Archive for the ‘choices’ Category

Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said,

Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.

– 2 Kings 5:5

Sometimes, our problems will cause us to go to extreme measures to get relief.  We will be so desperate for a solution that we will take advice from unlikely sources and end up in unlikely places in hope of a healing.

11 But Naaman became furious, and went away . . .’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

– 2 Kings 5:11-12

What Naaman received did not meet his expectations.  For all of his high hopes for a healing, he received some simplistic instructions.  In fact, he was not even granted an audience with the prophet.  According to verse 10, “And Elisha sent a messenger to him. . .” as he stood outside of Elisha’s doorway.  Naaman had expected some form of royal reception after all that he had gone through to get there.

13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

-2 Kings 5:13-14

Although Naaman was hardened by the reception and the proposed remedy, he responded accordingly after some prodding and pleading by his own servants.  He did as instructed.  His flesh was restored.  he received his healing after all.

What can we learn from this?

God can bless us with something simple that we might try to complicate.  God may not want us to jump through hoops for what He has for us.  He may just want to see our faith in action.

We have a choice today.  We can be hardened or we can be healed.

What will be your choice today?

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And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’
  -1 Samuel 24:5-10 (ESV)

David had an open opportunity to get his revenge.  Saul literally walked right into his hands.  In verse 4, David’s men shared how such a divine opportunity was laid upon David.  Truthfully, David was within his right to take Saul out right there in that cave.

Saul had it coming.  He had chased David throughout the kingdom.  He hurt those who had helped David.  He had killed others who had hidden or provided supplies or food for David.  King Saul sought to kill David.  King Saul hunted down his son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Michal, and desired to see him dead.  He did all of that out of envy and rage, seeking to destroy David and forcing David to hide in caves.

David refused to take revenge.  He had the opportunity.  It presented itself to him.  He saw the opportunity and neared it, daring to cut a slice from Saul’s robe as he relieved himself.  David did not slit the king’s throat.  He just cut part of the king’s robe.  David exercised restraint rather than take revenge.

Do we do the same? Do we hold back or do we go for the jugular? Do we restrain ourselves when vengeance emerges as an opportunity? If not, we could.  Better yet, we should.  We should restrain ourselves.

The choices that we face can cause us some real agony.  If we are not careful, we will find ourselves led by the wrong spirit and doing the wrong thing.  Revenge does not do anything positive for us that will last beyond the immediate moment.  Exercise restraint.

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21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
   if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
   and the LORD will reward you.
– Proverbs 25:21-20 (ESV)

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
– Luke 6:27-28 (NKJV)

As a Christian, you have some options.  You do as the Lord says or not. 

That sounds crazy.  I know it does. 

It doesn’t make any sense, though. I know that it doesn’t make one bit of sense.

However, that is how some brothers and sisters choose to live out their daily lives.  They wear the label of a Christian, but they live without Christ as Lord in their lives.  There are some who are glad and overjoyed to be saved, but surely don’t want to miss out on anything that the world has to offer and reject His sanctification.  They want restoration without repentance.  They want salvation without the Savior.  Don’t even bring up sin, “backslider” or any term related to sinfulness.

We have some real choices to make.  They are some tough choices, too.

Jesus didn’t make it sound any easier, either.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?– Luke 6:46 (KJV)

In other words, the Lord simply wants to know what’s up with that.  He wants to know why do we say this and we don’t do what He says.  Why call Him “Lord,” if you do not mean it or intend to even act like it? Why? What’s up with that?

Either we live righteous by doing as He says or we live by doing what we think, feel and imagine to be “right” to us based on a variety of things in and on our agendas.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
-Matthew 7:22-23 (KJV)

We have some choices to make.  Let’s do all that we can to make the choices that lead to paths towards His righteousness and nothing less.

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 10 Hear the word of the LORD,
   you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
   you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
   what are they to me?” says the LORD.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
   of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
   in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
   who has asked this of you,
   this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
   Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
   I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
   I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
   I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
   I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
   I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!

Isaiah 1:10-15 (NIV)

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, the Lord was not pleased with the condition of Israel.  He shared his deepest sentiments regarding her sacrifices and offerings to Him.  He was truly displeased.  In fact, at one point in verses 16 and 17, of the same chapter, He says for the disobedient nation to wash and “learn to do right.” The Lord was truly offended by all that Israel tried to do outwardly without any sign of inward change.

This is for those who may not have heard it before today.  It is for those who my never have read where the Lord calls His people harlots and idol-worshipers.  This is for you just in case you never heard such things from God Almighty in His Word. 

It can also serve as a reminder for those who have heard or read it, but they somehow forgot that they ever heard or read them before.  It should help convict and reprove those who know better to do better.  Let it serve as a strong reminder to all that God will not stand our disobedience and defiance for long.  Turn from your ways and start doing things God’s way.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
   says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
   they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
   you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
   you will be devoured by the sword.”
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)

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Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. – Genesis 26: 1 (KJV)
Issac experienced a “famine in the land” similar to what his father experienced.  It drove him away from home.  God warned him to not go to Egypt in verse 2.  He ended up in Gerar.  He ended up in a similar situation to the one experienced by his father during a famine, and he ended up doing something similar to his father in how he handled it.

We have to see that what Abraham did as Abram had a legacy effect on his son.  Did he share about his challenges during the famine? Did he tell his son that things got mishandled when he told his wife to say that she was his sister? I don’t know.  Commentaries may make assumptions, but I truly don’t know.  Theologians may take a stab at some hermeneutic line of inquiry, but we were not there and we don’t know.
What we do know is that Isaac repeated his father’s flaws.  Isaac repeated his father’s faults.  Isaac repeated his father’s failures.

He may not have been his father, but he didn’t have to repeat it.  It wasn’t something that he had to do.  We all could use our parents and their human fallacies as an excuse for our mistakes.  The truth is that excuses do not excuse us.  We have to take ownership of our choices.  We have options.  We need to be diligent with exercising our options.

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Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

Then they said to each other, “Let’s build a city and a tower for ourselves, whose top will reach high into the sky. We will become famous. Then we will not be scattered over all the earth.”- Genesis 11:4 (NCV)

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not be able to understand each other.- Genesis 11:7 (NCV)

The place is called Babel since that is where the Lord confused the language of the whole world. So the Lord caused them to spread out from there over the whole world.- Genesis 11:9 (NCV)

KJV New Defenders Study Bible

I believe James the brother of the Lord said it best in his epistle: “But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, “If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:14-15, NCV).  Perhaps, as I think on it, we can begin to see how the Word compliments and confirms itself.

God has a will.  We can either be in it or out of it.  There is no middle of the road or fence to straddle when it comes to His will.  To be in His will, you experience an abundant joy that seems to permeate and radiate from deep within you beyond normal understanding.  To be out of His will, it feels as if you are constantly condemned and perpetually punished.  You feel forgotten and forsaken when you find yourself outside of God’s will.

God doesn’t intend for you to go there, but you have that option.  You see, He endowed you with a free will.  You make choices.  You make moral choices, life decisions, and those have impacts and sometimes even consequences. 

These people started out simple with a shared idea, and then it grew into something totally different that became about them and not God.  It was about gaining notoriety and fame, not giving God the glory and praise.  It was all about them with little to do with God.

See where God stepped in.  See how God stepped in.  Learn the lesson.  In His will = good.  Out of His will = look-out time.  He has something ready for those in either category. 

Where are you with God? In His will or …?

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“We need to abandon everything that isn’t of God.”- Brother Lawrence

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you. – Mt. 6:33 ( KJV)

We need to abandon some things.  Some things just are not good for us.  They do not advance the kingdom of God nor do they help us advance to any degree.  They actually hold us back.  They do us no good.  Yet, for whatever reason, we hold on to them.

Let us resolve to reverent abandon.  Let us see things for what they are and how they may or may not help us live more like Christ.  Seek the kingdom of God as a priority.  Let it be your first pursuit above all other things.  Let it be your burning desire to seek the kingdom of God and all of His righteousness.

Don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying.  Don’t get all wrapped up in anxiety.  Simply seek His kingdom. 

Stay the course.  Free yourself up for what it entails.  Open yourself up for all that God has available to those who seek Him earnestly.  Make it your daily quest to seek it out as you relieve yourself of all of those things that are not of God, and then see how free you really feel.

Let us not walk through this life with reckless abandon.  Let us become more reverent with what we abandon.  Let us move forward in faith with reverent abandon.

1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. – Hebrews 12:1-3 (KJV)

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Election day is upon us again.

In California, we don’t know if it’ll be Meg  or Jerry .  We’re certain that Arnold is done, though.  Could Barbara Boxer  be unseated after all of these years? Who knows but God? That’s about all that we are certain of in this election.

There are numerous laws and ordinances that prohibit many actions at the polls.  These make certain acts illegal.  Some sit and wait, watching to see who will slip up and break one of these sacred political rules.  These political watch dogs usually straddle one side of the fence or the other, rather simply leaning to the left or the right.

Yet, the Christian still has an alternative that outweighs man’s laws and remains legal.*

Pray at the polls today.

You don’t have to walk up and ask anyone for their prayer request.  You don’t have to ask the neighborhood poll captain or the registar of voters can you pray a short prayer.  Simply pray at the polls without disturbing anyone or distracting anyone.  Truly, God knows your heart.

Pray individually or collectively.  Pray by yourself or with others.  Pray all alone or altogether.  Pray.

Pray for our nation.  Pray for Congress, the Senate and the House, even the Speaker of the HousePray for the government as a whole, state and local government, even down to the propositions on the ballot.  Pray for the Democrats, the Republicans, the write-ins, the independents, and all candidates.  Pray for the Tea Party and other conservatives as well as the League of Women Voters and other advocates and activists.  Pray for the voters.  Pray for all involved in the political process.

Pray prior to going to polls.  Pray while in line at the polls.  Pray when you receive and read over your ballot.  Pray prior to submitting your ballot.  Say a little prayer when you get handed that patriotic “I Voted” sticker that they give out as you walk away from the polls.  Pray at the polls.

Pray openly.
Pray privately.
Pray out loud.
Pray silently.
Pray long.
Pray short.
Pray at the polls.
Pray about the polls.
Pray about the results.
Pray about each and every election and its impact from that day forward.

Pray for change.
Pray for integrity.
Pray for democracy.
Pray about our freedoms.
Pray for America.

Don’t proposition.
Don’t petition.
Don’t protest.
Just pray.
Simply pray.
All that I ask of you, as a Christian brother or sister today, is to pray.

Pray about the elections.
Pray for the elections.
Pray for safety at the polls.
Pray for those serving at the polls.
Pray for all of those involved.
Pray for all of those who will be impacted by every vote.
Pray that the elections make a difference in the way that we all live in America…
The Land of the free. . .
The Home of the brave. . .

Pray to God.
Pray today.
Pray with all of your heart.
Again, I say, pray.

*This is still legal until someone decides that prayer, even in its simplicity and serenity, is so offensive that they rally and petition enough others to shut down the freedom to pray openly and publicly just in case that it may unduly influence or impact someone who doesn’t have the ability to resist the power of prayer.  Then, when that time comes, we must still pray as Daniel did three times a day, even with his window opened towards Jerusalem while in captivity.  God’s decrees are not constrained by man’s laws.

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“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

Exceed expectations. Are you getting any closer to excellence?  Merely meeting expectations is a minimum.  When you exceed those same expectations, you start to enter into excellence.  We are to offer God our best every step of the way.  Excuses do not excuse us from the expectations of our Eternal Father.

We have to go further than we have ever gone before.  We have to take actions that will lead to exploring new territory.  Excuses are just excuses.  They do not excuse us from His expectations.  They can hinder us from doing His will or walking by faith.  They can harm progress in our spiritual maturity.  They may not even help us at all.  We have to see what excuses really do for us.  They offer nothing but trouble because they lead to procrastination, problems and poor performance or pitiful productivity.  That’s what comes forth out of excuses.

Let excellence serve as your trademark.  Lead by example.  Let excuses go.  Let others see the distinct qualities that set you apart from the crowd.  Demonstrate that you are not simply going with the flow.  In fact, if you live for Him, it may even cause you to go against the grain at times.  You begin to discover that God has put more in you than you think, but you won’t discover it until you have been put to the test.  When the tests, trials and troubles come your way, it won’t be time for excuses.  That will be the time you set your heart on excelling beyond expectations.  At that point, you become David facing a giant called GoliathRight then, you become Moses standing before a raging Red SeaIn the midst of  it, you stand out like Paul, writing as a concerned parent to his dear children, addressing believers in Rome with an assurance that every Christian is more than a conqueror.  We overcome with overwhelming strength supplied by the Supreme God, God Almighty.

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“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What we discover when we read this quote from Bonhoeffer is horrific and even terrifying when we think of Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom and other accounts of the terrors of the Holocaust.  As a minister and pastor in WWII Germany, Bonhoeffer probably watched on as other demographic groups were isolated as threats to the regime within the Fatherland.  However, by his own admission, he ignored much until the day came when they came for him and his comrades.

Advocacy is about being a voice for those who have no voice of their own.  Think of how you may be able to address the needs of children and the disabled.  How about the elderly and immigrants? You may not agree with everyone’s values and ideals, but you do have to agree that there are some certain civil and human rights that we should ensure that people have as a matter of human decency.

Where is your voice? Who have you spoken up for?  for whom have you stood up and spoken out on principle?  Where is your voice?

“We often expect more from others than we are willing to do ourselves.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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