Choose life-thoughts

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By: Carole L. Haines

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.
from Oswald Chambers, The Highest Good—The Pilgrim’s Song Book, 537 L

It’s amazing how bad news can pile up on you, and down you fall into the pits of fear.  Our lives are so much more out of our control then we ever think about.  But they are never out of God’s control.  Two people we know committed suicide recently, and I was so haunted by some “what-if’s” and “if only,” scenarios. Could I have done something more, to help them, to encourage them.  I generally never saw these people, but I still felt I wanted to have done more, been more somehow, to help them.
I started to become afraid of how it will be for me, at the end of my life.  Will I be that lonely, discouraged, or despairing?  But then I read this quote from Oswald Chambers, The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”
I can’t control what happens in life, but I can control what I choose to focus on.
I am choosing God.
I am choosing to stop feeling guilty about what I could not prevent.
I am choosing to trust God with My Own future.
I am choosing to fix my eyes, my thoughts, my heart on Jesus, right now, right here.
He is the author and perfecter of my faith, and he says this, 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB).
To cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength. (Blue Letter Bible)
This is the kind of rest Jesus says He will give us, and it is not just a physical rest, it is a spiritual rest. A rest from anxious thoughts, fears and self-accusations. I couldn’t be there, I wasn’t there, I am not Omni-present, like God is. I must cease to accuse myself, and give myself to Jesus. I have been weary and heavy-laden with grief, false guilt, and fear this past week, and it stops here, in Jesus hands.
Perhaps some of you have been struggling the same as I have.  Choose God, choose Jesus, choose life-thoughts from Him. Let everything else fall to the ground and let Him pick you up. You can’t be everywhere, but you can be His.

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Am I an odd-ball?

by: carole l. haines

Beware of isolation; beware of the idea that you have to develop a holy life alone. It is impossible to develop a holy life alone; you will develop into an oddity and a peculiarism, into something utterly unlike what God wants you to be. The only way to develop spiritually is to go into the society of God’s own children, and you will soon find how God alters your set. God does not contradict our social instincts; He alters them.
(from Biblical Psychology, 189 L Oswald Chambers)

MJ2 001I had to admit to myself that this had become a bit too true of me.  I, in my desire to protect myself from hurt, had become accustomed to isolation, and surely had become a bit of an oddity, and a peculiarism.  God’s word is very clear on how holiness is developed. Oswald Chambers is being completely Biblical here. It is impossible to develop holiness alone. God speaks of it in 1 John 4:

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

If we love one another,

1)    God abides in us,
2) His love is perfected in us.
3) By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us
because He has given us of His Spirit.

I need you, dear Sister or brother in Christ, in order to grow in love.  You need me, too.  God’s love is perfected in us as we learn to love each other despite failings, faults, and screw-ups.  Forgiveness should be a well-traveled road as a Believer in Jesus.  It is the only road to Calvary we will ever take.  Jesus calls us to the Garden of Gethsemane, as we learn to die to ourselves, but the Road to Calvary was His alone; and having walked it, He calls us to a new commandment: Love one another.  As God abides in us, His love is perfected in us, we have assurance that we are His and we sense the power and presence of His Spirit, all through loving one another. O, the powerful ways of God, so transforming, so freeing, so right.

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I will watch for You

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by: Carole L. Haines

Psalm 59

A Psalm of David, when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him.

 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me… Because of his strength I will watch for You, For God is my stronghold. 10 My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. (v. 1, 9-10 NASB)

I love that the Bible includes descriptions before a lot of the Psalms, letting us know the context in which the Psalm was penned. David was surrounded by enemies, pinned down.  It was a real threat, not an imagined malice.  He was in actual bodily danger.  Most of us won’t experience that kind of danger in our lives.  But, I was stalked several times while walking, and know that God delivered me from true bodily danger. Like Jesus slipped through the crowd and escaped the clutches of his enemies, so I was provided a way of escape on these occasions by God.  I no longer walk alone, but do my workouts at home, and walk only with someone else.
What I find so fascinating about the above Scripture is the wording of one particular phrase. “Because of his strength, I will watch for You.” Have you ever been singled out by someone who wishes to do you harm? Sometimes it happens because of a jealous co-worker. Perhaps a ex-boyfriend, husband, or friend is seeking to hurt you.  Or like myself, you just find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, out walking alone, or the potential victim of a greedy thief.  Perhaps it’s a horrible disease, like cancer.

In Any case, we have enemies that are stronger then us at times, and we feel out-matched.  But no one can out-match God.  When someone chooses to mess with a Chosen of God, Beloved Child of the King; they will find themselves messing with God.  Whatever you are facing at this moment, remember David’s words: Because of his strength, I will watch for You.

God is greater than anything we may face in life.  He is more powerful than all our enemies. We can watch for Him, wait on Him, trust Him. He is our sail, to glide us away from an enemy.  He is our anchor, to keep us firmly set in the midst of a battering storm.  He is our refuge into which we run, and hide ourselves in Him, until the danger has passed. He is our Abba, Father, our Daddy, onto whose lap we can climb, as we bury ourselves in His loving arms, in the midst of all our difficulties.  He is our shield and protector against all of life’s enemies.  He is our Loving God, Our Precious Savior. Let us watch always for Him.

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By beholding God, we become mirrors

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by: Carole L. Haines
The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors.
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

I was truly struck by the simplicity and beauty of this statement by Oswald Chambers, “by beholding God we become mirrors.” In the simple practice of sitting quietly before our Lord, breathing Him in and out, basking in His presence; we become like Him.  I have come to find that this transformation the Bible talks about, has much to do with yielding to what God has already placed in us.  The raw material is already present in us, through belief in Christ alone. A description of how early mirrors were made gives us a perfect picture of this transformation.
Early mirrors were created by simply polishing a suitable substance until it became highly reflective. Examples from the Neolithic era have been discovered, made by grinding down obsidian rocks and polishing them to an incredible sheen. They have remarkable properties, allowing even subtle details to be clearly seen in their reflections. (Wisegeek)
Christ made us a New Creation when we believed; the old is gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5). We are a finished work, as far as our legal standing before God, justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
But there is a process in becoming. Even as the Obsidian rock needed to be polished to bring forth the luster within, we need to be polished by God, to bring forth His Image, His likeness. John said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NASB)
The polishing process of God can be quite difficult for us, at times.  The pressure of the clothe, the continuous rubbing; going in circles, again and again. Going over that same spot, that stubborn part of our lives that just doesn’t want to yield to the touch of God. And yet, His gentle perseverance of never leaving nor forsaking us, never giving up on us.  His grace of loving us too much to leave us the way we are.  His precious promise to finish the work He has begun; all cause us to relinquish ourselves to His tender care.  In the end, God has another mirror on the earth to reflect His light, you and me.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4 NASB)

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Do not be subject again

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by: Carole L. Haines

 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:1, 13 NASB)

Freedom vs slavery, and what it actually means, has been debated, discussed, agreed and disagreed upon, since the beginning of time.  Some people consider freedom, the ability to do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it. The Bible defines it far differently. The Word of God defines slavery in direct relation to sin in our lives; and freedom as the gift from God, to not walk in that slavery anymore.  This is dramatically opposed to what some would call freedom. 

According to the passage above, true freedom involves several things.

Christ set us free for freedom, we were called to freedom. We must stand firm in that truth of freedom. It is we, who subject ourselves again to the yoke of slavery. So, what is this yoke of slavery? It is sin, and I believe we are being shown three particularly dangerous ones in this passage.

*We must not become boastful

*We must not begin to challenge one another

*We must not envy one another

Boasting, envying, and challenging, all involve self-promotion; thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. (Romans 12:3) To walk by the Spirit involves thinking rightly about ourselves and others. What do we have that has not been given to us by God? Nothing. What is there to boast about, since all we have, including our talents and spiritual gifts, are given to us by God? And why should we envy one another, since the Holy Spirit gives us our gifts and talents according to the Will of God.  You are exactly who you need to be, who you are supposed to be. No gift is more important than any other, all are needed, all are essential. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB) We are not given our gifts for ourselves, but for one another. We are to serve one another through love.  I have found great freedom in this. No one is clamoring for position, down on the bottom rung. I have found more of Jesus down here, in the place of service, than when I was trying to make my way to the top.  More of Jesus, less of me; isn’t that what it’s all about? In serving ourselves, we become subject to the slavery of sin again. In serving one another, we are free.  O, the beautiful paradoxes we find in God’s Word, truly stunning. God’s Word is a mosaic of glorious freedom and truth. Dear ones, it is for freedom that Christ set us free. We are called to freedom.  Let’s serve one another, with our gifts, and we will find the Joy of the Lord in this place.

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Each member belongs to all the others

16079135674_cfa7f95d2d_b[1] by: Carole L. Haines

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)

Imagine the Body of Christ if we really looked at ourselves and each other this way. How wonderful God has made His Body, none having all the gifts, each dependent on the others. Imagine if none of us thought more highly, or lowlier, of ourselves than we ought to think. Imagine if we just did what we were called to do, never venturing into the business of another, to try to do their job for them.  People wouldn’t complain about the music director, they would applaud her, thank him. People wouldn’t gossip about the Pastor’s sermon, but come with open hearts to receive what God has given our dear shepherd.  Imagine the Body of Christ working together, finely tuned; like the Beautiful sound that comes out of a well- practiced orchestra. Is this possible, it absolutely is, and it all comes down to what Paul says above, “Do not think more highly of yourselves than you ought.” It is in seeing ourselves through the eyes of God, and viewing one another through His lens, this is how we work together beautifully.  Jesus said. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NASB)

How much more will the world see Christ, as we learn to love one another deeply from the heart, and become the Humble Body of Christ? People will see Jesus more as we love one another, a lot more. All of us belong to one another. Let’s be the Body.

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Flesh-wounds: What do I do with the pain?

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By: Carole l. Haines

It happened again, and I find myself asking those same-old questions?  “Did they mean to do that, leave me out? Was that a deliberate slight, or just a misunderstanding? Should I risk asking, it just might lead to more rejection?” I don’t know if I really want to know the answer.
Rejection pierces my heart, yet again.  Confusion mixed with offense rises up within me.   I run to God and keep asking Him: “God, what do I do with the pain?  How do I proceed from here? Father, how do I get over this?”  Then I sensed His gentle reply, “Give it to me, and receive what I have for you.”
As I write this, I am 15 minutes into a perceived rejection from some people who have hurt me before. My heart is racing, my eyes ache with tears welling up, but not spilling out. So, I begin to focus on what God says about me, instead.

I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
I have written you on the palm of my hands.
I have enclosed you behind and before and laid my hand upon you
This has happened to me before. In one extreme case of being “thrown away,” by another person, I just cried out to God, and asked the same questions I am asking now. “What do I do with this rejection, what do I do with this pain?”  God’s answer was so moving, so clear and poignant. It echoes in my heart right now. Here is what God said to me:
“These are only flesh wounds, Dear Child, and the flesh is passing away. No one can ever touch you for who you really are in Me. Let these wounds pass away as flesh, and walk in My Spirit. Rest in My unending love. I will never leave you, forsake you, or reject you. Dear Child, I know how you feel, for My people rejected me.”
I began to think on the fact that the people of God in the Old Testament, kept forsaking God, and running after vain and empty things. How the heart of God must ache sometimes.  God has expressed His own pain and disappointments from being rejected: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
(Genesis 6:5-6 NASB) 2
“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
A people who continually provoke Me to My face.
(Isaiah 65: 2-3a NASB)
He has no stately form or majesty
that we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53 NASB)

I felt the arms of God around me, as I read these Scriptures. He understands, He knows what is feels like.  He cares, He heals, He comforts me.  I love God’s vulnerability, His accessibility, His open transparency.  Somehow, It doesn’t matter anymore, whether the rejection I suffered is real or not.  I am so blessed by God’s all-encompassing love; I will just rest here in His arms and trust Him to work this out.  Ahhh, the sweet, sweet Love of Jesus. If you are suffering from a rejection right now, whether real or just perceived, spend some time focusing on who God says you are in His Word.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  (1 John 4:18 NASB)
What do I do with the pain? Yield it to God and bask the fresh, cleansing and healing truth of His unending love for you.

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