When my daughter came home with a carnation on Valentine’s Day, I knew who it came from though she had her questions. Today, as the flower has finally reached the point of no return, I have tossed it out and rinsed out my favorite vase. She later learned who gave her the flower, a boy who has set his sights on her awhile back. He’s a nice boy, but he is a non-believer so we have had “the talk.”
Even with a simple flower, the talk is necessary. The Bible warns that we should not be unevenly yoked. There is no need to start on a path with a non-believer, knowing that dating is only for the purpose of one day being united in marriage. The Bible warns that if we bind ourselves together with a non-believer, it will be harmful to our own faith walk. This is something we read in the Bible and something that is evidenced all around.
Today, if you are even considering dating, remember what dating is – the purpose of dating is to lead to a union – a marriage. This is a sacred thing. Don’t think that you can change a person. Don’t think that a non-believer will one day start believing so it will be okay. Heed the warning. Understand that if you have a strong man or strong woman of faith in your life, that he or she will be the other half of a union under God that will grow in Him and serve Him. Understand that if you are unevenly yoked, that the other person isn’t going to point you to Jesus because he or she doesn’t know Jesus. You will be slowly drawn away; you won’t even realize it is happening. You will likely walk away from your first love, Jesus. This may sound harsh, but I understand this too well. If you are in the dating world, find someone so in love with Jesus that they aren’t even seeking you. Pray for your future spouse and never lose sight of your first and greatest Love.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14 [NIV]
A dear friend gave me some Tim Tams the other day. I even ate one with my afternoon coffee that very day. But then with my scatterbrained mind, I forgot that the Tim Tams were in my special hiding spot. Only when I saw them today, did I realize that I had nearly a full pack of Tim Tams just waiting to be enjoyed. Forgetfulness is a horrible thing, except for when it comes to forgiveness.
When we forgive another person, we should forgive as if we forget. This means we forgive as if it never even happened. We forgive like with the Tim Tams, where it would not be remembered unless seen again (meaning the person sinned against you again). That’s how God forgives us. The Bible says that He forgives us as far as the east to the west (Psalm 103:12). His Word also tells us that He forgets, He chooses not to remember what we’ve done when we ask for forgiveness (Isaiah 43:25). Now He could choose otherwise. He is all powerful and all knowing. He could easily remember; it’s a choice.
We need to forgive like God. We need to make a choice—and be intentional with our forgiveness. When someone has sinned against you, when someone has upset you, when someone has done something foolish—choose not to remember. Ask the Spirit to help you forgive and forget. This isn’t only for the benefit of the person being forgiven, but more so for you. Unforgiveness is a prison where you are held in torment. Marriages break apart because of the records kept of the wrongs. Friendships are destroyed because of the records of the wrongs. Always we remember the faults, the bad moments. These things burn a hole in our memory bank. Only when you choose to put it aside, to say “I forgive this” and press forward, are you free from the prison of unforgiveness. Only then will you have freedom. Only then will you live by the grace you have received. It is a beautiful thing, a freeing thing.
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 [NLT]
In Nehemiah 13, Nehemiah finds that the Israelites are still surrounding themselves with foreigners and involved with intermarriage. This was something that God spoke against many times in the Bible. Today, people seem to not grasp what this means, and take it as something of discrimination. The truth is, intermarriage, has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with Who you worship. When we look at the concept of intermarriage today, we look at it as a relationship between believers and non-believers.
The Bible tells us that if we are involved in a relationship with a non-believer (someone who does not believe in God as the One True God), then we the believer, may be led astray. The Bible warns us to therefore not become seriously involved with a non-believer so we do not tread on this unsteady ground. For us, this means we as Christians should not date or marry someone who is not a Christian. Even if we have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, if we marry or date someone who is not a Christian, we could be in danger of being derailed from our walk. As a Christian, we should not even desire to be seeking someone who is not seeking Jesus first.
I speak of this from a personal perspective. I have been there and have done that—and it was a road that was certainly off course, but thankfully God has used it for His glory. In my case, it wasn’t a matter of someone not professing Jesus, but someone not living for Jesus. We do not simply need to look for someone who has the lip confession, but the life confession. There’s a difference. In Nehemiah 13, we see that Nehemiah mentions Solomon to the people. King Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. He succumbed to being led astray by foreign relationships. Nehemiah basically asks the people why they think they could be wiser than him. Today, understand the importance of a good, godly relationship. If you are not yet married, remember that there is a proper way. God must be first in your life. Then when the time is proper, the one you seek should be seeking God first, even before you. That is the relationship that will be blessed and honored. May you find the one, who first seeks the One.
“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.” – Nehemiah 13:26 [ESV]
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”– Matthew 2:13-15 [NIV]
Joseph was told to “Get up” in 2:13 and we read a verse later, “So he got up.” We don’t read of excuses. We don’t read of Joseph doing anything else other than obeying the word of God. Again in verse 20, he is told to “Get up.” Once again in verse 21, it says, “He got up.” Again there is no discussion about Joseph making excuses or doing anything else other than obeying the word of God.
Joseph is a great example of a man who walked in faithful obedience. After a visit from an angel, he married Mary despite considering the possibility of sending her away quietly because of her pregnancy. Now we see him not once, but twice, relocating at the snap of a finger.
Is God calling you to “Get up”? Is God pointing you in a particular direction? If so, is your response to follow? Are you sitting and constructing a list of excuses and other alternatives? Are you dragging your feet? Today, consider what God is calling you to do right now. It might not be something simple or something welcomed—but perhaps there’s something God is working out within His big picture of life that we cannot grasp.
This morning I passed by a dumpster filled with items from a house that is currently undergoing renovations. Out of the corner of my eye, I was able to spot a large box of books lying on top of the other discarded items. The books looked brand new and many of them were titles that were once found on the best sellers list. For a moment I thought of how those books and so many other items within the dumpster could have been used by someone instead of going to a landfill. I imagined if the items were donated to a church or another charity, the good that they could do for some lives. Then my mind started to focus on how we are all so guilty of getting things and tossing them out.
We have become a society that is so very good at getting rid of things. We toss out clothing because we have plenty of other items in our wardrobe. We toss out food because we had so much food, that we did not have time to eat it all and it went bad. We toss out relationships because it takes work and sacrifice for marriage and friendships to find success. We toss out opportunities because we do not desire taking risks on challenges. We toss out money with gambling or with purchases we don’t even want or need. We toss out pets because we bought them for their cuteness without thinking of the time investment. We toss out technology because something new came along. We toss and toss.
Then I thought of those who do not have anything to toss, those who are lacking the basic needs of life. There are people who are not able to eat tonight. There are people who have lost their family, their friends. There are people who do not have shoes or clothing. There are people who do not have all of the advantages and opportunities. There are those who do not have money to toss away. There are some who are sick, some dying. There are some who are slaves, yes slaves, on this very day in 2013. I could go on and on.
I cannot give any answers of how we can fix all of these things. I do not have the answers. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to tossing out things. All I can say is that I know Who has the answers. I know that all we can do is look to God for the answers of what we can do in our own lives to be His hands and feet, and to share His love with those around us and to be who He called us. We can start here. “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). Let us start there.