Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reignite, Renew and Rekindle

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt so close to God and other times when I felt so far away that I didn’t think he could hear my prayers. In my relationship with Him, as in relationships with others, I’ve had to maintain it. There are ups and downs, there have been times when I’ve been upset and angry, there have been times when I’ve been so excited that I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

How about you? Have you experienced that? Have you had to work on your relationship with Him? We all get complacent at times in our relationships whether it is with God or someone else. We have those times when we set it to cruise control and just go with the flow. It’s in those times that our relationship with Him wanes. We get out of touch with God and start to lose our way.

Here are three things I’ve found to reignite that passion in your relationship.

1. Reconnect through communication

The best relationships fail when communication ceases. We’ve all been there where we either don’t know what to say or have just gone so long without saying anything. The good news is that God doesn’t hold a grudge when life gets so busy that we forget to stop and talk with Him. He’s there waiting for you to starts talking.

Talking with God requires time and effort. I remember when I was a kid and would talk on the phone with someone. If I was too nervous about what to say, I’d write a list of topics we could talk about. Talking with God can be that way too. When it has been a while, it’s ok to make a list of what you want to talk about. There are no do’s and don’ts to prayer. It’s just talking to Him however you want.

2. Spend quality time

Quality time is more than just a few minutes a day. It’s about making time for Him and giving up other things you could have done to spend with Him. God wants to make sure your time with Him is well spent. He wants us to come and to spend time with Him daily. He not only wants to hear what you have to say, but He wants you to hear what he has to say.

Quality time is about giving God the ability to speak to you. Many times we go to spend time with Him in prayer or meditation and we don’t even let Him speak. God desires to spend time with you wherever you go. He wants to use situations and things throughout our day to speak to us. There are no relationships that last where you don’t spend time together.

3. Do things for Him

One of the easiest ways to build or reinvigorate a relationship is to do things for them. When you love God, you do things for Him. Look for ways to bless others. It could be paying for someone behind you in the drive through. It could be volunteering at church, a homeless shelter, a food bank or just helping out a neighbor in need. Jesus said when you do something for the least, you do it for Me.

We are not saved by our works, but our works show our faith to others. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. We can show our love for God by doing things for others. We shouldn’t do it to get anything out of it or to be seen by others. When we do it to be seen, we have our reward. When we do it for God, we will be blessed by God.

From my own experiences I can tell you that by doing these three things, you will reignite your passion for God, you will renew your commitment to the Kingdom and rekindle your relationship. If your relationship with God is stagnant right now, I challenge you to try these things and see if it doesn’t make a difference. No matter where we are in our relationship, we all have room for growth.

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God is working for your good

When you are going through a difficult time in your life, it’s easy to wonder where God is. It’s hard to see Him when you are in the middle of your pain and suffering. Grief and depression have a way of blinding us to the help that is around us. When you can’t see God in your storm, you feel isolated and alone.

Each of us go through difficult times in our lives. It’s in those times when we forget that others have walked down that same road. We tell ourselves that no one else knows the pain we feel. We separate ourselves from others and begin to think that no one cares. Just because you feel alone, it doesn’t mean you are. In Luke 11:11-17, a widow lost her only son and was grief stricken. She felt the same way.

Here are three things Jesus does for us in difficult times.

1. Jesus sees our affliction

In the time of her son’s death, she could not see Jesus. He knew that her son had died and purposefully arrived at her town as the funeral procession was headed out of the town. Verse 13 says that when He saw her, His heart over flowed with compassion for her. It was clear that He was struck by her grief.

In the midst of our struggles and pain, Jesus sees us whether we see Him or not. His heart is broken for you and will come to show Himself to you at just the right time. You are not alone. He is there with you in the middle of your pain. I know personally that it is hard to see Him in that place. Reach out to Him. You will find He is right there.

2. Jesus comforts us

After meeting her in her despair, Jesus tried to comfort and console her. It broke his heart to see her crying. He reached out to her in his compassion and told her not to cry. We do not serve a God who is not empathetic to our needs. He understands loss, friends turning on you, being betrayed and so much more that we go through.

You may think that God doesn’t care about you, but He really does. His heart breaks when ours does. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter. He knew that we would need comfort in our times of distress here in this world. He never promised that we wouldn’t go through difficult times. He promised us a comforter for difficult times.

3. Jesus works for us

For this widow, Jesus raised her son back to life. I’m not sure why some people are healed or raised from the dead and others aren’t. I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What He did back then, He will still do today. We often don’t see Him move that way because we treat Him like a convenience instead of a necessity.

Even if you don’t receive the miracle you were praying for, it doesn’t mean that He was not working for you. There are things beyond what we can physically see or comprehend. God works on our behalf. He knows our future and may have us go through something now to prepare us for something later. We often ask God to remove trials or problems, but He may be working for you to prepare you for your future.

When times are tough and you can’t see God, it doesn’t mean He can’t see you. Hold on to your faith in the storm. He sees your affliction and has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort you in your time of need. God is always working on your behalf. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for YOUR good. Hang in there.

Here is a prayer by my friend Michael Moak for you.

Dear Lord,
Today I proclaim your promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of Fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
For the reader of this blog, Lord, that is dealing with the fear of the unknown future in their life, I come to You on their behalf today. I ask that You would surround them with your gentle peace and fill their heart with your strength while they wade through the waters of uncharted territory. Give them the ability to see Your hope at the end of this long journey and increase Your blessing upon their family during this pivotal time of transition. I know that You do not place fear or uncertainty upon our hearts; however, as humans we find ourselves defaulting to those emotions and get our eyes off of the one true place where fear can not dwell… in YOU! So, today, Lord Jesus, remind my friend of the promises of Your word and inject them with the spiritual medicine to heal their broken and searching heart! I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

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Living like Christ

When Michael Jordan was playing in the 90’s, I wanted to be like him…so did every other guy that played basketball! I started wearing baggy shorts, sticking my tongue out and trying crazy moves in the air as I dunked on adjustable height goals. There were even commercials about people wanting to be like Mike. The problem was that none of us could be.

When you become a Christian, it’s very similar. We want to be like Christ, but unfortunately we falls short of His perfection. From the point of conversion, we are to begin living and acting like Christ. We should live in such a way that when others see us, they see Christ in us and call us Christians. We should live a new life.

Paul said in Colossians 3 that there were three things we should do if we were serious about living this new life.

1. See things from above

One of the things I’ve learned in life is that when I change my perspective, it often changes my perception. For example, when I fly from one city to another, if I look out of the window and see things on the ground, what seemed so big before, now seems very small. How I look at things changes my perception of them.

Paul tells us to see things from Heaven’s perspective. In light of eternity, what really matters? Are the problems I’m facing today going to matter 5 years from now? Looking at problems that way often makes them seem smaller than they appear today. If you’re facing something huge today, look at it through Heaven’s eyes and see it for what it really is.

2. Kill off your old ways

Once you receive Christ, your old habits of sin don’t just go away. Many Christians struggle with things from their old life. In this passage, Paul says that we should kill off everything connected with our old life. We should be doing things that please Christ and show that we are set apart.

I looked up the word in this passage in the Greek language that it was written in and one of the meanings besides kill is to destroy the strength of or deprive the power of. We need to find the things that we do in our lives that feed the old nature and change how we live so that we deprive them of their power. Do things that feed your new nature and give them power.

3. Put on your new nature

Putting on a new nature means doing things that are different. The good news is that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to make those changes. Verse 10 tells us that we will be renewed as you learn to know our creator and become like him. The more we know God, the more we will want to be like Him.

Part of that nature of God that we need to embrace is forgiveness. Since we have been forgiven, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. I know how difficult it is to have to forgive others who have seriously wronged us. We don’t really have a choice in the matter though. Jesus said that if we don’t forgive others, God can’t forgive us. When you hold resentment against someone, you allow them to have power over you. Forgiveness releases that power you give them over your mind and actions.

Each of these things that Paul writes about are actions that we need to take. Being a Christian isn’t just saying a prayer. It’s a mindset and lifestyle change that we have to make. The Bible puts the onus on us to do these things. If you’re struggling with any of these, find a friend to be an accountability partner to help you along. Be honest with your shortcomings and work together to be who Christ called you to be.

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Giving Thanks

When is the last time that you stopped what you were doing and truly thanked God for all he’s done for you? In I Thessalonians 5:18, it tells us that no matter what your circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks. Even if nothing seems to be going your way right now, there is reason to give thanks.

Having a thankful heart is a mindset that you have to create. We are not naturally thankful creatures. You need to practice being thankful with others and with God. When you truly make being thankful a part of your life, you will find that your attitude, your outlook and your perspective will change for the better.

Here are some reasons I have found to give thanks.

1. For salvation

Each of should be eternally grateful for what Jesus did on the cross for us. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn our way to Heaven. It is only because God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins that we have that ability. I don’t have to spend my life hoping and trying to be good enough one day. The price for my sin was paid for by Jesus.

I love how 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it: Now thanks be to God for His gift, precious beyond telling, His indescribable, inexpressible, free gift! We have a very good reason to be thankful today. You do not have to spend eternity separated from God if you receive His son into your life.

2. For God’s faithfulness

I’m thankful every day that God’s faithfulness doesn’t rely on my own faithfulness. 2 Timothy says that even if we are faithless or are untrue to Him, he remains faithful and true because He cannot deny Himself. What God has promised, He will do no matter what. He cannot go back on a promise.

One of my favorite promises in scripture is found in Philippians 4:19. I remind myself of this scripture when things aren’t going my way. It says that God will supply all of my needs according to His riches. I often want Him to supply all of my wants, but He has promised to take care of my needs. I have air in my lungs, a place to sleep and food to eat. That is something to be thankful for.

3. For what He has done

How many times have we prayed and asked God for something and He’s done it? Too many to count I’m sure. I often thank Him for the big things when He does them, but what about the little things? Have we thanked Him for a good night’s sleep, help on a test, safe travels, for food to eat? We constantly petition God in prayer and rarely thank Him.

When He healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17, only one came back to thank Him. Jess asked him where the other 9 were. How was it that only one came back for something as big as a life giving healing? I want to live my life like that one who came back and worshipped Him and thanked Him.

I know it’s hard to do sometimes. I’ve been at points in my life where it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for. The truth is that I had a lot to be thankful for, but I wasn’t looking for it. Wherever you are today, stop and give thanks to God. You will find that it will change you when you live with a grateful heart.

Here is a short prayer you can pray today to say “thank you” to God. It is provided by Michael Moak.

Dear Jesus,
Today I want to say THANK YOU! Thank you for my life. Thank you for my family. Thank you for salvation. Thank you for my church. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for allowing me to experience your favor and your blessings! Thank you for everything that I take for granted for I know that without YOU I would have nothing. THANK YOU.

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Recognizing attacks

Are you falling behind or not doing what God has called you to do? You are not alone. Circumstances and situations seem to eat up our time and prevent us from doing what we are supposed to do. It happens to all of us. We get caught in a cycle of things happening that continues until we give up on our calling.

If you have plans to be effective for Christ, then you will be under attack. Things will happen in your life that will prevent you or slow you down and keep you from being effective. I’ve heard that 21 days makes a habit. If the enemy can keep you from your task for 3 weeks, he has a strong chance of keeping you from your mission.

There are some common tactics he uses and we can see them by looking at Job’s life.

1. He attacks your mind

If he can win the battle of your mind, he can render you ineffective. That’s why he attacks this first. He may attack you, your family, your job or your belongings to get your mind off of God. A lot of times when bad things happen, we even blame God for it. When you blame God, he has won.

This happened in my own life. I lost just about everything that was important to me in my life during the span of about 8 months. I lost the battle of the mind when that happened and I was rendered ineffective for nearly a decade. We need to recognize that when bad things are happening, it could be an attack and you need to guard your mind. When Job was attacked this way, he fell down and worshipped God and said, “Naked I came into this world and naked I’ll go out. The Lord gave to me and the Lord has taken away. Bless the name of the Lord.”

2. He attacks your body

If he can’t win the battle of the mind, he will try to attack your body. He did this to Job and he’ll do it to you too. He will afflict your body until you physically can’t accomplish what God has for you. When you are taken down through physical illness or injury, it is hard to move around or go where you are supposed to go.

This happened to me recently when my back went out. During that time, I spent less time in prayer, read scripture less, wrote less and couldn’t attend church. The attack kept me from all the things that feed my spirit. When your spirit isn’t fed, it grows weak. When it grows weak, you are able to be defeated. Job was not defeated when he was attacked physically. Scripture says that during that time, he did not sin against God with his lips.

3. He attacks through friends

Another tactic that is used against us is that our friends and family can be turned against us. When Satan can’t turn you against God, he will turn the closest people to you against you. They will tell you things that will break you down and break your heart. Their words become obstacles that will build doubt and keep you from your calling.

There is an old Irish proverb that says, “In times of trouble, friends are recognized.” When bad things start happening to you, a lot of “friends” seem to disappear from your life. You start to question each of the relationships you have and sometimes you are left with no one standing with you. Job experienced this. His wife and friends told him to curse God and die and even accused him of hidden sins. Still he did not let it sway him.

What’s going on in your life that you may not have recognized as an attack? Is something taking you away from what you are supposed to be doing for God? If so, then you are probably under attack. Don’t yield if you are being attacked. Stand up, fight back and get back to doing what you need to do for God!

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Condemnation or compassion

If you have ever been around children then you know they typically have a problem with being tattletales. They are so worried about everyone else who is doing wrong and they feel the need to bring it to everyone’s attention. The funny thing is that they never tell on themselves.

I’m not sure that we ever really grow out of that. We constantly look for the bad in others and want to point it out. If it is someone of importance, then we really want to make sure everyone sees their sin. What I’ve learned is that Jesus didn’t subscribe to this way of thinking. When a crowd brought a woman caught in adultery and wanted Him to condemn her, His response was the opposite.

The example He set teaches us a few things.

1. Don’t be quick to condemn

The crowd of people paraded this woman through the city square and announced to everyone what she had done and what the punishment for her sin was. I’m sure it started with the person who caught her and as he took her through the streets a crowd gathered with him. They may or may not have known the woman, but they knew the crime and wanted to participate in her punishment.

Jesus didn’t get worked up over it. They demanded that He answer them if they were right in what her punishment should be. He just looked at the ground and began to draw. His thought out response was a lot better than the mob reaction we typically exhibit. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, He simply compared the grace they wanted for their sins with the punishment they wanted to give to her for her sin.

2. Put down your rocks

When Jesus did respond to them, he said, “Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone at her.” His response should make each of us look at our own lives. We shouldn’t be so concerned that someone else isn’t getting it right. We should give the same amount of grace we expect from others.

Galatians 6:1 says that if someone sins, we should go and restore them. It’s hard for someone to accept your offer of restoration when you have a rock in your hand. We need to put down our rocks of criticism and go to them in gentleness as the scripture says. They know they’ve done wrong. God’s job is to convict. Ours is to help restore them and to provide a path to recovery.

3. Offer forgiveness

Jesus offered forgiveness time and time again to those who the Pharisees thought didn’t deserve it. He is our example of what we should be doing. Too many times I have been guilty of pronouncing judgement instead of offering forgiveness. I’ve realized that in my life Jesus has always pointed out my sin and offered forgiveness. Why should I act differently?

If we are serious about winning the lost, we need to be more effective in how we help people come to grips with their sin and need for a savior. I’ve found that building relationships with people and not being afraid to admit my sins or hide my scars from sins works well. Judgement turns people away while forgiveness draws them in.

If you find yourself in a mob and you have rocks of hateful words in your hands ready to be hurled, stop for a minute, draw in the sand and think through how Jesus would respond. How did he respond to you? How would you want to be treated if you were in their shoes? Allow God to do His work which is to convict and be prepared to do your part to show forgiveness and to bring restoration.

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What do you see in the mirror

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone who is worthless, ugly, boring, fat or a failure? Do you see yourself through the eyes of what other people or society has told you? How you see yourself matters. It reflects in who you are and in your relationships with other people.

If you do not see anything positive when you look in the mirror, you are not alone. I’ve looked in the mirror before and have seen many of the things listed above. I had to reevaluate how I saw myself to change who I am. Once I was able to do that, things in my life changed.

Here are a few things you can do to help change how you see yourself.

1. God created you

Not only did God create you, but He created you in His likeness. Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind in His image and likeness. Just as a child has the same characteristic traits of his parents, God created you with His characteristic traits. Who you are is a reflection of Him.

Scripture also tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpiece and handiwork. You are a masterpiece that God created. He knew what He was doing when He made you. Psalm 139:14 acknowledges that you were wonderfully made. God doesn’t make failures or things that are worthless. You are His masterpiece!

2. God knows you

In a world of 7 billion people, it’s important to know that God knows who you are. You are not just a spec of sand on a beach. You are known by God intimately. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says, “Before I formed YOU in the womb, I knew and approved of you as my chosen instrument (AMP).” God not only knows you, but He has created you for a reason.

With that reason comes a plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for YOU. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give YOU a future and a hope. God has your life laid out for you. He knows your future and what you will accomplish. God knows who you are, where you are and why you are here. Only you can fulfill what He made you to do. You have a purpose!

3. God values you

Not only did God create you and make a purpose for you, He sacrificed His only son for you. Think about that. You are worth so much to God that He was willing to send His son to this world to be sacrificed for your wrong doing. His desire is to have a relationship with you and the only way He could do that was to pay the highest price possible for you.

Jesus said that if he had 100 sheep and one got lost, He would leave the 99 to find that one. That one is YOU! If you were the only one on the planet that was lost, God values you so much that He still would have sacrificed His son just for you. God places a high value on you. You are priceless!

However you see yourself now, begin to look in the mirror with different eyes and thoughts. Know that you are a one of a kind original masterpiece that was designed by God and for His purpose. You are valued above all else in creation. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about you. What matters is how God sees you. Look at yourself in the mirror through His eyes and watch your life change.

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