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Choose to Not Be Selfish

Barbara | November 12, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren 

When God encourages us to be giving instead of selfish, it may appear He is just looking out for the other guy. However, scientific research shows that when we give to others, our brain activity in the temporoparietal (easy for you to say???) junction and ventral striatum increases. These are the areas where our feelings of pleasure and happiness come from. Just a pledge to help others produces a warm glow of happiness and contentment. God is truly amazing. He puts systems in place that benefit both the giver and receiver. It’s a win/win scenario.

We don’t have to be brain surgeons (although it might help) to know that the way of give is better than the way of get. No wonder we are told to let nothing be done in selfishness. (Philippians 2:3) Selfishness is listed as one of the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:20) It leads to unwise decisions. (Proverbs 18:1) It makes us pray those “give me, give me, give me” prayers, which do not bring good fruit. (James 4:3) Selfish people can be greedy, unthankful, proud, arrogant, and so on. (2 Timothy 3:2-5) Psychologists tell us that selfishness is a self-destructive habit. It can even lead to war. (James 4:1)

However, sometimes it’s difficult not to focus on ourselves. After all, it’s a me, me, me society. So selfishness is something we must battle against daily.

We can usually spot selfish people because most of what they say uses words like “I,” “me,” and “mine.” They don’t really have a spirit of humility. They aren’t interested in listening to someone else’s problems as much as promoting their own thoughts. When asked to help, they might think, “What’s in it for me?” They are more interested in being served than serving.

Consider this… Jesus came to serve, not to be served. (Matthew 20:28)

God says our focus should be on others. We aren’t to please ourselves as much as look out for the well-being of others. (Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10:24) We are to help others bear their burdens. (Galatians 6:2) Yes, God tells us to look out for our own interests, but mostly He tells us to think about others. (Philippians 2:4)

So let’s keep that brain activity moving in the right direction. Who knew that happiness comes by giving, not getting? Hmm… What’s the answer? Oh yes… God knew! (Acts 20:35)

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

When feeling selfish (and we all do from time to time), ask God to change your attitude.

Ask God to give you a humble spirit that esteems others better than yourself, no matter what their rank in life. (Romans 12:3) Here’s a word of caution: Ask for a humble spirit. Don’t ask for God to humble you. There is a distinct difference.

Learn to be interested in others. Start by listening to them instead of preaching at them.

Think about the many ways to give. You can give of your time, money, service, talent, kindness, concern, encouragement, and so on. Just find a way to think about and help others.

Memorize Acts 20:35: “It’s more blessed to give than receive.” Now ask God to help you believe it!


Choose Not to Miss Everyday Miracles

Barbara | November 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

One definition of a miracle is an extraordinary event that brings a welcomed consequence. Years ago, before moving pictures, visual effects, and technology that constantly shocks the senses, people seemed to appreciate their surroundings more. They realized that life itself is a miracle. The whole universe is a miracle.

Perhaps these classic authors and poets were on to something…

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miracle in the common.”

John Donne: “There is nothing that God hath established in a constant course of nature . . . but would seem a Miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done but once.” Donne was referring to things such as flowers blooming, the sun rising, or the stars appearing in the sky. Perhaps if we had seen an oak tree grow strong and tall from one little acorn in fast motion, before our very eyes, we might consider it a miracle.

Walt Whitman: “To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every cubic inch of space is a miracle. . .”

Here’s another from one of the smartest men in the world…

Albert Einstein: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”

Sometimes we are so busy looking somewhere else for a miracle, we can’t see the ones before our very eyes. Jesus told the disciples, “Do you have eyes but fail to see…?” The same might apply to us. That was certainly the case with those who were looking for Christ to come. Since they were looking for a Messiah descending from heaven with a flaming sword of righteousness, they did not recognize the Christ child in the manger as their Savior. They missed what was right before their eyes.

How much do we miss every day? Can we see God in ordinary, everyday miracles? Miracles like…

  • Finding your lost car keys without having to spend all day looking for them.
  • Losing your Visa card with absolutely no idea of where it might be when Target unexpectedly calls to say you left it there.
  • Receiving an unexpected note of appreciation for no reason at all – just because you are YOU!
  • The grocery line being short when you are in a hurry.
  • Singing your lungs out because your favorite oldies song came on the radio.
  • Answering the phone to hear your son from college saying he just called to say, “I love you,” and doesn’t even ask for money.
  • All the lights being green on your way to work.
  • Enjoying the shade of an oak tree and realizing it grew from one little acorn.
  • A healthy child being born.

Consider this… If we don’t recognize and appreciate the ordinary miracles in our everyday lives, it’s likely we won’t recognize the bigger ones when they come our way. We’ll think it’s a visual effect.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Think about the wisdom in this story: When a teacher asked her class to list the Seven Wonders of the World, one child wrote: to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, to feel, to laugh, and to love.

When you see a beautiful rainbow, think: “What a miracle!”

When you hear a laughing child, think, “What a miracle!”

When you taste a delicious meal prepared by loving hands, think: “What a miracle!”

When you smell fragrant roses, think: “What a miracle!” Get the idea????


Choose Not to Forget Who You Are

Barbara | October 29, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

Once Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?” Some said he was John the Baptist, some said Elias, some said a prophet and so on. Jesus was no doubt curious.

When Jesus asked Peter, he replied, “You are Christ, the son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-17) It pleased Jesus that Peter realized this. After all, Christ knew who He was even if those He came in contact with weren’t quite sure.

How about us? Do we know who we are?

Once we turn our lives over to God, we belong to Him. And from that very moment our identity changes and we become new people. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24) Sometimes just knowing who we are can make a difference in how we live our lives. Here is just a sampling of who we are:

We are God’s children. (John 1:12, Galatians 4:7)

We are loved. (John 3:16, Colossians 3:12)

We are Jesus’ friends. (John 15:15)

We are accepted. (Romans 15:7)

We are chosen. (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

We are redeemed. (Ephesians 1:7)

We are justified. (Romans 3:24)

We are saved, not condemned. (Romans 8:1)

We are free, not slaves. (Romans 6:6, Romans 8:2, Galatians 4:7, Galatians 5:1)

We are heirs. (Romans 8:17, Galatians 4:7, Ephesians 1:11)

We are dwelling places for the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

We are led by God. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

We are righteous. (2 Corinthians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

We are blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)

We are alive in Christ. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

We are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)

Our identity is in Christ. All these attributes are who we are in Christ, not earned by us, but freely given.

Consider this… The Bible says as a man thinks, so he is. (Proverbs 23:7) How we perceive ourselves makes a difference in how we act, how we react, and how we live.

So who do you think you are? We can’t afford to get caught up in who others might think we are. We have an abundant life and rich inheritance. After all, we are God’s children!

 

Suggestions on practicing this choice…

What we say to ourselves (self-talk) has a major impact on how we view ourselves, how we function, and how we come across to others. Let’s not bombard ourselves with negative put-downs like: Nobody loves me; I’m stupid; I’m fat; I’m worthless; I’m ugly; I can’t do anything right; I’m a jerk! Okay, we may be jerks at times, but we are probably not stupid, fat, worthless, ugly jerks who can’t do anything right. Besides God always loves us – ALWAYS! Give yourself a break!

Replace negative thoughts with positive, truthful thoughts like: Jesus accepts me; Jesus does not condemn me for my mistakes. Others may think we’re jerks, but Jesus loves us. (Actually Jesus may think you’re a jerk, but guess what? He still loves you and will definitely help you be less of a jerk if you ask Him.) Whatever is true and positive – think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

View God as a loving Father with open arms, always ready to embrace you.

Focus on spiritual things. Fill your mind with prayer, God’s Word, and meditation.

Say to yourself often throughout the day: “I am a child of God! My identity is in Christ.” And pray to yourself often throughout the day: “Lord, help me to reflect this identity in the little things I do and say each day.”

 


Choose Not to Give Up on People

Barbara | October 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

We received a lovely note from someone. She said, “I have not forgotten about you or all the good advice you gave me. Please don’t give up on me…” Those are powerful words: Please don’t give up on me.

Do we give up on people? God doesn’t give up on us. We are a work in progress, just like everyone we meet. God doesn’t look at what a mess we are, throw His hands up in the air, and say, “Well, I give up!”

People are flawed, frustrating, and infuriating. People can be manipulative and judgmental. People can think the world revolves around them and their wants, their needs, and their desires. People can take the joy out of life by their negativity. People can be disrespectful and insincere. People can want us to give more, more, more while they give nothing. People can take us for granted. People don’t have boundaries and infringe on ours. People can drain our energy and leave us limp.

To make matters worse, God ignores our request to change these people or relocate them far, far away from us. In fact, it’s as if God looks beyond their irritating nature to see their worth. I guess God deals with others the same way He deals with us – with compassion, patience, encouragement, and love. Maybe that’s what we should do. God loves these people and so should we. In order to do this, we need to ask God for wisdom, strength, and guidance in how to deal with them.

Consider this… It’s easy to love the lovable, but how we love people who are hard to love reveals a lot about us spiritually. Dealing with difficult people helps us grow spiritually, whether we want to or not. If we’ve learned anything from God, we’ve learned that everyone is redeemable.

Now, there may be times we need to pull back from a relationship with difficult people for our own sanity. Or there may come a time when we are no longer able to work with someone profitably because of a personality conflict or disagreement about how a job should be done. That’s what happened with Paul and Barnabas; so they agreed to go their separate ways. (Acts 15:36-40) However, that doesn’t mean we ever give up on them. Instead, we place them in God’s loving hands and continue to pray for them.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Remember, we are all God’s work in progress. (Ephesians 2:10)

Ask God for the ability to see beyond the surface and into a person’s soul. Ask God to help you see what He sees.

We all have problems. Ask God to help you remove the plank from your own eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Have you ever thought that you might be the difficult person in someone else’s life? Think about it!

Never underestimate the power of prayer. It can change lives – including yours!

 

 

 

 

 


Choose Not to Be Resentful and Bitter

Barbara | October 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Having been born in the foothills of the Ozarks, I know a bit about grudge mentalities. Now don’t get me wrong! I love my roots, but mountain and hill people have a reputation for holding a grudge. Of course, so did the Godfather, but I’m not from Sicily. Grudges can last forever – long after those who felt mistreated are dead and buried. Yet the hatred against one family or another lives on. The Hatfields and McCoys fought so long that no one remembered what the original argument was about. Nothing good comes from holding a grudge. People become bitter and resentful.

When we think we’ve been wronged or treated unfairly, we become resentful. Resentment is defined as bitter indignation. The Bible has nothing good to say about being bitter and resentful. In fact, it says be careful not to let a root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble. (Hebrews 12:15) If it does spring up, we are instructed to put it away. (Ephesians 4:31)

Here’s how resentment and bitterness can start. We get deeply hurt. We feel injured or offended. We justify these feelings. We think we have a right to feel this way. Then the person who did these awful things to us does not react the way we think they should. They don’t apologize. They don’t grovel. They may even ignore us. We say things to ourselves like, “If only they would acknowledge what they did to me, I could let go of this bitterness.” But they don’t acknowledge it. Maybe they don’t even care!

So we decide to turn it over to God. After all, God tells us not to take revenge, because vengeance is His. (Romans 12:19) We’ll leave their punishment in God’s hands. They better watch out because now they are going to get it! But what happens? God doesn’t punish them the way we think He should. They may even prosper. Maybe God won’t punish them at all. We feel like God has really botched this, because we want them to suffer the way they made us suffer.

What are we supposed to do for those no good, lousy rats who wrong us? Well…we are supposed to do the right thing, even when they don’t. God says not to repay evil with evil. (Romans 12:17) We are to pray for our enemies. We are to bless our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) We are to trust God to take care of it – His way. We need to forgive them, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness or acknowledge what they’ve done. We are to let go of bitterness and resentment because no good can come from it. It breeds anger and discontent, which will not enhance our spiritual growth or journey.

Consider this… Resentment and bitterness do not hurt the other guy as much as they hurt us. Nelson Mandela puts it this way: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.”

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Ask God to help you let go of bitterness and resentment because they will hinder your spiritual growth. It hardens your heart. We become unreceptive to God’s Word and love. We get stuck in the past, unable to move forward.

We are to forgive our enemies. Forgiveness does not mean letting others continue to hurt us. It just means we surrender our right to get even or retaliate.

When we pray for our enemies or ask God to bless them, we are asking God to do what is best for them. We think “best” means showering someone with health and wealth, but God doesn’t think the way we do. We aren’t asking God to buy them a Mercedes Benz. God knows what they need to be a better person; we do not.

Do what’s right even if the other guy doesn’t. We are told that if our enemies hunger or thirst, then give them food and water. (Romans 12:17-21) Overcome evil with good.

Remember, no matter how long we nurse a grudge, it will only get bitter, not better.

 

 

 


Choose Not to Add to Someone’s Misery

Barbara | October 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

We all know the story of Job in the Bible. He was a wealthy, loyal servant of God who was afflicted by Satan and lost everything he had. He was miserable. So his friends came to help. However, Job’s friends were not helpful. In fact, they added to Job’s misery. If we aren’t careful, we can add to a person’s misery, all the while thinking we are being helpful.

What Job needed was comfort and encouragement. Instead he got judgment and condemnation. They assumed Job was being punished for some sin he had committed or evil he’d done. They reasoned that Job’s suffering was his own fault – but this was not true. Sometimes when people have problems, we make those same assumptions, not knowing what God is bringing to pass in someone’s life.

Job’s friends started out with good intentions. First, they just sat with Job in silence. But then they got spiritual. They felt they had to say something, and what they said was insensitive. Sometimes it’s better to just sit with someone during a trial, but keep our platitudes to ourselves.

Here are some things “helpful” people say and what suffering people think when they hear them. Although these statements may be true, they are not comforting during a present distress.

What we say: This was part of God’s plan.

What they think: I find it so reassuring that a loving God wants me to suffer.

 

What we say: God works in mysterious ways.

What they think: Yes, He does! And I wish He’d reveal a little of that mystery to me right now.

 

What we say: All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.

What they think: Maybe it will, but I don’t really care right now.

 

What we say: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

What they think: It doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

 

What we say: What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

What they think: That’s catchy. Maybe they can put it on my tombstone.

 

What we say: You need to pray more.

What they think: So do you!

 

What we say: You’ll be just fine.

What they think: How the #$%# do you know?

 

What we say: Be thankful it isn’t worse.

What they think: Be thankful I’m not punching you in the nose right now.

 

What we say: I understand how you feel.

What they think: No, you don’t!

 

These statements may be true, and might be helpful in retrospect, but certainly not during the present suffering. Gracious words are sweet like a honeycomb and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24) These words are not healing any bones. It might be better to just give a hug and sit in silence. Sitting in silence can be comforting.

If we must say something, consider statements like…

  • I’m so sorry you are going through this.
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Can I bring a meal over? What would you like?
  • I’m here if you want to talk.

Consider this… People don’t want to be preached to in times of trouble. They just want to feel like someone cares.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

If people want to talk to you when they are suffering, then listen. Do not give unwanted advice or say thoughtless things that make them feel worse.

Let people know you are thinking of them and praying for them. Then actually pray for them!

Ask them specifically if you can help by offering to drive the children to school, give them a ride, walk the dog, bring a meal, etc. If you ask what you can do to help, they might say, “Loan me $1000 or buy me a second-hand car.” This might not be the kind of help they really need, or that you want to offer.

Ask God for wisdom to avoid saying things that are not helpful.

Don’t get preachy. Let them know you care.

 


Choose Not to Live in the Past

Barbara | October 1, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

Here’s a little something I try to remember: The past is to learn from, not to live in. So many of us live in the past, constantly lamenting what might have been. We are stuck in a “would have, should have, could have” syndrome, constantly thinking if only, if only, if only…

I have three words for you: Get over it! Everyone’s life is full of missed opportunities, some unwise decisions, and regret. These things cannot be changed. It is foolish to be held captive by things we can do nothing about.

Living in the past immobilizes us. It keeps us from enjoying the present, and prevents us from moving into the future. Christian’s lives should not be held in suspended animation. Paul says to forget what is behind. (Philippians 3:13-14) We need to concentrate on our daily walk with God – today – NOW!

We need to live in the NOW, not in the past. We are NOW freed from sin. (Romans 6:22) There is NOW no condemnation for us because we are in Christ. (Romans 8:1) NOW we are no longer tied to the law, but to Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:6) The old things have passed away and we are NOW a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We are NOW the children of God. (1 John 3:2) In the past we were full of darkness, but NOW we are a light to the world. (Ephesians 5:8)

WOW! With all of this NOW stuff, who would want to live in the past??? Only those who don’t understand what they NOW have in Jesus Christ.

Consider this… The Greek word for “now” is “nun,” which means at this time and henceforth into the future. So appreciating what we have NOW carries over into our future. We don’t know what we will be like in the future, but it has to be even better than NOW, because we will be more fully like God. (1 John 3:1-3)

We learn from the past, so we won’t make the same mistakes over and over again. However, we live in the NOW, participating in a lasting relationship with God, which we will carry into the future with Him.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

When you are tempted to lament the past, think of what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. (Genesis 19:26)

Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it. If we dwell on the past, we miss the new things God has in store for us. (Isaiah 43:18-19) As Bible teacher Beth Moore says, “Whatever God has in store for you, it’s not behind you.”

Living in the past encourages us to go back to old ways of doing things, instead of moving forward into a new era. It resists change, even change for the better.

Choose not to be a victim of your past circumstances.

Don’t get mesmerized by nostalgia. Nostalgia may be good to look back on, but not to live in. Believe it or not, the poodle skirt is long gone and so are most of the Beatles.

 


Choose Not to Disdain Simple Pleasures

Barbara | September 24, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Today we have many options. Most options were probably created to make life easier, but that is not always the way it works out. Too many options can leave us confused, making decisions difficult and life complicated.

For example, just wanting a drink of water when we are out and about can be confusing. Do we drink tap water, artesian water, distilled water, purified water, spring water, mineral water, or sparkling water? Should it be plain or flavored? Let’s say we choose plain spring water. Should that spring water come from the mountains, from the valley, from Iceland, France, Italy, or Germany? And don’t get me started on what container it comes in!

This carries over into the religious community as well. In A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God, he says, “Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. Instead are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Believe or not, God is about simplicity. His pleasures are simple ones. Nineteenth century English preacher Frederick William Robertson puts it this way:

“All God’s pleasures are simple ones;
the rapture of a May morning sunshine,
the stream blue and green,
kind words,
benevolent acts,
the glow of good humor.”

Simple pleasures bring contentment. The world entices us into wanting more, more, more of everything. We think bigger is better and expensive is best. Sometimes less is better than more. Having less can help us focus on the truly important aspects of life without distractions. We can learn to appreciate beauty without a price tag. There is wisdom in this Thomas Fuller quote: “Better a little fire to warm us, than a great one to burn us.”

God has much to say about simple pleasures, although that exact phrase won’t be found in the Bible. He tells us to take joy in each new day. (Psalm 118:24) He emphasizes contentment. (Proverbs 30:8, 9; Hebrews 13:5) He loves unity not contentiousness. (Psalm 133:1) He wants us to be kind and tenderhearted. (Ephesians 4:32) He likes a good laugh. (Numbers 22:25-31) He encourages us to get away occasionally to regroup and replenish. (Matthew 14:23) He delights in children. (Matthew 19:14). He paints analogous pictures that bring nature alive. (Isaiah 55:12)

Consider this… God’s creation beckons us to marvel at majestic mountains, enjoy vibrant sunsets, smell fragrant roses, and calm ourselves beside still waters. You might say God did the hard work of creating all of this, so we could enjoy these simple pleasures in life.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Each time you see a happy, little child who is eager to laugh, learn, love, and forgive, tell yourself: Jesus told me to become like little children. This concept, like so many that God uses, is simple yet has profound meaning. (Matthew 18:3)

Take some time every day to appreciate those simple pleasures in life that God created. American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”

Don’t try to muddle the simplicity of the message of Jesus. There are no hidden meanings, mysteries we can’t understand, or complicated doctrines. Jesus came to earth, He lived a perfect life, He paid the price for our sins by dying on a cross, and He victoriously rose from the grave.

Think about this…Jesus could have called the philosophers, scholars, and renowned teachers of His time to spread the gospel, but mostly He chose simple fishermen and ordinary people. (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27)

Learn to use simple explanations when talking to others and to God. Don’t try to impress with your knowledge or vocabulary. Prayers don’t need to be long and eloquent, just heartfelt. Theologian Martin Luther said, “…sometimes…the fewer the words, the better the prayer.”


Choose Not to Think Someone’s Salvation Depends on You

Barbara | September 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Some miss the mark by thinking people are lost because we do not do our part. If God is depending on us to bring everyone to salvation, salvation is doomed before it starts. We are flawed human beings. God is omnipotent. He knows better than to leave the salvation of the world in our feeble hands.

Furthermore, I’m not sure just everyone who comes along can “choose” to be a Christian. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) We don’t choose Christ; Christ chooses us. No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them. (John 6:44) No one comes to Christ unless God grants it. (John 6:65) Actually, people can’t even recognize Jesus as Lord unless the Holy Spirit reveals this knowledge to them – a divine revelation. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

After God draws people to Him, then they choose. Eventually His salvation will be offered to everyone, but this is according to His timing, not ours. Salvation is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) It’s not something we earn – and it’s not something we try to force on others.

So what is our responsibility as Christians if we don’t know who God is calling at this time? It really doesn’t matter if we know who He’s calling and who He isn’t at this time. We know Christ has called us and we know we need to lead a life worthy of that calling. (Ephesians 4:1) We should not be just “sometimes” Christians; we should be “all-the-time” Christians.

What does that mean? It means we should live a joy-filled Christian life. We should depend on God. We should pray, study, meditate. We should serve. We should point people to Christ. We should do all that Christian “stuff,” plus participate in what Christ is doing in the lives of others. Not by shoving Christ down their throats, but by being ready to share the gospel at the appropriate time and give an answer for the hope that lies within us. (1 Peter 3:15) The answer IS Jesus.

Consider this… People are not lost because we don’t do our part. God wouldn’t do that to people. However, we can help people on their Christian journey by participating with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes God will even let us be a part of bringing people to Him. But make no mistake – this is by His orchestration, not ours.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

We, as Christians, are new creations in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Set priorities reflecting the Christian life.

Ask for wisdom in dealing with people. (James 1:5)

Do not force your beliefs on others, but do not shy away from sharing the gospel when the opportunity arises.

Ask God to give you a spirit of peace. There is no need to argue doctrine with others. Our job is not to convince others God is God.

Look for ways to edify, not tear down. Don’t speak unkindly about others. Ask God to help you love, love, love!

 


Choose Not to Speak Carelessly

Barbara | September 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

 

Lawyers who battle it out in court have one goal – to win. Therefore, they do not always play fair. Many times they will ask an objectionable question knowing the judge will not allow it. The judge will strike it from the record and instruct the jury not to give it any credibility when rendering a decision, but it will be too late. Lawyers know the jury will remember what is said. They are counting on it because what is said lingers in a person’s mind. Words have a life of their own.

This is why we must be cautious in what we say to others. Even if we apologize for making careless statements to or about others, that does not erase what was said. We cannot strike it from the record or take it back, because people will remember it even if you say you didn’t really mean it. Spoken words don’t just dissolve into the air. They live on and the damage is done.

No wonder the Bible speaks about taming our tongues. (James 3) Both David and James used the metaphor of bridling our tongues. (Psalms 39:1, James 1:26) A bridle is a leather harness and bit placed in a horse’s mouth to control it. That might seem a bit drastic to us, but in all honesty, some of us could benefit from a built-in muzzle that clamps over our mouths when we are about to say something we are going to regret.

As Christians we know the admonitions to not have a flattering tongue (Psalm 5:9), a haughty tongue (Psalm 12:2-4), a lying tongue (Proverbs 25:18), a backbiting tongue (Proverbs 25:23), a talebearer’s tongue (Proverbs 18:8), a cursing tongue (Romans 3:13, 14), a sharp tongue (Proverbs 12:18), or to gossip (Romans 1:29).

Perhaps the hardest tongue to guard against is one that manifests itself when we least expect it because our tongues speak from the abundance of our hearts. (Matthew 12:34) Unfortunately, this seems to happen with those who are closest to us. We say something stupid or hurtful and we don’t even know why. We might think, “I wonder where that came from?” But the heart knows. Someone or something can trigger unresolved issues within us, and we end up regurgitating them on others.

Solomon said to weigh our words carefully. (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 3) James said to think before we speak. (James 1:19) Jesus said what goes into our mouths is not as important as what comes out. (Matthew 15:11).

Consider this… Heartfelt words spoken with kindness, consideration, and love are beautiful. (Proverbs 25:11) They can calm, cheer, and encourage others. They are like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 12:25) However, careless, thoughtless words can be poisonous. (James 3:8)

Remember that words have a life of their own. What you say today lives on tomorrow!

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Don’t be too quick to respond. A moment of thought or a little hesitation might improve what you want to say immensely.

If you are discussing a delicate situation, say a little mental prayer before you respond. “Lord, what should I say? Please guide my words. Please put Your words in my mouth.”

If you are thinking you probably shouldn’t say something, then don’t say it. A good clue is when you say, “I probably shouldn’t say this but…”

Don’t pretend to know what you are talking about when you don’t. And don’t assume you know what you are talking about.

Before you speak think about this acronym: