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April 30th, 2009

Story : How heavy is your bag?

How heavy is your bag

One of my teachers had each one of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes.

For every person we’d refuse to forgive in our life, we were told to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of our bags, as you can imagine, were quite heavy.

We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere for one week, putting it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to our desk at work.

The hassle of lugging this around with us made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually, and how we had to pay attention to it all the time to not forget, and keep leaving it in embarrassing places. Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime.

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This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity.

Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person, and while that’s true, it clearly is also a gift for ourselves!

So the next time you decide you can’t forgive someone, ask yourself……

Isn’t MY bag heavy enough?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. – Mark 11:25

April 30th, 2009

4 Types of Suffering

Suffering-and-the-God-of-Love

If there really is a God, people wonder, why has He allowed so much suffering in the world? What are the types of suffering in a christian’s life?

Many Christians honestly struggle with that same question. Only by turning to the Bible can we begin to understand the problem of suffering in this life.

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Basically, there are four types of suffering.

The first type is that which comes as the result of natural disasters, such as an earthquake or a hurricane. The suffering that results from these disasters happens to both the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).

A second type of suffering can be called man’s inhumanity to man. War would be classified under this type of suffering. Because of humanity’s greed and pride, people try to hurt other people (James 4:1-2).

A third type of suffering is best seen in the life of Job in the Old Testament; it came as a result of Satan’s attack on him. After receiving permission from God, Satan moved in and caused incredible suffering to Job and his family.

A fourth type of suffering is that which comes as a result of our own erroneous actions. For example, if I walk off the roof of my office and fall to the ground, breaking my leg, I am suffering because I broke God’s law of gravity. We also suffer when we break God’s moral laws.

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Much suffering can be traced to the evil choices we make. Some, but not all, suffering is allowed by God as a punishment for sin. Often God simply forces us to live with the consequences of our actions (Galatians 6:7-8).

Whenever people break God’s laws, others are bound to suffer as well. I refer you to the story of Achan in Joshua 7. When he coveted and took some of the spoil from the battle of Jericho, Achan cost the lives of thirty-six men in battle against Ai. It is inevitable that others will suffer in the wake of an individual’s disobedience.

How we respond to suffering–whether or not we brought it on ourselves–is going to make us or break us as Christian pilgrims. Circumstances often do more to reveal our character than to shape it. But by properly responding to trials, we can develop patience and proven character (Romans 5:3-4).

Problems, stress, calamity, or the death of a loved one often cause us to search ourselves for any sin in our lives (see 1 Kings 17:18). Pain plants the flag of truth in a heavy heart. But we must be cautious not to let Satan overwhelm us with excessive and false guilt or grief (2 Corinthians 2:7). Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. He refused to give up and remained faithful to the Lord. Notice that in the end God gave him all he had before and even more (Job 42:10-17).

Instead of looking at our circumstances, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, the source of life. He will bring us through whatever situation we face, and as a result we will be stronger Christians, better able to serve Him because of our trials.

In a day of pessimism and suffering we can say with the psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The Lord Himself, as the great Sufferer, is our comfort and hope in troubled times.

To Ponder : To what degree have you experienced the first kind of suffering described above? The second? The third? The fourth? Are you currently going through a trial? What kind of trial is it? What has been your response so far?

To Pursue : Meditate on Psalm 118:6 and Hebrews 13:5-6, verses which have been an encouragement to me and to many others during times of trial.

Beleive in HIM. Trust HIM. You will pass all these types of sufferings in joy.

April 29th, 2009

10 Commandments Explained Further

10 Commandments explained

The Ten Commandments are explained further here.

1. Trust in God only.

Trust in no one but GOD. People will disappoint you. God created you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He is too good to do wrong, and too wise to make a mistake. Let His peace abide in you. (Proverbs 3 :5-6)

2. Worship God only.

Don’t make your career, your company, or your boss a god. If you do, you will provoke Him to jealously and will end up fighting Him. In fact, He may hinder you from achieving what you want until you are broken of the idolatry. (Exodus 20:5).

3. Use God’s Name Reverently.

Don’t swear!! Clean words come out of a clean heart! If your co-workers know that you are a Christian, but they hear the Lord’s Name used in vain, or cursing and swearing from your mouth, you will give the appearance of being a hypocrite. (Matthew 15:17-19).

4. Work Six Days and Rest on the Seventh.

Before you beg for more vacation time, ask yourself a few questions, “Do you honor the Sabbath?” God has already given you 52 days of time off that equates to seven weeks. “Are your expectations for work, vacation, and retirement realistic?” By resting one day a week, you can avoid burnout. (Genesis 3:17-19).

5. Respect and Obey Your Boss.

You should respect and obey your boss, because you don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Plus, your ultimate boss is the Lord. Serve Him faithfully on the job, and He will bless you. However, if your boss
commands you to do something illegal or immoral, you must make a stand and obey God rather than man. (Ephesians 6:5-8).

6. Protect and Respect Human Life.

Emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual manipulation, abuses and violence have no place in the workplace… or any place. You do not have the right to use and abuse your boss, co-workers, employees, customers, or suppliers. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

7. Be True to Your Spouse.

If you are not getting the kind of attention that you feel you deserve at home, it’s common to seek it with someone at work. Honor your wedding vows by avoiding company romances! They are very tempting, very real, and very common. They are also very wrong and very destructive. (Matthew 19:8-9).

8. Do Not Take What Belongs to Others.

Stealing at work can take many forms. You can choose to steal materials, money, time, productivity , and joy from your employer and others. Do not remove your integrity by stealing. (II Corinthians 7:1-2).

9. Do Not Lie About Others.

Do not fabricate stories about your boss, co-workers, and spread gossip for the sake of company politics. You are here to be the salt and the light, not the pepper and the darkness!! Truth always rises to the surface, and eventually you will be ashamed and rebuked if you lie. (II Peter 2:10-13 ).

10. Be Satisfied With What You Have.

Contentment doesn’t mean that you cannot pursue God-given goals, but it does mean that you are content with what He has provided you with, day after day. Contentment is a rare quality in today’s culture, but it is extremely liberating! Materialism, striving for rank , backstabbing, and discontent lead to emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual bondage. (I Timothy 6:6-11 ).

That concludes all the Ten Commandments from the Bible.

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