Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 11 of My Lenten Journey

11. Lack of Counsel

Wise decisions are not made in a vacuum.  We need help with discernment in all areas of our lives, even down to the tiny everyday ones.  Why do we think we have to do this on our own?  Yet, there is the opposite of asking every single person you come across.  Where should we turn first?

The opposite is of lack of counsel is wisdom. The Bible mentions it 219 times with even 2 books dedicated to wise counsel.  The wisest king, other that Jesus was actually David's son, Solomon.  I read the passage in 1 Kings 3 of what happened with Solomon during breakfast this morning.  In verse 5 it says: the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

I asked the kids what they thought it might have been.  Cavett first said money.  Kendrick then said food. But, Solomon asked for wisdom.  Moreover, because he didn't ask for the moon, God gave him wealth and honor and a long life too!  What an example for us today!

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.  James 1:5

While Jesus was on earth he spoke of what would happen when he wasn't with us anymore.  He guaranteed that he would give us an Advocate to help us.

And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever--the Spirit of Truth.  John 14:16-17

In Acts, Stephen stood up to unbelievers and opposition, speaking with great wisdom that the Holy Spirit gave him. (Acts 6:10)

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Paul speaks about how if you believe and have the Holy Spirit, we understand what God has given us, spiritual realities and we will understand the words of the Bible. We have the mind of Christ.  We have better discernment because we have faith and because we have faith, God gives us his Holy Spirit.

Is it hard to be still and listen to what that tiny voice has to say?  Yes.  Should we still strive for it? Definitely!  How?  Through prayer and quiet time and through the Bible.  God will speak to you and give you wisdom.  Sometimes it is through a scripture you just happen upon.  Sometimes it is what I call a God-incidence, sometimes he literally gives you a sign.  For example, in deciding which practice in the Dallas area Stephen should buy, the last building we came to had a cornerstone with Isaiah 28:16 written.  It was a literal sign from God.  (Not to mention he was in the middle of teaching a Sunday School lesson on how to "hear" God today.)

Look!  I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone.  It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.  Whoever believes need never be shaken.  Isaiah 28:16

Obviously, we bought that practice and thank God daily asking for wisdom for Dad in business decisions and patient care.

Can we find wise counsel from God through others?  Absolutely.

Parents:  Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.  Proverbs 1:8

Elders: Is wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?  Job 12:12

Friends:  The queen of Sheba came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.  Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon....she was overwhelmed.  1 Kings 10:2-5

You don't have to go it alone.  God has provided much wisdom in many forms for you.  You just have to be open to the avenues that he has provided.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day 10 of My Lenten Journey

10.  Over-commitment

Over commitment and busyness and it's antithesis of laziness are both huge issues in our lives today. I struggle with this on a daily basis.  Not having a daily steady "job," I vacillate between the two. Some days I fill my hours with busy stuff and say "yes" to too many things when other times I could care less and just sit on my couch.  On a daily basis on the way to school, the kids and I pray in the car.  One of my petitions is to help me prioritize everyday to do what He would have me do.  On days when I don't do this, I can totally tell a difference, in a bad way!

In Exodus 18,  Moses was overwhelmed and over committed.  At the time, everyone came to him to settle disputes.  It sounds great, except for the fact that he was leading over 2 million people.  He was hearing arguments from sun up to sun down and it was just too much to handle.  Good for him that he had wise counsel from his father-in-law, Jethro.  Moses listened to him and chose capable leaders to hear the smaller disputes while Moses continued with the bigger ones.

The question is: is it a calling or over-commitment?  Is God asking us to do something or are we just saying yes just because?   Knowing if it is your calling, well, that's a whole other topic for another time!  But, there is a distinction between activity and doing the work and will called by God and if it is, how to execute it.

So, the idea is to listen for God's direction and do less better and accomplish more. When you commit, do it fully.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.   1 Corinthians 15:58

The idea is to prioritize-God, family, work.  I will continue to ask for God's help in prioritizing and to seek his will EVERYDAY.  Don't be over-commited, but be fully and steadfast in our commitment to God's work and will he has for our lives.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 9 of My Lenten Journey

9.  Guilt

Remade paper from my guilt and sin. 
This one is heavy.  Literally.  It's the monkey on your back when you have been justly convicted or blamed either by others or the Holy Spirit.  Even when you have asked and been forgiven, this piece of mess can really hang on.  But, as Frozen states, you need to "let it go."

The best example/visual I have experienced was at a MOPS group in Sugar Land while we were living there.  There was a lady who spoke and talked about one of her particular sins.  As she spoke it hit home and I was convicted.  Then she told us how she took old paper products and made new beautiful papers out of them.  Next she asked us to write our sin on a piece of paper.  She told us to fold it up or tear it up and that she wouldn't read them.  The next process was to immerse the paper in water.   Following the "baptism" she would put them all in a blender to make pulp and start the process to make new beautiful paper.  I still have this paper in my Bible today.

"Therefore, anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation!  The old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

It was a great way to confess that guilt, take on God's forgiveness and then let it go.  Do I ever think of that sin and feel guilty?  I do think about it, but now because recognized that there is no need for guilt and I have given it to God and asked for forgiveness, it is SOOOO much better.

Is there some guilt that is weighing on you?  Confesse it; write it down.  Tear it up.  Ask forgiveness and soak it in water.  Put it in the blender.  It's gone.

"Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hears sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."  Hebrews 10:19-23

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 8 of My Lenten Journey

8.  Blame  

I am not going to pass the buck.  I will take responsibility for my actions.

Blame appeared early in the Bible.  Adam was quick to lay blame on Eve for eating the fruit.  But, ultimately, Adam chose to take that bite.  It didn't stop there.  The Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for having to stay in the wilderness when they were sinful worshiping the golden calf among other instances.  Martha even blamed Jesus saying her brother would not have died, had Jesus been there.

Blaming others has been a human characteristic since the fall.  Little has changed because we are sinful people and God can justly blame us.  (Oh, that one little change was Jesus!)

"But God found fault with the people and said:  The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah."  Hebrews 8:8

Thankfully we can deal with this blame through confession and asking forgiveness, just like any other sin.

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;  so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." Psalm 51:3-4

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in CHRIST God forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32

Another way to look at blame is as Christians we should live blameless lives, meaning without fault or sin.

"Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression."  Psalm 19:13

Are we perfect?  No.  Will God help us and forgive us?  Yes, but only if we believe in his son, Jesus who died on the cross in our place giving us eternal life.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God." Philipians 1:9-11

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 7 of My Lenten Journey

7. Comparison

Guilty as charged.  I do tend to compare myself or judge myself in one way or another on a daily basis.  I shouldn't.  Whether it is Pinterest or Facebook or how I look or my weight, I compare myself to others.  God doesn't compare us on the surface level.  He made each one of us unique and different in our own ways and knows us so deeply.

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:30-31

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well."  Psalm 139"13-14

When it comes to serving God, the only one who gets to judge us and compare us is God, himself.  I love how The Message version of the Bible puts this in 1 Corinthians 4:1-4

"Don't imagine us leaders to be something we aren't.  We are servants of Christ, not his masters.  We are guides into God's most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.  The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge.  It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion.  I don't even rank myself.  Comparisons in these matters are pointless.  I'm not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn't mean much.  The Master makes that judgement."

So the challenge is to throw off the coat of comparison and just serve Christ.  Don't worry what others think.  Care about what God thinks.

"Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else."
Galatians 6:2-4

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day 6 of My Lenten Journey

6.  Pleasing people

I can't please everyone, all the time.  And, there is only One that I should seek to please anyway.

Pleasing God is spoken of in the Bible countless times.  It's also been written, blogged and preached about so much as well.

So, I'll just end with my favorites.

Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Galatians 1:10

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  Colossians 3:23

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 5 of My Lenten Journey

5.  Retirement

This is an interesting one.  There is only one place in the Bible that speaks of retirement.

The Lord said to Moses, "This applies to the Levites:  Men 25 years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, but at the age of 50, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work."  Numbers 8:23-26

Nice.  Age 50 would be a great age to "retire."  But, notice they are still to assist their brothers.

The real idea, I think, is that I am here for a reason.  I have a purpose to influence others for Christ, by word, example or deed.  So, what retirement really means in the Christian sense is not to give in, give up or quit working for Christ even when it is hard and no matter how old I am.

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  2 Corinthians 4:1

Does this mean I need to tell every single person I meet every day that Jesus loves them?  Does it mean that I need to run off to outer Mongolia and be a missionary?  It could be those things.

But, more than likely it is the fact that I have 4 young eyes watching my every move.  I have 4 little ears listening to my every word.  Yes, I have influence and interaction with 100s on a daily basis through Facebook and other social media and I have face to face interaction with several dozen a day. But, the ones that really count are right under my own roof.

One day they will move out and my circle of influence will shift, but the point is don't ever give up on working for Christ.   Part of my prayer each day is to let my light shine in this dark world.  There is no retirement in being a Christian.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.  Acts 20:24