22 October 2010

“Waiting on God”

Our culture emphasizes, among other things, instant gratification.  We desire everything, and we desire it right now—whether it is sex, money, a promotion, or even a parking space—and we want it regardless of the cost to others, or even ourselves, and some will do anything to get it.  Not only do we want everything and right now, but we feel and act as though we are actually entitled to it, as if we’re owed.

The Bible, God’s holy inerrant Word, has a different perspective.  It says we should act otherwise, not as though everyone owes us the world.  The Bible teaches delayed gratification, patience.  It teaches us to wait

There’s more to patience than simply keeping your cool while waiting in a long line at Wal-Mart, or not wanting to run that person going below the speed limit off the road.  Although that type patience is very important and expected of us (Gal. 5:22; 1 Thes. 5:14), the patience we’ll focus on today is one of having patience with God.  This patience allows our overall patience to grow.

Although it may seem as though we are idling through life without a reason for being there, it’s simply not the case.  God never wastes our time.  He has us where we are for a reason, even if we don’t know what it is, or feel as though we’re not doing anything, or don’t want to be there, or are plain bored.  If you feel like God wants you somewhere else or doing something else, but all your plans fall through and you just don’t make any progress getting there, then just wait (and pray).  It is not yet the right time.  You must wait on God’s timing, not your own.  But the key in this waiting is preparing.  While you are waiting, you must be preparing yourself for what’s to come, whatever that may be.  The Bible is clear in showing that patience is not just a sitting on your backside doing nothing type of waiting; it’s an active waiting (Heb. 12:1).  Let’s look at some examples.

Joseph was thrown into prison on false accusations (Gen. 39:10-21).  While in prison, he interpreted dreams for the king’s cupbearer and baker (Gen. 40).  Joseph told the cupbearer to mention him to the king in order to get out.  But the cupbearer forgot.  It wasn’t until two years later that the king had a dream of his own that needed interpreted that the cupbearer remembered Joseph (Gen. 41:1-13).  Pharaoh removed Joseph from prison, told him his dream, and Joseph interpreted it.  Joseph was then placed into a position only second from Pharaoh (Gen. 41:37-45).  This put him into a position to help, not only Egypt, but his people survive, for if it were not for God placing Joseph in that position, the Israelites would have died off because of the famine (Gen. 45:4-11).  Now that is God’s timing.

Moses spent the first two-thirds of his life preparing for the last third.  Moses spent his first 40 years in Egypt and fled after killing an Egyptian (Ex. 11-15).  The next 40 years of his life was spent raising his own family, as well as being a shepherd to his father-in-law’s flock (Ex. 3:1).  The last 40 years of his life was spend being a shepherd to God’s flock, leading them out of Egypt and through the wilderness.  All in God’s timing.

Esther was given a seemingly perfect opportunity to ask the king of Persia to spare her people, instead she said, “tomorrow” (Est. 5:6-8).  The timing seemed perfect, and in fact, Esther was very much prepared (Est. 4:15-5:2).  But King Xerxes was not.  Esther was able to discern when to speak and when not to, for she had prepared herself the three days prior.  Although she was ready, she knew it wasn’t yet time to make her request.  She waited for God’s perfect timing.

Paul went away to Arabia and then to Damascus after his calling and conversion, and didn’t return to Jerusalem for three years to do a little witnessing (Gal. 1:15-24).  It wasn’t until fourteen years later that God called him to return to Jerusalem and actually begin his unforgettable, amazingly influential, zealous, ministry for the Lord! (Gal. 2:1-10).  You better believe that Paul was not simply sitting on his rump during those 13 years; he was preparing!  And he sure was ready when God’s timing came for him to do as he was called.

God’s purpose will be fulfilled regardless of who He uses, but I would hate to think what would have happened if any one of these aforementioned important “tools” of God had not used that waiting time for what it was—a time to prepare.  Would they have been ready for God’s purpose in their lives, or would God been made to choose others to take their place?  Are you waiting on God, or are you going full speed ahead at your own will?  If you are waiting, are you taking this time of waiting to prepare for what God has planned for you?  Show your faith and trust in God by waiting on Him, even if it involves suffering. (See Ps. 25:1-5, 27:14, 130:5; Prv. 20:22; Is. 30:18, 40:31; Lam. 3:25-26; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 2:3; Gal. 5:5; Heb. 6:12; Jms. 5:7).    

I know that I want to fulfill all of my God-given destiny no matter the cost, but I also know that I cannot do it in my own time or in my own power.  I must wait and rely on God—He is forever faithful. 

God Bless,

Niki (ͼͽ)

15 October 2010

The TRUTH about Homosexuality

What’s wrong with homosexuality?  Many people these days will say that the only thing wrong with it is that some people are against it.  What happened between the time when homosexuality was so incredibly taboo that people were ashamed even to mention it, to the time today where it is seemingly accepted by the vast majority in the United States that people parade down streets half naked while engaging in homosexual behavior? 

A friend of mine asked her friends for assistance in determining the timeline of homosexuality for a college psychology class she was taking.  I and a couple others responded with websites outlining the main events in the homosexual movement.  The thing was, none of those outlines identified any reasons for the  increased prevalence/acceptance of homosexuality.  What are those reasons? 

To answer these questions, we must first convey the authoritative view on homosexuality.  This view comes from the inerrant Word of God, the Bible.  It is clear that homosexuality is wrong.  The most obvious explanation for this is the fact that God made man as male and female, to marry and procreate (Gen. 1:27-28, 2:18-24).  Jesus confirms this definition of marriage (Mk. 10:6-9; Mt. 19:4-6), as does Paul (Eph. 5:31).  By accepting homosexuality, you reject, not only the created order of God, but God Himself, for He is the Creator.

There are numerous references to homosexuality being immoral, unnatural (Jude 7; Rom. 1:26-27), an abomination (Lev. 18:22, 20:13), a great and grave sin (Gen. 13:13, 18:20), and that those who practice it are wicked (Gen. 13:13, 18:23, 25, Gen. 19:4-7).  Both partakers in a homosexual act were to be put to death in the Israelite community (Lev. 20:13).  The sin of homosexuality was so great that Sodom and Gomorra were severely punished with unmitigated destruction (Gen. 18:20-19:29), making the offenders a great example to the ungodly (2 Pet. 2:6-7; Jude 7).  Homosexuals are no different from, or worse than, murderers, adulterers, liars, or all others who possess a sinful lifestyle.  Their overall end is the same: hell-eternal separation from God.  The Bible states that none who live a sinful lifestyle will make it into the kingdom of God (1 Tim. 1:8-10; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). 

So why is homosexuality wrong?  Because God said so, even if you don’t believe in Him (He still loves you).  It is pretty clear to me that homosexuality is not simply a normal “alternate lifestyle,” but instead is a blatant sinful lifestyle characteristic of the unsaved.  So why does the world not see this clear description of it?  After all, murder and child abuse aren’t tolerated or looked upon as “just another way to live.”  And you don’t have to believe in God to see that homosexual relations are simply not normal…you cannot procreate.  Well, let’s now answer our first two questions (in the 1st and 2nd paragraphs).

The increased acceptance of homosexuality, and, in truth, acceptance/tolerance of evil in general, is a direct result of the denial of God and, therefore, His Word.  People have forever tried to remove God from everything, even this country’s God-centered history.  This country has managed to remove public prayer [1] and Bible reading [2] from schools, make posting of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional [3], make student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games illegal [4]; prayers are not allowed to be in Jesus’ name; the US Capitol Visitors Center has removed all inferences to God and religious history [5]; and numerous others.  They know that without God, there is no morality, except that which man creates.  To remove God is to suppress the truth while exchanging the truth for a lie (Romans 1:18-32).  They do this because they do not want to have to gaze upon the face of God, thereby being exposed, and exposing our culture, and being held accountable for what they do.

This world has changed to make homosexuality much more tolerated and accepted.  But God has not changed—and certainly neither has His view on sin—and He never will.  The truth is clear, it’s just not accepted by this world, and it will never be until they acknowledge God.  This world in general may deny the truth about homosexuality, but they will not be able to deny the judgment of it.  Fortunately, by the grace and love of God, they who practice homosexuality are forgivable and changeable, just as any other sinner is (1 Cor.6:9-11).  God sent Christ as an atonement for sin for anyone willing to accept Him as Savior and Lord.  The gift of salvation is freely offered; it is up to us to accept it through faith.

God Bless,

Niki (ͼͽ)

08 October 2010

It wasn’t me. Well, it was, but…

But, but, but.  Buts are overused and misused.  It should be ‘and’ rather than ‘but.’  It was me and I’m sorry.  But, no.  It seems that people these days are not responsible for themselves.  No matter what they do or say, it’s someone else’s fault (this actually started about 6,000 years ago! [Gen. 3:12-13]).  That guy killed that girl, but it was because his parents abused him as a child.  I started smoking at 18, but it was because my dad spanked me when I was 16.  She beat that dog, but it was because she had a bad childhood.  Those two kids shot up a whole classroom, but it was because they were teased and bullied. 

WHAT?!  Since when are others responsible for the things that we choose to do ourselves?  Everything we do is a choice we make prior to doing it.  Logical, right?  Then why is avoiding the consequences of our actions (still) so prevalent today?  So maybe you grew up with horrible influences, thinking it was OK to hit people or things, or to take out your anger on the defenseless (or even the inanimate!).  Maybe you were bullied, abused, mistreated, and that is wrong.  BUT, your actions are absolutely not justified by others’ poor or evil choices.  We are all accountable for something.

Children are accountable to parents; workers are accountable to bosses; government officials are accountable tot he public; adults are accountable to the law; and ultimately, we all are accountable to God.

Just about everything you do affects someone other than yourself.  When one of our kids chooses to disobey, they get grounded (much to the chagrin of the offender, because they illegitimately feel their misdeed should go unpunished), and it affects the whole family…we have to plan around the punishment.  It’s not right to everyone else, but that person must face the consequences of the poor choice they made.  Why shouldn’t they?  After all, they knew the rules and chose to break them. 

It’s not just about doing things we shouldn’t do.  It’s also about not doing things that we should do.  What are your responsibilities at home and work, are you living up to them, and why not?  Did you choose to not finish something at work?  Were you supposed to meet someone somewhere and didn’t?  Did you tell someone you would do something and didn’t?  What were your excuses?  I had a guitar lesson last Tuesday at 1:45.  At 2:10 I realized I forgot.  I called my instructor, apologized for forgetting (thankfully, I offered him no excuses, for I had none).  He told me “it happens.”  I said, “Yeah, but it shouldn’t.”  It wasn’t just about ME.  I didn’t just miss my lesson, I totally inconvenienced my instructor by wasting his time.  My phone is now set to remind me.  If you know things you should do and choose not to do them, you are wrong (Jms. 4:17).

Every choice you make has consequences of some kind, whether that choice is a good one, or a bad one.  You no doubt gladly accept the consequences of a good choice—taking credit for them I’m sure.  So why think that you shouldn’t have to accept the consequences of a bad choice and take credit for them as well?  Just take it!  It is much more commendable to acknowledge your failures than it is to try to pawn them off on someone else or lie about them. 

Parents, teach your children responsibility.  Teach them that it is not all about them.  Teach them that they must be held accountable for their attitudes, actions, and words…and then HOLD THEM TO IT!  

Shirking responsibility, even for small things, will not work at judgment, both for the Christian and non-Christian.  You had better believe that every little and big thing you do or say here on this earth in this world will one day be judged by the Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, and Judge (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:6-11; Mt. 25:31-35; Rev. 22:12).  Even if you may (think you) get away with things in this life, you will not be permitted to lay blame on someone else at judgment. You are responsible for you, regardless of what others do or say to you or against you.

The greatest choice, with the greatest consequence, that you must make is whether or not to accept Christ as your Savior, to let Him into your life to guide you, to obey and trust Him through faith.  If you are not saved, if you choose to not give your life to Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Savior and Lord, then you will endure the wrath of God for eternity in hell, because of your foolish choice to deny Christ (Rom. 2:5).  And you will be able to blame no one but yourself, for it is an individual responsibility.  It’s the same for absolutely every other choice you make, except here the choice is absolute and the consequence much greater.  What will you choose?

Have a wonderfully blessed day,

Niki (ͼͽ)

01 October 2010

Please Forgive me

As Christians, there are two types of people we can offend: our brothers (fellow Christians) and our adversaries (non-Christians).  Regardless of who they are, in whatever way we have wronged them, we are commanded to take reconciliatory action immediately (see Mt. 5:23-25).  We are to “go” to that person and apologize, request forgiveness, offer a reasonable recompense…we are to do whatever we can to right whatever wrong caused that person to have something against us.  And we are to do it even if we feel that we did or said nothing wrong or if we feel that what we did or said shouldn’t have offended the other person.  We also must go even if we think that everything is “cool” with the offended and therefore is no need for an apology, simply because the other person may be kind to us or act as if nothing happened (they’ve forgiven you).  The fact is, they’ve been wronged and they’re possibly upset, and that is reason enough to be reconciled to them—it’s not about us or our rights, it’s about obeying Jesus.  So we must “go.”  We may not be forgiven by them, but the important thing is that we’ve obeyed a commandment, not a suggestion, of God, and, upon asking Him, are forgiven by Him.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do isn’t apologizing, but forgiving.  We are commanded to forgive and obligated to forgive because the Lord has forgiven us (Mt. 6:14-15; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).  Yes, it is sometimes very difficult.  Maybe someone has hurt you terribly, whether it be physically or emotionally.  Maybe someone said or did things for the sole purpose of hurting your feelings—called you or your loved ones names, talked badly about you or someone you care about, flirted with your spouse, etc., or maybe someone said or did things that they aren’t even aware of.  Guess what?  You have to forgive them, even if they don’t apologize!  And our forgiveness should be unlimited, as God’s is (Mt. 18:21-22).  That’s a tough one.  But forgiving is absolutely not for the offender, it is for you.  

Others’ offenses against us cannot be worse than our own offenses against God, and God has forgiven us much more than we, in our entire lifetimes, will ever forgive.  So why should we not forgive?  It’s all about having a forgiving spirit, which makes us want to forgive, for forgiving without really wanting to forgive is not forgiving at all.  Not forgiving someone (thereby not having a forgiving spirit) can impede our spiritual growth or render our prayers ineffective.  Jesus stresses this in Matthew 6:12, 14-15 and Mark 11:25.  Asking God for forgiveness but not forgiving others is hypocritical.  Having an unforgiving spirit is a sin.  Therefore, choosing not to forgive someone—holding a grudge, keeping the anger, having a vengeful spirit—gives us an attitude that makes it impossible for God to forgive us (Mt. 6:14-15).  Forgiving others is an evidence of salvation and a regenerate heart.  Just as we can love others because God first loved us, we can forgive because God’s forgiveness makes it possible…that is where we get the forgiving spirit, directly from God.  So ask Him for a forgiving spirit.  Only you can benefit from it.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day,
Niki (ͼͽ)