July 31, 2008

The Testing of our Heart

This has been a very interesting week for me because not only has my faith been tested but my obedience as well and if it were not for truth, I do not think I would have headed down the right road. God is in control of my life and I truly believe that this week more than ever He prepared the way for me so that I could be triumphant over my situations. It was only by His strength that I made it through.

This posting is one I wrote a few months back but because of all I have been through this week, I felt I needed to post it again.

"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you."

1 Chronicles 29:17


 

"Yet you know me, O Lord; You see me and test my thoughts about You."

Jeremiah 12:3


 

"Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:

"See, I will refine and test them,

For what else can I do because of the sin of my people?"

Jeremiah 9:7


 

There are things in my life right now that have caused me pain and hurt. Things at the moment that make me feel like I am right in the middle of a storm and that there could be no worse place than where I am at this precise moment. Sometimes we can become consumed with our emotions and our own selfish hurts that we lose focus of what truth looks like and why the actual storm appeared. It led me to look at the prophet Habakkuk who lived in such a time of distress. He was surrounded by wickedness and became frustrated questioning God with "Where are you in all of this?" Have you ever thought that the storm you are in may be a testing of your faith or perhaps it is discipline for disobedience? Have you ever questioned where God may have gone? Where do we find ourselves when we are in the midst of a storm? I thought about the three verses I listed above and the areas in which God will test us.

  1. He will test our heart and the attitude of our heart in order to instruct us to be honest, teachable, generous and joyful just as He designed us to be. He wants us to have an attitude and behavior that demonstrates integrity and truthfulness. (1 Chronicles 29:17)
  2. He will test our thoughts to see what our attitude is toward Him. Do we really trust Him to be faithful in all our circumstances? (Jeremiah 12:3)
  3. He will test us because of our sin. When we rebel against Him, we are refusing to obey and trust Him and so in order to bring us back into His grace because of our sin, we must experience His discipline. (Jeremiah 9:7)

When we enter into a time of testing, it is imperative that we seek after the truth of our circumstances. We must evaluate the attitudes of our heart and the choices we are making. Are we walking along side of Him or are we choosing to go our own way. The Israelites wandered for 40 years because they chose to put their trust in themselves instead of God. They chose disobedience instead of putting their faith in Him. They felt they could do it on their own and do it better than what God had planned. When those trials come into our life, we have to make a choice. We have to choose whether we will rely on ourselves or turn to God for His strength. All we have to do is ask for His guidance and He will begin to reveal those issues in our lives that are leading us right into the middle of a storm, a storm that we have created all on our own due to our lack of faith, trust and obedience. God provides for our every need and it may not always be what we planned but He has already been down that road and prepared the way for us and so He knows exactly what we need.

If you have found yourself in the middle of being tested, you must be aware of the choices that are laid out before you. Whether it is wealth, friends, family, neighbors or your own understanding, you will always come up disappointed with the result. When we find ourselves in the thick of the storm, our only refuge is the Lord. He cares for those who trust in Him (Na 1:7) and those that trust in Him will be filled with joy, peace and hope (Ro 15:13). He is the only True Way to find our way out of the storm.

"To become tenderhearted, insightful and responsive to the Lord and others, we must first wade through out [own] losses. That means a willingness to feel the effects of our loss, to examine our hearts under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, to release tears and to relinquish our rights to understand. In doing so, we will feel the pain, but we will learn appropriate ways to express it. Sometimes it will be through the healing release of tears, prayer, some form of art, or words (spoken or written)."

Patsy Clairmont

July 29, 2008

I’m not complaining but…..

Grumbling and complaining have become a past time in this country. It takes place in our homes, at work and even in the foyers of our churches. It has become so tolerated that sometimes we do not even recognize it in ourselves or in others but it is a sin. In fact, I think if we had to make a list of sins, it probably would not even make our top 10 list. Because it is a sin, it breaks the heart of God.

The people of Israel had complaining mastered. As they wandered through the desert, they grumbled and complained and God disciplined them for it. Some were even struck down by a destroying angel. (1 Corinthians 10:10) God takes complaining very seriously because when we complain, it becomes a reflection of our heart. If we are too busy complaining then how can we find time to rejoice in Him? If we're complaining about money, relationships, our churches, jobs, whatever else is out there then we are definitely not praising Him for the very breath He gave us this morning or the roof over our head or the food that fills are bellies or the people He's placed in our lives. Suddenly our reflection becomes blurred and what we see starring back at us is ugly.

Proverbs 27:19 say this…
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

Whatever is in our heart is very visible to other people every time we open our mouths because the words that come from our mouth speak loudly to the condition of our hearts.

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
Luke 6:45

What do your words say about you? Are they Christ-like? Are they words of love and praise for a God that has blessed you with life, the love of family and friends, shelter and food and most of all salvation?

Life is not always what we think it is supposed to be but we have a God who is in control of it all. He allows our lives to unfold the way He had planned in order for us to draw close to Him and mature and grow in our faith. Instead of complaining about all that is wrong in our lives or the world, praise Him for what He is doing and how He is going to use it for His glory!

Lord in all of our living let us be grateful and content in what You have for us. Convict us when we grumble and complain. Thank You for your goodness and your faithfulness to grow us through Your discipline. Thank You for not sparing us the striving and growing it takes to draw nearer to You. Let our words and actions be ones of praise and thanksgiving instead of those of discontent and grumbling.


 

More on a life in Christ see: The heart of Christ

More on a life in Christ see: Negative vs Positive

July 28, 2008

Direct My Steps

Your statutes are wonderful;

therefore I obey them.


The unfolding of your words gives light;

it gives understanding to the simple.


I open my mouth and pant,

longing for your commands.


Turn to me and have mercy on me,

as you always do to those who love your name.


Direct my footsteps according to your word;

let no sin rule over me.


Redeem me from the oppression of men,

that I may obey your precepts.


Make your face shine upon your servant

and teach me your decrees.


Streams of tears flow from my eyes,

for your law is not obeyed.

Psalm 119:129-136

"Father may I always hunger after You and Your truths. May my hearts desire always be that of obeying You and Your decrees so that I may never become lost in such a dark world. May Your face always shine over me and You rejoice over Your child with singing. Help the steps I take always be the steps of Your will and not my own. May my life bring You glory"

For more on Direct My Steps see: Zephaniah 3:17: Whatever is....

For more on Direct My Steps see: Zephaniah 3:17: Empty?

For more on Direct My Steps see: Zephaniah 3:17: Being a Conqueror


 

July 24, 2008

His Redeeming Love

"Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you."

Mark 5:19


When Jesus changes your life, it is hard not to want to stay in His presence forever. The longing to be at His feet always seems like the only place to be when He has shown you mercy and redeemed you from whatever struggle or sin you have experienced in your life and this too was the thinking of the demon-possessed man that Jesus healed. He wanted to stay with Jesus and in fact, begged to go with Him but Jesus said no. Instead, He told the man to go and share with the world all that the Lord had done for the man. This too is what Jesus is asking from each of us.

We all have experienced some sort of struggle, temptation or sin that has brought us to the very edge in which we thought that there was no turning back and it can be very a dark and lonely place. If we deny that statement, then we are in sin at this very moment. "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8 Sin comes from our own sinful nature and it draws us away from God. God is one of faithfulness and He will provide a way out when we fall into temptation or sin; we have to choose whether we will walk away or fall deeper into sin.

I found myself there a couple of years ago and the Lord changed my life. I have been saved since I was nine but had never been taught the intimacy of a relationship with Christ. I did not know what that looked like and I definitely did not understand it as part of my walk with the Lord. Two years ago, I was in the word daily. My quiet time would last for one to two hours a day and I knew a lot about the Word. I thought I was invincible toward the cunning attacks of Satan. That attitude and a lack of intimacy with Christ landed me in a place that I thought I would never find myself. You see, Satan is like a thief in the night that comes to steal, kill and destroy and will sneak right in to your life and steal your most prized possessions before you can even blink your eyes. This is just what happened to me. You see, I was reading the Word, but the Word was not in me. I knew who Jesus was but had not given Him full control of my life allowing the Holy Spirit complete reign over me and when the temptation came, I was weak and gave in to sin.

Here is the amazing part to me; I began praying daily asking for deliverance from the place in which I found myself. I knew it was wrong and every day as I read more into His word my heart was overwhelmed with conviction wanting to do right without hurting others. It was overwhelming for me but once I finally got the strength, to turn every piece of it over to Him, He brought it to fruition and it became the most incredible day and the most horrific day all wrapped up in one. I suddenly knew the feeling of being free from the bondage of sin and felt the power of the blood of Christ rushing over me. I sought forgiveness, repented, and found myself seeing Him in a different way. I finally understood what His redeeming love looked like and it began to consume me.

For months to come, the consequences of my sin followed me; the hurt it had caused to others, the ministry opportunities I missed being a part of, the false accusations of friends, the gossip and on and on. It was an unpleasant time but it was a time of growing. During that time, I fell into the arms of Jesus and allowed Him to wrap me in His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and peace and He ALONE became my best friend and provider. I learned totally to rely on Him to meet my needs and not that of my husband or my friends. In all of that, I developed an intimacy, a love relationship with Jesus and it has forever changed my life from the inside out. I will never be the same again and though I long to sit at His feet and worship Him for all He has done in my life and carried me through, He has said, go and share all that the Lord has done for you. That is now my purpose and that alone, is why this blog was created and why it will continue. Through my sin and His redemptive grace, this blog has been to places in the world that I will probably never see and people are hearing the gospel. This is how amazing our God is. He can take our biggest mistakes and turn them into ministering masterpieces that can shine as a light in this dark world bringing Him alone honor and glory.


July 23, 2008

Change My Heart

"He has now reconciled you in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him."

Colossians 1:22


 

Often times new Christians find themselves struggling with the slowness of change in their life. There is a misconception that a magical transformation takes place and suddenly we no longer desire the sins of our past or we wake up every morning wanting to pick up our Bible first thing.

Although it does not always come so easily, we are taught to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. When we accept Christ into our lives, God creates in us a new and pure heart. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10 NIV)

Once we allow Christ into our lives, the blood of Jesus begins to scrub away the filth of our sins and imperfections that have blackened our heart and the Holy Spirit flows through bringing it new life. He takes our broken, unclean and stained heart and makes it pure and purposeful for His kingdom.

On our own, we cannot transform or even cleanse our own hearts but we do a have a part to play. We must be willing to submit to God and humble ourselves before Him. Once we fully surrender our hearts to Christ, acknowledge our need for a Savior and confess our sins and weaknesses, He is then able to make those changes within us. Our hearts are no longer broken and stained but instead made whole and clean. Suddenly we develop a new attitude, a life of joy and not one of distrust and damage.

Releasing the hold we have on our own lives and turning it over to God is when we will finally begin to see the transformation in our life take place. Once we let go of the control we have of our life and release the sin we hold on to, we will then begin to desire His Word for the direction that we seek after in life.

The change of our attitude is not always instantaneous but God gives us the new heart immediately. It is up to us as to whether we will submit to Him or continue to cling to our old ways. Once we do, our new heart allows us the opportunity of a fresh start and the ability to increase our faith in God. Our heart will be focused on Him and align with Him in which we are able to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.


 


 

July 21, 2008

Secret Sin

You have set our iniquities before you,
       our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Psalm 90:8 NIV


 

You spread out our sins before you—
      our secret sins—and you see them all.

Psalm 90:8 NLT


 

How many of us have what we think is "secret sin" in our lives? We walk around living a pseudo life. We lead people to believe that we have it all together, quick to point out the flaws of our fellow believer in order to hide our own sin thinking that no one will ever find out.

There is no hiding from God no matter how hard we may try and no way of "getting away" with our sin. Sometimes we think that there is the possibility that we can keep it a secret from the rest of the world but no matter how dark we are able to go into hiding with our sin, God's light will always pierce the deepest and darkest place in our life making that sin known.

You see, no sin is ever hidden from God. There is the possibility of convincing the world that you are "pure and blameless", but God knows the truth, He knows your heart and He will call you out on your disobedience. There is no way to keep it covered up forever because in the end, it will be revealed and there will be discipline.

We should be so thankful that God does not punish us according to our sin. If He did, it would surely bring death upon us all because none of us could survive His perfect justice. Praise God that He sent His only Son who gave His life in order for us to stand "blameless" in front of our merciful Heavenly Father. We have no need to fear if we are sincere and repent of the sins we cling to and try to hide in our life.

What sin(s) do you struggle with within your own life? Envy, lust, gambling, profanity, pornography, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, sex outside of marriage, stealing, anger, lack of forgiveness, and the list goes on. We all struggle with areas of sin because not one of us is perfect and blameless without Christ in our life and we all need forgiveness and the strength to stand up against it. Sin can consume us and take us to very dark places that if we are not careful, can take over our lives for years if we choose to hold on to it instead of letting go.

A merciful and loving God is waiting for you to call out to Him. He will forgive us if we seek His forgiveness and He will give us a new life in Him. All we have to do is acknowledge the sin that we have in our life, recognize the need for a savior (Jesus) and call upon His name. Once we take these steps, He will come into our life and change us from the inside out making us into a new creation.

"Father, I thank You for Your forgiveness of the sins in my life and for sending Your Son to take on the punishment of my sin. Make my heart soft, able to recognize the sin that I may still be holding on too so that I may be free from the chains of those dark places in my life."

For more on living a life in Christ see:Zephaniah 3:17: The Heart of Christ

For more on fearing God see:Zephaniah 3:17: Are you afraid of God?

For more on forgiveness see:Zephaniah 3:17: Forgiveness


 

July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger

"Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil."

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

This posting is going to be a bit different from the others but it has been on my heart all morning and so I want to share. This is not a review of the movie because there are plenty out there but hopefully it will give you something to think on.

Last night after weeks of agonizing, I went to see The Dark Knight. I am a huge Heath Ledger fan and developed a love for his acting after seeing The Patriot and A Knights Tale and for weeks, I have gone back and forth, as to whether or not I should see this movie. In the end, all the hype convinced me to go because I did not want to miss his "last great performance". Let me start by saying, I did not enjoy the movie. Do not get me wrong, it is a very good movie but for me, it was extremely unpleasant. Every time The Joker (Heath Ledger's character) appeared on screen, all my mind could think was, this is the last thing he did on this earth before having to stand in the presence of his/our Heavenly Father. This dark, morbid, psycho killer was the last part he played and he had to stand before God an account for this role. Every time I saw him, chills went up and down my spine. I fought back tears through the entire movie.

Now there is positive side to this I promise. You see, it left me walking away with the question of what kind of legacy will I leave when I die. Am I serving the purpose that God has planned for my life? Am I using the gifts He gave me to bring honor and glory to His name? You see, in this world, Heath Ledger is a great actor and because of this movie he will probably be nominated for an Oscar but what kind of eternal value does that gold statue have? What about his performance brought honor and glory to the God who created him?

For months, I have been writing about how we should live for God and honor and glorify Him in all we say and d but we also need to take a step back and evaluate our lives. Is everything that we do bringing glory and honor to the One who gave His very life for each of us; the One who endured the mocking, the beatings, the scorn and the shame and ultimately the cross for every single one of us? If you were to die today and had to stand before God, what would the account of your life look like to Him? What things have you done on this earth in light of eternity?

My point in writing this is that one, you will think about these things if you go and see the movie and two you will think about these things even if you do not go and see the movie. Our life here on earth is fleeting in comparison to eternity and so we should make every breath we take on this earth count for the God we so claim to love and follow.

July 17, 2008

Certainty


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD"
Jeremiah 29:11-14



I think we can all honestly say that there are days when we just do not feel like worshipping God. There are those days when life seems so exceedingly challenging and the world around us seems to be falling apart that it is hard to find the joy in life. It would be so much easier to just turn and run the other way.
Sometimes it is difficult to believe that heartbreak is part of God's plan for our lives. We forget that He uses the hurt in our life to draw us closer to Him. He wants us to embrace our hurts instead of choosing to run from it so that we will turn to Him and give Him the opportunity to grow us and show us how faithful He is in our lives.
God has promised always to be there and to provide for our every need and He knows every detail, every plan of our life and so when we choose to run from those circumstances that are painful or hurtful, we are acting faithlessly in the God who knows all about our life. God has given us Jesus who shows us the way for our lives and who IS the way. He endured the cross in full faith because He knew that His Father had a plan to bring a "hope and a future" to each of our lives. Jesus was so sure of His Father's plan that it radiated throughout His whole being.
We too can have that same certainty when we claim His faithfulness in our lives and declare that He has a plan and purpose for each one of us. The cross was not Christ's punishment but instead it was His glory and it is the same with each of our circumstances, whether good or bad, that are laid out before us in our own lives.
We have to choose to praise and worship God no matter what the circumstance and we have to trust in His faithful character. How we worship God in our times of hurt and trouble speaks volumes to our faith in Him. When we face those difficult times in our lives, they become the chance for us to radiate His faithful plan for our life and the opportunity for us to witness His provision of hope and healing.
"Father, I praise You for Your faithfulness in my life. I am thankful that you know every detail and every turn my life will take and that You have already prepared with way for me. Keep my heart and mind set upon you so that I may praise you no matter what storm I encounter in my life."

July 15, 2008

Hungry for Worship

Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord's glory, and we are being changed to be like Him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

We all are on the same journey, searching for our purpose and wondering what it is we are to accomplish in life. We were created with a purpose and it is easy to find that purpose if we just ask God to "direct my steps" each day and to "show me Your ways for my life". In order for God to show us what He has for us, we have to be willing to give Him our time and be willing to hear what He has planned.

Some of us are looking for a certain kind of worship experience where we can walk away saying it was "good". We exit the same way we entered, unchanged by what we heard or could have experienced. Expectations are not set high and so we sit and expect no surprises. Most are content with just good. Jesus promised, "Seek and you will find". If good is all that we seek then that is all we will find.

However, there are the few that are longing for so much more. They enter into His presence with the zeal of a child eager to hear what God will speak to them on that day. They leave with the wide-eyed awe of just being in the presence of their heavenly Father.

Now, here is the question, which of these describe you? Do you prepare yourself each Sunday Morning for worship or for your daily quiet time? What path do you take to prepare your heart and mind for what God is going to reveal to you that day? My hunch is that most of us merely wake up and just show up because we are relatively laid-back when it comes to meeting with God. It is extremely sad and many blessings will be missed because of our lack of preparation. Jesus prepared Himself before meeting with His Father and so why do we not do the same?

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

Matthew 17:1-5

You see, Jesus did not just get up one day and head to a mountain. Instead, His ministry was delayed for that time. He thought about who would travel with Him, how He would get there and exactly which mountain He would be visiting. Once He finally reached the mountain top, His heart was ready for worship and He "shone like the sun" from being in the presence of God and His Father was "well pleased".

It leads you to think about scenarios like this in our own life. I feel certain that if we knew that the President would be coming for a visit; there would be much to do to get prepared for his arrival. We women would probably be picking out a nice outfit for ourselves and our kids, making sure we all looked polished and pretty. We would probably even put together a list of things that we would want to ask. We would be prepared. Should we be any less prepared when it comes to meeting with God each day?

We should aspire to be like Jesus in all that we do and especially when it comes to meeting Him for a time of worship in which He is going to reveal to us what He has for our life. We should come prayed up and alert. We should have spent time in the Word so that our hearts are soft and open to what we will hear. When we come to worship, we should come hungry and expecting God to speak. We should come asking to see the One we came to worship.

The best part of all is that when we come prepared, we will discover the true purpose of worship. Our faces and our hearts will be changed and we will leave just as Jesus did and in that we will have brought honor and glory to God.

"His face became bright like the sun." Matthew 17:2

God invites us to see His face, to meet with Him so that He can begin to change us from the inside out and it all takes place through our worship of Him. What should our worship of God look like? It is the act of magnifying God and extending our image of Him. As we draw closer to Him, we realize how big He really is and suddenly nothing seems too difficult for us to handle.

A radiant, shining face is the characteristic of one who has been in His presence. His objective is that of changing our faces and hearts if we allow Him and only He can do that in our lives. Make it your desire to come to worship with a hungry and prepared heart so that you may leave changed and shining for Him.

"Father, help to see the importance of coming to you prepared and hungry for Your Word so that my face and heart may be changed. Give me the desire to want more from my time spent with You and let walk away changed and radiant for You."


 


 

July 9, 2008

A Heart that Listens

"If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."

Mark 4:23

These words are repeated over and over throughout the gospels and Revelations. It is a reminder that it is not enough to have ears but that it is pertinent that we use them as well. So many times, we hear the Word spoken to us but we do not truly hear it and allow it to take root in our hearts. We have to be ready to hear God's voice and there are those things: hearts that have become hardened, shallow lives or fretful minds that are keeping us from missing the ultimate message.

How long has it been or have you ever let God actually have you? Have you ever given Him the opportunity to have uninterrupted time with you to speak where you were actually listening? Even Jesus knew that it was important to spend time with God.

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed".

Mark 1:35

Here is the obvious question but I will ask it anyway. IF Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless One thought it important to put everything else aside and spend time in prayer with His Father, why is it that we do not find it imperative to do the same? Jesus not only spent time praying but He also spent time in His Father's Word. He found it important to spend time talking with God and studying the Word, why do we not also?

Here is where this gets a bit personal and toes may be stepped on. Many tune out when the suggestion of a quiet time is mentioned. Most of us spend time trying to find time to squeeze God into our busy schedules instead of making Him the priority. Some get frustrated with lack of understanding with what they are reading and others believe that they will gain from a Sunday morning sermon or the reading of some Christian book. The problem with all of this is that it is coming second hand. When you rely on these things, you are experiencing someone else's personal time with God and you have missed your own special encounter with Him. God wants each of us to have our own first-hand experience with Him not a substitute because He longs to be with each of us every day. Our desire should be that He be the highlight of our life every day.

"Father, give me ears that listen and a heart that is receptive to Your Word. May I long to spend time with You daily and that You will always be the highlight of my day."


 


 

July 7, 2008

The Heart of Christ

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24


 

What if for one day, Jesus took over your life and lived it for that day? He took your schedule, your job, lived in your home and for twenty-four hours He lived your life as it is right now. What would that be like? At this exact moment, how does that idea make you feel knowing what you know about your own life? You and your heart would have the whole the day off and Jesus would run your household, your actions, and He would direct the decisions that you make for that day. Would people around you notice a difference? Your friends and family, would they see something new in you? What about your enemies? Would they experience forgiveness and love from Christ's heart than they do from yours?

Think of the difference. How great of a change would there be in your life? Would your calendar still look the same? Would your obligations, the places you go and appointments change? Would you rewrite them all to make your day look more suitable to Him?

If Jesus took over your heart, would anything change? We are to have the heart and the mind of Christ. We are to act like Christ. We are to be His reflection.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

Philippians 2:5

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

2 Corinthians 3:18

God's plan for you when you accept Christ into your life is to take on a new life, a changed heart, with new priorities.

"to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Ephesians 4:23-24

God wants us to be like Jesus and to have a heart like His. One of my favorite authors says, "God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." God loves us just as we are but He desires for our hearts to change. He does not want to leave us with our pathetic statements of "Worrying is who I am" or "I'm pessimistic. I've always been that way" because Jesus can change our hearts if we let Him.

Jesus' heart is a heart full of pureness and peace and He refused to be directed by anything other than the calling of His Father. His heart was purposeful where many of us aspire to nothing at all and end up accomplishing just that in our lives. Jesus had one ambition, one priority and that was to save all humanity.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Luke 19:10

Though His purpose was inexpressible in our words, His attitude never reflected its unpleasantness. He still found beauty in His Father's creation, joy in the laughter and smiles of children and the possibilities in the problems of this world. This all reflected His greatest attribute, which was that of His spiritual heart. All He did reflected the intimate relationship He had with His Father. Jesus took all direction and instruction from God and He spent His time in worship, memorizing scripture and in prayer. The hand of His Father, the unseen hand, led him.

I read once the differences between His heart and ours and it looked like this:

"His heart is pure and ours is greedy; His is peaceful, ours is hassled; His is purposeful and ours is distracted. He is pleasant and we are cranky. He is spiritual and we are earthbound." There is such a distinct difference between our heart and the heart of Christ that it is hard to believe that we could ever hope to have a heart like His? Are you ready for the kicker; you already have the heart of Christ. If you are in Christ and have given your life to Christ, you have been given the heart of Christ. Your heart is His home. He has moved in and is ready to change you. The question that remains is; will you let Him?

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:20

Do you ever wonder why it is that if we have His mind, we still end up thinking so much like ourselves? We trust Him for salvation but resist the transformation? What would happen if we turned it all over to Him and allowed Him control of our lives, which would change our heart? God is willing and able to change us if we accept His invitation. All we have to do is fix our eyes upon Him and the attributes of His heart will become our own.

"Father, may my life reflect You in all I do. May my priorities and my schedule be purposeful and committed to You and the calling You have for my life. May my attitude always honor You and I may always find the true joy in life that comes from having You live within me."


 


 

July 1, 2008

Values or Relationship

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:20

Have you ever noticed that some people know something you do not about Christianity? That there is this whole inside story that you have yet to figure out or discover? Sometimes, we do not all have the same understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Some think it means a commitment to a set of Christian values or a task that we do for God while others know that there is so much more. They know that it involves a commitment to Jesus Christ, to a person and involves a relationship based on what God has done for us and not based on a set of "rules".

We are not Christians because we follow certain rituals or have certain values or because we go to church. Sitting in church will not make you a Christian nor will it allow you into heaven. In fact, churches are full of well-intentioned people who are very confused about what it means to know God.

A Christian is one who acknowledges their sin and the need for a Savior and knows that they need forgiveness for their sins. Once their faith is placed in Jesus Christ a desire develops to live a life that is different from that of the world and a choice is made to live a life of values that will glorify and honor God. A desire also develops to spend time in church and in fellowship with other believers because that is how we grow in Christ. These things all come as the result of our transformation in Christ and our personal relationship with Him, not because it is the cause of it.

The question that is raised is not one of "what will I do with my religion?" because Jesus is not a religion. Instead the question should be, "what will I do with Jesus?" Once the distinction is finally made that our life in Him is about following Him, not following a set of values, our life meaning becomes clearer, and the frustrations of a wasted life begin to melt away.

Knowing Jesus means confessing that we are sinners and that we have a need for a Savior in order to enter into the presence of a Holy God. It means acknowledging who Jesus is and what He did for each of us on the cross because of our sins. It is about a relationship with our Heavenly Father, the One who loves us and who gave the life of His only Son so that we may one day spend eternity with Him.

"Father, I love You and thank You for wanting me as Your child. I thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins so that one day I can stand in Your presence and spend eternity with You. Help my focus to remain on You and loving and sharing You with the world. May I never become wrapped up in rituals or rules but remember that it is all about You and my walk with You."