Tag: compassion

When God wakes you up at 4:00 a.m.

As you know, there has been a lot going on in my life this week.

Yesterday was such a day. You can read about it here.

This morning at 4:00 a.m. God woke me up. I’m sure many would say it was because of stress. Some of it might have been but God certainly had some things to say to me.

While I am exhausted now, I am very much at peace about all the decisions I am having to make, which brings me to this post.

I find that when most people talk about compassion, they throw out common sense and logic. It’s so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction because we want to feel magnanimous. We don’t think through our choices. And, as Christians, we can really get messed up sometimes because we’re not familiar with all of Scripture. And the totality of scripture more times than not suggests that compassion should be tempered with thoughtful intelligence.

An example might be when someone feels compassion for a family member or friend who has a drug or alcohol addiction and contributes to that addiction by a gift of money. One could still help but in a way that doesn’t encourage bad behavior.

I thought of every parable. I thought of every healing. I thought of every lesson taught throughout the Bible. I thought of the Proverbs pertaining to wisdom.And all of that helped me work through the issues.

I have a supernatural peace now that scripture promises when we bring God in on our decision-making process from the very beginning.

Here’s some links to past posts about making decisions:

making decisions

My experience with how God helps us make good decisions

How to be absolutely sure God is leading us. (part 1

And then there is a post that seems contradictory. You’ll have to read it to know what I’m talking about.

Why we don’t always have to ask God about every decision.

Anyway, hope this helps you today if you have some big decisions to make.

God bless and have a good one.

 

 

 

 

deciding for ourselves

When our obedience to God costs something

Sometimes obeying God costs other people more than it does us. Sometimes obeying God means we upset someone else’s plans or we make uncomfortable.

We can prevent it, of course by disobeying and bring immediate relief to the people in our life. We can start living like them. We can keep quiet and not express our faith when it’s necessary.

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know what to say?  You felt conflicted. Should you say something or not?

I hope so. Because if you haven’t I doubt your faith is being tested.

I am not talking about being an obnoxious Christian who goes out of their way to make their point. Personally, I try hard to be sensitive to the views of others but if in a situation where it’s impossible to avoid expressing my views, I don’t back down either.

I was in a conversation recently with some people and a certain controversial subject came up. I almost shied away because we were guests in their home. But they were more than willing to express their views and opened the conversation so my feeling is always that if a conversation is truly a conversation and not a monologue, all opinions can be expressed.  I spoke up but they seemed uncomfortable when I shared my opinion, although I hadn’t felt the least bit uncomfortable with theirs. Their “uncomfortableness” is for them to handle.

I’d thought about this subject a lot. I’d done my homework. I’d considered whether I could be wrong. I kept coming to the same conclusion so it wasn’t as if I were talking with no substance to back it up.

So why is it, that when a Christian chooses to abstain from certain practices because they are not consistent with their personal Christian witness, they are considered  “out-of-touch”?  After all, “It’s common practice anymore” they say.  Isn’t that like a child that says, “Gosh, mom, everyone else is doing it”.

I thought adults, Christian adults, were way beyond that.

I thought we were supposed to live “holy” lives and while we all have our definition of what that is, the Bible has some pretty clear statements about what “holy” should look like.

The word “holy” is like the word “sin”-not much in use anymore. There’s a good reason for that.

Nobody wants to hear about holiness or sin. Period.

holiness

Hey, I don’t either.  And I have as much a problem living my life within the standards of Scripture as anyone else.

I have my struggles with sin. I eat too many sweets sometimes. That’s not a sin, you might say but when you consider our bodies are to be a temple worthy of presenting to God, it’s not just a bad habit. It’s a sin because it causes me to “miss the mark” in my relationship with God. (For those of you who don’t know, the accepted definition of sin is “missing the mark”.  Boy, that covers a lot, doesn’t it?)

And everyday, I ‘miss the mark”.  As do you.

But back to that conversation. We should never be uncomfortable if our choices seem more restrictive than others. For some of us, a little of anything would be way too much because of the guilt we would feel. When I say I eat too many sweets sometimes, I’m referring to the one piece of cake, or the one candy bar  that I might indulge in now and then. Many would never consider that excess but it is for me.  Not because I have a weight problem, but precisely because I don’t.

My husband could have that one piece of cake and put on five pounds. I don’t. I just come from “good stock”. It’s in my “jeans”.

So because I don’t have a problem, it would be too easy for me to eat a whole cake if I didn’t choose to reign myself in. This is a round about way of saying that I feel I’m more accountable not less in this area of my life. I have the good genetic fortune of not putting on weight easily, so for me it’s important I don’t take advantage of that. When I fail, I consider it more than a bad habit. It really is “sin”for me because it reminds me that I’ve overindulged just because I can. If that’s not sin, I don’t know what is.

(Are you following this convoluted explanation?)

Anyway, we all decide for ourselves what we want our life to look like to others-to those who share our faith and to those who don’t.

deciding for ourselves

We shouldn’t judge anyone else for their decisions nor should we be judged for ours but we should be willing to have an honest and kind conversation about our differences so we can all grow.

God frown on our sacrifices no matter how noble, if with those sacrifices mercy, compassion, and justice are compromised.

God bless and I hope you have a good day

 

what kind of friend are you

How we should respond when friends fail us

I’ve been cleaning up my computer files and found some sermons I downloaded from Charles Stanley. I thought I would share them with you over the next few weeks. For some reason, this one on friendships caught my eye. I am fortunate that I have close friends that have stood the test of time.

friends 3

friends are precious

But I know that not everyone has, so maybe this message will help. I have changed the formatting a little but not any of the words.

KEYPASSAGE: 2 Timothy 4:9-18 | SUPPORTINGSCRIPTURE: Psalm 57:1-4 | Isaiah 43:1-4 | Matthew 27:46 | Luke 23:34 John14:16-18 |Acts1:8; 7:60 | Philippians 2:13 | Colossians1:27 | 2 Timothy1:15 | Hebrews13:5 |1 Peter 5:10

“You’ve probably experienced the sting of rejection and desertion. Sometimes they are caused by people whom you spent hours with, encouraging and building them up in the faith. Other times, a spouse or close friend leaves— despite your best efforts to be loving, faithful, and selfless. And if you haven’t experienced rejection or betrayal yet, you probably will some day. What is the best way to react when others disappoint you?

We can learn how to handle abandonment and disappointment by examining the apostle Paul’s response to painful relationships.He knew what it meant to have strong relationships. And he experienced betrayal as well.Amazingly, Paul forgave others for their failures and reconciled with them when appropriate. Let’s discover how he dealt with betrayal and abandonment by trusted friends.

Friends sometimes fail us.

 friendships

friendships

Paul experienced pain from unfaithful friends. He wrote,“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm;the Lord will repay him according to his deeds .Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me”(2 Tim.4:14-16;see also 2 Tim.1:15).
The apostle wrote these passages near the end of his life. He had spent years establishing churches in cities such as Thessalonica, Philippi, and Corinth. He was beaten, stoned, and thrown in prison numerous times because of his missionary efforts. But despite his faithfulness to the Lord, his friends failed him. They weren’t reliable when he desperately needed them.

What are some reasons why friends desert us in times of trouble?

  • Sometimes they feel inadequate— unsure of how to help.
  • In other cases, they don’t want to be identified with the loser in a conflict.
  • People also leave because they are jealous, so they hope to see us fail.
  • Others are selfish and don’t want to sacrifice their time to support you and me.
  • Lastly, friends abandon us because they judge us for our mistakes. Rather than being available to help, they can excuse themselves from any responsibility.

In other words, when friends disappoint us, it’s often because of a deficiency in their character, not necessarily because we’ve failed them somehow. (My comments: We should always consider our own failings  first though.)

Forgiveness must prevail.

(My comments: Remember forgiveness does not excuse bad actions. There are still consequences, whether ours or theirs. Forgiveness means we simply refuse to let someone else’s actions or words destroy us. Forgiveness is something we really do for ourselves.

And can we be honest here? Whether or not we forgive someone may not matter to them at all. 

We get too caught up in the “romance” of forgiveness and forget about the harsh reality that some people will never believe they’ve done anything to be forgiven for in the first place.  If we wait for them to ask forgiveness, we might be waiting a long time.

Forgiveness also doesn’t mean we continue to put ourselves in hurtful situations. We still need to forgive so we can move on.) 

how to keep friends

how to make and keep friends

Paul’s friends left him to face one of the most difficult situations of his life—all alone. How did he respond? With forgiveness: “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Tim.4:16, emphasis added). Our Savior said something similar as He hung on the cross,“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The apostle also may have been influenced by Stephen, who was stoned to death in Paul’s presence.

The young martyr ended his life with the words:“Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”(Acts 7:60). Paul was practicing what he preached—the importance of forgiving. Don’t be a fair-weather friend, interested only in what you can get from another person. Those who mistreat you will often need help later. Will you be available? Waiting for a chance to get them back—to let them down as they did to you—shows you have an unforgiving spirit. The godly response is to refuse to hold anything against those who hurt you.
The presence of the Lord sustains us.

Holy spirit

Holy spirit

Paul could forgive others for three reasons:

  • He knew that God would never leave him: “The Lord stood with me”(2 Tim. 4:17). Even though all of Paul’s friends had abandoned him, he knew that the Lord Himself would always be with him. Christ promises all believers,“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb.13:5). If you are a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within you to comfort and guide you (John14:16-18). The most faithful Friend is always with you, even if everyone else leaves you.
  • The apostle knew that God would empower him:“The Lord…strengthened me…that all the Gentiles might hear” (2 Tim. 4:17). Paul could rely on the presence of God to accomplish his calling—taking the gospel to the world.

He knew that the Lord works within believers, strengthening us to accomplish His will (Phil. 2:13). Despite persecution, physical assaults, and imprisonment, the apostle never abandoned sharing the good news.

People will persecute you;some of your friends will abandon you in tough times. But adversity eventually ends:“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Pet.5:10). If you depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, your life can be fruitful and productive despite the trials that come your way.

Paul was confident that God would deliver him:“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom”(2 Tim.4:18).Listen—sometimes the Father delivers us from something. Other times, He allows us to experience hardship in life.

But He sustains us through whatever we may face (Isa. 43:1-4), and in some cases, He decides to take us home to be with Him. In Paul’s case, shortly after he wrote this passage, Emperor Nero executed him. Perhaps that doesn’t sound to you as if God delivered Paul. But four years later, the ruler committed suicide.

I believe this was a direct consequence of Nero’s persecution of believers. No one can violate the principles of God and avoid His judgment.The next time you face a difficult situation, remember that your heavenly Father stands with you, even if everyone else deserts you.”

CONCLUSION

What kind of friend are you? Are you dedicated to those you love? Or do you often disappoint them?

what kind of friend are you

what kind of friend are you

Perhaps you are faithful, but your friends consistently fail you when trouble comes. They are happy to spend time with you when all is going well. But when their support is needed, they are unavailable. (My comments: I believe that if a friends consistently fails us, then we should move on and trust that God will bring true and reliable friends in our lives.  I agree with what Charles Stanley says below but feels he should’ve added the fact that sometimes we absolutely have to move on.)

I urge you not to hold it against them. Hurt and rejection are painful, but often unavoidable, parts of life. You can’t make anyone love you. It’s impossible to force them to be faithful to you in difficult times. But you and I can always find healing through forgiveness. Without it, you will never develop close, dependable friendships. Focus on becoming a genuine, trustworthy, loyal person—who can forgive when others disappoint—and you will attract reliable friends. Lean on Jesus, the perfect Friend, and you will become the type of person others take delight in knowing.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

God’s discipline is wrapped in love

How many of you have read, I mean, really read the book of Lamentations? I mean, I know I must have because I read through the Bible on a regular basis. But, honestly, maybe because this time I read it on my NOOK, it just kind of jumped out on me.

(Let me side-track for a minute. I never wanted a NOOK because I love books in their original form. I love turning the pages. I love highlighting. I love old books, worn book, new books. I simply love books. I like seeing them everywhere in my home. I never consider books “clutter”.To me they are art. So when I got my NOOK, I was certain it was a waste of money. NOT!) 

We are in sunny Florida.

me in Florida

me in Florida

sand between your toes

sand between your toes

I brought my NOOK. So I’m reading my Bible on it. I don’t know if it’s because the print is bigger or what, but today the words are just leaping off the page.

nook

nook

at the beach

at the beach

beach

beach

(If you’re wondering about tennis shoes on the beach, it’s because of serious foot issues and even in my expensive orthopedics I limp really bad. Hey, at least I can walk.)

 Anyway…………….

I know the concept of God’s discipline is hard for many people, Christians or not. There are some Christians who honestly believe God never punishes. They come up with this view because they think when God became man, the man Jesus, that all this (the wrath part) was done away with because Jesus died for our sins. But those sins still have to be acknowledged and confessed. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law not to do away with it. It’s back to reconciling the seemingly disjointed attributes of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Many Christians just don’t want to deal with that.

I’ve just finished reading Jeremiah where he continues to warn the Israelites what is heading their way if they don’t follow what God has clearly laid out for them. Jeremiah tries really hard to convince them that judgement is coming but they can’t see past the noses on their faces. They’re liking their life as it is. “Thank-you, but no thank-you”, they tell Jeremiah.

But God, because He is Holy, has to act from that Holiness and everything that Jeremiah has been predicting comes true.

Here are some of my favorite verses:

1:9: “She never considered her end. Her downfall was astonishing.” I mean, really, isn’t this where so many of us fail? By not looking down the road and getting that our choices now, affect our choices then. 

3:17-28 My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is. Then I thought: My futures is lost, as well as my hope from the LORD. Remember my affliction……..

20: “I continually remember them (our flagrant sins, my note) “and have become depressed, Yet, I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope”.

(23-26) “Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say” The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, for the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the LORD.” (This certainly fits in with my present series, God’s voice or mine?)

28″ Let him sit alone and be silent. for God has disciplined him.” I think this means we are to contemplate the discipline that has come our way.

32: “Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love. For He does not enjoy bringing affliction for suffering on mankind”. No matter what the discipline, God is there with us and showers us with compassion. It’s a kind of bittersweet experience.

In all the above, remember that none of this would’ve happened had the Israelites only obeyed. So many of the struggles that happen in our life are because we’ve disobeyed as well.

Finally, the verse that really got my attention and one I will be considering for a while. This verse got me to thinking really, really hard about my prayer life and why sometimes it seems ineffective. Is this verse just for the Israelites or does it have application for me as well?

Lamentations 3:44

   You have covered Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.

I haven’t done any research on this verse yet but here’s my gut-instinct analysis. I think God is saying that until we confess what has brought us to our own place of discipline, God will not hear any other of our prayers. Another way to say this might be, that the only prayer that can part those clouds of sin, is our prayer of confession. I picture it in my head as an arrow piercing through a cloud and breaking it up.

prayer piercing the clouds

prayer piercing the clouds

Below is an excerpt I found from searching the web. I thought it was well-written and easy to follow.

Lamentations is quite similar to the Book of Job. Both Lamentations and Job deal with the problem of suffering. Job deals with this problem on the personal level. Job suffered greatly as an individual, and the book that bears his name describes his suffering. Lamentations deals with the problem of suffering on the national level. In it we see God’s people suffering greatly.

This book describes in painful detail the suffering of the nation of Judah and the people of Jerusalem. There are many statements in Lamentations that recall what Job wrote about his sufferings. “Oftentimes the believer has not been aided or prepared by solid exposition of Scripture or a theology of suffering to cope with the suffering as it comes in national disaster, death, depression, separation, rejection, or the like. Too frequently the only place many turn in such circumstances is to medically trained clinicians.

This is not to say that a referral to the medical profession is not altogether appropriate at times; but we do maintain that ‘grief management,’ as the phrase goes these days, is the business of the gospel as well.”26 The suffering of God’s people is a problem because it pits the love of God against His justice. On the one hand, God loves people and has promised to do what is best to bring about their blessing.

But on the other hand, God punishes people for their sins, and this does not seem to be loving. This is the same problem that children have who grow up in homes where their parents tell them they love them—and yet punish them. Careful attention to the Word of God solves this problem, in most cases, because God has explained why He punishes those whom He loves.

Yet at other times, as in the case of Job, there does not appear to be adequate reason for the judgment. In Jeremiah’s day, the people did not understand the reason for their suffering. They only saw the punishment. They had forgotten the reasons for it given in the Mosaic Covenant. This problem was what concerned Habakkuk as well. But this problem of suffering has an even deeper dimension.

It eventually boils down to the antinomy between God’s sovereignty and human freedom. If God is sovereign, are human beings genuinely free moral agents? Is not God, rather than man, really responsible for sin? Almost all students of the Scriptures have concluded that the resolution of the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom lies beyond our present power to comprehend.

The best that we can do now is to acknowledge that God is indeed sovereign; He is the ultimate authority in the universe. But at the same time, human beings are genuinely responsible for their choices. The Jews in Jeremiah’s day struggled to keep these revelations in balance, as anyone does who experiences extreme and apparently unjustified punishment. They denied either the sovereignty of God or their own responsibility. Job, too, struggled with these issues, but in his personal life.

A great revelation of Lamentations is the covenant faithfulness of God in spite of the covenant unfaithfulness of His people.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

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