Friday, June 28, 2013

Power of Choices

So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company. (Genesis 13:11 NIV)

Power of Choices
Choices are a part of life. Some of the choices we make are pretty minor. My clothing choices this morning likely will not have a huge impact on the rest of my life, for example.

Other decisions, however, can be much more life-changing. Sometimes—perhaps even often—we have no idea how much of an impact a decision may have on our perspective, our future, our lives.

One of these life-changing choices was made by the Old Testament character Lot, nephew to Abraham. Abraham had decided that the two of them, who had been living together, needed to part company and settle in different parts of the land. Abraham had given his nephew first choice. I'd wager Lot had no idea of the repercussions this one decision would bring.

Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. (Genesis 13:10-12)

It probably didn't look like that important of a decision at the time. In hindsight, however, we know the results were disastrous.

Lot was looking for 'the good life'—he saw the well-watered plain, and knew his existence would be much easier if he set down his roots there. His sheep would be more satisfied, his men would be more satisfied, and life would generally be less painless. Or so he thought.

He forgot to consider his neighbors. Did you notice the very end of the 13th verse? 'He pitched his tents near Sodom.' Now, you might think that this is a case of hindsight being 20/20. (I know I don't have to tell you the problems with Sodom). But, that is not indicated in the text. The very next verse informs us that the men of Sodom 'were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.'

So, perhaps we give Lot a cheer for not settling in the city. But that doesn't last long. By the time God's judgment is about to be meted on it, Lot is a resident of the city-and possibly even an official. And the damage has been done. Though Lot continues to follow God (he is, after all in the Hebrews 12 "hall of faith"), he and his family meet much disaster.

  • He stooped low enough to offer his daughters as sexual playthings 
  • His wife turned to a pillar of salt 
  • He had to leave a home, no matter how debased, that he wanted to stay in 
  • His daughters had incestuous relationships with him, birthing two nations that would eventually be Israel's enemies

What a bunch of tragedy from one choice. Have you made a choice like this? Did you consider your potential 'neighbors?'

Seek the Lord: not the easy life. With Him behind each choice, you can't help but be in His will. Joanne Sher

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the freedom to make our own choices. Help us, though, Lord, to make the decisions that You know are best for us. Help us to make Your priorities ours, so we will receive Your blessings and not the curses of the world around us. Help us to seek You in every choice we make. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Spirit-filled Expressions

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19 NAS)

Spirit-filled Expressions
I read in a devotional some time ago a story of a man waiting for his heart bypass surgery. He was feeling uneasy as he thought about what could go wrong, for he was aware people die during surgery. An orderly soon came by to take him to the surgical suite. While pushing the gurney along the corridor, the orderly hummed an old Irish hymn, ‘Be Thou My Vision.’ Memories of lush green fields and the ancient stone ruins came to the man’s mind, flooding his soul like a fresh breath of home, for Ireland was the land of his birth. When the orderly finished humming the Irish hymn, he then hummed Horatio Spafford’s hymn, ‘It is Well with My Soul.’

“God has used you this day,” said the man to the orderly when they finally arrived outside the surgical suite.

“How so?” the orderly asked in surprise.

“Your ‘hums’ brought God to me,” the man replied.

The Bible teaches us to speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). When our hearts are joyful and thankful to God, our outward expressions can influence and touch others too. Knowingly or unknowingly, our Christlikeness reveals a side of God in us, for the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

Are we growing in Christlikeness and revealing Christ in us? Are we Spirit-filled, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God our Father? If we are not, then let us be careful how we walk—not as unwise men but as wise—that we may understand the will of God and express in kind the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-20; Galatians 5:22-23). Like in a mirror, let us behold the glory of the Lord as we see ourselves being transformed into His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Let our mouths be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy for the Lord has done great things for us (Psalm 126:2-3). Who knows, God may even use our humming to restore someone’s soul.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Transform us Lord into Your image more and more each day as we walk in Your ways according to Your will. Fill our souls with Your joy Lord that we may not be fearful, uneasy, or overwhelmed by the cares of this world but to always be thankful, singing and making melody with our hearts to You.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thumping to Warn or Batter

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19 NIV)

Thumping to Warn or Batter
Those of us who have rabbits as pets would be familiar with their thumping behavior. When a rabbit thumps its hind legs, it is usually to warn its animal or human companions of danger or simply an expression of frustration or anger. Depending on the rabbit’s body language, understanding what it is trying to communicate is easy. If a rabbit appears on alert and tense, it is a clear signal of possible danger. If it appears annoyed, it is telling us, "I don’t like what you are doing" or "I will not be ignored."

Sometimes, our behavior differs little from that of the rabbits. We are willing to look out for the interests of others at times but not always. Once in a while, in our anger or frustration we may get careless with our words and thump at another or our spouse with our unreasonable expectations. One of the most worrying trends prevalent today is domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.

"Domestic violence is a huge problem not only in our communities but tragically in our churches as well," said Dr. George O. Wood in the video Sin by Silence at ChristianityToday.com. "There are more victims in our churches than we would care to admit and it is time to courageously intervene in this plague on our nation. Abusive behavior in our homes and families is simply unacceptable."

According to an article at ForYourMarriage.org, women often stay with their abusers because of fear. They are afraid the abuser will become more violent if they try to leave. Some fear they will lose their children, while many believe they cannot make it on their own. 

"I left with my three daughters several times, but he'd always track us down," said Brenda, a victim of domestic violence sharing her story at Heart-2-Heart.ca. "By the final year of our marriage, my life had deteriorated into a nightmare of fear, pain and despair, and I didn't know how to help for myself."

Abusive men tend to be jealous, possessive and easily angered, wrote the author of the article at ForYourMarriage.org. Typically, they blame their partner for the abuse, saying, "You made me do this." Alcohol and drugs are also common causes of domestic violence.

Conflicts are inevitable in every intimate relationship. Nevertheless, we can come before God to iron out our dissensions and differences toward a healthy conflict resolution. Beyond that, however, we need to understand that domestic violence is not mere marital conflicts and such has no place in a healthy relationship. If there is any abusive behavior in our homes or families, we should not be afraid to sound out to our pastors or to seek help.

The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Colossians 3:19; Ephesians 5:25). A marriage relationship is a covenant and should always be one of love and care (Malachi 2:14-15; 1 Peter 3:7). If there is anything we need to caution the other, therefore, let us do so out of love to forewarn against hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, dissensions, drunkenness and the like. For whoever lives like this and practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). Thumping to express displeasure or demand obedience is not the way to go, for God hates those who love violence (Psalm 11:5).

Dear Lord, we pray for families to live in love without abuse or violence. We ask O God for those under abuse not to remain in silence and for Your comfort and care to lead them to the help they need. Forgive us Lord if we are the abuser, and correct us in the way You would have us change from our violent ways. Tame our anger Lord and fill us with Your love, just as You loved the church and gave Yourself up for her. Renew us in spirit and mind Lord that we may be set free from our old ways to live anew to bear the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Sin by Silence
by SinBySilenceDoc

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cost of Whining

Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17 NAS)

Cost of Whining
In a news article of February 21, 2013 at WishTV.com, a Greenwood doctor was reported to be under fire after he admitted to charging a patient more money for whining, among other complaints.

“I charged him level 5,” the doctor wrote in his blog post, “for taking so much of my time, for bad-mouthing his previous doctors, and for incessant whining.”

Several medical billing experts interviewed said the post written by the doctor is unlikely to rise to the level of “illegal billing” as it would be hard to prove the intent of billing abuse.

Bad-mouthing and whining are not something uncommon to many people. When we do our best in our job, for example, we tend to sometimes expect our hirer to reward us in one way or another besides paying us what is due. At times, we may feel unhappy or discontent when we do not receive the appreciation or reciprocal return we feel we deserve, especially when we see our peers getting rewarded instead of us. Perhaps we may have put in more hours at work than the others and yet receive the same wages or bonuses, or perhaps we did not receive anything at all. Gradually, we may begin to grumble and whine without realizing the harm we are bringing to ourselves and others.

The Bible contains many teachings about grumbling and complaining. In the epistle to the brethren at Corinth, Paul wrote about the events that took place in the Old Testament days to teach them the mistakes to avoid so they may not have to bear the consequences. One of these mistakes includes grumbling or complaining (1 Corinthians 10:10).

Job, in his sufferings and troubles, complained (Job 7:11; 10:1). King David, praying for the destruction of the treacherous, complained and murmured (Psalm 55:17). God responded to Job with a question and Job sought forgiveness (Job 40:1-5). David acknowledged God’s salvation and redemption in bringing his complains to God (Psalm 55:16, 18).

Are we grumbling, murmuring, complaining or whining? If we are, then let us be aware the consequences we may have to bear. While charging extra may be unethical in medical billing, the price we pay for bad attitudes or behavior can cost us more. If we are a worker or an employee, our job can be put at risk if we persist with our grumbling or whining. Such behavior is bad influence to others and can cause low morale—a sure way to get fired. Remember, in whatever we do we should work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord we will receive our reward (Colossians 3:23-24).

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes whining, grumbling, murmuring or complaining about so many things. We know Lord the consequences we may have to bear with such behavior and we pray that You be merciful to us in our weakness. Help us rise above our circumstances Lord, knowing that our reward is from You, not men. Renew us by Your Spirit Lord that we may grow to be more and more like You each day and not be a bad influence to others. Redeem our soul in peace O Lord as we call upon You to save us in our times of troubles and need.

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