In-tolerant? That sounds opposite of a Biblical response to the angry-about-almost-everything theme of these strange days we live in and I write about activating our faith. So how can intolerance and activating our faith possibly go together?
Scripture does not negate our normal feelings and emotional reactions to injustice of all kinds be it social, personal, spiritual, material or otherwise.
**Last things first explanation/disclaimer – The writer is addressing a church problem with false believers (those who themselves claim the title of Christian brother or sister) but whose lives (words/actions/habits/patterns) reveal otherwise.
Truly, there are more other verses that encourage us to love as we were loved and to forgive as we were forgiven when you are dealing with a repentant person.
Many people misunderstand intolerance to mean that we are not to associate with those who are not Christians. That is not at all what is being talked about.Those referred to in the passages about being intolerant are claiming the name of Christ while practicing the evils listed – it is part of their life and the fruit of their thoughts and actions.
And so regarding those we are told
Be intolerant of immorality
1Cor. 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
1Cor. 5:10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.
1Cor. 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.
Be intolerant of idolatry
1Cor. 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. It is interesting that the topic of idolatry stems from words like abomination (to stink, to be disgusted, to abhor), harlotry (including adultery and incest) and pornography (to indulge unlawful lust, fornication or promiscuity.
Be intolerant of uncontrolled anger
2Th. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
Eph. 4:26 Be angry and do not sin.
Everyone who is human will feel anger, but as believers we need to be aware of the first stages of anger and sensitive to curbing and controlling it lest it get out of hand.
What is this volatile anger that erupts into sin? This anger is more than melancholy or disappointment. The meaning of this anger is enraged or infuriate – to act with deliberate and continual injustice and to provoke the same.
To clarify again, all of these passages are talking about discipline in the church. Believers everywhere will be tempted and fall into these areas of sin, but those who are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit will grieve their behavior and will apologize, repent, and seek restoration in relationships and community. They are to be forgiven, embraced and restored into fellowship. The Intolerance and discipline spoken of here is for those who refuse to stop and continue in their ungodly life patterns.
And finally, while being INTOLERANT of these ATTITUDES and PATTERNS OF ACTION AND THOUGHT (first in ourselves) we also acknowledge, particularly if they begin to be a habit:
If we, as believers have fallen into any of these areas of which the church is to be intolerant, we have opportunity to choose Christ and responsibility to become equipped to wrestle against those powers – fully alive in Christ.
I really like the way the Message translates this portion
Eph. 4:14 no prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors.
Instead we are to activate our faith:
Eph. 4:15 God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.
Eph. 4:16 He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Eph. 4:17 And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.
Eph. 4:18 They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.
Eph. 4:19 They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
Eph. 4:20 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ!
Eph. 4:21 My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus.
Eph. 4:22 Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life,
Eph. 4:23 a life renewed from the inside
Eph. 4:24 and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
Eph. 4:25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
If you are wondering how to be tolerant of each other while being intolerant of false believers…read on…
Eph. 4:26 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.
Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Eph. 4:28 Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
Eph. 4:29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Eph. 4:30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
Eph. 4:31 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
Eph. 4:32 Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
—the lines of intolerance were drawn by God out of love and protection.
“Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
Jesus was coming to their house for lunch! What an emotional disaster I would be if I lived then and knew that the Messiah was coming to my house! If that wasn’t enough, I’d know that if He was coming, other important people would show up too! I would know that people would be talking for time to come about what they had seen, eaten, and heard. (notice I think a lot like the Martha most of us imagine – first concerned about what people will see or think). Sad, but true. I’d do a lot of what Martha did, working for days, getting things just right. I’d solicit help where I could, though, because I know that some skills of mine work better under pressure, but cooking and socializing are more spontaneous (like the time I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie). I would be so stressed. I would not want you to see my selfie at that moment. Have you ever felt that way?
Martha was obviously stressed. Perhaps Mary and Lazarus were not as excited (or as worried) about all the details as Martha was. We can see from the passage she was not happy with others’ response to her requests for help. Yet, Luke 10 gives us a clear picture showing it was Martha who invited Jesus, and consequently his followers, to their home. Now she is overwhelmed by the results of her own choices.
Luke 10:38-41 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
Stress is defined as the feeling a person has when they perceive that demands exceed their personal resources. First of all the story does not reveal anyone demanding dinner or anything else from Martha – the demands she felt or created were her own.
Secondly, ‘their personal resources’ in Martha’s case, would include her brother Lazarus, and her sister Mary who lived with them, and possibly other neighbors or friends who would have felt honored to prepare for the Messiah’s visit.
Martha’s actions reveal that she must also have been listening to Jesus when he preached in their area because when Christ challenged her at Lazarus’ burial place she confirmed her faith in Christ as the Messiah, and she knew about the resurrection day. I wonder -did Martha invite Jesus in gratefulness for his ministry to her sister’s spiritual change? Had Mary been apologetic, helpful and extra-kind since her experience at the home of the Pharisee?
Scriptures do not tell us all the answers, but Martha’s spiritual selfies do not always look so self-centered as I’d first thought. Here was a woman who had listened and could clearly communicate Jesus’ teachings. Here was a woman of a generous and hospitable nature who invited Jesus and his followers to their home. Had she invited Jesus before or was this the first time? Martha’s whining request seems as familiar as a toddler, ‘tattling’ on her sister. Martha had to know she was inviting a stressful crowd for dinner, because as Jesus said, she was worried about so many things. So much to do, so little time. And somebody’s got to do it – right?
Like most of us, Martha (and Mary) were multi-faceted. Their selfies would each have revealed only one part of who they really were, unlike Spiritual Selfies.
It does make me wonder, when I put myself in the story, how does my spiritual selfie look – more like Martha or Mary?
But more importantly what does my picture look like to Jesus?
Change what you can (Getting enough rest, eating properly, not going into stores if I don’t have funds all lowered stress for me). What choices could Martha have made to reduce her stress?
Zoom In – Do I have too many things on my plate?
Determine the one thing that will drive all areas of your life – spiritual, physical, mental, etc. Then make a list of what you are trying to accomplish – just today will likely be enough. Then cross off or drop the commitments that don’t line up with that main goal. Like What difference will it make in a decade if you don’t finish your list or give the perfect party? Would you rather wonder your whole life what the Savior might have said to you if you were at His feet like Mary, instead of in the kitchen frosting the cake?
Do what Martha should have done. Move the boundaries. Free yourself from the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself, those you’ve let others set for you, and feel free to release others from your unrealistic expectations of them.
Capture It – On your journal page write the focus (Peace) at the top of the page and ONE THING you want accomplished by the end of the day. Remember defeating ourselves is not productive. Usually my one thing of every day is supper. Other things often fall into place – or not.
If you make peace the focus of today – in your thoughts – you should feel calmer. If you allowed peace to be the focus of your reactions, it should show. Whisper to yourself peace before answering any questions or challenges. Ask how can I do this to bring or show peace? Feeling peaceful and feeling overwhelmed cannot coexist. One will overrule the other. Choose peace.
LIKES: We often set the mood for our home. If you are peace-full, others will comment and react differently than when you feel tense and overwhelmed. Tomorrow morning come back and write your proof – the results of your day of peace. You just might want to try it again.
And your image of Martha – and yourself might just have changed 🙂
“No, I didn’t,” she said, pausing – “but it’s not MY birthday, is it?”
I didn’t get all I wanted for Christmas either. As a matter of fact, I was mystified that my husband (who’d been excited earlier in the month after announcing he knew the perfect gift for me) got me nothing from my list of wants. As a matter of fact when I opened his gift it was a what were you thinking moment.
It was a DVR player.
We’d just had a discussion about possibly changing our internet provider and they wanted us to sign up for TV too and we said no, we barely watch TV and don’t bring a DVR because we wouldn’t use it.
When I asked Ken why he had been so excited about this gift, his response shamed me. I’d whined for some time that our old DVD player would not play a lot of our movies. Apparently it was too old for some of the newer formats. Well this player would allow that! Once I realized what its potential was, I was thrilled (and apologetic for my less than enthusiastic response when opening it)
He gave me what I didn’t realize I wanted and needed.
Remember Ephesians 4:8 “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” As Jesus rose to Heaven, he gave gifts to us. He loves to give gifts. He loves it too when we gratefully receive His gifts and use them.
Some of His gifts were on my wish list. Others were surprises. All had several things in common:
They were very expensive gifts
They are each custom designed for me.
They all came gift-wrapped in love.
And like my husband’s gift – some are gifts I didn’t realize I wanted and needed.
What gifts have you received from Jesus? Are you using them?
When we suffer two doubts are most often at the basis for weakening faith and depression
In Verses 9-11 Isaiah portrays how the sovereign God cares for his children –The Message (MSG)
Recognize God’s sovereignty and be unashamed to declare it.
Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”
Get your eyes off yourself or your circumstances he tells us:
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.
In Verses 12-17 Isaiah pictures for us the sovereign creator God
12-17 Who has scooped up the ocean
in his two hands,
or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger,
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?
Who could ever have told God what to do
or taught him his business?
What expert would he have gone to for advice,
what school would he attend to learn justice?
What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows,
showed him how things work?
Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket,
a mere smudge on a window.
Watch him sweep up the islands
like so much dust off the floor!
There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon
nor enough animals in those vast forests
to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship.
All the nations add up to simply nothing before him—
less than nothing is more like it. A minus.
18-20 So who even comes close to being like God?
To whom or what can you compare him?
Some no-god idol? Ridiculous!
It’s made in a workshop, cast in bronze,
Given a thin veneer of gold,
and draped with silver filigree.
Or, perhaps someone will select a fine wood—
olive wood, say—that won’t rot,
Then hire a woodcarver to make a no-god,
giving special care to its base so it won’t tip over!
Pretty clear, isn’t it! Then in Verses 18-27 (what I call one of my DUH verses) He challenges our weak faith.
Flash of Lightning!2016 21-24 Have you not been paying attention?
Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth.
The people look like mere ants.
He stretches out the skies like a canvas—
yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don’t amount to much.
Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
They shrivel when God blows on them.
Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind.
25-26 “So—who is like me?
Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
and never overlooks a single one?
27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
And in closing he shares the promise of belief (even – or especially – in suffering:
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But (don’t you love that word) – But he tells us, you have a choice. Surrender the circumstance. Surrender the doubt. Wait and LET God be God in your situation.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
And you will receive
You will have fly spiritually like an eagle soaring over all the earth (above your circumstances)
You won’t just crawl – or walk – YOU WILL RUN ….AND WON’T GET TIRED.
You will not lag. (you will lead!)
Oh, Come, Let Us Adore Him….
I will make you fishers of men, if you follow me…
Our toddlers learned that in Sunday School and years later, I finally understand what Jesus was telling them. I will make you catchers of men….
The fishers have to find the fish – they sometimes wait for hours to locate them, then they proceed to fish for them using varied tools, lures, or nets. Then their work begins, reeling or hauling them in.
They receive what is brought to them. The one who presents the ‘catch’ to them has chosen them, led them, gathered them, guided them, drawn them.
That work has been done for us.
2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the [a]people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but [b]I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ [c]feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were [d]James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
John 6:44 (NASB) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 14:6 (NASB) Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jesus does the drawing but allows each person to respond by believing two things::
Hebrews 11:6 (NASB) And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
If we understand this illustration was showing that God would draw or call the men to whom the disciples would minister. So if God could do what the professional fishermen/soon to be disciples could not, who will do the transformation in their lives?
Have you become a catcher of men, and find God bringing people to you for your prayer, support and training?
This cute song by the Gaithers, uniquely explains that nothing eternal is accomplished by a temporal source. Only through God’s work can we be His catchers!
What or who has God drawn and brought to you this week? What have you done with that gift and calling?
Shades of my past, I thought I was beyond this.
I felt depressed on hearing some news today. Admittedly it was cumulative on a bunch of smaller disappointments or failures and I started hearing this junk in my head – you know – permanent negative thoughts. You always….you will never…
Thank God I have someone trusted to whom I can turn. His response – I don’t know how, but I know God will turn this to something good. Truth calms.
We’d been running on steam all day. Hadn’t had time to eat all day and it was about 4 pm. Not good. I recalled a missionary saying to watch for physical lows as that is when the enemy can ramp up the emotions and make a mountain out of a molehill. I’d set the trap myself.
Got an urgent email to answer and took care of that when a Womans World sweepstakes email popped up – and I thought I’ll go get my mind out of this space and complete a few win money entries. For each entry you are required to watch a 15-30 second commercial and complete a word from the commercial. After 2-3 of these (always a silly word or phrase from the commercial) this phrase pops up:
abide with me
What? Where did that come from.
I had to smile.
We just dropped someone off at the airport, and that is where we met. It took me back to our pre-engagement agreement – we could only use the words
in a positive way – as an exaggeration of affection – you always make me happy – you never forget my birthday – you always looks good …
And remind one another that any permanent use of those words are from the pit, and will reject them as such.
Have you ever had a day like mine – gotten news that made you feel depressed?
Join me in making a choice to not open any doors for the enemy to inject any permanent negative thoughts.
To remember to eat and hydrate every day
To avoid things that affect my equilibrium – like sugar on an empty stomach
To abide in Christ – not stew in my emotional reactions.
To practice the presence of Christ (Lord thank you for using this to turn my heart and mind toward you. Thank you for using the enemy to cause me instead to rejoice, knowing you will work all things to your glory – in your time).
Do you have daily devotions or journal your thoughts and prayers as you read God’s Word?
Many believers do, and I am no exception. A Christian friend and I were walking and sharing our devotions when a mutual friend who used to be a co-worker joined us and asked what on earth we were talking about and did she understand correctly but had we already done that this morning and why?
Lots of questions, that my walking partner answered well in that we spent a brief time with God dedicating the rest of our hours and efferts of the day to Him because it gave us peace, comfort and motivation for the day. Basically Devotions are times of focusing on God – usually through Bible reading and prayer.
We chatted later about the different ways people have of doing devotions.
Devotions can be past, present or future.
The present – prayers and petitions for this moment – this situation – this hope and need in my life.
The future – Prayers and petitions for unknown coming events, generations, issues, and solutions of a wider scope.
The past – Examining how I lived yesterday – according to directions and guidance that were God-given or in my own strengths (or weaknesses) – prayers and petition to make needed changes for today. (Often ending with prayer that I would do better the next day).
Studying Biblical names of God helps to focus on all three of these life/times in my devotional moments – here are two examples:
El: means God, great, mighty, strong, prominent – Genesis 28:3 “And may God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.”
Almighty – Having absolute power; all-powerful
Actions of creation: Bless You – Make you (fruitful) – multiply you
Company of peoples: an assembly of people, for holy purposes, consisting of people from the same tribe – same generational purpose
The verse/thought in my words: God – the only absolute, all powerful, all mighty and strong one, is the only one with the right and power to bless me, by making me fruitful, and to multiply me, that my little light could multiply and become an entire tribe with the same holy purpose – to honor and glorify the Lord.
(a plural noun meaning more than two) God, three or more – creator, preserver
Genesis 17:7 “And I (Elohim) will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Covenant – A legally binding agreement; a compact. Everlasting.
Elohim WILL establish HIS covenant between Him and (me) and my descendants
The covenant: to be God to me and to my descendants
My email address (lovedliftedandled) reminds me daily that I am
Loved by the Father
Lifted by the Son and
Led by the Spirit
The Father, Son and Spirit have established (instituted (as a law) permanently by enactment; made firm or stable ; to bring into existence : to put beyond doubt) an everlasting agreement with me to be God to me.
To be God to me… God – from Webster’s dictionary: the supreme or ultimate reality, the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe; a person or thing of supreme value.
From these thoughts I underline or highlight a challenge or encouragement for my day
My challenge for today and for all my life, really – do I (let) God be God in my life? Do I recognize Elohim as being perfect in power (if I do, why would I turn to any other power including my own?). Do I bow to Elohim’s wisdom and goodness as the ultimate (if I do, why do I seek other wisdom or offer my own ‘wisdom’ to others?). Do I worship Elohim as the creator and ruler of my universe – as one of supreme value to me?
All these questions have already been answered with one. Someone once said to look back at the end of the day your review reveals
‘the way you lived your life today IS the way you live your life.’ –
The question: Could others tell that I enjoy the permanent, firm, unwavering love of Elohim?
How about you? How do you do devotions? Past, Present, Future or All three? Is there a name of God that has special meaning for you?
Roi is a family name in my history on my paternal grandmother’s side. I know it often translates King from their French. I’ve been delving into family history today and while examining this verse in one of my devotionals “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler, my eye caught the same spelling in Hebrew and a different meaning – Yahweh Roi – The Lord is My Shepherd.
Roi in Hebrew actually translates shepherd, keeper, one who tends. I haven’t heard that word, tend, used as much as, say, in my teens, when I’d be asked to ‘tend’ a baby. Webster’s dictionary defines tending as “to apply oneself to the care of : watch over”. That is more than just watch, as I sometimes did while ‘babysitting’… watch, sure – while on the phone, reading a book, or also watching TV. I have to admit this mini study puts my history of tending to shame, and gives new meaning to applying oneself to caring for someone else. Like my shepherd “applied himself” to caring for me.
I cannot apply myself with that intensity or dedication – not of myself I can’t. I’d like to say, I’d hope I would, but I know there is only hope in looking in the mirror straight on and admitting I can’t. It is impossible. And that’s ok. I’ve struggled with disappointment in myself because I am less than I want to be. I’ve wept because I felt I was less than others needed. Yet, as I review a recent time of battle in light of this verse, I realize that perhaps once again my heart has longed to leap spiritual barriers and be the keeper, the fixer and then I realize that would mean ursurping the Shepherd’s role.
It reminds me of the story of Cain. After Cain had murdered his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” Obviously not. What an ironic answer. So what about me – am I to be a brother’s or sister’s keeper? – a good Samaritan or keep the commandment to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself‘? What if I have looked in the mirror of the commandments (the law) and found evidence to convict myself of despicable possibilities? The enemy whispers that I am not worthy to be a sheep for this Shepherd. I know it is true. How then, can I love anyone as much or more than myself? Well, because I do in essence protect/ look out for / and love myself, I look for redemption. When I recognize redemption, I latch onto it like a drowning man to a life preserver. That is how I need to love others. By bringing them to my Shepherd.
What a coop if the enemy can sway me to believe, after redemption in my King, my Keeper, My Lord and My Shepherd that I must continue to fight, or keep, or tend, in my own strength.
It cannot be done.
When I try, that is when I want to lie down and weep and give up. When I am renewed by The Shepherd’s words and power, on the other hand, I can face the battle as the messenger of the Victor.
Feeling pretty silly, I’ll admit, to realize I’ve gone into battle fully outfitted with blazing guns, and realize everyone has gone home – the battle was already over, and I was only fighting shadows.
Aha! The struggle came and continued when I faced the battle as the defender instead of the defended. Yahweh Roi – The Lord, my Shepherd – is the only defender and He has already fought and won my battles.
Every one. Oh blessed relief.
How do I know if something is God’s will or not?
Scriptures three things help me base my decisions and actions on that which I KNOW is God’s will.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 New International Version (NIV)
23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
2. It is God’s Will to tell others about Him
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
3. It is God’s Will to choose life
Deuteronomy 30: 19-20
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
There are, of course, many more scriptures, but I find these three faithful to answer any doubts or questions –
will this (decision/food/action/material I read, etc.) help me to Know God?
will this (decision/food/action/things I watch, etc.) help me to tell others about God?
will this (decision/food/action/things I bring into my body or do with my body) bring life to my body and soul or to others?
How about you? Are these three verses also your foundation or do you have others?
If we are allowing fears to control our lives, they are stunting us. They keep us from living God’s reality for us.
And we keep fearing, even realizing if we think about it that most fears are never realized, and wasting a tremendous amount of time that could have been productive. Some of us get so paralyzed by our fears that we stop doing what we should be doing, get panic attacks or just stop stretching ourselves with new experiences.
The more we think on, focus on, the fear – the bigger it grows. The walls get higher and the gates seem formidable. One thing we know. This is NOT the way we want to live our life, hiding, worrying, scared of the outcome of a day or an event. It has been said that thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions become habit. The danger of thinking about the fear constantly, saying what you fear so often that it becomes action (you say “I can’t do that” not because you know you can’t but because you fear that you won’t do it well), is you are likely to develop a habit of responding that you can’t before evaluating almost any situation.
You can overcome that by memorizing verses like Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
One thing that has helped me overcome many fears is to keep a fear journal. In a simple notebook at the top of the page I wrote the verse – and the words Fear is NOT from God.
I draw four vertical lines for columns. At the top of the columns I write Date, Fear, Good/WICD (for What I can do), and Outcome. When I experience a fear I write down the date and the fear. At the end of each month, or less if I fear I can’t remember that longJ, I will go back and write the outcome. An example:
I am asked to teach a Sunday School class. The fear might be to teach, to fail, to interact with adults or with parents, a lack of what I consider appropriate clothing, an already busy schedule, etc. The good, on one hand, could be that someone in ministry recognizes a quality or skill God can work through me in that area, or on the other hand, the strength to say no – perhaps recognizing I was asked because I usually say yes, and this need is not my call.
|2/22/02||Teach SS Class||Skill/strength? Ask why I was asked.
Attend teaching class
Practice on my kids
Go to goodwill
Remake my clothing
|Taught adult classes on Psalm 23 and Song of Solomon|
At the end of the month, or time period I’ve chosen, I’d enter what really happened. The possibilities are endless: learned to teach and love it, found I’d rather be an assistant, found a suitable outfit for few dollars, prayed about need and God supplied, remade an outfit and rediscovered sewing – signed up for Missions to sew baby layettes instead of teaching, and on and on.
Yes, I do look at what I can do (WICD). Like Moses, God has given me things, gifts and talents, which in my own strength are weak or useless, but with His strength can become a solution. Often God will give me ideas, wisdom, or contacts that strengthen, support, or provide a need, and dissolve the fear. These experiences of God working and resolving issues, conquering concerns also give me faith to trust Him with the fears and ask besides what God can do, and what He has done for me and for others with similar fears in the past. It affirms that if God could do (those things) in the past, He can still do them today, for He never changes.
It is always amazing to me that hardly any of the fears actually came to pass, and the few that did came with strength and support to not just survive, but overcome it.
Keeping this journal brings a bonus because despite knowing that life will keep bringing new fears like the recession, swine flu, and America’s creditors taking over our country, looking to past journal entries reminds me that God is bigger than any of my fears.
Is there someone fearful about their future or our country’s future that you can encourage to make a fear journal? If you haven’t done this, I hope you would give it a try and check back in a week or a month and share the results. Or – Is there someone fearful about their future or our country’s future that you can encourage to make a fear journal?
Only he who can say, ”The Lord is my strength,” can say, ”Of whom shall I be afraid?” Alexander Maclaren 1826-1910, British Preacher
I shared this in the past when the recession was on the horizon. We have a new kind of fear developing these days with groups/peoples/factions seemingly stirring up hatred and separation. This quote “Today the nations of the world may be divided into two classes — the nations in which the government FEARs the people, and the nations in which the people FEAR the government.” by Amos R. E. Pinochet could be applied to our country and the people which the government fears, and the government (real and future) which the people fear.
Fear is nothing new. Recession/election/conflict woes just give us an opportunity to be honest about a lack of trust. We can be comforted – many famous people have also had fears:
Biblical characters across the spectrum experienced fear. Moses begged God to send someone else, saying he did have not the tongue to speak well. David – the King – murdered to cover the fear of discovery of his sexual sin. Abraham, father of nations, fearing for his life, lied and encouraged his wife Sarah to lie and say she was his sister.
Sarah continued the cycle – fearing she would not have the child God promised, she took into her own hands the resolution of that promise – with repercussions that are still evident today.
The television show Fear Factor exposed many natural reactions to external fears or phobias of “creepy” natural phenomena, fear of height, etc., and many currently “famous” people have found acceptance sharing their fear of flying and other social fears.
My fears also have been evident from time to time. I love being impulsive and daring, but I still have many limits:
Now didn’t that word limit soften what I’m really identifying! I need not fool myself because while some limits exist (such as travel funds) the limits above are of my own making – and have one thing in common – fear.
Limit – is probably the common denominator in recession and government control fears as well. My pension has been cut – I have been limited in my ability to pay debt, to eat out, to vacation, to give. Will I be able to… gives rise to worry, which turns to fear. Some government(s) or parts of government(s) demand more and more control over the people and their personal lives. Another form of will I or my children be able to…can also cause anxiety
We all have fears. It is said more people are like Moses, fearing public speaking more than spiders or snakes! Where do all these fears come from? 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us where fear does NOT come from – “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.”
Did you see that? Fear is not from God. The common denominator of my limitations is that they are based on fear, fear is not from God and therefore those “limitations” are not from God.
Over 60 times the scriptures command us “fear not” and “do not fear” – followed by encouragements such as
for I AM your shield, for I have, for I am with you
for God has heard – and stand by and see (what God will do)
What causes you anxiety? Are these things you can give over to God – to trust God to handle on your behalf?
Where or to whom is the first place you run when you are anxious or fearful? It is interesting and challenging to read about the Bible characters like Moses or David and see what they did when things got rough.
What Bible character comes to mind when you feel or think about fear or anxiety? Where did they go? What about God turned their thoughts around?
Remember radios? We used to ask what do you play (speaking of instruments) and if you didn’t play the “clever” reply
was radio! I don’t have a lick of talent with instruments, or singing, but I can still play a supporting role to music ministry.
Buddy Greene (harmonica and fiddle player) gave me some new ideas how:
My toe was tapping with Buddy Greene’s ministry of gifts of music, and I thanked God for him and his talent.
Buddy Greene and I had a common prayer concern. Our parents were at the age where we would soon begin to need caregiving , so when I prayed for my mother, I prayed for him and his family as well. You see Buddy is a very important part of my life because he regularly ministers to me through his music, and because scripture encourages me to pray for those who minister to me.
Buddy asked me to share more about my prayer ministry on a walkway between the hotel and the mall following a “Praise Gathering” concert several years ago. When I saw him walking alone, my conscience first wrestled with his probable desire to have a break from fans and the desire to pray to specific need. Chastening myself to be brief and then disappear, I approached him and explained that when I prayed for those that minister the Word of God to me through preaching, teaching, singing, or music, Buddy’s name was included. His eyes brightened and after sharing some personal concerns for prayer he invited me to continue to walk and talk with him.
He agreed with what I call imagination-prayers – praying as I would for my own family if they were in a similar ministry… safety in the long hours on the road, one-ness of mind and heart with all the staff that work and travel together, purity of thoughts and actions while away from families and loved ones both for the traveler and the spouse or loved ones at home, scheduling to fulfill their ministry, yet be home for important events in the lives of their families. Common prayers I would pray for my family members become personal for their families as, for example, I might pray for their teens to develop a heart for God, to be in fellowship with other believers and to be guided to the right life-partner.
Then we talked about the music-prayers. You probably already pray the words of songs for your loved ones, but I think the enemy loves to challenge our heart-cry and mock our calling, so I specifically will take a song that personally touched me (one of Buddy’s is Grace for the Moment) and pray that song for that person. If God sent it through them, I know it is His will to work it out through them as well. You can listen here: Grace for the Moment)
That providential meeting confirmed for me that the calling to be in prayer “at all times” and to give thanks for “everything” includes praying for the gift that God gave these performers. That prayer springs from the encouragement and direction I have received from the words and music God gave them, and the media advancements that allow me to have easy access to others’ spiritual gifts, bringing with it, not so much a responsibility, but a wellspring of thankfulness. I am thankful that through these God-directed details of my life, I have the privilege of being a part of the whole ministry (performer, the players behind the performer, sound and other support staff, and their bus drivers and families) through prayer.
It is fairly rare to meet the well-known ministry people I pray for, but, when I have, they always and without exception quickly responded with prayer requests and words of appreciation. The contacts I have had gave me a greater passion for prayer as a surprised pause, a brightening of the countenance and a grateful sharing made me feel transformed from fan status to friend and sister-in-the-Lord. It is not difficult to ‘think of things’ to pray for when you realize they are family.
Things that are happening in our own lives are clues for prayer that are likely happening in theirs as well. My son played in a band during his teen years as he sought God’s plan for his life, and that inspired me to pray for the children and grandchildren of those musicians who blessed me. The Murk family (now called Myrrh) has been on my heart since we saw them perform at a local church when the children were small and I was thrilled to meet Brianna all grown up, at a writers’ conference. (Click on Myrrh above to hear sample of world class violinist Bill Murk).
I’ve never met Benjy Gaither, but as I’ve become a grandparent, and appreciate the shared prayer-concerns of other grandparents, I know Bill and Gloria would appreciate God’s prompting me to pray specifically for Benjy over the past 25 years, along with prayers for their family and their ministry! When I see my son ministering with his musical talent in the local church, and serving with other talents and skills in the dailiness of life, I pray for him, and include Benjy and others who similarly minister in their ministries while fulfilling hectic schedules. As I pray for our grandchildren, I also pray for grandchildren like Benjy, that they might realize God’s direction for their own personally fulfilling ministry without feeling they are in the shadow of their “famous” family members.
Our grandson had cancer and although there is nothing physical I would not have given up for him, God has seen fit that I minister through prayer, and He has comforted me greatly through a song by the Isaacs which says in part ‘since I can’t take it, I’ll make it yours – and mine.’ – You can be certain our David and his family are never far from my thoughts and prayers – and neither are the Isaacs.
Steven Curtis-Chapman was another illustration to me that my own families prayer needs will not be neglected – but more likely be heightened because of musical prayer. He made a comment at the last Praise Gathering referring to his “different” appearance and music, (as compared to mostly older-than-he gospel music performers), but I had to smile inside. My son is a great fan of Steven and we experienced a concert together to show Mom what blessed my son’s life. What a surprise – the message I heard of physical and spiritual adoption amid what I’d been tempted to turn away from as “noise” touched me deeply. As I grew to trust the heart of the messenger, I listened to the message, and in the melody heard his heart – and God’s. Our granddaughter Kristin, who lived next door, told me when I played “Live out Loud” she could not only hear it in her bedroom across the driveway from my exercise/music room, but her window rattled from the “noise”! I pray the message of that song will be “heard” not just through Steven Curtis-Chapman, but through me and the generations of both of our families. I’m sure Steven would chuckle back to know that “noise” is what now reminds me to have the courage to “tell all my neighbors” and to pray for his family and his ministry to be free from distraction and temptation so he also can continue to live his faith “out loud!”
Internet is alive with other ideas for prayer. Most music ministries have newsletters that give specific prayer requests, or websites that detail concert schedules and portions of songs, so if you haven’t previously thought of praying for those who minister to you, next time you hear a favorite song, simply ask God to make these words a part of your life and then thank him for those who brought you the message. Just as when we get to heaven we’ll find we’ve been spared from a multitude of disasters because someone was praying for us, I believe the messengers God brings to our lives are not incidental – or just so we can be ministered to – but because He has chosen us to minister to them as well.
Trust me, they will appreciate it. Buddy told me so, Steve Green told me so, and
Babbie Mason told me so too!
What musicians have encouraged you and ministered to you? Do you pray for them?