Tag Archive | Religion and Spirituality

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.

Lay aside selfishness

If we were to believe many of the “self help gurus” today, we would be convinced that it  is not only emotionally healthy but  in our best interest  to put ourselves and our desires first. After all doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy, regardless of what pain and suffering our actions may cause others?  Sadly, doing just that has produced so many of the problems we are currently dealing with in society. Selfish ambitions and desires have often replaced care and concern for others,  including our own family members. How many marriages and families have split because one or both partners decided they no longer liked the restrictions of monogamy or grew tired of pouring themselves into the raising of and nurturing their children. There are so many lonely kids growing up in homes where they are considered an after thought. Just check out the Children’s Aid Society  or Child Services stats. In most cases, the family problems started with one or both parents choosing a selfish desire over their loved ones.

I’m not advocating that anyone should stay in a dangerous or unfaithful marriage. That’s a decision each person has to make for themselves but I am suggesting that most of the problems come about as a result of our selfish desires and ambitions.  We begin to look for greener grass elsewhere instead of investing and improving our own relationships or situations. Decisions are made on feelings alone, which at best are fickle and at worst can be downright dangerous.

As followers of Christ, the Word of God has lots to say on the matter of selfishness. If we are to love as Christ loves, we have to learn to surrender our selfish ambitions and be willing to line ourselves up with the Word of God. We shouldn’t be tossed to and fro by our emotions. We need to regularly be reading the Bible and staying close to the lover of our soul. When we neglect to do either we begin to surrender much too easily to the whims of our emotions.  Acting on emotions alone will have us riding an emotional and spiritual  roller coaster.  Too often, we see  Christians compromising their walk with Christ  as they act on their feelings. It not only impedes their walk  but the fall out wounds the entire body!

Here are just a few words from the Bible on selfishness….

 James 3:13-17 NIV  13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.                                                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 119:36 NIV, David knew the importance of what he was asking of God when he said, 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

We serve a mighty God, who loved us enough to send His precious Son to redeem us. Let’s put aside selfish ambition and walk worthy of the calling God has put on our lives or as Paul penned in Hebrews 12:1 NIV  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,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.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are you hiding from the Light?

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV "Who can hide in secret places so that  I cannot see ?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

I am thankful to God for His patience with me.  I am so grateful that He is slow to anger and kind. That He longs for fellowship with each and every one of us.  I can remember at one time believing that whenever I screwed up in my walk with Christ, God would be angry with me, so I would find myself avoiding Him for a while. I would steer clear of  the intimacy of prayer as it would require my having to come clean and fess up.

Before too long however,  I would miss our fellowship. I would toss up the odd prayer but with no real expectancy due to the fact I knew there were things between us putting up a barrier from intimacy. Eventually I would cave and come before Him with a heart of repentance and fess up. The peace and freedom that would follow was amazing. I’m not sure why I ever thought things would get better on their own!

I am thankful that I no longer try and hide anything from Him. He sees all, knows all and it is a complete and utter waste of time allowing any sin to remain between us.  When I screw up now, I don’t waste the time  I used to fessing up. It keeps the lines of communication open with the lover of my soul. It allows for instant access and freedom in making my requests known when I come to Him with a need for others or for myself.  If you have drifted from intimacy in your prayer life, perhaps it’s time you tear down the  barriers.

If  you have sin in your life you have been holding onto, hoping neither God nor anyone else will see it,  it’s time to get rid of it!  Don’t waste another day without intimacy with the King of  Kings.

The Word of God says in 1John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness.

Let His light shine  into all the dark areas of your life. Don’t allow anything to keep you from coming boldly to the throne!

John 3:19-21 NIV 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,  so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Let’s NOT become weary

Often when we come to God with a prayer request we would like to receive our answer immediately. This does happen but I have found in my life that often the answers do not always come right away. God, at times, allows us to go through a time of growth or stretching before we receive our heart’s desire. This period of waiting also weeds out those who are looking to our Heavenly Father as a Santa Claus type provider instead of “He who rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:28.

He is the lover of our soul and ultimately knows what is best for us. He also knows when and if He will  answer our prayers with a yes, a no or perhaps a not now. I have received all three at various times in my walk. I can’t say that I always appreciate waiting on my answer but I can say that I trust the ONE who answers to know what is best for me and mine.  I am always so pleased when I receive an immediate answer but I am learning to be content when I don’t. It is quite simply a matter of trusting the ONE who truly knows me and everything about me. As we read in Psalm 139:1-4 NIV You have searched me, Lord,and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

So for those times that we have to wait on God for our answer, just how should we spend our time waiting? Galatians 6:9 NIV  tells us, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

As you wait on God to answer the cry of your heart, spend your time wisely. Seek His face, read His word and continue to do all He has shown you to do up until this time. Don’t waste time demanding your way but serve God and fulfill the ministry He has provided for you whether that be with your family, your church or your community and remember, “For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we DO NOT give up.”

Prayer DOES change things!

I was thrilled this weekend to hear that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani was released from an Iranian prison after three years of imprisonment.  Pastor Nardarkhani had been  charged with apostasy and was given a death sentence for being a Christian in Iran and for refusing to recant his faith in Christ. I and thousands of other Christians, worldwide had been praying for his release. Thanks to the International Christian Concern organization, his plight was made known to tens of thousands of believers. Through facebook and Twitter his name was kept in the public eye.  The pressure they kept up and their monthly reminders for prayer had many of us interceding on his behalf.  I have no doubt whatsoever that God heard our prayers and answered!  Not all of our brothers and sisters in Christ will be released from their plights as it’s not always God’s will. Obviously God has a bigger purpose for Pastor Nardarkhani being a free man.  I do believe, however, that the fervent prayers of righteous men and women helped to accomplish this!

God calls each of us to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters. Our prayers can make all the difference in the world. When I was reading my devotions last night, I was reminded again of the beautiful power in collective prayer. It is found in  Acts 12:1-11 NIV 12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

Wow, what an answer to the cries of the church! Similarly, the odds of Pastor Nardarkhani being released from an Iranian prison were very slim. It was the obedient response of the church to pray unceasingly on his behalf that brought about his release.  I am sure Pastor Nardarkhani would agree!

When you have a need go to God in prayer and watch His hand move in amazing ways to bring it to pass.  Jesus promised that we would not only do things He did but that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we would do even greater things.  John 14:12 NIV 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Through Christ, God has provided this amazing tool that allows us all to  boldly come before His throne with our requests. He hears the prayers of His kids. Collective prayer offers a special promise.. Matthew 18:19 NIV 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. What an awesome promise from an awesome God!

Keep prayer as a mainstay in your life. Don’t allow anything to come between you and your intimacy with God. Pray for others. If you want the support of many, ask others to pray for you and or your situation. Too often we don’t see results in our lives because our prayer life is lacking.

Leonard Ravenhill was a true man of God. An Evangelist and author, he spent his life focusing on the importance of prayer and revival.  His words still ring true today,“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing, the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few slingers;lots of pastors, few wrestlers;many fears, few tears;much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors;many writers but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

Prayer: James 5:16

Prayer: James 5:16

Rise up and do something!

We live in a dog eat dog world. Many believe that in order to get ahead we have to climb our way to the top. Bashing others is common place if it means making ourselves look superior. The squeaky wheel is often the one that gets the attention therefore being loud and boisterous gets results. Reality tv shows abound with self absorbed, selfish people that brag about their dysfunctional lives and demand others give them the attention they feel they are due. It’s pretty crazy out there!

God did not create us to be legends in our own minds!  He created us to love and serve Him and to love and serve others.  Philip2:4ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  We don’t have to look far to see needs all around us. Though we can’t fill every need or help everyone out there, we certainly can start in our own backyards.

Some of us have family, friends, acquaintances or co workers  that need our prayers. Intercession is something all of us can do and it is at the heart of bringing about change and help to others. It is helping in a way that man cannot help by calling on God and opening  the door for Him to begin to work. Perhaps if we do this first, rather than as a last resort when man’s ways fail we will begin to see positive changes and answers far quicker. Galatians 6:2 ESV Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

There are  many local charities that are already doing a great work helping others. Perhaps we can volunteer our time or our resources to help them out. For example, the Salvation Army has locations in most communities and they sure help others in very tangible ways. They provide food, clothing and other resources that many wouldn’t have without their help. Prov.19:17 ESV Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Perhaps if we have an ailing neighbour we could volunteer to make a meal or meals, cut their grass or help out with any other chore they may need assistance with. Babysitting is another way of helping out. In this tough economy many people have had to relocate from their hometowns to find work and therefore don’t have family around to help out when they really need a sitter.                          Luke 10:27 ESV And Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Sometimes something as simple as opening a door for someone with a disability or with their arms full can make their day a little lighter.  A kind word can go a long way when someone if visibly upset.  There is no limit to ways we can reach out.  The only thing limiting us is often laziness.  James 2:13 ESV For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

I am committed to spending less time on the couch and more time praying and doing.  Time is short and there are many things that need to be done before Jesus returns. It’s time to rise up and do something!

Hebrews 13:16ESV Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Learning to help early in life. 🙂

Time for pulling spiritual weeds

I love to garden.  It is one of those things I do that I find very relaxing.  It is naturally more fun to plant, water and enjoy the fruits of my labour but there are times when the work of maintaining is much more difficult.  God reminded me this weekend how much my life is like that of my garden. If I want to enjoy the blessings of beautiful flowers or vegetables and fruits I have to get rid of all the weeds of sin.

When I came to Christ at a young age I tried to live a life that was in obedience.  I was very regimented and lived too much under the law and missed out on the true message of grace. I still felt I had to earn my salvation way deep down in the depths of my heart. Over time it became a huge struggle because the one thing that was really missing was the joy that God gives when we learn to rest in Him and in what Christ really did for us.  I was constantly trying to stay in God’s good graces, not realizing it is impossible to do so by my own efforts.  Eventually I burnt out somewhat and gave in to compromising as I didn’t feel I could keep up with all the demands I thought God was putting on me.  It was really demands that I put on myself trying to earn a feeling of belonging… Sadly I wasted a lot of years doing this.

This lead to compromised living.  Never turning away from God but also NOT living in obedience.. I began to think, what was the point when I could never really measure up? During those years I allowed a lot of weeds back into my garden.  Bad habits, bad attitudes, bad behaviours and selfishness. Over the last several months God has been showing me the various weeds I need to pull up! There are plenty and I am so grateful that He is a God of mercy and didn’t and won’t give up on me.

Psalm 103:8 NIV The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

 I am so glad He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love!  He longs for us to be in intimate fellowship with Him and though He loves us enough to accept us just as we are when we cry out to Him,  He also loves us enough to not leave us there!!  I can’t get back wasted years but I can be sure from this day on to serve Him out of love and not duty.  To accept His mercy and grace and not walk in condemnation.

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.

So as I tend to my garden I am sure God will continually show me weeds that I need to uproot. It is not my favourite thing to do but it is necessary if I want to walk closer to Him.  Some weeds look like proper plants and it takes discernment from God to see that they actually are weeds. I know I have done or said things that at the time seemed harmless but in my quiet time with God, He has shown me that my heart was not right in doing or saying what I did and that I need to bring it before Him.  Some weeds look innocuous yet they have roots that go deep down into the soil of our hearts and if left, will strangle out the good surrounding plants. These spiritual weeds act like poison in our hearts and cause us to grow cold towards others or God if left unattended. I find that as God reveals these weeds in my life and as I begin to lay them at His feet and ask for change He is faithful and giving me the grace to change.  Not in my own strength but through the Spirit He humbles and strengthens me in His love.

As Christians, we never arrive until we meet face to face with Jesus.  Ours is a journey of growth. We will make mistakes, we will stumble, we will obtain war wounds but thankfully we have a Father that loves us and will help us get back on track as we seek Him. We have a Savior that died on our behalf so that we would have legal rights to come before God.  Not in our own merit but because of the price He paid.

John 3:16,17 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.