Friday, October 18, 2013

~ "Where there is smoke..."

photo by Colleen Costello
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Prov 13:10)

Did you ever get into an argument with a stubborn person? Even when they are wrong (and know they are wrong), they continue to hold on to their version of the truth and walk away rather arrogantly leaving you standing there shaking your head in disbelief. They are the kind of people who make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. They are "prideful" people (not "proud" people). They tend to believe they are superior and have no use for anyone "beneath" them. They are never wrong, always right and their opinion is the only one that matters. They become authorities in everything they do, and nothing you say is going to be of value to them, because they know it all.

Being open to the possibility that one may be wrong, asking for suggestions and opinions of others, not knowing everything calls for wisdom. People "who ask and take advice, that will consult their own consciences, their Bibles, their ministers, their friends, and will do nothing rashly, are wise, as in other things, so in this, that they will humble themselves, will stoop and yield, to preserve quietness and prevent quarrels." (Matthew Henry) .

This is not a bad thing. It's okay sometimes to be quietly right, especially if it's an argument you cannot win even if you are 100% right. The question we are told to ask ourselves in any given situation is "will it matter 5 years from now"? Some things, yes, are worth fighting for. Our belief in God is worth dying for. But the average "quarrel" is nothing more than an attempt by the enemy to bring about discontentment in your heart. Like the smoke of a fire, it has to somewhere, hopefully it will dissipate quickly but the more it smolders the worse it gets. Eventually the fire does go out and the air clears. 

God calls us to be wise in his ways. He calls us to honor his word and believe that he has a plan for each of us. He reminds us that we are here for a short time and that we have work to do in spreading his word. His truth is the only truth that matters. The only argument worth getting involved in, the only one worth using oxygen on is the one that is about HIS existence, HIS love, and HIS glory! And even at that, you can state your case and be called a liar and told that God does not exist, that he's a fictional character in some book and none of it is real. If that is the case, you put on your "wisdom hat" and offer them this statement: "I want you to remember these words, because someday you WILL meet him face to face, and HE will remember them, I guarantee it." 

Our task is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. We don't have to convince them that it's the best deal around - after all, we aren't called to be car salesmen, only witnesses. Our eternity is not contingent on how many souls we bring to the Lord, it is determined only by the acceptance of him as our Savior. Don't waste precious time arguing with an idiot. Chances are, God will show them the error of their ways and one of two things will happen: they will come to know Jesus as their Savior and the gift of salvation will be theirs or they will hear those words "I never knew you". God's justice is forever, as is his love. Don't let the ignorance of others consume your thoughts or emotions - it's just not worth it. Don't count it as a loss, count it as a blessing and move on! God has something very special planned for you and he wants to give it to you, but if you're stuck in neutral, you won't get there! Walk "proudly" to your next adventure in life. Hold your head up high and know that you did the very best you could and you will see the beauty of the love that is God!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

~ "Now auditioning for the final episode..."

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. (Ecc 3:10)

I think it's safe to say that we can all say we have seen the burden God has laid on us. We can thank Adam and Eve for that. We live in a world filled with pain, suffering, sorrow, and more. It was not God's intent. He had a nice spot for us picked out in Eden and somebody decided to listen to a snake. 

It's not all bad, but our lives were not "designed" to be lived this way. God's plan was for us to spend eternity in a beautiful place, surrounded by beautiful things, no labor, no crying, no death, joy, peace, security and love. Because of the sin of the first, we, the many, endure hardship, loss and pain. We have stress and worry far greater than any other nation has ever faced. We fear our Social Security won't be there when we reach retirement age, we worry that the market will crash again and we will lose all our investments, we worry that our children and grandchildren will have enough natural resources to sustain life on this planet (I, just for the record, do not worry about that particular one - God WILL provide). We work at jobs we hate because we need the money, we spend hours trying to figure a way out from under and we try to hold onto every last drop of sanity in the process. Cheer up! We still have the opportunity to spend eternity in a beautiful place!

Everything changes, "to everything there is a season". The statement a lot of us make is "I just want to be happy!" How can we even expect to have constant happiness when everything around us is changing? God brings each of us to our knees at one time or another. What we choose to do while we are on them is totally up to us. He gives us all the opportunity to have faith in him! My mother used to tell me to "make my own happiness, it shouldn't depend on anyone but you". We all have the capacity to do what is right, what is good. We should jump at the chance to do so! 

"Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle." (Matthew Henry).

Don't let yourselves be idle. Be a part of the cast in his production. Be vigilant and be wise, be brave and be strong - be something, be anything, but do not be discouraged. He's coming for us! You cannot afford to ignore this casting call. His victory over the enemy will be sweeter than anything imaginable. The "cast party" afterwards will be well worth it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

~ "Don't laugh at me..."

Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:11)

When we can't take the pain anymore, where do we go and what do we do? The focus of the news recently has been the suicide of a young college student. I understand better than most the want to end life...I've BEEN there; many of us have! We cannot lay the blame on others! The events that surround the pain may be horrific, but the want to end one's life comes from utter desperation, feeling unloved and not knowing what to do or where to turn!

We have all had "bullies" in our lives at one time or another. We strive for acceptance in our lives from the time we learned to crawl. Some people do not become the "targets" of the bully until they are older and more "seasoned". Some of us were taunted and teased from as far back as we can remember. On Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, love and belonging falls in the middle, with self-actualization at the top and physiological needs at the base. His study was not conducted with the "average" human in mind - he conducted his study with the top 1% of college students back in 1954 (before most of us were born). 

We, as humans, are responsible for our own actions. We draw our strength from our friends and family, we trust them, we love them. But we were not the first or the only ones to be "mocked". History and the Bible teach us that MANY were mocked, made fun of, tortured and killed for their beliefs and ostracized by society. Many of us have overcome the callousness of others and become husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, educators, healers, experts in our fields and more. We all have "skeletons" in our closets. We've all done and said things we wish we hadn't and many of us will regret some of those things until we die.

The single most important thing to remember is that we have a choice today! We have a God who loves us, forgives us, blesses us and provides for us. Our strength comes from him! We are all created in his image (Gen 1:27). Without his presence in our lives, we become susceptible to the enemy. Our remorse and regret over the choices and decisions we make in life are not to be taken lightly. Each of us has our own level of tolerance. We can only take so much until we "snap". Fortunately for us, God's tolerance of us is greater than some of us are willing to admit. His forgiveness of our sins goes far beyond what the human mind is capable of understanding. We start by learning to forgive ourselves, love ourselves and walk forward in the knowledge and belief that God has given us each a life worth living and a soul worth dying for! 

Although some people may laugh at you today, you can come to know the full measure of love in Jesus by remembering that they laughed at him as well, and he reigns on high waiting for you!

Reposted from 10/2009

Thursday, October 10, 2013

~ "Education..."

And Jesus answering said to them, Do you not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? (Mark 12:24)

Thinking on human terms can cause us the most discomfort in our walk of faith. We cannot think outside the box, nor can we possibly begin to imagine what our "eternal" existence will consist of. We talk of meeting loved ones gone before us, being reunited with husbands and wives, and the occasional hope of "not running into so-and-so" when we get there. If we read God's word, we find that not only will we be in the greatest presence imaginable, we will have a new name and a new body! 

There are many passages in the scriptures that are often taken out of context and used to justify actions and beliefs. One cannot grasp the true meaning any book or the passion of the author by reading just one or two lines in the middle of it. The joy of reading a mystery comes when you begin to put the pieces together when you've reached that last chapter. Remembering who the key characters are and what their role has been throughout the story helps you to draw the conclusions the author brings you to in the final pages. The same is true for the Bible.

Unless we put ourselves into the word of God from beginning to end, we will never comprehend the entire story. We, as a nation, place a very high value on education. We go to and send our children to college to learn more about a particular field of study and become "experts" in such. We take the classes and do the homework, learning as we go. Ninety-eight percent of the time, we trust that the teacher or professor instructing us knows the material better than we do (which is why we go to them in the first place). We do not open a complex physics book and automatically know how to work the problem. When we began to learn math, we started by first learning the numbers and their sequence. Then we learned how to add and subtract. You can't multiply and divide without knowing addition and subtraction. Once we mastered all of that, we moved into negative and positive numbers, then algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and then on to physics. Never once did we question the formulas used to arrive at the conclusions. 

When we begin to study the Bible, we begin with the basics. God created us, he loves us, we sinned, he sent us a Savior, who died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is coming back to get us. Our education or "accumulated knowledge" of God should not end there. It is not enough to just know the basics. 

If you don't already read your Bible or participate in Sunday School class, start! Trust your education of God to the professionals. You would not hope to gain a law degree simply by watching "Law and Order", you would not be licensed to practice medicine by watching "Gray's Anatomy" and you will not know the Lord if all you do is show up to church on Sunday and daydream for an hour! Read his word, study his works and come to know the ways of God from the ways of Satan. Your life after death depends on it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

~ "Heaven can't wait..."

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid on me; yes, woe is to me, if I preach not the gospel! (1 Cor 9:16)
Why do we share the gospel of Christ? Do we do it because we think we will reap some sort of benefit by it? When we hear the word preached to us, do we give our praises to the minister sharing it? Are we looking for accolades from others when we explain particular verses that they do not understand? Do we want to hear the praises for what we are doing?

We all love to hear we've done a good job and receive a pat on the back. There is nothing wrong with that. When we begin to do the work of the Lord, we are no longer the authors or the songwriters or the speakers. We are the vessels of the living God. We share his word with others. He enlightens each of us as we perform our duties to him. All the talents God has given us can be used to spread his word. My opinion is that is why he gave them to us in the first place. We can do a good job at our "livelihood" but an even greater job if we mix in praise and thanksgiving along the way! Temper your work with love of Jesus! Bring him into every facet of your life. In the grocery store, at the ball game, at the PTA meeting, at the party! There is always an occasion to bring Christ into daily life - as a matter of fact, it is our Christian obligation!

The time is short! Don't be afraid of what your friends and family will say about you for praising God for his blessings. Go where he tells you to go, do what he tells you to do and constantly give him the praise of it all! He wants us to be strong in faith and bold in our testimony of his mercy and grace in our lives. Don't sit back and wait for someone else to do it! Let the peace of knowing the Lord begin with you! Share his love with everyone you meet! Don't be afraid - the worst thing that will happen is that your praise will fall on the deaf ears of your fellow man ~ but know that God hears it all and remembers! He knows your heart and your soul and wants to meet with you and tell you how special you are. Give yourself the opportunity to hear those words "well done". Do it out of love for HIM, not out of self centeredness for yourself. Put your talents and your spiritual gifts to work for a good cause - HEAVEN!