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How Your Greatest Asset Can be Ignored

So there he stands. Rejected, ignored, and fooled by our shallow promises. Jesus gave us his love, his promises, and ultimately himself. But we just don’t think of him much.

Just Too Busy

We haven’t rejected God. It’s just that we have been so busy with all our “important” matters. And truly they are important. In our busy life, we have just missed the great privilege of our relationship with God.

He wants to have a close and intimate relationship with us. Naturally we would have all the benefits of such a relationship. But we’ve been too busy.

Right Intentions

But all the “doing” was really for God. We live to glorify God. We work to please God. We do it all in his name and for his honor. But we’ve missed God.

We have no one to blame for the losses and brokenness we face. We have ignored God and his requirements (Hos 4:6).

Grab the Opportunity

Remind yourself that the greatest asset in your life is your relationship with God. No other relationship on earth is so valuable. Keep God in the forefront of your thoughts and your daily activities.

In every struggle, make a short one sentence prayer your connection with God. Throughout the day, speak to him briefly and express your joys, frustrations and thoughts. He is waiting. Will you connect with him?

Your thoughts?

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The “Good” Side of Sinfulness and Failure

Is there any good in failure and sin?  Although the answer is NO, there is a bright side. To really know God, you need to fall, fail, and sin. Then you have an opportunity to know God’s true character of forgiveness and love (note: We are all sinners. Some acknowledge it, others ignore it and fake spirituality.).

Those who don’t fail (or think they don’t), have an unrealistic view of life. They become judgmental and angry at those “sinners” who can’t get their act together.

We surely don’t want to encourage sinfulness and Failure, but we know that times of dryness, failure, and sinful backsliding are surely damaging. Yet God can turn everything around and bring complete restoration (Hos 3:4-5).

Your thoughts?

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Stomach Induced Following

People followed Jesus for many reasons. Some followed him to fill their stomachs, some followed for physical healing, and others wanted to gain some position in the coming kingdom that they thought was literal and earthly.

Jesus did not take the step to drive these people away from him. He allowed them to follow. But his teaching remained focused and uncompromising. Those who follow Jesus must deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow him. This type of focus in his teaching naturally drove away those with other agendas.

This was a clear affirmation of Jesus’ purpose to seek and to save the lost. He said he did not come for the righteous; he came that sinners would turn and repent. This purpose impacted every aspect of his ministry. He allowed those with improper motives to stay. Maybe they would be impacted by his ongoing teaching and the ministry.

When Jesus taught about the wheat and the tares, he made a clear statement that the tares should be allowed to remain. Uprooting the tares may damage the wheat and this risk was to be avoided. His instruction was to allow the tares to remain till the final day when God will separate the wheat and tares and burn the tares in the fire.

As we strive to be faithful in the work of the Lord, our focus should be like that of Jesus. Open your arms to those who are weak, hurting, sick, and in pain. Allow them access to you and to all the resources available to you. Bring them to Jesus, who will transform their life.

What do you think? Leave your response on the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

 

 

 

Giving and Getting

From the early days of our children’s lives, we wanted to instill in them an attitude of giving.  Of course, it is never too early to begin these things.  We’ve always told them that when we give offerings in church we are giving to Jesus and that He is pleased with our offerings.

Once we were visiting a church where they kept a box on a table in the back for offerings.  After the service, we instructed the children to put the money into the box.  Then we lingered for a while chatting with several people.  When we left, my son looked at the table in the back with astonishment and said, “What happened to the box?  Somebody took the box.”  My daughter quickly responded; “that man took it.”  My son agreed and said, “Yes, he will take the money and throw it into the air, and Jesus will catch it from up there in heaven.”

What is our concept of money and giving?  Generally, Christians give such a small percentage, that the situation is alarming.  Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38).  Could it be that God has “limited” his measure because of our giving habits?  We often point to many reasons for our financial woes. All the while, part of the fault may be with our own giving habits.

A “poverty mentality” has gripped many believers.  Their concept of money and wealth has been tainted by their own deeds (or the lack of it).  Proverbs says, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor” (Pr. 22:9).  We cannot expect God’s blessings without a giving heart.  Too many have the misconception that they don’t have enough, so they won’t give, when their lack of giving could be one of the reasons for their financial burdens.

Christians will do well to adopt a simple, Biblical financial plan for their lives that begins with giving.  Take all the income you receive whether weekly or monthly, and give 10% as tithe to your local church where you attend every Sunday. Then take another 10% and put into a long-term savings that you will not touch.  That gives you 80% to live on.  Of course, the 80% should include whatever taxes you owe to the government, and sufficient gifts to the poor.  These principles are simple, yet Biblical.

Am I guaranteeing God’s blessings if you follow this plan? Not a guarantee from me, just Jesus’ words: “Give and it will be given to you….”

What do you think?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

 

A Man of Sorrows, Acquainted with Grief

We have seen the powerful, confident, miracle working Jesus through the Gospels. He is to be our example…but how? How can he understand our struggles? What does he know about the problems that we face? He had all the powers of Heaven available to him.

Suffering-Servant-Messiah

Jesus experienced the same struggles as we do. But we fail to recognize those experiences in the Gospels. Here are some of His experiences:

  • Misunderstood – People misunderstood his entire life and mission. There was no one on earth who could understand the reality of his struggle. With whom could he share the struggle of being God and Man simultaneously?
  • Rejected – As he spoke of his Father, the people understood that as blasphemy because he was equating himself with God. So, here was a truth that could not be spoken. He spoke it anyway, but suffered lots of accusations for it.
  • Opposed – Because he was different in his approach to so many things, he was constantly opposed. He was called a drunkard, glutton, and a friend of sinners. The core of his mission on earth was for those who were broken, but that “core” caused so much opposition.
  • Inner Struggles – He struggled with his personal desires and his purpose of being on this earth. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see a glimpse of his personal struggles. So, Jesus did have the desire to so his own will separate from the will of the Father. He did struggle with such desires, but gave himself up for the Father’s will.
  • Betrayed – His family and friends knew who he was and his passions, but they could not accept that reality. They simply mocked him.
  • Homeless – He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) That statement of Jesus was not just a neat saying, it was a reality. Possibly one of the reasons he roamed the countryside was that he had no home to call his own.
  • Accused of using Black Magic or Sorcery – The teachers of the Law said that Jesus expelled demons using the powers of the prince of demons.
  • Accused of being a revolutionary – Although Jesus clearly expressed that his Kingdom was not of this world, the people could not understand. They were so hopeful of the Roman power being overthrown that they could not grasp the heart of what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.

For those who struggle, hurt, and suffer, remember that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3b)

***Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

What Controls You?

*When things are forced on you, you feel like you are not in control. *When you’ve got your back to the wall, you feel like you’re not in control. *When you’re overloaded, and over-worked, you feel like you’re not in control. *When people take advantage of you, you feel like you’re not in control. Now, let’s face it. Others are not in control. You’re not in control. Fear is. It’s fear that controls your actions and your reactions to what goes on around you. Fear? It may be a fear of being controlled. Fear of losing control. Fear of giving up control. Fear of the unknown. For each person, the factors are different. Here is how you can handle the fear:

  1. Acknowledge fear. When you recognize that your reactions are the result of fear, be willing to acknowledge it. Identify fear as the reason for what you experience. We may find situations or other people to blame for our experiences, but that does not correctly help to resolve the issue at hand.
  1. Face fear. When you come to such a situation fueled by fear, you have two choices. The easiest and usual pattern is to run. Running from situations that cause fear to rise within you is surely a solution, but it is too short lived. What you really need to do is to face the fear head on. Move forward and do that very thing that is causing fear to rise up within you.
  1. Reject fear and replace it with boldness.  “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2Timothy 1:7). God’s Spirit will give us a regular supply of power, love, and self-control. You can begin to renew your mind by repeating Bible verses such as this one.

So when you recognize that what you face may be directly caused by fears within you. It’s time to take action and move forward. Give your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

That Gripping Fear

As the train approached the platform, the little boy was excited and began walking toward the moving train. The mother yelled at him and the boy immediately turned back toward the mother. But as he walked back, he placed one hand over his head and the other one over his face. As soon as he moved his hand, the mother slapped him several times on his head and face.

I was surprised at the reaction of this boy as well as his mother’s mode of discipline. I suppose she could have sat him down and explained the dangerous situation to him. Unfortunately this was not her way of discipline.

So it seems the boy got what he expected: a full round of slapping from head to face. His quick reactions showed that he’s quite familiar with this from his early childhood. Fear has developed in his mind and whenever he faces his mother in a difficult situation, fear takes over his reactions.

When this boy grows up, it’s quite possible for this fear to take control of his reactions in other areas of life as well. This fear will cause him to be insecure when he needs to make decisions. Fear may become the forefront aspect of his personality.

Due to various reasons, many of us, just like that boy, are riddled with fear and the inability to make firm decisions. But the Bible says: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” It is this Spirit, God’s Spirit, that gives us confidence in life.

So next time you are about to make a decision and you begin to stall – check your heart. See if you sense fear rising within you. Begin to identify that fear. Don’t let it go undetected and uncontrolled. Look at it right in the face and begin to deal with it. Next week, we’ll look at some steps to overcome fear.

Please leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Consistent and Prolonged Exposure

It was cold that evening as we sat by the open fire. Since I wore only a light jacket and began shivering in the cold, I moved to the side of the fire that was opposite the wind. The smoke from the flame came toward me, but I endured it since I needed the warmth.

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We all sat and talked for most of the evening. I continued to endure the smoke in my face and all over me. Everyone sat there shivering. But I enjoyed the warmth of the flame.

The next day, as I traveled from there, I wore that same jacket. But that jacket held the smell of smoke and everyone around me wondered what was going on with this strong smell. That really got me thinking about how that consistent, prolonged exposure to the smoke left a strong smell on my jacket.

In Deuteronomy 6:5-9, there is clear instruction of how God’s word is to have a consistent prolonged exposure on our lives: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Such prolonged consistent exposure to God’s words will have a major impact in every area of our lives. In a former post, I wrote about a simple three step plan of Meditation and Time Alone With God. You can read that at this link. Every day, follow those simple three steps and that will be your initial move toward a more consistent and prolonged exposure to God’s word in your lives. Be warmed by the fire of God’s word.

To help you along in the journey, I’ve been recording my thoughts as I work through scripture. I’ve been posting those thoughts as a separate blog that you can subscribe to. Click here to open that blog. Read through what I’ve been writing the last few days. Subscribe at this link and receive updates in your inbox. If you wish, you can unsubscribe at any time.

You can also leave your comments to this blog post by clicking here.

A Life of Rejection (Pt. 2)

Our kids were small and studied at a school near the seminary where my wife and I teach. As we were late dropping the kids to school one day, I was driving fast with my eyes fixed on the road. At one point both of our children pointed out someone from our church standing on the side of the road. By the time I looked, I saw the man waving at me, but our car passed quickly and I could not wave back.

The following Sunday, the man came to church with a very sad face and approached me. He wanted to know why I was not willing to acknowledge him even though both my kids did. The sadness and rejection he experienced was quite deep and he was clearly hurt. Of course, I explained my situation to him, but he was not willing to accept my explanation at all.

Although I had not “rejected” this person, that is exactly what he felt. That was his experience at that moment. Even my explanations could not calm his heart nor clear the feeling of being rejected. Knowing his background, I know the complex situations of rejection that he experienced from his childhood up to the time of this incident. All of those experiences of rejection built up a mindset of rejection within him. That mindset filters every experience that he has and anything that resembles the rejection he previously experienced, may be interpreted as rejection too.

As many of us have experienced rejection in our lives, what is the solution to this problem? To be set free from rejection hinges on the choices you make. Start listening to God’s opinion of you, and let Him reprogram you until His estimate of you becomes a part of your life, right down to your innermost feelings.

Such work is a continuous part of your life, right down to your innermost feelings. It is a process, not a sudden crisis. I don’t know of any single Christian experience that will change your self-image overnight. You are to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The verb in this verse represents continuous action, and the word mind describes the way you think, the way you look at life as a daily process.

So reject the lie and accept the truth.

Here are some truths about us from the Bible:

1. You are valuable. You are someone whom God values so highly as to give the life of His own dear Son to redeem you (Romans 5:7-11).

2. You are a child of God. You are a child of God not born of natural decent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:13).

3. You belong to God. He has anointed you and put His seal of ownership on you.

4. You are loved. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with living-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3).

5. God rejoices over you. “…He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

6. The old is gone. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2Corinthians 5:17).

7. You are an heir to God’s Kingdom. “And I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30).

Develop a picture of your worth and value from God, not from the false reflections that come out of your past experiences. Will you continue to live in all the lies of rejection that has filled your mind  or will you hold on to the truth of what the word of God says. Jesus said: If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31,32).

If you are a person who constantly experiences the fruits of rejection, here is an important exercise for you. Twice each day, read the seven points listed above. Allow God’s view of you to have prominence in your mind.

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

A Life of Rejection (Pt. 1)

“Hey Alexi, it’s too windy out here. Go inside. The wind will blow you away since you’re too thin.” “The rain should be ok for you. You can walk between the rain drops since you are so thin.” I’ve heard such statements from a young age on a regular basis.

These words were funny and fun for everyone. Except for me. But why should it be a problem for me?

The answer lies in the fact that we form an image of ourselves from how others perceive us. Their words become the “mirror” through which we see ourselves. From a young age we form a “picture” of ourselves by way of this mirror.

We say we should not allow the perception of others to impact us, but we are tremendously affected. We begin to think we don’t measure up as compared to others.

Our mind interprets all of this as rejection. Those who speak such words may never have meant to reject the person in any way, but on the receiving end, this is what the person feels: Rejection

Rejection simply does not remain as something we experienced in the past. It becomes our mindset. It becomes the grid through which we filter everything that we experience. Through our ongoing experience, rejection continues to be a present reality.

Here are some examples of experiences that trigger such a response in us:

  • When compared with others
  • When someone says we don’t measure up
  • When our performance is evaluated
  • When overlooked for a promotion
  • Failure in an exam
  • Joblessness
  • Chronic illness
  • Any failure

Our minds filter these and other experiences and interprets them as rejection.

Please leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

*This is part one in a series on rejection. The next part will arrive in your inbox next week.

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