Tag Archive | New International Version

Busyness without abiding = wheel spinning

There are times when we feel like our lives are stagnating. Though we may be incredibly busy, we just don’t see ourselves moving forward in any particular direction. This is often a time of personal spiritual reflection. A time for us to seek the face of God for direction. My prayer is that during this time we will not jump into more “spiritual” activity. Instead, use the time to get deeper into the Word of God and spend more time talking to the lover of our soul.  Though busyness can make us appear very spiritual, if we are not doing what God has called us to do in the right spirit, we are just spinning our wheels.  He longs for us to abide in Him, leaning on Him for His strength and guidance as we do His will.

If  you find yourself feeling rather useless right now, begin to seek His face. Talk to Him, read His Word and ask for direction at the beginning of each day. He doesn’t want us doing “His deeds” without Him. He wants relationship. He wants our attention. He wants our love and devotion. It is through abiding in Him and His Word that we are to live out our lives. We are not to do what we deem our spiritual duty, checking in with Him once in a while for approval. We are to seek Him daily and allow Him to use us for His service as He leads, all the while obeying what we know to be His will.

Jesus himself, told us of the importance of remaining close to Him. It is out of that abiding that we will bear spiritual fruit for His Kingdom.

John 15:4-5 NIV 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.“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.

If you find yourself just trying to stay busy (even doing “His deeds”)  in order to cover the emptiness inside, perhaps it’s time to get plugged back into the source. Spend time with Jesus today. Let Him know how you are feeling. Ask for direction. Ask for a renewed love and increase in faith. He longs to give us good gifts!  Spend time in His Word. It is a love letter to each of us from God Himself. When we come to Him with a sincere heart He will not ignore us! He is faithful to answer! He has been waiting to hear from you.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ~Francis Chan

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.

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?

Don’t sit idle!

Some days my heart hurts for this world we live in. I watched the news and heard about the British soldier slaughtered on the street in London. He wasn’t in battle but simply walking down the street when he was approached and slaughtered by a raging terrorist who felt justified in killing him  because he wasn’t of the same faith. Today, I heard of an attempted plane high jacking from Pakistan to England, that thankfully it was thwarted but could have ended in tragedy. Again, an attempt to take the lives of others who don’t share their extreme ideology…

Anyone that doesn’t see the evil in this world we live in has to be wearing blinders. There are wars and rumors of wars all around us. Governments are involved in corruption on so many levels and refuse to admit or take any responsibility for their actions. One country feels the right to annihilate another because of a difference in beliefs. We hear stories of parents killing their children and children killing their parents, abuse in homes, schools, churches and so much more…

So what is the answer to all of this mess? Do we just resolve ourselves to the fact there is nothing we can do? Do we live in our own little bubble and refuse to help and make a difference? Do we harden ourselves by ignoring others and moving forward without a thought for their difficulties?

As Christians, God has called us to a world such as this.  We are men and women with the tool of prayer at our disposal. We are men and women with the answer. Christ didn’t come to save the “found” but the lost! We have the good news and we need to share it with a dying, messed up world.

Luke 19:10 NIV 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 20:28 NIV 28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.                                                              

Luke 5:32 NIV 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

When you see destruction and heartache all around, take the time to ask God what it is you can be doing to make a difference? There is always something we can do! Pray, pray for the lost, pray for the hurting, the broken, the rebellious, the bitter, your enemies and then do something to demonstrate the love of Christ to another!

It’s important that we don’t sit on our hands and moan about the state of things without getting down on our knees and praying! Prayer is the thing that will usher in the most change.  It is a mighty and powerful weapon that is at the hands of every follower of Christ!  Even the most frail, limited body can pray and therefore is capable of bringing about huge change in this world of ours!

When you have done that ask God how you can serve others?  What can you do to be the hands and feet of Christ?  Ask Him to put people in your life that need to hear the GOOD NEWS and when He does, share it!  Ask Him to provide opportunities where you can minister love and compassion to others and when He does, do it!

We are only limited by our indifference!  Determine to make a difference in this world. Determine to help others by sharing the good news. Determine to not sit back and watch but get involved in doing Christ’s work here while you still have time and while you are able.

Psalm 145:18-19 NIV 18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;  He hears their cry and saves them.

 James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Before you say I do

I love being married. I am thankful that Mike and I have been able to date to share 34 years together. It hasn’t always been easy. We have had many great days and we have had some incredibly difficult days during our marriage. We don’t always agree on everything and I’m sure never will. We have been tested, tempted, tossed and turned but the one thing that has remained through it all is the commitment we made before God. Though we were young when we married, we knew from the Word of God that it was a very serious commitment. When times have been rough, we honored that commitment. Today, I am so thankful we did. We are able to see the fruits of that now in our life as we are able to enjoy our grown children and grand children as a couple.

I am convinced that the reason we have been able to make it to date, is before we married we were both committed to Christ. When we were first introduced, I had recently come to Christ and was very involved in my church. Though he had been raised in the Catholic faith, he was not attending church. He was however seeking a deeper walk with God. While dating the one thing God impressed upon me was that if he was not willing to make a commitment to Christ, I was not to continue in the relationship. At a Billy Graham Crusade that year, he did make a commitment and the rest is history. In our early years, we attended bible studies together and both grew in our faith as we saw God answer many prayers. It was the teaching we received and prayers of those early days that sustained us when we hit a few rocky paths. And we did hit rocky paths!  With the busyness of raising five children, Mike working long hours and often away and all the rest of what life throws at you, we found ourselves drifting apart and becoming quite resentful of one another. It just seemed that we were both kept so busy doing what we needed to to get by that we neglected our time with God and with one another.

Through it all, God continued to woo us back into intimacy with Him. As we drew closer to Him we were able to put all the rest in perspective. Spending time in prayer and getting back into His Word gives us clarity in our thoughts and hearts enabling us to forgive past hurts and resentments and move on to the future.

Of this I am sure, had we both not been committed Christians, both to God and to each other, when we married, we would never have lasted to enjoy the time we now have together. Both life and marriage can be difficult at times. However, I wouldn’t trade any of the those difficult times. As we have surrendered to God’s will, He has taken those difficult times and used them for our good. He has strengthened our bond together. He has given us an empathy and understanding we would never have had had we not experienced some of the hard times we did. Most of which were the result of our own disobedience or selfish behavior! 🙂

For Christians looking for a future marriage partner, I would suggest two things. Be sure the person you are going to commit your life to shares your commitment to Christ. The Old and New Testament are full of warnings to those who are wanting to link up with non-believers. It doesn’t usually end well.  2 Corinthians 6:14,15  NIV 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Secondly, stay close to the lover of your soul and He will give you the wisdom you need in choosing your partner. Feelings alone are NOT sufficient to sustain a long term relationship. They change, they rise, fall and sometimes even fade. It takes more than romantic feelings to keep any couple together long term.

James 1:5 NIV If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

To those already married, that have since come to Christ, pray for your spouse. God will honor your prayers! He is faithful and longs to give you the desires of your heart! He loves your spouse more than you do and wants to have a relationship with him or her.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 NIV 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

2 Peter 3:9 NIVThe Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

There are so many people being wounded as a result of a broken marriage. Sadly, Christian stats are almost as high as non believers. If we walk in obedience and honor God’s Word before we say I do, it will give us much better odds of our marriage lasting. Too often believers compromise on their choice of partner out of fear or impatience. It starts by dating outside our faith. If we honor God’s Word and obey Him in choosing our marriage partners we stand a much greater chance of having His favor and blessing over us when we need it most. Marriage is wonderful and challenging all at the same time. Why not start out on the right foot?