Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, January 16, 2015

When Others Try To Discourage You

Do you sometimes feel discouraged? Do you feel that no matter what you do it may never be enough? That
your spouse, children, boss, co-workers, friends will never be satisfied? They will always look for ways to belittle you or put you down? As a writer, I often feel discouraged when I query an agent or editor, after putting forward my best effort, and never receive an acknowledgement. Or when I do, it's followed by a "No, thank you." No matter how many times it happens, rejection still stings.

I imagine that must have been the way Moses felt when the people of Israel grumbled at him in the wilderness. They had been under tremendous oppression from Pharaoh for four hundred years and had been crying out to God for deliverance. But when He finally delivered them through the hands of Moses, the Israelites sought every opportunity to complain. It began when they neared the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh and his army pursuing them.

 "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness" (Exodus 14: 11-12).

But God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites were able to cross over on dry land. Then when they had all crossed over, God sent a wind to blow the sea back and cover up the Egyptians. The Bible says, "And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses" (15: 31). 

However, the people soon returned to complaining and disobeying God, and their journey lasted forty years instead of days.
Moses tried his best to be a good leader, but no matter what he did, the people were never satisfied. On one occasion, he became so angry he struck the rock when the people complained they had no water to drink. But despite his discouragement, Moses continued to do what God had called him to do. He served the people, and God, well.

We can all learn from Moses' example. He did not get to enter the promised land, but God took him up into the mountain and showed it to him. Then Moses died and God buried him there. What an honor! We are told that  "Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" ( Deuteronomy 34: 7).

Whatever may be causing you discouragement, remember this: your success does not depend on anyone but yourself and God. Keep on serving and honoring God and He will honor you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What Are Your Values?

 Everyone has values. A child may value his toys, a teenager his plug-ins, a woman her beauty, a man his

strength, physical or otherwise. As Christians, we are held to a higher standard than the rest of the world. Even when we are unaware, people are watching us. So what are those values, principles, teachings we should live by? I think there are three overriding principles that should guide us in living the Christian life.

1. Faith in God. The Bible says, "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11: 6). Therefore faith encompasses everything. Abraham showed faith when he followed God's command to take his son Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice him. But an angel of the Lord restrained him and provided a lamb instead for the sacrifice. And God deemed him righteous because of his faith. Throughout the Bible there are stories of men and women who displayed great faith. In speaking of these men and women, the writer of Hebrews says, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions" (11: 33).

2. Love. As we grow in Christ, we should pray that we learn to love others as He loved. In the sermon on the mount Jesus told His listeners, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5: 43 - 44). 

The apostle Paul explains it this way: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth" (1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 6). 
 Love encompasses everything.

3. Righteousness . Man is by nature unrighteous, corrupted by sin, but through God's love we are made righteous through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5: 20). The Pharisees were self-righteous; they obeyed the law rather than following the teachings of Christ. They were haughty, proud and boastful, believing that their works would get them into heaven. But Ephesians 2: 8 tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- "  

A new year is as good a time as any to reexamine our values. What are yours? Do you value things more than you value people, or the One who created all things? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reevaluate yourself this year and show you the areas where you are lacking. Then surrender those areas to Him and watch Him make the necessary changes in you.  God bless.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Reflections Of 2014

As the year closes, it is customary to look back on the past months at the things that impacted us and the
world around us in some way.  And in case we forget something, we can always count on the news media to remind us. So as I watched a quick recap of highlights of 2014 on CNN, I couldn't help thinking how much we need Jesus in our day and age. Let's look at a few events, in no chronological order, that kept us riveted to the screen.

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian crew members that disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia to Beijing Capital International Airport. Despite the combined effort of many nations and despite being the most extensive and expensive search (reportedly over AU 52 million) in aviation history, there has been no confirmed sighting of debris from the missing plane. Where is it? Only God knows.

This, along with the Ray Rice scandal, the Bill Cosby rape allegations, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, increased persecution of Christians by terrorist groups, police shootings in the US and the resulting protests, made 2014 a bumper year for depressing news. Is 2015 going to be any different? We have to wait and see. But through it all, we can be assured of one thing. Despite the increasing darkness in our world, the light of Jesus Christ continues to shine. In fact, the darker it gets the brighter the light. Now, if that isn't comforting I don't know what is.

Happy New Year!