Hows your attitude?!

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5

Quite honestly some days my attitude just stinks. There are days when it seems all I do is complain and grumble. Days when instead of seeing the good, all I can see is the bad. Days when I would like nothing better than to pull the covers up over my head and stay in bed. Have you had days like these? Surely I am not alone.

Since I home school my three kids, during our Bible time daily, we have been working to memorize Phil. 2:3-11. When we first began it was out of a desire for them to learn these simple truths because generally they can be selfish, thinking only of themselves and there are definite days when their attitudes stink. Yet, somewhere along the way, the Lord began convicting me too with these verses.

Paul here is telling us that we as believers should imitate Christ. He then goes on to describe the character of Christ. As you study these verses you realize real quick that Jesus was not out for Himself, instead He was always putting others first and ultimately the will of His Father. We are told more than once that Jesus was humble, that He put the needs of others before His own and as displayed through Calvary, His interest was for our good and not His own. It was for the Father‘s glory.

Verses 6-9 amaze me. It says that “He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”

Wow, if your like me, I’m thinking, what He is God right, yet He made himself NOTHING! He became a SERVANT! He became a MAN! He was OBEDIENT! All of this was done in humility to the will of God. From the time of His birth until the time of His death, He was no one special. Born in a lowly manger, obedient to his earthly parents, unpopular among the Pharisees and Scribes, mocked and mistreated, beaten and crucified. Not even having a place of His own to live nor be buried after His death.  He wasn’t hailed as some great King, instead He was despised and rejected by His very own.

So in comparison I ask myself, how does my attitude compare? What kind of job am I doing imitating Him? Ouch! If I am to imitate Him and have His attitude, then I am going to put the needs of others above my own. I am going to have a humble spirit. I am going to be a servant. I am going to be obedient to the Father. If I am to have Christ attitude as instructed, then what I want will matter little compared to what the Father desires.

Isn’t this the life Jesus lived? Isn’t this the life He desires us to live?

Now, I know what you are thinking, because I have thought this myself, “but He is Jesus!” Yet, this same Jesus who lived such a life on this earth, lives in you and me today if we belong to Him. The question is not, can I do this? For the simple answer is NO. But, He can do this through us as we yield our lives, our time, our resources, our everything to Him. This is Lordship and this is what He desires and requires.

I know the kids learned much from this study, but I think I as the teacher learned even more. For now, when I am moody, griping or complaining, I hear the Lord asking me, How is your attitude? If I am walking in the flesh, it will stink. However, if I am walking in the Spirit, it will be like Christ.

 

Hope in the tough times

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lords’ great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lam. 3:19-26

Most will recognize these verses, for they are quite popular verses which remind us of the Lord’s great faithfulness. Yet, they speak volumes when you begin to grasp who wrote them, when they were written and what is taken place. To better understand, we must know that it was Jeremiah who wrote this book, also known as a lament. A lament is defined as a passionate expression of sorrow or grief. At the time of this writing, Jeremiah has been imprisoned and Jerusalem has fallen and been taken by Babylon. The temple, the royal palace and all the houses and important buildings in Jerusalem have been burned (2 Kings 25:8-11). Everyone but some of the poorest of peoples have been taken into exile. The walls of this great city have been broken and destruction is at hand. Jeremiah is heartbroken over this destruction and over His beloved city. No longer is the city thriving and full of people, it is now desolate. Those left in Jerusalem groan in search of food and suffer due to the affliction. Jeremiah too is in distress and his eyes overflow with tears (Lam. 1:16, 20 ).

So when He writes that he remembers his affliction, he is not joking. He knows and understands pain. His heart is broken and his soul is downcast. It would have been entirely easy for Jeremiah to focus his eyes on his situation and to become angry that the Lord has allowed such turmoil in his life, since he is the Lord’s servant. It would have been easy for him to become depressed as he looked upon his situation.

When we are going through the valleys and trials this too is our temptation. For as we look around and see our impossible situations, our huge problems, it is easy to quickly become overwhelmed and depressed. To want to quit and to give up.

YET, Jeremiah says, “this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”

Jeremiah could have focused on the bad, but instead he chose to focus on the Lord and His faithfulness. He wasn’t consumed with his problems because He knew the Lord’s would prove Himself faithful and would one day bring about deliverance. Therefore He has hope. Hope to go on, hope to wait, hope to trust because He knows the greatness of the Lord.

It is key to remember that Jeremiah’s situation has not changed in the least, he is still imprisoned and the city is still in ruins. Yet, his perspective has changed as He looks to the Lord.

When going through trials, times of waiting and valleys, we too must keep a right perspective, focusing our eyes upon the Lord and His faithfulness rather than our trials. Knowing He is bigger and greater than all of our problems and that as we wait on Him, trust Him and praise Him in the valleys, we can have hope. Hope because we know He will prove Himself faithful to us.

Let us then keep our eyes lifted heavenward and focused on Jesus who is our hope!

The Impossible

Have you ever felt a situation in your life was impossible? That God was asking way too much from you? This has been a constant theme in my life the past year, as the Lord has led our family to do things that have not been easy and at times in fact seemed impossible.

In my quiet time the other day I read the story of Jesus feeding the  5,000. I always loved this story as a child and can still remember singing about the five loaves and two fish. I was amazed at how Jesus could take such a small amount of food and feed the thousands, mesmerized by His greatness. As an adult I still stand amazed but was struck more by what the Lord was asking His disciples to do.

Jesus and His disciples have been ministering all day to a large crowd and it is now nearing dark thirty. The disciples are ready to call it a day and want Jesus to dismiss everyone so they can all go on their own way. Jesus however, sees a great opportunity to teach the disciples yet another lesson. Instead of sending the people home, Jesus tells the disciples they should get food to feed all the people. As the disciples look around at the humongous crowd, they shake their heads in wonderment. How can they ever feed this many people.

Jesus has asked them to do something that is impossible. How can they mere men, feed everyone. They do not have the money or resources needed. I’m sure they are scratching their heads and whispering to one another about this seemingly crazy request. Jesus knowing their thoughts, was setting them up if you will, so that His glory could be declared not only to the thousands but more importantly to the twelve.

I’ve noticed this is the same approach the Lord uses in my life as well. Asking me to do that which is impossible. I fret and worry trying to figure it out, until finally I throw my hands in the air declaring that He will just have to do it, because I surely can’t. Bingo, He has me just where He wants me. For this is where He steps in and shows His glory and declares His greatness.

As the disciples passed out the food, it just kept coming. Never seeming to run out. In fact, there was so much that they had leftovers for later. Amazing! I’m learning that I must never underestimate my Lord. That which is impossible for me, is simple or easy peasy as my daughter would say for Jesus. And as He steps in to save the day, He doesn’t just do the impossible, He does it in a way that declares His glory and exalts His name. The Lord goes above and beyond what I could ever possibly come up with or imagine. Teaching me once more that He is faithful and I can trust Him.

Yea, if Jesus can feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, there surely is nothing He can not do. Whew, what a relief to know that what seems too much for me is a cake walk for Him.

And His Praise Goes On

Camping in tents, this is what the past few days has consisted of for me and my family. I must say I wasn’t too thrilled about this at the start, but it was a wonderful time. My sweet hubby put up an air mattress for me to sleep on inside our tent. The kids ran, swam, played and of course were filthy but good memories were made.

It was nice to unplug and just get away. Away from reality for a few days to reorient myself with the Lord and His creation. As I laid down to sleep the first night, it was cold. So I snuggled under a mountain of blankets and lay there listening to the crickets, cicadas, owls and I believe a few coyotes. As I listened to each sound, I was reminded of the song by Chris Rice, “Your Praise Goes On.” That even when we are sleeping, the animals created by God, sing His praises.

The next morning as I awoke and sat looking at the river in the chilly morning air, my mouth picked up where there’s left off and I sang His praises, because He is so worthy. As my eyes took in the beauty that the Lord created, I was overwhelmed by His goodness and His love. So despite all struggles, despite all fears, despite “life”, the Lord is worthy of all praise. I was reminded that just as the Lord raises the sun in the east each day and puts it to bed in the west each night. Just as He cares for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow and watches out for each tiny bug, He too cares for me and that I can trust Him.

Life can be overwhelming at times. Life can be busy and messy. Life can be just plain hard. Yet despite all life seeks to throw our way, we serve an amazing God who is worthy of all praise. The one true God who can be trusted in spite of life.

So I invite you to just get away, unplug. Go watch as the sun rises or sets. Stop and smell the roses, open wide your eyes and take in all the Lord created. As you stop to grasp the goodness and greatness of our God, truly life’s problems and trials will grow dim and your mouth too will declare His praise!

No Smell of Smoke

As a child, how exciting it was to go to church and hear the stories of God. How the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt. Crossing the Red Sea, Noah and the ark, Joshua and the battle of Jericho, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den. In each of these stories, the power of God is wondrously displayed.

Yet, I must admit, my favorite story of old is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindigo. For not only do we see the amazing power of God, but we see three men who were willing to stand firm until the end. Who remained faithful despite their outcome, who trusted and truly believed on God. Like Daniel, these three were taken from their home land and placed in Babylon when Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonians. Like Daniel, they were devoted to serving the true God, despite its consequences. So when the King erects this huge golden statue and says all must worship it, they refuse.

My favorite verse in this story is when they are brought before the king and say, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he WILL rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we WILL NOT serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).” Not only were these men faithful to serve the Lord, but they were brave and courageous to stand firm in the midst of dire circumstances. They believed God was able to save them from the fire, but also held fast to the fact that even if He did not, they would remain faithful to Him.

However, even greater than these three, is our great God, who showed up and showed out on their behalf. As they are cast into the fiery furnace, He is right there with them. He loosened their bonds and walks beside them. Nothing on them was burned. Which is amazing, I mean they were thrown in  wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes. Highly flammable, I’m sure. Yet, not their clothes nor their bodies were burned. In fact the very hair on their head was not singed and best of all, when they walk out of this furnace, they did not even smell of smoke.

What an awesome God we serve. This is not the God of old, this is the God of today. His power, His faithfulness, His love and provision are the same yesterday, today and forever. As I read this story I always get excited for I am reminded once more of the fact that nothing is too difficult for my God.

So, no matter what God is worthy of our praise. No matter what we can trust Him and no matter how difficult our situation may seem, He is bigger. He walks beside us and carries us through, showing Himself faithful by glorifying His great name.

I’m sure in the eyes of the others, these three were seen as the biggest fools. I mean all they had to do was bow down. Yet, they knew it mattered and would not. Because of this, the power of God was manifest to all that day and the King and many others believed upon the one true God.

In my own life, there are things that don’t make sense. Situations that seem impossible and circumstances that others do not understand. Yet, as I read this amazing truth, I realize my God is greater and I can trust Him, who has all things figured out! Praying that as I do, others will come to know the one true God, who is worthy of all praise.

Obedience is Key

Now, I want you to know that there are some books of the Bible I find difficult to read. Verses I read but come away not understanding. I find it especially hard to read Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Sure there are bits and pieces that make sense, but over all they are just not easy reads. These books speak of the coming judgement of God against His people who have turned away from Him and to other gods.

One theme of Jeremiah I believe is obedience or rather their lack there of. I believe this too is a theme throughout the Scriptures. For the Bible tells us that “If we love Him, we will keep His commands (John 14:5).” In the Old Testament after the Lord has rescued the Israelites from Egypt and they are wondering about the wilderness due to their disobedience He sets some standards. The Lord makes it clear to His people that if they obey Him and serve Him, He will bless them and care for them. But, if they do not follow after Him and keep His commandments, destruction will come. By the time we read Jeremiah, these destruction is at hand.

Here we find a people who, steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods. Yet on the Sabbath, these same people come into the temple to “worship” God (Jeremiah 7:9-11). As you can imagine the Lord is not pleased.

As I read this today, I wondered how much of this same practice goes on within our churches today. How many live like the world through out the week, doing whatever they want but then show up on Sunday in their Sunday best ready to “worship”? If we are honest, there is probably a whole lot more of this same thing taking place today than we’d care to admit.

The Lord in this passage is not happy. He reminds them of His command and how He had promised to be their God and bless them if only they will obey Him. Yet, they have failed to listen. They have failed miserably to obey the Lord and live for Him. Instead they have become just like the rest of the people of their day serving other gods.

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. They were to be set apart and not like everyone else. However, in their disobedience to the Lord they have failed. As Christians bearing the name of Christ, we too are to be different, set apart and not like the world. We are to live our lives differently, to be the salt and the light.

In chapter 35 of Jeremiah the Lord blesses the obedience of the Recabites. Here we find a family Jeremiah is to invite to the house of the Lord. He is to invite them in and give them wine to drink. Yet, when the Recabites enter into the room , they refuse the wine. Saying, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: Neither you nor your descendents must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads. We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadad son of Recab commanded us (35:6-8).” Then Jeremiah prophesied and tells them because of their obedience, “Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me (35:19).”

As I read this I was reminded of the importance of obedience. All throughout the Scriptures we are given commands to obey. From the beginning to the end obedience is key. In the Old Testament the law was given and commands issued which were impossible to obey, leading to the sacrifice of numerous offerings to the Lord. Then Jesus the perfect sacrifice, holy and without blemish enters the picture and takes our place at Calvary. Paying a debt we could never pay, defeating the law of sin and death. No longer are we under the law, but grace. However, obedience is still key.

You may be thinking obedience matters not. That you are saved and forgiven and no longer have to keep the laws or obey the commands. You my friend are sadly mistaken. For the law was issued to show us our need for Christ and you are right that we no longer have to keep the law to be perfect, because Jesus has completed this. However, obedience is still important. For it is through our obedience to the laws and commands of the Lord we display our love for Him. That we testify to the world and those around us that we are His.

I have three children and I am here to tell you obedience matters. When my kids obey without complaint, I am pleased and this shows their love for me and respect for my authority. When they fail to obey or do it with an attitude, I am not at all pleased and am left feeling disrespected and far from honored.

The same is true in our walks with the Lord. Yes, as a child of the King, you are His and nothing you can do will make you holier or more righteous. You will not earn greater love. BUT, you will please and illuminate your love for the Lord through your obedience to His Word and His commands.

Let us then live our lives in obedience to the Lord, declaring to the World that we belong to Christ. Let us walk in obedience so that our fellowship with God is not tainted. Let us display our great love for our amazing God through our obedience to Him. As we do, the blessing of the Lord will be upon us and our fellowship with Him sweet.

 

Every tribe and tonuge will worship Him

What a scene of unimaginable grandeur that will be when at last all nations are gathered at His feet. That will include representatives from all the European States, from Iceland in the far North to Greece in the South, and from Portugal in the West to hidden saints of God in the Middle East, China and North Korea.  There will be many from Algeria, Morocco, and the Atlas mountains; from Egypt and the Nile Valley; from the sandy deserts and the mountains of the Sahara; from the great lakes in Central Africa, from the banks of the Niger, the Calabar, the Congo, and the Zambesi rivers; and from the uplands of South Africa. There will be gathered to Christ many from Palestine, Jordan and Arabia; India will contribute her millions; and even in Nepal and Tibet Christ will gather His own.

From the Islands in the East Indies they will come, Java, Sumatra, Bali, Celebes, Lombok, Sumbawa, Borneo, and the rest will be gathered to the feet of the Redeemer. From the teeming millions of Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Manchukuo and Mongolia, there will be an immense home going to the Savior. From the myriad Islands of the Pacific the peoples of Polynesia and Melanesia will be gathered to the Lord who redeemed them.

From Australia and New Zealand there will be multitudes who will join in the glad song of praise. From every republic of Central, South and North America and from the West Indies Islands of Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Porto Rico, and the Lesser Antilles, they will come. From the far off forests and lakes of Canada there will be a similar home going.

Whether the tongues be those of the white race or the red or the black, the gathering to Christ will be overwhelmingly splendid.

taken from Springs In the Valley

By: Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman