Allow me to paint two pictures for you.
One is a man trying to provide for his young family, carrying all the weight of their needs on his back. He works endless hours, which makes quality time with his family slim and the chance of going to church even slimmer. He’s folding under the pressure and doesn’t see a break in the horizon anytime soon.
The other is the same young man, with the same family, and job, yet a different outlook on his circumstances. With his eyes and arms raised to Heaven, surrendered to God, he trusts Him to provide for his needs. He makes church a priority and through his relationship with his Heavenly Father he gains strength. Even during a stressful season of life he is able to stand tall through the grace of God.
Which position are you in? Whether a young working husband, a single mom, a student just finishing college, are you folding under the pressures of life or letting God hold you up through His provision and grace?
You may be thinking that I don’t know what you’re going through, that I don’t know the weight of what you’re carrying on your shoulders right now, and you’d be right, I don’t. But God does. He sees all the bills that come in the mail, He’s there when your medical situation seems hopeless, He sees when your children are rebelling and turning away from the way you’ve raised them. He knows exactly what to do if you would only lift your eyes and ask for His wisdom.
We were never meant to take care of everything on our own. Matthew 6:31-33 reminds us of this, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” When we fully surrender ourselves to God and acknowledge that we cannot handle this life on our own, He is there ready to provide, heal, encourage, and pour out His grace.
“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19
There is a war going on for your attention. As our world continues to only grow darker, will you allow the opinions and dishonesty of others to lure your focus away from God’s will? There is an astronomical amount of negativity and deceit in our society and daily our Lord and Savior is being mocked, refused, and misunderstood by millions.
As Christians how do we combat this type of living? When it is almost impossible to watch a movie or turn on the radio without seeing or hearing something that threatens your relationship with your Heavenly Father, how can we protect our minds and our faith?
- Refrain from things that do not glorify God
- Continually fill your spirit
- Have fellowship with like-minded believers
I think we often choose to watch or listen to things that do not necessarily glorify God because we believe it’s harmless; but everything has a message, and anything that you give your attention to is preaching to you whether you realize it or not. Choosing to take part in music, television, or radio news that is meant for entertainment but ultimately clouds our minds of God’s guidelines and plan will never help you grow in your faith, or become the witnesses we are all called to be.
In this day and age it is crucial that we fill our spirits with words from the one true and living God. When we read the Bible daily, it amplifies the Holy Spirit’s voice inside of us instead of slowly silencing it. If there has ever been a time where it was more important to be tuned into God’s Spirit, I don’t know it.
Make sure you have a community of like-minded believers around you. Relationships that provide encouragement, support, advice, and love are needed when you are a light in a world that is consumingly dark. To have people that you can pray for and with is not only uplifting, but important.
There is no way to escape the blinding violence, rebellion, and confusion that has seemingly overtaken our society. And we shouldn’t try to escape it. We need to fight for the lost souls that are chained, overwhelmed with shame, and have yet to experience the love and forgiveness of a God they’ve only been taught to see as a dictator. Protect your mind and spirit so that you can set others free.
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” ~ Ephesians 6:11 NLT
When was the last time you sat down and thought about your goals or checked up on your priorities? If we aren’t careful, as we get older life gets busier and we let our goals or the things that should be at the top of our priority list slip through the cracks. Luckily, we have the perfect example of someone who lived their life intentionally and didn’t let their goals fall to the wayside: Jesus.
Jesus knew His purpose on this Earth and never lost sight of it. He was deliberate in His days, conversations, and overall life. His mission was similar to ours, because as believers we are called to be like Him. We’re called to witness to the lost, heal the sick, and be examples of God’s love and compassion.
Let’s take a closer look at how Jesus spent His time, revealing where His true focus was:
Teaching the disciples/others around him. You do not have to be a minister to tell people about Jesus! We can encourage our family, friends, and even strangers daily. Remember, it is not only through our words that we reach people for the Kingdom, but through our actions as well.
Healing the sick. The Word says those who believe, not only pastors or traveling ministers, will heal the sick (Matthew 16:17-18). Jesus observed the needs of others and had compassion towards all. He took it upon Himself when He was hungry, exhausted, or really didn’t have the time, to minister to the sick. He placed an importance on their lives that was higher than His own desires or needs.
Spending time with the Father. Jesus many times withdrew Himself to spend quiet and personal time with His Father. It was in those moments that He received strength and direction to follow through with His mission in life: reaching the lost. It is absolutely necessary that we spend exclusive time with God, not only on Sunday mornings but during the week as well. It is from that time that we are built up and prepared for God’s plan in our lives.
When we look at the things our Savior focused on during His 33 years here, it is easy to see He had an eternal mindset. Everything He did He did for the gain of the Kingdom of Heaven. So we must ask ourselves, do our goals have eternal value, similar to Jesus’, or are they solely focused on ourselves and how we can get ahead? Our time spent here is but a blip in eternity, to put all of our time and energy on goals set to produce only Earthly works could cause us to miss out on all that God has planned for us during our lives on Earth.
One definition of the word “faithful” is, “loyal, constant, steadfast”. First Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers…”
Our God is loyal. When we pray, His ears are open to us and we have His uninterrupted attention. He longs to hear our needs and desires, and to guide us in His plan.
Our God is constant. He will never leave us nor forsake us. His love and forgiveness are ever lasting. He chose us from the beginning of time and will unconditionally be there to give us mercy, grace, and support.
Our God is steadfast. His commitment to us never wavers. He is fully prepared to answer our prayers whenever we cry out to Him. He is our Rock, our source of peace, safety, and strength.
Do you believe that God is unendingly faithful to you, or do you think you have to earn His devotion? Sometimes when we are believing for something, we feel the need to pray and pray and pray, then when we’re done we get all of our family and friends to pray. There is nothing wrong with joining in prayer with other believers, in fact the Bible encourages us to do so, but what about trusting that when you prayed the first time, God heard you, and He answered you?
I often ask for prayer from others and pray for needs in the lives of my family, friends, and even strangers. Still, it’s important to also have time only between ourselves and God to build our faith and trust in Him that He is committed to answering our prayers even when we are the only one believing.
What’s important to God is not how many people we can get to pray and for how long, but that we have faith in His ability to provide for us. Our personal relationship, our personal confidence and security in our Father, is the foundation to what we hold onto during trials and tribulations.
We have victory through Christ which means whatever we ask, according to God’s plan, He will provide for us (John 5:14-15). God is faithful. He hears us the very first time we pray. Don’t be discouraged to pray with other believers, but build a strong foundation of your own faith in God.
Have you ever said to yourself “I am never going to forgive them!” what about, “I’ll forgive them, but I’ll never forget”. Many times, out of hurt feelings and anger, we choose to hold onto pain instead of forgiving, letting go, and yes, forgetting.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells a parable that describes the majority of us today. A man who owed millions begs for his enormous debt to be forgiven because he did not have the means to pay it off. He is granted his request by a forgiving king, the man then leaves and sees a man in the street who owes him a small amount of money (incomparable to what he had owed the king) and demands that that man be sentenced to prison until he pays him back in full.
Jesus paid the highest price to our King so that we may live free and forgiven. Just as the man who was in debt millions of dollars did not deserve his freedom, we did nothing to earn or deserve ours. We don’t want to admit it but in the past, we too, have acted just as this man in the parable. Jesus mercifully forgives us but then we live with unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts towards coworkers, old friends, and even strangers.
The Bible says that the Lord will not forgive us unless we forgive one another (Matthew 6:15). You may have experienced deep hurt or betrayal, but is it worth it to have something hindering yours and your Heavenly Father’s relationship? Holding onto a grudge does not only limit your fellowship with God, it can consume your mind, cause anxiety, depression, and a hardened heart.
The Cross is another perfect example that we can learn from. After being beaten beyond recognition, betrayed by His disciples, mocked, and nailed to the cross, Jesus looked up to Heaven and said, “Father forgive them..” You may have experienced real hurt and betrayal, my point is not to make light of those times, but if our Savior can be forgiving in the most gruesome and horrific of circumstances, we can certainly walk in love towards those around us.
Forgiveness does not always come easy, it is a choice and can take time. If you’ve been holding onto painful experiences of the past for months, or even years, you may be able to choose to finally forgive, but forgetting could take more effort. Rely on the Lord, ask for His help in letting go of what was said or done to you.
Even when we’ve messed up 100 times, God still willingly, without hesitation, forgives us. Choose to be like our Heavenly Father today.
To live in a world of constant entertainment, drive-thrus, and any question you have to be answered instantly with a quick search, the idea of waiting for something has become foreign. While our society grows every day, our God stays the same.
When we bring our requests to God, or when things are changing in life and we need to know which direction to go, it can feel impossible to hear from the Lord. Is this because He is ignoring us? Forcing us to make the decision without His guidance and hoping we choose the right way? Definitely not!
Our minds have become so fast paced it can sometimes feel like that; but the truth is, we’ve drowned out His Spirit. Maybe not intentionally, but undoubtedly when we let our schedules get so hectic we barely have time to take a deep breath until we lay our heads down at night, we’ve silenced His voice.
There are three main areas of our lives, all equally important, that we must keep at the top of our priority list for the health of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and really for our own personal health.
First, our prayer life. To have an open and honest prayer life with the One who knows all things, somehow can be difficult. To be brutally honest about your thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs is something that our Heavenly Father craves when it comes to our communion with Him. Yet, so many people fear “offending” God. It is vital to our relationship to spend time in prayer on a regular basis. To talk out the future plans, opportunities, and decisions of our lives helps to make us more conscious of His Spirit and leading.
The second, is quiet time. There are imperative moments to be had in the quiet, uninterrupted, presence of God. Moments that can so easily slip through our fingers if we aren’t careful. If when we are through with our prayers we get up and run off with our day, we don’t give God the opportunity to speak to us and show us His love. Learn to rest in His presence, it is there you will feel His peace and love, and hear where He is directing you next.
Finally, a key factor in waiting on the Lord is to worship Him. Not only on Sunday morning, but every day in your own home. In Acts chapter 16, Peter and Silas were thrown into jail. When they began to pray and lift up praises to God, a mighty earthquake struck, the prison doors flew open and their chains fell off. Plans are set in motion when we sing praises to Heaven. Worshipping our Father not only glorifies Him, it helps us as well because it reminds us of His goodness and all He has done for us. To remember His faithfulness in past situations is encouraging when waiting on a word from the Lord.
Our Father longs to speak to us, we simply need to slow down and give Him our attention and time.