Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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?

Are you a successful Christian?

Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene
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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.

If You Are Waiting on an Answer to Prayer, Read this Now!

Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afar, as in ...
Image via Wikipedia

The act of praying is a mystery to me.  Sometimes prayer pours out of me as natural as breath, sometimes I struggle with it, to the point of almost giving up. Occasionally, we get answers immediately and there are times, we wait and wait and…some of us are still waiting for an answer.

Unanswered prayers are discouraging at the very least, but did you also know that unanswered prayer is an effective tool of the enemy? Think about it, how many times have you been hesitant to pray about anything while you’ve waited on an answer to a past prayer? If you’ve waited a long time, has resentment crept into your heart and are you giving God the silent treatment because you’ve not received an answer? How wonderful for the enemy if he can use an unanswered prayer to drive a wedge between us and our most effective power against him.

Please don’t allow this to happen. If you are still waiting on an answer, there’s three important things for you to know:

1. The answer could be No.

In Deuteronomy 3:26, Moses states, “But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.” It’s not that I’m saying the Lord is angry with you for anything, but it could just be that the Lord has said no, and He means it. And, it may not be important for us to know the reason. Or, the reason could be revealed in the future. This is where faith and trust will be paramount for you, in that you must trust God that He is working everything out for the best and you must place your faith solidly in His hands.

2. Your sin is blocking God’s work.

In Isaiah 59, the Bible tells us, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” And, again, in Psalms 66, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.”

If we are living in continual sin and not repenting and trying to clean up our lives, God isn’t going to mess with us. He has no choice but to separate Himself from sin and if we aren’t even trying and are just coming to Him with our shopping list, He’s going to close the store. That doesn’t mean you stop praying, just start refocusing your prayers on asking God to help clean you up, instead of on what you’ve asked Him about originally.

3. It’s Not About You

It could very well be that the reason your particular prayer hasn’t been answered is because God is letting things play out for your good (plans for a better future). Or, that your faith and patience requires growth. It’s at these times that we must remember our time is not the same as God’s time. However, more importantly, we have to recognize that we are not alone in the world. The waiting may not have anything to do with you at all. We tend to relate every event or circumstance to how it affects us, but sometimes it really isn’t about us at all. Our waiting could have everything to do with someone else. The reason we could still be waiting is because there is someone else’s well-being, possibly even their soul, at stake.

We are given everything that we need to know in the Lord’s book, the Bible. We have many promises from Him, and He has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. We should try to be satisfied with this gift, and leave the mysteries unknown.

First Aid for Your Prayers

Jesus in Pray

Image via Wikipedia

Am I the only one that sometimes has difficulty praying? Or, are you sometimes just plain dissatisfied with your prayers?

As usual the Bible has the answer and these are just some of the ones I found when I did some research.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The Lord can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases.” I wander everywhere sometimes when I’m trying to pray and focus. This verse tells me that maybe I’m suppose to, maybe the Lord wants to direct me somewhere I need to go.

Are you guilty, like me, of praying when it’s most convenient, just in church maybe? Matthew 6:5-6 might make your conscience hurt a little. “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. They love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray so people will see them. I tell you the truth, they already have their full reward. When you pray, you should go into your room and close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and he will reward you.” I don’t think this means I need to stop praying in church or that I must never pray in public, but we definitely should be wary of just praying for appearances’ sake. We should be praying daily, earnestly and sincerely. This should be a special conversation with our Father, not just a show for other people.

Mark 1:35–Early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus woke and left the house. He went to a lonely place, where he prayed. Jesus put God first, and we should do no less. We must give him the best parts of our day. That may not be the morning for you, but it should be a time and a place with no distractions.

Luke 5:16–…but Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray. Once again, we see an example of Jesus getting away to talk to His Father. Notice that this New Century Version translation says “slipped away”. The New King James Version translation words the verse this way: “…often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Slipped away” or ‘withdrew into the wilderness” aren’t the actions of someone who is waiting until He has more time. Ugh! I’m so guilty of this.

Isaiah 6:1–In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a very high throne. His long robe filled the Temple.

I often rush into and out of prayer, not spending any time getting still and picturing my Lord as He really is, a magnificent entity, the King of kings! We might be unsatisfied in our prayers because we are not taking time to truly engage the Lord and sincerely asking Him to meet with us.

Psalms 78:1–My people, listen to my teaching; listen to what I say.

I find that I am way more satisfied in my prayers if I have read my Bible first and have let God talk to me before I’ve prayed. That’s not to say God can’t speak to us while we are praying, but I think it helps us to focus on Him and to still the cacophony that is often in our heads before settling into a conversation with the Lord.

 Isaiah 64:8–But Lord, you are our father. We are like clay, and you are the potter; your hands made us all.

If you are like me, you are often guilty of bringing a wish list to the Lord, telling Him what it is that He needs to do for you. Instead of focusing on what we think we need, we need to practice letting God whisper it to us; letting Him be in charge of our desires. He truly is a Father who knows best.

Luke 22:42–“Father, if you are willing, take away this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.”

Oh! that I could focus on relinquishing every situation to Him! Why is prayer sometimes our last resort??! We should be giving Him all the details. He already knows us, and He wants to hear us tell Him what we are most concerned about. It is not only therapeutic for us, but believe it or not, He just loves to hear you talk! The more we talk to Him and listen, the more we are concerned about what He thinks and not what we want.

Psalms 77:11–I remember what the Lord did; I remember the miracles you did long ago.

I bet it would be amazing what we could learn if we kept a record of what God is doing in our lives! Let’s start writing our prayers, so we are able to look back and see what God has done in our lives and in the lives of those we’ve prayed for. Imagine the information we could share with others about what God has done for us and them!

Prayers for and Love to you! Have a beautiful weekend!

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!

American Revival

prayer..

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-24 (KJV)

The root meaning, of the word ‘confess‘ is “to say the same as.” So when we confess our sins to God, we are essentially agreeing with God about our sin. God is far from clueless about our sin, so we are just taking responsibility and letting God know that we realize we are doing something wrong.

In 1 John 1:9 of God’s word, we are told, IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (NIV).

That’s a big IF. I don’t think it’s going ‘out on a limb’ to say that America is not very good at confessing sin. We Americans usually do everything we can to shirk responsibility. But now, more than any other time, it’s imperative that we are on our knees. We are in a position of needing God’s hand in our country, in our lives, in our leadership and in our future. If you agree that this country needs a revival and a turning of our faces to the Lord, it has to start with you.

Jesus said, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3
(KJV)

The thing to remember is that we can pray for each other, but we cannot confess for each other. No other man or woman knows your heart, just as you do not know mine. We must all be responsible individually. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do this together. We must make sure to name our sins to God. For example:

“Lord, I have not put You first in my life, I have neglected Your Word and Your sovereignty.”

We must not make excuses, God doesn’t care for the reason, He knows we are humans. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He [or she] who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (NIV).

Mercy sounds good, doesn’t it?

I propose that we write our sins down. Then, when we are finished, we can rip them up and throw it away as a tangible reminder that we have a  promise from God in Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Personal revival is where American Revival begins, so let’s get started on those things we may not give much thought to at the time they are
committed:

1. Matt. 6:12-15 Do you hold a grudge against anyone? Is there someone who you have not forgiven? Do you justify your bad attitude toward another because of their actions? Are you doing unto others BEFORE they do unto you?

2. Matt. 6:33 Are your decisions based on your own wisdom and desires, rather than God’s will? Does your ambition, your pleasure, your loved ones, your money or your plans interfere with your surrender and service to God?

3. Mark 16:15 Do you care that members of your family, some of your friends and those that you may not even know yet are going to hell? Do you even think about that when you are talking to them, do you ever witness to them with your mouth that Jesus loves them and wants them to accept Him as their Savior as you have done?

4. II Timothy 2:22 Are you engaging in activities that you know are unholy? Do you allow impure thoughts about the opposite sex to stay in your mind and do you read that which is impure and suggests unholy topics?

5. John 13:35 Are you happy about the bad fortune of another? Are you guilty of any instigation and contention? Do you argue and/or engage in heated discussions? Are you an active or inactive participant in division? Are you envious of another’s good fortune?

6. Philippians 2:14 Do you ever seek to hurt people? Do you gossip? Are you carrying prejudices against others because they are of some different group than yours, or because they do not see everything as you do?

7. Acts 20:35 Are you guilty of stealing from God? Any time we withhold our time, talents or money from God that is His due, we have failed to support His Kingdom work either by service, prayer or giving?

8. Ephesians 5:20 Have you neglected to thank God for all things? Have you been guilty of doubting His Word? Do you worry and is your spiritual mood based on feelings instead of the promise of God’s Word?

9. Colossians 3:9 Do you engage in unprofitable conversation? Lying, exaggeration, cheating or stealing?

10. I Corinthians 6:19, 20 Are you careless with your body? Do you fail to care for it as the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Don’t be discouraged and start beating yourself up. That’s not what this exercise is about. I am guilty of all the above, most of us are. The  point is to be aware of it, own up to it, confess it to God. He knew we were sinners way before He sent His Son to die for us.

Let’s get it all out there and start depending on God to forgive us and to lift us up to be better stewards for Him and lights in a very dark world. We can do this and we can then ask Him to turn our whole country back toward Him. God bless you and God bless America!

My Fathers’ Forgiveness

Forgiveness & Rememberance

Image by alex drennan via Flickr

Forgiveness is the beginning of love. —Mother Teresa

In his 43 short years, my father was a walking example of forgiveness. He was part of my life for fourteen years and I cannot remember him every criticizing another person. Ever. I witnessed several examples of slights, disrespect and plain abuse of which my father was a victim. But, whether it was the product of an acquaintance, a supposed friend or a family member, he remained silent. Even upon questioning him regarding these instances, he defended the offender. A common reply was, “They don’t know no better, they’re just unhappy.”

My father was one of the happiest people that I would ever meet. I believe he was so happy because he was wise enough to know that most insults were not reflections of what someone thought about him, but rather what they thought about themselves.

Even though I had prayed to God, begging Him to let my dad live, he was taken to heaven on January 16, 1985. Being very close to my dad, this was a huge blow. Top that with being a relatively new Christian and with puberty, it was catastrophic to my new faith. I was so sure that God would come through for me and was unbelievably devastated that He had said no.

My strongest memory at my dad’s funeral were my family members telling me that it was okay to cry. I even tried to cry, but couldn’t. Looking back on it, I think there must have been some numbness and shock that factored in to this, but the primary emotion that I was feeling was deep, burning, seething anger. I was so angry with God that I denounced Him. I told Him that I no longer wanted anything to do with Him.

Needless to say, this lead to a very eventful time growing up as an angry, rebellious teenager and young adult, creating a severe cycle of self-loathing, acting out toward others, and then more self-loathing. But our Sweet Savior, being the happiest Father in the world, had no problem pursuing me and loving me no matter how I treated Him. Thank you Lord! Events in my life eventually brought me back to my knees, forgiving and more importantly, asking for forgiveness. It’s amazing what the forgiveness of God can do to change your attitude toward others and toward ourselves.

I’ve learned over and over again that it matters way more about what God thinks about us than what other people think. When you remember this, the insults and slights from others don’t matter very much. It results in sympathy toward their life and their view of it and allows you to remain largely unaffected by their abuse. Therefore, a much happier person.

Record numbers of people showed up at my father’s funeral. Everyone loved him and had wonderful stories and memories of him. Many people talked about how happy he always was. I know it was because he forgave, and more importantly, he was forgiven.

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