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In Everything Give Thanks
Laws That Free Us
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Our fourteen-year-old seemed to spend a lot of time questioning rules. Her two favorite sayings seemed to be, “That’s not fair” and “Let’s change thar rule”. It’s hard to make her understand or accept the reasons behind the rules we’ve made, but we try. Our goal is for her to see that we set rules for her because we love her and want only what’s best for her.
God is like that. What a freeing experience it is when we truly understand that God gives us laws not to bind us, but to free us. Our verse today is an introduction to God’s laws, the Ten Commandments, but the word picture it expresses is “freedom”. Imagine all the Israelites-thousands of them-trudging out of Egypt, out of extreme bondage. God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments not to cramp their style, but to show them how to keep from falling into bondage again.
The picture is there for all of us to see. We can choose bondage by breaking God’s laws or freedom by keeping his laws. Praise God, He sent Christ and the Holy Spirit to assist us in keeping his principles. And when we fail but turn to him, he is quick to forgive us and put us back on the path to freedom.
Thought: God’s principles point the true way to freedom.
The Right Road
Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip.
My husband and I were nearing the end of a long journey. It was two o’clock in the morning, and the rain was pouring steadily. We came to what we thought was an intersection where we could go either straight or turn right or left. My husband,in his tired condition, decided to go straight. We quickly found out that we had chosen an alternative that wasn’t there. We were on a high bank with our car dangerously close to tipping over. We carefully got out of the car, walked through the rain to a nearby motel, and called a wrecker. We spent the night in the motel, then continued our trip the next day.
Many of us take the wrong roads in life and we end up on a cliff, in great danger of tipping over. The rain, the dark, and our fatigue kept my husband and me from seeing reality that scary rainy night. Often, I feel my clients are blinded by misperceptions they have carried with them through life. And it is difficult to choose the right road in life when you can’t see it.
Let’s make it our goal in life to find the truth. Our faith in God and His Word will guide us there. When truth is hidden we will continually make errors in judgment. But when we see the truth, we will begin to make wise decisions.
Thought: Truth leads to the right road, so I will look for it by meditating today on God’s Word.
Head in the Sand
“Can anyone hide himself in several places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord.
Stick your head in the sand and you don’t have to know what’s going on around you. People who play this game think that if they deny their problems or put off facing them, the problems will go away. But the problem with the head in the sand trick is you eventually have to come up for air.
Sometimes we as counselors feel like lifeguards going around the beach and saving people from suffocating by pulling their heads out of the sand and then some of them want to stick their heads back in! I once had a patient I had rescued say to me,” If I had known sane people were so crazy, I would have stayed crazy.”
Very few problems disappear when we avoid them; we must eventually face what we’re hoping will go away. Denial is like believing in magic. We somehow think that pretending a problem isn’t there will cause it to be solved by someone else or simply fade away. That rarely happens.
Avoiding pain by procrastination and denial is usually the route to prolonging problems and making them worse. Let’s pull our head out of the sand and face the challenges of life today.
Thought: Denying my conflicts causes significantly more personal pain than facing them and devising plans to overcome them. I will ask God’s help in facing my problems today.
A Sacred Responsibility
My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Proverbs 1:8 is directed at children, but it is also aimed at parents. Children are to follow their father’s instruction and their mothers’ laws. But how can a father instruct if he doesn’t understand the lessons he is to teach? Fathers have the obligation to Scripture to make sure their instruction is correct. Mothers may not make their own laws, but rather must daily seek to learn God’s laws and convey them to their children.
God gave parents a sacred responsibility-to be the leaders of their families. They are their children’s most significant teachers. Children inevitably learn from their parents. It is up to the parents to choose whether their lives teach good or evil.
Parents can only do so much, of course. Children also make personal choices daily, and environmental influences can be beyond a parent’s control. Nevertheless, a parent’s job is crucial. Let’s determine today to do the best job we can, using the Word of God as a searchlight in our souls to make sure our leadership is what God wants it to be.
Thought: I cannot control my children’s or grandchildren’s current or future choices, but I can determine, by word and example, what I teach them today.
Rich In Mercy
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.
The story is told of a poor woman who traveled a great distance to talk with a famous general. She begged the general to pardon her son, who was a member of his army but had been charged under military law for a serious offense. The general said sternly that justice required her son to be put to death. The mother replied, “I’m not asking for justice; I’m begging for mercy.” The general replied that her son did not deserve mercy. The mother quickly replied, “You couldn’t give my son mercy if he had earned it, and it is mercy I am asking for.” The general granted the mother’s wish, and the son’s life was saved.
Think of the mercy of God. God had a plan for us from the beginning. Mercy was in His mind when He laid the foundation of the world. From the time that humanity first turned from Him, He offered us ways to return to Him. Finally, God sacrificed His own Son as a way of offering eternal salvation to everyone who depends on Christ’s death and resurrection to pay for our sins.
The mercy of God is incomprehensible to the human mind. The Psalms continually speak of the everlasting mercy of God. We don’t deserve it, but it wouldn’t be mercy if we did.
Thought: I will thank God today for the richness of His mercy.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
I Peter 5:10
That isn’t fair is an oft repeated phrase among children and adults. The truth is that often life is not fair, from a personal level to an international level. Doris had loving parents who stood by her, but no one could give her childhood back. When she graduated from high school she had to go to a junior college so she could take care of her two year-old boy. Matthew, her baby, was precious, but he was also a constant reminder that life isn’t fair. Doris learned through counseling that she could either dwell on the past and be filled with resentment or she could be thankful for her healthy baby and face the future with faith and hope. She chose the latter.
Thought: The test of my character is how I react when life isn’t fair.
I Will Fear No Evil
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Our whole family had traveled up the mountain on an aerial gondola in Vail, Colorado. The trip up went smoothly, but some strong winds rose as we started down. The gondola started rocking, then stopped its forward movement. There we were, just hanging there a hundred feet above the ground, with the wind whipping us back and forth. We prayed and held hands and hugged each other. Finally, after what seemed like a long time to us, the gondola started again and we made our descent with sighs of relief.
Fear comes in many forms. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of death. Fear of moving away. Fear of staying where we are. Fear of being abandoned. Fear can threaten our sense of well-being.
When moments of fear come, how do we respond? One helpful response is to join the psalmist in affirming, “I will fear no evil: For You are with me.” I know that God was in command of the winds that blew our gondola that day, and He is in control of every area of fear in our lives today.
Thought: Today, I will give my current fears to God, knowing He is in ultimate control.