Archive | October 2019

John 15:5

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John 15 ““I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” ‭John‬ ‭15:1-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Father, we praise You for Your holiness and goodness. You are so invested in our lives, desiring that we are holy, producing the good fruit of righteousness. This fruit comes from you. It’s the godly character produced as a result of remaining connected to You. Our lives are so cluttered with sin, so we thank You for pruning us to remove anything that does not resemble Christ’s character. Pruning may not be pleasant, but we know it is necessary. Help us to remain connected to You daily through reading Your word. Remind us throughout our days what we have learned. Bring back to our minds the verses we have committed to memory. Use Your words to change our speech, thoughts, and attitudes. Burn up all ungodliness. Help us to let go of anything that is useless. May we desire to remain under Your protection and not wander off on our own. May the world see You living through us.

How to Pray, Part 2

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Today I want to go over praying God’s word, what that looks like, and how to apply this technique to your prayer time.  When we pray using the Word of God, we are praying His words back to Him.  Essentially we are praying His will.  When Jesus prayed what is known as The Lord’s Prayer, He prayed “Thy will be done”.  Praying using Bible verses is something that I do often.  I use prayers that others have written, and I have created numerous ones myself.

Colossians 1:9-14 are great verses to pray over yourself and family members.

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

When praying through these verses, your prayer may look something like this:

Father, I come to You thanking You for my family.  I continuously ask that You would fill them with the knowledge of Your will for their lives, giving them Your wisdom and understanding for each decision they make.  May they live their lives pleasing You, not grieving Your Holy Spirit.  May they produce the fruit of the Spirit in everything they do: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  May this fruit overflow abundantly in their lives producing the righteous character of Christ.  Please strengthen them with Your power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  May they experience Your endurance and patience in all trials.  Help them to learn to give You thanks in all things, for this is Your will for all of Your children.  I thank You for preparing for them an inheritance in Your Heavenly Kingdom.  Please help them live as children of Light.  Thank You for rescuing them from the dominion of darkness and transferring them to the Kingdom of the Son whom You love, through whom we have redemption and forgiveness of our sins.

What a powerful prayer!  I am sure you will want to pray this often for yourself and family.

There are so many things we can pray over using God’s Word.  I have an entire binder full of scripture prayers that I use daily.  Do you need to pray for your children to be obedient?  Whether they like it or not, may _____ obey the Lord their God so that everything will turn out well for them, Jeremiah 42:6.  May _____ obey their parents because they belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do, Ephesians 6:1.  You can pray that your children will have hearts that desire to obey their teachers, coaches, law enforcement, parents of their friends.  God desires for our children to be obedient.  This is definitely praying according to His Will.

Another topic to pray over is our words.  There are so many verses to use that will purify our speech and make us aware of our word choices.  Psalm 19:14 is a great place to start. “May the words of our mouths, and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to You, Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.”  Pray this one often.  Every day.  For everyone you know.  We can pray that we will not enter into arguments using 2 Timothy 2:23-24.  Father, I pray that _____ will not get involved with foolish arguments that produce fights.  As a follower of Christ, we know that we need to stay away from foolishly quarreling with each other.  Please help _____ to be kind to everyone they interact with.  Help _____ to be able to teach others how to handle controversy in a godly way.  Help _____ to be patient, especially with difficult people.

And of course, we can use God’s Word to petition Him for salvation on behalf of those we love.  May _____’s name be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, Revelation 21:27.  May _____ openly declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.  May they receive eternal salvation, Romans 10:9.  And my favorite, Colossians 1:13:  Father, deliver _____ from the kingdom of darkness and transfer them into Your Kingdom of Light.  We pray Acts 26:18 in Moms in Prayer:  Open _____’s eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus.

Praying using the Word of God is powerful.  In future posts I will share more ideas for turning Bible verses into prayers.

How to Pray, Part 1

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Praying is a gift from our Heavenly Father to His children.  It is a way of communication with the Almighty God.  We learn who He is and what He desires for our lives by talking with Him.  As you grow and mature in your walk with God, I hope you will seek to develop a consistent prayer life.  What does prayer look like and how do we even start?  I have several ways that I like to pray, depending on what is going on in my life and the lives of my family and friends.  But one thing that remains consistent is praying according to a format I learned in Moms in Prayer.  There are four parts that are all designed to bring us into God’s presence with holy hands and a right attitude.  I will list each and explain how each one works, giving scripture for you to use in your prayer time.

The first part is PRAISE.  When we begin our time with God, we should come to Him with a humble attitude, acknowledging who He is through His attributes, character, and names.  I will use God is Omniscient as an example.  Omniscient means to have infinite knowledge, knowing all things.  God is the author of all knowledge and wisdom.  He created everything and holds the universe together.  Take a moment to read the following scriptures:  Psalm 139:1-6, Daniel 2:20-23, and Romans 11:33-34.  Reading these and spending a few moments thinking over them will set your mind to worship God.  Take some time to praise Him for His wisdom, for knowing the end from the beginning, for creating everything we see and beyond, and holding us all securely in the world He has created.

The second part is CONFESSION.  Use this time to search your hearts and confess any sin that He brings to mind.  Ask Him to reveal to you all hidden sin, and ask for His forgiveness.  How wonderful it is that we can come boldly to the throne of grace, confessing our sins before a Holy and just God, who readily and freely forgives us when we come with a repentant heart.  1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  This step is vitally important for our relationship with God.  Did you know that as believers, our prayers are hindered by our sin?  God won’t listen to us when we have unconfessed sin.    Psalm 66:18 says “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”.  When we cherish our sin more than a right relationship with Him, we are walking in disobedience.  Sin blocks not only our communication with God, but it blocks our blessings.  So take some time here to confess any and all sin that you can think of.  

The third part is THANKSGIVING.  The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”.  Being thankful acknowledges all that God has done for you.  We have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings that we do not deserve.  We acknowledge God working in our lives.

The last part is INTERCESSION.  This is where we bring our requests to God, knowing that He alone is in charge and can bring about change.  Of course, not all requests will be answered according to how we desire.  He is sovereign and knows what is best.  His best may not look right or feel good to us, but ultimately we need to trust Him to work on our behalf. Our prayers should not be a laundry list of wants or resemble a child’s Christmas list that they give to Santa.  Instead we should be asking God to work in our lives to make us more like Christ.  As Christians, holiness is our number one priority.  We should be asking the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ in every way.  We can and should petition God to move in our lives to bring about healing, financial assistance, safety and security.  These things are wonderful to pray for.  And most definitely we should be praying for the salvation of those we know.  This is the most important prayer we can pray, for everything in this world is temporary, but what is on the other side is eternal.

I will be going into more aspects on prayer in upcoming posts, such as praying through God’s Word.  When we pray His Word back to Him, we are praying His will for our lives.  I will also be giving sample prayers for you to add to your quiet time.  I will teach you how to develop your own list of prayers and go over what a prayer journal is and how it will benefit you.

For now, I challenge you to develop a consistent time with God every day.  It can be in the morning, evening, or whenever your schedule allows. We are all in different seasons of life and are juggling many things.  But having this time set aside to spend with God will really set the tone for your day and will change your life.  I promise.

Here is the link for Moms in Prayer that will give you what you need for step one.  Choose one aspect of God to pray over each day.

https://momsinprayer.org/resources/prayer-tools/prayer-sheets/

 

Critical Spirit

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Last night was a real eye-opener for me.   I realized that I have a critical spirit.  And the more that I thought about this, the more burdened I became.  As I have gone over my conversations, thoughts and attitudes I have come to see clearly so many sins that have piled up and taken root in my heart.  I want to examine what it means to have a critical spirit, then dive into how we remove and replace those sinful characteristics.

A critical spirit shows up in many ways, all of which act out of our sinful nature.  To be critical is to think of ourselves as better than others.  We have a sense of self-righteousness.  We are never wrong, and no one will ever measure up to our standards.  We always know the right way to do something, and are quick to offer our opinion.  We develop a “holier-than-thou” attitude.  All of this comes from a spirit of pride that can not see any wrong in ourselves.  Remember the verse in Matthew 7:3 says “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”  This means we need to examine our own hearts, motives, words, and attitudes instead of being critical and judgmental of others.  Matthew 7:1-2Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”  There is only one judge and His name is Jesus Christ.  Only Christ can see into the heart and motives of another person.  We have no idea where they are coming from or what their motives are in doing something.  

A critical spirit is one that is never satisfied.  This manifests itself in the form of complaining.  The Bible has much to say about complaining, like in the story of the Israelites for example.  The trip from Egypt to the Promised Land was supposed to only take a short amount of time.  I have heard many different accounts, but the general time-frame should have been around 11 days.  The main reason they wandered aimlessly in the desert was because of their disobedience. And one of the main ways they disobeyed was through complaining.  They were never satisfied.  They wanted to go back to Egypt where there was good food to eat, plenty of water to drink, they didn’t have to walk miles and miles, and they had their homes to rest in at night.  Their distrust in God came out in their words.  Their distrust in Moses to lead them resulted in a golden calf that they worshiped.  Their complaints kept them in the same place much longer than necessary.  Have you heard the phrase “to complain is to remain, but to praise is to raise”?  This is so true.  God wants us to be continually looking for ways to give thanks and to praise Him.  We may not always like our circumstances, but we can always find at least one thing to be grateful for.  Let’s focus on that and stop belly-aching.

Have you ever felt jealous and entitled to something?  That’s a form of a critical spirit.  What about bitterness?  Oh, that’s a big one!  Bitterness is nasty.  Its roots go way down deep.  What comes out of our hearts when we are bitter is not pretty.  And a lot of the time we are not even aware of how much bitterness we have until we explode all over someone.  Other forms of a critical spirit are pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and slander.  Our words tell us a lot about what is going on in our hearts.  The Bible tells us that “for whatever is in your heart determines what you say”, Matthew 12:34.  What is planted in your heart is sure to come out of your mouth.  Trust me.  This happened to me and it was not pretty.  I was so shocked that I have spent the day diving deep into what causes a critical spirit and am determined to eradicate this once and for all!

So what are we to do to replace these sinful habits?  For starters we must get into God’s word.  Searching the scriptures for what He has to say about a critical spirit is a good place to start.  Read Matthew 7:1-5 and carefully consider where you may be acting out of judgment.  Examine your own heart for sin instead of focusing on the sins of others.  We must come to a place where we are hating the sin in our own lives so much that we can no longer allow it to remain.  Then we will be able to effectively pray for others to have open eyes to their sin and to restore themselves to a right relationship with God.  Our focus should always be here instead of negatively thinking about what someone said or did.  Turn it over to God and let Him handle it.  Our desire should be for peaceful relationships and unity among each other.  We are to approach others with a sincere love for them that Christ has.  But we can only do this once our own hearts are clean and we are living with a whole-hearted devotion to God.

After we have dealt with the bitterness, we must learn to forgive.  This is not always easy, but absolutely necessary.  It is vitally important for our relationship with God.  The Bible clearly says that God will not hear our prayers when we are harboring sin in our hearts.  Psalm 66:18 says “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”  To remain in a right relationship with God we must come to Him with clean hands and a clean heart.  Confession is a must.  Thankfully He always welcomes us back into His presence.  

Contentment is something that we develop against a critical spirit.  Instead of striving for a situation to change, we can consider that there may be a blessing of growing closer to God in the midst of the trial.  Or instead of disagreeing immediately with someone, pray for God to show you how to be supportive.

Other ways that are the opposite of a critical spirit are showing appreciation, kindness, calmness, being gentle and sweet, or just being silent.  Not gossiping and slandering is huge is eradicating an oppositional spirit.

I hope this helps you to get a handle on overcoming a critical, negative spirit.  For more information, I suggest watching April Cassidy.  She is the Peaceful Wife and has great insight on this topic.

Toss To The Curb

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One of my favorite things is to purge my house of any unnecessary things. Clutter really does take over if we let it. We have all heard that the more we have, the more we must maintain. I do not want to be tied down to my possessions. I love a clean house, but I do not like being a slave to my things. It is much easier to clean when there is less to keep up with. I have a friend who has made a business of helping others purge and organize their homes. God does this in our lives. He helps us to identify and remove each sin that has taken up residency in our lives. I am on a mission to permanently remove everything that does not promote holiness. Anything that does not look like Jesus must go. Let’s envision the neighborhood bulky item pick up and toss to the curb anger, bitterness, jealousy, worry, fear, complaining. We have no use for them anymore. If it keeps others from seeing Jesus in you, get rid of it. Ephesians 4:22 “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception “. Verse 24 tells us to replace those sins with His new nature which looks like Christ. Colossians 3:5 says to “put to death all sins”. Not pack them away for later, just in case you might need them again someday. No! Those old jeans do not fit you anymore. Why are you hanging onto them? Toss them to the curb. 1 Peter 1:14-16 shows us the new way we are to live. Go read this! Be holy because He is holy. Really, is there any other way for us to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to Him? Join me in pursuing holiness 💕

Filtering Our Words

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I have seen multiple messages on social media this week where I believe God is speaking to us about our conversations. Let’s remember to filter everything through prayer. It’s so easy to gather supporters to our side when we feel hurt by someone’s words. But this really does more harm than good. Our relationship with God is compromised because we are really slandering others by speaking bad about them. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who speaks to our hearts, gently reminding us to control our words.