Getting Off the Treadmill

The only striving the Bible suggests that we partake in is to “strive to enter through the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24), to “always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16), and to “strive together in prayers to God” (Rom 15:30).

 

There is no other striving needed in our life once we come into the presence of the Lord. We cease from our labors and enter into the true Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 13:5).

 

If we “grab” or strive for more out of life, because of discontentment with what we have, God will withhold it from us – protecting us from the human penchant to set our affections on things pertaining to this earth.

 

However, when we sit contentedly at His feet, ready to receive whatever He thinks is best for us, God gives us all good things to enjoy. Our wants diminish, and having less makes us happier than acquiring more.

 

On the other hand, God may give us what we want, until we realize that the more we possess, the more it owns us. These physical assets are more responsibility without that much advantage.

 

Soon the obligation outweighs the benefit we were looking for in the first place. We grow tired of all the stuff and the duties they require; but we are stuck in the whirlwind we created – going around in circles and growing more desperate each day.

 

Once we realize that Jesus is all we really need, we grow more intimate with Him daily. We shed the shroud of material possessions and get off the treadmill of life. We stop striving and straining, and start enjoying His presence, His people, His provision and His blessings.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that walking in the center of Your will is the happiest place on earth. Draw us ever closer to Your presence in our life until You fill us to overflowing (Ephesians 3:16-19, Amplified Bible). Our relationship to You as our Redeemer, Friend, Savior and Brother draws us to spend more time seeking Your Kingdom than building our own.

 

Remind us that our right standing with You was accomplished by Jesus on the cross, and there is no striving needed on our part to fulfill Your will for our life. We do not work for or strain for a position in Your family, because You adopted us with all of the rights and privileges You gave to Your firstborn Son.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we realize that God has a preordained design for our life, we walk in it (Ephesians 2:10); and His peace floods our thoughts, emotions and plans, allowing us to realize that He gives us all good things to enjoy.

 

 

 

Improving our Quality of Life

We clutter our life by collecting more than we need and things we rarely use. This lack of order effects our soul and spirit as well. We feel confusion within and are troubled by negative emotions because of the chaos.

 

A good rule to follow to prevent this malady is to make sure everything you purchase has a place and to keep everything in its place. Material possessions do not make us any happier and often contribute to our depression when they irritate us with clutter.

 

Keep each room sparsely furnished and make sure you have enough drawers, cabinets, closets and shelves to keep everything organized. If not, give it away to a friend or a charity thrift store.

 

This makes cleaning easier and more attractive to our soul, because we do not have to push the clutter around in order to dust or clean the floors. Seeking material possessions never really makes us happy.

 

We also feel more out of control if we reap too much debt in response to our spending. We tend to feel like a victim and ignore our personal responsibility in our problems.

 

Investing our life and finances in people, ministry and furthering God’s Kingdom is much more rewarding then spending it on more possessions. Mingling with our church family keeps us aware of their circumstances and burdens that we can help to relieve.

 

Prayer:

Father God, giving is a tradition during more than the Christmas season. Your generosity and love are ours all year around; and as we share them with others, we put a smile on every face, including our own.

 

Revive our Spirit within us (Psalm 51:10) with Your wisdom, love, peace and joy all through the year. Make us an instrument of Your love and a channel for Your peace on earth and in the hearts of others throughout our lifetime.

 

Thought for the Day:

Surrendering our budget, activities, thoughts and feelings to the Lord will keep us in a positive mood, which attracts more friends and improves our influence over our own life and the ministries in which we participate with our church family and in our community.

 

 

The Body of Christ – Safety in Numbers

As the body of Christ, we stick together, no matter where we live or how many miles separate us. We can stay connected through social media, even though we rarely see one another face-to-face.

 

In nature, it is the animal that wanders from the safety of the herd that gets attacked by a predator. Satan uses this same tactic on Believers. He finds us wandering alone and pounces (1 Peter 5:8).

 

God created Eve, because He saw that Adam suffered when he was alone. He also created us as His Body, because there is safety, encouragement and blessings when we dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).

 

Without the Body of Christ we get lonely, roam from the straight and narrow path, and make poor choices. Alone, we are vulnerable, but a three-fold chord cannot be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The Body loves us and helps to protect us.

 

When we yoke with Jesus and other Believers, our load is lighter and we help each other with our burden of guilt, trials and storms in life. Our perspective is broadened by seeing things from another’s point of view.

 

Even Jesus chose 12 men to disciple and to keep Him company during His three years of focused ministry on His way to the cross. Daily, they walked together, healed the sick and reclaimed people from the devil’s kingdom of darkness.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to lay down our pride, to take the risks of being vulnerable which are inherent in relationships, and to encourage one another. Remind us that a best friend and prayer partner help us to diffuse our negative feelings and experiences, because they give us someone with which to share our burdens.

 

Friendships can be messy and cause problems in our life, but life is enhanced by transparent relationships, regardless of the ups and downs they may create. Thank You that You are our closest friend and that You always stick closer to us than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus knew the value of walking together with other Saints, although many turned against Him or deserted Him in the final hours of His life on this earth; He chose to live vulnerably in front of both the multitudes and His disciples.

My Soul Waits for the Lord

Jesus fills the hungry soul with His life, peace and joy. What is our soul? It is one entity in our triune make-up: our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul is our thoughts, feelings and choices.

 

One word for soul in the Bible is ”pxyxe” and means to breathe, or to blow. God breathed His breath of life into us and our soul was born. We get our words psyche, psychology, etc. from this root word. The soul is our personality, our identity as an individual.

 

God justifies us in our spirit through salvation; He will glorify our body with immortality when we see Jesus face-to-face; but He sanctifies our soul in a life-long process to make us as holy as He is holy.

 

If we earnestly seek the Lord with our whole heart and soul, we shall find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 22:37). We thirst for Him in this desert of life; we long for Him with our entire being (Psalm 63:1).

 

If we do not seek Him, we may gain the whole world, but we will lose our soul to the fires of hell throughout eternity (John 3:18: Matthew 16:26). The better choice is to search for an intimate union with God with the entire focus of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

God created us as an awesome and wonderfully made body, soul and spirit and placed our soul in our innermost being. We find true rest for our soul in God through salvation (Psalm 62:1; Jeremiah 6:16).

 

When our soul is depressed and disturbed within us, we can put our hope in God, praising Him in the good times and the bad (Psalm 42:11). He works out even the most horrific details of our life for our good (Romans 8:28).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You created us so that we prosper in life in the same manner that our soul prospers (3 John 1:2). If our soul is overwhelmed and depressed, it affects our body and spirit as well. Help us to see that we will prosper only as we love You foremost in our heart, walk in obedience to Your precepts, keep Your commandments, hold fast to You and serve You with our whole heart and soul (Joshua 22:5).

 

We praise Your holy name from our innermost being, because You have delivered us from the destructive pathway of sin (Psalm 71:23, 103:1). Our whole being waits for You, and our hope is based on Your Word (Psalm 130:5). Your encouragement of us is sweeter than a honeycomb, feeds our soul and heals our body (Proverbs 16:24).

 

Thought for the Day:

In our final days on this earth, we will clearly see that God did not fail to deliver any of His promises to us; if we appreciate all that He does for us now and walk only in His will, we will reap the benefits of an eternal life blessed by His love. – Joshua 23:14

 

A Good Marriage – Common Ground

Winning is not the ultimate prize of life; it is the manner in which we finish the race that counts the most. It is often the last straggler across the finish line that receives the most attention, because they persevered to the very end.

 

Winning an argument is not necessary to feel validated either. We can concede that we are wrong, if indeed we are, without any shame or recrimination.

 

We have a viewpoint that differs from our employer’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, child’s, parent’s or spouse’s perspective; but no less right or wrong than theirs.

 

There is nothing heroic about destroying a marriage, because we soon realize that we were acting as pawns on Satan’s game board, playing right into his hands and wreaking havoc for generations to come.

 

If both parties in a disagreement are willing to bear with one another and to lay our life down for each other, there is always a way to peacefully resolve all issues and to avoid fighting and drama.

 

Neither of us is the enemy, we are simply fellow sojourners in this life with equal rights and privileges in the family of God. Quickly apologizing from the heart for any hurt we cause during a disagreement goes a long way in keeping unity in our relations.

 

Repairing our relationships is so much more mature than rending them in half and going our separate ways – leaving a trail of broken hearts and lives behind us. A trained counselor can help us to negotiate our differences.

 

Seeking wisdom from God’s Word and His Spirit during times of prayer can also help us to breach any gaps in our unity. We negotiate until we find common ground on which to stand.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You remind us not to separate what You bind together. You admonish us not to break any vow that we make, but to honor our commitment to one another with charity, patience and kindness. You want us to work together to find an equitable solution to any conflicts in our marriage, as well as in our affiliations at work and in Your Body.

 

Give us Your wisdom to maintain peace and to show Your agape love to those who wound us; to turn the other cheeks and to bear with one another’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. Give us patience to love one another as Christ loves the church; so we can represent living sacrifices as a testimony to an unbelieving world.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is nothing heroic in winning at the cost of someone else’s expense; but in laying down our life and serving one another with the love of our Father toward us.

 

Surrendering to God’s Will

We can develop habits over time to create more joy in our life and to eliminate depression and melancholy. However, it takes a change of focus and total submission to God’s Holy Spirit.

 

Many people live in the realm of “what ifs” and/or wanting what they do not have. They think that happiness will finally arrive when they accomplish their bucket list.

 

We allow circumstances to color our thoughts and feelings, which may diminish our joy. We wait for God to answer our prayers rather than to enjoy the life, which He already provided for us.

 

His peace and joy are available for us each moment of the day and do not depend on circumstances. It is possible to live in an economically depressed area with impoverished circumstances and still have total peace and joy.
There is no guarantee that we will live to see the next moment in time; so focusing on having possessions or certain people in our life will reduce our peace and joy.

 

Without surrendering our will to God’s will each moment of the day, we hinder our effectiveness both in life and in our spiritual growth and ministry.

 

Once we repent of our sins and recognize Jesus as our only Savior and King, the very life of Christ saturates our entire body, soul and spirit. As His Spirit sanctifies us, we see more spiritual fruit and less of a draw from our flesh, Satan and the world.

 

The most critical exercise we can do as a baby Christian is to surrender our will to God’s will. Even as older Christians, if we never surrendered, it is time to do so now.

 

When we totally surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our life, we feel less and less tension and stress, and more and more of His rest, peace and joy.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we tend to regret the past and fear the future. We spend so much time focusing in these two directions that we waste the current moment. This moment in time is all that You guarantee us.

 

You forgave our past, and it is over and forgiven. We just have to remember to forgive our self too. Remind us that once we do surrender to You, Your Spirit begins replacing our negative personality traits with His spiritual fruit and You flood our spirit and soul with Your love.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our future is in God’s capable hands; therefore, trusting God in the moment provides us with a stress-free life.

 

 

 

Living in the Moment

When we fail to live “in the moment”, our soul becomes so burdened with anxiety that we can become physically and emotionally ill.

 

When we do succeed in living in the present moment, and become fully attentive to everyday life as we live it, we find joy in the gifts, which God provides. We begin erupting into spontaneous praise to God throughout the day.

 

Living in the present moment also keeps us from taking life for granted. We find joy in the blessings God sends our way. We start to notice the feelings within our soul – our mind, will and emotions – and learn how to respond to and influence them.

 

Praying without ceasing for God’s direction each moment of the day allows the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our steps. We can follow His advice to accomplish God’s will in each moment (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

If God is interested in what we eat and drink (1 Corinthians 10: 31), He is certainly also interested in what we do and when we do it, even if it’s what to fix for dinner.

 

Prayer:

Father God, the Serenity Prayer teaches us that we can hear Your desire for every situation in our life. Then we can deal with the circumstance or put it in Your hands before we go on to the next moment. This way we experience each moment fully and deliberately with thought, prayer and purpose.

 

Help us to discern when we can do something about our circumstances, and how to do it. Of if we cannot influence our circumstances, then to place the outcome in Your capable hands. Help us to really give them to You, Father, and not to take back the worry and responsibility of them; and then to go about our day with Your direction and peace that exceeds all human reasoning and understanding.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we finish one task, we pray about what to do next, and follow the advice of the Serenity Prayer:

 

“Father, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

 

Not of This World

Our God is so awesome, mighty in power, gentle in mercy, constant in grace, consuming in His love for us and faithful beyond measure. We can trust in Him with our whole heart and depend on His intimate involvement in our life.

 

God never, ever leaves or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). His three personalities are all-encompassing (Isaiah 7:14; John 10:29; Matthew 12:32). God is our Creator and Heavenly Daddy; Jesus is the Trinity in the flesh who died on the cross to exhibit the Father’s love; the Spirit promotes Jesus and His words (John 3::8, 14:6, 26; Luke 24:49; Acts 16:7).

 

Through believing on Jesus we are constructed into the temple of the entire godhead of the Trinity (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 12:13). The Trinity is our Father, our Brother and our continual comfort and guide (Mark 1:10-11).

 

The Trinity’s presence in our life nourishes us to grow in godliness, to consecrate our life to Him and to do the work He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The Trinity draws us into unity with the Godhead (John 6:44, 10:30, 14:10-13).

 

We are raised from sin’s degradation to walk in a new life in order to share in the glory of the Trinity through a consecrated and holy life (John 17:22; Romans 8:11). We let His light in us shine, so that people look at us and are drawn to believe in and trust in the Trinity for their salvation as well.

 

Vacation homes, worldly hobbies, time shares, multiple cruises in a year, smart phones for every family member, TVs in every room, expensive clothing stores, excessive clothing accessories and jewels, a car for every driver in the family, etc. keep us in bondage to this world and limit our participation in activities that promote the Kingdom of God.

 

We are not of this world, we do not rely on our human nature or characteristics, and we do not develop plans and goals for this life. We only live here to build up the Kingdom of God while it is still day, because the night is coming when no one may get saved (John 9:4).

 

Prayer:

Father God, break our heart with what breaks Yours, give us a Kingdom mind and focus in this life and make the fact that we are not of this world a reality in our life (Romans 12:2; John 17:16). Help us to stop focusing on building our nest in this world and to change our attention to furthering Your Kingdom.

 

Remind us that Christ is our whole life and that we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us (Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 2:20). Draw us into a more intimate relationship with You, so that we are not sidetracked by the lies and schemes of the devil to get our focus on this world rather than on Your Kingdom.

 

Thought for the Day:

We develop a Kingdom mindset and allow God’s Spirit to draw our attention to the presence of God within us, which is our only true source of comfort and joy, rather than on the riches and trappings of this world.

 

 

A Good Marriage – The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine

Over the years of marriage, we recognize who our partner is and what they are not. We also develop a better understanding of our self and why we respond to people and events the way we do.

 

We come to identify what triggers negative reactions in one another, so we can avoid these issues whenever possible. We make concentrated efforts on working together to find mutually acceptable plans when our original personal preferences conflict.

 

We also fearlessly attack our personal issues and give the Holy Spirit full reign in our life, so that He can transform us with the mind of Christ. One way to recognize our faults is to pay attention to what our spouse complains about – do we procrastinate, withhold affection, watch too much TV, neglect to help one another with projects or daily chores?

 

Small adjustments in our schedule or habits will make a big difference in marital bliss and harmony. We can learn one another’s love language and show each other love in ways that will fulfill our mate’s needs and allow them to feel nurtured and cherished.

 

This will erase the small irritations which eventually erupt into major disharmony – the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Do we expect too much from one another, forgetting that we are only human?

 

Do we greet one another as we would our best friend, or do we take one another for granted? We all appreciate being greeted with enthusiasm as someone who is highly cherished.

 

Do we agree to disagree or do we always feel like we are right and our partner is wrong? Do we need to have the last word, or do we stop talking when we have made our point?

 

No one like to live with condemnation, condescension, griping or constant belittlement. It is so good and pleasant when we dwell together in harmony (Psalm 133:1). This unity draws us closer to one another and makes us want to spend more time together.

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to recap once we calm down after a disagreement. Help us to honestly relate how we felt during the “fight” and what thoughts were going through our mind that we did not take the time to articulate. These thoughts fueled our emotional response during our discussion, and our spouse deserves to understand why we reacted as we did to their comment, behavior or reply.

 

Remind us to seek You in all of our decisions and discussions; not to rely on our own understanding, but to allow You to direction our thoughts, words and actions. Help us to be led by Your Spirit rather than to react in our flesh; but if we do act carnally, encourage us to ask for forgiveness from one another and to calmly discuss the situation until we find an equitable solution.

 

Thought for the Day:

Looking into each other’s eyes during a discussion enables us to see within the windows of each other’s soul; speaking honestly about how our partner’s words and actions make us feel will help us to understand one another better too and to make our interactions more intimate and productive. – Matthew 6:22-23

 

The Tyranny of Control

“Control Freaks” develop this habit out of fear and a desire to stay safe. They were deeply wounded at one time by physical, verbal and mental abuse. They were not given a “say-so” in the decisions made that affected their life.

 

Therefore, they decided to take control as soon as they got older. Now they are hyper-vigilant and over-reacting in their approach to life. They believe that “their” way is the only safe way; and therefore, the best way to do things and to make decisions.

 

They vehemently fight against anyone or thing that threatens their carefully choreographed routine in life. They hide behind anger in order to stay in control and to feel safe.

 

Most wounded people will adopt a mindset of attempting to control everything about the people in their life too – even when another’s decisions have no real effect on their life.

 

Our only hope of salvation from this demonic plague of fear, self-preservation and control is to realize that God has a perfect plan for our life. No matter what terrors we experience, God is with us in the midst of them, and worthy of all of our praise.

 

We can trust God with our life. No matter what terrors we experience, God is with us in the midst of them. His presence sustains us and provides for us. He is worthy of all of our praise.

 

With our confidence in God’s faithfulness, we speak up only when someone’s decision has an immediate bearing on our life, and we allow others reap the consequences of their own decisions. We mind our own business and pray for others.

 

We have our confidence in God alone, and that gives us peace and calm regardless of circumstances. We never insist on our own way, but we do insist on finding a Plan C when we and the significant people in our life cannot agree on their Plan A or our Plan B.

 

If they are unwilling to compromise their plans with us, then we give them the freedom to make their decisions; but then we prayerfully and calmly make our own decisions in order to keep our self safe from reaping the consequences of their decisions.

 

God has a perfect will for our life. We find it by praying without ceasing; we walk in it by walking in the Spirit, so we do not succumb to the idiosyncrasies and neurosis of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25); and then, we reap the rewards of a life, which is faithful to His love and His will.

 

Prayer:

Father God, it is not natural for us humans to obey You or to rely on You from the depth of our heart. Our emotions are fickle and shallow at best. Yet, if we obey Your Biblical mandates, we prove that we love You and are willing to walk in Your ways.

 

If we surrender our will, desires, dreams and goals to Your Spirit’s direction, and live in Your will each moment of our day, we live a fulfilled, spiritual and successful life. We will prosper mentally, emotionally, financially and physically as well (John 14:15).

 

Thought for the Day:

There is healing from this unresolved trauma in the presence of God and our Savior Jesus Christ; this world is dysfunctional and trials are inescapable, but surrendering the pain of the past to the Trinity for healing is the only way to get completely free from its tyranny in our life.