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by: Carole L. Haines
Opinions, O how we love them sometimes. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we really don’t have a right to our own opinions. We worship our rights within our culture. We constantly hear it said, “Well I have a right to _________________.” None is ever more touted in our society than, “But I have a right to my opinions.” Do we really, as believers, have a right to our opinions? Perhaps we do over trite things, such as favorite foods, places, colors, ect. But not over one another. We exchange our opinions for solid truth when we become Christians. As believers in Jesus, we lay down our rights because we have found something much better than rights, we have found love, deliverance, freedom, and solid truth, not fleeting opinions that change more quickly than the wind. Opinions often fly in the face of truth, never more so than in reference to how we perceive one another in the Body of Christ. Let’s look at a passage of Scripture:
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand… For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14: 1-4, 7-8)
I have always looked this passage as being about what to eat and not to eat, etc. But it is really about our opinions, judgments and acceptance of others. I have highlighted and underlined the key things.
We are to accept anyone who belongs to Jesus, weakness is a reality for us all. Strength of our own is an illusion that life will soon obliterate. Paul boasted in his weaknesses because in embracing them, his strength was always from the Lord, not of Himself. Accept one another.
We are not to pass judgment on one another, especially not on his opinions. We are not to judge one another. This was discussed above in detail.
We are not to regard one another with contempt, for any reason. If we find this in ourselves, we need to bring that to the Lord and ask Him to reveal where our thinking is wrong. If we sense it toward ourselves from others, we need to pray for God to gently reveal to them their own issues.
Paul sums it all up with one of the most practical portions of Scripture: 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand… For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
Above all of these reasons, Paul ties it with the bow of the fact that God has accepted each one of us. So, who are we to reject one another?
by: Carole L. Haines
We all know the profound definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
But this verse gives us a different perspective. Faith is portrayed here as simply believing GOD IS, that He exists; and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. God loves to bless His children, and part of that blessing is to not allow us to stay as He found us, trapped in sinful patterns. Sometimes the surest way to wholeness is a path of suffering and loss. That was true for me, and He reduced me to a place of just being glad that HE IS and that I am His. God’s love is definitely the ultimate in TOUGH LOVE. His love is a love that breaks through our walls of resistance and self-reliance. His love breaks through our rebellion and the determination to have things our own way. His love breaks through our idols and the things that we place above Him. His love breaks through all, tears down all and calls us into a deeper walk with Himself. His love corners us, boxes us in, and lovingly lifts our head to see that all we really need, all we truly want, is not what we think; It is Him. We were created by God and for God, and true joy can never be experienced until we embrace our destiny, the reason we are here.
One Pillar of our Faith put it this way:
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Dear believer, go simpler. Simply Believe God today, and earnestly seek Him, with all that You are. He truly will never fail you.
By: Carole L. Haines
My son has often expressed that some of his favorite characters in movies and stories are the ones who are conflicted. You can tell they want to do good, and succeed at times, but they also have a dark side to them that is unpredictable and scary. The Bible has characters who express this as well. They are aware of their dark side, but long to do right and be holy. David and Paul are two great examples of these kind of Characters. Paul expresses it this way:
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 17:8 NASB)
David expresses it another way:
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.
2 Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
(Psalm 86: 1-2)
David reveals himself as needy, conflicted, weak; yet also as godly and trusting in the Lord. Too often I think we feel guilty when this conflicted nature shows up inside of us, but it was right there inside of two of the godliest men who ever walked the earth.
When we see this inside of ourselves, often we try to cover it up, like Adam and Eve did, with fig leaves and hiding from God. But Cod calls us to do something else when we feel conflicted like this.
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
The Word of God examines us, it reveals things about us, such as our motives and intentions. We are then told that nothing is hidden from God’s sight, so running and hiding like Adam and Eve tried to do, is not only futile, it’s defeating the purpose for which our sin is revealed to us. So, what do we do? The next verses from the above Scripture tells us exactly what to do.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 12:14-16)
We still run. But we run to the throne of God, to our Great High Priest. Jesus the Son of God. We need to look at one another through this lens of truth. When your brother or sister in Christ seems conflicted, pray for them, acknowledging the same plight within yourself. When we embrace this within ourselves and train ourselves to run quickly to the throne of Grace whenever we feel its grip; we can be used of God to help others learn to Run toward God, instead of away from Him when conflicted. So, let us come boldly, together, with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may, together, receive mercy and grace to help each other in time of need
By: Carole L. Haines
There is an amazing demonstration of God’s mercy amid one of the greatest events in all of History. In the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, God offers mercy amid correction, kindness amid the consequences of our own bad choices.
18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”
20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field…
So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell, and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were…
31 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed, and the flax was in bloom. 32 The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later. (Exodus 9:18-32 NIV)
God says this about Himself:
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; (Exodus 34:6)
For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:21)
Then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. (Deuteronomy 30:3)
And the list goes on and on and on, not the least of which is this one:
Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)
BEHOLD YOUR GOD AND WORSHIP, REJOICE WITH JOY AND THANKSGIVING. God sprinkles mercy even in the times we need correctio. Praise you, Lord.
By: Carole L. Haines
“This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-17 NASB)
I’m a bit of a Nature freak and I love to know how everything works and runs. I love the cycles of and Seasons of Nature. So, when I saw an article about rainbows on the internet this morning, I read it. I know that rainbows are created when light shines through water droplets. That’s why I run outside every time it is raining with the Sun out, to see if I can spy one. As I was reading the article, it suddenly struck me that when God put the first rainbow in the sky, it wasn’t raining at all. When we read the story of the Flood and the Promise God made not to flood the earth again, the rain had already stopped.
God now only puts a Bow in the Sky during our storms, not when the rains have stopped, but while it is still raining. The droplets must be present for the light to shine through and reveal the colors of the rainbow. So, the first appearance of the Rainbow was a bit of a miracle, it was a dry rainbow because the rain had already ceased.
But now we see rainbows only in the midst of our storms. God doesn’t wait for us to be through our trials and tribulations to remind us of His faithfulness and promises. He reminds us right in the middle of the storms, when the rain is still present. The clouds part and the light of Christ shines through the droplets of our tears or our struggles, the losses and brokenness. God is right there during this time with us. He is with us, reminding us of who He is, and just How true He is to His Word and His promises to us. Next time you see a rainbow, thank God for showing up to remind us of Himself amid our storms, not just in the aftermath.
By: Carole L. Haines
The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 HCSB)
So, the funny thing is, I now realize I am addicted to two types of The Word. God’s Word is everything to me, it has completely transformed this shy, awkward, anxiety prone girl into a woman who is driven to know the Word of God and the Author and Perfector of our faith. To know Jesus as a person, but also as the Word of God spoken and embodied in flesh, dwelling among us. The other Word, I am addicted to is of the Microsoft variety, and after crashing my computer 2 weeks ago, I am finally back online, with Word up and running and it is so good to have the old familiar icons in front of me once again.
I guess I am a creature of habit and the familiar. I don’t want to learn a whole new system of things. I bought a computer that is not the latest, but, a refurbished one that is a bit slower than my old one, but easier to use and understand. I held on to my flip phone for ten years because it made no sense to me to replace it with a smart phone when I already had all I needed, texting and phone services. I blocked all internet on my phone because I didn’t want to be one of those people who is constantly looking down at my phone, instead of up and around at all that is happening.
I share all of this with you only to say that bigger is not necessarily better, the newest and latest are not necessarily the best. I tend to stick with the tried and true. This is especially true when it comes to the Bible. Nothing has ever proven to be so transformative in me throughout all of my life, and I have been walking with God in His Word for many years now. I have found His Word to be utterly reliable and amazingly powerful. Stick with the tried and True Word of God.
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.”
For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat,
11 so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
By: Carole L. Haines
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
It’s subtle at times, this revealing of God’s heart for relationship with the people He has created for Himself. This morning I saw this precious heart-love of God in this one simple interaction between Thomas and Jesus. 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
All of my life I have had a sense of destiny, but after much failure and disappointment, found that destiny was not a place or an accomplishment. That Destiny was a relationship with the God who made me, and simply that. Jesus loved me too much to let me know worldly success. He brought an end to all my own dreams and aspirations, because they stood in the way of my true heart’s desire, Jesus Himself. That’s when I found that the Babe in the manger, the fisherman’s friend, the man of sorrows acquainted with grief, He was my Destiny.
My destiny lay not in something I did or someplace I would go to. Jesus wants me to hold His hand, to keep in step with Him, to believe in Him.
My heart is troubled when I do not believe God, but try to find my own way in the world. My Soul has always been looking for a true home, a dwelling place to call my own. It is never to be found in a home on earth made with human hands, or in the precious relationships we have with others. These are precious gifts but they can never quench our deepest thirst. This Dwelling place of rest is found only with the One who formed me while in my mother’s womb.
St. Augustine once said, “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they find rest in Him.”
I have found that to be completely true. Of course, I wish that I had found this out sooner, and not had to suffer so much loss and disappointment; but it had to be a revelation of the heart. No journey is wasted or trial misspent, if it ultimately leads us to Jesus’ feet. And so here I rest now, here I can sleep. No longer anxious to prove my worth, my value, myself. Here, at His feet, I know who I am, I know why I’m here and I know He will finish the work He has begun in me, and see to it that I finish the work that He has called me to do.
We may seek God with our intellect, but we will only find Him with our heart. Cotvos