CHANGE YOUR WORLD

Do not love the world.  -1 John 2:15 NAS

John writes, “Do not love the world.” But what does that mean?

First, let’s look at what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly use. Loving the Lord more doesn’t mean loving those around you less; or feeling awkward around them; or losing touch with them; or not knowing how to communicate with them; or alienating them by giving off signals that you are somehow spiritually superior to them. If “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co 2:16) shouldn’t we be as attractive to a lost world as Jesus was?

As the world of finance, politics, education and entertainment, etc. gets more off track, we have 2 choices: condemn it or influence it! Become what we’re supposed to be—light! It’s the end of the game and Jesus, the head coach, is calling His best players onto the field. Isaiah the prophet spoke into the lives of kings. The 3 Hebrew children changed the politics of Babylon. Joseph the economist saved Egypt from famine. Yes, Satan is at work taking Christ out of Christmas, prayer out of schools, and God out of government. But he won’t win, and he knows it. His strategy, however, is to convince you that he can win. He doesn’t want you to see the real battle between light and darkness. He doesn’t want you to feel a sense of urgency and personal responsibility. But the God who promised to “crush Satan under your feet” is raising up an army of spirit-empowered believers who will demonstrate what it’s like to live in a different kingdom. Will you be part of His army?



WINNING THE BATTLE

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 NIV

How can you win in the unrelenting battle between your flesh and your spirit?

(1) By acknowledging that there is a battle! Your flesh will always crave satisfaction in the very things God hates. This age-old civil war rages on. Your flesh never takes a holiday.

(2) By admitting that you are powerless to win without God’s help! By consciously submitting to God you draw on His strength in the first moments of each test. And your ability to do that will grow as you keep practicing this spiritual discipline. The closer you draw to God, the stronger you become when faced with temptation.

(3) By deciding that self-discipline is a personal matter! You can depend on no one else to develop it for you. Paul writes, “I run.. .1 box…l discipline my body” (I CO 9:26-27 NAS). This is something only you can do. If someone else has to restrain you, it doesn’t work!

(4) By understanding that ignoring the consequences invites disaster! Lack of self-discipline will inevitably lead to embarrassment for you, and those you love. So before you indulge, consider the fallout!

In ICO 9:27 Paul speaks about being “disqualified.” What does that mean? It means losing respect in the eyes of others. It means limiting God’s ability to use you for His purposes. It means hurting the cause of Christ in the eyes of a world that’s always watching. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet said to him, “By doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt” (2Sa 12:14 NIV).

Want to win the battle? Keep these things in mind!



FAMILY MATTERS (4)

 
No one can come to me, unless the Father… makes them want to come . . . John 6:44 CEV

Coming home from a bar late one night a young man got on a bus where he encountered his very self-righteous aunt. Caustically, she said, “Do you know you’re headed straight to hell?” “Oh dear,” he said, “Don’t tell me I’m on the wrong bus tonight again!” Seriously, we all want our families to share our faith, but it can’t be forced. Jesus said, “You’re not in charge. . . The Father.. .draws people.. -that’s the only way [they’ll] ever come” (Jn 6:44 TM). Does that mean you should stop praying for them? Of course not! But despite your prayers and best efforts there may still be family members who decide not to follow Jesus, and some of those who do may join other denominations. Throughout history countless wars have been fought over religion; don’t turn your home into a combat zone as well As former French First Lady Yvonne de Gaulle once said, “Even the presidency is temporary, but family is permanent!”

You don’t have to condone somebody’s lifestyle in order to let them know you love them and are committed to them. But don ‘t withhold acceptance from those who’ve been good to you just because they don’t worship God the way you do. Maybe they haven’t always made the wisest choices, but when the chips are down, chances are, they are the ones who’ll be there for you. Don’t beat them over the head with the Bible; just live it by setting an example they’ll want to follow. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up.. .1 will draw all people” (Jn 12:32 NCV). Instead of tearing your family apart, make your faith the glue that holds it together.

 

It’s So Bad

The economy is so bad that: I received a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

CEO’s are now playing miniature golf.

A large corporation laid off 25 Congressmen.

A celebrity adopted a child from America.

They renamed “Wall Street” the name of a large well known retail store.

A motel will not leave the light on anymore and a picture is now only worth 200 words



FAMILY MATTERS (3)

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  -Ephesians 4:26 NLT

God doesn’t deny us the right to our emotions, but He does hold us accountable for how we handle them. For example, it’s never okay to abuse those He’s entrusted to your care. Paul said, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.. .anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Satan would like nothing better than to gain an entry point into your home, then turn it into a living hell. And every time you fly into a rage you lose ground to him. Hot words don’t result in cool judgment. Solomon said, “A hot temper shows great foolishness” (Pr 14:29 NLT). The key to managing your anger is in finding ways to express it so it doesn’t end up in an explosion. It’s okay to share your feelings, but you must do it the right way. Ultimately the issue is not about who’s right or wrong, (or who can yell the loudest), it’s about finding the answer that’s best for everyone. Nobody can be everything you want them to be, all the time. It’s impossible to have a long-term, loving relationship without learning to accept human weakness. So instead of dwelling on one another’s shortcomings, focus on your collective strength as a family. Clinical psychologist Dr. Paul

Pearsall says, “Most of us would give our lives for a family member. Yet too often we live our daily life as if we take our families for granted.” Learn to control your temper; your family’s worth it. After all, who else loves you regardless of what you do? And where else can you find the comfort that comes from such a support system?

 

“A Senior’s Ode to medication”…..A row of bottles on my shelf caused me to analyze myself. One yellow pill I have to pop goes to my heart so it won’t stop. A little white one that I take goes to my hands so they won’t shake. The little blue ones that I take a lot….tell me I’m happy when I’m not. Some capsules tell me not to wheeze or cough or choke or even sneeze. The red ones, smallest of them all goes to my blood so I won’t fall. The orange ones, very big and bright prevent my leg cramps in the night. Such an array of brilliant pills, helping to cure all kinds of ills. But what I’d really like to know is……what tells each one where to go!  Really?. I would like to leave you with this one piece of advice and it is IMPORTANT!””””’Do not take a sleeping pill and an laxative and turn in for the night. You will be sorry.



FAMILY MATTERS (2)

Bearing with one another in love… Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV

Nearing the end of his life when he should have been preparing to bless his sons, Simeon and Levi, Jacob told them: “I.. .curse.. .you because of your.. .angef’ (Gen 49:7 CEV). But their behavior should have been no surprise; after all, the apple never falls far from the tree! The fact is, Jacob had already shaped them by his own example when he deceived his father (See Gen 27) and his father-in-law (See Gen 30), and his mother facilitated the deception. Behavioral patterns are passed from generation to generation, and “a house divided against itself will fall” (Lk 11:17 NIV). Mom, Dad, your actions and attitudes will either bless or blight your children. So “Teach [them].. .the right path” (Pr 22:6 TLB). Otherwise they’ll in-

herit more than just your eye color, they’ll end up with your emotional disposition and volatility!

Don’t involve your children in your marital disputes. Solomon warned, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecc 7:9 NKJV). Your kids are an easy target for your misdirected rage. Even when your emotional outbursts aren’t aimed toward them, they still suffer the effects. For example, your boss reprimands you at work, and because you can’t retaliate you come home like a bear with a headache and make

everybody walk on eggshells. Even if that’s what you experienced growing up—you’re not a child any more. Lower the decibel level! Don’t let your anger run amok. David prayed, “Watch over…my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to…evil” (Ps 141:3-4 NIV). And James says, “Submit. ..to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). That’s the only way you’ll ever change the steps in your family dance.



FAMILY MATTERS (1)

Keep the unity of the Spirit. – Ephesians 4:2-3 NKJV

When it’s easier to talk to outsiders than it is to your own family, something’s wrong. Your family should be a support system—a safety net to catch you when you fall. We like to envision “family” as a hard-working dad, a stay-at-home mom, 2 children, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. But for many people family means money problems, troubled kids and warring spouses. That’s why Paul writes: “Walk… with.. .longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.. .keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It takes a big dose of grace to make it all work! So, start praying for your kids, instead of just setting boundaries that create distance between you when you don’t see eye to eye. You won’t always agree, but you must learn to respect each other. When God said, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Pr 22:6 NIV), He didn’t say what qualifies as “old,” or when your investment would start paying off. Every family has its ups and downs. And every family tree produces a few nuts! In fact, sometimes the best part is underground! But if you bail out when things get tough you’ll miss the rewards you’d have gotten by hanging on. Often the child that blesses you most is the one who didn’t reflect your views, married someone you don’t like, and doesn’t invite you over to dinner! In the long run none of that matters because your family is a life-long investment. What’s important is to love and support one another unconditionally right now.



DIRECT ACCESS

We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens. -Hebrews 4:14 NAS

Once a year Israel’s High Priest would walk through the 2 outer areas of the temple and go into the “Holy of Holies” to obtain pardon for the people’s sins. There were many priests, but only the High Priest could do this. The Bible says that Jesus, our High Priest, passed through the Heavens and entered the Holy Place in the heavenly temple to offer a “once-for-all time” sacrifice for our sins (See Heb 9:24-26).

Jesus passed through the first Heaven, which we call the atmosphere; then the second Heaven, which we refer to as outer space; then into the presence of God, or the third Heaven. Now, if you’re living on earth, what you want to do in prayer is get into the third Heaven where God’s throne is. The problem is, we can’t get there unless someone takes us.

One day during the Civil War a soldier sat on a bench outside the White House looking distressed. A little boy came by and asked him what was wrong. The soldier said he needed to see President Lincoln but the guards wouldn’t let him in. Hearing this, the boy took him by the hand and led him directly into the President’s office. “Father,” he said, “this soldier really needs to speak with you.” That boy was the President’s son, who had direct and continuous access to his father.

Because Jesus, the Son of God, is related to the Father, He can bypass all the stuff that blocks us. That’s why when we pray in Jesus’ name, we have direct access to God, are automatically welcome in His presence, and get our needs met.



STAND UP TO IT!

There came a lion.  – 1 Samuel 17:34

One day a woman was waiting for a bus in a dangerous neighborhood when a rookie cop asked, “Do you want me to wait with you, Miss?” “No thanks, I’m not afraid,” she replied. “Then,” he grinned, “Would you mind waiting with me?” We all have things that make our palms sweat and our hearts race; God never said we wouldn’t experience the all-too-real emotion of fear. But He keeps saying: “Fear not.” Why? Because He wants you to confront your fear. So while you’re asking God to remove your mountain, He wants to give you the courage to conquer it! Michel de Montaigne said, “He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.” You move from being a victim to a victor by facing your fears head on, not fleeing from them. The Bible says “Fear involves torment” (IJn 4:18 NKJV). Your fears can actually immobilize you. And they’re going to keep attacking you, so you must contjnually face them down. The other option is to bury your fears alive, allow them to erode your mental, emotional and physical health and destroy your relationships. Paul says: “God did not give us a spirit of… [fear] *but.. .of power.. .and self-control” (See 2 Tim 1:7 AMP).

Remember in the Old Testament that while David was guarding his sheep “there came a lion?” In God’s strength he defeated it, plus a bear, and later he overthrew the giant Goliath. Now that lion was just opportunity in disguise. If David had wavered or run, he’d have missed his chance to become king of Israel. So when a lion comes into your life recognize it for what it is: an opportunity from God—and stand up to it!



THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS (4)

In a sense, gratitude is an expression of modesty. In Hebrew,

the word for gratitude – hoda’ah – is the same as the word for

confession. To offer thanks is to confess dependence, to

acknowledgment that others have the power to benefit you, to

admit that your life is better because of their efforts. That

frame of mind is indispensable to civilized society.

 

Be thankful. Don’t take the gifts in your life for granted.

Remember – as the Pilgrims remembered – that we are

impoverished without each other, and without God. Whoever

and wherever you are this Thanksgiving, the good in your life

outweighs the bad. If that doesn’t deserve our gratitude, what

does?

 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000



THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS (3)

If you never give a moment’s thought to the fact that your

health is good, that your children are well-fed, that your home

is comfortable, that your nation is at peace, if you assume that

the good things in your life are ”normal” and to be expected,

you diminish the happiness they can bring you. By contrast, if

you train yourself to reflect on how much worse off you could

be, if you develop the custom of counting your blessings and

being grateful for them, you will fill your life with cheer.

 

It can be hard to do. Like most useful skills, it takes years of

practice before it becomes second nature. This is one reason,

Prager writes, that religion, sincerely practiced, leads to

happiness – it ingrains the habits of thankfulness. People who

thank God before each meal, for example, inoculate gratitude in

themselves. In so doing, they open the door to gladness.

 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000




 

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