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My thoughts on the “New” in the Year 2014

My thoughts on the “New” in the Year 2014.
As I searched the Word for the word ‘new’ in scripture I find it appears 173x throughout the Old & New Testaments. Staying with the theme of the ‘new’ year    I choose the N.T. Greek word;  kaivoc (kainos) which occurs 44x.

Reading over the verses I see the word “new” being issued over such things as “New” creature, moon, song, wine, wineskin, thing, spirit, covenant, commandment, tongues, man, heaven and earth, Jerusalem.

The very definition in the Strong’s dictionary refers to both New as in form and substance meaning = recently made, fresh, unused, of a new kind, unprecedented, and unheard of.

May I ask, “What are you hoping for in the New?” May you see as you look with the eyes of faith that the hand and heart of God is for you! I declare & proclaim over 2014 that in God’s creative nature He gives both form and substance to the very thing(s) in which you’re asking. May this Year be a New – kind of unprecedented, unheard of, uncommon place in which you reside with Him.

Rev 21:5 reads; then He who sat on the Throne said, “Behold, I make all things new, and He said to me, “write, for these words are True and Faithful”.

Whatever it is you hear the Lord saying, write, write it down, even now.

By: Deborah Somjak ~ 4 Unfolded Hearts

True Love

The love of the Lord

—Hosea 3:1

Believer, look back through all thine experience, and think of the way whereby the Lord thy God has led thee in the wilderness, and how He hath fed and clothed thee every day—how He hath borne with thine ill manners—how He hath put up with all thy murmurings, and all thy longings after the flesh‐pots of Egypt—how He has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee with manna that came down from heaven.

Think of how His grace has been sufficient for thee in all thy troubles—how His blood has been a pardon to thee in all thy sins—how His rod and His staff have comforted thee. When thou hast thus looked back upon the love of the Lord, then let faith survey His love in the future, for remember that Christ’s covenant and blood have something more in them than the past.

He who has loved thee and pardoned thee, shall never cease to love and pardon.

He is Alpha, and He shall be Omega also: He is first, and He shall be last. Therefore, bethink thee, when thou shalt pass through the valley of the shadow of death, thou needest fear no evil, for He is with thee. When thou shalt stand in the cold floods of Jordan, thou needest not fear, for death cannot separate thee from His love; and when thou shalt come into the mysteries of eternity thou needest not tremble, “For I am persuaded, that neither death; nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now, soul, is not thy love refreshed? Does not this make thee love Jesus? Doth not a flight through illimitable plains of the ether of love inflame thy heart and compel thee to delight thyself in the Lord thy God?

Surely as we meditate on “the love of the Lord,” our hearts burn within us, and we long to love Him more.

by Charles Spurgeon

 This my friend is the truest  love ~ Debbie

4 Big Keys to Christian Maturity

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for (1) teaching, for (2) reproof, for (3) correction, and for (4) training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV
Though this passage is often used to highlight and elevate God’s Word as inspired, which is right and good, I want to highlight the elements of change that Paul says the Word of God can do for us.
 
The four elements of change mentioned in this passage are: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Here are some helpful questions to help you and others diagnose how you’re doing at each point:
 
Teaching – bringing the Word of God to bear on your life
Are you teachable? Are you easy to teach?

1.Is it easy for people to care for you because of your hunger to be taught?
2.Do you seek to be taught by those who are competent enough to teach you?
3. Are you a question asker?
4. guardedness about reputation hinder others from speaking into your life?
5. Are you over-sensitive? Does insecurity hinder others from speaking into your life?

Rebuking – the Word knocks us down before it can help us
Can you be rebuked? Can you receive the corrective observations of others?

1. When you are reproved, how do you initially respond?
2. When reproved, are you more focused on the person who said it and how they said it or how you can humbly respond?
3. Do you pursue the reproving care of your friends?
4. Are you tempted to sulk or go into self-pity mode when you are reproved?
5. Do you express gratitude to those who love you enough to reprove you?

Correction – we are ready to stand back up, to head in the right direction

1. Are you more likely to focus on the reproof or the corrective change?
2. Are you ready and willing to be fixed or are you apt to argue with the one who brought the reproof?
3. Do you enlist the help of your friends so you can change?
4. Do you believe you need others to help you walk through immaturity issues?
5. Do you believe others need you so you can help them walk through their immaturity issues?
6. Would you say your commitment to change is greater than your commitment to your reputation?

Training in Righteousness – we’re on the path to Christian maturity

1. want to be taught God’s Word.
2. When I learn from God’s Word I am reproved.
3. To be temporarily reproved allows me to be corrected.
4. Once corrected, I am now on the training track where I can run my race more effectively.
Once you make it through steps one, two, and three, you are now ready to run your race. Invite others into your growth process. Appeal to them to come alongside you so you can receive their Gospel-shaped care.
 
Lead by example. Press the issue. Ask your friends to love you effectively. This will not only allow you to run your race more effectively, but your example may open the door for you to care for them. You can read this entire 2000 word article by Counseling Solutions, Rick Thomas.net

Father! Oh, what a precious word is that.

Your heavenly Father.

God’s people are doubly His children, they are His offspring by creation, and they are His sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call Him, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: “If I be a Father, where is mine honour?” If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered—which would not be withheld even if it might.

The obedience which God’s children yield to Him must be loving obedience.

Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster’s toil, but run in the way of His commands because it is your Father’s way.

Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father’s will, and His will should be the will of His child.

Father!—Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King’s crown is forgotten in the King’s face, and His sceptre becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver sceptre of mercy—the sceptre indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of Him who wields it.

Father!—Here is honour and love. How great is a Father’s love to His children!

That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a Father’s heart and hand must do for His sons. They are His offspring, He must bless them; they are His children, He must show Himself strong in their defence. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word—Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire.

I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, “Father.”

                              Written By: Charles Spurgeon                                 

God Sent a Savior

God Sent a Savior
By Max Lucado
God has given a son to us.…
His name will be Wonderful Counselor,
Powerful God … Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Every Christmas I read this reminder that came in the mail several years ago:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.

Christmas cards. Punctuated promises. Phrases filled with the reason we do it all anyway.

He became like us, so we could become like him.

Angels still sing and the star still beckons.

Isaiah 9:6 proclaims, “God has given a son to us. His name will be Wonderful Counselor.”

Powerful God.

Prince of Peace.

The wonder of it all is that…

He loves each one of us like there was only one of us to love.

Shopping: Bartering and Buying

It’s that time of year!?!

Christmas; the celebration of our Lord Jesus the Christ, birth!

For me, it is truly thee single most wonderful celebrated holiday on the years calendar.

However, what seems to most present is this tension amongst Christians, to-shop or not- to shop that presents itself during the Christmas season. I don’t know about your neck of the woods but near ours this topic seems to keep coming up. For some the very perception of  others criticism  towards you ‘wanting more’ even if your shopping trip is in order and your heart is right can add to ones state of emotional and mental strain.

After hearing a report on the nightly news given that the three most shoplifted items are filet mignon, whiskey, and men’s razors. Odd, right?  I know, that’s what I was thinking. First, these three items are not any I would even image would make the list and they seem to indicate, to me, that the ones who may be shoplifting are men?

As I began to give this some thought and asking the Lord to speak – I was listening.

I was lead to this below excerpt in my Bible on

Shopping: Bartering and Buying

Scripture refer to vendors in streets, squares, marketplaces and near gates where farmers, artisans, merchants, and peddlers displayed their wares (Neh 13:17-22)

Apparently, bartering was prohibited on the Sabbath. The Bible gives little information about quality of goods or regulation of trade (see Amos 8:5,6) The method of transaction was often a barter system of exchange, although there is also evidence that items were purchased by weights of gold and silver.

Among the items traded in the Bible were oil, wine, grapes, figs, fish, animals, pottery and clothing (1King4:7; Neh.13:15,16) The people of the Palestine exported grains and flour, oil and wine, cosmetics and medical products. (Gen. 43:11; Ezek. 27:17)

The Law has very few references to buying and selling, the primary rules being to have honest weights and measures and to refrain from charging interest of fellow Israelites (Lev.19:36; Duet.25:13)

Solomon was the first King of Israel who promoted international trade. He entered into a profitable joint trading venture with Hiram, king of Tyre. During Solomon’s reign, ancient trade routes were strictly controlled and merchants were taxed heavily.

The Queen of Sheba may have very well been the head of a trade delegation to establish closer relations with Israel (1King 10; 2Chr. 9:1-12) In any case, just as those who shop today, she combined curiosity (2Chr.9:1) and commercial interest  with buying power to meet her needs (2 Chr. 9:9-12)

Women obviously bought and sold goods, whether in the process of providing food and clothing for their households (Prov 31:18,24) or as a professional pursuit (Acts 16:4) Shopping required time (Prov.31:14) planning (v.21) good taste (v.22) and stewardship (v.13)

What seems to stand out and speak to me for today?

First, I must be willing, really willing to set my heart on the altar before God for He is the One who Primarily Rules and being open and honest with my both my needs and desires and allow Him by the working of the Holy Spirit to reveal the weights and measures of my heart.

Once, I have permitted His voice of truth to speak and have humbly allowed myself to be receptive and pliable on all measures. It would be most prudent in planning the process in which I will spend. Whether its providing food, clothing or other household items during the holidays or beyond.

Women of yesteryear and today know, Shopping does require:

Time – she is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. (Prov.31:14)

Planning – She is not afraid of the snow for her household…..             (Prov.31:21)

Good Taste – She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple (v.22)

Stewardship – she seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. (v.13)

My words of encouragement to All of you beloved women during this month;

May Grace and Peace be Multiplied to You.

To the whiskey drinking, filet mignon eatin, men’s razor users…. I think you know.

 

Communication is God-like

Recently, during a personal time of communicating with God  I found as I was processing my heart issues before Him – I became enlighten, by the Holy Spirit, that I had developed a pattern of communication with God in which during my (seemingly) prolonged times of distress what I began to do was “take issue with God.” What I realized along with my repentance is that as equally wrong as this communication pattern was with God – it is in the same extent as wrong in my communicating with others.

Perhaps the below article written by Rick Thomas with Counseling Solutions will help explain my experience further.

In Ephesians 5:1 we are exhorted to imitate God. God is a talking God. He is a speaking God. When we first catch a glimpse of His activity in the early pages of Genesis, He was speaking. He spoke throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament He sent his Son to speak to us.

After His Son left, He began speaking through the written Word and this is how He continues to speak to us today (2 Timothy 3:16). God is a speaking God and communicating effectively is one of the ways we can imitate Him.

How are you imitating God in the area of communication?

When we choose to be quiet when talking is the right response, we are in defiance of our Creator. Imagine if God copped an attitude and said,

I know I can talk, but I’m not going to talk. I’m not going to give you my words. I’m going to let you wonder what I’m thinking. We’re going to play a guessing game. Get used to it.

A non-talking God would lead to chaos. We would not know Him or how to relate to Him. Our life would be like what was described at the end of the book of Judges:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. –Judges 21:25 (ESV)

Fortunately, God is a communicator. He talks to us. In fact, He is relentless in His communication. No one will be able to say, “I didn’t know.”

We are loved immeasureably by God. He cares for us as He carefully guides us by His Word (John 17:17). Our paths are not shaped by our culture, but by the sovereign hand of God as He lets us know how to live in His world.

However, if a person chooses not to talk he will bring chaos to his relationships. Rather than a dad’s kids receiving cheerful, hope-filled, practical, and constructive communication, they become teens who willfully distance themselves from their dads.

A harsh communicating dad has similar results. His children cower before his brutish ways until they are old enough to find solace and encouragement in someone else who will love, affirm, and encourages them.

Silence or harsh communication can have the same affect: internally chaotic children who end up rebelling, rather than being nurtured by the warm, encouraging, practical, and guiding hand of a speaking dad.[1]

Communication inhibitors

In my counseling experience there can be many reasons why a passive person chooses not to talk or why a person chooses to talk in an unkind way. I’ve listed six reasons, though there are more:

Stubbornness – To be stubborn is self-centered unwillingness. This is what we hope God will never do to us. It would be horrible for God to treat us in willful stubbornness. Stubborn Christian is a contradictory term.

One of the many ways a person can be stubborn in their communication is by their refusal to say, “I’m sorry” or to confess obvious sins or to pursue a spouse’s constructive observations.

Most Christian wives know many things about their husbands. Some of these things may not be known by the husband. What she knows and what she could share could serve her husband in his personal walk with God.

However, if he is stubborn in his communication and is not pursuing his wife through humble question-asking, then he could very well miss out on this means of sanctifying grace that God brought into his life through his wife.

Apathy – It is helpful to use bible language when thinking about categories. Apathy is not a solid bible category, though you can see this attitude in the personalities of the bible. A more biblically precise descriptor would be hatred.

An apathetic person is acting-out in what the bible would understand to be hatred. Apathy is the “I don’t care” attitude. This is not a passive or neutral attitude. It is an active attitude that follows the lines of hatred or a lack of love.

If you don’t actively love me, then you are actively hating me, whether you want to dress it up by calling it apathy or not.

If my son was in a traffic accident and was dying by the roadside and I walked by and said “I don’t care that you are dying” it would be hatred. Though not as physically damning as the illustration I just used, not to speak into someone else’s life is also a form of selfish-hate.

Anger – This attitude of the heart is not as dressed up as apathy. It is hate acted out. I’m not speaking so much about the exaggerated versions of anger that we may understand as road rage, murder or physical abuse, but about the softer forms of anger like silent treatment.

Anger is a spectrum behavior. On one end of the spectrum is murder. That is the worse case scenario. Christians do not typically murder people. However, we are not excluded from being angry. Therefore, we use more civilized and tolerated forms of murder, one of which we call the silent treatment.

In one sense, they both accomplish a similar goal. Murder says, “You do not exist because I removed you from this world.” Silent treatment says, “You do not exist because I have removed you from my mind.” In both cases there is a willful imposed silence.

As sophisticated Christians we can live for years with this kind of “low-grade anger” of non-communication. We can even justify our anger because we are not acting like some of the people we hear about through the news.

“At least I have not killed anyone” can be our self-righteous retort.

This is a very proud person who hiding in his quietness and justifying himself with false humility, while harboring anger. Un-removed hostilities can kill a marriage.

Fear – This is typically a motivator that I cannot fully develop here. I’ll just take one angle on this potentially life-dominating sin. Fear is code word for a person mired in self-absorbed thinking. A fearful person is not a trusting person.

A fearful person is more focused on their interests rather than God’s. God says, “Trust!”

Jesus asked Peter to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Him (Matthew 14:28). Peter, in the moment, was all about himself, wrapped up in fear. When he repented of his fear he did get out of the boat and walked with God.

If he had decided to stay on the boat, twisted in paralyzing fear, then he would have chosen the way of self rather than the way of God.

Fear is a foundational sin that can manifest itself in many ways. One of those ways is a sinful desire to not be exposed by communicating your thoughts to others.

A teen could be tempted to fear others by choosing not to communicate her thoughts. A husband could be tempted to fear by not being vulnerable before his wife.

In both cases above, Gospel of communication is trumped by fear.

Ignorance – A person can be willfully ignorant of God and God’s ways even though he may be a Christian. It simply has not occurred to him how his lack of communication is hurting his family. The power of words or the lack of words never registers with him.

When his daughter, who has been waiting for 10 years to be loved, nurtured, affected, and cared for by his kind, loving and wise words, becomes pregnant, he is clueless. He does not see how she waited and hoped until hope was dashed.

A young man came along and “swept her off her feet.” She was an angry teen looking for love, in large part because of a dad who was so into himself and ignorant of the damage he was causing due to his lack of words.

Similarly, a dad wakes up one day to a rebellious teen son who is full of anger and is now shopping his affection in video gaming, drugs, girls, work or whatever he can find for a modicum of encouragement. He is reacting in anger toward his non-encouraging, harsh, or non-speaking dad.

Arrogance – Code word here is self-righteousness, though all of the characteristics mentioned thus far would be born out of self-righteousness. This person looks down his nose toward others. He has a greater than attitude. There are certain people he doesn’t like.

He isolates himself in certain ways from his culture. Many times it is a select group of people he chooses to hate. He loves thin people, who are active, as opposed to obese people. He likes heterosexual people, but harbors a disgust for gay people.

He likes those who can carry a conversation of depth, but the shallow simple people he resents. His sin could be even more insidious as he withholds his affectionate and encouraging words from his family because of unresolved bitternesses.

According to him, they have not changed to meet his preferences.

A note to the talker

  • How is your heart right now?
  • Are you tempted to think of someone you know who is like what I have described?
  • Are you married to such a person?
  • Do you have a parent described above?
  • How is your heart right now?

If you are tempted to sin as you reflect on the non-talkers in your life, then I want to remind you of the Gospel. Christ came to save sinners and you are one of those sinners He came to save. You are no different than your non-talking friend.

Yes, your non-talking friend needs help, but you won’t be able to help him if you are not guarding your heart well. Your friend may not be meeting your expectations, but he is not the only one who put Christ on the cross.[2]

It was because of your sin and mine that Christ was nailed to the tree. If I’m the worst sinner that I know, which I am, then I can re-focus in this moment and love my sinning friend in a similar fashion in which Christ loved me (1 Timothy 1:15).

The best way to help a non-communicator is by communicating like God would communicate to him. Find a way to share your heart with real and practical observations. This is what God did to you. God’s Words began to penetrate your heart. In time your heart was opened to the Gospel and you began to change.

A note to the non-talker

You will need to determine if you’re going to imitate God in this crucial area of your life. I’m not asking you to become a “talking head.” Going from non-talker to talker does not mean you are supposed to be the life of the party. I’m merely appealing to you to repent. You can talk. This is a choice that you have to make.

You will need to decide if you will be motivated by the Gospel or not. Christ was our first missionary. He came to our dark place to change us, to make us better than what we were (Philippians 2:5-11).

He spoke the Gospel into our lives.

If you refuse to talk, while calling yourself a Christian, then you are mocking the very Gospel you claim to hold dear.

The Gospel is about others. Communication is one way we can model the other-centeredness of the Gospel in the lives of others. Communicating is not about what you can get out of the conversation, but about what you can invest into the conversation. Withholding your words is an act of unkindness.

Will you go?

Will you talk?

Will you imitate our speaking God today?

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