Thursday, October 31, 2013

We Don't Have to Continue to Steal...

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Ephesians, Chapter 4, verse 28.

When I was about ten years old, I talked a neighbor into going to the local “Candy Store.”  I talked him into stealing some candy, graham crackers and gum ball rings with me.  I even talked him into going back to do the same thing a second time.
I stopped doing that.  No, I never got caught and no one ever told on me.  I just didn't feel right inside.  I knew I had stolen and so did God.  No matter what I did, I couldn't rationalize things.  God knew it and I knew it.  It was as simple as that!  All I could think to do at the time was to stop stealing and to become a better example of how God works in my life.  (I guess I should have gone to make amends to the store owner, but that didn't cross my mind until about 20 years later.)
Now, as a school teacher, I remember this situation when I find one of my students stealing something.  (It’s kind of funny, every year I have a student who takes a big handful of the play money that I use for math.  When I talk to them, they always try to tell me that a relative gave it to them.)  Then, I tell them about when I was about their age and stole too.  I talk about how I didn't like how I felt inside because I knew I stole, so I stopped stealing.  I ask them if I’m a bad person now.  (They always tell me no.)  Then, I ask them if stealing was a poor choice?  I tell them they are right.  Stealing is a poor choice, but we don’t have to continue to steal.  I tell them that I have confidence that they can turn things around just like I did.
Sometimes I get concerned when youngsters do something wrong and label themselves as “bad people”.  I think they sometimes start behaving like they think “bad people” behave.  It’s so important for kids to realize that they aren't “bad people,” but have just made poor choices and are able to turn it around and to make better choices.  This is important to remember the next time a child does something that upsets you.  We want them to realize how to make better choices in the future, rather than staying focused on all the poor choices that they have made in their lives.  I’m so glad that God has been much more forgiving of me than I have been of others.


Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.


This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Holding on to Anger...

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  Ephesians, Chapter 4, verse 26.

I have always heard this Bible verse used in relation to marriage.  I really believe whole-heartedly that this is good advice for both adults and children.  There have been nights when I have gone to bed frustrated with a family member and then this verse pops into my head.  (I’m so glad God looks after me that way!)  I get back up and work things out with whichever family member I need to.  I get a good night’s sleep, feeling the situation has been peacefully resolved, which sets a good example for the rest of the family.  When we hold onto anger, it eats away at us and doesn't make us very good examples of how God works in our lives.
Here is a related passage:
*Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.  Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, verse 9.

Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.


This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Was My Loss of Integrity Worth the Ten Cents I Was Saving?

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the Spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man Truth with his neighbour for we are members one of another.  Ephesians, Chapter 4, verses 22-25.

This passage is basically saying that once you become a Christian, you should start living the life of a Christian, putting away your old sinful behaviors.  It makes me think of a time when I went to the grocery store with coupons in hand; ready to cut my expenses big time!  I remember having a coupon for ten cents off of a particular brand of raisins.  I didn't want that brand of raisins, though.  It probably was considerably more expensive even with the ten cent off coupon.  I ended up getting the cheaper box of raisins, knowing it wasn't the right brand for the coupon.
I rationalized my actions, thinking it was only a dime.  I gave the cashier the ten cent off coupon deliberately mixed in between all my other coupons, hoping she didn’t realize that I had substituted the cheaper brand for the more expensive one.
She told me the total for my groceries and I started writing my check and had to stop.  This situation impacted my life!  The cashier didn’t realize I was lying and was stealing by substituting the cheaper brand of raisins for the coupon I used.  I knew and what was worse, God knew!  Was my loss of integrity worth the ten cents I was saving?  (It’s funny how Satan can sneak up on some of us “Self-righteous Christians,” in very subtle ways.)
I immediately gave her ten cents for the raisins, telling her that I was sorry I had gotten a more expensive brand than the coupon stated.  She told me not to worry about it, it was just a dime.  I told her that I wanted her to take the dime anyway, saying I knew I had taken the wrong raisins and I wouldn’t feel right unless she took the money.  Actually, I thought she would be horrified that I would do such a thing.  I was prepared to be totally embarrassed by the cashier’s reaction because I really deserved it, but it didn’t happen that way.
I didn’t have an obvious consequence for my actions.  It was more the realization that I was lying to God and myself.  I was jeopardizing my Salvation over money.  I’m fortunate that God has this situation pop back in my mind as a reminder from time to time.  It’s especially helpful when I’m a “Looking at the Angles Christian,” figuring out some kind of angle to beat the system or I’m wording things very carefully so that I’m not telling the whole truth in situations, but not exactly telling a lie, either.
I’m very thankful that God gives me a conscience to remind me when I start slipping into old human ways again.

Because this is an example of how I've applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.


This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do You Spend Your Life Feeling Powerless Like Pinocchio?

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the Truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.  Ephesians, Chapter 4, verses 14-15.

Some people appear to act as if they are marionettes like Pinocchio and others act like real people.  The ones who act like marionettes, similar to Pinocchio, seem to blame everyone else and circumstances for all the things that happen in their lives.  They act as if they are powerless puppets and others are pulling all their marionette strings, controlling their lives.
The ones who seem to be real people realize that they make choices in their lives that impact the things that happen to them.  If things don’t turn out the way they want, they look at the choices they are making and make changes that ultimately turn their lives around.
I think that God wants us, as Christians, to be real people.  Ones who can change our choices if we find our lives aren’t going in the direction that would glorify God.  He doesn’t want us to be marionettes like Pinocchio, being led astray by those who promise the fun and excitement of the worldly life.  He doesn’t want us to feel like we have no control over our choices and are powerless to change our lives.
If you have spent your life feeling powerless like Pinocchio, God is here to cut the strings that bind you and lead you astray.  He can make you the real Christian you want to be.  You can turn to Him to help you make the necessary changes…no strings attached!  (I couldn't resist adding that!)

Because this is an example of how I've applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

God Works Through Us for His Glory...

And to know the love of Christ; which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.  Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.  Ephesians, Chapter 3, verses 19-21.

I was concerned that this passage might be one that people who focus on using “the god power within them” might use to support their belief in this erroneous concept.  This passage has listed Colossians, Chapter 1, verse 29 as a cross-reference.  It is really helpful to read this for clarification of what the passage in Ephesians really means.
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.  Colossians, Chapter 1, verse 29.
These two passages aren’t talking about using “the god power within me” to acquire the things you wish to attain or to accomplish.  What this is talking about, from what I understand, is that God works through us for His glory when we are the examples He wants us to be.  An illustration might be that we are there to support a friend or a co-worker who is at a major turning point in their life.  God was there working through us by our example.  He was there through our support, our comforting words and our telling them of how our faith in God gets us through the tough times.  He works through us in our explanation of the positive impact that God has had on our lives.
Being an instrument that God can use to touch the lives of others is a wonderful experience!  God works through different people in different ways, just like the passage I wrote about earlier that says God gives us each different types of gifts to glorify Him.  (Paraphrased)

Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Taking Care of Even the Smallest of My Worries...

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians, Chapter 3, verse 19.

It truly is difficult to comprehend how God works in our lives.  I remember growing up thinking that God was this distant, glorious being who was there to take care of us when we had important issues.  Now, I have found that if I pray to Him with little things like the key not turning over in the ignition or ask Him to find something I’m looking for, He is there taking care of even the smallest of my worries.

Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's More of an Intellectual Challenge to Find My Very Best Deal...

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.  Ephesians, Chapter 3, verse 17.

I like the mental picture that I get when I think of Christ dwelling in my heart.  I break His heart when I focus on making worldly choices.  I get caught up in looking at all the angles to save a dime, not necessarily because I need to.  It’s more of an intellectual challenge to find my very best deal and it’s exhilarating to find a bargain!
When I go to purchase things, I often look at all the prices that are stamped on the items.  Sometimes they mislabel them, pricing an item considerably lower than all the rest.  I know it must be some type of error but I’ve taken it to the cash register, exhilarated because I have found this great deal.
I try to rationalize it in my mind, saying that it’s the store’s fault for mislabeling things and they have to live up to their error or it is false advertising.  Then I usually get a strong, intense feeling that I’m doing something against my religious principals.  I know that I’m not being a good example of how God works in my life and I generally tell the cashier about the price difference.
I say generally, because writing this has made me aware that I just did this recently and I didn’t draw it to the cashier’s attention.  We were driving through Kansas on the way to see my grandkiddos for Christmas.  I have a very good friend whose daughter collects Wizard of Oz memorabilia.  I saw this figurine I wanted to get for her daughter and I found one that was marked $3.00 less than all the others on the shelf.  I rationalized this by telling myself that it’s from an older shipment that was marked the lower price, thinking the newer ones were marked the higher price.  This time, I never told the cashier.
I feel terrible about this, because I feel like I am being a hypocrite as I write this to you.  It just so happened that I still had the receipt.  I just went to see if it had an address on it, but it didn’t.  Of course, that would have been the chicken way out!  It would have been pretty easy to send this person $3.00 in the mail.  It did have the phone number on the receipt, so I called.
I apologized and wanted her address to send her the money.  (They don’t have mail service for the turnpike businesses.)  When she told me that wasn’t necessary, I explained that I consider myself a Christian and needed to live by my Christian ethics and I hadn’t.  I knew there had been a $3.00 difference in the price of the figurines and hadn’t brought it to her attention.
She told me not to worry about it, but I do—not because of the $3.00.  It bothers me that I could find it so easy to backslide into old worldly ways when I think I’m making great strides at being the person that God wants me to be.
This has been a very humbling experience for me.  Satan can sneak into our lives through very subtle things and I let him do it without even batting an eye!  Fortunately, Jesus dwells in my heart and lets me know when I’m not living the life that He wants.

Because this is an example of how I've applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sometimes I Get a Little Arrogant and Self-Righteous...


In whom we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.  Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 7.

Sometimes I get a little arrogant and self-righteous and think about the good things that I think I’m doing for others.  Passages like this are very humbling.  They remind me of how Jesus gave His life for us.  That’s why I have my Salvation, not from any things I do to earn it.  The things that we do for others need to be for God, out of love.  They shouldn't be to draw attention to ourselves or for us to become smug, thinking we are good Christians because we do these things.

Because this is an example of how I've applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Because of Drug, Alcohol and Counterproductive Choices...

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.  Galatians, Chapter 6, verses 7-10.

This reminds me of the rock stars who have gotten caught up in all the fame and money and end up has-beens because of drug, alcohol and counterproductive choices they make in their lives.
Then I think of Mother Teresa and all the wonderful, selfless things she did for others during her life.  Although, I wouldn't be the envy of all my neighbors, I would rather work toward having similar attributes as Mother Teresa, with my focus on God’s Will for me rather than living and dying in the fast lane.

Because this is an example of how I've applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

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