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Perceptions and Prejudice

February 3rd, 2012

“God shows no partiality . . whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34-35 NKJV

“Inaccurate perceptions and inappropriate prejudice limit your availability for God’s purposes.”

My thoughts and comments today are “perceptions and prejudice.”

I wish I knew who had written this observation about perceptions and prejudice: “Prejudice is the product of a lazy mind. It is contempt prior to investigation. Your first impression of someone is incomplete, and often inaccurate. Don’t make lasting decisions based on limited insights.” Those are wise words you should take to heart. Prejudice is not pretty. It assumes your worst perceptions, clouds your better judgment, incites unholy behavior, and creates suspicion and separation between people.

The world into which Jesus was born was as filled with prejudice, as is ours – men prejudiced toward women, Romans prejudiced toward the subjugated people of Palestine, Jewish citizens held no regard for the Romans, Jews were prejudiced against Samaritans, Samaritans toward Jews, the southern people of Israel depreciated the more rural, northern Galileans. And then there was the clear distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Prejudice knows no bounds – gender, national, racial, geographical, societal, political, and religious. Prejudice is not something new to the 21st century.

Simon Peter learned a valuable lesson about perceptions and prejudice. See Acts 10:9-23 NKJV. His prejudice required a vision repeated three times and a direct word from God to break the incorrect assumptions that would have prevented his usefulness to God. God spoke clearly, “If God says something is acceptable, don’t say that it isn’t.” Acts 10:15 NLT. Inaccurate perceptions of others and inappropriate prejudice limit your availability for God’s purposes.

What was Peter’s conclusion? “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34-35 NKJV. God was correcting Peter’s opinion of people – a Gentile and Roman officer in this case – not things. God shows no partiality, accepting all with the same grace and acceptance. Cornelius’ faith was as sincere as Peter’s and God’s love for Cornelius was no less. Read Acts 10:34-11:18 NKJV.

Other translations variously say God “does not show favoritism/treats everyone on the same basis/is no respecter of persons.” The Greek origin signifies “accepting of face/countenance,” which could probably be equated with a more familiar expression today, “to accept at face value.” The idea is accepting others as God sees them, not as you wrongly assume them to be. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NLT. The numerous responsibilities in the New Testament toward “one another” are a good place to begin.

The Bible’s expectation of your encounters with others is this: “May the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ has received us, to the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7 NKJV. Acceptance is the deepest need of every heart, an invaluable gift to others that costs you nothing but your pride.

My prayer for you today is that you extend Godly acceptance to others.

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This Is Your Life

December 9th, 2010

“It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.” Proverbs 15:23 NLT

Your own testimony creates a narrative telling the story of your life – past, present, and future.”

My thoughts today announce “this is your life!”

An author takes an idea, turns his idea into words and with those words can create a new world for both the writer and reader, taking minds and imaginations to places they’ve never before been, while creating a sense of adventure not otherwise experienced.

As a young teen, I found a world of adventure in literature, among which was Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Treasure Island, about Long John Silver and “a treasure map, pirates and buried gold.” I was captured by Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, whose opening became the classic lines, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” and his novel about the French Revolution closed with the cryptic words of Sydney Carton nobly giving his life to save another’s, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Words hold the power to create a world of historical fact or wondrous imagination in many ways – in a well-written book, unforgettable melody and lyrics, captivating movie, riveting speech, or passionate sermon. Yesterday, I wrote about an idea that continues to intrigue me: “Words create worlds.” I am interested in how such a true, Biblical principle works in yours and my everyday life.

It all began with a word. “God said,Let there be . . and there was’. . By faith, we understand that worlds were framed by the word of God . . In the beginning was the Word . . all things were made by Him!” See Genesis 1/Hebrews 12:3 NKJV/John 1:1-3 NKJV. Abraham discovered God “Who gives life to the dead and calls those things that are not as though they were.” And he believed and confessed, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Read Romans 4:17-21 NIV.

That, in a lesser but real measure, is a God-given potential in you as well, a dynamic of everyday life. Your own testimony creates a narrative telling the accurate or inaccurate story of your life – past, present, and future. Words spoken with conviction affirm your potential in God, or can confirm your disbelief of what God believes and says about you. Your world is daily shaped by how you translate events currently impacting you, as well as conclusions you’ve assumed from circumstances long before. Your world would be better shaped by speaking God’s words to you and about you. “It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.” Proverbs 15:23 NLT.

What you say to yourself – self-talk, psychologists call this – and what you say to others about yourself subtly influences who you believe you are and the measure of what you believe you can do and become. Your words merely confirm your belief of thoughts that elevate or demean, then reinforcing emotions helpful or unhealthy. By voicing again and again what you think to be true but isn’t, you could allow your wrong perceptions to become assumed realities. When you truthfully affirm your strengths, abilities, and successes, you gradually grow in them. If you continually bemoan your shortcomings, weaknesses, or failures without taking real steps to change and grow, you will persistently self-destruct, however slowly. See James 3:9-10 NIV.

So how do you form a better world in which to live each day? The life you create starts with feelings such as hope, trust, and joy, or worry, doubt, and fear. The first edify and strengthen; the latter dishearten and weaken; you hold the power to choose between those – power to change every day and shape tomorrow.

My prayer for you today is that you respect the inherent power of God in your words.

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