Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Truth Matters



Teaching children to tell the truth is no small task.  I tried to drive this point home with my children when they were young by saying this, "I’m not punishing you for what you did wrong, but for not telling me the truth when I ask you."   


I did this with the hope that the next time I needed to address untruthfulness they would ponder the message and do the right thing by telling the truth no matter what the consequences might be. 

 

This lesson has been used by parents for generations.  Why?  Because truth matters.

 

The one chapter and thirteen verse of the book of Second John holds a powerful message.

 

·      Know the truth.

·      Walk in the truth.

·      Protect the message of the truth.

 

The truth that John is driving home for us in this book is that we should love one another, and John did not leave the truth of loving one another undefined. 

 

In 2 John 1:4-6 in The Message says this.

 

I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.

 

When training a child, we start at the beginning with a principle that we want them to learn.  That training is consistent and unchanging.  

God started from the beginning teaching His children an unchanging principle too, that we should love one another!

This truth matters.  When Believers allow worldly things to override their love one for another--we are acting in disobedience.   

·      Know the truth—by studying God’s Word to know what the Bible says about love.  

·      Walk in the truth—by showing your love for one another with your words and deeds.

·      Protect the truth—by not bringing shame to the name of Jesus by your unloving actions towards other Believers.

 

One day we will each stand before our Heavenly Father, and I hope He will not judge us too harshly when he recalls our love for one another.    

 

Truth Matters—Love one another.

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Love One Another

The best communication is clear and uncomplicated.  I don't care for all the frills and fluff that can get in the way of the message when things get too wordy.  


Are you familiar with this acronym?  


K.I.S.S.  


It sums up how I feel about most things in life.  Why make it harder than it needs to be?

That's why I love this verse from 1 John 3:11 (TLB).  It's simple and easy to understand yet communicates a message that many Christians struggle with.


For the message to us from the beginning has been 

that we should love one another.


The idea that we should love one another is a simple, uncomplicated command, yet when someone we should be loving upsets or offends us, how quickly do we take our eyes off the Lord and handle things in a way that is anything but love. 

 

If you have failed in loving one another, you're not alone.

  • The brothers of Joseph took their eyes of God and allowed jealousy to rob them of brotherly love.
  • Esau took his eyes off God and gave away his birthright for a bowl of soup.  Then resented his brother for his own poor choices.
  • David took his eyes off God and allowed his flesh to rule his heart.  His bad choices and attempts to cover up his sin led to taking another man’s life. 
  • Peter took his eye off God and, in fear, denied he ever knew Jesus.

I wonder if we choose to say this one simple phrase before taking action if our lives would be better for it.  

...we should love one another.


I think, yes.  


Yes, they would.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Make Every Effort


 

When I'm given a job assignment, I haven't always put forth my best effort.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it's not my strength.  For me, it has been a struggle to enjoy the task at hand because my eye is fixed on the finish line more than giving whatever the task may be my very best effort.  


For me, it's all about getting the job done, and as quickly as possible. 

 

In my life, I've made some blunders, messed up big time, and my hurried work has affected me and those around me.  Not good!  


In the book of 2 Peter, the author writes at the beginning and end of the book: "Make every effort."  This book was written for the early church but also applies to us today. 

 

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, the Apostle Peter gives us stepping stones to help us make every effort to build on a solid foundation.  This verse also tells us what happens when we don't make our best effort.


...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Next time you question if you are making every effort in your life to be effective and productive members of the body of Christ, here's the checklist from 2 Peter for you to consider.  

  • Is it good what you are about to do? (goodness)
  • Is God's word in agreement with what you're about to do? (knowledge)
  • Is it within your power to show self-control in this matter? (self-control)
  • Am I easily distracted by the concerns of this world and not focused on doing God's will?   (perseverance)
  • Will others see Christ in my actions? (godliness)
  • Do my actions show I care for my brothers and sisters in Christ? (mutual affection)
  • Are my actions an expression of love to others? (love)

If your answer is negative to even one of these questions, make every effort to reconsider your actions.  


In this first week of 2021, my prayer is that all who read these words would make every effort to filter their actions through this verse.  


When we do this, we'll become productive and effective representatives of Jesus.   

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Resistance is NOT Futile

 


I don’t think anyone has ever said, “Lucky you.  You’re on a diet.  Wish it were me.”

Nothing is exciting about being on a diet.  It's neverending and hard work to resist unhealthy foods.

In one more day, we will be entering a new year, many people in the United States will be considering lifestyle or spiritual changes in their life.  Maybe you've made the decision to exercise more, read the Bible through, make a greater effort to pray, or maybe drop a few of those extra holiday pounds.


When it comes to resisting holiday treats, I freely admit, this year, I struggled.  I didn’t do well walking away from the Christmas cookies, candy, chips, or second helpings.  


I should have done better.  I knew better.  I could have resisted, but I choose not to, and now I'm paying the price.  

 

When it comes to struggling with the strength to resist, no one did it worse or better than Peter.   You could say he was two different people.  


He was the disciple before the crucifixion that denied Jesus three times.  And he was the powerhouse preacher after his Holy Spirit's baptism on the Day of Pentecost.  He stood boldly and proclaimed to the crowds that Jesus is the Christ.  And he did that without fear.   


He understood from his past failures the need to resist fleshly desires and resist our enemy, the devil.


I Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) cautions all Believers: 


Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.


The purpose of the book of 1 Peter was to encourage the Believer that even in times of great suffering and persecution that we have the power to be victorious in and through difficult times.  


When it comes to the church's persecution, an extra cookie doesn’t seem such a big deal, and neither are some of the battles we may be holding on to as we get ready to cross into 2021.   


Next time you are ready to go to war over something that is not that critical remember—resistance is NOT futile.

  

Through Christ, we have the power within us to live in this world without losing hope or being hostile to others.  


We are to trust in the Lord and look for His return.  

 

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"Left in the Dark"

I want to run and hide when someone says, "Have you heard this joke?"

If the joke is at all complicated, the humor will be lost on me.   Then I'll have to fake laugh to not hurt the person's feelings.

There's a phrase that comes to mind when this happens.  It's "left in the dark." 

When I'm the one left in the dark, it's not fun and especially not when those who may try to explain something to me are a little bit condescending.  You know who you are!

It's interesting that only a few days before Christmas, in our area, it's the darkest day of the year.  But Christmas is coming, and with it comes the light.  In John 1:4-5, this verse says...

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men

And the light shines in the darkness

and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

Every Christmas, the whole world celebrates the birth of Jesus, the light of man that came into the world.  All humanity does not look at this day as a celebration of the birth of Christ.

Still, as brightly as this Light shines, people still miss the opportunity to be in the Light, and they remain in darkness.

The whole world sees the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, the presents wrapped in colorful paper, the amazing food laid out on the table, yet they are left in the dark when it comes to the best Gift of all.  

It's obvious that Christmas is all about Jesus, but still, mankind is left in the dark.  They don't comprehend the Light. 

As you celebrate this Christmas, make room for your Light to Shine in the darkness and patiently help those who don't comprehend the Light.  

We don't want anyone "Left in the Dark."

Not on our watch!

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

"And how did that make you feel?"



"And how did that make you feel?"  

This is a question our friends who are Christian counselors often ask.  We tease our counselor friends that they fill their time with clients answering a question with a question.   

"And how did that make you feel?"  

I know when I'm asked that question, I could talk for an hour non-stop.  

In the book of James, the author uses the trick of the counselor when he asks these questions. 

What causes fights and quarrels among you? 

Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  (James 4:1)

James could have sat back after those two questions and got an ear full.

These questions which begin the chapter of James 4 are actually connected to the meaning found in chapter 3.  

James continued a single thought from chapter 3 comparing the results of living by the wisdom of heaven versus living by the wisdom of the world.

Worldly wisdom tells us that to be happy we should identify what we want and then go after it at all costs.  Many people may think...and what could be wrong with that?  

Well, the problem with worldly wisdom is that it only looks inward, focusing on what's good for ME and what I want. 

When we put our feelings above our sisters and brothers in Christ, then we are focusing on our wants above others'.

Here is a quote, I came across in reference to this verse.  (source unknown) 

This un-heavenly wisdom is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic, leading to disorder and all kinds of evil practices.  James scolds his readers, who, though they are Christians, are continuing to live by the world's warped wisdom.

OUCH!  James might as well have been foretelling the events of 2020.  

The community James wrote to were in conflict.  In the above counseling questions, he asked them, what is causing your fights and quarrels?  

If the early church was anything like Christians in 2020, the first thing they would have done when asked this question from James, "What causes fights and quarrels among you?" They would blame those who disagree with them.  

"It's their fault because..."

Why did these Christians willingly choose to fight and quarrel with each other? 

I'll answer that...because they didn't trust that God knows the future and all things are within His sight and control.

As Christians, can we really do whatever we want even if it hurts other people when we feel we're right?  

I say, "NO!"  

No, we can't hurt people with our opinions or our words whether they are spoken or written.  

In humility, we should acknowledge that our wants, desires, and plans are submitted to the Lord, and trust Him...even when things don't go our way.

Okay, I have to ask, "And how did that make you feel?"  


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

You're Being Watched

 


In July of 2020, my son's family moved into our home due to being displaced from Covid.  Within moments of their arrival, my then three-year-old grandson was relentless in asking me to play with him.  Every time he saw me he'd say, "Grandma, will you play with me?"  

I'm not kidding.  He'd ask 10-20 times in a matter of a few hours.

A few weeks into this madness, I decided to set some boundaries for my own sanity.  

I decided four times a week after dinner we'd play for 30 minutes the game or activity of his choosing.  Then before we started to play, I'd speak into my Apple Watch and say, "Set timer for 30-minutes."

The setting the timer action had gone on for months, then out of the blue the other day, this funny little boy looked at me, put his wrist to his mouth, and spoke these words, "Set timer for 30-minutes."

I couldn't stop laughing.  Don't ever think the people in your life aren't watching you.  

In Hebrews 13:7, in the NIV, it says, Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

There is an old saying that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation.  When my grandson imitated my actions, it made me laugh, but also I was proud.  His actions of imitating me blessed me.  He had taken notice and when he thought the time was right, he imitated me.

Is there someone special in your life who is watching your actions?  Maybe it's a friend, relative, neighbor, your church community, or an unbeliever, would you be proud or happy to have them imitate your faith in action?  

Remember, you're being watched.

Truth Matters

Teaching children to tell the truth is no small task.  I tried to drive this point home with my children when they were young by saying this...