Tag Archives: help

The Handcuffs of Sin

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.  Proverbs 5:22

Today I came across this verse in a counseling session.  I read it in a previous time.  The part “he shall be holden with the cords of his sins” was already underlined in black ink.

The word “holden” means to “sustain, keep fast, or retain.”   This verse is teaching how that a wicked person who is willfully committing sin is actually binding himself with his sin.  Sin becomes a controlling factor in our human experience.  Here the sin, like cords wrapped around a person’s wrist is confining this person.  In other words, this person’s sin is handcuffing him.   Even though sin may be enjoyed – for a season – it will eventually chain you to its will and confine you to it’s desires.

Sin is very captivating.  Sometimes a person does not even recognize how their sin is actually holding them back and retaining them in a “holding tank.”  Think about how a drug addict can no longer think clearly.  Her body is conditioned to “need” the next hit of drugs.   The male addicted to pornography may not think it is hurting him, but his relationship with his wife is not what it could be because of the nurturing of lust in his heart.  The angry couple can be blinded to the hatred in their heart because of unconfessed bitterness that is controlling and affecting every area of life and relationships.

Instead of allowing sin to take us captive and handcuff us, we should take captive our thoughts ourselves – with the mind of Jesus.  One of my favorite verses I use in counseling sessions to encourage, motivate, and equip people to have victory over sin is 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Here Paul states: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…”

Imagine that.  Bring every thought into obedience to Jesus Christ.  Get the Word of God in your life.  It is like the key to unlock the handcuffs of sin.  Let Jesus captivate your heart and mind.  It will change your life!   You will experience more freedom than you thought possible when you devote your life to what is right!

What can I do to get uncuffed?

  1. Confess your sin.  Let Jesus know about it – from your own confession.
  2. Repent of sin.  More than confession, repentance is a turning around from the sin.  It is choosing to go a totally new direction than the way the sin was taking you.
  3. Enjoy Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord that when we confess our sin and turn from it in repentance, the Lord totally forgives us.  Psalm 103:12 says, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Thank the Lord for that!

Get out of the handcuffs of sin today.

 

 

 

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Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

Defeating Discouragement

Defeating Discouragement 

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 

Number 21:4

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) otherwise known as “The Winter Blues” is probably in full force right now.  With those living in the Northern Hemisphere short on sunlight and full of snow during the Winter season, it is possible to become discouraged.

With all the recent ice and snow storms, most have not been able to get out of the house as much as they would like.  When the storms falling primarily on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s it has disrupted the faithful gathering of worshipers in the local church.  While the season has been disruptive, we can have victory over the discouraging thoughts we may face when we check the weather apps or scan the meteorologist reports.

The Israelite’s were traveling towards the Promise Land, but the path was not easy.  The walking, caravaning was no easy task.  Life was hard and they became discouraged.  Circumstances are powerful at changing our attitude and disposition.  But instead of focusing on the problems, we can discover victory over the problems.

No one is immune to the occasional negative thoughts about their circumstance.  It becomes a major problem when all we do is complain or think negative thoughts.  It affects our motivation, our interaction with others and our walk with God.   Sometimes “our way” is tough too.

If discouragement is not dealt with in a Biblical way, it is possible for it to develop into depression.  It does not have too.  Here are three ideas to help overcome discouragement.

  • But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

The Lord Jesus knows everything about you.  Even down to how many hairs you have (or don’t have) on your head.  If He knows something so minor as this, think about all the other things He knows about you.  He knows your thoughts and wants you to live in victory, claiming healthy truthful thoughts about your life and your circumstance.

  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:31

Jesus values you more than the beautiful birds.  Of all the creatures of creation, God values Humans the most.  We are created “in His image.”  There is something special about you.  Be encouraged with the value God places on you!  David also battled with occasional discouragement.  1 Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  

  • But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  Matthew 14:27

The Lord is always available to us.  Be of good cheer.  God is with you.  Talk with Jesus in prayer.  Ask Him to help you overcome negative thoughts with Bible truth.  Learn a new Bible verse.  Recite it when the next storm comes.  Chose joy by the grace of God to not allow discouragement to control your life.

Look up – the sun will be up soon.  Spring will be here before you know it!

 

 

 

Learning to Give

The following story provides a good illustration for a person with the good character of giving:  “Marquis de Lafayette was a French officer who provided invaluable assistance to George Washington and the struggling American army. After the war was over, he returned to France and resumed his life as a farmer of many estates. In 1783, the harvest was a terrible one, and there were many who suffered as a result. Lafayette’s farms were unaffected by the devastating crop failures. One of his workers offered what seemed to be good advice to Lafayette, “The bad harvest has raised the price of wheat. This is the time to sell.” After thinking about the hungry peasants in the surrounding villages, Lafayette disagreed and said, “No, this is the time to give.”” (Daniel Loy)

Giving may not be a very natural human response.  In fact, when you think of your own life, it may be that much of what you do is collect, save, and accumulate – for yourself.  Giving is a learned habit for the Christian.  One of the spiritual gifts in Romans 12 is giving.  Romans 12:8 says “…he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” 

Those with the spiritual gift of giving, give far greater than a mere 10%.  Along with the call and gift of giving the Lord gives the means to give.  The Christian who exercises his spiritual gift of giving will be blessed in material ways because he has been faithful to give to others what God has given to him.

Just because a Christian may not have the “spiritual gift” of giving does not mean that he should not be give.  Even those gifted in other areas have a responsibility to God and their local church to be good stewards of the finances God has entrusted to them.  Giving is something that is learned.  It is a practice that is developed as our faith is developed.

The Lord has much to say in the Bible about giving to spiritual endeavors and the needs of those around us.  Here are several examples:

  • Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass… Exodus 35:5
  • If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.  Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.  2 Corinthians 8:11-12

Perhaps we could be like Marquis de Lafayette, who when confronted with becoming more rich, he chose to give to those in need.  After all, in Heaven, the way we use our money – not how much money we have is how the Lord measures our faithfulness as managers and stewards of His provision.

A Simple Life

A Simple Life

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

Have you felt overwhelmed lately with the busyness of life?  I am trying to slow down on purpose to be more reflective and thoughtful.  Perhaps you are busy right now.  Us Americans tend to rush to this event then run to that event. We barely make it to work, school, or church on time.  Many arrive late, if they arrive at all.  Depending on your life stage and if there are kids in your home you are running them all around as well.

Why are we in such a hurry?  Why is life so busy?

  1. We have the same amount of time as we have always had. 24 hours a day.
  2. We attempted to crowd more things into those 24 hours.
  3. With the promise of more leisure time, we depend on electronics and technology.
  4. Even with the fluctuation of inflation, and the value of the American dollar, we have more money and resources than any nation or people in the history of the world.

Is it possible that while we may be “getting more done” that we are actually accomplishing less?  The answer to that question’s rests primarily on your list of priorities.

  • When was the last time you began a new meaningful relationship and friendship with a person or family at church?
  • When was the last time you gave a gospel tract to a neighbor or spoke to an acquaintance about Jesus?
  • When was the last time you prayed before the Sunday morning Bible study and church service and participated with gladness?
  • When was the last time you and those in your household opened a Bible and prayed together?
  • When was the last time everyone in your house enjoyed a dinner together around the table with no television or cellphones taking away from the moment?

One of Satan’s greatest and most effective strategies has been to keep good people busy doing good things, so they cannot engage in the more important and best things.  Satan remains subtle in many ways today.  Most Christians do not run after gross and obvious sin.  Adultery, fornication, lying, cheating, are not usually where good people start to drift.  It is in the seemingly small and mundane things.  They go after potentially good things and are so busy the neglect the best things.  Before long, the best is squeeze out of their lives.

Renowned scientist of yesteryear, Albert Einstein said:

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

I like that thought.

Are you too busy?  Feeling overworked, stressed, and frazzled?  Try taking some of the non-essentials out.  Be sure to continue or start the basic expectations of the Christian life.  The times of solitude in prayer, moments of discussion with family, and the accountability of being with others in church will only refresh and encourage you.

Sports teams, dance and art class, the local school, and the lessons you signed up for cannot replace the simple things that God has given to us – in Jesus.

While Satan is making life complicated and adding new priorities to your list – Jesus is simplifying our life! He wants you to enjoy the simple things and to find meaning in “being with Jesus” not just running around trying to achieve things in so many areas of life.  With all the available “distractions” it is a wonder that anyone goes to church or opens a Bible any more.  Yes, it is that bad for many people.

Learn from Jesus in Matthew 11:29, He said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  While Satan wants you to carry your own weight in being busy in life, Jesus wants you to find rest.  Don’t “yoke up” with Satan or this world!  Jesus has a different and better pace of life based on relationship with Him.  It is OK to slow down.  It is good to reassess and refocus the direction of your life.  Take a step back: “Am I running all over when God wants to give me rest?”  Or: “Am I so busy that I no longer have time for God? Family?” Or: “for the things that really matter most in life?”

Find a simpler life in Jesus.  Put the main things in life – first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Then I Can Be a Helper”

“Then I Can Be a Helper”

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.  Proverbs 31:20

Many churches all across the US conducts their own Vacation Bible School during the fleeting summer months.  Thousands of children and families are exposed to the Gospel and taught the Bible in a fun filled way.  Recently Wilton Baptist Church hosted our annual 6 night VBS.   The entire team from the check in people, to the “banker,” the teachers, game and craft leaders and our “mad” scientist did a great job!  We thank the Lord for their work.  A spirit of teamwork and excellence was evident each night.  In fact, it was in many ways our best VBS ever.

Talking to our 5th grader about VBS I suggested that she only has one more year left of VBS.  While the thought of her being “too old” to attend and participate as a student was not that exciting, she simply said: “…Then I can be a helper at VBS.”

I am thankful for her heart of wanting to continue to be involved in VBS.  When things are happening at church, you may notice in your children, they want to be involved.  Kids need to know they belong and their is a place of service and ministry for the, today.  Our kids do not have to “grow up” before serving Jesus.  Part of their “Growing up” is serving Jesus today.

Be encouraged to nurture a spirit of participation in your kids.  They may outgrow certain events, and reach “age limits” for VBS, camp, etc, but they should never outgrow an attitude of wanting to be involved in the work of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Kind, Kind Of…

Be Kind

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

“A church usher was instructing a young successor in the details of his office. “And remember, my boy,” he concluded, “that we have nothing but good kind Christians in this church until you try to seat someone else in their chair.” (6000)

I have always enjoyed that little story.  It is true that sometimes when we change the routine and seemingly insignificant expectations of some people they can become very angry!  Some of us are “kind” just part of the time.  We could be “kind of kind” but that is not really being kind!

The Bible commands and admonishes us to “be kind one to another.” This is written to the church members of a church in a city called Ephesus.  These were people who lived busy lives in an ancient world trading capitol.  There were false gods in the city and the famous Temple of Diana where all sorts of evil originated and was conveyed into their society.  It was to these Christian people that God said – “Be ye kind.

Ye Kind” is taken from the Greek word: “chrestos” which means to be “employed.”  You may never have guessed that definition and origin of the word “kind!”  It really helps us understand the significance as to how to go about being kind.

Like you are employed at your job or occupation, the Lord wants us to be employed in the area of kindness.  Be kind to the family members in your home.  Be kind to the church members at your local church.  Be kind to other Christians in the body of Christ.  Be kind o your neighbor who does not yet know Jesus.  Be kind.

In other words: Leave the other person better off than when you first interacted with them…

Here are 3 considerations.

  1. I need to think right about people. If I am thinking about how I can take advantage of other people, I cannot be kind to them.  That is what Ephesians 5:31 is speaking about: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
  2. I need to have compassion for other people. Tenderhearted in verse 32 is speaking of compassion.  We live in a day when many people have more compassion on a baby elephant than they do for a homeless man.  Many are more compassionate about baby dolphins than they are about human babies that are being murdered in abortion.  Have some godly concern for others. Know their condition.  Try to help meet a need.
  3. I must have forgiveness in my heart for others. For the sake of Jesus – God forgave your sin.  For the sake of Jesus – you can forgive the sin and wrong that others have projected against you.  Forgiving is not the same as forgetting, we will never forget.  But we can be like God Who in Hebrews 13:13, “remembers no more” our sin and wrong.  While God never forgets, He chooses not to think about our sin.  When we forgive others, we are being like God! And God wants us to be more like Him!

One final thought.  I am not a “kind person” if I am thinking of how to hurt or take advantage of others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not actively showing compassion to others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not demonstrating true forgiveness to other people.

Ask God to help you – you can be a kind person today!  Be employed at being kind to others.  It is a “job” that God has called each of us to.