"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." NASB
To the people near you . . . “give grace”.
Although this writing was for a church assembling together, I encourage you to apply this attitude wherever you go. Better yet — wherever you are; as God calls you to face an emptiness, longing, or sought-after confirmation within our living of this world.
I was extremely tempted to write about giving thanks but since a lot of people will be emphasizing thanksgiving I chose this. (But do be thankful for what you have. It always helps).
Be a giver of Grace. Not to horn-in on a conversation or control it; which is a great temptation.
Not to make sure you give the last word, having the last gotcha.
Only to bring a right-placed word, if needed.
In these “Covid times” a well-placed word might be wanted and needed. And you might be the right person to speak that word.
Jude is tucked away at the close of the New Testament, just in front of Revelation. When perusing through the Bible don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It is 1 chapter in length, sincerely compelling us to “contend for our Faith”. But the word “contend” is used in many translations. It is defined as an ongoing effort, a struggle — I think upwards or uphill against gravity like climbing a mountain, with thorn bushes and obstacles along the path — towards a goal. This goal is knowable, defined and is obtainable, reachable.
Jude’s unction for writing is to preserve a genuine Faith, the True Faith. Giving examples of how God rewards the faithful he then begins a laundry list of worldly ideas. Sometimes to know what it is we a talking about we take a look at what it is not. I wish we could do without this but to know the True Faith it is sometimes good to remind ourselves what to stay away from. This litany seems to drag on but verse 17 turns a corner.
In verse 20 you look to yourself and in prayer in the Holy Spirit you “strengthen” yourself. Do not turn aside but keep the goal in mind. Continue to tread towards the summit.
To carry this Faith you must know what the task is. And use the Faith you already possess. Could it be you are honing your Faith? Like a pilot of an airplane flying to a destination making course changes along the way. At takeoff the heading is established but nudges are needs to stay on course. The Faith is summed up pretty well in Matthew 5.
Another practical application in these Covid 19 times is to watch yourself and stay healthy. Watch how often you expose yourself to catching this disease or spread it to others. I live in New York State and Gov. Cuomo has become the herald for lowering the transmission of Covid. I applaud this attitude, others do not, which is their right to choose. But for you: you take responsibility for your health and the health of people around you.
The voids inside oneself from social distancing can become a time to deepen your relationship to God.
Evagrios the Solitary, also known as Evagrius of Pontus
Lived 346 – 399CE (disputable) as an early ascetic pioneer
Texts on Discrimination in Respect of Passions and Thoughts
Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom. Then there will be a union between it [this freedom] and us, and thereafter it will be our guardian, showing us each thing that we must uproot. But if we do not obey our conscience, it will abandon us and we shall fall into the hands of our enemies, who will never let us go. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: ‘Come to an agreement with your adversary quickly while you are with him in the road, lest he hand you over to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer and you are cast into prison (Matt. 5:25). The conscience is called an ‘adversary’ because it opposes us when we wish to carry out the desires of our flesh; and if we do not listen to our conscience, it delivers us into the hands of our enemies.
Can you see we are at war with the adversary tiny? The “unseen enemy” is upon us. Watch our flanks. No, the enemy is directly ahead. It’s within our ranks, one of us has succumbed. What are we to do now. Don’t let down your guard.
CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!! (Thank you, Professor Moody.)
“The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message. . .” Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton is portrayed as owning a great joy. In Dialogues With Silence, a book of Merton’s writings and drawings, Jonathan Montaldo, editor, embodies Merton’s thoughts. And captures the “joy” surrounding Merton with Merton’s own words:
A verse to help us “cope and not loose hope” during this time “Covid 19”.
Prayer – there is more to prayer than God answering a list of wants and needs. Try listening to God and meditative prayer.
Watchful – The early church faced opponents of the New Faith on the block, yet they were preaching and teaching. How about us — be sensitive to the times — help stop the spread of Covid 19 and you may also meet someone who needs to see your Faith.
Thankful – take time to list, mentally or on paper, what you have to be grateful for.
[paraphrasing] This age will pass away but use the things of this world “lightly”, do not put your trust in them but trust God.
Advertising is meant to grab and hold the human attention; and usually works very well. Which is why advertisers continue, endlessly with their ads.
Buy this. Do that. You can’t live without this! Be happy, spend money.
Amongst many of the ‘worldly pulls,’ Christians are to live ‘apart’ from worldly things — Ideas, religions, philosophies, societal rituals. . . Holiday traditions, family traditions, and the notion, “When in Rome do as Romans do”. . . Cars, airplanes, other physical items too numerous to mention.
The things of this world help us in our daily living
The Jesus – God relationship is what our relationship (you and me) is to reflect.
Also Philippians 2:3
John 17, verses 11 and 22
Submission: one of the more difficult areas of Faith. Submit to a group, organization, individual person, God alone. What is God’s will? How is it qualified, quantified? Confusion and competition when so many people and organizations want our attention, obedience.
I foster the personal side of our relationship with God; where God communicates with us (substitute the word “me” for “us”) directly, unencumbered, open, raw — a relationship available for believers and non-believers, on an individual level. (Admittedly, it would be hard for an unbeliever to have this personal thing going on while not believing).
I consider this relationship:
higher – it lives in Heaven above Earthly standards more important – directly influencing deeper – the most meaningful our story – what we were meant for further – wears better, like some old tattered jeans more encompassing – a relationship without bounds beyond – not held by Earthly bonds
Example: As a Christian Musician, an ability not mentioned very much in this blog, I run across songs and instrumentals, or let’s say, ‘some melodies with words attached’ and ‘melodies without words’. I am inspired by both! and I know both would be inspiring to Christians in the context of worship. Yet when meeting with church musicians and pastors, I usually discover a much different view of which piece of music is “inspiring”, with the vast majority are “melodies with words attached”. It causes me to wonder if we are losing the art of instrumental music in our worship services?
Do I listen to what I deem an “urging”, the call of the “Spirit within”, or not?