Friday, April 26, 2013

Allergies

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5 NAS)


"Achoo!" I exclaimed as I quickly covered my mouth with my hand. “Looks like I'm going to have another day at the mercy of my allergy.”

Allergic reactions are an exaggerated response by one’s body to one or more allergens or external foreign substances, according to the doctors. A standard method of diagnosis for allergy is the skin-prick test or pricking the skin with a small amount of various allergens to provoke a small, controlled response. Mild reactions to allergy include sneezing, running nose, teary eyes and skin rash. Serious reactions can be fatal. Medications for allergies control include antihistamines, steroids, among others.

One of the most effective, least expensive, and simplest treatments for allergies mentioned in an article at MedicineNet.com is avoidance. This includes simple methods like regular cleaning and keeping the house as mold and dust free as possible. Temperature and humidity reduction can also lead to fewer symptoms and vastly improve the quality of life. However, this approach is not always followed and many people continue to choose medications or vaccinations instead, despite their drawbacks.

Like the sneeze that comes as a result of allergy, our spiritual walk with God can at times also be visited by ‘allergens’ or external ‘foreign substances’ such as our old sinful nature or temptations. A good method of diagnosis to measure our spiritual health is through a test to examine ourselves and our ways to see if we have lowered our standards (Lamentations 3:40; 2 Corinthians 13:5). If mild reactions of areas we have fallen behind are detected, we should quickly address the problems and lay them down before the Lord, otherwise persistence can result in serious reactions leading to fatality (Romans 1:28).

An effective, simple and yet free ‘treatment’ to get back on our feet when we slack behind is avoidance. Avoidance is about coming clean before God through the confession of our sins and purification from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is also about keeping our house—our body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit—mold and dust free from our sinful nature and being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Avoidance demands we keep clear from the 'heat and humidity' of worldly enticement and ungodly people (Romans 16:17; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 2:11-12). Doing this will help reduce our exposure to unneeded trouble and vastly improve our quality of life and walk in Christ. Sadly, however, such advice is not always heeded and many people continue to sit on the fence despite knowing the dangers. Are we one of them?

Forgive us dear Lord for sometimes slacking behind in our walk with You. Purify us O Lord and cleanse us from all our sins. Do not let us be caught up in the entanglements of this world or persist in our old ways. Remind us Lord to regularly examine ourselves to see if there be areas in our lives that are not pleasing to You. Keep us clear from ungodly activities Lord that we may not expose ourselves to unneeded trouble but improve our quality of life and walk in You.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bosses and Subordinates

Tell him, ‘You think you are like a lion among the nations. Instead, you are like a crocodile in the water. You splash around in the water. You stir up the water with your feet. You make the streams muddy.’ This is what the Almighty LORD says: When many nations gather together, I will spread my net over you, and they will haul you up in a net. (Ezekiel 32:2-3 GWT)

Ezekiel 32:2-3As an employee, I have met many bosses and supervisors who are Christians. Not all of them are easy to work with or for and some are extremely difficult to get along, especially when it comes to meeting their demands and expectations. How should we as subordinates respond to such bosses and supervisors?

A good example of the correct working attitude we should adopt is found in the relationship between King Saul and David. Despite the dangers and hardship David went through to serve King Saul, there was never a time David harbored any thought of revenge or retaliation. Even when he was on the run, he said to his men it would be unthinkable for him to raise his hand against the LORD's anointed (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11). Doubtless to say, our bosses and supervisors are not necessarily God’s anointed. But they are the appointed authority over us and we know what God’s word says about submission to our leaders, even to those who are unfair or unreasonable (Romans 13:1; Colossians 3:22; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13-14, 18-19).

If we are employers, bosses, or supervisors, how should we treat our subordinates? By providing them what is right and fair, and not threatening them (Colossians 4:1; Ephesians 6:9). Remember what God said to the Pharaoh in the days of prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 32:2-3). God warned Pharaoh that while he thought he was a lion among the nations, to God, he was merely like a crocodile splashing around in the water, stirring with its feet to make the streams muddy. When the nations shall gather together, God said He would spread His net over him and they would haul him up in a net.

Like the crocodile that stirs up water with its feet, bosses and supervisors are able to ‘splash around’ and stir up much trouble in a work environment to make life difficult and unsuitable for their subordinates. If that happens, be aware that the ones who have suffered shall come together to God, and He will surely intervene.

Dear Lord, help us keep our cool amid working for those who may not treat us well. Do not allow us to harbor thoughts of seeking retaliation Lord, but put in us an attitude of complete trust in You. As bosses and supervisors Lord, help us not to abuse our authority or stir up trouble for others. Keep us in Your hands O Lord and guide us to provide whatever is right and fair to our subordinates. Remind us constantly Lord never to threaten those who work with or under us to perform beyond their abilities, for we know they have a Master in heaven too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, Decisions!There are many decisions to make in life. I often wonder which choice is the best and right one for my life. I suppose I should seek God's wisdom and direction more earnestly than I do. Often times I tend to rely upon my own wisdom and intelligence in decision making. This does not always lead to the best outcome. It is easy to let my mind be most focused on the decisions which would affect my life here on earth, while not giving consideration to that which is eternal. For example, should I replace my older car with a new one? Should I learn skills which could result in new career opportunities? What should I do to secure my financial future, especially if the economy goes into a depression?

These are all worthy and important decisions to make. Yes, it is wise to seek God's wisdom and direction in these and other areas in life. However, this brings me to another question, "What is God's will for my life? Can I find the answer in the Bible?"

While God leads some people to do certain things, for example, to be a pastor or a missionary, this is not God’s call on everyone. We each have our own unique set of skills, likes and dislikes leading each in different directions. However, there is one thing which applies to every believer in Christ. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Out of this, everything else in life should flow.

Through Adam's disobedience, mankind became disobedient, ungodly and self centered leaving us dead in our trespasses and sins. Through one man's obedience many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19). We were originally created in the image of God, but sin corrupted us and the offspring of Adam was born into the image of man. However, when one is saved, God begins to transform them into the image of Christ. We have borne the image of the earthly Adam, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:49). We are born again, the new birth, through repentance toward God and faith toward Christ (Acts 20:21). We were born into Him; He became our life (Colossians 3:3-4). We are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

When we fill our lives with earthly things, we will become more like the world. When we fill our lives with Godly things, we will become more Christ like. We must allow Christ to work in and through us molding us into His image. Through letting Christ work in us and through us, everything else in life should flow.

Remember Jesus' words, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33 KJV). What is the primary purpose God has for each of our lives? That is, to seek the kingdom of God first. When we seek the kingdom of God first, I believe our decision making will be easier and we will make wiser choices. The beautiful thing is, we will glorify God in the way we live our lives. Ken Mickel

Friday, April 5, 2013

Our Duty is to Listen

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him. I will protect him because he acknowledges My name. He will call upon Me and I will answer him;” (Psalms 91:14-15 NIV)

Our Duty to ListenAs a mother of what I lovingly call a chatterbox, I often found myself drifting off when she was talking. When she was little, the car ride could feel endless. It seemed like her little mouth would go into overdrive while my ears stayed in neutral. Often I was jostled out of my reverie by a voice calling,”Mom did you hear me?”

Usually I followed the conversation enough where I could repeat the words she had just said back to her. But even during those times, I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t really listening. Sure I heard the words she said, but I didn’t listen to the tone of her voice, catch an occasional glimpse of her face, or empathize with the story she was telling me.

Now she’s a teenager and I long for a car ride with my little chatterbox. It appears while I was off daydreaming about what to cook for dinner, or how to arrange it so all the kids made it to their after-school activities, and of course home again, my baby grew up on me and turned into a moody teenager.

Now, the words “Do you hear me?” are coming from my mouth and my daughter is the one nodding her head and repeating my words back to me. I know she’s not actually listening to me because hours later when I check to see if she did the chores that I had asked her to do, I find the litter box hasn’t been touched by human hands, the dishes never made their way to the dishwasher, and her backpack is still in the middle of the kitchen floor.

I feel sad that time has changed my daughter so much. I long for a bedtime chat where she is still talking incessantly. But she doesn’t have the time now. She’s too busy with her friends, sporting events, and even studying.

However, I am blessed to have a Heavenly Father who is more than willing to listen to my every word. If it’s important to me then it’s important to Jesus. How refreshing it is to know Jesus is up in heaven hearing my every word. Not once does His mind drift off to other more important matters.

He loves me so much; He even came to earth to die for my sins, enabling me the chance to spend eternity with Him. All He asks is that I believe in Him and follow His word; in exchange He gives me everlasting love. Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom

Dear Jesus, Thank you for loving us enough to truly listen to us. Remind us to listen to the people we encounter today. In Your name we pray. Amen.

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