Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get Over Your Discontent with Singleness

God designed and instituted marriage; He is the author of sexual relationships and desire. And within His design, marriage and all that goes with it are to be honored and held in high esteem. It's no wonder that most people—especially in their young adult lives—deeply desire to be married, have children, and establish a good family.

This extreme discontent with singleness is like a black cloud that spoils every other thing in your life. It diminishes the joy of success in careers or other friendships or even ministry involvement. The enemy of our soul, Satan, loves to find ways to keep us discontented, because then our effectiveness in Kingdom work is decreased. I know that we have a choice as to whether our discontent with being single will continue to rule our lives or not. Once again, this is a choice we make as to what we think about singleness, how much we think about it, and how well we learn to bring those obsessive thoughts into captivity and make them obedient to Christ. It is just so true that the problem here lives in our thought lives.

What the Bible Says About Singleness 
 First Corinthians 7 is seldom used for sermon material. It doesn't fit too well with this common idea that God intended marriage for everyone and anything else is second best. Here's an excerpt from verses 32-35. "An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit... I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

What singles tend to forget is that there are pluses and minuses, assets and liabilities, to being single and to being married. The key thing we need to understand is that God has not advocated one lifestyle—marriage—as the number-one, normal way to live, and the other lifestyle—singleness—as second best, leftovers for those who missed the marriage boat for some reason or another.

Let me remind you of some of the people in Scripture who were either certainly or most likely single: Jesus, the apostle Paul, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Many others have no reference to marriage and have lifestyles that would lead you to think they were probably single, including some of the disciples and many in the early church.

There are some dangers in allowing ourselves to think that marriage is the only normal lifestyle and it will solve all our problems.

  1. You place an unduly heavy responsibility and expectation on marriage.
  2. You're asking too much of that other person who will be your mate if and when you do marry. 
  3. When a person is consumed with the desire to be married, they usually become less and less attractive because they are unconsciously transmitting that message through body language, facial expressions and conversation.
  4. When we think that marriage is essential we begin to make an idol out of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Get Over False Guilt Part II

Determining the Source of Our Guilt

Much of our false guilt is from people who indicate their lack of satisfaction with us in some way. It is natural to feel guilty, but we need to check it our mentally every time it happens. When someone says, "Why weren't you..." or "Why didn't you..." and you immediately start to feel guilty, remind yourself that you may be dealing with false guilt.

Learning to Manage False Guilt 

The first and most important step in learning to manage false guilt is to recognize it. We must develop the practice of examining our guilty feelings and determining if they are true or not. That will do more than anything else to rid your mind of false guilt, because once you know the guilt is not deserved, it's much easier to put it our of your mind.

The second step is to replace wrong thinking with right thinking. When you're dealing with false guilt, you must by choice, or by a set of your will, push that wrong thinking out of your mind. I emphasize "by a set of your will" because your feelings will take you in another direction. This is done by faith and in obedience to Scripture.

One way to do this is through praise to the Lord. Start counting your blessings. Begin thanking God for the good things in your life. Refuse to allow the thoughts of false guilt to have a place in your life.

There is No Condemnation!

I love this passage from Romans 8:33-34, from Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English
Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

Only Christ is qualified to accuse us of wrong, and after we become Christians, He doesn't! Do we have a right to condemn ourselves if Jesus doesn't condemn us? Can anyone else truly condemn you if Jesus doesn't?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Get Over False Guilt Part I

Feeling guilty is so common to most of us that I believe it is a universal emotion. Something that everyone will experience at one point in time or another during their lifetime. False guilt is such a heavy, unnecessary burden and if you're carrying around all that false guilt, I really want to help you get over it. You will be amazed at the freedom you will know when you can learn to put false guilt behind you.

What is false guilt?
False guilt is a guilt we impose upon ourselves. We allow it to take root in our minds, to start causing all kinds of bad feelings, to feed us all kinds of lies, which we begin to believe. Here are some examples of false guilt. It is:

  • What we feel when we keep remembering what God has forgiven and forgotten
  • What we feel when someone appears to be disappointed in us 
  • What we feel when we have to say "no"
  • What we feel when we live with unrealistic expectations of ourselves 
  • What we feel when we allow others to dictate what and who we should be 
Notice that each one begins with "what we feel." It's a feeling, not grounded in truth, but nonetheless strong and real. Guilt feelings are very similar, whether true or false, and our challenge is to learn how to discern the difference. We must learn to quickly analyze any guilt that comes our way: Is this true or false guilt? 

One of the first signs that you are dealing with false guilt is that you just can't pinpoint why you feel guilty. It is a strong feeling that engulfs you and discourages you, but if you had to state why you feel guilty, you'd say things like, "Well, I just never seem to get it right," or "I don't know, I just should have known better." Notice how general these statements are. When you cannot pinpoint a specific reason for your guilt you are probably dealing with false guilt.

Perhaps the false guilt we suffer from the most is guilt over our past. We all tend to go back and remember the sins of the past, and even though they are forgiven and God remembers them no longer, we don't seem to be able to purge our memory.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Get Over Putting Yourself in a Box

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That's a familiar question that most young children are asked at various stages and ages, and you'll hear answers like a doctor, a fireman, a teacher, an astronaut. I just wonder how many people actually fulfill those childhood dreams when they grow up. Children are far more likely to "think outside of the box" than we grown-ups are, don't you agree?

Today you would be hard pressed to find any job or occupation where women are not involved and in most cases flourishing. Ask yourself what box or boxes you have put yourself in. Here are some common ones:

  • I'm too old to do that—or too young
  • I don't have the right education
  • I don't have enough money
  • That's not my gift
The list is virtually endless. Think about it: what have you been telling yourself you cannot do for some reason? It's time to get over it!

Ephesians 2:10 says : "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." I'm convinced that many of us are missing out on the good works God prepared for us to do because we've allowed others to put us in a box, and we can't believe that God wants us out of the box and will equip us to do what He intended from the beginning of time for us to do.

Proverbs 29:18 says: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." If you've never had a vision of what you could do, if you've never aspired to something so big that it sacred you, then you may be perishing on the vine. In the parable of the talents, Jesus taught us the principle that if we don't use what He gives us, not only will He not give us more, we will lose what we have! (See Matt. 25:14-30) Without a vision , we begin to shrivel up and settle for mediocrity. That inward deterioration occurs subtly and could go unnoticed, even by yourself, but eventually it catches up with you when you begin to see your life as humdrum or boring or meaningless. What is the vision that Christ has given you, and how can you begin to utilize your God given gifts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Get Over Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic Expectations of People

Undoubtedly our most common unrealistic expectations are the ones we have of other people. Most relationship struggles are created by our expectations not being met, and when those expectations are unrealistic, it puts a strain on that relationship that can be deadly.

All too often women think that husbands are going to make them happy all the time. They believe that a husband will speak their "love language," whether that be daily showers of words of love, gifts, and celebrations, acts of service without being asked—or whatever. Then they discover that their expectations irritated him. And the tugs of war begin , leading to nagging, tears, angry words, etc. In a word, disappointment. Of course, it works the other way too. Men are prone to think their wives should always look lovely, cook great meals, maintain a spotless home, be supportive of them—whatever their idea of what a perfect wife should be. And before long they discover that their expectations are not met.

People disappoint us—from parents and relatives to husbands and children, co-workers and managers, friends and family. We expect more than they deliver, and therefore our happiness is affected because they don't live up to our expectations.

There is no person on earth who can deliver on every promise and be everything we want him or her to be. People will always disappoint us; that's because we're all sinners and the best of us fail miserably at times.

If you've never experienced the pain of unrealistic expectations or comparison, it's either because you don't truly know God as your Lord and Savior or you're looking to other things and people to meet you needs, and not spending time getting to know Jesus.

I encourage you today to get over your unrealistic expectations by fixing your desires on Jesus Christ. As He fills you up, the other things that don't live up to your expectations will not affect your joy and your contentment nearly as much, because Jesus promises, "Never will I leave you; nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b), and He can and will keep that promise. There's no disappointment in Jesus, and the more you make that truth a reality in your life, the better you will be able to get over your unrealistic expectations.