God knew what He was doing when He made you and I. We are all different as far as our personalities and ways of doing things go. I've come to enjoy my own unique qualities.
When we read the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, we're able to see the distinct differences between these two sisters. Their perspective on things and their priorities were completely different.
Martha was task oriented and proactive. Those are very good qualities to have. Mary was more compliant and laid back, and that was a plus as well. I could hear Martha right now, "If I want it done, I have to do it myself!" I have encountered that spirit and attitude before. Now, Mary was no slouch! She wasn't lazy or irresponsible. What was priority to her, in that moment when Jesus stop by to visit, was of utmost importance. Mary was focused on her spiritual need. She also enjoyed the presence of the Lord Jesus. She didn't want to miss out on what He had to say, so although she knew her sister was in that kitchen preparing a much needed meal, the place she chose was more important.
Martha was a bit of a complainer. When things didn't go quite the way she wanted, she barked about it. Martha was inflexible. She also made service her priority. Service is important for we are saved to serve, but sometimes the activity of serving can get in the way of spiritual things. The tendency is to be so caught up with 'Doing Stuff', that we forget about the person we're doing it for.
Perhaps you are a Martha type or maybe you're like Mary. They both are needed in the body of Christ. Jesus pointed out to Martha that she was a bit preoccupied. He called her name twice and when the Lord has to call our name twice, He's really trying to get our attention. He said that Mary had chosen the good part; He didn't say, 'Better Part'. There is a difference. While Martha was agitated with her sister and probably felt like Mary wasn't doing what she was suppose to be doing, the Lord saw the imbalance in Martha's life.
As you and I embark upon a New Year and a new decade, let's prioritize. Let's keep the things that should be first and foremost front and center. Let's serve the Lord, but not let serving keep us from sitting at His feet listening, learning, meditating, and praying. Let's make sure we are giving adequate time and attention to our one on one relationship with God.
May you have a prosperous, and rewarding year! There will be ups and downs, but if you stay in tune with God, you will be a blessing no matter what happens in your life!
It's a New Year! I sat pondering what I could share with you that would be spiritually helpful. God is faithful! A dear fellow friend, and believer wrote this wonderful passage filled with hope for 2020. I share it with you.
May you for 2020 be blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ; may He continue to enlighten your mind with life changing truths; may He enlarged your borders, your territory spiritually, and physically-may every ground your feet tread upon be yours! May satan and his host be kept at bay as you walk through the valley of life with all it challenges...may you daily have mountain top experiences of sweet fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ; and victory over ever foe...and when you are wearied and dismayed, may you wait on the Lord to renew your strength so you can fly over mountains: of stress, disappointment, satan's attacks, frustration, confusion, conflict, temptations, frustration, doubts, distrust, distractions, discouragement, loneliness, threats on your life, and ministry, attacks on your finances, uncertainties, every hurtful thing, wicked schemes-with the massive wings of eagles enabled by the great and magnificent power of God.
"It's an honor for a man to keep distance from strife." Proverbs 20:3
"A dishonest person spreads strife." Proverbs 16:28
"Hatred stirs up strife." Proverbs 10:12
There is so much that can be said about the subject of 'Strife'. There are different triggers that cause this type of behavior in people, but its origin comes from the same place.
Lack of affirmation
The list above are symptoms of a greater problem that's within the individual. Their actions, reactions, and behavior are exemplified in various ways. The core of their problem is that they are in great need of 'LOVE'.
When a person has experienced love from the time they are a child, they feel secure, confident, happy, worthy, and contented. That's the power of love! Many are raised without it, or never experienced it and as they grew up, they were functioning at a deficit and the only way they knew how to cry out for it was to strike out at others, and this revealed itself in negative ways.
Perhaps you have been the recipient of such backlash and negative treatment from persons and wondered what you ever did to get that kind of response. The truth of the matter is that you don't have to do anything for a person to treat you in a negative way. People with the above issues will treat anyone negatively that has the opposite behavior. For example, insecure people are always jealous of secure, confident individuals. Persons who are bitter are often angry and display hatred for those who are happy and contented. The envious, jealous person will always throw shade at those who have good solid friendships and get along with others, or they seem to possess qualities or possessions they don't have.
So, how do you navigate in the midst of such behavior? The first thing is to call it what it is when you see it! Don't minimize it or tell yourself you aren't seeing or feeling what you're feeling. Secondly, Identify what you see and understand the implications of keeping that individual in your friendship pool. Thirdly, decide on whether they will be a healthy addition to your social circle, or a poisonous snake. Last, but not least, make a decision that you will be able to live with. Sometimes you have to cut these people loose and move on in life without them.
Jesus dealt with all types of people when He walked this earth. He came across many difficult people who were negative, dishonest, disloyal, liars, trouble makers, schemers, haters, and the envious persons who ultimately sought to kill Him every chance they got. He's the expert on handling people who cause strife!
Sometimes Jesus put a question to them when they came with foolishness. "Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" Jesus asked, "What did Moses command you" (Mark 10:2-3) The Pharisees were only trying to cause conflict. That's what people who create strife do.
"They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger." (John 8:6). In this account Jesus chose to keep silent. In another account Jesus has to rebuke the person. "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
The minute a person comes your way to create strife, call on the Lord, right there and then, and ask Him for the wisest way, for that moment in time, to deal with the person. He may tell you to keep silent, turn their comment to you into a much needed question, or to rebuke them using scripture. Which ever way is needed, do it with a soft, non-argumentive, and calm way. This way you don't cause a full blown argument because that's what the person wants. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft word turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger." They want to fight with you to embarrass you, and to walk away with something legitimately negative to say about you to others. Ask God for wisdom.
Always remember, it's not about you, it's about them. Don't take on their issues. Don't let them rob you of your peace of mind and joy in the Lord. Commit them to God!
For as long as I can remember, I've heard "Christians" say that what the world is longing for can only be found in Christ Jesus. When I was younger, attending church regularly with my grandparents, I didn't know what that meant. When I became a teenager, I often wondered what that actually looked like. I am older now and I can personally testify to the truth of that statement that I heard so often. I now know what it feels, and looks like.
Over the course of my Christian journey, I've run into all types of believers. Some were very knowledgable in the Word of God, while others were always faithfully attending church meetings, and then there were those who just seem to be busily involved in various ministry areas.
I guess deep down inside, I was always searching for the Christian who was happy, and contented. I was interested in keeping company with those who knew God personally and who had something new and fresh to say about Him. I wanted to hear powerful testimonies of God's miraculous power and the ways in which He showed love to His people.
As the years went on, I heard less and less testimonies let alone powerful ones. There were fewer and fewer people sharing the Lord on a personal, intimate level with. All I seemed to encounter was the general shop talk and socializing. I began to wonder about this title "Christian".
I know from personal experience that when I am enjoying anyone, relationship wise, I look forward to being with and around them. I can't help but speak of them to others because of the affect they're having on me. The same can be said about our one on one relationship with the Lord God. That's where everything in our life springs from.
When we are in an open honest relationship with God, we can speak freely to Him about all of our secrets. We can unveil to Him the dark hidden places in our heart that no one knows about. We can trust Him with all of our thoughts, and feelings, knowing He will always do right by us. This is where our Happiness, Peace, and Contentment lies! It can only be found in a honest, trusted, relationship with the Lord God.
So why is it some of us who warm the church bench with sad faces? Faces of boredom, emptiness, and discontent is what I've been seeing for quite some time. There are those who snap at you, ignore you, barely part their lips to greet you, and those who roll their eyes at you, and those who avoid you altogether.
How can we carry the title or claim of "Christian" when we are behaving in ways that don't go hand in hand with the faith?
I've come to the conclusion that perhaps some of us have not been cultivating much a relationship with God at all. That's the bottom line. James4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Do we believe that?
God knows all about you and what you need. Only He can make you Happy, at Peace, with Contentment despite what you may be going through, and despite what may be happening all around you. Don't warm a church bench in misery or take on the title "Christian" if you aren't living in the good of it. Get in close with the Lord and let Him meet you right where you are. Let Him show you how to be fulfilled on the inside.
HAVE A BLESSED THANKSGIVING!
In order to see what may be lurking behind the curtain, we have to pull it back and take a look. When we are dealing with people, it's not so easy to do. Behind all negative, and offensive behavior are things that lurk in the shadows. Some of those things have been there for a long time.
For the most part, people don't know why they do the things they do. They may have a lack of 'Self Awareness'. Most people spend their lives reacting to life as oppose to taking the time to stop and assess what's really going on and find the appropriate response.
We all have a past. Some of us have had some pretty difficult things to deal with as a result. Often, we are shaped by our experiences from childhood. I am not a psychologist or a professional counselor, but I have dealt with a lot of horrid situations in my life over the years, and I know from personal experience what negative things, over time, can do to a person.
When I gave my heart to Christ, I learned that He could be trusted. I started discussing all of my issues with God and He has helped me to sort out each one, It is a process, but I was willing to take a real good look at what was lurking behind my curtain.
Over the years, I've dealt with difficult people in the church and outside of the church. Had I not dealt with my own stuff, I would not have been able to identify what I was looking at with others. Anyone who poses a real difficulty for you is showing you a bit of what's behind their curtain. I'm not speaking about disagreements, misunderstandings, or minor infractions. I'm referring to more serious behavior patterns that are seen consistently over a good span of time.
What I have found to be their struggle:
These individuals can pose great difficulty to others. They often don't do well in interacting with others. They have trouble keeping healthy relationships. They can tell you what other people's problems are, but they never discern what theirs is. They are hiding behind the curtain!
If you are dealing with anyone who seems similar to what is listed above, start by praying for them, for real. Prayer is key to being able to navigate without animosity when thrust together with them. If you happen to be living with them, pray and fast for them and yourself. Their behavior can make you hostile, furious, lash out, and become bitter against them. It's only natural for one to experience those emotions. Prayer helps to soften our spirits and bring about a deeper understanding. Prayer and fasting will keep you from reacting to the negativity. Prayer and fasting also gives clarity and will help you to maintain your love for them.
Being a Christian does not exempt us from attacks, being hated, being lied on, being misunderstood, or hurt. It's part of our journey here. It won't last forever, but God can help us endure and learn to handle difficult persons. Difficult people is God's specialty.
Always remember this; The Lord was verbally abused, physically abused, cursed at, slapped, lied on, spat on, accused of things He did not do, hated, scorned, and rejected, then murdered. Who better to pour our hearts out to? Who better to talk over our situations with? Who better to hand over the difficult stuff in our lives to, so He can make it right and bring about the healing that is needed? Tell Him all about it....Perhaps your situation may need a third party to get involved. Counseling is a good thing. God has provided that source of help for us as well.
Keep trusting, keep believing, He sees, He knows, He has a remedy for your situation!
"A fool's wrath (anger) is known at once (right away), but a prudent (wise) man covers shame (lets the insult go)." Proverbs 1216
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
Whether a person is rich or poor, middle class, or prominent, everyone wants peace and contentment in their lives.
I have watched people fill their heart and fill their lives with all sorts of things and still no peace, still no happiness or contentment. What a sad, sad, thing that is.
There is that momentary happiness that comes with winning the lotto, an increase in ones income, a new relationship, or a new job. But none of those things can provide what a soul cries out for.
You may be someone who has experienced a bad hand that was dealt to you and you've chosen to look for peace by drinking your sorrows away. Some people spend every dime they make buying stuff they feel would make them happy, but it doesn't work.
We can try to fill our souls with all kinds of things, and never have the peace we need because peace and contentment cannot be found in tangible things or in any person other than God!
If you are searching for peace and happiness, don't spend your life looking in the wrong places. If everything you've tried hasn't worked, why keep doing it? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same results. Aren't you worth more than that?
Stop blaming others for your unhappiness. Stop drowning in your sorrows with drugs, or alcohol, or sex. Stop allowing depression to run your life. Stop hating on people who seemingly have what you're longing for. Why treat yourself as if you aren't deserving of the very thing you're longing for?
This very moment, this very second, you can be free from heartaches by placing your faith and trust in God. This very God of the bible, gave His very own son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. He died to set you free from all the pain and unhappiness that you have encountered in this life. He has promised in His word, the bible, to give you peace, joy, and contentment. His promises are true. He can right the wrongs that you have suffered in this life.
I'm not talking 'Religion'! Lots of people go to church, and gravitate towards 'doing stuff in the church' or giving their money, and still no peace in their lives. They think it will come by doing stuff, giving their time, or of their resources. This is nothing but 'Religion'. It doesn't involved the heart or a relationship with God. A relationship with God brings about 'CHANGE' in your life and 'CHANGE' in your circumstances!
Are you willing to continue another day doing the same old thing over and over again that never seems to bring better results? How many more mornings are you going to wake up feeling depressed, and stressed? It's your call. I trust that you will make a different choice today....
There are so many false teachers out there preaching their own doctrine. Each have a tremendous following. The only way to know if you are hearing 'Truth' or not, is to know enough of the word of God for yourself.
Everything I hear, I look to see where it lines up with the word of God. There's a lot of messages being preached that cater to the emotions. Some preaching sounds so good, you'd automatically think it was authentic in its truth, but it's an imposter.
How well do you know your bible? What is it that you want to hear preached? Today, you hardly hear preachers on Television talk about 'Sin', and that's a serious problem right there. They talk about everything else except for the lifestyle a true believer is to have. You hear those 'Feel Good' messages, the ones that go down easy without a challenge to rise to a higher level of accountability.
Don't neglect reading and studying your bible. This is imperative! There's so many voices out there speaking all sorts of things. Question any preaching from individuals who have aligned themselves comfortably with unbelievers. The word of God clearly states that since the world hated Christ, they will automatically hate His followers. How could a believer be accepted in the company of unregenerate men and partner with them in their endeavors?
Don't be deceived! Always check what you hear against the written word of God! Don't be fooled!
The Bible has quite a bit to say about relationships; marital, friends, and family are the most obvious ones that seem to come to mind. But there is another category under the umbrella of 'Relationships' that often go unnoticed and unattended. I am speaking about 'Connections'. We generally only see connecting with someone when it benefits us. We really don't know what we truly need from others. We think we know, but we don't.
Have you ever wondered about all the people who came across your path in your lifetime that never ended up being a part of your social circle throughout the years? The individuals who you forgot all about because they apparently didn't have a place at the table, so you thought.
God is wise, and God is smart! God is a people person who is in the business of connecting humans in a most needed way. The flip side to that is that we, as humans, use our own formula for deciding on who is vital to connect with and who is not.
I had to think about all of the people who came across my path and where are they now. I can remember the ones who weren't around me for very long and wondered what the purpose was for our meeting up in the first place. Life has a way of teaching you valuable lessons. This is what I have learned.
There are people we are suppose to meet and connect with even if only for a short while. These people bring something valuable to the table of our lives in ways we don't realize at the time. Sometimes we don't look beyond what we want from the relationship or don't want. We're focused on the personal aspect of it all. We hardly ever ask why God has put this individual in front of us.
Some persons are to be with us throughout the journey while others are there to bring an extraordinary value to our lives. They enhance, they help us to sparkle, and grow. They may not be there to make us feel good, or stroke our ego, or to make us comfortable. God has them there to challenge us in areas of our lives with the intent to make us better and brighter.
Who were the persons you chose to discard from your life, and I'm not talking about the ones who were toxic, they needed that dispossess notice you gave them. I am speaking about the people you may have closed the door on for other reasons. Maybe they were of a different background, educational level, or ethnicity. Perhaps they were too mature, and seemingly, too serious.
It is so important to make connections with people in general. You'll never know the benefit you're to receive from them. The opportunity for what God had for you through connecting with them won't come along again. Sometimes it's a one time deal.
Pay close attention to everyone who comes across your path, especially the ones you didn't choose for your circle of associates. Ask God why they are there and to help you to see what they bring to the table. Ask God to show you the reason they are there so that you won't miss out on having your life enhanced, or miss out on an important life lesson.
The people we ignore, and overlook, have learned something vital about us as well. They walked away with knowledge and understanding, of our level of depth, and a sense of what our priorities are in life. They would actually never try to approach us again. Now, whose loss will that be? The loss is both theirs, and ours.
Let's keep an open mind concerning people and the seat they are to have at the table. Never underestimate their value and worth. Don't short change yourself, or rob yourself of the blessings, benefit, and opportunity God wants you to have!
There is such beauty and attractiveness when a believer exudes peace and calm as a character trait. That's not to say that they have an easy going life; quite the contrary! It simply means that they have found the more excellent way to navigate through life's hurdles, curve balls, and struggles.
We have a perfect example in Mary of Bethany. She made it her priority to sit in the presence of her Lord. That was her desire above all else. When she was desirous to learn from Jesus, she sat at His feet. When Lazarus, her brother, died, she was found at the feet of Jesus addressing the sorrow and loss she felt. When there was a time for Worship, she was found, yet again, at the feet of her Lord washing His feet with her hair. So we see three crucial times when Mary was found in the right position, in the right place, in communion with the Lord God.
So where does one find strength? It is found in an intimate relationship with God. In doing so, there is peace and a quiet confidence that washes over you. The trials, the disappointments, the afflictions, and the sudden storm can create turbulence in our spirit, but despite that, its effect will be replaced with peace and calm. When God gives peace, who can come along and disturb you?
Take your burdens to God and let Him know with all honesty how you feel about what you are experiencing and then drop that burden off right there in His presence. Get up and keep it moving. God will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your mind focused on Him!
Quiet Confidence Vs. Unrest. Unrest yields insecurities that spill out all over the place. Have you ever been around a person who didn't exhibit quiet confidence? They are usually found constantly irritated, annoyed, frustrated, and striking out at others. They can be found minding other people's spiritual business, gossiping, tattling, and whispering about people. This is because they are disturbed spiritually and are not working out their issues with God. They have failed to find that place of rest as Mary did.
Your ability to be strong is dependent upon this quiet confidence. The strength you need is crucial to your submitting to God's will, while waiting on Him to take care of whatever you need taken care of.
Life can be challenging and hard at times, and that is a fact, but knowing how to navigate through it all is everything.
I wish I could tell you that life has been smooth sailing, but I can't. What I have learned and still am learning is that there will always be hurdles, and challenges to get over. There will be unexpected events and times when you want to run the other way. You and I will experience problems that we just don't want to deal with. It's that real.
I am learning how to swing at every curve ball that comes my way. This is something that can only be taught by God Himself. The challenges we're facing today don't have to be faced alone. God knows the way, and He knows every curve in the ball. There is no one greater or better to help us in our time of need.
So the next time you're up to bat and something unexpected comes, let God show you how to swing that bat! He has this magnificent thing called, "Grace". Grace gives you and me the ability to tolerate, put up with, and deal with unpleasant situations. It helps us to face our worse nightmare and not loose our minds. God's grace stabilizes us and gives us peace in the midst of the storm.
I don't know what you are going through right now, but you are not alone. I too, am facing some hard things, and I am holding on to the one who knows exactly what to do about it all. He has come to see about me and He will do the same for you. Keep trusting, keep believing, keep praying and keep reading God's word!
As a writer, I enjoy giving you the honest side of truth! As an artist, I create what doesn't exist. Each day I look for new and creative ways to use every ability God has so graciously given me.