Fuel4Thought (Page 9)

A Mirror Reflection

Consider James 1:25: “the man who looks intently into the perfect law” (full text: James 1:22-25 ). The word “look” in Greek means “to stoop down and gaze in”. It’s the word used when Peter went to the tomb on resurrection Sunday when he stooped down and peeked in. He investigated. What I understand from this verse is that by looking into the Word of God we are to imitate the image that we see.
There are two ways you can look at a mirror. You can gaze at it or you can glance at it. All of us have done both. It’s human nature that you can’t walk by a mirror and not look at it. When you glance at it, you immediately walk away and forget what you’ve seen. It didn’t do you any good. But when you take more time in front of a mirror, your goal is to correct the image you see of yourself.
If we gaze with the intent to become like Jesus, who alone is the perfect law of love and our savior, then we have looked rightly. We should go to the “mirror” of God’s words often! “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV). Now it’s true that “we have this treasure in jars of clay”, but that is “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV).
So, how do we our gaze at Christ and His Word and promises? Intently? Often? May the Holy Spirit lead you to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

Fingerprints of God

We can look at creation and see the wonders of what God has made. Psalm 95 verse 5 says, “The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” But there’s something more excellent in creation to consider. This Hebrew word ‘to form’ is also used in Genesis 2:7: “The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (NIV). In such chaotic and changing times, we need to consider how we are God’s most prized possession in all of creation ( James 1:18 ). All the things that we really need the most, like love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness faithfulness and self-control, are wonderful qualities that were part of God first. Sin in this world has left people hungering for these qualities, but our lives are created in Christ to be an example of them (cf. Galatians 5:16-23 ).
We are meant to be the fingerprints of God one to another. True, we do this imperfectly, but that’s not the problem. The challenge for us is to continually ask Christ to fill us with these qualities and seek to share them with others. So consider Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong” Ephesian 1:16-17 (NLT). Take this time that we have to “Stay at Home” and grow closer to Christ the only true image of God. Also, pray that His image would be seen in you ( John 15:8 )

A Spiritual Retreat

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV).

I don’t know who has been praying that we might live a quiet and peaceable life, but it looks like God heard your prayers! Most of us now are required to stay in our homes with just out families for most of the time. Many of us are not able to work even from home. Many of us are worried about these changes to daily life, how long they might last, and what will be the long-term consequences of them.
Think about it! What a loving Heavenly Father we have! God is able to take care of us and to use this time and these restrictions for our benefit. Instead of worrying or complaining, we can rejoice in the quiet and peacefulness that we have been given and to use it to the fullest so that we might grow in godliness and in reverence to God. How do we do that?
It is important, as this scripture says, that we pray for everyone (that’s what “men” means). And it is important that we pray for our national leaders and others who are in positions of authority, always, but especially in these trying times. Our leaders need God’s guidance and wisdom to make decisions that will be a blessing for everyone.
The scripture also says that we should live in godliness and reverence. That is a challenge for all of us! We need to find ways to connect more with God every day. We can also use this time to connect with others, those who are stuck in the house with us, as well those who, for now, we cannot meet in person. How can we creatively and meaningfully connect with God when we are stuck at home? How can we creatively and meaningfully love one another, get to know one another, pray for one another, and serve one another in these new unprecedented circumstances? May God use this time to lead us into greater love for Him and for each other. May He inspire us with new ideas and help us to implement them to the glory of God and for the blessing of everyone.

Worry Less – Pray More

Our God knows and understands our hearts. Every failure, every mistake, every sin Christ’s blood has covered. It’s sin that has separated us from God ( Isaiah 59:2 , Jeremiah 5:24-25 ). Jesus took care of that and in exchange has given us a life-changing, powerful relationship with Him. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” Romans 6:4 (NJKV). The power of Christ’s resurrection comes from the replacement principle. Here’s how it works: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

  • When a tide of worries comes in, pray more.
  • God knows your heart; what you need to know is His love reigning in your heart.
  • The Greek word in the verse from Philippians, “present your…” is a present imperative implying that it’s your choice to walk in worries or in the powerful peace of God.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27 (NKJV). May we walk boldly in the peace of Christ – Worry less – Pray More.

Put God First

“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” Psalm 77:12 (NIV)
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” Psalm 119:15-16 (NIV)
The Psalmist encourages us to meditate on the mighty things that God does and all things God has told us. When you think about something over and over, it’s meditation. Meditation is not putting your mind in neutral or the vain repetition of words. Meditation means to think seriously about something over and over. If you know how to worry, you can meditate. Take a negative idea and think about it over and over, and it’s called worry. Take God’s word and think about it over and over, and it’s called meditation. Think more deeply on the beautiful attributes of God, and it’s called meditation. Put God first in your thoughts and it will bring peace to your life.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV).

How to Make Lemonade – part 2

“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is a quote used by many people in our society, including those who shut God out of their lives. When most people use this quote, it means, “Make the best of a bad situation, be creative, stay positive and try hard.” It is good advice, as far as it goes, but it falls far short of solving our most important problems.

Here’s an interesting verse from the Proverbs: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” Proverbs 17:22 (NIV). God knows a cheerful heart can make us feel better when we are sick. This is why placebos (fake drugs used in drug testing studies) often have some effect, but they ultimately don’t cure disease. God knows we need Him. Spiritually speaking, the world has only placebos. God has the only cure. He offers the cure freely to all. Jesus said, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” Luke 11:13 (NLT). The world stubbornly may resist the Holy Spirit, but God loves the world: “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another” John 1:16 (GNT).

So, how can we make lemonade? Here are three clear verses that you can put into practice to make your life sweeter no matter how sour your present circumstances may be.

  • Sing praise and give thanks: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT).
  • The Word of God is meant to root us in God’s love: “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” Colossians 2:7 (NLT).
  • Positive thinking is good—this is how God says to do it: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT).

Let the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and God’s sweetness will overflow in our lives and to others causing joyful praise and thanksgiving to God in any circumstance.

How to make lemonade – part 1

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” What that means to me as a Christian is that God’s grace in Christ is greater than any problems we may face. Whether you can have joy in spite of sour circumstances, whether you are able to share sweetness in the midst of suffering depends on your perspective. If our focus is on this world, we have no sure hope. “I will lift my eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and earth. “God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NCV). When times are as unprecedented as they are now, looking to our Lord and laying hold of His good promises makes life sweeter!  So are you looking at lemons or making lemonade?

God Our Rock!

Coronavirus is here: What do we do now?
The situation is changing rapidly, and leaders and experts are scrambling to give guidance to help protect people and slow the spread of the disease. Change can cause us to feel insecure, disoriented and fearful. We need to hold onto the assurance that we have a Heavenly Father who is with us in all situations. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 (NIV). He has cared for us and promises that He always will: “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” Psalm 18:31 (NKJV)

Let the Word to Work in Your Heart:

  • What are some unchangeable attributes of God?
  • Consider how these attributes like His love, power, wisdom, compassion and any other that you can think are a rock to you in a changing and unstable world.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." James 1:22-25 (NIV)

"God chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession" (James 1:18, NLT).

"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:16-23 (NLT)

"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8, NKJV).

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear" Isaiah 59:2 (NIV).

"They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things" Jeremiah 5:24-25 (NLT)