Finding Our Peace Through God

It seems like these times we are living in are the most difficult of my 70 years. We’ve dealt with national health crisis before but not like this one. COVID-19 has had not only a terrible toll in deaths but also on the economy. People are angry and upset over the dilemma of masks. Tension over racial relations has always been with us but has escalated to an all-time high. People are much less respectful of one another. There is the debate over capitalism versus socialism. Very few trust the news media to deliver the news as opposed to giving us their propaganda. The need for peace in our lives has increased exponentially. How and where do we find it?

One form of peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there's no fighting or war, everything coexisting in perfect harmony and freedom. I can’t remember a time when there was not a war somewhere in the world we were not a part of in some form.

There is also a peace and calmness in your life when you are free from the stress of turmoil in your life. You are seldom totally free from problems in your life. Then what is peace through God? John 14:27 -“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Romans 5:1 - “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This peace through God is not the absence of troubles. I’ve come to believe for the most part it is acceptance of your situation whatever it maybe. It’s not a giving up or caving in to the situation but a form of recognition that God is with you. As I’ve written before, he’s got your back! Praying is an integral part of finding the peace of God. I want to use my family experiences as an example.

My sister, Dianne, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998-99. The doctor recommended a radical mastectomy of both breast resulting in only a 5% chance of the cancer returning. She agreed to the treatment course. Two years later she was at the doctor’s office to see about a sinus infection. It was cancer in her brain, then they found it in her liver and everywhere. The medical recommendation was a series of three bone marrow transplants. They would either cure Dianne or kill her. She called a halt after the second transplant. She just could not take it anymore. We all knew what the prognosis was then. Dianne was at peace with her decision. She knew her destination because she believed in God’s promise.

My parents delivered Dianne’s hospice care in their third bedroom. I don’t remember if the insurance was a problem or just my mother’s desire to take care of her child. They cared for her for several weeks before she was admitted to the hospital for her final days. Dianne had seen both of her sons but kept hanging on, so her nurse told my parents she was waiting for permission to die. Within just a couple of hours of my mother whispering in her ear she was gone. Even though my parents were strong Christians, they struggled to find peace, especially my mother. How does a parent find peace after losing a child? After many prayers and time, they found their peace. There is true peace through God’s love.

If God granted me the blessing of making a few rules for life, in the top five would be that no parent watch their child die followed closely by no parent becoming the hospice care for their child. My parents aged and changed tremendously during this time. 

I’m not totally sure that I’ve reached a full peace. After the mastectomies and the doctor’s assurance that “all was well”, I stopped praying about Dianne’s health. What if I had kept praying? Would things have turned out different? If you are on my prayer list for a serious diagnosis or continuing medical problems, you’ll most likely remain in my prayers even if the doctor says, “all is well”. I’ve heard that “all is well” before. Is that a phobia or a lack of faith and trust in God? Is a strong faith and trust in God what peace really is? For me it is!

Our daughter, Meg, works as a consultant for a heath care provider in the delivery of hospice care. She works with the patient and the family. The degree of their acceptance and peace covers the whole spectrum. Some patients are in total denial as well as the family. Some-times the patient is at peace and the family is not. Then there are times the family is at peace and the patient is not. Most of the people at peace have a strong belief in God.

“God’s Love Never Leaves” from Max Lucado’s Daily Devotion:

“George Matheson was a teenager when doctors told him he was going blind. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1861. By the time he finished graduate seminary studies, he was sightless. His fiancée returned his engagement ring with a note: “I cannot see my way clear to go through life bound by the chains of marriage to a blind man.”

“Matheson adapted to his sightless world but never quite recovered from his broken heart. He became a powerful and poetic pastor, led a full and inspiring life, turning to the unending love of God for comfort. And he penned these words: “O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; and I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.” The love of people may come and go, but God’s love? It never leaves.”

Death is not the only challenge that we must face and find peace. Broken marriages, drug addiction, job loss, health difficulties and any turmoil must be faced and dealt with in our lives. If you can’t find your peace in and through God, life will be extremely difficult.

Allen Jackson on peace:

“God knows what we need, even better than we know it ourselves. Is that settled in your heart? Does your life reflect that reality?”    

“If Jesus said we don’t have to be afraid, we don’t have to be. If Jesus gives me His peace, that’s good enough for me.”     

Allen’s prayer for peace: “Heavenly Father, thank you that in this troubled world You provide peace, security and abundant life through the cross of Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit counsel me daily in Your peace. When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.    

 I would love for this blog to be interactive. If you have a story or any thoughts on finding peace, please share. We can help one another!

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Max Lucado material sheared by permission

Standing Firm by Allen Jackson, Intend Publishing, 2018, Shared by permission

 

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Decide to Believe

Max Lucado writes: “Belief happens when we place our confidence in God. It is a decision to lean entirely upon the strength of a living and loving Savior. And to the extent that we do, we will have “life in His name.” This is the purpose of the miracles. John the Apostle recounted signs in this promise: that you and I are never, ever alone.”

“Was this not one of the final promises of Christ? Before he ascended to heaven, he assured his friends, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV). Those words must have meant everything to John. Can you picture the aged apostle as he tells about the day some six decades earlier and a thousand miles removed when Jesus invited him to lay down the fishing net and follow him. John did. You can too. Remember, friend, you are never alone.”

Take note that Max uses three words that call for action on our part. He uses “place” and “decision”. He uses the adverb “entirely”. God is not going to force us into a decision to place our lives in His hands. We have to decide! If we do decide to entirely lean on Him, Jesus will always be with us. We will still experience problems even heartache but knowing He is there gives us peace and comfort. God/Jesus will wrap their loving arms around us and never leave us alone!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado. Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Max Lucado Devotional

Risk Believing in God

 

When forced to stand at the crossroads of belief and unbelief, God’s people choose belief! God’s people risk believing!  Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Joshua’s story. You could argue that the central message of the book of Joshua is this headline:  “God keeps his promises.  Trust him.”

Three times Joshua declares God did what he said he would do!  1) “The LORD gave all He had sworn to give.”  2) “The LORD gave rest according to all He had sworn to their fathers.”  3) “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken.  All came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45). Learn from Joshua.  Take a risk. Believe in God. He will do what he has said he will do.

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Results Oriented

I was “raised” in business to be results oriented. Effort was good and necessary but bringing positive results, meaning revenue, was required. If efforts did not bring in the best results, then figure out what needs to be done differently otherwise you should seek employment elsewhere.

That thought and practice has bled over into my spiritual life. In my work with CASA, I can often become frustrated because I cannot see results. Satan puts the thought in my head to give-up. The CASA leadership assures me that volunteers may never see positive results but one day that child may remember us for our efforts.

Trying to serve others for God requires faith and trust in Him. Max Lucado writes about prayer:  “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”  Replace the thought of “prayers” with “service” and the same meaning applies. Any service for others in God’s name requires that we rely on his power, not our own. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Keep on with whatever service you are rendering to God and DO NOT let Satan lay doubts on you!

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Will You Be Someone for Another?

 
 

When disaster strikes, the human spirit responds by reaching out to help those afflicted.  People stand in line to give blood.  Rescue teams work for endless hours. But the most essential effort is accomplished by another valiant team.  Their task?  To gird the world with prayer. For the most part, we don’t even know their names.

Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend who was sick. No one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.  John writes, “So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3 NCV).  Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded!  Would you be someone for someone else?

From Mike:  The problems from COVID 19 are causing death, sickness, unemployment and finanical hardship so pray for others. Even if you don't know anyone personally that's been affected, offer up prayers. The recent hurricane has caused death and so much destruction so please pray. The news shows people in long lines trying to get food and water. Imangine yourself in that line and then your home is completely gone. You must deal with the insurance company and find an honest contractor. Life is upside down. Please pray for these people.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Max Lucado Daily Devotional

Believe in Him

 

Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. In John 14:6 Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: “I am the way!”

His disciple Peter announced, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Believe in yourself? No, believe in him. Believe in them? No, believe in him. And John 3:16 promises to those who believe in him “they shall not perish but have eternal life.” Believe in him. Believe in the One He sent!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

Let Jesus Teach You

 

Jesus invites, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28).

Do yourself a favor. Underscore, underline, and accept this invitation. Jesus says,  Let me teach you how to handle long Mondays, and cranky in-laws. Let me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts.

We need answers and Jesus offers them. But can we trust him? There’s only one way to know and that is to seek him out. Lift up your eyes, set your sights on Jesus. No passing glances or occasional glimpses. Search the crowded streets and shadow-casting roofs until you spot his face, then set your sights on him. You’ll find the Only One and Only!

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope
3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

I was asked how to get these daily devotional thoughts. Click on the website above.

 
 
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Daily Devotion by Max Lucado

God Is Life Himself

 

Life at times appears to fall to pieces. It seems irreparable. But it’s going to be okay! How can you know? Because as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world!” Those are God’s arms you feel. Trust him. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Since he has no needs, you cannot tire him. Since he is without age, you cannot lose him. Since he has no sin, you cannot corrupt him.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can. He is not just alive, but He is life himself. John 5:26 confirms for us,  “The Father has life in himself.” He is God! And God loves you.

From Mike:

Think about what Max writes! Especially in today's world we are looking for peace and comfort. COVID 19 is troubling! People are dying! Folks are out of work! Race relations may be at the all time worst! You may be experiencing personal struggles so where do you turn? Family and friends may be helpful but there is no peace and comfort like God's. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. If you are not in a prayerful mind, what a great time to start!

 

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope
3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 
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Max Lucado Daily Devotional

The 08/05/2020 edition:

 

Unstoppable Love

 

The Bible says,  “The heavens declare the glory of God!”  Our universe is God’s preeminent missionary.  Doesn’t a painting suggest a painter?  Don’t stars suggest a star maker?   Doesn’t creation imply a creator?

Now look within you.  Look at your sense of right and wrong.  Who told you a moral compass exists?  What is this magnetic pole that pulls the needles on the compass of your conscience if not God?  God did this!  The wonders above and within you testify to his existence.  But God not only made the world, He loves the world.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world!”  Try that on for size!  The one who formed you pulls for you.  Untrumpable power stoked by unstoppable love!

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More Things I Think About and Wonder About - Edition 4

1. When the doctors tell you there is nothing medically they can do, what do you pray for? First, I believe God wants to be thanked for what He has done for us. He likes to be praised. Even though the doctors can’t heal, God can. Pray that somehow He will make healing happen. Pray for a breakthrough in medicine or a miracle even. Never doubt God’s power and ability! To not pray for complete healing in a time of bad health seems to discount God’s ability, a lack of faith. It’s almost like we have made His mind up for Him. Sometimes we have to accept the situation that death is near, or the patient is not going to make progress, for example an Alzheimer’s patient. Pray for their peace and comfort. Ask God to give them a good day! What does it mean to ask for them to have a good day? One lady takes care of her husband with dementia. He doesn’t or can’t  control his bowels and his bladder. She doesn’t know which it is. He can’t remember who she is at times. He asks why they are living in this place and asks to go to their real home. There is much more she deals with in their daily life. It seems a good day would be to lighten their load.  Romans 12:12, NIV: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

2. When I pray, must I be specific, or can I be general? I like to be specific but sometimes you can’t be specific because of the circumstances. A local man was involved in a very bad car wreck where his friend was killed. From time to time the 82 Market will post requests for prayers for him and his family. I do not know his exact needs, but God does so I ask Him to supply those needs.

Sometimes you hear public prayers that say, “We pray for all those that it’s our duty to pray for”. That’s a catchall that does not work for me in my prayers. It doesn’t mean that using that phrase is wrong, but I believe being specific is a more fervent prayer.

Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional:

“God calls us to pray about everything!  We tell God exactly what we want.  We pray the particulars. When the wedding ran low on wine, Mary wasn’t content to say, “Help us, Jesus.”  She was specific:  “They  have no more wine” (John 2:3).  A specific prayer is a serious prayer.  If I say to you, “Do you mind if I come by your house sometime?” you may not take me seriously. But if I say, “Can I come over this Friday night? I really need your advice.”  Then you know my petition is sincere.  When we offer specific requests, God knows the same!”

“God loves the sound of your voice—always! God never places you on hold or tells you to call again later. He doesn’t hide when you call. He hears your prayers. For that reason “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). With this verse the apostle calls us to act against anxiety. We tell God exactly what we want. We pray the particulars of our problems.”

“What Jesus said to the blind man, he says to us. “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41 NIV). One would think the answer would be obvious. When a sightless man requests Jesus’ help, isn’t it apparent what he needs? Yet Jesus wanted to hear the man articulate his specific requests. He wants the same from us. “Let your requests be made known to God!” 

3. The following are just a few of the Bible verses directing us to perform good works. Titus 3:1 – “To obey, to be ready for every good work.”.  Titus 3:8 - “That those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:14. “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”

Galatians 6:10  “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” James 4:17 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.”

How many good works are enough to satisfy God? If God ranked us on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest score on our service, where would I rank? How about you? I do not believe God’s attitude towards our service is score keeping on the big board. “Well, he’s done three services for today so, he’s had a good day!” God knows the opportunities he has given us and measures our service by our responses to those opportunities. God does not NEED our service, but He wants and expects it.

Some might say, “I haven’t had opportunities.” WRONG! You are not looking for the opportunities. Some might say that they “just don’t know how or they do not have that talent”! WRONG! II Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God will not ask you to serve Him without equipping you! Still others say, “Well I’m so busy with ….. so I really don’t have time”. If that is your rationale, then think on Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God expects to be our priority in life.

What does “lukewarm” mean?  These people in Laodicea knew who Jesus was but were indifferent and spiritually apathetic.  For the most part the commentators agree about what Christ meant about lukewarm.

The next question is what does “Spit you out of my mouth” mean? It seems that many preachers and teachers do not want to take on Revelation in sermon or class. The limited number of sermons and discussions I’ve heard define this phrase as a reference to judgement day. Jesus will deny us before God. The commentators are all across the board on this. Some ignore it. Others do not believe it refers to judgement day. They reference verse 19 where He talks about discipling those He loves. Some believe Christ used the phrase just to inspire the church. Others believe it is a direct statement to judgement day! Either way you choose to believe it’s not a comforting feeling to have our Savior spew us out of his mouth.

Thoughts on our service to God by Allen Jackson:

  • “There is no greater investment of a human life than serving God.”
  • “Our highest purpose, whether we are a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, is to serve the Lord with our lives in the midst of these callings.”
  • “God has given every one of us strengths and gifts and abilities. It’s wonderful to see God’s people acknowledge and use what He has gifted us with, and it’s sad to see God’s people deny their gifts and abilities or to let them sit unused. Sometimes people even deny t their gifts out of fear they’ll be asked to use them! God has given us these things in order that we might have a place of service in His Kingdom. Using our gifts and abilities wisely is not only a great responsibility; it’s a great honor.”
  • “When God equips us to do what we feel unqualified for, it is an opportunity to show that He lives in us and works through us.”
  • “Don’t be a spectator. Show your gratitude to the Lord by serving His people.”

“Do you aspire to do great things?  Excel in the small things.  Don’t complain.  Let others grumble, not you.  When you’re given a task, take it.  When you see a hurt, address it.  Compassion matters to God.  This is the time for service, not self-centeredness.  Cancel the pity party.  Love the people God brings to you.  He will work in you what is pleasing to Him.  You will get through this.” Max Lucado Daily Devotional

Too many times we measure our work by expecting great outcomes! Sometimes, although the service we perform may seem small and insignificant to us or others, God loves it! That kind word you speak or kind action you take may have made someone’s day! I’ve been assured by others that shut-ins love cards and notes even an email. Tell someone who is going through a difficult time that you will pray for them. Think about it! The person can see Christ in you!

When you get up tomorrow morning, first thank God for being alive then ask him to lead you to some service for Him. Let Him have your heart!

4. I realize I’m referencing former bosses a lot, but I was fortunate to have a number of good ones along with the awful ones. One boss told me he could live with and forgive honest mistakes people made but he had no tolerance for bad attitudes! If you think about it, most of us feel the same way. Wonder if God feels the same way?

You realize you have sinned and begrudgingly confess asking for forgiveness. You really do so feeling like you had good reason for your attitude. He/she was so hateful to me that he/she needed to be told off. Here’s our rationalization and justification again. Not the attitude God wants. God wants to forgive us when we sincerely confess and ask for forgiveness.

Many years ago a coworker and I were discussing our childhoods. I made a comment about something I had done, and Nita responded that she bet my mother spanked my butt. The next day she was in my office to apologize. When asked what she was apologizing for, she was sorry for using the word butt. Even though I assured her no offense was taken, she believed God had convicted her for using that word. I’m not convinced she sinned, but that’s the right heart.

I’ve heard it from the pulpit and read it by authors that God does not need anything from us. I understand the meaning behind that statement but at the same time, God does not want attitude from us! He can get that from your teenager!

Thanks!

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Standing Firm by Allen Jackson, Intend Publishing – 2018 – Used with permission

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Thoughts by Max Lucado

The Better Option

 

I spent too much of a high school summer working in the oil field.  We donned gas masks, waded into ankle deep, contaminated mire.  My mom burned my work clothes.  The stink stunk!  Yours can do the same.  Linger too long in the stench of your hurt, and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise.

The better option?  Join with David as he announces: “The Lord lives.  Blessed be my Rock.  It is God who avenges me.  He delivers me from my enemies.  Therefore I will give thanks to You, O God” (Psalm 18:46-49).  Wander through the gallery of God’s goodness.  Catalog His kindnesses.  Look at what you have.  Let Jesus be the friend you need.  Talk to Him.  Spare no details.  Disclose your fear.  Describe your dread.  You just found a friend for life in Jesus Christ.  What could be better than that?

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

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Our War with Satan

No Evil Is Beyond God’s Reach

 

See the cross on the hill?  Can you hear the soldiers pound the nails?  Jesus’ enemies smirk.  “This time,” Satan whispers, “this time I will win.”  For a sad Friday and a silent Saturday it appeared he had.  What Satan intended as the ultimate evil God used for the ultimate good.  God rolled the rock away, and Jesus walked out on Sunday morning.  If you look closely, you can see Satan scampering from the cemetery with his forked tail between his legs. “Will I ever win? he grumbles.  No, he won’t.

Do you believe no evil is beyond God’s reach?  That He can redeem every pit, including one in which you find yourself?  Trust God.  He’ll get you through this.  Will it be easy or quick?  I hope so, but it seldom is.  Yet God will make good out of this mess.  That’s His job.

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More Things I Think About and Wonder About

Edition 3

The way my mind works is that I need to analyze to understand the how’s and why’s things are the way they are but not from a technical basis. I don’t care how a car runs just that it does. As a kid when my grandparents were visiting, my grandmother would tell my grandfather “Bob, we better go before it gets too dark.” Finally late one afternoon I asked,  “When exactly is “too dark”?  I got in trouble with my mother for asking the question. She thought I was being a smart mouth. I really wanted to understand what my grandmother meant. Never did find out.

The answers, “that’s just the way it is”, “that’s the way life works”, or “that’s the way we’ve always done it” frustrates me. Yes, I’ve given my children and grandchildren these answers mostly out of exasperation because I can’t really explain things. Early in my career I had a boss tell me to never give the answer “that’s the way our company has always done it”. My clients never heard that answer from me because it’s not a satisfactory answer.

My logic does not always seem to be on target with others. Whenever green beans were served, I was made to eat some. “Just try some!” I had already tried them hundreds of times. I just did not like them. But, according to Mom they were good for me and the starving children of Africa, China or take your pick of countries would love to have them. One night at dinner I had a revelation, “I do not like them, and the starving children wanted them so let’s ship them to those children.” My Mother was not happy with my logic and turned to my Father for help. He just shrugged his shoulders. I thought we solved the problem! Those kids are still looking for the green bean shipment.

By the way, when I was in the rehab hospital, the therapist said I was ready to graduate from soup three times per day to pureed food. I was really looking forward to the change. The first morning oatmeal was for breakfast, good start! Some kind of pureed meat, mashed potatoes and pureed green beans were for lunch. The hospital must have bought a train car of green beans because they were served each day at lunch or dinner. To honor my Mother I did try them, but pureed green beans are not any better. I figure Mother was not just smiling from heaven but laughing out loud.

I had a boss, Bill, who told me to never bring him a problem without also bringing him a potential solution. He also told me to view them as “opportunities” not problems. That’s what I am trying to accomplish in this article. These are not problems nor worries but just what I wonder and think about.  Included is what I believe the answer should be. Let me know what your answer is! PLEASE!

1.  While talking with a gentleman recently, he told me he was trying to digest something I had written on the blog. He wasn’t telling me my logic was absolutely wrong but was not sure he agreed with it. I had asked a question about why we think our doctrine must be pure, and perfect without fault, when we don’t live a pure and perfect life. We sin in a number of different ways and believe God will forgive us if we confess and tell him we are sorry. So, if I am in error concerning my beliefs about singing with or without instruments, orphans’ homes, Sunday school, drinking alcohol, etc. am I hell bound? I do not believe I am because my intent is to follow the Bible in all things. If my intent is to go through the Bible to dismiss parts because they don’t suit me or have not kept up with times or social correctness, then I believe I have a problem. My ego has gotten in the way of what the Bible says. Intent is important!

Revelation 22:18-19: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

Example of my thoughts: Barnes seems to believe these verses are about the writing in Revelation only, but Johnson believes the verses are about the entire Bible. Which one is correct in his interpretation?

The elders have allowed me to write articles on the blog for approximately eighteen months. It’s a very serious responsibility so every morning I pray for God’s guidance. No God does not inspire me, but he will lend guidance and understanding if my intent is to use the Bible as a guide.

2.  Why does the scripture record that Jesus cried out in a loud voice asking God, His Father, why he had forsaken Him? Are the writers just reporting the “news of the event” or does it have some meaning? One interpretation is that Jesus’ crying out is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Another interpretation holds that at the moment when Jesus took upon himself the sins of humanity, the Father had to turn away from the Son because the Father is "of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (Habakkuk 1:13).

I believe this was recorded to help us have a deeper appreciation for Christ’s suffering. Not only did he suffer extreme physical pain but harsh mental anguish. I’ve never felt abandoned by anyone especially not a parent, but Jesus did feel abandon by God, His Father. We tend to focus on his physical suffering but don’t overlook his emotional suffering. I know people who suffer with anxiety and depression. It’s real and terrible.

3.  Jesus promises that God will provide our needs in Matthew 6:25-34. The promise includes food and clothes then why are people, especially children, going without? Is there a qualification we need to meet? Most commentators write that we must be a believer and “seek first His kingdom and His righteous” and then we will have these blessings. But what do children understand about seeking Him? Are these children going without because of their parent’s lack of seeking God? The only answer I have is Matthew 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you”. This doesn’t really satisfy me.

In Matthew 6:11, the “Lord’s prayer”, we are instructed to ask God to give us “our daily bread”. Why do we need to ask for something he promises us just a few verses later? Some commentators believe that God wants our prayers as a reminder that He is the giver and wants us to continually be reminded that all blessings come from Him.

Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ.” When I was growing up, a need and a want were the same thing for me. My “need” was for good reliable transportation to and from school and work. My “want” was for a black Dodge Charger! My grandfather gave me his 1957 Chevy. Wished I still had that car! We should keep the difference between a true need and a want in mind as we pray for God’s blessings.

4.  How long will God hang in there with you? Does he ever just give up on us? Most of my effort with CASA has been with teenage boys. I admit to having the feeling of great frustration with them and their parents. Why am I bothering? Just give up! One young man has been in jail for over three years and another one is headed there on multiple charges and a third is back in jail. But God reminds me of his promise: Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” If He’s not willing to give up on His children, why should I? I can’t walk away because I believe I would be giving on God!! He’s hanging in there on these young men.

There were times in my teens and young adulthood that my relationship with God was strained to the max because of the way I was living. I tell Him in my prayers everyday how grateful I am that He hung in there with me. One author wrote, “You will give up on yourself long before God will ever give up on you!” Sorry but I don’t remember the name of the author. If I were God, I would have gotten tired of me a long time ago and let go but praise Him because He hung in there with me! He’ll do the same for you!

5.  Do we believe or understand what we sing in worship and why? Is it possible that we are just going through the motions? Sometimes, I’m just calling words.

For me, How Great Thou Art, is a perfect praise song to God. Read the words. 

Read the following two verses:

Colossians 3:16 ESV “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Ephesians 5:19 ESV “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”.

It’s not just an opportunity to sing to God, it’s a responsibility to sing to one another!  Do You Know My Jesus? is a great song to sing to one another. Near to the Heart of God  is comforting to sing to one another and also a request for Jesus’ help.

Be with Me, Lord by L.O. Sanderson, a minister of the Church of Christ for many years is an excellent form of a prayer song. I cannot sing but by joining with others, hopefully others are encouraged.

We visited a congregation of about one hundred people in a Harding Academy school building one Sunday. The congregation was being criticized by other congregations for doing a number of things during worship. The only one they were guilty of was setting in two semi circles facing each other. They were trying to practice Colossians and Ephesians. When you are facing your brothers and sisters to encourage them, it’s very difficult to avoid singing. Yes, it was intimidating at first, but it brings you to the realization of the value of encouraging one another in song and hymns.

6.   Sometimes being a Christian is a tall task! The Bible tells us we are to love everybody, even our enemies without exception. I Corinthians 13 describes what love is and is not without exception. We are to pray for our enemies without exception. The only exceptions come from our great ability to rationalize and justify. One of my justifications is people with huge egos who think rules, laws, etc. are meant for you and me certainly NOT them. Many times their arrogance causes me not to love.

This is not a real scenario but very plausible. You are driving on 231 North and you see Filbert, who is an ego maniac, standing by his car looking at a flat tire. Do you stop to see if you can be of assistance or just drive on? You notice Filbert is on a cell phone probably calling for roadside assistance, so you turn your head and speed up hoping he doesn’t see you. Some of us might smile and wave as we drive by enjoying his problem! Did you demonstrate Christian love? Would you have stopped if it had been Mrs. Filbert? Just how far do we have to take “love”? As far as God does!

Will God not allow me just a few exceptions every once in a while? Seems like a reasonable request! I don’t believe he does. Remember the Bible records no exceptions nor justifications.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Max Lucado on Prayer

This post is because we are living in the most uncertain times in my 70 years. On top of this terrible virus our church bulletin always has requests for prayer needs. Think about what Max writes.

"When I was a high schooler, my friends and I spent a Friday night in a part of the county where we did not belong. As far as my parents knew, I was at the local ice creamery enjoying a treat with my friends. Actually, we were twenty miles away from home, in the country, looking for fun on a country road. We didn’t have fun. Instead, we had a flat. The spare tire was flat, too. We had no other option except to call my dad. I rousted him out of bed at the midnight hour.

He drove his truck out into the back roads and found us. We fixed the tire and drove home. When we reached the house he sat me down in the living room and gave me a good talk. He took away my car keys. He took away my privileges. But then, surprisingly, he took away my fear by saying, “Max, I’m upset with you. But I understand the temptations. I remember what it is like to be a teenager.”

Dad, a teen? Shocking thought. But he remembered.

God, a human? Stunning truth. But he remembers. “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 MSG) There is never a time that he responds to your prayer with this thought: “I just don’t get it.”

He knows how you feel.

And, this is huge, “he knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt. 6:8) You don’t have to write your own prescription. God doesn’t need our counsel or advice. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isa. 65:24)

People sometimes say, “Be careful what you pray for, God will give it to you.”  Hogwash. If you don’t need it, he won’t give it. He loves you too much to give you the wrong answer. Is God no more than a computer, programmed to respond to the data you enter? By no means! He is your Father who says: “I know the thoughts I think towards you…thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope…call upon me and pray to me and I will listen to you.” (Jer. 29:11)

Prayer is only as good as God is. Since he is good, so is prayer. Prayer works because he does. Prayer changes things because God changes things. Prayer makes a difference because God has determined to make a difference. Prayer matters because you matter to God."

© 2012 Max Lucado

 
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Communist Goals

 

I am prefacing this article by stating that I belong to neither political party. There is good and bad about both. I have relatives and friends who believe their political party of choice can do no wrong. I’m pretty sick and tired of both of them. They need to be spanked and sent to bed!

 In 1960 when John F. Kennedy was running for president, a number of preachers spoke from the pulpit against Mr. Kennedy not because he was a Democrat but because he was a Catholic. Their tactic to sway their congregation’s vote was to claim the Pope would be running the United States. In making your voting decisions, do not allow the media, a politician nor a minister to have undue influence on your thoughts about government leaders. Most people are selling their own agenda. I hope to be guided by my study of the Bible and the government leaders adherence to the Bible principles.

One commentator believes God will only intervene in our lives at our request. No scripture was given as supporting evidence. Assuming the writer is correct, and I do not believe he is, then we need to be busy asking God for His intervention in our government. Romans 13:1 ESV “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” If I’m subject to them the I need to be praying for them, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV - “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

An elder of a church we attended at one time has been posting parts of the following document on Facebook. Many of you were not alive in 1963 or too young to have any knowledge of the document. This is the first knowledge I’ve had of it. As I read the goals, I was alarmed at the number of the goals the Communist party has been successful at achieving. We have set by and allowed their success because they have bullied us with assertions of not being politically correct.  A number of the accomplishments attack the roots of our Christian beliefs. It’s time to let our elected officials know of our concerns and dissatisfaction. Please take the opportunity to express your views by writing to your elected officials federal, state and local. Their addresses can be found online.

Pray for God’s intervention!

Thanks

Mike     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

THE 45 COMMUNIST GOALS AS READ INTO THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, 1963

By Donna Calvin

Watchwoman: In addition to reading this, the 45 communist goals, click here to read “The 10 Planks of Karl Marx, ‘The Communist Manifesto.’ ”  America has already fulfilled 90% of them.

Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35

January 10, 1963

Current Communist Goals

EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.

At Mrs. Nordman’s request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following “Current Communist Goals,” which she identifies as an excerpt from “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen:

U. S. Congressional Seal [From “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen]

CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS

1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“]united force[“] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court

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Max Lucado Devotion for Today

God Is in this Crisis

 

Do you recite your woes more naturally than you do heaven’s strength?  No wonder life’s tough. You’re assuming God isn’t in this crisis.

Isabel spent her first three and a half years  in a Nicaraguan orphanage.  As with all orphans, her odds of adoption diminished with time.  And then the door slammed on her finger! Why would God permit this innocent girl to feel even more pain?  Might He be calling the attention of Ryan Schnoke sitting in the playroom nearby?  He and his wife had been trying to adopt a child for months.  Ryan walked over, picked her up, and comforted her.  Several months later, Ryan and Christina were close to giving up, and Ryan remembered Isabel.  Little Isabel is growing up now in a happy, healthy home.

A finger in the door?  God doesn’t manufacture pain, but He certainly puts it to use.  Your crisis?  You’ll get through this!

 
 
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PRODUCTIVE FOR GOD OR PRODUCTIVE FOR SATAN FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT Part Two

 

Goodness – Websters defines goodness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. The Biblical commentators make note that the Greek words for kindness and goodness are often interchangeable. It seems odd that Paul would use two words that have exactly the same meaning. Barclay points out that the Greek word for goodness has the connotation of “might and could rebuke and discipline with kindness”. The Greek word just previously used for kindness can only help others and does not rebuke or discipline others. Barclay believes we often need discipline with the type of goodness that can be kind and strong at the same time.

The MSG uses “sense of compassion in the Heart”. Other commentators write that the word “goodness” senses compassion as we rebuke others. Paul was writing this letter because of the way the Jews were treating with the Gentiles and encouraging the Jews to show compassion.  So as we have an occasion to rebuke others, our attitude needs to be one with compassion not harshness.

Faithfulness – The MSG translation uses the words “loyal commitment” and Phillips translation uses “fidelity” which are closely related but “loyal commitment” for me is stronger. Barclay writes that the Greek word means “trustworthiness”.

I put a request on the internet asking for commentator’s thoughts on the faithfulness used in this verse.  One commentator wrote in his thinking: “Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God. It comes from a place of realizing that we need a Savior and that He is in control of our lives.” Is Paul writing about our faithfulness to God?  Other writers believe the faithfulness used is our faithfulness to one another.

As Paul writes to the Galatians, his apostleship is under attack from some of the Jews and they also are not accepting the Gentiles. So it seems highly likely that the verses 22-25 are written more for our relationship with one another.  We are to have a loyal commitment, faithfulness to one another and a true fidelity to each other. This includes those you do not like. We should have faithfulness especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. How, by living a Christian life and being ready to help them in their life.

Gentleness - The Phillips translation uses the word “tolerance”. Barclay writes the Greek word used here is the most untranslatable of words. He believes it has three meanings: submissive to the will of God; being teachable, not too proud to learn and most often has the meaning of being considerate. I believe Paul’s use of the word is for consideration of others.

Other commentators and a Biblical dictionary point to attitude, compassion, concern, humility, meekness and kindness as acts of gentleness. One description is that gentleness is being a little kinder than we have to be.

It seems to me that in today’s world we have lost gentleness for others. The political parties blame one another for our countries’ problems and do so hatefully. Racial tension continues in our society. What a great time for Christians to be very strong in our beliefs but show gentleness.

I want to chase a rabbit for a thought about gentleness.  For the most part, I feel like God has been gentle with me during my life. Max Lucado asks a question in A Gentle Thunder: “How far do you want God to go in getting your attention? If God has to choose between your eternal safety and your earthly comfort, which do you hope he chooses? Don’t answer too quickly. Give it some thought.” Interesting.

Self-control – The MSG version uses the phrase, “direct energies wisely”. Barclay writes that the Greek word has a meaning of “self-mastery”.  Most of the commentators believe the self-control Paul writes about is related to sex. Paul writes about “sinful nature with its passions and desires”. These passions and desires extend to other things like food, alcohol, gambling, even anger and much more.

Given the context of the events in Galatia, I believe the Jews’ anger towards the Gentiles could be important here. The Jews were trying to force the Gentiles to adhere to the law of circumcision. Some Jews probably became angry when the Gentiles weren’t going along. Paul even mentions “fits of rage” as one of acts of the sinful nature.

Allen Jackson writes in his book, Standing Firm: “Throughout life we will encounter those who will push or pull us toward or away from the Lord. But the processing of maturing as Jesus-followers means that we must exert the self-discipline necessary to own our choices and outcomes. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us self-control, which we practice in our daily lives.”

Thoughts on Galatians 5:22-25: Why did Paul write to the Galatians? As mentioned before the Jews were trying to force the Gentile Christians to hold on to the old law, especially circumcision. I believe at times we are guilty of trying to make people hold to man’s customs creating divisions between Christians. Paul is asking the people to step back and think about the law versus the fruits. The present-day church needs to take the same steps. Is what I’m holding on to have a Biblical basis or it is just a custom I’m holding on to?

Why did Paul select the word “fruits” to express himself? Fruits are enjoyable and good for you. According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, the Greek word listed in the verse has a meaning of 'joy', 'gladness', or 'a source of joy'. My life will be full of joy and gladness and hopefully a source of joy to others if I have and use the fruits.

We each have standards by which we judge other peoples’ behavior. For discussion sake, let’s use the fruits of the Spirit as those standards:

  • Do you judge your own behavior by the same standards? Choose from the following answers: 1.) I hope so; 2.) I try to; 3.) Not always; 4.) Yes, except when…. 5.) Always.  

Most of us if we’re completely honest will choose 1-4. If you chose #5, you are not being completely honest. If #4 was included in your answer, do you allow others their exceptions?  Please point out Paul’s list of acceptable exceptions to the fruits of the Spirit! There ain’t none.

Is Paul’s list of fruits all inclusive? I don’t think it is. He’s trying to put out a fire in Antioch, so he used these characteristics for the Christians to think on. He lets them know that these don’t have a matter of law. If you could add one “fruit” to the list, what would it be and why? Forgiveness! People seem to struggle with displaying forgiveness.

Keep in your heart that commentators say these fruits are not our nature! We must invite the Holy Spirit to bring the fruits into our life then make a choice to use them for our own benefit and the benefit of others!

The following is a description of on a web page for Max Lucado: “Does God still free hearts, minds and bodies from the ravages of sin and poverty? The answer is yes! He does it through you. In Outlive Your Life, Lucado challenges you to make a difference that will last beyond your time on earth.”

The following is from Max Lucado’s book, When God Whispers Your Name: These are his thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit:

“IT’S QUIET. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments, the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love . . .

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy . . .

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace . . .

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience . . .

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness . . .

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness . . .

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness . . .

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

I choose gentleness . . .

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control . . .

I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.”

 When God Whispers Your Name Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1994) Max Lucado Used with permission

Standing Firm by Allen Jackson Copyright 2018 Intend Publishing Used with permission

A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado – 1995 - Published by Word Publishing – Used with permission

Yes, I use a lot of Max Lucado’s writings because he is my favorite writer and he’s one of only two that have granted me permission to use from their collection of writings. Occasionally, I’ll receive permission on a selected article by others.

 I’ve tried twice to get permission from F LaGard Smith via his email system with no answer. He spends a certain amount of the year in Murfreesboro then the remainder in England. He also is a good writer so hopefully I’ll receive his permission.

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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PRODUCTIVE FOR GOD OR PRODUCTIVE FOR SATAN

I’ve been studying and writing on this article for some time. It’s going to be long, so I decided the best thing is to publish it in two parts. The following is part one.

 

FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT

As I look at my life, I’m either productive for God or productive for Satan. It’s impossible to be both at the same time.  As you study Paul’s writings in Galatians 5, he outlines our choices as works of the flesh, Satan’s path or God’s path, the fruits of the Spirit. He writes that these are in conflict with each other. There are decisions and choices we must make. There is implied expectation that we use these gifts for God’s glory. God wants us to grow our relationship with Him by having and using the fruits. Our use of the fruits will influence others with their relationship with God as they watch us. If I’m not allowing the Holy Spirit to produce the fruits in me then I’m being unproductive for God and productive for Satan. God knows that we will not be productive for Him every minute of every day. He understands at times we will be productive for Satan. That’s why He brought Jesus into the world.

Galatians 5:22-25 New International Version (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25 The Message (MSG)

22-25 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Galatians 5:22-25 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

22-25 The Spirit, however, produces in human life fruits such as these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control—and no law exists against any of them. Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for. If our lives are centered in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit.

.

I used different translations to get a better understanding of how the fruits enter our lives and what the they are intended to represent. Each of the translations indicates that the fruits belong to the Holy Spirit. Philips uses the expression: “The Spirit produces in human life” and the MSG uses the expression “when we live God’s way”. You’ve heard people use the expression, “that’s his or her nature” when talking about others. It’s only his or her nature as provided by the Spirit. The point here is that the Holy Spirit maintains control of the fruits.  In order to have these positive characteristics, we must belong to Christ and invite and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. Otherwise how can we have use of these positive attitudes and actions in order to be productive for God?

I’m using three commentators primarily in this study: William Barclay, Albert Barnes and Barton Warren Johnson.

Barnes writes: “But the fruit of the Spirit - That which the Holy Spirit produces. It is not without design, evidently, that the apostle uses the word "Spirit" here, as denoting that these things do not flow from our own nature. The vices* above enumerated are the proper "works" or result of the operations of the human heart; the virtues which he enumerates are produced by a foreign influence - the agency of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Paul does not trace them to our own hearts, even when renewed. He says that they are to be regarded as the proper result of the Spirit's operations on the soul.” * In verses 19-21, Paul lists what he refers to works of the flesh or sins.

Johnson writes: “The fruits named are not our fruits, but the Spirit in us. If we bear these fruits, we show that we have the Spirit.”

Barclay does not make a point that the fruits belong to the Spirit but does use the phrase “of the Spirit” as he writes.

Love – There are four different Greek words for love. The word used here is agape which means a strong and deliberate feeling of benevolence for all people. We must love regardless of how a person has treated us. Our love must be unconditional. Do not expect anything in return. A difficult task at times, yes, but attainable through the Holy Spirit.

As a child, this concept of love was difficult to understand. My thoughts were, “I really don’t like that person so how can I love them?” There is one person in your life that comes to mind that you despise but we are directed in both Romans 12 and Luke 6 to pray for them which is deliberate love.

Many people demonstrated love during my strokes and knee surgery by providing food and cards which Kay and I really appreciated. The words I most appreciated were, “I’m praying for you!” To tell someone that you are spending your time with God asking Him to bless you is one of the finest loves I can imagine.

Joy – The word is used as a basis of joy in being a Christian not that life is going your way or joy of having earthly things but the happiness of being a Christian.  Even though life is often hard and difficult, you find your joy in knowing God is there with you.

The MSG translation uses “exuberance for life” for joy. If we have exuberance for life because we are Christians, others will notice and be influenced in their relationship with Christ. Others do watch us!

Peace – If you have peace in life, then you have tranquility or serenity. It doesn’t mean the lack of troubles, no disappointments or no heartaches in your life. It does mean you are aware of the presence of God in your life and that He has your back.

The MSG translation uses the word “serenity”. David Young, minister at North Boulevard, has a sermon series entitled Peace of Mind. He says that thirty percent of people have an issue with anxiety. Anxiety is the absence of peace. It is manageable by seeking the peace described in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The following is an excerpt from Allen Jackson’s book, Standing Firm: “We post a photo of our supper on social media and panic when not when not enough “friends” say they “like” it. Some fears are more serious than others, but it is true that fear- both real and imagined - is very real in our society. Thankfully, there is no fear that cannot be overcome with the peace that Jesus gives us. If Jesus said we don’t have to be afraid, we don’t have to be. If Jesus gives me His peace, that’s good enough for me.”

Allen ends each day’s devotion with a prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank You that in this troubled world You provide peace, security, and abundant life through the cross of Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit counsel me daily in Your peace. When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Patience – If you refer to a Thesaurus, you’ll find words like endurance, tolerance, persistence, fortitude, forbearance, etc. Some of these words are used in regard to things or events. The MSG translation uses “willingness to stick with things.” Barclay is fully convinced that Paul’s writing is about patience or tolerance for other people. He writes about God’s patience with our sinning and encourages us to demonstrate the same patience to one another as God does to us.

Allen Jackson has a couple of thoughts on patience. He believes that some people use anger as opposed to patience to manipulate people. He illustrates with Proverbs 16:32: “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”

Allen also writes about our patience with God. He says that waiting on God to deliver him from some situation can be trying. “Sometimes God wants us to wait on Him, and continue to call on Him, so that we will know that our deliverance is from Him alone. He hears us and intends to rescue us. When He does, we will have new reasons to praise Him, and others will be able to see what He has done for us.”

Kindness – Barclay writes that the Greek word can be translated as sweetness. Probably, most macho men don’t see sweetness as a strength. The Bible seems to think it is important: Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Matthew 9:13 “Go and learn what this means, he commands I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices”. Most translations use the word mercy as opposed to kindness, but the words are interchangeable.

You may have kindness but if you don’t use it, that’s not good enough. I pray daily that God will improve my speech. It’s better than it was five years ago, but it still is frustrating for the person I’m speaking with and me.  The Holy Spirit reminds me to express my appreciation for people’s patience with me. When I think to express my appreciation, they often have a look on their face, “somebody noticed my efforts to be kind to them.” They seem to have a sense of accomplishment.

I also pray daily that I will become more aware of my need for the Holy Spirit.  He’s always present but I need a “thump on the head” as a reminder to use one of the fruits.

An example of love and kindness: David Young says that he and another member at North Boulevard often have lunch together. As the server delivers their meal, his friend will say, “We are going to give thanks for our food, is there anything you would like us to pray about?” Most often they say, “no thank you” but at one meal the young lady said “yes” and expressed a need. She sat down with them while he prayed with her.  A great use of the fruits!

Thanks

Mike

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Standing Firm – Finding Courage in the Word Of God written by Allen Jackson – 2018 – Published by Intend Publishing – Used with permission

Quotes from David Young’s sermon series Peace of Mind used with permission

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Trust God’s Training


 

Each day has a pop quiz, and some seasons are like final exams.  Brutal, sudden pitfalls of stress, sickness, or sadness.  What is the purpose of the test?  James 1:3-4 says, “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”  Test, test, test!

This chapter in your life may look like rehab, smell like unemployment, sound like a hospital, but you’re in training.  God hasn’t forgotten you, just the opposite.  He has chosen to train you. Forget the notion that God doesn’t see your struggle.  Quite the contrary—God is fully engaged.  He is the Potter, we are the clay.  He’s the Shepherd, we’re the sheep.  He’s the Teacher, we’re the students.  Trust His training.  You’ll get through this.

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You Are God’s First Choice by Max Lucado

 
 I’m entering my fourth decade as a pastor, and I’ve learned the question to ask.  If we were having this talk over coffee and you were telling me about your tough times, I’d lean across the table and say, “What do you still have that you cannot lose?”  The difficulties have taken much away, I get that.  But there’s one gift your troubles cannot touch—your destiny.  Can we talk about it?

You are God’s child.  He saw you, picked you, and placed you.  Jesus said, “You did not choose Me.  I chose you.”  I remember a groom once leaned over, just minutes before the ceremony, and told me, “You weren’t my first choice.”  “I wasn’t?”  He said, “No, the preacher I wanted couldn’t make it.”  “Oh.”  “But thanks for filling in.”

Hey, you’ll never hear such words from God.  He chose you.  Replacement or fill-in?  Hardly.  You’re His first choice.  His open, willful, voluntary choice.  “This child is mine!”  His child forever, that’s who you are.

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