Articles

Sugar Smash

Sugar Smash, by Jason Salyers

Waking up, progressing downstairs, mobile phone in hand, the day begins with the coffee button depressed, and since wakefulness has not completely materialized, a quick game on the mobile device in which little candy pieces are moved into alignment and destroyed. In this “sugar smash” game (the real name has been changed to protect the innocent…), one must destroy pieces of candy in an effort to clear the screen. The levels have progressed onward and multiple challenges have occurred.

However, this game involves frustration. Just when an individual thinks they are going to win the level and move onward to the next challenge, the right pieces of candy do not materialize, or the moves run out. Obviously, the fault for this unsuccessful venture rests solely on the game itself; or does it?

The majority of the time levels seem unconquerable: early morning, late at night, or when hastily playing. In other words, the levels become harder when tired or in a rush. Discovering this, application presents itself towards the life of a believer.

The Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian believers to understand a foundational principle in regards to temptation; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Throughout the Old Testament and into the New, a promise given to all men: “God is Faithful.”

In a silly game like “sugar smash,” men and women get frustrated because the “game just does not give us what we need!” Which, in the case of the game, may be true. With God though, God has “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).” God grants to the believer, what the believer needs, but because of exhaustion or hastening “to-and-fro” believers can miss what God has provided.

Paul told the Corinthian church “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33). This verse directly applies to the worship service, but the principle can also be applied to an individual’s life. God does not attempt to frustrate or confuse His children. Instead, when temptations or trials in life occur, believers must recognize God grants an avenue of escape and endurance.

Problems in this life are greater and more significant than “I need to get a speckled candy!” Believers become discouraged when tired, frustrated, or rushing. God is faithful though, and He will always be there for His followers:

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. (Psalm 118:5-7)”

The Gatekeepers

And he set the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of the Lord, so that no one who was in any way unclean should enter (2 Chronicles 23:19).

Ok, before we get serious, notice that the above verse reference is 23:19. Have you seen Monster’s Inc? Remember what number the monsters shouted out when a child or anything from the human world was found? 2319. It’s a conspiracy, I’m sure. John Lasseter must have been reading 2 Chronicles before the movie. Really, I’m not serious. Now back to the show.2319

Of the 12 tribes of Israel, God selected one tribe, the tribe of Levi, to be the family devoted to taking care of His holy things (Numbers 1:47-53).

The Levites had many responsibilities including: assisting the priests, singing and playing instruments, teachers, judges and scribes (1 Chronicles 23:1-5; 2 Chronicles 34:13).

But other times they held weapons and guarded very sacred things.

The Levites in the days of the tabernacle (the movable tent of meeting that preceded Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem) were to camp around the tabernacle, and any “outsider” who came near was to be put to death (Numbers 1:50-51; 1 Chronicles 9:17-27).

In the days of David, after a man named Uzzah was struck dead by God for touching the ark of the covenant, David appointed certain men to be gatekeepers for the ark (1 Chronicles 15:5; 16:38,42). When David was setting everything in order for his son Solomon to build the temple in Jerusalem, he set up a certain group of Levites to be gatekeepers for the temple (1 Chronicles 26; 2 Chronicles 8:14).

After the Jews returned home from Babylonian captivity and rebuilt the temple, God’s people were in need once again of gatekeepers. According to Nehemiah 13, a lot of folks were more concerned with business and turning a profit than honoring the Sabbath and putting God first. Nehemiah rebuked them, and set up the Levites as gatekeepers around the city walls and gates to guard the city. They were to ensure that the Sabbath day was truly given to God and His worship (Nehemiah 13:22).

Today, in God’s church, we as Christian men must be gatekeepers. We have to regard God, His word, and His people as sacred. We have to camp around God’s holy things and protect them with our lives. Not that we pick up physical weapons, but we pick up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) and use it to guard ourselves and God’s church.

  • Timothy was to “guard” what was committed to his trust (1 Timothy 6:20).
  • We are to be the gatekeepers of our souls so that we can do the same for the souls of others (1 Timothy 4:16).
  • God asked the elders, the shepherds of God’s flock to watch out over His people whom He purchased with His own blood. Shepherds are to be the gatekeepers for the church to protect the church from wolves who seek to destroy (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Stand up today for what God calls special and holy. Be determined that God’s church will stand holy and live by His rules. Set a guard around God’s church and put your finger on the word of God for your authority as you serve as His gatekeepers.

Call a “2319” when the Devil tries to infiltrate God’s church!

React or Respond

Do you typically react or respond to things in life?

  • A reaction – Reflex, impulsive action, immediate. The first thing that comes to mind.
  • A response – Thoughtful, considerate, patient, reasoned behavior.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

React

  • Emotions
  • Quick fix
  • Impulsive
  • Incomplete information
  • Tunnel vision
  • Assuming the worst
  • Based upon fear

Respond

  • Reason and logic
  • Long-term
  • Reserved and thoughtful
  • Getting all the facts first
  • Looking at the whole picture
  • Looking for the best
  • Based upon faith and God’s love

Consider for a moment this morning how our interactions turn out with others when we react to people and situations. How does your day at work or school go when those around you are impulsive, emotional, going on incomplete information, assuming the worst and living based on fear?

What difference can you make (with God’s help) when you chose to respond to others rather than react? When you choose to focus on the facts and reason in order to gather all the information first, how will that help yourself and others? When you choose to live based upon faith, not fear, and when you choose to look for the best in people, how does that affect your attitude? How will that influence others in your circle?

Here are a few Proverbs for your meditation today as you seek to have a character and spirit that responds to situations rather than reacts to them.

  • He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city (Proverbs 16:32).
  • He who gives an answer before he hears, it is a folly and shame to him (Proverbs 18:13).
  • The first one to plead his case seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).
  • Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit (Proverbs 25:28).
  • A fool always looses his temper but a wise man holds it back (Proverbs 29:11).

Prepare Your Outside Work

Proverbs 24:27 – Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house.

Priorities. Make sure you have an income before you start finding ways to spend an income you don’t have. How much sense would it make for a farmer to build his house when he doesn’t have any crops in the field to support him financially to build the house? That is some sound advice from the wise King Solomon.

But I believe there is a deeper meaning here in Proverbs than merely crops, finances, and brick and mortar. The concept of “building a house” in Scripture also applies many times to building a home and family (See Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11).

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1).

Having this in mind, I think often about the importance of making sure we direct our children to prepare their outside work before building a home and family. Young people are in a hurry to do a lot of things (except chores). They are in a hurry to grow up. They are in a hurry to start doing big people things. They are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. They are in a hurry to have independence. We were all the same way, weren’t we? Of course, as fathers we should welcome and encourage their desire to grow, advance and become independent, not because that gets us quicker to the “empty nest,” but because that is what is best for their stability and maturity. However, we have to promote patience and setting the right priorities.

Here are a few thoughts about how our children can apply the principle of preparing the “outside work” before building a home and family.

  1. Prepare yourself to be the right kind of man or woman. So many times we go out looking to “find” the right person, instead of focusing our attention first and foremost on being the right person. In order to build my “house,” I need to cultivate the fields of my own heart first so that my heart is producing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). Remember as we saw in Proverbs 14 above, that a wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her hands. It is not that someone has to be “perfect” before he or she gets married, but it is vital that we encourage our children to place a premium on their relationship with Christ before commencing a relationship with a spouse.
  2. Get your finances in order. How many of us, or folks we know, started marriage with a mountain of debt? College debt. Car debt. Consumer debt. What does that financial stress do to our marriages? Is there a better way? What gift can we give our children and their future spouses? Teach them about money management and how to think about money in a godly way. There are a ton of resources out there now to help you, although we should first direct our attention to Proverbs and the teachings of Jesus. Both Solomon and Jesus said a lot about money.
  3. Don’t start what you can’t finish. This is something I’ve told my teenagers a lot lately and it has a lot of directions we have taken with it. But for today, the application I want to make with this statement is, “Make sure you can provide for her, son, before you pursue her.” Prepare your outside work first, get yourself prepared to be a provider, take the time necessary to get yourself in a position where you can take care of a wife and family, then build your home.

It is okay to wait. It is encouraged by God often in Scripture to be patient. God blesses us richly when we set our hearts upon Him, and set our priorities in a wise and prudent way. Let’s encourage our children daily to prepare the fields before building the house.

You Were Called to This

“Knowing that you were called to this…” (1 Peter 3:9)

Today’s MDB is dedicated to our calling. Folks often talk about their calling, saying things like “I was called to this ministry,” or “I feel called to this line of work.” People mean a lot of different things when they say that, but what I want to discuss is what God has called us to do through His word. We will apply those things specifically today to our relationships with the women in our lives.

Let’s focus on the short letter of 1 Peter to consider our calling. 1 Peter is not all about how men treat women, but the relationship principles in this letter can be applied to how we see women and how we behave towards them.

God is holy and He has called us to be holy in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15). In order for us to see the women in our lives as God sees them, we must have pure hearts and holy eyes. If our hearts and eyes have been corrupted by the world, especially through things like pornography, then we will not see our wives (or daughters, or girlfriends, or any female for that matter) as created in the image of God. The world turns women into objects to be used to appease the lusts of men, but God created women in His image for His glory and He expects us to view them as precious in His sight (1 Peter 3:7).

What has God called us to do? God has called us to purify our hearts and eyes, so that we can with a sincere heart love the women around us with purity (1 Peter 1:22). God has “called” you out of darkness into light, and He wants you for His own special people (1 Peter 2:9). He also sees women that way; He is calling them out of darkness to be His own special people. We are all “called” by God to His eternal glory (1 Peter 5:10). May all men begin to see women as God sees them.

God has called us to follow the example of Jesus Christ in how He treated others (1 Peter 2:19-25). How do we respond when the women in our lives mistreat us? Well, we all know how NOT to do it, I’m sure, because we have all responded the wrong way to harsh treatment. By the way, how does that work out for us when we return insult for insult, shout for shout, and threat for threat? Yep, not very well. We are called to a higher way of thinking and living. We are called to imitate the example of Jesus.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

What did Jesus do when He was insulted? He did not insult in return. When Jesus suffered because of the harsh treatment of others, He did not threaten, in fact, He prayed for their forgiveness. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. He died that we might live. He offered blessings when others offered Him mocking and insults. That is our standard as men for how we are to treat the women in our lives.

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

This is your calling. Honor women. Bless them. Treat them as valuable in the sight of God. Be pure in your thinking about them and be holy in how you behave toward them. Answer the call.

A Little Food and a Lot of Faith

Friends,

Here is a link to a great sermon by a man named Ralph Walker on the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus.

A Little Food and a Lot of Faith

If you wish to read in the Bible further, start in John 6. The feeding of the 5,000 is only one of two miracles that are recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts.

You could listen to this today on your lunch break as you meditate upon the Bread of Life.

God bless,

Aaron

Correction to Article – “A Moral People”

I missed one very important word in my article from last Thursday entitled, “A Moral People.”

This was the original sentence in the paragraph about our “Primary Focus.”

It does mean that we are not involved in the political process, because many of God’s children in Scripture were involved in political leadership.

I intended to put a “NOT” in between “does” and “mean.” Here is how the sentence should have read:

It does not mean that we are not involved in the political process, because many of God’s children in Scripture were involved in political leadership.

Thanks to my good friend who pointed that out!!!

It has already been corrected on that article, and I am sorry for any confusion.

Aaron

 

Strengthened His Hand in God

Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God (1 Samuel 23:16).

Jonathan was King Saul’s son – If anything would have stopped him from going to encourage David, this would be it. King Saul, at this point in his life, was laser focused on eliminating David from the earth. Saul had already tried to kill Jonathan, his own son, because Jonathan stood up for David. However, Jonathan loved God more than he loved his own father, and he also loved his great friend David. Most folks would not have faulted Jonathan for staying at home, but Jonathan knew that the right thing to do was not the safest thing to do. Jonathan knew that David was going through a terrible ordeal and that he needed to be lifted up by God’s strength.

He arose and went – He got up and did something. He did not wait for David to come to him. He knew David’s situation, and he actively sought to do whatever he could to ease David’s burden. In this case, what David needed was encouragement, prayer and companionship.

Look at the following passage from Paul and what he said about the encouragement he received in Rome from Onesiphorus.

The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me–the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day–and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:16-18).

Do you see what both Jonathan and Onesiphorus both did? They sought out someone to encourage. On both of their parts, this took a lot of effort and time to even get to the person they were trying to encourage. Think about that. They had to set out. They had to travel. They had to search. Encouragement can be a simple text, or a quick call, but other times it may require a great deal of our energy and resources to provide strength and aid to our brethren who need it.

Strengthened his hand in God – We have no further information here other than Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God. What does that mean? How did Jonathan do that? Most likely they prayed together. Considering the other discussions they had with each other in 1 Samuel, we can make a safe assumption that Jonathan reminded David of the promises of God. It may be that Jonathan just listened while David poured out his heart.

How can you strengthen a brother’s hand in God? Maybe you can call him up and invite him to do something with you (a hobby, a sport, etc.) and use it as an opportunity to talk. You could send a note with a key Scripture or two in the mail. You could drive over to his house and sit and pray with him. Meet him for lunch and talk (make sure you listen more than you talk). It might be that you know your brother is struggling with health issues and you go over and take care of some of his chores that he cannot do. Or it could be that you find out he is dealing with financial need and you take care of some of his bills. I can tell you from someone who has been on the receiving end of that kind of encouragement, that it means the world to me and puts wind in my sails.

May we all be a Jonathan to someone today.

Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13).

For extra encouragement this weekend, please listen to this sermon by Andy Cantrell on theProof of Love.”

A Moral People

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. – Benjamin Franklin

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – John Adams.

I don’t feel so “Super” after this past Tuesday to be honest with you. It is not who won or lost, but what items are apparently the most important on a majority of Americans’ minds. Some say, “We need an outsider,” while others says, “We need someone with Washington experience.” Some are calling, “Go back to the Constitution…we need limited government,” while others say, “The Constitution needs updating…we need to grow government.”

None of this really gets to what is really going on here in America.

The main focus of the leading political candidates, the leadership in Washington (both parties) and the majority of the American people is not on the morality and godless climate that exists. Their focus is not on Jesus Christ, but on all the temporary, fleshly things that will all one day be consumed. So what if we build a wall to keep certain people out, but the godlessness within is crumbling the nation? What does it matter to give everyone free healthcare when the inner man of so many is full of the Devil’s cancer?

I say these things not to be negative and hopeless, because I am not without hope. But I do write this to remind Christian men that we cannot allow ourselves to get all consumed and obsessed with the political controversies of the day. We must remain focused on Christ as King and to talk about the issues He determines are important.

God Reigns – God is in control, and He is working things according to His will and purpose. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). The Lord rules in the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:25), and He rules in America, no matter who is residing on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No one can vote Him out of office.

Primary Focus – Pardon the pun, but our “primary” focus right now should be influencing people for Christ and showing them to the cross. It does not mean that we avoid the political process, because many of God’s children in Scripture were involved in political leadership. However, we can become so overwhelmed and focused on this current political climate that we take our eyes off the ball spiritually. Some Christians seem to be more obsessed with winning people to their political way of thinking than winning souls for Christ. Some Christians will stand for hours holding signs at a rally, but won’t drive across town to visit someone who needs encouragement. Which will improve the condition in America, getting someone to vote for your candidate or helping someone grow closer to Jesus?

For extra reading and meditation, read 1 Peter 2 today.

Proverbs 28:2 – By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.

In Our Image

“And Adam…became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image…” (Genesis 5:3).

The picture you see is that of my daughter side by side with my great grandmother. We noticed recently now much they resemble each other, so my daughter took a picture and tried to mimic the same expression. It really blew me away to see how two people 5 generations apart could look so much alike.

Our children are truly born in our image. Genetics may be powerful, but our influence upon our children is even stronger. The way they respond to things is the way we respond. The things they value are the things we value. How they talk is how we talk. How they see God’s word and His church is how we see it. How we deal with conflict is how they deal with it. The choices they make are usually based upon choices we make. They are truly in our image.

That is why as fathers and grandfathers we must take seriously and prayerfully this position in which God has placed us. Never underestimate the power of your influence to shape the character of your children. They are being fashioned daily in our image.

For example, God used a common proverb in Ezekiel’s day to illustrate to His people Israel how they were mimicking the Canaanites who previously lived in the land. “Like mother, like daughter” (Ezekiel 16:44-45). The Israelites’ parents were not God; sadly their mother and father in a spiritual sense were the idolatrous and pagan people of the land. Jesus made this same point to the Jewish leadership of His day. He told them that their ancestor might be Abraham, but their real daddy was the Devil because they acted just like Him (John 8:37-44). They bore the image of their parents.

The question bears asking, “Whose image am I reflecting?”

Our goal as fathers and grandfathers is first and foremost to be transformed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). If we know that our offspring will bear our image and most likely follow our ways, then it is crucial that our character is as close to Christ as it can be. As the apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

This is not to mean that we are perfect, nor that our children are to be raised in a “perfect” environment, because the only perfect environment that exists is in heaven. We also must remember that our children, just like us, make their own choices. Many of us have overcome less than ideal home environments because we gave our hearts to Jesus. Remember that God loves you and that He loves your children as well. His grace is with us and with our children as we seek to grow. His Spirit is with us as our image is being transformed into that of His Son.

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Colossians 3:9-10).