Life can be boiled down to two basic questions-
1. Do you believe that there is a good God who is in control of His creation?
2. Are you willing to trust Him with your life?
Reaction or Duplication
Reaction is the tendency of people eager to exit a situation. A child from a difficult home life will often react to the home conditions and move far from the home experience. He/she will tend to be as different as possible from the conditions at home and state that determination to anyone who will listen.
A more frequent situation, however, is duplication. The home situation is so ingrained into the consciousness of the person that the normal feelings actually reproduce the situation which they were eager to leave. So, children of poverty become the parents of poverty.
It takes intentional effort in a positive direction to make an informed decision about how to deal with troubling situations whether they be home, church, work, etc. How can that happen?
Choose the best of the past and incorporate that into the new venture. Where the past has been harmful, make sure to identify those areas and, if possible, eliminate them from life. Make sure also that, in the process, you learn the needed lessons from those harmful experiences.
Balance is the world. Balance in finding a way through the tendencies to be either a reaction or duplication. Both can lead to excesses and can lead you into more difficulty than the one you left.
The Bible is the answer. Renounce what is not Biblical. Enjoin what is Godly. Learn the lessons that God wants you to learn. Move on. Proceed with caution and faith that God will lead you correctly. Make sure that you think carefully and prayerfully about your motives and that you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. It is the truth that will set you free. Free from the past. Free from accusations. Free to be the person God made you to be. That is why you must tell the truth. The truth about yourself. The truth about God. The truth about other people. The truth about accusations. The truth about your pains and joys. The truth about your own tendencies. The truth about decisions and plans.
Reaction and duplication are both wrong. They are both traps. You do not need them. You must avoid them. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Follow Him as He speaks through the Scripture. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.” Jesus is that Word. His way is right. His way is good. His way is salvation. Follow Him today.
Rules and Relationships
“Rules without relationships produce rebellion.” Relationships without rules produce chaos and/or control.
Many people are in relationships where there are no rules except the ones they make.
Relationships can be used to manipulate and control. “If you want a relationship with me, you will do as I say! You will bow to my wishes. You will dance when I sing. You will support my programs. If you do not do as I say, you cannot be my friend.” And on and on and on ad nauseum. So, for the price of being controlled, we can have a “relationship.” For the price of surrendering autonomy, we can get along.
Does that sound like Jesus? Did He accommodate the religious leaders of His day? Did He allow the suave approach of Nicodemus to cloud His thinking about that leader? Was Jesus willing to surrender truth to have a relationship with Nicodemus or anyone?
Relationships are very important. They are the life-blood of living here on this earth. But, they dare not be experienced at the price of truth. It is truth that produces relationships – We are “fellow helpers of and to the truth.” Biblical relationships are founded on truth.
Relationships do not produce truth. But, truth is most effective when presented in the context of relationship. Truth will keep relationships strong. Truth will produce trust and trust is the basic building block of all relationships.
Truth, trust, relationship is the sequence that produces stable society.
Relationships do not produce truth. They usually produce the opposite. Today relationships are replacing truth. Authenticity has replaced holiness. Young people have seen so much “rules without relationships” that they are hurting from that type of system. They have now gravitated to relationship in spite of rules or with no rules. The faux security and comfort of relationship has replaced the real security of truth and rules.
Love, joy, and peace have taken precedence over self-control, righteousness, and truth. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is being sacrificed for another part (Gal.5:22, Eph.5:9).
As a man, father, teacher, leader, I have to be willing to risk relationship to maintain truth. Wanting your favor cannot condition my message or my behavior. Truth must be presented with real love and care; not with a pseudo love that distorts the message at the loss of the truth.
All of this can seem paradoxical. No rules without relationship. No trust without truth. “I am so glad that I am part of the family of God.” But, being part of the family requires me to be a person of truth so I can offer you a relationship.
In an age of so much hurt – in an age of so much need for relationship – be careful to not neglect truth. Loss of truth will destroy us while making us feel good and feel accepted. Seek those who can merge truth and love like Jesus did and still does. It is only truth that will set us free. In that freedom is found all healthy relationships and an awesome experience of God in the heart and life of the committed believer and the faithful Church. May that be your portion today.
Spiritual Warfare – Do Not Get Entangled
No man that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life;
That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier II Tim. 2:4.
It is easy to get entangled in this life. It is difficult to stay un-entangled. To be entangled is to become attached in ways that make impossible to be fully committed to living a victorious Spiritual life.
Who are you trying to please? We have an enemy who demands attention. We have a body that likes to be pampered. We have a tendency to lay up treasures on earth. We have a longing for the accolades of men. Who are you trying to please?
Someday the only thing that will matter is if you pleased Jesus Christ who called you to be a Spiritual soldier. Everything else will look like entanglement. Do not allow that to happen. Eliminate the entanglements now. Focus on the Commander in Chief. Fight for Him and His Kingdom.
Be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser. Hold possessions loosely. We are only stewards. We own nothing and we have nothing. We are here to prepare for eternity.
Are you entangled? Is your heart divided? Do you have one foot in the world and one foot in God’s Kingdom? That will not work. God demands total loyalty. His battle demands your total energies. He does not want entangled warriors. They are not dependable. They cannot be.
Do not chase things in this life but, God may choose to bless you with material blessings. If He does, it is because He wants you to use those things to build His Kingdom.
No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon Luke 16:13.
Spiritual Warfare – Hardship
Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. II Tim. 2:3. Spiritual warfare involves hardship. Emotional, physical, and relationships are just some areas of hardship. The best Spiritual warriors are often the most misunderstood.
Jesus is certainly an example. Jesus confronted the wrong theology and practice of His day. That brought Him into conflict with the religious leaders. So bad was the conflict that the leaders plotted to kill Him.
Apostle Paul was no exception. In Galatians 4:16 he asks, “Have I become your enemy because I told you the truth?” Why would truth produce enemies? That is the way of Spiritual warfare. The war is for truth and against falsehood. Falsehood dies hard. Truth will eventually prevail but not without a fight. Paul knew what it was to be hungry, in danger of perils in the sea, and in danger of false brethren. Alexander the coppersmith did him much wrong. “The Lord reward him according to his works.”
If you are a Spiritual warrior, if you are called into the Spiritual army of God, prepare to suffer. But also prepare for joy and glory.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us Romans 8:18.
Spiritual Warfare – Love and Hate
Spiritual warfare is a blend of love and hate. Job was a man who loved God and hated evil. It is not enough to love the good. We also have to hate the wrong. If we do not hate the wrong and the evil, we fill eventually fall prey to its wiles. Evil can look good. Wrong can appear as right. Satan can appear as an angel of light.
It is only as we apply the wisdom of the Spirit of God to every situation that we can have the discernment to know evil from good and wrong from right and act appropriately.
God said, Be ye holy because I am holy. To be holy means to be set apart from sin and evil. To be set apart, we must hate the evil.
Are you a man or woman like Job? Do you love the good? More importantly, do you hate the evil? It is only as you do, that you will be a victorious warrior for God in the battle for truth.
There will be casualties in this war. Make sure you are not one of them.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace,
Which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.