Thermometer and Thermostat

Years ago I heard a preacher comparing the functionalities of a thermometer and a thermostat to the Christian’s life. The thermostat adjusts the temperature when the temperature is at a particular value, while the thermometer only has the capability to measure the temperature.

In the sermon, the preacher was urging the listeners to be like the thermostat and play their part to make a difference in the world.

So recognizing the times that we are in (like the thermometer) we are called to be positive influences for God’s Kingdom (like the thermostat); and God has equip us.

It is comforting to know that we can go forward confidently in God’s power and make a difference for Him in this world today.

Feel free to comment below if this resonates with you.

God’s Provision

‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork’ (Psalm 19:1).

I like passion fruit juice and I had successfully cultivated passion fruit vines in the past.  Because it had taken me about one and a half years for my passion fruit vine to produce fruit, when I had finally picked my first passion fruit, I was so very excited.  So I was really sorry  when that passion fruit vine got pulled up. 

Since then, I tried several times to plant passion fruit vines, but I was not successful.  In some instances the worms ate the leaves before the young vines were able to become established, while in one instance the young passion fruit vine got mowed down when the grass was being cut.

Within my heart, I wanted to grow a passion fruit vine again.  Then one day as I was walking along the fence at my home, I noticed a vine that looked so much like a passion fruit vine; but I thought that was strange, since I did not plant a vine there.  On closer inspection, I realized that it really was a passion fruit vine, but I had no idea how long it was growing there.  The vine was growing from under the hedge along my fence. 

For months the vine continued to grow between the hedge, but I really did not give the vine much attention and I did not think that the vine would thrive. 

Then one day, as I was walking along the fence, I noticed something that looked like a blossom, then I saw another blossom and another blossom.  I was excited and some time later I picked the first passion fruit from the vine and then I picked another ripe passion fruit.

As I thought about my passion fruit vine, I thought of God’s goodness.  I had no part in planting the passion fruit seed, but about a year and half before unknown to me, God was answering a desire of my heart.  Now the passion fruit vine and its bountiful crop are a reminder to me of the goodness of God. 

Nature has been a source through which God speaks to me and the passion fruit experience is no different.  

What a wonderful assurance that ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever’ (Psalm 23:6).  Indeed God’s goodness keeps running after us, as expressed in the song ‘Goodness of God’.

 I am so thankful that we serve such an awesome God.

Be Blessed

Self Care

I have been reflecting for some time now on the topic of self care.

When I read in John 10:10,  that Jesus came ‘ … that … [we] … might have life, and that … [we] … might have it more abundantly …’, I felt reassured that Jesus’ sacrifice opened the door for growth in the area of self care, which I believe will contribute greatly to living abundantly.

In my reflection, I pondered on the questions below:

  • What does self care really mean? 
  • What does self care look like?
  • What are some simple things that I can do to become better at self care?

With the answers that I came up with, as I started to do the simple things, I have learned to celebrate every improvement I make in the area of self care – however small it may appear.  If you are like me and also find this topic of interest, I encourage you to reflect on the above questions. 

Though the answers to these questions could have some similarities for different people, I believe that there will also be variations in responses, so as you reflect on these questions, I hope that you would also come up with simple ideas to incorporate into your life.

Be Blessed.

Alison

James 1:17

As we seek Unity Within, we will accept God’s involvement and direction in our lives; and part of God’s involvement involves His provision. In James 1:17 we are told, ‘every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’ (KJV).

Moving Forward United Within

Studying the account of the people who were on the verge of going to the land of promise gives us a good understanding of the things we will or could face – irrespective of the type of change – and the interventions needed that will allow us to move forward and live the life that God wants us to live.

These changes can occur in our families, with our jobs or changes in our careers, or could even involve starting a major project or making a decision to move our location, etc…

Ensuring that God is part of every stage of our change is the only safeguard.  When we are confronted with major decisions, let us ensure that we ask God in faith to show us the way.

As we start to move forward and must confront new challenges and unchartered waters, initially the obstacle(s) may seem so big to us and we may feel so inadequate. But let us be reminded that God who made the universe is with us and is guiding us; and with God we need not be overwhelmed. What is big to us, is minute to God.

So realizing God is with us, we can listen to the Holy Spirit’s instructions, maintain a heart of thankfulness and praise, embrace the part God is asking us to perform and move forward.

As God continues to work things out in our lives, we can be at peace and deal with the opposition in a constructive way.

In God’s power, opposition will not stop us, and we will not allow our energy to be taken up in getting upset over the things that God will take care of for us. Rather, we will be focused on doing what God has laid on our hearts to do.  We will not allow our weaknesses to cause us to limit in our minds what God wants to do for and through us. 

Understanding that what we say and do affect others and ourselves, even as we are going through uncertainty, we will ask God to help us to correctly represent the situation and respond in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Then with each success, we will continue to move forward for God’s glory.

It is time that we no longer have a diet of fear.  Let us be determined not to feed our fears or doubts.  Let us build our spiritual immunity and be fortified inside by God’s Word.  Then when we are confronted by the 10-spy attitude outside of ourselves, we would be determined not to catch the ‘fear fever’ or at least we would be able to nip the ‘fear fever’ in the bud quickly.  It is time we are not gobbled up by fear.

As we dig deeper to strengthen our foundation of unity – unity with God and unity within ourselves – then this unity and unified purpose would emit outward.

The reality is as we experience unity within, it also brings clearer vision, and our vison of God is also made clearer.  I was also reminded of the song by Sandi Patti, ‘We will see Him as He is’ (click here to hear the song).  What a beautiful assurance.  To one day see God, what a glorious day that will be. 

This experience of exploring the theme ‘Unity Within’ has been an amazing experience, and God has been speaking to me in so many ways; and I hope that you also were encouraged from the contents shared.

Be Blessed.

Embracing Unity Within

To recap, from the story, the people’s fears occurred because of how big they saw the opponent and how small they saw themselves.  At that point, their knowledge of who God is was lost sight of long enough for the seed of doubt to take root in their minds.

Failure was no longer only a possibility to them, but in their minds, failure became a fact.  Realizing this reveals and reminds us of the source of our victory – God’s involvement and direction in our lives. Moses understood this and in Exodus 33:15, he told God, ‘If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence’ (KJV). 

Moses was only going where God would go with him.  This is in contrast to the people who after realizing their grave mistake was rushing ahead and without God’s guidance (Numbers 14:44, 45).  Using the analogy described in the section ‘Confronting Our Fears’, the people were ‘riding without whistling’ where riding represents going forward, and ‘without whistling’ can represent not receiving God’s guidance to move forward. So in Exodus 33:15 we see that Moses chose to moved forward (ride) while he listened to God’s voice (whistled).

So with a heart of faith and fortified by God’s Word, the mind would be solely focused on letting the Holy Spirit guide.   It was critical for the people to learn and reinforce a new sequence of steps in their problem solving approach if they were going to succeed.  Maybe it is the same for us today.

As we continue on the road of experiencing unity within, the internal conflict which causes part of us to war against other parts of us will diminish.  Then as explained in the previous section ‘Response’, when we are confronted with things on the outside, we would with the Holy Spirit’s guidance be able to make sound assessments and judgements that will lead to sound decisions; since the decisions being made are no longer clouded by internal struggles. 

So, at each stage of our lives, we will find the strength in Christ to face challenges in a healthy way.  However, as we grow and meet new and uncharted challenges, we may find ourselves experiencing some mental discomfort as we go from the place that we have become accustomed to and as we start to move to another level.  

Therefore, experiencing internal unity does not mean that we will not wrestle with some decisions or will not face some difficult situations.  But having resolved our internal conflicts at every stage of our lives, this will free up our energy to focus on overcoming new challenges with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in the midst of it all – in every situation – we will choose to stay true to God.  And we would be able to join Joshua who said in Joshua 24:15, ‘but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD’ (KJV).

We would: look to God our Leader who gives us the power to confront our fears; have a correct view of the internal and ourselves; embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude; take responsibility for our actions; expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do; be even tempered in all situations; be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others; and be in a position with the correct report to move forward with a God-directed response.    

We would overcome with God’s power and we would be able to response correctly in the face of negative influences.  This is worth working towards, and then ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep … [our] … hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7 KJV).  So when we go to our ‘tents’ (contrary to the people’s response in Deuteronomy 1:27), we will be singing praises to God for His awesome work in our lives and how He has brought us through ever stage and season of our lives.

The next blog post is entitled, ‘Moving forward United Within‘.

Be Blessed.

Response

The previous blog post in this series focused on ‘Influence’. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, we can easily get to a point of overload and not know what to do.

If we get to a point where time is of essence and we need to decide and act quickly, we may be tempted to be impulsive; but we need to guard against such.  With each decision, we need to ask God to give us clarity, so that we can make wise decisions.

To make a decision, having a report is a critical point; a turning point.  From the previous sections, we saw the actions that followed when the evil report from the spies (Number 13:32) was shared and accepted. The report will eventually guide our responses.  Even with the best of information, we need to guard against the feeling that we know it all.  Only God knows the full implications of each decision and response that we make.

So should this cause us to do nothing? No.  Instead, it should cause us to be even more determined not to leave God out of our lives.

Awareness is very important. 

We need to be mindful of how we relate to and respond to the things that happen around us.  In the case of the people as explained in a previous section on ‘Anger’, the realization that they were wrong created another impulsive reaction, as they had the desire to fix the problem immediately, so they went into battle without God’s guidance.

It can be a struggle to stay grounded especially when we know the seriousness of our decisions and how much depends on the decisions.  But Joshua and Caleb’s response of unwavering trust in God is the example we can follow.

Our desire and determination to be united with God, would guide the process for us to achieve internal alignment.  Then once we have with God’s help resolved who we are, what we believe, and what God expects of us, then our actions and responses will continue to become in alignment with our mental resolution.  Why is this important? If a decision to stay purposeful is not made ahead, when faced with a myriad of ways to turn and choices to make, it can become very confusing; so preparation is important.

Similarly, that resolve will guide every response we make.  So by making the decision before to stand on God’s side, the minute and daily decisions and responses will fall in line with the overarching strategy that we have adapted for our lives.

So if we are aligned on God’s side, we will be declared winners by God and for God.  The beauty about God’s way is that there is not only place for one person to be a winner; but everyone who stands for God and chooses to go God’s way is a winner.  So with the resolve to stay purposeful in the midst of facing problems, as we go forward (as explained in previous sections), we can:

  • confront our fears in God’s power,
  • have a correct view of the external,
  • have a correct view of ourselves,
  • embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude,
  • take responsibility for our actions,
  • let God be the leader of our lives,  
  • expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do,
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively, and
  • be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others.

Then when we are able to address these areas internally, we are in a better position to respond in a healthy way to the external.  So then we can prayerfully:

  1. Analyze the facts and perceptions surrounding the problem,
  2. Determine a root cause,
  3. Prepare a report (mental, verbal or written) with the results and findings,
  4. Identify possible plan of action,
  5. Make a God-directed decision,
  6. Act in accordance with God’s will.

Therefore we would be in a position with the correct report to move forward with a God-directed response.

The next blog post will be entitled Embracing Unity Within.

Be Blessed.

Influence

To see the list of the blog posts in this series, click here.  Now as we continue exploring the theme of United Within, the focus is on the effects of influence.

Everybody influences someone else – either for good or for bad; and even our own words influence us.  The reality is that the leaders would have been highly respected by the people. So to hear the 10 leaders speak with such a conviction was credible to the people and the listeners.

In fact, Deuteronomy 1:27, 28 says, ‘and ye murmured in your tents, and said, because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.  Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, the people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there’ (KJV). 

And Numbers 32:9 says, ‘for when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them’ (KJV).

In addition, because the 10 spies were the majority (83 % of the spies), this helped to make their report even more believable and trusted by the people.  But we know that majority does not automatically mean correct. 

Fortunately in the midst of it all, Caleb and Joshua had positive influences and company in each other.

As we struggle within ourselves, when we are looking for answers, many times the words we heard prior to the struggle and the advice we received even in unrelated circumstances, come back to our memories with such clarity.  So the question arises, have I exposed myself to positive influences that will provide me with good advice as I go through my challenges?

It is important that with God’s help we can correctly decipher all of what we have heard and seen.

Also we need to be aware of our influence on others.  Being our ‘brother’s keeper’ means we are also alert to how we influence them.  Will our words and actions help others when they are going through their struggles? 

As God’s people we realize every word and every action will count for something.  We have the opportunity to choose to let these things count for good and to build up God’s kingdom on this earth.

So as we go forward, we can:

  • confront our fears in God’s power,
  • have a correct view of the external,
  • have a correct view of ourselves,
  • embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude,
  • take responsibility for our actions,
  • let God be the leader of our lives,  
  • expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do,
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively, and
  • be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others.

The next blog post will be on ‘Response’.

Anger

With the people no longer expecting to win (as explained in the previous blog post ‘Expectations’), what anguish it must have been for Moses and Aaron to witness the chaotic situation that was unfolding before them.  In Numbers 14:5 we read, ‘then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly …’ (KJV).  After, Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people not to rebel by reiterating the positive attributes of the land (Numbers 14:7).  Joshua and Caleb also told the people ‘… the LORD is with us: fear them not’ (Numbers 14:9 KJV).  But at this point having decided to do what they felt, now the people’s emotions were out of control.

At this point, the people had lost sight of the fear of the Lord, and anyone who dared to remind them of God’s leading became the recipient of their anger.

When we are dealing with irritating situations in our lives, for reasonable and rational behavior to prevail, we have to ‘pull back’ from the present situation and sometimes even take very deep breaths.  During these times of testing, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and reminds us of whose we are and who we represent.  This knowledge of God’s ownership of our lives is a constant reminder that we do not live for ourselves.

In Numbers 14:10, sadly we see that the people drifted from God’s ownership to ‘me’ ownership, resulting in the people wanting to stone Joshua and Caleb.

They were angry at anyone who tried to get in their way of putting plans in place to return from whence they came. 

The resulting irrational thinking led to aggression with the intent to be destructive. At this point God intervened before any stones were hurled (Numbers 14:10). 

Eventually after realizing that they were wrong, the people impulsively decided to go forward, though God told them not to go up.  God wasn’t with them and they lost the battle (Numbers 14:44, 45).  Not directed by God, they went forward in their self-confidence and presumption – a dangerous place to be.

God wants us to display an even-tempered attitude and be fully guided by Him.  In the midst of a conflict, when tempted to do anything irrational, let us remember the account found in Numbers 14:8-9: ‘If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not’ (KJV).

The anger seemed to result from the reality that things were not going as they planned, and the words were not what they wanted to hear.  But we can learn from their account that maintaining confidence in God will help us not to lose our temper, because we know that God is in control and we have nothing to worry about. So as we go forward, we can:

  • confront our fears in God’s power,
  • have a correct view of the external,
  • have a correct view of ourselves,
  • embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude,
  • take responsibility for our actions,
  • let God be the leader of our lives,  
  • expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do, and
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively.

Next blog post will be focused on Influence.