Holy Spirit Aha's

personal insights and lessons God is teaching me

The Test of the Golden Rule

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Jesus (Luke 6:31)

Yesterday my daughter dropped her wallet in a Target parking lot at midday while trying to load her purchases and two little girls into her car. By the time she had returned home, realized it was missing, retraced her steps, talked to Target security, had them verify from their cameras she placed it in her coat pocket at check out, and finally called her credit card company, whoever found the wallet already had two charges on her card, including pumping $75 worth of gasoline into the behemoth they had to be driving.

People who have no sensitivity to the Golden Rule, i.e. can’t put themselves in the shoes of someone who loses a wallet and have the common courtesy to seek to find its rightful owner, really baffle me. Now I’ll admit my initial reaction to hearing about this person without a conscience really made me mad. Ironically it triggered something in me that caused me to violate a golden teaching of Jesus myself by cursing that person rather than blessing them. (Matthew 5:44) It is true that the anger of man seldom produces the righteousness of God and it always amazes me how quickly one can become a Pharisee. (James 1:20)

I am genuinely puzzled however as to what kind of person would have such a disregard for the Golden Rule. Most commonly defined as “doing to others as you would have them do to you” and epitomized by Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” the so called Golden Rule is not just unique to Judeo-Christian teaching. It is a bedrock ethic of human relationship that is found in every other world religion including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.
. . . The test of the Golden Rule is in how a person chooses to apply it. The rule was given as a measure of one’s own life rather than to measure the life of another. Whenever we point the finger at Golden Rule breakers there are three fingers pointing back at us. And that means we must seek to treat them the way we would like to be treated if we were them.

The Test of the Golden Rule Read More »

Devil . . .Get out of my way!

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew16:23 (NIV)

Recently I found myself battling a mixture of worry, fear and discouragement over a direction I felt God leading me to take. It was like I had come to a roadblock warning me to stop and redirecting me to consider another way to go. You know how roadblocks appearing out of no where have a way of threatening your plans and upsetting your equilibrium? Especially when you are on a tight schedule and are already feeling pressed to reach your destination on time. That is how I felt.

First off, worry, fear and/or discouragement are often tip offs that a person is under spiritual attack. Our enemy the devil and his evil spirits work mightily using tactics like that to hinder us from pressing ahead into God’s will for our lives. In so doing they seek to not only thwart our plans but also to rob us of our peace and joy by undermining our faith. (Romans 15:13)

As I began to pray about what I was feeling I found the Spirit of God rising up within me to speak to the devil with the same words Jesus used – “Get behind me, Satan!” The more I prayed this, the greater the force and conviction of my words became and the more directive! I found myself moving from repeating “get behind me, Satan” to repeating phrases like “get out of my way, get out of my way” and “you are not going to block or hinder my future!” In the process I began to see with such clarity that the fear, worry and discouragement I was feeling were direct roadblocks thrown up by the enemy to try to stop me from pressing ahead into the plans and future God had for me.

Devil . . .Get out of my way! Read More »

Making Peace With Your Past

When was the last time you ran into someone you preferred not to see? What thoughts went through your mind and what emotions did you feel? How did you handle it?
We all have people like that in our lives. In fact it happened to me just recently. I was surprised at my reaction. Stuff from the past I had either forgotten or thought I had dealt with surfaced. I found myself swallowing hard, composing myself and mustering up the grace to make friendly conversation. But there was a reserve in my heart and a measure of self protection that was unsettling for me.
Afterward I could not help but sense that God had engineered the encounter to get my attention and that it was not a mere coincidence or happenstance that I was faced with relating to that particular person. In fact having just given a message (Connecting the Dots) about the Jewish patriarch Isaac making peace with his past, I had been sensitized to the necessity of that process in my own life.
Isaac’s story in Genesis 26 of his conflict and rejection at the hands of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, is really not unlike any of our stories when our relationships with people go south. It thrust him into a season of adversity and adjustments that God ultimately used for good in his life. My previous blog posts on “Connecting the Dots in Adversity” and “When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision” chronicle that journey.
What I discovered when I gave my message was that Isaac’s story was not complete without the closure God forced upon him after he had settled and forgotten all about Abimelech. Abimelech shows up unexpectedly, accompanied by both his personal advisor and the commander of his army. Talk about an intimidating encounter and one that Isaac would have preferred to avoid. All of the past hurt and personal offense surface immediately and Isaac reacts with “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” (vs. 27) He wasn’t as adept at hiding his emotions as many of us can be when confronted with the remembrance of past wounds in relationships.

Making Peace With Your Past Read More »

When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision

There are times in everyone’s life when God uses adversity to force us to make a defining decision. Adversity is necessary because without it we gravitate to what is comfortable and predictable. And if we never venture beyond that we will never discover God’s progressive will for our lives and experience the fullness for which He has created us.

One of the great studies of how God connects the dots of adversity and uses them to direct a person’s life is in Genesis 26. This chapter chronicles a tumultuous period of time in the life of the patriarch Isaac, following the death of his father Abraham. Isaac, the child of promise, who had been placidly floating down the river of life, suddenly hits a series of rapids.

First a famine strikes, bringing severe economic hardship to this agrarian herdsman. Not unlike the effects of a modern day loss of employment Isaac is forced to pull up stakes, leave his life long home and move to a foreign land to survive. But ironically, he finds God there and the encouragement he needs to stay and decides to make the most of it. (1-6)

As promised, God blesses him in this place of exile. And contrary to conventional wisdom, he experiences greater success there than if he would have remained on the homestead. His crops yield a hundred fold, his livestock multiply and he becomes a “very wealthy” man. Isaac even taps into some of the wells his father Abraham dug years earlier during a similar period of exile in his life. Those wells provide the life giving water needed to sustain his burgeoning operation. (12-13) What a great time for Isaac to write a best selling reversal-of-fortune book entitled “Famine, the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me!”

But wait, don’t get too comfortable Isaac! Just around the bend there are more rapids. This time he hits the churning waters of opposition. His growing economic influence stirs up the envy of his hosts, the Philistines. One after another they stop up all of his wells and then he is nearly capsized when the king issues an edict that he must leave. God’s blessing upon his life seemingly evaporates and once again he is unsettled. (14-16)

Under pressure, he reverts back to the familiar and chooses to live at another place where his father once had some wells. He proceeds to reopen Abraham’s wells and even gives them the same names. (17-18) But through all of this, God is continuing to work in his life. Like a mother eagle de-feathering the nest of her eaglet, God is pressing Isaac to spread his own wings and fly. It is a defining moment in Isaac’s life. He has a choice. He can either continue to rely upon the identity and achievements of his father or he can launch out and begin to establish his own identity by digging his own wells.

Clinging to the predictability of the past and relying on the work of another is never fully satisfying. Living in the shadow of his father is limiting his potential and ultimately compromising his own unique calling. Isaac is in the land between his past and his future, between promise and fulfillment. Through this turmoil of soul, God is producing a battle hardened faith and persistence within Isaac that is necessary to propel him through the waters of adversity into blessing.

He finally steps out in faith and begins digging to find his own well of water. Like an eaglet nudged from its nest into free flight for the first time, it can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. And that process is not without its struggles. Sometimes it takes repeated efforts before someone can truly fly on their own. It took Isaac three successive attempts at digging his own wells before he finally found a well that he could call his own. The first two wells he found he named “opposition” and “dispute” because of the major resistance he met from the Philistines. They claimed the wells were theirs and would not let him settle there.

Finally on the third attempt, he finds a well that no one quarrels with him over. It is a defining breakthrough in his life. In fact he names it Rehoboth, which means “room” and declares “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (22)

Was this where God wanted him to be all along? Probably. Did God use adversity in his life to get him there? Definitely. Did God protect and provide for him along the way? Most certainly.

A number of years ago, God used this passage of Scripture as encouragement for me to step out in faith and make a career change.

When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision Read More »

Connecting the Dots in Adversity

Can you think of a time when God took a loss, disappointment or failure and turned it into something good? In my last blog post I introduced the topic of connecting the dots. It is a game changer because when a person can look back and see God’s hand at work in their life in the past, it gives strength and purpose in both coping with the present and facing the future.

It is my conviction based upon the Scriptures that God’s hand is upon every individual even from before their birth. (Psalm 139:13-16) Our parentage, given name and early childhood all have the imprint of His loving intention and care. In my last blog I posed a question to help each of us begin to connect these early dots of life and shared some of my personal reflections as an illustration.

Here now is a second question to help serve as an aid in connecting the dots of adversity in our lives.

2. Looking back can you think of a time when you were forced to do or experience something that you would not have chosen but in the end it turned out to be a great blessing? Given some time to ponder this question you are likely to discover some amazing ways in which God’s hand has been upon your life when you least expected it. This is what it means to connect the dots of life.

Gaining such a perspective usually requires the passage of time and prayerfully asking for God’s help.

For instance, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized my suffering a broken leg as a child is what God used to pay my way through college.

Connecting the Dots in Adversity Read More »

Scroll to Top