emotional or just a need for affirmation or acknowledgement. Perhaps they just needed a bite to eat or a place to lay their weary head. I know I have a few times, and I am always reminded of the Hebrew’s writer admonition to help all in need lest we also neglect God’s messengers without knowing it.

Who or what is an angel? The biblical definition of an angel is a messenger. A messenger sent for a variety of reasons with a specific purpose. Notice in our text, the entertainment of an angel comes in the form of hospitality. When one shows hospitality to someone sent by God he or she may be hosting an angel. Their purpose in presenting themselves is to give you the opportunity to be their host. Thereby you are doing God’s bidding.

The word “unawares” means it is likely you won’t know who or when this opportunity comes. Angels will also be unrecognizable. They may be disguised as someone you know or a complete stranger. Our response to this text should be, since we don’t who God is sending our way, be hospitable to everyone. Those who appeal and some who are not so appealing. Those who possess great wealth, and those with meager means. If you do not want to miss an opportunity to entertain a heavenly being do not ignore what may be their earthy manifestation. Don’t look for a being with wings or a halo, for that will never come. Look for one whose needs you are capable of meeting or ministering to. If you are one who practices hospitality to all, it is possible, even probable, that you have entertained an angel.

Remember the commandment given by the apostle Paul while writing to the Galatians. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). The lesson learned is: If you would help an angel of God, then by all means help all who are in need, especially the saints of God!


Why are the Bible quotes at C201 in green?

Ever broken up a small tree or sticks and been aware of the green color inside? Green shows that there is (or at least was!) life inside. That’s why we highlight scripture here in green. We want to show that while the words of the various writers whose material we borrow are helpful and instructive, it’s God’s Word that brings life.

September 19, 2016

What it Looks Like to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Today we’re introducing a new writer to you. Jonathan Parrish writes at Walking With Christ Daily, now in its 5th year. To read this at source and then check out their archives, click the title below.

How we can love our neighbor as yourself?

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

How are we to love our neighbor as ourselves? Some people have applied this to many things in life as lessons. From not judging others to giving to others, but what is a real way to love our neighbor as our self. I’m going to cover a few points that will help in a way that loving our neighbor as ourselves can have eternal and not just life impacts.

The first point I want to cover is looking out for needs of your neighbors, be it prayer, help during a rough financial patch, or even just talking to them. Neighbors can be more than just a literal neighbor it could be anyone you meet also.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

We should be fulfilling needs in our communities, friends, and family. If we truly want to love them as ourselves. And this is a just small way of meeting a physical need for someone. Especially if they don’t know Christ.

My second point is this. If you truly love someone like you love yourself, then guess what you will share the Gospel with them. The Gospel is the demonstration of love. So we should not be afraid to offend or be ashamed of the Gospel, but instead proclaim it to your community proclaim it everyone as you go about your daily life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1st Corinthians 1:18

We need to remember that someone in boldness shared the Gospel with us, know very well that we could reject it because we found it to be crazy or offending. They still did it because we are called to do that, but also because they loved you as much they loved themselves. So if we love someone as much as love ourselves then we won’t worry about our reputations, but instead will worry about the fact that neighbor, friend, family member is condemned to Hell.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

Last, if we love them as ourselves, we will grow and disciple them. We won’t leave them out there to dry. They need to be led and taught. They need to be grown in the likeness of Christ. We start with the basics and we work our way up. We don’t let them catch on in a more mature Sunday class or as they go. We take them one on one and show them how to have a quiet time, teach them what it means to be a Christian and prepare them to go out and share the Gospel with their neighbors.

So when we love each other as Jesus commanded us to, we meet physical needs with our neighbors, we share the Gospel with them, and once they come to salvation we help grow and disciple them into mature Christians. That is how we love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus proved it ultimately at the cross when He died for all of our sins and rose again. So get out there and love somebody this week.

September 7, 2013

Everyone Is Welcome

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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Occasionally I run into blogs that consist of pastors’ sermon notes involving churches that use the Lectionary as a guide to preaching. In these churches, the Evangelical concept of a sermon series in completely foreign; instead there are three or four prescribed readings for each Sunday, usually consisting an Old Testament reading, a Psalm , a selection from the gospels, and an excerpt from an Epistle.  (These vary somewhat by tradition and some denominations send out an amended version to their ministers.)  One of the texts is required to form the basis of the weekend sermon. I believe that’s the case with the blog ForeWords written by Rich Brown.  This one appeared recently there under the title All Are Welcome.  Click through to read at source (with pictures!) and discover more Lectionary based sermons.


Jeremiah 2:4–13; Psalm 81:1, 10–16; Hebrews 13:1–8, 15–16; Luke 14:1, 7–14

Any reading of the Gospels reveals this defining characteristic of Jesus: He loved a party. Of course, that raised more than a few eyebrows back then, as it does for many “good, church folks” today. Jesus was often confronted with the way he and his disciples comported themselves, in comparison especially to John the Baptist and his disciples. But Jesus was not John. His agenda and “gospel” was a different, yet related one. We pick up the action in chapter 14 of Luke’s Gospel:

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely…. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” –Luke 14:1, 7-14 NRSV

The rules for hospitality were pretty strict among the Jews of ancient Judea. An invitation to dinner required reciprocal treatment. Furthermore, there was a definite hierarchy as to who would get the place of honor. Characteristically, Jesus turned all that upside down. It’s not that he didn’t believe in being hospitable or valuing the practices of the day, although he was certainly known for bending rules (if not breaking them at times) when he felt the need. Most likely, though, Luke doesn’t share this little story to enlighten his readers/listeners on eating habits. No, I don’t think this is a story about eating and drinking and partying as much as it’s about who gets invited to Jesus’–and therefore God’s–table.

Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, Jesus tells his audience. And by doing so those issuing the invitation will be blessed. Here in the 21st century we would probably phrase it differently, with the familiar words “pay it forward” to be found somewhere in the mix. Jesus held a special place for those on the margins of his society, the people who were pretty much invisible to respectable folks. Those marginalized people weren’t important to Judea’s Roman occupiers, nor were they valued by Pharisees or Sadducees–or anybody intent on somehow ingratiating themselves with those groups.

What’s remarkable is to consider that the same sort of situation takes place today. We, too, have the rich and the powerful in charge of business, politics, and the social order. And although we have a far larger middle-class than in the first century of the Common Era, it’s also true that our North American middle-class is shrinking as the disparity between really rich and really poor increases.

The marginalized folks in Jesus’ day were identified as the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. To a certain extent we can start our 21st-century list of marginalized with those groups, too. But we can add many more: think of the massive numbers of people (especially in minority groups) who are in prison, those women and men and children who are denied access to adequate health care, the homeless, the hungry (which includes all those who are in various stages of being “food challenged”), immigrants (especially those who are “undocumented”) who live in an underground economy, many in the LGBT community, people who are denied their right to vote, and those stuck in generations-old cycles of poverty and ignorance and illiteracy.

If Jesus were to tell his parable today, he’d most likely include those groups in his list of marginalized. He’d probably have an even more extensive list. Coincidentally, [last] week marked the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. And, amazingly, on that anniversary date the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama, drew on King’s imagery in his own speech, which included these words:

“We must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks had joined the ranks of millionaires; it was whether this country would admit all people who were willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of a middle-class life. The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call—this remains our great unfinished business.”

The question for followers of Jesus in the 21st century remains: Who is invited to God’s banquet in the peaceable kingdom, the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven? Yes, this broad question includes some smaller ones: Who is welcome in our congregations? in our neighborhoods? in our towns and cities and suburbs? in our schools and businesses? ultimately, in our hearts and minds?

Jesus’ first and constant concern was for the marginalized. That would appear to be where we, who call ourselves followers and disciples of Christ, should begin as well.

May 10, 2012

Money and Wealth: It’s All His

Today we’re zooming in on part two of a two part series about money… so you might want to read part one.

[visual: me leaning on one foot, and then the other, waiting for your return]

…Okay, we’re back.  So you already know that this is by David P. Kreklau who combines something that sounds really exciting with something that sounds rather boring — he’s a CPA with the US Air Force.  Part two (click the title to link direct) is:

Awkward! …the Impact of Sovereignty on Our Money

Have you ever been in that awkward situation where somebody wants to give you money but you are embarrassed to receive it… or maybe you want to give money to someone but they are too embarrassed to take it?  As my daughter would say, it feels “awkward…!”

In my last blog I talked about how we take pride in our money and we allow it to bleed into our identity… making us feel like we have all the control over our money, which can create these awkward situations where we convey feelings of pride either in giving or receiving.

But the point I made was that God is sovereign over all things, including whatever it was that helped you obtain your wealth… whether your choices or upbringing, etc.  And therefore, whatever amount of money you have, that is what God has chosen to distribute to you.  Thus, you need not tie your identity to your wealth.

The Impact of Sovereignty

Here are some practical ways that this understanding should affect our money.

1)      Humility.  Knowing that it is God who distributes to whom He wills should disarm our pride over our wealth and lend us to feel humble in knowing that what we have is only of grace… not ourselves.  And let’s face it, we could all use more humility.

2)      Gratitude.  This humility should naturally flow into gratitude, recognizing that this grace is not deserved and that we actually deserve nothing.  Yet, God gives to us lavishly.

3)      Giving.  Just as we model everything we do after the Gospel of Jesus Christ – how He gave Himself for us when we deserved nothing good – we ought to give graciously to those in need, despite what they “deserve.”

4)      Stewardship/Redistribution.  Remember that since God decides in His sovereignty who gets what, then those who have been given much must remember that they have been given much for a reason.  You have been made a steward by God, and it is up to you to redistribute to those in need.  This is easier to do when you remember that it is not your money.  It is God’s… given to you to use for the kingdom in bringing about His good purposes.  This knowledge should also directly impact how you spend your money.

 5)      Receiving.  We need not feel embarrassed when receiving charity, as this is what God has appointed.  His way of you obtaining that money in this instance just happens to be a gift of love from someone as opposed to a wage.  Is there a better way of feeling the Gospel than receiving a gift instead of earning it yourself?

As you can see, this understanding of our wealth brings profound consequences to how we view money.  You can stop looking inward in terms of valuing yourself by your wealth and start looking outward by trying to breathe value into others.

If God gives abundantly to you, use that money to glorify Him.  If He gives you a nice home, use it to entertain in a Christ-exalting way.  If you are short of cash and someone helps you out, use that money to His glory and see the Christ-like quality of giving in that moment and worship Him.

If the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10)… then the love of each other will disarm that evil.

~David P. Kreklau