Love Is…

On my personal Facebook account, I belong to several bible study groups.  Mostly, I enjoy the posts in these groups, that is, when I have time to look at them.  Over the course of the weekend, some people in one group I belong to were arguing over the pagan origins of Easter and whether or not Christians should celebrate it.

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I could detail every argument that was made in this post for you, but that would take too much time.  Instead, I am going to address what I believe to be an extremely important point.  The point is love.

Pride

At the root of most arguments is pride. As Christians, it is easy to take pride in our knowledge.  Of course, we need knowledge.  God’s people perish for lack of knowledge; however, when the display of knowledge supersedes love, then it is nothing more than pride.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4, the word of God states that love is not proud.

When I observe these arguments, I often am tempted to add a few words myself.  Sometimes, I have.  It is then that I must question my own motives.  Do I really want to help people who might be misguided, or do I want to appear “right”?  Of course, there are some issues that are worthy of debate, but most issues are a matter or pride.

Are Religious Celebrations a Sin?

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When I have studied the origins of Easter, I can not deny that there is a pagan influence in the original celebrations, yet, I can say that what I am celebrating is not the Easter Bunny, but the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In my own heart, I know what I am celebrating.  When I am thanking the Lord for His sacrifice and victory, the Easter Bunny does not cross my mind. However, my children participated in egg hunts when they were smaller.

If you believe your children should not participate in egg hunts, then pay heed to that personal conviction.  If you have no problem with it, that is good also.  In our pursuit of righteousness, we must remember that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ, not our acts or deeds.  There are some matters in which we must be led by the Holy Spirit.  Any holiday or celebration could become an idol to some depending upon the condition of the heart.  What we must bear in mind is that it is the Lord who knows the heart.

Love is the Answer

If you truly believe fellow Christians are sinning by observing the death, burial, and resurrection on Easter weekend, then pray for them.  God is surely able to convict His people of wrongdoing.  Berating people and involving himself in heated arguments is not what Jesus would have done while on this Earth.

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If you truly believe celebrating Easter is just fine, then proceed.  The point is to walk in love and avoid needless arguing.  Read Romans 14.  Paul encouraged believers to take the high road of love with others and follow their own personal convictions for themselves.

Personally, I celebrate and give praise for the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ frequently, not just at this particular time of year.  I do this because He has changed my life.  He has changed me!  He has turned around impossible situations in my own life.  He has made me more than a conqueror.  No matter the time of the year, the love of Jesus is worth celebrating!

Truth and Deceit

I want to begin this post by apologizing that it has been so long since my last post.  With so many viruses going around, my husband, children, and I have taken turns with illnesses.  In addition, my children are both involved with school sports. I am not attempting to bombard you with too many of my life’s details, but I want my readers to know that my absence has not been from intentional neglect.

If we are all honest, we have all told what is known as bold-faced lies.  Many of us have omitted information that needed to be in our stories or statements, and, truthfully, many of us have added information that was not accurate to our stories and statements.  However, to be fair, we have omitted facts when relating events to people simply because all the details did not need to be told.  Those omissions are hardly a sin.  People do not want to know every detail of every story we tell.

Wisdom Versus Deceit

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The bible is very clear about walking in lies and deceit versus the truth, but sometimes the line between simply using wisdom in what we tell and willfully operating in deceit can be a fine one and even a bit blurry.  Not only does the Bible tell us what is expected of us, but the Word of God also gives strategies for living out His instruction.  Often, we are not looking for those strategies, or, we do not realize that we have come upon something that is meant to serve as an application.

Romans 12:2 is a perfect example of such an application.  We are told that knowing God’s will is accomplished through being transformed by renewing our minds.  In other words, changing our thinking is a key to victory over sin.  The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is full of practical wisdom in every day situations.  The Holy Spirit is meant to guide us as well.  John 16:13 states that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that since He guides us into all truth that He will guide our words? Of course!

In other posts, I have explained ways to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  In a nutshell, prayer and time in Word bring about that sensitivity.  Applying what we learn and obeying God makes us even more sensitive to His voice.  Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 10:19) that they had no need to worry about what they would say when they were facing persecution.  They were assured that God would give them the words to say.

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1 Peter 3:15 states that we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts in order to know how to answer everyone about the hope we have.  The word sanctify means “set apart”.  We must set apart time with the Lord and esteem Him higher than all else in our lives.  In doing this, we will be guided as to how to answer people about various issues with truthfulness, yet, without too much information.

Truth Brings Freedom

There are times in my past in which I walked in deceit with those around me.  If I felt it was needed, I would manipulate details in a story to make myself appear favorable.  Mind you, I was a born-again believer at this time.  Trust me, the Holy Spirit convicted me.  I did something dangerous with that conviction.  I did not listen to it.  Eventually, I hardened to the sound of His voice.  A time of repentance had to be taken to soften what was hardened.

Since that time, I have found such freedom in being truthful in all matters.  Of course, I still seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because I tend to blurt out too much “truth”.  Ephesians 4:15 states that we must speak the truth in love.  Love coupled with truth brings just the right amount of information.  Giving too many details, or, speaking truth too harshly can do more harm than good.  Thank God for His word and for giving us His Spirit to guide us.

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As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to live with integrity.  Doing this allows others to see Christ in us.  It also maintains good relationships with others.  If you are in the habit of being deceitful, ask the Lord to help you today.  He will never fail to answer.

On Guard

Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to be on guard, or, to guard various area of our lives.  Our hearts and minds are also to be guarded. If God’s word tells us not once, but several times, to be on guard, then it is important that we pay attention.

Guard Your Heart

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Proverbs 4:23 (CSB) states the following:  “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”  The word guard comes from the Hebrew word natsar meaning to observe, keep close, or serve as a watchman.  The only way to successfully guard your heart (spiritually speaking), which is said to be the source of life, is through checking everything that tries to enter.

At important events, particularly those involving government officials, a security guard is often posted at the entrance to check the guests for identification.  It is vital that the guards know who is entering the building because someone who wants to bring harm to a government official could be entering.

It is the same way with your heart.  As tedious as it may seem, you must check everything that comes to your mind because it will eventually make its way to your heart.  The thought must be identified by being lined up with what God’s word has to say about it.  If what is about to enter does not line up, it must be turned away.

Guard Your Mind

In order for the aforementioned security guard to prevent someone from harming a government official, the potential perpetrator must be stopped from entering the building.  Once he has entered, it is more difficult to stop him from doing harm.  It can be done, but often it is not without a cost.

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If you want to keep poison from entering your heart, you must guard what enters your mind.  Of course, you must set an extra guard at the door of your heart, but, if you watch what enters your mind first, entrance to your heart is highly unlikely.  Philippians 4:7 states that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

The key word is peace. If I am listening to the Holy Spirit, I will not have peace about something that is harmful. Neither will  you.  If a thought lines up with the word of God, peace will follow.  The peace God gives is not like anything else.  This peace will warn or confirm ahead of time before it is too late.  This type of peace does not make sense to others.  The only way to have the peace that guards is to sit at the feet of Jesus, so to speak, through prayer and study of the Word.  If you have no intimate relationship with Him, there is no true peace.

Guarding your heart and mind is just the beginning.  We have to guard our words, our relationships, and so much more.  This is a job for the Holy Spirit.  He is the look-out, but we must keep our focus on Jesus so we can know when we need to pay heed to a warning, or proceed on the path.

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I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for God’s ways that direct and guide.  If we listen, they will keep us from unnecessary trials.

 

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, there is no time like the present.  Romans 10:9-10 states that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  With the heart, you believe resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth you confess, resulting in salvation.

Just Ask

Are you unsure of the direction you need to take in a certain area of your life?  Do you need to know the best way to deal with a difficult person or situation?  There are a great number of situations in which we find ourselves that require divine wisdom from God.  The solutions to our problems are not always obvious.  Often, they require that we hear from the Holy Spirit.

If You Lack Wisdom

James 1:4 states that if anyone lacks wisdom, all that needs to be done is ask God.  There is a condition.  We must ask in faith without wavering.  In a previous post, I discussed wavering.  We all waver in faith from time to time.  Read that post if you need encouragement and help for a wavering mind.  Once you have your mind set, ask God.  He will not withhold what you need.  As a matter of fact, Psalm 84:11 declares that the Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly.

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Wisdom is a good thing, and it is a necessity to walk successfully in this life.  God will not withhold wisdom from you.  As for the part about walking uprightly, no one is perfect, but if you are placing your trust in Christ and walking daily with Him, then you are walking uprightly.  You will not be perfect, but you will not be living in a state of sin.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

After you have asked for wisdom, you must wait. Sometimes the answer comes quickly.  Most of the time, it comes rather slowly.

In my own personal experience, I have found that when I am waiting for God to show me what direction I need to take, or what I need to do about a given situation, the answer often comes when I am not even thinking about what I am needing.  For example, I have spent time praying about wisdom and for God to show me clear direction.  I have gone about my business to have the answer come to me when I was cleaning house or working on another task.

If you are waiting for God to show you direction in your life, do not give up.  He will guide you. Often, when you do not know what should be done, it means you should do nothing until you hear from God.  Now, I understand that some situations need an immediate answer.  I believe God will bring the answer as needed.  It is important that you seek Him everyday, and ask Him to prepare you for anything unexpected.  Then, when a need arises, God will show you the answer.

How God Speaks

Just Ask Blog 2When I mention that God speaks to me, I do not mean that I hear Him in an audible voice.  There are several ways I hear from God.  He speaks through His word.  That is why we need to read and study the Bible on a regular basis.  Another way He speaks is a knowing that you will have in your spirit (that is the only way I know to describe it).  He will speak through other people.  When He speaks through someone else, it is usually a confirmation of what you already know.  This is not always the case, but your spirit will bear witness if a word from someone else is from God.

In my own life, I have been seeking God for an answer to my own health issues.  He has been speaking to me for a while, but I was certain that I was not hearing from Him.  Finally, I got it.  The very answer I had been refusing was the one He had for me.  Suffice it to say, I have great joy and peace now that I have surrendered that to him.  (I will share more about this in the future.)

What about you?  Is your situation far from needing a cut and dry answer?  Our God has the answers that go beyond what is obvious.  Keep asking Him!  He will give clear direction.