Monday, June 14, 2021

Guard Your Heart

Are the words from your mouth getting you in deep waters? Are your eyes looking and lusting after things not intended for you? Are your feet marching off in a direction contrary to God's leading? Time to do some serious introspection.

The scriptures give us great warning and clear direction when we open our heart and mind to receive what it is actually saying. As I read the following text I realize that we are to be extremely aware of our inner struggles and choices.

"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips far from you. Let your eyes look directly fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil." Proverbs 4:23-27

We are challenged to guard our heart because it leads us through life choices. Our heart is an expression of our feelings and emotions. Interestingly we are not aware that it can be extremely deceitful.

How do we go about guarding our heart? If we guard our heart what benefit do we receive? Reading God's Word and dwelling on it helps to strengthen right desires and right motives, but there is so much more. The scripture continues to show what prevents the springs of life, the abundant watering, we desperately need and desire from the Holy Spirit.

The first issue are the words that come out of our mouth. Are our words encouraging and uplifting to others? Are they subtlety demeaning to the listener, and or possibly elevating ourselves? Do we find ourselves whispering negative things about others, where we could otherwise be remarking on the positive work of God in their lives? These are questions that help us to recognize how easily sin enters our very being and then spills out on others.

The second issue is our eyes. Our eyes can misdirect our decisions and effect our contentment. Eyes are a gateway to our soul. Have we begun to desire things that are unseemly and sinful? Do we find ourselves gazing at what others have and wish they were our very own? How about looking down our nose with disdain, while we are covering our own fallen behavior, judging them and not ourselves? 

The Spirit desires to fill us with His goodness and love so that we will look on good and pure things. He wants us to open our eyes to see clearly all the wonders God has done in the land of the living. There is much to be thankful for such as the beauty and fragrance of a flower. the majesty and tumbling of a roaring waterfall. He wants us to see the magnificent mountain ranges and the simple precious smile of a little child. God has given us a plethora of things to look at that are good and pleasing. We need to make the responsible choice to live and see the beauty  that surround us.

The third issue found here is our feet. Where are they taking us? Are they heading in a direction contrary to God's leading by His Spirit? There is a multitude of places we can go, but should we? God has a good path for us and will illuminate the way. We need to press into His goodness to see we are heading in the right direction. When we follow His ways and walk forward, our head can be held high, not looking over our shoulder hoping not to be seen or exposed. We can be assured of His goodness and grace in everyday travels. It is a marvelous experience when you feel impressed to go in a specific direction to then run into someone you needed to talk with. They encouraged you or you may have encouraged them. In everything there are choices to be made. 

We desire to feel God's pleasure and love so we must be mindful to keep our heart clean before Him. I love how the scripture describes what our efforts should be;

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." Jude vs 20-21

Recognizing the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus presents to us when we put our faith and trust in Him, is all the help we need. He takes our weaknesses and becomes strong within us. Continue to pray and seek for the things above, knowing the end result is everlasting springs of water. Your soul, your heart, and your mind will all be strengthened, renewed, restored to the joy of knowing you have a glorious future and a hope. Allow the Lord to guard your words, eyes and feet today. Enjoy the journey! 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Put on Love

 Jesus responds to a Pharisee questioning Him about the greatest commandment with the Royal Law;

"And He said to him,"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

What an amazing world this could be if men and women embraced these commands. When God is at the forefront of our mind He influences our choices, decisions, and moods. You will find yourself being much more humble and kind.

 The world we live in does not desire to follow Jesus or His commands. We find ourselves living in a fallen world influenced by the fallen angel Satan himself. He distorts the truth, brings about greed, jealousy, hate, cruelty and complete selfishness. He has the opposite effect of Jesus love by causing all kinds of trauma, discouragement, and distrust. He blinds the minds of human beings from witnessing the goodness that God desires for them. Fortunately, God sent His Son Jesus to cover this sinful nature with His atoning blood and opens our hearts and minds to God's glorious light.

When we finally come to the end of ourselves and call out to the Lord, He immediately responds by sending His Holy Spirit to lead, guide, heal, restore and provide in a plethora of ways. His marvelous Word helps our limited understanding to grow, change and blossom. He chooses us because of His great love, not because we have earned it or impressed Him in some way. I love the following scripture because it shows us that we are a work in progress, His work;

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:12-14

God's Holy Spirit produces real and lasting love in our hearts. By reading the Word of God and spending time in conversational prayer with God, He helps us, equips us, encourages us, to become more like Him. Our character changes and wonderful fruit replaces the rotten, decaying parts of our very soul.

Ask yourself, are you gentle and patient with others? Are you holding onto a grudge, a hurt or disappointment, that is causing unforgiveness in your heart? Do you find yourself complaining about others, pointing the finger? Are you harboring jealousy or envy toward someone, which in turn embitters your own heart?

If any of these questions zero in on a situation that is contrary to Jesus character take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask the Lord to help you to forgive, let go, be cleansed and ask for the infilling of His Holy Spirit. He desires to restore you to uninterrupted joy so you may live above the unfair circumstances that have befallen you in this sinful world.

God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, working together as one, desire you to be clothed in His love. He says in the scripture to literally put it on. This is a daily choice. Examine your heart with the Lord' help. Be honest with yourself. Pray to be rid of any bondage that has been holding you as prisoner. Accept the freedom that the Lord holds out to you. 

If you are believing and following the Royal Law you will walk in the perfect bond of unity. You will be unified with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Your desire should develop into a yearning to walk in unity with the Body of Christ which of course includes fellow Christians. True love never disappoints.

Todays takeaways:

* Know the Royal Law

* Recognize Satan brought sin into the world and Jesus came to restore it

* God has chosen you, you in turn need to choose Him

* Examine your heart, be cleansed

* Walk in love that comes from above


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ask Your Heavenly Father

Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:7-11

Jesus was teaching the people here in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount and people were astonished at His teaching because He taught with such authority. It is recommended that you read chapters 5-7 to capture all of His teaching.

He began to teach them the Lord's Prayer and was giving an illustration on being persistent in prayer when He came to the place where we He encourages us to ask, seek and knock. What a wonderful privilege our Father has given to us His children that we can come to Him and ask what we have need of. Many times throughout the Gospels Jesus encourages us to ask. But do we? Oftentimes asking our Father is the last thing we think of. In chapter 6 verse 8 it says, ... your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. He wants to hear us!

I love the illustration that Jesus uses here because when teaching about the aspect of asking God for something that you need, He teaches in the context of a son asking his loving Father and that He is a good Father. He will give us good things!

Nowhere else in the Bible is God referred to many times as Father, your Father or Heavenly Father as in the Sermon on the Mount. Go ahead, count them. It seems as though God wants us to know that He is our Father and He loves to hear from His children. So ask, seek and knock!

💙 Dan

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Trust for the Mature Christian

If you consider yourself a mature Christian it is because you have been following the Savior Jesus Christ for some time. You most likely attend church faithfully and have read and reread your Bible. Spending time in prayer alone or with others is important and you are most likely serving in some capacity in ministry. 

Have you finally arrived? Do you have it all together? Is everything around you perfect and running smoothly? Are all your friends and family saved? Asking these questions helps us realize we are not a finished product. We are still needed in Christ's mission and there is much to be done.

It is easy to fall back, not trusting the Lord, because our immediate surroundings may be troubled or unstable. We become fickle when it comes to trusting in the Lord. We have expectations that everything should be perfect and easy. This wasn't true for Jesus' disciples and they were taught directly from Him!

Fortunately for the mature Christian, we are able to look back in our memory banks, remembering the numerous times we witnessed the Lord performing His works and His ways. Drawing from past experience we can minister with compassion to others going through similar trials. Others are strengthened and so are we.

Walking through challenges, circumstances and trials may seem overwhelming, unreasonable or impossible. We are pressed to find the Lord, which enables a deeper relationship, that is more satisfying and fulfilling. Searching the Word for direction, praying, asking and listening we receive bigger and better ideas.

The Lord challenged me and my husband to let go of our family home. In obedience we sold our home not knowing what to expect. We wondered if the Lord wanted us to move from the area. Was He calling us to be missionaries? Surprisingly we were lead to buy a larger home in the area, which didn't make much sense at the time. A few years later the Lord called us to start a home church. We certainly had enough space that included a long driveway with lots of parking space. Months later, our new founded church, moved into a building and we sold the house. We moved three more times before settling in a townhome. The Lord taught us to keep a light touch on the things of this world. He taught us that our home is a temporary dwelling place and correlated this to our bodies. We grew a greater understanding of the eternal soul living as if our bodies were a mere tent, that is easily moved from place to place, with the eternal destination heaven. Experience gave us the necessary maturity to understand trusting the Lord in all our ways. 

I can now better understand the psalmist;

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped, therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him." Psalm 28:7

Our past experiences have taught us to trust and obey. There is nor better way to live. We can truly say that as you follow the Lord Jesus there is never a dull moment. Continue to allow the Lord to lead you. It isn't over until the day the Lord calls us home to His eternal paradise. What an exciting day that will be!

Take aways:

* Evaluate your relationship with Christ

* Do you follow His leading?

* Be a person of prayer, reading His Word

* Use your experience to help others

* Praise Him for His faithfulness

* Trust and obey


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Trusting the Lord in Ministry

 How did you start your day? The answer to this question is critical to your ministry involvement. If you started your day on empty, you will most likely run out of gas.

Seeking the Lord in the morning is the best way to refuel your body and spirit for the long day ahead. God's Word is the bread of life which builds your trust in following His specific directions in all the decisions that will be made throughout the day.

The decisions you make will affect you, the direction of your ministry, and all those who are reaching out with you and supporting you. The Lord's still small voice is necessary to direct your steps, bring insight, ideas and vision. The more familiar you are to His voice the more you are able to trust the Lord's leading with the final outcomes.

Often we are afraid of change. We are comfortable with the patterns that have been developed that have formed a tradition in the way we address situations and service. It is not unusual to hear the words, "But, we have always done it this way!" Trusting a new objective or format can be hard. We love to continue cranking the wheel, proceeding to do the same old thing. Somehow we expect that it will miraculously produce a more effective or productive result. 

Making a daily habit of renewing ourselves in the Lord, we will find ourselves more receptive to others visions and perceptions. We gain a clearer mind for better alternatives, the very thing we have been praying for. Ideas spring forth for future growth while fear and doubt are held back. The following scripture confirms these ideals;

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgement as the noon day." Psalm 37:5-6

When you commit your ministry to the Lord, you are able to trust Him with the effectiveness and growth. When the Lord encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, causing change, you have strength to trust and obey. In this you are allowing others to witness the Lord leading, guiding and providing. It is like a bright light shining on His righteousness and giving Him the glory. The scripture reminds us that personal  judgements and decisions are clearer, rebuking darkness, murkiness or confusion that could ultimately bog down your ministry.

Just as we trust our vehicle, that has a full tank of gas, we will trust the Lord with our ministry. We will ultimately reach a better destination. God is always working and is not finished with any of us yet!

Take aways:

* fill your tank with God's Word and presence

* know the Lord's voice

* accept new ideas and plans

* trust the Lord with your ministry

* let the Lord's light shine