Where Is Your Focus?

Where Is Your Focus?

Have you ever seen these shows that star a person who is over 600 pounds? You watch the journey they are on to lose weight. Inevitably, they are sent to a counselor to help them work through their feelings. Why? What happened in their lives that sent them to overeating all day, every day? It was what they focused on.

They have feelings and emotions that have such a powerful hold on them that they cannot get out from under this dark cloud Satan has hung over their heads. The cloud grows and grows because the world, Satan’s world, has lied to them over and over again. They’ve been told to focus on feelings. To listen to their emotions above everything else. They’ve been taught that there really is no truth and that they are basically on their own to establish what is truth based on whatever feeling they are having at the moment.

They grabbed hold of the feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc. And they spent hour after hour after hour zeroed in on those feelings. Then, they turned to food for comfort. Food became the thing that made them forget their feelings for a time. A very short time, it appears, since they resorted to food so much that they became morbidly obese to the point of searching for help to lose the weight.

I’m going to stop here and just say something so you don’t think I’m uncaring or cold-hearted. Many, probably most, of these people have been through terrible ordeals. I’m not making light of the circumstances they grew up under or the trauma they endured. I completely understand what happens to us when we endure extreme hardship. And, I understand why we sometimes simply cannot just turn off the hurt and pain. I’ve been there. I’ve endured a number of very hard circumstances. Some placed me in a world of hopelessness and depression. As I grew in the Lord and found the real Truth, I became better equipped to handle the hard stuff in a different way. A better way.

Here, I hope to help someone learn a different way to approach the torment of the circumstance they’ve found themselves in. Not to make light of it, but to learn a better way. A more Godly way so that they can live out what the Scripture says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Proverbs 4:20-23

Give Attention

Proverbs 4:20, “Give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.”

  • Make the Word of God, this great gift He gave to you, your focus. Don’t let the things of this world cloud over your vision of the Word. Stop allowing everything else to control where you’re looking. God’s Word is everything. His Word is the truth. It doesn’t matter what you see with your natural eyes – the circumstances of life you’re facing – if it’s not lining up with what God says, it’s false.

The remedy to the problem you’re facing is NOT to know the problem better, but to know the Problem Solver better.

Instead of staying up all night rehearsing the problem over and over, stay up rehearsing the Promise you found in the Scriptures over and over.

  • Money, it’s one of the most common struggles in the lives of Believers. Here’s what happens: let’s go with a big one here – the house payment is due in 3 days. Your bank account is at $7.93 and your paycheck, which comes in tomorrow, isn’t going to be enough for the house payment and food to feed your family, gas to put in the car, and the electric bill that’s already past due.
    • So, here’s what you do: while you are at work, you think about the problem. You go over and over how you’re going to get through this. Many ideas pop into your head, including robbing the liquor store down the street. This one you shake off after only a few seconds of imagining yourself attempting such a feat. But, you hold onto some of the others, because you MUST figure out what you’re going to do.
      • Borrow from your parents?
      • Ask a friend what they think?
      • Make the need known to people, hoping someone will help out?
      • Talk, talk, talk some more. Think, think, think some more.
    • What if you replaced that thinking with what God says in the Word? What if you started speaking Scripture and building your belief? What if, instead of trying to figure things out with your own brain, you got God’s brain in on it?
      • Psalm 35:27 says He takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servants.
      • Romans 8:31-32 says that God is for us and that He gave up His own Son, so how would He withhold anything from us?
      • Luke 12:31-32 says that it’s God’s good pleasure to give to us the Kingdom (what is the Kingdom? There’s a series to help you with that. And there will be more because I’m learning so much about it.)
      • 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us that God wants us to always have everything we need so that we have an abundance for every good work.
        • It’s important to know that God isn’t a genie answering wishes, but He is a miracle worker. And if you need a miracle, speak and think the Word and promises of God, rather than that other nonsense that solves nothing.
        • After the immediate problem is solved, get into the Word and learn to live in the blessings of God; which is far better than always looking for a miracle.

Where is your focus?

Self or Others

Proverbs 4:20-23

Most of us are more self-centered than we think. Do you pay attention to how often you complain over your fellow co-workers? I know the Holy Spirit has been teaching me about this one, because I’m guilty.

  • If your go-to conversation is based on how no one really works at work, except you, of course, then your focus is on you.  “I’m doing it for God” doesn’t really mean anything if what you’re doing is going to work looking for a reason to judge and belittle other associates.
    • Can I just say, your job is a place to serve… if you go to serve, what other’s do will not affect you. Even if it means you have to do more work. If you’re angry about your work load, you’re concerned only for yourself. Do you realize that every time you are offended by someone, it’s you being selfish? Selah – stop and think about that.

I work in the bakery at Walmart. It is located beside the deli. I often have to jump in and help when they get busy, because they are often very short staffed. One day, I was walking by and I smiled at them. One of them said, “We need more Cindy’s.” What was the context? Why did they say that? Because, I set aside my dislike of deli and jumped in, with a smile and a willingness to serve where I was needed. We joked how “more Cindy’s” would ruin the deli’s negative reputation and all had a good laugh out of it, but I was touched by the exchange. I have a reputation at Walmart, as we all do in our workplaces.

My reputation is the happy, kind, giving associate who people want to be around. There’s a guy in another area known by everyone as, “The grumpy man in CAP.” I don’t know if anyone knows his actual name, because he is simply known by his behavior.

  • I say all this to put forth a thought – if your focus is on God, you’ll be a servant and not be offended by co-workers who don’t work the way you think they should AND you’ll be a light to the world. People ask why you’re so happy, kind, etc. and you get to say something like, “God in me” and perhaps have an opportunity to share the Gospel. Whoop!!

Where is your focus?

Responsibility

Proverbs 4:21, “Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart.”

If you will give attention to the Word, it will come alive in you. It is your responsibility. – Barry Bennett

  • I have 2 favorite apps on my phone that help me with my focus. One is Blue Letter Bible, and the other is Bible Verses, a Bible memory app. I don’t use it to necessarily memorize verses, but rather to easily locate the ones that help me get my mind where it should be. I’ve created categorized folders for when Satan – or just life circumstances – try to put my focus on them. These apps help me a lot in regards to keeping my eyes on Him and keeping the Word in my heart.
    • I want God’s best for my life and yours. Staying focused on Him and His Word to us is what gives us that.

Proverbs 4:22, “For they (God’s Words) are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”

  • Most people really do not take this seriously, nor fully believe it. If they did, they’d be full of life and walking in health. Pure and simple.
    •  Pay attention to His Word. Listen to what He says. Keep it in front of you. Settle it in your heart and you’ll have life and health. (That means spending quality time with Him.)

“Life to those who find them.” FIND THEM.

  • Let’s just be honest here; one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing someone say they want to be more spiritual, or more like so and so (the person they see as soooo spiritual), but they’re unwilling to do what “so and so” did to get where they are.
    • You have to go FIND the Words of God. You are responsible to open it up and read it. Study it. Let God speak to you through His Word.
    • Luke 12:31-32 – It is His good pleasure to give to you the Kingdom. (Kingdom = wherever God is ruling/reigning.) The Word and what it gives you are part of the Kingdom of God.

Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

  • You are responsible for where your heart is. You determine which way you’ll go; where your focus is going to be.
    • The next few verses tell you how to guard your heart:
      • watch your words
      • keep your eyes forward – on Him
      • think about where you walk
      • don’t stray off the path of God
      • remove yourself from evil

So, Where is your focus?

 

God Rocks

Focus, Being Intentional Matters

Cross PinkFocus is a part of our day to day lives. We must combat our thinking quite often, and if we do not, we find ourselves walking down a road in our mind that can put us in a place of destruction. Destruction the enemy wants for us. Things like sadness, anger, anxiety, and depression are all things that can stem from not taking that very first negative thought and bringing it captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) We must be intentional about our focus and getting it back to God and to good. (Phil. 4:8)

Sunday morning I found myself realizing the words coming out of my mouth during the song service at church. How often have we sung those words, and yet, this week was the first time they really became real to me.

Now, I have reason, well really, an excuse for having not really paid attention. I am usually focused on playing the notes and that particular song, I easily get off beat if I don’t remain focused during the verses. This week, however, I was playing acoustic guitar instead of piano, and I didn’t play during that part, so I took into my mind and heart what those words were. And, oh man, the impact it had on my heart, and therefore, in my worship.

I was busting at the seams. It felt like I couldn’t possibly express all the love and gratitude I felt in my heart at that moment.

There was this moment the words came alive to me, and it’s funny because I already know exactly what it said. Like, I know the truth in those words. I don’t say it the same way, but I know the truth in it. And at that moment, my head and my heart, my soul, blew up with praise. God is so amazing in our lives.

The first part of the song basically says this. Far worse things have happened than this thing you’re facing right now. Multiple times. And God took care of each one of them with a word. He is able and He will calm the seas for you. Just for you, because He absolutely unreservedly loves you. You just keep your focus on Him each moment of each and every day. Him. Because He alone is worthy of your praise. He alone is worth being at the forefront of your mind constantly and consistently.

And then it goes on to tell you that you shouldn’t dare to not believe Him. How dare you not believe what He says in His word. It doesn’t matter what you see with your natural eyes, the truth found in Him is what matters. And, hang in there, just keep on believing Him above anything else, and you’ll see that mountain in front of you being destroyed. So, just focus on Him. Don’t let your thoughts, your words, your heart be drawn into a place where you care more about the mountain more than you do about the One who created it. He’s got you. Be strong in your faith and in Him.

Now, that’s not to say you have no part in moving that mountain. I have read the Bible many times and it is very clear that with every promise of God, you have a responsibility. I’m not going to go into that here, but look at Matthew 17:20. If you had no part, Jesus wouldn’t be telling you to believe and not doubt and the mountain will move.

So, here’s the thing, you must believe God. And in believing Him, intentionally  get your mind on Him. There is no reason to fear or even to doubt, though we all do sometimes. And when it happens to you, get your focus back, everything is going to be okay!

Isaiah 43:1-2 says this, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”

The Sovereignty of God, What Do You Believe

Belief in a LieBelief in a lie …. or What you believe is not the truth about God.

 

The Sovereignty of God

Upon reading the actual definition of sovereignty (supreme power or authority), I began to question where the doctrine I grew up with came from.

What did we believe? What do most of the people I know believe? God is in complete control and whatever He wants to happen will happen. “Everything happens for a reason.” — making God responsible for literally every single thing that happens in the world, good or bad. Making it appear as if we are all just puppets on a grand stage, performing for the master of it all.

The thing is, God isn’t able to do anything and everything. One thing? God is not able to lie. The Bible says in Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie…”  Another thing, He cannot break a covenant. Psalm 89:34, “My covenant I will not break.” Big one here, He cannot force anyone to follow Him, though He wants so badly to see all of mankind to be with Him. 2 Peter 3:9

God has limited Himself in regards to what He will control and not control on this Earth. In Genesis 1:28, God gave mankind dominion over the earth and everything in it. Then, Adam and Eve condemned mankind to the rule of Satan on this Earth. They turned the Earth over to him, through their sin,  and now he is ruler. If you believe God controlled all of that, then why would you believe God loves mankind?

Now, the enemy has dominion over the Earth, but not over those who receive Christ as their Savior. Jesus took care of that problem, but we still live in a broken world. That being said, God provided help for us. James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” See Matthew 16:19

I think we put up with more than we have to because we do not truly believe what God tells us. When was the last time an attack came, that you recognized as the enemy, and you stood firmly rooted in the Word and fought him off as Jesus did? You know, when Satan came and tempted Jesus. Jesus simply stood on the Word of God until the Tears of Love Jesusenemy left. He resisted the devil. Matthew 4:1-11

There are a lot of things that happen in our lives. Hurtful, horrible things. There is not a single person in this world that can say they’ve never had to deal with really difficult circumstances, but I do not believe that God causes them or sends them our way. And, I do not believe in the stand-by, “God allowed it.” Unless, we are talking about God allowing us free-will. Free-will causes our problems, and yes, God gave us free-will. So, in that sense, you can say He allows it. But, I do not believe God allows each circumstance. God isn’t up there saying, “Yes, I will allow those teenagers to drink and drive and cause an accident that kills that wonderful family.” or “Yes, she can have cancer, that’s cool with Me.” “Of course it’s okay with Me that he becomes a sex offender and molests multiple young ladies over the course of 30 years.”

By saying that God is in control of everything, that He allows everything to happen, we are saying He is not good. Mark 10:18. That He is not love. 1John 4:8. I believe a lot of the responsibility for the continued falling of mankind is on the Christians. We are not taking up our spiritual authority and living as God wants us to live. We are not resisting the devil. Mostly, we just submit to him and to the ways of the world. And then we pass it off as “God’s will.”

The question I have is, will you take the time to consider what you believe? Will you check out the Word of God for yourself and let Him soften your heart to Him and to the knowledge of who He really is? If you will, it is more than worth your time and effort.

Do You Believe A Lie?

Cross Blue Skies

Unbelief = Belief in a lie, or what you believe is not the truth about God.

Over the years, as I’ve drawn closer to God and spent more time studying the Bible, I’ve had to take a close look at what I believe. All my life I’ve been involved in church, and each church I’ve been to has held to the belief that they teach from the Word of God. I believe they do, but I also believe that there are times we miss things. Times when we teach what we’ve grown up believing, without really considering if our teachers had it right or if they missed something.

I’m not saying I know what’s right, but I do see things I use to believe, and after doing my own studying, my thoughts have changed.

John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

3 John 2-4, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”Feed Faith Starve Doubt

There’s a reason God provided the Word for us. So that we could be aware of the devil’s schemes and be able to stand on the truth He declared. The enemy is a liar above all things, and he knows how to twist things to make us believe his way instead of God’s. And it’s innocent. We don’t even recognize it a lot of the times.

This series will give you things to ponder. Some things you will have to decide what you believe. Study the Word of God. Let the Holy Spirit help you understand His Word. And He will, because He wants you to know Him better, to know the truth. It’s the truth you know that will set you free. John 8:32

This is the list of topics I will cover in separate posts, with a basic summary included. If you want to learn more about a given topic, stay tuned. Once they’re up, over the next few weeks, I will include a link here to each one.

  1. The Sovereignty of God.
    • In our world, today, we have changed the meaning of sovereign in regards to talking about God. In the dictionary, we see that sovereign is simply “a supreme ruler, especially a monarch, or possessing supreme or ultimate power.” Somehow, that has been construed to mean, “completely in control of everything that happens.”
      • God is all powerful. He is completely able to anything and everything He wants to do, but He limits Himself. When He created man, He made man as ruler of this world, the Earth. He gave man dominion and took a step back. He gave man the ability to choose, and man chose to turn this world over to Satan. So, yes, God is possessing supreme power. But, He loves us too much to rule over everything with an iron fist. He allows us to choose whom we will serve and the result is a lot of bad things going on that He did not cause to happen, nor desire to have happen to us, His children.
      • Look at Genesis 1:28, Genesis 3, 3 John 2-4
  2. Interpreting God’s will in light of our own experiences.
    • Our circumstances do not change God’s will. Much of His will is spelled out in the Bible and His Word doesn’t change.
  3. Old covenant vs. New covenant
    • God never changes, but He gave us redemption and is now not holding sin against us.
  4. Paul’s Thorn
  5. I need more faith
  6. Healing
    • There are several parts under this topic that we will discuss, things like God heals some, but now all, If God wants me healed, He will just do it, and other very intriguing things.

I hope you’ll join me as we dive deep into the Word and make decisions on what we believe about God, about Satan, and about our lives as we are here, in this world.

I Am A Hypocrite, And So Are You

 

Grace CrossI am a hypocrite, and so are you.

I am a hypocrite. You are a hypocrite. No one can escape it. We all have things we hide from the world; struggles we deal with. In front of others, we tend to try to appear all put together, but inside, we know where we really stand. We know the areas God is trying to change within us, the areas we struggle hard core to become victorious in living. Here are a few things I struggle with.

You see, I know many of the truths found in the Bible, and I try to live by them. Sometimes, I let people believe I’m better at it than I actually am. I don’t purposely lie to them, I just let them believe what they believe, without setting them straight. I mean, how can I teach others to do these things and not be perfect at living them?

Here’s all I have to say about that, if you can find one preacher, teacher, mentor, mother, father, etc., that follows everything they teach perfectly (besides Jesus), let me know and I’ll just stop teaching. No one is perfect, and no one 100% of the time shows or talks about the areas they struggle with.

So, here I stand, admitting my failures. Admitting that I could be considered a hypocrite.  I hope you’ll still hang out with me. Keep reading to find out some areas I know how I should live, according to the Word of God, and still struggle to do so.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1

Have you ever spent time beating yourself up over doing the opposite of what you know to do? For instance, I know it’s important to fill my mind with good things and take every thought captive. (Philippians 4:8, 2Corinthians 9:5). And yet, I’m really good at allowing negative, discontented thoughts fill my mind and stay there far too long.

  1. Thoughts
    • Ever heard the phrase, “You can’t stop a bird from landing, but you can keep it from building a nest there.” We have the ability within us to keep our mind clear of things that are detrimental to our walk with Christ. We just have to make the choice  … every single time, but do I? No. Sad to say, it’s something I struggle with. And then, my mouth opens and the words I speak don’t line up with what I know the Bible says.
  2. Words Mercies are new every morning cross
    • Too many times to count, I have said the wrong thing, or responded the wrong way when circumstances have seemed overwhelming. It’s like, for that moment, I completely forget the things I know to be true. It does no good, however, to beat myself up for the mistakes I make. It doesn’t change it, nor does it help me to do better the next time. (Proverbs 18:21)
      • I remember a time in my life that I wouldn’t even recognize that what I said was harmful. Now it is more obvious to me when I make a mistake. Sometimes, when I’m quick to realize that my words are detrimental, I have the courage to apologize and speak a blessing, but most times, my pride gets in the way.
  3. Pride
    • Pride is merely self-centeredness, which is really the reason I have so many struggles. I care about myself too much, as most people do.
      • “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18
      • “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” – Proverbs 29:23
    • I am on the praise team at church. I play every instrument we have on the team, except for drums, so I am very active. Basically, I move around week to week, depending on which instrumentalist needs the week off.  There are times I get offended because I feel like I shouldn’t just always be everyone’s back-up, but instead I should be considered the “number one guy” on an instrument. Even as I type this, I am realizing how silly that thought is, but regardless, I get offended because I don’t ever get to hear the words, “You’re my number one on bass guitar.” Something like that.
      • When my focus is on serving God, I don’t get offended. It’s when my mind gets focused on me and what I think I deserve, that I allow myself to get hurt.
    • When we keep the Main Thing the Main Thing, when He is what you’re living for, pride isn’t getting in the way.

So, there you have it. Three things I struggle to live, and am therefore a hypocrite. God is still working on me, and I know it. I’m thankful He is a God of mercy and grace, that He allows me the time I need to become closer to what He created me to be.

Who I am, in Him, is more important than how the world views me. If you want help learning, and remembering who you are in Christ, print yourself a copy of “The List“.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Basics, Sow the Word of God

Three CrossesBack to Basics, Sow the Word of God

This Bible study, sow the Word of God,  is going to take us back to the fundamentals, the basics. Because, without the basics, the big picture, our ability to learn, understand, and grow, will be lost.

When I was in high school, I participated in marching band. Every upper class man had a certain amount of dread for the first month of the season, because we always had to start the season off relearning the basics.

In June, we began Tuesday and Thursday evening rehearsals and every single practice was the same, “Mark time, mark!” Came the call and we would all count out loud, “1-2-3-4” and then proceed to take eight steps forward, counting aloud the entire time. We would stop for another march in place on the next yard line, and then, “Halt.” The band directors and drum majors would inspect the lines. Who had made it to the yard line correctly? How many people were not in line? How was their “at attention” form?

They would explain how to do it better and off we would go again. Eventually, we’d be able to do two or three sets of eight  before stopping. Then there were the other commands, “Right face!”, “Left face!” and on and on. These were the basic abilities a band had to be able to perform correctly before moving on to the fun stuff.

For those who had done this for two or three years already, it was an annoying exercise, but we knew that without the fundamentals, the big picture is lost.

So, this study is taking us back to the fundamentals. Jesus told parables – stories meant to teach a powerful lesson to help us as we grow in faith and understanding.

A story with a lesson.

Mark 4:26-29, “And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

When seeds are planted, crops grow. This is the natural law that God established in Creation. Jesus used this topic because we can relate to it. Feed Faith Starve Doubts Cross

  1.  Notice, the man has to plant the seed.
    • Mark 4:14, it says, “The sower sows the word.” In order for us to grow in our walks with Christ, we must sow the Word of God into our hearts. And do it regularly. If we aren’t putting it in, we won’t get anything from it.
    • God has a lot of promises written in the Bible. If He didn’t want us to have the things He promised, He wouldn’t have included them in the writing of the Bible, would He? Planting the Word in our hearts is the answer to receiving all that God has and desires for us to receive.
    • Remember this: a farmer doesn’t plant a seed just randomly here and there. He plants thousands of seeds in his well cared for field.
      • Allow the Holy Spirit to care for your heart.
      • Sow the Word into your heart constantly.
  2. The man waits and simply knows the seeds will sprout and grow. He knows the natural law and rests in the knowledge that in due time, it will do what it is supposed to do.
    • It takes time for the Word of God to spring up and start working in your life, but it’s the nature of the Word to produce change. Your labor will be rewarded!
  3. You don’t have to understand the process, you don’t have to “get it”, you just simply have to believe it.
    • The man didn’t wonder or worry about it, neither did he go out and pluck it out every day to see how it was doing. He simply did what he knew to do …. plant seeds, take care of them by watering them and maybe fertilizing the area, and wait.
    • I catch myself trying to pull out what I’ve planted by speaking words that don’t line up with what I say I believe.
      • Example: I’m really good about complaining about my weight and how difficult it has been for me to lose it. And it really has. I eat very well and  exercise regularly. I don’t say this to brag, but to explain my struggle. The thing is, I don’t help myself because I use my words in a detrimental way. I say things like, “I’m never going to lose any weight, I don’t even know why I try so hard.” The Bible says words are very important (that’s for another study), and I use the wrong ones.
    • When you increase your doubt and unbelief, you are essentially plucking the seeds you’ve planted. Wrong thinking, negative words, actions you know are sin, etc. are all things that will de-root the faith you have sown.
  4.  You cannot by-pass the growth cycle. There is a lot that happens before a farmer sends out the harvester to bring in the fruit of his labor.
    • Preparation time is never wasted time. You cannot get the full ear of corn before the first blade has come up. To put this in terms you can better understand:
      • believing God for $1,000 is a lot harder if you’ve never believed Him for $10.
      • believing God for healing cancer is a lot harder if you’ve never believed you could be healed of a cold
    • Don’t get upset because you don’t have what you see in someone else, if you’re not willing to put in the work necessary to obtain it.

The Challenge

For those who have never really made reading the Bible part of every day life, start out small, just a few verses. Don’t stress yourself out thinking you should be reading the Bible all day every day. Find a few minutes and open the Bible, or Bible app, and just read a couple verses, and really think about what you read, trying to apply it to your personal life.  Continue in this way until you’ve read an entire book … I recommend the Book of John as a good starting place.

I found out several years ago, if you will make reading the Bible a discipline, it will grow into a desire. You’ll get to where you miss it if you skit it. (Well, would you look at that? Another example of sowing and reaping.)

No matter if you’re new to this thing or have been walking it for years, it’s easy to get in a rut. To forget to read the Word or spend time with the King. That’s normal. Just dive in. And do your best not to condemn yourself for where you are at this moment of time. Just get at it!

You cannot expect yourself to go from milk to meat in five minutes, but if you will get back to the basics: sow the word of God into your heart, you will reap the reward – a closer, more intimate relationship with God. What could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #3

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #3

Today, we’re going to continue our study about the Kingdom of God. Remember, the Kingdom of God is wherever He rules and reigns. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God … let Him rule and reign in our lives .. and when we do, He promises everything we nee,d to live a good, full life, will be provided for us. We don’t have to even ask for it, it just happens as we allow Him that highest place in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)

We are going to look at what happens when we ask for another king. That doesn’t mean we verbally say, “Hey God, I want another king, I’m not happy with the One I have.” Rather, it means we allow something else to work it’s way up higher and higher, until it takes it’s place as ruler in our lives. This is usually a result of believing something contrary to the Word in some area.

We’re going to head on over to 1 Samuel 8. The Israelites have decided they want a king to rule over them. They want to be like the nations around them.

Picking up in verse 9 – 22: God is speaking to Samuel in verse 9,”Now, therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

After verse 9, Samuel delivers a message to the Israelites, telling them just what they would give up by having a king.

  • Family (children): verse 11-13 – to serve him
  • Food/drink (fields, vineyards, olive groves): verse 14-15
  • Livelihood (donkeys, sheep): verse 16-17
  • Freedom: verses 11-22

When we open ourselves up to allowing something or someone else to take lordship of our livGod's Masterpiecees, we are giving up all of those things. We give something lordship when we consider it more than we consider Him. This often happens when we believe our circumstance over the Word.

For example: Just last week, I caught myself believing I’m pretty much of no value to anyone or anything. That I screwed up my life, my kids, and generally just have no worth in the world. Had I continued down that line of thinking, it would have taken over and I would have found myself defeated, depressed, and falling down into a pit I couldn’t crawl out of. Negative thoughts and self-deprecation would have quickly become lord of my life. It would have ruled everything I did. Every decision I made would have been influenced by this way of thinking. Thankfully, I knew the right thing to do when those thoughts invaded my mind: I pulled out my list and began reading it out loud. Making those negative thoughts disappear, and filling my head with what the Bible says about who I am – opening my heart and mind and placing God right back in that top place.

How much are we willing to give up when we give something or someone else rule and reign in our lives? Family? Job? Prosperity? Health?

Having a king, other than The King, is a sin. 1 Samuel 12:12, Samuel is speaking to the Israelites, “And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammorites came against you, you said to me, ‘ No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.”

The Lord was already their king. They didn’t need a human king. In the next few verses, we find out that God allowed it, provided them with their king, but gave them a warning. 1 Samuel 12:14-15, “If you fear the Lord and serve Him and ovey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”

The good and the bad was dependent on their choices. We get to choose to receive God’s blessing and favor into our lives, or not. It’s completely our choice.

Does that mean we will always have perfect lives with no difficulty in them? no. We live in a world surrendered to Satan at it’s infancy, but it does mean that God will see us through all things. It does mean that we will know how to defeat the enemy and stand strong in Him. It means when we are attacked, be it by just normal, living in a broken world attacking, or by the devil’s schemes, we are well equipped to handle it. When cancer strikes, we are able to stand on the Word of the Lord and receive the healing He wants us to have. When the mortgage is due, both vehicles break down, and the washing machine quits, we are able to stand on the Word of the Lord and see Him provide each and every one of those needs.

One time, in a church small group, a young lady described how she imagines heaven. I’ve never forgotten it, “There is a warehouse with my name on the front, when I walk up to it, an angel opens the door and reveals to me all the gifts God had prepared for me. All the things I could have received and didn’t because of my lack of faith, my unbelief.”

I want my warehouse to be empty. I want to know that I served Him with my everything. That I sought Him as rule and reign over my entire life and in that seeking, received everything He yearned to give to me. How about you? Will you surrender to Him? Will you let Him take His place as King over your life?

To wrap up this part of our Kingdom series, let’s look at 1 Samuel 12:20-25. Through these verses, we can learn some valuable lessons.

Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

  • Don’t fear, God loves you. He’s still the Lord, so even when you mess up, just get back at it. Serve Him with all your heart.
  • Don’t turn aside. Those things you’re putting higher than the Lord are just empty, useless things.
  • Remember daily (more like hourly, even minute by minute), the great things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for and in you.
  • Don’t get swept away, both you and your king. If you allow something or someone else to take a higher place in your life than the Lord, it will begin pulling you away from Him. It will continue to pull you further and further away, the more you follow it. God never will pull away from you, He never leaves or forsakes His kids, but we pull away from Him by choosing to take the reign from Him.

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #2

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #2

There are two things I think are very important to know about the Kingdom of God: It is progressive, and it brings opposition.

  • John taught the Kingdom of God is at hand …. he lost his head.
  • Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God … he caused a bit of a stir.
  • The disciples taught the Kingdom … 10/12 were martyred.
  • Paul taught it … he was stoned.

Let’s take a look at Acts 14:19-22 (If you haven’t read “The Kingdom #1” yet, you should read it first.)

“Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'”

In the first part of this study, we talked about what the kingdom of God is, and defined it as, “Where God is ruling and reigning,” and to make it more personal, “His rule and reign in our hearts.”

  • You enter the Kingdom of God, submitting to His reign, and resist the many kingdoms of this world.
  • As soon as you give more of your heart over to God’s reign, you’ve taken it from the devil and he will oppose!

How often does your flesh rise up and take the reign from the Lord? I know mine does a lot. The Lord whipsers to your heart, “Give $50 to that ministry.” Your flesh says, “Now way, man. I need that $50 to pay this bill. It’s already behind, I can’t be foolish with the money God has given me.”

Another area the flesh will rise up and try to take over is the mouth. We open our mouths and spew seLove Wins Jesus Crosseds of anger and bitterness. That’s not what God would have us sowing in the fields of our own hearts and the hearts of others. Every time I think about this, I see an image in my head of words flowing from my mouth. Each word is a seed and each seed gets thrown out into a field. Which ones are going to bear fruit?

When you get determined, saying, “I am going to obey God. I am going to allow Him to rule over every kingdom I have within me,” you will be hitting resistance at nearly every turn and you must be ready for it.

Have you ever picked up you Bible and read a verse you’ve read a hundred times, but this time it penetrates your very being? Like, suddenly you know without any doubt what God wants you to get from that particular verse? At that moment, it comes at you like a tidal wave, and you absolutely know it’s true and powerful.

Five minutes later, yoWalk By Faithu’ve set your Bible down, still thinking about how awesome God is to show you something so amazing, and suddenly a thought pops into your head. “Wait, was that really God? Was I just imagining it? Did I make it up?” These types of things hit you and, because you know opposition will come, and you’ve prepared yourself for it, you’re able to stand firm against:

  • Your own doubt and unbelief
  • Your friends/family’s doubt and unbelief

That doesn’t mean you get up there on your little soap box and start preaching to everybody, but it means, deep within you … in your heart and in your life … you stand on the revelation from the Word of God. Speaking the Truth when it is necessary, but out of love, not in a hurtful or condemning way.

Our world is falling apart because not enough Christians are willing to stand firm – allowing God to truly be Lord of their lives. We’re manipulated, controlled, and owned by someone/something else taking over as lord.

Matthew 11:11-12 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

Let me encourage you. Jesus said, in the verse above, that we are greater than John the Baptist. We have so much value as God’s sons and daughters, and you need to remember that. Here is a great list of things God has declared about you: I call it, “The List.”

If you’ll yield, you have the power to overcome anything of this world that comes at you.

When oppostion does come, do not back down! So many times, Christians have missed out on the power God wants them to walk in for one simple reason, they don’t want to pay the price. There’s a price to be paid … why read the Bible, learn what God is saying, get the revelation from the Holy Spirit, and then back down because someone else doesn’t agree? Or allow doubt and unbelief to rule when life smacks us in the face? Get up and declare the Word! It is the truth, whether we see it with our natural eyes or not.

Matthew 12:22-28

  • The Kingdom is near when the devil is cast out. His kingdom will beat anything that comes against them, when His people will believe and pray for it. And when the Kingdom is near, the devil leaves.
  • Another way to see it, when Jesus is lifted up and glorified, everything else starts sliding down.

Luke 10:8-11

  • Healing becomes available as we pray the Kingdom come. Healing is always available when the Kingdom is near … whether there is belief or not. But when there’s not, results will not be seen.

Isaiah 9:6-7

  • When you’re born again, the Kingdom of God pops into your heart and life in seed form. You’re not going to be fully committed or persuaded to give him absolute reign right away. It increases and increases as it is watered. You have to take care of your seeds. And it will not end … there is no end to where He wants to take you in His kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-33

  • Don’t ever give up! Keep on praying, seeking, and receiving. Keep pressing in, believing the Word. The Kingdom is progressive and it is growing. And as you yield more and more to His rule and reign, you’ll see those things you’ve dreamed of becoming reality in your life.

God rules. God reigns .. with our participation, our willingness to yield.

Other lessons in this series: #1, #3.

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

and all these things shall be added to you.

 

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #1

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #1

Have you ever opened up your Bible, read a verse, and went, “Huh?” Yeah, me too. But, you know, God is faithful to give us understanding if we search for it. So, let’s dive into this series and find out what we can learn about the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:25-33:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

I had read this section of verses many times. I had even quoted the last verse to others quite often, and had been trying to live it. Then it occurred to my that I didn’t really have an understanding of what I was supposed to be seeking.

I have been taught and led to “trust God” or “seek God” many times over the years. What job should I have? “Seek God.” How am I going to get through this month’s bills with all this extra stuff going on? “Trust God.” Christians are really good at throwing out those little pieces of advice, and while that is what we should do, most of us don’t really know what that means. Most of us feel like we’ve sought God and that we are trusting Him, but then our words of worrying come out and we pretty much prove our lack of trust.

Here’s the thing, we don’t really know what it means to see the kingdom of God. We just take the “seek God” part and decide, “Okay, I’ll read my Bible, maybe a little more than usual … if I have time … and I’ll pray, asking Him what He wants.” And then we just go about our day.

So let’s dive into this and try to break it down into something we can grasp. Something we can pursue as a reality in our lives, and then get to where we see “all these things” just added to our lives as a by product of our surrender.

What is the Kingdom of God? In Daniel 4:1-3, 34-35 and in 6:26-27 (please read them before moving on) we can see that God’s kingdom was recognized and reigning in the Old Testament. In verse 3, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”

This is King Nebuchadnezzar, a king that believed mostly in himself, and that’s it.  He was very aware of what it meant to rule a kingdom and rise in power. In verses 34-35, we find the same great king speaking of God, “He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”

In chapter 6, we are reading about King Darius, and because of Daniel and his stand, as a servant of God, the king recognizes God’s reign, “His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.”

In all of these passages, we find out that men of the world recognize that God has a kingdom. That He is the ruler of the Earth, and that He has and will always reign. Just remember, His reign doesn’t mean everything that happens here is a result of His hand or His will. While He does reign overall, He doesn’t control every detail in our lives. After all, He gave that job to us … when He told Adam to take dominion … and then Adam turned it over to Satan.

Turn over to Matthew 3:1-3, 4:17 & 23. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Do we understand what this is saying? It means the kingdom of heaven isn’t some far off future event. Nor does it mean the kingdom is way out there somewhere in the sky. It means it is here and it is now and, it is good news! The word Gospel means “good news.” It really means, “too good to be true news.” The kind of news we tend to not believe. And Jesus, according to Matthew 4:23 went about teaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and as a result, people were healed and delivered.

Luke 17:20-21, “The kingdom of God is within you.”

So, Matthew 6:33 … Here is the definition of the kingdom of God that made it all make sense to me.

The Kingdom of God is wherever God is ruling and reigning.

You see, God owns the world and everything in it, but He doesn’t just beat us into subjection. He loves us too much for that. So, we have to allow Him to rule and reign. To fully learn about the Kingdom of God, you’re going to need to read the other blogs in this series. But, more important than reading my blog posts, you are going to need to ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind and give you revelation knowledge. Because, without His help, you’ll just never truly walk Matthew 6:33.

Here are a few things that will help you, though:

  1. Pray the kingdom come. In Matthew 6:9-10, we find Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray. And He includes telling them to pray that the kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. Listen, if we didn’t need to ask for it, Jesus wouldn’t have said to pray for it. God’s will is not just automatically done. Now, I know that goes against a lot of beliefs about the sovereignty of God, and I don’t have space here to get into that, but just look at this one verse and give it a ponder: 2 Peter 3:9 … if God always automatically got His will, no one would ever perish.
    1. Taking this to a personal level, when you pray His kingdom to come, it’s asking Him to rule and reign over the many areas in your life. Your relationships, finances, health, decisions, attitudes, mouth, thouights, etc. It’s relinquishing your control and allowing Him to rule.
      1. I think one of the hardest places for me to let go and let God is in my thoughts. The Bible tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2Cor. 10:5). That means, not allowing negative, hurtful thoughts to fill your brain. It means countering thoughts that are contrary to what God says in His word and not allowing the enemy and the world to control what you’re thinking about, because believe me, if the enemy can get you to focus on some past mistake and get you to allow that to rule your life, he will. And your past will then be guiding your future, instead of God.
  2. Prefer God’s will over your own. His agenda over yours.
    1. Don’t pursue stuff … pursue His rule over your life. He wants you to have the stuff, He really does, but He doesn’t want you chasing the stuff.
    2. Be careful that you’re not getting into religious rule, instead of God rule. Religious rule is like, “tattoos aren’t Godly,” or “the clothes you’re wearing are too showy,” that type of thing. You see, religious rule, those things you may have heard growing up, that aren’t offering grace to those around you, often causes you to become just judgmental and dogmatic, and that is not how God is or how He wants us to be.
  3. Heed the voice of the Lord.
    1. Hebrews 12:27 (start in 21 and read to get the whole thing), God wants to shake us up. He wants to be able to teach us and shake the bad out and fill us up with goodness. His goodness. And the great thing is, He is patient and full of grace.
      1. Let Him teach you and guide you little by little. One “yes, Lord” at a time. Progressively changing you as you learn to hear and follow His voice.

Consider, really ponder and think about, what the Kingdom of God really is. Let Him take the rule and reign, and see the power released in your life. It’s going to be an amazing ride!

 

Other lessons in this series: #2, #3.

For your free copy of “The List“, click here.

 

 

 

God Rocks

Making the Main Thing, the Main Thing

Main Thing Jesus

Making the Main Thing, the Main Thing

There was this couple at my church that had it all together, they clearly had made God the main thing in their lives. I watched them. Admired them from afar. Wanted to be them.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now. That couple, that had God first, seemed to be leaps and bounds above where I was spiritually. From where I was standing, they were the epitome of what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t understand that my perception probably made them greater than they were. That I really had no idea where they were in their relationship with God, I just knew what I saw at church on Sunday.

It didn’t really matter, in the long run, what unrealistic perception I had of them. What did matter, however, was how my perception of them drove me to move God into a higher place in my life.

It hit me that if I didn’t change something, I would never get there, and that I needed to start somewhere. As much as I hated it, I had to admit that I didn’t even think about God or Jesus much. So, I decided to do something about it; He would become the main thing I would think about.

I needed and wanted God to be my main thing.

I decided to begin by writing Jesus on several sheets of paper. “Jesus,” rather than “God,” just seemed a little bit more personal to me at that time in my life. I put the sheets all over the place. I was home more than anywhere, as I was a mother of three, and two of them were still in diapers. So, I put them all over the house.

Pretty soon, I had Jesus on my mind all the time. He was right there when the joys of motherhood brought tears to my eyes, as well as when the tears weren’t from a happy place. He was there in front of me as I swept the floors and washed the dishes. Every time  I turned around, He was there in the front of my mind. Smiling with me, crying with me. Picking me up and cheering me on.

Making God the main thing is an intentional pursuit, it doesn’t just happen.

In Luke 12:29-32, Jesus tell his disciples to stop worrying about the things they need in this life, but to put God as their main concern, and they’d have their needs met. And verse 32 particularly blesses me, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God WANTS to bless us, and all He wants from us is for us to give Him place in our daily lives.

What does it mean to make Him the main thing? It means He is at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom of my list. I’m aware of His presence constantly and remember to thank Him for it regularly. When circumstances come my way and I need Him to carry me through, I know that He is.

I can see God in every single thing I do or am a part of. When I’m running my fingers around on the piano, He is with me. When I lift paint brush to canvas, He is there guiding my hands. When I drive down the road, or push the cart through the store, He is there.

Why you should consider where God is in your life.

When you make Him the main thing in your life, you find joy in even the most tiresome or uninteresting things in your life. It’s comforting to know He is with you while you do the ordinary day to day cycle of life. If you know He is there for all the small things, you’re prepared for the big, hard things, because you know He is there, too.

When He becomes greater, your faith becomes stronger. Your attitudes begin to change and you start getting answers to questions you’ve had about your life. You start to see yourself through different eyes, the eyes of the Almighty. Your whole world changes.

A few tips to getting God up that rung so that He become the Main Thing:

  • Get His name in front of you.
  • Put up art that reminds you of Him.
  • When you are reminded by Him, or a bumper sticker you see on your drive home, don’t ignore it, talk to Him.
  • Open the Bible regularly, or your favorite Bible app. Love Jesus
  • Turn on some good music, close your eyes, and get wrapped up in His love.

I challenge you.

I know it seems tedious, and maybe even a little silly to you, but when a person becomes truly serious about growing in an area of their lives, they’ll do the silly. So, here it is: Get a piece of paper, or better yet, start a journal and at the front, write a declaration something like this:

Today I make a commitment to myself and to God Almighty, to take whatever steps are necessary for me to elevate Him to a place of greater importance in my every day life. I recognize the benefits of doing so are greater than my mind can comprehend and I look forward to becoming stronger in my faith as a result.

Sign and date it. If you are starting a journal, make sure you add to it regularly and include what you see changing within you. And don’t forget to write about the great things He has done for you along the way.

If you’ve found this post helpful or encouraging, please pass it on to others. Hit me up in the comment section for any lingering questions or thoughts.