What Are You Wearing?

What Are You Wearing?

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:8-14 NIV

Styles–what we wear–in clothes, shoes, and other apparel–often change as rapidly as we can blink our eyes. But whether we follow the trendiness of all these changes doesn’t matter. It’s not the clothes who make us who we are–it is who we are that makes a difference in what we wear–not only materially, but spiritually.

I know some people can hardly wait for the new fashion seasons to start and those with money–big money–have a “must-have” mentality and will go anywhere and pay any amount to have what they want to wear–to make sure people pay attention to them. We know this because “red carpet” events always emphasize what people are wearing–on the outside. But what resides on the inside of the person? That’s what usually comes out and determines the character of the person.

If a person looks good on the outside, but nothing worth having resides on the inside–bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, rage, jealousy, bigotry and hatred–nothing they put on the shell of the body will make a difference in the greater scheme of things. Why? Because God looks upon the heart–not the outside–of anyone.

It won’t matter how much money a person spends to make themselves look good on the outside if the inside–the spirit person–is in need of cleansing and renewal. What happens in the “renewal process” of the sinner to the saint–cannot be purchased for any amount of money–we either submit to God’s leading or we don’t.

So, if we think we are something when we are nothing–we only fool ourselves and the real “us” will be seen in how we treat others. Time to change clothes yet?

If we ever expect to see unity–of all mankind–determined to be submitted to Holy Spirit and do things out of obedience–we must learn to wear love as  a tightly knit garment to hold in the virtues of compassion, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, peace, humility, and righteousness--keeping out all of the old stuff–belonging to the un-regenerated person.

Now, what are you wearing?

Mockers and Fools vs Wisdom and Knowledge!

Mockers and Fools vs Wisdom and Knowledge!

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. Proverbs 14:3 NIV

The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning. Proverbs 14:6 NIV

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. Proverbs 14:7 NIV

Looking at The Word through Solomon’s insights, there really is no competition between the foolish and the wise. Wisdom trumps foolishness every time.

Wise people build–their houses with solid foundations that will endure the test of time and storms. Any foundation that is week and has not been properly shored up, will buckle and eventually cave in causing destruction to the whole house. And whenever there is a problem with the foundation, steps should be taken to make sure it stabilizes before it crumbles and falls.

The building principle is true of every aspect of our lives–we build relationships on solid foundations. We build careers on solid foundations and we build up our faith in God, on the solid foundation of The Word.

Pride speaks without thinking–not considering its ways or how what is said will affect the hearer. Pride doesn’t care and since pride doesn’t care–they are often revealed as fools. While the wise are careful to research and think before speaking, mindful that words carry impact and impact affects those who hear their words.

The mocker–those who mock others for whatever reason–seeks wisdom in all the wrong places and from the wrong people and therefore never obtain what he/she is seeking. But those who have knowledge and wisdom, easily discern what the fools never understand.

Solomon reveals the valuable lessons he’s learned throughout the Proverbs and carried over into Ecclesiastes–the wisdom he gained from God who gives liberally and from making mistakes in his disobedience. He learned that wisdom never leads anyone astray, but a fool–will also find himself lost, without direction, never knowing right from left or up from down–when to stay and when to quit–when to speak and when to be quiet.

With all that Solomon has to say about fools–and there is quite a bit–we, who read The Word with understanding, are without excuse in recognizing a fool when we see or hear one. And if we are wise, we know to stay away from fools for there is no knowledge or wisdom in them and all they do–is mock others–because they have no foundational substance in the make up of their character.

Now, we need to think–before making a decision about what we’ve read–and determine where we are in the greater scheme of things. Are we in the camp of the wise or the foolish?

Why Looks Don’t Tell The Whole Story!

Why Looks Don’t Tell The Whole Story!

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Proverbs 11:22 NIV

What purpose does it serve to waste a gold ring to put through a pig’s snout? Does the gold ring make the pig more desirable or more precious? When a man sees a beautiful woman who exercises no discretion at all–with everything exposed–does she become more desirable or more distasteful?

If all we have to offer anyone is our looks–then we are indeed in sad shape. Not everything that looks good–is good and by the same benchmark–not everything that is unappealing is bad. What should really matter is the inner person–their character–not their looks.

I’ve met some rather plain-looking people and some who were physically unattractive, but were the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. I’ve also met some really good-looking people–on the outside–but so hateful and full of themselves that I could hardly wait to get away from them.  That adage about not judging a book by its cover is applicable to much of what we do in life–especially in seeking a wife or husband.

But the truth of the matter is-no matter how a person dresses up their outside–with make-up, surgical procedures, etc. –if there is no character development on the inside they are still without much value. Dressing up the pig won’t change what it is–and neither will any other procedure change what a person really is.

I’ve been appalled by the number of stories I’ve read in which a person was brutally beaten or killed by another (usually a man) because the victim was masquerading as a woman and when the man discovered the true identity–they felt betrayed and humiliated and reacted to the situation without thinking. This happens far too often and the simplest solution is for people to stop trying to be something they are not–misleading with their looks–inviting anger directed at them.

There are some things we can realistically prevent–and I’m not promoting brutally for betrayal–I’m simply encouraging people to stop trying to fool people. When we parade ourselves as one thing when we’re another–we’re setting ourselves up to be attacked–physically and spiritually!

And so too are pretentious Christians–who carry their big bible, wear the biggest crosses, mouth more, “Hallelujahs” and “Praise The Lords” than most of us can count and yet–they’ll cuss someone out at the drop of a pin. They never pray for anyone and are always asking others to pray for them. They never help anyone and always expect someone to help them. They go to church, but not to hear a word, but to spout words against everyone who walks into the building–they are always complaining and never happy about anything.

On the other hand, the ones who quietly see to the needs of others even when they don’t have all of their needs met, always smiling encouragement, always have a hug or light touch trying to comfort others when they need to be comforted–this is the real Christian and they don’t have to shout it or try to parade it. Most of us know who they are.

So–what do our looks tell people? Do they tell our whole story or is it just a facade–and we’re hoping no one will ever see the real person behind the facade?

 

How We Own Our Faults!

How We Own Our Faults!

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Psalm 19:12 NIV

One of the most difficult things most human beings have to do is to recognize their own shortcomings and faults. Why? We don’t like to see ourselves as we really are. Some might say, our refusal to see us as others see us, makes us delusional. In many cases, that is probably very true.

However, we don’t have to navigate our journey in life wearing blinders. When we are able to look at ourselves and admit our imperfections and faults, we put ourselves in position to be molded into the person God always intended us to be. Building character takes time and since our time on earth is limited, we shouldn’t waste it trying to be more than we are or were intended to be.

Let’s face it–many of us don’t recognize the ugliness that resides in us because we are too short-sighted to see it. What ugliness? The need in us to belittle others or to make fun of them. The urge we have to always say something about others that is not entirely true. The things we think we hide in our hearts–bigotry, rebellion, low self-esteem and our insecurities. We think we hide these things but because they reside in our hearts, they rise and surface for all to see, except us.

Think about it! That spirit that complains all the time in our heads about everything–surfaces and those around us hear the complaints when they are voiced. The nastiness that resides in our hearts rises when our tongues speak evil and we cuss everything and everyone who dares to disagree with us.

If we were ever able to force ourselves to see us as we really are and then work to change for the better, we defeat the enemy who attempts to influence us on every level. When we admit our shortcomings, the enemy has nothing to use against us. Willingness to see ourselves as we are is the first step to building character–changing us to be more like Christ. We don’t have to be dishonest, liars, thieves, complainers, or any other worthless thing–and when we build character, we become more valuable and are able to accomplish great things.

Let’s openly recognize and proclaim all those things that we think are hidden, but nothing is ever hidden from God. Then we can start building, one step at a time, the character that resides in the inner person, but has been hidden by our imperfections and our inability to recognize us when we see us.

A Title Means Nothing If The Role Is Not Fulfilled!

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2,3 NIV)

What does a good shepherd or a good leader do?

Being a good shepherd and being a good leader–in anything–means that the people are more important than the title. There are many people in leadership positions in churches who hold titles–pastor, bishop, apostle–and few of them are actually shepherds. How do we recognize them?

The shepherd realizes that those in the congregation are “not his/her people” but they have been given the responsibility to watch over the flock–feed them God’s Word, correct them when they go astray, warn about impending dangers, and provide them direction and instruction they can use to teach others. How many church leaders are actually doing this? Many are more concerned about how “they can influence others with their sound or things they amass” and never take the time to get to know those in their congregation or what they need.

I remember being in a meeting that was not being held in a church when the man who was the pastor of the church I attended came in late, needing to be seen, and announced that he knew his flock. But he didn’t recognize me as a member. I didn’t say a word, but that struck a chord in me. He wasn’t interested in serving the needs of the people because he didn’t know what the people needed. Not long after that meeting, I left that church when bizarre behavior starting ruling.

The same is true for leaders of other non-church groups. Some people only want leadership positions because of a title. Titles mean absolutely nothing if the person holding the title is not fulfilling the duties. I’ve recently been involved with a parent-organization for the high school my grandson attends and discovered that the reigning president has not fulfilled their duties from the outset, but is now angry they were voted out of office. They were not interested in “doing the role” they obtained, but only in being a position they could use to bully others. What I don’t understand is why. Holding a title means nothing and impresses no one if people don’t do the job that goes with the title.

These have not been good examples for anyone; especially the children in knowing how to be a good leader and even more important in how to demonstrate good sportsmanship when losing–an election or a game. No character–no grace; no grace–no room for entitled personalities–who do nothing but create problems for others.

If what we do on any level is not done from pure motives–it will not succeed. God knows the heart and He watches all we do and He hears everything we say. We cannot hide from Him and when He exposes a person’s true character, they can no longer hide from people.

In a position of leadership–we must always question our motives for being there and when we are incapable of fulfilling the role of that position, we must leave it to those who are capable and will do.

We Know His Name!

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NKJV)

One of the reasons many people don’t know God is because of all the negatives that some have attributed to Him. When people believe the worst of anyone–what they think they know–is a different perspective from one who actually knows.

Our God, The Lord Jesus Christ–is love and therefore, He can only love as a loving Father.

Our God, The Lord Jesus Christ–is the Son of the Father (God in the flesh) and He can only do what He has seen the Father do and say what the Father says.

Our God, The Lord Jesus Christ–is Holy Spirit–the spirit of God living in us–and He will only tell us what He hears the Father say.

How can we put our trust in someone we don’t know? Most people cannot and since they cannot trust Him, they choose to refute who He is.

Now, here is the real challenge–why is it that those who claim to know Him and His name, have difficulty fully trusting in all He is and His Word?

If, we as Believers–fully understand and know who He is–we should not have a problem trusting Him–in all things–and never worry about the outcome of anything. Do we worry? Do we have doubts and are overanxious about things over which we cannot control?

I have learned and still learning that when I trust Him–totally trust Him–I can navigate life without concern about what “may” happen next. I know from experience that whatever happens–I will get through it if I just praise Him and trust Him to do what He said He would do--never forsake me, never abandon me, never leave me alone, always guiding me, loving me, setting me in position for victory. I am more than a conqueror through Him because of His love. I can do all things through Him and therefore there is nothing, I cannot do and do well to His glory!

I not only know who He is–His name–I know His attributes and His character and I know beyond a shadow of doubt, that He will never withdraw His love from me.

Thank You, Lord Jesus for love, mercy, and favor–even though I may not be worthy because I sometimes miss the mark, yet Your abiding love keeps me from being perpetually lost to the temptations of this world. It is because I desire to please You above all things that I know I cannot bring shame to Your name, by my actions or attitudes. Thank You for always curbing my tongue and comforting my heart, giving me peace and understanding in how to do those things I must. 

Expecting My New Thing!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV).

It is not that God has not always provided for me and my family, but I am expecting to see even greater “new things” as we journey through this new year.

Am I the only person for whom The Lord has remained a continuous fountain of provision and trust?

Has He not provided for you and made ways of escape when you thought all was lost?

His promise to us is that even in the midst of chaos and confusion, economic drought and emotionally instability, He will be with us through it all and He will bring us through it–strengthening us, building character and encouraging others by what they see happen to us, to have faith in Him.

When God does “the new thing”–make sure you recognize it and move forward in His grace and mercy. Do not provoke His anger by being ungrateful for all the small things He does because it is the small things that are part of the great foundation He’s building to give you the big things! Think about the foundation of your house! If it is concrete–it was formed with grains of sand (the small things). When we cannot appreciate the small things, we never see the big things that He can do for us.

Move in wisdom–discernment–always listening and seeking understanding–thanking Him for all He does.