Monthly Archives: October 2014

Don’t Give God a To-Do List, Give God Your Heart

Chrysanthemum

Journaling is all the rage these days. And keeping a prayer journal helps Christians keep track of pray requests. But we need to be very careful that prayer journals don’t become our ‘to-do’ for God.

I started a prayer journal about this time last year. Each morning I would have my prayer and devotional time and then commence writing in my prayer journal. It became a task for me. I wanted to have the correct sentence structure. I worried about spelling and I worried about punctuation.

Part of me thought that it could be a lasting legacy for my son and his children beyond him. My topics in my prayer journal were legitimate prayers and concerns that I brought to the Lord. But my focus in the journal was misplaced.

When I decided to just sit quietly, speak with God from my heart and listen with my heart, I heard so much more in my prayer life and saw so much more happening on my prayer list. And then there was the discussion with my son about answered prayers and even unanswered prayers. That is the lasting legacy, my spoken word about the goodness of God.

Luke 11:9-10 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Advertisements

Trust In The Lord

I think we can all relate to living with anxious moments from time to time. Do you ever have those moments when you feel like something is wrong? Do you ever feel something has you on edge? You can’t put your finger on it exactly, but you are anxious about something. For some anxiety is severe and can be paralyzing. But the average person can manage their anxiety by trusting in the Lord.

Palm-Tree

I can first recall that anxious feeling during college. The pressure to perform well in college was nothing I had ever experience before. The first few months out of college I would get anxious moments thinking that I needed to be doing something. I had been so used to studying. But once college was over, the studying could stop. I had to learn how to relax.

Then along came life and career and the anxious moments from college were replaced with staying on top of work assignments. Adult issues such as bills, family and children can bring out anxious moments too.

But I have learned to trust in Jesus. I literally say many times a day, “I trust you Lord.” The anxious moments disappear.

When I feel an anxious moment coming on I pray, “Lord, something has me feel anxious and upset. I don’t know what it is, but Lord I trust you to help me through it. I trust you Lord to take away this feeling. I trust you Lord to see me through whatever it is.”

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Stop Complaining

My workstation sits out in the open a bit. I am surrounded by people all day. I can hear conversations, I can hear coughing and sneezing and I can hear people shuffling their feet as they walk by.

All three of those are things make working in an open environment a challenge for me. I try to stay focused and mentally block it out. But I miss the days of having my own private office.

This week was the triune of the things that annoy me. I heard all three on one particular day. I cringed when I heard the cough and sneeze determining not to catch a cold. And I let out heavy sighs at loud conversations that interrupt my focus. I can remember my father always telling me to pick up my feet when I walk. And he would tell me to walk with a purpose – head up, shoulders back. He would say ‘Walk like you’re going somewhere.’

All of it got me to thinking. And that made me think about my walk – my Christian walk. I was reading one of my favorite books of devotions and that particular day was so appropriate. I have learned that those messages are always very appropriate and timely.

The devotional message was commending me for staying close to Jesus but it also reminded me that I have a tendency to complain. OUCH! Nail on the head!

My complaining spirit about my workstation is not flattering or pleasing God in any way. The passage encouraged me to take my cares to the Lord because it will temper my thoughts and help me see things from His perspective.

Philippians 2:14-15 says “Do everything without complaining or arguing. So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like the stars in the universe.”

I am thankful to have a job when so many do not. I am thankful I live in a country where health care and medical supplies are easily accessible – there are so many places in the world without adequate health care. And I am thankful I have shoes on my feet – whether they are shuffling or not – because so many do not.

Scripture stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be thankful. That should be my focus.

Be Joyful

The Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?

I remember when I was young and I would hear the older saints talking about the Holy Ghost. The conversation was either about being possessed by the Holy Ghost or being led by the Holy Ghost. I never quite understood who or what it was. And the mystery surrounding Him probably feed my fear of ghosts in general.

But as I have matured, I understand Him so much better. I welcome His leading, His encouragement, His comfort, and even His correction.

I’ve also heard the term Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost used interchangeably. For the sake of this essay, I will use Holy Spirit.

So what is the Holy Spirit?

First and foremost we need to understand that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the trinity. So the correct question is WHO is the Holy Spirit? The trinity is God the Father, the God the Son and the God the Holy Spirit. He is the comforter that Jesus spoke about and left behind when He ascended back to Heaven to be with God. (John 14: 15-17)

When you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are then filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8) He takes up residence in your soul.

What is the Holy Spirit’s job?

Among the jobs He has is to convict believers. Today it seems that sin gets glossed over. I know that times have changed and social morals are being stretch to the limit but sin is sin is sin. There is no big sin or little sin, but we as believers grieve God when we fall into sin. And the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin. He will bring it to our attention. (John 16: 8)

Commercial break – I am as much a sinner as the next person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I am not speaking from a place where I think I am any better than anyone else. My past is far from spotless. But I have a Heavenly Father who has redeemed me. I asked and He has forgiven my sins. The job of the Holy Spirit is to convince me now not to sin anymore. It is an everyday job for Him. I think I keep Him busy. I might have some things under control with the help of the Holy Spirit but there are other sins that I commit. Remember there are no big or little sins. Sin is sin.

So I am convicted by the Holy Spirit when I have a less than kind thought about someone or something. It is not godly and it is sin.

He convinces me that I need to think on holy things. He convinces me to conduct myself in a godly manner and what to say. (Luke 12:12)

And finally, He comforts me. When I feel alone, the Holy Spirit comforts me. (John 14:15-18) He is our comforter. I am guessing there are times in every Christian’s life when they feel alone and like they are walking by themselves. Call on the Holy Spirit. He will comfort your heart.

He convinces us not to sin.
He convicts us when we do sin.
And he comforts us when we are lonely.

When You Ask God For Direction . . . You Have to Listen For His Answer

proverbs-3-5-trust-the-lord

When I look back over my life and think about the number of time I asked God about his direction for me, I find that He’s been talking to me all along. I just haven’t been listening.

I can remember the first time I knew that God – without a doubt – was speaking to me. It was a long time ago and I had been dating a guy for nearly three years. I was ready to settle down. When we first started dating, we were not in the same city. But the opportunity arose where we could be closer, and the guy did not encourage me to move to be near him and he wasn’t making any moves to be nearer to me. I wasn’t playing coy. I clearly let my feelings be known. I didn’t believe in playing games. He asked me about two years into the relationship where I thought it was going. And I told him. I wanted to be married and start a family. You could hear the crickets. Exactly, he didn’t have much to say to that. But we continued to date. That was my own selfishness. I was thinking he would come around to seeing things my way.

So later in the relationship another opportunity arose. But this one would have taken me farther away from him. Again, he didn’t ask me to stay. He was pretty indifferent to where I moved. Finally, the Lord placed it so clearly on my heart that this young man was never going to commit to me. It took me another six months to finally listen and end the relationship.

Did I mention that I’m a little hard-headed?

Jump forward 24 years and I was still struggling to hear from God. I had the one experience under my belt of hearing from Him so I knew He would speak to me – but why wasn’t I hearing anything.

Again, I had some big questions about my career and moving. I started praying and asking God’s direction. And at first I didn’t think He was speaking to me. Confusion arose and frustration set in. But what I discovered is that I wasn’t listening. I was blaming God and I was convinced that He wasn’t speaking clearly to me. I even told Him that He needed to speak loud and clear because I was a little hard of hearing. But what I finally realized I wasn’t hearing him because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Again, I was feeding my own selfishness.

Jumping to the present time, I find myself asking God for direction on many given topics and choices. But I finally learned that I need to sit and listen. Sometimes it still isn’t the answer I want, but I have to remember it’s not my will but His will.

Just this week, I prayed about joining a new study at my church. It was one of the new community groups. And the books were going to be $50. I asked the Lord to show me where I was going to get $50 on my tight, tight budget. I listened and He showed me where I would find that $50.

I want to be obedient to Him. My biggest challenge these days is remove my own opinion about something and leave my mind open to hearing from the Lord. I remind myself to remove my desire and to accept His will.

There are many examples in the Bible about people not listening to God. Each one had many challenges until they submitted to God’s will.

I encourage you to listen for Him. He can speak in many different ways. It can come through scripture or it can be a small quiet knowing in your being.

Yes, ask Him but you have to be willing listen to Him.