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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
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"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you" (Philippians 3:17). "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example" (2 Thessalonians 3:7a). "Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:6-8).
The entertainment industry has plunged to new lows in decadence as exemplified in an awards show this past weekend. However it seems that so many in our culture feed and approve of this material. Some excuse the content as being creative, an expression of "the visual arts". One especially distressing example was a young entertainer brought up in church, her father a pastor, but her music and lifestyle defies all that is wholesome and godly. Another stunning example was a female entertainer and her young son; well-known for her blasphemous music, sacrilegious acts, and provocative lifestyle. I consider the phrase from 1 Timothy 4:2 that speaks, "of the conscience being seared as with a branding iron."
The seared conscience is speaking of our moral conscience that can be rendered insensitive to right and wrong in the same way the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain. For human beings, having one’s conscience seared is a result of continual, unrepentant sinning. Eventually, sin dulls the sense of moral right or wrong, and the unrepentant sinner becomes numb to the warnings of the conscience that God has placed within each of us to guide us (Romans 2:15).
We are increasingly accustomed to poor examples, so much so, that in the last several years there has been debate as to whether character even matters. Fame, talent, good looks, or educational degrees can trump over one's character. One's flawed character is downplayed in favor of the ratings he or she can get and the money they generate just by their visibility. Just consider how many politicians and actors are readily identified by their outrageous behavior and yet they have a large following, at times because of their bad behavior rather than in spite of it.
Perhaps you've heard the term "dumbing down", usually referring to education. I feel this concept applies to morality as well. The majority of young people are clueless regarding historic and Biblical morality concerning sexuality. The lack of sound teaching and positive example accompanied by the abundance of immoral smut, especially in the entertainment industry and access to the internet, has very effectively "dumbed down" their sensitivity and awareness of right and wrong.
"God gives each person strengths and abilities that will find their greatest usefulness only under His control. Outside that control, however, they don't accomplish what they could and often become tools of evil. One way to make sure this does not happen is to tell God of your willingness to be under His control. With His presence in your life, your natural strengths and abilities will be used to their greatest potential and for the greatest good" (Life Application Bible). Couple our abilities with godly character and we will accomplish much good for the kingdom of God.
Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, had ministered personally to the believers in Thessalonica, having founded the church. They spent a relatively short time there, perhaps several months, before persecution drove them out (see Acts 17:1-10). Several months later he wrote two letters to them (1&2 Thessalonians). But during that short time of personal interface the Thessalonians had witnessed godly character in Paul and his ministry associates.
Like Paul, powerful leaders accompanied by good character can and should properly declare, "Follow my example." In another text Paul elaborates on this with the essential necessity of consistent Christ-like character; "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Today, we must resist the false contention of this world that character doesn't matter. Character does matter! Let this be our goal. "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Peter 2:12).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Our Father and God, help us to live our life in a way that does not gratify our flesh, but rather feeds our spirit that is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You have given us opportunity to make a positive difference in this degenerate world. May we, by exercising restraint bring light into this darkened, sin-indulged world. May the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, be evident in our lives so that these attitudes bring about good deeds which glorify You, Father. Others will look at our lives and see beyond our human frailties to recognize the Spirit of God at work in our lives providing example and stimulus to those seeking an alternative to the coarsening darkness of this troubled world. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Take My Life" Video Brian Doerksen
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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