Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

5 Myths about Spiritual Growth

Faith

The Parable of the Talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30) demonstrates that the Lord wants us to use everything He has given us for the benefit of His kingdom and the one who buried his talents, instead of growing them, lost all that he had. The Master called him wicked and lazy. I know that’s the last things I want my Lord to think about me.

I want to grow in the Lord, in spiritual growth, more than anything. I think I have grown tremendously when I look back on my life as a whole, but sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged when I have a set-back, moments of doubt or feel like I’m in a rut. These are some misconceptions about what true faith looks like and the real truth that negates them. I hope they are beneficial to you in your journey:

1) If you are a Christian, you should never do anything wrong

Just because we are Christians, doesn’t mean we are perfect. Living in this world, we are not always going to act or feel holy. Therefore, when we don’t feel holy, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t growing in the Lord. We will have failure, but we always have hope in Jesus. That is where our faith comes in. We have to remember to steer one another away from feeling-based Christianity and remind one another of God‘s Word. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how we feel, if we are His, we are being transformed.

2) If you are really saved you would be different 

My niece is 11 years old, we can’t buy clothes fast enough for her. She doesn’t look any different to me daily, but it seems she’s in a new size shoe every month and she’s definitely taller  than she was a month ago. We can grow without seeing it. We grow in increments, not in drastic changes. We have to remember the promises in God’s Word like Ephesians 2:4-9, where Paul tells us the grace that saved us is the same grace that is
growing us.

3) If I am really a Christian, then my life would be easier

Trial and temptation is a big clue of God’s work in our lives to draw us closer to Him. He disciplines and refines those He loves. Difficulty is overcome by God’s grace as He does not leave us alone to grow spiritually. We grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We press into Jesus, through each trial, by holding on to His truth and being an example of His love to each other, reminding one another of His sufficiency in every circumstance. We have to rely on His promises, not on our feelings. The New Testament is full of examples of Christians that suffer for their faith. C.S. Lewis worded the reason so well: “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

4) If I was really saved, then I would be more like Bob

No two lives are the same. We all have different hangups, disappointments, mental illnesses, tragedies, achievements, skill sets, economic backgrounds, family situations, personalities, etc. Depending on our make-up and the season of our life, our growth may be moving at a different speed. It could be fast or slow at different times in our own lives. Some of us have started our journey with Jesus from bad places, where we believed most of the enemy’s lies. Our circumstances can make it more difficult to grow. Fortunately, our God can meet us right where we are. Genesis 28 tells the story of Jacob’s first encounter with God. Jacob was in a terrible place in life. God presented Himself in a dream, meeting him right where he was. God, and His angels, came to Jacob, instead of condemning Jacob for all he’d done. He will do the same for us.

5) If I’m a Christian I have to bug people and talk about Jesus

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8. This was the experience of the Psalmist. He found protection in the Lord, he knew how good the Lord was to him, he pleads with us to try the Lord out. Don’t you just love to get other people to experience the joy you’ve had? When I’m discouraged in my growth and impatient for some newfound feeling of being on the mountain top, I remember where I was and how far God has brought me. And nothing beats the feeling of being able to tell someone else about all that He has done for me. It’s a wake up call, it’s a reminder to myself of His awesome grace. It doesn’t mean that we harass people, it just means that there’s nothing wrong with telling someone how wonderful God has been to you.

Reflect on where you used to be, thank God He’s brought you so far, rest in Him and trust Him to fulfill His promise that He will finish His work in you. God bless you!

I’m Trying Really Hard to Hate My Life

Merriam–Webster’s 11 th edition of the Collegi...

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What does your worship schedule look like? If you are anything like me, no matter how ambitious you may start out to be, it will usually end up like this:

Sunday: early morning service, maybe some devotional reading in the afternoon

Monday-Saturday: read the Bible when I get time, try to finish praying before falling asleep

Webster’s dictionary defines worship as honoring a divine being or regarding with great respect, honor, or devotion. If we have compartmentalized our worship of God to one day a week, or worse, a couple of times per year, then what are we worshiping? When Jesus talked to the woman at the well, He said that God seeks true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth because God is spirit and truth. The truth is that only God is worthy enough to receive our worship and praise. God created us for relationship with Him, so we have to ask ourselves where we are spending our time and what priorities we are placing before Him.

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Jesus also said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

It’s hard to believe that Jesus Christ would tell us to hate not only our own lives, but also our families, isn’t it? Because in the book of I John of God’s word it says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” (1 John 3:15). Life is a gift from God. We cannot hate people, because that is not true to the scriptures. So, I believe this means that we must learn to hate the way we live our lives and what we are spending our time preoccupied with, whether it  be our homes, our families, making or spending money, etc.

If we are happy with the way our lives are, and make no effort to change, we cannot grow. We must hate where we are before we can ever desire to get where we need to be. Of course, we cannot forsake our obligations to family and friends, but we can become so bound by our duties that we do not grow.

We must all ask God for help with what we have allowed ourselves to become. Lord, I hate my tendency to get so caught up in my job, that I’ve become irritable with my family. I hate that I find myself worrying about finances instead of being more emotionally available to You. I hate that I don’t set enough time aside in the evening for prayer and time with You. Please help me re-prioritize my life that You are always number one. I cannot do this without Your help. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. In Your precious Son’s name, amen!

Feed My Sheep

He could’ve been an angel,
But He chose to be a Son.
Birthed to be a Sacrifice,
But in spite of death, He wasn’t done.

He could’ve waited in the tomb
When Mary came that morn,
But He was busy working
even after the veil was torn.

He encouraged His disciples
With the Resurrection News.
He had come to tell them,
that He had paid their dues.

He fed them and He warned them
to not go back to sleep.
He asked them, “Do you love me?”
And then said, “Feed my sheep.”

Seeking: Righteous Men and Women

Are you aware that since 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient, after Israel, of U.S. foreign assistance and that our country has given nearly $67 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt over the last 3 decades? Our freedom loving country, that espouses liberty and democracy all over the world, has been funding a country led by a tyrant responsible for:

  • Emergency rule for the last 30 years–restricting many basic rights, empowering the government to tap telephones, intercept mail, search without warrants, and detain suspects without charge.
  • Egypt ranking 111 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.
  • Attacks on opposition voters by security forces and pro-government thugs during parliamentary elections.
  • Restriction of freedom of the press. The state dominates the media and exercises influence over all privately owned publications.
  • Heavy restrictions on freedoms of assembly and association.
  • Respect for human rights being almost non-existent:
  1. Mona Thabe-police tortured her twice, after she filed a complaint regarding the alleged police torture of her husband, first on January 19 at a police station and again February 13, at her home. The alleged torture included beating, shaving her head, burning with cigarettes, and cutting. The government closed it’s investigation by the end of the year due  to lack of evidence. (State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136067.htm>)
  2. Alaa Al-Gamal-On July 10 and 11, police broke into this journalist’s home, because he had written articles critical of the government. (Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136067.htm>)
  3. Ibrahim El Sayed Metwally-In March 2008, according to the Al Nadim Center and the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid (AHRLA), police chief of investigations Ali Kedr and officers Hossam Abdel Moneim and Mahmoud Al Deeb of the Menia Al Nasr Police Station allegedly raided his home because of a debt he owed. The officers severely beat and verbally abused Metwally’s mother and siblings. Metwally’s sister claimed the officers detained her, beat her with a stick, and threatened to strip her. (Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136067.htm>)

In Jeremiah 5, God pleaded, “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem…seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jeremiah 5:1). The Lord is saying, “I’ll be merciful, if I can find just one person who’ll seek me.” Are we seeking him now? Does a country that is seeking God, not only condone, but fund the likes of a tyrant such as Mubarak?

During the captivity in Babylonia, God found a righteous man. His name was Daniel. I believe, today, more than ever in history, the Lord is searching for Daniels. Are we willing to stand in the gap as Daniel did, on our knees, with hearts and minds seeking the Lord? Daniel prayed, “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God” (Daniel 9:3–4). Daniel didn’t judge, and we mustn’t judge our fellow countrymen, we all have to put ourselves next to them, like Daniel did when he said, “we have sinned…to us belongeth confusion of face…because we have sinned against thee” (Daniel 9:5, 8).

Our once God-fearing country has been polluted with the spirit of this world, and we are in no position to receive the Lord’s blessings. Daniel said, “All this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand the truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us” (Daniel 9:13–14).

Let’s examine ourselves, confess to the Holy Spirit our areas of compromise. Oh, Lord, search our hearts. Expose all of the spirit of the world that has crept into our souls. Then, like Daniel, we can then pray for the deliverance of our families and our nation.

Are you daily at the gate?

Proverbs 8:34 says, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.”

Without God, I would have broken long ago under the weight of stress, anxiety, worry and perhaps sickness. And it isn’t even hearing Him, it’s just being with Him….setting aside that time every day to be with Him. I can’t even realize how powerful being with Him is, my human mind can’t comprehend it.

For that time you are with Him, you are making one spot of the earth a Holy Place….think about that. I’m convinced that if every soul spent time with Him daily, that disease and suffering would end. Being in His presence transforms…mentally, physically and spiritually.

Don’t fail to spend time with Him daily, in prayer, in praise or in silence. All who see you or talk to you, will then be brought near to Him and gradually His influence will spread. The world doesn’t need supermen or superwomen. It needs supernatural men and women, those that are strong enough to turn away from self, and let Divine Power work within them, to transform those around them. Our country could be saved today if our leaders did just this. We can’t wait on them to make that choice, we must do it….start today, give God your time and let Him heal you and our nation.

Bread Alone

“When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:2–3).

It’s always just the like the enemy to wait until you are physically vulnerable, hungry, tired, upset, to bring about temptation.

The enemy says, “If you are really a Christian, you should have God’s power in you.”

Like our example, Jesus, we have a passion for God. We’ve made a decision to set our hearts to be surrendered to him. Then we are lead into a wilderness experience, and the questions begin. We are wondering where God is and as we pray to gain victory and feel God’s power, Satan doesn’t let up. 

He says stuff like this to me, “These troubles can’t be from God, remember? He loves you, you don’t have to put up with this. You have God’s power, use it!” Satan’s first goal is to create a power failure. He always hopes to push us into acting on our own, hoping that God will not be there when we move forward, and then we will fall on our faces. In this way, doubt has been created, and doubt in Christians can be crippling, we become virtually ineffective.

Jesus told the devil, when He was tempted, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus let satan know that he didn’t come to earth to save Himself, He came to give to humanity.

Jesus never lost sight of his eternal purpose. Jesus learned to depend on the Father during His wilderness experience. I think maybe if we start learning to depend on our Father, our wilderness experiences might lessen. I hope I learn this dependence very soon! Have a blessed day!

Low Sodium New Year!

In the book of Genesis, chapter 19, the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah and overthrew the cities. All the people and the vegetation were destroyed, except for Lot and his family. However, when Lot’s wife looked back at the city, she became a pillar of salt. Instead of being grateful for being saved from disaster, Lot’s wife wanted to go back to the evil city and was mourning her life there. She didn’t want to change.

There are many self-development tools, books and blogs that tell you to take a look back over the past year, to assess and plan for the next. But, I think we can learn something from Lot’s wife. I don’t think any of us will turn to salt by taking an assessment of the past year, but we should be careful not to let the past keep us from moving forward.

MISTAKES–We all make them. Some of your mistakes in 2010 may have been doozies. You might still be paying the price for those mistakes. The best thing we can all do in 2011, is learn from our 2010 mistakes!

HURT–It’s hard not to be resentful. But, pulling that luggage around will not only be a burden for you, but it also can have an effect on your marriage, your relationships with other family members and friends and on your productivity level. Forgiveness will be a blessing to you and will free your heart and mind. If you can’t do it on your own, please ask Jesus to help you, He would love to do that!

DOUBT–Doubt is one of the best tools the enemy has to keep us trapped. And, it’s also the best way he can make our relationship with our Savior fuzzy as well. We have doubts about ourselves, doubts about our loved ones, doubts about our friends, doubts about Jesus. It’s a horrible way to feel and think. Resolve to let doubt go this year, and start doing and trusting. You are never alone in doubt, but doubt can make you feel that way. Jesus wants to help and doubt has no place in your relationship with Him.

FEAR–We are all afraid sometimes. But, the fear that paralyzes and keeps us stuck in our past is the worst kind. The biggest fear of most people is the fear of change. But change is required for growth. Sometimes there are growing pains, but growth has so many blessings that come with it that we should all try to embrace the positive aspects of change and get help dealing with the negative aspects. By growing through new experiences, it better equips us in helping others who are going through those same things.

Mistakes, hurt, doubt and fear….those are all things that should be left in 2010. Prayer, forgiveness, action steps and rewarding ourselves for changes made are some great resolutions for 2011. If we start focusing on that, and on the many blessings God has in store for us in 2011, our look back won’t be long at all. Happy New Year everyone! God bless you!

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