I Commend to You – by Pastor John

Romans 16:1   I commend to you…

In our bi-weekly BLC coffee, and in our Wednesday prayer gathering, this chapter has been recently spotlighted. It seems fitting to look again here, and share another lesson for our life in Christ.

First, read this chapter. Don’t get hung up on pronunciations of the names – just notice the number of greetings Paul extends. Some of these folks we “met” in the pages of the New Testament, passingly known by us. Others are presented only here; complete unknowns. They are known by Paul, and better yet, the Lord Jesus. They are called out for faith, service, and commitment to their particular church family.

Today, many tightly-held untruths stall out believers:

  • Professionals must do the work of ministry.
  • Attendance is optional; anonymity is important for attendees.
  • Not every believer has gifts and talents. If possessing any, use is not necessary.
  • I’m not led. God will move someone else to pray, worship, give, work, and go.
  • “Join” where all is provided; never look for a body that needs your part.

While these falsehoods barely scratch the surface, they serve as contrast to what Paul shares about those he greets in chapter 16. These friends are vital, active, contributing, encouraging and fellowshipping members of their local bodies God has placed them in (see 1 Cor. 12!).

There’s one last thing I’ll note about Paul’s diverse circle of friends. They labored for the Lord, and were not concerned with spotlights and visibility. They served, like millions of the Lord’s beloved still do, quietly fulfilling their work. They served their Master with joy and gladness, content with His approval as their reward. They loved one another, amid all the various backgrounds, personalities, and giftedness. They wanted Christ glorified, in and through His Body of which they ALL were a part.

May we be an “additional paragraph” to Romans 16, commended for our vital part in His Body called Cornerstone.

Loose Lips Sink Ships – by Pastor Greg

If anyone is a student of history, you probably have heard of this phrase. It was coined by the US Office of War Information during World War II in an attempt to keep people from sharing useful information to spies who would be listening to casual conversation. The idea was careless words, i.e. loose lips, would undermine the war effort, i.e. sinking of ships. The British version was “Careless Words Costs Lives”. There were enemy agents that gathered useful information from unsuspecting citizens who shared important details that was then used against the allies. Thus, the charge was to be careful what you talked about, especially in places that others may be listening. The things that you said could be used for nefarious purposes. 

The concept of those phrases still holds true to this day. Careless speech can have detrimental effects, in a myriad of circumstances. Many embarrassing situations have been created by a careless phrase, friendships have been impacted, children hurt by a word spoken in anger and the list could go on and on. Our speech is a gift from God. Of all the creatures made by God, only man has the ability to communicate in such detail through the spoken word. When God created man, He made him in His own image and that included the ability to communicate at a high level. This ability included the spoken word. When one looks at the various languages in the world, we see incredible complexity. Languages are varied and each one has its own unique system of communicating concepts, both concrete and abstract. Some of the most complex languages are spoken by the most technologically primitive people on the planet. Yet in each case, God desires the use of words to be that which builds others up rather than tearing down.

Ephesians 4:29 states, “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.” Also, Ephesians 5:18-19: “And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord.” In both these passages the emphasis is on the spoken word. Each time a word passes our lips, it should be for the benefit of others and be guided by the Spirit of God. That’s a tall order! So, I have to ask myself a question: is what I’m about to say useful or destructive? What about when I just want to “get it off my chest” or I’m “just venting”? This is not to say we shouldn’t be able to talk with a close friend or our spouse, but even there we must control our tongue.

Recall the first part of the phrase previously quoted. “Loose lips” that is, words that are carelessly flung about without any thought to the consequences. How often do I speak before engaging my brain? Am I aware of what I’m saying and how it can be perceived or received? This means we must be aware of our speech and the context in which we speak. We are the ones who are responsible for what we say, and what we say can cause harm regardless of what the children’s rhyme may imply – “sticks and stones…”

Known for Giving – by Pastor John

…Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a bond-servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2:5b-7

You perhaps have had occasion to clean out a residence due to a move or a passing. There is frequently a lot of interest and participation, because most of us are intrigued by looking at stuff. There’s often a sale and a dumpster brought in early on. I’ve noticed there can be a lot of sighs and shaking heads from the workers lugging out the stuff.

Do you have a lot of stuff? Comparatively speaking, we in North America are a people of accumulation. You may attest to shuffling boxes from residence to residence, and never even opening them in between moves. Sometimes the accumulation slips into hyper-drive, and tends more toward hoarding. Then, with an intervention and a few phone calls, you might get to be on TV.

Jesus, as we reflect on His first coming to earth in this season of light, was noted for laying down His “stuff” to be on mission here. Yes, He was fully man and yet fully God. He voluntarily set aside attributes and the heavenly abode, to come humbly to this planet to serve, suffer for, and save – us.

As I reflect on my Lord’s coming, I do so with profound awe. Because of His great love, He gave His very life to restore us in fellowship with God that we had destroyed because of our sin. It’s good to note that we remember particularly what Jesus gave; there is never any celebration over what He held on to and would not give.

I find a simple deep lesson in this passage to begin my Advent season in this 61st year of my sojourn here. I too want to be remembered for what I gave, not for what I clung to. No one will ever celebrate over my accumulation one day, but they may celebrate what I gave in Jesus’ Name.

Perhaps that would be a good thing for us all to reach for. Scriptures abound to this point, but my space is up. May the Lord highlight this truth for our lives as we observe life, and as we read from His Holy Word.

Tis the season of giving. Christ gave so we could be free to receive, and then to give, in Jesus’ Name.