Wednesday, April 2, 2014

God is Our Refuge

Proverb 14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

Proverb 18:19 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

I think about the disappearance of the Malaysian airplane, and I wonder what the families of the passengers on that airplane are feeling with the loss of their loved ones. The devastation, anger, and questions it must cause in their lives must be excruciating. How can people find peace in their hearts after a tragedy?  The only way for an individual to emerge from a depression of this magnitude  is by drawing strength form the Holy Spirit.  Without Jesus, all would be hopeless, but with Him there is hope.  There is hope that soon there will be joy in the memory of their lost loved ones rather than only pain for their passing.  This joy takes time to obtain, but God's presence and an intimate relationship with Him encourage the heartbroken to continue on.  Moment by moment God eases the pain by speaking to the the heart.  That peace that He gives becomes the peace of the one who is hurting.  One realizes  that Jesus knows about suffering from His sacrifice for us on the cross. He was tortued, crucified, and became sin because He loved us.  He is our refuge when we hurt because He knows exactly how we feel.  He was separated from His Father at the time of the crucifixion, and it must have been unbearable for Him. He was obedient, and His Hope for a reunion with God gave Him the strength to finish the course. Slowing but surely, the bereaved recognizes Jesus' great love for him, and then starts to notice little things that bring him joy. It starts with noticing His creation and moves to a renewed feeling of being happy to be alive. He is happy that there are caring friends and family who are still on this earth to comfort him.  God loves this support system and teaches this brotherly love through His commandments. Fellowship with others eventually brings a normalcy to the lives of the hurting one.  Relying on God, the person has a revival of hope, and his life no longer seems as burdened by loss.

I know the sadness of losing a loved one to old age, but my loss is different from an unexpected loss of a person in the prime of their lives. I have never experience this kind of shock and loss, but I pray that God would be able to reach my heart as he always has before.   A grieving process must take time and go through its stages, but God is our strength and carries us through it. We Christians need to reach out to those who are hurting so that we can be reflections of God's great love for them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Confession of Sin

Proverb: 28:13  He who conceals his sins does not prosper.  but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Do you ever pray for everyone in your family and then forget to praise God, thank Him,  or ask for forgiveness of your sins?  You pray everyday for all the members of your family and for their success, peace, good health, love, and walk with Christ.  Everything focuses intensely on them. It is great to concentrate on intercession for family and friends, but before asking for things, we need to praise his name and ask Him for forgiveness.  How can we expect God to hear us when we don't show recognition of who He is? He wants us to humble ourselves and reach out to Him for a relationship.  Our prayer conversation should be about our thanks for his wonderful promises and love.  We should show appreciation for his character and saving grace.  We should give thanks for his greatest gift of his only Son.  Then we should ask his forgiveness for the things we have done intentionally and for things we may have unwittingly done.

I am saying these things because I realized a while back that I was begging for help for family and not considering my sins.  I may not have killed people, but I have done many sinful things.  I think about my pride and how I want people to approve of me and admire my achievements.  I want to be happy with the triumphs that God has given me, but at times I want to further improve my life with my own strength. I came to see that I was very prideful and needed to constantly remind myself that God should get all the credit for my life.  I am very competitive and always want to come out a winner in any situation; however, God has made clear to me that to fail gives me the power to learn and to improve. Pride is just one of my many sins.  I find that I can be judgmental about situations and people.   Often I think that I know best, and that people should just ask my opinion so I can rectify their mistakes.  Disapproval of things can cause me to be somewhat impatient and exasperated, and these feelings should have no place in my life.  Luckily I constantly talk to God so my thick- headed self finally gets the picture that I am a true sinner.

Now when I pray, I begin with thanks for all my blessings and then I praise Him for his grace.  Then I talk about my sins and how I will try to be a better person and more Christlike. I want to be an encourager not a discourager.  Even if I have not said anything to discourage someone, I'm sure that I need to find chances to uplift  others.  I need to reach out to others in friendship and love.  God wants much more of me than I am willing to give.  It is hard to put others first, to promote fellowship, and to further God's kingdom.  It is easy for me to say that I will get to those things when I have more time, feel better, or have enough confidence.  I'm like Jonah with his excuses for not wanting to do what God told him to do to help the Ninevites learn the error of their ways.

I will constantly pray in an ongoing way to God and will ask for his grace and for the Holy Spirit to guide me on the path to righteousness.  I will constantly be aware of my sinful self and will continue to battle my wrongs. I will tell God that I know I am a sinner but I am a new person in Christ.  He made me white as snow, and there was nothing I could do to save myself except through Him. God is a merciful and forgiving God.  I can rest easy and know that I have been forgiven.  God is great and can take care of all our doubts and needs.

When we pray,  let us remember to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diligence

Proverb13:4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

The lazy person is always wanting more for himself, but he never wants to work for anything.  This desire covers more than just material possessions.  The sluggard craves fame, glory, riches, beauty, and admiration.  His life remains static and never develops in any satisfying way unless someone gives him something.  Craving something brings to mind being addicted to and desperate for something.  This kind of need is unhealthy because it depends on worldly things. What the lazy person cannot or will not see is that he or she is focusing on self rather than pleasing God.  To please God is to bring a  satisfaction of a miraculous kind into your life.  God grants one a peace and self respect when one is in tune with Him. This refers to a relationship in which the believer knows his/her every need will  be met.  One realizes that there is no need for the earthly glories that won't last.  God lets one know that he/she is special in his sight and that the gifts he gives one are to be used to glorify God. When one feels unworthy, ignorant, and useless, one should remember that God loves us, gave us a purpose, and gave us the gifts with which to accomplish that purpose.   The lazy person searches and feels unworthy, but the diligent one works in order to glorify God in every task whether small or large.  The diligent person does not give up on any undertaking.  He is diligent because his /her cause is worthy because he /she is part of a mission that rises above the mundane and carnal.  A diligent person knows that God will get him/her through the difficult times so there is a confidence in any situation.  

At times we may wonder about our purpose for being placed here.  We are to never stop reaching toward accomplishing the goal that God has set before us.  The fulfillment of our purposes are accomplished by the use of diligence, prayer, spiritual gifts, and reading his Word.  The diligent person has a life of satisfaction because this person has come to the understanding that God can be trusted. One's obedience results in the peace for which we are all striving.  A right relationship with God results in an encouragement and a lifting up our hearts and souls like no other. This is what being fully satisfied is all about.

Kay

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Love

Proverb 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Proverb 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

We can run to God with all our shame and sorrow.  We know without a doubt that He loves us because He gave us His only Son as a sacrifice on the cross to pay for our sins.  Jesus covered over all our sins with the shedding of His blood. We are washed as white as snow.  He covered us with His righteousness. We need to remember at this time of His birth that He was born in that humble setting in order to save us for eternity and to teach us to act in  humility and love during our lifetime. His love also teaches us to love all others even when they treat us unkindly.  Love from the Holy Spirit will lift us above our human reactions of hate or spite so that we can reach out to draw others into the fold of Jesus.


Perry Como used to sing this song;

When I was just a young boy, Christmas meant one thing
that I'd be getting lots of toys that day
I learned a whole lot different when mother sat me down
And taught me to spell Christmas this way

C- is for the Christ child born upon this day
H-for herald angels in the night
R-for our Redeemer
I -means Israel
S -is for the star that shone so bright
T- is for three wise men, they who traveled far
M-is for the manger where He lay
A-is for all He stands for
S-means shepherds came
And that's why there's a Christmas Day

Let's spell Christmas like this and keep love in our hearts!

Peace, love, and joy
Kay

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Heart

Proverbs 2:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverb 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverb 12:20 There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.

Proverb 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Proverb 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Proverbs 22:17-18 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.

Proverbs 23:17-18 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.  There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Do you sometimes feel empty inside because life doesn't go the way you planned? Perhaps you don't know what to plan or what your purpose is? Proverbs tells us to rely on God to set steps into action to accomplish his purposes for our lives. Our hearts must completely trust in him.  We gain this trust by reading his Word and keeping it in our hearts to remind ourselves and others about his promises.  The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to realize and rejoice in the blessings he has given us. This keeps our hearts from being anxious. We learn to discern those who plot evil so we can avoid, rebuke, or win them for Christ.  We must guard our hearts from evil and its outcomes.  Those who have the heart knowledge, not just factual knowledge, have a divine view of what is right and have the peace that goes with this understanding of God's ways. With this knowledge comes the responsibility to spread and defend God's Word. We will not envy others their success because we have received the greatest treasure which is God's Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  We will always have hope because of this gift, and we will never be shaken from this confidence.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pride

Proverb 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Proverb 13:10 Pride only  breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Proverb 29:23  A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

Pride is a problem with which I struggle.  I don't like to be wrong especially when I have studied and prepared for something.  I am sure that I am not the only one like this.  We need to learn to listen to other's suggestions and take them into consideration.  Often we can learn so much from others when we really stop and listen rather than waiting impatiently for them to pause so we can insert our opinions again. Over confidence is a kind of pride if we are not open to other ideas.  Pride can cause us to engage in unnecessary quarrels with someone who disagrees with our plans. Friendships can be hurt because when we quarrel with a friend, they can feel undervalued.  To honor others and show that we respect what they think, we need to give them a chance to be correct and creative. We gain wisdom when we follow God's design for us.  He wants us to obey His  commands and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Proverbs of the Bible teach us basic decent values.  Our friends can teach us things, and much more importantly, God's Word will teach us all we need to know about actions and relationships. The most important relationship we can have is with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Women who are overly concerned about their appearances demonstrate pride.  We want to look not only our best but better than others in the room.  We change our hair, makeup, and clothes because we never seem to be satisfied with ourselves. I probably have twelve tubes of face cream left in my bathroom cabinet because they never seemed to work well enough for me. The cabinets are packed with old hair sprays, mousse, eye shadow etc. I think that it is fine to want to look our best, but we just need to allow our Christian character to be the beauty that stands out the most for us. People will remember the good things that we did or said rather than what we wore or how we looked at some party.

Why is humility so important to God?  That is the greatest character trait of Jesus Christ. He was placed  in a lowly manger at His birth.  The King of Kings began life in the most humble of circumstances.  He would become like the beasts of burden that surrounded Him.  He took on the burdens and sorrows of that day, and He still carries us today when we are in pain.    He humbled Himself and did what His Father asked of Him.  Before the crucifixion,  He could have squashed the Roman soldiers who hurt Him and made fun of Him, but He didn't. He died for us so our sins would be covered with His blood and so we could be with Him through eternity.  While on the cross He even asked God to forgive all those who took part in crucifying Him.  Jesus' way is the opposite of pride; therefore, we know without a doubt that we need to change our ways if we want to emulate Him.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Discipline

Proverb 29:1. A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed-without remedy.

Philippians 2: 14-15. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life...

As in previous generations, our generation has depravity.  We are to shine like stars reflecting the glory of Christ.  We are to labor for Him in showing the unbelievers the hope that Christ brings.
Our behavior should emulate that of Christ. We are to do everything without complaining or arguing.
God rebukes us when we get off track.  At times, he burdens us with a conviction that we are living a lie.  When we are disobedient to God, he disciplines us because he loves us. When we are off track, God makes it uncomfortable and disturbing so that our confusion causes problems in our lives with regard to our marriages, our work, our friendships, our self-esteem, and especially our relationships with God. As proverbs says, we must not remain stiff-necked when God allows this discipline. We must learn to recognize that God is leading us to realize our lack of faith and disobedience. This will enable us to make a change so that we may remain blameless and shine for Christ!

This kind of discipline should come from us as parents. We must rebuke our children when they behave in such a manner that is displeasing to God. We must train them to not argue with us. Explain that out of love for them and their futures, we discipline them for their bad behavior.  Discipline must be presented in a manner that best restrains the child.  He/she must not be allowed to bully us parents with their continued complaining and taking charge.  They need to learn self-control and respect for authority.  It is our job as parents to continue the long term fight to be the person in charge who guides our children with loving but firm hands.

See my book, "Proverbs: Wisdom for Daily Living" for more of God's guidance about discipline and other subjects.  Buy it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble as a digital book for $4.99.

Kay Thompson Brown
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