Is it What We Are For or Against?

Do not take the title of this blog post out of balance.  I understand that it is necessary to stand against evil.  I just want to make sure that I am not always standing against something but standing for something as well.  Often, Christianity is frowned upon because Christians often talk about what is wrong and name only the list of acts that are sins.

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Of course, the issue of sin is to be taken seriously and dealt with rather than swept under the rug; however, it is important to be reminded that none of us can overcome the power of sin in our own strength.  If we could do that, then, Christ would not have had to come and suffer and die for us.

You Will Know Them By Their Fruit

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In Matthew 7:16, Jesus stated that both false prophets would be recognized by their fruits.  Those who are genuine will be recognized the same way, so, it is important to know what types of fruit we should be looking for.  Galatians 5:22-23 explains what the fruit of the Spirit is.  In other words, if a person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, there are certain characteristics that will eventually manifest.  These are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Instead of always speaking out against hate, I should speak out for love.  When depression comes, I should speak up for joy.  I should seek out peace when strife comes instead of simply speaking against strife.  Does this make sense?

Although God deals with sin, it is important to remember that He also deals with us according to our righteousness.  In ourselves, there is no righteousness, but when we accept Christ, He is our righteousness.  Salvation is instant, but sanctification is a process.  When Christ is in me, He will begin to help me cultivate the fruit that is the evidence of the Holy Spirit being in me.

Are You Only ‘Against’ or Are You ‘For’?

With all that was just stated, I come back to my first statement:  Is it what you are for or what you are against?  Do you stand for righteousness, or do you simply stand against what you deem to be sinful?  It is important to give thought to this because if you only stand against what is sin without pointing people to the hope that is in Christ, then, you are in danger of developing self-righteousness.  That type of righteousness is no righteousness at all.

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When we speak out against the things that break God’s heart, it is also in the heart of God to point people to the solution.  The solution is always Jesus.  If we only point out sin, but fail to point out the way to righteousness, then our ministries have failed.

There are times when it is important to show righteous indignation, but there are also times when nothing but love will help.  Displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is what will make a difference.  People will take notice of that fruit which will bring glory to Jesus.  They will notice because it is something different from what they have seen before.

How about you?  Are you only talking about what you are against, or, are you letting others know what you stand for?

Erratic Emotions

Emotions are a natural part of our human makeup.  People, particularly women, can experience a variety of emotions in one day.  From elation to depression, our emotions can take us on a wild roller coaster ride through life if we do not find ways to manage them.

Types of Emotions

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Although human beings can experience a wide variety of feelings, some of the most basic types of emotions are happiness, sadness, pride, fear, disgust, anger, surprise, excitement, shame, and embarrassment.  The Bible even speaks of people’s various feelings.  Scripture never promotes suppressing emotions and refusing to deal with them, but we must learn to control them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Happiness is seen as a positive emotion, and there is certainly nothing wrong with being happy.  The problem comes when I expect other people to do for me what only God can do.  What I am about to state is certainly not popular, but the Lord never promised that we would always be happy.  He did, however, promise that we could have joy.

What is the difference between joy and happiness?  Although the two words are used interchangeably, happiness often depends upon circumstances while joy goes much deeper.  The joy we experience from God is a part of the fruit of the Spirit.  In other words, joy is the result of having the Holy Spirit (given to us at salvation).  Happiness can only take me so far, but joy gets me through all circumstances, good or bad.

Fear and anger are considered to be negative emotions.  A healthy fear, such as being afraid to walk out in front of a moving vehicle, is not negative.  It is needful, but a terrifying fear, such as always fearing the future, is not of God.  In fact, His word teaches us to overcome such fears (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:18).  Anger is not always negative. There are times when we need to have anger in order to act; however, anger that is not dealt with properly is dangerous and leads to other sins.  Anger is another emotion that the Bible teaches us to control (James 1:20, Ephesians 4:26-27, and Proverbs 29:11)

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Emotions Out of Control

I must admit that I have days when I am easily angered, or, my feelings are hurt very easily.  Sometimes, there can be physical explanations such as lack of sleep or hormonal imbalance.  Other times, out-of-control emotions can be a symptom of something that is lacking spiritually.

Earlier, I stated that people often expect others in their lives to make them happy.  I have made the mistake of placing responsibility for my emotional well-being in the hands of my husband, children, friends, or family.  I am certainly not saying that the people in my life do not want me to be happy, but I am saying that it is not their responsibility to manage my emotions.  The responsibility is mine, and the only way I can assume it is to go to God for emotional healing when my feelings seem to be wreaking havoc.

Once you let others off the hook for your emotional stability, and you give this to the Lord, you will begin to see more balanced emotions displayed.  The things that used to irritate you or hurt your feelings will not have as much power over you.

Godly Response

When negative emotions arise, as they often do, you should not suppress them; however, you should not give full vent to them either.  First, go to the Lord in prayer about them.  He is neither surprised nor perplexed by your emotions. Next, find a trusted friend with which to speak.  Ask other believers for prayer.

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Most of all, you need to spend time with God on a daily basis, both in prayer and in His word.  I realize I sound bossy, but, trust me, I have had loads of experience in the emotional realm.  Unfortunately, I have given full vent to my emotions which have never brought about good results.  Thankfully, there are also times I take them to God and ask for His intervention.  The latter choice is always best.

As I mentioned earlier, happiness is a wonderful emotion, but if I believe I must always be on an emotional high, I will eventually bottom out to depression.  Emotions must be stabilized and balanced so as to avoid either extreme on the pendulum swing.  I am not suggesting that managing emotions is an easy feat.  I know better, but I also know that nothing is impossible with God.  He gives us grace for all areas of our lives, including our feelings.

What Does It Mean to be Christ-like?

The word Christian means being Christ-like.  Most people have head knowledge of this fact, but I wonder if  what many of us have is simply head knowledge or heart knowledge of the true meaning of being or becoming Christ-like.  Knowing and doing are not always the same.  The scripture states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creature.  The old is passed away, and the new has come.

What is the new?  Newness in this context is a new nature.  Romans 6 clearly explains that the flesh and the spirit are at war against one another, and Paul further teaches what must be done to allow the spirit to be victorious.  While this is true, and this is what I teach, there is a little more practicality that I would like to bring into this subject.

Observe the Actions of Christ in Scriptures

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Of course, the flesh has to be crucified for Christ to live through us, and this is a process.  As with any process, there will be times of victory and times of failure.  (Please note that I am not saying that is fine to be comfortable in sin.) The scriptures teach us what we must do when we have sinned and how to overcome that sin, but something that we often fail to do is to observe the true actions of Christ during His life on Earth.

Certainly, we will not be exactly like Him until we are in the eternal state, but we must strive to be as much like Him as possible while on this planet.  When you read the gospels, there were several aspects of His life, ministry, and personality, yet, all of these aspects were perfectly balanced.

Christ went about doing good.  He rebuked sin, but He loved the sinner.  He associated with those that many deemed unworthy, yet He loved and visited the homes of certain Pharisees as well.  He kept Jewish traditions contrary to many false teachings.  He taught people to lay aside legalism, but He did not teach a free-for-all-anything-goes-gospel.  He turned tables in the temple out of righteous indignation, yet, He loved those who were guilty of the abuses that took place in the temple.  He was the perfect epitome of social justice.  He treated people with love, rebuked people when necessary, and did not compromise the commands of His Father in the process.

Is it possible to be like Christ?

While I certainly do not believe we will be completely perfect in this life, we can live as Christ much more than what we do.  Philippians 4:13 clearly states that you and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  He came to live, die, and live again to give us what we need to be like Him.  When you look at the context of Philippians 4:13, Paul was clear that Christ could and would strengthen us for both wonderful and horrible times as well as what lies in between.

To say that Christ excused sin is a lie.  To say that Christ was ready to pound everyone on the head who was not doing everything perfectly is a lie as well.  He came to seek and save those who were lost.  There were times when He had to speak frankly and boldly.  At other times, He spoke in kindness and gentleness.

Finding the Balance

How did Jesus balance these two polar opposite extremes?  The answer is quite simple.  He spent time with the Father.  When reading the gospels, you will notice that He spent time with people, but He also spent time alone with the Father.  He and the Father were and are one.  He obeyed the voice of the Father.

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Jesus gave us the capability to do the same when He sent the Holy Spirit.  We can listen to the Father.  We can obey Him.  He will teach us through the Holy Spirit and His word how to walk in balance and avoid pendulum swings that range from abusing grace to rigid legalism.

We can live as Christ lived, but we will not live this way by accident.  It will take surrender–total surrender to the Father.  It will take time in prayer and  the Word of God. It will take resolve. You can live as He did because He lives in you if you belong to Him, and He gave you just what you need to accomplish the Father’s will.

Will You Stand in the Gap?

I love my country.  The United States has always been my home, therefore, I have great patriotic feelings toward this land.  The United States of America is a blessed nation.  God’s hand has been on her from her beginning.  I am afraid that God will eventually allow our nation to reap the fruit of her deeds.

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What is troubling is the sight of our nation going further down the slope of immorality.  The immorality that I am speaking of is not the building of a wall.  My intention is not to demean anyone because that is not of God, but there comes a time when the truth must be spoken.  It is my intention to speak the truth with as much love and humility as possible.

For many years, immorality has slowly taken over our nation.  I will not list all of the nation’s sins in this post except one.  There is one that is becoming more blatant and celebrated, and that is the killing of innocent babies. When such an atrocity is disguised as a woman’s right, I feel such sadness in my spirit.

The Gap

America needs a turn around.  I realize that the latest abortion ruling took place in the State of New York, but the responsibility falls on us as a nation.  Since Roe v. Wade in the 1970’s, people have been desensitized by the enemy of our souls to the sanctity of human life.   Like any other sin that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus, the act of aborting human babies has become more blatant and celebrated.  Although I feel anger and sadness over this issue, hating the culprits will not solve the problem.

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In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord was looking for someone to stand in the gap for another straying nation.  What is meant by standing in the gap?  Intercession through prayer is how we can stand in the gap for our nation.  There are cases in the Bible in which the prayers of God’s people changed the most dire of circumstances.

Of course, standing in the gap might also include speaking the truth in love at certain times.  I am not saying that you must get a picket sign and go scream at someone, but I am asking you to seek the Lord about ways you can stand up for the rights of unborn children.  If your actions are led by the Holy Spirit, you will not be wrong.  Fast, pray, and then take the action that the Lord might be leading.  It could be writing a letter, sending an email, or making a telephone call to any one of the parties who can bring change.  On a more challenging level, the Lord might be calling someone to adopt a baby, or help a single mother who is struggling.

Will You Stand?

I am challenging you to spend time praying for our nation and leaders.  The individual states have certain rights, but these states are still part of one nation.  When babies are being killed, and now can be killed up to birth, it is time for everyone to get involved.  These are our children.  They are the future!  If Jesus Christ does not return, life will go on even after you and I are gone.  We need young people!  We can not afford to write off the lives of our unborn babies as if they are nothing.

Pray for change to come to this situation.  Pray for repentance and revival to rise up in our land. God cares about these unborn babies.  He knows each of them, and He has not forgotten them.  Proverbs 6:17 speaks against the shedding of innocent blood.  Jeremiah 1:5 proves that God has a plan for every life that is put into a womb.

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Certainly, I do not have all the answers to the problem, but I know God does.  I also know that this type of post is unusual for this blog, but I have to speak someway.  I want to do all I can to stand in the gap for our nation and for the unborn.  Will you stand in the gap too?

 

Is Worry an Idol?

Worrying is something that comes natural to us all.  As parents, we worry about our children.  As employees, we worry about job security.  Lack of financial stability brings worry.  Marital issues give birth to worry.  In general, potential lack in any area brings worry.

Is it possible for worry to become an idol in our lives? My answer to this question is yes!  Anything that comes before God is an idol.  I can make an idol out of anyone or anything, but worry becomes an idol when it becomes exalted to a position of obsession.

What Does the Bible Say?

worry 1God’s word has a few things to say about worry.  Jesus spoke of worry at least twice during his time on the earth.  In Matthew 6:25-33, He addressed our concern with having our needs met.  Jesus told those around Him to avoid worrying about what they would eat, drink, or wear.  He went on to say that our heavenly Father knows we have need of those things.  In verse 33, Jesus exhorted those listening to seek God’s kingdom first and His righteousness, then all other necessary things would be added to them.

If you back up and read verse 24, Jesus stated that no one could serve to masters.  One would serve either God or money.  I find it interesting that Jesus discusses money right before He says not to worry.  He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knew that money is an issue for many people.  It takes money to have food, clothing, and other necessities.  However, seeking God above all else will result in everything else falling into place.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes that believers should be anxious for nothing.  In other words, rather than worry, we should commit everything to prayer.  He further states that by presenting our requests to God, we would be allowing God to guard our hearts and minds.  Worry begins in the mind, then, proceeds to the heart.  These areas must be guarded in prayer.

Another Area of Worry

Jesus addressed another source of concern for believers.  Of course, at that time, He was directly addressing His disciples. Now, we can apply His sayings to our own lives.  The source of worry that He addressed was worry over what His disciples would say to their persecutors when handed over to them.

In Matthew 10:19, Jesus stated for His disciples not to worry about how they would answer government officials when arrested.  Jesus gave assurance that He would give them the words they would need to speak.

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Although we might not be persecuted as the disciples were, this type of worry can consume us.  For example, if I have to confront someone (this should always be done with much prayer, fasting, and humility), I often rehearse what I am going to say, and I have even planned what I would say if the person responded in certain ways.  When we have to confront issues, it is best to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our words.  If we have to face someone who is belittling us, we must trust God to give us the words to say, or, trust Him if He tells us to say nothing.  He knows what is best.

The Fruit of Worry

Has any good thing ever come from spending time worrying about various matters?  Someone once said that worry is like a rocking chair.  It will take you back and forth but get you nowhere. I have found this to be true in my own life.  When worry surfaces, prayer should be the result.  Once the matter has been committed to God, thank Him for what He is going to do about the situation.

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In Exodus 4, Moses worried about what he would say to Pharaoh.  God assured Moses that He would be with Him.  In Genesis 16, Sarai worried that she would not have although God had promised that she would.  Worry resulted in Sarai taking matters into her own hands and giving her maid, Hagar, to Abram as a secondary wife so they could have children through her.  This was a custom that took place in the East during that time period, but it was not God’s will.  As a result, Abram and Sarai had to deal with the consequences of their actions.

What has you worried?  A child?  A job? An enemy?  A spouse?  Even if the source of your concern is your ministry or church, God has the answer.  Do as the word says, and by prayer and supplication make your request to God.  Allow His peace to guard your heart and mind.  It is not easy if you are addicted to worry, but it is the only way to tear that idol down.

Why do we think we can take better care of issues than God?  We might never make such a statement verbally, but when we worry excessively, refusing to give our concerns to God, we make an idol of our worries and think they are best left in our own hands.  Do not be deceived.  Give your cares to the Lord and let Him give you perfect peace.

 

Life Overwhelming

In John 10:10, Jesus stated that He had come so we could have life and have it abundantly.  Of course, the words of Jesus are total truth, but there are time in which it seems I have life overwhelming rather than life abundantly.  How about you?

Even at its best, life is unpredictable.  We never know what unexpected circumstances will arise needing our attention.  However, even when it is not great, life comes from God, and there are always aspects for which we can be thankful.

A Horrible Day

Often, we have one of those days that just seems off somehow.  Nothing happened that we could not handle, but it just seemed that a few limits had been pushed.  Some days, you and I can be out of sorts and not be sure of the cause.  Jesus is still Lord even on those days.  His grace is sufficient on those “off” days.  Furthermore, He cares about those off days, and we are free to bring them to Him asking for grace.

life 2Unfortunately, there are days that are just horrible no matter how you look at them.  Various circumstances or events can be the cause.  A bad report from a doctor, the death of a friend or loved one, the loss of a job, receiving divorce papers, or a variety of other negative events can change our lives in nearly a split second.  Jesus is still Lord in these times and circumstances.  He is in control.  Of course, knowing He is in control can lead to questions.  How can a loving God allow these things to happen?

No matter how overwhelming life becomes, we can still go to Jesus for healing and restoration.  Even if the circumstances are not that horrible, we can still go to Him and allow Him to take our frustrations.  There is nothing too big or too small for His care.

Dealing with the Overwhelming

There is no perfect, cut and dried answer that I can give you as to ways you can deal with life when it becomes too much.  All I know is that I have learned in every circumstance to go directly to God in prayer.  When I fail to do this, I usually end up taking matters into my own hands.  As a result, a mess of my own making usually occurs.

When life is overwhelming and problems seem to come at you in droves, it can be tempting to take matters into your own hands.  It can be tempting to make rash decisions that bring temporary relief.  1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that all temptations we face are common to other people.  In other words, other people have been where you are.  We are also reminded that God provides ways of escape through temptation.  As a result, you can run to Him when you are tempted to allow daily life to awaken every negative emotion you possess.  Mercy Seat 2

If you have had an unusually horrible day, or, if you have simply had an irritating day, go to the Lord and ask Him to help you learn from the experience.  If you are facing grief, find someone to talk with who can help you through the process.  God gave other people to help carry our burdens.  Ask those God has placed in your life for help, then, when the time comes, be willing to be of help to others.

Stubborn Versus Teachable (An Excerpt from “Overcomer”)

Have you ever been around a stubborn person? Perhaps you have obstinate tendencies yourself. I have experienced both. I have been around people who refuse instruction of any type, and I have been that stubborn person. The irony has been that I get so exasperated when dealing with an extremely stubborn person yet I conveniently forget that I can be obstinate in my own right. Neither scenario is pleasant.

Sadly, many people who are stubborn simply cannot see that flaw in themselves yet they can detect it in another person. Human nature can be hypocritical, but I will not go there since we discussed hypocrisy in the previous chapter.

Determination Is Needed

Joy 3Everyone needs determination to stand steadfast and avoid deceit from the enemy. Determination and stubbornness are different although the line can be fine. Determination is the God-given will to grow spiritually with the drive needed to press through challenges and difficult situations. Stubbornness is being unteachable and never willing to learn anything new because you are set in your ways.
When I was a child, I was very head-strong and willful. I was determined to have my own way and was convinced that no one could tell me what to do. How wrong I was! I am sure I helped contribute to gray hair for my mother’s head, but the Lord gave her the determination she needed to guide me to the correct my path. My grandmother told my mother that some of my willfulness was good because it would keep me from allowing people to take advantage of me. I believe this gave my mother some peace about my strong personality.

Flexibility Is a Must

Even if you have stubborn tendencies, you can remain teachable and flexible to the degree that God can mold you. That is where the deliverance lies for the stubborn person. Fortunately, when I gave my life to the Lord, my zeal to live to give Him glory helped me to see where obstinance could hinder my relationship with Him. I began to realize that I would have to crucify the flesh in that area of my life. If you struggle in this same area, you will begin to experience freedom when you realize that you must be pliable and moldable to God. We are not winning by remaining stubborn when we need to yield.belief featured image

When we yield to stubbornness, we have a strong tendency to believe we know everything and have nothing to learn from other people. That is a dangerous place to be in our lives! We block God’s hand from moving on our behalf as well as hindering our relationships with others.
Certainly, I am not saying that we should become doormats for other people and allow them to dictate our lives. We just need to remain flexible, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as to when we need to stand firm on an issue or be humble. It is a great challenge for the strong personality type, but we can do all things through Christ.

Now Is the Time to Redeem Your Time

The Bible has much to say about time.  Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of a time for every purpose under heaven.  Ephesians 5:16 says that we must redeem our time.  On a daily basis, I hear at least one person say, “I don’t have time for that,” when speaking of a certain activity.  Another statement that I hear people make is “I need to make time for that.”

God has the answers to our time problem.  If we give Him our time, He will help us to redeem it.  Anything you give to God, He gives back in abundance.

What Happens to Our Time?

time 3Everyone has the same amount of time in a day.  We just all choose how we are going to spend it.  Some of what fills our time are those things which must be done such as jobs, taking care of sick loved ones, or both.  Other activities that fill our time are those that we choose.  Often, we think we have no choice in those extra activities, but, the truth is, we can choose to keep or eliminate certain activities from our schedules.

We are living in the last days as the time of Christ’s return is drawing near.  The enemy of our souls, Satan, knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12).  He is sending demonic forces to God’s people with distractions to steal time.  Unfortunately, the plan is working.  However, that does not have to be the case.  We have been given power over the enemy (Luke 10:19 and Ephesians 6:10-18).  We can redeem our time because the Word tells us to.  If God tells us something that we need to do, He gives us what we need to accomplish it.

Some other wastes of precious time are gossip, worry, time spent dwelling on negative thoughts, strife, too much social media time, and any other sin.  That which is contrary to God’s will wastes your time.  Spending time arguing on social media (or even excessive scrolling on social media), bashing others on social media, or gossip in general is a waste of time.  That is why we are told to encourage others.  It is a much better use of our time.

I will make a confession.  There have been seasons in my own life that I wasted time worrying about what people thought of me.  Yes, that can waste time!  Such thinking kept me from obeying God in much needed ways.

How can you redeem your time?

The word even tells you what you can do to redeem your time.  I have found that if I spend time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study daily, and put Him first, that my time has a way of being blessed.  Of course, there have been activities, enjoyable activities that I have had to eliminate at certain times to do this.  I am not saying that we can never do what we enjoy, but we have to be selective during busy seasons in our lives.

After reading Ephesians 5:16, the verse in which we are instructed to redeem our time, there are other verses that give us some clues.  We are told further on in chapter 5 to understand what the will of the Lord is.  We are also told to encourage each other.  time

In order to understand what the Lord is, I have to have a relationship with Him and be knowledgeable of His word.  That is the only way I can understand what the will of the Lord is which contributes to redeeming our time.

If you are uncertain of steps you can take to redeem your time from the enemy, seek the Lord for wisdom.  Ask Him to show you what you need to do.  When He does show you, as He will, you must be willing to be obedient.  Sometimes, we are not in agreement with what God says about activities that would best serve us and others.

Selfishness can often play a part in stealing time.  Often, God asks us to do for others, but we have no desire to obey.  Ask God to change your desires.  Until He does, do what He is asking of you even if you do not wish to comply.

 

Take a few moments today and seek God about redeeming your time.  He is a great redeemer, and He will guide you in the right direction.