Monthly Archives: July 2016

Gold Miner

napoleonI don’t know about you, but on any given day, my mind is filled with trash – negative thinking, anxiety, self-doubt, overwhelming thoughts, restlessness, discontentment and the like.  Sometimes I have to dig – dig for those little golden nuggets of memories that make me smile and forget my troubles momentarily.  We’ve all heard the mantra “think positive,” but positive memories don’t always easily come to the surface when we need them; at least for me they don’t.

My mind is most idle when I’m driving.  I’m on auto-pilot, so my mind naturally drifts to the problems of the day; being the over-thinker that I am, I start analyzing everything and everybody to death before I reach my destination.  Today, I remembered a very positive thing that happened, and I realized how much effort and discipline it takes to stay focused on the positive.

What does the Bible say about positive thinking?

“Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things He does for me.”   Psalm 103:2

 “8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

“My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.”  Psalm 42:6

 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”  Psalm 77:11

These verses certainly send a clear message: thinking positively means thinking proactively.  Remember this. Don’t forget that. Think about such things.  “I will remember the deeds of the Lord” sounds pretty determined to me.  Positive thinking means digging deeper into those crevices within your mind for a few golden nuggets that will make you smile for a while.

#remember #thinkpositive #musingz4life #RememberGod

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With Acceptance Comes Great Expectations

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17 (emphasis added)

 Jesus’s absence of condemnation is demonstrated in John 8:2-11:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 
Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. This is a comforting fact evidenced by Jesus’s response to the religious leaders in this scene.  When an adulterous woman was “caught in the act,” the teachers of the law were more than eager to indict her.  Not only did they want to humiliate her publicly, but this was also a trap they were setting up for Jesus (John 8:6) in case He said something wrong in the presence of many witnesses.

If you have ever been brought before the judge for a crime you committed, you would know the feeling of gratitude and relief if the judge decided to acquit you completely — with no lighter sentence — just completely scotch free. The woman did not have an attorney in her defense. She could not plead “not guilty” because she obviously was not innocent. Yet Jesus’s generous mercy demonstrated His great compassion for this lady.

The irony was that no one except Jesus was innocent. Jesus challenged anyone “without sin” to be the first to cast a stone (John 8:7). One by one, each person stepped back and walked away. Just because they did not sin in the same way as this woman did not mean they were innocent by any means.  Everyone struggles differently. It is not our place to judge someone else for their weaknesses. All we can do is practice compassion like Jesus and ENCOURAGE people to repent.

God’s Mercy

King David was well acquainted with God’s mercy and man’s wrath. When David sinned against God and God gave him options of how he’d like to be punished, he chose to fall into the hands of God (2 Samuel 24:14).

Jesus knows your sins. He knows everything you have done in the past, but He still has compassion on you.  Complete and absolute acceptance based on unconditional love is one of the greatest gifts in life.  If receiving unconditional acceptance from another human being feels so wonderful, imagine how much greater that feeling is when you know that the Creator, Savior and Judge of the entire universe accepts you because of His unconditional love for you.

God’s mercy is great but with acceptance comes great expectations. He accepts you as you are, keep_moving_forwardbut this means leaving your life of sin so you can live the rest of your life to please Him (1 Peter 4:2).  All we can do is keep moving forward and closer to God, leaving the past behind us.

#KeepMovingForward #FixYourEyesonGod #musingz4life #ForgetthePast #God #mercy #forgiveness #acceptance #grace

 

Meant for Greater Things

“Righteousness guards the man of integrity but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” Proverbs 13:6

Definition of overthrow:  “Remove forcibly from power”

Synonyms: depose, topple, oust, displace, dethrone

The definition and synonyms imply that there was a position of authority and power from which one is ousted when sin reigns in one’s life.

Jesus spoke of this authority that He gave to us (his disciples and future generations of believers):

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.Luke 10:19

We may treat sin lightly, saying to ourselves, “Oh that was just a white lie — completely harmless!” or “Who’s gonna know?” However, when we practice sins such as those  mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, fully knowing what we’re doing yet dismissing the gravity of sin in God’s eyes (Isaiah 59:1-2), not only are we endangering ourselves eternally but we also forfeit the power we could have on earth.

Jesus promises that you could do great things — even greater things than He did:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” John 14:12 (emphasis added)

In Christ, you have the authority to overcome evil and to help turn others to God. Why forfeit that power and jeopardize everything you have here on earth and your eternal future?

#holiness #reign #Christ #power #authority #musingz4life #righteousness #integrity

Always at the Top, Never at the Bottom

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When Duty Calls

“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.”  Proverbs 16:26

Nothing motivates people more than necessity.  Some people find it natural to be ambitious, but for others, they probably would stay in their comfort zone until they need to step up to the plate.  The young pregnant teen starts thinking about her child’s future and decides to stay away from the party scene; the young dad-to-be pushes aside college education to get a job that will pay the bills and provide for his family.  The single working professional suddenly has to find a different job that will pay more because new responsibilities were thrust upon them when they have to take custody of a niece or nephew.  The divorced family man is faced with new caregiving responsibilities when his father had a sudden heart attack or his mother had an unexpected fall and broke a hip.  You find yourself in a position where you have to plan – and you have to think fast!  Life happens, and the last thing you want to do is fail.  How do you guarantee success when you’re making plans for your life?

The Way to Success

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3

The first scripture that comes to my mind is Proverbs 16:3.  Whatever you decide to do, or if you are clueless what to do next, pray about it and take it to God.  Include God in your planning and thinking, and get as much advice as possible.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22

Athletes have trainers; gym rats have personal trainers.  Executive coaching and life coaching are booming industries because everyone wants to be successful at what they do, so why not apply this same principle to spiritual training?  Make a new friend with someone at church, someone whose walk with God you highly respect.  Make it a point to meet someone who is successful professionally and spiritually, and watch how this person relies on God for everything they do.  After all, I don’t know about you, but I am a visual learner, and I learn best by watching someone model what I think is success.  Monkey see, monkey do.

 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

— Deuteronomy 28:13 (emphasis added)

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God….

12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8 (emphasis added)                                   

One important ingredient to success is to NOT forget God in the process.  God is the One whom we should strive to please.  If God is not happy with you, you may not like the results of your life.  Am I promoting works over grace?  Nope I am not.  However, the scriptures are clear that when you care enough about God to pay attention to His commands and do what pleases Him, “you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”  When you are pleasing God, you are nurturing your relationship with Him.  In a marriage, you do things to please your spouse because you love your wife or husband.  How would this be different with God?  All the sins we commit, the “bad things” we do, hurt our relationship with God, so why do it?

29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.”

Deuteronomy 28:29 (emphasis added)

If Deuteronomy 28:29 is the antithesis of obedience, then that means you will be successful in everything you do.

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31

At the end of the day, God calls the shots, and He decides whether you will be successful or not.  As long as we recognize that our ability to produce any kind of wealth comes from God, we will see how much we need Him, and hopefully this will inspire us to honor God and love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

#success #victory #plans #musingz4life #depend #God

Abraham Believed…And So He Became

sec“How important is your faith?” asked Peter Garcia, Evangelist of the Lighthouse Ministry.  It is so important that “it defines you,” and that is exactly what happened to Abraham, commonly referred to as the father of our faith.  Today’s sermon was particularly powerful because, in my opinion, I don’t think that people have trouble believing – they just have a hard time believing the right things, especially good parts about themselves.  If you know the story of Abraham, the father of faith whom God exalted all throughout the scriptures, you probably have heard of his major mistakes and shortcomings, but it’s interesting to note that none of Abraham’s mistakes were listed in Romans 4.  Instead, you will find that Abraham focused on hope rather than his circumstances:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…” Romans 4:18 (emphasis added)

Putting your faith in God is more than just positive thinking.  It enables the impossible to be possible.  At an age when Abraham and his wife were biologically unable to procreate, God enabled Sarah to conceive because Abraham believed.  Also, just because Abraham had great faith, it doesn’t mean he was blind to the facts.

“Without weakening in his faith, [Abraham] faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…” Romans 4:19

Abraham knew full well that his body was good as dead in regards to procreation, but despite the facts of his circumstances, he still believed that God would work miracles because of who God is.  Sometimes, when a breakthrough or miracle seems impossible, we have to rely on God’s character to carry us through.  Where are the promises?  They’re coming!  What makes you think so?  Because God is faithful.  Because He said so.  In the eye of the storm, God will carry you through.  It’s all about trust.

“It is what it is, but it’s not what it seems.”  This quote from the sermon reminded me of the many times when I uttered, “It is what it is,” after I threw in the towel about some situation.  When I felt hopeless, I accepted things as they are.  But they don’t have to be that way, because God is always working behind the scenes, and we, like Abraham, need to press on because things will get better and the blessings God has for your life will happen…if you believe.  I’m sure there are times when you look back in hindsight, you realized that better things were happening behind the scenes but you didn’t know it until you found out later on!  If you don’t give up, you will have the opportunity in the future to look back on your current circumstances and understand why things turned out the way they did.  How will you allow the scriptures to change your perspective about your current situation?  And how will your faith transform you?

#faith #believe #trust #miracles #transformation #musingz4life #secondchances #hope #promises

Eyes on You

boat“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Have you ever avoided prayer because you knew it would push the pain to the surface?  Life can get pretty overwhelming at times, and when burdens overload our system, we shut down and life grinds to a standstill.  How does your body respond to stress?  Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms of stress:

  • Physical pain (especially in the neck and shoulders)
  • Over-eating
  • Depression
  • Crying
  • Negativity
  • Anger
  • Smoking (or other addictive behaviors)

The first step to responding to stress is changing the way you think.  When you feel helpless, when circumstances are way beyond your control and all you can do is utter, “God help me,” (if you could even mutter those words without crying) – look to the heavens and know where your help comes from:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

 Psalm 121:1-8 (emphasis added)

Crying helps and it’s good to let out the floodgates of tears every now and then, but the migraines that follow after an intense sob are very draining, and the sorrow won’t stop if your perspective doesn’t shift.  Recovery time is different for everyone; some can bounce back and go right to work, while others can spend half a day to days and weeks in bed, with no motivation or physical strength to get up and pull themselves together.

Shorten Your Recovery Time by Looking to God

My sub-heading was almost “Shorten Your Recovery Time with Mind Change,” but changing your perspective is only part of the process.  Looking to God will make mind change easier because, after all, you would be relying on God’s strength to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Let’s examine Psalm 121 again.  Every verse is practically saturated with God’s love for you.  He is with you from beginning to end.  He’s got your back.  He watches over your every move because He cares.  God will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life — your coming and going, “both now and forever more.”  Sometimes I jump wayyyyy ahead of myself.  I worry so far into the future about my family when I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow.  Anyone can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and all your stress would have been in vain.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Isn’t it true that each day has enough trouble of its own?  Do what you can today, and leave the rest up to God.  If you compound all the worries of the next 10, 30, 50 years to your shoulders right now, you will only add misery to your life.

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all….” Psalm 34:19

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (emphasis added)

Trouble is guaranteed.  Everyone has problems!  However, we can have peace if we put our trust in God, for He promises that He will deliver the righteous from all their troubles.  That’s a bold statement, but you will definitely experience a shift in your inner being when you start to change your mind about your troubles.  The only real long-term solution to your sorrows is looking to God and casting all your anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Accept, embrace, and cling to every promise in the Bible, because they are yours if you claim them.

#peace #Christ #prayer #trust #musingz4life #eyesonGod

Is God Listening?

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Anger is one of the biggest triggers of sin for me.  The trigger could be something big or small, but regardless of the size of temptation, I know that the first thing I want to do is react instead of pray.  It’s so easy to fly off the handle; even if I don’t curse out loud, I know I’m doing it in my mind.  This morning something happened, and I fought every urge to overreact to the situation.  The first thing that came to mind was Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger, do not sin.”  I really needed to calm down before I prayed, and then I wondered to myself, even if I do pray, would God listen?

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened…” Psalm 66:18

I believe that if I cherish anything above God in my heart, then God would turn a deaf ear to my prayers.  Is anger so important to me that I need to hold fast to it instead of praying about the situation?  Is the situation so out of hand that it warrants you the right to behave in rash ways or say things you will regret later on?

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 12:16

Usually, our gut reaction to an incident ends up making us look bad.  Sure, we’re expressing our emotions all right, but if there are people around us, we look like fools to them.  There are good and bad ways to express our anger, and the Bible has a label for someone who instantly reacts the minute he is angered or annoyed.

“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.” John 9:31

“Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.” Job 36:21

“For what hope does the godless have when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?  Does God listen to his cry when distress comes upon him?  Will he find delight in the Almighty?  Will he call upon God at all times?”  Job 27:8-10

If we are intentional about doing God’s will at all times, God will enable us to cope with the situation without giving into fits of rage.  We just need help from God and we ask for it through prayer.  It’s much easier to give into what feels right rather than what is right.  What hope does the godless have?  The only way he can turn things around is if he starts putting his hope in God.  At the end of the day, the choice is ours.  Will we find delight in God and call upon Him at all times, or will we give in to what’s easy?

 #anger #trigger #prayer #response #musingz4life