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Time to refocus!

anxiousladyI am sometimes a very slow learner when it comes to spiritual lessons. Fortunately, God is so patient with me/us! He allows us to try our own methods until we realize they don’t work so great and than allows us to refocus on what is important. In fact, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, He will show us along the way if we listen.

When I find myself getting physically and or emotionally anxious I know that something is off in my relationship with Christ. I have come to realize that that usually follows taking my eyes off the things God has shown me through His Word, His Spirit or other brothers or sisters in Christ and putting them on the natural. The natural is NOT what we are to focus on.  It will limit God working in us and through us!

Our focus is to be on the revelation of the Word of God, who He is and what He has called us to do. Things that are to be accomplished for the Kingdom of God will never be achieved by focusing on the natural. It is through His supernatural revelation and the working of the Spirit that these things will be done by.

If you are finding yourself stressed, strained, upset, fearful or angry, it’s time you get quiet before the Lord and confess whatever it is that has captured your attention away from Him and His promises. Get into prayer and lay it out before Him and than rest in knowing He HAS heard you and will make a way. Rest in knowing He knows everything about you, about your past and your future. He has promised you REST as you walk out this life and He is waiting to provide it to you.  “And He said, my presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Get alone with Him today, confess your sins, lay your messed up emotions at His feet and wait on the REST He promises, no matter what your circumstances are.  REST is not dependent upon good times only. He promises peace and rest DESPITE our circumstances!

“COME TO ME, ALL  YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” ~ Matthew 11:28

 

Disappointed in man?

disap

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is Your faithfulness.~Lamentations 3:22-23

For most of us, we don’t have to go too long in our week before we have a situation that finds us disappointed in man.  Either a politician who has gone back on his/her word, a friend who has let us down, a family member that didn’t come through…it could be any of these things and more.

Our world is a place where disappointments abound! We see sin growing, evil men ruling in areas of the world, taxes increasing, services lessening. There are far too many things and situations to mention that can cause us to feel disappointed.

However, we have no excuse to let these things hold us back from trusting in a Savior that is anything BUT disappointing. He is a Savior that, when allowed, will lead us through the paths of disappointment. Not only that but He will provide joy as we go through these paths!  He is a faithful, loving Savior that will NEVER leave us or forsake us. He will be with us through any ups and downs and if we allow Him, He will keep us grounded when life would otherwise tip us on our heads!

When you find yourself being tossed about emotionally, physically or spiritually, get yourself back to a quiet place of prayer. Confess any sin to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us! Ask Him to give you the peace that only He can give. The beautiful, irreplaceable peace that comes when we rest in Him.

We need not fear the things that are happening around us. They are but opportunities to seek God about. As you spend time with Him, give Him your disappointments and ask Him to give you the peace and joy that He gives as you move forward in faith.

Truly His love never ceases, despite our failures from time to time and His mercies never come to an end for His own!

 

 

What’s bubbling to your surface?

Each one of us lives out our story of faith. Every day we are faced to deal with situations and people that cause us to react. Our reaction tells others a great deal about our character. God has called us, through Christ, to be salt and light in an otherwise dark world. Do our words and actions demonstrate the salt and light of the gospel or do they demonstrate a heart of self pity and complaining?

When we are driving down the road and someone cuts us off, our reaction is a direct result of what is inside us. If we have been thinking throughout the day of how difficult life is, how hard we have it or how unhappy we are, our reaction will not be too sweet! What comes to the surface during a crisis or a sudden upset is what we have been telling ourselves right up to that point. What we feed our minds bubbles up out of our mouths!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~Proverbs 23:7

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.~Philippians 2:14-16

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.~James 4:1-3

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him,  rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~Colossians 2:6,7

As followers of Christ we too often react with criticism, negativity and self pity because that’s what we have been feeding ourselves in our thought life all day! What goes into our thoughts comes out of our mouth. If we want to react and respond as Christ would, we need to feed our mind and heart on His Word. We need to be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. Taking up our cross often involves difficulties and trying times.

When we find ourselves reacting negatively to people and things we need to readjust our heart! We need to spend time with our Savior and  get back into the Word of God. It is necessary. It is essential if we want to live as Christ has called us to live, loving Him and serving others, there’s no other option.

I am so thankful that when I screw up and get waylaid in selfishness, I can ask the lover of my soul to forgive me and get me back on track!  He longs for our fellowship and is willing to forgive us over and over again.  So if you have been complaining, griping or just responding with an ungrateful attitude to your circumstances perhaps it’s time you get on your knees before Him and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to get you back on track with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Ask Him to illuminate the Word of God before you read your Bible and allow it to penetrate into your heart and mind. Allow the Word to conform you into the image of Jesus so that you too can be the salt and light this world of ours so desperately needs!

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Where’s your focus?

For those of us who call Jesus Lord and King, we have so much to be thankful for. For those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and King they have so much to gain by calling on His name. With Him in our life we are able to walk through any situation that life may throw at us. He doesn’t allow His kids to go through more temptation than they are able to bare if they abide in Him through the journey. He may allow a storm in our lives but He will never  bail on us during the thick of it. Never!

 

Too often we slip into a pattern of worry or fear with regards to the future. We forget that the lover of our soul never turns a blind eye to His church. Instead, He waits to hear from us. He longs for our fellowship. He is as close as the mention of His very name!

When we find ourselves feeling far from Him it is usually the result of setting our eyes on the natural. We forget that our relationship is a relationship of faith, not based on what we see but instead on the truth of the Word of God and the revelation of who Christ is through the Holy Spirit.  It is so important that we get ourselves back to the truth of the Word of God and the knowledge of who Christ is and will always be! He is Emmanuel, GOD with us! Don’t forget it! Instead let the truth of that sink into your heart! God loved us enough that He sent His own Son for our redemption. He wanted to restore a relationship with us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you and me!  That’s an awesome love right there!

When you find yourself reducing Christ and enlarging your problems, it’s time to get back to this basic truth. It’s time to heed Apostle Paul’s words taken from Colossians 3:1-3 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

You will only grow in your intimacy and love for Christ when you set your mind on things above. It is there in the realm of faith that He will begin to move the mountains in your life as your lean into Him and trust Him to do so! Keeping your eyes on your problems will keep you bound by them! Keeping your eyes on Christ will allow Him to move mightily!  James 1:8 KJV tells us A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  We can’t keep our eyes focused on our problems and trust God for the answers at the same time. We must exercise our faith and turn them over to Him and trust Him to work everything  out for our good! He promised to do just that!  Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you are struggling through a situation right now, take your eyes of your current situation and remember you have been raised with Christ through your redemption. Set your heart and mind  on things above. Remember that Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is ever making intercession for you, His church! There is nothing too big or difficult for Him to handle. Release the fear and stress of your situation into the hands of the ONE who loved and loves you more than His life itself!  Trust Him, He is worthy!

 

 

DON’T lose heart

When you find yourself in a hard place caused by someone else do you find yourself asking, “God when are you going to answer? When are you going to put a stop to all of this?” Well I have it on good authority that God hears your petition! He is not a god of stone or wood, He is the ONE true living God! Jesus gave us some pretty wonderful encouragement with just this matter in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV  Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This is such a powerful nugget that we too often read through quickly and neglect to allow the significance of this word sink in. We are not a people that should lose heart but instead to always pray!  We are not to pray once and give up grumbling  when we don’t receive an answer immediately. We don’t really like to hear it but  God will allow our adversaries to be used in the sanctification process of our walk with Him.  As we go through such a process Jesus tells us  that we are to continue to pray through. God will answer our prayer. He points out in this parable how even the unjust judge will answer a petitioner if they fail to give up asking. How much more can we count on God, who loves us, to answer us! Not only will He answer but He will avenge His elect (that’s us!) So what does that mean? He will hear us. He will also avenge on our behalf. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of avenge is;

avenge     verb \ə-ˈvenj\    : to harm or punish someone who has harmed you or someone or something that you care about

So not only will God hear us and answer but He will also handle our adversaries. We don’t need to. He will do so in His way, in His wisdom on our behalf. We have no excuse to allow hatred or bitterness against our adversary in. We can count on the fact that if we, His elect,  cry out to God and do not lose heart, He will answer and take care of our adversaries too.

Jesus isn’t talking about an adversary here of our own making. For example, if we have mistreated or sinned against someone and we are receiving the fall out of that, we shouldn’t be surprised. God will allow us to reap what we sow from time to time. 1 Peter 3:15,16 NKJV 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  He is referring to unjust treatment through no fault of our own. This may be as a result of our Christian  stand on issues, our faith itself or for any number of other reasons. Just to be clear we are not to willingly hurt others and call on God to avenge them on our behalf!   😉 However if we find ourselves being unjustly targeted or persecuted we are to cry out to God for help and know that He will answer! He may choose to allow us to endure for a season but we can be sure He will be with us as we do. As we cry out to Him, He will equip us to endure whatever He allows and He will take care of our adversary.

Throughout the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ suffering for their faith. They are not forgotten by God. Their prayers are being heard. Though they may be called to endure persecution for a season or even give their life for Christ, He will be with them every step of the way. He will equip them for the task.  God will not allow them to endure more than they are able to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV assures us of this.13 No temptation (including the temptation to recant our faith) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 Perhaps one day, we too will be called to do the same.  Jesus is telling us in Luke 18 that regardless of the unfairness of a situation God permits us to go through, regardless of who our adversary is,  we are not to lose heart! We are to continue in prayer! Just because our situation may not be pleasant, it does not mean God does not hear our cries! In fact, we can be certain He does!  He is JUST and we can be assured He hears our cries!

So whatever situation you may find yourself facing right now, DO NOT lose heart! DO NOT give up crying out to Him. He hears and will answer! He will not allow you to go through one iota more than you can bear. Of that you can be sure!  Jesus said so.

Don’t neglect to replenish!

Our bodies and our spirits are both created with a need for replenishing. In order to function properly physically we must find time to feed ourselves and also find time to rest from activity. In order to function properly spiritually we must find time to feed our spirits and also find time to rest from activity. Both are essential. As the body needs food so the spirit needs spiritual food, the Word of God. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV   16 When your words came, I ate them;  they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Matthew 4:4 NIVJesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 It is an essential ingredient in our walk with Christ if we want to remain sound. It is through the Word that we are able to receive God’s message of love, mercy, grace reproof  and encouragement. It must be a mainstay in our spiritual diet if we want to walk in peace and joy. It doesn’t do us good to gorge on the Word one day and then neglect it for weeks. It must be a daily meal.  When we neglect to feed our spirits with the Word of God, it doesn’t take long before we are basing our joy and peace on the temporal. This leaves us vulnerable to living on an emotional roller coaster and virtually makes us unfit for service.

If we are living based on our emotions we will not be able to carry out the things God has called us to do. Instead we will always be waiting for a better time to do things. A time when we feel happier, more generous, kinder, more giving etc. As followers of Christ we are not called to live by our emotions but to live by the truth of the Word of God. A truth that never changes, unlike our emotions. Can you imagine Apostle Paul dealing with shipwrecks, beatings and all the persecutions he suffered for Christ if he lived by his emotions? I think we can safely say he would never have reached the world with the gospel the way he did!

Just as we need to replenish our spirits with a daily meal of the Word of God, we also need to know when to rest. By rest, I don’t mean avoid doing anything but instead rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in His arms as we lean into Him with our prayer requests. We can turn to Him and lay before Him all our needs, the needs of others and whatever burdens we may be carrying. We can lay them at His feet and rest knowing He is more than capable of taking care of them all!

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1Peter 5:6,7 NIV Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Phillipians 4:6,7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, defeated, discouraged or far from God, we need to replenish our spirit with both the Word of God and time resting in His presence. Neglecting both will cause us to stumble very quickly. Both must be part of our daily routine. If you are not in the habit of reading the Word, start today. Pick a time to spend at least 10 minutes reading your Bible. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to receive the Word into your spirit. Ask Him to help you hide His Word in your heart! The same with spending time in prayer. I have found Monday to Friday, I can spend wonderful time in prayer in my car as I drive into work in the morning. It’s quiet and I don’t have any interruptions. I don’t recommend closing your eyes however! 🙂  Just make sure that you do  find some time every day  in the presence of God. Once you get into the habit of doing both daily, you will begin to find yourself growing spiritually and will not become easily depleted! You will have the energy to carry out whatever service Christ has called you to do!

Father God, I pray that You will give me the discipline and desire to both spend time in Your Word and in Your presence daily. Forgive my neglecting both Lord. Keep me close to You and keep my spirit sensitive to Your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish great things for Your Kingdom in my daily walk.

I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus Christ,

Amen