On my heart

James 5:16 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

This verse has been on my heart and in my mind the last couple of days. 

As with any sermon, there are many lessons that speak different things to different people. And although this specific verse may or may not have been used, God brought it to my mind when I was at church in Sunday. 

We NEED to pray for one another. 

I began studying different portions of my Bible at the beginning of the year. After my Bible study, I began an “On my heart” section of each page. I have found that it keeps growing and growing. As I open my heart to those God lays upon it, my list gets longer and longer. I find myself praying for different people randomly throughout the day. God brings them to my heart and I say a word of prayer for them. 

Now, does that make me righteous and holy? Absolutely not. It does show me that I am being available. That’s what God wants. He wants availability and teachability. He wants me to listen closer to Him in all areas of my life – prayer, decisions, actions and words, just to name a few. 

I want to encourage you to start an “On my heart” list. God wants your availability. The best way to get started is by listening. And once you hear, act. That’s part of being available- the willingness to act. Pray for one another. Let’s see what God is going to do today. 

Me and the mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard this message being preached. It was based on these verses in James.

When you go to church and hear the Word of God preached, are you changed? Are you changed every single time? We should be. This shouldn’t be something we have to contemplate or wonder about.

The speaker I heard gave this example. When you go to a golf match, do you leave before the players have played the 18th green? Probably not. You want to stay around and see the whole match. You want to see the last shot taken to win the match. And when you do see the shot, you don’t typically leave right when it is finished. You stick around and marvel in the moment. You just saw a great shot that won the match. It was incredible. You want to remember this moment forever. You go home. You talk about it. You think about it. You draw encouragement from the struggle and subsequent success.

The point is this – do you do this with the worship service that you have at church? Does it change you to the point that you don’t want to leave or do you bolt to the door as soon as the last prayer is “amen”ed? Do you think about what was said throughout the week? Do you contemplate applying the truths of God’s Word to your life?
Why is it that we let a sporting event change us more that the Word of God? Why is it so hard to allow God to change us? Why are we only hearers and not doers?

I can only speak for myself. I think that sometimes I fall into a routine. And that is wrong. Serving God should never be routine. God is constant and doesn’t change but that doesn’t mean He is routine.
I’m at church pretty much every service. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the means. I listen and occasionally take notes. But I’m a “forgetful hearer” sometimes. I want to be more of a “doer of the work”. I want to have a change in my life every time the Word is opened.

It’s a challenge – to not let the stuff of the world take you over and consume your thoughts. It’s hard to choose to let His Word change you, every single time. But I don’t want to become hardened. I don’t want my service to be routine. I want to revel in the moments where He has changed me. I want to remember them often and fondly. And although I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, I must remember. I cannot loose sight of what and who I really am – a sinner saved by grace.

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!

Very superstitious

1Thessalonians 5:22 – “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

I teach the young teen Sunday school class at my church. I love those kids. They are so much fun.

This weekend, the lesson was on animism. Do you know what animism is? describes it as “the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls”. It also includes the belief in superstitions. Heavy stuff, I know.

So what is my point? Do followers of Christ have any business in animism? No. They do not. Let’s start at the beginning. Where did the soul come from? What has a soul? Genesis 2:7 – “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God did not complete this task with any of His other creations. He did not breath life into the trees. He did not breath life into the animals. He did not breath life into any of His creations except man. And that is special. That makes mankind the only creation with a soul. Well, that pretty much disproves animism, according to the definition.

Now onto superstitions. The invoking of superstitions is very prominent in our society. “Knock on wood”. The one about a black cat crossing your path being bad luck. Breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. There are people who will put statues in their yards to keep the bad spirits away. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Ask anyone and I’m sure they could name at least a dozen more.
But what does our belief or saying of superstitions say about us? As I was thinking about my Sunday school lesson, it made me think about how often and when I consider these things. I don’t believe the ones about mirrors or black cats, but I do say the “knock on wood” one often. What does that mean when I say it? It means that I don’t trust God to take care of it. I feel that I need some other source to manage the problem. It is really a trust issue. Do you really trust God to take care of you or do you think you have to do something to help things along a bit?

So how does this tie in with the Bible verse? God is encouraging us through the writing of Paul to keep away from things that may look evil or that you may look evil while doing them. Even the goofy, little things that seem harmless. In the scope of things, you may lead someone astray by believing that a broken mirror will cause bad luck. How much better would your testimony be if you explained that you don’t believe in these superstitions because you trust Jesus to take care of things instead of leaving it to chance? Just that one simple step of being different has the potential to be huge.

So my challenge to you is to choose to get rid of superstitions. And if you believe that anything other than mankind has a soul, I challenge you to search the Scriptures and determine for yourself what the Word of God says on the subject.
This blog is all about getting the reader to grow – to grow closer to God, to get into the Word of God and to be more expressive about the Word of God. It is time, sister, to stop being closed mouth and timid. 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Everything you need

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Would you ask a first grader to write an essay on proper leadership within a multi billion dollar company? Probably not. (I was going to say quantum physics but most adults would not be able to write a paper about that! I know I wouldn’t!)

Anyway, as ridiculous as that sounds, don’t you think it sounds just as ridiculous to think that God would send us out unprepared and ill equipped to do whatever He is asking us to do? I think so. I believe God is constantly training us and encouraging us to grow. I think that through this growth, He is preparing us to do something amazing. However, I feel that oftentimes we hold Him back. We let our fears and reservations keep us from reaching our full potential.

And don’t think that I am just referring to going to a foreign mission or quitting your job to devote yourself to the Ministry. Those things are vitally important to the Kingdom of God. At the same time though, I think that it is the little things in life that add up to make a big difference – deciding to move to a new house, starting a new job, beginning a Bible study in your home, getting up 45 minutes earlier to read your Bible on a daily basis. All these things may seem small and trivial, no big deal, but they are. They can have a huge impact on your life and the lives of everyone around you.

The one thing I want you to get out of this today is this – When God asks us to step out and do something, He provides everything we need to do it. He doesn’t leave us hanging. It is not like a bird pushing his little bird out of the nest and forcing it to fly. No, God has His mighty hand under us and holds us the whole way.

So if God is asking you to change, to make things different in your life, to get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid. A new adventure is just around the corner if you are brave enough to peek at it.

The Sly Old Fox

1Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”

I was sitting here this morning praying about what God would have me to write about today and this song came to my head. It is an old one; one that I haven’t thought of in years. It goes like this: “The devil is a sly old fox. If I could catch him, I’d put him in a box. Put him in a box and throw away the key, for all the tricks he’s played on me. Glad that I’m a Christian. Glad that I’m a Christian. Glad that I’m a Christian and trusting in the Lord.”

I looked through my concordance trying to find a reference to the devil being a fox, but found none. But I did remember this verse that referenced him as a lion. Lions are mentioned several times in the Bible, yet with different meanings. Sometimes Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah. But in this instance, it is the devil being referred to as a lion.

Have you ever seen a lion hunt? I haven’t seen one in person but I have watched it plenty of times on television. They are sly and sneaky. They look around trying to find out which animal is the weakest and most easy to attack. They know they are going to have to work for their food but they want to do as little as possible. So, they pick off the weak ones or the ones falling behind the pack. They sneak around the tall grass and pounce when their prey least expect it. Sometimes they have to run to catch their food. Lions are really fast. Their prey rarely escape.

Knowing all of this gives us a greater perspective of this verse in 1 Peter. The devil pursues us in the same way. He looks for those of us who are weaker, those of us who are falling behind. He doesn’t want to have to work too hard to get another one of us to mess up. But if the need arises, he will chase us down and only an act of God will keep us from from being brought down.

The lesson to learn here is found in the verse – Be ready. Be watching. Don’t give the devil opportunity to catch you or even think about how he can mess you up. This means you have to do whatever is necessary to keep up – go to church, study your Bible, pray, talk with other believers, listen to music that glorifies God – anything and everything that draws you into His protection. Believe me, you don’t want the devil to catch you. It is possible to get free of his grasp but it is hard, very, very hard. Your best option is to not even get in that position.

But don’t try and go at it alone. Follow the Leader. Let Him show you the way. It takes effort and choice. But princess, it is worth it. I know I have said it before, but repetition is the way we learn. And trust me when I say that it is a much for you as it is for me. Life is hard. It would be easy to just give up. But we have been called to cheerfully endure until the end. And if that is what I have to do, then that is what I shall do.

How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 2

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

We are going to take these verses apart and search them out bit by bit. God promised that if we are faithful that He will be faithful in helping us understand.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind”

Gird up – This means to put on or equip. When I think of girding up, I think of putting on a belt.
The loins – The loins is the lower part of your body, particularly, the hip area. This, along with “gird up”, means that the man would cinch up the bottom of his tunic and tuck it into his belt so that he could move quickly.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think I have hips in my mind. I have enough of an issue looking at them in the mirror without being concerned with their size in my mind!
Stretch time! Sometimes the writer of the Bible (the Holy Spirit) will use things and ideas that are familiar to us to get a point across. What is the hip area identified with? Procreation, right? The procreative power is located in the hip region. In my opinion, the “loins of your mind” is the ability we have to think, reason and create.
Why should we bind those up? Shouldn’t they be free to imagine all sorts of wonderful things that can help and benefit the world?
Yes, but “the loins of your mind” is also capable of creating and designing all types of ungodly actions and ideas. It is a precarious balance.
Romans 6:16-18 – “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
We are servants to what binds us, whether it be sin in our hearts or Christ in our hearts. Whatever binds our heart, binds our mind. You cannot have two different factions controlling you. Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

In our society, we don’t like to think that we are serving any one. Servitude is too closely linked with slavery and no one wants to be a part of that. However, in reality, we are all a servant to something or someone. We serve our family by preparing dinner. We serve our boss by doing our job correctly. It is a harsh reality but one that can truly bless your life in the right light. And that Light is what I hope is binding your heart and mind.

You see, when sin bind your heart and mind, you see things in a different light. You see darkness. You see all the bad. You see fear. You see suspicion. When the True Light binds your heart and mind, you see opportunity. You see hope. You see confidence in the Conquerer. Now, you can still sometimes see all the yuck in the world because, unfortunately, we still have sin present in our world and in our life.

So, how does this apply to everyday life? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s a choice. It is a choice of salvation. It is also a choice of who will have the tighter grip on your heart and mind. Will you allow sin to control your actions or will you let Jesus? You can’t do both. You have to choose one or the other. Are you going to see opportunity or bad things happening? Are you going to see confidence in the Conquerer or fear? What will you choose today? Every day is a choice. Every day is a battle. Every day is an opportunity to show what your heart and mind are girded with. What will you choose today?