Count to 10!

Is it a sin to get angry?  Many people think so.  And the reason anger gets a bad rap is because when it is not handled Biblically, it can destroy relationships and even cause people to be physically sick.  But contrary to what many people think, anger, in itself, is not a sin.  Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences, Christians and non-Christians alike. But the mishandling of anger can definitely lead to sin.  And if it wasn’t possible to be angry and not sin, then the Bible wouldn’t instruct us to do so. Have you ever heard the adage “Count to 10”?  This actually has scriptural backup. We are instructed in scripture to be slow to get angry.  This is best understood by its exact opposite – someone who is quick tempered and hot headed. There are many folks in jail cells right now who can attest to what can happen when you react in a flash of anger. Anger is a red flag and when it is waved, we need to pay attention and step back.  Reacting quickly always ends up badly, but giving yourself space and time not only helps you to get a grip, it helps you to get the mind of Christ in the matter.  However, this doesn’t mean that we forget it and repress it forever.  Unresolved anger often leads to bitterness and festering or what the Bible calls “giving place to the devil”.  You’ll spend more time justifying your anger than being responsibility for it. Unresolved anger shouldn’t linger long or the devil will use it to drive wedges in relationships. We’ve all experienced that before and it can be unbearable and even irreparable.  Our words should lift and encourage so if what we are about to say does not, then it’s best to count to 10!

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19 (NLT)

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

16 For, “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT)

Driving Me Crazy!

Have you ever allowed your thoughts to run absolutely wild.  Perhaps you are told “I’m sorry, something just came up.”  Well what does that mean exactly? What came up –  something you’d rather do instead?  – It ‘just’ came up, like, right before we are to go? –   You really didn’t want to go with me, did you?  And on and on.  Sometimes we can make ourselves crazy allowing our minds to fill in the blanks.  But, why do we do this?  Because we forget that we have the power and the authority to cast worrisome thoughts right out of our minds. We forget that when we face something that causes anxiety we are to pray and give it to God.  We forget that WE are suppose to guard our own hearts.  Controlling our thoughts is not easy.  In fact, it can be a daily struggle.  But when we realize that our thoughts become our words and our words determine our actions which then determine the course of our life, we have a newfound purpose for going full circle and controlling our thoughts. Remember you are not doing this alone, but through Christ!

5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Parting the Waters

If you were asked to pick your top ten most awesome miracles, signs and wonders recorded in the Bible, the answers may vary some, but it’s likely one that would make everyone’s list would be the parting of the Red Sea.  The setting is this:  Pharaoh had just set the Israelite slaves free from their 400 year bondage to the Egyptians.  Moses led them into the wilderness where God instructed Moses to camp between Migdol and the Red Sea.  Now most army strategists  would probably tell you that this was a bad move, trapping yourself with no way out.  But that is exactly why God told them to do it, because there was no way out…except for an undeniable move of  God, and man was there.  God caused an east wind to strategically stir the section of waters which was right before the Israelites.  Now it not only blew hard enough to completely part the waters creating a pathway through the sea, but it also dried the land on the bottom of the sea so the Israelites could walk across it.  And let’s also remember, from  most commonly accepted estimates, we are probably talking about 2.5 to 3 million people.  As a reference, the population of Iowa in 2017 was estimated to be just over 3 million people.  So imagine everyone in Iowa would have crossed the Red Sea in one night!  This is almost unimaginable to our  human brains. But that is God!  If you have ever tried to explain God and His miracle power, stop.  That is why we are instructed to walk by faith.  God doesn’t want us to figure it out, reason it out or explain it.  He just wants us to trust Him.  That is faith!

21 Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. Exodus 14:21 (NLT)

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

Unending Love

Jesus always knew His destiny.  He always knew that His purpose on earth to save mankind from sin and provide a path once again to the Father would require a horrifying and unthinkable death. It would be a death that He would experience not only as the Son of God, but as a human.  So Jesus knew what the end would bring.  That is why it is so amazing that right before His betrayal and arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus prayed…..for us!  His last thought before being taken to His death was for His followers, not just those who were there, but all those who would believe in Him through the preaching of the Word.  His prayer was for unity.  The unity of the body of Christ was so important to Jesus that, while facing unimaginable torture and death, He prayed that His followers would be one.  But in praying this prayer, He also had unbelievers in mind because He prayed that the world will know Jesus through the unity of the believers and their love for one another.  Even in His most agonizing moments, Jesus couldn’t stop thinking about souls.  This is unending love!

23 This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men. Acts 2:23 (AMP)

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:20-23 (NLT)

Seeds Need Good Soil

The Parable of the Sower is found in three different Gospels – Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8.  In this parable, Jesus is talking about God’s Word and how it is received by people.  The four different types of soil represent the heart condition of four kinds of people.  We also see that it is the same seed or Word that is sown each time.  Each of the four people hears the same Word, but the results are quite different.  First we have the person in whom the Word doesn’t even take root; Second is the person in whom the Word takes root but not deep enough to keep it alive; Third, this is the person in whom the Word takes root and begins to grow but produces no fruit because of all the weeds, or in other words, the cares and worries of life are sucking all the nutrients required to produce fruit.  Then last, is the person in whom the Word not only takes root but flourishes and produces a great harvest.  So of the four types of people, only one produces a harvest from hearing the Word. Our heart is the soil that receives the Word.  Many things can clump up that soil  – sin, fears, cares, desires, lusts, etc., which can affect our harvest.  We are responsible to make sure our heart is properly tilled for a good harvest.  Some may require a little raking, and others require a fork or spade, while others a rototiller. But we all have areas that need to be weeded out of our lives so the Word can flourish.  Whatever your need, do what it takes to produce your best harvest!

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  Matthew 13:23 (NLT)

23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)

It’s Resolution Time!

This is the time for resolutions.  I prefer the term goals.  It’s probably a fact that there are areas where we can all make some adjustments that will bring improvement.   So Food For Thought leaves you this year with scriptures that can absolutely improve your new year beginning with Colossians 3:23-24:  23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Since we were born again, our whole outlook should be different because now we are in His service.  Our goal became to live like Jesus in all holiness and righteousness.  Even if our service is requested by man, we should perform it as if it were for God.  According to scripture, this can apply even to what we eat and drink which is usually a big part of new year’s resolutions.   So the big question is not only what would Jesus do, but also does it bring glory to God?  Remember, we are no longer our own but God’s!

22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT)

31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

It’s a Matter of Priority

This is the time of year that people often reflect back to all the events that occurred in their lives during the last twelve months.   Many people are amazed at what they’ve accomplished and some are disappointed at what still remains on their to-do list and wonder where the time went.  An examination of the year’s events  allows us to see where our priorities have been.  We often use the excuse that we didn’t have enough time,  but the truth probably is we just didn’t make it a priority.  As a Christian, it is important as well to see if we have been obedient to all God has instructed us to do.  God does have a plan for our lives, but it is up to us to see that we walk out the steps of that plan.  And the amazing thing is, if we follow the plan God has for our lives, we find that we have plenty of time to get everything done.  God will never ask you to do more than you can – and He will always equip you to do everything He asks.  Remember, you walk in the power of His Spirit, not your own.  So, above all, make sure that God is at the top of your to-do list for 2018! If you make Him your first priority, the rest of the list gets lighter and easier.  We pray that you are abundantly blessed and highly favored in 2018 as you walk out God’s plan for your life!

20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

6 So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.  Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference

It is difficult to believe that 2017 is almost over.  Where did the year go?!?  Our lives and our world seem to be spinning at a much faster pace.  And many times, we realize that we did not take the time to enjoy life or appreciate those in it.  So it would be good to set some goals for the new year.  Start small.  Little changes can make a big difference. Life is meant to be rich and satisfying and if yours is not, then something is wrong. 

If you moved it, put it back.
If you dropped it, pick it up.
If you took the last one, replace it.
If you’re consistently 10 minutes late, leave 15 minutes earlier.
If you don’t need it, don’t buy it, even if it’s on sale.
Look for something positive in that person who irritates you.
Your opinion doesn’t always matter.  Give it only when asked.
Listen to what’s being said, don’t think about what you’re going to say.
Don’t compare yourself to anybody.
Send a card not a text.
If there’s another side to a story, get it before you pass judgment.
If you told someone you’d pray for them, pray for them!
Sometimes people need your help, not your prayers.
You can’t change people, only how you react to them.
Eliminate what doesn’t bring glory to God.
Speak only those things that agree with God’s Word.
Don’t speak those things that are as though they were not.  Speak those things that are not as though they were.
Don’t blame God for the bad things.
If your life is not rich and satisfying, consider Jesus!

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)


Cry Out!

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was sitting along the road side begging.  Upon hearing a commotion of people, he asked what was going on.  When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to cry out to Him – “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”  Amidst all the commotion that was going on, Jesus heard Bartimaeus’ cry and stopped.  This story reminds me of a time when I was a little girl.  My dad, my sister and I were releasing a pet turtle that had become too big to keep any longer.  We were on a roadside releasing the turtle into a creek and amidst the noise of the road and the countryside, we could hear this tiny whimper.  We looked around and across the road was this tiny little kitten crying out.  Needless to say, we went there with a turtle and went home with a kitten! Mom was not pleased. But the impression was this tiny, helpless creature was crying out with such intense need that the need overpowered everything else.  There was something to Bartimaeus’ cry.  Desperation?  Maybe.  But there was a knowing in this blind man that his answer was near and he didn’t want that opportunity to pass him by.  So without even being able to see Him, Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus.  And Jesus heard His cry and responded.  Another interesting point is that Jesus could clearly see that Bartimaeus was blind but He asked him what he wanted from Him.  He needed to get Bartimaeus to speak out his need.  Or we could say confess his need (just like we must do with our sins to receive forgiveness).  After all, we know that whoever believes those things he SAYS will be done will have whatever he SAYS!   Whatever your need is, cry out to Jesus!

35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” 42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.  Luke 18:35-43 (NKJV)

23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Mark 11:23 (NKJV)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving.  When we hear this word, what comes to mind usually is the holiday.  We generally don’t think about the act of giving thanks.  In examining my own life, I know that I do not give thanks or express my gratitude or appreciation enough.  Not even close.  The one to whom my thanks ultimately goes is God.  And what I am most thankful to God for (besides Jesus that is) are the people He has put in my life.  For it is the people who matter most.  Things or possessions come a very distant second. And in the category of people, family is first on my list. We may not always see eye to eye, we might have our dysfunctions or our skeletons, but you better not speak bad of my family! I’ll stack any one of them up against yours any day!  And hopefully you feel the same way too about yours.  Family is precious and should be fiercely protected by each member.  Families come in all varieties.  Sometimes our family is not one we are born into, but one by whom we are loved and accepted as if we were.  No matter what your family may look like, our prayer is that you have a blessed Thanksgiving and are able to spend it with the ones that you love most.  And don’t forget to thank God for the wonderful people He has placed in your life.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms. Psalm 95:2 (NKJV)

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1 (NLT)