I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Does LOVE or FEAR motivate your decisions?

When a calamity like what happened in Paris strikes it’s amazing how quickly we become prisoners of fear. 

Fear becomes the driving force behind making decisions (though many refuse to acknowledge this).

The need for security motivates us to do things we wouldn’t normally consider doing.

But as Christians we should NEVER make a decision based on fear.

And we should NEVER put our trust in man or governments over our trust in God. 

God alone is our refuge and security (Psalm 91). 

The decisions we make should be based on who He is (LOVE, 1 John 4:8)) and who we are in Him (Children of God, 1 John 3:1, John 1:12).

So while the world is making decisions based in fear, a need for security and a sense of control, we should not. 

We are His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20), we represent His love and light in this darkness (Matt 5:16), therefore we must draw closer to God and let Him guide our decisions in these unsettling times. 

One way to do this is to take all our thoughts and fears captive to the Word of God.

In Phil 4:8 we are told:   Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

What is true about what happened in Paris? It is true that it is a horrible tragedy. Many things we read in the News are true regarding this event. But what is also true is that God is still on His throne. This did not take God by surprise. God tells us in John 16:33 that bad things will happen in this world, but we can have peace and cheer because God is still victorious. As long as there is evil in this world, bad things will happen. But God’s promises to us, His Children, are still true and worth clinging to. 

What is noble in all of this? Another way of saying this is what good can come from this? Well, if we let fear dictate our decisions and actions NO good can come. But if we allow God’s LOVE and TRUTH to be our guide then much good can come. An increased awareness of evil can be revealed and along with it a need for God’s grace to be shared with the lost and dying world. An opportunity for revival can happen and that is good. Sharing the Good News with those who need it is certainly a noble and good thing to happen out of this sadness.

What is right? When bad things happen it’s human nature to begin pointing fingers. “You are wrong and we are right” “That group is wrong, but this group is right.” Times like this can either divide us even further (which is what satan wants) or it can bring us closer together. Love brings unity and healing. Fear brings division and death. Loving our neighbor doesn’t mean just loving/accepting those who think like us and believe like us, it means loving those who we fear and disagree with. “RIGHT” by the worlds standards is very different from God’s (John 3:16-17). 

Can purity be found in this? Yes. God is love and His love is pure. LOVE (God) casts out fear (1 John 4:18) that cripples us. When we draw closer to Him our fears diminish. On our own we cannot love our enemies. But with Him all thing are possible (Matt 16:26). With Him our motives for making decisions can be pure instead of defiled by fear and a need to control things we are not meant to control. 

What is lovely about so many innocent people dying? If they knew Christ as the only way to heaven, then there is much that is lovely about them going to be with their Savior. However it is the ultimate tragedy if they died without Him in their hearts. This should motivate Christians to get out of their comfort zones, to take ACTION, and begin witnessing to the lost and dying world. What is lovely about what happened…hopefully an urgency within the Body of Christ to DO the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). It’s time we got “skin in the game”.

What is admirable and praiseworthy during this sorrowful time? God is ALWAYS worthy to be praised. Even when we do not understand what is happening. Even when our hearts are breaking, God is worthy of praise. Read through the Psalms. David is known as a man after God’s own heart and yet he suffered greatly. His life and victories were not easy. People he loved tried to kill him on more than one occasion. And yet he found God faithful and worthy of praise. Psalm 34 is only one of many chapters about the happiness we can find when we trust in God. 

So in the wake of what happened there are many tears to be shed and decisions to be made…but how will you make those decisions? Will LOVE be your guide or FEAR? 

Please take a moment to watch this music video by for KING & COUNTRY “The Proof of Your Love

For greater insight into what God’s love looks like and how we can emulate it read:  1 Cor 13

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Lord’s Prayer really is Powerful!

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.
Matt 6:9-13 NIV

When asked, this is how Jesus instructed His followers to pray.  And it’s how we are still instructed to prayer. 

I was taught this prayer as a kid, but to be honest I hadn’t given it much thought. Put another way, I hadn’t ever really used it as a prayer—it was more of a template for how I prayed.

But a few months ago verse 13 became my “go-to” prayer. 

One year ago my husband and I purchased our “forever house”…and it’s a fixer upper. We have invested much time and money into it (and still have a LONG way to go) but it’s worth it because this is the house we hope to live in until we go to our heavenly home.

But then a kink came into our plans. 

My husband was offered a REALLY good promotion. The only problem—we had to relocate half way across America. While the company was going to cover our moving costs, it was disconcerting to think we might lose money by selling a home we so recently purchased and sank money into. Our realtor wasn’t sure the market was strong enough, especially since we didn’t have any equity in the house.

So we went to the Lord in prayer:  God, what do You want us to do?”

As I was seeking God, He led me to The Lord’s Prayer, specifically “Lead me not into temptation.” 

While that wasn’t the exact answer I was looking for (I wanted a clear “yes, go” or “no, stay”) it was an answer from God. A promise that He wouldn’t let us be deceived by satan, that He would “Deliver us from evil.”

Turns out we rejected the promotion three times before the company finally realized we were not going to relocate no matter how much they sweetened the deal (It was soooo tempting to take their offer). By worldly standards it seems crazy that we turned down such a great opportunity, but we try not to go by “worldly standards”.

Instead, we sought God’s will. 

We trusted His promise that He would LEAD us away from the temptations before us and DELIVER us from the evil trying to get us outside of God’s will.

As the weeks of negotiations dragged on this verse gave me peace and confidence that we could trust God… even if we didn’t have all the answers. 

The Bible is full of wonderful, life changing promises. 

That experience taught me that I should never leave my childhood lessons in the past. The Lord’s Prayer is as applicable now as it was when I was a kid learning how to talk to God.

And it reaffirmed that I should hold tight to any lessons Jesus taught His disciples. If those lessons were important for them to know, then they are important for me (us) as well. 

Today, I encourage you to embrace the Lord’s Prayer. Use it to guide you and keep you. Trust the promises found in that prayer and throughout the Bible.

And remember, when you pray, you may not get a blatant “yes” or “no” answer, but you WILL get an answer when you take the time to seek God and LISTEN to His voice. 

If you’re interested in learning more about distinguishing the voice of God from the lies of satan read John 10:1-18 (The Good Shephard).

UPDATE: Bill and Kari brought up a great question in the comments section: HOW DID WE KNOW WE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO STAY?
Answer: PEACE.
During the process of negotiations we didn't have peace. We kept wondering if we were doing the right thing. We wavered as the deal was sweetened each time we rejected it. It caused us to wonder if we weren't listening to God correctly. But satan knows how to tempt each of us. Being tempted with a promotion and money was hard for us to turn down...we kept thinking maybe God was trying to bless us and we were being too dumb to realize it.
But ultimately we didn't feel "right " about going. So we decided to turn it down for good and once we did we both had PEACE. Not just a sense that a decision had been made, but absolute contentment that money and a status change would not have been right for our family. We also both got really hopeful at whatever else God has in store for us.
We were tempted, but God is faithful, He will make a way of escape.
"...But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" 1 Cor 10:13 NIV