Are you good at ignoring God?

If I really examine my heart, I would have to say that my greatest desire is to please God. Some might hear that and wonder whether I’m in my right mind or not. Many people don’t see pleasing God as something to be desired. It seems that a lot of people only want to get as close to God as they have to in order to get help and deliverance from some mess that they’ve gotten themselves into, but that’s it. Once they have received what they need, they are back to their old life. Back to doing it their way.

I can’t think that way anymore. Truthfully, there is NOTHING more important to me than hearing from God and knowing I’m in the middle of His will for me. I don’t want the edges of His will, I want to be right in the middle of it.

I was thinking a while back about when I was a boy. I would sit in church services and usually in each service, an altar call would be given. I would remember times of experiencing great heart conviction. My heart was being pulled to make a change. Through many church services I successfully resisted that conviction, but I felt it every time. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was my Heavenly Father speaking to my heart through His Holy Spirit.  He was calling me to come closer. He was inviting me into a deeper relationship with Him. A choice I made once I realized that, even though I don’t completely understand it, He loves me and His ways are ALWAYS better than mine.

All these years later and I’m still a committed Christian. The thing I want to point out is this; that conviction that I resisted those many times, that sense that God was dealing with my heart, that is the same exact thing that I look for every day to hear from my Heavenly Father. That is the primary way He leads His people. While many people are looking to be led in spectacular ways, the main way God deals with us is through our conscience. It often shows up as that heartfelt conviction.

I would like to leave you with a thought this week. Every time we as believers over-ride our conscience, we are actually intentionally ignoring God. If you’re like me and desire to please Him – to know and do His will – the stupidest thing we can do is to practice and get good at ignoring Him.  Let’s make it a point this week to listen, recognize and obey even the slightest convictions of our heart.  Let’s practice and get good at obeying Him.

Move Forward With Confidence! Here’s How.

We know that Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17).  When Jesus said we would know the Truth, and the Truth would make us free, the implication of the verse is that it’s the TRUTH YOU KNOW that makes you free.

About a week ago, while I was having stuff done to my house, there was something that I wanted done, and I was pretty sure it was supposed to be done, but it kept getting passed over by the contractors.  I watched day after day as they worked around the area I was looking at, but day after day, they didn’t do anything.  I started getting anxious.  I even went and found the quote, just to look and see if it had been overlooked in the pricing.  Nope!  It was there!  So why do they keep working around it?  I began to create a  picture in my head of a big confrontation with the contractor in my front yard – out there in front of God and everybody.

It suddenly hit me.  This is not faith.  This is fear!  Fear is perverted faith, and I know better than this.  God gives me favor with people.  Then I thought….wait a minute, where is that in the Bible?  I couldn’t think of a specific scripture that promised that God has given me favor with everybody.  But what does the Bible say?

I remembered Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Then right on the heels of that,  Rom 8:31 & 32  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

To me, knowing where that truth was located was very important.  Many times we get ideas about what God is like or how He will act, but without actually having a scripture to back that up, you can’t really have faith.

Why?  Because as soon as your good thoughts about God get challenged, and they will be challenged, you will realize that what you believe about God is not based on a firm foundation.  Faith must be based on a firm foundation.  In order for something to be scriptural, we have to actually have scripture.

I began to think about it.  He will cause this to work out for my good.  He loves me.  He’s working in this situation on my behalf.  I made the shift on the inside.  I prayed about it, basing my prayer and my faith on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory.  I was now in a place of confidence.  I had faith that God was involved, and that it was going to be alright.  The next day, I had a passing conversation with the contractor, who all on his own, pointed out the part I had been wondering about and indicated that he wasn’t finished, and that it would all be done. Thank God!

Faith calls for the manifestation of itself.  It’s where we learn from God’s own example that we are to call those things that be not, as though they were (Rom 4:17).  We see from Job’s example that Fear also has a voice (Job 3:25).   It calls for the manifestation of itself too, because it’s perverted faith. Fear is having confidence in the circumstance and it’s ability to hurt you.

How do you move forward in your life?  When you navigate through your day, how do you know that the choices you make are the right ones?  Do you often see potential issues before they happen and successfully avoid them, or do you often find yourself knee deep in drama and wonder how you got there?

Recently I was having a conversation with someone at work.  They pointed out that they thought I was well suited for my work.  They commented that I am so confident in what I and my team do, that I am not easily pushed around.

The truth is that I do my job like I live my life.  I live by standards. A standard is defined as “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations”.  One way to look at standards is that they are the rule by which everything else is measured.  They are the ideal.  It’s helpful if these are also unchanging.

In Metrology (The Science of Measurement), Primary standards are the highest order of standard.  They were at one time based on artifacts.  Items that were assigned final authority concerning a set measurement.  The problem with this is that artifacts are objects that are subject to change.  In recent years, science has been working to move the standards from artifact basis to a basis of fundamental physical constants.  That way, if anything happened to the standard bar for a meter, we could still measure a true meter.

A Standard is true.  It’s always the right answer.  When I’m at work, I operate according to the standards set forth by our executives regarding production speeds, processes and costs.  To me, these standards are like the company constitution.  When I operate in accordance with them, I am always in a defensible position.  I can have confidence that I operated according to the will of the executives.

The same is true with my life.  I can live in confidence to the extent that I am living according to the standard of God’s Word.  It is my final authority above all else.

In recent years, the world has become more vocal in its resistance to all things Christian.  It seems to have become popular to make fun of Christians for believing that the Bible is the truth.  There are even people who grew up in church that now take verbal “cheap shots” at Christians for believing what the Bible says. The Bible is the truth though, and it is the standard by which all things will be measured in the end.

It’s important not only to know about the standard but to actually know it.  Jesus said in John 8:31 & 32  If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It’s important to know God loves you, but it’s more important to know specifically where the promise is that tells you that God loves you.

When it comes to knowing what to do, it’s so important to know what the standards are, and to submit yourself to them.  Only then can you stand firm when the world is telling you something different.

Today, you can move forward with confidence.  The very next step you take can be the first step toward the things you so desperately need.  What it takes…what it always takes, is a commitment.  Without a solid decision on your part, you will still be pushed around.  You must be as committed to the truth as the truth is to you.

I want to remind you of the choice Joshua required Israel to make in Joshua 24:15.  “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, and then he adds “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

The choice is yours.

Your buddy Art.

For more info about your standing with God, Click Here.

 

 

 

Be Like Mary, Not Like Zack!

While I don’t think most people would equate having a lack of faith with being rebellious, there is a kind of unbelief that is exactly that.  This week while studying, I found myself reading the passage in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah.  Later in the same chapter, that same Gabriel appeared to Mary, mother of Jesus.  His announcement to both Mary and Zachariah was that they were both about to become parents.  It appears at first glance that when Gabriel made that announcement, they both responded the same way and with the same type of question.  They each received a very different result though.

How were they similar?

They were the same in that in each case, God sent a messenger, an angel named Gabriel, from His presence to declare to each of them His (God’s) will.  Gabriel declares to both of them that they were going to have a child. He also declares to each of them that the birth of their child would be a miracle.  Each case would take faith to receive because in each case, the circumstances said it was impossible.

How were they different?

While it seems on the surface that they were the same, there had to be a difference.  The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).  If they were the same, they would have both received the same results.  We see that the difference was faith.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  Weymouth says it this way  “And this proves that faith comes from a Message heard, and that the Message comes through its having been spoken by Christ. ”  Believing is a choice, and the ability to believe comes from the faithfulness of the speaker.  You believe me because I have kept my word to you consistently. I have been faithful.  That is faith in me.  Faith in God comes from being thoroughly convinced that He will do what He said He would do in His Word. We believe the promise, because we believe the speaker.

When Mary asked the question “How will this be since I’m a virgin?”  Her question was a question of process.  If you think about it, this had never happened before and she had no basis for faith.  There was no precedence.  Also, we see that once she heard Gabriel’s explanation, her heart went out and laid hold of it.  “Be it unto me according to your word!”  Her faith had kicked in and she believed the promise.

Zachariah had a very large precedence set for him.  He had examples of the Lord opening the barren womb with Hannah.  He also had examples of the Lord giving children in old age with Abraham and Sarah. They were in the same boat he was.  Zachariah had a basis for faith.  Not only that, but the Bible says when Gabriel first appeared to him, he said “Fear not, your prayer is heard”.  Zachariah had been praying for a child.  The issue is that once Gabriel told him the message, Zachariah wanted a sign to prove that the promise was true.  Even the promise from the mouth of an angel wasn’t enough. He wanted a sign.  He was looking at the promise through the circumstances the same way the 10 spies did in back in Numbers 13.

His sign was also his sentence.  He lost his ability to speak until the promise was fulfilled.  Gabriel told him why in Luke 1:20.  “Because you didn’t believe my words”.  I think it’s important to note that the angel took away his ability to speak.  Zachariah’s mouth, and confession may have been a problem that needed to be stopped.

Zachariah may have had strong faith at some point.  We can see from Gabriel’s statement that he had enough faith at one point to ask the Lord for a child.  Just like a muscle though, faith can atrophy.  The world is constantly feeding information that creates fear and doubt.  If we don’t take active steps to minimize that message & replace it with a faith giving message, our faith will become week.

So if faith comes by hearing, then if there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  I have heard complaints about how some ministers will give 10 minute mini-sermons about giving & believing for finances before they receive an offering in their church.  While I’ve been in churches where this was an attempt to squeeze more money out of people, I have also been in churches where the mini-sermon was very faith building.  It was good solid illuminated truth regarding God’s will and His promises.  It helped my faith.  What I’m trying to say is this.  If there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  To say that people don’t need to hear any more preaching about certain promises is in contradiction to scripture.  2 Peter 1:12 says “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”   Jude 1:5 says “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this…”  You can never have too much faith in God’s Word.

Special focus.

There have been times in my own life where I was struggling with my health.  After a few days of messing around, I finally came to the conclusion that my faith was weak in this area.  Instead of pretending that I was more spiritual than I really was, I humbled myself.  I realized that I was not where I needed to be and believing that the Bible was true, I determined that what I needed was to hear faith building words regarding healing.  I went about searching for the best material I could find on the topic.  I found a tape series, (yes, they were tapes back then), called Receive Miracle Healing by Dr. T.L. Osborn, and I listened to it…and only it, for more than 10 months.  I realized that my ailment wasn’t going to disappear by itself and I couldn’t afford to handle it medically.  I put my hope in God and trusted that He would get me to the place I needed to be, in order to receive by faith.

The bottom line.

When we get right down to it, we’re talking about trust.  We need to know that God can do it, but that’s only the first part. We also need to be convinced that He will do it for us.  We don’t receive from God based on His ability, we receive based on the level of our faith – our trust in Him to do what He said.  Literally, you can not receive beyond your faith.  And to pretend you have faith in order to appear more spiritual is actually a lame substitute.  It’s your Ishmael. Fake faith will not produce results and it’s actually a form of pride that will BLOCK you from receiving.  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5).

F.F. Bosworth said “Faith begins where the will of God is known”.  If you find yourself struggling in an area of your life, and you find yourself defeated more than you are victorious, take heart. Immerse yourself in the Word & ask the Lord to help you.  Don’t let up until He turns the light on.  He will show you light in a verse that you may have read a thousand times, but all the sudden, you see what it really says.  Faith springs alive in your heart.  Once He brings revelation, and has given you a Living Word that you can believe, it’s time to receive it!  Don’t resist the message!  Don’t require an additional sign!  Don’t be unbelieving.  Don’t rebel against the promise.

Instead – Be like Mary!  “Be it unto me according to your word!”

 

 

Are you of a different spirit?

Many of you are familiar with the Bible story where Moses sent the 12 spies into the promised land to check it out. They searched out the land for forty days and returned to give their report. If you remember the story, ten of the spies came back with what the Bible calls an Evil report. It was all negative. These spies didn’t see the promise that God had given them, instead they looked at the circumstances and determined that they were too small and too weak to take the land.

Num 13:31  But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the sons of Israel, saying, The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up those who live in it. And all the people whom we saw in it were men of stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, of the giants. And we were in our own sight like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Scripture says that these reports caused the people’s hearts to melt. It wasn’t the giants that were keeping them out of the land, it was the grasshoppers. They were comparing their enemy to themselves. They were not figuring God into the equation.

Hebrews 3 tells us that the children of Israel had “An evil heart of unbelief”. When we look further, we see that, instead of trusting God, they had a spirit of disobedience. They were obstinate, rebellious, intentionally unbelieving and unpersuadable. Hebrews 3:12 warns us that we should pay attention, to make sure that none of us has an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

Do you see the issue in that verse? They came right up to the point of making a choice to believe or not and they chose to separate. They departed from God…multiple times. At one point, they even chided Moses (Ex 17:2). The Online Dictionary defines Chide as “To give someone a piece of one’s mind. To take to task, rake over the coals, to tell off”. God called them a “Stiff Necked and Rebellious People”.

Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies that came back with a different point of view. Caleb said “Let us go up at once, for we are well able to overcome it”. They had seen the promised land through a vision of the promise of God and they could see the possibilities. They said things like “Their defense has departed from them, let us go up at once!” All that faith talk started making the faithless people mad. Joshua and Caleb warned the people that they should not rebel against the Lord. The people decided that what they really needed to do was stone Joshua and Caleb. It was at that moment that the Glory of the Lord showed up in a big way! It was also at this moment that Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. They knew something serious was happening. They knew God wasn’t just dropping by to say howdy.

There is a ton of stuff to learn in this passage, and I am inspired by the words of Joshua and Caleb. The Lord summed it up best when He was talking about Caleb.

“Num 14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went. And his seed shall possess it.”

The Bishops Bible says it like this “Because he has followed me unto the utmost.”

The Bible in basic English says “Because he is true to me with all his heart.”

The Literal version says “he is fully following me.”

The Septuagint says “Fulfilled to walk behind me.”

God said he had another spirit with him. What was that spirit?

The answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church, says “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”

Joshua and Caleb were IN FAITH. That simply means that they were fully trusting God to keep His promise. They had a good understanding of what it means to be in COVENANT with God. You and I can have covenant with God today through submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus. In doing that, we open ourselves up to all that God promised. In Him (Jesus) we have ACCESS to God.

Rom 5:2 By whom (Jesus) also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Eph 2:18 For through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 3:12 In whom (Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

God wants us to get to the place of trusting Him where we are like Abraham. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He (God) had promised, he was able also to perform”.

If you are a believer, it should mean something to you to actually be in covenant with God. It should change the way you think. The way you think about health, direction, even money. According to some reading I’ve done recently, some Jewish scholars believe that poverty is an unjustifiable suffering. It should not be revered or associated with closeness with God.

Consider what Paul says to the Romans. Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Is this not the mind of Joshua and Caleb? They were convinced that the Lord was with them and that He had taken away the strength of their enemies. They were fully persuaded that it was “Take the Land time”!

Are you in covenant with God? Have you made Jesus your Lord, and submitted yourself to Him? If not, click here. If so, are you standing where you should be standing in regard to God and His promises? Do you trust Him to make good on His Word?

This week, spend some time and examine your heart. Let God say of you, as He said of Caleb, “They have a different spirit, and have followed me fully”?

Cutting People Some Slack

The other day I ran into some road work on my way home. This construction is not far from my house and I hit it nearly every day.  I tend to get into the correct lane early and slowly roll through the construction. Everyday many cars speed by on the left trying to get all the way up to the front of the slow line before attempting to merge. I’m almost never one of those people. I would rather get into the correct lane early, where the sign says “merge now”, rather than hoping someone will let me in later. One way is easy, the other can turn into a confrontational mess.

The other day, a pest control truck sped past everyone and forced its way into the traffic right before the lane closure. This got under my skin a little too much. I thought to myself, “What a ME FIRST jerk”! I remember thinking that someone should take a picture of his automotive billboard, you know, the truck with his name, number and business name all over the side, and paste it all over social media calling him out on his bad manners behind the wheel.

One to take on image card

Here’s where the problem came in. Earlier that same day, I had to go home for lunch in a hurry because of something urgent I needed to take care of. I was in a hurry and I’m sure there might have been people who thought my driving was fast and lacked courtesy. It probably was, I was in a legitimate hurry. We all have times when we are in a legitimate hurry. The pest control guy could have been racing home because of a distress call from his wife. I don’t know. So why did I automatically jump to negative thinking?

Unfortunately, we all often forget those times when we are judging others behind the wheel. Now I will concede that there are probably times when people are just being rude and selfish, but we won’t necessarily know, one way or the other. So why do we assume the worst? I catch myself doing this a lot and I hate it. Why is it that my first thought is that people are being mean spirited? Why do I seem to assume that people are being malicious first, and then have to re-think and make a conscious and deliberate decision to think more positively about them?

We have a tendency to judge others by the outcome but judge ourselves by our intentions. I have learned that when I’m tempted to judge a situation, the closer I get to it, the more I understand why it was done the way it was done. I need to keep this in mind to help me when I’m tempted to form a fast, uninformed opinion.

Jesus said in Luke 6:27 & 28 “But I tell you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you”. (WEB). This is not a suggestion from the Master, this should be our default setting, so how do we get this to be where we start? Instead of taking things the wrong way, thinking negatively about them and then catching ourselves, how do we begin on the right foot so to speak?

I think what I really need is a habit. I want my first thought to be positive. Some may say that it’s not even possible but I think we can be far better than we are. I know I have room to grow.

Hebrews says – For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:13-14).

We can get to the point where our very senses can be developed to discern whats right and wrong. How to we get to that point? The Bible says in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

So the first step to making this change is to renew our minds with the scripture. This means getting plenty of exposure to it. It’s going to take more than a quick verse in the morning. Real change requires real commitment.

One thing you can do is print out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and personalize it.  Tape this to your bathroom mirror and read it out loud every time you look into the mirror.  You can get a copy of it here.

I want to do better. Do you want to join me? This can be our One To Take On this week. Join the conversation by leaving a comment. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Just click the icons in the upper right corner.

Don’t forget to share.

I sure do appreciate you.

Art

What is Honor?

What does it mean to be honored? I did a google search for images of honor and several images were found of the U.S. President placing a medal around the neck of a soldier. We celebrated Memorial Day recently where we honor the memory of our fallen soldiers. A large part of the observance of Memorial Day is to show honor by decorating their tombs and grave sites, and showing reverence for their sacrifice. It would seem then that honor has something to do with medals & decorations.

Monuments cropped

stocksnap.io

While we do show honor through medals & decorations, in most cases, what we are really honoring is an act. Usually an act of courage, valor, or bravery. Acts come from the inside of people. Consistent acts reveal what is in the heart in abundance. It is in times of long service, or service under high distress and danger that a person’s true character is revealed. It is in moments like these, when some people rise up to a level of true greatness, revealing qualities of exceptional leadership, bravery or self sacrifice. In the act of honoring, we are acknowledging in them a high quality that we revere and value. We are ornamenting a person because they have made a significant impact for good to those around them. They have made a difference.

When we look to scripture, we see in Malachi 1:6 God the Father is asking a question of the priests. He says “A son honors his father, and a servant honors his master. So if I am a father, where is my honor? If I am a master, where is my respect? You priests who despise my name.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”
― Abraham Lincoln

In this scripture we see both sides of honor. God says “If I am and Father and a Master, where’s my honor?” Implying that God expected to be honored and respected. The farther implication is that God expects that parents and masters (employers) are to be honored and respected also. (Ex 20:12. Eph 6:1-3. Col 3:22. 1 Pet 2:18).

Recently I saw a picture on social media of a man with his Bible on his knee and his hand wresting on it. In his hand was a lit cigar. I don’t remember what his caption said, but it was something like “this is church this morning”. This man’s father is a well respected minister with international influence. This man’s wife is also a minister working hard to grow her influence.

One of my first thoughts when I saw the picture was “Did his dad teach at home what he was teaching publicly?” Here’s why I’m bringing this up. This young man has what appears to be a successful business in town. At least in part, the success of the business is because his dad leveraged his own influence to help his son get launched. Many of the people who are following this young man on social media are doing so because of his father. Many of the people who saw that picture follow his father and whether people will admit it or not, this picture struck a blow against his father’s credibility. I will not say that it ruined it because his dad is a fine, upstanding man. I will say though, that it caused questions to be asked that would not have even been thought before the picture was posted. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The beginning of honor is to not cause shame (see The Road To Honor) .

Hypothetically, what if someone were considering asking this man’s wife to minister in their church, but decided against it because of this photo? I am not this man’s conscience. I am not his judge. My points here are based completely on the topic of honor and the apparent thoughtlessness of his actions.

“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor.”
― George Bernard Shaw

What is honor? Honor is to value as heavy. In the old days when barter and trade would happen, weights and scales were used to determine the value of things. Heavy usually meant better. Even in quality, heavy usually meant better built with more sturdy materials. When something was heavy, it was considered to be worth more. To honor is defined as value as heavy, Showing deference. A good name or public reputation. A showing of merited respect. High worth, and as a verb, a gesture of deference (bow).

The root word in Hebrew literally means: To cause to shine, to glorify or to add luster. This is the definition that I think of when I think of honor. When I think about my relationship with God, my parents & my leaders, I understand that I always need to be reverentially respectful toward them and to always live my life in a way that causes them to shine. I live to add luster to them. This is honor – and as you can see, honor comes from living from what they put into you. This is why poor choices bring dishonor and shame to them.

For me, the clearest example of honor was found in my paternal grandmother. She and my grandpa had been together for many years and raised nine children. When he passed away, she had a large photo of him framed and placed prominently on the wall in her living room. One Sunday afternoon when I stopped by for a visit, she confided in me that sometimes, when she was alone, she would talk to him. She also told me that she kissed that picture at night before she went to bed. This illustrates honor so clearly to me because of the way she honors his memory. She was showing how much she loved him and how heavily she valued him.

Honor is lacking in our world today. People hear the word and don’t understand what it really means. Because of this, they can’t do it and are suffering because of it. In the next few weeks, I want to go deeper into it and talk more about what it is, but also who we are to honor and what the benefits are because we walk in honor.

Understanding that to honor is to value, take some time this week to examine your life? Are you honoring those you should be honoring? Are you walking worthy of it yourself? Join the discussion by leaving a comment.

I appreciate you all!

Art

***Quotes above were found at:
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The Missing Link Between Failure and Success.

When I rededicated my life to the Lord, it wasn’t very long before someone lent me a teaching series.  It was a tremendous series about how we see God.  It was called “The Image of God in You”.  It was a good kick-start for me in my walk with God and it berthed in me a hunger for the Word.  It started to make sense to me and I wanted to know all I could know about this life in Christ.  I was so hungry to hear what that minister was saying that I remember starting the first tape (yes they were cassettes back then) at about 11:00 pm and pulling the last tape out of the player at about 6:30 the next morning.  It was amazing.  If you had asked me just a few weeks before that if I would want to stay up all night listening to someone preach, I would have said “Um…No thank you!”

I became ravenous concerning the Word of God.  I wanted as much as I could get.  I wanted to learn.  I wanted to know more about who I was in Christ.  More about my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  My life in Christ was real to me and I wanted to know how to live it.

The problem that developed for me though, was that with all the consumption going on, there wasn’t very much “Doing”.

James 1:22 says that we are to be doers of the Word of God and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.  It goes on in in verse 25 to say that the one who is not a forgetful hearer but a doer, shall be blessed in his or her deeds.

This brings to mind the popular bible verse in the John 8:31 & 32 where Jesus said “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciple in deed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Understand here that it’s not the plain truth that makes you free.  There are conditions that come with freedom.  Jesus said “If you continue in my Word…”  Staying in the Word is a prerequisite to walking in freedom.

We see in James 1:25 some characteristics of the one that looks into the Perfect Law of Liberty, and continues in it.

  1. They Will Remember – They will not be forgetful hearers.
    Deuteronomy 6 points out how we are to operate concerning this perfect law of liberty.
    -Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts;
    -Teaching them to your children with all care.
    -Talk of them when you are at rest in your house.
    -Talk of them walking by the way.
    -Talk of them when you go to sleep.
    -Talk of them when you get up.
    -Let them be fixed as a sign on your hand.
    -Let them be marked on your brow.
    -Have them lettered on the pillars of your houses.
    -Have them written over the doors of your towns.
  2. They Will Be A Doer – putting it into action.
    We see in James that real faith brings action.  While we are truly justified before God by faith, real faith is always accompanied by corresponding action.  When Abraham put Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22, he was acting in faith.  Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham received Isaac raised from the dead in a figure.  Abraham fully intended to sacrifice the son of promise because he walked by faith, and demonstrated his faith with his actions.  We know that Abraham didn’t have to follow through.  God provided for Himself a sacrifice. This is when Abraham called the place Jehovah Jireh.

This person who makes it a point to be a doer and not just a hearer only will be blessed in their deeds.  That bringing it back around to John 8.  It’s not just the truth that makes you free.  It’s not even the truth you read, or the truth you love.  Scripture says it’s the truth that you KNOW that makes you free, and the inference is that its the truth you know and DO that makes you free.  Your favorite scripture will have absolutely no affect on your life whatsoever… if you will not act on it.

The Truth you know demands action.  Most of us as believers are not defeated by what we don’t know.  We’re defeated by the truth we know but are not doing.

This also comes with a warning.  If you are not a doer of the Word, but you hear a lot of Word, you may be self deceived into thinking that you are more spiritual than you really are.  The self deceived are those that think they are spiritual because they have heard a lot of good teaching.  The sad truth about those who are hearers only is that with each truth they learn, they put themselves “on the hook” to do it.  When they don’t do it, they just increase their disobedience to God.

I want to be fully obedient in everything. I’m sure you do too.  I don’t want to leave anything undone. I have started making a confession as often as I think about it, that I am a doer of the Word of God.

I want to encourage you to examine yourself.  Where do you stand?  I also want to challenge you to put action to your faith. Be a Doer!

 

How Promotion Comes.

If we could promote ourselves, we might all be at the very top of our respective companies. We might all be making top money. We could show up at the company that we owned, at about 10:30 in the morning, driving our brand new Aston Martin Vanquish…Okay, that might just be me.

$100 bills

I am curious though. How many of us would hesitate to promote ourselves because we knew deep down that we lack the skills and credentials to do the higher paying, higher responsibility jobs? I think most of us would probably give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and go ahead & try. Sadly, this would likely result in many companies failing within just a few months.

Truthfully, while you can’t directly promote yourself, you have a lot of control over whether or not you actually get promoted. It’s true. It’s mostly up to you. Let’s look at the example of David in the Bible.

In just the few verses of Psalm 78:70-72, we learn quite a bit about how and why God chose David to be King of Israel.

 

Psa 78:70 He also chose His servant David, and took him from the folds of the flock;

71 He brought him in from the suckling ewes; He brought him to feed His people Jacob, and His inheritance, Israel.

72 And he fed them in the integrity of his heart; and guided them in the skillfulness of his hands. (LIT)

 

We see that God chose David. David did not directly choose this for himself. But what was behind God’s choice? What did He see in David?

We see that God separated him from the sheep fold. David was a shepherd. David was caring for sheep, but not just sheep, lots of baby lambs. The King James version of verse 71 says God took him from following the ewes, great with young. David was shepherding birthing mothers & lots of babies. I can just imagine David now, setting on a log with a lamb in his lap while he is hand feeding it, as he looks out watchfully over the flock to make sure they are all safe.

God joined him to His people. David’s mandate from Heaven was to feed Jacob and Lead Israel. I think this is telling. It shows us God’s heart toward His people and the specific traits he looks for in those he chooses to lead them.

So why did God choose him? Verse 72 says David fed them (Jacob) in the integrity of his heart, and he guided them (Israel) in the skillfulness of his hands.

God saw him doing this with the lambs. God saw his integrity and his skill & wisdom while he was just watching the sheep. David was faithful in the little things and did them with integrity.

So, what kind of shepherd was David? We get a little taste from 1 Sam 17.

1Sa 17:34 And David said to Saul, Your servant has been a shepherd among sheep for his father. And the lion came, and the bear, and took away a sheep out of the flock.

35 And I went out after him and struck him, and delivered out of his mouth. And he rose against me, and I took hold of his beard and struck him, and killed him.

36 Your servant has struck both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, for he has reproached the armies of the living God.

37 And David said, Jehovah, who has delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He shall deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and Jehovah be with you.

 

  • David was a man of faith! We can see that David had a very deep trust in God. He knew who he was in regard to the covenant.
  • David values the flock. We also see that when it came to the sheep, David considered his lambs so valuable that he went out, confronted and killed predators that were known to kill people. He did it more that once. Even one sheep was so important to David that he put his own life on the line to save it.
  • David was selfless. This was so powerful to God that he said of David “I found David” the son of Jesse “to be a man according to My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22 LIT).
  • We see something similar when Paul was writing to the Corinthian church. He said “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” 2Co 12:15.
  • And again when Paul was writing to the Philippians, he tells them that he’s getting ready to send Timothy to them. He shows us why he is sending Timothy and not some other “Well Known” minister. Timothy had the same heart that Paul had. Paul said “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. Phil 2:20, 21. Everybody else had self serving motives.

So what does this mean for us? What is the take away here?

God Himself said that David was a man after His own heart, who would fulfill all His will. The secret to David’s success wasn’t found just in God “Picking” him and then he became great. The anointing came on him when Samuel poured oil over his head, but the qualities that made him an excellent king were already in him and made him an excellent shepherd. He walked ever day in faith, integrity, wisdom & skillfulness. He didn’t just do his best, he did his best to do it God’s way.

Think about it. If I’m looking for good help to do something I need done, I’m looking for someone who can faithfully do it THE WAY I WOULD DO IT. How many times have you been the recipient of someone’s help and you had to do it over when they left?

God is looking for people who will submit to His will, do things His way & do them faithfully. These are the same attributes that will cause you to get promotion in every area of your life.

I invite you to take some time this week to examine your own heart. Ask yourself this one question.

Are you doing it all Your Way?

How to respond to offence & meanness in others.

Have you ever had a situation spin out of control and the next thing you knew, you were being verbally attacked by an aggressive person?  Maybe you locked horns with someone at work and it escalated into a heated argument. When it was all over and the dust was settling, did you begin to roll it over and over in your mind?  This is usually when all the logic rolls in.  You are suddenly awash with razor wit and remarkable cleverness.  It always seems that in the aftermath of these arguments, we have 10,000 come-backs.

The truth is, we are probably better off that we can’t access this cleverness in the heat of the argument.  Who knows what damage we could actually do.

This week I shot a video about this.  Jesus said offences would come.  That’s one of His promises that no one wants to receive.  What is the right way to deal with offence?  How should we handle ourselves when we’re in the thick of it?

I think we’ve all been in situations like this, and we have all walked away wondering if we handled it well.  I know that sometimes I have walked away certain that I didn’t.  This video gives us some guidelines for some appropriate ways to respond.

Remember –

  1. Forgive!  This has to be first.  This opens the door for God to move in our situation.
  2. Push the offense to the sidelines and ignore it.  There are people who bash me about being a Christian.  Guess what?  I’m not going to stop!  I have to push their opinions of me to the margins and ignore them.  I can’t let them hinder me from moving forward.
  3. Put your eyes back on the mission.  It was the joy that was set before Jesus that pulled Him through the cross & the shame and now He’s set at the right hand of God.  Your mission will pull you forward too! But you have to keep your eyes on it and not on the weights and sin that can slow you down and stop you.

What tips can you share that you have used to successfully deal with the meanness of others?   Please join the conversation.

Also – If you know anyone who would benefit from hearing this, please share.

Art

If you can slow down and do this, you can avoid a future full of regret.

In his anger he shouts “I don’t (cuss)ing care what you say! You need to get off of my back and stop trying to run my (cuss)ing life! You need to fix your own mess before you try to fix me!” In exasperation John picks up his coat and storms out of the house. He only hesitates long enough to slam the door on his way out, leaving his mom standing in the middle of the living room crying. “She won’t let up.” He thought as he stomped off the porch steps. John’s mom had been pushing him to get a job. She really wanted him to enroll in community college but he said he wanted a break first before he rolled into the “Real World”.

John had been staying in his room gaming for weeks now and hadn’t done anything except eat, hang out with his friends & borrow money since graduating from high school four months ago. She wanted more for him and she expected more from him. So she pushed him. She didn’t want to be a nag but she really wanted to see some forward motion. That brings us to this moment. The moment John is walking down his street thinking about how he had just exploded a few minutes ago and said all those hurtful things to his mom.

His mom had been single for many years now and had been raising him on her own. She was committed to doing her absolute best to raise her son up to be a good man. She often wondered and feared that her best might not be enough. She had recently had her own relationship go bad and she was still getting over that. She had no idea that John would use that to hurt her, but he did…just now.

As John walked, his conscience began to bother him. He knew he had gone too far. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t know why he said it. He was just mad and lost control. He was sorry but was unsure what to do next and he didn’t know how to make it right. Now shame was beginning to creep in. He began to tear up. “Why do I have to be such a jerk!” He said out loud in an anger that was now aimed at himself.

Few things can compare to knowing what to do.

 

We’ve all done what John did. We’ve been in situations where we have allowed the pressure to build until we’ve just “blasted off”, vented our anger, said mean things and hurt people we care about. We would probably also all agree that while we as individuals are not necessarily mean people, we just get caught up in the moment and react badly.

To be sure, even as I write this, I still deal with the temptation to think and say the wrong thing because of the heightened stress of a situation. I caught myself just this last week letting something slip out of my mouth and then quickly having to try to recover and minimize the damage because of my poor reaction to pressure.

This matters because we’ve all said or done things that we regret and wish we could change. If a person can get this, they can live with no regrets.  So what’s to be done?

Prov 21:3 says – Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.  The World English Bible (WEB) says it this way – Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.

To guard or to keep imply that you are watching for because you are expecting trouble.  When it comes to our mouths, this could not be more true.

James the Apostle said – For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. The New Living Translation (NLT) says it this way – Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

The bottom line is that we are the ones responsible for our words.  We are to make sure our words don’t offend or hurt.  Some have said “God, Why did you let me say that?” – but we should not be asking God to do something that He has told us to do.  He will help, strengthen and empower you but it’s you who must do the doing.

Set your standards before the moment so you don’t waiver in the moment.  This one truth has helped me so much in this area.  I try to run all things that happen in my life through the filter of the Word of God and if I can, I want to establish my thinking in advance.  One definition I’ve heard for Wisdom is “The skillful use of knowledge.”  In the 24th chapter of the book of Proverbs, the writer talks about the field & garden of the foolish & lazy.  He says in verse 32 “I saw and considered it well: I looked on it and received instruction.”  That’s the take-away.  Consideration.  If we will establish in advance how we will act when the heat is on, then it eliminates all the choices we might have to make when the heat is on.  Can you see the truth here?

I heard a story many years ago about a man who was called to testify in court against the man he worked for.  He was told that if he lied and protected his boss, he would be richly rewarded.  When the time came for this man to testify, he simply told the truth.  His teenage son talked to him about it later and commented that it must have been a tough choice to make with the possibility of all that money hanging in front of him.  The dad simply told his son that the choice wasn’t tough at all because he had made it many years ago when he decided that he wouldn’t tell lies.

Consider in advance and set your standards before the moment, so you won’t waiver in the moment.

If this post has helped you this week, I would ask you to please share it with those you know who it might also help.  I really appreciate your support in helping me reach those who can benefit.

Have a most excellent week!

Art