A Hymn from Psalm 130

Our precious Savior said the following words in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It echoes the words from King David in Psalm 130.

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Positive or Negative?

Proverbs 27:5-6 Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

As I peruse the internet, listen to people chat, watch interaction between people with each other, as well as interaction within the church, I’ve noticed a pattern emerging in this age that seems to lend itself to credibility even from Scripture.

I’m sure we have all seen this to some extent or other and maybe even agreed with it to a certain extent.

It is the “Get rid of all those negative relationships that don’t build you up” meme or quote.

It’s interesting how this generation views negativity. When I was younger, quite a bit more than I am now, there was nothing wrong with negativity, to a certain extent. If we look in the Bible at Exodus 20, we will find that God was negative towards His people and demanded complete perfection. Seven of these commandments say, “You shall not,” and one says, “You will have no…” The other two were about the Sabbath and obedience to parents.

I used to think, every time I saw one of these, “Yeah! I can see what they’re saying. You don’t want someone pulling you down to sin and do things wrong before the Lord. Those are negative people and, as such, you need them out of your life.”

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As I’ve studied people’s responses towards things they want to do, my eyes have been opened, through the years, into what was really being said. Years ago, we lived in England and I became friends with someone through the internet. She homeschooled her children, just as we homeschooled ours. One day, out of the blue, she contacted me to tell me her child was looking to become an actress and had the availability to act in one of the newer style family movies which in the early days was not of the quality they are today.

She told me how much they were doing and then began complaining about other people who had been friends and, “…were so negative towards me about this that I had to cut them off.” I was troubled by the fact that people would give her a rough time over it so I started sympathizing with her. After a few days, she began giving me a detailed schedule of what would be happening and, it was at this point I realized the people who were supposedly negative may not necessarily have been.

I struggled to know what to say to her while wondering if what I was going to say would make her think I was being negative, as well. As I had very few friends, anyway, I didn’t want to lose her friendship and kept quiet for a time. The more I thought about her ‘predicament’ (my understanding) the more I became concerned over the situation and how it would affect them spiritually.

I eventually shared with her to be careful that she guard her time with her daughter and their time with the Lord so they didn’t fall by the wayside spiritually. She said she was was stunned and accused me of being negative. At that point she cut me out of her life and refused to talk with me for many years. Eventually, she did speak with me again but only for a short time. The evidence of her new life was painfully apparent in her dress, her speech, and her lifestyle.

As I think of other similar times that this has happened, I’m saddened by what is considered positive influences and what isn’t. I’m also very concerned when people try to use the Word of God to make all this seem as if it were credible.

The truth of the matter is, if you only want yes individuals within your life to give you the nod over whatever it is you want to do then you are headed down a dangerous path. You see, we are sinful creatures and we sin. When we only allow people to advise us who refuse the truth how can we expect they will give us godly advice?

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

We, as true believers and children of the Sovereign Lord, are expected to share the truth, in love, with each other. We cannot expect others to give us what we want to hear no matter how much we want it. The truth of the Scriptures is the only way we can know how to do what is right. If we choose the right way that means we have to keep our eyes on Scripture regularly and know what direction we must go. If we don’t follow the Lord, He will discipline us to bring forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness and to keep our feet on the right path. Heb 12:11.

If you find someone willing to share the truth with you, don’t cut them out of your life. Proverbs 9:8 makes it clear that if you rebuke a scorner, he will hate you but when you rebuke a wise man that person will love you. If every time someone seeks to give you godly advice and you cut them out of your life the question must be asked, “Are you a true believer?” If you are then why aren’t you listening to godly advice? If you aren’t then today is the day of salvation!

Contentment

Contentment…this can be a difficult subject both in learning and in life. This is something the Lord wants each of His children to learn, it is also something we should be willing to take great pains to learn. What is even harder but should be concerning to each of us who are the children of God is contentment in the midst of trials. You see, contentment in the Lord seems to be simple enough.

The Lord uses each situation for us to learn dependence on Him and a desire to fulfill His will. Yet, in the midst of that, as the backdrop of life, the trials we face are there for us to learn to be contented in the midst of that specific trial knowing Who is in control and the plans He has or us is not only for His honor and glory but also for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The Lord clearly told His disciples that the servant is not above the Master and if the world hated the Master and treated Him horribly then it would treat His servants just as bad, if not worse. As we grow in the grace of the Lord we find that life does not get easier but harder. Each trial or tribulation we face is that much harder than the last but, for each one, we are given the grace and strength to get through.

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When we fight the Lord, instead of gracefully letting Him have His way, we find that the way is so much more difficult than it should be. Fighting only brings anger and frustration our way instead of the peace that passes all understanding. It becomes easy to fume and fret about what we have to face in life. Instead of having a quiet spirit that comes from the Lord, we then have a complaining and fretful spirit. This brings us to a point of having to be disciplined by the Lord.

As the trial or tribulation comes into our lives we begin fretting and fuming that we don’t want it to happen. We were content for things to be as they were and yet it takes those trials to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, to grow in faith.

Many times we are like the child that grows impatient and demands their own way when things are not done exactly the way they want them. They sulk and throw temper tantrums because they think that all should be exactly as they would have it, not as the parents know is best for them. They want the candy, the fruit, the dessert, the sweets, the play time, the whatever the case may be instead of spending their time studying, or wanting to eat the proper and healthy foods the parents know they should have so they will grow up strong and wise.

The Lord knows exactly what we need in our lives to make us wise and strong believers. To fret against His wise bestowments (wise even in the midst of our trials) tells Him that we love this world more than Him. How can we desire the world above Him? Is wealth, comfort, life, health, friends, entertainment, sports, family, or anything else more important than Him? To put anything before Him is to worship the created thing more than the Creator, who gave His only begotten Son for our worthless souls.

As each trial comes into our lives let us be willing to thank the Lord for what He taught us already in the past trials and be willing to trust that “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”

How Necessary is Experience?

We live in a society where people won’t receive advice from those who haven’t “walked in their shoes.” The older I get, the more I realize that experience is not always necessary.

Whether I have been married or not, I know how husbands and wives are to treat each other. Whether or not I ever have children, I know a few things about what works and what doesn’t work in raising children. I also realize that all children are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Basic principles can be the same though.

The Bible has clear guidelines as to how a person is to live. It really doesn’t matter what I would do if I were going through your circumstances. There is still a right way to handle a situation and a wrong way.

I believe part of the reason people get defensive is that they do not want to be judged for bad decisions they are making. If you are living in any way contrary to the Word of God, you are judged already. No one should be unwilling to receive input, regardless of the source.

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For many years, I have periodically counseled people on marriage, parenting, and other issues. I often felt unqualified, but people needed help so I prayed and asked God for wisdom. Between Scripture and things I have learned from reading, praying, and watching others, I believe God used me during those times.

Too many times, people use excuses to do what they want to do. They are not interested in what the Bible says; they want to do what feels good in the moment. Because of this, children are hurt by parents divorcing. Selfishness reigns so that there is constant heartache and strife. God gave instructions for a reason. He loves His children and desires them to live a peaceful, holy life that He can bless. There is a reason that he condemns greed, envy, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. Those things cause us to do things that we will live to regret … if we live long enough.

Maybe I haven’t gone through what you are going through, but I know we serve a loving God. I know that His plan for you is good and not evil … IF you follow His ways.

Go the Extra Mile

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (Matthew 5:39-41).

I love the Sermon on the Mount, as this is where Jesus taught His followers to not merely obey the law but to go the extra mile in serving God, experiencing life with Him instead of just doing the bare minimum (the Pharisee way).

Although the Bible is the guideline for every true Believer, the above verses are ones I never hear taught. I hear more people who are concerned about being taken advantage of, and whose focus is on defending themselves and their “rights.”

Jesus went on to say:

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:46).

I agree that evildoers should be punished, and Scripture affirms that, but Jesus taught us to go the extra mile in order to live at peace as much as possible and to love those who do us wrong.

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Maybe part of the problem is that we think of love as warm, fuzzy feelings toward a person when, in reality, love is something that comes from the heart. It is refusing to be angry and bitter no matter how much of a right you have to be so.

I realize this is easier said than done, but this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. James 5:16 tells us that “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” I am testimony to the fact that, if you desire desperately to have a clean heart toward someone who has wronged you, God will answer that prayer.

My bottom line is this: Do you respond to situations like Jesus would? There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. There may be a time to defend yourself, but I believe that it’s often pride that causes our flesh to become defensive and retaliate. We need to stand for truth, but our focus should be on Christ and glorifying Him. If that is not your motive, pray for wisdom before you do anything other than what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.