FeelMyFaith.com

Creative Biblical content at the intersection of life and faith.

5 Questions to Keep you From Making a Big Mistake

5 Questions to Keep you From Making a Big Mistake

In 1 Samuel 24 David has an opportunity to take Saul’s life and bring an end to a long, dangerous, abusive episode.  But instead David decides to cut only the corner of his robe.

Small decisions can lead to big mistakes.  David explains the ‘why’ of what he did by saying, “I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it.”  As much rage, anger, and frustration as there must have been in David in that moment, he made a clear headed decision that kept him from committing a personally damaging sin.

Our bodies are full of feelings, our mind filled with fantasy, our ears are filled with condoning voices, our eyes are filled with gratification, our lives are full of passion; all of which make us easy prey for temptation.  But we are not animals, we are living souls that are capable of self-control. If you can question yourself, you can control yourself.  Here are five questions to ask before you make a small decision that may lead to a big mistake.

QUESTION YOURSELF/CONTROL YOURSELF

  1.  Will I hurt or embarrass my family?

In the moment what you feel or think to be harmless may be extremely shameful to your family.  It may be gratifying to you, but it is embarrassing to them.  Sin is never an act of self, it always impacts others.  Think of them before you do for you!

Take it a step further.  In your mind you may be able to justify what you are about to do, but ask this question before you lose control, can I tell my family what I’m about to do?  Before you visit that website, can you tell you wife without it bringing harm to your relationship - probably not.  Before you give yourself to that conversation with that guy, clear it with your husband - no chance.  Before you go to that party - ask your parents!  If you have to hide it, it is harmful!  Good questions help you get control. 

2)  Will I fuel slander and gossip?

There are plenty of people who feed on failure.  Starve them!  For the Christian, the stakes are even higher.  We know the battles that rage within us.  We know we are not perfect.  We know about the struggles, but we are also well aware of the standard - Christ!  Will your decision give people something to talk about that would diminish the glory of Christ?  Would it hurt the witness of your church?  Does it give people more reason to turn away from the gospel?  Be careful before you lose control.

Let’s give them something to think about rather than something to talk about.

3)  What will I have to give up if I get caught?

When David made the decision to spare Saul’s life he did so because he knew what he would gain in the ‘now’ would cost him most ‘later.’  He could have ended Saul’s life and become the king he was anointed to be, but he could have also incited civil war.  This was a way to become the king, but this was not the right way to become the king. 

Temptation promises pleasure now, but it blinds you to the coming chapter of the consequence.  The immediate gain is not worth what you really stand to lose.  It’s not about what you get, but about what you give up.    

4)  What is the clear Biblical teaching?

Mark Twain said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts I do understand that bother me.”  The Bible is more easily understood that we desire for it to be.  Most of the problem we have with the Bible comes down to the fact that we don’t want to do what it says.  

Because the Bible is God’s inspired word, disobeying the Bible is disobeying God.  Temptation would lead us to exile the Bible from our minds and hearts and to place it back on the shelf of forgetfulness.  The Bible gives clear, simple guidance about the goals of Christ-likeness in all things that it draws clear boundaries of morality for those who would dare to love God and live for Him.  

5)  Can I get permission rather than forgiveness?

It is a humorous quip, “I had rather get forgiveness than permission” but it is a massive mistake.  We would presume that God gives forgiveness for anything, at anytime, to anyone.  That is a mistaken assumption.  The Bible is very clear that you are playing with fire when you commit presumptuous sin.  Presuming on God’s grace is deadly ground.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26–31 (ESV)

Many call that a hard saying of the Bible.  It may be hard to fully explain, but I think it is very easy to understand.  I may not be able to offer you a satisfactory explanation of every nuance of it, but the big picture is plain to see - don’t mess with God’s grace.  I can summarize it like this, don’t go there - it’s bad!

So before you lose control, why not reverse confession?  Confess to God what you are going to do rather than confess to God what you did.  What do I mean?

Many people make a mistake in confession.  They simply say something like, “God forgive me of all my sin.”  That is a statement, that is not a confession.  A confession is an explanation of what one has done.  The essence of the word confession is agreement.  You agree with the authority that what you did was wrong.  

Confession is an ugly conversation with God.  You are naming your sin before holiness.  In true confession sin has a name - fornication, adultery, gluttony, perversion, violence, envy, jealousy, slander, rebellion.  

So before you do what you are about to do, go before a holy God and see how it sounds.  Tell Him what the temptation promises and what is in your heart that entices you to disobey him. That is indeed a sobering moment that may just save you from a tragic mistake.  It is worth the pause to get control!

 

What are the questions you ask yourself that help you make decisions?  How do you establish accountability and control in your life?  Leave a comment, I want to hear from you.

This content was taken from the later part of a sermon I preached entitled Personal Fouls.  Watch it here:

Continue reading
1579 Hits
0 Comments

Word # 4 in Your Financial Turnaround - GIVE and that = TRUST

Word # 4 in Your Financial Turnaround - GIVE and that = TRUST

This week I am giving you four words that are the keys to your financial turnaround.  So far you have BUDGET, WORK and SAVE. If you want to read those posts, click here for BUDGET, here for WORK, and here for SAVE. Otherwise, here is your final word.

Give - Malachi 3:8-12, 2 Corinthians 6:6-9

Money decisions are not based on amounts, but on affections.  The Bible often uses your willingness to give as a tangible test of your affections.  Jesus stated it plainly, “You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).”  He also stated that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34). 

We give obediently and generously.  Out of obedience we bring the Lord our tithe, or the first tenth of what we make.  I believe in a practice traditionally known as storehouse tithing as taught in Malachi 3:8-12.  For me, the storehouse is my local church.  I give to the local church because it is a place of regular collection, accountability, and faithful distribution for missions and ministry.  We see this practice in the early church, Acts 2 and Acts 4.    

Out of generosity we bring the offering.  An offering is what one brings to the Lord above the tithe.  We obey in the tithe because our God is the Lord and He is right.  But we also bring Him the offering because our God is Savior and He is good.

I also believe that because the Bible teaches that tithing is an act of obedience, that we have yet to give an offering until we have first brought the tithe.   

The Bible talks also about the generous giving of alms, or the gifts we give to others to help meet their daily needs.  Because the Lord has helped us, we look to be helpful to others. 

As good as it sounds to give, it is counterintuitive to our nature to actually let it go.  If we are working hard to budget and save, how can we afford to just give it away?  My answer would be that we can’t afford not to give.  

The Bible is filled with God’s promises of reaping and sowing.  With the measure that we give, it will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38).  This could be said of any of the big 3 matters of our stewardship, TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE.

Why does giving work?  The simple answer is that God blesses it.  There is no way to calculate on paper the blessings of God, but it works.  In Malachi 3 God invites His people to “put me to the test, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

In the same passage God also says that one of the blessings will be that he will “rebuke the devourer for you.”  In an agricultural society the devourer is all the small things that threaten to destroy the harvest.  In the broader application I believe the devourer is all of the little things that add up to major expenses.

Giving works because of God’s blessings, but the practical answer is that giving works because generous people are good stewards of their resources.  They are not wasteful.  They pay attention to what they have and how best to use it and it multiplies to their benefit. 

_____________

Those four words: BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + GIVE are the keys to financial blessing.  The truth of the matter is that none of them are new.  There is nothing here that is profound.  These four words, when it comes to our money, truly are timeless.  The problem is not in the principles, it is in the practice. We do not need anything new, we just need to practice some self-control and discipline and do what works.

Those four words, practiced well, working together, will equate to a financial turnaround 100% of the time, but in actuality these four words BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + GIVE = TRUST.  

The end of the matter in all things is that we must trust and obey the Lord.  The money is not ours, it is His.  We are His stewards and He is a good and benevolent master who seeks to multiply His graces in His people.  He has given us everything we need to know about how to handle the money He gives us in His Word.  Work HIS plan!  God is an an amazing financial advisor with a proven track record.

Before you go, maybe there are other Biblical principles that you have found helpful in handling finances.  Please share them with me.  I am always eager to learn more about what God’s Word says about money.  

Continue reading
475 Hits
0 Comments

Word #3 in Your Financial Turnaround - SAVE

Word #3 in Your Financial Turnaround - SAVE

This week I am giving you four words that are the keys to your financial turnaround.  I have given you the first two: BUDGET and WORK.  If you want to read those posts, click here for BUDGET and here for WORK.  Otherwise, here is your third word.

Word #3, Save - Proverbs 6:6-8

Once you start budgeting and working you can begin saving.  Maybe you are already budgeting and working, but saving . . . not so much.  Why not?  Probably because the budget is too tight and there is nothing left over to save.  And there’s the problem.  Savings don’t come off the excess, they come off the top.  Saving money must be intentional, not accidental.

Making room for savings is critical.  For one, you never know what a day may hold.  We all need an emergency fund.  An oil change every few months won’t break the bank.  Replacing your AC unit in July will!  Save for it.  Life isn’t perfect.  Things break.  People get sick.  You may miss work.  If you have money set aside for such a time as this, you have immediately eliminated a great deal of worry and stress.

Another important aspect of saving is learning to pay with cash.  In a consumer driven economy it is easy to throw down a piece of plastic and get what you want even if you can’t immediately afford it.  

You may not have the the $1100 for that 4K flat screen you really want for your Super Bowl party, but the retailer has made it easy for you to have it now!  Buy it now - pay later.  $35 a month.  You budgeted for it.  You can afford it.  Why not?

The problem is in what you REALLY pay.  In a standard consumer credit deal at 18% interest, your $1,100 4K TV will actually cost you $1,431!  Stores don’t extend credit to you to make it easy for you to get a TV from them.  They extend credit to you so that they can make it easy for them to get more money out of you.

Saving money, SAVES YOU MONEY!  Saving money eliminates stress!  How much would it ease the burden on your mind to have a few thousand dollars set aside in the bank?  How great would it be to go on vacation in June and not be paying for it until December?  How merry would your Christmas be if you were not paying for it until April?  

If you budget, work, and save - you pay for what you need and truly enjoy what you want!  

 So now you have three of the four words.  BUDGET + WORK + SAVE + _______ = your financial turnaround!  Tomorrow, we will finish the equation.  Until then, share with me; what is your biggest hindrance to saving money?  Do you put away a little money each week for vacation or maybe for Christmas?  What is something that you saved for that gave you great satisfaction when you bought it?

Continue reading
464 Hits
1 Comment

The First Word to Your Financial Turnaround

The First Word to Your Financial Turnaround

There are four simple words that are the keys to a financial turnaround in your life.  You need these words and they will work!

A survey of people in 16 countries found that their top source of stress was money.  Anxiety over money can can cause health issues, marital problems, loss of sleep, and an overall miserable life.  The Bible says it like this:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

Are you tired of the pangs of money being your greatest concern?  If so, then this week I am going to give you the four words you need for peace of mind when it comes to your money.  Each day I am going to give you a new word to add to the equation to relieve the stress and make progress towards greater financial success.  _____ + _____ + _____ + _____ = a financial turnaround in your life.  Are you ready?

Word #1 - Budget - 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-21

You either make a decision for a dollar or a dollar will make the decision for you.   Budgeting is making decisions for your dollars.

Budgeting is simple.  Spend less than you make.  

The problem is that most people have some idea of how much they make, but have no idea of how much they spend.  

It is a proven fact that people who budget have better financial success for one simple reason, they know where their money is going.  Because they know where their money goes, they are able to eliminate frivolous spending.  People who budget don’t buy on impulse, they buy on plan.

Impulse buyers spend what they have.  Budget buyers are better able to make controlled decisions because they know what’s in front of them may not be as important as what’s coming next week, or even next month.  

Budgeting helps us practice self-control and learn contentment (Philippians 4:12).

Budgeting will go a long way in helping you to eliminate the stress of always coming up short.

There are many great tools and apps that can help you budget.  I use the Mint money manager (https://www.mint.com/).  If you need motivation, training, and accountability to start budgeting, I would recommend finding a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class in your area.  The class costs $93 and many people object to paying almost 100 bucks for a class on finances, but I would tell you its worth every penny.  Why?  Because 1)  you won’t do what you don’t invest in.  You do better when it costs you something.  2)  We have hosted the class 3 times at our church and have seen on average a $3,000+ financial turnaround in 90 days with every faithful participant.  Why would you not invest $93 in something that could not only pay for itself, but may help you put $3,000 in your pocket in 90 days - and even more over the course of your life?  DO IT!

So there’s the first word, BUDGET.  Tomorrow I will give you the next word to add to the equation.  BUDGET + ______ + ______ + _______ = your turnaround!

 

Until then, what budgeting tools work for you?  If you’ve budgeted before how did it go.  What works and doesn’t work in your spending plan?  Please scroll to the bottom of the page and leave a comment.  I want to hear from you!

Continue reading
488 Hits
1 Comment

Death by Devotional

Death by Devotional

I am about to sell you something that will kill you. I stand at the head of the line of a long list of professionals that should also admit the same. Alongside of me should come Mr. Mayfield ice cream man, the guy who sold you your car, the cashier at your favorite sporting goods store, and a vast number of servers, cooks, and clerks at your favorite restaurants and leisure spots; each of us a testament to the adage “too much of a good thing.”

Ice cream, good. A gallon a day, bad.

Your car, good. Your car going too fast while texting and driving, deadly.

All the stuff you can buy and do at the sporting goods store, fun. Any of it crashing upside your head, concussion.

Food and fun, always good. Living only for food and fun, always bad.

So what is it that I am selling you to death? A devotional!  

A devotional?  

On my website I have listed the Grace, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional. I think it is a fantastic collection of Scripture and applicable stories that would be a blessing to anyone who reads it, but I am warning you not to misuse it. Too many people misunderstand the intent of a devotional book. For them, something that was written to help their spiritual walk has become spiritually crippling.  

So that your devotional reading can be a blessing and not a curse, here is a list of cautions and encouragements when it comes to using devotionals.

A devotional book is not a devoted life.

The word devotion in Scripture is a powerful one. In the New Testament it is often translated from a word that entails three concepts; to beware, to believe, and to apply. This should be a daily expectation of the disciple seeking counsel from God’s Word. We need God’s Word to reveal, redeem, and repair areas of life of which we need to beware and/or be-aware. We need our faith informed so we may more strongly believe. We need God’s Word applied so we may obey.  

A devotional book is purposed to help you with this endeavor in a daily, structured way. But devotional reading is not a devoted life. The word devotion in its strictest sense speaks of what you give yourself to. Devotion is not a something you read, it is something you do. We do not need a Bible reading plan as much as we need a Bible doing plan. Just because you are reading a devotional book does not mean you are giving yourself to the Lord in a devotional life.

A devotional book is a start not a stop.

Many great pastors and Christian thinkers have written devotional material to help shepherd and feed God’s people. There are many notable ones in churchdom, but one of classics is Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. The title reflect a constant theme in Scripture. In the creation week there was evening and morning.  David called for those who were truly devoted to God’s Word to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1). Morning and evening, evening and morning is the the rhythm of creation set in motion by God.

Many people purchase devotional books that they use either first thing in the morning to get them going, or perhaps they use them at night as they seek to still the busy mind. I find no fault with either.  Yet the concept of morning and evening as devotional reading is not meant as a discipline of consideration - as in to make sure you do it daily, but as a discipline of meditation to make sure it guides your thoughts throughout the ENTIRE day; as in starting with the morning and keeping you throughout the evening.

Devotional books are quick reads to get you going, but the deeper call of God is for Bible intake, memorization, and study. I like to use material written by Warren Wiersbe as part of my devotional reading. He is about as meat and potatoes of a Christian author as they come. But he is not my stop, as in, I read it and now I have fulfilled the discipline. Rather, a Wiersbe’s book alongside God’s Word is my start, as in I will ingest it in a way so that I DO NOT stop thinking about it throughout the day - morning and evening!

A devotional book is text, not context.

Devotional books will often give you a verse or a chapter of Scripture to read and give you an immediate application of that passage to life. Awesome idea! In that sense a devotional provides you a text. Where a devotional fails is that it does not provide you the context.

Use a devotional, but read the Bible. Find out where those verses are IN Scripture. A devotional may tell you that this verse came from Ephesians, but what in the world is an Ephesians? Where is it? What is it about? 

Ephesians 2:10 is wonderful. Ephesians 2:10 in context is a masterpiece. 

I am a big advocate for having a paper copy of the Bible. Learn where the books of the Bible are located in the cannon of Scripture. These books form the collective story of God.  

A devotional book is a bloom in a garden. Its intent is to pluck something sweet and fragrant that will inspire you, but the greater glory is the garden from which it came. Sure, the blooms are beautiful, but if you never walk the garden you really won’t smell the roses.  

The Christian life is not meant to be lived verse by verse. We are sovereignly immersed in the story of God. Each text/verse of the Bible exists within the larger context of God’s story. Use your devotional to point you to curious places. Use your Bible to walk the garden paths.

A devotional is application, not exposition.

One of the reasons people enjoy devotionals is because they quickly get to the point. Many people find it challenging to read the Bible, understand it, and know what to do with it. Yep, me too.

Devotionals cut out the leg work. Don’t bog me down with long, arduous explanations of what passages say, just tell me what they mean.

I recently had a conversation with a doctor about feeding tubes. Odd topic, I know, but sometimes a necessary one.  

As many doctors tend to be, he is an eclectic fellow, a highly intelligent man who walks to the beat of a different drum. In demonstrating to me the ease of use of a feeding tube, he demonstrated to me how one can conveniently uncork the tube, pour in a bottle of nutrients, re-cork the tube, chunk the now empty can of nutrients into the trash and go about the day. He said, “It would save me a whole lot of time having to eat.” I assure you, he was laughing when he said it, but I also think he was somewhat serious about the prospects of installing one on himself.

Devotional books are spiritual feeding tubes. They will give you what you need, but wow, what a joy it is to chew!  Feeding tubes may be faster, but there is a flavor in food you will soon miss if you do not have to break it down in your mouth.  

Sometimes a tube is necessary, but insane if we want one merely out of convenience. God gave you a tongue, not a tube!

While it is true that what we need from God’s Word is application, there is a flavor that emerges from the hard work of exposition that helps us taste and see that the Lord is good. The Bible is not a ‘How To’ guide for life. It is a story. It is a poem. It is a command. It is a revelation. It is a multi-course meal robust with the flavor of God. Don’t forget to chew!

A devotional is personal insight, not personal investment.

One of the things I like most about the Faith, Hope, and Love Devotional is that it gives you insight into God’s Word from 52 pastors, teachers, authors, and evangelists. It is an indispensable resource full of wisdom. These people have a journey with God that is curious to me and I love hearing from them.

But wouldn’t you like to hear the voice of God for yourself?

One of the great truths of Scripture is that we have a God who desires to be with His people. The Bible is filled with image rich words that communicate the opportunity we have to be close to God. One of the words we translate as “prayer” in Scripture speaks of intimacy, not merely request.  

Prayer is not shouting aimlessly into the heavens, prayer is communing with God. Prayer is not an announcement over a megaphone, it is a conversation at the table.  

The only way to have a personal experience with God is to make a personal investment in His Word. Use a devotional book, but devote yourself to Bible study.

__________________

It is a worn out metaphor for many things, but the Christian life is not a microwave, it is a crock-pot way of living. We would like to think that a few convenient seconds is all we need to be like Christ. Devotional books ARE NOT intended to be the Bible nuked for you!

There is NO devotional author worth their salt who would ever advocate his or her book as a replacement for the Bible. Their intent, my intent, is not to replace Biblical reading or meditation. Our intent is to inspire you to start somewhere and to help keep you there daily.  

At some point the devotional book should be a gateway into something greater, not an end in itself. We have to simmer on Scripture if we are ever to truly appreciate the flavors of God that are there. There is no shortcut to the good stuff!     

 

Continue reading
672 Hits
0 Comments

Habit Hoarders, Why the Resolutions we Make are Doomed to Fail

Habit Hoarders, Why the Resolutions we Make are Doomed to Fail

A new year gives us an opportunity to establish new habits.  Statistically, the odds of success are against us.  Studies show that only 8% of people who make resolutions are successful in achieving them.  Why do we fail so frequently?

When it comes to habits, we hoard them.  The definition of habit says it all.  A habit is a “settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” 

A&E frequently airs a reality show called Hoarders that spotlights people living homes piled with years of mounting clutter.  Like the rest of us hoarders do life, eat food, buy clothes, and acquire new and needful things.  No issue there.  What is abnormal about them is not in the new they bring in, but it is the old they fail to give up. 

Buying a toaster, perfectly normal.  Having to  add a new toaster to an old pile of broken down toasters and a diesel truck transmission rusting in the corner of the kitchen, completely odd.  And this is why we watch the show! 

The tension of the episode comes when a dumpster is dropped off in the front yard and it comes time for “the hoarder” to start throwing things away.  It is at this point that the dysfunction of the situation becomes most apparent.  As piles of garbage are pulled from cluttered places the hoarder goes into a psychological meltdown as they express an emotional attachment to almost everything.  They have lived with it so long they find it hard to give up.

That’s the problem with habits.  We want to start new ones, but we don’t want to give anything up.  We have done life so long the old way that we have made no room for the new.  As such the tension of adding a new habit on top of an old one creates life clutter.  You soon find that simply adding to life leaves you with no time and no willpower left to accomplish the new goal.  By February you are left only with one more rusting resolution to add to the pile of past failures.

Resolutions fail when we seek only to start new habits.  Resolutions succeed when we replace old habits with new ones.  

So you want to read more, great idea, less Netflix.  You want to lose weight?  Eat this, not that.  You want to quit?  What are you going to start?

In Ephesians 4 the Bible articulates this powerful idea with four simple words, PUT ON, PUT OFF.  New life is not adding to life, new life is replacing life.  Look at how Paul goes on to explain the concept:

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  (Ephesians 4:25-32 ESV)  

New habits must replace old habits, but because we have been so long with the old we had rather hoard habits than replace them.  The new habits we so earnestly desire become victims of an already cluttered soul.  We must stop hoarding our habits.  It is time to throw some things away!   

Ultimately new habits come down to motives.  A slimmer waistline is desirable.  A healthy bottomline in the bank account can make life seem more secure, but as ends in themselves these things are empty pursuits.  There are a lot of reasons we do what we do, but for those who follow Christ there is a singular motive, holiness.  Ephesians 4:24 says that our ultimate motive should be to become the person God created us to be.  For that to happen we need redemption in Christ Jesus and a holy pursuit of Him by replacing the old life with new life.

The beauty of the gospel is that it gives us the power to encounter the cluttered places and throw some things away.  It is easy to become bitter, but in Christ we find new joy.  It is easier to take, but it is most fulfilling to work and give.  It is easy to fall into the habit of slanderously tearing people down.  Yet there is an amazing newness of life when we learn to speak kindness and foster a heart that forgives.

May God bless you in this new year.  Out with the old!  In with the new!

Continue reading
469 Hits
0 Comments