Victory in Jesus

April 4, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

The Bible refers to death as our final enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). A loved one’s death can fill us with helplessness or if it comes quickly, anger. Facing our own death may have us feeling fearful, uncertain, perhaps defeated. Even those who bail out of life with suicide are hoping for something better.

At this time of year, we are reminded of One who lived and died for us. Jesus Christ loved us so much He came to earth, lived among us, and freely died for us. But death was not the end of the story, for He rose from the dead and is victorious. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).

The good news is that Christ’s victory over death is ours as well. He fought the battle for us. All we have to do is to choose to partake of this victory in Christ as John 5:24 tells us. “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” This has nothing to do with living a good life or earning salvation. It comes from believing and trusting God.

Death doesn’t have to be the end; it can be the beginning. At death our “perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Death is swallowed in victory.

Although I don’t want to rush this victorious process by embracing premature death, it’s nice to know Christ’s resurrection gives me blessed assurance. When the women came to Christ’s tomb they were told, “He is not here; He is risen…” (Matthew 28:6). He is risen and lives today—and because He lives, we shall live also.  

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


Time, Change, and Circumstance

March 28, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

Natural disasters are a fact of life. Floods wash away homes, tornadoes demolish houses, landslides bury neighborhoods, volcanoes spew molten lava over cities, and pandemics take lives. As quick as a blink of an eye, an earthquake can hit a country like the one that devastated Haiti about ten years ago, or a hurricane like Katrina can wipe out a whole city as big as New Orleans.

Although God is omnipotent and could stop these forces of nature, many times He chooses not to. There may be more occasions when He chooses to stop them, but we’ll never really know how many times He has protected us, will we? However, when disasters occur there always seems to be at least one soap box Christian eager to say it is God’s punishment for sin. I’m not so sure about that.

Those who presume to know why God does or does not allow a tragedy are really just speculating. They may think they are intimate confidants of God, but they are really just self-proclaimed interpreters of their own perceptions.

It’s true that God did destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but there are more examples of Him just letting nature take its course. Sin does not always need God’s wrath to get one’s attention or every gluttonous, greedy, oppressive person we know would be zapped immediately. Sin carries its own penalty, but sometimes that takes time.

The sad part of this mode of thinking is that it leads people to believe every bad thing that happens to a person is the result of his or her sin. That simply is not true. We all know bad things happen to good people all the time. A few biblical examples would be John the Baptist having his head cut off and served on a platter to Salome, righteous Job losing everything he had, and Stephen being stoned to death.

Don’t misunderstand me. God is God. He can do whatever He chooses and allow anything He wishes. However, Haiti is located on a fault line and New Orleans is in hurricane heaven. Sometimes a tragedy is time, chance, and circumstance. God can teach us, and we can learn lessons from the aftermath of anything that happens. However, sometimes a natural disaster could just be a natural disaster.  

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


What “To-Do”

March 27, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

If I’m totally honest, I love my “to-do” lists. If it weren’t for them and Post-it-Notes, I’m not sure I would remember anything.

Although my “to-do” lists are not quite as organized as the ones you read about, I still manage to get things done. Almost all time management gurus say that when you cross something off your list you should celebrate its completion. This is what I do best. I enjoy this so much that if I do something that’s not on my list, I add it, just so I can mark it off and celebrate.

“To-do” lists are great, but they are just tools to help us remember what needs to be done. Generally, they list things we have to do as opposed to what we want to do. There are many important things that don’t even make the list, like telling a spouse or your child “I love you.” Let’s face it, if you have to put that on a “to-do” list, you don’t really know the meaning of love.

Some have spiritual “to-do” lists. These might include prayer, Bible study, meditation, and so forth. I must admit I used to subscribe to this method of staying on the straight and narrow. I’d even make a little prayer list, which began to sound more like a “to-do” list for what I wanted God to do for me. I was focused more on what God could do for me rather than building a relationship with Him. Although, I do find a Post-it Note with names of people who need my prayers helpful, lest I forget.

As we come to know God we realize His unconditional love for us. After all, while we were yet sinners Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). We know God as a loving, caring, Father who never abandons, rejects, or hurts us. We realize that prayer is meant to align our will with God’s rather than talking Him into giving us what we want. His will be done, not ours. When we focus on God and align our will to His, our cares and concerns seem to work out—not always the way we would have wanted, but they work out just the same.

While there is nothing wrong with a Christian “to-do” list, I no longer prefer to be quite so regimented in my spiritual life. Approaching my relationship with God as something I have to do takes away my joy. It should be something I want to do. I love the idea of praying without ceasing, rejoicing always, and giving thanks for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). What a privilege it is to be able to stay in constant communication with the One who gives me the very air I breathe and praise Him for providing it!

With that closing thought, I will write “finish this week’s blog” on my “to-do” list so I can check it off. Thank you, Jesus! Now I can celebrate!

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

March 21, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

If beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, what do I see when I “behold” myself in the mirror? Usually I see an older, slightly overweight, flawed individual whose gray roots are badly in need of a touch up. Most of us feel we fall short because we live in an airbrushed society obsessed with physical beauty. It’s bound to influence how we look at ourselves and how we look at others. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, most of us “beholders” have been bombarded with digitally enhanced images through television, movies, and magazines. Media has determined what is beautiful and we have subliminally been programmed to accept it. To them, the phrase “inner beauty” is just another way of saying “uggglllyyy!”

Although difficult, we need to think of beauty the same way God does. Nowhere do we see God using outward appearance to determine someone’s beauty. In fact, He cautions us against using such criteria for judging another’s worth. When God’s prophet Samuel was looking for the next king of Israel among the sons of Jesse, he thought he’d found the right one. So much so that when he looked at Jesse’s son Eliab He said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:6).

However, God had other ideas. In I Samuel 16:7, God said, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.” In other words, it didn’t matter if this guy was one the 50 hunkiest men in the world and looked like he should be a king. God was looking for something else which was found in Eliab’s kid brother David—a lowly shepherd.

God went on to say, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Try telling that to People Magazine!

Perhaps we should start beholding beauty the same way God does. He’s not looking at a person’s shiny blonde hair, blemish-free skin, slim hips, and new Prada shoes. He finds a heart full of the fruits of His spirit more appealing (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we look for the beauty in others, do we look for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? When God beholds beauty, He doesn’t look for something that is “skin-deep.” He goes much deeper—into a person’s very heart.

Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen…they must be felt with the heart.” Great perception, don’t you think? Especially since it came from a blind woman who knew how to behold the beauty all around her.
 

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


May We Live Long Enough to Be Old

March 14, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

When my husband’s Aunt Myrtle was 90, we were encouraging her to spend some of her hard- earned money on things she had always wanted. She said, “Oh, no! I couldn’t do that. I’m saving that for my old age.” We didn’t have the heart to tell her we thought 90 was pretty old. Aunt Myrtle thought old age was always ten years older than what she really was. Overall, not a bad philosophy.

The Bible tells us that living a long life is a blessing (Deuteronomy 5:33). Here are a few who have made major accomplishments in their golden years:

  • Colonel Sanders started KFC at age 65.
  • Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence at 70.
  • Michelangelo was 71 when he painted the Sistine Chapel.
  • Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel at 71.
  • Casey Stengel started managing the New York Mets at 71.
  • Ronald Reagan was reelected president of the United States at 73.
  • George Burns won his first Oscar at age 80 for The Sunshine Boys.
  • Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 80.
  • Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize in “Philosophy or Medicine” for discovering genetic transposition at 82.
  • Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English Speaking Peoples at 82.
  • Coco Chanel was the head of a fashion design firm at 85.
  • Albert Schweitzer was still performing surgeries at his hospital in Africa at 89.
  • Pablo Picasso was still producing engravings and drawings at 90.
  • Strom Thurmond, the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, was still serving in Congress in his 90s.
  • Sadie and Bessie Delany were in their 100s when they wrote Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.

In the Delany sisters’ next book, The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom, they advise people to stay active—mentally and physically. It seems to be a key to feeling younger longer.

While the aging process is not all that pleasant, it still beats the alternative. Most of us older folk will probably not swim the English Channel, set marathon records, or find a cure for cancer. However, there is something wonderful in aging gracefully, finding ways to serve others, and living a full, rich life. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


As a Man Thinks

March 7, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

The whole year our son Matthew was in first grade, he lamented about not having many friends. I talked to his teacher to see if he was adjusting well in the class. She assured me Matthew was doing fine and was well-liked. When we found out my husband’s job transfer would have us moving to another state during the summer, we decided to throw an end-of-the-school-year going away party for Matthew and invited all the boys in his class. Matthew said, “Okay, but I don’t think many will come.”

Well he was wrong. Everyone came. And not only did they come, but they brought cards and gifts. As the parents dropped the kids off, many expressed their sorrow in Matthew leaving. They said: “Tommy says Matthew is his best friend and he is heartbroken that he’s leaving.” “Billy says Matthew is the nicest kid in his class.” “Joey says Matthew is his best friend.” “Johnny likes Matthew more than anyone else in his class.”

And boy, did Matthew score in the gift department! The cards the children wrote were sweet and thoughtful. One had a picture in it and he wrote, “This is my picture so you will never forget me. I will never forget you.” Several told Matthew he was their very best friend. As Matthew reread the cards that evening he said, “I didn’t know so many of the kids really liked me.” If he had realized that sooner, he could have had a lot more fun in first grade.  

The mind is a complex mechanism and can play tricks on us, sabotaging our happiness. We think people are talking about us. We think people don’t like us. We think we are ugly. We think we are stupid. We think we are unlovable. Sometimes we see things the way we think they are, not how they really are.

This is not to say life does not have problems. There are times when we have a legitimate right to feel neglected, rejected, and subjected to unfounded ridicule. But all too often our thought process has us imputing motives and jumping to wrong conclusions over the simplest of matters, magnifying them out of proportion. Our lives become limited because we hesitate to build friendships, develop relationships, and try new adventures.

What we think about ourselves can impact our lives. If we tell ourselves we have no friends long enough, we may end up friendless. If we tell ourselves we are stupid long enough, our minds might become dull. If we tell ourselves we can’t do something, more than likely we won’t even try. Because “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7).

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


What God Is Doing

February 28, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

A radio talk show host in our area asked people to call in and tell him what influences your life and fills you up. Then he added, “…but don’t call me and tell me about Jesus.” This is just another indication of how many in our nation are quick to reject God. Yet, in spite of our turmoil, we are a nation blessed above all nations and all blessings come from God. Fortunately, God has not rejected us. He does things for us that we don’t even know about.

Hosea lived during the last twenty-five years of Israel’s existence as a nation. It was a time of political upheaval, anarchy, and bloodshed. Israel’s spiritual condition had deteriorated. They were involved in idolatry, adultery, and drunkenness. Hosea tried to bring them to their senses. He preached about God’s character, righteousness, omnipotence, and loving kindness. He reminded them of the covenant they entered into with God. Then he prepared them for the impending doom of the nation because of their unfaithfulness.

While reading Hosea, one passage got me thinking about all God does for us. Hosea 11:1-4 says, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt…I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.”

I especially love the phrase, “They knew not that I healed them…”

I wonder what acts of loving kindness God has done for our nation or for us personally that we knew not. How many acts of terrorism has God averted that we knew not? How many times has He protected us or our loved ones in our everyday lives that we knew not? How many times has He led, strengthened, encouraged, and comforted us that we knew not?

It’s all so easy to appear self-sufficient but we must remember every blessing comes from God. Once in a while it might be nice to thank God for all the things He does for us that we don’t know about.

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


Does God Want Us to Be Rich and Happy?

February 21, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” was sung by Janis Joplin years ago. People either think the song is hilarious or they are appalled at the lyrics. Most health and wealth gospel supporters would probably not balk at such a prayer. After all, the Bible says, “Ask and it will be given…” (Matthew 7:7). Does not God exist to make us rich and happy (Jeremiah 29:11-13)?

That may be true—but not in the way we think.

Rich doesn’t always mean having lots of money or possessions. You can be rich in desirable qualities such as wisdom. Rich can mean deep, strong, or intense, such as being rich in faith. Rich can mean ample, such as having a rich supply of food.

Happiness doesn’t mean we get everything we want. Happiness can be a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. Happiness can mean being cheerful in all circumstances. Happiness can mean being fortunate.   

God is not the big sugar daddy in the sky who gives us everything we want. Rather, He is a loving father who supplies our needs. In the model prayer, we hear nothing about the disciples asking for bigger, two-humped camels (Matthew 6:7-15). This prayer is full of reverence for God, asking for His will to be done, forgiveness for others, and daily needs—not wants—to be met.  

Most of our prayers are not as ludicrous as asking for a new, expensive car, but if we aren’t careful, we can approach prayer with a list of things we want or deeds we want God to perform for us. God doesn’t exist to jump through our hoops or do our bidding.

It may well be that for our own growth and edification God thinks it’s best not to give us everything we want. Instead of healing, He might give us strength. Instead of deliverance, He might give us perseverance. Instead of a sparing a loved one’s life, He might give us peace. Instead of winning the lottery, He might give us a job.

We pray so that our will can be aligned with what God wants for us—not for God to align His will to ours. 

Perhaps instead of asking for a Mercedes Benz, we might pray not to have so much we forget God, or so little we curse Him (Proverbs 30:8-9). And if He wants to throw in a Mercedes Benz, don’t turn it down—just give Him thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18)!

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


The Love of Christ

February 14, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

In the book of Romans, we are asked a rhetorical question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Truthfully, nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, which is revealed as we read further in this passage: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

We cannot be separated from God’s love because He loves us regardless. He loves whether we are good or bad, whether we win or lose, or whether times are smooth or rough. Whether we believe it or not, God loves us! He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). There is no greater love than to die for someone (John 15:13). So God loves us. It’s a given. No matter what happens, God loves us.

As Christians, perhaps the more important question to ask is whether or not we will still love God when hardships come? Christians are not immune from trials and distress. Hardships are a given in life whether we are saints or sinners. The Christian life was never promised to be without difficulties. Will we love God during the bad times as well as the good?

Habakkuk must have thought about this. He said, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

My personal favorite example is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When faced with the possibility of being burned alive, they basically said they knew God was able to deliver them. However, if God chose not to deliver them, it was okay with them (Daniel 3:16-18). They would love and praise God no matter what He decided to do.

You see, loving and praising God is not so much about good times or bad times, or when we win or lose. It’s about loving Him no matter what. After all, that’s the kind of love He gives to us!

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)


Accepted Not Rejected

February 7, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Think on These Things: Positive thoughts in a negative world…

When I was a kid, one of the cruelest school exercises was choosing teams. Whether it was softball, debate, or whatever, captains were selected. Teachers would then have students stand against the wall while captains took turns choosing who would be on their teams. So everyone knew who was chosen first, second, and so on. And everyone knew who was chosen last. To be chosen last was humiliating—a sign of rejection.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of rejection. All of us have experienced it in one way or another. Maybe as a shy boy you were turned down for a date. Maybe the company president laughed at your re-org idea. Maybe your dad walked out on your family. Maybe your mom constantly berated you. Maybe you are a writer with a wall papered with rejection slips. Maybe you were always the last one chosen for the team. Even worse, maybe they wouldn’t even let you play on the team.

Enough rejection can lead to disorders like fear, feeling inferior, anxiety, or depression. Rejection can make us feel unwanted, unworthy, unappreciated, and unloved. It causes people to focus on the negative instead of the positive. For example, someone might say, “My, doesn’t your hair look nice today,” but instead of that making us feel good, we might say, “Are you saying my hair usually looks lousy?”

It can even lead to perceived rejection in other areas of our lives. We can think people are rejecting us when they aren’t. This perception becomes our reality because as a man thinks, so he is (Proverbs 23:7). If you think you’re a loser, you’ll act like a loser.

If you have ever felt rejected, you are in good company. Jesus was rejected by those in His hometown (Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6), by many of His disciples (John 6:60), and by those He came to save (Isaiah 53:3). After everything God had done for the Israelites, they rejected Him and wanted a king (1 Samuel 10:19).

God created us for acceptance not rejection. That’s why He will never reject us. We might reject God, but He won’t reject us. He wants us and loves us. In fact, He loves us so much He forgave us while we were sinners (Romans 5:6-10). He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 3:5). He is with us. All we have to do is embrace God and He embraces us.

The good news is that God has chosen us to be on His team (John 1:12, Acts 10:34). And it doesn’t matter what our skill level is because He’s going to do all of that for us. All we have to do is show up and be ready to participate.

*****

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8 (KJV)