Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘thoughts

Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.   In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.   It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance.  A form was before my eyes (Job 4:12-16).

Sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it?   What an eerie feeling it is to sense that something is in the room with you while you are sleeping.  It makes the hairs on your body stand up, indeed.

This night vision is not a work of fiction.  It is real.  It happened to a man name Eliphaz.  He was one of Job’s friends.  When he and two other friends found out about the calamities Job had gone through–losing his livestock, possessions, children and finally, his health, they went to see him.  They were so stunned when they saw the condition he was in–probably disfigured from the boils covering his body, they wept, and threw dust over their heads in deep mourning.  They sat with him in silence for a while until each of them began to speak to Job, assuming that he had brought his suffering upon himself because of sin.

Eliphaz shared the night vision he had.  It was used to illustrate his point that no innocent person has ever perished or the upright ever cut off, implying that Job was neither innocent nor upright.  However, we have read stories of the innocent and the upright being persecuted, martyred.  It was not up to Eliphaz to determine whether or not Job brought this suffering on himself.  Job didn’t need to hear these hurtful words.  He needed a friend.

Job’s whole experience shows us that God doesn’t do bad things to people–He allows it sometimes.  And we are not to judge others.  We can’t assume that they are suffering because of something they did. And that bad things happen to good people too.  And in the case of Eliphaz, people misunderstand who God is.  He believed that God was punishing Job when it was Satan who was responsible for these calamities.

Eliphaz believed that Job must have done something wrong and that for him to say that he was innocent, was like saying he was more righteous and pure than God.  Job was not attacking God’s character but was maintaining his innocence.  He knew that he hadn’t done anything to deserve what had happened to him.  The devil wanted Job to believe that God was punishing him and was trying to get him to curse him.  The spirit was either Satan himself or an evil spirit sent by him to distort a true picture of God and to destroy Job’s faith in Him.

The Bible advises us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Something else that stood out for me in the vision were the words, “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.”  This took place at night and it was in secret.  God’s doesn’t operate like this.  His truth is light and it is not secret.  We have to be discerning and test whatever new “light” we receive and see if it is in harmony with the Word of God.  

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1 Corinthians 13:5b
GrudgesHow do you deal with people who hurt you?  Do you talk to them about it or do you keep quiet but hold a grudge against them?  Do you think of ways to get back at them?

God is clear about how we should act when someone hurts us.  We don’t keep rehashing what happened. We don’t wish that person harm.  Instead, we put away the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.  We give them to God.  We let go of the negative thoughts and ill feelings.  We ask God to help us to forgive the person and then move on.

Of course, this is easier said than done.  We need the help of the Holy Spirit to help us.  It is not in our nature to show love when we are hurting.  We prefer to lick our wounds and have a pity party.  We feel better when we imagine how that person would feel if we were to do the same thing to him or her.  How does this make us any different from those who are not of the faith?  How could we say that we belong to Christ or that we are God’s children if we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive the wrongs that has been done to us?

What if Joseph had spent all of his time hating Potiphar’s wife for what she had done to him?  Would God have prospered him, promoting him to be in charge of the jail or becoming second only to Pharaoh? What about Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego?  Did they harbor any bitterness toward King Nebuchadnezzar for throwing them into the fiery furnace?

Instead of thinking evil, in love we pray for those who have wronged us.  We pray that God will touch their hearts.  Jesus prayed for His enemies when He was hanging on the cross.  Stephen prayed for the men who were stoning him before he died.

The next time someone hurts you, what will you do?  Perhaps like Joseph you ask this question, “am I in the place of God?”  While Joseph forgave his brothers he left them to God’s mercy.  Romans 12:19 says, “Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’” (J.B. Phillips).  Don’t take the place of God.  God sees and knows all.  He will deal with the person who has wronged you as He sees fit.  Don’t repay evil with evil.

 

isitiLordThe disciples learned a few things at the Lord’s Supper:

  • Jesus was going to be betrayed by one of them
  • His blood would be shed for many
  • They would desert Him in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy
  • Peter would deny Him three times

It must have been hard and seemed impossible that one of them would betray their beloved Lord; that He would die; that they would all desert Him and that Peter, one of the three who were close to Jesus, would deny knowing Him.  Later they saw for themselves that all these things came to pass.

Let us not deny Jesus.  Let us confess Him before everyone.  Let us not scatter but remain close to Him.  Let us not betray Him by conforming to this world or holding on to sins or things in our lives that would separate us from Him.  Let us not put ourselves, others, the world or anything before Him.  Let us put Him first in our lives, thoughts and hearts.

 

When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” – Matthew 15:10, 11

IMG_0412Growing up, we were encouraged to wash our hands before we eat because we were taught that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. The Pharisees and scribes had a problem with Jesus’ disciples eating with first washing their hands. In their eyes this was unthinkable because it was breaking their tradition.

In response to their complaint, Jesus pointed out that they were breaking God’s law for the sake of their tradition by letting people think that it was okay for them to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ They were basically saying that the people they don’t need to honor their parents. They were placing their tradition above God’s commandment. Jesus called them on their hypocrisy. There they were criticizing the disciples for eating food without washing their hands and yet they were encouraging people to dishonor their parents, worshipping God in vain and teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. These were the same people who bore malice toward Jesus and plotted to destroy Him when He healed a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:14).

Jesus made it clear to the crowd that it is not eating food with unwashed hands that makes defiles a person it is what is inside the person that defiles the person. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Ironically, these people thought that ceremonial washing of the hands before eating make them clean but inside they were defiled–unclean. They were filled with evil thoughts and intentions toward Jesus, they committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by attributing His power to Satan (Matthew 12:24-32). They had murder in their hearts. These things defiled them. They may have had clean hands but their hearts were far from clean. Eating food with unwashed did not defile the disciples.

This exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders had nothing to do with diet. Jesus wasn’t declaring that all foods are good to eat as some believe and teach. He was telling them that what comes out of them defiles them not what goes in. Clean hearts are more important than clean hands. Like David, we should pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” – Proverbs 16:3

Thoughts.  It’s hard not to have thoughts.  We have them all the time and there are times when we have thoughts we wish we didn’t have.  We have thoughts that take our focus away from God.  We worry about all sorts of things.  We worry about our health, our jobs, our families, our finances and so many other things.  Then anxiety sets in and we become stressed and unable to concentrate on anything else.  When we have real problems become so intent in trying to solve them ourselves that when we are unable to find solutions, we become depressed.

We feel defeated and discouraged because we are unable to take care of our families and ourselves.  Instead of allowing this to happen, we should remember what Jesus said.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father fees them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 25-27, 31-34)

Jesus says here and we know this for a fact, that worrying doesn’t change anything.  It only makes things worse.  Instead, we should look to God who promised that He would take care of us.  Here are complaints we have and God’s responses:

  • We say, “It’s impossible.”
  • God says, “With Me all things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
  • We say, “I’m exhausted.”
  • God says, “Wait on Me.  I’ll renew your strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
  • We say, “I can’t go on.”
  • God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • We say, “I don’t know what to do.”
  • God says, “I’ll direct you.” (Proverbs 3:6)
  • We say, “I can’t do.”
  • God says, “You can do all things through Me.” (Philippians 4:13)
  • We say, “I can’t make ends meet.”
  • God says, “I’ll supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • We say, “I can’t handle this.”
  • God says, “Give it to Me; I’ll carry it for you.” (Psalm 55:22)
  • We say, “I’m all alone.”
  • God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

We should surrender our minds to God, give Him our troubles and worries and relieve ourselves of unnecessary burdens.  We have to remember that God is our Father, a loving Parent who desires to take care of His children.  When I worry about something, this is what Jesus says to me:

  • “When you are afraid or hurt, close your eyes and you will see My hands reaching out for yours, you put them in Mine and I will raise you up.  I will uphold you.”
  • I am the Resurrection and the Light.  He who believes in Me will have everlasting life.  Therefore I will heal you of negative and evil thoughts and restore you in mind, body and spirit.”
  • “Focus on Me and not on your real or imagined troubles.”
  • “Let your heart not be troubled.  Be assured that I will restore it to peace.  My peace.”
  • “Cast your worries on Me and I will take care of them.  Give Me your troubles and in return I will give you My peace.”
  • “Have faith and don’t be discouraged.”
  • “The Lord takes care of His children.  He keeps straight their paths so that they turn neither to the right nor to the left.”

We should ask God to free us from worry and anxiety and to instead, focus on Him and allow His peace to fill our minds, bodies and souls.  When we accept that God is in control of our lives and not we ourselves, it makes life so much easier.  We will be able to sleep a whole lot better at night and focus on what is important—our relationship with God.

A lot of times we mistakenly believe that people are angry with us or are gossiping about us and oftentimes it is all in our imagination.  The imagination could be a very powerful thing.  We imagine the worst only to discover that things are not as bad as they seem.  More than once I thought someone didn’t seem friendly to me because of my colour or to realise that I was mistaken.

I always remember that Othello thought that Desdemona didn’t love him because he was insecure.  He allowed his father in-law’s prejudice and his insecurity to ruin his marriage.  He allowed Iago to turn him against his wife and a friend.  Destructive thoughts can ruin friendships and relationships.  The mind is a battlefield.  We are constantly deluged with negative thoughts that we need to terminate before they take hold of us.  We should turn our minds to God.  We should set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

Whenever we have a negative thought we should counteract it with God’s word.  Here are examples of negative thoughts and God’s word:

  • Thought: No one loves me.
  • God’s Word: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
  • Thought: I’m nothing, useless, a nobody.
  • God’s Word: “Beloved, now we are children of God.” (1 John 3:2)
  • Thought:  I have no friends.
  • God’s Word: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
  • Thought: My friends say that this dream/idea of mine is impossible.
  • God’s Word:  “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • Thought: If I do this, my friends and family will not understand.
  • God’s word: “My mothers and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) And “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke:12:8)

We should hand our worries and doubts over to Jesus in exchange for His peace.  He told us not to let our hearts be troubled.  Worrying only makes things worse.  Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives.  He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly” – John 10:10.  Let us not waste any more precious time worrying.



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