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).

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

 

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.

Two Evils

I want to share three Scriptures today that all make the same basic point. The teaching in all three of these verses is that we commit two evils, the first one is not going to God first to seek His counsel, and the second sin is going to a source other than God for that guidance.

“For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

What a vivid contrast between a refreshing spring of living waters and a broken cistern that doesn’t hold water! That is the difference between seeking God’s wisdom and seeking the direction of worldly people. One is always flowing and fresh, the other is either empty or stagnant.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:1-2).

God spoke of His people here in Isaiah as rebellious children, but why? They were executing a plan that was not God’s, and because they were seeking refuge and counsel from the idolatrous people of Egypt.  Notice again that this is adding “sin to sin.” Two evils. It was sin not to consult God, and it was adding to that sin by going to Egypt for what they should have received from God.

So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the LORD. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

Once again, two evils. Saul did not keep God’s words but rather sought the counsel of a medium. It is pretty clear from these three verses that God takes this seriously. If we want to honor God, then we must always be mindful to pray to Him first, seek Him first, and look to His guidance first…and this is for our good!

He knows what is best for us. He has treasures of wisdom He is waiting to pour out upon us, but we have to ask! He is the fountain of living waters, and if you believe in Him and seek Him first, He promises that rivers of living water will flow from our innermost being (John 7:37-39).

So, whether at work, school or in the community today, will we seek God’s counsel first? Will we seek His wisdom before anything else when making those business decisions? Will we look to God’s guidance first to help us deal with that problem person? Do our friends and co-workers see in us a person who looks to God before we look to anyone else?

Think of the great blessings that God pours out upon us in our life when we seek His wisdom first!

Anatomy of Trust, part 1

What is the anatomy of trust? If you were to take trust and look at the internal organs, nervous system and skeletal framework, what would you discover? What makes up trust? What items are absolutely essential to trust?

Take a minute to meditate upon these 2 statements and finish them with whatever comes to mind:

  1. If I trust you…
  2. If I do not trust you…

So, contemplating these two statements, how vital is trust to any relationship? Since this is Thursday, we will focus our thoughts on trust in our relationships with people at work, school and in the community, but obviously trust is critical to any relationship.  Think about it, what kind of relationship do you have with anyone without trust?

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

A bad tooth causes continual pain and misery, you can’t bite or chew food on that side of your mouth because it kills you to put pressure on it. The same with the foot out of joint, you can’t put pressure on it, because it will not hold the weight of your body and you will collapse. This simple word picture by Solomon perfectly illustrates that trust must be in a relationship, especially in “time of trouble.” Who do you want beside you in time of trouble? Who do you want as your partner, fellow worker or teammate when the pressure is on? You know it…somebody you can count on.

So, turn this thought internally and reflect upon whether you are the person who can be counted on in time of trouble. Are you that man others can trust? Do you come on time? Do you finish what you start? Do you give your all to the task at hand? Do you keep your word when you commit to something? Do you stick with it even when the pressure is on?

Finally, if I want people to trust me, what would be necessary for me to build that trust in others? Here are the bones and organs that I believe are the anatomy of trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency.

These will be developed further in tomorrow’s article.

Where King Saul’s Armor Ended Up

Here is a trivia question for you today:  Where did King Saul’s armor end up after he was killed in battle by the Philistines?

And they (the Philistines) stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon (1 Chronicles 10:6-10).

They put his armor in the temple of their gods. Just chew on that statement for a moment. What “protected” King Saul didn’t really save him in the end, did it? More than that, it became an evangelistic tool for the enemies of God.

Do you remember another occasion where King Saul’s armor was mentioned? I want to direct your attention to 1 Samuel 17 when King Saul wanted the young David to wear the king’s armor into battle to face Goliath. David refused Saul’s armor, but chose protection of a different kind. To a worldly, seasoned warrior, David’s armor seemed anemic and would leave him defenseless. David was a young shepherd with a stone and a sling…I mean, really? Both King Saul and David’s Philistine opponent, Goliath, considered him to be ill-prepared for battle.

What protected David was a ancient and tested armor that outwardly to man appeared as nothing, but it has defeated many a mighty foe. Take note of the contrast David made to Goliath about choice of armor:

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts…then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

The armor and wisdom of God will be perceived as weak and foolish in the eyes of worldly people around you today, but remember the final resting place of King Saul’s armor. What we trust in for our safety, peace and comfort will always abandon us in the end if it isn’t rooted in the ancient wisdom of Christ.

David stood and David was victorious because David first clothed himself with God. David’s armor, like Saul’s, became an evangelistic tool. As David said, “then all this assembly shall know…the battle is the Lord’s.” Hopefully through your daily example of wearing Christ’s armor, you may help someone else put that armor on too!

So, whose armor are you wearing into battle today?

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD (Isaiah 54:17).

David restrained his servants with these words

“So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul” (1 Samuel 24:7).

Words as you know have incredible power. With one or two words, we can calm someone’s spirit, stir up wrath, give someone courage, or shred someone to ribbons.

Today, as you are at work, or living in the community amongst friends and neighbors, consider the power of your words.

David was anointed by God as the next king of Israel, but the current king of Israel, Saul, did not take that very well. King Saul devoted most of his time, energy and resources to destroy David and anyone who supported him. David found himself being chased and hunted as a dog. He could never rest during those years because the very King of Israel sent all his forces to find him and kill him.

Well, David and his men were given the seemingly perfect opportunity to end this long nightmare. By chance (or by God’s providence), they ended up hiding in the very same cave where King Saul had come in to tend to his needs (whatever they were). King Saul was sleeping on the cave floor and David and his hardened warriors are standing over Saul with swords in their hands. The conclusion for David’s men was obvious. One strike with the sword and this is all over. David’s loyal soldiers were convinced that this opportunity to kill King Saul was from the Lord.

David, however, knew better. He knew that King Saul was God’s anointed, and that he did not have the right to kill Saul. Even though David could end his temporary suffering, take the throne, and make himself look tough and mighty to his men, he took the godly path instead.

David’s words restrained his men. Think about that today at work or at school. Words start riots in cities and wars between nations. The phrases that leave your lips can end long-standing partnerships and friendships. However, your words can also lead to calm and healing. Words can diffuse a very tense situation. Your words can bring light, peace and wisdom to a situation that otherwise could tailspin into disaster.

Will you be a David today? You might be able to take a cheap shot at a boss or a fellow employee, and it might make you look good temporarily to those around you, but at what expense? You could join in with the work gossip and endear yourself to others by agreeing with their bitter and negative assessments of things. Or will you be the man who seeks to use your influence and your words to lead people in a more positive direction that honors God?

So, which words will you choose today?

 

The Shots You Don’t Take

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

Take some time today to meditate upon this quote from the legendary Hall of Fame hockey player. It is profound and very true.

Maybe you feel stuck in a rut. Maybe you feel trapped in your career. Are you yearning to do something else, and wonder what’s out there? But then the fears, doubts and “what if’s” come into play and you quickly douse out the flame.

Look at the Henry Ford’s and Thomas Edison’s of the world. They repeatedly tried and failed. They kept trying, recalculating and pushing. Look at what happened.

Meditate upon the following passage from the wisest man to ever walk the earth, King Solomon.

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

  • If you are waiting for perfect conditions, Solomon said, you will never be a successful farmer. The same applies to every endeavor of life. Perfect conditions exist only in heaven.
  • If you are waiting for confirmation that what you are setting out to do is going to be 100% successful, then you will never get started. Solomon said, you “do not know.” But this “not knowing” can be paralyzing to many of us. Paralyzing.

I’m not encouraging you to step out without seeking God’s counsel and the advice of wise counselors. What I am encouraging you today to do is to remember that God in Scripture encourages us to do the very thing Wayne Gretzky advised.

Take a shot!

Moses was faithful even when…(4 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#4 Moses was faithful to God even when he doubted his own value and effectiveness.

Even Moses got tired. Leading the Israelites in the wilderness was a daily beating. In Numbers chapter 11, it really started to wear on Moses. He started to wonder, “Why me, God?” He felt alone and ineffective. In this chapter, we find Moses at the point where he cried out for God to either send him help or kill him!

Moses felt alone. God came to his aid. God sent Moses helpers.

The prophet Elijah who lived much later than Moses also went through the same thing. He felt alone and useless. His life’s work was in vain, in his eyes. He asked for God to take his life. God made Elijah aware that there were 7000 others who were also faithful. God also comforted Elijah and sent him helpers.

You are going to feel alone at times. You are going to feel ineffective and you’re going to wonder if you are really making a difference. There will be times that you feel like the only person around who gets it.

Questioning our impact is part of the process.  Frustration does not equal failure.  Allowing the frustration to cause us to quit is failure. Its part of the growth process, and it frankly stinks, but if we have honest hearts we will be better for it.

Sometimes we doubt our value and effectiveness because:

  • We are looking for immediate results to long-term endeavors.
  • We are just plain worn out, and have become unrealistic and shortsighted. We might just need a break and a breath of fresh air.
  • We have painted the wrong picture of what success is. Maybe you need to sit down with an objective, wise advisor to help you see things more clearly. That advisor might help you redesign your goals and strategy. He might help you redefine what “success” means in whatever it is you are doing.
  • We are listening to the few complainers causing us problems and not paying attention to the others who are really benefiting from what we are trying to do. It is easy to see the critics, the complainers, and non-responders.
  • We are focusing on our efforts instead of God’s efforts working through us and through others. Remember Moses and Elijah both felt alone, but they were not really alone. They were making it about them at that point and had to have their spiritual eyesight adjusted.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Promises in the Heart

When God tears the Kingdom from Solomon in I Kings 11 he makes a significant promise to Jeroboam.  “I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel.  Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments… then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” (I Kings 11:37-38)

In I Kings 12:20, God keeps His promise placing Jeroboam as king over the northern kingdom.  Unfortunately, just a few short verses later, we find Jeroboam setting up places of worship, casting idols, and devising his own feast days.  (I Kings 12:25-33)  In verse 30 it says “…this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.”

What happened?  Why did Jeroboam ignore God’s instruction, God’s promise and go about establishing his own system of worship?  The reason is in verses 26 and 27, “Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.  If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”  

  • He looked at the situation with human wisdom.
  • He was scared of what he KNEW would happen.
  • He devised his own solution to fix the problem.

And all this started with what was in his heart (verse 26).  The kingdom was in his heart.  The power was in his heart.  Being important, and influential, and wealthy was all in his heart.  God’s promise, and trust in that promise, was not in his heart.

There are so many areas of my life where this lesson applies but I see it most often in my career.  How many times to do I bend the rules, fudge the truth, misrepresent reality because I just KNOW what will happen.  I just KNOW what the boss will think or how my employees will react.  I just KNOW there will be negative consequences if I stand up, stick out, speak up, or own up.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33, regarding our physical needs, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  My job is to put Him and His kingdom first…He will take care of the rest.  But this promise means absolutely nothing if we have filled our hearts with the junk and false promises of this world.  So consider the promises of God and ask yourself:  what’s in my heart?