We're all familiar with the passage that Jesus gives us about how we should pray. In Matthew 6:9-10 He says, "... Thy Kingdom come, your will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven." Sometimes we incorporate this into our prayers - But do we really mean it? Do we really want God's will to be done? Letting God decide what is best should not be something that we do reluctantly or grudgingly. Our purpose in our prayers to God should be to put ourselves in the Lord's hands and trust His judgement. Again, God wants what is best for us and we have to trust that His will is right.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sometimes it's so hard to see beyond ourselves. We tend to get so caught up on what WE want and things WE think we need that we forget about God's will and what God wants for us. We all have a tendency to think that we're seeking God when what we're really seeking is His ratification of our own will. The truth is, God knows and wants what is best for us. And sometimes, what is truly best for us may not be exactly what we want.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
How do you react to things? More specifically, how do you react to things that you KNOW would not please God? For instance, if you're at work or at school and somebody tells a joke or a story and they fill it with profanity - how do you react to that? Do you laugh along with everybody else? Do you sit there and not show any emotion at all? Or do you stand up for what is right and say something about it? More often that not, we probably fall into the second category - where we don't laugh or display interest in the story, but we don't stand up and say something about it...
One of the biggest things we need to be concerned about is having a heart that doesn't feel anything. We're warned about this in Revelation 3:15-16: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Sometimes we may think we're doing the right thing by not reacting to something sinful - But the truth is, we're not. If we're not going to stand up for what is right, we might as well be the ones laughing at the dirty jokes. God doesn't want a "closet Christian" - He wants somebody who is "ON FIRE" for Him! God gave us hearts that were meant to respond and when they stop doing that very thing, we're in serious danger. If our hearts don't feel anything, it's "high time to awake out of sleep" (Romans 13:11).
Monday, November 23, 2009
"What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."
When we have sin in our life, we are fully separated from the Lord and this is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. The scary thing is the fact that since we can't SEE God, we don't ever really think about being separated from Him. But when we do evil, we separate ourselves from Him.
This passage from Psalms indicates how awful it is to be separated from God. On the other hand, it is so comforting to those who are righteous. None of us want the Lord to turn His face from us - that's why we need to constantly make sure we are living righteous lives. Because in the end when this life is over, if we are separated from God, it will be forever - and there will be nothing we can do about it. There's nothing worse than being separated from God.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
How many times does something happen to you where it makes you stop and say, "Why is this happening to me?" Sometimes it feels like only bad things are happening to us - and it appears that everyone else around us have only good things going for them.
Well sadly, it is easy to feel this way sometimes. And there may in fact be times throughout your life where you will go through difficult times. James tells us in James 1:2 to "Count it all joy when we face trials..." A great example of somebody who was able to do this was Joseph. He was somebody who faced so many difficult times but never gave into self pity or to bitterness. When somebody wrongs us, how hard is it not to feel sorry for ourselves and bitter towards that person? And that is something that Joseph never felt.
In dealing with adversity, there are 3 P's that we need to remember:
1. The Promises of God. God's promises will give us the hope we need to cope with our adversity. Phil. 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." With Christ, we have the strength to get through any trial.
2 . The Plan of God. Even though we sometimes don't see an immediate result, God is working for us. He is on our side and wants to see us succeed. Romans 8:28 says, "We know that for those who love God all things work together for good..."
3. The People of God. Even though we sometimes feel like we're the only ones dealing with something - odds are we're not. We need to comfort our fellow Christians to help them deal with their adversity. Paul says in 2 Cor. 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
It's always easiest to take self pity on ourselves and feel bitter toward somebody else - but this is not what the Lord wants us to do. He's on our side and is wanting to help us through our afflictions.
Friday, November 20, 2009
As we have been looking at some ways this week to deal with stress in our lives, I hope some points were made that you could apply to your own personal life. Everybody gets stressed about different things and has different levels of stress - BUT I think these are all great resources that any Christian should use when trying to avoid stress in their life.
As we have been paying attention to Jesus as our example of somebody who dealt with stress on a regular basis, there's a very important area that Jesus always resorted to and that we need to make sure we're using as well;
ALWAYS MAKE IT A HABIT TO PRAY
Jesus was constantly praying to His Father - about all kinds of different things that were happening to Him. We should feel like we can do the same.
Paul pretty much sums up this thought for us in Philippians 4:6-7 when he says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Paul is telling us here not to be anxious - not to "stress." And if there are times that we do feel anxious or stressed, we should go to God in prayer about it. As we've talked about before, prayer is so powerful - it can help us out tremendously.
As we go through life, stressed or not stressed, we should be practicing these steps everyday - ESPECIALLY this last one. Don't let stress bring you down.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Somedays we just get so stressed out. We feel like we have so many things to do and so little time to do them in. A lot of times we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and if we don't do the long list of things we have to do - then everything will fail.
A very important part of "dealing with stress" is this one:
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.
We get so stressed out because we have so many things on our plate and we easily get overwhelmed with the pressure this brings along. However, if we focus on the one thing that is most important, we'll be able to accomplish everything else more efficiently. We're trying to please God - that's our number one priority and that's what we should be focusing on accomplishing. Jesus knew what He was trying to accomplish and this kept Him focused on what was most important rather than being stressed out by other things.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
One of the easiest ways to add stress to your life is to be the type of person who tries to please everybody. Unfortunately, this is me. Most of the time I'm focusing on making sure everyone else around me is happy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - if you can deal with it. But most of the time, it will add a level of stress to your life. And secondly, whenever we try to please everyone else, it becomes easier to neglect the One we need to be striving to please the most. Which leads me to the third way to eliminate stress and that is;
KNOW WHO YOU ARE TRYING TO PLEASE
IN John 5:30, Jesus says, "I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me." God should be the only person we are concerned with pleasing. But like I said, often times we focus on trying to please everybody else that we forget about pleasing God - who is the most important. If you try to please everyone, you'll just end up criticizing yourself - which will add so much stress to your life. God can't please everybody - there's always somebody who is going to be unhappy - why should we feel like we can please everybody? Just be who God wants YOU to be.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Yesterday I wrote a little bit about dealing with stress. The 1 specific way I mentioned was knowing who we are. As mentioned yesterday, Jesus handled a lot of stressful situations. He constantly had people watching Him, asking Him questions, mocking Him, questioning Him, asking Him/needing Him to heal somebody, etc. But Jesus dealt with it all without any complaining or sinning.
Let's face it, it's easy to become stressed out. We become stressed out very easily over what people think of us, having enough money, our jobs, school work, pleasing other people - the list goes on and on.
The problem with stress is that, in addition to causing physical problems, it can also cause us to lower our guard and welcome sin into our life. This is why we have to keep stress under control.
The 2nd effective way to deal with stress is:
KNOW WHO YOU BELONG TO
Recognizing the fact that we belong to the Almighty God should help us get rid of the stress in our lives. In Eph. 5;1, Paul tell us, "Be imitators of God, as beloved Children." We are children of God. We need to receive comfort in this fact. If there is ever a time where we get stressed out or worried about what other people think of us or how people act to us, we just need to remember that we have a comfort in the One who created us. He will never let us down.
And it's a chain effect; if we realize who we belong to, this will help us be confident in knowing who WE are.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This morning at church, the preacher presented a great lesson on a topic that pretty much everybody deals with: Stress. He presented a handful of points on the best ways to overcome stress in our lives. I was very encouraged by this lesson and wanted to share it. This week I'll highlight some of the things he talked about in his sermon.
It's encouraging to have an example of somebody we can look at who had lots of stress in their life but was able to deal with it in a positive way. Out of all the examples of people in the bible, probably the person that dealt with the most stress is Jesus Christ. Think about all the things that Jesus had to do, and all the people He healed, and all the followers He had, and all the haters He had to deal with and answer to - basically, He had His hands full. But the way He dealt with all the stress is the important thing that we all should pay attention to. Never once did His stress lead to sinning. Unfortunately, that's where a lot of us fail - we let our stress get the best of us, and we let our guard down.
In order to deal with stress in our lives, the 1st thing we have to do is:
KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
As we strive to do what is right, it's extremely important to keep ourselves in check and know exactly who we are. Stress comes when we try to be someone we aren't. In spite of dealing with all the stresses that Jesus was dealing with, He knew who He was and He knew what he was supposed to be doing. In John 8:12 Jesus says, "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Jesus wasn't trying to be somebody or something He wasn't - He knew exactly who He was..
We're Christians - disciples of Christ. Do we often try to be something different from that?
If the answer to that question is yes, then we can expect to have stress in our life.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
As we go throughout life, we face many obstacles and times where we feel like just giving up... We become depressed, upset, and feel like nothing is going the way it should... Most people experience this feeling at least once in their life. The important thing to remember is that, even when times are tough, God is not any less there. Though we sometimes may feel like God's presence is absent from our life, we're mistaken - He's always with us. He's with us in the worst of times and He's with us in the best of times. The challenge that we face is maintaining our faith in the midst of hard times and doubt.
Encountering hard times was something that even the apostles dealt with. Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:8-10;
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body."
James also told us in James 1:2 to "Consider it joy when you face various trials." We cannot let the onset of a little pain or stress or difficulty or hard times in our life demolish our faith. If our faith is true and real, then we will honor God no matter what our circumstances are.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We do a lot in our day-to-day life. We have different tasks and things that we do everyday. As Christians, we are supposed to glorify God in every action that we do. Peter says in his first epistle:
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God giveth; that GOD IN ALL THINGS MAY BE GLORIFIED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. "
We need to start examining our lives more closely to make sure that the things we are doing are glorifying God. After all, we are to glorify God IN ALL THINGS. As you go about your daily life, make note of the things you are doing and at the end of the day, look back at what you did and ask yourself which things glorified God and which things didn't...
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore GLORIFY GOD in your body, and IN your spirit, WHICH ARE GOD’S” (1st Cor 6:20)
Monday, November 9, 2009
As I said yesterday, our attitude definitely has a huge affect on the way we worship. If we have a good attitude, our worship is going to feel much more involved and much more fulfilling. On the other hand, if our attitude is one that is not really excited about being able to worship God, then we won't get ANYTHING out of the worship service.
It's very easy to get into a routine when it comes to worship. It's something that we typically do 3 times a week and, if we're not careful, we let our mind think of it as "Just another thing we have to do..." When we think of it like that - and it becomes something routine - our attitude is easily brought down about the whole thing and our hearts aren't excited to worship.
It's very important that we have the right attitude when we come together to worship the Lord. We know that Hebrews 10 tells us not to forsake the assembling of the saints. You know, sometimes we think, "Well, I'm just going to church because I know it's the right thing to do... I don't really WANT to go..." And the truth of the matter is, God would rather us NOT be there at all if we're going to have a bad attitude about it than to be there worshiping Him half-heartedly.
We need to make sure that our attitude is checked each time we are preparing for Worship. It's something that we definitely shouldn't overlook. Make sure your attitude is what it needs to be.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We are to have Christ-like attitudes. In Philippians, Paul says in chapter 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." There are some translations of that verse that actually say, "Your attitude needs to be like that of Christ's." But if you take a step back and look at your life and your general attitude towards life - would you say that it was the same attitude that Christ had? - Most of the time, probably not. In fact, it's usually very easy to have a "bad attitude."
Having a Godly attitude is something that is very important in being a disciple of Christ. If we have a bad attitude about something, it reflects in everything we do! - Think about how true that is.
Again in Philippians, Paul tells us in chapter 2:14 "Do all things without complaining or disputing..." As Americans in the 21st century, we're pretty good at complaining - wouldn't you agree?
Our attitude is something that we definitely need to have control over. If we don't get control over our attitude, it affects the way we worship - which I will talk about more tomorrow.
Check your attitude each day - make sure that it's an attitude that displays Christ to others.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We break God's heart when we re-turn to the world. Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about not falling in love with the things of this world - but rather loving God more than those things.
In a follow up to that, I just want you to read (on your own time) the parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15:1-7.
A lot of times we think to ourselves, "Well... God has ALL these other people to tend to and to worry about... So He just won't notice one or two sinful things I do." Well, this parable teaches that EACH soul matters to the Lord. And whenever I sin, I break God's heart. And whenever YOU sin, you break God's heart. He knows each one of us and sees each one of our actions. And when our actions aren't what they should be, we are breaking God's heart - Think about that next time you are tempted to stray towards things of the world.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
One of the hardest things to NOT do is to "love" STUFF. We all have our different things that we love to do- whether they be certain hobbies, watching television, playing video-games, golfing, etc... It's so easy to let ourselves get caught up in these things and forget about where are TRUE passion really needs to be.
John reminds us in 1 John 2:15-17. He says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world... is not of the Father - but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God will abide forever."
This is a pretty powerful passage and always has been for me. This passage applies to EVERYBODY. Sometimes we just let ourselves get so caught up with the here and now and with money or material things. Well guess what, these things aren't going to last... and if we put all of our attention toward those things, we're not going to last either.
As John reminds us here, don't fall in love with stuff; Don't fall in love with the material things that the world has to offer - They will never compare to what God has to offer.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I wrote a little bit the other day about being an ambassador for Christ. And when we talk about being an ambassador for Christ, we USUALLY refer to being that to non-believers so that they may see who Christ is. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be that way to those who already believe... I wanted to write bit more today about being an example - but this time, I want to focus on being an example to believers.
Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, and in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine..."
As Christians, we are well aware of the fact that we need to be a good example to non-believers, but we don't often think about those who are already followers of Christ. In truth, we need to be just as much of a good example to them as we are to non-believers. Paul gives us a whole list of areas here in 1 Timothy where we need to make sure we're being a good example. We need to be a good example in our words, our actions, our love for one another, our spirits, and by keeping ourselves pure.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sometimes our lives can be difficult. We will occasionally feel like we're alone and we have nobody we can talk to here on earth... God wants us to take advantage of the opportunities we have to talk about our problems with others. A lot of times, we think it's better to just keep our problems 'bottled up' inside of us thinking that they'll just pass eventually. - The bible tells us otherwise.
In James 5:16, James says, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much."
God knows us very well. And he also knows that times will sometimes be difficult for us. Luckily, we're not alone. And we have so many fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that we can talk to about things. And sometimes, in talking about our problems with others or listening to another brother or sister's struggles, we can be a huge help to that person. Later on in that same chapter, James goes on to say:
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
It's very important that we don't just keep things to ourselves. It's always to overcome struggles on our own. Take advantage of the relationships you have with other Christians and Pray for each another.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says in chapter 5:20; "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."
What does it mean to be an "ambassador for Christ?" In short and simple terms - an ambassador is somebody who is appointed to represent something - usually something of great importance. This is us! We're appointed to REPRESENT Christ here on this earth. We sometimes forget that we our ambassadors for Christ. I think it's safe to say that often times our actions aren't showing the characteristics of an ambassador.
As we start this week, let's all realize that we are very important in spreading God's Word to the people here on this earth. That's why He has made us ambassadors - so that we can represent His Son to those around us. This is something of great importance that we must take seriously.