SORRY, BUT I CAN’T SEE THAT….. (Part 2)

Spiritual Blog - Sorry

Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” NASU

Yesterday I asked regarding ‘blind spots’ and our Christian walk – “Are You Consistent?”  Today I want to ask more questions beginning with the following:

ARE YOU SELF-CONTROLLED?

Romans 8:28 (Phillips) – “Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to His Plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.”

This verse does not say that everything that happens is good.  It says that it will ultimately work for the good. Its focus is on the ‘finished product’ not the ‘process’ and ‘incidences’ along the way.  One of the greatest evidence of our walk in the Holy Spirit is the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in our lives and those include ‘self-control’ and ‘temperance.’  Have you ever asked yourself why it is a mark of distinction to manifest a ‘controlled life?’  What is ‘self-control’?  What happens when ‘self-control’ is taken to the extreme?

Self-control referenced in the Bible is the quality of abiding or resting in the Lord.  When our entire world is being torn apart, tensions and trials are raging, and men’s hearts are failing them for fear of what they see or perceive is happening or going to the Holy Spirit enables the believer to demonstrate a peace and tranquility that surpasses human understanding.  It is trust in God’s Promises and Resting in them.  One of the reasons a leader or anyone needs to exhibit ‘self-control’ is STABILITY.  People are looking for and longing for Stability and Reality in life.  When the storms of life rage we need stability and that will come with ‘self-control’ or ‘Spirit Control.’

Remember Peter’s reminder of Jesus’ words in 1 Peter 5:7 where we are counseled to ‘cast all our cares or anxieties upon Him because He cares for us.’  Jesus said in Mathew 11:28-20 that we can come to Him and He will give us rest.  As believers, we need to ‘overwhelm’ the world with our calmness and tranquility in the midst of turmoil.

DO YOU THINK INDEPENDENTLY?

Palms 1:1 –How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”

People who study such matters tell us that the ‘real key’ as to whether a person conforms to the pressure of the group or resists peer pressure is whether it comes from that person’s ‘inner personal convictions’ or from the ‘external mores of his peer group.’  An individual with a strong healthy ‘self-image’ and ‘confidence in God’ will more readily resist negative peer pressure than one who does not have those attributes.  It takes strength to say NO! 

There are two groups who cannot or do not ‘think for themselves’:  The Classic Conformist and the Classic Non-Conformist.  Some people have a ‘convoy mentality’. Their life is lived by simply follow the directions of the crowd and we all know how dangerous that can be.  In Psalms 1 there are three words that need to be considered:  “Walk, Stand, Sit”.  This demonstrates a progression away from godly principles.  The Psalmist indicates that ‘walking, standing and sitting’ are deliberate choices.  Once we have broken the first barrier of ‘walking’ it is easier to feel comfortable ‘standing’ with sinners and once we accept their mindset can easily and comfortably ‘sit’ with them.

            May God be with you as you go through your day!

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SORRY, BUT I CAN’T SEE THAT…

Spiritual Blog - Blind Spots

Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” NASU

Have you ever taken a trip with six or seven people in a small car?  Even a short trip can seem like an endless journey when you are packed in like sardines.  I recall a friend telling of taking a trip in a small economy car with his family – six of them packed into that small vehicle.  He was unable to see through the back glass using the rearview mirror they were so packed in and it was an exercise in futility to try to get the children to all move in unison.  He had to completely trust his son to advise him when it was safe to change lanes and his son realizing how difficult it was for the dad to trust him said, “Dad, you have to believe me.  This is a real lesson in trust.”  You see, the boy was the dad’s eyes. He was able to fill in the ‘blind spots’ because he could see things from a better perspective.  All of us have BLIND SPOTS and need someone else to help us find them.

Our family and friends can often see things in our lives from a clearer or different perspective than we.  We sometimes become aware of our ‘blind spots’ as we see those same things in others.  This was possibly the situation when Nathan the prophet went to David the king to point out his ‘blind spot’.  Nathan used the approach of relating a supposed real incident to David and enable David to see for himself what his ‘blind spot’ was.

One would think that Nathan’s story would have been unnecessary.  How could a man cause the death of another without realizing the depravity of his own heart?  Sadly, that is where David was.  Maybe it was out of a sense of entitlement, I don’t know but in the story of David taking Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and having Uriah killed in battle is a horrific story of how a man like David can descend into the trap of sin.  Nathan used a third person story to get David’s attention and told of a rich man who had many sheep and a poor man who had only one.  When Nathan told David how the rich man had stolen the poor man’s singular sheep David was furious and declared that the guilty party should be put to death.  At that point, Nathan pointed his finger in David’s face and said, “You are the man!”  David immediately recognized his ‘blind spot’ and sin and cried out in repentance.

In saying this I must ask several questions as we seek to deal with our own ‘blind spots’ and move forward into what God would have us become.

ARE YOU CONSISTENT?

James 1:8 tells us that a ‘double-minded’ man is unstable in all his ways.  I am reminded of an account a preacher told me years ago. It was a time when God taught him the importance of ‘consistency.’  He as rushing home after having dropped off some of their children at school and in the back seat was his youngest son.  He was anxious to get home to attend to other things and began speeding down the highway.  The lad spoke up and said, “Dad you are going 75 miles an hour!”  It took him by surprise because he didn’t think the child could understand a speedometer but trying to conceal his surprise he said, “So what?”  The little boy said, “But the speed limit is 55”  At that moment the Holy Spirit began to minister to his heart and he realized that it was in his heart that he could do wrong so long as he didn’t get caught and it was okay.  He was, by his actions, teaching his child a ‘double-standard’ and conviction gripped him.  He was teaching his son that it was okay to ‘say one thing’ and yet ‘do another.”

For most adults ‘speeding’ is not a big deal but for a young child in the developmental stages of life it is ‘breaking the law’ and therefore wrong – CUT and DRIED!  It is a ‘double standard’ and if we can do it there why not everywhere?

I have more questions to pose but will stop there and pray that God grant you a great day and help you to be CONSISTENT!  Blessings!

 

 

 

STRESS – PRESSURE – PEACE…. (Part 2)

Spiritual Blog - Stress

Psalms 46 – – Please read.

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NASU

Picking up where we left off yesterday, I have found that Psalms 46 contains a powerful message for daily living.  It was born in the context of ‘extreme stress & pressure’. It is a healing balm for all who are bowed down under the load of the ‘Cares of Life.’  In church history, it is reported that Martin Luther, a man constantly under pressure and satanic attack found Psalms 46 to be an incredibly powerful source of comfort and peace and penned the words of a hymn:  “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, A Bulwark Never Failing.”

In the first verse of the Psalm, we find the theme of the Psalm – “God is our instant help when we are in a tight squeeze.”  The word ‘trouble’ in the Hebrew means ‘to be restricted, to be tied up in a narrow and cramped place.’  That calls to mind the old expression – “Between a rock and a hard place.”

STRESS means that I am being ‘pressed’ and ‘pressured’.  I am being ‘squeezed’.  When stress is doing a number on us is when we need to heed the words of the Psalmist that “God is our refuge and strength.”  It is when you are ‘stressed’, ‘pressured’, and ‘squeezed’ that you need to recognize the weakness of your humanity and the infiniteness of His Power!  It is in the midst of our troubles that God is building a ‘tent of refuge’ where He can bring us in out of the storm and refresh our spirits.

This Psalm notes three specific situations and offers consolation in those times:

  • Natural Calamities – – [vv. 1-3]

When these come the reaction is “I will not fear!”

  • Civil Disturbances – – [vv. 4-7]

The city is under attack.  The reaction is – “God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.”

  • Post Battle Fatigue – – [vv. 8-11]

‘Cease striving and know that I am God”  Therefore the reaction is “I will not strive!”

This is about ‘conquering fear’ and even if the earth should change mountains should quake, and fire should roar out of control – – God is our bridge over troubled waters!  He should be but too often we do not recognize this aspect of His promise and power and crumble under the ‘stress’ and ‘pressure.’

Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us the Spirit of Timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline (sound mind).”

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and very courageous.”

Psalms 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the defense (strength) of my life; whom shall I dread?”

Psalms 27:10 – “For my father and may mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”

Elvis Presley popularized the term “All Shook Up”.  Elvis was born and grew up dirt poor in a little Mississippi town.  He had little encouragement and no special skill as far as the workplace was concerned.  At the age of 18, making $14 per week as a truck driver he decided to make a record and you know the rest of the story.  He became the best-paid male entertainer in American history.  Elvis said shortly before he died that he would give $1 Million for one week of a normal life and peace.  Money will not relieve stress.  Fame will not cure the pressures of stress.  The only cure is GOD!  

So as you enter this day I pray that God will help you to ‘cease striving’ and relax in Him.  May God be with you as you go through your day!

STRESS – PRESSURE – PEACE….

Spiritual Blog - Stress

Psalms 46 – – Please read.

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NASU

I would venture to say that there are more people suffering under the heavy burden of ‘Stress & Pressure’ today than in any other generation.  More and more are finding ‘physical, emotional, and spiritual’ disorder in their lives because of the unbelievably face paced, pressure-packed way of living that is the norm in our present world.  STRESS & PRESSURE are two common, constant companions of many in the church and in the world.

A number of years ago I saw something in a Children’s Book that was too close to reality for comfort but hilarious at the same time.  The book was by Judith Viorst entitled, “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”  The account was:

“Alexander [7 or 8] had one of those days!  Nothing goes right.  He has back-to-back-to-back disappointments and tragedies like no one can believe.  His day is one continuous predicament after another.  In short, he cannot win for losing!  When he awoke in the morning he found that he had gone to sleep with gum in his mouth and now it was in his hair.  When he got out of bed he tripped on his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running.  So he declared, “I can tell it is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!”

After a terrible day at school, a horrible visit to the dentist, a no-good stop at the shoe store, Alexander slumped in his chair at the dinner table and his troubles continue to mount.  He looked at the offering of food and there were lima beans and he hated lima beans, there was kissing on television and he hated kissing, his bath was too hot, he got soap in his eyes, his marble went down the tub drain, and he had to wear his railroad train pajamas to be and he hated those pajamas.  His Mickey Mouse night light burned out and he bit his tongue getting into bed.  The cat wanted to sleep with his brother not him so he once again concludes – “This has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” 

Most of us have experienced something similar!  Humans are really strange creatures.  Have you ever wondered why we run or hurry about when we get lost?  Instead of regrouping and finding our way our senses tend to run in all directions, and we ‘hurry, worry, and bury!’  What we need to do is STOP and allow the Holy Spirit to take control and restore order to our lives.  We need to relearn that GOD is GOD!

STRESS is a result of taking more upon ourselves than God intended.  In a sense, we play God in the matter.  Dr. Thomas Homes of Washington University has done research into the problem of stress and published his findings in terms of “Life Changing Units”.  He gave them on a scale of 100 points.  Death of a spouse = 100 units.  Divorce = 73 units.  Pregnancy = 40 units.  Remodeling a home = 25 units, and Christmas = 12 units.  The conclusion was that from a strictly human viewpoint, no person in his own strength could handle 300 or more units in a 12 month period without suffering ‘physically’ or ‘emotionally’ and I add ‘spiritually’ during the next 2 years!

In truth, if we are crippled by stress we cannot be very useful to God, ourselves, or anyone else.  If we are crippled by stress we cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  So it is imperative that we learn “God’s Secrets of Handling Stress.”  You cannot avoid stress but you can avoid being crippled by it.  As Paul says in Philippians 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing….”  The converse of that is “Be content and at peace in everything.”

I want to deal more with this briefly tomorrow but until then may God help you to rise above the chains of stress and rejoice!  Blessings as you go through your day!

 

 

YOU CAN’T UNLIVE LIFE…..

Spiritual Blog - Rewind

Ecclesiastes 11:3b – “…and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.” NASU

I do not like to take portions of verses to build a truth upon but make an exception here as I largely want the imagery and idea rather than the overall context.  If you remember what Pilate said regarding the inscription over Jesus on the Cross – “What I have written I have written.”  He spoke of the finality of his words and in reality, we cannot ‘unlive life’ any more than we can ‘recall words’ that we have spoken.  The life that we are ‘now living’ is unchangeable in the sense that we cannot ‘undo it’ so that it never happened.  We can, however, have our ‘past’ wiped clean by the Blood of Jesus and the Grace of God and be ‘transformed’ from darkness into light.

A tree, as Solomon said, cannot alter where it falls and once a deed is done, a word spoken, or a life lived it cannot be changed.  It is only while we are ‘living’ that we can alter the eternal destiny and destination of our souls.  We are told in Scripture that each of us has a date with death and after that, we will be judged by the Almighty God for our lives here on planet earth.  It is not just important but imperative that we take care of the ‘eternal business’ of our souls today for we do not have any promise of a tomorrow.  All of us are aware of someone who was here one minute and then gone in an instant without warning.  Life is like a ‘vapor’ that appears for a time then is gone so no wonder the Bible declares that ‘Today is the Day of Salvation.’

I know a number of people who are living their lives as if they would someday and somehow be able to ‘unlive’ those lives.  They live as though they were invincible.  They take little care in how they speak to or treat others and focus their energies on whatever moves them at the moment.  It is ‘all about me’ or ‘them’ and some have even told me that ‘before I die, I will get it all straight.’  My normal response is, “I hope so.”  That being said, my heart says, “I doubt it.”  I told my sons, ‘The type of girls you date will be the type of girl you marry and the kind of boy you are is the kind of husband you will be.’  I tried to teach them that it is a two-way street and that you are more likely to become like those you associate with than changing them into something else so carefully choose your friends and dating partners.  We all make mistakes and most of us learn quickly that once the gate is open and the cows are out it is far more difficult to put them back in than to have kept them in, to begin with.  So, while we are ‘living life’ we should live it with a view of eternity and in so doing we will live in such a manner as to have ‘no regrets’ and not have things we would like to ‘un-live.’

Today is the day of Salvation, now is the accepted time!  I urge you to evaluate your life and take any areas of deficiency to the Lord and allow Him to ‘transform’ you.  May God be with you as you go through your day!

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS…..

Spiritual Blog - Actions

1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”  NIV

We’ve all heard that adage, “actions speak louder than words” and know that it is absolutely true.  Words can become so cheap that they are meaningless but actions reveal the heart.  I realize that the Bible teaches us that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” and believe that fully.  I also know that a person can say one thing and do something completely different and that is a completely different picture.

LOVE that does not have actions with it is not LOVE it is something else and may only be manipulation or even lust but it most assuredly is not real love!  Jesus told us that the one that is “forgiven much, loves much,” and that is a most powerful statement.  If I have it in my power to do something for someone that I love and fail or refuse to do that it really does not matter what I say my actions caused my words to go unheard.  You can weep and tell someone how much you love them, but if you continually abuse them or are unfaithful to them do you think they believe a word you are saying?  Not if they have any ability for rational thought.

God hears our words and sees our actions, do they match?  We will give an account of every action, deed, and word one day and it would behoove each of us to carefully weigh our words before speaking them.  It would behoove each of us to endeavor to ensure that our words and actions are the same.  Anything less is a demonstration of hypocrisy or worse but it is not an expression of Love or Faith.

So, this short and very brief devotional is directed at one thing and that is hopefully, to jolt each of us into the reality that WHAT WE DO is usually much louder than WHAT WE SAY especially if the two do not correspond.  So, as you go through your day, consider the words that come from your heart, mind, and mouth and examine your actions – – IS THERE A MATCH?  If not then I would suggest a quick and determined trip to the prayer closet for a time of repentance and soul searching before the LORD.

            May God be with you as you go through your day!

THE SEEDS OF REBELLION – – Part III

Spiritual Blog - Absalom Spirit

2 Samuel 15:1-4 – “In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice.”  NIV

 

Picking up where we left off yesterday let’s bring this to a conclusion and hopefully these three devotionals will have been of benefit to you and to others as you travel the pathway of life.

From the “Spirit of Revenge,” we transition or evolve into a “Spirit of Selfishness,” which in my opinion is a basic “Root of Sin.”  It is the catalyst that sends us headlong down the slope of destruction and results in many being defiled.

Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives…”

Note the progression.  Absalom is brought back to the Kingdom of David after three years of exile but given no audience with the King for TWO FULL YEARS.  He has no remorse for his actions.  He is so filled with hatred, vengeance, and self that he sees only HIS OWN AGENDA!  He is rapidly reaching the point of no return.  He has already learned to permit hatred to have its full vent.  He has already developed an intense lack of respect for authority and he has tasted apparent victory through his rebellion in the burning of Joab’s Field.

Hatred, bitterness, vengeance, selfishness all produce Self Righteousness.”  This, in turn, produces a “Superiority Complex” in the heart and drives the carnal man to believe that: He should be number one because he is better, more capable than or at least as capable as those in authority and that produces two spirits.

The Self Exalting Spirit.

2 Samuel 15:4 – “Oh that I were made King in the land….”

Get into his head.  He is thinking, “I handled that rascal Amnon, when the King failed and I could handle all the problems of the land, but the King continues to fail.  All would be well if I were King.”

The Spirit of Deception.

2 Samuel 15:3 – Absalom’s supposed interest in the people’s problems and needs brings him to plant the seed in the minds of the subjects “maybe the King isn’t as interest in us as he should be, but Absalom is.”

We are told in the story that Absalom would sit in the Gate and ask questions that seemed harmless and seemed to express genuine interest in people but they were extremely troubling and bring alarm to my spirit.  He would shout to the people, “What village are you from?”  “What tribe are you?”  He had an agenda and it was his motivation.

The questions seemed harmless but the reason he was asking is troubling.  He had his own agenda and wanted to find out where the people were in their thinking so he could speak things into their “thought processes” that would cause them to look favorable upon him and his cause.  On the surface he appeared to be on the side of the King and Right.  Please understand that he carefully hid his plan and would never openly discuss it with anyone.  There was a “Spirit of Deceptiveness” in him.

It is here that I feel that I need to give a warning about the “Absalom Spirit”.  I don’t know exactly how it applies to everyone but I know it does and to some in particular.  I know that this spirit NEVER manifests itself upfront immediately.  It comes in a very deceptive manner and initially it appears to be helpful and expresses concern about your condition, position, and problems.  It sounds sincere and valid but it is diabolical.  If you encounter the “Absalom Spirit” you can easily be drawn into rebellion and find yourself involved in something that God NEVER INTENDED.  If you allow an “Absalom Spirit” to develop in your heart you will ultimately find yourself facing the judgment of God severely and quickly.

I want to conclude with a prayer:

“Lord, I pray now for each person reading this that you will protect them from deception.  I sense in my heart that we are near a time of the birthing of something new and special in God and a time of visitation from the Lord.  I believe that breakthrough and breakout is coming in the lives of your people so I ask that you give revelation to each heart and allow each one to recognize and know any “Absalom Spirit’ that comes into their life in any fashion and enable them to biblically and correctly respond to that spirit.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.”

            May God be with you as you go through your day!