Archives for posts with tag: Paul

Care2Share Blog

There are some people who just don’t seem to get things right when it comes to sharing matters of faith. They are standoffish. They can’t help but come across as judgmental and the “know-it-all type.” And they always carry that air of superiority about them. In one word, they are obnoxious. This type of behavior is so prevalent in our days that it would do us all a lot of good if we read these words about 10 non-obnoxious ways to share your faith.

I find it amazing that Paul, who nowadays is often accused of being somewhat of a bully because of his strong views, was bold but not brash when it came to his witness. He never ran away from telling the truth, but he did it in a way that drew the listeners in. Paul was a genius when it comes to sharing truth with sensitivity to an often hostile crowd.

Two examples. The first one comes from Acts 17. When Paul was in Athens his heart was stirred by the number of idols he saw in the city. The word in the Greek is very strong. You could say that the multiplicity of idols and shrines in the city upset him. He was more than a little annoyed. He was terribly upset.

But when he had a chance to speak to the people, he didn’t start out by saying, “You bunch of idol-worshipers, worthless idolaters Athenians. How can you believe in the sort of nonsense I saw around your city?” Rather, Paul kept his revolting heart in check and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all things.” Really? Then he goes on to use the very fact that they had an altar to an “unknown God” to announce to them that this God they worship without knowing is the true God, the creator of the universe. What a lesson in magnanimity that should be to us!

The second example comes from Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas were in the pagan city of Lystra. While there, Paul healed a man who had been crippled. When the crowd saw this, the people rushed to bow before the apostles, worshiping them, and even attempting to offer some bulls in sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. Being good Jews they were, these two men were outraged. They tore their clothes and started running among the people asking them to stop that nonsense.

When the crowd finally calmed down, instead of engaging in a vituperating speech about how blasphemous their behavior was, when Paul began to speak, the first words out of his mouth were, “Friends, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings like you.” Then he went on to present to them the true God their hearts should go after. Notice, there is not even a hint of superiority in Paul’s opening statement.

The reason Paul could be so kind even in the face of some most egregious religious behavior, I believe, is because the living Christ was living in him. And Paul was interested in presenting the Person of salvation first before he presented the plan of salvation. Paul was displaying the kind of behavior that genuine Christ-followers should show before a world that is skeptical. The plan of salvation without the reality of the Person of salvation living within us is just noise and often that noise is annoying.

Learn how to share the Person of salvation before you present the plan of salvation this Sunday as we continue our series we are calling “Care 2 Share.”

Hope to see you there,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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“So back then, what did you have to do to get your name into the pages of Scriptures?”  Somebody may ask.

“Well, what about a nasty little feud?”

That seemed to have worked for the second and third most famous women of Philippians. I am speaking of Euodia and Synthyche, since the most famous one is, no doubt, Lydia, though she is not even mentioned in the book. She is only prominent in Acts 16 as one of the charter members of the church in Philippi. Here is the little we know about these other two women:

1. They were saved. Paul says that their names were in the Book of Life. Warning: some people get saved but still continue to be nasty… what a shame.

2. They had previously labored side by side with Paul in the work of the Gospel. Yes, several women in the Bible exercised influential gifts in the early church.

3. They had a falling away. We should not be surprised if at times we come to disagree with other believers. No one is perfect and we need to learn to expect conflict and deal with it in a godly manner.

4. They had not been able to reconcile, in spite of the fact, (and here I am making an assumption), that previous attempts had been made.

Then a letter arrives from Paul by the hands of Epaphroditus. Now picture a pastor getting up to the pulpit and calling out the names of people who were misbehaving in the church. That’s similar to what happened here. The whole church assembles to read Paul’s letter. There was only one copy and it had to be read orally by one of the few people who knew how to read and write. It is possible that Epaphroditus himself was the one who read it aloud.

Everything is going fine until the beginning of the last chapter when the name calling begins: “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:2-3).

Suddenly, two women rise up and leave the house where they were meeting, using opposite exits… Just kidding! I hope that instead they were moved by contrition (maybe a little dose of shame too) and decided to bury the hatchet. We don’t know what happened, but Paul certainly believed in the strong possibility that reconciliation could and should happen. But we will only know when we get to heaven, will we not? Sure, I will look them up and ask, “Did you guys work it out?”

We learn here that when trying to bring about reconciliation, it is good to remind people of their good past, especially if they labored together for the greatest cause there is. It is also paramount to treat people with respect. Notice that Paul was gentle even in his rebuke of the women. Finally, it helps to remind people that they share the same destiny. Why waste our time in needless arguing here on earth if we are going to share quarters in the heavenly dwellings anyway?

This is only one of the “Love’s Commands” we will study about this Sunday as we close our series in the little book of Philippians. Come expectantly and behave. Or I will call you out!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”  (Philippians 1:29).

Privilege to suffer? According to whom?

Most of us come to Christ expecting only blessings. After all, we heard the “sales pitch,” didn’t we? “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” And isn’t the very definition of “Gospel” good news?

But is that all? Let’s look at that verse in Philippians again. The text literally says, “It has been gifted to you, on behalf of Christ, both to believe and to suffer.” The word translated “gifted” is the same one as the word “grace.” Charis in the Greek.  So is the gospel good news and bad news at the same time?

Well, in a sense, yes. The gospel is good news of salvation for those who believe. It is the greatest news any time anywhere. Through Jesus Christ we can experience forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life beyond the grave. That is awesome news. But it doesn’t mean that we are immune from suffering. Jesus said, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

The early Christians never expected a trouble free life on the way to paradise. They were fully aware that following Christ was a two-sided gift, on the one hand, victory; on the other, vexation. And they fully embraced both aspects of the Gospel.

In fact, the Apostle Peter warned the believers not to be surprised when they faced persecution, “… as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, 13). So why do we act surprised when we face trials and tribulations? Jesus never said we were only going to have feast and jubilation. He also spoke of trials and tribulation. And He Himself experienced that. So did Paul. So did all 12 Apostles, who all died a martyr’s death, except John, who died in prison on the Island of Patmos.

The fact is that there has never been a time in the history of humanity when followers of Christ have been more severely attacked than now. Christians are suffering under the brutal hands of radical Islam in so many countries. Zealot Hindus are also targeting Christians. Christians in Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, India, etc. have had their houses of worship burned and people have been frequently, brutally assaulted and murdered in the most vicious manners imaginable.

This Sunday we will remember to pray for the Persecuted Church as we continue to study the little book of Philippians. To prepare your heart, I encourage you to visit the following sites and educate yourself about the plight of the suffering church.

Resources:

I have also written in the past about this topic, if you want to check it:

As you pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith, remember the words of the author of Hebrews: “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (Hebrews 13:3).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade