Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fruits of the Spirit - Goodness

I don’t know about the rest of you but I find that I am easily distracted electronically. A few weeks ago I was reading up on some ways to study the Bible, ways to get a deeper understanding of the Word rather than just reading it and hoping that something would absorb into my mind and I came across verse mapping. In the course of reading up on verse mapping and reading numerous blogs and clicking links to other blogs and other articles. Pretty soon I found myself reading a blog article about productivity. As my extended time of being distracted online shows, I desperately need to be more productive. More times than I care to admit, I find myself distracted and all my good intentions of getting things done go out the window so I read the article and it referenced a book called Do More Better. The first part of this book speaks of our purpose as a Christian and God used it to remind me and motivate me to find and have a purpose in my productivity. It spoke of the purpose of the Christian after salvation is to do good and to bring God glory. As I thought about the reason I do things and reason I read and study the Word and the reason I come to church, I found that it was all about me. It is about my struggles, my emotions, my salvation, my disappointments and about my victories. I find that my walk with God is very internal and very self-critical. I find myself studying to be encouraged in the Word but not necessarily for the sharing and ministering to the hurting around me. When it comes time for altar call, I find myself absorbed into my own inabilities and my own insecurities that I do not feel comfortable praying with and ministering to those that are going through struggles or dealing with heart-ache, pain or even addiction.  While reading this book I found myself realizing that as a Christian I was not fulfilling my purpose. God had given me the Holy Ghost, and an understanding of the Word, talents, skills and abilities and I was using them for my own self, to encourage myself, to strengthen myself, and that isn’t what God called us to do. God has called us to do good, not just for the sake of doing good but to bring Him Glory. The Bible says in Matthew 12:33, Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit and in Luke 6:44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. So if I truly want to be a Christian, a follower of Christ and claim to walk in the spirit, then my fruits should match up to the fruits of the spirit which are not self-centered or self-indulgent.

So what does goodness look like? Does it look the same on everyone? Is everyone’s fruit of goodness identical? I don’t think so we are each in different seasons of life. The season that I am in as a single, empty-nester, is going to look different than a mom with three school aged children or a couple with 4 little ones or even a wife who has a husband in the ministry.  I think of the couple with 4 toddler boys at home and their goodness will look a lot like raising the boys, caring for their needs and teaching them to love God and have compassion for others. The minister's wife's goodness may look a lot like, caring for the ladies ministry of our church and of the state, giving herself to prayer and being available to encourage and minister to the hurting in our community as well as giving respite care to her children. For each of us, our goodness will look different but it should still be identifiable by those around us and will give God glory. I have to ask myself, what does my goodness look like from the perspective of those around me? Are people able to identify me as a follower of Christ? Do I display compassion, love and moderation or am I given to intolerance, impatience or extreme behavior? Can my co-workers identify me as a Woman of God by my actions and attitudes, rather than just my dress? Do I communicate with God often enough that he is able to open my eyes to the needs and the pain around me so that I can bring peace and joy to those whose lives are in turmoil? Our goodness should shine like a beacon in the world, to those outside of these walls but it should also be demonstrated amongst us, the body of Christ. In John 13:35 Jesus said that we are known to be his followers when we have love for one another. I must admit, I like my own company and like being home but am I demonstrating goodness and bringing God glory by not interacting with those around me? Am I letting my goodness shine when I come to church and go home and don’t look seek to encourage our young people who predominately come from broken or dysfunctional homes? Can I send a note to someone and encourage them and show the love that Jesus spoke of? Instead of just praying for my and my loved ones needs, shouldn't I also include those that are hurting in our church, our community and even in the world. I believe that in demonstrating goodness to those around us, whether it be our children or the addict that walks in our church or the co-worker that is going though a hard time, we can save a soul. Through goodness, we will draw people to Christ and bring Him glory. When we allow God to be our shepherd and follow him then goodness and mercy will naturally follow. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today's Word - Faithful

God is Faithful - 1 Corinthians 1:9

Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it. - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) - Hebrews 10:23

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. - Deuteronomy 7:9

Today as I was doing the War Room Bible Study I was struck by Hebrews 10:23. Sometimes life will knock us off of our feet and take the wind out of our sales. We will be hit by an unexpected bill, life threatening illness or a broken relationship and our emotions become entangled with fear, anxiety and worry. Perhaps life threw you a curve ball and you are now having to move forward with a life for which you didn't plan or prepare. I think most of us have had a moment where we are stunned by life's happenings and maybe feel alone and adrift. Our emotions have gotten the better of us and we have allowed worry and fear dictate our life and our decisions. Perhaps it is the breakdown of a relationship and we allow our fear of being alone propel us into another ill-advised relationship. Maybe the doctor has given us a report that is not good or in the mail was news of another bill that you can't afford to pay. Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or the state of our emotions, one truth stands... God is faithful. God's faithfulness isn't decided about how we feel or our circumstances. His faithfulness is not determined by whether the sun is shining or storms of life are threatening to overwhelm us. There is no circumstance in your life or mine that will change the fact that God IS faithful. If he told you that he will take care of you, he is faithful. If he called you to a city to preach the gospel, he is faithful. If you need food, clothing or shelter, God is faithful. If you have a decision to make, God is faithful. If you need healing, God is faithful. There is no "if" or "but" to it - God is faithful. 

So when bad news comes your way and your emotions try to get the better of you... stand on the truth that God is faithful. When a need arises in your life that is bigger than your resources, hold fast to the truth that God is faithful. If life should overwhelm you with depression, anxiety or worry, grab tight to the solid truth GOD IS FAITHFUL!!! All the time, every time God is faithful. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Work as Unto the Lord

Luke 21: (12)But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. (13) And it shall turn to you for a testimony. (14) Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what you shall answer: (15) For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.  (17) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. (18) But there shall not an hair of your head perish (19) In patience possess ye your souls.

Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men:"  

Ephesians 6:5-6 "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;"

Have you ever worked at a place and you enjoy the job and 90% of the people but there are a few people that it seems seek to cause contention and discord among the team. It seems they take pleasure in tearing people down and causing them fear, anxiety and potential financial difficulties. When I see this behavior it makes me very upset, angry and stressed, whether it is directed at me or part of the team. My human response to this type of behavior is, "I have got to get out of this place because I can't work with this craziness." So I attempt to take the route of running away from the situation by looking for other employment. Last night as I was looking for a verse regarding another study, I came across the above scriptures and felt God directing my thoughts. It is a fact that in this life we will have persecutions. In this life we will have people that seek to destroy us whether it is physically, financially or emotionally. It doesn't even matter if they claim to be a Christian or not. There are those that claim to be Christians but do not allow the Holy Spirit to reign in their life and instead allow bitterness, ego, and contention reign. In Colossians 3:23 it tells us that everything we do, including work should be done with heart and unto the Lord. In Ephesians the Word of God goes a little farther and states that we should do our jobs and work as unto the Lord. If we are doing our work as unto the Lord, we can count on being singled out. Those that see and recognize the peace and contentment that we have in the Holy Ghost and feel the lacking in their own life will find a way to cause contention and stress. It is those moments of persecution we, in our human desire to self-preserve, remove ourselves from the situation, potentially out of the will of God. When we remove ourselves from the persecution without seeking the council of God, we are withholding from our own lives the very testimony that God wants to give us. If we can, with patience and prayer, settle the truth in our hearts that God will give us the words and wisdom for any situation, we will find that we are over-comers. When God gives us the words and wisdom, those that seek our hurt will not be able to resist or have any say against us. So when persecution and difficulties come, know assuredly that with patience you shall possess your soul.

Psalm 37:7-8 "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in anywise to do evil."

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established by goings. An he hath put a new song in mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."

Monday, January 16, 2017

God is our Comforter

In today's society there is so much pain and baggage that we carry due to the words and deeds of others. Lately I have read of young people killing themselves due to the bullying behavior of others. People inflict words of hurt or actions of exclusion on each other like it is of no importance. Whether in school, church, work or groups and clubs people seem to take pleasure in excluding others and treating others like they are less important, less worthy. Those that are on the receiving end of the harsh words, mean-spirited behavior and sometimes even the physical abuse, might find themselves feeling exactly as the bully wanted them to feel. They feel not good enough, not worthy of respect, not capable of achieving more. But I have good news for you... "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who are thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die; and of the son of man which shall be made as grass" The action verb comfort means to ease the grief or distress.  The Word of God tells us to not concern ourselves with those that try to exclude us, or those that call us names, or talk behind our back. The reason we do not need to concern ourselves with them is because God, the creator of all things, the Savior of the world, is our comforter. It is He that will ease our grief and pain. Those people that bully, intimidate or abuse you, are just humans that will pass away like the grass... here one day and gone the next. We do not need to hold on to those feelings of insecurity or worthlessness for God is our comfort and our salvation. Regardless of what the world may throw your way, take comfort in Jesus Christ.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18