BIAS TOWARD A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM

Life is a series of reactions on the part of each of us to certain actions or events happening to us. Over time we display tendencies or characteristics to situations that rise within us like a yeast when certain conditions occur. It is important as Christians that we understand this bias on our part and how it relates to our growing in God’s image.

Human nature to a large extent is crafted by time, history and what we take in through our five sensory experiences. It crafts who we are as humans and influences who we become as spiritual beings. Examples of this are noted throughout Scripture. One such example is the church at Thessalonica which had a tendency of laziness and dependency. Paul’s response was recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. To build a spiritual character contrary to their human nature.

Today their remains, as it has existed since the time of Christ, a anti-semitic tendency in many people. The history of this began with how the Jewish people responded to Christ’s proclamations and continued against Paul (Acts 13:45). To a certain extent that is not unlike the treatment Christians receive today when entering a country based on some other belief system. This I suspect will never change until the time of Christ’s return. Our response in all these matters is to avoid the tendency to see things as subjective  events in a secular world but rather to look at them from the aspect of faith and the need to further God’s Kingdom in a spiritual world. We must always have a BIAS TOWARD A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Treat all tendencies as if the Savior was returning today.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Acts 13:45 “tendency toward Paul to avoid in our lives today”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my bias will always be toward you.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are your biases?
  2. How did you acquire your biases?
  3. How has the tendencies of centuries affected life today?
  4. How would Scripture has us handle today’s tendencies or biases?

NO NEED TO BE ANXIOUS!

A great many of us are anxious over matters of this life. Generally it involves matters about money or our general well being. When we are in this state of anxiety about earthly needs we are insecure and that is not a description that is synonymous with being a Christian.

In fact Scripture tells us if we rest in the Lord any matter involving evil (matters contrary to God’s Word) should not bring us insecurity for God will handle all that is wicked in His time (Psalm 37:1-10). Most especially we need to be careful in our quest for gain ($). For many that journey takes us farther and farther away from our Lord (1 Timothy 6:17) to the point of eternal separation. God will provide what we need. That is all that matters. This is vividly pointed out by the words of Christ Himself in Luke 12:16-21. When we find security in our own actions trusting ourselves rather than the Lord that is when our troubles first truly begin.

So what is the cure for insecurity? Most importantly we must rely upon God’s promises. The words of David in Psalm 37:1-26 lay out the cure for us in easily understood language. The thing is we need to hear these words not just for a moment but we must remain steadfast in them 24/7 (Isaiah 26:3). We then will be like Paul recorded in Philippians 4:11  that in whatever situation we find ourself in “we will be content”.

The best words if we ever feel insecure are words Christ Himself gave to us in Matthew 6:25-34. The answer for our insecurity is put God first and then there will be NO NEED TO BE ANXIOUS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Insecurity increases when our influence is outside the inspiration of God’s Word.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:11 “content no matter what”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my security lies in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are people most anxious about that brings them feelings of insecurity?
  2. Why is work necessary if God will provide what we need?
  3. How do you find contentment?
  4. is there anything which makes you insecure which you should bring before the Lord?

DON’T BE SO IMPATIENT

Living in a world of instant gratification has led many to become ever more impatient. For many we want what we want now or as quickly as possible. Technology has led us to this point and futurists are now looking at implants that will allow people to communicate through thought and that is just the beginning. If or when that happens it will fit right into what Revelations tells us about the time of Christ’s return.

Until then we as Christians need to understand the danger of impatience. In Scripture we see it come out of lust such as Sodom showed in Genesis 19:4-9. An example being played out in the LGBT community now growing ever more vocal and ‘in our face’. Impatience also is seen in acts of revenge such as Genesis 34:25-27 shows. When someone feels hurt the first reaction is often violent making the situation often worse. Numerous examples of that happen every day.

These and more causes of impatience have obvious consequences. One of the best examples in Scripture being the people of Israel building a false god while waiting for Moses as told in Exodus 32. This impatient nature would later keep them from the promised land (Numbers 20:10-12) as our impatience today may also keep our souls from Heaven. What God desires of each of us is that we DON’T BE SO IMPATIENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The more we identify with Christ the less we show impatience.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Numbers 20:10 “irritability causes impatience”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me in control of my actions.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What causes impatience?
  2. What are some violent reactions brought on by impatience?
  3. What is the relationship between sin and impatience?
  4. How can impatience keep us from Heaven?

EATING CROW

The expression ‘eating crow’ is often associated with a person’s pride being hurt. Expectations or maybe even promises were not fulfilled and so you would have a feeling of humiliation.

Humiliation is often the only way to bring us back to reality. To put us in our place so to speak. Perhaps even to understand a Savior who would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey rather than a more stately animal.

Humiliation is necessary in cases of pride (ex. Haman in Esther 6:6-13), arrogance (Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:28-33), boastfulness (Philistine in 1 Samuel 18:42-50) and sin both personal and national such as shared in Daniel 9. These characteristics are not what God desires of us who follow Him. In God’s eyes it is “the first who will be last, and the last who will be first”.  In fact humiliation can be good for a person as it may lead to brokenness which may lead us to Jesus as His own words in Luke 20:18 show.

The remedy for humiliation and how to handle it is to know that if our humiliation comes out of or strengthens our faith we should not feel shame for it will lead to Heaven. In the meantime the cure for humiliation is obedience to God, and awareness that we are not self-sufficient but that our sufficiency lies in God’s grace alone (2 Corinthians 12:9). Understanding this it is no longer necessary for us to be EATING CROW.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Humiliation should humble all entering the House of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 12:9 “Remedy for humiliation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me control any pride I may have.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How or when have you experienced humiliation?
  2. Have you ever felt exultation after humiliation?
  3. How do you keep pride under control?
  4. What is the danger of self-sufficiency?

A DAY OF MOURNING

Today, as I write this, is Memorial Day. A day when once we honored our families since passed and those who have fought and many died in defense of our country. Sadly, what was once a day when high school bands in full uniform played stirring melodies at our cemeteries now has turned to a single trumpeter, a few potted plants easily placed and removed and people scattering (if they even come) to post memorial day  service barbecues, fishing or some other daily routine.

What has happened to us? I suspect some of the reason is living in a world that has de-sensitized us to death and that has promoted concern for self over others. We no longer understand grief and its importance to healing as individuals, families, communities and nations.

Grief comes to us on many fronts. It may be a foolish act committed by ourselves or our children (Proverbs 17:25). It may also be becoming aware of a disease similar to what Job faced (Job 2:11-13) where friends gathered to support him. Finally, and perhaps most obvious, is the grief that comes with death (2 Samuel 19:1-2). These and more often and rightfully so cause pain in our hearts that can best be healed by spiritual means which include memorial services of one sort or another.

We can know that our Lord not only grieves with us when we do but He also grieves expressed through His Holy Spirit as recorded in Isaiah 63:10. Sadness and grief is a natural emotion that can strengthen and unite. Today  as families and as a nation we need to take time for A DAY OF MOURNING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Grief provides spiritual growth when guided by the Holy Spirit.

DEVOTIONAL FOR TODAY: Isaiah 63:10 “The Holy Spirit is grieved”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your presence when I  grieve.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you honor your ancestors and veterans?
  2. Are you experiencing any grief and how are you handling it?
  3. What are the steps of the grieving process?
  4. How can grief strengthen and unite?

 

WHAT IS CURSING?

Civility in language has taken a rapid down hill slide. It has been led by what many look to as society’s role models: those in media, politics and careers of personality (ex. Hollywood, business leaders). For that reason I believe it is important to look to the truth of God’s Word relative to cursing or its definition: A violent expression of evil upon someone else.

Sin by the first man Adam brought God’s curse upon earth (Genesis 3:17-18). Expressions in the form of a curse still cut deeply today even unto a death in various ways. The danger in the curse is not only in the choice of words but also in human nature as shown in the nature of Simeon and Levi in Genesis 49:5-7.

I believe much of the problem we see in our world today is brought upon ourselves for our disobedience to God (Deuteronomy 28::15-45). Even devout believers will be susceptable as we journey through this life walking among the disobedient.

God tells us for the good of humanity using rebellious, angry or cursed language is forbidden. Most important of all when we do so against our Father God (Job 2:9). Every curse brings a smile to satan’s face but when it separates a child of God from his Father the smile of satan is even greater. This applies as well when a child does so to their earthly father which is addressed in the harshest fashion in Exodus 21:17.

Today our society seems to be divided beyond repair for all the reasons already mentioned. Yet there is one additional reason which is the disrespect shown our rulers (Exodus 22:18). The volume is so loud it is almost deafening. Satan relishes this no matter who is in authority.

Much of what I have shared today relates to God dealing with the time and people of Israel yet I find nothing in Scripture that would not say it still applies today. This then is a partial answer to WHAT IS CURSING?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Cursing is cruel and contemptible when cast upon others.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Job 2:9 “when a curse is the kiss of death”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to never speak in anger or call evil upon anyone.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How is the earth cursed?
  2. Explore both the physical and spiritual death that comes with cursing?
  3. Is it possible to speak ‘foul language’ and have it not be considered cursing?
  4. What makes the father-child bond especially critical to maintain?

 

 

 

 

 

A DISTURBED STATE OF MIND!

A good many of us have experienced what our title today proclaims. It is often simply referred to as ‘anxiety’ and comes out of both real and imaginary fears. For me the question is what is its cause and what is the treatment or cure. Two questions that can apply to most any problem in life.

Scripture gives examples of the most likely causes which I suspect we have experienced as well. The first is hatred especially when it might come as a result of a wrong doing on our part. Jacob in Genesis 32:6-12 dealt with this. Naturally treating people in an honest and fair manner should end this distress.

Decrees or laws placed upon mankind also cause great anxiety. Authorities in power today often seem to take great pleasure in this and have for centuries (Esther 4:1-17). Laws often unnecessary and that go against the only law necessary which is God given.

A very natural anxiety is a child’s illness as seen in the example of Christ dealing with the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-49. For any with family whom you love this type of distress is to be expected and understood. These and many other reasons bring on anxiety so what is the cure.

First of all we must put our trust in the Lord (Psalm 37:5). Human nature does not allow us to understand everything. We simply need to know God cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He will provide as Christ assures us in Luke 12:22-30. Of this we can be assured. Simply invite the Holy Spirit into your life and then let the Spirit speak for you and to you.

I know God is ruler over all (Romans 8:28) and will care for me as also for all of us. What we must do is be anxious for nothing but only continue to stay in prayer with God (Philippians 4:6). The angel of God (Acts 27:23) will stand by each of us in order that we no longer need to have A DISTURBED STATE OF MIND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Anxiety is removed when we ask in prayer to be covered with the full armor of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my reliance upon You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are you anxious over anything?
  2. Do you consider cause and cure in dealing with problems?
  3. What is the job of the Holy Spirit in our life?
  4. What will you do to remove anxiety from your life?

LIVING WITHOUT FEAR!

ISIS, illness and death, phobias of every kind imaginable and even political campaigns bring fear to peoples lives. If we chose we could live in fear constantly driving us away from God and/or the secure life He desires for each of us.

If we desire to live without fear then we simply need to read Psalm 112:7 where we are told that the blessings of those who fear (trust) in God is that we will “not be afraid of evil tidings”. In fact the entire chapter of Psalm 112 provides us with assurances that should bring us a serene and calm spirit that is secure and unafraid.

If Psalm 112 is not enough then I would suggest looking further into Scripture that can lead us to a life that is fearless beginning with Numbers 13:30 in the example of Caleb who “quieted (brought calm)” to the people because of His and there belief in God’s promises. That assurance is also found in Romans 8:28 and numerous other places.

Paul was another example of fearlessness when we read in Acts 27:22-26 how his strength came from his belief in God. Indeed that is as it should be. Our faith should turn any bad news into topics for prayer and objects of trust. The answer to our LIVING WITHOUT FEAR is that we have the hope that only a Christian can have.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fearlessness comes with faithfulness to God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 112:7 “living unafraid”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my faith.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you live without fear?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. What promises has God given us?
  4. What are you doing to strengthen your faith?

WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR TRUST?

We live in a world filled with ‘angst’ which is to say that fear and anxiety effect much of what we do. The problem lies in what we place our trust in for if that seems to be in jeopardy then our security blanket is taken away from us and we act in irrational ways ranging from slight nervousness to outright violence.

As Christians we need to understand that is not God’s plan for us. His plan which was revealed to me in my personal study this morning is simple. It is summarized in 3 steps: don’t worry, share and have faith or trust that God will take care of you. Those 3 principles were pointed out in 1 Kings 17:13-14 in the conversation between the prophet Elijah and the widow.

This being said fear is a reality that the founders of our faith experienced and that can teach us lessons as well. Abraham in Genesis 20:11 had fear when in a situation where non believers confronted him and forced him (or so he thought) to resort to a stretching of the truth. Whenever God is absent from a situation the ways of man muddle things up when all that was necessary is to speak truth and trust God.

After committing an immoral act and then living out your life in truth can also cause fear. Jacob experienced this in Genesis 32:9-11. Today we call that ‘living with ghosts in your closet’ and those seeking political office as an example fear that the most when doing as Jacob did and confronting the past honestly is the best answer. Remember don’t worry, share the truth and have faith in God.

Finally we have the fear of the soldiers who guarded Christ’s tomb (Matthew 27:54). This is a positive eye opening type of fear that occurs when someone sees our Lord for who He truly is. A fear that leads to faith is what we all desire in our lives and that others may understand. When that fear is ours then the answer to the question of WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR TRUST comes easy to answer for it is in a God who will always take care of us.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Godly fear should always lead to a strengthening faith in our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Kings 17:13-14 “3 important principles to live by”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord lead me out of a life of worry to one of faith and sharing.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What brings anxiety or fear to your life?
  2. Has trust in God produced miracles in your life?
  3. How are you dealing with skeletons (if any) in the closet of your life?
  4. What happens when you speak truth?

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A CAUSE FOR REJOICING!

Going through life there is a great deal that can drag us down and remove nearly all the hope and cheerfulness we once had. If you don’t believe me watch any news show for a half hour and see how you feel afterwords. God desires that we be a people who rejoice and are cheerful and He points out ways that can happen if we so desire.

Before looking at what positives can make us cheerful we will look at two areas that one would normally not associate with a Christian’s rejoicing with the first one being in Micah 7:8 where a person perhaps defeated by an enemy can “laugh in the face of danger” because the enemy does not understand where ultimate victory lies. In fact in Revelations 18:20 we are told that we will rejoice in a vindictive sort of way when God avenges us in the final and ultimate defeat of satan and all who carry out satan’s plan knowingly or unknowingly.

On the other hand God also lays out times of rejoicing that have a more positive tone beginning in Psalm 2:11 where we are told to rejoice in trembling. As difficult as it is to understand we are to be cheerful as we stand before an omniscient and all powerful God. This is a respectful joy knowing the God who can condemn you wants even more so to love you and open the doors to His Heavenly home to us. This type of rejoicing comes as a result of our knowing we will be rewarded one day.

On a more personal note we find marriage to be a cause for rejoicing (Proverbs 5:8). A marriage based first and foremost on faith and family (in that order) gets better with each passing year, but remove commitment to God and His Word and misery will inevitably follow.

And finally what we as true Christian believers need to rejoice in are that we along with Abraham in John 8:56  can see through prophecy that one day we will experience “the day of Christ” (Philippians 2:16) and all our labors will be rewarded. That truly is A CAUSE FOR REJOICING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: We rejoice in the redemption provided by our resurrected Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 2:11 “rejoicing as we tremble”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always remain cheerful knowing You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What causes you to rejoice?
  2. What removes cheerfulness from a situation?
  3. Would you be able to be cheerful in the face of danger?
  4. How does one rejoice in trembling?

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