Peace, Be Still!

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Peace Be Still Peace, Be Still!

 

Peace, Be Still!

 

As Believers, we celebrate Jesus every day, all year round, but in the month of December, we pay special attention. The rest of the world is also celebrating their version of Christmas. It’s ironic that one of the most heated controversies at this time of year is whether the seasonal greeting should be “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” All that tumult and uproar over what is meant to be a celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. Jesus came so that you and I can have peace in every area of our lives. But what is peace?

What is Peace?

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is rich in meaning. In the nation of Israel, people greet each other with “Shalom,” knowing that it is the expression of a great blessing. Shalom means completeness, safety, soundness in body, welfare, health, prosperity, peace, quiet, tranquillity  contentment, peace used of human relationships, peace with God, especially in a covenant relationship, and peace from war.

That’s quite an exhaustive list. And it is no surprise that our Lord Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the source, the rank, and the order of peace. Jesus is peace personified. When He was born, peace was released throughout the earth: peace and goodwill to all men – peace in our inner beings and peace in our circumstances.

Inner Peace and Circumstantial Peace

As you can tell from the thorough description of peace found above, there is a state of peace that originates within us (inner or personal peace) and there is a state of peace that exists outside of us (external or circumstantial peace). We experience personal peace when our hearts and minds are tranquil. We experience circumstantial peace when our surroundings are calm. But sometimes our inner and circumstantial peace doesn’t match up. Let me explain. We can experience:

• inner turmoil while external circumstances are in turmoil
• inner turmoil while external circumstances are peaceful
• inner peace while external circumstances are in turmoil
• inner peace while external circumstances are peaceful

The latter two of these two are full and blessed peace. Through the Prince of Peace, we can take authority over both inner peace and circumstantial peace. When we have the peace of God as our inner peace, our circumstances can come into alignment with that peace and we can see the favor of God in every area of our lives. While we often use our emotions as a barometer of peace, peace extends beyond our emotions.

Peace Is More Than A Feeling

Inner peace focuses on feelings. But peace is much more than a feeling. The peace of God is not something that brings us a temporary state of tranquillity  The peace of God goes beyond our own understanding: things may not be going well and we may feel that all is lost, however the peace of God tells us that all is well. God is in control.

Inner peace goes beyond our feelings and even beyond our spiritual awareness of God. It is the actual essence of God manifesting in our lives. Many times, we look toward the supernatural, wanting the earth to shake, the heavens to move, and the angels to show up to tell us things will work out. Much like at the birth of Jesus.

But what we truly need is the peace of God because the peace of God is miraculous. It is the peace of God that moves things in the supernatural. Peace is the doorway through which God releases His blessing.

Peace Is The Doorway

Peace is the doorway to the Father’s working in your life. Don’t take that lightly. God operates in this realm of peace. It is in the atmosphere of peace that He releases blessings into our lives. Peace is the doorway to the miraculous; peace is the doorway to your answered prayer. That’s why the Bible declares, “Be anxious for nothing.” And Jesus said many times “Do not worry.” He knew that anxiety and worry block the door to blessing, while peace guard us from pain and torment.

Peace Guards You

Peace guards your heart and your mind. In fact, the Bible describes peace as acting as a garrison. A garrison is a military base where troops are housed. So peace, with all its defensive weapons and ammunition, is stationed over your mind. It is there specifically to protect your mind and your thoughts.

As you allow God’s peace to prevail in the midst of difficult situations, you can know that your mind and heart are supernaturally protected. Your heart and mind need protection because when you are born again, everything in your life proceeds forth from your spirit. The peace of God guards the sanctuary of your heart, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (NASB).

Peace is Practical

Have you ever been faced with an important decision and questioned the supernatural peace that you sense? Perhaps you’ve wondered if you can trust such peace. The answer is YES! Such peace will sustain you through any situation. Peace is powerful. It will stabilize you. It may make no sense that you have the peace of God, while nothing about the situation seems favorable. But suddenly, everything has changed for the better. It’s amazing.

Basically, you do everything that you know to do and then surrender to the inner peace, forgetting the situation. Before you know it, God has taken care of it!

When you later reflect on what happened, pondering how God resolved your situation, you realize that He moved because you chose to rest in His wonderful peace. But be aware that in order to choose peace, you must exercise discipline over your thoughts and your mind.

Choose Your Thoughts

When our minds are focused on God, He promises to keep us in perfect peace because we trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3). Many people wrongly believe that thoughts are like birds: they may light in your mind, or even build a nest, then come and go as they please. God’s Word is very clear that we have been given the ability to choose and direct our thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 tells us “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Clearly, specific thought patterns lead to turmoil and others that lead to peace.

How are thoughts of peace cultivated? By meditating on the many good things that God has done, is doing and will do for you. By recalling the milestones of your life – all the times that God has proven Himself faithful. By reading the accounts throughout the Bible that illustrate His power and promise to deliver and set people free. Peace will change you and God will change your circumstances – something worry can never do!

Worry the Enemy of Peace

The Christian life is not a trouble-free life, but it can be a worry-free life. We never need worry. In fact we are exhorted not to worry about anything (Philippians 4:6,7). Sometimes when we seek peace, we are really seeking momentary relief from our situation, unaware that the entrance of peace can bring tangible results. The enemy will always use worry to pull us into the realm of frustration. But his tactics need not dupe us. We can be assured that God is an awesome God and that He loves us. Worry is disobedient and unproductive. Your Prince of Peace is a prayer away. Allow Him to reign in your situation.

To Sum It Up

The Prince of Peace has come. We can live confident, assured of God’s care and sovereignty. We can have peace in the midst of troubling circumstance and we can speak peace in to our circumstances. Peace is more than a feeling. Peace is the doorway to blessing, guarding over our hearts and mind. Peace is practical. As we choose our thoughts, peace reigns in our hearts and our circumstances are changed. Worry is a tool of Satan and produces no productive outcome. Choose peace.

Shalom, to you!

 

 

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Feasting On the Bread of Life

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Feasting On the Bread of Life Feasting On the Bread of Life

Feasting On the Bread of Life

 

Food is a big part of Christmas celebrations with different cultures and families having their own traditions centered around the holiday meals and gatherings. I grew up in The Netherlands, where my Dad owned a bakery. I remember Christmas day brunches featuring delicious pastries such as stollen, kerstol (similar to fruit cake) and other fancy breads.

Later Christmas day, we gathered for a wonderful type of communal meal called gourmetten. It was a rich family time with everyone sitting around the table laughing and talking while each person cooked bite-size pieces of meats and vegetables. And of course, there was always fresh bread from my dad’s bakery on the table. I remember that bread as being so tasty, but I have since come to know and appreciate the greatest bread in the world: The Bread of Life, Jesus. Have you ever wondered why Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life?

What Is The Bread?

In John, Chapter 6, Jesus refers to Himself three times as bread (verses 35, 48, and 51). Early in the chapter, He had turned five loaves into enough bread to feed more than 5,000 people – with leftovers! So as word spread about the miracle of the feeding of the multitude, it’s almost comical how the people chased Jesus from place to place in order to get free food.

It’s evident that those chasing after Jesus did not perceive Him with spiritual eyes, because they addressed him as Rabbi, meaning Teacher, instead of Lord. His pursuers wanted to know what miraculous signs this Rabbi could give them. They knew about the miracle of manna that was daily provided to the children of Israel in the desert (v. 31) and were ready for some miracle bread. And it was miracle bread he provided, just not the type they were chasing after. Jesus said “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51c).

They were in the presence of Jesus, giver of life, but because they could not spiritually perceive and believe who Jesus was, they pestered the Bread (Jesus) for merely flour and water baked into a loaf. Jesus description of Himself as Bread speaks of His origin, His purpose and His sufficiency. First let’s explore Jesus’ origin.

The Origin of Jesus

In John, chapter 6, the Jews grumbled that the Jesus, whom they knew to be from Nazareth, claimed to be from heaven; “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51a). John 1:14 refers to Jesus as “the One and Only, who came from the Father.” By saying that He was from heaven, he was both asserting that He had come from God and was also building on the miracle of the manna. The book of John opens with the statement: In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God. He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. The significance of Jesus being in heaven with God is summarized in Colossians 2:9: “For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ” (HCSB).

By saying he was the Bread of Heaven, Jesus was also building on the knowledge of the original bread of heaven, manna. Jesus is our practical, yet miraculous sustenance, daily present to meet our needs. In Matthew 6:11, Jesus taught his disciples to daily request and rely on God’s provision: “Give us this day our daily” bread (Matthew 6:11).

In Jesus, the Bread of Heaven, we have provision for our spiritual and physical needs. But Jesus’ purpose was more fundamental than meeting needs. His purpose was to do the will of the Father.

The Purpose of Jesus

And the Father’s will was incomprehensible from a human standpoint. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Jesus speaks throughout the gospels of the purpose of his coming to earth. It’s a study in itself, including saving, serving, testifying, destroying the devil’s works, fulfilling the law, giving life, proclaiming favor, and bringing judgment.

And how did Jesus doing the Father’s will play out in His day-to-day life? “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). And from Acts, ” How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38). The will of the Father set Jesus apart as sufficient for every need.

The Sufficiency of Jesus

Bread was the primary source of nourishment in Jesus’ time, but Jesus is the complete and all-sufficient source for all of our needs, both spiritual and physical. First and foremost, the breaking of the bread of Jesus’ body provided forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with the Father. His willing act of sacrifice and obedience fulfilled God’s law and provided us with the supernatural empowerment to do the will of the Father.

But the breaking of the bread of Jesus’ body also provided for our physical well-being: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). And “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed “(Isaiah 53:5).

Whatever your need, Jesus is sufficient! If you haven’t done so, begin by accepting the Bread of Life as your Lord and Savior. To receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation, pray this simple prayer with all your heart: “Dear God – I know Jesus is Your Son and that He died for me and rose from the dead. Forgive me for all my sins. I receive Jesus into my life right now. Help me to follow You always. Amen.” If you prayed this prayer, please let me know, so I can direct you to more resources.

To Sum It Up

In the coming days, as you sit down to enjoy your Christmas meal, pay attention to the bread. Let it remind you of the bread of Jesus’ broken body. But don’t stop there. It is truly something to celebrate that Jesus, left heaven and its perfection, to carry out a purpose that only He could. And that He also finished what He set out to do, among other things, bringing us salvation, empowering us to live for Him, and healing our bodies. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

 

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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas!

 

 

Christopher Columbus introduced St. Nicholas Day to the New World when he landed in the West Indies on December 6, 1492, and named the harbor, in honor of the patron saint of sailors, Port of St. Nicholas. Dutch Americans eventually adopted December 25 as their day of celebration, and by the end of the Civil War, St. Nicholas the Bishop was generally known in the United States as Santa Claus.

Those who read my blog posts on a regular basis know that I was born in The Netherlands. Last week on December 6th the Dutch people in the Netherlands and Belgium celebrated Christmas. The character of Santa Claus (Sinterklaas in the Dutch language), is based on St. Nicholas.

So I wanted to share you with about Saint Nicholas: who he really was and what he stands for.

The Dutch Tradition of St. Nicholas

For Dutch speaking people, St. Nicholas comes by steamship from Spain, arriving early in the month of December with lots of gifts for the children. He rides a white horse across the rooftops of all the houses to deliver the presents he’s brought. Children write letters to St. Nicholas asking for a doll or a train. But sometimes they ask for a new dad, when their own dad had passed away, or perhaps for their divorced parents to get back together.

Dutch children leave drawings and wish lists, in their shoes along with carrots or hay for St. Nick’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will reward them with small gifts. The idea is that in order to receive you must give. I remember that as a child, I always went all out in making the best drawing.

Dutch people gather to sing, eat and exchange small gifts and surprises including candies, chocolate coins and initial letters, and riddles. Gifts from “St. Nicholas” include clever rhymes that humorously highlight a person’s strengths and shortcomings. It’s all a lot of fun. But let me share with you who St. Nicholas really is.

Who is St. Nicholas?

He is a great inspiration to many people. He was a godly man who had a reputation of giving to all people, from the rich to the very poor, from those who did great deeds for others to those devastated by life’s circumstances. He was a revered example to all of us – not a jolly, fat man who got about by flying reindeer and climbed down chimneys!

Nicholas was born in Turkey in the third century and raised by Christian parents. His parents knew that he was special and considered him a gift from God. They were diligent in teaching him about God and being devoted to God. They especially taught him to be generous to the poor.

At the age of 19, Nicholas was ordained a priest. His uncle, who was a bishop, prophesied that Nicholas would lend a hand and comfort many people and that he ultimately, also would become a bishop. All of this was fulfilled in Nicholas’ lifetime.

He led a life dedicated to God. It was said that he would spend all night studying God’s Word because of his desire to encourage people and to bring comfort to their lives He was also known as a man who fasted, prayed, and stood steadfast in his faith.

His life demonstrated his Christian beliefs and values. Over time his legacy has been perverted and misrepresented by Satan: most of us don’t know about St. Nicholas, rather we know him as the myth that Santa Claus has become.

The True Gift Of Christmas

This true story of St. Nicholas is a beautiful picture of the giving that Christmas is all about, because he represents the giving heart of our Heavenly Father. The greatest gift of all is the gift of Jesus Christ given to us by God the Father. In Him we have the joy of living a heavenly life on earth.

Christmas is Christ’s Mass and means anointing celebration. So when we talk about the spirit of Christmas, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus who came to this earth as a gift from our Heavenly Father, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. We celebrate that Jesus was among us and “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

We Are Designed To Be Givers

Jesus personifies the nature of giving by His deeds, acts and His ultimate gift of sacrificing His life. We all have been endowed with that God-given nature to give to others. This nature is more obvious in some than in others; some of us love to serve our fellow man while others are so conformed to this world that this gift is masked by selfishness and the love of mammon.

Because God created us and we were formed in His likeness, it is in our hearts, in the core of our beings to give and serve others. It doesn’t matter how distorted the world makes us, deep down on the inside of every person is an instinct to look out for the person next to us.

This is the very nature of our Heavenly Father and it is this nature that He placed in us. Paul told us in First Corinthians 13:4-8 that this love toward others never gives up. Love cares more for others than for itself. This love toward others is the most powerful anointing that has been placed on us and in us.

Although the world has tried to mask all of this with different images, it is a fact that this deep yearning is imprinted inside of each of us directly from the personality of God.

Just be aware that it is not the spirit of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus that compels us to bless others this Christmas season. Instead it is the very Spirit of God that inspires us to help others in their time of need or just to spread the good cheer to others around us.

Now, that’s a Merry Christmas!

 

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Jesus Has Some Questions For You

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Jesus Has Some Questions For You Jesus Has Some Questions For You

 

Jesus Has Some Questions For You

 

The story of Jesus transforming a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fishes into a meal for 5,000 men plus women and children is well-known. In fact, it is the only story that is told in all four gospels.

Large crowds had been following Jesus, intrigued by the miracles He had performed. Out in the middle of nowhere, it was meal time and His disciples reported that the people were hungry. The account in the gospel of John includes a question-answer exchange Jesus initiated with Philip about how the crowds were to be fed. Jesus’ question to Philip tells us much about His heart toward us and how questions can help us grow. Yes, questions can be a powerful tool to point us to Jesus.

About Questions

Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you a question, you’re internally driven to answer it? At least that’s how I usually respond. And I think other people respond similarly. Granted, there are some questions that don’t take much thought. However Jesus tends to ask us simple, yet deeply thought-provoking questions that require our self-examination. Many of His questions may take our entire lives to answer.

Questions have long been a fundamental method of teaching. God must like questions, too, since there are 2,272 questions in the Old Testament and 1,022 questions in the New (KJV). For teachers or Rabbis, asking questions was a part of long-established traditions. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus frequently used questions as a way to lead the respondent to new insight. His questions will always give us insight about our relationship with Him.

The Question Jesus Asked of Philip

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’” John 6:5 (NIV). This seems like a straightforward easy-to answer question, doesn’t it? But Jesus had a lesson plan in mind and it was designed specifically for Philip.

Jesus Singled Out Philip

All the other disciples were present. Why do you think Jesus singled out Philip to ask this particular question? Bible commentaries observe Philip was from that area and would have first hand knowledge of where to acquire provisions. But Andrew and Peter were also from the same area. I think that Jesus singled out Philip to build his faith – to lead Philip into knowledge of who Jesus was. John 6:6 says “He (Jesus) asked this only to test him (Philip), for He (Jesus) already had in mind what He was going to do.” The way the word test is used here means to ascertain quality. Jesus wanted to not only determine how Philip viewed Him, but also challenge Philip to test his own perception of who Jesus was. It was a moment that Jesus had designed especially with Philip in mind.

He does the same for us. Questions may come from a Bible verse or may initiate from an inward witness of the Holy Spirit. A question that often engages me is “Simon (Peter), lovest thou me?” I can hear Jesus asking “Olga, lovest thou me?” I pause and think about the reasons I love Him. My love for Him is reinforced and I am challenged to love Him ever more deeply and completely.

Another question that causes me to think is the one Jesus posed to the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). It’s a very simple question, yet requires deep self-examination. And I also must ask myself: Do I truly want to be made whole? But Jesus’ question to Philip was somewhat different than these: On the surface, it was totally framed in the natural.

Jesus’ Question Was Framed In the Natural

What do I mean by saying that Jesus’ question was framed in the natural? When Jesus asked “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?” the words he used meant exactly that. There is no hidden or deeper meaning in the words themselves. Jesus asked where physical bread could be purchased with money for the people’s physical sustenance. It was not posed as a spiritual question.

And so Philip answered the question considering the natural factors: availability of such a large amount of bread and the means to pay for it. And his proposed solution would have yielded a meager portion for those in the crowd.

But natural questions don’t necessarily have natural answers. Philip was focused on the “how” of solving this problem that Jesus had posed in His question. Jesus saw the opportunity to solve this natural dilemma in a supernatural way. Jesus wanted Philip to know Him as the “Who” – the answer to every need of mankind.

“How” Versus “Who”

Jesus wanted to lead Philip to recognize Him as the Bread of Life; the Supplier; the giver of all good things. Jesus could have supplied the food, yet Philip hadn’t yet understood Jesus’ divinity. Jesus could have rained down manna, or money or any other number of things to solve the problem. He wanted Philip to discern that when Jesus is present there is no lack. He is our Provider.

I wonder what Philip made of Jesus’ question when he looked back on that incident. I would imagine that he marveled when he compared his “how” response to Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the multitude. How about you? Are you trying to workout the “how,” when the “Who” is tenderly calling you to rely on His infinite creative power to bring forth your miracle?

To Sum It Up

Jesus teaches us through questions, both throughout the scriptures and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If we’ll listen and reflect, His questions are customized to bring about deeper revelation of Who He is, which will help us grow. As Believers we have the privilege of knowing Jesus personally – we know Who He is and that covers the “how” of our circumstances.

 

 

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You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

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You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

 

 

You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

 

 

Do you want to discover the life you were born to live – to know and to carry out your life assignment? Many of us share such desires. But when we’re in the middle of adversity, vulnerable and weak from the attacks of the enemy, it’s tempting to want to give up, and go with the flow of the world. You’re not the first person to feel this way. This is exactly how a group of Jews, who lived during the prophet Nehemiah’s time, felt. Their assignment of rebuilding Jerusalem was overwhelming. They were under attack from the enemy and they wanted to give up.

The book of Nehemiah opens with Nehemiah saying to the Persian king whom he served: “They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire’” (Nehemiah 1:3). The temple was being reconstructed but there was no wall to protect the city. And no one had taken charge of the situation. But God had raised up such a helper in Nehemiah.

The Holy Spirit – Our Helper

Last Sunday, as my pastor spoke about the condition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah, I saw similarities to the state of so many Christians today: their walls are broken down. Many feel unqualified and unequipped for the assignments God has given them. And they find themselves weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy to the point of being without hope.

Just as Nehemiah was assigned to restore the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit is assigned to restore our lives. Nehemiah and the Holy Spirit share a name: Nehemiah means “Jehovah comforts” and the Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter.” Jesus told us, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, whose ministry is to restore our lives by transforming us into the very image of our heavenly Father.

When we find it difficult to deal with the challenges that will inevitably arise, we must strengthen ourselves by calling on the Holy Spirit’s help. He is always available to comfort and lead us in time of need.

Once we have been born again, we are a temple and dwelling place of the Most High God. But the walls of our soul may be broken down and our gates remain burned down, just as in the book of Nehemiah.

God has provided help. The Comforter was sent to help us build your life and transform us into God’s image of strength and stability. He has come to deliver us from our enemy and make us a beautiful city that is secure and safe. Security means to be free from worry and anxiety, free from the fear of lack, and free from sickness and disease.

Your Soul Is A Fortress

Your soul is designed to be a mighty fortress; it is the command center of your life. Your soul has three parts: your mind (intellect), your emotions (feelings) and your will (choices you make). The Holy Spirit is the only person who is able to rebuild the crushed and ruined areas of your soul. As your walls are rebuilt and your gates are set in place once more, you will find yourself less vulnerable to the attacks of Satan.

He is a defeated foe and can no longer afflict you with being vanquished by the same weakness over and over again. You are being built into a mighty city and fortress to bring glory to your King! There is much treasure to be found in the book of Nehemiah and I particularly like the metaphor it provides for the Christian life.

Nehemiah As A Metaphor

The book of Nehemiah, a true historical event, is also an apt metaphor for living the Christian life and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring restoration to those places that need to be healed and made whole. By applying the metaphor of the book of Nehemiah to our own spiritual lives we can emerge stronger and more secure in our Christian walk.

The Temple represents our hearts, where we worship and fellowship with the Father. The inner temple, our spirits, can be alive in the midst of brokenness, just as the temple stood amid the walls that had been broken from past attacks.

The city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ. And the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouths. The walls and gates serve as protective boundaries and portals for our hearts and minds.

The inhabitants of the city represent our thoughts; our thoughts are often difficult to control, but thoughts contrary to God’s Word can be limited by guarding our gates (eyes, ears, mouths) and admitting only those things which reinforce God’s Word.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. We do the same by reading the Bible, praying and being doers of the Word by obeying what God tells us to do.

To Sum It Up

If you feel like it is too late for you or that your life is too messed up right now, let me tell you that God is not through with you yet. He will never give up on you. The moment you were born again, God moved into your life and made your heart His dwelling place. Your heart became His sanctuary, and He is preparing you to do great and mighty exploits. God desires us to come to a place of total wholeness in our life; this is an ongoing process which takes place through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us. Allow Him to restore your walls and rebuild your gates. May your report be as Nehemiah’s:

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:16).

 

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
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How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

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How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season1 How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

 

 

Being “stressed out” is a relatively new concept, entering contemporary usage in the late 1920′s. In many respects, the notion of being stressed is an idea promoted by modern media which tells us all the things we must do to experience perfection and then commiserates with us as we consistently fail to achieve it. In particular, the multitude of expectations surrounding the Christmas season can set us up for stress, if we don’t make conscious decisions to be “in the world but not of it.” Let’s first define stress and then move on to removing it from our lives.

What Is Stress?

According to Merriam-Webster online, stress is “the burden on one’s emotional or mental well-being created be the demands on one’s time.” Put simply, stress places demand on one’s resources that exceed the available supply of those resources; be it time, money, emotions or physical capacity. But wait. As Believers, who is our resource and who is our supply? Stress is the inevitable response when we allow ourselves to become disconnected from our Source. Let’s redirect our attention to our Supply and Source.

As A Man Thinks, So Is He

How do we know that we are stressed? Some telltale signs are worry, fear, irritation and weariness. Often we experience physical symptoms including a rush of adrenaline, and perhaps feelings of breathlessness or overwhelming fatigue. But I believe the main way that we know we are stressed is that our minds become occupied with it. We think or even say “I am so stressed out” or “I don’t know if I can take this much longer” or “How will I ever get everything done?” and so on. It doesn’t take too long for our thoughts and words to bear fruit – the unwanted fruit of stress. But there is an antidote to physical symptoms and troubling thoughts. There is a Name that is above stress.

The Name Above Stress

If you have been dwelling on the demands being placed on your finite resources, take a deep breath and focus on your infinite Supply and Source. God needs many names to describe the multitude of his perfections. Here are a few of His names that demonstrate His superiority over finite supply – which is at the root of stress.

Jehovah-Jireh

This name describes His perfection as our supply: Jehovah-Jireh means the One who sees our needs and provides for them. Do you have a need? Is your supply lacking? Then behold and meditate on Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord your supplier.

Jehovah-Rohi

Another name that describes God’s role as provider is The Lord My Shepherd. Psalm 23 tells us that we shall not want for any good or beneficial thing. Do you need more time? Fewer things to do? The Lord your Shepherd is your faithful provider.

Jehovah-Shammah

When we are in the middle of situations that outstrip our supply, we often feel that we are alone. One of Satan’s craftiest tactics is to create a sense of isolation from each other and from our Source. But God has another name that addresses our temptation to feel alone: Jehovah-Shammah. This name describes how God will never leave us nor forsake us. Psalm 139:8 states the ever-present quality of God like this: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Jehovah-Shalom

Stress robs us of our peace. “Absence of trouble” is the world’s idea of peace. In other words, external circumstances dictate whether or not we are at peace. But God always has a better way. Jehovah’s shalom penetrates our spirit man. In the midst of trying situations, we can shape our circumstances from a position of supernatural peace that comes only from God.

There are many more names of God that speak to his desire and sufficiency to supply our every need. When feeling stressed, it’s good to remember that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

What’s Our Part In Reducing Stress?

In addition to meditating on God as our Supply, we need to ask Him for help to honestly evaluate the demands on our resources. God doesn’t honor laziness, but He also has a spirit-directed plan for how each of us use the resources He has given us – particularly time.
God has promised wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5). We can ask for and receive wisdom to know what to commit to and what not to commit to. If you are prone to overextending yourself, ask God for wisdom in this area.

Isn’t it interesting that when we are under stress, the first thing many of us skimp on is time with the Lord – BIG mistake. We must go to the Lord and seek His wisdom at the first sign of stress. Ask Him to show us His way that we may walk in it. Ask Him for discernment in requesting help from others.

To Sum It Up

Make a conscious decision to be “in the world, but not of it.” There is no family or societal tradition that is more important than loving God and honoring Him. Let this be a year that you and your family experience a Christmas season free of stress.

The most important way to reduce stress is to spend time in the presence of the Lord. Meditate on the names of God, Your Supply and Source.

Do your part to minimize stress by honestly evaluating your commitments.

 

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion that helps you to make the right choices in your life!

 

 

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Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

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For Believers Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

 

Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

 

 

About seven weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. Today Americans will commemorate their national day of thanks. God has much to say about giving thanks. Simply acknowledging that our Heavenly Father loves us so deeply gives us cause for gratitude – every day. Here are some things God’s Word has to say about thanksgiving. But first, what is it?

What is Thanksgiving?

Are you a little fuzzy on the distinction between thanksgiving, praise and worship? So am I. I like this definition of thanksgiving: thanking God for His goodness. (Praise is thanking God for His greatness; Worship is thanking God for His Holiness).

In the Bible the root word for thankful is the same word that is used for grace. To say thank you in the Greek language one uses the word charis. We cannot separate thankfulness from the grace of God. His goodness is manifested as grace toward us. The Bible is a record of God’s goodness to man and tells us much about the characteristics of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Is Essential – Not an Option

We are instructed in Colossians 3:17 that “whatever we do in word or deed we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” I love it when God doesn’t allow for wiggle room. This scripture clearly states that our hearts are to be ever thankful. There are no circumstances under which we are exempted from expressing our thanks. It is God’s will.

Thanksgiving Is the Will of God

First Thessalonians 5:18 states that it is the will of God for us to give thanks in everything. God created us in his image. He knows what we need to be whole and effective for destiny to which He has called us. Much research has been done in the academic world about the personal positive effects of gratitude. The research validates the perfection of the Father’s will for us – to give thanks. And thanksgiving goes beyond the words “Thank you.” It is the overflow of a grateful spirit.

Thanksgiving Is an Overflow Of Our Spirits

Jesus said that we speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34). As we meditate on God’s goodness, the overflows of our thoughts come out in spoken words of thanksgiving. Ephesians 5: 18-20 describes how we are filled with the Spirit: We begin by speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns; then our hearts become filled with melody; and all of that spirit-inspired gratefulness overflows into “giving thanks for all things unto God.”

Thanksgiving Is Our Approach to God

In Bible times, God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies that was located in the innermost part of the temple and could only be entered by the High Priest. For a non-priest to come close to God’s presence, one first entered the temple gates, and then progressed to the inner courts. Psalm 100:4 describes this approach to God as “entering His gate with thanksgiving and entering His courts with praise.” Using our earlier definitions of thanksgiving and praise, we enter his gates by acknowledging His goodness and approach even closer into His courts by acknowledging His greatness. Since prayer is a way of approaching God, an expression of gratitude is part of every prayer.

Thanksgiving Is A Part of Every Prayer

The Bible teaches that two things are to be in every prayer: First, we are to pray in Jesus’ name and second, our requests are to be accompanied by giving thanks to God (Philippians 4:6). God made prayer available to us and even told us how to make our requests known to Him. It is through our thanksgiving that the supernatural power of God is released.

Thanksgiving Unlocks the Supernatural Miracle Power of God

Our prayers can become very detailed and very impassioned. In contrast, often when speaking to the Father, Jesus used very few words. The few words in these instances would not even be considered a prayer, but were rather a simple expression of thanks for what God was about to do. The power of God was released by giving thanks.

In John 6 when Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn’t pray over the meal – He thanked the Father for providing it. And that small offering of fishes and loaves were supernaturally transformed to feed everyone who was present – with twelve baskets left over!

Standing at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus performed one of the most astounding miracles without praying publically. He simply said “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” “and He that was dead (Lazarus) came forth.” Death’s hold on Lazarus was broken through Jesus’ simple expression of gratitude for God’s goodness. The supernatural power of God was made manifest by Jesus expression of gratitude.

Yet, many prayers are offered without gratitude, and worse, there are those who go through life without acknowledging God’s goodness. And if we are not thankful (if we fail or refuse to acknowledge the goodness of God), there are consequences to pay.

What Happens When We Are Not Thankful?

Romans 1:21-32 describes the consequences of not being thankful and it’s a steep, slippery slope that leads away from God. The passage outlines the decline of the human race into a most depraved state, estranged from God. And where did such a decline start? Beginning in verse 20 we are told that man can clearly see God existence and power from the created world. And despite that understanding “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful…” (verse 21).

All the consequences, debasement, defilement and separation from God are consequences that have their genesis in failure to be tanksful, to acknowledge God’s goodness.

But we are not of that breed. We are blood-bought Believers, whose lives overflow with gratitude for God’s goodness expressed so many ways through His grace toward us.

To Sum It Up

Whether you live in Canada, the US, China, Latvia, or the North Pole, don’t wait for a designated day to give thanks. Today is always the day to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s goodness.

 

 

 

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How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life

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How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life

How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life

 

 

Have you ever noticed that when you are worrying about a certain thing in your life, seeing someone else enjoying himself or herself can really feel annoying?

It seems that some go through life having such a good time that they appear naive and immature. People can clearly enjoy their lives and it can appear to us as if they don’t have a worry in the world. But the truth is that they have made a choice to have that attitude.

What Is Your Outlook On Life Today?

Do you wake up every morning to embrace the day? So many people allow their circumstances to dictate their lives. They don’t realize that they have been given free will to choose how they want their day to be. We can make a decision every morning to rejoice and be glad for the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24).

The Bible encourages us to constantly put on a fresh mental attitude. When we wake up in the morning we can make that first choice to focus on good things (Philippians 4:8). We can choose to be grateful for and excited about the day.

It is too easy to let our responsibilities and the pressures of life cause us to drift into negative thinking. Negative thinking weighs us down, causing us to lose our joy and enthusiasm. Before we know it, we stop appreciating our friends and family, and begin to doubt that they are for us. And soon, we may even think that the entire world is against us.

Negative thinking makes the small things seem tremendously large, until we are living in constant worry and frustration.
If that is how you feel today, take heart because your life can be different. You can take off that garment of heaviness and put on a garment of thanksgiving. You do this by making a choice to engage your will; you can choose to have a new outlook on life.

Everyone faces difficulties and huge challenges. We all have obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. The difference between those who are able to rise above their adversities and those who are mired in them is their attitude.

What Are You Thankful For?

A key to enjoying your life is finding things to be thankful for every day. Make a list. Write down all the good things in your life. Review it each day, every morning, before you leave the house. This will help you focus on the many treasures that fill your life, and it will give you a positive perspective and a grateful heart.

We all have things to be grateful for, but sometimes our perspective becomes distorted and we fail to recognize and focus on those good things.

I think we all have one or two friends who have a tendency toward a negative perspective. They are always having a bad week. Their children are always sick, they are almost always late for work and the list goes on and on.

No matter what season of life you are in, you must deal with the temptation to focus on the negative. Make no mistake, we all choose where to place our focus. Those who have the richest perspective on life choose to be happy and content with what God has given them and to trust Him in those things that are truly difficult.

Compare the Proverbs 31 Woman to Eve

The Proverbs 31 woman seemed to have it all: she was diligent, faithful, content and she ran a huge household without murmuring. She totally enjoyed her life.

Compare the Proverbs 31 woman to Eve. She was a woman who truly did have it all. She was living in the most gorgeous situation ever with the perfect man by her side. Then the day came that she chose to focus on one negative thing, which was the only fruit tree from which God had told her not to eat. She couldn’t focus on all the other fruit she was permitted to take.

The more she looked at the forbidden fruit, the larger it became in her mind. She allowed the one negative in the garden to twist her perception of the entire garden. She magnified that one forbidden thing until it was so large in her thinking that she couldn’t see anything else.

What Are You Magnifying?

When you magnify something, it doesn’t actually change the size of the object, it simply changes your perspective of the object. When you hold a pen or something in your hand and stretch your arm out in front of you, the pen seems small compared to your surroundings. But when you pull the pen in nearer to your eye, it appears much larger.

In fact, when you hold it close enough, you aren’t able to see anything else. So often in life, our difficulties and challenges seem so much larger than they actually are, simply because we are holding them closer to us than necessary. But when we have the right perspective, those same difficulties become much more manageable.

What’s the point in choosing the negative? It’s like swimming against the current – it makes everything a struggle. An improper perspective will drain your energy and vitality. It will sap the fun and joy right out of your life. Your life was meant to be enjoyed. You weren’t created to constantly struggle and be in perpetual discouragement.

I am always amazed how my perspective changes when I have a grateful heart and choose to count my blessings.

To Sum It Up

To keep the right perspective, we must magnify the right things in our lives. When I come up against challenges, I remind myself of all the great things God has done for me and will do for me. I begin to thank Him for allowing me to know Him; I thank Him for my family, my husband and my children. I thank Him for my awesome church family and my pastor.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion
that helps you to make the right choices in your life!

 

 

 

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Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness

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Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness

 

 

Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke
Without Bitterness

 

Rebuke is a curious, yet serious, word. It’s not used much outside of church circles.

I have taken inspiration for this post from Sparkling Gems from the Greek, November 6 (www.renner.org). The author, Rick Renner, approaches this topic from the perspective of having the integrity to confront a person who has offended you. I will instead examine it from the outlook of the one who is being corrected.

Quite honestly, just thinking about being rebuked makes me want to recoil. Isn’t that what Believers are always doing to Satan? Yet, I know that at times, I offend others both knowingly and unknowingly. It’s one thing to be called out from within my family, and quite another to be confronted by a friend or stranger.

Pastor Renner’s devotional, titled Confront, Forgive and Forget, inspired me to reflect back on the last time I was personally rebuked by someone outside of my family. The Holy Spirit taught me a lot from that experience which I want to share here. It is important that I clarify that this post is not about corrective actions that fall under the category of church discipline. We will discuss Believers rebuking fellow Believers. But, first things first, let’s define the biblical meaning of rebuke.

What Does Rebuke Mean?

Perhaps the thought of being rebuked is uncomfortable because I am thinking of the dictionary definition: “to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.” That implies a harshness that is intended to wound the person being rebuked. The biblical meaning is quite different.

Pastor Renner does a beautiful job explaining the meaning of the word rebuke found in Luke 17:3. He says, “The word “rebuke” is the Greek word epitimao, which in this case means to speak frankly, honestly, and politely as you tell a person how you feel that he has wronged you. This doesn’t mean you have to speak to him like he’s a devil; it just means you need to directly and honestly confront him.”

The underlying motivation of the first is to strike out at the person being rebuked and thus harm the relationship. The underlying motivation of the second is to clear the air, and to restore the relationship to wholeness.

This topic is controversial because of the potential for the abuse of rebuking and also because, by nature, we are defensive when confronted. It is our nature to strike out. When someone corrects us, even in the most loving way, it takes a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit to remain open and grounded. However, when we ask, God always provides a way for us to productively receive and process rebuke.

Productive Ways To Receive And Process Rebuke

The suggestions offered here have two overarching goals: to honor God and to guard against a root of bitterness. I can’t overemphasize the importance of immediately and routinely rooting out thoughts that would lead to bitterness. In my experience, it is extremely painful and difficult to eradicate bitterness, once left unchecked and deeply rooted.

• Center Yourself in the Holy Spirit

In any situation in which you are caught off-guard, or begin to feel emotional, train yourself to make your spirit aware of the Holy Spirit. This practice is so vital, yet under used. In essence you are praying, asking for His help in responding in the moment and beyond. What a comfort and encouragement it is to know the Helper and Comforter is right there with you, helping you to respond appropriately. Although it is done without speaking, it is powerful. The times I have, on the spot, asked God to help me to see the situation/person as He does, are the times I have been able to respond supernaturally, beginning with assuming the best about the person’s motives.

• Assume the Best

If you will take the position that the other person truly wants to make the relationship better, you can appreciate them for their candor in addressing the issue rather than letting it grow into a root of bitterness. It’s fairly natural to receive rebuke with defensiveness – especially if it’s delivered imperfectly. But we have the Holy Spirit as our helper to assess our part in causing the offense and to help us respond with the right attitude. And remember: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6:12).

• Join Forces Against Your Common Adversary – Not Each Other

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and that includes relationships. Satan is the author of strife and loves to see Believers take offense. If you can be in agreement with the other person that you both want to restore wholeness to the relationship, it takes you out of a victim’s role. The person rebuking you is not your enemy. When both parties yield to God, relationships can be strengthened by dealing with the grievance instead of burying issues and pretending they don’t exist. Once the grievance has been aired and you are working together to resolve it, it’s time to seek and accept forgiveness and mercy.

• Seek and Receive Forgiveness and Mercy

Sometimes we are guilty of offense. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding. And sometimes it’s just a matter of different personal styles of relating. At times, repentance and a change in attitude is called for. Other times, it’s appropriate to apologize in acknowledgement of what the other person is feeling. Sometimes, two people must agree to act in love toward each other despite personal style differences. Whichever the case, genuinely seek forgiveness and receive it. Follow your Heavenly Father’s example and then forgive yourself. Your heart is free. You have asked for forgiveness and received God’s mercy. Don’t mentally rehash it. Don’t continually talk about it. Consider the matter settled. Move on.

To Sum It Up

The meaning of rebuke implies a direct and honest confrontation. A rebuke can be personally and spiritually productive when we center ourselves in the Holy Spirit, assume the best of the other person, join forces against our common adversary, and seek and receive forgiveness. In doing so we honor God and guard against a root of bitterness.

 

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How Surrender Brings The Greatest Blessing

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How Surrender Brings The Greatest Blessing

 

Have you ever watched people walking their dogs? Some dogs are in sync with their owners. They happily trot directly ahead on a short lead, in pace with their master. And then there are those other dogs! It seems as if these dogs are walking their owners instead of the other way around. You see them constantly straining at the leash, eager to follow every distraction and oblivious to their master’s desire to protect them. The route the master wants to take makes no difference to these dogs. They are determined to have their own way – unwilling to yield to their master’s will.

Much like these pets, some believers have a hard time surrendering to the Master’s guidance and protection. Surrender can be perceived as negative, but let’s find out what it truly means in the context of our relationship with Jesus.

What Does It Mean To Surrender?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, surrender is an act of yielding or resigning your life or the possession of something into the power of another; to give up or to yield to the influence, passion, or power of another.

For example, the living Bible says, “We are not our own bosses…” and Romans 14:13 says, “Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong” (TLB).

So instead of following our desires and impulses, we are to yield our lives to the influence of Jesus in every aspect of our beings. Evangelist T.L. Osborn once said, “You are painting a picture of Jesus to others by every word you speak and every deed you do. Make sure you are painting a good picture.” Surrender is easier said than done. But our motivation to surrender has a big part to play in how consistently we yield to Jesus.

What Is Our Motivation For Surrender?

Surrender is based on love. When you truly love someone, you surrender your plans and desires, and instead do that which honours and pleases the other person. You give serious consideration as to how your actions affect another person.

In surrender to Jesus, you now think about how your actions affect your relationship with Him and with others. Your surrender to Jesus is not a one-time experience. It becomes a daily experience. And an experience that deepens over time. To the extent we surrender, the more we are willing to surrender.

What Is The Extent Of Surrender?

We choose to surrender to the will of Jesus’ every day rather than demanding our own way. When you go your own way, choosing to be strong-willed or self-focused, you’ll experience the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit (and your own conscience) warning you to stop. I know this for a fact, because I have experienced the convicting power of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit many times.
Once you become a Christian, you need to recognize that your body and your spirit are now God’s dwelling place or house (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Believe me, God cares about His house.

Now that you have invited Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior and surrendered to Jesus, you no longer belong to yourself. You belong to God. He owns you. By the way, He can’t just be your Saviour without becoming your Lord. Lordship implies authority over you.

Many Christians want Jesus to be with them to help them out when they get into trouble (like a personal maintenance man), but they don’t want Him telling them what do when things are going smoothly.

So, your surrender extends to considering Jesus in everything that you do. Consider means “to think seriously; to have regard for; to respect; to take into view in examination.” When you consider Jesus, you take into account His opinion and His view of things. You want your attitudes, thoughts, motives, words, behaviour, and yes, even your appearance to honour Him.

You’re more highly motivated to please Him than to please yourself or others. Ask yourself, “Do I consider Jesus in what I think, what I say, and in what I do?” “Do I represent Jesus well to others?” Are people attracted to Jesus when they look at you? It’s good to ask yourself, “Can people see Jesus in the way I live? Does my lifestyle as well as the words I speak help or hinder people in becoming closer to Jesus? ( Romans 14:7). Surrender to Jesus is the path of blessing and has a significant outcome on our lives.

How Does Surrender Determine The Outcome Of Our Lives?

Your life, whether it is a good life or a difficult life, is determined by choices you make daily, living submitted and surrendered to God or living your own way. When you have your personal time with God each day, acknowledge that you know He owns you and you want Him to keep you and lead you.

The choices and decisions you make will affect your future. Jesus understood the power of choice, and He chose to live submitted and surrendered even in the face of great temptation. He showed us that it is possible for us to submit our will and surrender to God.
God gave us free will because He wanted us to love Him and obey Him by our own choice. God won’t force us, even though He knows the end result of an unsurrendered will is difficulty, heartache, pain, hardship, and sometimes destruction.

So when we Christians know that the Bible instructs us to live a surrendered life, why do we ignore that knowledge? Most often it’s because we want to fulfil our own desires or lust. When you decide you will go your own way, you unlock and open doors or windows to the enemy.

Sometimes Christians wonder why their lives are full of heartache and difficulty, but if they will take time to re-evaluate the choices they have made, they will discover where they have made themselves vulnerable through poor choices. Choices in which they stubbornly insisted on going their own direction instead of surrendering to and obeying God’s promptings and warnings. When you are self-willed, stubborn, rebellious, and unsubmissive to God’s authority, the enemy has much greater opportunity to rob you or even to destroy you.

Once you decide to surrender your life to Jesus, obeying God’s Word will become easier, your natural way of doing things. You will begin to see the Word as a guideline to live by.

To Sum It Up

When you are under the guidance and direction of the Master, surrendered to His good plan and ways, you won’t be straining at the leash, following after every distraction that comes up. Surrender is a blessed state, motivated by love for Jesus and extending to every aspect of our lives. It is of highest importance to Believers because it determines the outcome of our lives.

 

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