Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Tag

LEADING FROM THE HEART

So many people today make decisions, both major and minor ones, without consulting their hearts. The heart is the seat of love. Criteria most often used in making decisions stem from selfish vices. What will I gain financially or materialistically? How will my choice allow me to put forth less effort? Will this choice allow me to spend more time surfing the internet, entertaining myself? Will it allow me to limit my time helping people I deem uninteresting or undeserving, to satisfy my needs first? Will this choice further my dreams regardless of how it affects others close to me?

Our priorities certainly can get out of order. We need to turn toward Jesus as our model to live with divine purpose, thereby striking vices from our lives. Divine purpose uses love in making decisions. Sure, we need to allow our minds guide our choices, but love needs to play a predominant role. We need to lead from the heart.

A prayerful, daily study of the Bible will acquaint us with Jesus’ motives. Motives are at the root of voluntary decisions. Jesus’ motives sprang from love for mankind, shaping His decision to die on the cross for us, saving us from the result of our sin — everlasting death. Christ’s love for us is manifested for us thoughout the Bible.

I counsel you to feed on His Word, the Bible, drawing life from God’s expression of love found therein. Model your life after Jesus, always remembering Jesus’ words: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34,35). The decisions we make will, then naturally, lead from the heart because we love one another as He has loved us.

Considering others in our decisions endears us to them and helps reveal our divine purpose: to love and serve the Lord. This act of worshipping God by loving and serving Him, when seen by non-believers, tends to attract them to the Lord. It creates a kernel of spiritual life in them so necessary to begin a walk with God.

The greatest love we can extend to those in spiritual darkness is to witness our faith through our actions and lifestyle choices. This method can win more souls to Christ than words alone. The key to Christian decision making is leading from the heart. Only when we are unencumbered by selfish motives can we, then receive a blessing when bringing others to Christ.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

WINTER READS

It’s the doldrums of an Arctic-like winter here in Wisconsin this week in January. Time for me to curl up with a good book. What do I like to read? Well, suspense holds my interest the best, science fiction is a new, attractive genre for me, and non-fiction of any kind feeds my mind’s thirst for knowledge.

The book I chose today is the Bible. I somehow neglect it at times but am always drawn back to it. Why? It contains knowledge, wisdom, and guidance far above human writers’ abilities to create on their own. The Bible is God-inspired and contains truth for all humanity throughout the ages. But the Bible is not entertaining, you may counter. Actually, the Bible is chalked full of heroes and heroines whose lives are recorded not only for our spiritual development, but to show their colorful lives, linking them to our own human tendencies, thereby showing relevance to us. Look at King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the ensuing events. The whole story reads like a soap opera. Maybe we should turn off our TVs and open the Bible for something better than entertainment — enrichment. David’s life is recorded in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2.

Many people I’ve spoken with see nothing relevant to our lives recorded in the Old Testament. They see only the Jews whose customs are distinctly different from our own. Since God does not change, His character recorded in His handling of the Israelites in the Old Testament is the same character He has today. Knowledge of God’s character displaying mercy, justice, love, compassion, abhorrence of sin, among other attributes, is integral to our being able to come to God without fear and to abide in Christ. That trusting, loving bond with Christ is our ticket to eternity with Him. There is no other way.

Do you have thoughts on a character in the Bible you’d like to share with others? Perhaps reading about that Biblical person has affected your life in some way. Feel free to comment.

I FORGOT GOD WAS THERE

I am faced with the challenge of finding a publisher for by debut book, THE CASTING OF CROWNS. It’s set in the Last Days, in other words, today’s world. The characters in my book would never have intended me to struggle like this to bring them on stage. Those characters I am endeared to have a developing relationship with Jesus and they never forget to pray to the Almighty, because they know they can’t do it themselves. They’ve been influenced by the mindset of a mature Christian they are getting to know. He realizes life is a joint venture with God. He has found he needs to acknowledge God, petition Him, and continue leaning on Him day after day.

Yet here I am, the main character in my own life’s story, and I forgot God was there. This week I forged ahead on my own, without consulting God, without asking for His direction.

I now refer to the characters in my book. Alex prays fervently at the drop of a hat. He recognizes the power and wisdom of God. He has learned he can’t succeed without God’s help and he prays earnestly for others. Carissa is headstrong and devoted to her own interests, yet she learns to turn more and more of her life over to God. Perhaps because of developmental difficulties, Sally has a problem trusting God fully. John refuses to turn to God. We see him lead a life without the richness only God can provide. Kate knows a good ensemble when she’s introduced to it. She quite easily allows herself to be surrounded by and to learn from her new friends who rely on the Lord. Even some minor characters display new strength after partnering with the Lord. Whereas, those not so wise try to go it alone.

And here I am this week, continuing my search for a publisher, relying solely on myself. As I acquiesce to God’s superiority, I am reassured by His ability to provide all I need to succeed. I bow to Him today, remembering He will always be there for me. All I need to do is ask.

Consequently, He has told me to enlist the help of my blog readers. If anyone out there has published with Moody Publishers, please let me know. I need an author who I can use as a reference with them.

I hope this post has helped you some in recognizing God’s helping hand is essential.

WHY DO WE WORSHIP A GOD?

Have you ever thought about it? Is God deserving of our worship? Can someone other than God meet our deepest needs?

Let’s explore these ideas. What deep, primal needs does God satisfy for the believer? Everyone needs to be accepted. God does not turn anyone away. He lovingly beckons all to join His family of believers, the Body of Christ. And He takes us as we are. Humans handle this differently. We want people to change to suit us. God doesn’t require us to get rid of those bad habits first. He only requires us to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, to come to Him on our knees in confession and repentance, and to obey Him. Obedience, then, is not a burden, but an act of love on our part for a loving Father who knows what we need for happiness. Not continuous bliss, but a journey ripe with relationships that satisfy, including an intimate relationship with our Creator. As we draw close to Him, He embraces us, imparting peace, grace, and a certainty of eternal life with Him as long as we remain true to Him.

Another of our needs is love. No one loves us more than God. His love is unconditional. We don’t have to love Him first or obey Him to earn His love. He just loves us. Period. Even though we are flawed and sinful, God extends His arms to embrace us, soothing us with His compassion, leading us on our journey. If we abide in Him, this journey will lead to Heaven.

Who wouldn’t want to love and worship a God who satisfies our every need? Sadly, only those without love. The next time you encounter a lost soul without love, extend to him or her behavior that speaks of love and compassion. Just a smile and a few well chosen words can do wonders. Then lead them to God. Tell them what God has done for you. Many will accept a relationship with a God who satisfies needs others can’t satisfy.

Why do you worship God? What has He done for you? Share if you’d like.

Modern Day Miracles?

We all know God worked many miracles throughout the Bible. He parted the Red Sea and comsumed Elijah’s soaking sacrifice with fire from heaven. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and He fed the four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Peter healed the lame man by the power of God. And many of us expect to be reunited with dead loved ones in Christ after God raises them from the dead. God’s power is endless. But what about today? Right now. Does God work miracles among a sinful and unbelieving people of today? I think he does if we let him.

Let me share a personal experience. Ten years ago I was still a heavy cigarette smoker, having defiled my body with this destructive habit for some twenty-two years. Cigarettes had gradually become my best friend. I came to a juncture. I knew either I would smoke myself to an early grave or I would free myself from this habit and live. But the problem was, I didn’t really want to quit smoking. It was just too pleasurable. I was helpless, it seemed, until I turned to God for help. I realized He was my lifeline. Everything else had failed–going cold turkey, nicotine patches, Nicorette gum.

I cried out to God in prayer. I put faith in Him 100 percent. I told Him I knew He could take care of my problem. I couldn’t fathom how, but I believed He knew how. And I asked Him to take away my desire to smoke.

About three months later I was stricken by a stomach ailment that landed me in the hospital. Since smoking was not allowed anywhere at the hospital, I knew I had to just tough it out. After a day my stomach problem had me feeling horrible, yet. Another day passed and I hadn’t even had any nicotene withdrawal symptoms. The doctor found a remedy for my stomach and I was set to be discharged. That day I knew God had given me this chance to quit smoking. It was a gift I took and I haven’t smoked since. It has been ten years and my desire to smoke also vanished. Clearly this was a miracle. God is so good.

Do you believe God works miracles today? Please feel free to comment or share a miracle God worked in your life or in the life of a loved one.

A GOD TO TURN TO

I’m sure most people wonder, in times of personal success, “Why do I need God, anyway?”  We tend to ascribe our successes to having the smarts and working hard.  We feel self sufficient.

But what about those inevitable times we experience pain, personal loss or failure?  Many of us blame others for our misfortune, then feel sorrow for ourselves or hatred for those we blame.  Some will consequently indulge in numbing activities like getting drunk, watching large doses of TV, or addiction to work.  Some of us try to replace our sorrow with pleasure by engaging in drug use, promiscuous sex, binge eating, or gambling and the like.  It sometimes becomes difficult to step back from our addictions and identify the real problem that needs to be resolved.  A professional counselor or trained church pastor can often help us identify the problem and bring solutions.

On lesser yet troublesome matters, maybe you, like me, need to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.  When you think about it, it’s really silly to believe perfection is always realistic.  After all, none of us is at the top of our game all the time.  To gently tell ourselves, “It’s OK.  I don’t have to achieve perfection in everything  I do.  I’m flawed and limited,”  is OK.

The only perfect entity is God.  And when it comes to understanding our weaknesses, it is only God who can fully relate, through His Son, Jesus, who understands our weaknesses, frustrations, and sorrows.   Jesus lived a life colored with human inclinations because He is fully God and fully human.  He lived a life molded by simplicity and privation and touchd by deep sorrow.  He can relate to a broken, discouraged human, comfort any type of sorrow, and mend us by His eternal love for each one of us.

Do you ever not know what to say to God—how to pray?  I suggest talking to God like you would a friend.  Many people I’ve talked to have this type of rich, rewarding relationship with Him.  Jesus is knocking at your door.  Opening it may be a humbling experience.

Yes, we do need God.  He created us with an inner craving for Him that can’t be filled by anyone or anything else.  We may feel self sufficient, but He gave us our abilities and we should stay close to Him even in our successes.  To give the glory only to Him brings us blessings He is happy to shower on us.  He will reward the person who acknowledges Him as our benevolent Creator and Sustainer.

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