Are You Starving?

As I was doing my Bible study last evening, Romans 1:28 jumped out at me:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.

Matthew 5: 6 says:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

If you are not hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness, if you do not long for it as though you were starving, may I submit that you may very easily fall into the category of those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge? These people are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness,” among other things (Romans 1:29). If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would not put yourself into one of those categories, but if you are not actively seeking God, spending time with Him, studying His Word, you may very easily find yourself falling into an alternate lifestyle and then wondering how you got there.

In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” You cannot serve God and the world. I see so many who act like they can have all this and Jesus too, but we serve a jealous God. He wants our full devotion. He does not want to compete with the plethora of entertainment that we have today.

D.L. Moody is quoted as saying:

The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

If you never have time to read God’s Word or spend quality time in prayer, I challenge you to examine your heart and ask yourself why. I understand there are busy days and busy seasons, but there should not be busy lifestyles that keep us from doing the most important things. Most of us do not forget to eat or drink, at least not usually the whole day. If you have time to do that, you can find time for God. Download a Bible app and read while you eat if you need to, but make sure that you are getting God’s Word into your heart so that you don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

This hit me in a new way last night, and I am asking God for help to make the time to draw near to Him, to continually learn of Him, to listen to Him. If you and I are too busy to do those things, we are simply too busy.

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

sermon_prophecyofJesusbirth1

I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Dealing With Relational Stress

If you have lived for any amount of time, you have probably been through a breakup of some kind. Whether it was a spouse, a close friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought was “the one,” people have a way of distancing or, worse, actually turning on you. For myself, I can handle a lot but, when a person I thought loved me moves on, I do not handle that well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season” and, unfortunately, this includes relationships. I do not like change, and this especially includes a change in relationship, but God allows things for a reason. Sometimes people are only in your life temporarily for a specific purpose. As much as I do not like that season to end, it makes me appreciate that much more those who are always there. I am very blessed with true friends, and I thank God for them.

marketing-relationships

I think the hardest part is usually being able to handle relational stress emotionally. I know this is hard for me. You have to be there for your family and the remaining friends in your life, yet your heart aches for the friend that you lost. As hard as it may be, I’ve found that if you take time to thank God for the people who love you, it will give you perspective and reduce your heartache, if even a little.

For women, it is also important to remember that, although PMS is a real thing, we do not have a license to take our anger and frustration out on others. Sometimes things must be said, but there is a Godly way to say it. Until you have found that way, it is better to not say anything. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

If you have something against another, go talk to that person but go with a heart to hear. There is a good chance that it was just a misunderstanding or that you are being hypersensitive and it will blow over.

If you suspect that someone is holding things against you or that your relationship is changing with someone, you should ask him or her if there is a problem. If they say nothing or they don’t want to talk about it, you are going to have to let it go and trust God to heal your heart.

Regardless of your situation, the answer is to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly comfort your heart and bring peace and joy to your soul. Others may try but God created humans to do only so well in that department. Mostly, He desires His children to rely on Him.

Remember too that this too shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world now but it’s not. God will accomplish His purposes. You will be able to move on. And one day, everything that you don’t understand now will be made clear. Just trust Him. Lean on Him. He is near and will continue to be near, even when others fail.

How To Show Someone You Care

Most people who know me now don’t realize that, by nature, I am pretty insecure. I’ve never been “popular,” so I still have times of wondering if anyone loves me and why. Since coming to know the Lord, I fight to not let that rise to the surface. Instead, when the battle of the mind begins, I pray and ask God to help me to show His love to others. The Bible says that “a man that has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24) and, although I don’t claim to do this perfectly, God has blessed me with wonderful friends who really do seem to care and whom I am pretty sure really pray for me.

I think sometimes people care more than one might realize so I wanted to give some tips that, at least for me, helps to show me that my friends are not just putting up with me but that they do indeed care.

askquestions

1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes I think people don’t want to pry into a person’s life because they don’t want to appear nosy, or maybe they think it’s none of their business. The fact is, many times a hurting person really wants someone to talk to but they don’t want to burden others. Lines such as, “I’m having a really rough day today” or “Please pray for me today” are often doorways for you to stop what you are doing and ask if they would like to talk about it. If your response is merely, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for you,” that will be taken as you don’t want to hear about it or don’t really care. I am not discrediting prayer at all and, if you really don’t want to hear about it or don’t have time to do so, then that at least is a sympathetic response but, if this is a person you really care about, take time to ask them what’s going on. If they don’t want to say, they will tell you but at least they know you are available.

2) Listen. Sometimes when I’m going through a difficult time, I want advice but many times I just need to talk. Don’t feel like you need to have “answers.” Obviously, if God brings something to your mind which will help the person, share that but do it with a posture of humility, realizing that it is the person’s choice whether they take your advice or not. Mostly let them talk it out, pray with them, ask God to give you a burden for this person. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives that we don’t really invest in the lives of others but, if God has put a person into your life, it’s for a reason. Make sure you are being the friend they need.

3) Pray. It’s one thing to say “I’ll pray for you” and another thing to actually do so. If you commit to pray for a person, write it down, put it on your calendar, do whatever you need to do to remember to pray for this person. Then take the time periodically to let the person know you are praying. This will encourage them immensely. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends and I see many prayer requests every day. Because of this, I have learned not to promise every person that I will pray but, if it is an urgent need, I will pray right away and sometimes post a comment stating that. I also have friends who text or email me requests. These I take more seriously and ask for God’s help to remember them. I have had people that I don’t know real well message me because they know I pray. I don’t know how they know that but I consider it quite a compliment and, again, if they have taken the time to ask me personally, I want to take it seriously.

prayinghands

4) Initiate interaction. If God brings someone to your mind, take time to call, text, or email that person. Many times, that is what it’s taken for me to realize a person really loves and cares for me. If I am always the one who initiates interaction, I begin to wonder, but getting a message out of the blue that says someone was thinking of me, praying for me, etc. makes my day. It lets me know I really am loved and that even God loves me enough to lay me on someone’s heart periodically. You don’t know what kind of day that person may be having, and it could be your simple act of loving kindness that lifts their spirits and brings a smile to their face. That is not a small thing.

5) Be thankful. I think this is usually the most neglected of all. Not that we aren’t thankful for our friends but I think we don’t often let them know. Take time periodically to do just that. Thank them for their love and their friendship. If someone gives you a gift, don’t just thank them at the moment (that’s common courtesy and is expected); go above and beyond the call of duty and also thank them a month, a year, five years down the road … especially if it’s something you still use. Several years ago, a friend came to visit and, as a “hostess gift,” she gave me a couple CDs. (This was a special blessing, as it showed how well she knows me.) I’ve not done it for a while but, periodically, when I would listen to the CDs, I would write to her to let her know I was listening to them and thinking of her. I just wanted to make sure she knew that she did not waste her money on those. They are still used and appreciated.

I’m sure this is far from being an exhaustive list but hopefully it will help you in reaching out to those special people in your life and making them feel truly loved. If there are other things that you have found to be meaningful in showing love to others, feel free to post it in the comments. If you are one who feels like no one really cares about you, I assure you that is probably not the case. We live in a hectic, fast-paced society. Many are struggling just to keep up and they don’t have time to think beyond their own day-to-day trials. Then there are others who just don’t know how to show that they care. It doesn’t mean they don’t. Purpose to be a friend, to show God’s love, and to think of others instead of yourself. Even if it doesn’t come back to you from people, you will receive your reward in Heaven, and I believe you will feel God even nearer while on earth, which is really the most important One to be close to anyway.

Praise: A Sacrifice?

I grew up singing “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord” but I confess that I did not understand what a “sacrifice of praise” was until a few years ago. Praising God is fun … at least for me … so how could it be a sacrifice?

I am reading through the Book of Psalms right now, and it tells us a number of times to offer up a “sacrifice of praise” or a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Reading it translated as “thanksgiving” has caused me to ponder this even more.

praise

My family and I have entered a season of life recently that, honestly, I have been dreading. In it, I am going to have to die to self and forgo some of my plans this summer. That’s not easy for me but I know that, in this, God is performing His perfect work. Because of this, I do find myself thanking Him. I don’t always feel like it but, as I praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in each of our lives, I feel more peace and more grace, and I know that, because of Him, I’ll never walk alone.

No matter what you are going through today, don’t stop praising Him. You may not always like the changes that God brings your way or the tasks He calls you to but, if you are willing to lay down your life and surrender to Him 100%, you will find that peace that passes understanding, and you will grow even closer to a God who loves you so much more than you can think or imagine.

rose

Fruit of the Spirit 7: Faithfulness

I have been looking forward to writing about this fruit, as this is the one I pray for the most. There are so many things that are constantly vying for a person’s attention, yet my heart’s cry is, “God, help me to be faithful.” I pray to follow Him with my whole heart and not to be distracted with the things the world throws at me. He has a purpose for my life, a reason for my existence.

God is so faithful. Everything He says, He will do. He never lets me down. That is faithfulness.

the_faithfulness_of_god

Faithfulness is being a person others can depend on. A faithful person is a trustworthy one. This is a person who keeps his or her word.

God’s Word is full of instructions as to how we should live. As we grow in Him, we begin to be more faithful to live the life He requires. As we become faithful to Him, we become more faithful in life in general. That should be our goal.

Fruit of the Spirit 6: Goodness

I am sorry it has taken so long to continue my series. Life has been really hectic lately but I continue to think about what exactly it means to walk in the Spirit.

This particular fruit is interesting to me. Romans 3:12 tells us, “There is none that does good; no not one.” Jesus said the same thing in Mark 10:18 and yet “goodness” is one of the fruits that we are to have if we are full of the Spirit. So what does it mean to be good?

goodness

In our humanity, we are vile, sinful, selfish creatures. It is only with God’s help that we have any goodness in us. When we come to know God, He teaches us to love others. As we learn to love others, we become more selfless. That is when the goodness of God begins to show through.

I realize that there are “good” people who do not know the Lord but without His Spirit, your goodness avails nothing. Only with God’s Spirit will we exhibit the goodness that leads to life and Godliness.