Faith, Love & Health

Archive for the category “Spiritual Growth”

Heart Condition

Within every follower of Christ God desires to form our hearts into his likeness.  This seems easy, but the process can be very painful and can bring great harm if God is not the center of our life.  God uses His word to bring transformation, but He also allows us to go through seasons that expose ungodly characteristics that need to be uprooted from our life.  I’m not sure if you have ever been put in a situation where you had to intentionally choose to be kind, patient, or even remain silent while internally you were enraged.  Internally you wanted to yell and scream and let everyone know, “you weren’t happy!!!”  These “internal screams” are the things that need careful observation because it can point to wrong motivations of the heart.  These motivations could be heart conditions of pride, envy,  jealousy, greed, covetousness, and are full of selfish ambitions that are self destructive to our lives and to those who are around us.

So what do we do if we are aware of wrong motives of the heart?  James says, “Come near to God…”  (James 4:8)  This is daily meditating (prayerfully read with an open ear expecting God to speak to you.) on scripture and allow the living scripture of God, to change your heart as you humble yourself before Him.  This means that we approach God  as a person empty of ability to be righteous on your own.    Then scripture says, “and He will come near to  you.”   This is no passive approach to God changing your heart, He personally desires to help form a new heart in you.

For someone starting out, who has never prayerfully meditated on scripture.  A great place to begin meditating is in the book of James, Psalms 119, or Matthew 5; you choose.

Charles Spurgeon said, “We must NOT say, I have faith and then fall into the sins of an unbeliever for, after all, our outer life is the test of our inner life and if the outer life is not purified, rest assured the heart is not changed.”

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No Super Hero Allowed! Just Believe!!

This past Sunday I talked about Elijah being the cause of the drought for the Northern Kingdom of Israel.   Sometimes it is easy to look at Elijah’s life and internally feel that He is a “super-hero” that no “real follow of Christ” could ever emulate.    James will never allow us to put Elijah on that high of a pedestal.  James say’s,

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”  James 5:17,18

Elijah was “a man with a nature like ours…”  Elijah faced much of life like us, except there are two things that I believe set him apart:

#1: HE FULLY PUT HIS TRUST IN GOD  In 1 Kings 17:1 it says, “As the Lord God of Israel lives…”  Almost everyone else in the Northern Kingdom thought that the Lord was dead.  That baal was the only living god.  But NOT for Elijah, He believed that God was the only living God and he was going to serve Him!

This means that if we are to imitate Elijah, we too are to put our trust fully in God even when others around us don’t!

#2 HE SERVED GOD OR STOOD FOR HIM ALONE It continues to say in 1 Kings 17:1 “…whom I serve, other translations say “STAND”….”  When he makes this proclamation in front of King Ahab, he is standing in front of the King saying, at my word their will be no rain or dew…. He was standing in the presence of a king, but he recognized that he was standing in the presence of someone MIGHTIER than the king!  He knew that God’s presence went with him in his daily life. 

We too must daily understand that the presence of “Almighty God” goes with us wherever we go.  So when we are at work, school, home, Almighty God is with us and His power is available to move on our behalf.

The difference between us and Elijah is Elijah believed that God is true to His word and will never leave us nor forsake us!  That is something that each of us can put our trust in – “Almighty God!!”

In the midst of uncertainty 

I TRUST IN GOD

Daily Elijah had to trust in God

Daily the Widow had to trust in God 

Daily I must trust in God

IN PRAYER

Pity VS Compassion

Today my mind begins thinking through our culture as we seem to see more and more disaster, pain and death fill our world.  Much of our response is pity, feeling sorrow for an individual or group that is going through a hard time, yet we many times alienate ourselves away from the hurt that others are experiencing in their life.  I know our natural response is to embrace pity, especially with our lives as busy as they are and the pull we feel everyday with everyone wanting our time and energy.  This disastrous behavior leaves our world with less hope and more pain without experiencing the love and healing power of Christ in the midst of suffering.  I’m reminded of a scripture that says,

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  – Matthew 25:35-36

This passage is speaking beyond the physical side of suffering.  I love what Mother Teresa says about this, Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing – but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.”  When we reach out in compassion – feeling the hurt that others feel and are willing to do something about the suffering, we bring the hope Christ to all mankind.

Lastly I believe this is a choice we must make.  Our emotions or our natural response will lead us to withdraw, but the call of God’s love must motivate us beyond our feelings and lead us to show compassion so that healing power of God may take place in people’s life.  I know this doesn’t always feel comfortable, but to share in the pain of others is to share in the pain that Christ went through for all of us, so that we may experience freedom in the the midst of suffering.  So the only thing left for each of us to do is to be watchful of who God is placing in our path, that we might stop and comfort those who are experiencing difficulty or pain in our world.  When we do this, each of us will experience the amazing grace of God.

Mom’s Wisdom

This morning I started reading through the book of Proverbs.  I first read it, then as I took my morning run I listened to an audio version of the 1st chapter and finally I stopped running and walked.  As I began walking I took time to pray  the passage back to God and finally too listen to what He was speaking into my life.  I love what my friend Mark says about our pace in life, ‘we need to slow down and become less busy’ – not an exact quote.  Slow down to hear the voice of God and also time to receive what He has for our lives.  Let’s read a portion of this passage together and maybe God will speak something special to you too.

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king— Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. 8 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.  Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers.

Proverbs 1:1-8 (The Message)

The first thing I love about this passage is God’s saying that everything that you need for your life and to be successful is already written down.  Read and put it into action daily and you will experience it!  The truth is…none of us was born with all the knowledge need for our life, so we must seek after it if we are going to experience God’s best for our lives.  I know there are times when we think that we have all the answers, but this is called adolescence – the time in our life where we have very little experience to back up our knowledge.  I think many of us – including myself, revert back to acting in this manner where we go off to pursue our plans; thinking we know exactly what we need to do, but we end up disappointed or depressed due to our lack of success.

One of the first places that Solomon encourages us to start with is a humble heart.  Sometimes it is out of disappointment that we end up humble and ready to listen to God’s wisdom.  He goes on to say, listen to what your father taught you and what you learned from your mother.   So because Mother’s Day is this weekend, I prayed and meditated on this passage thinking back to the things my mother taught me.  Some of it was learned as she held me on her lap swinging me on our swing reading books to me after I would get home from school, while other things I learned in passing as she lived her life.  Here are a few things that I have learned from my mom:

The value to read God’s Holy Word, to pray, and to truly seek after God until you hear his voice! She also instilled in me to work hard and give your best at everything that you do, to listen and empathize with people, to be committed to your home and family, to love your spouse, be people of integrity, to stand strong in the mist of difficulty and to serve.  I wasn’t raised in a perfect home, but God placed me in this home to develop me and shape me and mold me into who I am today.

For some of us we may need to revisit what you  learned as a child because scripture goes on to say…”wear their counsel like a flower in your hair and rings on your fingers.”  This is making a choice to embrace the fullness of God’s wisdom and to daily apply those values in our life.

Do you want to be successful in your life?  Seek after God’s wisdom, relearn what you have been taught and apply it to your life.

Pocket Theology – Salvation

pocket-theology-main-logo

TrueLife has started a new message series entitled, “Pocket Theology.”  One of the main points through this series is thinking through our theology and learning how to carry it with us in our everyday life.

“What you talk through on Sunday and how it walks on Monday.”

Our first focus is the theology of salvation – the continual supply of  God’s provision for our life.  This provision is not based on our perception of what God can and can’t do, but rather on His unlimited ability to provide any and everything that we need in our life.  We must understand that God is available, even if we emotionally don’t believe or understand it yet.

1.  The best way for  this to walk in our life on Monday is through asking God to be part of the area(s) of our life that we have need. This could be our relationships, personal life, daily circumstances or our personal relationship with Him – spiritually.  This is like opening a conversation with a friend and asking for help.  So we do the same thing with God, just approach God through prayer and ask Him to help you in the specific area of need.

2. Give God access to the place of need.  I do this by just asking God for His wisdom and direction in those areas of my need.  As we do this, we give God direct access to help us and allow Him to bring His provision to our needs.  We also need to have the willingness to allow change to accure in those areas.  This is sometimes one of the first steps that must happen for God’s provision to take place in our life.  We may need to reposition ourselves and how we respond in our need and our relationship to the need – changing our attitude and allowing God be the mediator for us, instead of us dealing with it our way.  For some of us the need has haunted us so long that we have unintentionally became the guardian of the need, we want relief, but we are so tied to the pain we have a hard time letting go.

3.    “The Process of  Salvation is sometimes mysterious.”   As we follow through on His direction, we sometimes see immediate results, but I have noticed that when I wasn’t expect it, God’s hand of provision was faithful to provide for me.  Even when the answer to the need wasn’t  resolved in the same way that I charted out in my mind.  He sometimes uses unexpected people, circumstances and we get the honor to just sit back and watch everything unfold as He unveils His master plan for our life.

For some of us, we may be skeptical about God’s Salvation, but just remember that this big word is something small that each of us can carry with us.  I would like to encourage everyone to pull out God’s Salvation in the small and large matters in our life.  God desires to be in relationship with us and He desires to provide for us in “all” areas of our world.

So this week, let us not limit God’s ability, but rather give him all of our needs.  As everything in our life is yielded to Him, He can then express his unlimited love…making Himself available for you.  He is everything that you need – He is Salvation!

What’s On Your List?

I have been coming across more books that seem to be great reads:  Mark Batterson has listed two books he can’t wait to read:  It – by: Craig Groeschel / 200 Pomegranates – by: Shawn Wood.  Another book I am interested in reading, which is on diversity in the church is Peppermint-Filled Piñatas – by: Eric Michael Bryant  and the last book I ran across is Killing Cockroaches – by Tony Morgan.  What books are you finding and on your list of next reads? 

More Than Enough

I’ve been going through the book Everyday Deserves a Chance by Max Lucado. Today the focus was on God’s grace.  I thought you might be encouraged so here is my exert on God’s grace.

 The grace of God has taken all of my shame, sin and has placed them on Christ.  He took my punishment so that I may rest and be with Him eternally in Paradise.  His grace is immeasurable, it transcends to our darkest hour to breathe hope back into our days that seem deflated and lifeless.  His grace secures us a confidence that no matter my position in life He is God and more than enough for my deepest need.  He is full of new mercy, grace, and peace that transcends to the weakest part of my human vulnerability.  What more do I need?  I need only the grace of God to take my weakness and make me strong, to take my lack of ability to make me triumphant, to take my shame so that I may receive His peace.  His grace is more than sufficient for me.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. –  2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

Be encouraged! 

Stephanas

gift 

Have you ever met people who authentically care and show their love for each other by meeting people’s needs?  I have seen snap shot pictures of this in my life.  People in the church making meals for those who have been in the hospital, a teacher who actually cares about how a child learns and gives extra time and attention to see the child succeed, a phone call of encouragement, unexpected gifts for those who are in need, people just showing support by sitting with you as you go through tough times in your life and people using their giftings to help you accomplish a need in your home or life.  This could be as basic as household maintenance to using your area of expertise to help a person reach their desired goal – there are endless possibilities. 

The family that scripture marks as a giving family is the household of Stephanas.  We see that from his conversation that “their families heart was devoted to the service of the saints.”  We don’t know the extent of their service, but we do know that it was noble service.  Paul encourages other believers to join the work that this family was doing and not passively stand and watch on the sidelines.

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.   I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.  1 Corinthians 16:15-18

(Read more: Paul baptized this family.)  1 Corinthians 1:13-17

We see that they had such a large impact upon the church that Paul also encouraged other believers to submit to the leadership of those like the Stephanas family.  This family must have had a heart of love that extended to those they came in contact with.  They would have been encourager’s in word and in their deeds.  I know many of our Christian communities have individuals like this, but there is a great need for each of us to be part of helping build up the body of Christ. 

I know during the holiday season we are encouraged to help those in need, but it is my hope that the love of Christ will motivate each us to carry the gift of giving throughout the year.  

Hymenaeus

We live in a day where we have many leaders teaching many different ideologies of scripture.  Some of differences that are taught we can agree to disagree, but those who teach in opposition to scripture we must hold strong to scripture and warn those who are in the body of Christ.  Paul had this difficult issue arise in his day.  There was a man by the name of Hymenaeus who professed to be a followers of Christ, but disagreed with the physical resurrection of the believer after death.  They believed that the resurrection was a spiritual resurrection when one was born again.  This teaching spread throughout the Ephesian church and was leading many believers astray. Listen to how Paul addresses Hymenaeus’ teachings. 

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,  who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  2 Timothy 2:16-18

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.   Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20

One of the things that we must see is that Hymenaeus along with Philetus were teaching the Gnostic doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which in essence was a doctrine similar the to teachings of the Sadducees, which stated that there was no such thing as the resurrection of the body. We see in 1 Thessolonians 4:15-17  that “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  It wasn’t just a Sunday morning teaching that spread through the church leading people astray.  It was the godless talk of people sharing this teaching that led them astray.  When we do not know / understand scripture or are not willing to challenge false teaching that people within the church are talking about, this will ultimately spread throughout the church and destroying the faith of many.

The second thing that we must see is that Paul was very direct how he handled the situation.  Hymenaeous was excommunicated from the church and handed over to the world where Satan rules.  This would be a loss of  spiritual covering from the body of Christ and from God himself.  This would be as equivalent today as excommunicating someone from the church and stating that a person’s teachings were of a cult.  People would not associate with this person and would stay away  from anyone associated with them.

 Scripture is clear that we will see more false teaching in the last days.  Each of us need to understand scripture and have an action plan in mind if we are going to battle this destructive force that could shipwreck the faith of those who are part of the body of Christ.  What will your action plan be?  

This a side note:  I just watched a Youtube post at Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee.  It is really sad when you read false teaching in scripture and then you watch Shirley Phelps Roper of Westboro Baptist Church

Tabitha (Dorcus)

Most of us have heard about Mother Teresa.  She has helped the needy and has sought to help those who have been outcast, sick and neglected in India.  Before there was a Mother Teresa in our century, there was a woman with the same compassion in the day of the Apostle Peter.  Her name was Tabitha or some of us know her by Dorcus.  

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.  About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.  Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”  Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.   Acts 9:36-42

This morning I was flipping through the channnels and stumbled upon Pat Robertson’s show.  I watched as Pat Robertson presented the great need for the children to be fed in Africa.  I know we have seen sences like this on televison before and some of us pass by the channel and others are enriched with compassion for those who are suffering.  I am kinda in the middle, my heart is saddened by the sickness and hunger, but I don’t have a strong compassion that motivates me to reach out to the needy like this. (Maybe the business of ministry in my world clouds out or numbs our universal need to help those who are need.) 

I am truely amazed by the compassion that God places in the hearts of some of his people.  Tabitha was one of those individuals that was motivated by compassion to help the poor.  Scripture states that she was “always doing good and helping the poor.”  Tabitha was more than a person who saw a need and gave toward the need.  She devoted her life to make a difference in the lives of those who were in great need.  She gave of her resources, time, and energy to make sure that the people who were created in the image of God had there needs met.  These are more than foreign people in need, they are our extended family who are in great need.  Who of us wouldn’t do everything possible to help those who were in need in our own families. 

The best question I think we could ask ourselves is how can we develop a heart of a Tabitha – which is really the heart of God.  Here are some things that run across my mind as I ask myslef this question:

#1.  Be an extention of God’s love to those you come in contact with on a daily basis.  It may be a your neighbor, someone you have come across as you go to the grocery store.  It could be someone you meet on a business trip.  What ever the case be open and willing to be an extention of God’s love monetarily, emotionly, and spiritually. 

#2.  Ask God to begin to give us a heart of compassion.  Remember compassion means to suffer.  You literally feel the pain others are going through in their life.  As this is developed in us, so will our motivation to help the needy. 

Tabitha used her abilities, and resources as extentions to communicate God’s love and grace to the poor and the needy.  Those who walk in compassion will always be remembered and be a source of inspiriation to all us to never forget what God has extended to us.  May we never forget, if it was not for Christ, we too could be the needy of this world. 

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