The Word of the Lord. The Bible. What does it mean to you? Do you read the Bible on a regualr basis? If so, why? If not, why not? What does the Word of God mean to you? Is it an attractive decoration for your coffee table that never gets opened? Is it a handy-dandy guide to help you here and there when the going gets too tough for you to handle on your own? Is it simply a blur of stories from long ago that you just don’t feel you can identify with? Continue reading
If you are in the habit of conversing with Christians, and even non-Christians, you might notice a trend:
People tend to take snippets out of the Bible and base their life decisions on those snippets.
This is an issue, and it can be a huge issue. The Bible is meant to be read, understood and followed in its entirety. If you believe that certain parts of what God says are “for real” and other parts of His Word are simply “advice”, you are heading down a dangerous path.
The Bible, as a whole, is God’s instruction manual to His people, similarly to how you have an instruction manual for your car.
If, with your car, you follow the advice about changing your oil regularly but don’t follow the advice about replacing your brakes as needed, you are obviously headed for trouble. The Bible works much in the same way.
It is meant to be read, understood, and followed as a whole. This doesn’t necessarily mean you do every task listed in the Bible, as some suggestions are based on the habits of the time period, and some are based for all time.
For instance, in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 23, verse 12-13, the Israelites are commanded to leave the camp when they have to “poo”, dig a hole, and cover it up. This is a task instructed for the specific time and place, and is not necessary for most people in the modern world due to the blessing of the modern sewer system.
However, when God says in Proverbs 22:7 that the borrow is servant to the lender, and in Romans 13:8 that we are to “owe no man, except in love”, He is giving us instruction for all time.
My point here is that often times we take and follow the rules and instructions in the Bible that are comfortable for us, and dismiss the rest as garble. This leads to so much destruction in life, as we see from the many people in the world who suffer from serious financial problems and life problems that have arisen from the accumulation of debt, for instance.
But, the Bible is Too Hard to Understand
Someone once told me that we each have the right to interpret the Bible as best as we see fit. This is a lie. The Bible is NOT subject to our interpretation – we are subject to the instructions set forth in the Bible. It is our responsibility to work continuously to find out what God means by a specific instruction or law, and not be content to ASS-U-ME that we know what He’s talking about by hanging onto one specific verse instead of the Bible as a whole.
We learn to do this by committing to reading the ENTIRE Bible, over and over again, until we “get it”. This is no easy task. I’ve been reading the Bible daily for over 6 years now, and I still have lots to learn, but the puzzle pieces are starting to fit into place for me now. When I read a section of the Bible, I’m more easily able to put it together with the rest of what the Word says because I better understand the Word in its entirety.
If you are truly looking to get the most out of your relationship with Jesus, and are wanting to walk in His best for your life, then bless yourself by becoming a student of the Word – the entire Word - of God.
In order to get the most out of our personal relationship with Christ, it’s important that we understand how that relationship was meant to be formatted. In other words, we need to know how to ” seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness “. Many people view God as sort of a independent consultant. He’s there when you need Him, to call on when trouble comes, or when you want that big raise/new house/relationship to work out, or whatever. In most people’s lives, they’re running the show, deciding what they’ll do and not do, where they’ll go and not go every day, and using God as a consultant to complete the tasks they want to complete. Continue reading
Dear Lord, thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Thank you for always providing for ALL of my needs, according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Thank you that your Word is true, and that your character does not change depending on our circumstances, but that no matter what the circumstances, you are always our Healer, our Protector, our Teacher, our Father and our Creator. Help me to gain a thorough knowledge of Your Word, Your Character and Your Will, as outlined clearly in the Bible. In Jesus’ precious Name I pray, Amen.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21)
I’ve had this post on my heart for several days now, so I thought I’d better get going and write it up.
Do you ever come across those situations where you’re having a conversation with somebody who’s totally wrong about something (at least in your option ), and you’re both trying fervently to prove your point? It seems that this happens even more often when it comes to extended family and holiday gatherings, don’t you think?
In fact, I was just having a “discussion” like this with my mom yesterday. We were having our annual cookie baking day, and talking about clean-up procedures. She had her way, and I had mine, which of course, made much more sense and was more efficient. ;-). After a few minutes of friendly bantering, the Lord’s words to me repeated in my mind again:
“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be pleasing in My sight?”
Then I remembered that it really doesn’t matter which of us is right. How and when to clean up the kitchen after our baking session isn’t really a life-threatening issue that must be resolved, is it? But making sure my mom is enveloped in the love of Christ that is (or at least, should be) radiating from me, now that’s important!!! That’s big time, serious stuff, and for those of us with unsaved family members, showering them with that love of Christ on a consistent basis could indeed pave the way to salvation for them.
So, the next time you feel a “debate” brewing, if it’s not a topic that imposes inherent danger to someone, choose, instead of having to be right, to be pleasing in His sight. Refuse to argue. Change the subject, respond with polite niceties, or simply walk away, and choose to focus your emotions on something or someone else. Choose to please God over and above pleasing those fleshly desires we all struggle with. You’ll be glad you did.
Welcome back for another installment of our “How to Walk in Love” series, which can be found here, on our Spirituality page. Today we’ll talk about 1 Corinthians 13:6, where Paul tells us that love does not rejoice in iniquity. As we start, we’ll talk first about two definitions: the definitions of “rejoice” and “iniquity”.
Rejoice: To rejoice means to feel joy, to exalt or to make merry. It also says that to “rejoice in” something means to possess or to have an experience of joy.
Iniquity: Webster’s Dictionary describes iniquity as “wickedness, gross injustice.”
So what does the Bible mean when it says “Love does not rejoice in iniquity?”
Let me present a scenario. Have you ever felt that sense of satisfaction when someone you know, who’s “done you wrong” or has a history of making selfish or hateful decisions has got their “comeuppance?” Have you ever felt joy when a mean or spiteful person in your life received their dose of “what goes around, comes around”? Have you ever been glad when someone you dislike fell deeper into a life of sin and despair, because you know they’ve spent years making everyone else’s life hell?
I know I have.
But you know what? God says that it’s our job to “love our neighbors”. As much as we would all like it to some days, that does not mean “love the neighbors that don’t drive you crazy/tick you off/make your blood boil/aren’t a_____holes.”
So how do you walk in love with someone you can’t stand to be near? Someone who drives you so nuts that you wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if you never saw them again? How do you change your heart so that it no longer rejoices in the iniquity of others?
The best way to start, at least from my experience, is to start with one simple prayer:
“Lord, please help me to see _______________ the way that you see them.”
You can do that, right? Even if you don’t mean it in your heart when you pray, your submission to the Lord in this way will indeed reap benefits and help you to walk in love with the people in your life that grate on your nerves the most.
After you can pray that prayer with a sincere and honest heart, add another prayer for the person:
“Lord, bless ____________”.
I know: this can be really hard, but I know that you can do it. How do I know? Because the Word says that
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says “I know Him” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:3-5)
If you have truly committed your life to the Lord, you have the love of God perfected in you, in your spirit man at least. No, that may not always be the case as far as your flesh acts, but regardless of what part of you you’re letting run the show at the moment, the Love of God truly is in there, perfected in your spirit.
This is how I know that you can indeed pray those prayers of love for those you might not feel love for in your heart at the moment.
So choose today to stop rejoicing in the iniquity of others, and instead to pray for them and bless them. You may or may not change their hearts, but if you give it a serious effort, you will truly heal your own heart and allow an abundance of peace to enter it.
Greetings, friends! Welcome back for another segment in the How to Walk in Love, series, based on 1 Corinthians 13. You can find the other segments in this series by clicking here, but today we’re going to talk about how love is not provoked.
Some versions of the Bible also say “Love is not easily provoked”. Either way, the Word is clear that if we are truly walking in love, we will not allow ourselves to become provoked. What does “provoked” mean?
Provoke: to call forth, give rise to, to excite with anger, to annoy, exasperate.
Those of you with spouses and children may think that this command certainly can’t apply to you.
But it does. What does this mean for you?
It means that when your kids or your husband thoroughly tick you off, you need to keep your cool and not take offense.
It means that when your kid spills his milk for the umpteenth time that you need to remain calm.
It means that when your husband does things that are completely without regard for you or the children that you need to let it go. (Unless of course there are safety issues involved)
The best way I know of going about this is to remember that your loved one’s action is likely not rooted in gaining revenge toward you (and if it is, you may want to evaluate your behavior, past and present, toward them) but instead is rooted in some type of fear or hurt.
Then, remind yourself of your past offenses, both toward others and toward God. When you revisit them, you’ll find that God doesn’t react with wrath (we’re under a NEW covenant now), but instead, with grace and mercy. And He instructs us to do the same.
Allowing yourself to be provoked and react with anger instead of love may offer a short-term change or act of obedience, but long-term, you’re only teaching your loved one that the stronger, more rage-filled person wins the battle.
If you choose, instead of letting yourself be provoked, to respond with grace, mercy and love (this all done in truth, of course), you’re teaching your loved ones two valuable lessons:
1. You’re teaching them that, like the love of Christ, your love for them is unconditional and not performance-based.
2. You’re teaching them that they can trust you to love them, thereby spurring them on to behavior that wants to please.
I got a first-hand lesson in this several years ago. My husband’s childhood was littered with the anger and abuse of an alcoholic father, and therefore he’d never really learned or understood how to be a good husband. For years, he would act selfishly and angrily around me and the kids. However, once I learned this lesson of reacting with love toward his acts, instead of allowing myself to be provoked, his behavior changed. He became more calm, patient and loving. Today, he has a terrific relationship with me and with each of our children.
As we were discussing one day the transformations in our marriage, I asked him “What made you change?”
He said “It was when you started loving me with the love of Christ, instead of reacting to my bad behaviors in anger.”
You see, his behavior changed when I stopped allowing myself to become provoked.
Is it my responsibility to change his actions? Absolutely not.
But by doing my part (walking in love), I benefited our entire family. Now, isn’t that worth it?
Welcome back, friends, for another lesson in walking in love. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here.
Today we’re going to talk about Selfishness. What is selfishness? Webster’s says it is:
Mainly or wholly regarding oneself, heedless of others.
My NKJV says “Love does not seek its own”. This can be a tough pill to swallow, I think, especially for moms. The life of a mom, is all about give, give, give, and it can be difficult to hear that if we are truly walking in love that we should not be seeking our own.
So I want to clarify here that this does not, in any way, shape or form, mean that you as a mother should not be nurturing or caring for yourself. In fact, part of walking in love toward your family is taking good care of yourself, so that your mental and physical state will allow you to care for them for many more years to come. That being said, how do we walk in selflessness without losing ourselves?
1. Make God your first priority. In this riveting word from the Lord that I received back in the spring, the Lord made it abundantly clear that it is crucial that we spend time receiving and basking in His love and His Word, and that this time with Him will give us what we need in order that we may love others selflessly. I’ve been testing it out now for several months, and let me tell you; it really does work! Try it for yourself and see. Spend time in the Word and in prayer not because you should, but for the simple reason of getting filled up with the love of God.
2. Take care of yourself, in a selfless way. Eat right. Exercise. Take some time to sit and read or do other things alone on occasion. Gather with friends, just make sure your friend gatherings aren’t taking priority over your responsibilities at home.
3. Focus on what you’re giving, not what you’re losing. Being selfless as opposed to selfish means that you do what is best for your family as a whole, not just for yourself, and that you choose to take the attitude that doing what’s best for your family really does benefit you too.
4. Understand what being there for your family means. Being a selfless mother and wife doesn’t mean that your kids and your husband have the right to treat you as a slave, maid, and taxi driver at their every whim. Being a selfless mother and wife means that you are there to set an example of what a Godly (read the book of Proverbs) woman is, caring for them, loving them, and modeling the love of Christ for them as you work to support your husband in his role of family leader, drawing your family together emotionally and spiritually. This is your role as mother and/or wife. It’s great if you can immerse your kids in 8 million activities and cart them around to every one, provided it’s what’s best for your family, spirit, soul, body and checkbook. Just be careful not to drain yourself of all sense of being and then damage your family and yourself further as you turn, uselessly, to material things and other activities that will bring you short-term peace, but long term sadness.
Walking in God’s kind of love means that you are a reflection of the love that God has for us. This love is not only unconditional, but it speaks the truth as well. God’s kind of love isn’t about letting people have or do whatever they want, but instead, it’s about doing your best to reflect the loving, disciplining God we serve, a God who does indeed love us as we are, but also has a way of life in mind for us that He deeply desires for us to know and follow.
Here we are for another post in our series about How to Walk in Love. You can find the other parts in the series here:
Today we’ll talk about the next segment in the Bible, which tells us that love is not rude.
As usual, we’ll define the term, which today is “rude” by using Webster’s Dictionary, which defines “rude” as:
discourteous, unmannerly; ungentle; harsh; crude; coarse. Antonyms for rude include decent, gentle, nice and polite.
Rude says “Me first”. It acts without thought or regard for others. Rude interrupts others, cuts others off in traffic, buts ahead in lines and says, in general “My to-do list and life is more important than yours”. Often times I’ve been guilty of this myself when becoming so focused on what I have to get done that I don’t see a person meekly standing a little further back in line, or don’t think before cutting someone off in traffic, or worse, I simply don’t care because I’ve got a lot to do and not much time to do it.
The opposite of rude?
Taking care to notice the people around you and see where you might have an opportunity to show them the love of Christ by:
- letting them go first in line
- letting them have the right of way in traffic (without disregarding traffic rules and endangering others, of course)
- taking the time to give a gentle smile to a fellow shopper or to a co-worker
- putting aside your to-do list to listen to your child’s story or question, or to help them with a task
- making sure your husband has what he needs to make his work week easier, even when you’ve got your own work week to worry about.
The thing about God’s kind of love, friends, is that it tends to come back to us ten-fold The smile you give that fellow shopper will often lead to 5 smiles back, and even a compliment or two.
That extra time you spend with your kid on his “menial” stuff will grow his love for you. He’ll remember it when you’re old and gray and in need of company.
More so than that, your kind-heartedness will shower the love of Christ onto others, softening their hearts for the salvation message they so desperately need to hear.
Love is not just “nice”, it’s powerful. Take advantage today of the power that resides in walking in love.