Vegetables And Dessert

a-testimony-to-othersHave you ever noticed that kids would prefer to eat dessert more than vegetables? Well, maybe you’re an adult and you still feel the same way! But “veggies before dessert” is still a good motto to live by.

Why?

What happens if you eat only dessert? Do you eventually get healthier or are you setting yourself up for some unfavorable health conditions? What about if you only eat vegetables? The flavor may not be as good, but at least you’ll be getting healthier.

Jesus told His followers to expect the “veggie” times in time. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” And He told us, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” There were no ifs or maybes in those statements!

As Christians living on Earth, the Apostle Peter calls us “aliens and strangers.” That means that both our attitude and our lifestyle should be, well, alien compared to Earthlings. Especially when we’re in a veggie time of life.

Jesus was the Perfect Man. He never said anything wrong, and He never did anything wrong. Yet He was insulted, persecuted, and eventually killed in the most horrific way imaginable. But here’s the amazing thing: Jesus went through all of this without retaliating or threatening judgment on His persecutors. Peter said that the way Jesus went through this was intended to be an example for us.

The writer of Hebrews agreedLet us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart

Notice it says, “for the joy set before Him.” Other translations say “because of the joy awaiting Him” or “He never lost sight of where He was headed” or “He never lost sight of the joy ahead of Him.” In other words, Jesus knew what God’s plan was from before the beginning of time, so He—as Peter said—kept on entrusting Himself to God.

We have to do the same thing!

I have to confess something. When I quoted the “veggie” part of a couple of verses earlier in this post, I left off the “dessert” part…

  • “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven….” (Matthew 5:10-12)

The way you handle your vegetable times—disease, insults, financial setbacks, outright persecution—can be a testimony to others. The way you go through these trials could help others turn to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.

Are you in a trial now? Keep on entrusting yourself to Him Whose plans cannot be thwarted

It might seem all “veggies” now, but you are getting healthier, and the “dessert” you cannot even imagine is on its way!

The Rewards For Getting Along With Difficult People

How To Get Along With OthersHere’s a shocking statement—Difficult people are difficult to get along with. I know, I probably just blew your mind with that one, but sometimes it’s important to state the obvious.

Christians should be the best at getting along with others. First of all, because they have the Holy Spirit to help them, and, second, because the world is watching to see if having a relationship with Jesus really does make a difference.

We’ve already learned that in order to change our behavior toward difficult people, we can’t change our behavior (check out my post on that topic here). Instead, we need to change our thoughts first. One thought to change is about ourselves, and another thought to change is the fact that Jesus promised rewards for those who loved difficult people—

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:32-35)

One way to love others is by learning to “speak their language.” Most of us communicate with four different accents: Doer, People, Planner, Vision.

You can watch the video where I explain these styles in more detail, but you can learn their accent by listening for…

(1) How they handle stressful situations:

  • Doer—get hyper-focused
  • Planner—withdraw to plan
  • People—call a meeting
  • Vision—take time to daydream

(2) How they listen to others:

  • Doer—take short bullet points and then quick action
  • Planner—take detailed notes, and ask lots of detailed questions
  • People—make good eye contact, take very little notes, and then reiterate what was said
  • Vision—doodle, and express “ping pong ball” thoughts

(3) How they speak about folks with other “accents”:

  • Doer—this is taking too long; nothing ever gets done; they’re daydreamers
  • Planner—they jump the gun; they’re swayed by emotions; they’re unpredictable
  • People—why don’t they want to meet; they’re too aggressive; they’re too robotic
  • Vision—they don’t see the big picture; they’re too rigid; they’re too emotional

You CAN get along better with everyone. Romans 12:18 tells us that peaceful living with others depends on you and me. Let’s do this well so that Jesus is glorified!

Charles Spurgeon On Difficulties

C.H. Spurgeon“O tested soul, perhaps the Lord is sending you through this trial to develop your gifts. You have some gifts that would never have been discovered if not for trials. Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? … Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter. …

“For how can you know if you have faith, until your faith is exercised? You can depend upon the fact that God often sends trials so our gifts maybe discovered and so we may be certain of their existence. And there is more than just discovering our gifts—we experience real growth in grace as another result of our trials being sanctified by Him.

“God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks.

“Dear Christian, could this not account for the troubles you are now experiencing? Could this not be the reason He is dealing with you?” —Charles Spurgeon

Rewards And Consequences

Rewards and ConsequencesThe Bible consistently gives us—right up front—the rewards for right living, and the consequences for wrong living. No one ever has to be surprised. 

For example, take this message from Jesus in Luke 6.

  1. If you don’t want others to judge you, don’t be judgmental (v. 37).
  2. If you don’t want to be condemned by others, don’t condemn others (v. 37).
  3. If you want to be forgiven, forgive others first (v. 37).
  4. If you want to receive, be the first to give to others (v. 38).
  5. If you want to teach, find a good teacher and then be a good learner first (vv. 39-40).
  6. If you want to help others with their problems, first look in the mirror at yourself (vv. 41-42).
  7. If you want to speak good words, put good words inside yourself (vv. 43-45).
  8. If you want to stand strong through adversity, build on the right foundation (vv. 46-49).

God doesn’t miss a thing! He told us how to stay in the place where He can bless us, and how we can avoid life’s negative consequences.

We would all do well to hear these words and put them into practice (v. 47)!

5 Differences Between Wisdom And Folly

Parallels between law and wisdomIn Proverbs 9, Wisdom and Folly are both personified as women. And both of them call out the same thing to their would-be followers: “Let all who are simple come in here!” (vv. 4, 16). They both claim to have ‘the goods’ for those searching for truth, but here are five things that separate them.

  1. Wisdom has built her own house (v. 1); but Folly merely occupies someone else’s house (v. 14).
  2. Wisdom has like-minded “maids” who support her (v. 3); but Folly has no supporters.
  3. Wisdom serves what she has prepared herself (vv. 2, 5); but Folly steals from others because she has nothing original to offer (v. 17).
  4. Wisdom corrects, and that correction leads to deeper knowledge (vv. 8-10); but Folly lets people do whatever they wish, which only leads to deeper suffering (v. 13).
  5. Wisdom offers life (vv. 6, 11), insight (v. 9), the fear of God (v. 10), and rewards (v. 12); but Folly only offers suffering (v. 12) and death (v. 18).

How ironic that some people respond to Folly’s call, “Let all who are simple come in here,” and yet they act like they know it all already, not wanting to learn anything new.

Bottom line: If you are willing to learn, Wisdom has much to teach you. But if you know it all already, best to just hang out with Folly.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Feast Is Just Beyond The Fight

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Feast Is Just Beyond The Fight 

     The feast is just beyond the fight; when you have been through the fight, there is the wondrous joy and triumph of the feast. We learn to thank God for the trial of our faith because it works patience. The thing that is precious in the sight of God is faith that has been tried. Tried faith is spendable; it is so much wealth stored up in heaven, and the more we go through the trial of our faith, the wealthier we become in the heavenly regions. … 

     We are so impatient—“I thought God’s purpose was to make me full of happiness and joy.” It is, but it is happiness and joy from God’s standpoint, not from ours. God always ignores the present perfection for the ultimate perfection. … 

     God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow.

From The Place Of Help

The Apostle James said essentially the same thing when he wrote—

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith through experience produces endurance leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed in your faith, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

If you’re in a fight, stay in the fight. God has a great reward for you!

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Christ did not risk death. He embraced it. That is precisely why He came: not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). … Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death. Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones?” —John Piper

“The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and confidence in the mercy of God. … To distrust Him would be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for without God’s permission neither the devils nor their human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree.” —Francis Xavier

“Each instant of present labor is to be graciously repaid with a million ages of glory.” —J.W. Alexander

“If God did so much for us when enemies, what will He do, or rather, what will He not do, for us now that we are friends? … If Christ’s death did so much for us, what will not His life do?” —Horatius Bonar

“Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago.” —Goethe

[VIDEO] Tim Dilena shares some practical keys for a consistent prayer life.

“I would exhort those who have entertained an hope of their being true converts, and yet since their supposed conversion have left off the duty of secret prayer, and do ordinarily allow themselves in the omission of it, to throw away their hope. If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.” —Jonathan Edwards

“For too many of us, Christian experience is episodic rather than continuous, with a few religious experiences interspersed throughout our lives, which are otherwise lived on our own terms. Such people can see little need or use for prayer.” —Ralph Lehman

Eric Metaxas helps us get ready for Religious Freedom Day on January 16.

[VIDEO] Not just at Christmas when you are receiving gifts, but all year long we should be people of appreciation. Check out John Maxwell’s short video—

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