Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quit Hitting Replay

Let me share with you why you need to take Paul's advice in Philippians 3:13-14 seriously.

Replaying failures or just bad experiences from your past is the most effective way to siphon off emotional and then physical energy.   It's also one of Satan's most destructive traps.

We all do stupid stuff, we all sin, and we all have experienced the stupid stuff and sin of others directed at us.  Why do we rehash it over and then over again and again?

If you did something stupid, if you offended someone---go ask them to forgive you.

It's not rocket science.  Just say, "I was wrong to be so _____", fill in the blank:  selfish, mean, uncaring, whatever you did, give it a name.  Then, ask, "Will you forgive me?"

Now---what if you were on the receiving end of someone else's sin?

I've spent years grappling with a situation where I was treated badly.  I don't know how many mornings I've awakened to hurtful memories.  I lie there and replay the events hearing the words and feeling the pain only to find I still can't understand:

  • why it happened
  • what I could have done differently at the time
  • what I was suppose to "learn" from it
This morning I woke up thinking about Phil. 3:13 

. . .one thing I do, forgetting those things that which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

And immediately I felt God's peace and a clarity about the episode I've never had in 13 years.

Since becoming a Christian the Holy Spirit has continually corrected me.  For over 40 years, sometimes gently and other times with more emphatic tone, He has shown me my sin. 

Why would He have kept quiet about this episode?  Then I got it.

Just because something happens doesn't always mean there is a lesson in it for you.  Not everything is corrective or even instructive.

But, it is always faith building.  

Is there something in your past that you keep dragging into your present?
Trying to make sense of it.  
Trying to redeem something from the pain.

Paul says forget about it.

Getting stuck in the past is like trying to look down a road you didn't take.

You're gonna miss things on the road you're on.  And you'll end up with a pain in the neck from looking back.

It'll pre-occupy your mental and emotional powers and eclipse your now with your then.

Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Forward and upward are God's intended direction for us.

One day at a time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Big Reveal

Do you watch HGTV Design shows? I tape shows and FF through to the end. I'm only interested in the BIG REVEAL. You know they take the couple down the hall and into their new Master Bedroom & Bathroom. The woman covers her mouth and then keeps repeating, "I don't believe it, I don't believe it". The husband says it's all great and thanks the designer for including a huge plasma TV.

 The BIG REVEAL always makes me think of 1 Corinthians 3:14. 1Cr 3:14 If anyone's work which he has built on [it] endures, he will receive a reward.

Are you ready for the BIG REVEAL? Do you want your life to count forever? We all do. But from time to time we forget and start focusing on more immediate goals.
When that happens it's good to remember the fire. What fire you ask?

 Here's a passage from 1 Corinthians 3 that explains what we are all suppose to be doing---as Christians.

The apostle Paul uses a division currently happening in the church to teach the greater truth about work and reward in the Christian life. The dispute was over which team was better: Team Paul or Team Apollos.

1 Corinthians 3:5-15 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, [you are] God's building.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation [with] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.
If anyone's work which he has built on [it] endures, he will receive a reward.
If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

 Here's a breakdown of the Key points Paul made:
*We are all God's fellow workers, in other words, we aren't in this alone. We're partnering with God (v.9) and we are not in competition with each other.
 *God works on people, not projects. (v.9) He sees you as an individual and loves you. He wants to work with you in bringing others closer to Him.
 *The foundation is salvation through faith in the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. (v.11) Every other work of God flows from this foundational work.
 *We can choose our own building materials. Gold, silver, & precious stones, or wood, hay, & straw. (v.12) *The gold, silver, and precious stones are perfected by fire. The wood, hay, and straw are consumed by it. (v.13)
 *The BIG REVEAL will show what we each chose.

 These are the questions I ask myself when I want to see what I've been building with. 
Do I love God? Do I care about people? Am I willing to use my time and energy, i.e. my life to work with God and make His plan my priority?
 Do I look for ways to make opportunities for sharing with people?
 Ephesians 5:15-17 reminds me to live carefully, open my eyes to opportunities, and be led by the Holy Spirit.
 Am I letting the life & light of Jesus shine through me? Jesus prayed for people, he taught them the truth, and he ministered to their needs. Am I doing the same?

 One day at a time.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Secret of Contentment

Contented Sheep in a Vermont Meadow

Psalms 95:6 & 7
O come let us worship and bow down:  let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Whenever I come to this verse while reading the Psalms I find myself singing the song as written by Dave Doherty in 1980.  Several weeks ago I came to Psalms 95 in my Bible reading.  I made myself stop and read it in context.

Psalms 95

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the LORD [is] the great God, And the great King above all gods.

In His hand [are] the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills [are] His also.

The sea [is] His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry [land].

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

For He [is] our God, And we [are] the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you will hear His voice:

"Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, [fn] As [in] the day of trial [fn] in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.

For forty years I was grieved with [that] generation, And said, 'It [is] a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.'

So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' "

This Psalm is encouraging a worship that springs from deep within the heart of a contented sheep!  
It's only possible when we are focused on God as Creator, Redeemer, and the giver of every good and perfect gift.

When we meditate on God's nature and his works this kind of worship wells up in our hearts and we no longer need the exhortation to sing or shout.  Our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and songs of praise and shouts of joy.

But there is another kind of worship in this Psalm.  

It's the quiet still reverence for God as my own Maker and God.
It gets expressed in obedience to, cooperation with, and acceptance of the will of God.

Look closely at the second part of this Psalm.

How do you respond when you don't like the circumstances of your life?  Your marriage, your job, the city where you live, the current value of your house!  

The children of Israel saw God's mighty deeds in Egypt and as they travelled through the wilderness, but they would murmur and complain instead of ask and believe.  When they received divine provision they complained.

Their journey took 40 years because the first time they got near the promised land they wouldn't enter in because they didn't believe God could and would give them what he'd promised.

Do you want to be like those contented sheep in Vermont?  Embrace God's will for your life.  Quit questioning or resisting.

Do you believe God?  Take some time to find the promises he's given you and let those promises stir your faith again.  You'll find that his peace will guard your heart and his joy will fill your soul.

Your circumstances might not change at all, but you'll change.  You'll enter into his rest.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making a Difference

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  1 Corinthians 10:24

Do you watch NBC Nightly News?

There's a segment toward the end called 'Making a Difference'.

Your life can make a difference.  That's reassuring to know.  But will anything we do count 5 years from now?  10?  How about 50?  How about forever?

Do you want your life to count forever?  Make the good of others your goal.  A life that counts for eternity is a life that mattered to others.  Your life can bring joy, peace, and love to everyone around you.  That's actually God's will for your life.  He wants to fill you with His Spirit, with wisdom, and with His love.  Are you willing to receive and turn around and give out what you received?  

My husband began a Bible Training Center in Ghana West Africa over 10 years ago.  A story he tells from his travels to remote villages made the truth of 1 Cor. 10:24 come alive.  He had taken packages of Skittles with him and when the little children came running up to welcome he and his companions Gary gave them handfuls of Skittles.  He noticed that the children then shared them with the other kids throughout the village.  Any kind of treat is such a rarity that many will never receive even one throughout their childhood.  It really touched him that they shared so freely with others.  They didn't hoard it for themselves.  

Each one ended up with the new experience of a rare treat and the shared experience of giving and receiving a blessing.

As humans we contend with selfish concern throughout our lives.  As Christians we're commanded to make the good of others a priority.  It's what Jesus did throughout his life.  He didn't come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom.  It's what he wants to do through your life too.  He'd like to give you the chance to share with others and help them experience the joy, and peace, and love of God.  

How about it?  Are you willing to make a difference?

One day at a time,