DOODLE THE DISTRACTION

Thoughts from John 8:1-12

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

Grow into this thought: Sometimes you have to doodle in the dirt before you speak. If it looks like a snake and smells like a rat, it’s probably a rat-snake about to devour you. Just wait and see; don’t speak. Doodle the distraction.

Verses 1-3 tell us that you could be doing your job and somebody is liable to interrupt you. While Jesus was sitting down teaching the people in the temple courts, the religious leaders brought a woman to him. They caught her in adultery and made her stand before the group. Verses 5-6 help us to understand why the teachers of the law interrupted Jesus’s teaching. They were tempting him so they could accuse him. It had become a habit to these leaders to try to trap Jesus. So, why do we work on jobs thinking that no one will set traps without cause for us? I’m just asking…

If we look at what Jesus did next, we see a model we can follow. He doodled in the dirt before he said anything in response to them. He knew it was a set up. When you know it’s a set up, shut up. He acted like he did not hear them. Silence, coupled with a non-threatening action, gives you time to think before you speak. He stooped down and wrote something with his finger on the ground. For my point today – it does not matter what he wrote. Besides, it doesn’t tell us what he wrote and speculation distracts the point. Jesus bridled his tongue. As soon as some folks figure out that you’re ignoring their comments, they come back at you, like they did Jesus in verse 7.

When he did say something, he put the attention on the heart of the matter. He got to the point. He did not entertain a lot of conversation other than the current situation. Mind you, these teachers of the law and other religious leaders (the rats and snakes of his day) had interrupted Jesus while he was teaching outside the temple. People will try to side track you when you are working. Stay focused on your purpose, not their so-called hidden agendas. You see their schemes, but you don’t have to sound the alarm about them. Your response reflects who you are.

Jesus got up from his stooped position to address them. Respect people. Though they interrupted what he was doing, he did not return that with rudeness. He simply told them that the one who had never done anything wrong should throw the stone at the woman. Then, Jesus calmly stooped back down and doodled on the ground again. Smooth, cool… not anxious and distracted from his purpose.

So, what did they do? They left him alone and left the woman with Jesus. Their conscience would not allow them to continue. And, I’m still concerned that his lesson to the people was interrupted, but I suppose another lesson was brought forth. Sometimes what we plan to do and what we end up doing are two different things. Nevertheless, keep the main thing the main thing.

As I kept reading this narrative, I saw that Jesus had a short conversation with the woman in verses 10-11 to point out that her accusers were gone, neither did he condemn her, so she should leave her former life. The only thing she could say was that they were indeed gone and she acknowledged Jesus by calling him Lord.

At this point, verse 12, Jesus spoke again to the people he was teaching. He went on to talk about being the light of the world. Don’t walk in the darkness; have the light of life. Ah, there’s yet another lesson! There is always someone watching what you do and listening to what you’re saying. So, you might as well remain focused on your purpose; let them see and hear that. The interruption was a simple segue (an uninterrupted transition) into teaching them by example to walk in the light. Be enlightened, be aware that some folks make it their common practice to set up distractions for you. Just doodle in their dirt. They will probably return with something else, but you keep the main thing the main thing.

And so we grow … grow in grace, which is God’s special favor. www.barbaraafbrehon.com

Decision Making

 

We’re talking about relationships and decision making today. We could be talking about, employer to employee, coworkers, siblings, parent to child, dating, marriages, or friendships of any kind: relationships. Do you realize that your relationship affects how you make decisions?

You can be in the presence of someone and not be with them? People can become emotionally connected/present with you even when you are somewhere else. I cannot make anybody want me or want to be around me any more than you can. Our choices and decisions are connected to the core of how we see ourselves. If we consider ourselves Christian, we should be acting and reacting in any situation according to precepts of the faith. I’m trying to get you to see that our relationships with other people help us to understand being in a healthy and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Improvements with that yield improvements in other relationships as well. He wants us with him, or in him, by choice.

He chooses things, people, and places around us, in our presence to show us how we should consider our options, make better decisions, choose what turns out to be God’s pleasure. God gives us choices and teaches us how to choose in him.

When you are around others they should know that Jesus is in you like that. If they won’t get with him and in him in like manner, your relationship suffers. It may be particularly difficult in a working environment. Whether supervising or being supervised, a person who has chosen to follow Jesus must do just that, even on the job. Are you giving glory to what you have? Are you boasting about a position or status symbol? Are you giving glory to who you’re with?

There are times when every Christian must consider relationships with God as well as with other people. When you do that think about your responsibility in and to those relationships. Pay attention to what the Lord is telling you to do now, today, rather than trying to understand it or figure it out. Trust God’s judgment and his sovereignty so you don’t mess up what he intended through you. Learn to just sit until the Lord tells you to move or to speak.

1 Corinthians 1:28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things– and the things that are not– to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. That thought has arrested my attention for a long time. You mean the Bible is saying not to boast in his presence? Yes. If I should not boast or glory in his presence, what am I blustering about and where do I do it? If I boast in God’s presence, it ought to be all about God, not about me. If I’m in his presence, he wants me to be in him, focused in him, thinking in him, about him, for him, NOT ME. How dare I act like it’s all about me! How dare I be anywhere and think it’s all about me! I need to do the work I am supposed to be doing, which gives glory to who he is in me. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23).

If God is omnipresent, wherever I am, he’s there. So, I don’t get to boast about anything but God. Whatever it is, I must acknowledge his hand in it. God chooses the weak, the lowly and the world sees it as foolishness. That’s their business. I’m going to keep asking God what he’s doing and what he wants me to do. I must not do anything contrary to his will, even in the workplace.

When I get ready to “glory” in anything whether with reason or without, it must be in Jesus, on account of Jesus, having joy in Jesus. I must be ever mindful that I am in his presence he’s not in mine. I occupy his place. I must be the one who turns my eyes to him, not him to me. He did that when he died on Calvary’s cross. I am in his sight; I’m trying to get a glimpse of his glory. Don’t glory in his presence; he wants us to be in him. Are you operating in Jesus or is Jesus around you but not in you? Christian relationships of all kinds must be rooted in Jesus.

What are our true priorities? Whose will do you want? When we weigh our relationships and situations in a Christian decision-making manner, where is Jesus? Was Jesus the afterthought in the process, so you squeezed his stuff, his name at the top? Better an afterthought than a-no-thought-at-all. You’re growing; next time he’ll come up first or at least second.

And so we grow … grow in grace, which is God’s special favor.

www.barbaraafbrehon.com

 

GROW GODLY CHARACTER

Daniel: A Great Example

Daniel prophesied during the reign of four kings of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus). Though captured, exiled to Babylon from his home town of Jerusalem, and renamed, he refused to live by the standards others set for him. He chose the standard found in his faith. Even in captivity he chose to live by faith in the one living God.

Since they wanted to redefine him, his captors renamed him, Belteshazzar. Daniel means God is my judge; Daniel worshipped God. Sources I read all refer the name to who God is. The new name, Belteshazzar, means one who lays up treasures in secret. Other sources say it means protect the life of the king or favored by Bel. Any one is quite different from the definition of the person deported, Daniel. There are so many variables mixed into who people say you are. Be careful how you let others call you outside of your name. You do not have to accept their reference of you.

Some people will want to officiate your destiny (Daniel 1:7). The king’s officials had three years to get the captives ready to present to the king (Daniel 1:5). Does their redefinition align with who you say that you are? You must choose; let your character define you. People’s perceptions of you will develop from what you present to them. They may choose to try to change you, however, the choice is yours. Daniel could have chosen to go along to get along. Instead, he chose to live by the faith in God that was inside him. Whatever is in you will be reflected in the daily choices you make, in what you do and in what you say.

Promotion or Demotion: Devotion not Emotion

Daniel 1 & 2

Daniel was presented to King Nebuchadnezzar and entered into the king’s service because none was equal to him (Daniel 1:18-20). Later (2:11-13), the king became furious because no one could interpret his dream. Being controlled by his angry emotion, the king ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. But just as easily as the king decided to promote Daniel he could demote him even unto death. Again, being ruled by emotion, this time ecstatic emotion of having his dream interpreted, he praised Daniel. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men (2:46-48).

Even facing the possibility of execution, Daniel chose to live by faith, turning to God to reveal the meaning of the king’s dream (2:17-24). He went to his prayer partners for support. He prayed, listened to God’s response, and then praised God. Daniel was continuously devoted to God and lived it. Even today we must choose to live what we believe, not making decisions based on how we feel. Make choices according to what God says.

Elevated or Deflated

Daniel 5 & 6

Choose to live by faith in the one living God. The second king that Daniel served also used Daniel’s gift of prophecy. I cannot help but notice that those who supervise us may come and go; but the faith I have must not be so transient. Each one in authority over me needs to see my God in me and know that I believe it is up to God to elevate or deflate me.

Belshazzar was not as humble before God as Nebuchadnezzar (5:22-23). He and his party guests used vessels previously used in the Jewish temple to drink wine into drunkenness at his feast. The Lord wrote something on the wall for all to see but only Daniel could interpret it. Though he elevated Daniel for interpreting the writing, he was slain that same night. We must not fret over what those in authority over us do.

We must maintain our integrity in the midst of all things. We must make choices according to what God says. Whatever is in us will be reflected in the daily choices we make. Choose to live by faith in the one living God.

Daniel was so distinguished by his exceptional qualities even among the government leaders and was elevated again. Some tried to bring charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. (6:3-4). Thus, the need for the fiery furnace lions’ den and another godly victory for Daniel. We, too, can survive the plots of others against the work that God chooses to accomplish through us. Choose to live by faith in the one living God.

I challenge you to read (listen to), study, and meditate on the Book of Daniel, only 12 chapters.

And so we grow … grow in grace, which is God’s special favor. www.barbaraafbrehon.com

Examine Yourself

1 Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. KJV
SELF EXAMINATION
God uses some things that we perceive as weak to amaze us and to make us realize we are nothing aside from his Son. We puzzle over this, that, and the other although God is almighty. In weakness we are strong if we realize he is the one who gives us strength to run to the end of each leg of the race.
The Lord prepares us to pass the baton. Sometimes we operate within and of ourselves and pass the baton too soon or too late; we don’t see what God is up to in our relationships and we throw in the towel. Did God throw in the towel on us? No, he sent Jesus to help us limp through that leg of the race until we get patched up, until our wounds heal from the inside out.
OK, some of us are stronger than others, but everyone needs to at least lean on Jesus when we limp. His enemies thought he was a weakling; He’s just “that one” from Nazareth. God chose weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
When I consider how I treat people sometimes I am ashamed. When I consider how I think in some situations I am ashamed. [Now, I don’t want you to get stuck on MY stuff. I want you to think about yours. When I say “my” or “I” you think “my” or “I”, too.] When I consider what I give to others with whom I am in relationship sometimes I am ashamed. When I consider that I have a role and responsibility in each relationship I have, I see that I am not doing all that I can and I am ashamed of myself. My relationships everywhere I am are important: with my family, on the job, in church, in social settings, etc.
If I don’t seem to be getting along very well with people no matter where I am, I must examine myself. What must I do to make things better?
It starts with knowing that I disappointed God, who for his own pleasure, chose to use me, the weak and foolish. He chose me despite my sin and selfish nature. I don’t have to present myself to others so they think I am always trying to get what I want. [Don’t go back to trying to figure out what I did. Examine yourself.] I don’t have to stop participating because it didn’t go the way I thought God was doing it.
I can take at least a half step back or aside for the sake of the greater good: to get a glimpse of the glory of God at work in each relationship, in each situation. I can dare to ask God, “God, what are you doing?”
Once I recognize that I have fallen short in my relationship with Jesus, I know that all my other relationships have to be out of sorts, also. We could be talking about dating, marriages, siblings, parent to child, coworkers, employer to employee, friendships of any kind: relationships.
When you are around others they should know that Jesus is in you. If they won’t get with him and in him in like manner, your relationship suffers. You are spiritually in different places. What must I do to make things better? Reconcile yourself to the Father through the Son. Each person examine himself, from the preacher to the pew, oldest to youngest, male and female. Each of us has a responsibility to self-assess our roles in our relationships.
I’m trying to get you to see that our relationships with other people help us to understand being in a healthy and growing relationship with Christ. He wants us in him by choice – money matters, people problems, or job junk. What does God want? http://www.barbaraafbrehon.com