decisions, decisions…

Look not solely around, fellow disciple, at circumstances that influence daily decisions, but make decisions with godly discernment that is informed by your being steeped in the word of God. Hear the counsel of Christ:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John‬ ‭7:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

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How are you sleeping?

An influential friend once told me that a measure of your level of spiritual peace is how well you’re sleeping.

That made a ton of sense to me. Much later I learned to break the Lord’s Prayer into its phrases and use that as a basis for what is called adoration prayer. Adoration prayer reflects with your Heavenly Father about His greatness, speaking His attributes, reflecting on His goodness and power and being thankful that in that greatness He loves and cares for even such a wretched sinner as me. What I’ve found is that once I’ve trained myself to do this as my last conscious communication before sleep, I sleep well. Others agree that this has helped them. Then, just now, I read this:

“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs‬ ‭3:19-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

It’s like a guide for what I’ve learned and practiced. It’s a fruitful Christian discipline.

Reflect on God before your slumber and enjoy sweet sleep.

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A Grand Journey

A life of being Jesus’ disciple is a grand journey.

We take each hill as it comes.

Sometimes we walk side by side.

Other times we walk single file.

But because we walk with Him, we are never alone.

“You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Stepping on others to lift myself…

On our drive to D.C. yesterday (heading for some grandparent duty) we were talking about how we blame others (for problems we caused) to make ourselves feel better. It’s a natural function of how we deal with our insecurities. Adam blamed Eve and then God. We step on others to make ourselves feel taller. We point out the flaws of others to mask our own – often very similar -flaws.

We also blame God. God asks Job “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬) when I read those questions this morning I paused. It struck home. (Side note, this is what I love about the Bible, it speaks to my heart.)

The operative phrase, I think, is “that you may be in the right.” God pointed to Job’s desire to be right. To think well (or at least better) of himself.

(Yeah, I’m guilty as charged.)

Near the beginning of the practical section of Romans, Paul warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. A sure sign of thinking too highly of myself is blaming others. When I blame, I look down. C. S. Lewis rightly pointed out that it is hard to see God when you’re looking down on another person.

To combat this attitude, I’ve found it helpful to be intentional about praying for that person I tend to look down on, complain about, or blame. I’ve also found it helpful to be thankful for them, pausing and thanking God for them is a good thing as it makes me look up at them.

Remember, we not be perfect on this side of heaven. John Owen, once vice-chancellor of Oxford university and great Puritan thinker put it this way: “To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished.” We must be constant in our battle with sin. But this battle will continue. The key is to stay in the fight and abide in Christ who is our strength for the fight.

Part of the fight is to be mindful of attitudes that lead us to temptation and then to sin. As we are mindful, we can turn our attention to God and His ways, in this, we may answer temptation with discipline. In doing so, we make some progress in our battle with sin which is too often us stepping on another to lift ourselves up.

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Love as a way to give God glory

Our path is one of giving God glory as disciples of Jesus.

Jesus said we show we are disciples by our love. The Spirit inspired Paul with these words. Let us glorify God by dwelling in these words and deciding to love.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

What are the things each of us must be willing to endure for the sake of love, to the glory of God?

Endure and love for the glory of God.

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The relationship between remembering and fear…

For a good number of years now I have been thinking about fear. (If you’re a regular reader, that’s no surprise.)

Why? You may rightly ask.

Well, it’s because there have been seasons in my life, as well as some of those in whom I invest, that fear is not just an aspect life, but a crippling factor in life.

In fact, if we allow it to, fear can become the lens through which we see life.

I know.

I have been through seasons where fear is the lens through which I see life.

A while back I learned that I no longer have to reside in that place where fear colors all the windows and makes everything look dark.

The way to clean that glass is to remember. Remember what God has done.

This is what many of the Psalms do for us. They are records of how Israel was told to remember. Remember what God has done.

“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalms‬ ‭138:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

What I’ve learned is that the more I remember the faithfulness of God, the more I contemplate His greatness and sovereignty, the less I wrestle with fear or anxiety.

As I remember and focus on God, my faith strengthens.

Recently I’ve refocused in daily thankfulness. This is a way in which I think and pray in terms of my own personal Psalm 138. Because I too, like you, can remember how He has strengthened me.

Dwell, friend, in the word of God which is the sword of the Spirit.

Remember the greatness of God.

Practice intentional thankfulness.

Watch as He lifts you up.

Enjoy as your faith dissipates your fear.

Abide in Him.

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Struggling with people

It’s normal to struggle with people. Thinking otherwise may mean that we’re thinking more highly of humans than we should (especially ourselves – develop a healthy view of the Fall).

When we realize we’re struggling with a person, there are steps we are able to take to help us love them. Jesus said “love your enemy.”

1. Pray for them daily. God will use this prayer, at least, as a means to change the heart of the praying person toward the person with whom she struggles.

2. As you pray for them, remember the good God has done through them. This might be harder, but the harder you look for the work of God, the more God works on you.

3. Do something kind for them. But don’t expect kindness in return. If you get it, you’ve material for number 2!

4. Seek them out and thank them for something. Anything. Just be grateful. Gratitude changes our hearts.

5. Stick with it. It may be a long process. That’s okay. Hearts don’t get hardened overnight, they don’t get softened overnight either.

Love your enemy. – Jesus

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