Last week, Mike and Nancy began a conversation about how we, as Christians, should react to adversity, whether by our own doing or by what others do to us, as innocent bystanders.  So today we’re continuing that discussion, with part two of “Grace Under Fire”. We discussed the first three of the 8 principles: Knowing the Difference between Who You are and What You Do; God Cannot Lie and He knows the Future; and the 3rd for Christians, God Loves you as an Adopted Child through Jesus Christ, and He Cares About Your Happiness and Future.

 

Table Talk Notes

Where to get Mike’s latest book: Amazon

Principle #4: Learn to walk into the future backwards.

Old Jewish saying:  “None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but when we walk into it backwards, we look back and see all the times God was faithful during past trials.”

Walking backwards also forces you to slow down and walk more carefully. “We live life at a hectic pace beyond anything our ancestors could have imagined. A simple trip down a freeway will drive this point home. Everyone is in a rush and only focused on getting where they are going as quickly as possible. We talk on our phones, text, eat, and perform other duties while we drive –just to save a few minutes but putting ourselves and others at risk. We cut one another off in traffic as if our life depended on arriving at our destination one minute earlier. In addition to our actions being done at breakneck speed, our minds also race a million miles an hour, and we literally wear ourselves out and age prematurely. Studies show teenagers today have “old brains” because of video games, texting, and a constant barrage of social media. We are burning ourselves out, raising our level of stress, and living at such high speeds that we have forgotten how to relax. Little time is given to deep thought or engaging conversation, as we sacrifice our physical, emotional, and spiritual health all for the “American Dream” of wealth and fame.”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

When we walk backwards…

We can see God’s faithfulness, and thank Him that while we are not yet the Christians we should be, we are grateful for the work He has done in us.

Helps us put our latest crisis into proper perspective.

When we look back into the past and see that we were always protected by God and our worst fears never materialized, we gain perspective, wisdom and faith.

 

Lessons learned:

We grow when we handle challenges the right way.

We are wiser for the difficulties that have come our way when we handle them consistent with God’s Word.

The world is watching us, and when we handle difficult situations by trusting God, they notice.

 

We grow when we handle challenges the right way. Click To Tweet

 

Principle #5: Learn to engage your brain before using your tongue.

James 1:26 | If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

James 3:5-12 | So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

“How many times do we speak a careless word that does irreparable damage to others, our Christian testimony, and ourselves? James was not exaggerating when he said the uncontrolled tongue is a world of unrighteousness. One word spoken in haste can damage people and relationships for life. We are quick to speak and slow to listen and think. In this fast-paced world we are all walking time bombs when we don’t slow down and consider the powerful consequences of the words we speak.”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

Proverbs 18:2 | A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 29:11 | A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Ecclesiastes 10:12-13 | The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness.

Matthew 5:22 | But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

 

The key to controlling our tongues before we become fools is…

humility.

We must realize we are just not that important, and in spite of what our flesh tells us, we are not God’s gift to humanity or the answer to everyone’s questions or problems. Learn to listen twice as much as we speak. Few, if any, people ever got in trouble for not speaking, but every time we open our mouths, we risk getting ourselves into hot water. We must learn the discipline of thinking before we speak and save ourselves a lot of trouble.

 

Principle #6: Learn to think more highly of others and more accurately of yourself.

Pride is the Original Sin: Prov 16: 18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

 

“The most important characteristic a man must have to be saved and sanctified by God is one principle that is taught throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve violated this principle, and every problem we see, along with the growing evil in this world, is a result of this violation. Also, our lack of growth and sanctification as Christians is because we continue to violate this most important godly principle: humility. Who was the most humble man who ever lived? Of course, the answer is Jesus. He sets the standard for the humility toward which we should aspire.”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

Matthew 21:5 | Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

In Greek, the word proud is hyperephanos: “appearing above others; haughty.”

Humble is tapeinos: “humiliated in circumstances or disposition.”

 

Pride is considering yourself greater than you actually are, and humility can be seen as realizing who you are but actually presenting yourself as less than that for the benefit of others.

  • True humility is Selfless: it’s that willingness of a man, who is secure in his position with Christ, to set aside his status and reputation for another’s benefit.
  • True humility is only possible with the Holy Spirit: Only thru His work in us gives us the capability of great love, compassion, and righteousness.
  • Pride feeds itself:  The proud person operates in the flesh, loving the accolades of others who praise his good deeds. As others praise him and tell him how wonderful he is, he begins to believe he is the source of strength within himself that allows these righteous acts.
  • Pride is like a cancer:  Once pride gets a foothold in our hearts, it spreads like cancer through the body, eventually consuming us and hardening our hearts toward God and others. We become like the Pharisees, portraying ourselves as righteous and just –the very nature of God Himself.
  • Pride is idolatry:  When we act out of pride, we commit idolatry and worship ourselves for our good deeds and knowledge instead of acknowledging that God alone is the source of everything good. We elevate ourselves as the standard for righteousness instead of realizing that without the Holy Spirit working in us, we are the worst of sinners.

 

The humble man realizes that every act of love, compassion, and righteousness is by the grace and Spirit of God alone. He realizes he is fully dependent on God for his next breath, but he also does not portray a false humility that says, “I’m wicked and depraved. I can do nothing good.” Rather, he realizes that by the grace and Spirit of God alone, he is able to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When I hear Christians make statements like, “We’re all haters of God” or “We’re all wicked and depraved,” it breaks my heart. Denying the power and promises of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a sad testimony to the world. Certainly we are still capable of sin and wicked behavior, and we once were haters of God in our human spirit, but that is not who we are now as adopted children of God. Instead, it is something we still do on occasion.

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1 | Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

 

True humility can be seen as a realistic view of who we are and who we are not.

We are no longer unbelievers who hate God and love ourselves more than anything, but we also realize that without the grace and Spirit of God, we would be lost pagans.

We realize we are capable of acts of love, kindness, and compassion, but only by the grace and Spirit of God working in and through us.

We are a new creation, but one that is 100 percent dependent on God’s grace and Spirit. When we see unbelievers living a life of debauchery, we have compassion for them, truly saying and believing, “But for the grace of God that would be me!”

 

Genuine humility looks like this:

By God’s grace alone I am a new creation, saved from hell and being sanctified by God for eternal life with Him.

By grace, I am capable of acts of love and compassion, but I am still capable of thinking, saying, and doing bad and destructive things –the exact opposite of what God wants of me.

The new heart and spirit God gave me loves Him and wants to obey Him. But at times I still choose to obey the residual sinful flesh within me.

I am an adopted child of God, learning what it means to honor that title and privilege.

I need my brothers and sisters to help me not think more highly of myself, nor think of myself as less than God has made me by His grace and Spirit.

I want to live as my Savior lived when He was on earth, willing to humble myself and put the good of others ahead of my own desires.

I have been given freedom by Jesus, but I am willing to set that freedom aside for the benefit of others.

I am aware of who I was but also who I am now through grace, and I know how often I fail to live as God wants me to live.

I give fellow Christians permission to teach, correct, and rebuke me for my benefit, the benefit of others, and the glory of God.

Humble Christians have a truthful self-awareness of who we are in Christ and who we would be without His forgiveness and grace. But true humility never denies who we are by the Spirit of God –a new creation by His grace.

Humility recognizes we are capable of letting God bear fruit through us for the benefit of others, all to glorify God by pointing others to Him

I have been given freedom by Jesus, but I am willing to set that freedom aside for the benefit of others. Click To Tweet

 

Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than reality.

Prideful Christians are not aware of who they are without the grace and Spirit of God.

 

Principle #7: Embracing delayed gratification.

Our souls never die, and life on this earth is but one speck of sand on an endless beach.

Whatever challenges or trials we face in this lifetime are meaningless in the light of eternity.

 

Embracing the principle of delayed gratification is not noble; it is smart. Click To Tweet

 

God knows what is best for us, both now and in the future. He:

  • is older, smarter, and wiser than us
  • knows us better than we know ourselves
  • knows the ultimate outcome of every situation we will ever face
  • truly loves us and wants us to be joyful
  • already knows the future

 

Rom 11:33-36 | Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 

When we embrace the principle of delayed gratification, we find peace, knowing the One with the final decision to give or withhold knows the ultimate effects, positive or negative, of us receiving what we ask of Him.

 

Embracing delayed gratification is a sign of maturity…

“Little children want everything they ask for right now, and they pout or scream when they do not receive it. But what loving parent would give their child something before the child is prepared to handle correctly? What wise parent would give a sixteen-year-old a high performance sports car to drive, knowing he or she lacks the maturity and experience to handle a vehicle that could cause serious injury or death? What parent would give a five-year-old a gun for Christmas? If we as flawed human parents understand the wisdom of not giving our children things they want that could be dangerous to them and others, why would we expect God to do any less?”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

Buying Lottery tickets

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

“I would much rather God continue to provide for my basic needs on earth and store up treasure for me in heaven, regardless of what that treasure is. None of us knows exactly what those treasures in heaven will be, but because we know God’s nature and His promises, we can be assured of two things:

  1. They’re far greater than anything we can imagine in our human understanding.
  2. They will be with us for eternity, and no one will ever be able to take them away from us.

 

Embracing the principle of delayed gratification is not noble; it is smart. It lessens your desires of the flesh and focuses you on eternal life and reward with God.

 

Principle #8: Know what you can control and what you cannot.

Desire to control: Our desire since the Garden of Eden?

Genesis 3:4-7, 16 | But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, (i.e. you won’t need God anymore) knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,  she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Eve’s Curse: 16 “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

 

Forgetting we live in a fallen world and Man is NOT basically good in nature

  • Sept 11, 2001 – Terror attacks in NYC, Pennsylvania, Washington DC
  • Crime: murder, assault, rape
  • More commonly:
    • domestic abuse (“If I just love him and don’t do anything to anger him, I can change him”)
    • manipulation (someone coercing you, by deception, by pressure, by flattery, by mind games or by nagging into doing what THEY want: “If I give in just this once, they’ll leave me alone” or “they’ll be happy”)

 

Happiness is not something others are responsible for giving us, and it is not guaranteed. Click To Tweet

 

“We get stressed and can become depressed when we try to control things we really have no control over. I worked at an insurance agency for nine years and received raises and promotions for my performance. Then one day our agency was bought by a large bank, and I lost my job due to the reorganization. Something negative happened to me beyond my control. I did all I could do as a hard-working, effective manager, but I lost my job. Looking back, I was blessed by what happened because God allowed circumstances that would lead me to saving faith in Jesus and give me the opportunity to lead a Christian Radio Station.”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

When we try to control effects or the behavior of others, we set ourselves up for disappointment and possible depression.
Sometimes we can do the right action (cause), but the short-term effects are negative.

But when we trust God, the One who controls eternal effects, we find peace in the midst of life’s storms.

 

“Remember, Jesus said good causes lead to good eternal effects: reward in heaven. When we give up trying to control the effects and focus on doing the right cause, God rewards us in His perfect timing. We can really only control what we believe, think, say, and do. These are effects of the cause we live for, which is to know, love, and obey God. When our cause is just, the eventual effects will bless us. One of the ways marriages and relationships are strained is when we try to control what others believe, think, say, or do. This only leads to frustration and bitterness and leaves us rooted in pride and trying to control others”

Mike LeMay, The Death of Christian Thought

 

Summary

Understand, memorize, and apply these important principles so you can take your thoughts captive when facing times of trouble.

  • Know the difference between who you are and what you do.
  • God cannot lie and He knows the future.
  • God loves you as an adopted son through Jesus Christ and He cares about your happiness and future. Learn to walk into the future backwards.
  • Learn to engage your brain before using your tongue.
  • Learn to think more highly of others and more accurately of yourself.
  • Embrace delayed gratification.
  • Know what you can control and what you cannot.