WHAT YOU CAN LEARN AT DISNEYWORLD! PART TWO

Lesson Two – We have to watch our hearts!

Disneyworld is a great place to observe people. One of the things you see are families on vacation together. As I mentioned in my first blog, it is a joy to see the smiles on children’s faces as they look around at all the attractions there. The characters walking down the street, shaking hands, and stopping to greet these children brings light to their eyes. There are a few who cry, but most do not. These families are on vacation which means they are wanting to enjoy every single moment they have. However, life is not always smooth even on vacation. Our hearts get in the way. The desire for what we want can overrule the enjoyment mode of those with us. We can decide “this is what I want” which will definitely put a damper on vacation.

If you have ever traveled with children, you know the obstacles well. They experience hunger, tiredness, and missed expectations. Each of these can affect the mood of the child, one minute smiling, the next crying, and the next screaming. Parents need to handle these obstacles in a loving way but, more often, their hearts and what they want take over. I heard parents saying the following:

“We’re here for you. Do you think I want to be here?”

“You’re being very bad. I’m just going to take you home.”

“You ruin everything we do.”

“You don’t appreciate my sacrifice to bring you here. Do you know what I had to give up?”

Parents also struggle with heart issues especially unfulfilled expectations. They expect their children are going to be so grateful and love them at a greater level because they spent so much money to take them to Disneyworld. This is unrealistic and actually, selfish. The whole vacation should be a gift freely given to their families with love. When life gets messy, however, then desires take over and the result is a loss. So those smiling families are not always as they seem.

As Followers of Christ, we are family. We have brothers and sisters within the body who we are to love well. However, we don’t always do that because we look at the outward smiles and family units thinking they have it all together. We become jealous of what it appears they have and begin to think things we shouldn’t. The problem is we think we know because of what we see but we can’t see hearts or homes. Jesus told us in John 16:33, “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” We all have trouble in this world. It is not right to compare our troubles or to think in terms of, “I wish I was her.” Jesus tells us he has overcome the world so we can take heart and have peace in that. He doesn’t tell us we’re unappreciative or throw his death in our faces. He loves us with a love we can’t even fathom. Things are not always as they seem. There are things hidden in the hearts of men we wouldn’t be able to handle. Remember there are things hidden in your heart and mine we can’t understand! What we can understand is that God has given us a Savior who has overcome this world and all its problems! Let’s pray for one another! We never know what’s going on in another’s life!

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY?

Are there sayings you hear often which are attributed to the Bible?  Things we assume God has instructed us to do?  And yet, they are not really written in the Bible for our instruction.  Even though they aren’t there, we will stand by these sayings for life.  There are many, but we will look at only two in this blog.  I think these are said more than any others.  As we check out what the Bible really has to say about these issues, we will find the hope we need for living life for God’s glory.

  1. God won’t give you anything you can’t handle!

We love this phrase because not only does it give us assurance that life won’t be too hard for us, but it elevates us to the position of handler!  There are those who use this to believe that the situations in their lives were given to them by God because they could handle them.  Wow!  Could we be any more me-centered?  The verse that is used for this is 1 Corinthians 10:13.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This verse is not me-centered, but God-centered.  The temptation or trial we may face is not unique.  It is common; so, we will never face anything that is a surprise to God.  The next phrase shows us the God-centeredness of the verse:  “God is faithful.”  It is God who is faithful to provide a way for us to endure the trial we are facing.  It’s not our strength or our ability.  We are not prepared for most of what we face in this life, but God is.  He will always be faithful to us during the trials.  There are two other verses we can cling to as we go through trials.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

These verses remind us God walks through the trials with us, and we are never alone.  So, is it me who handles the trials, or God?  It is God who can handle everything we face.  He will walk with us, granting us grace and wisdom as we depend on him to get us through the trial.  The hope is not that I’m all that, but that God is all that!  We need to remember that as we face the many trials we will face in this life.

  1. God helps those who help themselves.

The origin of this saying goes back to the ancient Greeks, but was rephrased by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac.  It became very popular after that and was applied to situations as if it was from the Bible.  It is not in the Bible!  In fact, the Bible says the opposite of this concerning us.  It’s more like, “God helps those who can’t help themselves.”  Let’s look at a few examples.

 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:6, 8

Do you see the description of us in this passage?  Weak, ungodly, and sinners are the words used to describe us.  These words are not very complementary.  It doesn’t sound like we could help ourselves in this state, does it?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”            Ephesians 2:8-9

There was no way to work for our salvation because even the faith we have to believe is a gift from God.  He helps us because we can’t help ourselves.  We are driven by our sinful nature and deceive ourselves into thinking we are “something” when we’re not!

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”  Proverbs 28:26

The Bible is clear that trusting in ourselves is foolish.  To walk in wisdom means that we know from where our help comes.  God is the help we need for everyday life.  This doesn’t mean that we are lazy and expect God to live our life for us.  It means we put into practice what God has already shown us is wise and trust him daily to help us.  We can’t even follow the practical teachings of the Bible without the help of God.

Where’s the hope?  The hope is in the truth that God can handle anything we face and will walk with us through all trials.  The hope is the help he will give us in every trial.  God is our hope.  May we not rely on sayings the world has created but on God who is over and above them all.  He is the truth!  Let’s believe him!

WOMEN AND EXPERIENCE

Have you ever noticed how much women value experience?  This can lead to wrong ideas such as:

“You don’t understand me because you haven’t experienced my pain.”

            “I don’t want your help because your life is easy compared to mine.”

            “Walk in my shoes, and then you’ll understand.”

            “Don’t talk to me about my children!  What do you know?”

These ideas flow from the idea that experience is the most valuable asset we can have as women.  Experience can be very beneficial but it isn’t the standard by which we are to live.

What happens to our theology when experience rules?

  1. We become man-centered rather than God-centered.  Life becomes about what I experience rather than the truth of God’s Word.  God becomes a tool in our hands rather than the creator of the universe.  We see him as our servant rather than one to be served.  Our prayers become extremely self-centered so that we ask and ask of God what we desire.  Then when we don’t receive those things, God is not for us but against us in some way.  To allow experience to rule our lives is to create an idol of worship.       “Those who make them (idols) become like them, so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 135:18

 

  1. We force the Word of God to say what our experience is saying. In other words, we don’t use the context in which the Word was written, but instead use our context of experience.  This is done quite often in Bible studies for women, which is really sad.  The reason it keeps being done is because women gobble up the experience driven study.  It feels good to know that God was really talking about them when he had Moses write Exodus.  How sad for us that we don’t have enough discernment to see this as wrongly dividing the Word of truth.  To allow experience to be the context of God’s Word is to erase the real story of the Word which is Jesus Christ.    “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.(Jesus)” Luke 24:27

 

  1. We miss valuable input from our brothers and sisters in Christ when we dismiss them because of their lack of experience. Every believer should be seeking knowledge of the Lord.  It’s the knowledge of the Lord that helps us  live this life well.  Just because someone hasn’t experienced our circumstances doesn’t mean they can’t point us to the one who can give hope and comfort.   To allow experience to be our standard in relationships is to miss how the Lord can use someone in our lives to point us to him.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”      2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Is there value in experience?

Yes, there is value in our experiences.  The value is not that we experienced something in our lives, but that we’ve experienced God’s work in our lives.  We place more value on the actual experience then we do on what God has done in that experience.  Paul talks about his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11-12.  He lays out for the Corinthian Church all he has gone through for the sake of the gospel.  Even when he does that he says, “I am speaking as a fool”. (Verse 21)  In the end, it’s not his experiences that are the most important.  After all he has gone through for the gospel, he still has a weakness which he cries out for God to take away.  He experiences this daily.  It’s hard for him, but he doesn’t look for someone else who’s experiencing it for help; he looks to God.  Paul gives us God’s answer; it’s about him and not about experience.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9a

Our experience isn’t the answer; the grace of God is the answer.  The truth of his Word is the answer.  God’s character is the answer.  We will go much farther if we begin to trust in the right thing.  We all go through experiences differently, but God never changes.

Let’s change our idea of experience from being man-centered to being God-centered.                     How?  Experience God at work in your experience rather than putting value on the experience itself!

 

Sometimes you just need it!

Originally posted 1-18-2017

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!”  Psalm 39:4

It’s so good to know that our days have already been measured out for us.  Some days are very hard to live through and yet by God’s grace we survive.  When time seems to stand still, we’re reminded that our life is really fleeting or passing swiftly away.  How do we get through the days that are hard and yet in view of eternity are fleeting?  We need each other to help us to take the next step even when it hurts, even when it’s hard.

“…encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

When life is hard, we need encouragement.  We need someone to hold us and let us cry.  Our ears need to hear the truth spoken to us and we need to listen. Relationships are so very important when the day is hard.  It’s so helpful to know you can turn to someone who will listen and then encourage you.  God in His infinite wisdom gave us the church to be our family, His family.  He knew we would need one another to help us as we follow Christ.

“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme…” Psalm 45:1a

We all need to be ready to encourage one another when the day is hard.  We can’t be ready unless we are filling our hearts ahead of time with the Scriptures, who God is and who we are as followers of Christ.  The pleasing theme comes from the knowledge of the truth.  We need to continually fill our hearts, then when life is hard for our friend, we are ready to encourage.  We should want to overflow with truth and encouragement.  This filling will also help us when we are on the receiving end because we can accept the encouragement.  It removes that pride which so easily gets in the way.

What does it look like in practice?

The day was hard.  Tears were just under the surface.

 “How are you?”  “Not so good.”  Tears…he held her.

Later… “I need a hug”  Tears…she held her and then cried while speaking the truth.

Tears…a hug  “I understand.”   “I know you do.”

“Would you like to have lunch?  I knew this would be a hard day for you.”  Tears…control and lunch.  Much laughter and then the friend ordered her a hot fudge sundae.  “Do you want me to get fat?”  The reply was precious as she said, “Sometimes you just need it!” 

Yes, sometimes we just need it!  We need encouragement without judgement.  We need grace upon grace.  We need pointers to Jesus.  At any time we can be that encourager, the one providing grace or the pointer to Jesus.  God uses us in both positions.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Be on the lookout for the person who can benefit from your comfort.  It may be a hug that’s needed.  It may be truth spoken.  Or it may be a hot fudge sundae because sometimes you just need it!