Who Do You Listen To?

Listening is essential to learning.  I hear many voices, especially on television, but I don’t really listen to them.  I hear them but am not listening.  I feel that much, if not all, of what they have to say is not important and/or is too depressing or divisive.  The story of The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 is a powerful reminder of the importance to listen to Jesus.

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”

There are many pieces of this story that are important for us to understand.  One particular area of interest to me is that Peter offered to put up shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijiah. surely did this out of love and respect for them all.   It is noteworthy that the following verse is the voice of God saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”  The last three words particularly resonate with me – “Listen to Him.”  The disciples fall facedown to the ground and later arise and only Jesus is present. 

I wonder if the words and timing of God’s words were meant to not only send a message to Peter but to all of us.  Perhaps that message is do not put good men on the same level as Jesus.  Do not worship your pastor, the preacher on television, or your favorite football player.  They are merely men and as such are sinners and no better than anybody else.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

This story reminds me of the first pubic miracle of Jesus.  The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.  Many of us know this story and marvel at this.  The part of the story that stands out for me is what his mother said to the servants when she noticed they had no wine.  “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  The counsel of a mother is always wise, especially that of Jesus.  I wonder how simple and blessed my life would be if I followed the advice that God gave to Peter and Mary gave to the servants.   Listen for His voice and be blessed my friends.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop

Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop

by Todd Shupe

Jesus warned us that we’d have problems in life. No one is immune from pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. You may have heard the old saying “nobody is an atheist in a fox hole.”  Many of us turn to God during the difficult times in our lives but then go back to living in the flesh during periods of good times.  This is a recurring theme for the Jewish people in the Old Testament and is epitomized by the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32. 

The apostle Peter assures us that problems are normal, saying, “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (1 Peter 4:12). God uses these problems to draw you closer to Him. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).   It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers.   We gain character and hope through our suffering and a closer walk with God.  God could have easily kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being jailed, beaten, and shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people was drawn closer to God as a result.

We trust God with our problems but do we always trust him with everything, including our blessings.  Perhaps we should stop and ask ourselves – where do our blessings come from?   James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” 

According to the Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. After Isaac is bound to an altar, a messenger from God stops Abraham at the last minute, saying “now I know you fear God.”  God is seeking our trust and faith in good times and bad.  In other words, He wants us to trust Him with our blessings as well as our problems.

Hebrews 11 details the might accomplishments of people of great faith:  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.  I find it noteworthy that Hebrews 11:31 details the faith of a prostitute.  “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” 

I like the King James Version of Malachi 2:2.  This is important scripture that deals with the consequences of not trusting God.  “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.”  Now, contrast this to the blessed life that awaits us if we do trust Him and trust Him completely.

You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Dealing With Your Own Judas

Dealing With Your Own Judas

by Todd Shupe

Perhaps one of the most memorable stories of the New Testament is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.  Jesus was also denied three times by Peter.  In fact, all the disciples fled for their own safety after Christ was 

arrested.    We know as humans that others will disappoint us and we will surely disappoint them.  We also know that as Christian we are called to forgiveness.  However, betrayal takes on a whole new meaning when the person that betrays you is a close friend or family member.  Now, the situation has become personal and emotions become strong.

Our instinct is to fight fire with fire and to justify our action with “an eye for an eye”. (Exodus 21:24).   At times of betrayal we tend to live in the flesh and not live in the spirit.  We fail to “take capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  The mind and the heart are so very important to our spiritual health and scripture warns us to protect our hearts.  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).  The heart is a breeding ground for words.  Our words can either build up The Body of Christ or destroy it.  “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” Luke 6:45.

Jesus recognized how we struggle with betrayal and explained the proper response.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.   And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you (Matthew 5:38-42).

This is an extremely high standard for us to live up too.  In fact, I think it is impossible for us to live up to this standard.  However, through the love, mercy, and guidance of the Holy Spirit we can do this.   Below are some guidelines that have helped me deal with betrayal, and I pray that they are helpful to you.

Recognize Your Enemy

We all have an enemy and we all have the same enemy.  It is the fallen angel known as the devil.  To deny his existence is to deny scripture (1 Peter 5:8-9).  Your enemy is not the person that betrayed you but is in fact the devil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).  Christ came to unite us and the devil seeks to destroy and divide us.  Betrayal is one of the favorite tools of the enemy.

Understand the Battle

If the devil does not exist, then why did God send Jesus to fight against what does not exist?  Who was it that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?  Who tempted Christ after 40 days of fasting?  Who battles and loses to Christ in the Book of Revelation?  Jesus came for many reasons.  One of which was battle.  The Bible says in 1 John 3:8, “The Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.”  Betrayal is sign of spiritual warfare.  You are being attacked because you are a threat to the enemy.  He recognizes you as a Disciple with a heart for ministry and wants to stop or minimize your impact.

Fight the Good Fight

Most of us don’t understand the authority that we have against the devil.   Matthew 28:18-19 says “we have all authority in Heaven and on Earth.”  This authority was given to us by Jesus.  We have the Holy Spirit!  “and with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22).  There is no greater power on this earth than the Holy Spirit.  For it is through the Spirit that we are able to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17) and engage in spiritual warfare.  We arm ourselves with the only necessary offensive weapon – God’s word.

Prayer

Last but not least is prayer.  It is essential that we pray for those that have hurt us, betrayed us, and taken advantage of us.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will come into their lives and fill their hearts with love.  It is important to recognize that your prayer will be answered and God will move but He will move on His time, and His timing is always perfect.

Nobody understands your suffering and betrayal more than our Lord.  He was betrayed by His disciples, the leaders of the church, and the crowd gathered before Pontius Pilate on that fateful day.  During your betrayal it is essential that you draw upon His strength and draw closer to Him.  Your endurance has limits, but His has none.  “Fasten your yoke to His for His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.