Friday, June 27, 2014

Those Jesus Loves

John refers to himself as the one whom Jesus loved at least five times in his gospel. While that may seem a little prideful at first, it may just be John's way of expressing his identity. Notice he does not say he was the "only" disciple Jesus loved.

John could have identified himself as an apostle, a member of Jesus' inner circle, the writer of a gospel, or many other titles that would have brought him more acclaim, but he chose instead to label himself the "one whom Jesus loved." Is it possible he chose that label because it was most precious to him?

Like John, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are "the one whom Jesus loves." That is your identity, too. When you are worried that the people in your life do not appreciate or recognize all the things you do, remember that your ultimate identity rests in the love of the Savior who gave His life as an act of love for you.

Be secure in the truth that you are also "the one Jesus loves."

YouVersion - Devotional Day257
Parenting By Design

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dealing with Critical People

All of us deal with criticism in our lives. And it’s typically given to us without asking for it. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, a neighbor or maybe even your mother-in-law that is always willing to give you their unwelcome opinion.

I will have to admit that I am NOT an expert in this area. I'm still learning. But, Jesus dealt with criticism, and so did the Apostle Paul–eventually at some point, we all will. Sometimes these cynical remarks are discouraging. They can cause us to doubt ourselves and create unnecessary worry in our lives. So whenever criticism starts coming my way, here are several questions I ask myself:

1 - How Well Does This Person Know Me?

One of the things that we have to learn is that just because someone has an opinion about something does not make them an expert.

You’ve got to understand WHO is doing the criticizing. People will often act before they think and make snap judgments on your character or actions based on one line you said in passing, when in actuality, they don’t know the background of your story or the reasoning in which you made that decision.

These are the people that we can’t take the time to listen to. Chances are, you probably don’t have time to try to convince them you’re a good person and explain your intentions.

BUT, you can (and should) listen to those closest to you. These are the people whose encouragement and rebuke you welcome. You’ve got to have people around you who are willing to tell you the truth.

2 - What Attitude Does The Person Criticizing Have?

Bottom line, if someone comes at me with a negative, condemning attitude, I write it off. The Bible says that we are called to speak the truth, but we are called to do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).

3 - Does What The Person Is Saying Pass Through The Filter Of Scripture?

Scripture in context is something we should all listen to. For example, a few weeks ago, a friend and I had some differences and I did not speak to this person for several days. Things were tense because we work around one another. She confronted me on this and said, “The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 that we are not supposed to let the sun go down on us while we are angry…I would say you have done that.”

I was busted—she was right. She had confronted me with a non-judgmental attitude and used Scripture in context, and I repented because I was wrong.

4 - Is This Criticism Personal Or Shared By Others?

Sometimes after something goes seemingly well (a successful presentation at work, the home completely in order when you get home, your kids were perfect at that restaurant with friends), you get praised and complimented by many. But often you will get ONE negative comment from someone, and ignore the positive comments, focusing on that one negative remark! And this negative remark probably isn’t even true! We cannot allow ourselves to dwell on that negative comment.

5 - Is This Worth My Time?

I used to try and fight every single ounce of criticism that came my way…and I realized I just can’t.

Now, there are some things that are worth my time, and I do address those. But often times, I am NOT going to change the person’s mind and “friendly debate” is out of the question, so it’s best to just move on.

In the end, we all have good things in our lives we need to focus on. The best thing being Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So don’t spend your time fighting the critics, spend your time focusing on Jesus and the blessings He has given to all of us. He is the one we will spend eternity with in heaven, and His opinion is the only one that really matters.

- The Overwhelmed Challenge Bible reading Plan with you.version,  Day 2

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hope of Easter

A Humble King -from YouVersion - The Hope of Easter.

Someone once wrote this about Jesus: “He who is the Bread of Life began His ministry hungering. He who is the Water of Life ended His ministry thirsting. Jesus hungered as a man, yet fed the hungry as God. He was weary, yet He is our rest. He paid tribute, yet He is the King. He was called a devil, but He cast out demons. He prayed, yet He hears prayer. He wept, and He dries our tears. He was sold for 30 pieces of silver, yet He redeems sinners. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. He gave His life, and by dying He destroyed death.”

Throughout His life on earth, Jesus was a man of striking contrasts—reflecting both His genuine humanity and His full deity. On that Sunday before He died, one might have expected Jesus the King to enter Jerusalem on a mighty steed.But He chose instead a lowly donkey. Before He could come as a King to reign, He had to come as a Savior to die.

We would expect to find such contrasts in the life of One who was fully God and fully man. Jesus, who is the sovereign Lord of the universe, became a man to die for us. But one day He will return as King of Kings. — RICHARD DEHAAN

The lowly carpenter of Nazareth was the mighty architect of the universe.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life of worship

Demonstrating a life of worship is reflected in how we love our neighbor.
  - bd

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Let the Spirit control our responses

King David knew the importance of telling his soul to bless the Lord! Your soul is the birthplace of your feelings, emotions and desires and, unfortunately, your soul doesn't always "feel" like blessing the Lord. There will be moments in your life when your soul feels like whining and will demand its right to be heard. At those moments, you must treat your soul just like you treat an out-of-control 2 year old! You must command your soul, like David did, to bless the Lord!

Your spirit should be the part of your inner man that calls the shots in life. Unfortunately, in our 21st Century, psycho-babble world, we have majored on the soul and minored on the spirit. You would never be able to walk by faith and not by sight if you allowed your soul to be in charge. Our souls are driven by our circumstances but our spirits are led by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Do not allow your soul to boss your spirit around no matter how loud it becomes!

Your soul says pitiful things like this:

"The music is too loud. I will just sit here and criticize."

"I am too tired to lift my hands in worship."

"I can't afford to put anything in the offering plate this week."

"I'm too tired to go to Bible Study. I have a headache. It's probably a tumor."

When your spirit talks, however, it sounds a whole lot like the Word of God!

"I love being a cheerful giver!"

"I refuse to worry ... I am going to trust the Lord to supply!"

"I am so thankful that this church worships enthusiastically!"

Flex your spiritual muscles and allow your spirit to to guard and control the responses of your soul to life.

Joy During Trials

How is a person able to have joy while experiencing the devastation of a trial? That sounds too spiritual to be practical. Who does the Holy Spirit think we are, anyway? Some Mother-Theresa version of Pollyanna and Mary Poppins?!

Choosing to be a joyful Christian in spite of extraordinary human pain seems high and mighty to most people ... and just plain unrealistic to others. How can anyone in their right mind consider trials a reason for joy?! Why ... that's downright absurd! It is unthinkable at best...unless, of course, you know Jesus. Then, having joy in the middle of a disappointment becomes a very real and genuine possibility!

The truth is this: we are able to have joy regardless of trauma or tragedy because nothing is able to separate us from His presence. And it is in His presence where there is always fullness of joy. Neither death nor disease are able to deny us the strength and comfort of His presence. Financial ruin, relationship challenges and even broken hearts do not wield the power of removing His children from their Father's love and tender care. A divorce is unable to deny us access to His love and rebellious children will not keep you away from all that He is.

We are to choose joy in situations when joy in the natural would be our very last response. When we are angry with people ... disappointed with life ... in the throes of grief ... and tormented by depression ... James points us to a healthier alternative: JOY!

Earthly circumstances are able to steal our happiness but never our joy! So, next time a trial is headed your way, don't welcome depression but instead, start counting all the reasons why you are able to be a joy-filled and saturated Christian!

Joy truly is the litmus test that determines whether or not we have set our course by remaining in the presence of God.

James 1:2-4