Many people recognize a general brokenness in their own lives, and also sense it multiplying through our culture over the last 50 years or so. We have developed an expansive vocabulary related to different forms of dysfunction, addiction, and mental health. Most people seem to feel a need for help from beyond themselves to develop healthy and free lives. Often, they are on some kind of spiritual quest. In many circles it has even become quite chic to pursue spiritual things. For what kind of spirit and spiritual experiences, however, are people looking?
There is a (sometimes subtle) natural draw to seek spiritual growth primarily for the purpose of self-improvement, personal influence, or power. We can be tempted to use the spiritual realm, trying to get it to submit to our own personal wills. The temptation is to look for spiritual power that will help us get what we want. So, we may turn to impersonal expressions of faith/religion to boost our sense of self – a kind of...
We are bombarded with input all day every day. Our minds can feel saturated, bloated and unable to absorb much more. However, it is critical that we remember that not all words are equal in value. Different messages carry varying levels of importance, and we must stay alert to weigh them well. If we aren’t paying attention we may miss some key communications, or we may give too much time or effort to things that don’t deserve it.
The apostle Paul commended the believers in Thessalonica for rightly receiving the Word of God when it was shared with them. He said they received it “Not as human words, but as it actually is, the Word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) And, he described that the message came not just “With words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
It’s important that we make intentional time to read and ingest the Bible. It is not like any other writing in all history...
Are you growing as a person?
Are you growing spiritually?
How can you tell?
We may hope to become spiritual “giants”, but that will never happen without becoming more honest and responsible. It just will NOT happen.
Spirit life – the Fruit of the Spirit - is described as: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. (Galatians 5:22) These are wholeness words that permeate and are reflected in one’s entire character. These are the by-products of the presence of God in our lives, and our cooperation with His promptings.
Peter also writes a personal growth list for us to consider: Faith, Goodness, Knowledge, Self-control, Perseverance, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness and Love. (2 Peter 1:5-7) He goes onto say that if we possess these qualities in growing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
God wants us to be faithful and fruitful in life....
Why did God include rest as part of His created order?
Land also needs rest.
Even machines and computers need rest.
It is God Who created the concept of Sabbath rest and He intended it to be exercised weekly. He also created a daily cycle that includes rest/sleep.
God could have created us without a need for rest, but He didn’t. He clearly values rest. It serves as a kind of reboot. It cleanses our souls from the toxic buildup that life sometimes produces. It heals wounds that have been inflicted. It resets our minds with hope and direction. The rest of God provides a kind of new start.
Sabbath rest includes stopping our regular work, worshiping the God of creation and reflecting upon our lives within the framework of God’s purposes. It also involves delighting in God, creation, our lives, and our connections.
Isn’t it interesting that many of the Sabbath gifts have fallen out of the rhythms of modern life? No...
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Church”?
If you are like most people, you think of buildings, clergy (professional ministers) rituals and programs. This is the working definition that is deeply embedded not only in our country, but in most places of the world. It has been the way people have thought of church for ages.
How inspiring are those words to you? Do they feel life-giving and transformational? Does this description sound or look like what Jesus said or did?
Chapter 4, of the Book of Ephesians, gives us a much richer understanding. It mentions 5 “Ascension Gifts” or spiritual enablements that Jesus wired into the identity, calling and resources of the church when He ascended to heaven.
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the...
Do you want to walk in God’s power and strength, or do you prefer to go it alone? This is a question we must each honestly ask ourselves. If you want to walk in God, you must learn to positively respond to His commands and directives. You must also be willing to say “No” to lesser things.
A.W. Tozer gave students, at Wheaton College, 5 important “Don’ts” that can help strengthen us and prevent “spiritual leakage” in our lives. Let’s take a moment and consider them together.
There is no need to waste your time/life with things that don’t truly satisfy and actually will make your spirit weak and sick. Don’t slow down to even toy with sin. Keep moving ahead, living full wholesome lives and obeying His positive commands.
Don’t be so concerned about other people’s opinion of you. If you...
Most of us tend to do whatever we can to get out of the path of adversity. We will try to think our way out of a mess, look for help from others, or pray that God will just make it stop. Additionally, we all experience the constant inundation of advertisers that offers products to relieve and remove our troubles. They promise to give us access to the good life to which we are all “entitled.” If your difficulty is weight, muscle tone, sickness, finance, loneliness, depression, or erectile dysfunction – “We have a product that will take care of that for you.”
God’s ways are often very different from ours. He uses the hurdles and stubborn obstacles of life to deepen us and produce lasting fruit in our lives. Wisdom and character are grown through adversity, not through escape. There is no product that you can buy that will give you the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) or understanding of the ways of God. These are only forged...
Are you able to live in the present? Many are not.
Some people are haunted by their past. Possibly they have been hurt by others – and are still carrying the wounds. Others have made some big mistakes, and they can’t forgive themselves so that they can move on.
We must learn to confess what we have done and receive forgiveness in our souls. We must also forgive others before God – releasing them from their “debt/s” owed us. This is not always easy work, and it may involve the help of a trusted friend or spiritual leader, but it is ALWAYS possible!
A resource you may find helpful is Total Forgiveness, by RT Kendall.
Some people, on the other hand, are haunted by their future. Either they are so attached to their dreams that they have trouble being responsible in the present, or they are paralyzed by worry and dwelling on negative possibilities. Jesus made it clear, however, that worry offers us no benefit...
How do you start your day? Do you awaken to the blast of an alarm that catapults you from your subconscious state? Do you consider what must be done that day and simply do what you can to get yourself moving on the right path? Do you start your day alone in your head? Or on your phone?
Or, do you start your day seeking and acknowledging God’s presence? This may sound like a religious/Sunday school question that has an obvious “right answer,” but press past the conceptual and consider your actual, consistent experience.
When describing His relationship with His Father Jesus said,
“The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
Jesus did not live His life alone; He lived it with the Father. He maintained this connected relationship by doing the things He sensed the Father wanted.
Jesus went on to say,
“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and...
Most of us who come to Christ do so when we are facing difficult times. We come when we are in great need. We are hoping for change in our circumstances and/or within ourselves.
Why don’t we often come to God when we are in a “good space”? It’s probably because, when things are going well, we tend to be content in our self-reliance. We call out to God when relying on ourselves isn’t working anymore.
Life can still be tough – even when do we rely on God. The apostle Paul encourages those who are living in Christ, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Why would people who have learned to rely on Christ become weary in doing the right things? It’s because we all are prone to lose focus.