Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three: The Law

Gift of Gods law

 

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

This Christmas, when we think about getting what we want, I am thankful that God in His wisdom does not always give us what we want.  Further, in His mercy, He did not give us what we really deserve – His judgment.

We are all rule breakers in one way or another, often rationalizing our weaknesses away, but God’s righteous standard is held.  He does not leave us in a state of deception, but opens our eyes through His perfect law found in His Word, revealing our sin and need for a Savior.

What a gift – absolute truth – steady, unchanging and Holy in a chaotic relevant world.  In a culture that demands its own way and makes laws to condone its sin, there still stands a righteous standard.

Many feel that this standard set by God steals our freedom and joy, but no greater freedom has anyone than the one who can see his sin that shackles him and can walk away from it.

Even though we could never fulfill God’s commandments perfectly, God in His sovereignty and mercy fulfilled it for us.  His law brought condemnation so we could see our need of Him.

As we visualize ourselves opening these gifts that You have given us, Lord, help us to see Your law at work in our lives and to submit ourselves to Your will in every area of our lives.

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Strong Woman

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Proverbs 31:25-31

25 “She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come.  26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.  27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. 31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” 

Everywhere we turn today – the media, our culture – is spitting out (seemed an appropriate term to use) images of what is deemed beautiful in a woman.  Discipling a throng of wannabe stars, girls flock to the perspective endorsed and propogated by our world as if it brings life – as if it were true that their worth was tied to their outside appearance or beauty.

The temporary pleasure brought about by the pursuit of praise from man lingers momentarily only to give birth to shame. Visible in the teen girls who dare to flaunt and show what they consider to be their charms, or by grown women who still have not seen their true worth, sadly their fashion exposes their nakedness instead.  True beauty is long forgotten by a culture that does not fear God, nor have time to in the flurry of being relevant to whomever the “powers that be” are.

But not every knee has bowed.  Women indeed have a position of significance and a place in this culture that is one of the most profound and impactful positions of all.  The hand that rocks the cradle, that dares to invest her life’s work in the next generation in the fear of the LORD – this is the hand of strength.  Serving her family in seemingly pointless tasks, she is laying a foundation of righteousness in a lost world.

Not concerned with being “cool” or following the latest fad, the wise woman invests her life in God’s calling.  A student of the Word, her first clothing of the day that she prizes more than trying to look “hot” in some new style is delighting in God’s Word.  This relationship with the LORD guides her in every aspect of her life and she is not shaken when the storm comes.

Young women, you are the future.  Don’t allow yourself to be molded by a surface view of who you really are in Christ.  You are a woman of substance.  You are not defined by man’s praise or the lack of it.  Your beauty lies in Christ alone.

Older women, don’t let another moment pass you by without utilizing the influence God has given for the glory of God in those around you.   Don’t allow fear to hold you back from being what you were destined and called to be – a handmaiden of the LORD – placed exactly where He has you, to nurture those around You with His Word.

This woman of virtue defined in Proverbs is a collective description that gives us hope.  This strength from on high is available to all who will be still to seek the Giver of everything we need to be godly women.

We were not meant to be subjects kept for the pleasure of men.  Wise, godly men need a godly counterpart to walk beside them, not beneath them.  We were meant to provide instruction and guidance and should not allow culture or society to displace us in this regard.  Our household depends upon it, and our faithfulness in regard to seeking God and influencing our household with His hope and love has an eternal impact that no one can ever take away.

Lord, thank You for the calling You have given every daughter of Yours.  You delight in us and made us for Your glory. Help us to yield to Your will and to walk in purity, radiating Christ to this desperate world around us.

Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us to be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Thoughtful Thursday: Perspective

Photo Credits latinegro.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
latinegro.wordpress.com

Psalm 41:6-7

6 When someone comes to visit, he pretends to be friendly; he thinks of ways to defame me, and when he leaves he slanders me.

Psalm 39:1-7

39:1 I decided,  “I will watch what I say and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.  I will put a muzzle over my mouth while in the presence of an evil man.” 2 I was stone silent; I held back the urge to speak. My frustration grew; 3 my anxiety intensified. As I thought about it, I became impatient. Finally I spoke these words: 4O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life!  Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 5 Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective.  Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.  6 Surely people go through life as mere ghosts.  Surely they accumulate worthless wealth without knowing who will eventually haul it away.” 7 But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying? You are my only hope! 

Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

David was acquainted with suffering.  Even on his sick bed his enemies were plotting against him.  But David’s hope was not in the present – it was in the future.  He had dealt with people being jealous of him and attacking him.  Life’s joy was seemingly sapped from him, but He held on.  He held onto something greater.  God alone.  God granted him perspective to realize how brief life was – but not before David cried out for this understanding.

Jesus knew the agony of betrayal and what it was to have even his closest friend kiss him in the very act.  He cried out to God the Father, as well, and gained all of our souls with his suffering.  He knew the prize for obedience was far greater than momentary suffering.  Perspective makes all the difference.

Ever feel like the world is against you?  The world abounds with jokes and suggestions at comforts that can appease this pain, but the only real relief comes from being immersed in Jesus and His Word.  Searching His Word brings perspective to the sincere seeker.  Running to God in prayer grants peace that the world knows nothing about.

Instead of wanting deliverance from the enemies, David wanted understanding.  Instead of wanting deliverance from the cup He was about to drink, Jesus sought obedience as far more precious.  Only God can change our hearts and minds and give us His perspective.

When our expectations meet God’s perspective, we are undone.  Where were our expectations formed?  God’s Word clearly describes troubles we will have in this world, but our flesh desires peace and comfort.  Peter knew troubles, too, and expected them.  Knowing the purpose of life’s challenges makes our perspective of trials even clearer.

Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see that Your purposes are far greater than our understanding.  Help us to seek Your glory in all things and to trust You, even when our perspective is a little blurry.

41:7 All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another; 19 

they plan ways to harm me.

How to Heal from Trauma

Psalm 107:13-16

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.”

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds.”

Let the words from the Scriptures above reach down into your soul and bring healing.  Our God is able to bring us out of dark times and burst our bonds.  He is able to shatter doors of bronze and iron.  What does that mean?  He is stronger than anything in our lives and able to help us overcome what seems insurmountable.  Whatever has us shackled, whether it is the past, filled with heart breaking sorrow, or the future that we are dreading as some news threatens to steal your joy, everything is possible for we who are overcomers in Christ Jesus.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.  Fragile enough to be harmed, but strong enough to recover.  But sometimes the hurt goes so deep and has affected us so profoundly that it appears hopeless that we will ever see real healing.

Life is hard enough without all the harm people do to other people.  Growing in responsibilities and facing all of life’s surprises is made significantly more difficult when we go through something so horrific it alters our very existence and approach in life.

Emotional turmoil brought on by traumatic events is not an easy fix.  We can see easily enough wounds wrought on the surface, whether it is a scraped knee or a more serious physical injury, but the wounds to the heart and the human spirit are not so easily discerned or healed.  How does one heal from abuse?  A sudden death?  A diagnosis that is too hard to bear?

Jesus.  Yes, I know – it is the answer everyone says in Sunday school class when they don’t know the answer.  Ironically enough, He is the answer.  What does it mean to give someone Jesus?  It means running to His Word and searching for comfort there.  It means that people who have been traumatized just want to be understood.  We do not just want meals or wise words thrown at us.  We need someone to weep with us and help us to see that God does have a hope and a future. We need someone to climb down in the pit with us and help us find a new way of functioning; acknowledging the sorrow but then asking God with us for wisdom and for His solution as well as practical helps.

I write today as one who has endured a lot of significant trauma in my life and seen God’s healing hand in my life.  I write as someone who wants to help other people I love dearly and people I do not know receive this same healing.  Facing the trauma takes bravery and honesty.  We have to expose the lies.  We are not the only one.  Part of trauma’s potent blow is that we feel isolated, strange, different because we have suffered something that we do not want to utter. No one else wants to hear about it, either.  Choosing to not believe the lies that are encompassing us about as we try to grab onto some hope that we will not always be “damaged” is nothing short of miraculous.

Sometimes the only trust we can have is in the fact that God is good and that He keeps His promises.  Even believing this truth is challenging when we are myopic and our view is clouded by our pain.

Believing that we are not defined by our deepest sorrow takes faith.  It means taking God at His word.  Despite the fact that our suffering has affected us in such negative ways, the only label we need bear is “child of God”.  Not “victim”, not “strange”, but “beloved” and “cherished” and “healed” by a God Who loves us.

When we do not have the strength to muster to proclaim that we have overcome and we no longer have it in us to keep going, that place which seems like an end is a new beginning.  At the end of ourselves, we can only look to Jesus.  Like the woman who grabbed the cloak of Jesus in desperation, we need to come to that end of trying to make it on our own and admit our need of Him to heal us.  We are not strong enough or wise enough to heal on our own,  but our God Who made us is.

Lord, there are so many hurting people and my heart breaks for each one.  I know You are enough – help me to be Your hands and feet and to bring healing to your children through Your Word and Your holy Spirit.  Help all victims to arise as victors in Christ; give us strength and heal us from the deepest place of our wounds and show Yourself as Almighty God.  Nothing is too difficult for You, our Jehovah Rapha.

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!

Scriptural Sunday: We Have the Mind of Christ

Photo Credits: christintheclouds.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
christintheclouds.blogspot.com

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”  God has revealed these to us by the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”  11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?   But we have the mind of Christ.”

Philippians 2:5

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

On Sundays, I want to simply share Scripture and a prayer from my devotion time to reflect on.

Lord, what is man, that You would give us Your Spirit and reveal deep mysteries to us?  That You would grant us the mind of Christ?  Wow.  We cannot understand the simplest words from Your Word without You mercifully opening our eyes. We are humbled, oh God, by Your kindness.  We are blessed to have seen any revelation from You.

Lord, help us to fill our mind with only what pleases You, to choose to dwell on thoughts that bring You glory.  Thank You for opening our eyes to see and to know You!

The Fruit of an Apt Reply

Luke 12:12, 17, 34, 37

12 Now they wanted to arrest him (but they feared the crowd), because they realized that he told this parable against them.  So they left him and went away17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Then no one dared any longer to question him37 If David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.

Proverbs 2:10

For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you.

Our response when we hear truth, even when it hurts, shows the condition of our hearts.  We can choose to ignore it and run away, we can stand in amazement or listen with delight, or be humbled and silent.  I love the feeling I get when truth in God’s word pierces my soul – it is a cleansing, a revealing that sets me free.  It is not condemnation, but a sweet conviction or affirmation that heals my soul.

But what if no one had ever been willing to share truths with me that might hurt initially, but ultimately would liberate my soul?  I thank God for people who loved me enough to share a fitting word, whether it was for my edification or instructional, which bore fruit and brought glory to God.  We are called to follow Christ’s example and to speak the truth in love.  Of course Jesus is perfect and His answer will always be perfect, holy and fitting.  We can get off track and forget why we have to be prepared at all times to share God’s word.  Paying it forward, some call it – Scripture says that just as we have received, so we should give.  Not just material belongings, but the deep spiritual truths that we have been entrusted with.  It is not just a defense of the Gospel for knowledge sake, no, it is a fervent desire to share God’s love with another and set them free from the bondage of sin.

If I have this deposit from God contained in this clay vessel and forget the mission I am on, I can get puffed up with this knowledge which was given to change me to be more like Him and to serve and help heal others.  We desperately need truth – we need our eyes to be opened to the constant deceit satan is dispensing.  We do not need enablers who will flatter, nor do we need condescending judgmentalism.  We need to be prepared at all times and sensitive to God’s leading to share God’s message to one another.

The greatest commandment – to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength – propels us to fulfill the second greatest commandment – to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Sometimes that love takes action by providing for a need, and other times by speaking an apt word to another soul loved by God.  May we be ready to do both.

Lord, help us too be led by You in our busy lives, to study Your word and share it with a dying world.

Which Way is Right?

Proverbs 16:2

“All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives.”

Psalm 81:12

“I gave them over to their stubborn desires; they did what seemed right to them.”

Here we are again on Thoughtful Thursday.  I am so grateful for the wisdom God gives us in His Word.  Reading the book of Proverbs is like drinking refreshing water for the soul.  Today I was struck by the verses above, one from Proverbs and one from the Psalms.  Evaluating truth has become very complex today – determining what is right is almost considered being judgmental – in truth, we stumble over its simplicity.

Who is right today?  So many differing political and religious opinions – how can we know truth?  It is an age old question that Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:28, “What is truth?”  Pressed by all those who were claiming many falsehoods about Christ, Pilate knew that Christ embodied the truth – He was truth personified – and yet Pilate caved and acquiesced to the voices that were louder.  The people wanted an insurrectionist, a murderer, a terrorist, if you will, released – Barabbas – not God.  Not truth, but a lie.  Claiming innocence, he still did not lead according to truth, but according to peer pressure.  Sound familiar?

Left to our own devices, we are easily led astray, too – that is the natural drift.  We think so many thoughts in a day, I cannot fathom counting them all, yet God knows each and every one.  Amazing.  God can reveal our inner heart if we ask Him to help us recognize our hidden motives.   Running our thoughts through the filter of God’s Word and through prayer helps us to discern whether our thinking is godly and right.  Only He can evaluate our thoughts accurately and justly – we lack the objectiveness and sincerity.  Top that off with the reality that our own hearts within us are deceitful.  Bummer.  But laying down our agendas again and again, surrendering our way to His Word is a great start and lifestyle.

We have all heard the WWJD phrase, and I believe it was helpful, at first.  But complacency and rationalization often keep me lulled into a sense of “I’m ok”, and excusing myself based on my intentions rather than my actions.  I can whitewash any motive and sanctify it with nice religious sounding terms, but the Holy Spirit nudges me – do I listen?  Sometimes I just want to rest.  I want to feel like I have arrived.  But we dare not look back from the plow and cease our laboring in Christ – it will be worth it all.

God does grant us rest in Him, but we must saturate our minds in His Word to ascribe toward the mind of Christ.  Our flesh is always ready to offer an easier road, but it is a deceitful one.  Cling to God and His Word today.  Read when you don’t want to.  Do hard things and run hard after God.  God promises to give us wisdom if we cry out – He alone can reveal if the path we are on is right. Unlike Pilate, let us not be sidetracked by the multitude of opinions or political correctness.  Like Pilate, let us recognize that only Christ was truth and the source of discerning truth.  He still is today.  Recognizing Christ as LORD and truth is not the same as living that truth out in relationship.  Keep living the truth and put truth out there – lest any goodness remaining in this world become engulfed with lies.

Lord, please open up our eyes to see Your truth.  Help us to boldly proclaim your truth and not cave in to the fear of man.  God help us and have mercy on us!