Tag Archives: peace

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do You Find Happiness?

Where Do You Find Happiness?

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 9:2

One of my favorite childhood songs from children’s church is called, “Happiness is the Lord.”  Lindsay Terry tells the following story as to how this wonderful song came about.

“Ira F. Stanphill was born in Belview, New Mexico, in 1914. He has written more than 550 songs, the most popular of which are “Mansion over the Hilltop,” “Room at the Cross,” and, of course, “Happiness Is the Lord.”

On any number of occasions the Lord has given a song to a songwriter when he or she least expected it. Such was the case of Ira Stanphill one afternoon in 1974 after he left the church office where he was pastor in Fort Worth, Texas.

The car radio was on, and as he rode along he listened to some commercial programs. Some were sponsored by establishments that advertised their “happy hour” and their alcoholic beverages. He also heard cigarettes being advertised in terms of how they bring happiness.

The word happiness was used several times in the ads. Ira related to me that he thought at the time that “happiness does not come with these things, but with knowing Christ.” He continued, “As this thought really took over my mind I began to sing. I sang a new song, composing words and melody as I drove along. I sang it almost as it is published today.””

The words are accompanied by a cheerful tune.  In it this song says,

Verse 1
Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord

Verse 2
Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord

(Bridge)
Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start
I’ve found the secret
It’s Jesus in my heart

Verse 3
Happiness is to be forgiven
Living a life that’s worth the livin’
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord

(Ending)
Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, my friend, the Lord is the Who, What, and the Where that you can find real happiness.  In poor health?  Have an overwhelming situation? Are you having a tough time coping with a loss, or a major disappointment?  In the midst of your situation, it is possible to find, peace, contentment, happiness, and gladness.  Like the Psalmist declares in Psalm 126:3, when we count our blessings we can say, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

A Revival Prayer

A Revival Prayer

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Habakkuk 3:2

With our annual Revival Meeting nearing, it is good to pause and to pray for the Lord to send revival.  Will you pray for personal revival in your life?

What is revival anyway?  A basic and most thorough definition I have used for years is this: “Revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.”  Simply stated, and right to the point.

As time goes by and we are further away from our conversion and new birth as Christians, we can become complacent.  Just like many people let their physical bodies get out of shape, or neglect proper eating and exercise, we can do the same thing spiritually. Many Christians have become lethargic in their walk with God.  Their service in church is pale and anemic, their pulse for loving God and other people has slowed down, and their appetite for the Word of God has decreased.  Even just opening the Bible at home causes difficulty in breathing.  If I was describing symptoms in a person’s physical body, you may think the person had a heart problem.

Some Christians have high blood pressure spiritually (in some cases literally) and are complaining and bickering with others then wonder why they do not feel as close to God as they once did.  All of this is symptomatic of a much bigger problem – a spiritual heart problem.  Are you loving Jesus more today than you were loving Him yesterday?

Why or why not?  It could be that loving sin, reveling in pride, or loving the world has diminished you love for Jesus.  Will you pray for personal revival?  Will you pray for family revival?  Will you pray for church revival?

Pray like the old-time prophet Habakkuk, who poured out his heart to God after hearing the Word of God spoken: O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Make his prayer – your revival prayer today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Juggle

juggler 4I Can’t Juggle

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 16:2-3

Years ago, I learned the “art” of juggling…. Well a little.  I was never that good at it. I could juggle 3 hackee sack balls ok – in the right conditions.  I had to stand still, look up, and watch out for throwing the ball in the direction of other people! Needless to say, I can’t juggle.  The same can be said when we try to live life without the Lord.  There are so many “balancing” issues we face and without he priorities of the Lord – we will “Drop the ball.”

Life can be a “juggling act!”   There is so much to do, and seemingly so little time to do it in.  Many people are so consumed with things, stuff, and opportunities of life that life itself gets out of balance and they begin to “drop the ball.”  This post is for you.  Be challenged and encouraged to streamline the juggling motions of life.

Like Proverbs 16:2-3 says, “The ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.”  Our choices, decisions, and priorities can all be justified – humanly speaking.  You can give a “good reason” for why you do what you do or don’t do what you don’t do.  Self-justification is a terribly effective habit of the natural man.

At the same time, verse 3 tells us that when we commit our works to God, our thoughts will be established.  That is, when we are making decisions based on a “God Priority”, then our decisions will be blessed.  When God blesses our decisions, life is less complicated, choices are easier to make, and perspective of what is truly important comes into a clearer view.

How can I start to “juggle” life in proper balance?  Here are some Scripturally simplified ideas:

  1. Be still, and know that I am God: Psalm 46:10a
    1. Stop everything at specific moments of each day and each week.
    2. Daily Bible reading and prayer, should be consistent in life.
    3. Church attendance should be a regular part of your week. Plan around church, don’t plan church around the other stuff.
    4. Life becomes too hectic when we do not take time to be still and know that God is God.
  2. He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. Proverbs11:28
    1. Seeking what is right is better than seeking more money. We do not work to get money anyway – we work to glorify the Lord and to gain the ability to “give to him that needed.”  Ephesians 5:28
    2. When we are working for money we look sight of the greater picture that everything we do should be under the auspices of “the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31
    3. Ask the Lord to help you control your work schedule instead of allowing your work schedule to control you. This is something I learned from my parents as a teenager when they had me mowing lawns or clearing snow, remodeling buildings, instead of flipping burgers or checking people out at a checkout line.
    4. The riches will not last – but right choices last a lifetime and for all eternity!
  3. The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. Proverbs 10:8
    1. “Know it all’s” talk a lot and do not listen well for how to improve their life. They drop the ball because they are attempting things they want to do, or think they can do, but have not consulted the Lord or learned people.
    2. Have you noticed those struggling the most in the “juggling act of life” are generally the ones who are trying to live life on their own. God is not a priority, His input is not welcome.  Other people’s encouragement and admonition is rejected.  Some people drop the ball and do not even notice!
    3. The wise in heart receives the Bible to make balanced changes in his life.
  4. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5
    1. Making right choices can become a lifestyle pattern.
    2. Notice how the mature Christian will allow what is right to direct his way. When he makes a right choice now – it makes it easier for him to make a right choice tomorrow.  Before long a singular good choice will become a whole string of good choices that then becomes a pattern for living.
    3. The more consistent a person is with right choices, the better he will be at juggling life!

Be encouraged to trust your path to the Lord.  Avoid juggling life on your own apart from the Lord.  Don’t drop the ball!  Incorporate Godly reasoning in every decision you make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Did Not Miss

He Did Not Miss

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Recently I read of one High School Graduate in Pennsylvania who was being honored for perfect attendance.  From Pre-K to grade 12, this young man did not miss a single day of school.  Incredible!  This truly is a good record to hold.  No matter how he “felt” he was at school.  On sick days, he took medicine and toughed it out.  How could he be so consistent?  Perseverance.  Dedication. Determination.

In the verse above, please note how that the Lord is faithful to finish what He starts.  When a person is saved, the Lord begins to change them from the inside out! This is called “progressive sanctification.”  It is the Lord who changes us, but the change is also dependent on the Christian yielding and submitting his life each day as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  Jesus wants us to “live for Him.”  God is faithful to preserve us and take us to Heaven at the time He has appointed for us.

These same qualities of faithfulness, perseverance, dedication, and determination are also necessary in the Christian life for us to develop, be more fulfilled, and for us to live lives that truly glorify Jesus.

Here are 3 helps to be faithful to the Lord…

  • David Looked For the Faithful. Psalm 101:6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. David wanted to be around people who loved the Lord and were faithful to Him.  The people we “hang” with do influence us.
  • Moses was a Servant. Hebrews 3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.  Moses, a prince of Egypt, leader of Israel, and spoken directly to by God, did not let that get to His head.  He was faithful because he still saw himself as a servant.  Who are you serving today?
  • God Sends His Blessings to the Faithful. Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Serving self, or being selfish is not blessed by the Lord. The “others” focused person who is faithful in His walk with God is blessed in many tangible and intangible ways.  There is no price tag on peace or contentment, yet this is what God can give to the people who are faithful to Him.

Well, I can’t get perfect attendance in school; I am well past that stage of life – but I can be reliable.  I can be dependable.  I can be faithful to the Lord.  While the Lord is sanctifying me and making me more like Jesus, I can yield my life and decisions to Him each day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Allowances of the Heart

The Allowances of the Heart

Amy Carmichael, a Christian missionary to India wrote, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace…If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”

What you allow your heart to think impacts the result of either being happy or angry, satisfied or hungry, peaceful or in conflict.  What is allowed into your heart will influence you for either good or bad.  Having a single-hearted perspective frees a person to enjoy more of the blessings of life than to having a multi-directional heart that feels torn at times and unfulfilled because it is being pulled in many different directions.

A heart and life over-stimulated in so many directions may “melt away” like a drawing in the sand along the sea shore.  It’s purpose, direction, and meaning are erased over time.  However, a heart focused on the Lord will not lose sight, forget it’s purpose, or miss it’s meaning for being on earth.

Here are 3 perspectives of a single-hearted person:

  • A Content Heart. Psalm 107:9, For he (God) satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
  • A Happy Heart. Psalm 90:14, O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  And Psalms 144:15, Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
  • A Peaceful Heart. Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  And Psalm 119:165, Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Peace is found in Jesus. Peace is more than the absence of conflict- it is the presence of Christ.

Ask the Lord to help your heart to be singularly focused on Him.  When we “love God first” all the other relationships, circumstances, and events – work themselves out.  What will you allow you heart to be focused on today?