Self-Examination

Each one should test his own actions then he can take pride in himself alone, without comparing himself to someone else (Gal.6:4).

Since this was written about 60 A.D. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who compares myself to others. Whether I’m better or worse than anyone else is so very meaningless. Both the vanity or the self-condemnation—totally meaningless.

We are told a number of times in scripture to examine ourselves, not to compare ourselves with others, but to examine ourselves by God’s standards. Where is my heart? What are my motives? Am I seeking to do God’s will? Am I trusting Him? Am I living and moving in the faith in Christ whom I profess?

Should we fall short (not if, but when), we still have the assurance of salvation as a safety net. But also what joy comes at times when we examine ourselves and know that we are on track.

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Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Vicki for suggesting practical applications

Recognizing God’s Presence

The Lord, your God, goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31:6b).

Did you notice that you have more Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in the year than your wedding, birthdays (thank goodness), graduation, and Christmas? Our God is faithful. He promised not to abandon or reject us in the special times, in the joyful times, in the tough times, or in the “beige” times (He’s here, too).

This verse is actually repeated three times in scripture—twice in the Old Testament where we are told to be strong, courageous and unafraid; and once in the New Testament where we are told to be content with what we have because God is here, too.

He promises believers that He will supply all our NEEDS (as defined by Him in His infinite wisdom). So whether we need courage or peace and contentment, His presence will never be withdrawn.

Compelled

 

For when I preach the gospel I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corin 9:16).

I really, really dislike the feeling of being “obligated” to do things. If I do something, or give something, or say something, I would like it to be from the heart, not because of guilt or duty. The flip side is also true. If something is good, I really, really enjoy sharing it, especially with those I love.

When I am walking closely with the Lord, it’s impossible to keep quiet about God’s activity in my life. The word “compelled” in this verse tells us that Paul’s heart was so full of joy and the understanding of the full meaning of the gospel that it spilled out of him.

In the words of Jesus, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Let my heart be filled with your Spirit, Lord, so that no bitterness, but only love , flows out.

 

In Due Time

 

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up (Gal.6:9).

At times the “well-doing” seems so mundane and fruitless. Yet over and over again, I’ve seen both in scripture and in my own experience, that God’s timing is perfect. Sometimes we get to experience the joy of seeing our work rewarded. We may see fruits immediately, decades later, or we may never see the harvest on this side of Heaven. Then we must rely on our continual growing relationship with the Lord and being obedient whenever He nudges us.

One Bible scholar refers this present time as “seed time.” In a grass seed mixture, the one type of seed that takes the longest to grow is the one that is rooted the deepest; it’s the one that endures year after year.

If we don’t get weary, and certainly not give up, we can take God at His word and expect a harvest in due time.

Answered Prayer

 

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt 7:11).

God hears the prayers of believers, and answers them. We discussed before how His answer may be “Yes” or “No” or “Not yet,” but faith comes into play when we trust that God knows our needs, and even more important, that He knows us.

As earthly parents, one of our goals hopefully is helping our children to develop a godly character. We instinctively know that saying “yes” to every whim or desire would do much, much more harm than good. Our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need. He may not say yes to the lottery, but He would never give His son a stone when he asked for bread.

We may be praying for a change in circumstance like maybe a better job, or a change in the demeanor of a spouse or child. We may find that God answers our prayer, not by changing the externals, but by changing us—our heart, our attitude, our inner peace.

His answers to our prayers—His good gifts—are always right on target.

Random Thoughts

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Cor 13:4-8a).

Today’s discussion is not exactly about relationships; it is about prayer. It has been said that in order to communicate with God effectively, we need to discipline our mind. I know that personally I like to start with a prayer of thanks, but often I end up with random thoughts a thousand miles away. My question today is, “How do we know whether or not a thought comes from God.”

This is why I chose Corinthians 13 as the verse. God is love. Any communication that comes from Him follows the principles outlined in these verses. If our thoughts are selfish, revengeful or even prideful, they did not come from the Father.

We can certainly be honest with God about our feelings, but His answer once we leave our “secret place” (Matt 6:6) will never direct us toward any idea or action but love.

These are just beginning thoughts on understanding God through prayer, but it seems that time and time again, the right answer to most questions is love.