Your emotions travel 80,000 times faster than your thoughts travel. Isn’t that amazing? This explains why when something bad happens, we are not able to immediately remember what to do or who to call. On the other hand, when something wonderful happens and we are wrapped up in the thrill of emotional exhilaration, at that moment, we do not have the ability to decide what to do next. All reasonable and practical thinking arrives in our nerve center long after the emotion has expressed.
The tremendous speed of our emotional responses to life helps to explain why even Christians often tend to operate out of feelings rather than out of principle. If you continually respond to life on an emotional level, you will always say things to are embarrassing, act in ways that are unbecoming and never be the person God intended you to be.
There is little in life that is of more importance than securing control of heart issues. When the Bible uses the word “heart”, it refers to the center of your mind, will, and emotions. Your hearts determines how you will act in any situation. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
The problem is with the heart itself: it does not want to be guarded. It desires to express itself. The Bible never says we are allowed to express everything that is in our heart – it simply says to guard it.
This morning I am on Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida at the beginning of a wonderful vacation. The sun is shining, there is a cool ocean breeze and everything is right with the world. Well, not really.
There is a steady stream of people filling the beach: young, old, families with children, singles, surfers, sunbathers and a myriad of others. To that add the billions of people around the world. The thought came to me that one day we will all be together again but in a different setting.
“We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’. It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions.” Romans 14:12
I look at all the people playing in the surf, searching for shells, playing volleyball etc. The majority of people are not even aware that such a event is going to take place! Which leads me to my second thought: Who is going to tell them? Preachers cannot reach those who do not come to church, so it is up to all of us to share to message.
Yesterday, I was shopping at Lowes Home Improvement store [One of my favorite stores.] I dutifully had my list of items I needed to purchase but when I came across the clearance rack, I found my favorite plant, Lantana. Clearance price? $1.00! So, I quickly took advantage of my good fortune!
While loading my items in my car, I discovered I had seven plants but had only paid for six. I had miscounted. [I never was good at Math.] So, I what do I do? After all, it was just a mistake; I was not attempting to steal anything and Lowes wouldn’t go bankrupt if I didn’t return it. I started to rationalize:
- It was a long walk back to the store and I was tired.
- I could return it later the next time at the store.
- It was only a dollar item! No big deal!
- People deliberately shoplift; so Lowes expects to lose a certain amount of product.
All those reasons made sense to me but the reality was still the same. I had something in my possession that did not belong to me and my conscious wouldn’t let me keep it. When I returned the plant and explained my the situation; the Lowes associate looked like they had just seen a green, one-eyed Martian!
I share this story, not to post on my own piety but to show us that honesty and integrity have become as extinct as the Do-Do bird. I want to be a person of integrity and I hope this is your goal.
Disclaimer: This story is what I felt that God required of me; you may have responded differently and I do not judge you. Allow the peace of God rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15
When I was a child my mother collected S&H green stamps when she bought groceries. She put those stamps into a book and when she had enough books, she would redeem them for the item she was saving for.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16
Every living person has the same number of hours to use every day. The clock plays no favorites. The difference is how we redeem (use) our time. To waste time is to spend it on that which has little or no value. The late coach Vince Lombardi said, “I never lost a game. I just ran out of time.” The team that is most productive in the allotted time is the team that wins.
In sports, a coach can temporarily halt time but in real life, there are no timeouts. So we need to ask God to reveal ways we can redeem time on things of little or no value.
You can’t control much of what happens to you in life. You can’t control who your parents are, where you were born, and a variety of things that have a significant influence on your life.
But you can choose how you react to what life throws your way. We have all heard people say, “They make me so bad!” Technically that is not correct. People may do things to you, lie about you or even cheat you but you have the choice how you will respond. The choice is always yours. Proverbs 29:11 (GW) says, “A fool expresses all his emotions but a wise person controls them.”
When we are mistreated, the proper reaction isn’t to blow up or clam up. Instead of responding in anger, God has a better solution. “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.” Proverbs 15:1
Here is the bottom line: Trust God to settle the score. After all, He has more and better resources to do that than you do.
I am always on the lookout for a good writing pen. (Though most of my writing is done on a keyboard.) And when I say a “good” pen, I am not necessarily speaking of an expensive one. When I am with my peers, I always look to see what pen they are using. You never know when a better pen comes along and I might need to change.
Several years my son bought a nice pen/pencil set as a Christmas gift. I really liked it but I put away in my desk, fearing to use it “every day”. I was afraid that I might lose them; which is a good possibility for me. Though it is safe while in my desk, I never get the enjoyment of using it. Often when a family member dies, the family will go through the belongings that were left behind. Many times they will find a gift that has never been opened or an heirloom that was handed down but the rest of the family was totally unaware of it.
1 Peter 4:10 is an interesting verse: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another; as good stewards of God’s varied grace..” Two obvious observations: Every Christ-follower has been given at least one gift and secondly the gift was given to us to use; not hide.
In the parable of the talents, the servant that was judged, was the one who hid his talent. He was not judged for doing bad things but for doing nothing. Fear is not an adequate excuse for an unopened gift. There is no tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift. Some will go to their grave and never unwrap their gift.
Several years ago, I found a book that had a unique, but Biblical, approach on praying. In every area of life there are people who shape our world. These people have a great deal of influence in their fields: political, science, music, entertainment, medicine, finance, sports, education, etc. These are people who wield power.
The book is based on 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” The book gives you 365 people to pray for each day of the year. Each page includes a brief biography and suggestions how to pray for that person.
Throughout the Bible we see how God used heathen rulers to accomplish His will. In most cases they were not even aware they were being used by God. The Lord can control a king’s mind as easily as he controls a river. He can direct it as he pleases. Proverbs 21:1 (ICB)
You do not need a book to tell you who to pray for. Listen to the news. Read a news paper. Allow the Holy Spirit to direct you. But pray!