Archive | June 2013

What are you putting before Him?

Isaiah 42:8

Isaiah 42:8

“Idol” definition taken from Oxforddictionaries.com

noun  -an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered:  a soccer idol.

I’ve been rethinking many of the things I have allowed in my life that could certainly fall into this category.  Particularly a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered.  Is it wrong for us to love those around us? NO, Jesus said that people will know we are Christians by our love for others! So when do people or things become an idol? I believe it is when we place their importance, opinions and or influence above our relationship and obedience to the King of Kings. Anything or person that we allow to detract us from our obedience to Jesus is an idol. Anything or anyone that we love more than Him is an idol. When we find ourselves compromising what we know is truth in order to accommodate others or to participate in something we know we shouldn’t we have allowed that person or thing to become an idol in our life.

For the last few months, I have begun to realize I am way too dependent on electronic gadgets! My blackberry is always within reach, facebook is readily accessible, the internet is a click away and tv is all too available. Though none of these things in themselves are wrong, when I allow myself to be caught up in never wanting them out of reach, I have made  them an idol in my life.

I feel a stirring in my heart that we may be facing some incredibly difficult days ahead as believers. Our Christian heritage is being attacked on every front. Things are changing rapidly in society and most of the changes are tearing down our Judeo Christian foundation. Though I do use my gadgets to share my faith in Christ and to keep in touch with others, I am realizing that I really have to discipline myself not to give them too much space in my life.  The only way for me to maintain an intimate walk with Christ is to spend adequate time in prayer and in reading my Bible and in fellowship. There have been occasions when I have been praying in my car on route to work and my cell phone has wrung and I have interrupted prayer to answer it!  Responding as if the world would collapse if I missed that  call!

Gadgets are but one thing that can become an idol. Other idols can be people. Perhaps a friend that demands too much time and keeps you  from spending time with the Lord. A boyfriend or girlfriend that has become an idol and has replaced the need for Christ in your life. A teacher, Pastor, neighbor or musician. A hobby, a sinful habit, food, tv, sports etc..  Anything or anyone that takes the place of putting Christ first is an idol.

Though all of these things and people may have great value in our lives, we have to keep them in perspective and not allow anything or anyone to steal our heart from God. If it keeps us from or causes us to run from intimacy with Him it is an idol.  The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God and wants us to put Him first. He knows how easily distracted we can become and knows it is vital for us to maintain intimacy with Him for the rest of our lives to work out according to His plan.

Let’s take a look at a few verses from God’s Word on idolatry….

Colossians 3:5-6 NIV 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.      This is a sobering verse of warning of God’s wrath for people continuing in this type of idolatry.

1 John 5:21 NIV 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 10:7  NIV 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

The following verse from the book of Samuel  simplifies the value of anything or anyone we put before God in our lives.

1 Samuel 12:21 NIV 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

Our hope is in the Lord. Other things and people have their place, but NONE are to take the place of Him in our lives. We are to put NO OTHER gods BEFORE HIM.  Though taken from the Old Testament ten commandments, this  word has never changed. He loves us so much and does not want to be second in our lives. Perhaps we need to ask Him  to show us people or things  that we have allowed to become idols in our lives and then ask for His forgiveness. The Word tells us He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we put anything or anyone before Him we lose out on the things God wants to do in us and through us. We get waylaid from the course He has set for us. Let’s determine to love Him wholeheartedly. Confess and set aside anything that will keep you from your intimacy with the lover of our soul! After all, in order to be used by God and a blessing to those around us, we need to keep our hearts right with Christ!

Are you armed?

I was reminded today how important it is that we study the Word of God. I was sharing with someone how I had heard a guest on a Christian talk show suggest something to non believers watching the show  that was definitely non scriptural.  I had to hear him say it twice before I realized that that is indeed what he said. I don’t share this to disparage him or the host that should have corrected him, but to emphasize to every one of us that it is critical we stay reading our Bibles. We live in a time, that the Bible warns us, where strange doctrines and a different gospel are also preached. 1 Timothy 4:1 NIV 4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. We need to be able to discern the truth from the false and the only way of doing that is to know the truth in the first place.  We who live in a time of Bibles being readily available to each and every one of us ( in the free world), have NO excuse.

Our studying of the Word should be taken seriously. We can’t count on tv evangelists, our Pastors, teacher etc. to be the main source of our studying. They are all a blessing and offer us guidance, protection and  leadership but we alone are responsible to God for how we handle His Word in our life. After all, if you don’t know the Word of God, how can you tell if a leader is leading you off track?

We are accustomed to having knowledge readily available to us. We can search the internet for just about anything today and have a response within seconds. We need to be careful that our spiritual growth is not dependent on the same type of quick answers. We need to study and meditate on the Word of God for it to be hid in our hearts! It will not come from just listening to sermons, or watching Christian tv shows.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV 15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In order to ensure we are not deceived by strange doctrines, or another gospel we have to study God’s Word. There is no shortcut. There are no excuses. It is not our mother, our brother, our Pastor or our grandmother’s sole responsibility for our spiritual growth. It is ours.  There are many verses in the Bible that show us just how important it is.

Jesus told us in Matthew 4:4 NIV “It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Hebrews 4:12 NIV12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 15:4 NIV For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Paul warned us in the book of Galatians of the dangers of being deceived.  Galatians 1:6-12 NIV I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

As time passes, I believe we will see more and more strange doctrines and other gospels! Without personal study of the Word of God, we leave ourselves very vulnerable to deception. Challenge yourself to read the Word of God daily. Write it out, meditate on it, hide it in your heart so that you won’t sin against God, as the Bible tells us to do.  Psalm 119:11 NIV 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

The best way to protect ourselves from being deceived is to know the truth! As Paul wrote in Ephesians, the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. It is a necessary defense weapon in our walk with Christ. We can’t take it up and use it if we don’t know it!

Ephesians 6:10- 17 NIV 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We all want  to be victors when we come before Christ!  Let’s arm ourselves with the Word of God so that we will be!

Allowing God to use our pain

Though I never enjoy going through painful experiences, I am convinced even the dark times in our life can be used to help others God puts in our life. Just this past few weeks I have had someone come to me who has lost his son. He is going through all the pain and turmoil my husband and I went through almost eight years ago. Though I am so sad for him that he has to deal with this, I am glad that I am able to encourage him and let him know that he will make it through. I have shared my source of strength, being the Lord, and have also encouraged him to stay in counseling.

I remember during the early days after Daniel’s death, I really didn’t want to talk to most people about how I was feeling. I reserved my conversations for those in my immediate family, my counselor and others who had lost a child. Not others who had lost a parent or friend but a child.  When we hurt we want to talk with someone who knows how we are feeling and all that goes with that. Though I am incapable of healing anyone I can be a source of  encouragement to others walking where I walked.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to help out others that are hurting and in need. And though we ourselves can’t heal their hurt or hearts, we know the One who can. Why not pray and ask God to open opportunities to you where you may be able to encourage or help another going through a dark time that perhaps you yourself have walked through. Ultimately, we want anyone broken, hurting and lost to meet up with Jesus. He is the One who is capable of saving, healing and delivering!

1Peter 2:24 NIV 24 “He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.”

Psalm 34:18 NIV 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

LUKE 4:18,19 NIV 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What are you feeding your mind?

The Word of God says Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle. I want to be part of that and I expect all followers of Christ do too! So why is it we see so many in the body of Christ  more concerned about watching the next big game, or episode of their favorite tv show than they are about being ready for our Kings return? We need to be like the virgins with their lampstands and be ready! Sadly we have allowed our minds to become too preoccupied with  temporal things and have shelved eternal things, thinking we can always get back to them.

I feel a stirring in my heart that I need to lay aside the things that easily distract me and move into a deeper walk with Jesus. I have spoken to many people lately that have that same stirring. So how do we go about doing that? We need to start by changing what we are feeding our minds. If we haven’t been reading our Bibles it’s time to get back to doing that. It’s our love letter from our Father and without it we will not grow spiritually. We need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness for putting anything and or everything before Him. We need to renew our minds on truth.  Our walk with Christ is a journey from glory to glory. In order to grow more like our Savior we need to spend time with Him in prayer and spend time in His Word renewing our minds.

As much as I like to watch and read current news, I realize though it  informs me of the troubles of the world,  it can’t offer any real solutions. And though I like to educate myself on issues like health, food, gardening etc.. I need to bear in mind that these things too are temporal. Good to know but if I am spending more time on them than time with the lover of my soul, my walk with Him will begin to suffer.  The things we spend the most time feeding  our minds on are the things that will grow and flourish within us. What we feed grows and what we neglect dies that’s why it is so critical to keep our minds set on eternal things. Otherwise, our walk with Christ will suffer greatly and our growth will stop. We will find ourselves stumbling around in the dark wondering what happened? We lose our peace, joy, spiritual discernment and so many other things that God freely gives us when we don’t abide in Him.

If you find yourself in that place now, cry out to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you for putting anyone or anything before Him, confess your sins to Him. His Word tells us that,  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. ( 1John 1:9)  He longs to have fellowship with you again! Get back into the Word of God. Just as your body needs food daily, so does your spirit. Begin to renew your mind on the things of God through His Word. Aim to spend less time on the temporal and more on the eternal, where the fruit born is eternal.

Romans 12:2 NIV2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Phillipians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Who are you trusting in?

The Lord reminded me this week that our hope is to be in Him and in Him alone. Others will from time to time disappoint us, reject us, abandon us, wound us, despise us etc. but He remains faithful and true. As followers of Christ we need to keep our hearts open and close to Jesus.  He will never disappoint us.  For even in our times of discouragement He provides comfort and rest if we look to Him.

People can be fickle and at times unreliable but He is not. He never changes. He offers mercy and grace to us all when we come humbly before Him, regardless of our sin. He provides us with strength when we go through trials and tribulations, as we abide in Him.

If you have found yourself feeling sad and discouraged as a result of disappointment, run to Him. He will provide the rest and peace you need. Just as we ourselves will stumble from time to time, so will others. When we look to others for our joy, happiness or security we set ourselves up for a great fall. Just as only Jesus can provide salvation, only Jesus can provide true joy, happiness and security.

David had such a grasp on this truth as is evident in so many verses in the Psalms.

Here are but a few…

Psalm 118:8 KJV 8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 37:5 KJV 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 28:7 KJV 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;  and with my song will I praise Him.

Psalm 56:3,4 NIV 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.4  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

and finally one of my favorites…

Psalm 18:2 NIV 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;  my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,  my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Remember we are all pilgrims on this journey of faith. We are being changed from glory to glory and will continue to be until we go on to be with the Lord. In the meantime, we will stumble and so will others.  You will disappoint others and others will disappoint you from time to time. So let’s put our trust and faith in the One that is worthy of both!

Keep your eyes fixed as you run!

Hebrews 12:1,2 NIV Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1,2 NIV Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

As we follow Jesus we are all participants in a race. It is a race that requires us to  keep our eyes on the finish line. Our finish line is Jesus. He is to be our focus. As long as we look to the right or to the left we will get easily waylaid but if we keep our eyes on the lover of our soul we will grow stronger in grace and be able to complete the race  and hear the wonderful words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

There are so many distractions along the way. Distractions that cause us to forget about the race and stop moving forward. These can come in many forms; dabbling in sin, busyness, rebellion, anger, bitterness but they all accomplish the same thing. They remove our eyes from the finish line.

As times moves on and the Lord’s return draws even closer we need to encourage one another to stay on course. To not allow anything to come between us and our relationship with Christ.

We need to take to heart Paul’s words in Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Anything that we allow to come between us and Jesus will slow us down and eventually may even take us out of the race entirely. If you have gone off course, humbly ask the Lord to forgive you. He will extend mercy to the humble!  Get back into reading the Word of God.  It is the map God uses to keep us on track. Get involved in a church where the Bible is preached and the Holy Spirit is moving and you will find yourself enjoying the benefit of others encouraging  you as you run the race alongside them.

Is your prayer life lacking?

 I have come to really enjoy my prayer time. I love spending time talking to the lover of my soul. It is no longer a chore or done out of a sense of obligation. It is done out of love and a longing to spend time with God. The change began to take place when I began to spend more time reading my Bible and realizing just how much I am loved!  Without that time in God’s Word, I would still be praying out of a sense of duty but it is because of the life His Word has breathed into me, I am now aware that my prayers are not said in vain but through Christ, are direct words shared with the Creator of the Universe!

The more time I spend soaking in His Word, the more I love to spend time talking to Him. It has opened up the line of communication between me and my Creator! It is abiding. As we read the Word, we become convicted of things in our lives we need to get rid of or surrender to God. As we shed these things and align our lives with His Word, our intimacy grows. Gone is the shame and separation that so often keep us from being able to boldly go before His throne. Through our faith in Christ, we know we can ask for forgiveness and be cleansed and renewed and move forward in what God has in store for us. The more we learn of Him, the more we long to be like Him!

Abiding is the secret to seeing our prayers answered. Why? Because when we abide in Christ, we no longer ask for things that are outside the will of God, not only for us but for others. As in any relationship, you must spend time getting to know another before you can really share anything of  depth. You wouldn’t share a deep hurt or wound with a complete stranger, or ask for their help if you didn’t know them. You wouldn’t feel you had the right to expect from them when you didn’t know them and hadn’t invested anything in a relationship with them. It is the same with our relationship with God. If we don’t read His Word and learn of who He is and what  He has done for us, than we really don’t know how to approach Him. We may throw up an occasional prayer now and then but won’t really spend the time with Him that we need to in order to cultivate intimacy.

In the book of John we read the words of Jesus 15:1-11 NIV 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you.No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If you are lacking a desire to pray, get back into the Word of God and reacquaint yourself with God and His awesome love for you that He willingly demonstrated through Jesus.  Spending time in the Word of God will increase your faith and give you fresh revelation of who Jesus is and how much He loves you!  As you begin to fathom just how great that love is, you will long to spend more time with Him in prayer, praying things in line with His will for you and others!

“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” C.H. Spurgeon

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

News worth sharing!

I know I am not alone in noticing the exciting changes in the Church. By church, I don’t mean my church only but the body of Christ in general. It appears so many more believers are getting serious about their relationship with Christ. The atmosphere is changing. There is a deeper hunger for more of God and less religion, pomp and pretense!

In our church, sometimes the presence of God is so precious that people don’t want to leave. But leave we must! We are very blessed to be able to corporately meet in prayer, fellowship and worship but God does not want us to hoard Jesus. He wants us to share the gospel so that all men and women everywhere have an opportunity to come to know the lover of their souls! The Bible confirms this in 1Timothy 2: 1-7 NIV 2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

It’s important that we meet regularly and be taught by our Pastors and pray with and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ but let’s not forget the gospel is the “good news” and news is to be shared! Ask the Lord today how you can be used to share the good news. There are so many hurting, broken people that need Christ and if we don’t share the gospel with them, who will?