Thoughts for the Week

Posts tagged ‘God’

Why Do You Do Good Deeds?

Good deeds have always been, and always should be, encouraged – whether it’s helping someone move, assisting an elderly person, or simply giving out small gifts to strangers.

While sometimes the secular and Christian charities and good deeds look similar, the reason behind them can differ greatly.

Many good outreach efforts from the community that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime were due to there being some kind of crisis: Hurricane Katrina, the Twin Towers attacks (9/11), and others.

While it’s very touching to see the best come out of people during times of need and disaster, sometimes the only reason for doing good stems from the fact that something bad has occurred.

I’m certainly not condemning the charities and those who do good in the face of misfortune, I applaud them! God designed us in his image, and his kindness shows through in crisis.

However, there’s something special about one who does good to others not because of something bad, but because God is good.

Philippians 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (NIV).

There is so much more joy to be had when someone loves and does good to others because they  want to celebrate God’s goodness.

So this week, keep in mind that joy is the best fuel for doing good.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.
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Any Place Can Be Home

It’s easy to feel out of place from time to time. Even the place where one lays down his or her head can feel alien.

The author of Psalm 119 understood this unfortunate fact, and painted a subtle connection between verses 19 and 54.

Psalm 119:19 says something that many Christians have echoed throughout history “I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me” (NIV). 

But there is a positive answer to those who feel as though they don’t belong. Just thirty-five verses later, the psalmist says “[The Lord’s] decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge” (v.54, NIV).

The comparison indicates that wherever one stays can become the place where someone belongs the most. God’s law and his presence can make any place on earth feel like home.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Against All Odds

Sometimes we have to face issues that seem downright impossible.

Gideon certainly felt this way when God called him to raise an army to fight against the Midianites (Judges 6). The Bible does not specifically mention how many Midianites there were occupying Israel, but according to the John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, a fair estimate would have been 135,000 Midianites.

Gideon had gathered a mighty force of 32,000 Israelites to stand against their enemy. This meant there were 4.2 Midianites to 1 Israelite fighter. Not very good odds, but if they were lucky, the fight could be won.

However, God had something else in mind. He told Gideon, “You have too many men…In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her…anyone who trembles with fear may turn back” (Judges 7:2-3 NIV).

All those scared to fight left, leaving 10,000 men remaining. This meant there were 13.5 Midianites to 1 Israelite. It was certainly a worse ratio than before, but there was a slight chance the attack wouldn’t be a suicide mission.

However, God had more to say, “There are still too many men” (Judges 7:4). He did not want Israel to think that it had won the battle on its own, even if the odds were slim.

So God did something unheard of. He chose 300 men to fight. This meant that there were 450 Midanites per 1 Israelite. The odds had steadily worsened each time:

  • First sweep: 4.2 to 1
  • Second sweep: 13.5 to 1
  • Final sweep: 450 to 1

The numbers jumped from an unlikely victory to a no-way-fat-chance-not-happening-in-a-million-years victory in one sweep. Suddenly, Gideon and the rest of Israel had to come to grips with the fact that they were never going to win this fight on their own. Trusting God in this impossible circumstance was the only way out.

Luckily, God had a plan, and with His help, Gideon and his 300 men drove the Midianites from the land. So whenever you feel like you have a situation that seems impossible, instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the God who wins impossible battles.

That way, you can see how your situation can give Him glory once you let Him become the commander of it.

Works Cited: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/judges-7-12.html

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Love Because He Loves

Make-FriendsWhy do you have friends?

Perhaps it has to do with similar interests you both share. Maybe you like how honest she is, or because you feel respected around him. However, friendship can be used selfishly.

I had a friend back in high school who liked having me around because she felt like my superior. At first I thought she was just assertive and wanted to go do certain activities and see certain movies. I found she liked having my submission rather than my friendship.  She only wanted me around to use me to feel better about herself. Needless to say, we did not remain friends for long.

A certain passage struck me the other day in Isaiah 57. God says,  “I live in a high and holy place but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (v. 15a NIV). Notice it didn’t say “I live with him who is high on the social ladder,” or “him who only makes me feel better.”

God looks for people to love and befriend not based on what they can do for him, or how they make him feel. He seeks out those people because he loves them.

Think of this next time you’re making new friends. Love them because God loves them, not what they can do for you.

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

He’ll Run to You

the-parable-of-the-lost-sonsHow do you describe someone? As a writer, it’s effective to use comparisons. “He was tall and thin like a willow tree.”

God is described doing many things in the Bible in this way. Many of them are human attributes and actions to help describe him better. During the Exodus, the Lord is described as carrying Israel “as a father carries his son” (Deut. 1:31, NIV). Immediately the readers can picture a gentle dad carrying his little boy to bed. Another metaphor is in Genesis 2:2, when God rested from his work, thus creating the Sabbath.

These descriptions are woven through the Bible, and there’s a unique comparison that’s only used once. In Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son, the young man asks for his inheritance and leaves. But when he comes back, his father sees him and runs to meet him. With God as the father, this is only place in the Bible where God is shown running.

According to Jack Wellman, this idea of the Father running to the wayward son would have been shocking because “the Jews considered this highly undignified in their culture. The patriarch never ran or never made the first move in such a situation.”

The fact that God let himself be depicted in this unorthodox show of love is deeply moving. Not only will he welcome you back, he’ll run to you, arms open wide.

References: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/the-prodigal-son-bible-story-summary-analysis-and-themes/

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Commander of My Future

futureI’m in a certain stage in my life that most people fear–job-hunting.

Graduation from college is quickly approaching and I’m looking for an editorial position in a publishing house. It would be an understatement to say I’ve been a little stressed about it. My fiance is also applying to a graduate school and  figuring out timing has been not been as fun as I hoped.

The other day, however, I was reading through Ecclesiastes chapter eleven and my translation was interestingly put. The writer was speaking to young people and how they should enjoy life and remember their Creator. Verse ten began, “So refuse to worry” (NLT).

In that moment, God impressed on my heart, “When you worry about the future, you care about it more than you care me. I got the future. So refuse to worry.”

It also reminded me of the verse we all know, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (NLT)

When I stand my ground and don’t let worry take control of my planning, I choose God instead. He remains where he should be, the commander of my future. He knows the best way to go, so why worry?

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Always Watching

Malti-poo puppy destroying houseDo you have a dog that’s always causing trouble?

I have a peppy Bichon Frise named Buddy who has a mind of his own. The other day, I was cleaning my room and he trotted in. Without skipping a beat, Buddy jumped onto a piece of furniture and put his paws up on my dresser, where half-eaten snacks sometimes take residence. He’s not allowed there and I shooed him away.

“You dumb dog, can’t you see I was watching?” For some reason in his little doggy brain, he thought I wouldn’t notice him blatantly disobeying me.

Suddenly, I was struck by the same lesson. There were times I thought I could do something behind God’s back. It’s easy to forget that God’s always watching. It says in Psalm 33:13, “from heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind.” A Christ-follower should choose what is right, especially when he or she is alone, because there’s always someone watching.

In the end, God will either commend or condemn what is done because he’s always watching.

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only

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