I was truly blessed this weekend to be able to attend a retreat in the mountains where I was able to spend time with dear friends and hear some uplifting classes on the "Battlefield of Life." We discussed how there has been a gradual erosion of the moral line between believers and the world, leaving us wondering what is right. Thankfully, God has given us principles for VICTORY in His word. Here is a brief outline of the 5 principles (key scriptures in parenthesis) our speaker discussed. I found them helpful and hope that you do as well.
Victory though PARTICIPATION (Genesis 13 and 14): Here we have the example of Abraham and Lot, where Lot makes the poor decision to descend into Sodom. Although he knew the principles of God, he was quickly led away by the ways of Sodom. In Sodom, it was all about the "stuff" you had (see Genesis 14:11-12). When Sodom is attacked, Lot and everything he has are captured and taken away. Abraham knows the poor choices Lot has made, but he doesn't sit back, waiting for God to take care of it. Abraham takes every one of his 318 men, putting it all on the line, to rescue Lot. After everything Lot has done, Abraham still considers him a brother. Abraham understood that battling in the ways of God was not just about himself. It was also about defending and caring for his friends. He had victory through participation by caring for his friends! We all need encouragement, even the "strongest" of us, so remember that the battlefield of life includes battling for the salvation of our friends.
Victory through PERSONAL INTROSPECTION (Genesis 32): All his life, Jacob relied on his own cunning to get him through trials. In this account in Genesis 32 where he wrestles an angel, Jacob is 97 years old and finally is coming to the realization that his worst enemy is himself. As Jacob prepares to meet his brother, Esau, who he has been at odds with for many years, he realizes that he can do nothing on his own. Esau has 400 men with him and Jacob has his wives and many children to protect. God brought him to the point where there is nothing to do but rely on God. In verse 24, we are told that Jacob rose early, preparing his mind for the day. An angel meets him and there is a battle where Jacob is emotionally wrestling with his doubts and fear. Despite the length of time, Jacob holds onto the angel until he gave him a blessing, holding on for dear life. We, too, will come to a point when there is nothing we can do but hold onto God for dear life. It is at this point that we must have victory through personal introspection and cry out to God for strength.
Victory through PERFORMANCE (1 Kings 17 and 18): Here we are given the account of two very different performances by two very different men. We have outspoken and dramatic Elijah and the quiet but faithful Obadiah. Elijah performs a dramatic scene on Mount Carmel, where he proves to the Israelites that the Lord is the only true God. He demands that the people choose between God and the world, instead of stumbling between two ways (See 1 Kings 18:21). We, too, can't stumble between two paths because there is only one way. We are also given the example of the servant Obadiah, who works for wicked Ahab and Jezebel. Despite the fact that he is putting his own life at risk (Jezebel would kill him if she found what he had done), Obadiah courageously resisted Jezebel's threats and hides and feeds 100 prophets of God for 3 years!! Although he did it in secret, Obadiah's work indirectly aided nearly 7000 Israelites who were faithful to God. Whether our performance is obvious or where no one can see it, God knows and we can have victory through performance!
Victory through PATIENCE (2 Samuel 16): In this account, we see King David's remarkable patience. His son is trying to usurp the throne and David is in a very hard time of his life. When he is at his lowest, a man named Shimei comes up to David and his mighty men and begins to physically and verbally abuse them. David is surrounded by huge and courageous men, yet they all endured the criticism. Instead of hurling insults back, or even killing Shimei, David and his mighty men absorb the criticism. Sometimes the best thing we can do when we are criticized is to quietly, patiently absorb the hurt, and so have victory through patience.
Victory through PREPARATION (2 Chronicles 32:1-8): Here we have the faithful King Hezekiah, who is faced with a very serious threat of attack by the Assyrian king. Even though he has been faithful, Hezekiah still has to go through trials, and so will we. However, Hezekiah doesn't still back and hope that God will rescue them when the Assyrians come. He takes action in verses 3 to 7, where he first seeks wise counsel, then gathered the people together to work, prepares his own mind mentally, diverts the water source into the city so that they will have water in a siege, and PRAYS. Hezekiah is proactive in his battle and we can learn from him that we must be similarly prepared to battle for God's way.
You might have noticed that the recipes I put on here are always super short. That's because I basically only cook things that are quick and easy. These rich bars are no exception. Also-- why are they called Chess Bars? I do not know.
Melt 1 stick butter. Combine with 1 box of yellow cake mix and 1 beaten egg.
Press mixture into lightly greased 13x9 pan.
Combine an 8 oz package of cream cheese, 2 eggs and 1 box of powdered sugar. Pour over first layer and cook 25-30 minutes at 325.
Sometimes it seems that as followers of Christ, we spend more time saying "No" than "Yes." We say say no to the things of this world (as we should) but that can be as far as we get. We can get consumed with making sure we are not doing the wrongs things and that we are following all the "rules." Doing this is definitely a step in the right direction, but it's not living God's way quite yet. Our lives need to go beyond saying no to saying YES to the things of God. I am reminded of the parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 12:“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Jesus isn't talking about us being filled with real "demons," he is talking about us cleaning out the sinful thoughts and ideas without filling ourselves with godly thoughts and ideas. IF we are just sitting around, thinking about all the things we can't do, how much easier will we fall into doing the wrong thing?
When Jesus comes back, he isn't going to say, "Wow, look at all the things Danielle didn't do!" Like the parable of the servants who were given different amounts of money, Jesus wants to see that I have done something for him. I can't just "bury my talent" and twiddle my thumbs until he comes back. So what are some things I can do to fill myself with godly things?
Of course, taking time every day to go to God's word. What better way to learn to be more godly? Consciously work on developing the fruit of the spirit. Those things don't come naturally to us.
Prayer! Prayer is so important. We have a chance to talk to our Heavenly Father... what a blessing... why do we not do it more often? Pray that He will help you develop the fruit of the spirit.
Surround yourself with godly people. Godly people will build you up in your faith. Be someone who draws your friends closer to God.
As James tells us, care for the widows and orphans. This brings to mind the book Kisses for Katie that I told you about here-- what an example of love in action. Be someone who does the work of Jesus. Take time to notice when people need help. Be the hands and feet of the gospel.
Adopt the attitude that you are going to do your best in everything, whether it be work, school, or caring for your family. This, of course, doesn't mean prioritizing work and school over God, but simply that we do the daily "chores" with a joyful and Christlike attitude.
These are just a few suggestions I have been thinking of... I'd love to hear more suggestions from you! I'm sure I will think of tons more as I dwell on it this week.
You guys, my mind is so blown right now. In my neurophysiology class, we have been going over the some of the basic senses. Most of it was boring stuff that everyone knows, but I found out some really cool stuff about taste today. We all know that taste is influenced by smell, but did you know that what we describe as taste isn't actually taste? It is actually a combination of taste, smell and "mouth feel." There are actually only FIVE (they think) different types of taste! In case you wanted to know they are bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami (Japanese for delicious. I am not making this up!) What?! Did you know this? All the things I thought were tastes... weren't? I can't fathom this.
For you really to only experience taste, you can't smell it. So you should try eating something while holding your nose. Apparently (this is so crazy) if you simply taste a soda, you can't tell the difference between any of them! The only difference between sodas is when you mix taste and smell! How is this real?! I feel like I have been tricked my whole life. I also feel like we should invent a new term for taste since taste isn't actually taste. Smeste? Tasell?
Also, just in case you wanted to know any other really weird facts about your tongue... if you get your tongue pierced, it is possible that one of the many nerves in your tongue will get damaged. This could cause you to salivate constantly (gross...) or lose taste in your part of your tongue. The moral of this story? Getting your tongue pierced is not worth it.
Ok, so if you want to join the Geek Club, email me.
P.S. My teacher told me this. If it was all a big lie, I am so sorry.