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Posts Tagged ‘living’

In our last study, we looked at the difference made when you choose heavenly wisdom over earthly wisdom. In this study, James continues this thought by exploring the benefits and promises of choosing to be a friend of God instead of the repercussions of when we choose to be a friend of the world.

These two studies have HUGE implications in the lives of those who are tired of a struggling life that does not offer what consumerism, individuality, self righteousness, and self reliance seem to promise.

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pastorsappr

Well, it is pastor’s appreciation month again when all pastor’s secretly hope their congregation will remember them in some way to encourage them. My church has always done a pretty good job at remembering this month and it’s always appreciated. Last year, some gift cards and a surprise moment of honor was heart felt and went a long way. If you do not do a little something for you pastor at your church, I recommend you change that. It goes a long way.

At the same time, I felt led to post some things beyond gift cards that would help your pastor all year long. On top of that, they are Biblical and honor God too! This will make a HUGE difference if you really want to be an encourager and faithful.
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I have explored in the last couple posts the fact that God calls His children (those who have accepted Jesus as Leader and Forgiver and who follow His way of living instead of the world’s ways) to live in freedom. We have seen that through salvation, we are released from the bondage of this world. The truth is being locked back up by guilt, stress, or fear are not His desire for us yet somehow we keep falling back into the trap.

The simple fact is this world will try to suck us back in. Satan will try to rob from the grace and deliverance that is ours in the Lord. On certain days, it can just be overwhelming.

Today’s Psalm invites us to see how David dealt with such a time. It gives a real time experience of one of the heroes of the faith and how he modeled to get “refocused”.

Here’s the Psalm….

Psalm 10

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
    he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

You’ll notice I left the verse numbers in. This was on purpose to make the following easier to reference because I believe there is a pattern here from the man that God said was “after God’s own heart” that we can find freedom in.

Verses 1-11 – David calls out his concern with no holds barred. He knows God is a strong Father who can handle the load. He knows God is a caring Daddy who wants to hear his child’s heart. David unleashes the hurt, pain, and confusion of the unfair situation in front of him from his overwhelmed, human vantage point.

Verses 12 – 15 – David starts to refocus. He moves his attention off of the circumstances that are blurring his view to focus in on his Deliverer. He aims backs towards the One who has proven Himself faithful time and time again. He cries out for God to move as David also moves into the protection of his God.

Verses 16 – 18 – Here is the result of that refocusing…. PRAISE! There is no other way I can see to explain this last paragraph. David has moved from complaining about the circumstances to claiming the truths of the strength of his God! His perception has changed (even though the circumstances have not…yet) and He has a firm foundation of truth to stand strong on.

What are you going through today?

First, check yourself and make sure you are in a place of righteousness. If you are not a child of God through accepting Him as Leader and Forgiver in your life, that is the place to start to have his grace, mercy, and firm foundation. (Romans 10:9-10; John 3: 1-21)

If you find that your situation is the result of an area where you are not living in righteousness, get some forgiveness and change your ways to match God’s ways.

If you are living righteously, then it’s time to refocus like David did. It’s time to get into the Word and explore God’s promises. It’s time to dig into Christian community with people who will spur you on towards God. It’s time to have a talk with God like David did and let Him change your view.

Being blessed is having joy which is tied to your spirit walk in spite of your circumstances. Be blessed….

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tree-planted-by-stream

There continues to be a disconnect between people who claim to believe in Jesus and how they live. A great majority of those who claim to be Christians or run to God when a tragedy hits live their lives no differently than the world. Here’s some of the ways this manifests….

– Feel they don’t need to go to church to be a Christian (even though the Bible is quite clear we are created to be in community with one another)
– Goes to church but treats it as a social club on the weeks it’s convenient to go (even though Christian community is much deeper Biblcialy)
– Posting Bible verses on their Facebook page next to the latest pic of their drunken episode with buddies the night before
– Fighting for Christian family values while treating their own kids  with contempt
– Claiming to being victorious through Christ but holding a victim mentality where they act defeated and the world is unfair to them
– Praising God on Sunday with the same mouth that curses and uses His name in vain throughout the week
– Claim to be a Christian but never open the Bible to learn His ways and follow them (please don’t say what you think is in the Bible but only what you know from your own reading is in the Bible. There’s a lot of misinformation out there already.)
– Accept Christ as Leader and Forgiver in their own life and then have no interest in following our main purpose of leading others to the Lord, baptizing them, and growing together to be more like Christ.

Sound familiar? Might be time to take a look at what this life is suppose to look like. Let’s start now….

First, don’t read me wrong. We can not be righteous on our own account. The Bible tells us that none are “good” and all have fallen short of the glory of God.

However, it also says that anyone who accepts Jesus as Leader and Forgiver in their life by “confess(ing) with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead…” (Romans 10:9) and repenting (leaving the old ways of life and following Christ…. then you are saved.

But then what? Let’s look at some promises in Psalm 1…..

Psalm 1: 1-2

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Here’s what we were just talking about..

If you want to be blessed (joy that is not tied to your circumstances but to your spiritual walk so it is not a roller coaster ride), it is not found in acting like the world. It is found by delighting in the Word and living it! Do you have this in your life? When is the last time you picked up the Bible? When is the last time you sat under the counsel of others teaching the Word? Do you delight in it or is it a task? Do you live it or do you find it easier doing what “feels” right and then can’t figure out why life seems so unfair and off base?

Look at what the Bible promises happens for those who delight in the Word and live it…

Psalm 1: 3

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, make sure you don’t misunderstand. This is not a verse that promises you money, a mansion, or a nice car. It does promise prosperity! God’s best for you! Not God’s best for the guy or lady beside you but God’s best for you!

I know several people who love the Lord, love His ways, and (get this) LIVE IT! Some have extra money and some don’t but they all have a stronger foundation that passes the circumstances and are blessed through the Lord. When the good days come or the bad, they have a firm foundation, a loving Christian community, and the respect of others for living what they believe, They are impacting the lives of others (including their families) and have a purpose. They are a tree planted by the water yielding fruit through the Lord. They are strong. they do not wither. They prosper. What about your life? There is a different path….

Psalm 1: 4-6

“The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

The wicked is not only the horrible people you see on the nightly news that you hold at a distance. It is anyone who is not living the way mentioned in the Scripture above. Again, no one is perfect… trust me….. but Jesus is and living through Him is righteousness. However, living by the ways of the world is wickedness and it might be time to take a serious look at this.

Do you want your life to be blessed? What about your family? Your job? Your marriage? Your friendships?

It’s not hard but it does take a conscience choice and then some discipline.

Blessed is the one who does not follow the ways of the world but instead delights in the ways of the Lord and follows it both day and night. Be blessed.

 

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