|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on February 25, 2014 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Living Sacrifice - A Biblical Truth
As Christians, we're called to give ourselves to God as a "living sacrifice." The Apostle Paul helps us understand this truth in his letter to the believers in Rome:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Living Sacrifice - Dying to Self
So, how do we truly present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice? In a nutshell, we must die to our prior selves. This concept is wonderfully presented in this anonymous poem…
When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting or hurt with the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for Christ;
That is dying to self.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence;
That is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did;
That is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, and offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God;
That is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown;
That is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and you are in desperate circumstances;
That is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit, inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart;
That is dying to self.
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on October 2, 2011 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
Beginning Right by R. A. Torrey (1856-1928)
There is nothing more important in the Christian life than beginning right. If we begin right, we can go on right. If we begin wrong, the whole life that follows is likely to be wrong. If anyone who reads these pages has begun wrong, it is a very simple matter to begin over again and begin right. What the right beginning in the Christian life is we are told in John 1:12, "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." The right way to begin the Christian life is by receiving Jesus Christ. To anyone who receives Him, He at once gives power to become a child of God. If the reader of this book should be the wickedest man on earth and should at this moment receive Jesus Christ, that very instant he would become a child of God. God says so in the most unqualified way in the verse quoted above. No one can become a child of God in any other way. No man, no matter how carefully he has been reared, no matter how well he has been sheltered from the vices and evils of this world, is a child of God until he receives Jesus Christ. We are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26), and in no other way.
What does it mean to receive Jesus Christ? It means to take Christ to be to yourself all that God offers Him to be to everybody. Jesus Christ is God's gift. "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). Some accept this wondrous gift of God. Everyone who does accept this gift becomes a child of God. Many others refuse this wondrous gift of God, and everyone who refuses this gift of God perishes. He is condemned already. "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:18).
What does God offer His Son to be to us?
1. First of all, God offers Jesus to us to be our sin-bearer. We have all sinned. There is not a man or woman or a boy or a girl who has not sinned (Romans 3:22, 23). "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives" (1 John 1:8, 10). Now, we must each of us bear our own sin or some one else must bear it in our place. If we were to bear our own sins, it would mean we must be banished forever from the presence of God, for God is holy. "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). But God Himself has provided another to bear our sins in our place, so that we should not need to bear them ourselves. This sin-bearer is God's own Son, Jesus Christ: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary He redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse in our stead (Galatians 3:13). To receive Christ, then, is to believe this testimony of God about His Son, to believe that Jesus Christ did bear our sins in His own body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and to trust God to forgive all our sins because Jesus Christ has borne them in our place. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
Our own good works, past, present, or future, have nothing to do with the forgiveness of our sins. Our sins are forgiven, not because of any good works that we do; they are forgiven because of the atoning work of Christ on the cross of Calvary in our place. If we rest in this atoning work we shall do good works, but our good works will be the outcome of our being saved and the outcome of our believing on Christ as our sin-bearer. Our good works will not be the ground of our salvation, but the result of our salvation, and the proof of it. We must be very careful not to mix in our good works at all as the ground of salvation. We are forgiven, not because of Christ's death and our good works, but solely and entirely because of Christ's death. To see this clearly is the right beginning of the true Christian life.
2. God offers Jesus to us as our deliverer from the power of sin. Jesus not only died, He rose again. Today He is a living Savior. He has all power in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He has power to keep the weakest sinner from falling (Jude 24). He is able to save not only completely, but "completely," all that come to the Father through Him ("Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." -Hebrews 7:25) "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). To receive Jesus is to believe this that God tells us in His Word about Him, to believe that He did rise from the dead, to believe that He does now live, to believe that He has power to keep us from falling, to believe that He has power to keep us from the power of sin day by day, and just trust Him to do it.
This is the secret of daily victory over sin. If we try to fight sin in our own strength, we are bound to fail. If we just look up to the risen Christ to keep us every day and every hour, He will keep us. Through the crucified Christ we get deliverance from the guilt of sin, our sins are all blotted out, we are free from all condemnation; but it is through the risen Christ that we get daily victory over the power of sin. Some receive Christ as a sin-bearer and thus find pardon, but do not get beyond that, and so their life is one of daily failure. Others receive Him as their risen Savior also, and thus enter into an experience of victory over sin. To begin right we must take Him not only as our sin-bearer, and thus find pardon; but we must also take Him as our risen Savior, our Deliverer from the power of sin, our Keeper, and thus find daily victory over sin.
3. But God offers Jesus to us, not only as our sin-bearer and our Deliverer from the power of sin, but also as our Lord and King. We read in Acts 2:36, "Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Lord means Divine Master, and Christ means anointed King. To receive Jesus is to take Him as our Divine Master, as the One to whom we yield the absolute confidence of our intellects, the One whose word we believe absolutely, the One whom we will believe, though many of the wisest of men may question or deny the truth of His teachings; and as our King to whom we gladly yield the absolute control of our lives, so that the question from this time on is never going to be, What would I like to do or what do others tell me to do, or what do others do? but "What would my King Jesus have me do?" A right beginning involves an unconditional surrender to the Lordship and Kingship of Jesus.
The failure to realize that Jesus is Lord and King, as well as Savior, has led to many a false start in the Christian life. We begin with Him as our Savior, as our sin-bearer and our Deliverer from the power of sin, but we must not end with Him merely as Savior; we must know Him as Lord and King. There is nothing more important in a right beginning of the Christian life than an unconditional surrender, both of the thoughts and the conduct, to Jesus. Say from your heart and say it again and again, "All for Jesus." Many fail because they shrink back from this entire surrender. They wish to serve Jesus with half their heart, and part of themselves, and part of their possessions. To hold back anything from Jesus means a wretched life of stumbling and failure.
The life of entire surrender is a joyous life all along the way. If you have never done it before, go alone with God today; get down on your knees, and say, "All for Jesus," and mean it. Say it very earnestly; say it from the bottom of your heart. Stay on your knees until you realize what it means and what you are doing. It is a wondrous step forward when one really takes it. If you have taken it already, take it again, take it often. It always has fresh meaning and brings fresh blessedness. In this absolute surrender is found the key to the truth. Doubts rapidly disappear for one who surrenders all (John 7:17). In this absolute surrender is found the secret of power in prayer (1 John 3:22). In this absolute surrender is found the supreme condition of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).
Taking Christ as your Lord and King involves obedience to His will, so far as you know it, in each smallest detail of life. There are those who tell us that they have taken Christ as their Lord and King who at the same time are disobeying Him daily in business, in domestic life, in social life, and in personal conduct. Such persons are deceiving themselves. You have not taken Jesus as your Lord and King if you are not striving to obey Him in everything each day. He Himself says, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46).
To sum it all up, the right way to begin the Christian life is to accept Jesus Christ as your sin-bearer and to trust God to forgive your sins because Jesus Christ died in your place; to accept Him as your risen Savior who ever lives to make intercession for you, and who has all power to keep you, and to trust Him to keep you from day to day; and to accept Him as your Lord and King to whom you surrender the absolute control of your thoughts and of your life. This is the right beginning, the only right beginning of the Christian life. If you have made this beginning, all that follows will be comparatively easy. If you have not made this beginning, make it now.
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on May 31, 2011 at 11:06 AM||comments (1)|
The 7-Ups (Encourage Yourself in the Lord)
by Christian TodayPosted: Thursday, May 25, 2006, 16:35 (BST)
1. Wake Up - Decide to have a good day. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)
2. Dress Up - The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. "...For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
3. Shut Up - Say nice things and learn to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. (Proverbs 13:3) He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips. (Proverbs 20:19) Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. (Proverbs 19:20)
4. Stand Up - For what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
5. Look Up - To the Lord. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
6. Reach Up - For something higher. Always try to better yourself.
7. Lift Up - Your Prayers. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (Philippians 4:6)
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on May 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Remaining Pure – James 1:26-27
by Mark Brown
James 1:26-27: If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (New King James)
The more time I spent in this reading the more I found myself amazed. The timing of me reading this is absolutely perfect. Its timing is wondrous!
The word ‘religious’ (this particular word only used a handful of times in the Bible) is about something that is done regularly with the aim of strengthening faith in God. And here I am beginning my 2010 Constantly Seeking God Challenge – a regular activity aimed at massively growing my faith!
Not only that but as always happens when my faith is growing, the attacks of the enemy increase and the temptation to sin increases. In making the decision to seriously grow my faith I know I need to be on guard against the enemies attacks. As James says I need to bridle, to control my tongue: my actions and thoughts; otherwise I am deceiving my own heart, which in the greek means to be seduced into error.
The James reading challenges me to make my daily walk with God pure and undefiled. And I seek this purity, katharos in the greek, which is to be clear from guilt, to be upright and virtuous. And thanks to the death of Christ on the cross my sins are taken away – I am made pure and clean from guilt! YES!
I so want to be pure, and through Jesus I can be. I can be totally free of guilt Start a new year with a new heart ready to serve, ready to care for those who have little power and are struggling (represented by orphans and widows), and determined not to live my life as the world would have it, but to live my life under the authority of Christ. And this is a constant journey. Not once a week on Sunday mornings, or when I remember, but I seek to keep myself pure every moment of the day. God you are with me now, and every moment of the day!
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on March 15, 2011 at 2:36 PM||comments (5)|
- by Veda Yolandra Taylor - a 37 year old single mother of three daughters, still hopeful about marriage but realistic about learning from past mistakes.
I can remember my first real love. He was a bad boy. I learned a lot from him. Although we were young, I learned what it meant to really care for someone else more than yourself. To love someone so much that you were willing to take foolish chances just to make them happy; to want to see them so bad that you would do whatever you had to do just to see them. How your heart ached, when you couldn’t talk to him. You would break up and get back together over and over again because you just couldn't stand to be without him. When the relationship was finally over and you were so heartbroken that you couldn't eat or sleep you promised yourself that you would never let yourself ever feel like that again. You would never give that much of yourself to someone ever again.
I can remember relationships where I settled for being the other woman because I thought it would be easier. He would complain about what he thought were problems in his relationship and I would be everything that he was missing in his relationship. As long as I settled for being the other woman that is as far as I would go. Yeah, he liked me, yeah, he liked the thrill of finding time to spend with me but if I would allow myself to be the one that would be available whenever he called then he would never have any respect for me. I wish I could say that just one time of being in this kind of relationship helped me to learn my lesson, but have you ever been so lonely and desired to be in a relationship that you compromised yourself and what you really wanted. You allowed loneliness to let you make a bad decision.
I have also shacked with a man - lived with a man without the benefit of marriage. I lived with a man for almost eight years and gave him three daughters and we never married. I probably got at least two engagement rings out of the deal. There were times when he was ready and I wasn't and I was ready and he wasn’t. We were just going with the flow. Two confused twenty-some things trying to find our way and neither one of us had a clue. The relationship went sour long before it was actually over but we had so much invested that we kept trying to make it work. I come from a family dynamic that is rare in this society. My mother and father are still together after 40 years of marriage and I stayed in this dysfunctional relationship mainly out of guilt. My parents stayed together and made it work; I just wanted to be able to do the same thing for my girls. After an eight year relationship and three daughters, I walked away with a 4 year old, a 2 year old still in pull-ups and baby still in pampers. I had the peace of mind of not being in a bad relationship and knowing I had done the right thing by moving on but with moving on came many more issues.
Now I am thirty-something, almost forty-something and I am still searching for love. But now it is different. The things that I desire in a relationship are different than the things that I desired before. Although I am from a Christian background, I was young and selfish and wanted to do things my way. Now that I have learned things the hard way I am forever grateful that God is faithful. Even when I didn't realize what I was doing to myself God still kept me, even in my mess. Not only did He keep me He wouldn't allow me to stray too far away. He would always bring me back when it looked like I had strayed too far. Just like a father allowing a child to find their own way but watchful enough to be right there if they start to stray too far, that is what God was doing for me.
When I take inventory of my past relationships, I realize that I have probably never been in a relationship that God has been pleased with. We are so consumed with the way that the world does things we start to blend right in. The world says the way to get a man is to put on something sexy and make him notice you. Once he has noticed you, sleep with him and give him all the pleasure that he can handle and keep him coming back for more, even if he is somebody else’s man, if you want him-just take him. So many Christian women are still applying the world's rules to dating. They want a good Christian man but believe the only way to get him is by the world's standards. "Once I get him I will do right". This may be the single reason why there are so many divorces and dysfunctional marriages. We never consult God. We trust God with our finances, our health, our jobs but our relationships are off limits.
God says trust Him. He didn't put any stipulations on this trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.
I realize that I have tried everything and none of it has worked. I have had a man that I really loved, I have had a man that really loved me but this time I want one that really loves God. As hard as it is being single and having these deep desires to be married, I trust God. Why because He has already promised that He wouldn't put more on me than I can bear. He promised never to leave me nor forsake me, so I know I am not alone. He promised that if I delight myself in Him that He would give me the desires of my heart, He promised that if I would seek Him first then all these things would be added unto me and I know that He is a God that can't lie. I believe that when it is time, God will bring that special man of God into my life and our relationship will be even better than I can imagined. Just because I know that, it doesn't mean the waiting gets any easier. Those desires are still present and I have to pray and lean on God during those trying times.
My prayer now is that God would teach me How to wait. What is it Lord that you would have me to do during the wait?
Father God, In the name of Jesus, I come to you as an empty vessel needing to be filled. Since You created me, I know that You know my every desire. I believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that you desire to bless me exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I can ask or think. I believe that you have blessed me with everything I need in my life right now. Show me how to be content with what you have given me until you change my situation. Lord, help me to focus on the things I have and not the things that I don't have. I know that if I continue to feed these feelings of discouragement and loneliness they will continue to grow. Help me not to magnify the problem but to magnify you.
Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Give me a mind that is focused on you and your goodness. Anything or anyone in my life that is hindering me from seeing what you have me to do, I ask you to move it right now, in the name of Jesus; I submit to your will for my life totally and completely. Whatever it is that you would have me to do, i surrender my will to yours, even if it means doing things I don't want to do. I know that you would never steer me wrong. Help me to understand the things that you are trying to show me as I Wait on the Lord and Be of good courage. I know that Your will is what's best for me. Amen
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on March 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM||comments (1)|
Everlasting God – Encountering Eternity
Genesis to Revelation records man’s relationship with the Everlasting God. Kings and prophets, tax collectors and persecutors, a young shepherd boy and an exiled old man -- each life was impacted for eternity. Expressions of praise and worship reveal their encounters with the Everlasting God of all creation:
Everlasting God – Immeasurable Giving
The human mind attempts to comprehend an Everlasting God who would be governed by present time that extends in two directions (past and future). Time, however, is restricted in duration, measured by processes of thoughts or motions. Eternity cannot be measured, yet the Everlasting God inhabits eternity, continually fulfilling His Word. Just as eternity is the unchanging present, without beginning or end, God also transcends time. As such, He gives to man without measure, holding back nothing.
His Protection – “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He thrusts out the enemy before you; it is he who cries, ‘Destroy them!’” (Deuteronomy 33:27).
His Understanding – “Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding” (Isaiah 40:28).
His Love – “‘. . . But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:8).
Everlasting God – God’s Greatest Gift to Mankind
The Book of John illustrates how a relationship with an Everlasting God is forever guaranteed. This was God’s purpose for sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ very own words affirm:
There is but one God, one Everlasting God. From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. No one else can lay claim to His property -- eternity. The gods of the heathen cannot lay claim to it. But for those who choose to follow Jesus, a glorious eternity awaits. “And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on February 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM||comments (0)|
Serenity Prayer: What are the words?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Serenity Prayer: What does it mean?
This beautiful prayer was written by a man named Reinhold Niebuhr in 1943. The words have special meaning to those who are often “looking for peace” at a time of turmoil, despair, or uncertainty in their lives. This prayer has become closely associated with 12 Step programs, offering strength and calm in pursuit of a more stable life.
First, through uttering these words, we are acknowledging God’s existence and recognizing that He is truly the only one who can bring us inner peace regardless of chaotic circumstances. His wonderful presence in our lives brings ‘serenity’ that can be found nowhere else. There is a Bible verse that says the peace of God is beyond all human understanding. “His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Until we allow the ‘peace of God’ to enter into our mind, heart, and soul, we will never experience that ultimate peace that defies the most severe circumstances in life.
The prayer goes on to speak of accepting, courage, and wisdom. It all comes down to asking and allowing God to give us these things. In other words, it is surrendering to Him. The second part reminds us that our trust needs to be in God to work things out and recognizing that we usually don’t have any real control over hardships in this sinful world or the actions of others. Trust Him and live one day at a time, enjoying each moment.
Serenity Prayer: How do I put this into practice?
Perseverance and successes aren’t born out of good times. They are born out of trials. 1 Peter 4:12 says “. . .don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” The Bible tells us that we will go through trials and going through them makes us stronger. In our times of weakness, we learn to rely on God’s strength and He takes great delight when we trust in Him. We all desire to be needed and wanted; God wants this from us as well. He wants for us to turn to Him and trust Him.
Be encouraged -- Christ Jesus is faithful; we can rest on Him, trusting Him always for the outcome. We don’t always understand the “why” of things that happen and we don’t always need to. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” And in Hebrew 13:5, God says He will never leave us or forsake us. Never is long time. . .He is always there for us if we come to Him.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I carry is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
In these Scriptures, we can see the relevance of the last phrase in the Serenity Prayer. If we surrender to Him, we can be supremely happy in Him, in this life and forever after.
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on January 25, 2011 at 6:37 PM||comments (0)|
Freda V. Crews, D.MIN., PH.D
People-pleasers are everywhere. They can parade as successful pastors or as top-of-the-corporate-ladder executives. The most easily identified are the passive, co-dependent types.
All pleasers are out to prove they are valuable people—trying to quiet the voice within that says they aren’t. People-pleasers play a tape that says, “People will love and accept me if I please them.” Their myth says, “You are somebody when you please others.”
Pleasers believe that a failure to please will result in rejection and the false assumption that they are not valuable. As a result, they go about trying to make everybody but themselves happy.
This frequently requires pleasers to keep their own thoughts, desires and needs locked away in their inner selves. They believe their mission on Earth is to drive themselves into an emotional breakdown, if necessary, to make sure others approve of them. When they fail to please someone, they feel guilty or believe (probably unconsciously) that their world is going to end.
The paradoxical dynamic that takes place is that the very individuals to whom people-pleasers try to prove their worth very often use and abuse them. Instead of gaining respect as a pleaser, you often lose it. So trying to please everyone to feel you are “somebody” is a dead-end street. You will eventually find yourself exhausted, disillusioned and feeling less like somebody than ever.
Instead, resolve with God’s help to redirect your life and energy toward becoming a whole and healthy person who does not require the acceptance and affirmation of others to say, “I am valuable.”
Are You a People-Pleaser?
The first step toward freedom from “people pleasing” is to determine if you are a people-pleaser. You can do this by honestly answering the following questions:
* Do you accept responsibility for the happiness of others?
* Do you believe you can make others happy?
* Do you feel guilty when you think of yourself instead of others?
* Do you feel guilty when you tell someone no?
* Do you believe it is un-Christian to think of yourself and your own health and emotional well-being?
* Do you feel better about yourself when you give in to the desires of others rather than pleasing yourself?
* Are you able to set boundaries when it comes to your own health and emotional well-being?
* Do you understand what it means to set boundaries?
A people-pleaser would answer “yes” to the first six questions and “no” to the last two. If you conclude that you are a people-pleaser, then what are you to do?
If you are a people-pleaser, you need to redirect your need to please. Your focus needs to change from horizontal to vertical. In other words, you need to become more concerned with what pleases God than with what pleases others. They are not the same thing, as many people believe.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that we are to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (NKJV). But if we are going to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (and people-pleasers literally do this), then it must be to God alone. We are to please Him first, and He is the only one we are to worship.
The flip side of this truth is that when we give our all to please others, we are in fact engaging in a type of worship toward those we want to please. Many pleasers believe this kind of behavior is “virtuous,” but it isn’t—because it is done with the unconscious motive of getting approval and acceptance in return.
Are we to please God hoping to get something from Him? No, we please Him by recognizing what we have already received from Him. When God brings us into relationship with Himself, we become somebody. The full realization of this comes with time as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s efforts to “grow us” into the persons we were meant to be.
Once our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we begin to see and understand that it is God’s will for us to seek to “be somebody” in His sight rather than in the eyes of others. We can also find an answer to the question I am asked so often: “What am I supposed to do when I am asked to do this or that?”
For the Christian, the answer is simple: Focus on pleasing God by seeking to know His will for each situation as it arises. It is not necessarily God’s will for us to do everything we are asked to do, even in the church! When our heart’s desire is to please God, we will be able to put others’ needs and desires in a healthy perspective.
Weary people-pleaser, ask God to forgive you for trying to please everyone else besides Him. Begin to believe you are now somebody in the kingdom of God because God says so.
We change our beliefs about our personhood by believing the truths of God’s Word rather than by continuing to believe our myths. This is the first step toward positive change. Next come the behavioral changes.
Changing Pleaser Behavior
People-pleasers need to budget their time and energy as they would financial budgets. This means they must prioritize their lives and determine how much time will be allotted for specific people and activities, including themselves. I suggest the following order (in order of importance): relationship with God; family (marriage, children, parents); employment; personal time (time alone with God, time alone with self); self-care; church; community; other.
God asks for the No. 1 position in our lives. We commit to that when we make the decision to become a disciple of Jesus Christ (see Luke 14:25-33). The problem is that some people-pleasers wrongly believe that being “a good Christian” means pleasing others. They believe they are putting God first when they say “yes” to a good cause, especially if it is a church-related activity. They have not confronted this myth with reality.
When God reigns at the top of our list of priorities, we can trust Him to show us where to place other people, ourselves and all other involvements. When our vertical relationship with God is right, then our horizontal relationships will naturally fall into their rightful places. The same is true of the commitments we make.
So how do we divide or budget our time commitments according to our priorities? First, we must recognize that God wants us to make our families our No. 1 priority under Him. When over-commitment begins to rob us of time that should be given to our families, it is time to say “no.”
You may notice that after employment I listed “personal time.” It makes sense to me that if you don’t take some time for yourself, then the time you give to others won’t amount to much! If there ever was a person with a vision, a purpose and a consuming passion, it was Jesus the Son of Man. Yet He was not a people-pleaser. Have you noticed that when He needed time for Himself, He took it?
The Gospel of Luke records, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place” (Luke 4:42, NIV). Since the Lord had been up all night healing the sick and casting out demons, He was exhausted. Instead of expecting His heavenly Father to give Him supernatural strength to continue, the Lord recognized His need for rest and rejuvenation.
We need to designate time in our busy schedules for us to nurture our relationships with our heavenly Father. We must be fed from the Word of God and energized by the Holy Spirit to be fruit-bearing Christians.
We also need time to minister to ourselves. This means taking time for reflection, time that is used to get in touch with ourselves to find out where we are, where we want to go and (sometimes) where we have been.
These times of reflection should always be under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We must become still and quiet to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit that is so vital to our spiritual health. The Scriptures tell us He knows all about us, and He knows the mind of God (see Rom. 8:27). We need this information to confront our myths with reality.
Quiet times provide the vital opportunities people-pleasers need to get things into perspective. A clear perspective can help pleasers make wise decisions about all the requests and demands put on their time by others. This helps bring order and control to their agitated lives as they sort out their priorities and allocate their time. By spending time with God and with themselves, people-pleasers will be able to put the obligations of home, church, community and other areas in their rightful places in their time budgets.
People-pleasers often experience guilt when it comes to saying “yes” to themselves. But it can prove to be one of the best investments of time you will ever make.
Another vital step needed to break free from people-pleasing is to learn how to set boundaries. Boundaries differentiate us from other people.
People-pleasers have difficulty erecting fences between themselves and others. They lack the ability to set limits that declare what they will or will not do, or what they will or will not tolerate.
People-pleasers can be unaware that certain things belong to them personally, such as the right to say “no” when they want to say no, and “yes” when they want to say yes. They can also be too afraid to build personal fences for fear of hurting others or of somehow displeasing God.
The truth of the matter is that when we allow others to take advantage of us, we are encouraging and assisting them in their disobedience. God is not pleased with anyone who uses and abuses another!
People-pleasers can gain the respect and sense of personhood they are searching for by setting firm boundaries regarding their involvement in the lives of others. When it is necessary to tell others “no” to choose what is best for ourselves (according to our God-ordained priorities), or even to submit to our own valid needs or desires, we should do it graciously but steadfastly.
People-pleasers can effectively change their self-defeating behavior once they begin to view themselves as separate from others, sharing equal standing in the kingdom of God with everyone else. Each individual person bears the image of the Creator Himself.
Everyone enters the kingdom “by grace...through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Grace is “the unmerited favor of God,” and we don’t receive it by our “works” or good deeds (see v. 9).
We all enter God’s kingdom through the same gate: Jesus Christ. None of us is good enough to enter on our own merits. Our real value depends solely on our potential in Christ.
You and I have every reason to accept ourselves once we are convinced that we are children of God and that we are loved, forgiven and accepted by Him. When we are self-accepting, we don’t have to seek the approval and acceptance of others to confirm our personhood.
As pleasers accept the truth of their value in Christ and learn to budget their time according to their priorities and limits, they will soon feel positive new feelings about themselves. Their old behavior of looking to others for affirmation will fall away, and they will find themselves seeking out God rather than people for the satisfaction that only He can provide.
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on January 25, 2011 at 5:14 PM||comments (0)|
I was in my car at an intersection, waiting for the light to change. Through the window of the car to my right, I saw a woman standing on the curb. It was the view of her upper body that caught my eye. She was grinning from ear to ear and highly animated, with hands pointing to the traffic light, while she talked and talked—to herself! Poor thing!
Then the light changed and the car next to me moved on, revealing the whole scene. A young boy was standing by the woman—indicating that she was a mom talking with her son, instead of a disturbed woman talking with phantoms. Her young son had been there all along, hidden from view.
My original assessment of this scene reminded me of the way in which we often misjudge people and situations based on our limited view. We notice a fellow employee in a lower position who is hardworking and determine that he is contending for our job. We consider a bad report from the doctor and determine that it is the final verdict. We look at the mistakes of our past and determine that we are failures.
If we are not careful, we end up living—and being ruled—by the judgments we make based on what meets the eye.
Consider Joseph of the Old Testament. He is an example of someone who could have been deceived by focusing on what met the eye. The pit his brothers threw him into after he revealed his prophetic dreams to them looked like the end of the dreams! (See Gen. 37.) Joseph could have considered himself defeated, but he kept the faith. In Potiphar’s house, when things turned from bad to worse for him, Joseph continued to trust God—who took the pit and made it the very vehicle that moved Joseph in the direction of the palace, the fulfillment of his dreams (see Gen. 39-41).
Now think about your own life. Regardless of the way things look, God has a wonderful purpose for you. Where is the evidence? Since God is Spirit (see John 4:24), He often moves in ways we can’t see.
That’s why we need faith—defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (NKJV). We get glimpses of God and the evidence of His work through our faith.
Today, I challenge you to join me in dwelling not on the evidence of your calling, but on the God of your calling—the God who is faithful (see 1 Thess. 5:24); the God who will make it happen, just as His Word promises (see Phil. 1:6); the same God who brought Joseph from the pit to the palace.
The God of your calling cares about what you see. He also cares about what you don’t always see—the evidence of great things yet to come.
This week as you pray take time to review examples in the Word that provide evidence of His faithfulness through the generations. Thank Him that His plan for your life and his faithfulness in fulfilling His promises is no less secure. Anticipate the good things He has in store for you and praise Him for it. Pray for continued direction and let Him know that you are available for whatever He desires for you. Continue to pray that those persecuted for the sake of Christ would stand firm, and that the American Church would be among those with radical passion for God and His purposes. Remember Israel, our military and our leaders. Thank Him in advance for a great revival and harvest of souls. Heb. 11:1-16; I Thess. 5:24; Phil. 1:6
|Posted by Brenda Lawrence on January 9, 2011 at 7:08 PM||comments (0)|
Walking in love becomes easier when we esteem the value of every individual in the eyes of God.
In his book The Singer (InterVarsity Press), Calvin Miller says that love often stands quite close to hate. "Like silent chessmen, side by side. Only the color of the squares is different."
Unfortunately, it's true. In one moment we can be loving and honoring, and in the next, hating and dishonoring.
We all know that we're commanded to love God, ourselves and one another--that there will be no blessing if we hate. Yet we cross the fine line between these two extremes in a heartbeat.
Whenever we diminish, dismiss, disregard or despise another's life we move from one square on the chessboard to another, reversing the color of the squares upon which our hearts rest. If we remain there, the game may be lost.
It doesn't matter whether the dishonoring is toward those in authority over us or those under our own authority or even a neglect of ourselves and our need for boundaries and respect.
The principles are the same. Valuing is at the heart of love. If we are not willing to honor and esteem others, we will never love, no matter how hard we try.
If we attach high worth to others' lives, regardless of their behavior at any given moment, we won't slander, despise, wound or neglect them. We will see them individually as precious to God and, therefore, precious to us.
When we remember well the weaknesses in our own lives, we'll find patience for the weaknesses in others. However, because we love them, we'll long for them to share in the freedom we have found in trusting God.
When we honor others, we'll begin to invest in our relationships. Recognizing every person's great worth to God, we can affirm other people and support them in pursuit of their dreams. Once we've earned an individual's trust through our faithfulness to them, we can begin to take steps to gently urge them to consider their choices in accordance with God's will.
There is a vast difference between grieving over a wrong, making an appeal for change while you're trusting God, and condemning and spreading our chagrin to others. We must remember that only God is the judge of the world. When we play judge, jury and hangman, we are on dangerous ground--ground that supports the growth of arrogance and self-righteous rebellion.
David's Example. David, of biblical fame, knew this. He remembered the greatness of Saul. He saw the king's tortured heart and grieved for him. But how do you suppose he managed to love this man who relentlessly sought to kill him?
Very simply, David honored Saul because he (David) honored God. David must have had a very astute comprehension of the authority God had established through the prophet Samuel's anointed choice of king (see 1 Sam. 9:15-16).
While Saul sat on the throne, David's respect for his authority and personhood superseded every logical design on earth. Every action of David toward Saul showed how highly he both valued and loved this mad king.
David spared Saul's life in the cave (see 1 Sam. 24:4-22) and again on the field of war while Saul lay sleeping (see 1 Sam. 26:1-12). David pleaded with Saul to remember his faithfulness to the king and cease his feverish pursuit (see vv. 17-25).
Yet Saul persisted until finally he was defeated in battle and fell upon his own sword. When an Amalekite soldier later delivered the news of Saul's death, David's troops were likely overjoyed, thinking at last David could take his place on the throne, bring the nation together and restore sanity to the kingship.
But David responded to the news of Saul's death by tearing his clothes, weeping and fasting until evening. He mourned for the king,Jonathan and the slain of the army of Israel--the very army that had pursued him all those years.
Furthermore, David composed a lament to honor the slain king and his son and ordered all of Judah to sorrow and sing it with him (see 2 Sam. 1:17-27). Instead of recounting all of Saul's weaknesses, the lament recounted his glory and strength.
David honored his enemy even in death. As an anointed leader himself, he esteemed an unworthy king worthy, not because of his actions but because of his authority and above that, his humanity.
HONOR THOSE UNDER OUR AUTHORITY
Honoring those who serve under our leadership is as important as honoring our authorities. In fact, we are believers today because of the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ honored His Father and continues to honor those who serve and follow Him.
Jesus' Example. While He was on Earth among His disciples, Jesus never reminded them of their shady pasts, their lack of education, the blunders they made while learning how to trust God--not even their betrayal and abandonment in His greatest hour of need.
Instead, Jesus attached high worth to those who followed Him. He confided in them and patiently explained spiritual truths in terms they could understand (see John 15:14-16; Matt. 13:10-52).
Jesus listened to His disciples even when they were being petty (see Mark 10:35-45). He made sure their basic physical needs were being met, prayed for them and shared His glory with them (see Mark 8:1-8; John 17:22-26).
He looked beyond gender and economic status into His followers' hearts. Jesus both expected the best from them and made great promises to them that He kept.
Christ comforted the disciples in their weaknesses until the end. After He had seemingly left them at the cross, He reappeared to encourage them and told them how to carry on in the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He would send in His absence (see John 20:19-31; Acts 1:1-8 ).
The way in which the Lord passed on the kingdom to his future leaders was flawless. With His blessing and anointing upon them, they turned the world upside down.
Jesus honored the men and women under His authority every step of the way. He never mocked or ridiculed them. Neither did He devalue or distrust those who walked with Him, even though, in their weaknesses, they failed at times.
Christ knew that His disciples would learn and that learning would take time. He lovingly invested that time. He valued them, and they knew it. In response, they were willing to give up everything to follow Him.
David, in honoring Saul, honored Jehovah; Jesus honored His Father God. Because they adhered to God's methods and plan, they did not fail.
Likewise, we will succeed in ministering effectively if we honor God and esteem those who lead us as well as those we are given authority to lead.
God has equipped us as women with many unique strengths that are needed for effective ministry and leadership. When we value and esteem others, we can fulfill the requirements for both these roles extremely well.
However, when we disrespect authorities or treat those we lead as expendable tools for our own promotion, we fail to maintain godly relationships. Crossing the line from disrespect to hatred can become easy for us, unless we remember the lesson of Calvary.
FINDING THE CROSS
As Christians we don't always do it right. At times when spears are thrown at us, we may pull one or two right out of the wall and heave them back. Or when we are betrayed by someone into whose life we have poured our own, we may be tempted to bitterly denigrate him or her to our friends.
Instead, we must return to the cross when we've been hurt and quickly repent of the temptation to be unforgiving. God will lovingly deal with the sin lodged in our own hearts and bring healing for our wounds, but if we have spoken bitter words toward another person, apologies must be made that are sincere and heartfelt in order to restore fellowship that is honoring toward her or him.
As ministry leaders, sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking we are the center of everything. When that happens, our leadership style can become dictatorial, and we resort to surrounding ourselves with "yes men" in order to retain power and keep our ministries going. At such a time, God, in His mercy, will become the Hound of Heaven, pursuing us with conviction until we humble ourselves at His feet.
We must find our way to the cross. It is the most important path we will travel in life. And we will do it time and time again.
Every time we will discover that the joy of repentance and the delight of being cleansed as we forgive will never grow old. Honoring relationships are re-established when we repent of our sin. As Jesus reassures us of His love, He clears our vision and sets us right again.
If it is our desire to refrain from dishonoring others, then daily we must pray this prayer of David's: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24, NIV).
Then God will show us our weaknesses and give us grace to love others and lead them unselfishly. In His presence, through worship and prayer, we will experience His humility.
We will be changed into His likeness, and as we are, our natural tendency will be to acknowledge the worth of those He created, for His leadership will take root in our hearts.