"Grumble, grumble…if I ever… I'll never… did you hear what he/she said or did? I'll never forgive… I'll never speak… They will never get invited to my….." You've probably met folks with a bad case of the "Grumbles". It seems that no matter what happens they are never happy and sometimes they seem to take delight in making others unhappy. There has to be an answer for this… doesn't there?
Is it possible to change your attitude, I mean really change it? I've had some folks with fairly nasty dispositions tell me, "That's just the way I am and I can't change it." Is that true? A reader of my writings, "Reg," shared Job 9:27 with me, where Job says: "I changed my expression and smiled" (NIV) How can this be true? I believe it's because no matter what happens God is still in control, and if I can remember that, I CAN change my expression and smile!
Granted I never said it would be an easy thing to do, but I believe it is possible. You remember the old saying, "Garbage in, garbage out". In other words, what you put into your life, your heart, will most likely be the same sort of thing that comes out of your life and heart. It affects relationships to friends; it affects families; it affects our relationship to God.
David voices a conscious decision in Psalms 118:24 "This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." The question for each of us, to consider is, "What are you putting into your life and heart?
I don't know about you, but I really want to have a good attitude. I really want to have good relationships with my friends, family and my God. Because of that, I try really hard to put only the best stuff into my life. I control what television programs I watch, I control what movies I go to, I control what books I read, I control the type of music to which I listen, I control who I associate with. You see, each of us is in control of our lives; it's just that sometimes we hand control of it over to others. Those who program our television, movies, music, etc. really don't care about you, your attitude or your soul. They won't watch out for you, you have to take charge of your own life and decide whether or not you will rejoice in the day or not. Whether you will change you’re attitude and smile or not.
You see, I know what kind of person I want to be and what kind of life I want to live. I'm not always successful, but I'm more successful than if I had never tried. How about it, are you willing to begin to fight the "good" fight that changes your life and relationships? Why not join me in the fight?
My dad was too young to get in the first of World War II, but he got a waver signed by his folks and got into the Navy for the last year. He wouldn't talk much about his experiences, but I do remember one story that I would like to share.
He told us that while he was stationed on Guam one day, one of the guys came running up excited that the PX (the military store) had candy bars on sale for 1 cent. (Remember that back then, the normal cost was only 4 to 5 cents). All of the guys ran down to the PX and bought candy bars. Later, as they began to eat them, they found out the reason they were on sale - They all had small worms in them!
As I reminisced about that story I thought about the lesson for us today! Satan is crafty; he always tries to make wormy candy look like something to be desired. He knows our desires and weaknesses, and he won't hesitate to dangle in front of us that which might catch us in his trap.
There is an interesting piece of insight about sin found in James 1:13-15. Notice what it says, "And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death."
Notice especially the word "entice" in the text. In the Greek, this has the meaning of "to be caught by bait". How do you catch a fish? You dangle bait which looks attractive to them, hoping they won't notice the hook. They see the bait, want it, go after it and before they know it, they are caught because of what they desired.
Our world offers so many things that look so appealing. Whether it is wealth, sex, drugs, material possessions, illicit relationships, worshipping the wrong things - they are all bait. Bait dangled in front of us for one purpose - to "catch us and drag us away". The plan is to drag us away from God, away from righteous living, away from our hope.
That's why Peter writes, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour," (1 Peter 5:8)
So, be on your guard, watch out, because Satan never sleeps, he is always fishing for your soul. You wouldn't eat a wormy candy bar would you? Why would you invite things that are just as disgusting into your life?
Messages From The Heart
Salt has a marvelous effect on a lot of things and more uses than "you can shake a stick at," as my mother says. Most of us are familiar with Matthew 5:13 regarding salt. In this passage God uses salt in his description of man, his religion and his relationship to the world. Notice what he says, "You are the salt of the earth; but if its taste goes from the salt, how will you make it salt again? it is then good for nothing but to be put out and crushed under foot by men."
Have you ever had food that was bland, with no taste, missing something? Maybe just a little salt would help bring out the flavor. I have and you probably have, too. What do we begin to do? Generally we look for or ask for some salt. I have been in some situations though, where I haven't asked for or added salt. It may be that I am in a strange place and don't know where it is or it is unavailable, or maybe I don't want to hurt the cook's feelings. But you know what, the food just isn't as enjoyable without the salt. I have tried the "salt substitutes," that are supposed replacements for the real thing. I can tell you - they aren't! I don't care what the advertisers try to tell you, there is no substitute for real "made by God" salt. It brings the flavor to life and there's simply nothing better that can replace it.
You see, the point of the passage above is that we are the salt of the world. If your life is not spicy enough, or doesn't zing your taste buds - maybe it's because your salt has lost its taste. What does that mean? Simply, maybe you need re-salted or your saltshaker needs refilled with a good dose of God and not a salt substitute.
We are the "salt of the earth." How many of your friends are looking for a better, more fulfilling life? Could you share "a little salt" with them? You can't, unless your own salt-shaker (your life) is filled with "the real thing," a strong relationship with the source of all things, our God!
Have a great tasting day!
Getting away from sin and temptation is probably one of the most difficult things we have to do as Christians. Through the years people have tried many ways. They have tried starting private communities where only believers are allowed. Some have joined monasteries, in hopes of escaping sin, but the results are always somewhat mixed, because Satan is not easily foiled. He fights for our souls and far too often makes himself look attractive to us.
We often handle sin like the children in a story reported in the news paper awhile back. It seems that a mother of eight in Darlington, Maryland had been visiting next door. When she came home and went into the living room, she saw her 5 youngest children huddled in the center of the floor, on her new carpet, very much involved with something wiggly and squirmy. As she got closer she saw, to her horror, that the children were gathered around a family of skunks. She screamed, "Run, children, run!" Hearing their mother's frantic scream, each child grabbed a skunk and ran.
Sadly this story is often a reflection of our lives. We may have some very troubling things in our lives, yet, try as we may, we can't seem to run away from them, we just take them along with us.
1 Peter 5:8-9a tells us, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith."
This passage tells us, rather than running off and carrying Satan or temptation with us we should stand firm against him! Another translation says to "resist" him. Being able to succeed in staying away from temptation is not accomplished by walling ourselves up in a monastery, but is taking the fight to Satan that keep us free. Matthew 16:18 tells us that when we fight with the knowledge of God in us, the gates of hell itself will not be able to stand against us.
So, you have a choice, grab your skunk and run or stand up and be counted as you join with your brothers and sisters in Christ in the army of God to overcome Satan.
Messages from the Heart
Do you ever struggle with wondering if you do enough to please God? When Jesus was baptized He had not yet publically taught, performed any miracles or done any sort of ministry. Yet God called Him My Son My beloved Son in whom I delight Mat 3:17. Likewise God is delighted with you because you are His child. That pleases Him far more than anything you can do. Ask Him to show you more and more how delighted He is in you.
My wife and I got to go with some good friends to see a High School play titled: "Once Upon a Mattress". For those who don't know the story line, it is something like this: To test a girl (who claimed to be a princess) to see if she was a real princess, a dried pea was placed under 20 mattresses by the evil queen. If the girl felt the pea, it proved she was a real princess, because of her extreme sensitivity. The girl in the play passed the test, (with a little help from her friends). She felt the pea, proved she was a real princess and passed the test.
As I thought about that simple play, I thought about how much it mirrored real life. We often claim to be "real" Christians to our families, our friends, our co-workers and perhaps the world in general. In fact, we can claim to be real royalty also. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he
called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."
The devil is intent on proving that we are not special, not royalty, not Christians. Much like the evil queen in the play, he constantly presents us with tests designed to cause us to fail in being worthy to wear the name "Christian".
Surviving these tests is never easy and often quite unpleasant. It could be resisting the influence of someone at school or work, or even within your own family to say some un-Christian word, loose control of our emotions or participate in some un-Christian act. It might be the influence of the world that causes us to be tempted to forget our Christian values, morals or ethics.
Satan tries to hide many lumps under the mattresses that make up the layers of our lives. The only true protection we have is to remain true to our relationship to Christ. Our world (guided by Satan) will lie to you and try to cause you to doubt God, His Word and other believers. I like what Paul wrote in Romans 3:4, "Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true."
Now in the play, the princess passed the test because of the help of her friends. We as Christians need to be there to help one another also; because that is the only way we will survive in this world. One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 3:12-14, "Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ."
This is one of my favorite passages, because I know I can't make it through this world alone. I need your encouragement in my life and I believe that you need the encouragement of other Christians also.
How about you, will you be proven royalty or not?
Messages From The Heart