Thought Life

Thought Life

 

 

“What he thinks is what he really is.”  Prov. 23:7

Most everyone who knew Michael enjoyed his company. He was an excellent supervisor, a mature elder, a gifted city-league ball player, a charitable man, father and husband of one wife. Michael was the kind of guy people would line up to toast at his funeral. Most men envied him and many women secretly wished their husbands had some of his traits.

But who was Michael…really? His secret thought life was not exactly parallel with his exterior. Over the years Michael developed resentment at not being selected as the Vice President of his corporation and he harbored a simmering bitterness. The same was true in his church life. He spent more than ten years at his church before being selected as an elder. This was definitely not right or fair, he thought, casting the blame on his pastor who he knew was responsible.

And so it went for Michael, finding fault with people and companies who he blamed for various insults and rejections. His thought life was his secret refuge, a place that allowed him to get even. His thought life was also building a wall between himself and the Lord. “After all, the Lord could have given me the desires of my heart,” he thought.

Michael frequently retreated to a secret thought life in which he was superior, the winner, the smartest and best. The problem with living like that is–it is not real. It is a false life that leads us away from actual life and its challenges. And for a Christian, real life is built on their faith in Jesus Christ and forgiveness of sins, not promises to give material possessions and power.

What do you “think”? Are you building a secret thought life that gives you the pleasure and gratitude you “think” you deserve? Satan is the father of lies and is willing and able to help you along that road. He did remind a hungry Jesus that He could turn stones into bread!

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

Rom. 12:2-3  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

1 Cor. 8:2-3  Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by him.

1 Cor. 3:18-20  You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God’s sight. As the scripture says, ”God traps the wise in their cleverness.” (Job 5:13).; and another scripture says, ”The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless” (Ps. 94:11).

Eph. 3:13-21  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Many people have written books that promise riches through positive thinking. Why do you suppose so many books and celebrities talk about the same idea? Because there is truth in it. A kernel of truth that says whatever you think you will walk in. If you think you are a loser, that is how you will live. Your life will manifest circumstances to convince you it is so.  

As a Christian, it is essential that we think on Jesus Christ and his promises so our life will reflect the light of God. See Phil. 4:8-9. Think on these things!

 

 

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Am I Generous?

Am I Generous?

 

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.  Ecc.5:10

 

Two business graduate students from an Eastern college decided to experiment with the generosity of people across the United States. They traveled as two young men who’d lost all their money and needed help getting to their destination. Their sole purpose was to see if they could determine, overall, which economic level was the most generous; poor or rich.

            Like most of us, they had been raised with the idea that rich people, for the most part, are not generous; that they tend to grab for more and don’t have time for those down on their luck. These two students were embarking on a nationwide trip to take firsthand notes.

            After three weeks and several hundred meetings, meals, handouts and job opportunities, their discovery actually fortified the idea that the rich are not as generous as the poor. They were stunned as people with barely enough to get by were the first to help them, giving freely of food, money and a place to stay the night!

            The higher up the economic ladder they went the more suspicious and less generous they found people to be. Most often these people expressed the idea that they should take care of themselves. Rarely did they meet a person of wealth who offered them lodging.

            If these two young men came across our lives what would be our response? Would they leave our lives touched with the generous love of the Lord, filled with food, clothing and a place to stay? Or would we be found on the list of those not willing to reach out with help?

            Matt. 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            Matt. 6:1-4  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            Luke 6:30-31  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Prov. 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
      when it’s in your power to help them.

Lining our lives up with Jesus shatters our worldly ideas and dreams. He takes us beyond the rules and liturgy of the Pharisees into a world of personal responsibility and servanthood. He led the way by showing Himself as a servant instead of the Lord of all the world. Jesus did what His Father in heaven required of Him and that is what He expects of us.

How Fickle

How Fickle

“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in every thing He might be preeminent. ~ Col. 1:18

Father, do I live in the deeply rooted knowledge that You control everything? In this verse are a few of Your true characteristics, the very fibers of Your being: You are the beginning, the conqueror of death, You exist in everything, and nothing is outside of You. I place my hope and trust in all manner of fickle things such as medicine, science, money, and myself.

Lord, there is nothing on this earth that protects me but You. If You reign over all things and have set a course for my life, then You are my sole protector and protector of my soul. Lord, help me turn to You with the “little” things: What present should I give a friend or loved on? Should I volunteer for that event? Is it right to stay late and get ahead of my work? All these decisions I take into my own hands because they seem so insignificant, yet You purchased my life with Yours; therefore, nothing is insignificant to You.

Father, reveal to me the fickle things that I place trust in and help me turn to You with my “little” prayers and questions. When storms arise, the little moments and short trials secure my trust in You. Thank You that You are steadfast. Thank You that You are not fickle and You cannot deny Your holiness and justice, or compassion. Amen.  ~Prayers for an Anxious Heart

Where Is My Passion?

Where Is My Passion?

“Rejoice in the Lord always” Philippians 4:4

            If I had loads of money would my life be better or more satisfying? Am I looking for God’s guidance, wisdom, and direction each day or am I hoping for a miraculous change—a heavenly rescue.

            Do I think I will be more useful to God and others if I strike at rich, win the lottery or write a best seller? As a Bible-believing Christian, how does God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit impact my life as it is? Has Jesus Christ become nothing more than Fire Insurance to me?

            Last weekend brought forth the culmination of the NFL…The Super Bowl. Millions of people spent several hours cheering, yelling, hoping against hope that their favorite team would win. Beginning with the first kickoff, passion exploded across America with people cheering, screaming, shaking fists and raising arms in excitement, hoping for victory. All this for something temporary, something that will fade into obscurity at the last trumpet blast when Jesus Christ comes in glory!

            And what of the believer? Where is our passion? We have a treasure hidden in our hearts, the greatest gift ever given, a gift never to erode or pass away. The gift of forgiveness, redemption and eternal life. So where are our tailgate parties and festive, cheering meetings? As receivers of the greatest gift given at the greatest price, where is our football-like excitement and passion? It seems as though it is hidden. Rather than telling our workmates and neighbors about life eternal and the Salvation of Jesus Christ, we would rather take off our armor, set aside the grace of Jesus Christ and join in Monday morning sports talk.

            “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”  ~Revelation 3:15-16

            1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

 9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:1-21

            Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Just A Dollar

Just A Dollar

            The cries for help cascade down with unceasing frequency. Newsletters, celebrities, radio talk-show hosts and TV commentators point out unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon ordinary people around the globe. We are inundated with the verifiable cries for financial help in places we cannot even find on the map. Our hearts break. And just as we are about to send money to an organization, headlines scream of corruption and fraud. Plastered on newspaper’s front pages and TV screens are images of charitable foundation CEO’s, accused of theft. What can we do?

            We have probably all heard of or read the Bible story about the poor widow who gave a few cents in her offering box. This seemingly insignificant act may have passed unnoticed except for the watchful eyes of a nearby man. Jesus. His observation is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12:

            Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins [worth about a penny]. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

            And now what? How does that story help us give or determine to whom we should give? Or perhaps some of us may be thinking, how much to give.

            I believe we can glean at least two important lessons from the sacrificial giving of this legendary Biblical widow: 1.) We are without excuse when it comes to sacrificial giving, using her as our example. 2.) The smallest amount will do, as long as we give.

            Combining sacrifice with giving opens new doors of opportunity for us. Do you have a local Food Bank organization or shelter in your area? How about the Kiwanas or Lions club who both offer free services? Perhaps you’ve heard of a church who feeds the hungry and poor. Now you can help by giving the smallest amount or volunteering.

            Say you live in an area with a population of 10,000. What if everyone gave one dollar per month to a charitable organization? Yes, that would amount to $10,000! There is truly power in tiny contributions.

Feelings

Feelings

 

“My sheep listen to My voice—no one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28

 

Trent and Pastor Al were going over their weekly study material when Trent said, “I’ve got to admit that sometimes I feel confused about my Christianity, pastor. I feel like someone wandering in the desert without a compass. It’s not that I want to walk away from the Lord but—”

“You feel lost and uncertain?”

“Exactly. I feel adrift like a boat without a rudder, taken around the ocean wherever the waves and winds direct.”

“I’ve felt that way, Trent. Your feelings are not unique my friend. Most Christians have those feelings from time to time. The only cure I know is to get into the Word and remind yourself what God says about us and how much He loves us. Feelings are never a good rudder, Trent, they are variable and not dependable.”

“For example, have you ever received a text from a friend that sent you into a slump because you thought they were attacking you or perhaps ignoring you?”

“Oh yeah. That happened with one of my best friends once. I was really hurt until we got together and he explained what he meant. Then all was well.”
“Exactly. Your feelings were hurt and you listened to them for awhile before your friend explained himself. So, in that case, were your feelings trustworthy?”

“Not at all. I allowed my feelings to guide me down the wrong path without any facts at all. I was quick to believe my friend wrote something hurtful even though I know he would never do such a thing.”

“Feelings. You fed them and they quickly turned a small ember into a raging fire in your heart. And your friend was not even aware of your feelings.
“More importantly, how many times have we allowed our feelings to take us away from the Lord because we believed a lie or allowed doubt and confusion to guide us along a rough, pot-hole-filled road? Let’s look at the Bible and remind ourselves of who we are in Christ.”

John 10:10-11 ~I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

John 11:25-26 ~Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Peter 1:3-5 ~All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

John 10:27-30 ~My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

John 6:35-40 ~Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

1 John 4:4 ~But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Romans 8:38 ~And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Matthew 11:28-30 ~Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

“You’re right, pastor, my feelings of confusion and doubt have gone away after reading these verses with you. It’s like washing mud off a car. I feel encouraged and hopeful, just the opposite of what I did feel. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome, Trent. God’s word always brings us out of discouraging feelings. And now, the next time a friend of yours feels down, you can take them on the trip we just took. That’s how God works, isn’t it?”

“And I am so glad He does.”

 

Election’s Over – Now What?

Election’s Over – Now What?

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2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

As the realization of the Presidential election results resounds around the globe, there will be gallons of tears for some and ecstatic jubilation for others. Nothing new under the sun:

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

As for the famous, often quoted during difficult times, Scripture from 2 Chronicles above, this was God speaking to the Israelites thousands for years ago to assure them He was with them and if they followed His instructions (humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways) He would, indeed forgive their sins and heal their land!

Well, you may say, we are not the ancient Hebrews who brought sacrifices to the newly finished temple of God, we are 21st century people who may not even attend church regularly so how can this verse be of interest to us?

Look at it this way, if we focus on our part of that verse, how might it change our lives. For example: 1. Humble ourselves. 2. Pray (for ourselves, friends, neighbors, country). 3. Seek God’s face (more humble prayer and supplication). 4. Turn from our wicked (self-seeking, lying, greedy, etc) ways.

Since God adores our humble, selfless, repentance, He will gladly answer our prayers and grant his grace and mercy throughout the land. His love and purposes are never selfish but always selfless with repentance and redemption as His eternal guidelines.

Regardless of who we voted for, faith in almighty God will take the place of crumbling hope in political parties and their leaders. Let us dedicate ourselves to regular prayer for our leaders as we humble ourselves, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.