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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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Why Do We Need To Go To Church Anyway?

If we believe in God then why do we need to go to church?

Sunday at church the question was asked, “Why do we need to go to church?”  It is a very common response for others to say, I don’t need to go to church to experience Jesus or have a relationship with God. This is true so it can be difficult to answer. We were all asked freely what was our own personal reason for being there that day in church?

Some answers were:

1. To worship
2. To connect with others
3. Build relationships
4. Receive Sacraments
5. Edify Believers
6. To take scheduled time out for God

These are all great answers. However, one answer struck me, as someone raised their hand and said, “I come to church to fill me up.”  She said, “I think of church like a gas station to fill my tank up. Just like a car. Is a car a car just because it takes space up in a garage?” “What is the point of having a car sit in a garage if the gas tank is not filled up, you can’t go anywhere with an empty tank.”

How profound this statement was to me. Just as a Christian goes to church.

Does sitting in a church make a person a Christian or a believer?Click To Tweet

Of course not. A person can absolutely have a personal relationship with God without going to church. But how full is their tank and how far have they gone in their relationship with the Lord? Our personal relationship with God can be like the car that sits in the garage with an empty tank, collecting dust and forming rust. How far can we go if we are not filled up? Our tanks will never be filled just by sitting there. Church is a way to connect, re-energize, refocus, worship and build relationships.

What is the church to you?

Is it the building? The choir? The pastor? The church is the people. Not the building, not the things in it, but the people in it. The building is just a building and means nothing without the pastor, the choir, or the people.

Right before we came to Alaska, our church had the unfortunate experience of being victim to a horrible storm that caused a flood. The waters rose so fast and became so powerful they pushed opened the doors of the church. Water came gushing into the sanctuary filling the entire room. All the seats we sat in every Sunday became submerged in water. It was the most unbelievable sight. When the rain stopped the water then had a chance to recede and drain. When this flood happened it was an eye-opening experience because at first I was saddened the flood ruined the church where we worshipped the Lord. When the storm left, in came the people to help in any way to rebuild and restore what was damaged. This experience made me realize more than ever, a storm can take away the building but it can’t take away where we worship the Lord. Where we worship is the church.  The church is the people.

As the sermon went on that day the pastor stated statistics of why people don’t attend church.

It saddened me to hear the responses:

1. 30% say church is important but not relevant
2. 40% say church is ambivalent, I find God elsewhere
3. 30% say church is not important

Other reasons people said why they didn’t go:

1.  Hypocrisy
2.  Moral values of the church leaders
3.  The church’s irrelevance
4.  God is missing from the church

So it challenged me to think how do we answer the question, “Why do we need to go to church?” It makes me question, Are we the people who are in the church doing something wrong or are the people attending not fully, wholly giving themselves completely?

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12).

I think the blame game can be played here. But in reality, there is no perfect church or person for that matter. There will always be variables at play. I believe we do need the church and the church needs us. That is how the beautiful message of the gospel is spread. That is how the body of Christ functions and we become the hands and feet of Jesus. A body works much better when it has all of its parts.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

People who go to Alcoholics Anonymous go to keep them accountable. Without accountability what kind of relationship can be built? Church keeps us accountable. It is important to keep coming together and be the church.

Hebrews 10:25 NIV-  “So let’s not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

Nothing happens when the car is sitting in the garage with an empty tank. God’s word isn’t meant to stay on the pages of our Bibles, but to be alive and living within us.  His words, His truth, fill us with all we need and more than we can imagine.  His words will sustain and maintain us in this life and for all eternity.  Keep filling up your tank and see how far you go.

Have you given up going to church?

Are you missing from church?

How does church fill you up?

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

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Confessions From a Checkbox Christian

Have you ever believed something your whole life and wondered, do I believe what I believe because I believe it or because that is what I’ve been told my whole life?

That is the very question I asked myself when I went away to college and was away from my family for the very first time. I had been a Christian my entire life, but my faith was put to the test when I left home. This was the point in my life was I going to put into practice everything I learned or go along with what the world says I should do? As time went by I found out real fast going along with what the world said I should do got me into trouble. I became more distant from God and wondered why was my life such a mess?

I reflect back upon this time in my life when God was so patient and merciful with me. I can see now how naive I was. In my aimless wandering I became lackadaisical and blind to the realities right in front of me. I came to my senses and realized doing life on my own, without God wasn’t how God designed me.

I started getting back into what I had grown up doing, going to church, praying and periodically reading the Bible. I would have said I was a Christian, but somewhere along the way, my Christianity became more of a routine than it was a relationship with God. Something became lost along the way. I thought by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior was all I needed to do to maintain a relationship with Him. How wrong I was. I thought by checking off my boxes of going to church, praying and reading my Bible would make me right with God.

Have you ever been caught in the trap of believing your righteousness came from following a bunch of rules?Click To Tweet

What I discovered along the way, was God cared more about the condition of my heart than me externally conforming to His laws. God reminded me, I was just like the Pharisees in the Bible.

The Pharisees were members of an ancient Jewish sect. They strictly observed the traditions and written laws thinking this made them self-righteous, above everyone else. They thought what made them right with God was living by legalism and keeping the written laws by men. In reality, the Pharisees were hypocrites. They honored God with their lips and not their hearts (Mark 7:6).

Wow, Is that how I was living my life, by only honoring God with my lips and not my heart?

The hard answer was, Yes. God desired all of my heart, not to just do what’s right and conform to his laws.  He cares about the condition of our hearts, and I realized I was just going through the motions with a distant heart.  Obeying God’s laws with a distant heart is like a puppet master controlling his puppet. God doesn’t want to control us like puppets, he wants all of our hearts and desires a relationship with us.

The Pharisees believed God’s grace only extended to those who kept his law (Mark 2:16). They didn’t understand why Jesus talked and ate with tax collectors who were considered sinners. Jesus was teaching them there was not a place where God’s grace can’t reach—we are to love sinners, but not the sin.

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).

The Pharisees were holding on to the traditions of the elders telling them not to associate with ‘unclean’ men who were sinners. Jesus was telling them, God’s commands in the Bible have more authority than traditions of men.  God’s commands (His love) accept and love everyone, not discriminate and condemn.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

When I was busy checking off the boxes, living by legalism, I realized there was always going to be another box to check, another rule to follow, or another good deed to accomplish, when was it ever enough to please God?

Living a legalistic life puts the trust in ourselves and not what Jesus did for us. When I was living by legalism, I was putting the hope of salvation upon myself taking God out of the equation. Following all of those rules wasn’t going to get me to heaven—putting my trust and faith in God was.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

In God’s love, we can be set free from checking the boxes.

There will always be another box to check.  The promise of salvation will never come from following a bunch of rules (Galatians 2:21). We are already worthy in God’s eyes don’t have to earn or prove our worth by performing more. If we weren’t worthy, God would have never sent Jesus in the first place.

We receive the righteousness of God through our faith in him.

I realized we become righteous through our faith in Christ, not by anything we do on our own (Philippians 3:9 NLT). Our good works and abiding in God’s commands is a result of His righteousness overflowing from within us—not something we do ourselves.

When I was living by legalism, I was missing out on the beautiful message of the gospel. God’s love transforms hearts and lives. His love is a free gift in which He offers to everyone. No amount of good works could ever repay Jesus for what he has done for us already.

So take the advice from a recovered box checker, you never have to check another box off again when God’s love is living in your heart. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior is the key to my salvation and allowing God to have all my heart is the key to transforming hearts and lives.

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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3 Valuable Lessons Failure Can Teach Us

Failure.  We have all been there.  We never forget when we fail at something.  Even though it seems horrible at the time, it can be one of the best learning experiences we go through.  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Dr. Seuss are among some of the most successful people in history who accredit their success to their previous failures.  

A failure I will never forget is the day I failed my nursing boards (this was 19 years ago).  I had studied so hard, the result was devastating.  Three valuable lessons I learned in my failure, I carry with me to this day.  

3 Valuable Lessons Failure Teaches Us
Failure:

1. Builds character– It makes us mentally tougher.  It Prepares us to be able to do hard things.  It teaches life is not easy and we have to keep trying.  Failing my boards made me try harder.  It taught me the value in working harder, pushing myself to reach my goal.  It taught me perseverance.  Perseverance teaches us how to get through tough times.  It helps prepare us for what lies ahead.  “God doesn’t care about our achievements while we’re here on this earth. He cares about our character.” by Rick Warren

2.  Never allow numbers on a piece of paper define who you are  Whether it’s a grade you receive in class, a class rank you receive or what’s in your bank account, you are more than numbers on a piece of paper.  Take that all away, you are still who you are.

Never allow present failure define future success.Click To Tweet

Failures shape our future, prepare us for what lies ahead and make us stronger.  (The enemy) wants us to believe that we are no good, not worthy and are not able to do it.  Just because one door has closed doesn’t mean another one won’t open up.  Sometimes our failures will lead us to better paths ahead.  Allow failure to Shape your future, not define it.  

3.  Never allow failure to stop you from moving forward or accomplishing your goals.  The best way to respond to failure, is to ask, ‘What can I learn from this?’  Apply it and Keep Going. How many times did the Apostle Paul get thrown into jail and was persecuted for what he believed?  A lot.  He could have looked at his many situations as failures.  That never stopped him to on Keep Going.  He didn’t look at his situation as failure, but as an opportunity to learn, become stronger and persevere.    

God always has something better ahead. A closed door now doesn't mean another one won't open in the future. Click To Tweet

Hard work, perseverance and commitment, pays off in the long run.  You never know where your failures might lead you.  Looking back, I realized how important the lessons I learned from failing.  I learned failure….  

  • Prepared me for my future.  
  • How God used it and turned it into something better.  

I went on to obtain my Masters Degree in Nurse Anesthesia.  After the failed nursing board attempt, I never failed another test again.

I have been a nurse for 19 years, not once has a patient asked me, What grade did you get in Anatomy Class?  Did you graduate Summa Cum Laude?  Or did you pass your nursing boards the first time?  What a patient will ask you, is how long have you been a nurse?  They care about my experience and will I take good care of them, not if I’m valedictorian.  
Patients grade me on how I treat them, which is the most important grade I could ever receive.  

You are Important, Worthy and Valuable.  No matter what another person says or what failure has occurred, You Matter.  You are God’s workmanship.  He created you with a Purpose, not to be defeated but to to be Victorious.  He designed you to Succeed.  Even if you fail Now, it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in the Future.  God will use your failures for future successes.  Take this from someone who has been on the other side of failure.  

Has Failure been apart of Your Life?

In What Ways has Failure Helped Shape Your Future?

Has God used your Failure and turned it into something Better? 

Don’t Give up, Don’t lose hope, Keep Going.  “For I know the Plans for you, plans to prosper you not to harm, but to give you Hope.”  Jerimiah 29:11 NIV

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A Prayer for Vision

 

Have you ever been so afraid of something it kept you from engaging in life?  It kept you from travel plans, going out with friends or being involved in relationships.  I’ve been there, allowing my fears to linger and build to the point of isolation.  Fear can be so crippling, not allowing us to live life, keeping us from God’s abundant plans.

Faith and fear cannot reside in the same heart.  Fear alters our vision making it difficult to see God’s plan for us.  God never intended for us to live in fear, but to live in the abundance of everything He has to offer.  Today I pray our eyes are opened to see a clearer vision for our lives, the way God sees us.

In 2 Kings 6, there was an ongoing war with the Arameans and Israel.  The king of Aram became infuriated when he learned Elisha the prophet warned the king of Israel of the plan to set his army’s camp by the border of Israel.  Once King Aram’s officials told him where Elisha was, he made plans to capture him.  He sent horses, chariots, and a strong force to surround the city of Dothan ( 2 Kings 6:8-13).

The next morning Elisha’s servant saw the army of horses and chariots surrounding them.  The servant asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”  (2 Kings 6:15).

I love this next part.  Elisha’s response wasn’t to engage in his servant’s fears but to give him encouragement and invite him in to see what he saw.

Elisha tells his servant, 'Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them' (2 Kings 6:16). Click To Tweet

Wow, I can’t imagine Elisha’s bold confidence.  His eyes saw the same thing his servant did, yet he did not waver.  His response could have only come from God Himself.  Even though Elisha saw the danger with his physical eyes, he stood firm in God’s divine power of what He is able to do.

Elisha then turned to God in prayer and said, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).

Elisha’s prayer amazes me.  He didn’t ask God to help save them from the attacking enemy armies, instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant so he could see what Elisha saw.

I would surely think the next thing Elisha would ask God for was protection against the attacking enemy army.  Instead, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.”  God heard Elisha’s prayer and struck them with blindness, as Elisha asked (2 Kings 6:18).

The servant witnessed firsthand the power of Elisha’s prayer for vision.  His eyes were opened to see what God and Elisha saw.  Elisha’s prayer took the focus off of the enemy/fear and prayed a prayer for vision to see God’s divine power more clearly.  We may not always see God’s bigger plan, but He is always at work behind the scenes.

Our own physical vision can limit us to focus on the circumstances that surround us, but God’s vision can free us to focus on His abilities, putting our trust in Him.  We can follow Elisha’s pattern of prayer when we feel our fears caving in.

Elisha’s Vision of Prayer:

  1.  He recognized the enemy’s plan to instill fear.  Instead of being a victim of fear, He put his hope and trust in God’s abilities of what He was able to do.
  2. He turned to God in prayer.  Instead of worrying, He sought God and prayed.
  3. He stood firm in God’s promises, his faith did not waver.

Satan will always try to keep us from God’s plans by instilling fear in us.  Fear will always blind us to God’s presence.  We must recognize the tactics of the enemy, stand firm in God’s promises, seek God in prayer and trust in Him.  The closer we are to God, the more clearly we can see His vision for us and hear His voice.

Are you struggling to see past your circumstances?

Write your own prayer for vision.  Ask God to see what He sees.

Prayer-  Lord Jesus, open our eyes so we can see what you see.  We pray our vision will not blind us to your presence of voice, that we will see and hear what you want us to.  We pray we will stand firm in your promises and trust in your divine power.  You are greater.  We pray your desires will be greater than our desires.  You are our God who loves us more than anything.  We praise you and thank you for your eternal gifts.

I pray for God’s vision in your life to see more clearly what God sees.  You are loved!

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Why We Should Pray For Our Neighbors

Have you ever had one of those neighbors who were just hard to love?  Some years ago, my husband and I had a very humbling experience with one of our neighbors.  We had just moved into our new home and there was a knock at the door.  Behind the door was a woman, who didn’t introduce herself, but instead handed me an envelope and said, ‘give this to the owner’ and then walked away.

Turns out the woman who handed me the envelope was our neighbor.  Inside the envelope was a bill for a few thousand dollars stating we owed her money for our ‘shared’ fence.  We had been the fourth owners of this property and were very confused to be informed we ‘owed’ our neighbor money.  We thought by ignoring the hand-delivered letter we would avoid our neighbor’s request.  We were wrong.

As it turned out, our neighbors were lawyers.  If we didn’t address this issue they would take us to court.  Even in our debacle, I heard God’s voice whisper to me, ‘love your neighbor.’  Technically we didn’t owe them money because of the statute of limitations.  We knew if we didn’t oblige, our time would be spent arguing in court about whether or not we owed them money.

In the end, we gave them money for the fence.  But something happened in the process.  It changed our hearts.  Our decision to love our neighbor instead of arguing with them showed them kindness and softened our hearts.

'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Matthew 5:44Click To Tweet

Maybe you don’t have an extreme neighbor situation like we had, but maybe there’s that one neighbor that rubs you the wrong way.  Maybe your neighbors’ dog poops in your yard and doesn’t clean it up.  Maybe they leave the porch lights on that shine into your house all night or maybe they’re just noisy.  We may not always like our neighbors or what they do, but we can always pray for them.

How to Pray for Your Neighbor

Pray your neighbor will know the love of Jesus.  The best way for our neighbors to know the love of Jesus is to introduce ourselves, invite them over, get to know them.  Learn their names, their stories and how you can pray for them.  As you’re driving or walking in the neighborhood pray for neighbors to know the love of Jesus and for opportunities to show them His love.  Col. 3:12, Micah 6:8

Pray for unity in the community.  Pray there will be no division in your neighborhood amongst neighbors.  Pray God’s peace and love will bind you.  Pray there will be love and acceptance even in differences.  There is unity in community.  Do something to bring your neighborhood together–host a community garage sale, organize a neighborhood clean-up, host a neighborhood chili-cookoff, do a neighborhood BBQ in a nearby park.  Practice being a good neighbor, it will bring your neighborhood closer together.  Ecc. 4:9, Rom. 16:17, Rom. 15:7, Col. 1:10

Ask God to help show your neighbor the love of Christ.  God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves in Mark 12:31. Pray Mark 12:30-31, together as a family to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Do something kind for your neighbor–bake banana bread or a meal for them, invite them over for coffee and doughnuts, offer to watch their pet, invite them to church.  No one would ever know the love of Christ if we don’t show them.

Praying for our neighbors softens and changes the attitude of our hearts to be focused on how God wants us to treat others.  Even if we don’t like our neighbors, we can pray for them.  We are meant to live in community with one another.  Being neighborly prepares our hearts to live in the best community ever for when we go to heaven.

God calls us to love those who are hard to love. If we can't love our neighbors how can we be apart of God's family? Click To Tweet

Being a good neighbor fulfills God’s greater plan, strengthens communities and destroys the enemy’s plans for division among us.  We are stronger together.

'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31Click To Tweet

This summer, reach out to one neighbor, practice the art of neighboring by doing one action step and pray for them.

Do you know who your neighbors are?

How can you pray for your neighbor?

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The One Thing…….

Do you have that one thing that drives you crazy about yourself? That one quirk, that one idiosyncrasy, that one flaw? If I could change one thing about myself it would be my organization. I grew up with a twin who was super organized and would organize for me. As an adult, I struggled with keeping things organized and still do.

Our flaws and weakness can seem like we’re staring at a 90-foot wall getting in our way of God’s abundant plan for us. I’m so glad God never gives up on us and patiently waits for us as he guides us through our fears.

Four men in 2 Kings who were lepers, remind me of what God is able to do when we take one step of faith toward our fears.

These four men lived outside of the entrance of the city gate. People with skin diseases were forbidden by law to reside within the community. They were outcasts. These four men spent their days begging for food. At the time there was a great famine and war going on—times were tough for everyone.

One day the men said to each other, “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway” 2 Kings 7:3-4.

The men recognized if they stayed where they were, there was a 100% chance they would starve and die. If they went out to the battlefield and surrendered to the army, they had a small chance of survival. Imagine this scene. These four lepers probably spent the greater part of their lives staring at the gate that separated them from the city begging for food—it’s the only life they have ever known. Now they are about to embark on an unknown path without fully knowing if they will live or die.

“So at twilight, they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching.  So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.” (2 Kings 7:5-6-7).

I can’t imagine the courage it took the men to go past the gates that was forbidden to enter so they could have a fighting chance for their future. How amazing is our God? The odds were already against these four men, but God had worked everything out before they even got to the battle lines, they only needed to take one step of faith. God caused the army to hear an opposing army approaching, which caused them to flee!

“When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace” (2 Kings 7:8-9).

How surprised were these men when they found no one there and abundant riches waiting for them? They went from starving to trusting in God, to receive the most lavish gifts ever in their lives. How would you respond? Would you share your newly found riches with someone else or keep them to yourself?

The response of the lepers astounds me. They lived in squalor conditions most of their lives. Their immediate response was to share with the very people who considered them outcasts!

“So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace” (2 Kings 7:10-11).

How great is our God?

Leprosy was the one thing that kept these men from living in community with others, but God used it in the end, to bring them together. No one else had the courage to go towards the battle except these men.

We may not always understand God’s plans, but He knows what He is doing. We don’t always have to know why.Click To Tweet

I am encouraged by the courage of these four men. They were willing to abandon everything that was comfortable to them and go towards where God was asking them to go—towards the battle. When they did, God had already gone ahead of them and worked everything out. When they let go of the one thing that was holding them back, God filled them abundantly more than what they could ever ask for or imagine.

What is the one thing that holds you back?

Maybe it’s fear. shame. pride. doubt. worry. anxiety. You’re one thing may be the very thing keeping you from the abundant freedom God desires for you.

Where is God asking you to go?

I promise when we say yes to God, taking one step of faith towards where he is asking us to go, He will be there waiting to fill you abundantly more than whatever you could ask for or imagine. God is greater.

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The Demon Who Needed Prayer

Inner Demons.  We all have them.  They’re around every corner, behind every temptation.  We wrestle with them.  We stuff them down so we don’t have to deal with them.  We avoid them.  We lie to ourselves and pretend they don’t exist.  But they are there.  Always lurking around, waiting to take hold of us, to control our lives.  If we’re not careful these inner demons can lead us to places we don’t want to be and take us captive to the point of destruction.

One boy in the Bible, reminds me of what can happen when inner demons take control of our lives.  We don’t know his name, but we all can relate to his story.

In Mark 9, we see the desperate plea of a Father who is frantic to find help for his son.  He approaches Jesus and says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.  He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.  I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not” (Mark 9:17-18).

Jesus then says to the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” (Mark 9:21).  The Father answers, “From childhood.”  We have no idea how old his son is or how long he’s been possessed.  But the father paints the picture of torment the boy has endured, telling Jesus the impure spirit often throws the boy into fire and water trying to kill him.  He begs Jesus, ‘if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us’ (Mark9:21-22).

“If you can?” said Jesus.  

'Everything is possible for one who believes' (Mark 9:23). Click To Tweet

How patient God is with us.  Jesus had performed many miracles upto this point.  What was it going to take for people to believe?

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!' (Mark 9:24).Click To Tweet

Jesus then rebuked the impure spirit and said, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.  The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.  Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up  (Mark 9:25-27).”

How many times have we been there, doubting God that He is able?  Everything is possible for one who believes.  When we believe, the unbelievable happens.  Everyone was amazed and shocked at this scene.  The disciples who had previously tried to cast out the demon questioned, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28).

Jesus replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer' (Mark 9:29). Click To Tweet

Wait, you’re telling me the disciples forgot to pray!?!?!  We too can be guilty of trying to handle our demons in our own way by ourselves, forgetting to allow God to handle it.

This story shows me how powerful prayer really is.  Prayer is the language the deaf can hear and the mute can speak.  Back in biblical times, it was believed only the Messiah Himself could cast out mute and deaf demons.  But Jesus tells us, prayer is what the demon understood and what drove it out.

Maybe you’re wrestling with deep, dark hidden demons right now.

Maybe you struggle with finding your worth and value in status, money, external beauty and things of this world. Maybe you’re trying to fill a void by seeking attention in not so good places.  Maybe your demons are shame, doubt, guilt, keeping you in an ugly cycle of brokenness not allowing you to move forward.

We can all relate to effects the demon had on the little boy’s life.  The demon took away his ability to speak, it seized him, paralyzing him from living life.  The demon placed him in harm’s way almost destroying his life to the point of death.   

Whatever your demon is--it needs prayer to drive it out so it will never enter again.Click To Tweet

There is freedom when we release our demons to God.  I promise when we give our demons to God in prayer He will take us by the hand, lift us up, so we can stand just like he did for the boy.

Do you believe everything is possible for the one who believes?

Do you have inner demons that hold you captive from what God desires?

Spend time with God today, ask Him, ‘what are my inner demons that hold me back from what you desire?’  Ask for prayer from a friend or a pastor.  Write out your prayer to address your inner demon, give it to God so you can live the abundant life God desires for you, free from strongholds holding you captive.

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The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

If I were to ask you to recite the Lord’s Prayer whether you are a Christian or non-Christian I bet most of us could recite some lines from this prayer.  In this prayer, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayer life can become dull like I’m reciting a memorized prayer.  Reciting a prayer from my lips that has no meaning in my heart is like an empty cup waiting to be filled.  An empty cup is not fulfilling its purpose unless it’s filled.  

The purpose of prayer works the same way in our lives.  The Lord’s Prayer was never meant to just be something we memorize but a pattern that we apply to our hearts and lives.  God knows better than us what we need and directs our steps in The Lord’s Prayer.  I encourage you to read this whole article today to develop a powerful pattern of prayer that God desires to bring us the most abundant life ever in Him.

 Worship

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Jesus starts His prayer off by turning to God, His Father.  His prayer begins with showing reverence, respect for our God who is sovereign, omnipotent and creator of all things.  Turning our eyes towards God focuses our attention on his abilities that nothing is too difficult for Him.  Recognizing God for everything He is to us, takes our focus off of ourselves and gives Him the glory, which is a form of worship.

Submission

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This part of the prayer puts God’s will first ahead of our own agenda.  Allowing God’s desires to be greater than our desires gets rid of any selfishness or self-centeredness.  God is able to do anything, however, the way God works in our lives isn’t as a genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish.  If our hearts are filled with things that get in the way of him such as greed, lust or selfishness, we limit God’s power within us.  In order to receive God’s divine power working within us, we must be in places of humbleness and surrender.  Submission prepares our hearts for the next part of the prayer.

Appropriate Requests

Give us this day our daily bread.  This is the part of the prayer is where we ask God for our requests and needs.  This is where we can ask for help for anything we need in our lives such as marriage, parenting, help with finances, provision, relationships.  God’s provision can provide us with anything.  But if our requests are inappropriate such as, ‘God please give me a million dollars,’ He will not grant our requests.  Daily bread is our daily provision of what God offers not what we desire.  When we have the daily bread He provides for us we are eternally satisfied (John 6:35).  When we are content with the daily provision in what God provides us we can forgo the rat race and make do with what He provides.

Confession

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Asking forgiveness from God purifies our hearts and makes us right before Him.  Our sin and unforgiveness separate us from God.

 Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matt. 6:14-15).

Thankfully God is in the healing and restoration business.  He cares about our eternal salvation.  Jesus paid a high price for our sins with his life.  It costs us nothing to forgive but costs us our lives if don’t forgive.  Forgiving someone who hurt you may be the hardest thing you do.  But I promise when you do forgive, you will be set free from the heavy burden of carrying around unforgiveness.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full, not so we can be weighed down with our sins and burdens.  Confessing our sins removes the obstacles in our hearts for God’s love to grow within us and cleans out our hearts.

Authority

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Asking God to protect us from temptation and the evil one recognizes God as the authority in our lives.  This part of the prayer is asking God who is Lord in our lives to direct our steps and keep Satan away from our hearts.  Praying for protection over our hearts is so important to keep the enemy out of our lives and allows victory over our temptations. Deliverance sets us free from our sins, temptations, and strongholds that keep us captive and away from God’s plan in our lives.

Worship

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The Lord’s prayer not only begins with worship but ends in worship as well.  Ending our prayer by giving thanks to God for all that he does for us acknowledges that He is the God of the heaven and earth.  

The Lord's prayer is a pattern of prayer that gives us the elements of a strong, powerful prayer foundation. Click To Tweet

The Lord’s prayer isn’t meant to be rote memorization but active, alive and breathing in our lives.  We can learn so much from what Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer can be so powerful in our lives if we use it the way God intended for us.

What have you learned from The Lord’s Prayer?

Write out your own pattern of Prayer of Worship, Submission, Requests, Confession, Authority, and Worship.

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a FREE ebook and weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

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Praying Through Blind spots

When I was a teenager I endured an eye injury which left permanent damage. As a result, I have a huge deficit in my peripheral vision, leaving me with a permanent blind spot. When I’m driving I’m extra cautious of this blind spot for fear that I may not see oncoming cars because of my deficit.

My physical blind spot makes me think are there other blind spots in my life I’m not aware of?

The funny thing about blind spots, is we can’t see them—then how do we detect them?

One person in the Bible reminds me what can happen if we allow blind spots to go undetected.

King David a man who went from a shepherd boy to warrior, to a commander, to a king—had a huge blind spot. David was known for his tremendous faith in God and had everything he could have ever wanted, wives, power, a kingdom, wealth, victories, a palace, even the anointing of God (1 Sam. 16:13).

David was at the top of his game, at the peak of his career and in favor with God—“What could go wrong?”

These are the times when blind spots can get the best of us.

In 2 Samuel 11:2, David merely got up in the night, walked around on his roof probably just to get some fresh air, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing. David was so intrigued by this woman he sent someone to inquire about her to find out her name was Bathsheba and was married to Uriah one of his commanders. He then sent a messenger to get her, she came to him and he slept with her (2 Sam. 11:3-4).

Needless to say, David had a huge blind spot in his life. His blind spot didn’t allow him to see he was flirting with seduction that brought him to the edge of a very slippery slope.

In that one action of inquiring about Bathsheba, David’s lustful blindspot caused him to commit adultery, lie, cover up his lie by murdering Bathsheba’s husband and stealing someone else’s wife. He ended up breaking 4 out of the 10 commandments and displeased the Lord (2 Sam. 11:27).

We can only speculate, but what if David at that moment he saw Bathsheba stopped to pray before responding out of his lustful desires? I think his situation would have been drastically different.

David eventually asked for forgiveness but not until God sent the Prophet Nathan to talk some sense into him (2 Sam 12:1,13). Nathan used a striking parable about a rich and poor man to reveal the atrocity of David’s actions (2 Sam. 12:1-5). It wasn’t until Nathan spoke the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) to David that his eyes were open to his secretive evil deeds and shed light on his blind spot.

Can you imagine the amount of courage it took Nathan to boldly come before King David, one of the most powerful men at the time?

Nathan could have been killed for being so bold. Nathan knew David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14) who had a blind spot. But God gave Nathan the wisdom to use the parable to lovingly speak the truth to David, so his blindspot wouldn’t destroy him again.

Our blind spots leave a door open for the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, to get into our lives (1 Peter 5:8).

Like David, we too can fall victim to our blind spots if we’re not careful.Click To Tweet

How can we detect blindspots?

By seeking God in prayer and asking Him to reveal our blind spots.

By allowing others to speak the truth in love into our lives—so our blind spots can be brought to our attention.

We may not be able to see our blind spots, but God can. Our blind spots help us to constantly seek him for guidance and lead us straight on our paths.

Are there blind spots in your life?

We all have blind spots. Some of us might have blind spots in our finances, with self-control or in how we treat others. They may not all be the same but it is a part of our human nature not to be able to see everything that God sees. When we can’t see, God is the light on our paths.

Do you have a Nathan in your life that you allow to speak the truth into your life?

I am afraid of where my blindspots can lead me if I don’t let others bring them to my attention. To stay alert and aware I ask God to reveal any blind spots and if there is anything in my life that is getting in the way of God. I ask Him to expose and my blind spots making them visible with His light—so that everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Eph. 5:13).

Imagine if David didn’t allow Nathan to bring his blind spot to his attention?

I love how David allowed Nathan to speak truth into his life and didn’t allow his blindspot cause his downfall again. He surrendered it all to God and turned his sorrow into praise. God then used David to be apart of his greatest plan ever—the bloodline to Jesus.

I also love how David dedicated the rest of his life to prayer by writing the most poetic prayers in the Psalms. I can’t help to think when David wrote Psalms 86 he was referring to the moment that almost destroyed him.

A prayer from David.

“Lord you are forgiving and good abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer Lord: listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” (Psalms 86:5-6,11-13)

Lord Jesus, please expose our blind spots with your light, so they don’t cause us to stand on slippery slopes. Help us to keep seeking you for discernment and wisdom when making choices and decisions. Help us to allow others to speak the truth in love into our lives. Help us to stay in your will and plan for our lives so we aren’t flirting with disaster. You are greater and able to see so much more than we can. Help us to trust in you even when we can’t see. We praise you, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.


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