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.

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.

 

Why I Need Jesus

Everyone needs Jesus.  It does not matter if you are a good person with impeccable morals.  Why do you need Him if you are good?  Even at your best, you are not perfect.  Neither am I.  There is no way that we could live by every word in the Word without Jesus.

The Way, The Truth, The Life

No Confidence in the Flesh 2Although it is politically incorrect to say so, Jesus is the only way to God the Father.  There is no other way.  Of course, there will be people who say you can get to God and heaven by your own merit, or, by finding another way.  The fact is, the Bible says something different.

John 14:6 declares Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to God except through Him.  In John 10:1, Jesus said the following:  “Amen, amen I tell you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber (TLV).”  Jesus is the door, so to speak, and you can only enter by Him.  If you attempt to go another way, you will not make it in.

There is no desire for me to sound self righteous or facetious, but I have to tell the truth.  As for me, I would go no other way.  Jesus has been everything I have ever needed.  He saved me.  He has healed me physically and emotionally.  He has delivered me from dangerous habits.  He has set me free from myself (at times, I can be my own worst enemy).

I Need Him

I need Jesus because I have a tendency to wander off in dangerous directions when I go on my own.  When I attempt to live without Jesus, I am mean, hateful, and cruel.  My life falls apart when I attempt to put anything before Him.

As a wife, mother, daughter, church leader, teacher, family member, and friend, I need Jesus to make those relationships work.  In Christ, I can do all things. Without Him, I can do nothing.  That is why I need Him.belief featured image

After the birth of my youngest child, I nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.  Not only was my body in limbo, but my heart and mind were too.  My sister and only sibling had passed away unexpectedly about three weeks before my daughter was born.  The reality of the loss began to hit shortly after my daughter’s birth.  Had it not been for Jesus, I would have lost my mind.  He kept me sane.  He helped me to see what He had given me (husband, children, family).  He walked with me through grief.

When I fell into seasons of sin, He drew me back where I needed to be.  Sometimes, He had to get tough as I am very stubborn.  He never gave up on me.  That is why I need Him.

You need Him too.  No matter how good you are, your goodness is not enough to have eternal life.  You must accept the fact that He went to the cross and died for you, then rose on the third day defeating death.  When you accept Him and acknowledge your need for Him, peace and joy come in abundance.  No Confidence in the Flesh 2

 

Occupy

In Luke 19, Jesus told a parable that served as an illustration of His second coming.  Verse 13 leaves a firm command that says “occupy until I come.”  The parable was a story of a man who left to go on a trip, leaving his servants in charge.  They were to take care of his personal money matters until he returned.  One servant failed to do what had been asked of him.  The results were anything but positive.

The Second Coming

Occupy until I come, Luke 19_13As Christians, we hear often about being prepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Although it is a soon coming reality, we miss an important part of what Jesus was saying in the parable.  He will return, but he wants us to occupy until he comes.  The word occupy in this particular text comes from a word that is speaking of an action similar to a military occupation.  In other words, we are not expected to sit idly by while looking for the Lord’s return.  We have work to do, action to take.

While we are waiting, we have life.  The life we have is by the grace of God, so, we should be living that life in a manner pleasing to Him.  Not only should we do our best in all our undertakings, but we should also point people to Jesus Christ.  Our job is not to be idle or careless, but we should be living lives obedient to the Holy Spirit, then, when He returns, we will not be caught by surprise.

What Should You Do?

The theme of my blog comes from Philippians 1:21 which states that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  When God calls us home, it will be gain.  In the meantime, to live is Christ.  Living my life is pleasing to Christ.  Even when it is mundane and appears to be of no significance, it pleases Christ for me to live to glorify Him.

When you demonstrate His love to others through acts of charity or mercy, it brings glory to Him.  Think about it.  You have at least one opportunity on a daily basis to demonstrate forgiveness.  There are opportunities on a daily basis to bring glory to Christ through the way you live.  Behold, I come quickly, Rev. 22_12

The phrase “to live is Christ” does not indicate a life that is perfect, nor does it indicate a perfect person.  You and I will make mistakes.  When we do, we should repent, then move on.  When those who do not know Christ see us repent of wrong doing and move on, it will speak volumes about the love of Christ.

While we are waiting on Christ to return, we do not have time to get into disputes over various end-time beliefs.  Trust me, I have my own views concerning how it will all take place.  We should spend our time spreading the good news of salvation.  We should live to make a small difference in the life of another person.  It is important that we occupy because Jesus might return during your lifetime or mine, but if He does not physically return, the time will come when He calls us home.  Either way, we need to occupy while we are here.

Unity with Christians

Our unity with Christ and each other, as Christians, is so vital that Jesus labored in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death over those who would be His.  John 17 provides a detailed look at the prayer of Jesus.  He labored in prayer to the point that His sweat became blood.

Unity with Christ

UnityBefore you or I can be in unity with each other, we must first be cultivating our own individual relationships with Christ.  In Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus first instructed those around Him to love the Lord with everything in them.  After quoting these words from Deuteronomy, Jesus finished the rest of the command which was to love your neighbor as yourself.

If you or I fail in loving God, we will fail in loving each other.  God is love, therefore, it is vital that I am found in Him so that I can love Him in return, then, love my Christian brothers and sister.

A relationship with God has to be cultivated through prayer and time in the Word.  If I avoid speaking to God and fail to listen to Him, what kind of relationship would I have with him?  If you avoid communicating with your spouse, friends, or family members, can you truly have good relationships with them?  If you avoid listening to your loved ones, is a good relationship with them possible?

Unity with Each Other

I have heard some Christian teachers say that unity does not mean uniformity.  In other words, I do not have to become just like others in order to love them.  In fact, I do not even have to agree with all they do to love them.  Love is not dependent upon uniformity.  The love of God is so much more.  Love still chooses to seek a relationship with an individual although there are differences.

God made us all unique (see Psalm 139).  He did not want us to become clones of one another.  He knows we all look at things differently.  He knows that we are not going to serve Him in the same way.  I believe He did this intentionally.  Unity 2

When you listen to a band or an orchestra, you notice that the instruments are not all the same.  They have different sounds.  With practice, those who play the instruments learn to harmonize their sounds so a beautiful symphony is heard.  It is the same with God’s people.  Our different gifts can come together and harmonize to accomplish the spreading of the gospel and building up of the kingdom of God on the Earth.

How to be in Unity

There is no magical formula to the challenge of unity in the body of Christ.  It is a matter of working together despite differences.  Accept that there are issues on which you will disagree with your brothers and sisters.  Accept that they are not just like you.  Be willing to work together despite the differences.

It is time for a disclaimer.  I am not saying that we are to accept the message of those who claim there is another way to God besides Christ nor am I suggesting that we go along with teaching that is blatantly false.  I am suggesting that we lay aside those differences that are not a matter of eternal salvation and work with each other to win people to Jesus Christ.  There comes a time when we must decide to only know Christ and Him crucified. The rest can wait while we point the lost to Jesus.

Keep Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but the morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

Do Not Throw It Away

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed on Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

Be Encouraged

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.

 

 

 

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.