★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Anger (Part 7) ★

Today we close our Temptation Series on how to avoid the Consequences of Anger.  It has been a great series that I hope you have enjoyed.  If this is your first time, permit me to recap the previous (7) posts.  We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study about the danger of flirting with Temptation called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a Whole “LOT” of Trouble ★.

Then we looked at:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Alcohol and Drugs (Part 2) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3a) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★

When planning out the Temptation Series, I purposely saved anger for the last post because of the toxic nature of this particular pitfall.  Every single person has felt the sting of this force whether as the receiver or as the one to fly off the handle.  Anger manifests itself in different forms and in varying levels of severity.  One of my favorite verses on anger comes from Proverbs 29:11 (NIV1984)

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” 

Now I say that it’s my favorite, but it is also quite convicting at the same time as I tend to give full vent to my anger or frustration when I feel I have been wronged or treated unfairly.  But the key is in the first word…FOOLS!  “Fools give full vent to their rage.”  What do the WISE do??  They “bring calm!”  (See also Ecclesiastes 7:9).  My hope and prayer is that God would open your eyes to see the danger of yielding to this monster!

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in New Jersey and New York and it was interesting to see how much I have changed since moving to Texas 10 years ago.  As I stood waiting on the curb at Newark International Airport, the amount of car horns repeatedly sounding off was evidence to the short fuse people have when they don’t get to where they want to go.  After being picked up, I then saw the effect of being “cut off” by other cars on my sister’s disposition.  Now she wasn’t experiencing road rage or anything near to the extent that we have been hearing on the news, but Anger definitely popped up!  Hahaha!  And though I thought I had overcome anger behind the wheel, I lost my temper as I was cut off in the pick-up line at my girl’s High School after I had landed that day.  This example is insignificant enough, but the pitfall we are focusing on today is one that if not contained can cause irreparable damage!  Anger is an all too common emotion that we all have felt, sometimes justifiably, but more times than not we unleash our hostility on those in our lives.  King David had this advice in Psalm 37:8-9 (NLT):

“Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm.  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”  

Oh how true this is.  Growing up I saw how violent my father would get when he drank, and the hurt he inflicted on my mom.  For years my Father allowed the alcohol to consume him and when he found himself at the bottom of the bottle, his rage was released on her.  By the age of 5 my mom divorced him so she could escape from the abuse.  If you find yourself in that circumstance I encourage you to find help, here is a great resource: Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

Click here if you would prefer to listen to the Podcast of this blog post.

The Bible has a lot to say about anger.  One of the most famous quotes about communication and conflict comes from James 1:19 which instructs:

This by far is the best advice anyone could heed.  I know myself that more problems have resulted when I failed to follow this counsel.  I have worked hard to change this tendency as I have been slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to get angry.  I saw this great quote that summarizes James 1:19 beautifully:

“You have two ears and one mouth.  Follow that ratio.  Listen more, talk less.”

I love that so much!!  How different would this world be if we did not allow our emotions to run wild?  I have been going through a Bible Reading plan call “Holy Emotions – Biblical Responses to Every Challenge” by Carol McLeod.  She made some very interesting observations that dovetail beautifully with what we are talking about.

“Your emotions travel 80,000 times faster than your thoughts travel.  Isn’t that amazing?   The tremendous speed of our emotional responses to life helps to explain why, even Christians, often tend to operate out of feelings rather than out of principle…If you continue to allow your emotions to rapidly yank you through life, you will always say things that are embarrassing, act in ways that are unbecoming, and never be the person that God intended for you to be.  You will end up having the effect of a rapid-moving, volcanic eruption that decimates everyone in its violent, angry path.”

Wow!  That was so true in my life both before accepting Jesus as my savior and regrettably after becoming a Christian as well.  I have worked hard to break the cycle of violence that was passed down from my father who witnessed the same behavior from his father.  Now I have never lifted a hand to my wife or kids but I certainly have been short with them and mean at times.  In the devotional Carol McLeod mentioned Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) which warns:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

I have read that passage many times but she made this point that helped me see it in a whole new light:

“Your heart does not want to be guarded.  It desires to loudly express itself and all of its opinions.  Your heart is passionate about ventilating, vomiting and vocalizing every little feeling it has ever experienced.  The Bible never says that we are allowed to express everything that is in our heart – it simply says to guard it.”

Genesis 4:2-16 tells of the first man who failed miserably to guard his heart.  Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, brought an offering to God after a period of time; whereas his brother Abel brought the firstborn of his flock.  God did not have any regard for Cain’s offering which resulted in him becoming was very angry.  In verses 6-7 there is a truth that all of us need to learn today…

“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”  

God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at the door,” which just like a lion ready to strike, our Anger is no different.      

Unfortunately Cain did not resist the temptation and he ended up committing the first murder in history as a result of his bitterness and resentment towards his brother Abel.  As a result, Cain was cursed and became a “fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”  James 1:20 (NLT) instructs that:

“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

So if we call ourselves Christ Followers and earnestly desire to serve God, we must get a hold on our anger issues to avoid the consequences which may be more than we can bear.  I read this story a long time ago which has always stuck with me.  It is a great analogy on destructive nature of anger.

Just like the fence, when we give into the temptation of anger and open the perpetual fire hose of poison into our lives, we run the risk of permanently destroying the relationships we hold dear.  I shared Proverbs 18:20-21 (GNT) in the ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★ post but I believe it is bears repeating:

“You will have to live with the consequences of everything you say.  What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.”

But there is hope; we can start small in turning things around simply by following what Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) says:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I have seen firsthand the difference when I answer softer than I want to.  This post has focused a lot on the heavy consequences of Anger and is a little more negative than usual but I think that is indicative of how dangerous it is to give into this destructive emotion.  But of course there are many benefits when you resist the temptation.  I love what Proverbs 13:3 (NLT) offers:

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

When you control your tongue, you will reap the rewards of a long life!  In the moment it may feel good to give full vent to your anger but I think we can all agree that

“A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret.”

Amen?  If you have grown up with Anger in your home or you are currently bringing it into the lives of those you love, you can break the cycle and the legacy that you leave.  But it will take work.  I encourage you to pray continually for God to intercede, study the bible for versus of anger (there are a ton), and study everything you can on the topic, the devotional by Carol McLeod would be a great start.  I will close with one last quote:

“I can ‘act’ like Jesus without prayer.  I can win an Academy Award for smiling sweetly and reciting kind platitudes while my heart is roaring and my mind is vengeful…Jesus does not desire for me to merely act like Him, but He longs for me to be like Him, and there is a decided difference.”  

If we call ourselves Christians, then we must actually work to become more like Jesus and not merely pretend!  As James 1:22 says:

To that end, Watermark Church in Dallas has a great Marriage Ministry class called re|engage which I shared (16) posts from what I learned a couple years ago, (Click here to read).  They had a supplemental lesson on Anger which at the end they gave these questions for reflection.  Regardless of whether you are married or not, these are applicable to everyone:

  1. How is your anger affecting your marriage and relationships with others today?  
  2. What are some beliefs, expectations, or past experiences that might be contributing to your emotions and which lead up to anger?  
  3. Relating to the scripture from James 1:19-20, why does your anger not lead to the righteousness that God desires?  

Action Item:  Share with your spouse or a trusted friend your desire to yield your anger to God and ask them to pray for you as you begin this process. 

I pray that if Anger has a hold on your life, that you will allow God to work on your heart to stop from yielding to this toxic temptation!  Change can happen; it did for me and it can for you!

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ 

★ Re|Engage – Communication ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★

★ Thought for the Day – Are you a Good Listener? ★

If you want to go back and read all the posts in the Temptation Series (Click Here)

 

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the trap of Gluttony.  If you have missed the previous posts, here’s a quick recap:

  • We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).
  • We then studied about alcohol and drugs by focusing on Noah (click here),
  • Next was about Lust and exploring the connection between Pornography and Promiscuity (click here).
  • Most recently was the pitfall of adultery through the life of King David (click here).

Today’s topic is not one that I see discussed too often but one that I felt led to share because of a brother in my Lifegroup who has shared about the temptation to medicate his problems through food.  I would like to start off with this question…When you hear the word “gluttony” or someone who is a “glutton,” what comes to mind?  Food, overeating for sure, but how about someone who is obese or grossly overweight?  Now I am not being rude or unkind, that is what I thought a glutton was but that is not the case.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as:

“One given habitually to greedy and voracious eating and drinking.”  

And Dictionary.com defines it as:

“A person who eats and drinks excessively or voraciously.” 

Nothing in those definitions state that someone yielding to gluttony is overweight as I had initially thought.  For this Thought we will focus on the excessive indulgence of food.  I would dare say that most Americans could fit that description.  In our “SUPER-SIZED” Society we are prone to gorging ourselves way past what our bodies require for fuel.  In a Barna Research Group study, the #3 top self-reported temptations that Americas owned up to has to do with today’s pitfall!  According to survey:

“Fifty-five percent are often or sometimes overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much.”  Source: New Research Explores the Changing Shape of Temptation

55% of Americans are overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much!!  I stumbled across this graphic and found it quite interesting as to one reason that I never considered being a factor.  It got my head scratching that I need to reevaluate which plate that I grab out of the cupboard because I know myself; I am not disciplined in portion control and will just fill up every inch with food.  Therein lies the problem, Gluttony is a serious failure in self-discipline.  Todd Hunter made this great point in his book “Our Favorite Sins”

“Most of the time temptation begins with something good: food, rest, God-approved sex, the need to be loved and accepted.”

The problem is when we allow Satan to take something good and twist it around and pervert it to something evil.  That is how I see gluttony now.  As I prepared for this post, I started to search the Bible.  Surprisingly there is not much on the subject but what I did find was quite severe.  The first reference I found was Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV).

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’  Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” 

Harsh!  Stone the drunkard and glutton to death??  Boy I am glad this is not how they are treated today since I have fallen victim to both snares in my life!   Another reference is Proverbs 28:7 (ESV) which says:

“The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” 

And Proverbs 23:20-21 (ESV) warns:

“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” 

When I read this passage I felt convicted big time because of a recent trip to Texas de Brazil.  My project manager took the Architectural Team out for lunch as a thank you for all our hard work.  This is a picture of my plate which I am embarrassed to confess was just the beginning of all the meat I devoured.

The more I pondered on this and looked at the definition of a glutton, I realized that I am ensnared by the temptation of consuming way too much, way too often.  Our case study today also succumbed to his voracious appetite with disastrous consequences.  The man I am referring to is Esau.  For those not familiar with this Old Testament character here’s the cliff notes breakdown of this man of great potential whose undoing was a bowl of stew!

Esau was the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, (the patriarch of the Israelites).  He was the first-born son and had a twin brother named Jacob.  In Genesis 25:27-28 we are given some valuable insight to the man:

“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.  Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”

Just like in any family, siblings tend to be complete opposites.  I know that is the case for my daughters but one of the most disturbing differences between these twin brothers was the partiality from their parents.  If you were to contemporize the difference, Esau was a “man’s man,” who was a tough outdoors-man and Daddy’s favorite!  In that time period being the first-born son Esau was entitled for a double inheritance as well as the “blessing” from his father.  Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth had this description of Esau:

“As a young man he was not accustomed to holding anything back.  He may have lived on the edge of danger, self-indulgence, and immediate gratification.  Having his father’s favor did nothing to inhibit this behavior.  But Esau had a serious problem—his brother Jacob.”  Source: From Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture

Esau’s younger brother Jacob was indeed a problem but we have to keep in mind that he was without a doubt the underdog, the forgotten son by his father and worse yet, he did not live up to what Dad was looking for in a son.  Effectively Jacob was “a momma’s boy” who was excessively influenced by and attached to his mother Rebekah (see Genesis 27 which tells of how she helped Jacob steal the blessing from Esau.)  But before Jacob stole the blessing, he was able to steal something just as valuable from Esau as a result of his lack of will power and gluttonous ways!  Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV) says:

“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.  

And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.)

Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”

Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”

Jacob said, “Swear to me now.”

So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.  

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way.  

Thus Esau despised his birthright.” 

A little dramatic no?  He gives up a double inheritance for some red stew!  On the surface you would think it was because of hunger, but I see it more about the failure to resist giving into instant gratification.  Charles Stanley had this great insight on Genesis 25:34…

“In ‘despising’ his birthright, Esau proved himself ‘godless’ (see Hebrews 12:16) because he considered filling his empty stomach more important than the spiritual promises of God to Abraham.  To avoid making Esau’s grave mistake, always remember the H. A. L. T. principle.  Whenever you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, be very careful because you are especially vulnerable to sin.  Before making a decision, stop and see God.  The more you give into your feelings of weakness and look for ways to fill your needs apart from God, the more you’ll reap the terrible consequences of it.”

Esau took his birthright for granted and threw it away just for a momentary fulfillment.  We need to be very careful when we are in these valley moments and remember the H. A. L. T. principle as it is applicable for all temptations we face.  Hebrews 12:16-17 (NLT) has this startling reference to Esau:

“Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”  

How sad that Esau lost everything to Jacob, in part because of gluttony.  That is why I love the Bible; God never hides the mistakes His people made in order that we could learn from it.

We talked in previous posts about the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23:

The last fruit being “self-control.”  That is exactly what Esau was lacking.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within us, (see Romans 8:11.)  The closer we get to Jesus, the more we should embody the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The temptation of Gluttony is all about excess and when we give into it we are going down a road like Esau.  John Piper had this to say:

“Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.  The text of Scripture that holds out the challenge to me on this issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12where Paul says — specifically in regard to food and drink — that he will not be enslaved by anything.  He is saying, ‘I have one master, Jesus Christ, and I don’t want any other master.’”

If that verse sounds familiar, it is because we have discussed this in several posts already but it warrants review one more time.  1 Corinthians 6:12-14, 19-20 (ESV) says:

“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.  ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.  ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’ — and God will destroy both one and the other.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.” 

“The Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” is something I have heard pastors and others use in regards to weight control but in reality the context is about sexual immorality, (see the verses in between 6:15-18.)  But I do think it is applicable nonetheless as we should honor God with every aspect of our lives.  To that end, as I mentioned earlier, I asked the guys in my lifegroup for their perspective of what they had learned about temptation and addictions.  Here is what one had to say…

“Addiction is really a lot of the same chemical process.  The only real difference is the flavor of medication.

Temptation itself is not bad or sin.  Jesus was tempted in every way we are.  Sin happens when you give in to it.  Deep down turning from it involves seeking God…daily, and doing deep introspection to the root cause.  Why am I wanting to stuff my face what emotion is driving it?

Like sex addiction, food addiction is driven by emotion… specifically trying to medicate some deep wound.  A person needs to start asking themselves the question why!  Why do I want to eat?  What am I feeling?”

I love the honesty and truth in that statement!  It was only until recently that my friend shared about his struggles with overeating.  What a great warning to watch out if you are using food to medicate for deeper issues.  Be careful that you are not ignoring the red flags or trying to repress your emotions.  The key comes back to self-control!  Though this may seem like a lesser temptation, and not that big of a deal, Esau shows how when left unchecked, gluttony can result in some pretty significant consequences.  The other key is to realize that you did not get entangled in this particular sin overnight so it will take hard work and some time to break the sin habit.  I read this in ‘The Art Of Celebration’ Bible Reading Plan which I thought nailed it on the head:

“We may be frustrated with patterns of sin that repeat in our lives, our niggling character flaws and lack of discipline.  We may want “one-click” holiness.  But Jesus doesn’t wave a magic wand of saintly character over us. 

Don’t lose heart – He’s not finished with us yet.  He promises to finish what he started in us.  We can change.  He will change us.”

Don’t lose heart and trust God that He can and will help you in this area of temptation.  I will close with this final word from Psalm 34:8:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man [or woman] who takes refuge in Him.”

If we want to break the cycle of sin-repent, sin-repent, we must take refuge in God!

Check back soon for the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

My pastor shared this quote fro102 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - A Good Fatherm Billy Graham last Sunday for his Father’s Day message…

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

It was a great introductory quote to engage all the Fathers in the room for sure, (I know I was…)  He went on to say that we need to be intentional in our own spiritual growth, intentional in our instruction/discipline, and intentional in our affection towards our children.  He also said that we need to be “Marked by God’s Word!”  Now if you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve been talking a lot about reading the Bible and pursuing God so it should not be a surprise to any of you that this resonated with me; but it also got me thinking about that statement…“Am I really marked?'”  I think that it’s a good thing to step back and do an honest self-evaluation when you are given a challenge like that.  I love what our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt said in regards to honest self-evaluation…

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Amen?  I love that so much!!  Not only for the sarcasm but also the truth!! How would things be different if we would stop and take a moment to “think” before we “put our f102 - Daily Dependence - Self-Evaluationoot in our mouths” and make a mess of things?

In two months I will be required by my company to do a task that I absolutely hate…the dreaded self-evaluation.  I know that the purpose is to give my supervisor an understanding of what I believe I have accomplished in the past year but it feels so much like “tooting my own horn.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I do avail myself of the opportunity but I attempt to be honest in the evaluation which leads me to the muse for this Thought for the Day”…

Romans 12:3 (NLT) says…

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are.  Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

102 - Daily Dependence - X_ (1)It’s time to get honest…so what do you think of that?  Be careful how quickly you answer…Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) sheds some light on how good we are at evaluating ourselves…

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?”

When I think over my life and of all the mistakes I’ve made, the careless words and foolish choices that could have gotten me in much more than some hot water, it’s hard to believe that I am the same person.  There is so much I regret, but that makes me also so grateful for the life that I have as a born again believer in Jesus.  I truly am a changed man as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

102 - Daily Dependence - New Creation - 2 Corinthians 5-17 - New Creation - Copy

But even after walking with the Lord for the past 18 years, I still find myself saying and doing things I wish I wouldn’t.  It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 (ESV)

“For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

That unfortunately is the human condition…we are all sinners and fall short of what God desires for our life, (see Romans 3:23).  The key is not to give up chasing after God, even after we fail to the right thing.  My wife an expression she always says that we need to 102 - Daily Dependence - Strive for Progress Not Perfection“strive for progress, not perfection.”  The reality is we can never achieve perfection this side of heaven but if we are always striving for progress, our life will be in an upward curve.  Even if we stumble, as long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track pursuing God’s desire for us, we will always be improving.  And we need to be very careful not to allow the enemy to get a foothold in our minds that we will never change.  Romans 3:24 (ESV) piggybacks on the fact that though we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” with this beautiful truth that we…

102 - Daily Dependence - License to Sin“are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

Of course this is not a license to sin!  Too often people try to play the “Grace card” as a way to justify continuing to sin.  That is not what Grace is about!  Grace is a gift to overcome sin not to justify it!

102 - Daily Dependence - Grace is Not A License to Sin

Going back to my Pastor’s statement about being “Marked by God’s Word,” I was reading Romans 12:9-21 the other morning from the English Stand Version (ESV) Translation and it had this heading…“Marks of the True Christian.”  Check it out, it is a powerful list!  To paraphrase, a “True Christian” should be genuine in their love for others…Should hate evil and be on fire to serve the Lord even though they may go through trouble.  A “Marked Christian’s” mission should be to live in harmony with everyone regardless of what they may do to us!  Verse 21 wraps up “The Mark of a True Christian” with this…

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Not what the typical human response is though huh?  I know it’s certainly was not mine until I started walking with God in 1998.  Before that, I can testify that was not my attitude at all…I was self-centered, egotistical and lived my life with one objective…it was all about me!  If you hurt me that was it, I would cut you out of my life, regardless of your attempts to seek forgiveness…you were dead to me.  I never thought about helping others, I just wanted my needs met.  But everything has changed since accepting Jesus as my savior.  Now I look for opportunities to help others, to be an encouragement and look out for those God brings into my life.

There was a man in the early church that I endeavor to be like which Acts 4:36 (NLT) introduces us to…

“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).  He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.”

What a name!  “A Son of Encouragement!”  He is described in greater detail in Acts 11:24 (NLT)…

“Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.  And many people were brought to the Lord.”

That is my prayer, to be “A Son of Encouragement and to be a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith,” that many people will come to the Lord as a result!”  You see after all the “evaluation” is done and I realize I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I step back and realize despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this life lesson on this verse …

“Despite the Corinthian’s problems, Paul could see their genuine spiritual gifts, their repentance, and their love for God, and he wanted these things to encourage them to further growth. Likewise, we must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him by examining whether or not we are expressing His likeness and character in increasing measure (see also 2 Peter 1:3-8).

“We must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him!”  It’s a command!  But something I have  realize and I hope you gleam this as well, I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I just need to step back and acknowledge that despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!  I will close with Acts 15:11 (NLT)…

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” 

You see there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less!  Matt Redman has this beautiful song called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” that is a beautiful reminder of how important and loved we are regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the undeserved grace of God that we are saved!

 

 

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★ Re|Engage – Humility ★

ReEngage - Lesson 04

“Humility is such an elusive virtue.
Once you think you have it, you don’t,
or you wouldn’t think you did.”
Max Lucado 

Go back and re-read that quote slower…(really…re-read it and think about what it says.)  If you think you are humble, then you really are not!  The main idea of Lesson 4 was:

“Follow the example of Christ until you love yourself less than you love your spouse.  You cannot be a godly spouse if you are focusing on yourself.”

That seems to be obvious but how many couples do you know that are focused only on themselves and thus troubles follow.  So many people have an issue practicing humbleness.  But I love what C.S. Lewis said,

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Humility is not allowing yourself to be a doormat but it is placing the needs of others above your own.  How different would this world be if spouses did this?  Instead pride gets in the way.  James 4:6 (NLT) says,

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

This is repeated over and over throughout scripture (1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 29:23 to name a few.)  Ron Deal made this interesting parallel…

“God opposed the proud and so do spouses.” 

Good point huh?  It doesn’t a rocket scientist to realize that!  Here is the antidote though from Philippians 2:3-4:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

The book of Proverbs is a great book to read for wisdom, instruction and direction for life.  One of the most famous verses on Pride is from Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) which instructs that

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty [arrogantly superior and disdainful] spirit before a fall.”

Here is the verse in visual form:Marty Collier made reference to this by making this great point:

“Pride leads to sin and sin equals death.  Notice that “I” is at the center of pride and sin.” 

You see, when you are focused on “I” and not “WE,” that is the root of all of our marital problems.  This fourth lesson made this statement:

“Humility could be defined as having an accurate understanding of who you are, which leads to treating others as more important than yourself.”

I love this quote…

ReEngage - Lesson 04 - Humility is Shy
“Humility is so shy.  If you begin talking about it, it leaves.”  Timothy Keller

As we just celebrated Christmas, and are about to enter into a new year, it’s appropriate to acknowledge the greatest example of humility…Jesus Christ who was the epitome of humbleness as He selflessly layed down His crown and become a man to die for our sins.  The book made this observation:

“Jesus’ life was the ultimate expression of humility and serves as our example. While everyone around him was striving to be great Jesus told his followers that the way to greatness was through humble service.”

Easier said than done!

“Humility is risky. There are times when your humble service will go unnoticed, will be unappreciated or will be used for someone else’s gain. Jesus is not asking us to do anything He Himself did not go through and experience.”

Great point, as we look to act in humility in our marriage it is important to realize that

“Humility doesn’t take something from you; it does something for you.”

And I love this at the end, what will result if you do…

“Embracing humility is one of the quickest ways to change your marriage.”

So let’s make this New Year’s Resolution that as we enter into 2015, we will follow the example of Christ and treat our spouses with Humility!

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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★ Re|Engage – Brokenness ★

ReEngage - Lesson 02The second lesson was on Brokenness which furthered the teaching about the need to RECOGNIZE YOUR INABILITY TO LOVE.

The main idea of Lesson 2 was:

“Your marriage is broken because it is made up of two broken people.  You fall short of God’s standard.” 

We enter marriage with the idea that everything will be perfect but when you really think about it, that is a crazy belief.  It is impossible for 2 imperfect people to come together and the result be a perfect marriage.

But even though your marriage will never be perfect, it can be great!  And it is all about involving God!  One of the recurring themes in the class is based on this idea:

For me this is probably one of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard which can apply for not only your marriage but with any aspect of your life.  It reminds me of what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:3-5 (NLT)

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Paul David Tripp once said, “I am my biggest marital problem” 

Do you see that as being true?  Or are you operating in the mindset that “if I could just fix my spouse, then everything would be great.”  If you are, then I promise that your marriage will never get better.  The book nailed it when they said

The problem isn’t primarily your circumstances or your spouse; it is the selfishness and sinfulness within your own heart.  You are broken and have a part in why your marriage isn’t where it should be.  Yes, you are a part of your marriage problem.” 

Wouldn’t that make a great bumper sticker or Twitter post huh?  Not so much right?  But here is the great thing…Once you realize your part in the conflict, then there is hope.  There is something you can do.  Draw the circle and WORK ON YOURSELF!  Let God take care of your spouse.

“You are powerless to love your spouse the way you promised you would, the way they dreamed you would and the way God designed that you should.”

Make this personal…as you read this, insert your name:

You are powerless to love your spouse the way you promised you would,

You are powerless to love your spouse the way they dreamed you would and

You are powerless to love your spouse the way God designed that you should.

This is the reality that we all face.  The question is, do we accept it or do something about it?  Here is the final thought from the book…

“Until you acknowledge the brokenness in your own heart and turn to the One who is ready and willing to help you, your relationship will remain broken.”

ReEngage - Lesson 02 - Build Your Marriage on the RockThe key is Building our relationships on a Solid Foundation which is Jesus.  Matthew 7:24-26 says,

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.”

We may all be broken but when we center our marriage on God’s principles and invite Jesus to be in the center of our marriage, anything is possible!!

Today, my pastor shared this incredible diagram that illustrates the brokenness that we all have without Jesus

ReEngage - Lesson 02 - Jesus is the Bridge

Our sin is a barrier between God and us.  To bridge that barrier God sent Jesus.  We have two choices on what we do with Jesus, either we repent of our sin or we continue in our rebellion.  If we repent, then salvation will be granted, if not, we will face judgement.

Reflect on this…Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

We need to recognize our brokenness and trust in Jesus.  I will close with this final advice on how to improve your marriage from the book!

ReEngage - Lesson 02 - How To Change Your Marriage

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Grace ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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