Sunday, February 18, 2018

Judging Others



Matthew 7:1-5  " “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

Romans 14: 10-13  "You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  It is written:  “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;  every tongue will acknowledge God.’”   So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister."


        As you can see from the title of this blog, "Judging Others", that this may be a convicting blog for some of us.  I may be the most taught student of all, because I have learned a thing or two about how dislocated my heart is at times from Jesus' example.  
        "In His teaching, Jesus sets an example of how we should live and act in this world. Whether in parables or the Sermon on the Mount, He places very little emphasis on what we need to know, but instead on what we need to do. Matthew 25 is a beautiful example of Jesus revealing where our hearts should be. In describing the day of judgement for individuals, Christ reveals something significant about those who are accepted into God’s glory and those who aren’t. In the passage, God does not commend or chastise our beliefs, our doctrine. He only talks about how we treated those around us." [intouch.org]  Are your actions and words towards others that of a sheep or a goat?


Matthew 25:31-46
 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.   All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.   He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.   For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,   I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.


         As believers, "our knowledge of God’s vast authority shouldn’t support or prop up our “I’m-right-you’re-wrong” attitude—it should make us quiver with humility. That posture of surrender—along with acknowledging both God’s vast omnipotence and Christ’s example of love and service—should bring us all to a position of grace toward others, rather than critique and division.  In fact, the Christian faith is all about loving God and others in the moment, even when circumstances tell us it would be easier to withdraw. "  intouch.org
        You might be thinking that we are taught right from wrong and that takes judgement.  Right, but our standard of righteousness is Jesus...not ourselves.  Jesus is the 'only' perfect and impartial judge!  We must check our motives of judging others.. does it make us feel better about our own sinfulness?   "Like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12, we can become trapped in a circle of comparing ourselves to other people. We can boast about ourselves and live as though we have the right to judge and the responsibility or the power to change others." [odb.org]
        "Whether today finds you needing forgiveness for judging others or desiring assurance that no sin is beyond His grace, be encouraged by this: No one is throwing stones today; go and be changed by God’s mercy." [ odb.org]

There are three instances in the Bible where God calls us to judge others: [A. Howard]

1]We judge to keep ourselves from falling into sin and temptation. 
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
2] We judge when we help a believer sever ties with a sin in their life. 
Galatians 6:1
3] We judge in order to avoid false teaching and distorted truths. 
Matthew 7:15-16, 20

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ordinary Day Perspective




“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” — Mary Jean Irion

With the “right” perspective, the frustrating days make ordinary days a little more full of love.

We grow resilient each time we opt not to run away from or fight the frustrations.

Be curious enough to find another reason why you won’t take this day for granted.

Appreciation for our ordinary experiences wakes us up to all the things that are going well.

Life tends to feel l ike a blessing when we see life as a blessing.

Psalm 27:4  "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."


       We all like short adventures and a change of pace once in a while, but there's something to be said of ordinary days.  Maybe you've been fighting the flu or just got home from a busy trip, don't you just want a normal routine day?  There are so many blessings of an ordinary day, yet we take them for granted until they aren't there.
        Life is a blessing.  Do you look for the little things to appreciate before they are gone?  We get frustrated when a 'normal' in our life is missing.  Our perspective changes when we do without.  Many people take for granted the privilege to go to church, work or just get out of bed. When that's taken away long-term or permanently, we long for that 'normal' again.
        We bring glory to God with an attitude of gratitude...in all things.  'Count your blessings, name them one by one.'  Sometimes it's easier to start with what we as Americans would call 'basics', but that's not true for everyone.  'Thank you Lord for clean water to drink, for my home that protects me from the harsh elements, and for the electricity that not only gives me light but keeps me at a comfortable temperature.'  Why do we appreciate more in times of trouble... when the water is frozen in the pipes, we're locked out of the house, or during a power outage?  We cry out for God to help us then and give us our 'ordinary' back for the day.
        In Psalm 27:4, David speaks of a life praising God, acknowledging God as the creator of all things and to learn from Him all that he can. "Do we hope that praising God will be the blessedness of our eternity? Surely them we ought to make it the business of our time." [M. Henry]  Our 'ordinary' routines should always include a thankful word to God, because without Him we are nothing.
        

May we all appreciate and be thankful for the ordinary days between the peaks and valleys.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

It's Not About Me, But His Glory




Exodus 2: 23-25  " During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.  God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.  So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them."
Philippians 1:29 " For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.
Psalm 50:15 "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
2 Corinthians 4:15 "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."



        As human beings, we have a strong tendency towards arrogance, especially in our thinking.  We falsely think that everything is about us..our happiness, our wants and desires, and our benefit.  Wrong!  Our lives are meant to be less about us and more about magnifying God's glory.  "If it’s all about me,  then it would all be up to me.  While I am valuable,  I am not essential.  I am important, but not indispensable.  God knows our limits.  God is well aware of our weaknesses.  The world does not rely on us.  God loves us too much to say, it’s all about you.  To say, “It’s not about you” is not to say you are not loved.  Quite the contrary.  It’s because God loves you that it’s not about you.  We can never find a limit to God’s love for us." [L. Jones]
        Our struggles in life are one of God's greatest tools in getting His glory maximized.  "Your message, your salvation, your body, your struggles, your success – all proclaim God’s glory."  He knows what circumstances will magnify His plans and work in us.  Voddie Baucham reminded me in his sermon on 'Handling Suffering' that we often wish for more time to pray, go to church and fellowship with other believers.  Is it not true, that when we are in the midst of suffering that we spend more time praying, in church and with other believers? 
        In the verses above from Exodus 2, the Israelites were suffering because their king had died.  Now our sufferings may seem to be more personal and harsher to us but the Scripture still reminds us of God's unfailing love at all times.  It reminds us of the privilege of God just hearing us.  In our arrogance, we think 'Did you not hear me God and what I asked for?'  God acts according to His will and timeline, not ours.  Sometimes arrogance leads to total dismissal of God because we falsely think we know best for ourselves.  How merciful and patient is our God to save us from our corrupt and sinful thinking!  The verses also remind us that God is faithful to remember His covenant to save His chosen people.  God sees what we are struggling through and knows better than we do what we can bear.  He doesn't give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given!

         Psalms 115:1 “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory because of Your  loving kindness, because of Your truth.”  
        1 Chronicles 16:24 " God awoke you  and me this morning for one purpose:  “Declare His glory among  the nations, His marvelous deeds  among all people”.
        
5 Ways To Live For His Glory [Karlene Arthur]

1--Stay repentant
2- Maintain an attitude of praise
3- Pray, read and study God's Word
4- Bear His image---emulate His character and attributes that point back to the humble        definition of the glory of God
5- Draw others to God

In Isaiah 33:6, God promises to the believer..."And He will be the stability of your times, wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is his treasure."

4 Objections to a Self Centered Life [L. Jones]


1.        We are appreciated, valued and loved dearly.  But central, essential, pivotal – Nope-sorry!  The world does not revolve around us.  Our comfort is not God’s priority.  If God exists to please us, then shouldn’t we always be pleased?

2.       God does not exist to make a big deal out of us.  We exist to make a big deal of Him.  It’s not  about you, it’s about Me – it’s all about God.

3.       The moon models our role – the moon is nothing more than a pitch-black, pot marked rock.  But when the moon is in the “right place” it does what it is made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration. The moon reflects the greater light.  What would happen if we accepted our place of sun reflectors?

4.       The God centered life works, and it rescues us from a life that doesn’t work.  We’d see our suffering differently, “my pain proves God’s absence “ would be replaced with, “my pain expands God’s purpose.  The gift of pleasures, the purpose of problems – all for Him my God.  We move from me-focus to God-focus by pondering Him, witnessing Him and beholding His glory.



Sunday, January 28, 2018

Psalm 34--Trials and Suffering



Psalm 34
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

                  
        This blog is a little different in that I'm not going to share my trials but rather give you a guide towards handling your own trials with a Biblical perspective.  I hope you see past your suffering and onto a greater purpose in your trial of adversity...it's not meaningless!                                                                       

“It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

I Peter 5:10-11  - "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

From intouch.org, "When trouble strikes, we sometimes forget our knowledge of God, too. We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, specific guidance provided by the Holy Spirit, and lessons learned in previous crises. Only the present seems real. Our minds spin with future implications, and our troubled emotions inhibit clear thinking.  In our own strength, we lack sufficient resources and abilities to meet life's challenges. So God provides what we need. Our suffering is never a surprise to the Lord. He knows everything we are going through. More than that, He’s orchestrating our circumstances for His glory and our benefit, according to His good will."

Psalms 34  -  Three Points that Comfort Us in a Trial of Suffering

1.        God is always near (vs. 7, 15, 18). Drawing near to God is the first step in handling trials.
2.        God always hears (vs. 4, 6, 15, 17).  God wants to hear from us, even in our  despair.
3.        God always delivers (vs. 4, 6, 7, 17, 18, 19, 20).  God delivers us from fear, shame, and trials.  He does not  always  do it our way, but He does guide us towards the right path.

Nine Points of Trials and Suffering: [by Lisa Jones]

1.    Pain of suffering pierces every heart (James 1:2)  We all face trials, no one is immune.

2.   God’s timing and our timing are very different.  We are not in control.  God says, ‘stop, you are not in control, I am, so stop fighting and enjoy the ride.’  We don’t know how long our trials and suffering will last, we just have to take it ‘one day at a time’; and leave it to God.

3.   Suffering is an issue of faith and obedience.  Hebrews 5:8 says we are to learn by suffering.  II Cor.  says  “walk not by sight, but by faith”.  Life is not to be lived by feelings.  We start by faith, live in faith, and end in faith.  “I have no purpose, why go on?” starts a downward spiral of feelings.  If we trust ourselves, our souls will atrophy.  Remember that no trial gets to us without going through Christ first, so there is always purpose in our suffering.

4.   We will always try to understand, but no one will ever grasp all of what God is doing (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Our weakness is sometimes created by suffering, and it may be the very weakness that saves our life.  Trust in God!

5.   Trouble was never meant to be faced alone.  Psalms 1:1-3 and 6, says 'wicked' means to live by one’s own understanding.  Satan wants us to either go to the “wrong” people, or isolate ourselves.

6.   Humility and Integrity are non-negotiable in the midst of trials.  Let God be God and trust Him!  (am I teachable or do I isolate myself or become defensive?)

7.   Forgive those who harm you.  Forgiveness is a command, not an option.  We  must forgive!  Not forgiving causes a burden of bitterness and suffering on others, and ourselves.

8.   God wants to create “Holy Scars”.  God can heal the scars on our hearts.  God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.

9.    It is all about God and glorifying Him.  Psalms 119:67, 71, and 75.  Job 42:1-6 . . .but now I see You (God).  Adversity is God’s university.  Declare who God is.  Don’t talk about God, talk with God.  God has a purpose in everything.