No Matter How Bad It Gets, God is in Control!

Daniel 7 & 8
As I have been studying Daniel in a group setting, I have learned a lot about the character of God. Daniel, in his time, was an interpreter of dreams, yet, he did not try to interpret his own dreams (7:16; 8:15-17). He was wise not to try to interpret such awe inspiring and yet terrifying dreams. He looked to God for answers. Even still, he had an emotional response to both dreams with the second making him physically sick (7:15; 8:27) . After a time he was able to get up and go about the king’s business (8:27). In Daniel’s second dream (8:23-25), there is a description of a king of bold face who shall cause fearful destruction with great power that is not his own. What strikes me in this passage is the last part of verse 25, And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. Though this king is great and powerful, he is brought down not by human hand, meaning that God brings him down. This tells me that God is sovereign and nothing is beyond His control. 
My take home on this is that though times be tough and fearful, I need not fear for God is, without doubt, in control. He removes kings and sets up kings. Jesus has been given a dominion that is everlasting and His kingdom shall not pass away (7:13-14). Come what may I will be okay for God is in control and knows all things. It is like knowing that outcome of the game before it is even played. God wins!
All praise and glory be His now and forevermore!
My Prayer: Dear God in heaven, I praise Your Holy name for You are indeed in control and there is nothing to fear. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus, who reigns forevermore. Amen. 
 
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Now For Something Completely Different

Something to consider; Could Even Illness/Infirmity Serve a Purpose?

My son’s favorite saying from Monty Python is, “Now for Something completely different.” Here is something different to consider. How can Illness/Infirmity serve a purpose?
Yes, I believe it can. Having come through a recent experience of my own, I have come to realize that if I expect myself to always be healthy or if I have a pity party when I am ill, I am being a perfectionist and unrealistic. It is wrong of me to think that life should always be sunny for after awhile I no longer appreciate it and start wanting it to rain. To expect God to instantly make me better is not being realistic either, though He can if it is His will for me. 
My infirmity serves a purpose in quite a few ways. One, it slows me down and requires me to call on God for strength. Two, it allows the opportunity for someone to serve and to give. Third, I can experience healing through different venues such as medicine, prayers of others, including the laying on of hands, and time. 
You see, in the Ecclesiastes passage there is a time for everything. In being ill, I have come to appreciate the help of others and the good health when it returns. Illness is the other side of the coin of health and it is a consequence of the fallen world. In the garden of Eve, long before sin entered in, there was no sickness and in heaven there will be no sickness either, therefore, until Christ returns, I must face whatever comes my way with God’s grace for in 1 Corinthians 12:9 His grace is sufficient. I cannot experience that grace unless I am in need of it. In my infirmity, I am to a be patient and be willing to ask for help. Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. This is something I am still learning to do and He has a away of causing me to be still before Him. 
I challenge you the next time you find yourself ill, seek Him for His strength and His grace. Ask Him what He wants you to learn from Him.
My Prayer: Dear Gracious God, thank you for helping to see things differently and to understand that into my life illness will come but Your grace is sufficient. Be with those who are ill and give them strength. Amen. 
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Prinicples of Conscience: Romans 14

Let Us Not Criticize One Another Anymore.
Romans 14:13 AMP
There are several good messages in this chapter of Romans. I want to pull out a few verses.
 Verse 1,  
As for the [a]one whose faith is weak, accept him [into your fellowship], but not for [the purpose of] quarreling over his opinions. 
I know from my own experience how easy it is to get caught up in arguments with other believers over trivial matters. This does not do any good for the body of believers. It also turns away unbelievers.
Verse 4 reads,  
 Who are you to judge the servant of another? Before his own master he stands [approved] or falls [out of favor]. And he [who serves the Master—the Lord] will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 
It is not my place to judge another believer, however, if someone sins I am to speak the truth in love to win the person back.
Verse 10,
But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you again, why do you look down on your [believing] brother or regard him with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God [who alone is judge]. 
I am thankful that there is only one judge. I am often guilty of judging others, therefore, I have to ask God to help me see them as He does and to forgive me of my critical spirit. 
Verse 13,
Then let us not criticize one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way.  
This is how I am to live among my fellow believers. On my own it is not possible but with Jesus all things are possible. It is by my actions and being like Jesus that I can influence another to grow spiritually. I am to be considerate and not do something to cause another to stumble.
Verse 19,
So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]. 
It is by my example and the words that I use that others are encouraged to good works or drawn to Christ. All the time speaking the truth in love and living out Jesus’s words to me.
In conclusion, I, with the Lord’s help, am to be a living example of Jesus, to speak the truth in love, to encourage others on to good works, and live in peace with other believers. Most importantly, I am to no longer criticize my fellow believers for God is the only judge.
My Prayer: Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my critical spirit. Give me eyes to see others as You do. Help me to speak the truth in love and to encourage others on to good works. Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 14:1 Some Jewish believers may have struggled with abandoning all the old requirements of the Law regarding eating things considered unclean, while some Gentile believers may have been overly sensitive to anything associated with paganism, such as eating meat offered to idols.
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To Forgive or Not to Forgive…

That is the Question.
I have acrostic for this.
Forgive
Others            Matthew 6:12
Regardless
Grace             Ephesians 2:8-9
In
Virtue to         Colossians 3:13-14
Everyone!
I am instructed to forgive other regardless of the other person’s reception. For it is about me and not them. In Matthew 6:12, I am to forgive others in order to receive forgiveness of my sins. In doing so, I receive grace, peace, and freedom because holding on to grudge is only hurting me and my relationship with God and others.
Grace is a freely given gift. I am, in turn, to share grace with others. Jesus made it all possible. I am grateful for this because on my own; I would fail.
To forgive is a virtue for every believer in Jesus. It is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. I am to forgive others as Christ first forgave me. I did not deserve it and there were no conditions to be filled before I could receive other than believing and confessing Him. He will help me work to forgive others. All need to do is ask Him to help me.
Forgiveness is not that we forget but in choosing not to pick up and mistreat/gossip about it. Matthew 18:15-17, provides instructions on how to go to someone and offer forgiveness for a wrong that has been done to you. Reconciling is a healthy and right thing to do. I heard it said in a sermon that if that person refuses after every effort has been made you are treat the person as an unbeliever and try to win them back. Reconciliation is the ultimate goal. Yet, this passage is often abused because people will quote it but rarely is it ever modeled in the church. I would like to see it modeled in a sermon via a skit.
Max Lucado put it this way; when I forgive, it sets the prisoner free and that prisoner is me. I can honestly say that I am free!

I choose to forgive. Is there someone that you need to forgive?
My Prayer: Dear God, forgive me as I forgive others. Remind me that holding on to a grudge only hurts me more than the other person. Cause me to embrace Your forgiveness that I may, in turn, forgive those who have hurt me and offer amends to those I have hurt. Amen.
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God Searches All Hearts and…

Understands Every Plan & Thought.
1 Chronicles 28:9b
Here I am reminded that there is nothing hidden from my God. He knows my heart and my thoughts. He searches the heart and test the mind to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds, Jeremiah 17:10. The rest 1 Chronicles 28:9 reads, If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. I know that if I seek Him, I will find Him. He desires an interactive relationship with me. Yet if I forsake Him, He will cast me off.  There is no other place I would rather be than in a relationship with my God. I seek Him and He is found and He cares for me. He provides for me, He comforts me, He gives me strength, He is my hope and everlasting refuge and most importantly He saved me through His Son, Jesus Christ. My self worth comes from knowing Him and His opinion of me matters more than anyone’s. Apart from Him I can do nothing, I am selfish, I am uncaring and hurtful, and lost. 
He can be trusted after all He made all that there is and ever shall be. Great and mighty is He.
My Prayer: Dear God, merciful and mighty are You. I give You praise that You know my heart. Search me and know me. Amen. 
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Do Unto to Others…

As You Would Have Them Do To You.
Luke 6:31
I want to examine this more closely. I have done some reading on personalities in Marita Littauer’s book, “Wired That Way.” It is from understanding my personality that I can begin to understand others. If I understand, for example, that someone I love is wired differently then I can think to myself that if I were wired that way how would I want to be treated. Personally, I crave respect and affirmations. I, therefore, try my best to show respect and give positive feedback yet for some people who are wired differently they don’t necessarily receive it as it is intended. I know people who are wired to crave credit for their work and desire loyalty, therefore, I strive to acknowledge that person’s hard work promptly. This also helps me to not look for what I need from someone who is wired differently. 
God has made each person unique and one of a kind. If I expect others to be like me then I am doing them a disservice and not respecting them for the uniqueness that God has created. Besides if everybody was like me it would be nuts because nothing would get done. I have come to accept myself for who God created me to be and now I can accept others for who God created them to be. According to Marita’s book my personality is one that likes to fun have and do things the easy way. This has its drawbacks of not being very motivated but it also has its blessings of being a people person. 
One of my recent favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 12:18, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. The key here is that as far as it depends on me not someone else. I am responsible for my actions and the words that come out of my mouth not for anyone else just me. Understanding the personalities helps me to live in peace with others. Each person is God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. With His help, I can love and appreciate the people who are in my life and those who come into my life.
My Prayer: Dear God, You are the creator of every person and everything. All Your works are right and Your ways are just. Thank You for creating me to be who I am. Help me to love and accept others for who You created them to be and to do unto others as I would want them to treat me.. Amen. 
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No Grumbling Allowed Only Trust

If You Must Take It to God.
Philippians 2:14-15; Jeremiah 31:25
I was reading my Jesus Calling for today and yesterday (10/10 and 10/9). I was struck by the fact that if I think that I have reason to grumble I should take to Him. If I grumble and complain to anyone else it opens the door for deadly sins like self pity and rage. Yet, by going to Him He will lift it and replace it with His thoughts and put His song in my heart. Wow, what a shift in paradigm this is. God after all can handle it better than anyone else could.
For today, I am reminded that I am to live in the present and not to divide my life into things that I can do myself and things that require His help. I am to train my mind to seek His help continually. All I need to do is relax and refresh myself in the light of His presence. This is easy to do when I am in need of Him yet it is a challenge to do so when I am feeling on top of the world. 
I saw the movie Inside Out and in it, I learned that all our emotions have a purpose and one cannot remain in one emotion all the time. Sometimes joy comes out of sadness. It is like learning to appreciate the rain in a drought. I have had plenty of days where I was filled with joy and then the next day I felt the opposite. There was uncertainty and sadness. I didn’t like feeling this way. I reminded myself that God remained faithful and that I could not abide in the elevated mood all the time. Maybe my focus on Him had shifted and I needed to be brought back to a place where I would turn to Him. 
From my own experience, when I have trusted Him in every situation (for a time) I have been able to enjoy life more and face each day confidently. Therefore, I need to recognize it better when I have shifted my focus and bring it back to trusting Him more and myself less. I will do my best to take my grumbling before Him and ask for Him to help me to see things differently.
My Prayer: Gracious Lord, I am thankful that not only will You listen to my grumbling but also will give me a change of heart and put Your song in my heart. Forgive me for the times that I lose my focus and rely on myself. When will I learn that You are trustworthy in all things and at all times? Amen. 
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God Can Humble the Proud;

All His Works are Right and His Ways are Just!
Daniel 4:37; 19-33
 It took a heck of lot to humble King Nebuchadnezzar before he realized the God rules over the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will. Daniel had told the King how he was going to be humbled and advised him to turn from his evil ways. Yet, after 12 months, the king did not change his ways. He boasted that “he” had built his kingdom by “his” power and might. Minutes later God spoke and humbled the king as was foretold in his dream. This helps me to be mindful of how I look at things in my own life and to try to stay humble before God and to thank Him for all that I have and for what He has done in me.
There have been a number of times in my life that God has had to humble me. They were not pleasant memories but looking back I now see them in a different light. I would not be where I am today without those tough times in my life. After all God disciplines those He loves. I know that there will be times ahead where I am need to be reminded that God is greater and in control. Having been disciplined before I can hopefully learn quicker and the lesson not be so unpleasant. Staying humble is remembering that God is God and I am not; it is focusing more on Him and less on me. I heard it put this way; humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less and thinking of God and others more. God has made all the good in my life possible. 
I am greatly blessed and thankful for all that I have; friends, family, and ministry involvement. As God has worked on my hurts, hang ups, and habits, He has filled my heart with His great love for me. It is out of this that I am help to love myself in order to love others as myself. I can treat them as I would want to be treat; with respect, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. On my own, I cannot do anything apart from Him.
It is my hope and prayer that you are able to find encouragement in what God has given me to share with you. 
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I give You thanks for the 50 years of life that You have so blessed me with. I praise Your name for all the many blessings that You have given me. Help me to remain humble before You and be a light for others to come to know You more. Amen!
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