I recently spent a frustrating, unsuccessful 2 hours on the phone with a service provider to our church. This was probably the 5th or 6th call I had made on this same unresolved issue. On the call, I found myself getting more and more irritated because I had explained this problem so many previous times never being able to talk to the same person twice. Maybe you have experienced a similar situation. As I continued to once again relay the issue we were having, I realized my anger gauge was registering off the meter. So I took a moment, calmed myself down, then apologized to him as he certainly didn’t deserve the brunt of my frustration. Anger can happen very quickly. And it can get out of control even quicker. And the sad thing is that nothing good ever comes out of it. Oh, you may feel some temporary satisfaction of making sure you had your say, but that feeling is usually fleeting. When you’ve cooled off, regret usually sets in. It’s not wrong to feel anger. In fact, righteous anger can be a great motivator to make things right. But anger is wrong if you let it get the best of you or you let it fester. And most importantly, it opens the door to the devil in your life. Satan is a master at anger because his anger against God fuels him and he knows it can be fuel for sin. If it were not possible to control our anger, God wouldn’t have instructed us to. When you feel your anger meter rising, ask the Holy Spirit to take control. Don’t let it get the best of you because your best belongs to God!
4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah Psalm 4:4 (NIV)
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT)
11 Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)
12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:12 (NLT)
I recently was in a second hand store with my daughter. The display we were looking at contained an old package of flash cubes. She asked me what they were so I explained. Times continue to change and technology continues to advance. Things we use everyday are always being improved upon or eventually become obsolete. Paper maps, cassette and VHS tapes, floppy discs, movie rental stores, encyclopedias, film developing, even landline phones are all examples. But with all the constant improvement and advancement in the material things of life, the one thing that never changes is the people that use them. Or in other words, human nature. None of these new or improved inventions will ever change a person on the inside or help them find their purpose in life. Originally, human nature was perfect because man was created in God’s image and likeness. But that all changed in the garden of Eden. All of mankind since was born into this world in a fallen state. Any parent knows that you do not have to teach your child to be selfish. Everything is “mine!” Selfishness is their nature. So how do we change the nature of a person? We cannot. But God can! That old selfish nature can be changed in an instant through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The old nature gets a complete overhaul and becomes brand new. That is the starting place. By reading God’s Word, you can begin to retrain your brain to think like God thinks and you are on your way to a real improvement in your life! So, if you are too young to know what a flash cube is, you’ll have to Google it or, better yet, do it the old fashion way and use a dictionary.
12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 (NLT)
21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NLT)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)
This past week leaves us all wondering how there can be such evil in the world as we watched the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas last Sunday. But yet, it seems to be happening here in American and around the world with much more frequency. “Why?” is the question that everyone is asking. As a Christian, we are not to go to the media or the politicians or the talking points for our answer. We are to go to God’s Word. And God’s Word has something to say about it. Before the Lord returns, and He will whether you believe it or not, the earth will be as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37 NLT –37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.”) So how was it in those days? Genesis 6:5, 11 & 12 (NLT) says: “5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.” But God did not destroy the earth without a warning. 2 Peter 2:5 (NLT) tells us: “5….. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment.” They were warned but did not heed the warning. This is a description of how it will be when Jesus returns. It doesn’t sound too far off from what is happening in our world today. Not just the increase of violence but also how people are ignoring God’s Word and living as they please. Let us hold the innocent victims of this evil act in our prayers and thoughts as once again our nation mourns. But remain vigilant. By God’s mercy, He has told us what it will be like in the last days so we will know the season of Christ’s return. God has warned us so we can be ready.
1 You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. 3 They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. 4 They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (TLB)
“I just couldn’t help myself!” Have you ever heard that before? Have you ever said that before? Most of the time there really isn’t much truth to the statement. Probably the truth lies somewhere closer to “I didn’t want to help myself!” The topic of this statement is self-control, or more likely the lack of it. Self control is used every day, all throughout our day, in our actions, in our words and even in our thoughts. Most of us may have self control in some areas while other areas seem to get us every time. One person could pass up a bowl of M&Ms without a second thought but with another person it would dominate their thoughts until the bowl was empty. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit. Fruit is something that grows. It begins as a tiny bud, and with the proper nourishment slowly develops until the full fruit is ready. Self control and the other fruit of the Spirit are developed similarly. But what nourishes their development is a relationship with God. If our relationship with God is barely existent, the fruit of the Spirit in our life will be as well. The more time we give to God (through prayer, reading His Word, worship), the more developed the fruit of the Spirit becomes in our life. So if you ever find yourself saying “I couldn’t help myself”, let that be an indicator that you might need to spend more time with the One who can help!
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
Food For Thought would like to throw its 2 cents into a conversation that is captivating society today. We live in a country conceived on the principles of rights and freedoms. Most of us go about living our lives on a day-to-day basis without anything personally invested in those rights and freedoms. In other words, most of us did not experience war, most did not have to take refuge in the trenches or storm the front lines of battle. Most of us did not go face-to-face against an enemy so hateful it wants to dictate your every move or choose whether you live or die. Most of us relax in our cushy sofas and sit back and surf over 200 channels to find what pleases us for the moment. And a few elite are fortunate enough to watch millions of dollars rolling into their bank accounts all because they’re good at throwing or catching a ball while the rest of the country cheers them on. Many are oblivious to the fact that there are countries out there who tell their children what they will be when they grow up. They have no dreams, no hope, no future, no choices. Ironically, here in our great country, one of the freedoms we have is the ability to kneel while our country’s anthem is being played. Ironically, here in America, one of those freedoms is the ability to burn the banner which symbolizes those freedoms. Why anyone would do these things is unthinkable, but because we are the land of the free, they can. But remember – we are also the home of the brave. Because of the brave, you can dishonor your country by kneeling while its anthem is played. Because of the brave, you can protest by burning the emblem of the nation which ensures that right to protest. So, to those who kneel, you owe a tremendous debt to those you dishonor by kneeling.
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 (NLT)
16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)
16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 (NLT)
Lying – one of the first things we teach our children not to do. There are many motivations for lying – to avoid getting ourselves in trouble, so our transgressions are not exposed, to get what we want, to not get what we really deserve, etc. There are also reasons we justify as being good such as not to hurt someone’s feelings or not getting someone else in trouble, or that it really doesn’t affect anyone else. So what harm is there in a little lie? The story of Ananais and Sapphira is an example for us. The church of believers at that time was a strong church united in spirit. No one was in need for they took what they had and sold it to give to those who lacked. They weren’t forced to do this. They did it out of love for one another. Ananais and Sapphira witnessed Barnabas sell his property and turn the money over to the church to help the needy. So they decided to do the same. Their motivation was honorable. Only they kept back some of the proceeds of the sale for themselves. This was not their problem. They didn’t have to give all or even part of their money. It was their choice what to give. But upon giving it, possibly to make themselves look more generous, they claimed that it was the entire amount of the sale, lying not only to Peter, but more importantly to God. The price they paid for this little lie was severe. There really is no “harmless” lie because Satan is always the instigator of it. Honesty really is always the best policy!
1 But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. 4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” 5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died…… 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.” 9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.” 10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died… Acts 5:1-10 (NLT)
44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (NLT)
This week, in Food For Thought, we take time to pray for those in our nation affected by the raging hurricanes and fires that are devastating our country. Disasters like these leave people with so many questions. Many people untaught in the scripture would like to blame a God they say they don’t even believe in. Though there may be some uncertainties about the events of the times we live in, there are two things that we can be absolutely certain of – God is not responsible for any of it, and, He is the only hope through it! So we pray for God’s guidance, direction, provision and protection for all those in the paths of these storms. He is our shelter in the storm!
28 “LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 29 He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. 30 What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! 31 Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT)
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. 12 For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love. Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NLT)
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)
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. Psalm 91:1-3 (NLT)
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2 (NLT)
“I am a friend of God”1. This is a lyric from a popular chorus sung in many churches today. This is a great claim to be a friend of God so let’s look at this word more closely. “Friend” – A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection (Oxford Dictionary); a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard (Dictionary.com); a person who has a strong liking for and trust in another (Merriam Webster). I would venture to guess after considering these definitions that many of the people that we have categorized as friends are really more like acquaintances. Because according to these definitions, friendship requires a bond, an attachment and strong trust. And if we use these three requirements, many of whom we considered friends would no longer qualify. There is only one person in all of the Old Testament that God called a friend – Abraham. Why? Why not Moses, or David or Samuel or Isaiah? If we used the definitions above, we see that most friends become friends because of common experiences or bonds that attach them together through mutual trust in one another. The common bond between God and Abraham was the sacrifice of their one and only son. This was a test that no other was asked to take but Abraham and he passed this test. It was an unimaginable request. But Abraham wavered not at God’s promise that through Isaac his descendants would be as numerous as the stars so, if He was asking this of him, somehow God would provide. Some think it too casual to be considered God’s friend. But they really have a too casual definition of what a friend really is. Are you a friend of God or just an acquaintance?
8 “But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, Isaiah 41:8 (NLT)
23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. James 2:23 (NLT)
4 I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 26:4 (NLT)
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. Romans 4:20 (NLT)
17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT)
1 Friend of God – written by Israel Houghton and Michael Gungor
(Disclaimer: The following Food For Thought holds nothing against cats, parakeets, hamsters, gerbils or any other variety of pet. I’m just a dog owner and lover!)
There are not many creatures out there as perfect as a dog. A dog’s main desire always seems to be to please. They want you to be happy with them and they know when you are not. When your voice raises, even if you are not speaking to them, their ears slump and they come and sit at your feet as if to say “I don’t know what I did but I am so sorry”. They are also very quick to forgive. They just want to get on with being your best friend. And you won’t find many people as loyal as your dog. They’d go through the fire for you if they need to. And there’s not much that can surpass the joy they bring to you as you walk in the door and they seem to say “I’m so glad you are home. I’ve been waiting to be with you!” Pleasing, obedient, repentant, forgiving, loyal, faithful and full of joy. No judging, no condemnation. Only unrestrained and unreserved love for their master! Maybe we could learn a thing or two from our dogs.
22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22 (NLT)
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NLT)
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29 (NLT)
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
Why is it so important to establish in our hearts that neither God nor His word ever changes? We probably have all experienced people who continually change their mind or can’t make up their mind. It can be very frustrating not knowing how a person might react from moment to moment. Have you ever gone into work and wondered what kind of mood your boss will be in that day? Have people ever had to wonder that about you? The reason people can be “unstable” in their ways is they are allowing themselves to focus on things that can fluctuate such as the stock market or the price of gas or even other people. In other words, they focus on the world around them. If you allow yourself to be pulled back and forth between what God offers and what the world offers, you are double-minded. And we know that a double-minded person is an unstable person. But when a person is able to see past these worldly things and focus on a God in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning, this produces a rock-solid confidence that cannot be shaken! There is only one place you will find complete stability and that is in Jesus!
6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:6-8 (NLT)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. James 1:17 (ASV)
24 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. 25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. Matthew 7:24-25 (MSG)