Friday, June 29, 2012

"Life's Directions"

I know one thing we all struggle with in life is what directions to take. Should I do this or should I do that, or I just don't really know what to do. It would be easy for us to become so overwhelmed by the pressures of the world today if we let it. There seems to be so many more distractions that cause us to become confused about what's right and what's wrong. God has a plan for each and every one of us (Psalm 32:8- "I will instruct you and teach you in a way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you"). Not all receive and carry out His plan for them. It depends upon how willing we are to follow Him and be led by the Holy Spirit. You see, we all have a choice whether to live life by God's perfect plan or to try and fulfill our own destiny (Deuteronomy 30:19- "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live").  If we could all just understand God longs to guide us with love and wisdom rather than punishment. He wants what's best for us, He sees what's ahead for us (Proverbs 16:9- "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps"). We need to remember we are all at our most vulnerable moments when we are going through suffering and pain. We must hold on to our faith even if there is no relief.  Job struggled emotionally, physically, and spiritually while enduring his trial. I, myself, find it very difficult to pray when I'm in severe pain (which is most of the time). But, I'm quickly relieved when I'm reminded of what Paul said, "God's Grace is Sufficient!"  I want you to know, God is capable of rescuing us from suffering, but he may also allow suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand. Our trials and suffering are for His glory (Galatians 6:9- "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"). God wants us to know Him to receive His blessings and to live a life of peace, purpose, and pardon. So, I leave you with a scripture to ponder on. It is found in Jeremiah 29:13, it says: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Angry Moments"

I'd like to touch on a subject today that's not very popular to talk about. And that subject is anger.  I'm going to go out on a limb to say, we've all struggled (I know I have) with being angry with someone or having someone angry with us. Did you know God created all emotions including anger and worry?  I can certainly see how these two emotions are considered to be the most destructive of all emotions. I believe anger and worry occur when we focus to heavily on our problems. They both demonstrate a lack of faith that God loves us and is in control. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27 ("In your anger do not sin, Do not let sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold") that we must deal with our anger immediately so we don't destroy our relationships. And yes, misguided and misused anger can and will destroy relationships. Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand.  So, being angry is not a sin, the sin comes when we misuse it. Because, at that point we are not walking in love as God has instructed us too. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.") If we nurse our anger, we will give Satan an opportunity to divide us. Are you angry with someone right now? What can you do to resolve your differences? So, I leave you with a challenge today. Go make things right with those you've dishonored by misusing your anger and watch the power of God work to restore your relationship with them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"True Forgiveness"

Let's think about this next statement for a minute. "True Forgiveness" brings freedom!  It allows us to make a fresh start. I know it's sometimes very difficult for to ask for forgiveness, and just as equally difficult to give it. However, we are instructed in Ephesians 4:32-"And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." We all know to some extent, failure to forgive will bring resentment, anger, and eventually our hearts grow cold toward people and then God. But, I have good news. God has sent the Holy Spirit to us as a Helper. He dwells inside each one of us if we  accept His son Jesus into our hearts. I kind of look at the Holy Spirit as my spiritual compass. If we have treated someone wrong whether we meant it or not, the Holy Spirit will convict, not condemn us (Romans 8:1-"There is therefore now no condemnation to which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"), to make things right with that person. We serve a good God! And He wants what is BEST for us!  The key to forgiveness is confessing your sin and turning from it (1 John 1:9-"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness").  So, I leave you with a thought: "If you ever have trouble forgiving someone, just remember what Jesus did for you. And you didn't deserve it."

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Love Your Neighbor"

Let me start by saying, I think it's crazy to think we all have it together. I mean, we all have things we are continually working on. Some with physical disabilities, some with mental, and some with both.  When we are not motivated by love, we have a greater chance to become more critical.  At this time, it's easier to stop looking for the good in someone, and start putting more focus on their faults. I believe it's only human nature to do so.  However, we've been given instructions by God in His Word, to pretty much "treat people the way you want to be treated".  A question for thought: Have you focused on others shortcomings instead of their strengths? I know we can all say we have. Let us be reminded in Galatians 5:14-15- "The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself, (15) If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."  So, I challenge you, when we begin to feel critical of someone, lets step back and take a look at that persons positive qualities.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"No Pain, No Gain"

I've titled today's blog, "No Pain, No Gain".  The purpose for this is for the past four years I've been in constant chronic pain due to a degenerative disc disease located in the thoracic region of my back.  This experience has been extremely painful both physically and emotionally.  I've dealt with depression because of the severe pain, and anger because of the depression. It seems like a vicious cycle. Not really knowing how to create an avenue to release it all. I used to work out to help relieve the stresses of life. Well, that quickly came to a halt when my health started to deteriorate.  Another area I've struggled in and continue to do so is the mental arena.  It has been a grueling road, but well worth it, knowing that God is glorified through our lives no matter what we go through. We have the choice to move forward and trust Him or we choose to abandon all we've been taught. Well, I have chosen to stand and fight regardless of how I feel. We must remember that God is still in control when we least feel Him.  I have good news, God's grace is sufficient! Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-"But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  I remind myself of this all the time, sometimes all day long. I leave you with a thought:  We were never intended to live this life alone, but also to rely on our Father in Heaven and realize we are are to edify one another (Ephesians 4:29- "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen." 

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Brotherly Love (Favoritism is Forbidden)"

Sometime ago, I felt the Lord leading me to look up a Scripture in the book of James. It was the Second Chapter in James to be exact. So, I looked it up, with no clue as to what I would find. To my surprise, it spoke of treating the poor and the rich equally! It says: (James 2:1-9)- "My Brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory with respect of persons." (2) "For if there come unto you assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment." (3) "And you have respect to him who wears the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit you here in a good place (show him partiality); and say to the poor, you stand there, or sit here under my footstool (proclaims a terrible attitude and spirit)." (4) "Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (5) "Hearken, my beloved Brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in Faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to them who love Him?" (6) "But you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgement seats?" (7) "Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called (those who place their Faith and trust in money)?" (8) "If you fulfill the Royal Law according to the Scripture (Matthew 22:39), You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well (show favor to everyone, whether rich or poor)." (9) "But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin and are convinced of the Law as transgressors." (KJV)
I feel this message is timely for today. We have all been guilty of thinking less of someone else, and more highly of ourselves. But, as followers of Christ, we should be walking in love, no matter who the person and what his or her circumstances may be. It's not easy at times, but we are all called to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves" (James 2:8). Let's face it we all make mistakes, have moods, and some days seem impossible to get through with our busy schedules. So, I leave you with one thought: "Are we being fair in the way we treat one another?