Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category

Who Am I?

Who I Am?
Image by tonyhall via Flickr

We live in a world where identity crisis is rampant. When I was growing up, I remember hearing older kids, teenagers, talk about finding themselves. As I got older, it was understandable what they meant by finding yourself because who I became wasn’t exactly who I thought I was and I was glad.

I witnessed some people lose their way and heard some say that it was because they couldn’t handle who they were or that they hadn’t yet found out who they wanted to be. It’s still common to hear my mother say that men take longer to find themselves than it does women.

I learned in psychology classes that the emotional growth of a woman is stunted when she gives birth to a child too early in life, since she hasn’t fully matured yet. I had a friend in the military who was an anorexia survivor and continued to struggle with the disease. She advised me that those that suffered with anorexia and bulimia were suffering from an identity crisis. A friend of mine has a ministry in Florida and their goal is to minister to homosexuals and lesbians who are trying to find their way and have questions about their identities.

The Book of John tells us that we are both the children of God and a Friend to Jesus. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did accept Him and believe in Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” And in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father.”

The Book of Romans tells us we are justified, freed, secure and assured. Romans 5:1 states, “Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Romans 8:1-2, it says, “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” And in Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called because that was His plan.”

In I Corinthians, it says we are united, we belong and that we are a member of Christ’s body. In I Corinthians 6:17, “But the one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.” And in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies.” And, in I Corinthians 12:27, “Today you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of that body.”

In Ephesians, we learn that we were chosen. In 1:3-5, “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be His holy people, people without blame before Him. Because of His love, God had already decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased Him.”

In the Book of Colossians, we learn that we are forgiven and complete. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “God has freed us from the power of darkness and He brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son. The Son died for our sins and in Him we have forgiveness.” And, in Colossians 2:9-10, “All of God lives in Christ fully even when Christ was on earth and you have a full and true life in Christ who is ruler over all rulers and powers.”

In the Book of Hebrews, we learn that we have direct access. Chapter 4, verse 16 states, “Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

Finally, in Philippians, we learn that we are citizens of heaven! Philippians 3:20, “But our homeland is in Heaven and we are waiting for our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ to come from heaven.”So, is it an identity crisis or identity direction? Is it about knowing who we are, or is it not knowing who He is?

Advertisements

Are you a successful Christian?

Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene
Image via Wikipedia

You are the only one that can define your success, as a Christian or anything else that you set out to do. What you want from your Christian life could vary greatly from what I want from mine. The true meaning of what it means to be a Christian may be different for you than it is for someone else. We could say we are a success now, just because we call ourselves a Christian. But, what if we decide that our becoming a Christian, was really the sacrifice and work of Christ alone, that we just accepted Him as our Savior and that really, the road to Christianity is just beginning, and we have a long way to go before we reach success? That is what I decided and these are just some of the areas that I am working on, ways that I want to illustrate that Christ is King of my life.

I want to remember people, so they will remember me.

As a Christian, I want people to know I feel they are important by remembering their names and remembering important things they share with me. I want this not only because they are God‘s children and I should care about them because God does, but also so that they will be more likely to remember me. I want them to know I am there for them and can help them if they need it.

I want to remember that success is independent of age, education, failure and public opinion.

There are many other traits that you could put into this category that could be your stumbling blocks, but these particular ones have just been areas where I’ve personally had the most difficulty overcoming. The enemy uses these attributes as weapons against me often, wanting me to believe that my age, my education or lack thereof, a fear of failure and what other people think about me or my actions are legitimate reasons for me not being the best Christian I can be.

I had to generate a life purpose and remember it every day.

It’s tempting to get caught up in our families, jobs and even church work. Those things aren’t bad, but we know there is an eternal life beyond the one we are living. We have God’s Word as the instruction book for our lives. So, there are certain things we are commanded to do. Beyond our own wants and desires, we must concern ourselves greatly with the will and purposes of the Father. It’s easier and more beneficial to us, if we incorporate His will into our lives instead of keeping our plans and purposes separate from His. Our goal, as much as humanly possible, should be to let Him guide us into our purposes.

I have to work really hard to keep a positive attitude, and I fail often.

It would be nice if God could flip a switch in us, after we become Christians, that made us magically feel good all the time, regardless of the circumstances. Or, would it? I guess it kind of goes against the free will rule, doesn’t it? I know there are others like me who are trying really hard to bite their tongues, think before speaking and trying to leave work outside the door when they come home. But, I also know others that seem to never be ruffled, never speak a cross word, and seem to have a smile on their faces every time I see them. What is the secret? I do know that there was a time in my life when I didn’t even question my attitude, it never occurred to me that I had to be more open to others and less caustic when someone didn’t get my order right the first time. I praise the Lord for opening my eyes to my behaviors and attitudes, I guess that’s a good start.

I have to remember to have a sense of humor.

If you’ve spent any time in this world at all, you know our Lord has one. Otherwise, we would have never had the experience of seeing a giraffe or an anteater. And, how about the coldest winter on record after the big, bad, global warming scare? A co-worker made some special coffee at work one morning and told me it was ready. As I went into the break room, I noticed there was only enough left in the pot for one more cup. I was feeling particularly smug, being one of only a few who would have the privilege of drinking this delicious brew, as I poured the coffee into my styrofoam cup. I gazed out the window at the beautiful morning, and as I looked back down at my cup, to my utter horror, the coffee was going into the cup and right through the bottom side, where there was a hole the size of a dime. I hurried and grabbed another cup to hold underneath my damaged one, but I was only able to save a little less than half.  I was so disappointed, but I repented as I cleaned up the break room counter, and I laughed all the way back to my desk. I very much enjoyed my three drinks of coffee and as the scriptures tell us, I know the Lord was laughing too.

There’s so many other areas that the Lord is helping me with, like perseverance, dealing with change, and especially giving me courage through Him, so I can share Him with others. We have to remember we are, sometimes, our own worst enemy. Don’t stop learning and growing; you will be a successful Christian, if you will just allow Him to walk with you.

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!” (Psalms 107:1) This song is all about God’s saving grace, and how we owe Him gratitude and praise. When I was lost, lonely, depressed, chained by sin, suffering from bad choices, or just plain broke, the Lord has always been trustworthy to show up with His great love to save me.

A cry for help is familiar to all of us, isn’t it? People always get into trouble, they cry out to God, and He saves us. Psalm 107 reminds me of when I’ve been desperate and God has answered. I feel like our country is pretty desperate right now. Our economy, public education, Medicare, Social Security and legal immigration systems are failing, murder of the unborn is legal, we are losing our young and brave in a war that none of us agree on,  and our political system divides us well. God’s answers sometimes seem slow and we don’t always get the answers we want. But this psalm encourages us to think about when God has  moved in our lives in obvious and miraculous ways.

Think about it, remember a time of despair, think of how many different ways God has rescued you, doesn’t it make your heart want to sing the words of Psalm 107, “Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.” Doesn’t God’s goodness makes you want to worship the Lord with all that you are? I believe that if we can remember to do this, so many things in all of our lives would be drastically different.

O God, Your faithful love endures forever. Please reassure us with your presence and rescue us from our sin and disbelief. We praise you for your great love! We have wandered away from your ways and made a mess of our lives, please forgive us and help us to rebuild what we have destroyed. How I praise you for your great love! Amen.

%d bloggers like this: