Tag Archives: peace

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Opposite of Worry

The Opposite of Worry

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Perhaps if we could understand the song birds, we could hear them say something like the following:

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow…

‘I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and hurry so.’

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

‘Friend, I think that it must be

That they have no Heavenly Father

Such as cares for you and me.’”

Of course, the Lord cares so much for you – much more than the creatures of His creation!  May God help us to not let “worry” define and destroy our lives.

If anyone could have had a “good reason” to worry – it could have been the Apostle Paul.  He had many troubles that he endured.  From declining health, to the government wanting him dead, to even having Christians fighting each other and even fighting against him, Paul had much potential to worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be Careful” is a phrase that means “to be anxious about.”  It is a Bible term for worry.

I like how one person wrote: “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.”

Synonyms for “Worry” include “concern, apprehension, and fear.”  We fear much and worry a lot – it is natural.  Things we worry about may include:

  • Will by health decline or what if I acquire a disease?
  • What type of relationship will I have with family members in the future?
  • Will I ever get married?
  • Does he/she like me?
  • Where will I go to college?
  • What type of house will I have one day?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get enough money for this vehicle?
  • Can I really pay these bills?
  • Wil I get this promotion?

“Don’t worry, be happy” may seem like a helpful statement, but it is inaccurate.  The opposite of worry is not happiness.  The opposite of worry is peace.  While worry is natural, to have peace is supernatural.

Understand the peace of God is the presence of God.  Most people never have victory over worry because they are attempting to live life apart from God.  Even Christians struggle sometimes with leaving each burden with the Lord can casting their cares to Him.  When we know His presence, and let that guide us, we will experience peace of mind and heart.

How can I have the “peace of God” in my life?

Be Sure to Pray.  Philippians 4:6 says our response to worry should be prayer.  There are 3 terms used for prayer in this verse.

  • Prayer – This is a general term used in our addressing the Lord, and seeking Him. It implies worship. Perhaps each of us should take more time to “Adore” and show love to God in prayer.
  • Supplication – This is a term for special and detailed requests. It means to ask a petition.
  • Thanksgiving – Gratefulness is missing in our prayers sometimes. This term means we should have grateful language in our talk with the Lord.  Instead of “demanding” and asking, why not pause in part of your prayer moments and be thankful to the Lord?

Be Sure to Check Your Mind.  As verse 7 indicates, the peace of God can “keep our hearts and minds.”  Righting thinking goes a long way in the search for peace of mind and victory over worry.  Bible teacher, Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote that only 8% of the things people worry about happen.  That means 92% of the things people worry about will not or cannot really happen.  How much time, energy, and thoughts are wasted on worry?  Perhaps too much to count. We control our minds by thinking of “Good things.”  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Replace worrisome thoughts with the peaceful thoughts that God gives us in the above verse.

Be Sure to Check Your Actions.  Philippians 4:9 goes on to describe the third way to replace worry with peace: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Do what you know is right according to the Scriptures.  Paul cites the Bible teaching he gave and the Godly lifestyle he demonstrated as a good example for the Christians in Philippi to follow.  Are your actions matching and coordinating with your prayers and your thinking?  Our actions and what we “do” should complement the prayers we offer and the thoughts we think.

If we are not doing right, and know that we are disobeying God in a certain area, then we cannot have peace in our heart.   As Christians, we have “peace with God” continually in salvation, but we may not be at peace in our heart because of disobedience.  Similar to how a small child may shy away from a parent when they know they are doing wrong.  They are still the son or daughter of their parent, but are ashamed of their actions and may even avoid being around the parent. They have “guilt.”  They know they should be doing the right thing, but have succumbed to a temptation to do the wrong thing.

Take a student for example.  A test is coming and instead of studying and preparing for the test, he plays games on facebook, texts people all night, and does things other than study.  When the test is presented to him, he begins to worry because he did not do the things he was supposed to be doing.

Take another student.  She hears about an upcoming test and takes her books home to study.  She memorizes, writes out the main subjects of the test, develops a study guide, and puts much time and effort into preparing for the test.  When she is given the test, she has peace in her heart because she did what she was supposed to do.  Humanly speaking, she did everything possible to be ready and a lasting result is – peace in her heart when tested. The same is true in our Christian life.

When we do what we pray with thoughtfulness, are controlling our minds with right thoughts, and are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can replace worry with supernatural peace.

Discovering Joy

Discovering Joy

Joy has been aptly defined in a simple and yet profound acrostic.

Jesus, Others, You.

I like that.  Consider the depth of joy as opposed to the shallowness of mere happiness.  Happiness is generally derived from outer circumstances, while joy comes from within.  Happiness is impacted by good or bad surroundings whereas joy remains constant no matter the events a person may go through.  Joy is something that God can put inside your mind when you love and adore Him first in life.  We can be happy when our team wins; but if our team losses, we can still have joy.  We can get excited when the report comes back good; but when the doctor says, cancer or surgery, we can still have joy.

Speaking of the Macedonian Christians, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:2 “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

These early Christians were suffering persecution, yet remained joyful in Jesus.  Many were tortured and killed for their faith.  These believers were known to be poor, yet were rich in spirit and even in sacrificing what little finances they had in order to give to missions work and Gospel ministry.  They had and Gospel focus in life.

They were so focused on loving The Lord, and on serving others that in spite of their lack of stuff, they had joy.  Even though their circumstances were tragic – they were at peace with God, satisfied with life, and expressed the joy of the Lord in their countenance, actions, and relationships.

Many times, we settle for “pursuing happiness” when we should be seeking, Bible based joy. Even if your circumstances are “less than ideal” or even if it seems like one storm after another comes your way – you can have the joy of the Lord in your life.

Following the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the people gather together to hear Ezra read the Bible.  Following his reading, Nehemiah stands up and says in Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The Joy of the Lord is our strength too.  Nehemiah says to “go celebrate, but no matter what happens the rest of your life – you can rely the joy of the Lord.”  This joy gives us strength and hope for the journey called life.  The Jews in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem were to face more troubles and challenges in the days ahead – and we will too.  Relying on the power of God can reinforce this idea that no matter the circumstances, the joy of the Lord can be real in our life.

Change the priority and focus of your life.  When my love shifts from selfishly loving myself to selflessly loving God, then others, and then far down the list, myself – then joy is can be discovered in my life.

Jesus – First.

Others – Second.

You – Last.

It will change your life.

Developing Character at Christmas

Developing Character at Christmas

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

In a day of extreme excess and people forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, Christian people must purpose in their mind and be deliberate in their actions to accurately portray Christmas to the family and to others.

The American Research Group reports: “Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $929 for gifts this holiday season, up from $882 last year according to the 32d annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc. Planned gift spending for 2016 is $47 above spending in 2015 and it is the first time planned gift spending exceeds $900 since 2006.”

Black Friday, and Cyber Monday were again record breaking days in the number of sales and dollars transacted.

I like the choir song: “Much to do no time to do it, I can’t get it all done at Christmastime…”

With our schedules and minds being pulled in so many different directions, sometimes we forget the real purpose and meaning of Christmas!

Here are some ideas to help build character in yourself and your family members.

Emphasize Giving, Not Getting.  In Acts 20:35 Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

  • Encourage kids to give outgrown cloths.
  • Encourage the family to give unused toys (Even the tools and toys the men may have).
  • Exemplify giving to others in more need. Find someone to give food or essential items. Give things that you enjoy that others may enjoy them too.
  • Enjoy sharing a meal with others.
  • No matter our age, occupation, or financial status, each of us are in a position where we can give something to someone else.

Encourage Moderation, Not Excess.  Philippians 4:5 declares: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

Moderation means appropriate and mild.  When the wise men celebrated Jesus, they did so with three meaningful gifts:  “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

The gold was worthy of a King, the frankincense demonstrating His purity, and the myrrh represented His purpose for coming, to die on the cross.  Most of the time a few quality gifts mean more.

Joseph was able to take baby Jesus to Egypt and escape the murderous plot of King Herod to kill all the baby boys age 2 and under.  Joseph left his job and had the ability to move because of these meaningful gifts.

With our children we have purpose behind each gift.  We give…

  • An item they were hoping for. An item that would be on a “Wish list.”
  • An item they share with others in watching or listening to. An old TV show or movie that does not take away but contributes to godly character.
  • An item they can play with others. A board game, basketball, or even a video game would work here.

Cloths are a necessity so we do not include them as an item.  Three gifts are all we plan for.  Be purposeful with your gifts.  You may have some priorities that are like the above suggestions.  Whatever you do – have a purpose of some kind behind each one.  Be generous – with purpose and meaning.

Enable Simplicity, Not Busyness.

The church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 “left their first love.”  How can that happen?  Because of the excess, commercials, and lustful society we live in – it is easy to get caught up with material things and business too.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  In order to keep safe our heart – we must have a greater purpose and plan.

Sometimes we are so busy we do get anything done.  Many of us do not accomplish anything that is worthwhile even though they have stress, work, and all the other symptoms of being productive.

SELAH – Stop and Think – is a needed practice at Christmas time.  Here are some suggestions to help you not be so busy that you forget what Christmas is really all about.

  • Read the Christmas Story in Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
  • Go to and participate in special church programs, but lesson your overall commitments of time and energy to things that have less than spiritual purposes.
  • Turn off the tv during the days off school. Our kids should not sit in front of a tv from 8 am to 3 pm.
  • Tune up beautiful Christmas Music. There are many wonderful Christian radio websites that will encourage you.  Please see the other postings for their addresses.
  • Go Christmas Caroling.
  • If you do watch a Christmas Movie, do so together as a family.

Be Purposeful – to Develop Character at Christmas.  Since Jesus Himself is the gift of Christmas, the things we do and give should reflect Him.  After all – It is His birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.

 

 

 

 

After Election Thoughts

After Election Thoughts

No matter if your candidate won or not, life goes on.  Congratulations to both candidates for their effort. Kudos to Mr Trump.  Consider this short list of things to continue or to begin doing in the coming days.

Read the Bible.  Psalm 119:105 teachers: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  We need God’s wisdom to properly process what is happening in our world.  Seek His guidance in the Bible.

Pray.  Psalm 55:17 says, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”  Take your concerns, care, troubles, and problems to the Lord.  Spend some time worshiping Him and thanking Him that He will always be God and that there is no one like Him.

Go to Church.  Speaking to the day we live in Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  Isolationists and “holier than thou” people who are avoiding others cannot glorify God.  Actively evangelizing, and edifying believers can only take place through the local church.  Exalting Jesus includes reaching the lost and encouraging other saints. One cannot happen without the others.  A thoughtful illustration one pastor printed in his bulletin looks like this:

“This___is___the____way__the___church__sometimes____looks__to__the_______pastor____when____he___goes__into______the____pulpit.”

“Wouldlooklikethisifeverybodybroughtsomebodyelsetochurch.”

Witness.  Acts 1:8 declares, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  With the same passion for politics you have or saw others have in the recent election – take the Gospel to others.  Talk about Jesus in your home, neighborhood, coffee houses, and at family gatherings.

Rest.  Rest in the will of God.  Peace is found in Christ.  Let Him handle the issues of the day.  Sure, do your part, but leave it all with Him.  Psalm 118:4 says, “Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.”  And Psalm 118:29 declares: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”  Thank the Lord for the peace that is found while resting in His mercy.

Life goes on following every election.  Things change, but life goes on.  Jesus sees the bigger picture.  Politics and government is not the solution to the greatest needs – Jesus is.  A revival of loving God can only begin in an individual heart.  These are not items “Good Christians” have in their lives.  These are things that “Growing Christians” strive to nurture in their lives. Be more or become more like Jesus today.

 

The Real Fools of April

The Real Fools of April

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.  Proverbs 28:26

Playing a joke on someone or being a good sport when a joke is played on you is one thing; living a life that is based on a joke is another.  The tragedy of many living today is that they have bought into the lies Satan propagates through this world.  Walking in our own, worldly wisdom is a foolish thing to do.

Several years ago, a wonderful Christian couple gave my wife and I a Chevy Impala.  At the time, it was the best vehicle we ever had.  We were blessed and are still thankful for it.  Hundreds of homes have been visited in that vehicle in the course of pastoral ministry.

Recently as I was driving down the interstate in my over decade old Impala, a beautiful, brand new Chevy Corvette sped buy.  I had been watching it in the rearview mirror for a while, and it was a terrific looking car.  The retail value on a brand new Corvette is over $80,000.  Some of us reading this article live in houses that are valued less than that!  The car I was driving is possibly valued at $2,400 and it works just fine.

While I generally prefer the Chevy Camaro from any decade, this Corvette was very nice to see zooming past.  I have driven by the Corvette Museum in Kentucky and have driven Corvettes on several occasions.  One time, my wife and I were late to an appointment while driving one.  I am not sure how we could be late in a car that fast!   Corvettes are nice.  I like them.  The owner and driver of this Corvette liked his Corvette too.

The license plate was special ordered to say: “LUVINIT.”  This driver was proud to show others his crazy fast car and let them know that he had “arrived” and that he was “loving it.”  While we may enjoy, like, and even love our rides, we are instructed to not love the material things of this life.  1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Perhaps all of us have had this sort of “love” at one time or another.  After all, we need “stuff” in order to stay alive.  However, when we choose to “love stuff,” then our desires and dreams will be impacted by that love.  Our love for God is then squeezed out of the top position of our life.  Stuff is nice for a while, but even restored cars will rot away given enough time and neglect.

Easier said than done is a life of contentment.  Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8 “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  Contentment can only be realized in the Christian who actively loves God first, others second, and who decides to not love stuff.  “Some people love stuff and use people, but we are to use stuff to love people.”

Below are 3 wise truths about loving money and stuff…

Prosperity Does Not Equal Peace.  Rich men still have relationship problems.  Wealthy people may have a lot of stuff, but many times that stuff controls them.  Have you read this before: “The more stuff you have, the more your stuff controls you.”  How many well intentioned people have bought a new house far from church and eventually stop coming to church?  How many get that shiny boat or golf course membership only to justify doing those things and are no longer investing in spiritual things such as prayer meeting?

The next big ticket item for the rich man, or the next cigarette or checkout counter candy for the poor person results in the same thing – temporary satisfaction.  Worldly things may give an impression of no more needs, but there is more to life than the tangible things.

Peace with self has nothing to do with financial status.  Once a person “arrives” to a 6 or 7 figure salary their income does not result in real happiness.  Perhaps a false sense of security is found, but money has never lasted for anyone, and we can’t take it with us.

Peace with others is not something that riches ensure.  Sometimes the husband and wife individually devoted to the next personal paycheck end up fighting over finances and purchases.

Peace with God is not something wealth can buy.  Wealth does not mean a person is right with God.  Peace with God is something enjoyed by faith when trusting Jesus alone for salvation.  Jesus can make peace with God the Father for you.  Sin is what makes us at odds with God, not our financial status.

Money Cannot Buy Real Love.  “Will you love me if I buy you a gift?”  “When I give you this box of chocolate, or purchase a diamond studded ring for you, will you love me?”  Many couples are falsely committing love to another when in reality; they love the things that the other can buy.  “As long as you give me a big house, new car, and vacations – then I will love you.”  True love, motivated by selfless giving, not taking, is something that cannot be bought.

When a person is hired for a job, they do not need to love the job, the boss, or the position, to complete the job.  All they have to do is fulfill the expectations and then they receive their pay check.  Money- that is the result of the work is what most people love.  This is a poor way to live in relationships.  God loves us – even though we could never give Him anything.  This is the model our love to others should demonstrate.  Love is real when it is about what I can do for the other person, not what the other person can do for me.

Riches Are Unable to Bring About Eternal Life.   There is no real estate for sale in Heaven.  ReMax, Century 21, or Keller Williams have no offices or agents in Heaven.  The parcels of land, mansions, streets, fields, rivers, places in Heaven have already been purchased.  Nothing there is for sale.  Jesus paid the only price that God the Father would accept – the blood of His perfect Son, Jesus.

Notice how I Peter 1:18-19 says it:  “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 

Rich men still get sick, grow old, and die.  All of us have an appointment with death.  It may not be a pleasant thought to you, but if you have Jesus in your heart, He has already bought and paid for your place in Heaven.  He is the only One Who can give to you enteral life.  You can’t buy it.  Trust the Gospel of Jesus for eternal life today.

The real fools of April.  Who are they?  It is not the people that have the best jokes played on them.  The real fools of April are the people who continue to reject Bible truth and remain trusting in their worldly wisdom instead of trusting in Jesus.

I may or may never own a sports car; either way, my life as a Christian is not about accumulating more stuff.  Loving and living for things are a foolish way to live.