As a Christian, our thought life is one of the biggest obstacles to fully living our calling in Christ. It is not a sin to be tempted by our thoughts, but to dwell upon sinful thoughts and give in to their temptation. Christians, especially new Christians, struggle with not giving these thoughts credence and sometimes will entertain them. This internal struggle of not assuming responsibility for our thoughts, takes us down a path away from Christ and leads us into our old bad habits and decisions. Paul shares with us the battle that each Christian faces and the power we each have as followers of Christ.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (NKJV) 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
With the understanding that ultimately our Christian walk, and the difficulty there-in can revolve around our thought life, then it should make sense to strive daily to live in God's presence. Isaiah reminds us that those who keep God in their mind will have constant peace.
"You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You." (Amplified Bible) Isaiah 26:3
The main reference for this posting is Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God. I highly recommend you read it. It is a short, but focused book that discusses the understandings that Brother Lawrence came to for constantly living in God's presence. I wanted to take one of his letters and use it as an example of how he dealt with his thought and prayer life and how he felt God rewarded us for our perseverance.
Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer. (NOTE: quoted from the Authentic Edition, page numbers from the paperback edition)
YOU tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving; but as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to GOD, as their last end.
When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection, at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.
I believe one remedy for this is, to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before GOD. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before GOD, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the LORD. If it sometimes wander, and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that; trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind, than to re-collect it; the will must bring it back in tranquility; if you persevere in this manner, GOD will have pity on you.
One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of GOD; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.
I have told you already at large, in my former letters, of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of GOD: let us set about it seriously and pray for one another. (46-47)
Brother Lawrence eloquently points out that both in daily life and in prayer, focusing on God will allow us to live in His presence and better communicate with Him and control our thoughts. A good summation of Brother Lawrence's Eighth Letter is this:
"We must do everything with great care, avoiding impetuous actions, which are evidence of a disordered spirit. God wants us to work gently, calmly, and lovingly with Him, asking Him, asking Him to accept our work. By this continual attention to God, we will resist the devil and cause him to flee (James 4:7)." (61-62)
As we struggle with our thought lives, keep in mind that prayer and focus on Godly things allows us to "resist the devil and cause him to flee." When we are right in our thought life, we can better serve our Lord and neighbor and not be distracted from our calling to serve others and share the Gospel. It is OUR responsibility to work on our relationship with God and to deal appropriately with the thoughts that we have. No one else is responsible for your choice to entertain sin: not the movie that you watched, or the book that you read, or anything else that you expose yourself to. My favorite line in the Act of Contrition is, "I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen." I pray always, asking God to help me avoid these temptations. In doing so, I am taking responsibility for my thought life. It is time to stop blaming other people or things for our failures and accept the grace and strength Christ gave us to live out our lives in His presence.
I usually close with my own prayer, but I wanted to use a devotion from Joyce Meyer's book, Starting Your Day Right: Devotions.
October 20 - Temptation Isn't Sin
In the day when I called, You answered Me; and You strengthened me with strength (might and inflexibility to temptation) in my inner self. Psalm 138:3
Temptation to do wrong can make you feel horrible. You may think, I shouldn't be going through this; I shouldn't be having a problem with this. But God taught me that temptation isn't sin; we sin when we give into temptation.
The Bible says temptation will come. It doesn't say, "Woe unto him by whose hand it comes" (see Matthew 17:7). Jesus told us to pray that we would not give into temptation when we are tempted (see Luke 22:40).
Psalm 105:4 is a great way to start your day. It says, "Seek, inquire of and for the Lord, and crave Him and His strength (His might and inflexibility to temptation); seek and require His face and His presence [continually] evermore."
|You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.|
What's your theological world-view?
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I hope this clears up any doubt anyone may have about any of my spiritual intentions. :) The QuizFarm is ALWAYS right! :)
I am posting this because I wanted everyone to look at different views on the subject. I find his points realistic and practical, but at times, spiritually confining, depending on your call from God. There is a great amount of talk back to the article as well.
I make these comments because this individual makes me think, seriously think, about all the blessings that I have: good health, a good job, a good church, a wonderful family. With all this there are times I take it all for granted. During these times I slip, hear God's voice less, and begin to lose a little hope. I know that it is Satan, lying to me, trying to pull my from what Christ has called me to do with my life, but it happens, none the less.
I challenge us to take stock of the blessings that we have and hold true to our calling as servants of God. Stop all the grumbling, the bickering about religion, and come forth and be the unified Church that Christ calls us to be. Don't be afraid to step out and ask someone if you could pray for them, because Christ said in Mark 13:11-12:
"And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." (NIV)
Set that example yourself and maybe your example will start a grassroots growth in the Christian Church to let the world truly know what Jesus prayed to His Father for in John 17:20-23:
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (NKJV)
Note: I know that I am on the Christian Church Unity thing again, but I truly believe, if we get past the religion and the "manliness" of it all, we can be true to Christ's call for unity.
Heavenly Father, help me aways to see your belssings and not be ungrateful. Help me to step out of my shell and let others see that I am your child. Let me "preach the Gospel, and use words if I have to," because Lord, with all my heart and all my desire, I pray that we are one again some day and that my friend's special presence can be a light to everyone he/she comes in contact with. I thank you for my friend's prescence and mirror to my life, allowing me to see what I can do for You that I may not be doing already. I raise this prayer in Your Holy Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Old Testament Windows: Genisis 1:5, Exodus, The Law, Promise Land.
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The New Testament Windows: The Nativity, The Storm, Grace, the 6th Day.
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I have been thinking this through and praying about it. I want to make sure I finish the Spiritual Disciplines series, but I do not want to kill myself in the process. I will focus on getting at least one out a week over the next 4 weeks. During the week, I will hopefully post 3 to 4 scriptures musings....that sounds like a good description.
If you notice, on the upper left of the blog, there is an area called "READ IT." If you want to receive updates when I make postings, please sign up.
Hope everyone has a Blessed week!
Last night I went to Lakewood Church to see Joyce Meyer with my wife, one of her friends, and my daughter. Every time that I listen to Joyce, I realize how much the Lord is using her to spread His Good News. Every time I hear her story and the struggles that she overcame with the help of the Lord, I realize how much the Lord is using her to heal. Every time my wife listens to one of her sermons, she realizes how much her lessons speak to her.
Last night Joyce stressed the need to "Get out of the Boat." She called us all to trust in God. It seems that most of the people's Blogs that I currently read talk about that as well. She asked a poignant question, "Who here trusts the Lord so much, is so confident in their relationship with Christ, that they can drop everything that they have or think they need, and let God completely guide them?" You know what, in a crowd of almost 10,000 people, I could probably count how many people raised their hands on my own fingers. What does that tell us about ourselves as Christians? What did that say about me?
Meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (NKJV)I will challenge myself, as well as all Christians, to truly live this verse. Imagine where your life will go. Imagine the things that you can accomplish. Imagine trust and faith that allows you to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33). Imagine that you could move mountains (Matthew 17:14-20). Imagine eternity with Him who is Lord. All this by having faith "as small as a mustard seed."
Loving Father, You give us so many chances to come to You. You look for faith and trust and promise life eternal. Lord Jesus, help me to have faith that allows me to be the one that can raise my hand, drop it all, and follow You. I know there is a great fear in my heart because I cling to things of this world and I do not trust you as I should. Lord Jesus, please continue to speak to me and allow me to know your will in my life and have the faith to accept it. I ask this in Your loving name. Amen.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. (NIV)We can always can count on the Lord being consistent in His dealings with us. He is extremely slow to anger. Reading David's story of his relationship with Bathsheba, and the aftermath, shows how upset God was. God still considered David His anointed one. Why, because, even with David's faults, he still loved the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength, and all his mind. He trusted the Lord, and even though he made some extremely bad choices, he always strove to please God. God could have easily smited David, but through David's sincere repentance (Psalm 51), he was able to get back into the good graces of our Heavenly Father, not by works, but through his repentance. He was able to ask forgiveness and continue toward the greatness for which he was called because he knew that the Lord loved him, despite his sin. The Lord was "slow to anger and rich in kindness." Because the Lord knew that David had greatness within him, he gave David the opportunity to repent instead of destroying David and all that he had. David regained his favor with the Lord because God was consistent in dealing with David. He dealt with David as He has dealt with each of His children throughout eternity.
Ask yourself: Are you consistent in our relationships? Can your family and friends count on you to be there? Do they know how you will react to situations, or are you inconsistent and unpredictable? Practice consistency in every relationship that you have: family, friends, parents, neighbors, co-workers. When you fall, and we all do, meditate on Psalm 51 and consider what would have happened in David's life if God wasn't consistent. What great things can happen in your life if you are!
Father God, grant me the character, behavior, the desire to be consistent in my life. Help me to be especially consistent in my relationship with my daughter and wife. Let them know that I will be there for them. That I will love them. That they can count on me. I ask this in your holy and power name. Amen.
First off, sorry this took so long. As some of you may have read, I am coordinating the Financial Peace University at church, taking a Dads of Destiny class, which has a good amount of homework, and spending time with family. Somewhere in there, I do try to sleep. I know, everyone is busy, so I will stop whining.
Secondly, I started this post the other day, and went down a path that focused on where I came from when it comes to reading the Bible. I realized this was not about me and someone I respect, in not so many words, told me to "Keep it Simple Stupid." So I have started over, and here we go, simple, plain, yet definitive reasons to read the Bible daily. (Unfortunately, that does not mean it will be short.)
REASONS TO READ
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (NIV) Psalm 119:11
This is one of the quotes that is so commonly used to express the reason Christians should read the Bible. By reading the Bible daily, a Christian better understands what God has called them to do and with this knowledge, they can better live their lives in a manner that does not offend God.
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (NIV) 2 Peter 1:20-21
All scripture is inspired by God. Reading the Bible daily allows us to read God's actual instructions. He speaks to us on various topics: morality, cleanliness, history, wisdom. The Bible is from God and inspired through the Holy Spirit. It is God's truth for our lives and the lives of ALL men.
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?' Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (NIV) Romans 10:14-17
Reading the Bible daily allows God to touch the hearts of His children. When you better understand what you believe, when you read God's message directly, you are given the chance to respond to God's love. Once you hear the Good News, you have a choice to respond or not.
This may seem weird because there are some that will say, "Aren't those that read the Bible daily already Christian?" That is not necessarily true. Those reading the Bible may be doing it for school. Some read it at church before they have made a conscious decision to accept Christ's in their lives. Others read it from a Theological (the study of God) perspective. Whatever the reason for reading the Bible, you begin to learn, with every word, the love that God has for you.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. " (NIV) Hebrews 4:12
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV) 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Reading the Bible daily convicts our hearts, teaches our minds, and fills our spirits with the desire to follow God's will. Reading the Bible daily calls us to reflect on our lives. It calls us to reflect on not only what we are called to do, but to look at what we are NOT called to do. The Word is living, working in us, convicting us to shed our old skin and live the new lives that we have been so graciously blessed with as Christians.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (NKJV) Hebrews 5:12-14
"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance." (NKJV) Isaiah 55:2
The Word is food for God's children. Just as a child cannot grow without milk and food, neither can a Christian grow without the Word of God. Christianity is not stagnant. Each and every day of our lives we are challenged, tempted. Everything that we come against, God has a solution for and guides us, through in His Holy Word. Reading the Bible daily prepares us to successfully win these daily battles with Satan.
Reading the Bible guides us, feeds us, strengthens us, challenges us, convicts us, and comforts us. It is God's Holy Word that has been proclaimed throughout history. The Bible is a spiritual book for guidance and a historical book for understanding. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself as you grow as a Christian. Arm yourself with the knowledge of what you believe and fully take hold of the conversion that began in your heart. Help it be fulfilled in your mind through reading the Bible daily.
I would like to thank Patrick Coman and his sermon "Five Reasons to Read the Bible" for the basis of this post.