Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finding Quality Time for God and Our Family...

For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His works.  Hebrews, Chapter 4, verse 4.

I like the way that God looks out for my family in spite of our weaknesses.  He knows that I work intensely all week and I spend all weekend either caught up in doing the things I took home from work or I get involved in other projects.  If I spend all my spare time focused on work and projects, then I’m not spending my time focused on God and my family.
I have an aunt and an uncle who don’t work on the day that they go to church.  I always thought it was admirable, but I would come up with twenty billion reasons why I needed to do these projects instead.  When I read the Bible, I realized that God says over and over again (mostly in the Old Testament) that we aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath and are to have a day of rest, focusing on God and our family.
I got to thinking about this.  If He went out of His way to make sure that this was in the Bible so many times, there must be a good reason for it.  The more I thought about it, I realized that if we are doing things from work or other projects all week, we will rarely find quality time for God and our family.  God wants us to have priorities in our lives.  After God who is our first priority, our families should come next and then our work.  Think of how many children rarely get to spend time with their parents because they are too busy working late or they are involved in work related projects at home. 
God also gives us added benefits for not working on the Sabbath.  Taking this day to focus on God and our families allows us to be refreshed for the new week.  When we stay busy all weekend after a hectic week, we are more apt to become impatient with our family members over the little things that arise.  Additionally, when we get caught up in our work and projects, we are more apt to find excuses for not going to church with our family.
The worst part is that we are poor examples to our children.  If we stay busy working all the time, they won’t grow up learning how to pace themselves either.  Everyone needs to maintain a healthy balance in their lives.  If work becomes the sole focus, then our families are bound to lose out-not to mention us.
Someday our kids will be grown and out of the house.  Will they come and visit us regularly when we are older?  Did we model the importance of family time while they were growing up?  Will they be too busy doing their own projects and work that they have no time for us?  What’s worse is the possibility that they will have no time for their own families.  Are we perpetuating a cycle of super busy people who have little time to interact with others?  That’s something to think about.
As I said, God has this stated and restated throughout the Bible.  I’m going to list some of the Bible passages that support this so you can see the lengths that God went to in order to remind us to have a day of rest to focus on Him and our families.

Here are some related passages:
*Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.  Exodus, Chapter 23, verse 12.
*Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.  Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.  Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.  Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.  Exodus, Chapter 31, verses 13-17.
*And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the Words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye should do them.  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD, whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.  Exodus, Chapter 35, verses 1-3.
*Ye shall keep My Sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD.  Leviticus, Chapter 19, verse 30.
*Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My feasts.  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.  Leviticus, Chapter 23, verses 2-3.
*Ye shall keep My Sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary. I am the LORD.  Leviticus, Chapter 26, verse 2.
*There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.  Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.  Nehemiah, Chapter 13, verses 16-18.

*Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.  But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.  And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto Me saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.  And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.  But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.  Jeremiah, Chapter 17, verses 21-27.

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, January 27, 2014

Should We Focus on Angels?

God Who hath at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High; Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.  For unto which of the angels said He at any time, thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee?  And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son? And again, when He bringeth in the First Begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.  And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.  But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.  Hebrews, Chapter 1, verses 1-8.

This passage reinforces my concern that people might get led astray by focusing on angels rather than focusing on God.  Angels have become popular in the last few years.  There are some shows focused on angels and some catalogs and stores filled primarily with angels.  The thing is, God doesn’t want us worshipping angels or giving them undue attention.  I think some people get confused and think they are really focusing on God when they pay so much attention to angels.  Some people even pray to their guardian angel rather than praying to God, thinking it’s one and the same thing, but it isn't.
If the angel in Revelation forbade John to bow down to him (last asterisk), then I would think we should pay attention to this.  We are to focus on God and not the angels even though they are God’s ministering spirits.  Our focus is to always be on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; none other.
Here are some related passages:
*But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of Salvation?  Hebrews, Chapter 1, verses 13-14.
*And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.  And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah.  Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD.  For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.  Judges, Chapter 13, verse 15-16.
*And I John saw these things, and heard them, And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.  Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.  Revelation, Chapter 22, verses 8-9.

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, January 23, 2014

It's Not Who You Know That Gets You Into Heaven

That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the Law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  Titus, Chapter 3, verses 7-9.

I remember hearing that some people seem to feel that they deserve a certain amount of prestige because they have followed their family roots all the way back to those who landed on Plymouth Rock.  I know following your family tree can be interesting, but I think God is saying that even if we checked our genealogy and found we were related to the Apostle Paul himself, we would be wasting our time.  It’s not who you know that gets you into heaven, it’s our love for Jesus and trying to lead the life He wants for us.  That’s what makes the difference!

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, January 20, 2014

Not Getting Involved in Male Bashing

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.  In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.  Titus, Chapter 2, verses 1-7.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone is griping about their husband or wife? After a few minutes it seems that the rest of the people in the group start pointing out the flaws of their spouse, as well.  On the ride home, these petty little flaws seem to be magnified because they have been publicly brought to your attention.  God tells us in this passage that we are to be good examples to younger generations and should not get caught up in such discussions.
The younger generation learns by example and so did we.  If their parents, grandparents or elders have a drink every time there is some type of problem, it sets a bad example.  I’m not saying that an occasional drink is wrong, but it can become a crutch for all of the little problems that arise in life.  It sends a real negative message when our children, grandchildren and friends see us turn to the bottle every time we have a problem or we have a disagreement with our spouse.  They think that is the way things are supposed to be handled.
If they see us always complaining about our spouse, they are more apt to do the same with their spouse.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want my children arguing with their spouses or turning to the bottle or recreational drugs to help them escape the problems that arise.  I would much rather be a positive example of how God works in my daily life and in my marriage.

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.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Lives of the Rich and Famous Christians...

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons.  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him,  Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool; Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?  But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?  Do not they blaspheme that worthy Name by the which ye are called?  If ye fulfil the royal Law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.  James, Chapter 2, verses 1-8.

We have become “The Lives of the Rich and Famous Christians,” catering to those with status who look and dress a particular way.  I wish I could say that I didn’t fall into this category, but I can’t.  I think our society falls prey to this, as well.  If we were on a bus, train or subway; would we stand to give our seat to someone who looks down and out or would we stand for someone who was either rich or famous?  I have a feeling I know which answer I would get if people were really being honest.
If you really think about it, our human logic is backward.  Some of the people with wealth don’t do as much physical labor and are not exposed to the weather conditions as much as those who are needier.  Those who are less fortunate probably need our seat more than those with wealth.  Well, the same goes with our kindness.  The wealthy often have others who treat them courteously, but do we extend that same courtesy to the poor?  I’m ashamed to say that I don’t always.  I wouldn’t want God to treat me as indifferently as I sometimes treat those who are less fortunate.  Sure, I give clothes that I no longer want to the needy, but that takes minimal effort.  That is giving out of my excess and I don’t think that’s the same as treating others with the respect and the courtesy that they deserve.

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, January 16, 2014

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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Take the Time to Pray for Those Who Don't Know Christ

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  Ephesians, Chapter 4, verses 7-13.

This makes me think about a watch with its back taken off.  There are all kinds of mechanisms and gears in a watch.  Each gear and mechanism looks a little different from each other and does something a little different, but all the gears and mechanisms of the watch work together with one ultimate goal.
I think Christians are like the gears and mechanisms of the watch.  We all have different gifts and abilities, but should all have the one unifying and ultimate goal of being the examples God wants us to be.  We might all do this in different ways.  Some might go door to door sharing their love for Jesus, while someone else does this by asking a friend to go to church with them.  Some accomplish this by giving their money, their time or their talents to do God’s work.  Still others do God’s work through being a good example of how Christ works in their life.
Hopefully all, regardless of their gifts, take the time to pray for those who don’t know Christ in their lives, since they all have the same ultimate and unifying goal.

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.

Being an Instrument that God Can Use to Touch the Lives of Others

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 connection.s

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Praying to God with the Little Things

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.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Satan Can Sneak Into Our Lives Through Very Subtle Things

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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sometimes I Get a Little Arrogant and Self-Righeous

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.

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