Emotions

L-O-V-E: The four-letter word that the world needs to hear a little more of

It took precedence over miracles, it identifies a follower of Jesus and it has conquered the highest haughty spirits – it’s love! (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, John 13:35, Philippians 2:1-4)

Love is the most unprofane four letter word that can be spoken…and it bears repeating as oft as it’s needed. It binds, it cures and it cleanses – and that goes for the ones who give it and for those to whom it is given to. (Ephesians 4:16, 1 John 3:10-11, 1 Peter 1:22)

Love isn’t lust. It’s not even something that’s always a feeling – it’s something that’s guided, something that’s godly and something that expresses goodness in the face hatred. (1 John 5:3, Romans 12:9, Matthew 5:44-45)

Clean your ears out with this: for God so loved the world that…you’ve heard the rest, right? EA

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20

Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

Similar in only the way they sound, giving someone a piece of our mind and allowing Jesus to give us peace of mind are two completely different things. One comes from being fed up and the other comes from being filled up. And both are determined by our appetite (Galatians 6:7-8).

Focusing on one will keep us from focusing on the other regardless of which one we’re talking about. So…

Someone does us wrong – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Matthew 5:43-46)

Our spouse says the wrong thing at the wrong moment – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Ephesians 5:33)

Our boss talks down to us – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Colossians 3:22-25)

Our brother or sister in Christ lets us down – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Our child does something that completely destroys our trust – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Colossians 3:21)

Our parent does something that completely destroys or trust – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Colossians 3:20)

Our finances, our health and our sense of belonging are getting the better of us – are we going to be fed up or filled up? (Job 13:15)

While it may not always be wrong to get fed up (Matthew 23:13-35), being fed up and acting out with the wrong motivation can keep us from being filled up with the peace that comes from having the mind of Jesus (James 1:19-22, Philippians 2:3-5).

So are we more interested in giving others a piece of our mind, or sharing our peace of mind in Christ with them? EA

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Strength

We’re called to love God with all of it that we have (Mark 12:30). A post-converted apostle was called to give it to his brethren (Luke 22:32). Jesus received it from the angels who visited him (Luke 22:43). What is it? It’s spiritual strength! And without it we’re sitting ducks for the devil.

A strong spiritual strength can do things that Samson never imagined. It caused a man named Saul to stand stronger for the cause of the Lord than he had stood against it (Acts 9:21-24). This same man would go on to tell the church at Philippi that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13). And the proof of that confidence wasn’t written on a plague, picture or plate that hung on his wall – it was seen in all the different ways that he suffered through weakness so that the strength of God could be used and seen through him (2 Corinthians 1:8-10, 12:9; 2 Timothy 4:14-18).

A strong spiritual strength has nothing to do with the outer muscles of the body. A strong spiritual strength has everything to do with the inner muscles of the soul. It’s the inner man that’s called to move mountains by faith (Mark 11:20-23; Ephesians 3:13-19). That’s why the faithful rely upon the Lord as their strength – because they know that the strength of flesh’s arm will inevitability fail (2 Chronicles 32:1-8; Psalm 18:2, 52:1-9; Isaiah 31:3).

If we lean upon our own strength we will fail spiritually, but if we rely upon the one who doesn’t grow tired, then he will bear our weariness and weakness for us (Isaiah 40:25-31; 2 Corinthians 12:10). EA

“We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. For He brings down those who dwell on high, the lofty city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He brings it down to the dust.” Isaiah 26:1-5

Don’t Let Your Sweet Tooth Trick You

Proverbs 20:17 says, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards, his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

In other words, when we know it’s wrong to say we’d do well to not say it no matter how pleasant it may taste!

It’s important to remember during this candy eating time of the year that many a “sweet tooth’s” have given in to speaking hatefulness, half-truths, whole-lies, twisted words, words in disguise, words of envy and whatever other sinful way of speaking you can think of only to find out that the lasting effects aren’t as pleasant as the temporary flavor it starts out with.

At the end of the day sin will always leave us wounded no matter who our words are aimed at, and if we’re not careful it may steal our ability to enjoy the flavor of God’s grace. EA

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

Where’s the Complaint Department?!

The power of negativity affects more than just atoms, metals and magnets – it affects people too!

Sometimes we think we can change something or make it better by complaining. If we don’t like it we want to let someone hear about it, right? Well, others do not always like to listen do they? One time, I saw a sign hanging on the door to a house that had a mousetrap with a little button glued to the part where you put the cheese. Under the mousetrap were the words: “Complaint Department – Push Button For Service.” I think their point was something similar to leave your complaining at the door.

If we liked to complain as much as we liked to listen to it then most of us probably wouldn’t do it as much as we do, and God can feel the same way when it comes to listening to our complaints.

The Almighty in Heaven recognizes and knows when we have been unfairly treated, and the Holy Spirit teaches in God’s written word that we can talk to God about these things:

Because for long enough, in times past, we have been living after the way of the Gentiles, given up to the desires of the flesh, to drinking and feasting and loose behaviour and unclean worship of images; And they are wondering that you no longer go with them in this violent wasting of life, and are saying evil things of you: But they will have to give an account of themselves to him who is ready to be the judge of the living and the dead. For this was the reason why the good news of Jesus was given even to the dead, so that they might be judged as men in the flesh, but might be living before God in the spirit. But the end of all things is near: so be serious in your behaviour and keep on the watch with prayer;…Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you.”(1 Peter 4:3-7; 5:7 – BBE).

In this situation God is a sympathetic Father who will listen to us as we express the sorrows and troubles we are wrestling with in our life.

On the flip-side, the Holy Spirit also teaches in God’s written word that God will not tolerate complaining, backbiting, gossiping or murmuring forever. All of these words are used in the New Testament to one extent or another and all of them are condemned, sometimes with harsh warnings:

nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyerFor I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;…These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” (1 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Jude 16 – NKJV).

Paul expressly warned the Corinthian church about murmuring and he used what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness that murmured against Moses and Aaron as an example of God’s attitude toward that sin (Numbers 14,16,17). It was at the end of that warning that Paul penned the familiar and lesson filled words, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Complaining, backbiting, gossiping and murmuring were definitely some of those sins that Paul had in mind there.

Often times if we would only listen to ourselves when we complain negatively then we would hear how childish it can be. There have been times when I have reflected on something that I was complaining about and I realized how ignorant and petty it really sounded in the end. It didn’t change the situation and it definitely wasn’t changing me for the better!

The next time we start complaining we should ask ourselves if God would be willing to listen with a sympathetic ear, or would He be disappointed?

Remember that a lot of people like to visit the complaint department but not many people want to work there for a good reason. So let’s break the bad habit of complaining before it breaks us. EA

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)

Sometimes it’s Right in Front of our Face

At times there are things in our life that we have had for years but we never realize its value. I’m talking about blessings that come directly from God, yet we still fail to see them. So what happens when we fail to see the ways that God has loved us? Does He take the gifts back? Not necessarily (Luke 6:35). If God stopped giving gifts based solely upon our reaction, the world would cease to see the sun, and the fact that we have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and clothes to wear reveals that He cares for us. If we gave as much credit to God as we gave to our “hard work” how many of those “little things” do you think we would forget about it? What good thing do we have that didn’t first come from His hand? Nothing! Still, often times we think if we only had a little more, then we’d be happy. Begotten by God and we look to the world to provide! A son and daughter of the king and we think we’re paupers. That is one easy thing to do, right? Yes, whosoever will, we can all come to God, but only the one who believes will exit this world and enter in to that heavenly kingdom to live with Him. If we looked for things the way we should would we not find more joy – would we not look less to what is going to perish? We love God, but could we love Him more? Have you ever asked yourself that question before? Everlasting blessings and eternal life (John 3:16) are often times right in front of our face, but we don’t see them because we’re not looking! Go back and read all of the words that are in bold to see how easy they are to miss! EA

Give Someone a Hand

Not too long ago, while we were watching Jeopardy, my little daughter did something that I thought was pretty neat. When the show was over and the audience began to clap, my daughter decided she would chip in and started to clap along with the crowd. She didn’t know what the people did to deserve the clapping, but in her little world when someone claps for you it means you did good…at least that’s what mom and dad has done to encourage her. At that moment in time she just wanted to give someone a little encouragement by giving them a hand.

Who among us, other than those who think they’re an island to themselves, doesn’t enjoy a little encouragement every now and then? The fact that human hearts and confidence can be torn down shows that they can be built up – after all, something has to be built before it can be torn down, right?

At times I think of some of the people who Jesus interacted with and I can’t help but wonder about how good they felt after meeting Him. Now it’s true that not everyone felt so good after talking to Jesus, but those who were seeking to be built up spiritually sure did.

Think of the leper in Matthew 8:1-4 that Jesus touched! After being healed, Jesus reminded this man to give credit to God. Jesus built him up spiritually. Think of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. The crowd called him a sinner, but Jesus called him a son of Abraham! Imagine how those words would’ve built up someone like Zacchaeus spiritually.

Without a doubt Jesus knew how to give someone a hand! What about us? Do we know someone who could use our hand? EA

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19)

Mr., Mrs., Sir and Mam

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The word demands attention. Cartoons spoof it. Anarchists hate it. People have written songs about it. Even the Bible talks about it:

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17).

Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7)

When it comes to the teachings of the Bible and Christianity, showing respect has more to do with being the rule than it has to do with being the Golden Rule. Showing respect is important because showing respect says something even when it says nothing!

Judges expect respect with the word honor. The President is Mr. President. Superiors in the military regularly hear Sir and Mam. The same principle applies to teachers, police officers, bosses and even those who are elder in age. These are all things that are expected respected situations. We understand this…or at least we should.

Children are taught about these things because they need to learn to have and to show respect. A failure to teach children about the importance of respect will eventually lead to a disrespectful attitude that leads to an unrespectable life that displays a lack of self-respect. It’s amazing how big a difference a little respect can make in the life of child.

Along the same lines, Christians are reminded about this for the same reasons. As adults, there are times when we want to show respect only to those who show respect toward us. But our calling as God’s people goes beyond that limitation. God desires that we show respect to others out of respect for Him. Even if they don’t respect us or Him! It’s not so much whether or not we’re able to say “I don’t get no respect” but whether or not we’re able to say we show respect to others because we respect God.

So for these reasons alone I’m going to give a “respectable” effort and try to do better when it comes to showing more respect. How about you? EA

Now when Michael, one of the chief angels, was fighting against the Evil One for the body of Moses, fearing to make use of violent words against him, he only said, May the Lord be your judge.” (Jude 9 – BBE)

The Real “Mourner’s Bench”

There is nothing wrong with feeling sorrow when it comes to sins that have been committed. After all, 2 Corinthians 7:10 does teach that a godly sorrow leads to a repentance that leads toward salvation.

A proper sorrow leads to a proper determination about sin in our life. Biblical sorrow has led an untold number of souls to Jesus for salvation. This is, in part, the whole call of the Gospel. But one practice in the religious world that has its roots in sorrow but not in the scriptures is the call that one may hear to the “mourner’s bench” (a.k.a. the altar call).

A godly sorrow over sin leads us to the throne in Heaven, not a bench at the foot of a pulpit in a church building:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:12-16)

When the Holy Spirit uses His word to cut at our heart we should act on the sorrow that follows; but our actions should be according to the scriptures. Confession is truly good for the soul, and our prayers for one another can have a great purpose (James 5:16), but the need for confession leads no closer to the “mourner’s bench” than it does the “confession booth.”

I say what I say to provoke honest thoughts about sorrow – not to hurt feelings that lead to nowhere. Trade your tradition for the scriptures and the “mourner’s bench” for the mourner’s throne! EA

Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent

I don’t know the author’s name who put these eight gifts together but it’s a great list, and it’s worth passing along.

The Gift of Listening…but you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

The Gift of Affection…be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and hand-holds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

The Gift of Laughter…clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

The Gift of a Written Note…it can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

The Gift of a Compliment…a simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job,” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.

The Gift of a Favor…everyday, go out of your way to do something kind.

The Gift of Solitude…there are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

The Gift of a Cheerful Disposition…the easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not that hard to say, “Hello,” or “Thank you.”

There’s nothing wrong with putting an emphasis on spending when it comes to gifts at this time of the year, as long as the emphasis isn’t on money.

Strive to out give others in a way that causes others to strive to give! EA

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

(Acts 20:35)