What Friends are For

I was encouraged to re-post this blog after hearing Pastor Rob challenge us last Sunday to live as a community of counselors; just as it is written, we are “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

A View From PEW

criticism png

When my wife and I finished reading the book of Job for our daily devotions one very convicting take away that the Lord brought to our attention was how easily criticism flows out of our mouths to either condemn and pass judgment on others.

When Job’s friends observed Job’s life collapsing right before their eyes they wrongly judged him by thinking that all this calamity was happening to Job because he was guilty of something.

  • Eliphaz – Job 4:7 ¶ “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? 8 Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same.
  • Bildad – Job 8:3 Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? 4 If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression. 5 If you would earnestly seek God And make your supplication to the…

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How to kill a giant

I needed to re-read this today. Thanks Lord for the reminder of your empowering grace.

A View From PEW

david-versus-goliath

1 Samuel 17:33, 37 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine {Goliath} to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” …… David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Humanly speaking, Saul spoke the truth when he said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine.”  Take a quick look at David’s resume below and see if you don’t agree with Sauls words

  • David was merely a youth (a lad) when Saul shared his assessment of David’s chance of success against Goliath.
  • David was not even the choicest of his own fathers children.
  • David was a shepherd to this point of his career, and unskilled in war.

Goliath…

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Many Voices to Chose From, but only One Voice Has the Truth

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Proverbs 3:1 ¶ My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

Many of our struggles in life come upon us because we listen to the multitude of negative voices that bombard us daily. Below is a list of just a few of the many voices that speak to us every day.

  • We hear the voice of fear
  • We hear the voice of failure
  • We hear the voice of defeat
  • We hear the voice of rejection
  • We hear the voice of incompetence
  • We hear the voice of criticism
  • We hear the voice of slander
  • The voice of guilt
  • We hear the voice that says we are not loved

Sometimes these voices are rooted in our past circumstances. Sometimes these voices are fixed in our present circumstances. No matter where these voices come from, they are not the voice of the Spirit of God. For:

  • God says “fear not”, for I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of “power, love, and soundness of mind.” (Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • God says we are not failures because “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
  • God says we are not defeated, because in Christ “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
  • God says we are not rejected. Quite the contrary, we’ve been 1) adopted as sons to Himself, 2) according to His will, and 3) for His glory. Simply put, God has “made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5,6,7)
  • God says we are not incompetent because we “are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10; see also I Corinthians 12)
  • Regarding criticism, God says “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33)
  • And when haters slander us and try to bring us down to their level with hurtful words, God says “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11,12)
  • God speaks to us with the voice of forgivenesssaying it is I, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:3-5; see also 1 John 1:9)

In essence, God says we are His “beloved”.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1,2)

What God says of His children defines them for both time and for eternity. By faith believe what God says, and by faith live your life accordingly. Of the thousands of voices that are in the world today, voices that cry out for our attention, only One voice says authoritatively, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11)  When this voice speaks, it speaks the truth with power.  This is the voice of freedom.  This is the voice of God. (John 8:32)

I love these words from Eben Otuteye, that I have shared below:

Affirm and meditate on the life of God in you. Meditate on your oneness with God. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior then God has put His spirit in you and His spirit has merged with your spirit. Therefore deep at the spiritual level you are one with God. (You may be wondering “if I am one with God how come I am not perfect and I still have these wacky beliefs, behaviors and attitudes?” The answer is that it is your mind and your body that are in the way but God can fix that).

Recognize, acknowledge and thank God that the best and the greatest thing that can ever happen to a human being has happened to you. You have the best and the greatest thing that a person can ever have: you have the life of God in you.

God, by His Holy Spirit dwells inside of you and is always with you and He fully fills your whole being. He is Emmanuel, the Lord with us. He is Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there; the ever present One. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ and Christ is in you and you are in Christ. Your spirit is fused and merged with the Spirit of God and you are one with God. (John 17:23; 2 Peter 1:1-7)

Meditate on and thank God for the fact that He has put His life in you, which means that you are one with perfect love; you are one with all power; you are one with all wisdom; you are one with all knowledge; you are one with every good thing. You are one with the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God. Nothing can ever overcome or defeat you because the omnipotent power of God is working in you, through you, and for you. The omnipotent power of God, combined with His wisdom, lovingkindness, and faithfulness towards you, makes you always a winner and an overcomer. Nothing can separate you from the love of God and nothing can separate you from the power of God. That makes you more than a conqueror in all things.

You are a child of God and whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Whatever is born of God overcomes all circumstances and situations. Since you are merged with God and you are one with God, that means whatever comes against you has to contend with God. Whatever comes against you needs to overcome God in order to be able to overcome you. There is nothing that can overcome or defeat the power of God. Therefore, nothing can overcome or defeat you. The power of God working in you and for you guarantees that you will win in every situation and over anything. Meditate on this.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

delight

The Impertative of Thinking out of the Box

overcoming-fear

The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. (Albert Einstein)

The headline of David Farenhold’s article (Washington Post, 12/16/2014)  read:

NASA built a $349 million tower — for a program scrubbed years earlier: What happens to a big bureaucracy after its sense of mission starts to fade?

When I read this article I thought to myself, “What ever happened to the Grace Commission Report on government waste?”  If you are not familiar with the  Grace report, it was commissioned by President Ronald Regan in 1982, and presented to congress in 1984.

The report claimed that if its recommendations were followed, $424 billion could be saved in three years, rising to $1.9 trillion per year by the year 2000. It estimated that the national debt, without these reforms, would rise to $13 trillion by the year 2000, while with the reforms they projected it would rise to only $2.5 trillion.  Congress ignored the commission’s report. The debt reached $5.8 trillion in the year 2000.  The national debt reached 13 trillion after the subprime mortgage-collateralized debt obligation crisis in 2008.”

The report said that one-third of all income taxes are consumed by waste and inefficiency in the federal government, and another one-third escapes collection owing to the underground economy. “With two thirds of everyone’s personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 percent of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the federal debt and by federal government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services that taxpayers expect from their government.” (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grace_Commission)

Has anything changed in the way our government does business since the Grace Report was released 34 years ago?  The answer is, “No.” (Since 1980 we have had 20 years of Republican leadership in the White House, and – by the end of President Obama’s second term – 16 years of Democratic leadership)  Therefore, the question is, “Why hasn’t anything changed?”  Let me suggest that things have not changed because we have not changed.  To paraphrase Pogo, the problems that we face are not the Republicans or the Democrats, it is us; “We’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us.” Looking into the mirror and noting that the “enemy is us” is the first step to freedom.

I love the scene from Remember the Titans, where coach Boone tells his players,

Everything we gonna do is changing. We are change. We’re gonna change the way we run. We’re gonna change the way we eat. We’re gonna change the way we block. We’re gonna change the way we tackle. We’re gonna change the way we win.

Winning (freedom), according to coach Boone’s philosophy, does not start with analyzing the other team’s strengths and weaknesses, by adding new players to a broken team, or by taking note of the inadequacies of the playing field, and then protesting that the game is slanted against you.  According to coach Boone, winning (i.e., freedom) starts within.  Winning starts with changing the way we think.  Winning starts with thinking outside of the box

The question is: What is at stake if  we don’t change our thinking?  Answer:  We will continue to be stuck in the loop that Einstein warned us about; we will continue to try solving our problems with the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place.  G. Carter Woodson put it this way:

“History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.”Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro

The road to freedom always begins within, and traversing freedom’s road is the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.  The journey begins with thinking outside of the box.

Romans 12:2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. wisdom seeker

A Most Precious Commodity: Time

time PNG“Time is the only element in the world that is irretrievable when it is lost.  Lose money and you can make more.  Lose a friend and your can patch up the relationship.  Lose a job and you can find another.   But lost time and it is gone forever.”  (Peter Berbman)

There are many references in the Bible to time.

  • Ec 3:1 ¶ To everything [there is] a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
  • Ec 3:2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck [what is] planted;
  • Ec 3:3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
  • Ec 3:4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
  • Ec 3:5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
  • Ec 3:6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
  • Ec 3:7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
  • Ec 3:8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
  • Ec 3:11 ¶ He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
  • Ec 3:17 I said in my heart, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For [there is] a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
  • Ec 7:17 Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?
  • Ec 8:5 He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment,
  • Ps 90:1 ¶ <<A Prayer of Moses the man of God.>> Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.”  4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.  ……   9 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh.  10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.  12 ¶ So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
  • Isaiah 40:6 The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

As a fallen creature I struggle with time management.  Not that I do not manage time to accomplish what “I” want to do, but managing it with eternity in view.  The world, my flesh, and the Devil all beckon me to exchange the infinite value of time that God has deposited into my life account for finite “stuff” that in the light of eternity are rubbish. (Phil. 3:8)

My prayer today is that I will live Ephesians 5:15-17, which says,

  • “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

This is the beginning of a new day.

I have been given this day

to use as I WILL.

I can waste it…

or use it for good,

But what I do today is important,

Because I am exchanging

a day of my life for it!

When tomorrow comes,

this day will be gone forever,

Leaving in its place

something that I have traded for it.

I want it to be gain,

and not loss;

Good and not evil;

success and not failure;

In order that I shall not regret

the price I have paid for it.

I will try just for today,

for you never fail until you stop trying.

As if it were your last

What Friends are For

criticism png

When my wife and I finished reading the book of Job for our daily devotions one very convicting take away that the Lord brought to our attention was how easily criticism flows out of our mouths to either condemn and pass judgment on others.

When Job’s friends observed Job’s life collapsing right before their eyes they wrongly judged him by thinking that all this calamity was happening to Job because he was guilty of something.

  • Eliphaz – Job 4:7 ¶ “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? 8 Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same.
  • Bildad – Job 8:3 Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? 4 If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression. 5 If you would earnestly seek God And make your supplication to the Almighty, 6 If you were pure and upright, Surely now He would awake for you, And prosper your rightful dwelling place.
  • Zophar – Job 11:7 ¶ “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? … 10 “If He passes by, imprisons, and gathers to judgment, Then who can hinder Him? 11 For He knows deceitful men; He sees wickedness also. Will He not then consider it?
  • Zophar – Job 20:27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity, And the earth will rise up against him. 28 The increase of his house will depart, And his goods will flow away in the day of His wrath. 29 This is the portion from God for a wicked man, The heritage appointed to him by God.”
  • Elihu – Job 34:20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, And they shall not escape, And their hope-loss of life!” … 34:35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom.’ 36 Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, Because his answers are like those of wicked men! 37 For he adds rebellion to his sin; He claps his hands among us, And multiplies his words against God.

Although Job’s friends had lots negative things to say about Job, God had this to say about him:

  • Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

What a great reminder this book has been to me to be careful how I judge someone. More often than not, what people need from me is not criticism, but sympathy, empathy, genuine concern and care. As Job’s friends, they did not offer him their love, support, and sympathy, but their criticism, their accusations, and their cruelty. And because these men were his “friends” I believe that their words stung Job harder than the loss of his wealth, his children, and his health.

Job 12:4 “I am one mocked by his friends, Who called on God, and He answered him, The just and blameless who is ridiculed.”

Job 16:10 “They gape at me with their mouth, They strike me reproachfully on the cheek, They gather together against me.”

Job 17:1 ¶ “My spirit is broken, My days are extinguished, The grave is ready for me. 2 Are not mockers with me? And does not my eye dwell on their provocation? …. 6 “But He has made me a byword of the people, And I have become one in whose face men spit.

Job 21:3 Bear with me that I may speak, And after I have spoken, keep mocking.

My prayer today is that the Holy Spirit will control my thoughts of others, and the words that I will speak to them.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

If you are the object of someone’s criticism and scorn, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44) And remember, that the only person who’s opinion of us really matters, is the LORD’s. As it is written:

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

God is my friend png

Sometimes, God says no

God Cares

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

Proverbs 24:10 ¶ If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.

A wise person knows that his strength is in Christ, and not in his flesh.  A wise person knows that they cannot live a godly life through their own self-effort, but through the power of Christ alone.

Three times the apostle Paul prayed and asked God to remove from his life what he called “a thorn in the flesh” (Take a look at the context of Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, and note that Paul was being demonized – “the messenger of Satan” was a demon), and three times God answered Paul’s prayer.  Note, however, that the way God answered Paul was not the way that most of us consider answered prayer.

God answered Paul’s prayer by choosing not to remove the “thorn” from Paul’s life. Although God did not answer Paul by giving him relief from the tormenting demon, what He did give him was much better. God gave Paul His personal assurance that by His empowering presence, and through His amazing grace, he would make it.

God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” As a result Paul boasted, not in his healing and deliverance, but in his weakness. Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

God’s presence and His grace are more than enough to see us through any situation. Boasting about God’s empowering presence and grace is true wisdom, and the key that unlocks the door to abundant living.  As it is written:

Jeremiah 9:23 ¶ Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.