Forget or Walk Away? (Proverbs 3:1)

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It was a major breakdown. Production had been halted for hours simply because one crane was inoperable. Electricians with flash lights scurried from panel to panel searching for the source of the problem. Some responded to the problem in a random try this-try that approach, but there were two men who stood back and thought about principles that they had learned. Within 20 minutes, the crane was back online and production resumed its fast pace.

As Christians, we many times respond to problems in our lives in like manner as those that tried this and tried that. Because that is our tendency, God has reminded us that we should not forget his law. That statement brings about an important question: “If we know God’s law, how can we forget it?” When we forget God’s law, we essentially mislay it. Because of the busyness of life, we walk away from it and fail to look to his law for a solution to our problems.

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (Proverbs 3:1)

What we should be doing is constantly guarding God’s word in our heart. We can accomplish this by daily reading his word and marking principles that we learn which apply to our lives. As we continue to read, study and remind ourselves of God’s law, we will keep ourselves from mislaying or walking away from it.

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Passing the Right Baton (Psalm 145:4)

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Not long ago, my son, who is in the ministry called and asked, “If you had the chance to raise your children over again, what would you do differently?” It didn’t take long for me to provide my three part response: allow my children to make mistakes and even wrong decisions just as long as it would not destroy their lives, focus on the hidden sins of the heart and not so much the external appearance and actions, and search for more opportunities to praise them striving for a 4:1 ratio of praise to negative corrective responses.

My change in child raising did not come from obtaining a different philosophy of life, but instead a better understanding of God’s plan for fathers and the next generation. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. (Psalms 145:4). My mistake as a father was placing a greater emphasis on how my children looked and acted on the outside with little focus on what was taking place in their hearts. They, without my knowledge, could have possessed in their hearts envy, jealousy, pride and unforgiveness, but as long as they dressed and acted rightly, I thought they were okay and I was successful as a father. However, I could not have been more wrong.

If we are to influence the next generation of believers, they need to know the true God and have a real relationship with him and not simply model an acceptable outside appearance. Because we fail at leading young people into a relationship with God, we lose more teens than we keep. The retention of those who transition into adulthood and live for God decreases even more so. Jesus warned the Pharisees of this error when he spoke about cleaning the outside of the cup while ignoring the inside. (Luke 11:39) They continued in error because of their prideful self righteousness, but we fall into the same error because of fear. We fear what others think about our children, our parenting and our testimony for Christ. So in our effort to deal with fear, we clean up the outside of our children and all the while ignore that which they need the most.

It is time to teach the next generation about how God meets with us, strengthens us and enables us to face and deal with troubles in life. They need a mentor or a person to disciple them into a relationship with God. They need to learn how to cast their cares on God and see how he supplies. They need to see the supernatural God instead of a list of super abounding rules. Should we continue to establish guidelines for conduct? Of course we should, but the greater emphasis for young people should be on issues of the heart and developing a heart for God.

Broken Hearts (Psalm 147:3)

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Has your heart ever been broken? Of course it has. Every person at some point in their lives has experienced great heart breaking hurt. How did it occur? It is people or circumstances in life that cause our hearts to get broken. The term broken in scripture means to burst. I guess that best describes how our hearts have felt when we were rejected by people that we loved, stood at the graveside of a dearly beloved friend or family member, or watched as children or loved ones made destructive life decisions.

Our hearts can also experience this bursting when people that we love are also deeply hurt. I remember when my son received the news that his maternal grandfather had passed away. We were standing at the top of the stairs in our home when he broke down and sobbed. My heart too began to break: not so much for the person who had passed, but because of compassion and empathy for my son.

I imagine that God’s heart breaks in like manner. He became our high priest and was touched with our infirmities. When we hurt, he understands our hurt and experiences it with us. (Isaiah 63:9). It is for this purpose that God wants to bring healing to our broken hearts. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)

God, who is the God of all comfort, is able to bind up and heal our broken hearts. Some people look to him for healing and allow him to do his work. However, there are others who resist looking to God for help and healing. Although God wants to bind up the wounds of their hearts, they refuse to allow him and when they do, they attempt to accomplish healing on their own. We must understand that we cannot heal our wounded hearts. At best, we can harden our hearts to the pain, which is nothing more than fighting back at it.

We fight back at the pain with anger. Anger towards the event itself or against the person who is the source of our pain. Both pain and anger are negative emotions and unpleasant to the soul, but anger is more easily endured. Hurt is an emotion that we feel when we are the victim, but anger is the emotion associated with us when we are the aggressor. Without God, we respond to pain with anger and at best shroud the wound and the pain. What we really accomplish is replacing the emotions of the heart. A heart filled with hurt has the heart flooded away with anger. When the anger is gone, the hurt returns and the process begins again.

However with God, there is healing. In order to experience this healing, we must exercise faith in the goodness and love of God. By doing so, we will trust that God, who is sovereign, has allowed the circumstances in our lives to occur and we must trust that he can and will work all things for good both for us and him.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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Dog Ear The Page (Psalm 136:23)

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One of the things that I do that irritates my wife is when I dog ear the corner of a page. You know, when you want to mark your place in a book and you do not have a book mark, you fold down the corner of the page. I probably do this most often when I am perusing through a cook book and come across a recipe that catches my eye. Because it caught my fancy and I may want to try and make the item later, the corner of the page gets folded down.

There are other ways to mark favorite items. As a boy I sorted through football cards and would set aside favorites in a specific location in my foot locker. Others may do the same with photos, long ago worn baby clothes and even family heirlooms. We set them aside in boxes, trunks and chests. One thing each of these has in common is that the item, because of its own virtue or significance, catches the eye or heart and causes us to mark it or set it aside.

God is the same: he too marks items as special to himself. However the word used for marking an item for future reference is the word “remember”. Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever: (Psalms 136:23). I would love to think that because of something special in my self, God marked me for future reference. However that is not the case for me or any of us. God remembered us in our low estate because of his mercy. It was his mercy that caused him to want us. It was his mercy that caused him to “dog the ear” on each of us, sinners, so that we would stand out and be easily recognized for future reference. It wasn’t any of our abilities or our desire for him. It was his mercy and his mercy alone that caused him to choose each of us.

Had it not been for his mercy, we would have been left unmarked and would be left to perish in our sin. If it wasn’t for his mercy, we would not be enjoying his goodness each day of our lives. Oh, how soon we forget what God has done for us and instead only think about what we want him to do for us in fulfillment of our goals, plans and desires. We need to stop and maybe even “dog ear” in our hearts God’s mercy and refer to it each day. Maybe that was Paul’s secret for being content in whatever state he may be in. (Philippians 4:11)

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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I Can’t Hold It Together (Psalm 130:5)

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When I was a kid, my mother said that life was tough. I believed her, but I didn’t know it was going to be as tough as it is. Have you ever had days where everything just seemed to be going wrong? Every time you turn around there is yet another problem. During days like that, I can’t wait to get the day over so I can start a new day and as is usually the case, the next day is much better.

However there are times in our lives when one bad day leads into another and yet another. Our emotions are on edge and we feel like we just can’t take another step. At any moment, we feel like we just cannot hold it together any longer and are ready to fall apart and sometimes we do. It is those times that we call dark trials. What is the answer?

I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Psalms 130:5)

What does it mean to wait for The Lord? When we wait for The Lord, we are holding it together until he provides relief. The Hebrew word for “wait” carries the idea of binding together, to collect, or to tarry. The Psalmist shares his testimony in that his soul is able to hold it together until The Lord provides. He accomplishes this by focusing on God’s word and expecting that God will supply as promised.

You too can obtain like victory. In order to do so, you will need to prayerfully expose yourself to God’s word. God cannot strengthen your soul for holding it together if you are unaware or unfamiliar with pertinent passages from his word. Once you recognize a promise from God’s word, you must resist all thoughts and accusations against God and his word. (See previous post: What Is A trial). As you accomplish these two steps, God will provide patience to your soul.