“Fear, Freedom, Bondage & Co-Dependency” September 30

 

Fear, Freedom, Bondage & Co-Dependency - We call it a lot of different names: peer pressure, people pleasing, co-dependency. Proverbs tells us it is a trap into which we can easily fall. What is it and how can we be free from it's grip? Just as our sin nature blinds us to the danger of people-pleasing and co-dependency, we can be blinded about true freedom. Could something that looks like freedom actually bring you into bondage?

We call it by a lot of different names: peer pressure, people pleasing, co-dependency. Proverbs tells us it is a trap into which we can easily fall. What is it and how can we be free from its grip?

Just as our sin nature blinds us to the danger of people-pleasing and co-dependency, we can be blinded about true freedom. Could something that looks like freedom actually bring you into bondage?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 51 & 52
Psalm 112.5-10
Proverbs 26.16
Ephesians 2.1-22

 

Fear, Freedom, Bondage & Co-Dependency

 

Isaiah 51 & 52:

Hope in Him

 

Verse 51.4 starts out:

“Listen to Me, My people;
And give ear to Me, O My nation.

We should be listening to everything God says in His Word, so I had to wonder why God would make it a point at the beginning of this passage to say, “Listen to me …” Perhaps, this is a little like us when we say to our children, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” In other words, what I’m about to say is important. Give me your undivided attention.

Then He began to talk to His people about the hope they had in their coming Messiah. But their hope wasn’t just for the future. They were to put their hope in Him then. Verse 6:

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.

Just as we are saved by looking back in faith on what Christ did for us on the cross, their redemption was based on faith in the One True God and the coming of their Messiah.

Instead of focusing on the strength of other nations, they were to focus on Him.

Chapter 51.12-13:

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;

Matthew 10 says it this way:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

 

Fear, Freedom, Bondage & Co-Dependency - We call it a lot of different names: peer pressure, people pleasing, co-dependency. Proverbs tells us it is a trap into which we can easily fall. What is it and how can we be free from it's grip? Just as our sin nature blinds us to the danger of people-pleasing and co-dependency, we can be blinded about true freedom. Could something that looks like freedom actually bring you into bondage?


How much time do we waste “fearing man”? It’s a trap into which we easily fall. We may not fear what they might do to us physically. We fear what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.

“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”

It’s been called people-pleasing, co-dependency, peer pressure, low self-esteem, keeping up with the Jones or being an approval junkie. The Bible calls it the fear of man.  Continue reading

“Are You Prepared?” September 9

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as “hate groups” along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office.

And we’ve probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 9 & 10
Psalm 106.1-5
Proverbs 25.1-2
2 Corinthians 1.1-24

 

Are You Prepared?

 

2 Corinthians 1.1-24:

Epic Changes

 

Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:

Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.

But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.

John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”

The complete title of Nyquist’s book is Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture. The world around us is changing rapidly and, whether we want to or not, we need to be prepared.

More and more often, Christians will be forced to choose between saying and doing what’s pleasing to God and what’s acceptable to those around us. And those opposed to biblical values are increasingly bold and vocal about their opposition and loathing.

Just this week, two well-known Senators challenged a judicial nominee about her ability to carry out the law because of her Catholic beliefs.

According to The Washington Post:

Amy Barrett, a nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit, has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she’d place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern …”

Here is the full context of Feinstein’s comments:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

It’s clear what Feinstein, a stalwart defender of abortion rights, is getting at here, given that her questioning of Barrett focused heavily on Barrett’s views of Roe v. Wade. But her use of the word “dogma” has plenty on the right alleging that she’s applying a religious test to Barrett’s nomination.

The Constitution, of course, prohibits religious tests, saying that ” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Some on the right now say Feinstein is violating that, too.

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.


How to Prepare

 

Persecution has always been a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).

In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT).

Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes?  Continue reading

“Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture” July 21

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fearing God or Man?

 

In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.

Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings.  Continue reading

“The Cost of Laziness, Self-Esteem & Habits” June 8

 

Cost of Laziness, Self-Esteem & Habits -

 

What is laziness and what causes it? Is it our fault when we give in to laziness or is it something else? Could it be a self-esteem issue? How and when does laziness show up in your life and mine? In the physical area? With mental pursuits? Or maybe with spiritual things? And what is the cost of laziness?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 3 & 4
Psalm 71.17-24
Proverbs 18.9
John 17.1-26

 

The Cost of Laziness

 

Proverbs 18.9:

 

“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things” (NLT).

I googled the word laziness and, not surprisingly, found articles declaring that laziness is a myth and that it’s just critical people who put that label on others.

I, certainly, want to acknowledge that there can be times when excessive fatigue, sadness, and other emotions can rob us of motivation and energy. The result can look a lot like laziness. So we need to be careful when judging other people. But even then, we must call on the strength of God to help us fulfill our responsibilities.

But since God addresses the subject in His Word, we need to be concerned enough to examine ourselves for signs of laziness. So let’s take a closer look.

Wikipedia had this to say:

Laziness is a habit rather than a mental health issue. It may reflect a lack of self-esteem, a lack of positive recognition by others, a lack of discipline stemming from low self-confidence, or a lack of interest in the activity or belief in its efficacy. Laziness may manifest as procrastination or vacillation. Studies of motivation suggest that laziness may be caused by a decreased level of motivation, which in turn can be caused by over-stimulation or excessive impulses or distractions.

I certainly agree that laziness can become a habit. God made us as habitual beings. If we didn’t have the ability to form habits, we would waste a lot of time trying to remember how and when to do a lot of mundane things.

It’s a good thing that we habitually brush our teeth, take a shower, lock the front door without thinking much about it, and know how to get to work in the morning while mentally going over our to-do list. Habits can save us a lot of time and energy.

The problem is … we form bad habits along with good ones. It’s a bad habit to constantly criticize others, to yell when things don’t go our way, to give others the silent treatment, or to buy everything that catches our eye. It’s also a bad habit to be lazy and avoid every bit of extra work we can.

Scripture tells us that we are to put off the habits that come from our sinful nature and put on new habits that will help us to become more like Christ (Eph. 4.22-24).

But what about the idea that laziness can be a self-esteem issue?

Self-esteem is a big subject, one that I’m not going to spend much time on today, but let me just say that I don’t believe God wants us to focus on all our inadequacies (low self-esteem) or to have a puffed up view of ourselves (high self-esteem). Rather we are to see ourselves as God sees us, with strengths and weakness, creatures made in His image, creatures in constant need of contemplating Christ and praying for His help to become more like His Son, creatures that while fallen, are redeemable and capable of growing and changing.

What about the idea that  laziness stems from a lack of positive recognition from others?

It goes without saying that God has called us to be encouragers. We should build one another up in the faith, but it’s a dangerous habit to be dependent on the encouragement of others. The Bible calls that the “fear of man.” Continue reading

“When Still Fighting the Same Struggle” May 5

 

When Still fighting the Same Struggle - Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week ... sometimes year after year. Maybe you've, actually, stopped praying about it, because you're sure God is tired of hearing it. Or have you been tempted to think ... I give up! I've tried to stop or I've asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn't listening!Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve, actually, stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.

Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried to stop or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 12 & 13
Psalm 56.1-13
Proverbs 15.21-23
Luke 22.47-71

 

When Still Fighting the Same Struggle

 

Luke 22.47-71:

Redeemer of Our Failures

 

Have you ever felt you let God down by something you did or failed to do? You told Him, you would never do such and such again, but a day or two or three later … there you are again. You may feel like Peter when the rooster crowed and He realized Jesus was looking right at him (Lk. 22.34, 60-61)!

Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.

Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!  Continue reading

“Are you a lukewarm Christian?” December 13

 

Are you a lukewarm Christian? - Where are you on God’s thermometer of faith? Is God's warning to the lukewarm Christian for you? What does it say to the church in America as a whole?

Where are you on God’s thermometer of faith? Is God’s warning to the lukewarm Christian for you? What does it say to the church in America as a whole?

Also read about the tongue and the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to help you control it and how the fear of man (trying to please people) is a trap!

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 1-3
Psalm 141.1-4
Proverbs 29.25
Revelation 3.1-22

 

Are you a lukewarm Christian?

 

Revelation 3.1-22:

Neither Hot Nor Cold!

 

lukewarm thermometer sq

Verses 14-21:

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, … “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

What a sad commentary! Lukewarm! Neither hot nor cold!

I love coffee. It’s the first thing I want in the morning (besides the Lord and His Word)! My sweet husband fixes it every night and sets the timer to go off 15 minutes before we plan to get up so I can head straight to the kitchen.

I, also, enjoy iced coffee occasionally, especially those fancy blended ones from Starbucks. But lukewarm coffee … yuk!

It’s the same with our faith. Lukewarm is good for nothing.

Lukewarm Christians may believe in God, may even go to church regularly, but their relationship with God doesn’t always impact the way they live life the rest of the week. They may believe the Bible, but when push comes to shove, they don’t stand up for the truths of God’s Word.

Recently, a friend and I were talking about this passage in Galatians 2:

11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?

It seems Peter was lukewarm. He didn’t want to look “fanatical” to his Jewish friends so he compromised the truth. Paul, on the other hand, was “hot” about the truth. We’ve probably all had those lukewarm moments, moments of which we are not especially proud, but we need to grow in our willingness to be hot for the things of God.  Continue reading