Do You Have the Right Christian Attitude?

christian attitude

Ellen was a sweet old Christian lady. She was kind and would help anyone who needed it, even though she had no wealth and her house was in need of repairs. The needs of others were more important to her than her own needs. Everyone loved her and she loved everyone. Ellen praised Jesus every time she was able to help someone and she thanked Jesus on a continual basis for all she had.

The only person she had difficulties with was Hank, the old man who lived next door. Hank was always trying to prove to Ellen that there was no God. It irritated him that she’d have none of it and would simply smile at him, as ready to help him or encourage him as she was for anyone else.

Hank hated anyone who believed in God and had spent his life doing his best to make life difficult for Christians. He openly cursed at Christians and said how stupid they were.

One day, Hank went over to Ellen’s house with the intent of once again ‘proving’ that God didn’t exist. As he approached the door, he looked through the living room window and saw Ellen, kneeling and praying. He crept closer to see if he could hear what she was saying, through the partly open window.

“Lord, you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and you’ve taken care of me. You’ve even let me do something to help others,” Ellen prayed.

“I need you now, Jesus. You know that I have no money and I’m out of food. I have nothing to eat and my social security check won’t arrive for another week. Jesus, somehow, can you get me some groceries?”

Hank thought to himself, “Aha! I’ve got her now!”

He went down to the corner grocery and bought some milk, bread and other food. He even bought some coffee and a box of doughnuts. Then rushed back to Ellen’s house. He put the sack of groceries on the porch, rang the doorbell, then hid behind some bushes.

Ellen opened the door and saw the sack on the porch. She looked inside and immediately said, “Thank you, Jesus. I was out of food and you provided for me.”

Hank came out of hiding, laughed and said, “Now I have you. There is no God. Jesus didn’t get you those groceries, I did.”

Ellen looked at him, smiled and said, “No, Jesus got that food for me and he made Satan pay for them. Would you care for a cup of coffee and a doughnut?”

Ellen lived her life as a Christian, letting her actions speak volumes. People would have instantly recognized her as being a Christian, not because of what she said, but because of what she did. She had the right attitude.

We should all ask if we have the right attitude as we go through our day. Here is a challenge for you. Today, you are going to come across someone who needs some help and a kind word. How you respond will demonstrate what kind of attitude you have.


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The Stream That Never Runs Dry

stream

Mary and Susan went to the same church and were involved in the same activities. Both were married and both husbands worked at the same factory, making the same amount of money. One day, both men were laid off without warning. What happened next was the difference between Mary and Susan.

John, having just been laid off, was bitter. He’d given the past five years to the company and for all his devotion, he got a pink slip and had been told, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

What would Mary say when he told her? He shuddered to think about it. He knew that he’d have to tell her, but he knew that she’d be very upset and would naturally blame him for getting laid off. She was always saying that he was worthless and constantly nagging him. He didn’t want to hear it. Maybe it was true. After all, though many people had been laid off, that one guy…Rogers?…had actually been given a raise!

John stopped at the corner tavern on his way home for a quick belt before he went home to the ‘little lady’. One drink quickly became three.

Staggering just a little, John walked into his house, knowing full well that a confrontation was coming. Mary greeted him cheerfully, her hair obviously freshly permed. Before she had a chance to say a word, John lashed out saying, “Good grief, you went and had your hair done? Am I made of money, or what? I suppose that cost an arm and a leg, like always. Have you looked in the mirror lately? The fancy hairdo doesn’t help.”

Mary glared at him and with fists clenched and tears of anger forming in her eyes, she said, “I’ll have you know that I used that free coupon we got last month. It didn’t cost you a blasted penny, stupid. What was that bit about looking in a mirror? I did this for you! I suppose that you are going to complain about the roast I fixed for you, too. I swear that you are about as worthless as a heating pad in the middle of summer!”

Mary and John were well on the way to world war three, and John hadn’t even told her about losing his job. John felt as worthless as Mary had said.

Matt had received the same news John had and he was greatly worried about how he was going to provide for Susan. It was important for him to tell her as soon as possible and he wasn’t worried about her reaction. Somehow, he knew that Susan would know what to say to make him feel better. She always did.

When Matt walked in the door, Susan was ready for him. She had a grin on her face and whirled in front of him, wearing the new dress she’d just purchased. He paused, appreciating how nice she looked in the dress.

“You are beautiful!” he exclaimed, hugging her and giving her a kiss. “Honey, I have some bad news, though. I was laid off from work today.”

Mary looked at him, searching his face, then she said, “I’m so sorry. Would it help if I take the dress back?”

“No, you look good in the dress. Besides, I’d doubt that you spent enough to make much difference and I happen to like the dress.”

“I could get a job down at the soup kitchen,” Susan offered. “It wouldn’t pay much, but it would be something. Do you know why you were laid off?”

“No, they didn’t say. They laid off quite a few of us, but at least they gave Sam Rogers a raise. He’s the one who has the sick child, so at least he’ll be able to take care of his kid. I don’t like the idea of you working, but we may need it, temporarily.”

“I’m glad to help. We may not be able to afford some things, but we’ll make it. You’ve always provided for me, thank the Lord. Perhaps we should pray to God. He is there to help us when we need it and He made sure you had the job in the first place,” Susan said.

“Good idea, sweetheart,” he said, feeling better already.

They sat, hand in hand, and prayed. They praised God for his wisdom and love. They thanked God for taking care of Sam Rogers and his sick son. Matt ended the prayer with, “God, guide me to do your will and show me the way to the job you wish me to do. Most of all, thank you for Susan. Amen.”

Matt and Susan held each other, the burden of the job loss no longer pressing. It was in God’s hands now.

Do you see the difference? John was sure that Mary would react negatively when he gave her the bad news. He cast about for someone to blame and lashed out at Mary before she had a chance to say or do anything. In turn, Mary’s words reinforced John’s belief about how negative she would be and how worthless she would feel that he was. It became a self fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, Matt knew that Susan would be supportive, no matter what the situation was. He knew that she’d give good advice and she did; give the problem to God. He could and would make it better. She had faith in God and also faith in her husband. There was no blame and they were both thankful that God had made it possible for Sam Rogers to continue taking care of his child. Through it all, Susan and Matt praised God.

This isn’t just about women. A marriage is a union, through God. A husband and a wife are to assist and support each other. Ultimately, it isn’t about the wife or the husband, it is about God and His kingdom.

Which kind of person are you? Do you open your heart, forgive your enemies and give your burdens to the Father? Or do you focus upon yourself and the situation?

I believe that all of us can learn from this example. God is powerful and He is merciful. Most importantly, God is Love.

1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God’s love and his grace are a stream that never runs dry, no matter what the situation is.


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When Prayers and God’s Will Coincide

testimony

Note that this isn’t our church, but it is a country church like ours is

There is little doubt that there is enormous power in prayer. Prayer is our means of telling God what we want and need. He knows better than we do what we want and need, however, just like children, we aren’t likely to get things if we aren’t willing to ask for them. Nothing is impossible to God and we should always know that. The bible says it, and nothing in the bible has ever been disproved, so it is something we can believe in. However, truly amazing things happen when what we ask for happen to be God’s will. I want to tell you about one such event that happened recently at our church.

Ours is a small rural town and there are several churches in town. There is no competition, naturally, since all the churches lead people to Jesus and our salvation through His sacrifice. However, our pastor, Pastor Jim, has had something weighing heavily upon his heart for some time. You see, there is another even smaller town about 30 miles from here, on the other side of a mountain pass, that is in dire need of God. There is a severe drug and alcohol problem in that town, named Hot Springs, and crime rates are through the roof. Fights, violence and lawlessness is constant. It is largely an American Indian town and in fact, the town is owned by the Indians. The tribal council is every bit as aware of the issues in their town as anyone else is and they have been unable to stop the problem from getting worse.

Pastor Jim had a sort of revelation and he discussed it with the dozen or so people who make the trip from Hot Springs to here for church services on Sunday every week. That isn’t easy in the winter, when the road is snowy and icy the whole way. So Jim’s idea was that perhaps a way could be found to video tape our Sunday sermon and play that in Hot Springs. The group who travel every week were all for it, and one of them, a pastor named Shawn, said that he’d help in any way he could. Shawn lives in Hot Springs, and is willing to take on the pastoral duties there.

There were obstacles, of course. We would need to have the okay of the tribal council, who historically weren’t fast to give an okay for things like this. We would need to find a place where the sermons could be played on a weekly basis and capable of holding a lot of people. We’d also need substantial funds for it to happen in the first place, since we had no video equipment at our church and there would also be other expenses. Many people in the community said that it couldn’t be done. However, Pastor Jim, Pastor Shawn and many in our congregation prayed earnestly for it to happen. Hot Springs has been foundering and it has been getting worse under the rules and laws of man. It was time to bring in the chairman of the board; God. Suffice to say that the prayers got results.

First, when Jim called the tribal office to discuss his idea, they welcomed him to meet with them. In that meeting, they were very happy with Jim’s ideas. In fact, they were thrilled with the idea. Jim hadn’t gotten around to explaining our need for having a place where it could be done, each and every week, and all he said was that we hadn’t yet chosen a good location. The council had a suggestion for that.

For the last few years, they’ve had a recreation center in Hot Springs that has been vacant. They said that they had just decided to fix the place up and reopen it, and they suggested to Jim that perhaps this would be a good location, since it could hold a lot of people and could be used every week. It isn’t just a good location, it is an ideal location.

Two of the three major obstacles were removed in rapid order, leaving only the money that was lacking, to make it all a reality. Actually, there was also another obstacle that hadn’t been considered, too. Part of the ministry of the church is based upon the giving nature of Jesus and how he taught that we should give to our neighbors, helping them in any way we can. Here in our town, one of the ways this is done is by the fire-wood ministry. That is, our church goes out and cuts, hauls, saws up and splits firewood. Needy people in the community need only call the church and explain that they are having trouble getting wood to heat with, and wood will be delivered to them. About 90% of the homes in this section of the state, which includes Hot Springs, heats with wood.

Well, the tribal council was aware of this and things fell into place for Jim to set up a wood yard in Hot Springs too, so there could be a fire wood ministry there, as well. This was unexpected, but was yet another obstacle that vanished. People even volunteered to help get, cut and split the firewood in Hot Springs, and some of those volunteers don’t even belong to our church. (This is appropriate, since the wood is given to those in need, regardless of their faith.)

Okay, that left only one huge obstacle. To make it all happen, we had to raise $10,000. The camera equipment, chairs and all the other things needed at the rec center aren’t cheap.

Three weeks ago, an anonymous church member gave a challenge; he would match, dollar for dollar, any donation meant for the Hot Springs project, up to $3,000. That meant that if people donated $3,000, we’d already be over halfway toward making the whole thing a reality.

Donations began to trickle in and last Sunday, the church prepared to kick everything into high gear, to get it all done. A chart was even made so we’d be able to track our progress. Jim made the statement to the congregation that he “had no doubt that it will happen, because this isn’t for us, it is to help the people of Hot Springs and to glorify God.” Now, how many of you know that God OCCUPIES our praises? Jim also said, “None of you are here by chance. God has a plan for you and you are here because of His will.”

Before the sermon actually began, a visitor went up and spoke with Jim. Nobody paid much attention until the singing was done and Jim got up to give his sermon. Tears filled his eyes and it took a moment to compose himself. Then he announced that a man had approached him, saying that he really didn’t know why he felt compelled to come to our church on that day. However, when he heard about the Hot Springs project, he knew what he must do. That man donated $5,000 to the project, right there on the spot!

With the dollar per dollar $3,000 match, that meant that in minutes, $8,000 had been raised for the project. It gets even better. Jim said that right after the man donated the $5,000, the church financial officer went up to Jim to let him know that a little over $2,000 had been raised for the project, to date. Of course, the financial officer knew nothing about the recent donation. Just like that, in this small community, the $10,000 goal was met and exceeded! Hot Springs will have their church, which will assist the couple of churches that are already there, struggling.

God is good and he wants the best for His children. He wants us all to pray to Him. When those prayers happen to coincide with His wishes, astounding things happen. Praise God for making all of this work out! God is amazing!


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How Big Is Our God?

Whirlpool galaxy, picture by NASA

Whirlpool galaxy, picture by NASA

To truly appreciate the depth of God’s love, grace and mercy toward every one of us, and His glory, it is helpful to get a notion of just how big God is. Keep in mind that we are going to be talking about a size that is beyond our ability to fully grasp. The inspiration for this article came from a man named Louie Giglio and I’m going to talk about a little science. That isn’t to bore anyone or to put anyone off, but because that is our best hope of understanding just how big God is.

As vast as our world seems to us, it is a small planet in our solar system. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is over 1,300 times bigger than the earth. That is to say that more than 1,300 earth’s would fit inside of Jupiter. Four of the planets are much bigger than the earth, in fact. Yet, if you added together mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, uranus and neptune, plus all the asteroids, moons and comets, this wouldn’t make up a single percent of the mass of the solar system. Over 99 percent of the solar system’s mass is the sun. About 1,300,000 earth’s would fit inside of the sun.

The sun is enormous in comparison to earth, which is huge in comparison to us, and yet it isn’t a particularly large star. Most stars are bigger. Some are far bigger. One star, known as NML Cygni, is so big that about 1,650 of our suns would fit inside of it. That means that 21,450,000,000 earths would fit inside of NML Cygni. That is almost 21 1/2 trillion suns! Put into perspective, a million seconds ago was about 13 days ago. A billion seconds ago was about 31 years ago; roughly the year 1985. A trillion seconds ago was long before the last ice age started; over 31,600 years ago. We all have a fair idea of how brief a second is, so this might give us an inkling of the size of the number we are talking about.

What is the point? Please bear with me, because I’m not finished, even though this number is hard to imagine.

In the Milky Way galaxy, to which our solar system belongs, there are between 200 and 300 billion stars. The milky way is a small to medium-sized galaxy. The best guess that we have is that there are about 300 billion galaxies in our universe. Let that sink in for a minute, thinking of the aspect of how insignificant the earth is in comparison to all of those stars and how insignificant we are in comparison to the earth.

If your mind is reeling a little bit over the sheer immensity of all of that, you are in the right state of mind to begin to understand how big our God is.

Psalms 33:6 (NIV) says:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

This means that the heavens and all the stars issued from God’s breath, from His mouth. This is truly staggering. We have a hard time grasping the size of NML Cygni, rightly so, and in comparison, we aren’t even a tiny mote. And yet, all of the stars came from God’s breath. How much bigger than anything we can possibly imagine must He be? It reduces our insignificance to nothingness. And yet, His promises to us have been, are and will be kept.

Clearly, what is significant to Him isn’t the same thing as what we think of as significant. This should be a humbling thought and at the same time it should make every one of us feel buoyed and ready to yell “Hallelujah!” It gives us hope and tells us that there isn’t anything that is impossible to our living God.

Pause for a moment now. At this point, I hope that you took the time to notice the beautiful NASA picture of the Whirlpool galaxy at the top of this article. This is going to knock your socks off…the Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the black hole at the center of this galaxy. Astonishingly, this is what they found and this is not a photoshopped image, it is the real thing. You can see it on the Hubble website.

Like a beacon in the night

Like a beacon in the night

Is God amazing or what? Amen!

I’ll leave you with this, from Louie Giglio. I urge you to watch it. It is very well worth the watch.


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Who Was Goliath and Where Did He Come From?

David and Goliath

David and Goliath by Robert Temple Ayres

Most Christians and a lot of people who aren’t Christians know the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). In a nutshell, the much larger Philistine army was facing the smaller army of King Saul of Israel. The Philistines were taunting Saul’s army with their champion, named Goliath of Gath. Goliath wasn’t just big, he was huge. Accounts placed him at nine and a half feet tall. (Six cubits and a span) Saul’s warriors were intimidated and afraid, however a boy by the name of David, armed with only a sling and five rocks, faced Goliath and killed him with a single shot from that sling. David was destined to become the greatest of the Kings of Israel.

This is a good story that shows the power of God, working through someone most people at the time would have considered to be insignificant. Have you ever stopped to wonder who Goliath was and where he came from, though? This is really quite interesting.

There are a couple of clues about who Goliath was. One of those clues was his size. He was literally a giant. He also had the unusual trait of having six fingers on each hand and six toes on both feet. By looking farther back in time (and the bible), we see where a group of angels came to lust after human women. In defiance of God, those angels, who were ‘cast out’ because of their defiance, had intimate relations with the human women, impregnating them. (Beginning at Genesis 6:4.) The offspring, whom God saw as an abomination, were called the Nephilim. They were creatures of huge stature that possessed six fingers on both hands and six toes on both feet.

The description is very pointed and exact so we could understand that Goliath and his four brothers were descended from the Nephilim. Since the Nephilim were abominations, so too was Goliath and all the other descendants of the Nephilim. It should be noted that while the great flood of Noah destroyed almost everything living on land, God allowed some of the Nephilim to survive the event. He did this to allow Satan to tempt man so that there would be no doubt at all of God’s supremacy.

This means that Goliath was a Nephilim and since David killed only Goliath and not his brothers, it would be logical that the Nephilim bloodline continued and it is also reasonable to assume that Goliath and his brothers weren’t the only Nephilim that were living at the time. In fact, the bloodline has continued to this very day. The bloodline has become so diluted that the people today who carry Nephilim genes are no longer giants. They still have extra fingers and toes, though. There are a number of well-known people of more recent times who have clearly had Nephilim blood; for instance Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England and one of the wives of King Henry VIII.

Today, most people born with extra digits have the extra digits removed at an early age, so it isn’t always easy to see who has the Nephilim genes, however the abomination still continues.

Modern medical science has tried to explain it all away as a random mutation, but scientifically their explanations don’t hold up. For one thing, random mutations of this sort normally don’t carry on from generation to generation as a dominant gene as the Nephilim traits tend to do. Despite the efforts that have been waged to disprove God, and which have never succeeded, there is little doubt that the ancestors of Goliath still live among us.

Your thoughts on the Nephilim?


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That Isn’t In the Bible Either

money

Most people have heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil”.  It is often thought to be a saying from the bible. Would it surprise you to learn that nowhere in the bible does it say this? Just about the closest to this phrase that appears in the bible is 1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

This isn’t all saying the same thing at all. Timothy was basically saying that if money was all that a person loved, they would find themselves having to bear many griefs and that they would have left faith behind. Also notice that he didn’t say that money was the cause of evil, nor did he mention anything having to do with all evil. Many strong spiritual leaders in the bible were wealthy men, including King David. I firmly believe that if we had asked King David, he would have said that money was nice to have, but that he loved God, not money.

In fact, nowhere in the bible does it say that God is against the notion of people making wealth. In our world and even back then, money was necessary to buy the things we need, to live day-to-day. Money is also needed to purchase our comforts. Again, God isn’t against us being comfortable. He wants the best for his children. It is clear that he wants us to help one another when we have money, but even Jesus used money. Jesus was without sin, therefore money cannot be the root of all evil if he possessed and used it.

It is curious, in a way, that many people have the idea that they will donate when they have ‘spare’ money. They never realize that they wouldn’t have any money at all if it wasn’t for the Lord, which means that all the money they have is His, not ours. Giving at church or to help another person really isn’t a matter of giving, it is a matter of returning.

That is side tracking a little, but not much. No person will give away something they aren’t willing to do without or part with. If we allow our love of money, what Timothy was talking about, to become so important that we aren’t willing to part with it, we then invite evil into our lives. Money can become more important than God in the minds of man. We cannot serve two masters and given the choice between serving God and serving money, I choose the former. That is a choice each person must make for themselves.

It goes a step farther, too. The bible is clear about what love is. In 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, Paul says:

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Thus, if we truly love God, we’ll never give up on Him, never lose faith in Him, will always be hopeful and we’ll endure any circumstance that comes into our lives. That is what love is.

Still, the bible didn’t say that money is the root of all evil. It did point out that the overwhelming LOVE of money brings about evils. If people don’t believe the truth of that, they only need to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news. It isn’t the money that causes the problems, nor does it cause all problems. It is the love of and desire for money that is the issue. Having, earning and using money isn’t a sin in and of itself.

The bible never said that, “Money is the root of all evil.”

It is appropriate that I’m posting this on Valentine’s Day, the supposed day of love, though the celebration is actually rooted in Paganism.


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That Isn’t a Biblical Saying

amazing-736885_960_720

There are a lot of phrases that are commonly used, but which people don’t realize came from the bible. This can be surprising and perhaps fascinating for the non-believer. However, there are also saying that are attributed to coming from the bible, when they in fact aren’t biblical. Since even Christians often think that they are, it is helpful to look at one of them.

Be moderate in all things

This saying is commonly thought to have come from the bible. Actually, it didn’t. This saying has its origins from the ancient Greeks. To be more precise, the idea came from Aristotle. His idea was that people should strive to find an even balance and healthy middle ground in all things, neither wavering toward an excess nor being so limited as to be deficient.

Of course, there is wisdom in the saying and most people know it. It certainly is something that could have been said in the bible, particularly by someone like Solomon or David. But it didn’t come from there.

Paul did write something similar, however, though it had a different context. When he spoke of a successful athlete, in comparison to our goal, he said,

“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25)

However, when Paul used the word ‘temperate’, it is likely that his meaning of the Hebrew word was a bit different from what we think of as moderation. To be moderate is to be in the middle, between two extremes, swaying neither one way or the other. On the other hand, to be ‘temperate in all things’ means to be completely and entirely in control of yourself. These are obviously not the same. The root word of temperate is temper, so we are thus told to contain our temper or emotions.

All of that said, there is still wisdom in Aristotle’s idea. For most things, we really should be moderate in almost all things. Interestingly, in order to be moderate in almost all things, it certainly helps to be completely temperate.

For instance, I love huckleberry pie. It would be quite easy for me to bake and then consume an entire pie. I’d rather eat that than most dinners, because I love huckleberries. Naturally, if I ate an entire pie, I wouldn’t be very moderate, not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t be hungry for dinner. However, knowing that I shouldn’t do a thing and not doing it are two different things (and happens to be a definition of sin; knowing that you shouldn’t do something and doing it anyway). So how can I be moderate when it comes to the huckleberry pie? I can be moderate by being completely temperate, as Paul advises.

You might also notice that I said that we should be moderate in almost all things. I said that purposely because I believe that it would be difficult to pray too much or read the bible too much. Both could be done excessively, but it would be hard to be too excessive in these things because of the benefits we receive.

Anyway, nowhere in the Bible does it say to be moderate in all things. Are you one of the many who thought that this was a biblical saying?


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The Christian and Self Image

 

beacon

How we think of ourselves is largely shaped by what others think of us and how they relate to us. This is a truth that is another way of saying that our own self-image comes, in large part, by how others perceive us. Self image has a huge bearing on our self-esteem. Honestly, though, how others see us isn’t accurate, since they don’t know everything there is to know about us. Because it isn’t accurate, few people have a self-image that is accurate. What does this mean for a Christian and what should they do about it, if anything?

Self image is important to every one of us, whether we know it or not and even if we don’t believe it. This being the case, what others think of us is also important, though that isn’t the most important opinion we need to be concerned about. Being good Christians, the goal is to live our lives in the manner God would want us to live them. We have the best role model we could hope to have, in Jesus. Jesus is awesome.

What does it mean to live as God wants us to live? Paul explained it in Ephesians chapter 4. We are to be humble and gentle, patient with each other and forgiving of each other’s faults (Eph 4:2), to begin with. Do you always do that? I admit that I don’t and I’m working on it. I’m not always patient and sometimes I really have to work on forgiving others, particularly when I know that they purposely did something to bother or hurt me. Yet Paul didn’t include the words “except when they meant you harm”. Thus, I am to forgive them, regardless of their intentions. There is surprising power in forgiving.

Paul is even more pointed about living in a Godly manner, in Ephesians 4:17-32.

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles [or as worldly people] do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Wow! We are to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice? That is sort of hard to do, isn’t it? Personally, I pray a lot to have the strength to do these things. It isn’t easy and Paul never said that it was. However, we also have the example of Jesus, who was the ultimate in kindness and compassion. He showed that it could be done. Paul put a lot of importance in it because Jesus put a lot of importance in it. Please read those passages again.

What does this have to do with self-image? Consider this: Let’s suppose that there are two men, one righteous and one who isn’t. The righteous man is loving, kind, peaceful, helpful, forgiving. The other man is fast to anger, bitter, talks about people behind their backs, always looking for what helps him but never for what helps others. These two men are obviously opposites. Which one would you almost automatically have a higher opinion of? It is safe to say that almost everyone would think more highly of the second man and would prefer to be around him. How others think of us shapes our self-image and self-esteem.

By acting in accordance with God’s will, even though it isn’t the reason we are doing it, one of the consequences is that other people tend to think more highly of us. They don’t need to know that we are Christians and actually, they needn’t know very much about us at all. Our actions shine like a beacon in the darkness. Don’t miss this part: Since our self-esteem is strongly based upon how others think of us, by working to be more like Jesus, we end up strengthening our own self-esteem! Naturally, the stronger our self-esteem is, the harder we work to do God’s will and the more like Jesus we can become. It is a perpetual motion machine, and an exceptionally positive one at that.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but we all need to work on our self-esteem. By the love of God and what is written in his word, we are given the exact formula for strengthening our self-esteem. Isn’t that something!

God is astounding, wouldn’t you say? Jesus is awesome, wouldn’t you agree? Amen!


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When God Talks to Us

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Many people in today’s world have the idea that any Christian who claims that God spoke to them must be delusional. However, there are many forms of communication that we use every day, which are non-verbal. People even use reference to this in everyday speech, saying things like, “Something told me that I should wait until today before buying that.” They don’t seem to realize that in a way, they are talking about the same sort of communication, though not nearly as divinely inspired and flawless.

As Christians, we know that the Lord lives within our hearts, right? This is accepted even by non-Christians. It means that God can indeed speak to us. We aren’t talking about a booming voice that says, “Listen to me, for I am the Lord!” The words of God that are impressed upon our hearts are every bit as real, though. Those who struggle the most are the ones who don’t listen to what is being said. For those who’ve never experienced it, the experience can be a bit overwhelming. It need not be, if a person has a realistic idea of what to expect.

To explain this, hopefully with more clarity, I’m going to borrow a story told by a remarkable and wonderful evangelist by the name of Jayme Montero. He visited our church recently and shared the story. It needs to be understood that our church trains and funds many missionaries, worldwide. Those missionaries usually get to where they are going with almost nothing; no car, no transportation and no means to get around. Jayme works with youth groups who raise money to cover those transportation costs and I believe that this was where he became aware of the girl God spoke to. The story is a true one that shows one of the ways God talks to us, as well as the power of prayer.

The girl belonged to a youth group who was trying to raise money for the transportation costs of some missionaries and the girl wanted to pledge money to the cause. She prayed to God, asking how much money she should pledge and wrote down the first number that came to mind: $734. That was obviously an unusual number, in that it wasn’t 700, 725 or 750, but she pledged 734.

She worked hard through the summer to come up with the money by the fall deadline; babysitting, mowing lawns and anything else she could find to bring in a few extra dollars. However, she was only able to raise $500, with time running out. Her father was a hunting guide and outfitter, and just before heading out for the first day of deer season, the girl asked him if there was any way he could help. He asked her how much short she was and she answered that she lacked $234.

He gave it some thought and told her something to the effect of, “I won’t give you the money, since I’ve taught you that when you make a promise, it is your responsibility to fulfill the promise. However, I will tell you what I will do. If I get a deer this year, I will donate one dollar for every pound that the deer weighs.” Mind you, a deer weighing 175 pounds is quite large now.

The year was poor for hunting, though, since it was so dry and hot. Day after day, the hunting party went out hunting, but they didn’t see any bucks and very few fresh tracks. Naturally, the girl was dismayed. Finally, on the last day of season, the father of the girl told her, “Why don’t you pray to God about it? He told you the number to pledge, and you’ve certainly done your part. Ask Him to bear the rest of the burden.”

The girl prayed. Oh, boy, did she pray. She told God that she’d worked all summer to reach the goal of $734, but though she’d done her very best, she’d only raised $500. She told God that she couldn’t do it alone and asked Him to help.

Very shortly after she prayed, the grand-daddy buck walked out of the forest and her father was able to shoot it. The extremely large buck (by today’s standards) was weighed. That buck weighed exactly 234 pounds! The girl was elated, of course, but tears ran down her face. Her father, puzzled, asked why she was crying, saying that she should be happy.

She said that she was wonderfully happy, but when God spoke to her and gave her the number of 734, He also let her know by the same method of communication that he wanted her to go to India as a missionary, to bring the wonderful news about Jesus. So accurate was the word of God that she knew that she was going to be leaving her home and friends to do the work the Lord had asked her to do.

You see, God seldom speaks in a loud voice that can be heard by the masses anymore. However, he does speak in the minds of the faithful. If someone tells you that they are doing the work that the Lord told them to do, don’t discount it as being delusional. It is quite possible that God did speak to that person and tell them that He wanted them to do the work. Also know that the conversation does work both ways. If you are uncertain that God has really given you the message, pray to Him and ask him to confirm it. You won’t be ‘testing’ Him, which would be wrong, you are merely requesting confirmation. There is an excellent chance that you will receive the confirmation in one way or the other.

The message God gave to the girl was that he wanted her to go to India. With that alone, the girl might have discounted it as not being from God, since she had no desire to go to India. However, by also giving her an unusual number to pledge, and then making it come to pass that the number was reached exactly, he was giving her confirmation before she even asked for it. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

God does talk to us. The question is, are we listening?


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Lead Us Not Into Temptation

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Most Christians are probably acquainted with the phrase, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (or “from evil”, depending on the bible version). It is from the Lord’s Prayer and is found at Matthew 6:13. Have you ever stopped to really think about that first part?

God doesn’t tempt us, so what does that mean, “lead us not into temptation”? The answer is that God doesn’t tempt us, but the deceiver does. Every day, there are numerous temptations all around us. The temptations can be everything from minor to major, but when you really think about it, there really isn’t such a thing as a minor temptation.

Temptations lead us astray and open the door to sinning against God. What is more, once we’ve crossed that threshold, it becomes easier to sin in the same way.

Watching TV programs or movies we know we really shouldn’t, reading books that encourage bad thoughts, going places we know we shouldn’t go, participating in actions that aren’t in line with God’s will; all of these things are temptations. We can approach it with the best of intentions, but the temptations have a habit of eroding our resolve.

Our actions invariably follow what is in our hearts. If our hearts are filled with the thoughts and love of God and the teachings of Jesus, there is no room for temptations to produce unclean fruit that can dwell there. However, by putting us in a position where the temptations do cause a stray thought we should not have, we are allowing Satan to put a chink in that armour God has given us. A pin-hole leak can become a crack, and the crack can become a torrent.

This is the meaning of Proverbs 4:23.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”

Under the control of Satan, the world certainly doesn’t make it easy on us. There are some temptations we simply cannot avoid if we are to live our lives without closing ourselves away. How do we fight the temptations that are unavoidable?

The bible makes that very plain. Jesus has already defeated Satan and he rejected numerous temptations in the process. Naturally, few of us are as wise as Solomon, who wrote proverbs, and we certainly aren’t as wise as Jesus. However, the bible also says that we should ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 says

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

It naturally isn’t just wisdom the Father wants us to ask for. God knows how we are tempted every day. He knows our hearts. The temptations we face are nothing new to Him. He has always been willing to step in and strengthen us when we are tempted. It requires only two things for him to do this. We first must ask for his help. God will never force his help upon us. We must also have faith that he will deliver that help. The second part isn’t as hard as some non-Christians might think. It is a promise of God and God has never broken a promise to us.

So exactly how do we ask God to strengthen our resolve against daily temptations? The bible is also explicit in that. We should take it to him in prayer. He hears all prayers and he delivers. Asking is important, too.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Isn’t it fantastic that we have such a loving God who has made it possible to not only get guidance from His word by reading the bible and who is also so very approachable; willing to forgive us and help us when we ask?


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