Mind Over (earthly) Matters

 

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)


Life is not always kind, or even “fair”.  When external stress and pressures build up, it can be oh-so-tempting to  sink into an pattern of pessimistic thinking that only serves to pull us farther into a pit of depression.

It is true that some earthly situations are not easily resolved.  And others may never be exactly “right”, according to our own estimation.  But that does not mean there is no hope of a better future for the Christian…if not here, then when we enter eternity, for sure.

We can always choose for our thoughts to dwell in either our temporary sorrows or on the promise of a blessed forever home in God’s presence.

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Pray. Always.

Luke 18:1-8 (ESV)

And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’

For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down with her continual coming.'”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night?  Will He delay long over them?  I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

A Faithful Friend is Better Than Economic Security

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

This brought to mind Paul’s statement  regarding money.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs

~1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

And Jesus:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.

~Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

In the US, one of the top concerns for voters (of all persuasions) is the state of the economy. We debate about socialism vs capitalism vs free market, federal/state taxation, world trade, national debt, local distribution and so on.

And we tend to panic when economic equilibrium takes a severe hit.

That is an interesting consideration.

Believe it or not, though, “the love of money” is NOT so much about money itself, but what the money represents.

Money (or “mammon”, in  KJV terminology) is simply the recognized currency of this fading world system.  It really does not matter whether we are trading in actual gold coinage, electronic transactions, or directly bartering goods…if the focus is primarily placed  on the material exchange, getting the best “deal”, and/or just building a comfortable home in this world, then we are at serious risk of serving/loving a master other than God.

 

Don’t Kick ’em While They’re Down

This is interesting.

Zechariah 1:14-15 (ESV) So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.
15 And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

Me: these verses are a partial answer made by God to the question posed in v 12. “How long will You be angry and withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah?” (Paraphrase).

The Israelite people of Zechariah’s day were experiencing the predicted disciplinary response for having turned away from following God (read Leviticus 26:27-46). Specifically, they would be subjugated by the surrounding pagan nations whose ways they chose to adopt in spite of receiving strict instruction to the contrary.

Verse 15 (above) indicates that the civilizations which the Hebrew people were subjected to took full advantage of the national disgrace of the Israelites…that they actively abused the people in a way that far exceeded the authorization God had given them.

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It left me thinking that God is always good to correct us and allow us to experience the well-earned results of our disobedient choices…for our good, to encourage repentance.

And sometimes, the temporal consequences we bring on ourselves are extremely unpleasant, to say the least.

However, it is a very bad idea to recognize that someone is being chastised/humbled and take it upon one’s own self to add a greater load of pain or shame to their burden through mockery, looting of their possessions or physical abuse.

Validate Me

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Image courtesy stockimages @FreeDigitalphotos.net

I’m gonna pass on a little lesson I had to learn the hard way…over the course of a lifetime of trial, error and unpleasant experience.

If we are honest, we all want to know that our lives have value and significant purpose. It is an inherent drive of the human creature who was made in the image of God (whose nature is one of loving acceptance among the “persons” of the Godhead)

But if we primarily seek to find this sense of wholeness and belonging through any human relationship:

friendship
sibling connection
significant other /spouse
parent-child interaction

If the source of our identity is mainly found in:

personal compliments
number of social media followers/likes
clothing, body appearance, possessions
physical fitness/health
education
emotional tendency
intellectual capacity
creative talent

or any other common measurement of temporal “success”
…then we will eventually end up in a place of disappointment and frustration.

People are individual and imperfect; and it is both unrealistic and unfair to place the burden of one’s own feeling of security on the head of another person who has their own personality and will one day fail to perform to our preferred relationship specifications.

Save yourself a lot of grief. Don’t rely on the external feedback of other people to provide an accurate picture of your own worth. God has already determined that you are important enough to die…and live…for.

That should be good enough.

Brother (NEEDTOBREATHE)

I  have come to really appreciate the lyrics this group supplies.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV)

As believers in Christ, there is a personal “load” (v 5) that each must carry as we are conformed into His image.   But there are also practical ways we can help relieve one another of excess weight in order to facilitate the process.

However,  spiritual discernment is required to know when to personally intervene or when to simply pray that God’s will be done in an individual’s life even as they struggle.

Note: even when correction is necessary, an attitude of gentleness is prescribed.  Not the harsh, judgmental spitefulness that we often see within some very strict religious groups.  If the offending person does not respond favorably, there are further measures that should be taken to correct the problem.  But high-pitched debate, gossip and mean-spirited nit-picking are not among them.

 

Exposed

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Not my edit.  Design credit belongs to preachthegospel.org

I have seen this quote accredited to Charles Spurgeon on more than one occasion, and assume the photo attribution is correct.

No doubt about it, though.

Knowing Christ means encountering illumination as we have never before experienced.
And, the brighter the Light shines, the more clearly we will be able to see the dirt in the corners and under the furnishings of our lives.
Isaiah 2:5 (NKJV) O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD.

John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.