What Really Matters?

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“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.  Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  (1 Timothy 4:16)

Today, I was very frustrated with myself.  Sometimes, it does not take a lot to distract me from what really matters.  The cares of life and many other things can so easily distract us from keeping the main thing the main thing.

In the book of Timothy, Paul from a heart of love, wrote to Timothy instructing him to keep a close watch on himself and what was taught.  Reading this reminded me that it is good to ask ourselves hard questions.

When we go to our family doctor for an annual checkup, they ask us a lot of questions that delve into helping them get a picture of what is going on with our physical being.  Depending on the answers we give to the questions, there may be even more questions that delve even deeper into potential problems.

Most of us put importance on having a physical checkup; however, often we neglect to with the help of the Holy Spirit do a spiritual checkup on ourselves.  Yet, this is exactly what Paul was asking Timothy to do.

Some questions I asked myself today were:

  • What am I doing with my life?
  • Am I doing only the things God asks me to do?
  • Am I wasting time doing things that when I die will mean nothing because they just consume my time with no purpose?
  • When I die (or when Jesus returns if that happens first), what are the things I will then look back at and wish I had done differently?
  • When I die, of all the things I do on a daily basis, what ones will be important in eternity?
  • What are the distractions that so easily draw me away from the peace of God that we have when we constantly abide in Him?
  • What distractions take me away from spending the amount of time I should with God each day, sitting at His feet, listening, talking, reading His word?
  • Is there anything in my life that is not 100% surrendered to God – in other words is there anything that stops me from obeying God or is there anything He could ask me that I would say no to?
  • What sins do I struggle with?  Have I asked the Holy Spirit to transform that area of my life?
  • Is God my first love? 

Our days on earth are numbered.  Oh how sad it will be for those who God called but the cares of life distracted them from following and obeying God.  Perhaps it is not even a care that is a distraction — it could be a fear or a person or allowing frustrations and your environment to pull you away from the gentle voice that beckons you to come and follow Him.  It is amazing what a distraction can be. 

How sad it is that millions are dying not knowing God and so few are willing to give up their lives to rescue others. 

What is even sadder is that the state of so many Christian’s hearts who sit in the pew every Sunday.  They are lukewarm Christians.  There is no sign of any care or compassion for the lost. 

If you honestly search your heart — Do you feel God’s love for the lost?  Do you care?  Do you care that most of the people you see every day – people who you look into their face and eyes – will die and spend an eternity in hell with unending torment?  Do you care that many of them live in hell just the way their lives are lived from day to day — they live in pain and hopelessness.

Have you had pain and suffering touch your life to where you could hardly breathe, and the only thing that let you survive was that you had God to carry you?  Do you care that millions live through pain and suffering — many live with worse situations than you ever lived through; but, they have no one to turn to?

What matters in your life?  What were you born for?  If God grants you a few minutes to think while you are dying (you don’t instantly drop dead), what regrets will you have in how you responded to the call of God on your life?  Will your life have had any purpose or was it all work, fun, pain, etc., and nothing to show for it that will last into eternity when your last earthly breath exhales from your body?

Throughout history, thousands have given their life to spread the Gospel.  Today in India and most countries of the world Christians are being martyred for their faith.  I heard of a pastor in India that only a couple of weeks ago was murdered because he loved Jesus.  I believe he was younger than me.

Are you truly 100% surrendered to God’s will for your life?  Is God the love of your life?  Did He really ask us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel?  What will you do with the rest of your days on earth?

While I am sitting writing this, Joel is playing the fiddle in the next room.  It is like God is giving him the music that goes along with what I am writing – only Joel doesn’t know that.  The song he just finished playing was “All to Jesus I Surrender”.  Now he is playing,”Oh, Lord Your Beautiful” by Keith Green.   I will, because of Joel playing that song, now use it in this blog because the message of the song fits this. 

Please right now pray and ask God to soften your heart and speak to you.  THEN, prayerfully listen to the following video with your eyes closed and your heart and mind focused on God.  Let the Holy Spirit speak to you.  Choose this day that the remainder of your days will have a purpose and meaning – choose God’s way!  Don’t be lukewarm!

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (1 Timothy 6:7)

“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

~ Esther

So MANY Words . . .

1 Thessalonians 5-11

Words have power to create and influence for good or for evil.  In the beginning, God spoke everything into existence.  When God finished creating,

“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good…” (Genesis 1:31)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Proverbs 18:21)

When we speak, our words can powerfully influence another person.  Do we influence for good or evil? 

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another . . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul talks about Christian conduct.  In verse 18, he says, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  It is God’s will for us to encourage one another.  Why?  So we can puff each other up?  No!

This week, circumstances in my life taught me the reason for this verse.  One night, I could not sleep.  Recently, some very unkind words had been spoken to me.  The enemy used those very words to all night long speak into my mind, “Esther, you are . . .  Esther, you make people feel . . .  Esther, you are not like other people and God can’t use you . . .  Esther, you might as well give up . . .  Esther, you hurt people instead of help them . . .” 

It was the most horrible night!  I had to pray so many times asking for God’s help.  It was so easy to believe all the lies.  Am I perfect and never say anything wrong?  No, I say so many things wrong – AND! the enemy also uses our words and twists them to be received by people in ways they were never intended.

The attack the enemy walloped me with that night was so extensive it took me into the next evening before the effects of it were broken.  What broke it off was a person saying an encouraging word to me.  They said that God had used me to help someone.

Satan is a liar!  If we surrender our wills and repent of our sins, God can use us.  He can transform us.  He can make us like Him.  We cannot change ourselves – but, if we want to be changed and ask God to change us, He will do the work.  The work He begins in us He is faithful to complete.

I know how imperfect I am.  I know I am a wretched sinner saved by grace.  I know I fail everyday; but, I also know my heart is to love the Lord with all my heart, mind and soul and to serve Him.  I want to be transformed into His image (to be like Him); just like a little girl who loves her Dad wants to be like her Dad.

God wants us to encourage one other – to spur (prompt or encourage) one another on to good deeds.  He wants our words to encourage each other so that the words we hear in our minds when we go to sleep are those that God would say to us.  God speaks to us always with love – even when He has to correct us, it is with love.  God’s voice is not accusing.  He does not condemn.  He corrects us differently than how the enemy accuses us.

Many people believe that we should not say encouraging words to each other, because we may get a big head or proud.  If you are proud, God can certainly deal with that.  Get over it – you are a sinner too!

However, when words that wound are spoken, especially by Christians to Christians, it creates an open doorway for the enemy to point an arrow into that wounded spot and make it hurt even more.  Satan laughs when unkind words are spoken that wound us, because he knows he then has a perfect spot to drive more pain into.  The more pain he can inflict the more he hopes we will give up, which is what is goal is.

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  (Hebrews 10:24, 25)

In 2009, the Lord gave me a little song about words:

So Many Words

Jesus words are what we are to build our life on.  They are what we are to believe.  Jesus said that His sheep know His voice.  Get to know God so closely that you recognize His voice.  When the enemy attacks, like he did with me this week, you will have the confidence to know that no matter how long the attack is, the enemy will not win.  Jesus wins!  Jesus words win!  Jesus is victorious!

If you have been praying and seeking God’s will for your life – remember that in the Bible there are many things that are God’s will for your life.  God’s will is not only about what you do in service – it is also about the inward heart.  Are you an encourager?  Do you speak words to others that God would speak to them?  Do you imitate your Heavenly Father’s words to others?  Part of God’s will for you is to encourage others!

~ Esther

Leah’s Shame

Leah's ShameOld Testament stories communicate to our hearts thousands of years after the story has taken place. They give us extraordinary examples of God’s goodness in the midst of chaos, unfairness and shame.

The story of Leah and Rachel, in Genesis, is a shining example of God’s understanding in the midst of one of the most bizarre, twisted and unfair situations a lady could possibly find herself in.

Life dealt Leah a most unfair hand. She was not as beautiful as her sister, Rachel.  The Bible even brought this to everyone’s attention:

“And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.” (Genesis 29:17 NASB)

Leah was forced to marry a man who did not want her. She was not chosen and loved by her husband.  In fact, her father deceived the man she was made to marry.  Leah spent her first night with her husband under the disguise of being someone else.  Can you imagine the shame, pain and rejection that Leah would feel?

That was only the beginning of many rejections Leah would encounter during her life’s journey. She lived in a culture where a husband could have many wives.  Leah lived knowing she would never be the love of her husband’s life.  Her sister, Rachel, was her husband’s chosen beloved.  Jacob made his feelings well known about this and forced Leah to live day in and day out rejected and unwanted by her husband.

Leah’s life was spent in a marriage where she and her sister were rivals vying for the attention of Jacob. One incident in Leah’s life vividly stands out as being the ultimate in bringing shame on oneself.  Oh the desperation Leah had to have Jacob’s attention.

“One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah.” (Genesis 30:14-16 NLT)

To have to pay to have your own husband sleep with you would make the person feel so ashamed and so unwanted. To have to buy the attention of your husband for one night in the hopes of getting pregnant so you could have another child to bring favour on your life … oh the shame, pain and rejection.

In reading the entire story, I believe that God understood Leah’s pain and shame. He didn’t change her situation; but, He blessed her with many children.  Leah struggled and contended for Jacob’s attention all of her married life; but, often we catch glimpses of where Leah took her eyes off her situation and saw the goodness of God and praised Him for blessing her in the midst of her mess.

God understands what it is like to be rejected. He understands when people have to live in the midst of a family situation that is just messy.  He understood the pain Leah carried, and I am sure He understood the shame she felt in not being the ultimate woman of beauty that her husband desired.

God sees and knows when a person is treated unfairly. God saw Hagar when she was rejected and sent away unprotected by Abraham into the desert at Sarah’s request.  Although God had plans for Abraham and his descendants, God never overlooked Hagar in her predicament.  He sent help and provision to Hagar when she gave up and left her son to die.

Life may not always give you the best of situations to live in. You may feel rejected, scorned and ashamed because …

  • You are not as beautiful as society or a person wants you to be
  • You are not as smart as others
  • You look different or dress different than others
  • Someone you loved rejected you and walked away
  • Your family rejected you
  • You were bullied and scorned at school
  • You are different because ________________ (The list is endless because anything can make a person different from someone else … God made us all different!)

Leah’s story gives us strength and assurance that all of us walk through circumstances in our lives that scream out shame, pain and rejection to us.

God does understand and has a plan. He also gives us the strength to live in our circumstances!  He NEVER treats us this way.  He lets us know how much He loves us and gives us the strength to rise above our circumstances and praise Him and thank Him for His goodness even when everything surrounding us shrieks , “You are not wanted or loved!” 

God’s love is enough if we keep our focus on Him. He can make His love so real that no other love or person’s acceptance compares to God’s love. No matter what surrounds us in this human realm, in the spiritual realm we have God the Almighty Defender, God the Mighty Warrior, God the Lover of our Souls as our guardian and keeper.  He is our fierce protector and most loving Father.  God is love.  He made us just the way we are and loves us with a passion that no human being could ever 100% replicate.

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.  (2 Samuel 22:3 NASB)

~ Esther