Friday, November 30, 2012

Who is Jesus?

Read: The Gospels of John

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:2

If we are to make Jesus the center of our focus, we have to know who He is, where He came from and where He is now. Jesus was, is now and always will be the fullness of the Trinity (John 1:1; Colossians 2:9). People say that Jesus never claimed to be God; however, He did expressly say that He and the Father are one (John 10:30-33; John 5:18).
 
Jesus purposely came to earth in human form with all of its limitations, after experiencing the infinite power of the Godhead in Heaven (John 1:14: Philippians 2: 5-7). He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on the cross. The established ministers of His day, as well as several of His family and friends, rejected Him. He suffered persecution and death for our sake.

Jesus was scourged, ridiculed, made to wear a crown of thorns, laid bloody and disfigured on a rough wooden cross, endured nails hammered through His hands and feet, suffered the lung crushing pressure of hanging on a cross until, in God’s mercy, He died. Placed in the tomb of a friend, He arose on the third day and stepped back into His eternal power (Mark 8:31).
 
He walked about the earth in an immortal body, visiting His disciples and friends (Luke 24: 13-35). Then He gathered His apostles together and rose into heaven right before their eyes (Luke 24:31; Acts 1: 1-11). God highly exalted Him with a name, which is above every name. One day, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).  

Jesus had power over demons (Matthew 4:10). He is King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). He is the first and the last and there is no God besides Him (Isaiah 44: 6). He came to reconcile us back to the Father. He endured the cross by focusing on the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). His life and death provided a bridge to close the gap between our Heavenly Father and us.
 
Jesus willfully humbled Himself as a man for the purpose of taking from us the punishment of our sins. He did not leave us unsupported when He returned to Heaven, however. He sent His Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us (Luke 24:49), and He gave us the God-inspired words of the apostles and prophets collected into one book, the Bible.

God has a perfect plan for each of our lives, just as He did for Jesus. We have an important part to play in the history of the world and for the advancement of God’s Kingdom on the earth. He has a ministry, which He called us to perform to help reconcile other people to Him and to strengthen them in their walk and in their understanding of His principles (2 Corinthians 5:18). Jesus promises never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Although we face various trials and temptations, He walks with us through every one of them (John 16:33).

We can face our cross with joy because we know that Jesus lives within us and will provide every ounce of courage, wisdom and strength to face whatever life has in store for us (Colossians 1:27). Just as He exhorted the disciples to allow the little children to come to Him (Matthew 19:14), Jesus is waiting for us to humble ourselves and come to Him as little children in complete surrender of our will to His (Matthew 18:2-4). He gives us His anointing, so that we can give our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors the opportunity to accept the saving truth of His gospel. 

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we are living in the end times. We are watching as You fulfill Your plan on the earth. A one world government, currency and religion are not very far off into the future. We see the stage being set now for things to come. We thank You for keeping us close to Your heart during these troubling and dangerous times. We thank You for continuing to provide for our daily needs and for allowing us to tell others that You are the answer for all of their problems. We ask You to move in their hearts, so they will respond to Your Truth.

Thought for the Day:
Do not be afraid; Jesus is the first and the last, and the living One; He was dead, but now He is alive forevermore. He holds the keys of death and of Hell. – Revelations 1:17-18

 



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Light Offends Darkness


Read: Ephesians 5: 13-16

“The Lord is the Light of my salvation, whom shall I fear.” – Psalm 27:1

In the dead of night, when someone turns on the light, we recoil with agitation and pull the covers up over our head. We try to restore darkness as quickly as possible, because the light is so offensive. The sudden brilliance hurts our eyes. Sinful mankind loves darkness instead of light, simply because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Everyone who commits evil deeds does them under the cover of darkness (Acts 17:11). They hate the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. Everything exposed by the light becomes visible for everyone to see (Ephesians 5:13).

In this same way, because of Christ within us, the light in our life offends those who choose to live in darkness (John 1:9). Jesus came into the world to bring us out of darkness and into the light. Therefore, all those who will put their trust in Christ no longer remains in darkness, because His light shines in our dark, sad, lonely world (John 12:46). His light leads us to eternal life (John 8:12). God calls us to live with wisdom and to be very careful to make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:13-16). Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, because we plainly see what Jesus has done for us (John 3:19-21).

God makes His children lights in the world. He places us like a city on a hill so that everyone can see the light of Christ within us (2 Corinthians 4:6). If we hide our light, we thwart His purpose in the earth, because He created us to give light. Therefore, let us shine our light before the world, so they may see the good deeds that we do and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5: 14-16). God made us a royal priesthood and a holy people. God’s very own possession. He called us out of the darkness into His wonderful light; so that those who live in the land where death casts its shadow can see the goodness of God (1 Peter 2:8-9; Matthew 4:16). God’s Word is a lamp for our feet, and lights up our path (Psalm 119:105).

God is light, and in Him dwells no darkness at all. If we live a sinful life, we cannot claim to have fellowship with God, because He has no tolerance for sin. If we seek holiness and walk in God’s light, then we do have continual fellowship with Him and with one another. The blood of the Lamb pays the debt of our sin and purifies us from all desire to sin (1 John 1: 5-7). We live a life of praise to the Father, because He qualified us to share in Christ’s inheritance with all the Saints in His Kingdom, to share in His redemption and also His forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 1:12-14). Even the simple can understand God’s teaching, because His Word gives the light of understanding to them (Psalm 119:130). 

Prayer:
Lord, since You are the light of our salvation, we have no need to fear anyone or anything. You are our fortress and You protect us from all danger (Psalm 27:1). You are the foundation of our life and the light by which we see truth (Psalm 36:9). Thank You that, even in this sinful world, Your light dawns for those who walk in Your  righteousness, for those who are gracious and compassionate and live a holy life (Psalm 112:4)

Thought for the Day:
“Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.” – Psalm 43:3

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Importance of Forgiving Yourself


"God remembers our sins no more.”
- Hebrews 8: 12

Sometimes it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive our self. However, the same principles in God's Word concerning our responsibility to forgive others, also applies to forgiving our self. As humans, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. You can eliminate self-rejection by reminding yourself that even in your failures God forgave you 2000 years ago. He took from you the burden of guilt for your actions and nailed it to the cross, because He already knew about and forgave you for what you have done. If God can forgive us, how can we do any less?

Sometimes, we even hold grudges against our self for our past disappointments, failures and mistakes. God holds no grudges. His steadfast love never ceases, His mercy never ends; in fact, it is new every single morning
(Lamentations 3: 22-23). He casts the memory of our offenses as far away as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12). Think about that...when you travel east around the globe, there is never a point that you start traveling west. The east never meets the west. God gives us endless forgiveness (Hebrews 8: 12). If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us every time. He will do one better than that! He will also sanctify and purify us from all unholy behavior, if we will let Him (1 John 1:9). As we accept Christ's sacrifice for our sins, we can let go of our anger against our self and forgive our self.

There is no way that we can truly love others if we do not first love God and then our self. Luke 10: 27 admonishes us, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” God calls us to let go of our need to make an effort or to do penance to make up for our past offenses. Jesus already took care of the penalty for us on Calvary's cross (Acts 13:38). If you need to ask someone's forgiveness, or make amends for something you have done, now would be a good time to do that (Matthew 6:12). But even if they will not forgive you, God already forgave you, and Jesus shed His blood to guarantee your forgiveness. If God cares enough to forgive you, then you can forgive yourself too.

If you refuse to forgive yourself, then there are negative consequences ~ stress, inner turmoil, panic attacks, loss of sleep, irritability, chronic physical illnesses, anger, feeling overwhelmed and having strained relationships with others. If you do not forgive your self, you run the risk of more unresolved hurt, pain and suffering from self-destructive behaviors. You have guilt and remorse eating away at you from the inside out. Subconsciously, you may even be seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself in a way that you are not even aware of. We have a putrefying wound that is never cured, until we accept God’s healing in this area of our life.

Unresolved, unproductive and unnecessary anger, hatred and blaming of your self are counterproductive. It is a trick of Satan to make us pessimistic and negative. It stops our growth in our spiritual walk until we come to the place of forgiving our self. These buried emotions may even make us defensive and distant with other people. We carry our feelings on our shoulders and think other people are talking about us or have an attitude toward us, when all along we are the one sinning against our self. We live in constant fear of failure, of making more mistakes or repeating old mistakes, of being rejected or of not gaining the approval of others, when all along we are the one rejecting and withholding approval from our self.

Sometimes, Satan discourages me into thinking that I am too incompetent to help anyone else. I get disheartened and I want to give up. Whenever this happens, God never fails to send me reassurance through His Word or an encouraging remark from a friend or even a stranger. His perfect plan will use all of my foibles to help someone else in their time of need. Despite all of our failings, God gives us overwhelming victory through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37). Even if everyone else is fighting against us, including our self, they shall not prevail. God is with us to deliver us in our times of need (Jeremiah 1: 19). The Lord forgives us and we can forgive our self as well as one another (Colossians 3:13).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we are so blessed, because You forgave all of our transgressions and covered all of our sins. You never count our sin against us again. On the cross, You paid the penalty of the sins of the whole world once and for all (Romans 4:7-8). Now, we can forgive and comfort those who sin against us, including our self, so that we will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:7). In You, we have redemption through Your blood. You forgive all of our sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace (Ephesans 1:7). We realize that since You forgave us unconditionally, we can follow Your example and forgive others and our self unconditionally as well.

Thought for the Day:
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone (even yourself), forgive him/her (and yourself), so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." - Mark 11:25 
 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Words of Encouragement

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Therefore, we do not lose heart.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

The writer of Hebrews admonished us not let the sun go down before we found someone to encourage (Hebrews 3:13). I have never met a person yet who does not like encouragement. Even the most independent people still need affirmation and reassurance, whether they will admit it or not. Building up the Body of Christ in love is a vital ministry (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).  The timid among us need encouragement most of all (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We treat those, which God put into our care as caring parents treat their children. We encourage, comfort and admonish them to live lives that are worthy of God’s calling (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Jude even encourages us to encourage our self (Jude 1:20).

We never have to lose heart. Even when we realize that our body is aging, we are encouraged by the thought that our spirit and soul are renewed day by day. When we face trials and affliction we are encouraged to realize that these troubles prepare for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. When we do not see the answers to our prayers, God encourages us not to look at the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen; the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, we will have troubles, but Christ in us already overcame them for us (John 16:33). If we trust Him through them, He will give us His peace in them, which transcends all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). God calls us to put the interests of others above our own interests (Philippians 2: 3-4).  As encouragers, we cry when someone cries and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). We can even remind each other that in the end times, we will meet our deceased friends and relatives in the rapture of all the Saints at the coming of the Lord in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

There is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner comes to repentance (Luke 15:7). The most important encouragement we can give anyone is to secure a place in God’s eternal home by confessing that they are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23, 6:23). In doing this they receive the promise of everlasting life. They see things differently from then on, being more interested in eternal things than in carnal and secular pursuits (Galatians 5:16). So, let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Encourage each other not to forsaking corporate worship, and to encouraging one another all the more, as we see the Day of the Lord drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You conquered sin and death for our sake. According to the last two chapters of Your Bible, You give back to us everything we forfeited to Satan in the first few chapters. Thank You for Your Spirit who dwells within every Born Again Believer and who leads, guides, comforts and encourages us all the days of our life. Help us to walk in Your truth and to keep ourselves unspoiled by the world (James 1:27). You give us joy unspeakable and the hope of a glorious future without end (1 Peter 1:8; Jeremiah 29:11).

Thought for the Day:
“The encouragement of the scriptures gives us hope.” – Romans 15:4

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wisdom of Mankind

Read: John 3:16-18

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” -
1 Corinthians 1:25

When people attempt to understand the things of the Spirit with their human mind, they have no success. People without God’s Spirit dwelling within them do not accept the Truth that comes from God, because it sounds foolish to them. They cannot understand God’s Truths, because it is spiritually discerned and cannot be received by an unregenerate mind (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unbelievers look at the various points of the Gospel and ridicule it as ludicrous. It makes no sense to them at all. They think they are wise, but the Bible calls them fools (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).

These atheistic people divide the world, because they follow mere natural instincts and they do not have the Spirit of God within them (Jude 1:19). They say that if there is a God, He is an omnipotent being who is playing a game with humanity through an elaborate scheme, which to them does not make any sense at all. God designed the message of the cross this way. It is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). What they fail to take into consideration is that their spirit is dead in sin. They cannot possibly understand the Gospel, because they cannot see it from its spiritual perspective. They are not willing to surrender their life to God.

They live by a worldly philosophy derived from a perception without Christ dwelling within them. Therefore, they cannot receive Jesus, because they are not looking for Him and they do not recognize Him or His work in the world. Only Born Again Believers know Him, because He lives in us through His resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven (John 14:7). We actually preach Christ crucified, and this is a stumbling block to Jews, as well as to every other culture, which foolishly cling to unbelief (1 Corinthians 1:23).

The Holy Spirit clearly states that even some people who were taught the Truth will abandon their beliefs and follow deceiving spirits (1 John 5:19). They consider the Gospel to be idiotic, and they are too smart to waste time with religion. These unbelievers are controlled by their sinful, unconverted nature. They do not have the Spirit of Christ, because they have not repented of their sins and they do not believe in Christ as their Savior. They do not belong to Christ. Their thinking does not come from heaven. It is secular, unspiritual and from the devil (James 3:15).

God is pleased through the foolishness of the Gospel of Christ to save those who choose to believe (1 Corinthians 1:21). We belong to Christ and live by His Spirit, because the Spirit of God lives in us (Romans 8:9). The Spirit of Truth came into the world at Pentecost, and He guides us into all truth even now. The Spirit will not speak about Himself, but He speaks only what He hears from the Father, and He even tells us about what is yet to come (John 16:13). Our Heavenly Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him for salvation shall have eternal life. He will raise us all up at the last day to live with Him in the New Heaven and the New Earth for eternity (John 6:40; Revelation 21:1). Unfortunately, unbelievers condemn themselves to spend eternity in the torments of hell (John 3:18).

Prayer:
Father God, those who obey Your commands live in You, and You live in them. And this is how we know that You live in us: We know it by the Spirit, which You gave us (1 John 3:24; John 8:47). We are from You, and whoever knows You will listen to Your Gospel message and repent and be saved. Whoever is not from You will not listen to us and will hard-heartedly reject Your Truth and believe Satan’s lie instead (1 John 4:6). We offer a prayer right now for our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors to come to a saving knowledge of Your existence and to personally experience Your love for them through Jesus Christ.

Thought for the Day:
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” - 1 Timothy 4:1

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Job's Sage Advice

Read: Job 5:8-26

“The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!" - Job 1:21

Job was a rich and powerful man. Yet, in one day, he lost everything: his home, family, health, finances, worldly goods and confidence in himself. He had three visitors who tried to help him figure out where he went wrong and why God was punishing him. What they did not know is that Satan is the one who plagued this good and gentle man, not the Father. They ended up heaping blaming condemnation on Job, rather than leaving with him the encouragement they came to give.

Through this experience Job learned some lessons. He gives us sage advice that is very important to apply to our life. Even in His poverty and ill health with no family to bring him solace, Job tells us that God does innumerable and marvelous miracles for us. Then he stated the blessings from God, which most people take for granted: rain to water the fields, prosperity for the poor and humble, safety for sufferers and salvation for the fatherless and the poor from the grasp of their oppressors. God gives hope to those who lack trust and anticipation. He keeps us from famine and war. He even protects us from wild animals.

Job warns that crafty people are caught in their own traps, because God thwarts their schemes. They grope like blind men, even in the daylight. However, God breaks their fangs and prevents them from harming other people. Job reminds us that the correction of the Lord is something we can cherish, because He only disciplines those who are His children. God allows us to be wounded, but then He binds up our wounds and heals us. We do not even need to worry about our home when we are away from it, because He will thwart the thief. God gives us a long, good life and only takes us to heaven when the number of our days is full.

All of us experienced times when we found refuge in God. He turns His ear to us in our day of trouble and saves us. He is our rock and refuge, which we can always go to. He delivers us from the hand of the wicked and gives us hope. He fills our mouth with praise as we declare His splendor all day long. He never leaves us or forsakes us, not even when we are old and our natural strength is gone. People speak against God, and mock us for our unswerving trust and belief in Him, but they will perish in shame. We can tell everyone we meet of His righteous love towards us. We can proclaim to the next generation the wonderful things He does for us each new day (Psalm 71:1-18).

Prayer:
O Lord, Your righteousness reaches the heavens. You have done such great things. No one is like You. You see our troubles and tears and restore our life. You increase our honor and comfort us through every affliction. We praise You for Your faithfulness and we shout with joy when we sing to You. You redeemed us and we will never stop sharing Your wondrous love with everyone we meet (Psalm 71:18-24).

Thought for the Day:
“Happy are those whose God is the Lord.” - Psalm 144:15




Thank you, Susan Holsinger, for the use of your photo.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finding a Balance

Read: James 1:2-4

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” - Hebrews 12:2

A ball spinning on a seal’s nose and a child’s twirling toy top have little in common except that both of their performances require balance. This reminds me of the fact that life also requires a balancing act. We often find ourselves thrown off center by confusion and catastrophe, which come when we least expect it. Our normal peaceful life spins out of control, just like the top and the ball, if they are disturbed. Each compartment of our life, which we meticulously created to provide us with security and a safe haven, suddenly tilts to one side like the Tower of Pisa.

We get disoriented and feel insecure and fearful. Reacting with negative emotions can create even more problems, because we panic and make poor decisions. We hectically, yet unsuccessfully, try to manage the disruptive people and events in our life in an attempt to make us feel safe again. But this never helps. In fact, it usually increases our anxiety, when these people react to the frustration we create in their lives.

Part of the problem occurs when we acquire more possessions than we need. Our life slowly sinks under a burden of stress created by trying to pay for this accumulation. Another factor comes if we lean toward making sinful decisions, because we end up reaping what we sow. A third aspect occurs when we tilt under the weight of the demands, which others place on our life.

So, what is the solution? We owe it to our self to simplify our life. We accomplish this in many different ways. We can sell off some of our accumulated goods and discipline our spending habits. We can make wise choices and maintain an unadulterated life of purity and serenity. We can also find a balance between what people need from us and what God wants us to do for them. Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us that worry never helped anyone. Peace comes only by trusting God to order our lives according to His will. He generously provides all of our necessities, even when life disintegrates before our eyes, if we will walk in obedience to His Spirit.

James exhorts us to keep a positive attitude throughout difficulties and temptations. He tells us that in this way our patience has a chance to grow. Then, patience gets us ready for anything life throws at us (James 1:2-4). Adversity develops strong character in us, which helps us to withstand the disheartening uncertainty of life and to ward off the eventual panic when it arises.

Paul admonishes us, in Hebrews 12:2, to keep our eyes on Jesus. By following the examples from Jesus’ life, we learn how to successfully live our own life. He prayed before beginning each day of ministry (Mark 1:35). He lived in the moment and did not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:33-35). Jesus listened to His Father and followed His will in every word and deed. His focus stayed on God’s kingdom rather than on amassing worldly goods and fame. Ultimately, He humbled Himself, even to the point of death on the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we walk the tightrope of life, help us to focus on the equilibrium You achieve within each moment that we live, rather than focusing on the spinning details of our negative circumstances. Life wavers like the ocean, with a continuous ebb and flow, but You gave us the words of the prayer that never fails: "Father, not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42-43)


Thought for the Day:
When we trust God more and strive less, serenity seeps into every area of our life, no matter how the circumstances play out around us.


 


Friday, November 23, 2012

What in the World is a Boundary?

Read: Hebrews 12:12-13

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” - Proverbs 4:23

Our physical, mental and emotional boundaries define how we interact with others, and how we allow others to interact with us. Emotional boundaries define what our feelings are as compared to someone else's feelings. We should take responsibility only for our own feelings and needs, and allow others to do the same (Proverbs 19:19). Physical boundaries define who can touch us, how they touch us and how physically close a particular person may approach us. Mental boundaries concern our thoughts. They prevent us from being compulsive people pleasers or mimicking another’s opinions and ignoring our own. They allow us to say "No" and to ask for what we need.

Those of us raised in dysfunctional families probably have little experience with healthy boundaries. This can result in us disconnecting from who we really are. We learned to hide our true identity from others in an attempt to protect our self from getting hurt. A problem arises when we hide our authentic self for so long, that we actually forget who we really are and what we really need as an individual. Boundaries allow us to get close to others without getting hurt. We need boundaries, otherwise, we will not know where we start and others end.

A person without boundaries will not realize when someone is physically, emotionally or intellectually abusing them until it is too late and they are already wounded. When we have healthy boundaries, we know when people are violating our personal space. We then put emotional and/or physical distance between them and us, until they are ready to ask our forgiveness (Luke 17:3,4). Boundaries are not fixed. We can rearrange them according to what we feel and who we are within any given moment. When our boundaries are intact, we honor our individual thoughts, feelings and actions, which differ from those around us. Therefore, learning how to establish boundaries is an important goal in our personal growth.

In order to erect boundaries we must first find our self-worth in Christ and then overcome the tendency to live passively. Boundaries allow our authentic self to feel safe enough to emerge. Healthy boundaries become the fences that keep us safe - something we may have never experienced before we erected them. They are not walls without doors. They are fences with gates. We allow only safe people to enter our gate. Everyone else may talk to us from the other side of the fence. If they no longer want our friendship, then we give them the freedom to walk out of our life.

As we learn to identify and respect our rights and needs, we become skilled at assertively (not aggressively - Proverbs 15:1) taking care of our self in relationships (Colossians 4:5). If others get upset with us for taking care of our self, that is their problem. An assertive person expresses their views clearly and articulately without being overpowering and obnoxious. Assertive people stand up for their own and other people's rights in a reasonable and clear way. We allow other people to express their opinions without allowing them to dominate us (Leviticus 19:15,17). We have courage to express our own feelings, even about difficult issues and controversial subjects, in a way which is respectful and honest. This takes practice!

Those, whose boundaries are too rigid, live in fear of failure, rejection, abuse and life in general. They appear aloof and distant, and do not talk about feelings or show emotions. They exhibit extreme self-sufficiency, and do not ask for help. They do not allow anyone to get physically or emotionally close to them. Those whose boundaries are too loose often lead chaotic lives, full of drama, as if they lived in houses with no walls. They touch and allow others to touch them inappropriately. They take on the feelings of others as their own, easily become emotionally overwhelmed, giving too much, taking too much, and in constant need of reassurance. They may expect others to read their minds, and think they can read the minds of others. They say "Yes," when they want to say "NO."  They feel responsible for the feelings of others and for making others happy.

Those with healthy boundaries are firm, but flexible. They are comfortable with who they are, and they make others comfortable around them. They respect others and give and accept support. However, they are clear about owning only their own feelings, needs, opinions and rights. They know they are responsible for their own happiness and allow others to be responsible for their own happiness. They are able to negotiate in order to develop a Plan C, when neither Plan A nor Plan B is acceptable to both parties. They have empathy and compassion for others. They are able to make mistakes because they know who they are in Christ. They respect diversity, but they appreciate their own personal identity. God Word advises us to take constant, diligent ownership and stewardship over our souls, and to be careful of what is going on there (Proverbs 4:23).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help us to trust You with our soul. Negative emotions in our soul signal an assault on one of our boundaries. Teach us to pay attention to our negative emotions and to pray about what is causing them and what to do about them. If we cannot fix the issue, remind us to put it in Your capable hand to deal with it in Your timing. As we develop boundaries, we discover our authentic self. We reclaim our soul - our mind, will and emotions - as our own, and we subject it to no one but You. Help us to remember who we are in Christ, because You loved us enough to die for us.

(Read My Other Posts: “Who You Are in Christ” and “Who Loves You”.)

Thought for the Day:
It is time to be reunited with an old friend – and that old friend is you.

 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Anger: An Emotional Roadmap

God gave us emotions to express our self and the mood we are experiencing at any given moment. They are an important part of our soul. Each emotion has many shades, hues and nuances. Emotions give us a clue to underlying thoughts that are fueling our behavior. For instance, anger is a very useful emotion. Shades of anger range from a slight annoyance to feeling cross, indignation, irate, furious, enraged and wrathful. It protects us when we feel vulnerable by prompting us to flee or to fight, whatever the circumstances call for us to do.

Anger is a red flag that makes us aware that there are issues in our life, which we are ignoring. Anger is actually Morse code for deeper, more intense feelings. Anger masks subterranean emotions, which present as anger. Understanding these underlying emotions helps us to feel whole and healthy again, which frees us from the stranglehold of our temper. We simply need to get alone and take the time to journal or get in touch with how we really feel at the core of our soul. Following the roadmap that anger gives us leads us back to the little “towns” along the way in which we experienced disturbing incidents. 

The possible underlying roots of anger are varied and immense, but some of them include: feeling ignored, invalidated, powerless, insecure, unloved, rejected, fearful, unappreciated, violated, disrespected, ridiculed, abandoned, used, unsafe, etc. We often erupt in anger to protect our self when we feel threatened in any way. We falsely believe that this anger will thwart another’s behavior and keep us safe. We feel too vulnerable to express our true feelings, so we use anger as protection. Anger only muddies the water, however, and causes others to pull further away from us. 

No one is perfect, but we all have value and worth. Jesus Christ values us so much that He chose to suffer the indecency and torment of Calvary’s cross to protect us from the rejection and death that He suffered. When the whole world misunderstands or criticizes us, He is holding out His arms, ready to pour out His love and grace on us in our time of need. We can unburden our heart to Him, sharing with Him our deepest feelings without any fear of censure or ridicule. Then when we understand the motivation behind our anger or any other negative emotion, we can express it logically to the person who offended us. 

They still may not respond with care and concern, but they will listen to us much better than if we simply blow up at them in rage and retaliation. Many times they do not even have a clue as to why their words or behavior affected us so negatively, and our anger only confuses them. We often suppress our feelings in an attempt to be patient and to get along, trying not to nag or complain. Once our patience runs out, however, we usually compound the problem by exploding in unexpected anger. Once we understand the emotion behind our anger, it is much easier to explain to others how we are really feeling. It helps if, prior to the point of frustration and anger, we will express how someone’s negative behavior or words
are affecting us and making us feel. 

The key to being even-tempered is to take frequent stock of our negative emotions. They are a red flag, provided by God, to give us a clue that we are not being treated properly. The offensive behavior may be just a misunderstanding, or a lack of discernment or manners on their part. That is why it works out better if we express how we really feel before our soul hides behind the emotion of anger. If the other person sees no problem with their words or behavior or if they consistently disregard our needs, we can erect boundaries to protect our soul from their painful words and behavior. Putting distance between them and us, or changing our focus about how their opinions or beliefs affect us, will ensure that our heart is not constantly bombarded by their insensitivity and callous behavior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You only used anger once in Your life. You did not react, but You acted with a controlled emotion when the moneychangers turned the house of worship into a den of thieves. You took the time to make a whip and to consider Your words and behavior. However, Your righteous indignation did not tolerate their abuse either. Help us to choose our words carefully and to speak up when we are violated by another person’s words or actions before we resort to using anger to make our needs known. Help us to change our focus about their behavior so that we can maintain the relationship without a severance of the unity between us.

Thought for the Day:
Pay attention the red flags that negative emotions give you and use your words to express how you really feel before you get to the point of frustration and anger.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Truth and Consequences

Read: Galatians 6:7-8

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” - Galatians 6:8

God created human beings to live a life of worship and to fellowship with Him (Matthew 28:20). He originally gave us Paradise to enjoy, and He wanted us to live there eternally. However, as willful humans, we reject God and we choose to live life according to what feels right to each individual heart. The problem with this tactic is that the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. It is actually worse than we could ever even imagine (Jeremiah 17:9). Yet, we choose to allow this sinful heart to dictate what we do with our life.

Satan manipulated the idea of being like God to tempt Adam and Eve. Over the years, Satan continues using very successful substitutes for faith in Christ to draw people away from enjoying eternity with God. He deceives countless people into rejecting Christ, motivating them to embrace surrogate theories, philosophies, practices or cultures in some form or fashion. Most of these alternate viewpoints emphasize that each individual is empowered to achieve their own salvation. They place an accent on the individual’s need to work for salvation and they readily appeal to the humanistic mind. 

Some of the “religions” that Satan invented to appeal to mankind’s spiritual side and to detour them from filling the void in their life with Jesus Christ are: Spiritualism, Gnosticism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Theosophy, which is a combination of Pantheism and Gnosticism, Baha’i, Mormonism, Unitarian/Universalism and the other cults, as well as the New Age movement, which tries to incorporate all of these beliefs under one umbrella. There are also the Jewish and Islam religions, which draw many people into their fold, even if they were not born into them.

All of these spiritual movements head the list of Satan’s deviations. They entrap humanity and steer them away from the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ and the wisdom of God’s Word (Romans 8:6). There is a remnant, however, of authentic Christian Believers, which do not participate in these replacement practices that are pagan in origin, and which deny the deity of Christ and the unity of the Trinity as one God. We recognize Jesus as the maker of the heavens, the earth and everything that exists in them. God’s Biblical truth is our only guide for our faith and practice (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 1:14-16).

After mankind’s fall in Paradise, and to insure our eternal security, God became man and lived among us. Even so, most people who knew Jesus hated Him, did not believe that He was God and ended up crucifying Him. Although, Jesus only lived on earth for a short time, He left us the Bible to promote the strength of our beliefs and to give power to our convictions. By His Spirit, He remains in us forever (Hebrews 13:5). The Spirit of God is eternal and is the power of the Almighty. He came in order to give us revelation, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, power, comfort and truth (Matthew 10:20; Genesis 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:11; Job 33:4; Galatians 4:6; Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 1:17; Isaiah 11:2; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; Luke 1:35). No matter where we go, what we do or what situation we end up in, God is always right there with us (Psalm 139:8-10).

Prayer:
Father God, Your presence is available within every Believer. We fellowship with You and worship You with all of our spirit, body and soul – mind, will and emotions. Remind us to pray without ceasing as we keep a listening ear intent on hearing Your directions, as we listen to and follow after Your Spirit moment by moment throughout the day. We dedicate our every thought, word and deed to Your glory.

Thought for the Day:
Even in the most mundane of tasks, such as cleaning the house, going to work or carpooling the children, God’s Spirit helps us to live in such a way that we bring honor and glory to God all the days of our life.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Lover of My Soul - Part 2

Read: The Lover of My Soul - Part 1 first

In the past, when I felt empty, alienated or overwhelmed, instead of listening to what my soul needed and filling that need, I ignored it. Or if I did take the time to listen, I then asked other people to fill that need. They reacted to my request as if I placed a heavy, unnatural burden on their lives, which in reality it was. 

As God brought more and more healing to my soul, I learned that before I start grasping from others, parched as I was for a bit of love and attention, I needed to go to my quiet place and turn to God instead (Psalm 42:2). In this emotional state, I poured out my love to God and trusted Him to care for me.


In return, He fulfilled the thirst of my soul and gave me serenity and joy. God either showed me a simple method to meet my need, or He brought along another person to meet it for me. At this same time, God also gave me a stable personal life. 

In moving back to my hometown I found a fulfilling job at the Montessori school, I enjoyed the same friends and I worshipped with the same church family. Through this stability, Jesus also gave me assurance and contentment from within. 

Therefore, no matter how many negative circumstances encumber my life (Psalm 57:1-3), if God did not show me a way to change them, then I started leaving them in His capable hands.

I grew less dependent upon people for affection and attention, because God’s love poured over me like a waterfall, and I learned to nurture my own soul (Psalm 131:2). I also started reading two Psalms every day of the month. Through David’s words, I realized that he was every bit as emotional as I am (Psalm 31:9-10). 

This gave me confidence to communicate my fears and insecurities again to people whom I could trust. I knew that with God within me, I could face the future in peace. I found my assurance in His love and my strength in His joy (Nehemiah 8:10). I looked forward to living for the Lord during my lifetime, and to eventually enjoying the riches of heaven with Him.


I learned that I could only accomplish those things, which the Spirit directed me to do (Psalm 94:17-19); so, I laid aside the shackles of codependency. I stopped serving people for their sake. Instead, I served only those whom God led me to care for. By spending time with God in every waking moment, I experienced the fullness of God’s love for me.  

I felt more connected to God’s Spirit, and this competence spilled over into everything I did. I started following the Spirit’s direction moment by moment throughout the day. I simplified my life and scaled down my physical possessions and the size of my home. I spent more time enjoying what God gave me.

I also started giving myself encouragement for a job well done. Once I got to a place of meeting my own needs and of waiting on God to direct me each moment of the day, He introduced me to Kevin as my new husband. We met at Books-a-Million bookstore and were immediately drawn to one another. We dated for six months and saw each other every day, except one, during that time. 

A few years after we married, God opened a door for us to work together as a team in the pastoral ministry in a south Florida church, which brings great fulfillment to both of us. I only had to relocate one more time, and I changed professions from teacher back to Pastor’s wife. God took the ashes of our former lives and made something beautiful from them.


In this interdependent relationship, I came to understand that 1 John 4:7-13 is a very possible and a highly recommended way for two married people to live. Kevin and I prefer one another and we spend a great deal of time together. We laugh often, cling together when we cry and serve God together. Kevin taught me that I could trust him with my fears and insecurities. 

He learned to listen to my words with understanding; so, I no longer felt like I had to use anger to make my needs known. Since we both love God first, we are free to love one another sacrificially as Christ loves us. We still often meet our own needs, but we do more for one another than we do for our self. God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.


(For free detailed information on how to develop an interdependent relationship, email me at: kathleenbrdly@gmail.com)

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we trust only in You, You see us through the devastation of life and bring us out victoriously on the other side. You care for us more deeply than we can ever love one another. You work circumstances out in our life to bring us what we really need. 

You give us beauty for the ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3) and new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). You put a new song on our lips (Psalm 96:1), and we will praise You for eternity. Help us to love others, not through humanistic motives, but by the direction of Your Holy Spirit.


Thought for the Day:
Surrendered to God’s love, we can live a fulfilled life.