Life can get messy. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result, we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God requires.
What does God expect in the midst of our messes? God calls us to repentance, but what exactly is repentance? Is it a feeling of sorrow or something more? Continue reading →
What is your state of mind? Is it full of anxiety or is there peace? Are you meditating on some wrong done to you or how God has blessed you? Are you content or striving for more? Your state of mind leads either to peace or to turmoil.
Yesterday I talked about some of my favorite passages in Philippians. Today I want to share a few more from chapter 4:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Be anxious for nothing …” It’s a command, not a suggestion.
Worry is sin! We’re to put off (Eph. 4.22) fear, worry, and anxiety. In its place we’re to put on (Eph. 4.24) prayer and thankfulness.
We know we’re supposed to pray about our concerns, but how often do we think about the second part of that command? Be thankful.
Everything in our lives is filtered through God’s hands. Our trials are uniquely designed by a sovereign God to grow us in the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8.28-29).
Are you thankful? Are you thanking Him for His work in your life?
The more we come to know Him, to trust in His sovereignty and goodness, the more His peace will guard our hearts and minds. The level of our peace depends on the quality of our relationship with Him and our willingness to humble ourselves under His hand (Jas. 4.10).
The battle for peace takes place in our thinking. The enemies are discontent, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. Paul goes on in verses 8 and 9:
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Instead of playing the video tape in our minds of that hurt, sin, or some real or imagined wrong done to us, we must learn to meditate on what God says about our situations. Instead of thinking about what someone has that we don’t or something we think we deserve and believe God is withholding, we need to think about the blessings in our lives. We need to be thankful for what we have.
Yesterday I talked about the danger of having a “ho-hum, I’ve heard that before” attitude about the stories in the Bible that are familiar to us. Today’s reading is another very familiar story, that of the “prodigal son.”
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
So often when we read this well-known parable, our minds go to all the prodigals we know. Or maybe we think about our own testimony, how we were once prodigals. Certainly, those are important things to think about.
We need to identify those prodigals we know so we can pray for them, but we also need to take a closer look at some of the other important points in this parable.
Let’s start with the father in the story, how he responded, not just to his son’s homecoming, but also to his prodigal years.
Perhaps you have a prodigal, a son or daughter you have prayed for and wept over. You probably look forward to the day you can say, “My son (or daughter) was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (v. 24).
We often fret and push and prod our prodigals to repent and come home. And, all too often, instead of letting them spend enough time in the pigpen to come to the end of themselves, we keep “feeding them”—bailing them out of many of their problems, not understanding that the “hunger” they are experiencing is God’s method of helping them come to their senses.
14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
This father was watching for his son, but he didn’t go after him, he didn’t send him money or help him in some way when he was “down on his luck.” It’s important to remember, the father in the story represents God who knows everything that is going on in the lives of His prodigals, yet let’s us go our way and lovingly allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions.
A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the back of fools (Prov. 26.3).
It was the consequences that brought the prodigal son to his senses.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
But his father saw him coming and ran to meet him. Instead of making him one of his hired servants, he threw a party to celebrate his return. His older brother’s response, however, was quite different.
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”
The older brother represents the Pharisees and others with their self-righteous, self-sufficient attitudes. But sometimes they’re easy to miss. Continue reading →
Do you think you’re too grown up to be a superhero? Today in the book of Judges, you will meet Jael, a housewife turned superhero. What does her story possibly have to do with you and me?
And in our New Testament reading, great multitudes were following Jesus. What an evangelistic opportunity! But instead of encouraging them to pray a prayer and accept Him into their hearts, he wanted to know if they had counted the cost of following Him and whether they were prepared to love Him so much that their love for father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even love for themselves would seem like hate in return. How do we reconcile that with what goes on in many evangelistic circles today/
The book of Judges contains some very interesting stories to say the least!
One of the more surprising, especially if you haven’t read it before, is the story of Jael and her tent peg! God used a “housewife,” a “tent-wife” in this case, to destroy Israel’s and God’s enemy with a hammer and a tent peg. Judges 4:
¹ When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.
A Prophetess named Deborah was judging Israel at this time. She had assured the people that God would give them victory over Sisera and Jabin’s army, but when Israel’s commander, Barak, refused to go to battle without Deborah, she told him, God would still deliver them, but he would get no glory for the victory. Instead, a woman would get the credit. Verse 15: Continue reading →