Why Dating Will Lead to “Eating Peas!”

This one’s mainly for the teens and young adults, but maybe for some of the older single adults as well…you never know.  This world can be a lousy place to live.  It can be especially lousy to live life without that special someone in your life.  You sit on a hillside over looking the city below as fireworks light up the Fourth of July night sky.  The crowd oooohs and aaaaahs over the phenomenal display of pyrotechnic pageantry.  You well up inside with so much emotion that you are about to burst.  You turn to your special someone and…UGH!!!  You don’t have a special someone in your life.  That fantasy I just described has come to an all too familiar screeching halt.  You’re alone and
you don’t like it.
So what do you do?  Well, if you’re a well meaning Christian you’ll pray to God to send you someone and then look at EVERY member of the opposite gender around you as THE ONE God created for you.  Am I wrong?  They don’t even need to be saved.  You can have an attraction for that boy in algebra class, and because of that strong attraction that just has to be divinely placed in your heart, you’re convinced all you need to do is lead this boy to the Lord and begin setting a date.  Why do we do that?  I too did that while I was in high school.
But there are so many problems that are borne through casual dating, even if it’s dating with the intention of becoming “exclusive” and eventually engaged and married.  Some cultures have arranged marriages, even today.  Many centuries ago the world witnessed the first arranged marriage.  Long ago, God created a mate for Adam, and her name was Eve.  Adam had those same unmet desires as you have sitting alone on the Fourth of July, and yes, he went to God and prayed, and he was given the one God had prepared for him.
Just think about Mary and Joseph and what the Lord knew was going to happen once Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  God foreknew the problems facing that young betrothed couple.  He knew Mary would be in a position to be ostracized by her family and society at the mere mention of her pregnancy as soon as the words were uttered by Joseph.  But God knew the character He had created in Joseph.  Joseph was a just man (Matthew 1:19).  He didn’t fly off the handle and rush to condemn Mary.  His demeanor allowed God time to send an angel to Joseph to straighten out the matter.  What would have happened if Mary dated several men and settled on anyone other that Joseph?  We’ll never know, because Mary and Joseph were put together by the divine work of God.  I believe that to be the inference, though the Bible doesn’t actually spell it out with a chapter and verse reference.
Well, actually, there is a chapter and verse that strongly suggests God is the one to put the right two people together divinely, without any assistance from us other than to be open to His guidance.  “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).  That verse does not imply that when we FINALLY find a spouse after years of searching and countless dates with the “wrong” ones, that we can claim to have been blessed by the Lord.  No!  On the contrary.  That verse implies that we have done nothing to “find” our spouse.
In the original languages, that verse implies that we “stumbled upon” our mate.  The word “findeth” in this case is analogous to stumbling over something of value.  Imagine walking down the street and getting hungry.  Boy you could go for some food right now, but alas, you’re wallet is empty.  As you turn the corner, you happen across a twenty dollar bill on the ground.  You weren’t walking around town looking for money, but rather God blessed you with divinely placed money.  That’s the spirit of Proverbs 18:22.  We are not to be searching high and low for our future spouses.  We should wait until we happen upon them at God’s appointed time.
And not doing things God’s way is always loaded with peril.  There are many problems with “dating.”  For example, in high school, I was absolutely infatuated with new relationships.  I enjoyed the novelty of a new relationship.  I wasn’t planning on marrying anyone I dated in high school, so as I look back on it now, what was the problem.  Here’s the big problem…the more you date, the more you set yourself up for future failure.  You will, if you’re not careful and exercise good wisdom, fail.  Fail how?  Fail by marrying the wrong person for the wrong reasons.  I believe that dating creates huge potentials for failure.
Let’s say you get your first serious relationship and the emotional intimacy and friendship is out of this world.  That’s great!  I’m happy for you.  Now you’re in trouble.  Because now that you have a taste for what an exclusive relationship can bring you emotionally, you will always crave and desire that.  Now if you’re one of the few that marries their high school sweetheart, that’s good.  For the rest of those people who do not, there is a void where that intimacy once was.  Now you have no one to share those special moments with next Fourth of July.  You now know what you’re missing out on…BUT…had you not dated when you shouldn’t have, you wouldn’t know what you were missing and you’d probably be content.
Imagine that you have just eaten a full meal in a restaurant.  Now suppose it’s an hour later and someone offers you a can of peas.  Peas are the most vile food on the planet.  Would you eat those peas?  Of course not!  Now it’s dinner time, and you’re hungry again.  You have the option of any restaurant in town to eat at.  Again, after dinner, I offer you a can of peas, and you politely decline.  After all, your belly is full with a good meal.  Now, you lose your job.  You have no money.  You can’t afford to eat out like you would like to.  You can’t even afford groceries after a while.  Now, you’re starving and can’t go another day without eating.  Now I show up again with that same can of peas you kept turning down.  Only now, guess what!  You eat those peas!  Why?  Because you’re hungry and desperate and will take anything to satisfy that hunger.
It’s the same with dating.  You experience the pleasures of emotionally intimate relationships.  You have come to rely on those for fulfillment.  Then, after a breakup, the needs are still there but now there is no one able to fulfill those needs.  The more you date to satisfy those needs, the more and more you will crave that fulfillment.  The only problem with that is that the longer you go without any prospect of finding that person to satisfy your longing for exclusivity and emotional intimacy, you will begin getting desperate until the devil tempts you with that “can of peas.”  That “can of peas,” though not to your liking, will serve its purpose.
That “can of peas” is a terrible substitute for the one God has planned for you.  But you know what?  You don’t see it because your too busy looking at them through rose colored glasses.  You’re needs are met.  You’re no longer hungry.  The fact that my hunger headache dissipates helps me to ignore the bad taste the peas leave with me.  So too will you look past the blatant flaws in that person’s character that makes them not suited for you at all.  Remember the story of Mary and Joseph.  What if Mary had been a serial dater and settled on someone who didn’t have the character Joseph had.
Now, the only thing worse than serial dating, is serial dating and fornicating at the same time.  Sex will only take the rose colored glasses and exchange them for blinders.  You will not be rational in evaluating these people as potential mates.  It’s kind of hard to focus on their spiritual life when you’re doing other things at the same time.  Not only that, but can you imagine how much more hungry you will be after a relationship has terminated if sex was involved.  That’s why sex is reserved for a married couple who are committed to each other for the rest of their lives, because it’s so powerful and is designed to keep each seeking after the other, ideally never to face that hunger again.  Again, Mary and Joseph weren’t involved sexually until after they were married (Matthew 1:18, 25).
You not only owe it to God to have Him play matchmaker, and you not only owe it to the one God has prepared for you, but you also owe it to yourself to avoid the pitfalls of the dating game.  If you play the game by the world’s rules, it will lead to failure.  If you play the game by God’s rule (Proverbs 18:22) you will win, but you may have to get out of the game you’re in right now.  Are you in a committed relationship that is designed by God and you both are honoring Him in you relationship?  If you are, that’s great!  If you’re in a committed relationship that is not sanctioned by God you’ll need to get out.  If that’s you, fear not!  Next week I’ll give advice on getting out and staying out of the world’s dating game.
There’s much to lose.  Wouldn’t you rather have a God-ordained never-ending lifetime supply of sweet tasting cranberry sauce (my favorite) rather than making the best of it with the never-ending lifetime supply of a bitter “can of peas” (blech)?  The two don’t compare.

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How to Keep Enjoying Your Marriage

I’ve heard it said many times from our pulpit at church: “A marriage is supposed to be enjoyed rather than endured.” Well that makes sense considering you enjoy things you like and endure things you don’t like. I enjoy my time at a hockey game. I endure my time spent at the garage getting my oil changed. There’s a whole lot of excitement for me at a hockey game, while there is absolutely nothing stimulating at all about getting my oil changed. I look forward to hockey games but not oil changes. That just makes sense…we enjoy the things we like…we endure the things we don’t like.
Maybe it was my naivety, or maybe it was my general optimistic sense of hope, but I just figured everyone enjoyed their marriage. It seems like a concept that is not far fetched at all. Couples with anniversaries of 10-20-30+ years showed commitment and longevity. They must be happy. They must be enjoying their marriage. After all, they are still together and haven’t divorced each other. I quickly found out that my optimistic sense of hope masked my ignorance on the matter of staying together all the while enduring a marriage and not enjoying it.
Why is that? I mean, I’m not talking about the Hollywood couples who get married for celebrity reasons. I’m not talking about power couples who get married to advance their standing in their social circles. I’m not talking about couples who met at a party in Vegas, got drunk, and got married at a drive-thru chapel. Those marriages with auspicious starts came about through a decision to use marriage as a means to an end, and very little thought was put into the marriage itself as a living, breathing entity.
What I am talking about are the marriages that are entered into in the more traditional way. Two people meet. Two people “fall in love.” Two people court each other and get to know each other and learn to relate to each other. Two people have enjoyed the time spent with each other during the courtship so much that at some point they get engaged and eventually marry. That’s the couple I’m talking about. That’s the couple that sadly can go from enjoying their marriage to enduring their marriage. Why? The reason is simple…marriage goes from easy to hard very quickly and then it requires work…and work is not as much fun as ease.
I have a dog and a cat. I’ve always wanted pets growing up, but the closest my parents ever got was maintaining a fish tank. Well, fish aren’t pets. They’re more like moving decorations than pets. If you take one out of the tank to play with it, it will die. So as an adult, I was determined to get a pet and (dare I say) enjoy my pet. Most pet merchants will warn you that having a pet requires a big commitment. In my mind, I was only looking at the fun stuff about owning a pet. Going for walks. Playing in the park. Showing her off to my friends and family. Of course I was told, and knew intellectually, that owning a pet was going to come with responsibility, and work, and I was going to have to accept that to keep my pet alive so that I could enjoy my pet. The enjoyment of the pet is actually the reward you get for all the hard work you have to endure.
If you neglect your pet…it will get lonely. If you don’t feed your pet, it will become weak and feeble. If you don’t water your pet, it will become parched and wither. Eventually, you won’t get the same enjoyment out of your pet as you once did for the simple reason that your pet CAN’T bring you that enjoyment anymore because it’s either dead, or near dead. Beautiful plants are the same way. If one doesn’t protect the plant from the elements, water it, feed it, prune it, and otherwise take care of it, it’s going to die, or be in such a state that you don’t admire that plant the way you once did. Well guess whose fault it is? The plant is dependent on you and your pet is dependent on you.
Your marriage is a living, breathing entity of two fleshes transformed into one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31; Mark 10:8). We have to agree that if one human being is living and if the other human being is living, when the two human beings are married and become one flesh, then that one entity has to be living also. So in order for living things to stay alive, they need to be protected, fed, watered, and nurtured…else they won’t grow and eventually die. So shall it forever be with your marriage. You HAVE to endure the work necessary to keep the marriage alive so it can be enjoyed by the both of you. Hence why I say you have to endure to enjoy. You have to do the things you don’t like to do so that you can enjoy the things you like in your marriage.
Why are newlyweds so characteristically happy? The reason is because they are living in a fantasy world for a little while after being married. They’re in a utopia relationship. Each spouse is perfect and without fault, and anything that could be remotely considered a flaw is “cute.” They move in together and the novelty of “playing house” for real is awesome. Now they add the element of sexual intimacy to their relationship. So much is going on that is new and fresh and fun and exciting and enjoyable and on and on and on… It’s been termed by people as “Young Love.” Remember that, because we’ll revisit that term in a moment. But these two young lovers are just so enamored with each other that they are unwittingly heaping loads of nourishment and nurturance into the relationship. Their marriage consists of the two of them and they are focused wholly and solely on each other.
At this point, that new marriage is a beautiful, vibrant, strong, and healthy flower firmly rooted in moist, nutrient rich, perfectly cultivated soil. Oh it’s a thing to behold. Oh the beauty that is enjoyed. But even if you water the flower and feed it, there is a threat that still comes in that you need to control…weeds. People misunderstand weeds. There is no such plant called a weed. Every plant has a name and was created by God. It’s just that sometimes they grow where we don’t want them to, or they grow too much, and we call them weeds. These weeds can choke a flower and steal from the flower what is vital for the flower to survive.
I would classify weeds as external factors that can affect the marriage. Jobs/careers are one of them, especially when they are not going well or take one or both of the spouses away from each other, thereby not allowing them to cultivate and nurture the marriage. A career that takes a spouse’s priority away from a marriage is a weed. Finances can be another weed if uncontrolled spending turns into debt. That debt, in order to be eliminated, requires more cash flow which will require a second job, or overtime hours worked…stealing precious focus on cultivating the marriage. Something that goes along with the finances and debt is desiring and maintaining a certain lifestyle (cars, house, country club membership, etc)…they all can lead to debt. More time and energy will be spent keeping the “nice things” rather than keeping the marriage the main focus. So those are weeds…things that are in this world…and are neutral…but given the wrong amount of them, can become bad for the marriage and begin to choke it.
Another danger to plants are sucker branches. These are part of the plant itself and must be controlled in order to get the best yield. Tomato plants are an example of a plant that has sucker branches. These branches don’t produce fruit, but rather take valuable energy and nutrients from the plant as the plant tries desperately to be what it should be. These are children. Children come directly from within the marriage itself. These are not external weeds choking a flower. Children are extensions of the marriage itself that can take precious attention away from the marriage. However, sucker branches aren’t all bad to the plant, as they have leaves and do provide some nutrients to the plant. So too do children add to the marriage, but they can also suck the life right out of it by the very nature of the time they require.
So consider this scenario that is repeated all too often in families. Dad is working and gone out of the house 10 or more hours a day, figuring in commute. A new mom, or a stay at home mom with several children dresses them, bathes them, feeds them, watches over them to keep them safe, cleans the house, does laundry, and whatever light housekeeping needs to be done. She never stops. But the dad works hard all day, so when he gets home, he wants to relax. Now the wife has a husband to tend to, and of course, if the husband wants to do “married people things” later, a wife can soon look at even that as something else on her list of things to do. Multiply that times many years and add to that the stress of children’s health scares, school experiences, driving, dating, puberty, etc and you can see how the marriage itself is threatened by weeds and sucker branches.
Think about an abandoned mansion in the Hollywood Hills that is showing signs of years of neglect. You could barely even notice it through the dense overgrowth that covers the stairs. The first thing that needs to be done is to clear away what needs to be cleared away to be able to assess the damage. Then, once you see the damage, you go to work on the most important element, like is the foundation damaged or is the foundation solid, or are the walls ready to fall down because they aren’t as strong as they once were and can’t support the weight anymore. People who never owned that house can sometimes see the potential in restoring it, but if you’re the owner, you already KNOW the former glory of that house.
Your marriage is similar to that abandoned run down neglected Hollywood Hills mansion. It is still there in its original form, with the potential to return back to its former glory, but it’s going to take work. So the question now is…are you willing to clear away stuff that is overrunning the marriage? Are you willing to endure the work necessary to enjoy the marriage once again? The marriage, like the neglected house, is still the same as it was decades ago…it just needs your attention again. It hasn’t changed since your marriage was labeled “Young Love.”
And speaking of “Young Love…” Proverbs 5:18 tells us to rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Simply explained, it’s like this. Regardless of how long you have been married, one should be able to find joy in their spouse as they once did when they were younger and first married. This strengthens my argument that the marital relationship really doesn’t change, but rather gets neglected because the Bible hints at the notion that we can still find the spouse of our youth at any age.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 tells us to enjoy the marital relationship to its fullest all the days of your life. So it’s possible to love someone at least the same…maybe even more as time passes. And since the Bible again makes it clear our love can last throughout the years, it’s possible to still see and find in your old spouse what once was there in the beginning during the early days of “Young Love.”
So if there are “issues” with the marriage, it’s probably a simple case of the marriage having been neglected. It has become overgrown with weeds and sucker branches. You need to endure some work in order that you might enjoy the marriage. Like that abandoned and neglected Hollywood Hills mansion, your marriage has lost its luster, and is unappealing, but the potential exists to get it back to its former glory. Again, endure the work to enjoy the marriage. And once you get it back…maintain it! Make the upkeep a priority. A living, breathing entity needs to constantly and consistently be fed, watered, nurtured, etc…and again, according to Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31; and Mark 10:8 your marriage is alive…keep it that way.

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The Selfish Laodecian Church

The church at Philadelphia was giving church bent toward ministry to others:
1. They had a little strength, but willingly offered themselves.
2. They were open to and relied on God’s wisdom to make the best use of what little they had to offer.
3. They put others first.
4. They ministered as God led them, even in the face of opposition and naysayers.
These were probably the biblical principals they lived by:
1. Dying daily (1st Corinthians 15:31)
2. Living for the One who saved them (2nd Corinthians 5:15)
Unlike the Church at Ephesus, the Church at Philadelphia had not left their first love…which was people…
Philadelphia had it right:

1. They loved people enough to give of themselves
2. They ministered to people by putting them first
3. They sought God’s will in ministering most effectively
4. They didn’t quit
The Church at Laodecia was a selfish church that manifested its selfishness in at least three specific ways that we’ll see in a moment.
There was NO ministry. There was NO thought of others. There was NO consultation with God. There was NO sacrifice. There was NO love of others. There was NO concern for others.
Revelation 3:14-21:
A. The Church at Laodecia was a “lukewarm” church, “neither hot nor cold.” (verse 15)
1. May have been hypocritical in their outward lives
2. May have been inconsistent in their daily walk
3. May not have been fully committed to God or the world
4. Unlike the Church at Philadelphia, they didn’t want to sacrifice, be put out, or face difficult situations.
5. They we very willing to turn from satisfying God one minute to focus on satisfying the world the next.
6. On fire for God one moment and cold and indifferent toward the things of God the next.
7. This characterizes the self-preserving, self-serving Christian…which characterized the entire church. They elevated themselves and their well being above God.

B. They told the Lord, “We are rich…materially…we are all set.” (verse 17)
1. The church at Laodecia was indeed a very wealthy church.
2. In or around 60AD, an earthquake devastated the churches at Laodecia and Colassae.
3. Laodecia was able to rebuild itself on what they had amassed without any help from the governing Roman Empire at the time.
4. They probably had lots of nice things in their church being part of such a wealthy community.
5. Their members probably had the means to have lots of toys.
6. There was probably an emphasis on lifestyle and leisure among this wealthy church…they were.
7. Their focus was likely on the here and now.
8. This church was a self-sufficient, self-gratifying, self-supportive church. They did not need God.

C. God said to the church, “Knowest not…?” (verse 17)
1. Wretched—people feel sorry for wretched people. One would NOT want to be wretched.
2. Miserable—people who are miserable are sad and pathetic in their appearance and attitude and the way they carry themselves.
3. Poor—these people lack essential needs. They don’t have the necessary means to provide for those essential needs.
4. Blind—anyone who is blind is either lacking vision, or has NO vision at all if they are completely blind.
5. Naked—in one sense, being naked means one is completely vulnerable. In another sense, being naked is a metaphor for the fact that one has no shame.
6. This indicates to us that the church at Laodecia was a church that did their own self-assessment. They did not see what God saw.

As individuals, how do we measure up to the church at Laodecia?

1. Do we conduct our lives to serve God on a case by case basis ONLY when it’s convenient for us and won’t cause us any undue hardships?
2. Do we live our lives as though we are all set where we are with what we have and thereby live our lives needing nothing from God and having no need to rely on Him for anything?
3. Are we truly unaware of our present state? Do we dare look at the Bible and assess our lives against God’s standards or do we do our own self-assessment to make ourselves look better than we really are?
The church at Philadelphia was a loving and giving and self-sacrificing church.
The church at Laodecia was a selfish, self-serving, self-preserving, self-sufficient, self-satisfying, self-gratifying, self-supportive, self-assessing church.
As a member, how are you helping to define your church?

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As Father’s Day Approaches…

Being the head of anything brings with it much excitement for me.  Usually there’s responsibility, perks, challenges, rewards, and many other things.  As the head, I get to some extent, control people, conditions, environment, etc.  It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a pastor, husband, or dad, it’s expected of you whether you like it or not.  Most of the time I enjoy being a man and being the head of my household, except when I begin thinking of the awesome responsibility I have and the expectations God has for me as the head of my family, for which I will one day have to give an account.  It doesn’t stand to be a very good accounting when I juxtapose my headship to Christ’s example.

And He hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all(Ephesians 1:22-23).  Let’s understand that at the forefront of the study on headship is the need to get the fact down that Christ was set as head of the church by God.  We, the church, are His body.  Christ is head over all the members of that body (Ephesians 4:15-16).  Again, Colossians 1:18 reminds us that, He is the head of the body, the church…that in all things He might have the preeminence.”  But not only does Christ serve as the Head of the church, but He also feeds and nourishes it.  Read Colossians 2:19, “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”  In other words…the church draws strength and nourishment from Christ, and, since we all are members of one body, Christ should be the head of each of us, as we draw strength and nourishment from Him individually.

Now, if you look, there is a hierarchy that extends from the God to Christ to the Church and ultimately to the family.  Study 1st Corinthians 11:1-12 and you’ll see this plain and clear.  Verse 3 pretty much encapsulates everything:  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”  See…God is the Head of Jesus.  Jesus is the Head of the man.  The man is the head of the woman.  Now what’s interesting is that even though those “under” us are to be subject to us, it’s a two-way street my friend.  Jesus was obedient and subject unto God His Father, but God certainly provided His needs throughout His ministry.  We are subject unto Christ’s Headship, but He provided salvation for us through His shed blood on the cross at Calvary.  So too, your wife and children should be subject to your headship, but the same responsibilities Christ has toward you and the rest of His church, are your responsibilities to your own family, and I think I can make that argument clear by taking you to Ephesians 5:23-33.

I’ll not transcribe here the entire text, but I’ll hit a few bullet points to make the case.  “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the Body” (vs. 23).  Husbands and Christ share the same repsonsibilties for their respective bodies…the husband for the family…Christ for the Church.  As Husbands, we’re also expected to sacrifice for our families: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (vs. 25).  Just as Christ “sanctifies and cleanses” His church, we, as husbands and fathers should be watching out for the spiritual well being of our family.  Is there a difference in your family when compared to an unsaved family in your neighborhood?  Christ is working to make His Church body better, we must work on making our family better.  Why work so hard to make our families better?  “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but it should be holy and without blemish” (vs. 27).  We will not be able to bring about total glorification to our families, as that is the sole job of Christ.  But we can help the Lord in the process of sanctification along the way as we lead our families.  Through actions such as prayer and direct involvement with our families, we can help their spiritual growth and development, to help them reach a point of having a testimony of blamelessness before others.  Lastly, according to Ephesians 5:29, we are to “nourish” and “cherish” our families.  We are to feed our families and love our families.  First and foremost we should feed our family spiritually with all God has to offer to us, through daily prayer for the needs of our families.  But the only way we will pray daily for our families is if we cherish and love them.  Our families need to mean as much to us as the Church means to Christ.  Even during those times when our families disappoint us, we can’t turn on them, because Christ’s example is that He doesn’t turn on us when His Church disappoints Him.

There are two scriptures that explain why there are “heads.”  We’ve already looked at Colossians 2:19 earlier.  Ephesians 4:15-16 states:  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ:  From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”  As the heads of the households, we should teach our families the truths of God’s Word and what it is that God expects out of our families.  To be a Christ-like, obedient, and blessed family should be the goal that we have for our families.  Also, we should recognize that each member of our families is important to the functioning of the family as a whole.  We should make it our goal to encourage growth in areas where the family is weak, and utilize and further develop our strengths.  Then, not only will we have stronger families, but stronger churches, and an overall stronger Body of Christ globally.

Another very interesting thing about the head is that it is the only part of the body to hold all five senses:  touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.  In Ephesians 4:15-16 we saw that the head can be responsible for nourishment and growth.  The fact that the head is the only part of the body containing all five senses leads me to believe that the head is also responsible for protecting the body.  Consider the human body.  If we touch something hot, our body will immediately retract from that heat source.  What happens is that a signal is sent from the hand, to the brain, which then processes the information and realizes that there is potential harm and immediately sends signals to the arm to retract the hand away from the source of harm.  That’s what we should do as the heads of our families…we should protect them.

But protection doesn’t mean that you walk around with an attitude of you know best and it’s your way and that’s final!  No, that’s not how our brain works with us.  Before a decision is made by the brain to make the body remove itself from danger, it processes information and makes decisions after input from the other parts of the body.  The brain does not act in an authoritarian and dictatorial mode.  There’s communication between the body and the brain before the brain makes the ultimate decision…all in the best interest of the body.  Incidentally, just like the arm obeys the brain when the brain senses danger; so too should children and other’s subject to the authority in the home, listen to the heads of their respective families, to ensure their physical and spiritual safety (Ephesians 6:1).

As Father’s Day approaches, may we be subject to Christ’s authority and learn from Him, so we can be the proper heads of our families as God intended from the beginning.

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The Church at Philadelphia


In Ephesians 5:23 we find comparisons between the way the church hierarchy is constructed by God and how the family is constructed by God.

Christ is the Head of the Church.

The father is the head of the home.

The church is subject to Christ’s authority while the family is subject to the father’s authority.

Both the family and the church are made up of individual Christians.

Therefore…sometimes…when God says something to a church, it can be applied to the individual person as well.

Israel was a peculiar people set apart for God (Deuteronomy 14:2) and that could be considered God’s original “Church.”

We too are a peculiar people according to Titus 2:14 and again in 1st Peter 2:9.

Paul encapsulates this connection between individual saints and the Nation of Israel (the original “Church”) in 1st Corinthians 10:11…

Keep that in mind as we study the ministry of Philadephia…

Who doesn’t want to minister?

Who doesn’t want God to open doors to minister?

Who doesn’t want to impact another person in a positive way?

Who does not want to be part of God working a miracle?

Revelation 3:7-13…The Church at Philadelphia…

  1. God holds the keys to certain doors (vs 7)
  2. God alone can open and close doors (vs 7&8)
  3. God gave Philadelphia an open door (vs 8)
  4. God opened the door to Philadelphia for three reasons:
    1. They had a little strength
    2. They kept His word
    3. They did not deny His name

Tonight I want to focus on one specific aspect of the Church at Philadelphia…and that is the first point…that they had a little strength.

This was not said in a tone of condemnation at all.

God did not say, “Because you ONLY have a little strength…”

NO, God was GIVING them OPEN DOORS because they had a little strength.  That’s the bare minimum God wanted to see out of His church, and we as individuals…so let’s look at some people…

John 6:1-14… “The feeding of the 5,000”

  1. Open door to minister was given (NOT to the desciples)
    1. They doubted (Philip in verse 7 & Andrew in verse 9)
    2. They dismissed what the boy had to offer as “not enough” (verse 9)
  2. The Open door was given to that boy who had come forward with the “little” he had (verse 9)
    1. In a crowd of over 5000, it’s doubtful the disciples scoured the mass of people looking for what people in the crowd had…assuming they were even willing to share.
    2. With so many adults there, it’s doubtful they would have even looked upon children for food they were unlikely to be carrying.
    3. Jesus knew this boy’s heart and knew he was willing to give to Jesus all he had even though humanly speaking it wasn’t much at all (verse 9)
    4. It’s likely this boy came forward and offered what he had to Jesus through the disciples.
    5. God took that “little” bit of food and ministered miraculously to thousands.

So…Aspect Number One of effectively ministering…you have to be WILLING to give whatever you have, no matter how little.

2nd Kings 4:1-7…The widow’s little bit of oil

The widow had some financial issues.

The creditor was going to take her sons to become slaves to pay off the debt owed to him.

She had not enough money to repay the debt and spare her two sons the horror that awaited them.

All she had was a LITTLE oil in a flask.

She was a godly wife of a godly man who died in “Bible college” while studying under Elisha.

She sought Elisha’s help and he told her to gather up “not a few” empty pots, but to gather MANY.

Then he told her to pour her LITTLE bit of oil out of the flask and into an empty jar…and it filled the jar…it actually multiplied and filled ALL the empty jars she gathered.

In the end there was enough to pay off the debt and to live off of for a considerably long length of time.

Aspect Number Two of ministering is to seek godly counsel or godly wisdom and follow it.  Don’t waste what little you have, as God can work a very visible miracle if you follow His guidance.  Take what little you have and use it as God leads you.

Mark 12:41-44…The widow with the two mites

Jesus is observing very rich people dropping into the treasury very large and significant gobs of money.

One after the next the people come parading in…some maybe even trying to better the one that went before them.

It was a show of opulence for OTHERS to see and make themselves feel important as the givers of such great gifts.

It was also an opportunity for these rich men to flaunt their wealth so as to make others envious of them and want to be like them some day.

This was a very carnal and selfish act that took place by many that were there that day…except for this woman…

All she did was meekly and humbly with a spirit of humility come and offer 2 mites…hardly anything compared to what was given if you quantify its face value.

But it was WAY more in relative value because the Bible tells us it was ALL that she had.  She gave every last LITTLE mite she had to the treasury.

Aspect Number Three of ministering…others first.  Ministering may mean having to be put out for a while.  Can’t buy food and clothing with no money…but she took no thought to that!!!

1st Samuel 17:32-50 “The little shepherd boy”

The mighty fighting men of Israel were getting whooped by the Philistines.

Goliath was taunting the frightened Israelites…and they fled in fear (verse 24).

David basically stood there and rebuked the captains of the Israeli army (verse 26).

Eliab, his brother rebuked David and accused him of being prideful and questioned his motives (verse 28).

One by one the people sided with the army and Eliab (verse 30).

David now faced Saul who didn’t really offer much encouragement to David…because he was LITTLE (verse 33).

Even Goliath took verbal shots at David (verse 42-43).

Goliath threatened him (verse 44).

Then comes David’s response to the verbal onslaught he took (verse 45-47).

David prevailed (verse 49-50).

Aspect Number Four…If God told you to do it, He will get out of what little you have to offer, whatever it is that He wants…just trust in Him the way David’s faith held firm against the naysayers.

So whether you have a little strength (like the Church at Philadelphia) or you have a little money, or a little time, or a little talent in an area…no matter what, God is able to perform miracles if we keep in mind the following we just learned about…

  1. Be willing to give that little bit to God like the boy and his lunch.
  2. Be willing to follow godly counsel and follow it so as to do the right thing with what little you have to ensure it doesn’t go to waste the way the godly woman sought godly advice from Elisha…the prophet of God.
  3. Be willing to be put out for ministering, but keep others first, the way the widow did when she gave away her whole life worth in one shot.
  4. Be willing to trust God even in the face of opposition and people trying to discourage you from ministering and making you feel like what you have to offer is insignificant, the way David just trusted and called out his God before everyone.
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Eliminating Needless Stress

Stress!!!  We laugh about it to ourselves and to our closest friends.  Some people actually brag about their stress as though it were a badge of honor.  Some people will even squabble with each other over who has the most stressful life.  We find posters amusing that show a completely frazzled person on the verge of a breakdown with the caption reading:  “God didn’t do it all in one day…what makes me think I can!”  In our fast-paced life, we have stress put upon us just by the mere fact that we exist.  That kind of stress is not easily controlled, but, how we let it affect us is within our control.  But the other aspect of stress that we have extreme control over is the stress that we put upon ourselves!

Too many of us have needless stress in our lives…and it’s our own fault.  As a child, we worried (a form of stress) that we wouldn’t get the presents we so desired for our birthday.  As we grew, and matured, we stressed over getting good grades to get into the college we wanted.  While at college, we stressed over finding a mate, and then graduating and eventually fearing going off into the real world.  Once on our own, we stressed about marrying our college sweetheart, finding a job, buying a house, trading in that car that we abused during our college days, and settling into suburbia.  Once we finally got to where we wanted to be…we stressed over what it takes to maintain that lifestyle.  We were willing to work hard, but we stressed over whether or not our company was stable and our jobs secure.  Would we be laid off?  Then, children entered the mix and the stress was ratcheted up several notches higher.  Multiple children meant multiple trips to multiple activities all in the same day, with overlapping schedules!  The cycle goes full circle now.  As your children go through school and college, you find yourself experiencing stress over their struggles with the same things you stressed about when you were their age.  Only now, the disappointment you’ll feel FOR them is ten times worse than any disappointment you stressed over for yourself.  What a life cycle…oh yeah… then you die!

In 2009, a Southwest airline 737 was at 30,000 feet when the roof of the fuselage peeled back from the plane, causing an immediate depressurization forcing an emergency landing.  The culprit was tiny STRESS fractures that were barely noticeable upon inspection.  Several planes in the 737 fleet worldwide were found to have these stress fractures.  Stress affects our body in negative ways as well.  Without getting into too much physiological detail, stress can cause stomach ulcers, irritable bowels, high blood pressure, strokes (caused from the high blood pressure), headaches, changes in your mental status and behavior, heart attacks, and several psychological phenomena including conversion disorder, panic attacks, general anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders brought on by feelings of learned helplessness (when the stress controls you and you give up).

In the Bible, the word stress is not used.  Though, we can find several stories of people experiencing stress, or being in stressful situations.  Some of these people handled the stressful situation well…without stressing themselves, while others seemingly created their own stress.  The difference between these two groups of people was whether or not they involved God in their stressful situation.  I’ll give you four examples (albeit very brief) of people who did not involve God in their stressful situations, and went in “alone,” with not so good outcomes, and I’ll show you three examples of people who had positive experiences to stressful situations by involving God.

In Luke 10:38-42, Martha had invited Jesus into her home to sit with Mary and herself.  Martha began feeling that cleaning the house was more important than taking time to rest, listen and hear Him teach them.  She was stressing so much over this, that she got mad at Mary for not helping and then scolded the Lord over allowing Mary to remain seated while Martha did all the work.  Martha’s stress, like many of us, was caused by misplaced priorities.

In Mark 5:35-41, the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and He asked them to take Him to the other side.  Suddenly, a storm arose and the disciples feared for their lives.  Feeling like your life is in danger is probably the most stressful situation you can be in.  This storm, that the Lord knew was coming, caused them stress because of their lack of faith.  We will have trials that will not take the Lord by surprise, and He’s willing to help us…if we just show some faith.

In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus had sent the disciples out to sea while He went and prayed.  Again, a different storm arose.  Jesus then appeared to them, walking atop the water.  Peter saw this and pleaded with the Lord to let him walk on the water to meet with Jesus.  A miracle was performed and Peter was doing something that was not humanly possible apart from the Lord’s help.  Then, because Peter momentarily lost faith, his life, again, was in peril.  We oftentimes beg God for miraculous help on our behalf, only to doubt our ability to continue doing this seemingly impossible task, in the Lord’s strength.  We then find ourselves faltering, floundering, and going under.  All the while, we get stressed about it.

In 1st Samuel 21, we find that David was running for his life from Saul.  He backslid so far that he found himself living among his enemies, acting like a madman, sinking to disgraceful lows, to protect himself.  Imagine the stress of trying to protect yourself from those who want to kill you by living a less than godly life among your enemies.  This was brought on by David himself through the telling of two lies earlier, as he fled Saul.  Sometimes we cause our own stress through the sinful acts we commit.

Those were the negatives.  Let’s now focus on the positives!

In 1st Samuel, at a better time in David’s life, while Saul was seeking to kill him, very early on, David relied on God and God made sure that David had an ally who helped him to escape.  David was able to flee, thanks to the help God had provided to him, in the man of Jonathan.  What I want to point out here, though, is the fact that David still found himself in a stressful situation (his life was in danger).  The source of this stress was that David was living a godly life and being blessed greatly, which made others bitter toward him, especially Saul, who was extremely jealous.  Sometimes we’ll find that people will cause us grief because they are jealous of us, and we are doing nothing more than what God wants us to do.  If that’s the case, don’t fret.  God will bring you people to help you get past the hurtful and mean things those who are jealous of you may want to bring upon you.

In Daniel 3:15-30, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego underwent the stress of potentially losing their lives for refusing to go against their moral convictions.  Their faith in God, however, was stellar.  They essentially told King Nebuchadnezzar that God would spare them their lives, and if not, they would be with Him in Heaven.  They had such faith, that they believed they could have the best of both worlds…having their earthly lives spared or moving on to eternal life with the Lord.  Like these three, we need to realize that if we stick to obeying godly principals, precepts, and commands, we may find ourselves in stressful situations, but God will reward us in one way or another, in front of our persecutors…and it may just draw them to the Lord.

In Daniel 6:1-28, Daniel was faced with a similar situation.  Politically, Daniel was elevated to a high position in Darius’s kingdom.  His life was in danger because he refused to put the laws of man ahead of the laws of God when they conflicted.  His stress was caused by making the Lord truly his Lord.  We’re not going to have an easy time of it in this life, while boldly speaking out against those things which our government decrees that go clearly against the Bible.  Though Daniel nearly lost his life in the lion’s den, we may face the stress of losing our job for refusing to pick up extra time on Sunday, at the boss’ request, so you can attend church.  But again, if we have the faith that Daniel displayed, it will go a long way in ministering to your boss, especially if you are favored by your boss for being a good, godly, and trustworthy employee.  Just like Daniel’s king hated being forced to throw Daniel in the lion’s den, so too may your boss be torn over the thought of firing you.  Trust God like Daniel did, and put nothing ahead of God.

Do you know what one of the consequences can be of succumbing to stress and anxiety?  Remember Martha who was “troubled about many things?”  Because she did not take the time to learn from the Lord that day, she probably missed out on some important teachings that would have helped her to grow spiritually.  Just like the parable of the sower and the seed in Mark 9, the “cares of this world” are one of the things in verse 19 that will stunt spiritual development.  The unsaved will hear the gospel, but be too preoccupied with their busy lives to give it much thought.  Whether Martha was a saved lady at this point, or one that the parable spoke of, stress and anxiety will stunt any spiritual growth.  The unsaved may remain unsaved while the saved will remain unfruitful babes.

Philippians 4:6 wants us to worry about nothing!  But in everything (storms, trials, disappointments, fearful times, and any other stressful situation) we must pray to God for our needs to be met.  Needs, such as help to get through the trial in a godly manner that glorifies the Lord, is one thing we should pray for.  But, we must be thankful at the same time.  Thankful that we have a God that wants to hear our prayers, and answer our prayers.  If we do that, and we pray believing, God’s peace will keep our hearts and minds in ways that the unsaved will not understand.  So as the economy continues to teeter on the edge, and you are worried about finding a job, bring these anxieties to God and find peace in the fact that He is in control of everything in this world.  Cast all your care upon God for He cares for you (1st Peter 5:7).

When you’re called on to minister to someone in need and you don’t know what to say, or your asked to defend your faith, don’t worry about it because God’s got it under control (Matthew 10:19).  Don’t worry about the basic necessities of life like food and clothing, because God’s got that all figured out as well (Matthew 6:25-28).  If you worry, again, your spiritual growth will be thwarted (Luke 8:4; Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22).

Let’s wrap this up by looking at the Apostle Paul.  In 2nd Corinthians 11:28, we find, at the end of a long list of stressful things, Paul had a healthy concern for the churches.  Even a noble thing like genuine concern for the brethren can be stressful.  The Apostle Paul had many reasons to be stressed…but he never succumbed to the stress.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2nd Corinthians 8-9).  Paul knew exactly what to do with the stress he encountered.  Therefore I take pleasures in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN AM I STRONG” (2nd Corinthians 12:10).

Paul looked at his stressful situations as an opportunity to magnify the Lord.  Paul knew that getting distressed, depressed, or anxious over the stress in his life would have diminished God to the others he was ministering to.  I guess that’s the point to make in all of this.  We shouldn’t get overcome by the stresses in our lives.  We have a God that is in control of everything, including what’s stressing us.  He is able to sustain us and see us through.  But if we fall prey to the stress in our lives, we diminish God in front of the very people whom we are trying to minister to.  That will be a lousy testimony, and the greatness of God will be hidden…that’s the point I’d like to STRESS!!!

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The “Mind Games” of Christianity

Romans 12:1-2 clearly teaches that there is a mental aspect to being a godly Christian.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  It’s our mind that plays a key role in keeping us holy, and helps us avoid adopting a lifestyle of the world.

If we adopt a lifestyle of the world, we will have a hard time fellowshipping with God and living any kind of life that would be worthy of His blessings.  James 4:4 gives the reason why, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  Whether that is the mindset of an individual or an entire family, we risk being disqualified from receiving the blessings of God, as it’s likely that God won’t bless His enemies.

The “Promised Land” that was promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis, was a very real, physical land that would flow with milk and honey, and was meant to be enjoyed in this earthly life by the Israelites.  This Promised Land was a place where they could live and enjoy the continued blessings of God.  But it is also a place that Christian families can enjoy today, only on a different level.  However, the same stipulations given to Israel for entering and enjoying the Promised Land still hold true today. We have to draw parallels to the Nation of Israel and our family to see what God expected out of that group of people and apply it to what God still expects out of your family…a smaller, but similar, people group.

We have to remember that God promised this land to the forefathers of Israel, but it was only available to those Israelites who were redeemed from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt (a picture of Satan).  Through the deliverance of Moses (a picture of Jesus, our deliverer), and under the power of God, Israel was redeemed from the bondage of slavery (sin) and set free.  God had freed the Israelites from a horrific life under the rule of Pharaoh, and set them on a path to get to the Promised Land (blessings).  The only stipulation to entering the Promised Land was obedience.  That was all.  Follow God.  Obey God.  Trust God.  This was available only for saved people.  We, as Christians, have been set free from the bondage of sin, under the power and rule of Satan.  Now, we are able to pursue our Promised Land because of the fact that we are saved.

Sadly, a journey that should have taken less than two weeks to get to the Promised Land, took forty years instead.  Imagine that!  Forty years it took Israel to reach the threshold of the Promised Land.  In a family, that is enough time for babies to be born, and those children to be raised up to adults, to have their own children.  If we’re not careful, we can forfeit God’s Promised Blessings on our families for potentially two whole generations (or more really).  Imagine raising your children for twenty years and then enjoying your grandchildren for the next twenty years, all the while missing out on God blessing your family the way He wants to because your family just isn’t being and living the way it should, and therefore isn’t worthy of God’s blessings.  What a wasted opportunity!!!

But back to the role the mind plays in all of this.  The mind is where most sin and disobedience starts.  For example, if we’re not careful, our minds jump right to a myriad of inappropriate things that only a fool would share out loud:  “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11).  After what does a wise man keep his words in, you may ask.  After he brings into captivity every thought to the OBEDIENCE of Christ (2nd Corinthians 10:5).  In other words, this wise person is not controlled by his mind, but rather controls his mind. This man can then practice the command in James 1:19, to be “…slow to speak…”  And obedience to this brings blessings, such as, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stirreth up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).  And what’s more of a blessing, holding your tongue and controlling your mind before you speak, thereby avoiding an argument, or shooting your mouth off impulsively and stirring up anger and getting into a fight?  I’d say being obedient to the command to think before we speak brings the blessing of peace in our interpersonal relationships.

The mind will lead us to sin, and Jesus knew this when He was giving His sermon of the mount.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus goes beyond warning His followers to not commit physical adultery, but also to not even look upon another woman in lust, as that will get the MIND going to places it shouldn’t.  Once the mind is involved, it becomes very easy to obsess over the thoughts one is having and eventually those thoughts may lead us to commit the very physical act of adultery.  Consider another example in 1st John 3:15 where we are told under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that if we hate our brother, we are guilty of murder.  Why?  The reason is that if we think about those feelings of hate against another, it becomes a very small step to committing the actual act of killing that person (for some people).  Another example of the mind leading us to sin is in the Ten Commandments where we are asked not to steal, and then later on, not to covet.  Coveting, or wanting something that is not ours, may eventually lead us to want to steal it to have it for ourselves.  Our minds have the capability of obsessing, and those obsessive thoughts can lead us to commit the actions most explicitly forbidden by God in the Old Testament and Christ in the New Testament.

The heart and mind in many cases are virtually synonymous.  Consider these following verses.  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7a).  “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  Whether or not the mind and heart are synonymous in every instance is up for debate (though I do believe there is a small but distinct difference), but CERTAINLY, the mind plays a key role in controlling the heart, whatever the “heart” is.  And in some cases, the mind makes decisions that the heart is not even involved in. I, myself personally, believe the heart is actually the portion of our minds that is capable of being in tuned with the Holy Spirit’s influence.  The part of the mind ruled by the conscience is what I believe the heart is in the Scriptures.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, God stated, “Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever.”  I believe that in this verse, the heart is referring to the part of the mind that is influenced by the Holy Spirit.  In Romans Chapter Seven, Paul talks about not doing the things he wants to do, and doing the things he doesn’t want to do.  There are clearly opposing influences at work here.  Perhaps the mind refers to the fleshly aspect of our capacities to make decisions, where as the heart refers to the spiritual aspect of our capacities to make the correct, God honoring, God obeying decisions…like what He is looking for in Deuteronomy 5:29.

James 4:8 reads, “Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  It almost appears that the mind, according to James, can not only flip-flop in decision making, but also be very much responsible for leading the person to sin.  Very different than Deuteronomy 5:29, where God asks us to obey with our hearts.  So, again, I believe that the heart is the decision making mechanism within us that is influenced by the Holy Spirit and is directed by our conscience…our minds, it would appear, are not that way at all.

Perhaps that is why in Moses’ discourse on the threshold of the Promised Land in Deuteronomy Four, he warned about the use of the mind.  See, Moses knew the mind wasn’t all bad.  It’s the first place information gets processed and the mind is also responsible for remembering.  It is part of the God-created body.  So it isn’t all bad.  In fact, if used properly, it can work WITH the heart.  In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses pleads with Israel, “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou FORGET the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life…”  In Deuteronomy 4:23, Moses basically implores Israel the same way, “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye FORGET the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.”  In other words, when the mind starts going, and the tendency is for your mind to lead you to sin, take a moment to stop and think.

In the wilderness, Israel had seen with their own eyes God’s blessings upon their nation for obedience and God’s chastisement upon them for disobedience.  In chapters one through three of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds them of all the things God has done to them and for them as a result of either their obedience or disobedience from Egypt to the shores of the Jordan River.  Chapter four of Deuteronomy is Moses’ call for obedience once inside the Promised Land, so they will be able to enjoy all of the things God has brought them there to enjoy…a land filled with continuous blessings.  A state of being constantly blessed, but for obedience to God’s statutes, and precepts, and principles, and laws.

What Moses knew about the mind back then still holds true today.  Our mind will have the tendency to make us act impulsively and can, in many cases, lead us to sin.  That is why today, before we act, we must do two things.  First, we must stop and pause a moment and evaluate if what we are thinking about doing violates our conscience, and would our heart want us doing those things.  Remember, the mind can lead to physical adultery, stealing, and murder in extreme cases.  The heart doesn’t want us doing any of those things.  Therefore, acting on the thoughts created in our minds act contrary to our heart and conscience and the Holy Spirit’s urgings…therefore…we must bring every one of those wrong thoughts and conform them to the obedience of Christ (2nd  Corinthians 10:5).

Secondly, we must utilize the mind’s capacity to remember.  If we pause to remember all that we have personally seen or experienced first hand, or at least heard about second hand, all the things God has done as a result of obedience or disobedience, it will help us put those thoughts into conformity with the way Jesus would have thought…and eventually done.  And once our minds are in conformity with what Christ would do, the next step is to actually do what Jesus would have done…not sin.  According to 2nd Corinthians 5:21, Jesus never sinned and it’s spoken of Him in John 8:29 that He always pleased His Father.

The takeaway for this lesson is this.  Think before you act.  Don’t dwell on fantasies or daydreams of sinful acts, as that’s a slippery slope to sin.  Be sensitive to whether or not what you are thinking of doing violates your conscience.  If it does, bring your mind’s thoughts in line with the intents of the heart.  Lastly, use your mind’s capacity to remember all the times you personally received a blessing from God and suffered chastisement from God, and that will help you make the right decision.  Once the right decision is made, act upon that decision accordingly.

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