Archives For Self Control

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

words

I want you to think of the power of your words today. I not only want you to think about them, but I want you to take an inventory of them today. I ask you to pay close attention throughout the day to the words you use toward others and even yourself.

When I was young I worked in my fathers business. He owed a heating and air condition business and also did metal fabrication. We had a supply room, and from time to time he would make me do inventory of all our products. I would spend days counting big items all the way down to small items. For 8 hours a day for several days I would count.

It was a tedious job, but it was a necessary job also. Once I had the inventory completed, I had an accurate count and assessment of everything we owned.  I could now order or add to what was lacking, and I could now even throw away anything that wasn’t needed or was broken. Inventory clears things up and makes it easier to see exactly where you are. It clears the path forward.

There are times in life you need to take an inventory of things. Today I want you to start taking an inventory of your words. Have you ever stopped to think about the power of the words you use? The words you say to yourself, others, enemies, friends, co-workers, your family, spouse and your children?

Your words affect your life. Your words affect the lives of others. Most importantly, your words reveal what is in your heart. Words show what you have in your inventory. Many miscalculate the power of their words. They say to themselves, “It’s not all that important, they are just words.” That’s not true through. Words are powerful. Words can build or tear down. They can destroy or create. Words set the tone of every conversation.

With words, you can make someone’s day or shatter someone’s day. You can inspire someone or discourage someone. You can build someone up or tear someone down. Your words can move some to do their best work, or to work against you. Words are either life affirming or destructive. For all these reasons,  we should take an inventory or our words often, and choose our words carefully.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so allow me to give you a picture. This picture is found in the book of Luke.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJV)

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Emphases added)

The picture stand on its own. Words come from the heart. They are either good or bad. Inventory is tied to our hearts. We are challenged to clear up our words, thereby clearing up our hearts. When our hearts are clear of destructive words, we can then speak into the lives of others words of life and creation.

You see, frequently, though not always, what people criticize in others is what they are afraid of in their own lives.  Jesus also pointed out that a persons words would eventually tell what kind of person he or she is. Therefore, it’s imperative that we take an inventory of junk words still floating around in our hearts. It’s important to do so. It’s life changing to do so. In fact, God himself will one day take inventory of our heart.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NKJV)

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We as Christ followers have a great task at hand, which is taking an inventory of our words for the sake of His glory. I challenge you today to look closely at your conversations and at the carelessness we often use in our speech. You might just be surprised at the junk that is still in your heart.

My prayer: Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

trust

Letting God into your problems is different from letting God watch your problems. Letting Him into your problems means you allow God to have control of what you are trying to run. On the other hand, letting God watch your problems is an insult to the work of the cross. He endured the cross so that you might be free in Him.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB) You and I fight against God when we try to control and win against the problems of our lives. It can’t be both ways with God when it comes to the subject of control. You can’t control and surrender control at the same time.  Either you are in control, or God is in control. One works to bring Him glory, and the other points to our own pride as the answer.

In order to have peace, the surrendering of your problems must be laid at the feet of Jesus. You must stop striving by taking your hands off the proverbial wheel of control. You long for peace and rest but you will never experience either until you give your problems to the Prince of Peace.

God loves to speak to His children, “The battle is not yours; it’s mine. You don’t have to fight in it.” You need to take the discouragement, the tiredness and the fatigue that comes along with carrying all the troubles and realize that it doesn’t depend on you. God is calling to you over and over to let Him  take control. Bless God today by giving Him the gift of your rubbish.

Turning your rubbish over to God means you must trust Him. When you don’t understand, or life seems unfair and makes remarkably little sense at all, that is a definite signpost pointing you to turn it all over to Jesus. Don’t be the person who says they trust God, but when trouble hits they run it through their own filter first. Remove the filter and let God be God in your life.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

bucket

There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

red kite in the sky

Adversity seems  to have a key to the front door of our lives. Adversity shows up completely unwelcomed and always unexpected. If it can’t get through the front door, then it will find a window to break. Adversity is a strong wind that blows into our life from time to time.

Adversity is the intruder that loves to show up about the time everything is going right. However, don’t get over worried because I’ve heard it said, and I believe it to be true, ““Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right.”

Let’s face it. If everything ran smooth all the time, you might just miss the turn God wants you to make. Adversity has a way of waking you up and making you look again at your direction in life.

Adversity has a way of taking an over organized direction and bringing just enough disorganization to move you to the place you may have missed otherwise. Maybe there is another skill God wants to develop in you. Adversity is allowed into your life to build you up and not necessarily tear you down.

There is an old proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” I would add my own twist for the Christian by saying; smooth paths and no wind do not make a well-equipped Christ follower.

Adversity can’t be avoided. Adversity is just part of living life. However, when adversity shows up, give it over to God quickly. Adversity in His hands gives Him the opportunity to show His power in your life.

One pastor once said it this way, “Adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.”

When I was a little boy I use to love to fly kites at the beach. There is one thing that is true of a kite. A kite doesn’t blow along with the wind. A kite rises against the wind. Your life can do the same the next time the winds of adversity arise in your life.

Allow adversity to take you higher and higher. Remember what the book of James teaches.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Do It Anyway

December 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

Do-It-Anyway

We are to reflect God to the world. We are called to be the salt of the earth and a light that is not hidden. We are called to love. We are called to joy. We are called to peace. We are called to forbearance. We are called to kindness. We are called to goodness. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to gentleness. We are called to self-control. In Short, we are called to be like Him in front of a world that desperately needs to see Him.

At times, you will think being all the above-mentioned things don’t matter. You will see the world hate you even when you live a life that reflects God. However, do it anyway. You live as a reflection first for Him, and then for others. In the end, it will be to Him you will give an account and not to the people of the world.

Mother Teresa said it best when she wrote, ““People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”