Only Fools Rush In

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (Matthew 15: 8-9)

Sometimes when we meet with God in our quiet times, it is hard to give over “our” time to “Him”. Why is this? We need to rend our hearts when we first arrive to be with Him, but we are so burdened with our sin, guilt and problems that we put ourselves first in the time slot. I am guilty as charged. Some days I come and rend my heart and I repent so I can be cleansed and have nothing between me and God, but other times I just rush right in. I am so much in need of His loving care that I don’t give Him His rightful place.

We need to approach God with sincerity. Sincere respect, sincere love, sincere placement in our lives and give Him some time to speak to us. When we do this, our issues and problems don’t seem so large and over bearing. We can see a clear path and way forward. Our burdens are lifted when we first lift Him up in praise and honor and glory. It is a supernatural thing that occurs when we come to Him with sincere and loving hearts.

Elvis Presley sang, “ wise men say, only fools rush in”. Practicing sincerity with God first can show us the way to improve all our relationships. When we meet with our family, friends and co workers, if seek the good things in them and we give them praise and honor and glory we will find fertile ground to nurture and in turn, we will be nurtured upon.

There is good and bad in everyone. It is better to look upon the good. The more we feed the good things in people instead of the bad, the better everyone feels. Propagating the good grows the good the same as propagating the bad grows bad. Just as plants need water and fertilization to grow healthy and strong, relationships and people need the same. If the weeds are allowed to be fed and grow, they choke out the beautiful plants and eventually take over. Eradicate the weeds, water the flowers and you can enjoy a fragrant garden.

It is hard to be sincere in any relationship when your eyes are upon yourself. Anytime you are so focused upon yourself a line is drawn and division and separation result. Focus on the things above. Keep your eyes upon the Lord and your energies applied to His will for your life and all the weeds and problems will diminish and your garden of relationships will flourish.

Posted in Following God's Will, Praise, Priorities, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

Is Your Faith Personal and Real?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Recently, God challenged me about my faith. He asked me “Is it personal and real?” Finding myself in a situation where my faith has been challenged over and over again earns me this little pat on my cheek from God.

My symptoms were; constant state of flux, anxiety that I was praying away most of the time, worry, worry and then more worry. The same scripture verses were being worn out like a rug that is trampled on hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

Now, I consider my faith to be one of my strengths. I have read over and over the words of God and understand His faithfulness and how He works. I know I can trust Him and depend on Him. I believe every word written in the Bible with all my heart. I am thankful for all the testimonies of the disciples of Jesus and the great role model prophets like Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel.

I know that God is a mighty God and that He delivers, protects, provides, encourages, comforts, motivates, loves and gives mercy after mercy. I KNOW this!!! God knows I KNOW this. But there is a difference between knowing and believing things in my head and believing in my heart….. He not only wants me to know and believe in my heart……He wants me to OWN it!! It has to be personal and real, not just knowledge.

We can memorize scripture and the Holy Spirit will bring them to mind when we need them, but memorizing in your head is different from having them written on your heart.

Remember the example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the book of Daniel? They refused to bow down and worship the golden idol King Nebuchadnezzar had made because they feared God above the King. Even when they knew that standing on their faith could kill them, they chose to stand by God.

The King said bow to me or I will throw you into the fiery furnace. He told those in his command to crank up the fire hotter than it had ever been before (Daniel 3:19). They could see the fire, what they couldn’t see was God.

In their moment of truth, they chose God.   See, not only did they have the head knowledge about God, they also had heart-felt, life-altering, soul-committing faith that even if God did not save them from the fire, obeying and believing in Him was more important.

So what did God do with that truth? He sent His Son Jesus into the fire with them and He protected them from the flames. Their personal and real faith in the supernatural allowed God to show up and show off!! When the doors of the furnace were opened, they walked out without a single burn blister or blemish on their flesh. They didn’t even have the smell of smoke on them. The men sent to throw them into the furnace were burned up in the process (Daniel 3:22), but these three young men walked away with their lives better than before the fire.

How many times are we challenged to stand firm in our faith even when we can’t see how our problems can be solved? We can see the issue but we can’t see God.

We have to make our faith personal and real. We have to take our knowledge and own it. Worry, fear, doubt and anxiety bring harm to our lives, yet we give life to them. These things that are tools of our enemy, are used to keep us from making our faith just as real and giving life to it. Faith is a choice the same as worry and anxiety. We can choose to believe God or the enemy.

How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego make their faith real? They committed themselves inwardly first and then publicly. They encouraged each other and reminded each other of God’s goodness in the past. They took their eyes off the problem and put them onto God and stood firm and unwavering in the truth.

God doesn’t tell us it will be easy, but He does tell us He will always be with us in the good times and the bad. Do you believe Him? Is your faith personal and real?

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;” (Psalm 121: 1-3)

Posted in Decisions, Faith, God in Control, Truth | Leave a comment

Let Go My Ego

“Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 15:30) NIV

Have you ever met someone who you thought had an over inflated ego? Someone who had an enormous sense of self-importance? King Saul found himself in a situation where he placed more value on what the people thought of him than he did his role of being God’s anointed king and made a bad decision that ultimately cost him his kingdom.

I have found that those individuals with huge egos are usually some of the most fragile, sensitive and low self-esteem people walking the planet. Their ego is their facade. They actually care more about what YOU think of them than they do anything else, so how they portray themselves is vitally linked to how they want you to think of them.

These types of people are more concerned about their status than they are about relationship. They are so busy trying to create, manage and keep control of their facade they do not have time to devote to you or anyone else for that matter, and put an effort into developing a relationship.

People with large egos will go to extremes to elevate their position when they are around a group of people. They generally size up each individual knowing who is the strongest and who is the weakest and these become their targets. The strong ones are the ones they will try to tear down and replace and the weak ones are the ones they will elevate to try to gain support and loyalty.

If you have ever been in a situation like this, in either targeted role, then you understand the damage that occurs as a result. These situations occur on a daily basis in work environments, in social settings, in sporting activities and even in church.

Once the ego is confronted in a group setting and exposed, they generally melt-down, add fuel to the fire and retreat. They don’t necessarily go away but they lose their effectiveness and look for new targets.

This type of ego is easy to recognize but there are other forms of ego that are a lot harder to identify much less recognize as harmful.

If you recognize “ego” as a tool to manage “what others think” then you can begin to understand how it manifests itself. If you find yourself acting differently in a group setting than you normally do, then you can say that your “alter-ego” has come into play. If “ego” is a sense of “self” then “alter-ego” is a sense of “self” according to what “others think”. I’ll even take it a step further and state “what you think, others think”, because no one really knows what others think.

Our alter-ego leads us into situations where we act differently because of its driver which is fear. We fear what other will think of us so we change the way we act to conform to what we think will be acceptable to others way of thinking and these alter-egos take on various different forms unlike the over-inflated sense of worth.

For example, one form of alter-ego could be in a situation where we try to “fit-in” with a group that does not have the same Christian values we do. Normally we would speak openly about how God has been working in our life, what the preacher talked about on Sunday, but in this group we change our conversation and “omit” any talk of God or Jesus because we fear what these people will “think” or that we don’t fit in with them, or that they may put us down or it may cause them to look at us differently, etc. Maybe you don’t post any Christian content on your social media sites for this very same reason. Your “social status” reflects your “alter-ego”.

Maybe your decision-making is compromised by your alter-ego at times so that you can go along with the group or not stand out and call attention to your differences. There are many ways in which your alter-ego can manifest itself in any given situation.

So how do you keep your alter-ego in check? The same way you keep your ego in check. You make a commitment to be true to yourself yet more importantly to be true to God.

When you base your actions and decisions on the thoughts and opinions of others you will never be able to own your sense of self. When you place your sense of worth on what others think, or better, what you think others think, the value quotient will never be one that you can live peacefully or consistently with. The value metrics will always change according to who you are with.

When you make a commitment to base your sense of worth on what God thinks, then there is one consistently peaceful measure and that is His unconditional and undying love. He created you so He knows your value and your ultimate potential. His thoughts are loving, encouraging and equipping so that you can feel worthy in any given situation. He is always there to help you in any decision-making process and to position your “own thoughts” no matter what others think, say or do. He allows you to be you, not some altered form of you. God never judges you in the way that people do. He judges you against the examples His Son, Jesus, set when He sent Him to teach us about His love. His two main examples were: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and Love others as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30) When you focus your ego around these teachings you find your true self worth and your true ego.

One thing is for sure, one day we will have to give an account of our actions to God, not people. (Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13)

Posted in Decisions, Ego, Peace, Purpose, Truth, Vanity | 1 Comment

Go In Peace

“Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace”. (2 Samuel 3:22)
Sending someone away in peace when there has been turmoil or trouble is soul satisfying. The alternative of course, is to send them away in anger or dismay. Think about it, how many times have you left some one in distress and walked away due to an argument, incident or simply because they don’t agree with you?

We are more prone to behave in this manner with those that are closest to us. Our spouses, children, friends, coworkers and so on. When we send someone away or dismiss them in a manner that leaves them in any manner other than peace, we leave the door open for Satan to work a mighty work against us.

In 2 Samuel chapter 3, King David is dealing with the fall out of being anointed King and the split between followers of King Saul’s army and his own. By chapter 15 he is dealing with the consequences of leaving his son Absalom, in a state of disillusioned punishment for killing his half-brother Amnon for raping his sister. Sent away from the family and not allowed to be in the presence of his father, Absalom was an easy target for Satan to minister to. Over time, Satan filled his mind with poison against his father and turned the remorse he should have had for his own actions against his half-brother into revenge against his father. This rift between father and son later split the kingdom and cost David the life of his third-born son turned rebel.

You may think that your actions could never have that kind of impact but repetitive behaviors over time can take their toll. Our enemy is vicious, hating everyone and his sole purpose is to destroy. While you may not mean to destroy, your actions can be leveraged by the enemy to go beyond your worst nightmare.

It is hard to think beyond the moment of emotional turmoil when you are in the realm of it, but it is critical to try. Now, luckily we are not left to our own demise, we have a helper sent from the Father to teach us and remind us (John 14:26) that we are peacemakers.

I get lots of practice with my four-year old when he throws tantrums, gets over-tired, or has a repetitive and one-track notion that must be heard. I can send him to his room but I must not leave him to feel abandoned. The difference between an angry cast off to the room and a loving hug that says please find the little angel that was here two minutes ago makes all the difference. Once the emotional trigger has been pulled it is time to bring in the Holy Spirit. Taking the time to think about what your response or behavior can bring about as a consequence makes a huge difference.

Our pastor gave some good advice in church yesterday. He said “let your first response be prayer”. This is something that I am trying to put into action in my life. Am I an expert? Not hardly, but I am getting plenty of practice and I am getting better. The enemy is certainly losing his impact and effect on this front.

Let’s all work on putting prayer as our first response and see how it makes changes in all our lives. (John 16:24)

Posted in Decisions, God in Control, Peace | Leave a comment

Decisions…Positive or Negative?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Isn’t it amazing how when you are a child your body is in a constant state of flux and change.  You seem to grow inches overnight, your face and body change, your hair grows and sometimes changes color.  All this is going on and you aren’t even aware of it.  You continue on in your life, day in, day out and all this transformation takes place without a trace of cognizance.

As you get older changes still occur but the transition slows its pace.  The only knowledge of the change is when you look in the mirror one day and see a difference.  Some people’s transition is more dramatic than others.  Some may pay little attention to their health and never exercise their body or their discretion while others are very conscious of taking care of their bodies and health.  They eat healthy foods and leave all the extra trimmings, delights and empty calories behind.  They don’t fall prey to the luring of self indulgence.

This is a choice of course.  We have dominion over our decisions, who and what we listen to and we all have differing value systems.  Our decisions take a toll on our lives in one way or another.  This can have positive or negative results.

Our spiritual lives are no different.  We all have a choice about what we believe, who we choose to listen to and follow and we all live with the results.  Peter tells us that we should grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus.  How do we do this?  Grace is a gift given to us by God in the form of his Son Jesus.  Grace paid our debt of sin on the cross and grace gives us eternal life according to our belief in Jesus.  But our transition does not stop at belief.  If we choose to believe then we should expect the difference that grace provides us.  We should thirst for knowledge about this incredible gift and experience the life-changing transformational process.  How do we do this?  John tells us this “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26).  When we believe in Jesus, our faith  is rewarded by the grace of God to be adopted as His children  “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) and as His children, He provides for us.  By sending us a helper, the Holy Spirit, we have all that we need to begin our journey of spiritual transformation.

Our bodies will continue to age and eventually they will give out and die no matter how well we take of it.  Our spirits will continue on to the next life.  Again, our decisions and choices will have positive or negative results.  As God’s children, he begins a new work in us to  change us so that we can reflect His spirit and become righteous through Jesus.  As Peter says, “to Him be the glory, now and forever!” (2 Peter 3:18)  the transition is a slow process, personally designed for us.  It is accelerated by our ability to feed it (through God’s word, Bible) and how we apply what we learn to our lives.  For those that do not believe or even entertain a thought that God is a living God and that Jesus was sent by Him for us out of His love for us, through grace….then the transitional journey their spirit will take will be to a place of agony.  Matthew states, that those that do not know God, God will not recognize, “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..” (Matthew 13:42)  

God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:13).   How is your life going now?  Are you happy with all your decisions and choices? Is something lacking?  Are you still searching for answers?  Why not start a new journey of growth, with new found knowledge and the assurance that this life is not all there is.  How we live today determines how we will live tomorrow and beyond.  Receive grace, receive the gift.

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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Are You Being Heard?

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2) NIV

Do you have iniquities that have come between you and God? If you don’t know you may want to start with the definition of iniquity. It is a noun, meaning immoral or grossly unfair behavior.  The Bible uses this word to indicate a level of disobedience to God which is categorized as sin.

One way that I have learned to recognize that something has come between myself and God is the absence of my “peace”.  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7)

Once I feel my peace slipping away, I begin to feel disconnected and off balance.  When this occurs I know that I need to get into the Word (Bible) and begin searching for my iniquity.

Know this, our enemy is a powerful dark force.  “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8) Our enemy will use everything at his disposal to drive a wedge between you and God.  Sometimes he is so subtle that it takes a while for you to even know you are under attack.

There are many things that can get us out of sync like, a little white lie told here, a little bit of I deserve this, so I am going to take it, do it or sneak it.  Making things difficult for someone when they have hurt you and giving them a little pay-back.  Hurting someone with a truth that they just needed to hear out of our pride instead of our love.

It is so easy to get pulled off track in the course of an hour, much less a day.  How many times do we get in our cars and use it as a weapon to teach someone a lesson or try to take control of the road because we are in a hurry?  How about when we lose our patience and the tone of our voice takes on a harsher edge or we dismiss someone because they are not doing things the way we want them to?  Pride is one of Satan’s big weapons.  It is effective because it feeds off our insecurities, egos, and self-centric tendencies. We think we deserve to be treated better, do not need to be told what to do or corrected in anyway.  We get on our high horse and ride around jumping the fences that are penning us in and soon we are off of God’s path and on the highway to hell.

In the course of a day we can get so far off course that God has had to completely turn His face away.  That is why the relationship is so important.  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1: 18)  To be in relationship with someone you must take the time to get to know them and you do this by spending time with them.  You talk with them and listen to them.

Your relationship with Jesus is no different.  Spending time reading your Bible and other Bible Study materials allows you to open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit and receive word from Him. Praying for yourself and others is another way to spend time.  The most important thing to do first is to ask for Him to show you anything that might be between you and Him.  Try to clear your mind and wait for him to bring things to mind.  Repentance is what brings you back into the relationship and brings your peace back. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Isn’t it great to know that we are so loved that no matter how horrible we act to others at times, we can always go to Him and lay it all down at His feet.  He takes it all away, dusts us off, gives us a hug and says.  Go, make restitution and sin no more…..  Now that is freedom and that is the kind of relationship that I want in my life!!!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)  Is Jesus knocking at your door?  If so, why not let the most loving, caring, awe-inspiring person in?  Get to know the man who gave His life to save you from your sins, give you freedom and the gift of life in eternity with Him.

Has God turned His face away?  Get in the Word, get on your knees and get right with God!

Posted in Repentance, Satan's Attacks, Sin | 1 Comment

Patience

Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”.  (Genesis 30:3) NIV

The truest form of faith is shown through patience. Waiting on God is one of the hardest things that we as human beings can be called to do.

Have you ever asked God for patience?  Will you ever ask Him again? Probably not that eagerly even though one of the best virtues is patience.  Since we don’t ask God more than once He builds this up in us through faith-tests.

A faith-test is anything that requires us to trust in God for provision and waiting on Him to provide.  Most of us learn the hard way because we lose our patience and move on ahead in our own strength.  Especially when we don’t see God’s provision in a short time span.

Rachel, wife of Jacob, grew jealous that her sister, Leah, who was deceivingly given to Jacob as wife in place of Rachel by their father in order to secure Leah’s future, was bearing sons for their husband and she was not.

Instead of pleading her case to God and waiting on Him, she brought yet another wife, her servant, Bilhah, into the already crowded marriage.  This spurned Leah into also giving her servant to Jacob and bringing yet another wife into the mix.

Rachel eventually conceived and bore two sons, but she died during the last child-birth. The siblings from the other wives ended up being jealous of her oldest son, Joseph, sold him off into slavery and told their father he was dead.

God being God, turned all the mistakes and heartaches into something good when he moulded Joseph into the nation’s leader who saved his family from starvation and ruin.

The moral of this story is that we have a choice, we can take things into our own hands and suffer the consequences, or we can patiently wait on God to get it right at just the right time.

Posted in God in Control, Patience, Priorities, trustworthy | Leave a comment