Pink Elephant

Think of a pink elephant.

~~~

Now … do not think about a pink elephant.

~~~

Did your thoughts linger on the pink elephant even after told not to?

The “trick” is to substitute another thought for the pink elephant. Then you are thinking the new thought, rather than thinking about the pink elephant.

That tips helps when you are trying to change. Suppose you want to lose weight and keep thinking about some “treat.” It helps when you think instead about new clothes in a smaller size. 

Or suppose you are afraid about some (possible) event in the future. Consciously substitute thoughts about your loving sovereign God. Consciously determine to trust Him. 

The new thought should be consciously in line with who God is and your God-given goals.

Try it. 

Look Beyond

Are you in a very hard spot? Is your situation something you can work to change? Pray about what to do, of course. 

Regardless whether you have some discretion about your predicament, or whether you have to endure it, look beyond your circumstances to God.

Look Beyond

Jesus … for the joy set before Him endured the cross.  (Hebrews 12:2) 

Abraham by faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise …  for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  (Hebrews 11:9–10) 

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.  (Hebrews 11:24–26) 

Whatever your trial, look beyond it to see your loving, powerful God and His promises. 

This gives you strength to endure, courage to act, and confidence in your situation. 

God doesn’t leave us helpless, but provides His power and His love.

Remember

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  (Romans 8:28–30) 

Press on

I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14) 

All Paths Lead to God

The Incline, Manitou Springs, Colorado By: Philipp Reiter

All Paths Lead to God

It is frequently said: “All paths lead to God.”

That is true.

All humans die and then face judgment.

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27

But only one path leads to eternal life.

Whoever believes in [Christ Jesus] shall not perish, but have eternal life.  (John 3:16

Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.  (John 8:24

We are surrounded by people on the path to destruction. Let’s demonstrate Christ by our behavior and speak to them as the Holy Spirit prompts.

Press on!

Praise our Savior

nasa.gov

Praise our Savior!

We—believers in Christ who have received Him as our Lord and Savior—have been saved.

Saved from sin’s penalty

We are saved from eternal death, saved from being thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Saved from sin’s power

We are saved from being slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6)

We are learning to walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16)

We are being made into the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29).

[and more!]

Saved from sin’s presence in the future

We are saved for eternal life. (Romans 6:22)

We will be glorified. (Romans 8:30)

We will be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 1:4)

Breathtaking

Our salvation is infinitely awe-inspiring, beyond comprehension, breathtaking, humbling. 

Take a moment and praise God for salvation.

~~~

God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—is our Savior.

God the Father sent Christ to save us.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  (John 3:16

The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  (1 John 4:14

Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).  (Ephesians 2:5

Christ saved us by living a perfect life and dying on the cross as a perfect sacrifice.

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (Luke 2:11)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.  (John 1:12)

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12

The Holy Spirit is saving us.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:2

We have received…the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

~~~

God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—we praise You for our eternal salvation. We praise You for saving us from the penalty of sin. We praise You that You are working in us to make us more like Christ. We praise You that we will be with You for eternity. Help us humbly know this is Your work, that we do not deserve Your love and favor. Help us honor You with all we are, think, and do. 

What do you Want?

What do you want?

Do you want what God wants?

Do you say, like Jesus: Yet not as I will, but as You will. (Matthew 26:39)

I certainly don’t, at least all the time. But I want to. Or, sometimes, I want to want to…

I am relieved that God is working in me to will (to desire, to want) to do His bidding, and that He is working in me to actually do what He asks.

God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.   (Philippians 2:13)

When I fail

When I fail, there are at least three reasons: 

  • Sometimes I don’t know what He wants me to do; 
  • Sometimes I don’t want to do what He wants me to do;
  • Sometimes my knowledge and motives are (mostly) right, but I make some sort of mistake.

Desire

God is working in me to desire to do His bidding.

It is God who is working, but I have responsibility too. I need to know His word, which equips me with knowledge of Him and His will. The more I know the Bible, the more I desire to please Him. 

This is conviction in my mind.

Action

God is also working in me to actually do what He wants me to do. This is conviction in my actions.

I have responsibility here as well. God is working in me. I have to humbly accept His direction and not launch out on my own. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  (Proverbs 3:5)

Sometimes when I believe I know His will, and want to do His will, I still mess up. There are more underlying reasons than I know about, but one reason is that I boldly go forward without stopping to pray, leaning on myself rather than on God.

What I need to do:

#1. Be intentional about regular Bible study, equipping me to know God more and more.

#2. Purposefully determine that I will want what God wants. Regularly ask God to strengthen my desire.

#3. When I feel God’s direction, humbly say “yes” to God. But also pause and ask for the understanding or specific directions I need to fulfill His purpose. 

#4. Thank Him for working in me.

~~~~

Thank You, God, for working in me to want to please You and to actually do Your will. I am so grateful that I am Your child, and that You are making me into the image of Your Son.

Luck

When I asked the physician for the cause of my significant eye issue, he said “Bad luck.”  (See When Storms Come)

When I told another physician about the excellent results of physical therapy, she said “You’re lucky.”

Luck? Lucky?

Definition of luck: “The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events.”

Definition of chance: “The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.”

Luck: Events “just” happened without anyone’s control. 

I find it odd that physicians, trained in science, refer to luck. 

God is Sovereign

As a Christian, I do not believe in luck. I believe in the sovereignty of almighty God, who is in control of everything and everybody all the time. God works all things according to His purpose. 

We are responsible and God is sovereign. It’s mind-bending to try to figure that out, but both are true. The Bible clearly teaches both. 

Our challenge as believers is to trust God’s loving sovereignty. As we know Him better, and have increased confidence that He loves us and is working all things for good, we can rely on Him through our storms, even though we don’t know why God thinks that storm is a good idea. 

“Luck” is anti-God

“Luck” is anti-God. “Luck” denies the sovereignty of God. 

If you want to explore God’s loving sovereignty, look at When Storms Come

And I will not say “good luck!” Rather, may God give you and me the desire to know Him better and trust Him in all things.

Press on!

Off with Their Heads!

The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland “had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’” Later, readers learned that “the Queen’s argument was that, if something wasn’t done about it and in less than no time, she’d have everybody executed all round.”

Lately, I’ve been too much like the Queen of Hearts. Instead of compassion, I was furious. Instead of love, I wanted (instant) condemnation. “Off with his head! Off with her head!” And the Lord convicted me of sin.

This isn’t a new lesson, God had to repeat what He showed me before.

We are supposed to hate what God hates. (See Hate what God Hates)

And yet, we are commanded to 

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44

And we are to pray

I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1–4

We are to pray for their salvation.

After I scheduled this post, I tried to do what the Lord told me. Then I realized I was also too much like Jonah, who was called to proclaim to Nineveh, but ran the other way. Jonah did not want the Ninevites saved. Are there people I don’t want saved? Alas! Lord, forgive me.

I am to pray for their salvation. I am to entrust all judgment to Almighty God. Lord, help me please You.

~~~

Father, I want to obey You. I want to mourn over the sins of my nation. I want to hate what You hate. I also want to pray for the lost, having compassion for them. Please open eyes, ears, and hearts, and turn people to You. Please help me understand Your path and walk in Your way.

~~~

Previous lessons!

Hate what God Hates

Dismayed in These Difficult Times

Current Event Bingo

Whose Side Are You On?

Political Wars

Praise our Refuge

Almighty God is our Refuge

God is described as our refuge, our stronghold, a rock higher than we, a tower of strength, a shelter, our shield, our dwelling place, our strength.

Our responsibility is to run to Him

I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.  (Psalm 61:2–4)

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.  (2 Samuel 22:3) 

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

But how?

We, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) 

It is a fact that God is a refuge and that we can come to Him—with confidence.

Decide to run to Him.

Once we run to Him, take time to remember who He is, what He has done in the world, and His blessings in your world (See Milestones). Remember that God loves you, that He is in control, that He is your hope, and that He is faithful. 

Take a deep breath, or several (!), and rest in Him. 

One of my mental images is being safe and dry under a deep porch, looking out on wild weather. I’ve taken shelter under His wings.

I think this takes practice. 

If we, as believers, don’t run to Him when we are in trouble, we are still eternally secure. But we’ll suffer more in the moment.

Let’s run to Him. Let’s press on.

~~~

Almighty God, our refuge, our shelter, we praise You. Thank You for giving us practice in running to You. Thank You for being our loving sovereign. 

Yeah, but…

Yeah but…

Yeah, but he… Yeah, but she….

We have all been in arguments or problematic situations. When we later review our own thoughts, words, and behaviors we can see how we contributed to the issue. Perhaps it was relatively minor, but it wasn’t zero. And, maybe, rather than what we did, it was what we didn’t do. Perhaps we had an opportunity to bring peace to the situation, but didn’t.

Whatever we did, however little we did, we still need to identify and confess. 

Sometimes this doesn’t feel fair. “But he, but she was the problem. He, she was 90% at fault.” (And, sometimes, when we think it through, we contributed a lot more than we first thought.)

The Lord deals with us. We are responsible for our own thoughts, words, and deeds. Whatever the Lord does with the other person or persons is not our business. 

Use the uncomfortable situation to learn, to identify how better to walk according to the Spirit. Do not focus on what the other person or persons should do differently (although you should pray for him or her, you probably need to forgive, and the Lord may ask you to have a conversation with him/her/them). Focus on what the Lord wants you to do.

So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”  (John 21:21–22

Press on!

Prerequisites to Christian Service

Prerequisites to Christian Service

When I was in college I would sometimes see a course I wanted to take, but discover I had to complete other classes before I could take the one I wanted. My desired course had prerequisites. Sometimes I didn’t want to fulfill the requirements and missed out on the course I wanted.

That is generally true in life. We can’t become a school teacher without a certificate. We can’t be in the finals of a race without qualifying heats.  

In Christian service, the fundamental requirement is saving faith in Christ Jesus. 

David and Isaiah had to confess their sins and be forgiven before being put in service.

David confession and forgiveness

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….  (Psalm 51:2, 10)

David service (teaching and praise)

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You…Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. (Psalm 51:13.15)

Isaiah confession and forgiveness

Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lordof hosts. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”   (Isaiah 6:5-7)

Isaiah service (prophesy)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people… (Isaiah 6:8–9

Our service

As Christians, we are all in service to God. 

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.  (1 Timothy 1:12

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.  (Hebrews 12:28

Requirements

You may, or may not, need to confess something in order to be put in service. Examining ourselves is always good practice, however. (See The Examined Life)

You may, or may not, need to be faithful in a particular job prior to being put into service where you want.

Pray and listen for God’s next steps for you.

~~~

Thank You—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—for the opportunity to serve You, for the gifts You gave me to enable my service, and for Your presence as I walk in Your way.