My Attitude!! My Rights!! – Joy in Serving – PHILIPPIANS (Chapter 2b) [5]

We had talked about God’s counter-intuitive ways for people to experience joy in the posts, “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!”, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK.  In Phil. 2:5, we see Paul is revealing to the Philippians another tip to experiencing joy in serving.  He says, You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 

WHAT WAS JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD SERVING?

He humbled Himself, not clinging to His rights as God, and taking the form of a servant. – v.6-7  Mark, in Mark 10:44-45, puts it this way – whoever wants to be first among you must be the servant of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others.

                       Helping-Others

 

IS GOD’S ATTITUDE DIFFERENT FROM THE “WORLD’S” ATTITUDE?

I think the answer would be a definite YES!!

As I think about the way schools, businesses, and various organizations measure success and HAPPINESS, it seems that the world connects success and HAPPINESS with personal achievement.

                 report-card2

       

                EmployeePerformanceJPG

 

Whereas, when we look at the counter-intuitive teaching of Jesus, He encourages people to look for ways to be a blessing to others, connecting service with success and JOY.

           feed starving children vol

          Feeding_Programs

 

YEAH, BUT WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS?  WHAT I DESERVE?

Remember from v.6, Jesus did not cling to His rights as God. 

Here are a couple of examples of our “rights” —

  • “I can have an abortion.  It’s my body, and I have a “right” to decide what I want to do.”
  • “I worked hard to earn my money.  I have the “right” to keep it all for myself.”
  • “I work hard for my grades in school.  I have the “right” to be recognized and rewarded for my efforts.”

WHAT DO OUR RIGHTS HAVE TO DO WITH SERVICE?

Because of our sinful natures, our natural tendency is to choose what we want, our will, verses God’s will. Our first reaction is self-preservation – me, me, me.

In Philippians 2:6-7, Paul is bringing to our attention that the world’s road to glory, fulfillment, success, happiness, etc., is nothing more than an illusion.  Nothing more than a carrot dangling ahead of us, tempting us, and leading us to believe that if we catch it, then we’ll finally be HAPPY.

               chasing a carrot-iStockphoto-retrorocket(edited)

Paul describes Jesus’ preparation for service in Phil. 2:7, He made himself nothing, He emptied Himself, He took the humble position of a bond servant, and appeared in human form.

Jesus was now subject to “human” experiences.  To pain, to temptation, to rules, to His parents, and most importantly, He was dependent on God.

I take a moment to note that Jesus, in choosing to humble Himself, to voluntarily take on the form of a human, in no way changed the fact that He continued to be God.

The fact that Jesus continued to be God, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin, Hebrews 4:15, is encouraging to me.  It demonstrates I am not being forced to serve, or forced to depend on God.  I choose to empty myself.  I choose to serve.  I choose to depend on God.  Also, in making those choices I will not lose who I am, my personality, the characteristics that make me, me.  No, instead I am accepting an opportunity to experience JOY.

Keep in mind that Jesus did not lose who He was, God.  In the same way, as I mentioned above, we don’t lose who we are either.  And who are we?  Sinners!!  –  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard  –  Romans 3:23

It’s because we’re sinners that we so desperately need a leader.  We need to follow someone who has faced all of the same testings we do, yet did not sin – Hebrews 4:15.  Someone who knows the way to JOY, and wants to help us experience JOY in our lives.

WHO SHOULD WE FOLLOW?

 

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Really?? There Can Be Joy in Suffering?? – PHILIPPIANS (Chapter 1b) – [3]

Continuing on from Philippians (Chapter 1a), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-mF…

ARE YOU IN PRISON?

You may not be in a literal prison, or even experiencing physically suffering, but you may feel trapped or discouraged.

chained hands

Remember:   The way you respond when you find yourself in conflicts at work, in your friendships, in your marriage, with your finances, with your teachers, your family members, etc. has to power to restrain you, or set you free.  Your response reflects what you believe, and of who you believe in.

breakthechain

 

WHAT KEPT PAUL GOING IN ADVERSE SITUATIONS?

Paul, “I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, and I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ whether I live or die.  And while I live that means fruitful service for Christ. – Phil. 1:20,22

WHAT FUELED PAUL TO PUSH THROUGH HIS SUFFERING?

I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. –  Phil. 1:25

 AN EXAMPLE OF JOY IN SUFFERING

Between 1942 and 1945, a Jewish man named Viktor Frankl, spent time in four different Nazi concentration camps. His family died, he suffered horribly, and he spent years watching everyone around him suffering and dying. Out of this horrific experience came the book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

         mans-search-for-meaning

Here is a few quotes to ponder from Frankl’s book.

“Suffering is of itself meaningless.  We give our suffering meaning by the way we respond to it.”

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances  — the freedom to choose how you will respond to situation.”

“You can’t control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.”

TRANSFORMATION/STRENGTHENING

Allow your suffering to transform you.  Allow your suffering to strengthen your faith in God.  golf_weight_training_press_squat

 

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Want to Know a Secret?? – PHILIPPIANS (Introduction) – [1]

My last post series was called “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!”,http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK.

In that 4 part series, I touched on the difference between joy and happiness.  I suggested that it is better to experience joy, which perseveres and is ongoing, verses happiness, which is temporary and fleeting.

Today I’d like to introduce the Book of Philippians.  I have chosen this book to follow the series “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” because it reveals the secret to experiencing joy.

    Magician__s_Hat_by_rbryant

 

The Book of Philippians was a letter written by the Apostle Paul, in approximately A.D. 61, to a church, in the Macedonian city, of Philippi.  Paul had a special relationship with the Philippians. This letter expresses how much he cared for them, as well as, to thank them for the gift they sent him.

Keep in mind as we read this letter, that Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Philippi.

    PhilippiPrison

 

Paul started the church at Philippi on his second missionary trip to the area.  Philippi was located in Greece, and was the first church established in Europe.  Below are ruins from Philippi.

    ruin philippi

 

After Paul’s conversion, dated approximately A.D. 33-36 on the road to Damascus, he dedicated his life to serving the Lord. To read more about Paul’s conversion, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9%3A1-22&version=NLT.

On his journey he experienced terrible poverty, great wealth, and everything in-between.  No matter what his circumstance, Paul learned to be content. He says in Philippians 4:12, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need…

 

Keep an eye out for my next post, and discover the secret to Paul’s joy.

telling-secrets-big-e1379620235254

 

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“I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” – (Part 4 of 4)

In my last post “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!”  –  (Part 3), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kn, I ended with these 3 questions:

  1. Have you ever heard of making a New Year’s Resolution?  A promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good, or to stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.
  2. Have you ever heard of the concept – exercising mindfulness?  Meaning to pay attention “on purpose” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  3. Have you ever heard this verse from the Bible?  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 55:8

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WHAT DO THESE SEEMINGLY, RANDOM, QUESTIONS HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S WAY TO JOY?

1.  A New Year’s Resolution.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. –  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (The whole passage can be read at, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+30:11-20)

It seems to me that our first step is to make a choice – God’s Way or the World’s Way.

But DON’T wait until January 1st, make a choice today!!  Follow God as the Lord, the leader, of your life.

2.  Mindfulness.

Many people go through life by way of their habits.  Some good and some not so good.  When I think of mindfulness, I think of becoming consciously aware of the choices/decisions I’m making.

Do I go to church on Sunday because I’ve always gone to church on Sunday?

              family-going-to-church

Do I have dessert after every meal, just because?

       Captain-Ds-new-month-of-desserts

Do I watch movies because the critics say it’s “good”, and put it up for an Academy Award?

               wolf

When I actively engage my mind vs. operating on habits, I’m consciously and actively retraining myself and my mind.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think...  –  Romans 12:2

Instead of simply reacting, I am now choosing to respond.

  • In response to circumstances or situations, is my knee-jerk reaction – How will this benefit me?  If that is your answer, that’s GREAT!!  Why?  Because you have just made a mindful evaluation.
  • You stopped for moment, even if it was just for a split second, to recognize what was driving your thoughts/actions – me or them, them or me…

Every time we bring awareness to our reactions, we increase our chances of forming habits that we desire, verses unconsciously adopting our parents, friends, co-workers, fellow students, TV personalities, etc. ways of reacting.

Maybe what they do is good, or not-so-good.  Either way, you now have a way to evaluate your responses, instead of leaving them up to chance or habit.

3.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 55:8

This verse puts “my way of thinking” into perspective.

I, “the pot”, don’t completely understand every Biblical concept, idea, or God’s mode of operation. Nor, do I have the ability to know how my choices will affect myself and others. Only God, “the potter”,  does.

          potters-wheel

I’m reminded that if I did have all the answers, I would have no need for God.  All my relationships would be perfect, or at least my version of perfect, and in theory I’d live happily-ever-after.

Unfortunately, I have all to often acted or spoken too soon, wishing I could have a do-over.

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IN CONCLUSION:

We will experience joy when we invite God, and His Word to soften, and reshape our hearts.

Everything that God guides us to “do” in His Word, is for the purpose of growing our relationship with Him, and with others.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  –  Luke 10:27

Additionally, God’s desire is to give us a rich and satisfying life.  – John 10:10

GOD’S WAY TO JOY ==>>  BE OTHER-CENTERED

REMEMBER:    We can trust God.  He always has our best interest in mind.

If God is for us, who can be against us?  –  Romans 8:31

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SEE ALSO:  “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!”                                                                                            

(Part 1), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK, 

(Part 2), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY,                                       

(Part 3), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kn

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“I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” – (Part 3 of 4)

Let’s take just one moment to recap from the previous post, “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” – (Part 2), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY.

God’s way to joy  =>> Other-centered  them, them, them  (How can I be a blessing to others?  What might I have to “give up”, sacrifice, to restore a relationship, to start a relationship, to set healthy boundaries in a relationship, etc.)

The world’s way to happiness  =>>  Self-centered – me, me, me  (What’s in it for me?  What will make me happy?)

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The life God calls us to live may seem, at first glance, counter-intuitive and challenging.  It seems to fight against every fiber of our being.  I often feel the way Paul describes himself in Romans 7:19 – I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.   

              Jekyll-Hyde-logo-black2

Referencing the slide from my previous post, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY, The Way to…, we can see that there is a battle being fought for our hearts.

            ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Satan, the god of this world, John 12:31, the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2, seeks to influence our ideas, opinions, goals, hopes, education, finances, and worldview (philosophies) towards his ways.  Forget about others.  You’re the only one who matters.  Look out for #1.

God, on-the-other-hand, wants to give us wisdom, James 1:5, He’s allowed us to experience love, because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19. God, who so deeply desires a relationship with us, that He willingly gave His Son, Jesus, to be a sacrifice in our place, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16, and live forever with God.  He desires for us to look outside of ourselves, towards others.  Not for His benefit, but for ours.

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Have you ever heard of making a New Year’s Resolution?  A promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good, or to stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

Have you ever heard of the concept – exercising mindfulness?  Meaning to pay attention “on purpose” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Have you ever heard this verse from the Bible?  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 55:8

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WHAT DO THESE SEEMINGLY, RANDOM, QUESTIONS HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S WAY TO JOY?

< “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!  –  (Part 4), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-lH >

SEE ALSO:   (PART 1) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK,    (PART 2) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY

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“I Just Wanna Be Happy!!!” – (Part 2 of 4)

Have you ever heard this verse from the Bible? –

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 55:8

Or how about this verse? –

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;  do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.  Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8

 
As I mentioned in the last post, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK, our goal should not be the pursuit of happiness, but instead should be the pursuit of JOY.  Happiness is fleeting, joy in everlasting.

And the verses above, well, they put me and God into perspective.  They remind me that – I am not my creator, I do not have all the answers, I don’t always know what’s best for me, my friends, my friends, my career, my schooling, etc.?

What I do know, however, is that in a blink of an eye,    

                       blinking eye                                                           

my whole world can be turned upside down.

                       world

And then what?  What do I have left?

Thankfully we have an all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful God who loves us so much, that He’s willing to freely share the Way to Joy with all people.

 

God’s way to joy  =>> Other-centered  them, them, them  (How can I be a blessing to others?  What might I have to “give up”, sacrifice, to restore a relationship, to start a relationship, to set healthy boundaries in a relationship, etc.)

The world’s way to happiness  =>>  Self-centered – me, me, me  (What’s in it for me?  What will make me happy?)

 

Slide1

 

SEE ALSO:      “I JUST WANNA BE HAPPY!!”

(PART 1), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK, 

(PART 3), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kn,

(PART 4), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-lH

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            Slide1

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Response to Reader’s Comment – “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!!” – (Part 1)

< TO READ POST, “I JUST WANNA BE HAPPY!!!”  – (PART 1) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK >

 

READER’S COMMENT:

Monica thank you for the great post! I absolutely believe that happiness and peace are possible for everyone regardless of their various situations. In high school I used to think, “I’ll be happy when my skin clears up. I’ll be happy when I make the Volleyball team. I’ll be happy when I get my braces off. Now…I’ll be happy when I lose my baby weight :)Etc” I was waiting for life to provide me happiness. What I had to learn is that I have the opportunity to chose be happy today. All people experience challenges, sadness, and disappointments in this life, but we don’t have to be consumed by our hardships; we can move toward peace (And yes, I know it is easier said than done, but that is why we have our Savior to help heal our wounds and hurts). I have learned from inspiring individuals who have made peace with their challenges and live with joy amid adversity. A great medicine that works for me is to serve others in a meaningful way. When we focus our attention on helping others we are accompanied by the Holy spirit, whose comfort is true peace.

MY RESPONSE:

Thanks for your thoughtful comment 🙂

Did you take a peek at “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!!” – (Part 2)?, because your comment –

“A great medicine that works for me is to serve others in a meaningful way. When we focus our attention on helping others… “

is just the prescription the Great Physician, Jehovah – Rapha: The Lord Who Heals, prescribes 🙂

Your “cure” for happiness, I’d suspect, is not so different from what we’ve all tried in an attempt to achieve the elusive “HAPPY” feeling.  For me personally, there are almost too many times to count, when I’ve allowed my “cures” for happiness to the direct my responses and reactions, with less than desirable results.

The key for me, and probably others who can relate to your comment, is to apply what I’ve learned, and practice what I preach.
I must just listen to God’s word. I must do what it says. Otherwise, I am only fooling myself. – James 1:22

Until the Lord Jesus Christ returns, I continue to be a work-in-progress 🙂

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“I Just Wanna Be Happy!!!” – (Part 1 of 4)

“I just wanna be happy!!”

After reading this post, I’m not so sure you’ll settle for just being “happy”.

“What?  Of course, I want to be happy!!  Who wouldn’t?”

 

HAPPINESS DEFINED:

Merriam Websterthe state of being happy, an experience that makes you happy.                  

Bible  –  a fleeting feeling that depends upon temporal factors, like circumstances or other people.

HAPPINESS EXAMPLES:

Everyday life – “I’m bummed out. I think some ice cream, with chocolate syrup, will be just the thing I need to make me happy!” –  At least for the moment…

    20100830-woman-ice-cream-happy-300x205

   stomach ache

BibleWhen Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.  Then Leah said, “How happy I am! – Genesis 30:9-13

To read more about this intense “boy baby producing” competition between Rachel and her sister Leah read – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+30%3A1-13&version=NIV

    aztramp

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JOY DEFINED:

Merriam Webster – to feel great delight, to be glad                                                                          

Biblecontentment that comes from internal factors, like our faith in the Lord.  It is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. 

 JOY EXAMPLES:
Everyday LifeWhen life gives you lemons…
lemons-wide1
Bible –  Paul says, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:12- 13, 19
SO MAYBE YOU’RE THINKING…
“I like this concept of joy.  I can be content with my life, I can appreciate the ‘present’, I don’t have to allow circumstances to dictate how I’m feeling, and it lasts forever.  Wow!!  Seems good to be true?  Seems like I’m on a seesaw.  Some days up, some days down.”
            kids-on-see-saw-black-white                                                                                                                    

IS HAVING “TRUE JOY” IN MY LIFE REALLY POSSIBLE?

FOR THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR “I JUST WANNA BE HAPPY!!!”  (PART 2), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY

SEE ALSO:   
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I Pray, Does God Hear Me, Does He Answer Me?? – (Part 3 of 3)

In my last two posts, I Pray, Does God Hear Me, Does He Answer Me?? – (Part 1), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-hK, and I Pray, Does God Hear Me, Does He Answer Me?? – (Part 2), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-i5, we’ve been talking about seeking God’s guidance through prayer.

Part 1 touched on our human tendency to put God into “our box”, how to know what God’s will is for us, and whether or not God answers our prayers. To illustrate this, I used an example of choosing between two colleges. Part 2 touched on whether or not God is answering our prayers because we still have so many unanswered questions.  In Part 3 we’ll be answering the question we left off with from Part 2 –

HOW SHOULD I PROCEED THEN?

When you feel a prompting to further investigate, or clarify a question, go for it!  When you’re just doing “your thing”, and suddenly a thought comes to mind, this could be God prompting you.  Investigate 🙂

God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.  –  Job 33:14

              group-thought-bubbles-colorful-square

Keep this in mind, questioning doesn’t mean your ideas, or desires are bad choices.  Instead, seeking and receiving answers to your questions will give you clarity and a sense of peace, enabling you to take steps forward.

So proceed in the direction you feel most led towards.  And trust that God will “shut the door” if it’s the wrong choice, and “open the door” to the right choice …the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.  –  2 Corinthians 2:12

WARNING:  Do Not attempt to force open a closed-door. Trust that God will “open the ‘right’ door” for you.  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full – John 10:10

     when-one-door-of-happiness-closes-another-opens-but-often-we-look-so-long-at-the-closed-door-that-we-don-not-see-the-one

The more you actively seek God’s guidance, and follow His promptings, the more confidence you’ll have in God.  Know in your mind and your heart that He will show up to guide and direct you in all your decisions.  No decision or circumstance is too big, or too small for God.

EXPECT AND LOOK FOR GOD’S ANSWER TO YOUR PRAYERS:                                                               

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.  –  Psalm 17:6

FOR PARTS 1 & 2 SEE:                                                                                                                                    I Pray, Does God Hear Me, Does He Answer Me??  –  (Part 1) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-h, and                I Pray, Does God Hear Me, Does He Answer Me??  –  (Part 2) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-i5

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So Many Choices, How Can I Choose?? – PROVERBS 5 [7 out of 7]

The person without the Spirit can’ t understand the truths that come from the Spirit of God. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Verses 21-23 wrap up Proverbs 5:
21   For the LORD sees clearly what a man does,
       examining every path he takes.
22   An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
       they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23   He will die for lack of self-control;
       he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

What I particularly like about Solomon’s advice is that he is a straight-talker.  You don’t have to read between the lines to understand his message (see bold print).

Solomon points out clearly that it’s the choices we made that define the path we’re on today.  We weren’t randomly teleported to where we are now.

             star-trek-teleporter

If we take the time to reflect on our past choices, using the gift of reasoning God gave only to people, we would be able to see that, “I did _____ in this situation, choosing to do  _______, and ______ , and the result was _______.”  Hind sight is 20/20 after-all. 🙂

Each choice we make takes us down a different path.  Some great, some a learning experience, and some destructive. We’re continually making choices. We’re never stagnant.

              choosing-the-right-strategic-path

For example –  I chose to look down, although quickly, at a text while driving, and don’t see that the car in front of me slowed up to let a family of geese pass, and I hit them.

gesse            fender-bender

These warnings from Solomon in Proverbs Chapter 5, , and others we read about in the Bible, are there because God knows we struggle with all the choices that bombard us. If this was not an issue, God wouldn’t spend so much time emphasizing, and re-emphasizing the potential irreversible emotional, and physical consequences of going our own way.

I mean seriously, isn’t it hard enough trying to pick out the “right” tube of toothpaste at the grocery store?

             toothpaste

Won’t it be nice to be able to KNOW which toothpaste would give me those bright white teeth? Wouldn’t it be nice to KNOW which choice would give me a rich and satisfying life?  – John 10:10  

Thankfully, we can KNOW the “wise” choice.  Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  –  Matthew 7:13

   Enter-in-at-the-narrow-gate-copy-w

Make a choice today to follow God’s ways, and ask God into your heart, see The Cornerstone… tab in the menu.

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