A Fork in the Road

Many times in life we come across a fork in the road. We have a choice to make – which way to go. We often make a pro and con list that will give us a bird’s eye view of how we feel about the situation.

 

We tend to rely on our human reasoning to make the decision, which is often heavily influenced by our desires, insistence or manipulation from another person, the world’s philosophy or Satan’s manipulative lies (James 1:14)

 

We forget the good advice from God’s Word that exhorts us to do His will each moment of our day (Proverbs 3:5-6). We tend to pay more attention to our own desires, much to our detriment, and to go our own way, directed by our self-centered goals and using our God-given talents for our own purposes.

 

Even if we have carnal success in our endeavors, we are never really satisfied. Our victories are hollow and our joy is fleeting. God has a perfect will for us in this decision, and it benefits us to pay attention to His Spirit’s direction (Galatians 5:15-25).

 

Living in the center of God’s will is the happiest place on earth. We may falter at first as we are learning to discern His still, small voice within us (1 Kings 19:11-13). If we get discouraged and give up, Satan wins yet another spiritual battle in our life.

 

We may make a few mistakes as we learn the difference between His thoughts and the many other voices in our mind. Yet, once we make a habit of walking in God’s Spirit, we learn to differentiate it from our own thoughts by the peace or unrest in our spirit.

 

Regardless of our faltering attempts, repentance restores our connection to God’s Spirit and God hears our call of dependence on Him and honors our faith.

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to pay attention to the direction of Your Spirit every moment of our life. Do not allow us to wander from the straight and narrow road that You designed for our success and protection. Help us to resist the temptation to rebel against or to ignore Your voice, to compromise our spiritual convictions or to disobey Your Word.

 

Keep us from the allurement of our flesh, the devil and the world to do our own thing, to strive to reach our own goals and to seek the glittering rewards offered to us if we will stray from Your will for our life. This broad road always leads to destruction of our body, soul and spirit. We make a commitment to depend only on You, and we give You all of our love and allegiance, as we totally surrender to Your will for our life.

Thought for the Day:

Heeding the promptings of God’s Spirit throughout our day will help us to prosper in body, soul and spirit and to find true fulfillment and peace that comes only from living in the center of God’s will.

 

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual warfare is a very real issue and continually goes on all around us. It all started when Satan rebelled against God and tricked Adam and Eve into giving him the dominion of the earth.

 

This warfare is not in the earthly realm, but in that which is not seen, except by the Spirit of God within us. That is why so much of God’s Word warns us to keep watch and to be vigilant about the roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9).

 

Satan wages war against the Saints of God. It is personal and it is in our face, even when we do not realize it. Satan loves to whispers lies to our soul – our mind and emotions; and he rejoices when we buy into them, and they affect our choices and relationships. Especially if we sell out on Jesus.

 

Our whole body, soul and spirit are effected by the pollution of the devil’s lies; and we usually do not even know we believe them or that many of his fabrications are buried deep within our subconscious mind.

 

God gives us His Body to rely on, because two are always better than one. If one of us falls, the rest are alert and come by our side to help us up. When we add God’s presence and Spirit into the union, we have a three-fold cord that is not easily broken.

 

God also gives us a supportive mate if we are wise enough to wait on His timing and way, and not to rush into a relationship or rebound from a former one into one that is much worse (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

 

The good news is that Christ in us is stronger than Satan and his dominion in the earth (1 John 4:4). Jesus gives us strength, wisdom and spiritual discernment; and He protects us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

 

We reign victoriously over Satan influence in our life. Once we recognize his penchant for lies, we can resist them and walk in God’s truth – unaffected by any demonic influence.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are so amazed to realize that Your Body is worldwide. Authentic Believers of every tongue, nation and tribe are our spiritual brethren; and we will spend eternity with You and with one another. How privileged we are to be counted among Your Saints; that You know us and that we know You. Thank You for taking on a human form and dying in our place, so that we can live to serve You.

 

You satisfy us each new morning with your steadfast love, and we sing for joy because You chose us before the foundation of the world to dwell in You and for You to abide in us (Psalm 90:1). Let each of us in Your Body dwell together in unity and fulfill the ministry for which You called us; so that Your Body will not be maimed and halt by spiritual warfare, but whole, vibrant and a force to be reckoned with in the spiritual world (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

 

Thought for the Day:

The Trinity is our Creator, Savior, King and Guide, and we long for Him as a wanderer who is eagerly seeks out water in an arid, parched land. His love for us is better than life, and Christ is our whole life; therefore, we lift up our hands and sing with our lips in praise for His glory. – Psalm 63:1-5

 

 

Contentment with Godliness

Discontentment is reaching a world-wide plague in today’s society. We are rarely satisfied with our self, each other, our church, our job, etc. We live with extreme stress most days in many areas of our life.

 

Yet, God Word exhorts us that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6-7). Learning to live in contentment is a difficult task for most people.

 

Some carry it too far and end up apathetic with little motivation or passion for life at all (Amos 6:1). However, striving for more possessions, a better job, a new home or car, etc. may cause contention between us and those in life about whom we should care the most.

 

Living at peace with everyone is sometimes hard to do, but it does bring a measure of contentment to our life (Romans 12:18). We cease from our carnal labors and enter into God’s Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9).

 

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).

 

If we “grab” or strive for more out of life, because of discontentment with what we have, God will withhold them from us. However, when we sit contentedly at His feet, ready to receive whatever He thinks is best for us, He gives us all good things to enjoy (James 1:17).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You promised to give us our daily bread and all that we need to survive in this natural world. You clothed the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26-34), and we thank You for providing for us just as richly. We trust in Your goodness and we marvel at Your abundant mercy and grace toward us.

 

We strive for unity with You each moment of the day and then we enter into Your rest and receive Your provision for us of every good thing that we need. We want to be led by Your Holy Spirit and to live in contentment, rather than to strive for more of this world.

 

Thought for the Day:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”.

-1 Corinthians 2:9

 

 

A Good Marriage – A Softened Heart

Over the years of most marriages, the little foxes of neglect, abuse and broken promises mount up in our mind. They cause resentment, anger and bitterness. Then, bitterness defiles the whole relationship (Hebrews 12:15).

 

We harden our heart toward one another to prevent further hurt. We find more and more excuses to work longer hours, join one more club or get involved in one more civic or charitable event in order to avoid each other.

 

We ignore one another; we stop doing the little things that nurture our relationship; we answer each other in crisp, formal tones rather than with cherishing looks and words. We grow impatient with each other’s idiosyncrasies and habits and mumble under our breath or start to disparage and nag each other.

 

The breakdown of our relationship actually started on our wedding day, or possibly during the wedding planning stage. We did not realize how hard marriage is – the blending of two lives, two sets of goals and expectations, and two needs for support and fulfillment.

 

It takes time and effort to open our individual schedules to include each other fulltime. We take each other for granted. We stop dating, we stop focusing our attention on one another, and we stop listening or caring about our spouse’s needs.

 

When children come along, we neglect each other even more; we lose patience when the babies demand more of our spouse’s time and attention than they give to us. We often disagree on disciplining methods and parenting styles.

 

A destination for the family vacation may also cause major disagreements, turmoil and disappointment. We may not enjoy spending time with our mate’s parents, but are forced to spend every vacation with them or have them come visit and stay in our home for prolonged periods of time.

 

We forget that we are both human with limitations and physical and emotional needs. All is not hopeless, however; we can soften our heart toward each other and humbly apologize for our part in the stalemate between us. Then, we continue repairing our relationship by caring about one another again as we stop disdaining and losing patience with one another.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us to prefer one another and to make it our habit and goal to bless each other regardless of our feelings. The heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:-10), and it cannot be trusted. Help us to see love as an action, rather than as a feeling. Seeking You together is the only way to remedy this challenging chasm between us, caused by the wounds of our relationship.

 

Help us to make time in our busy schedules to communicate with each other. Teach us to honestly, but lovingly share our feelings and needs and to really listen to and care about one another. As we forgive and look past our differences, show us how to appreciate each other and to prefer one another. Remind us to connect with the person we fell in love with and to rekindle the spark that drew us together.

 

Thought for the Day:

God gave us to each other, with all of our differences, failings and shortcomings in order to find help for our weaknesses and support from one another’s strengths. Our mate is His gift to us, and He reminds us that we are friends and not enemies; we can change our focus, let go of bitterness and appreciate and cherish each other.

Freedom in Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the hardest practices humans employ; yet, it is one of the healthiest and freeing disciplines that we can utilize. If we do not forgive, then God cannot forgive us (Matthew 6:14).

 

We cannot control other people or the circumstances of our life, so unforgiveness simply feeds the negative emotions within us. This affects our body, soul and spirit. It pollutes our soul with resentment, bitterness and anger; dwarfs our spiritual maturity; and makes our body sick.

 

Unfortunately, bitterness will defile our whole life. It destroys marriages, affects our children and causes our body to succumb to every illness drifting through the air. It even influences our other thoughts, our body language and our physical and emotional attractiveness.

 

We feel that if we forgive the perpetrator, we free them from the debt they owe us for our pain; but if we continue to nurse unforgiveness towards the perpetrator, this somehow affects them. They are usually oblivious of their guilt and our feelings have no effect on them, but are detrimental to us.

 

Bible truth advises us that turning our woundedness over to God allows Him to avenge us (Romans 12:19). He is much more skilled at this then we are; so it just makes sense to surrender retribution and our pain to Him.

 

Forgiving our self is undoubtedly even more difficult than forgiving other people. We carry shame around with us and beat our self up with it each time we remember the incident.

 

So, how do we achieve the freedom that forgiveness carries with it? We can takes some time to analyze the situation. Are we blowing it out of proportion in our mind, do we honestly feel that they meant to hurt us with their words or behavior, did they maliciously attack us for no reason?

 

Having a civil and honest conversation with the person may actually resolve the conflict. Even if they do not respond contritely or if they escalate the problem by abusing us further, this will remove the root of bitterness in our soul caused by the former episode and we can more easily turn the matter over to God.

 

Prayer:

Father God, surrendering the incident and the pain to You will diminish the memory of it and give us more clarity of thought concerning the wounds we feel. Teach us that by conversing with our offender, we can make them more aware of how their words and actions make us feel and this may discourage them from repeating the behavior in the future. If they fall back into this wounding behavior, help us to erect boundaries that will help us not to take their behavior personally and will limit the amount of time we spend with them.

 

Jesus suffered similar events in His life and He always chose to forgive. Help us to follow His example of loving our enemies and blessing those who despitefully use us (Luke 6:28). Your opinion of us is far more important in our life than the words and actions of other people. You are our good, good Father, and You love us beyond words.

 

Thought for the Day:

It is easy to collect the negative emotions associated with grievances in our relationships; yet, forgiving frees us from the negative effects they would otherwise have on our relationship as well as on our own body, soul and spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing and Loving God

God created human beings to hunger for cherished relationships with each other and with Him. Intimacy is one of the key ingredients for this successful connection.

 

We can know about one another and about God in a superficial sense that does not involve romance or the heart. “Knowing” in its simplest form only involves a head knowledge.

 

In contrast, in the garden the first couple experienced a deep, close unity and fellowship with God and with one another. They enjoyed an unfathomable friendship, a kinship of belonging to God and each other.

 

As our Father God, our Bridegroom and our Good Shepherd, the Trinity cares for all of our intimacy needs. We trust God with our life and we look to Him to provide for all of our essential aspects of life.

 

As a couple, we experience a union of one flesh; as authentic Christians we enjoy a state of oneness with the Trinity that is similar to that which Jesus enjoyed with our Father and His Spirit.

 

Intimacy does not occur automatically. It takes focus, planning and purposeful time spent in each other’s presence. We make the time in our busy life to spend quality time with both God and our spouse.

 

We even make space in our schedule for us and our spouse to spend time together with God. We share in times of being led by God’s Spirit. We thrill at these special moments of intimacy with God both singly and as a couple.

 

We rejoice with each other as we experience divine appointments together and as individuals. We encourage one another to walk in the Spirit and not to rely on our flesh and human reason in making decisions and in our daily walk through life.

 

Rather than living by our human skill and superficial wisdom, we individually, and as a couple acknowledge God and seek His will for us in each moment of every day (Proverb 3:5-6). We love God with our whole body, soul and spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us to spend large amounts of our time seeking more intimacy with You and getting to know You more deeply than ever before. Help us to make our time with You and our spouse as the focus of our purpose in life. We put our service in Your Kingdom, our career, our extended family, our vocation, our hobbies, etc. as lesser priorities when compared to spending quality time as Your child and as a spouse.

 

Help us to communicate to You and our spouse that we value our relationship with both of You as the most important relationships that we enjoy in this life. Teach us that when we get our priorities lined up with Your Word, we enjoy more serenity, success and fulfillment than we ever thought possible on this side of heaven.

 

Thought for the Day:

True Love is more of an action than a feeling; and as long as we have breath, we can serve one another and God with His agape, unconditional love.

 

 

God in Our Heart Break and Disappointment

When we trust in people, we invariably feel disappointed at one time or another. People are human and cannot meet our expectations all of the time, nor can they meet all of our needs.

 

At times, we even feel like God let us down. He allows an illness, a death, a separation, a heartbreak, etc., that we counted on Him to prevent. These issues traumatize and radically change our life, and we blame God.

 

These two truths cause us to build walls around our heart to prevent future hurt. We attempt to control life in order to keep more trauma from entering our sphere of the world.

 

This ends up thwarting God’s ultimate plan for our life. We stubbornly dig in our heels and refuse to allow Him to budge us into the way, which He knows is in our best interest (Hebrews 4:15).

 

We live in a downward spiral, getting dizzier by the moment, because in our human understanding, we lack God’s wisdom concerning our future. Yet, through our times of rebellion and protective maneuvering, God sees us and calls us to yoke up with Him (Genesis 16:13).

 

He encourages us to place all of our burdens on Him, because He really does deeply care about every facet of what we are facing each moment of every day; and to take His yoke upon us, which is light, rather than the yoke of our own making, which is heavy and overwhelming (1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 11:29).

 

God puts us in His Body to offer us companionship and encouragement during our times of trial (Hebrews 3:13). We point one another to Christ and His truth, exhorting each other to keep from wallowing in self-pity and self-centeredness.

 

We are never really alone in our suffering and trials. God abides in us and walks with us through every one of them – even those we cause by our attitude or behavior. He shines His light in our darkness (Ephesians 1:18).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us to give testimony of times when we forgave others for letting us down and You forgave us and showered our life with Your blessings (Matthew 6:14). Jesus is our divine example of forgiveness as He hung on Calvary’s cross and looked down on His persecutors (Luke 23:34; Hebrews 12:3).

 

As we mature spiritually, we learn that the devil constantly seeks to devour Your Saints and to sidetrack us or derail us from following hard after You (1 Peter 5:8-9). Help us to see the need to walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15-20), alert and present in each moment of time, because of spiritual warfare that rages all around us (Daniel 10:13).

 

Thought for the Day:

When our burdens are overwhelming, and Satan is working overtime to discourage us, the encouragement and sympathy from our fellow members of Christ’s Body will go a long way to affirm that “this too shall pass” and that we can persevere through the ability and power of Christ in us.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Philippians 4:13