CHRISTIANS, WE NEED TO DO BETTER

Christians, We Need To Do Better. https://beckielindsey16.com/2016/07/26/christians-we-need-to-do-better/

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” — Keith Green

Recently I was speaking with a friend who no longer attends church. “The church makes me sick. The people are intolerant, self-righteous hypocrites,” she said.

Ouch!

Of course, I could have gotten defensive. Honestly, I felt a little angry. But when I saw behind her anger, what I actually detected was pain. And so I listened. I listened to her speak about the contractor who took a downpayment for a job he never completed. The Bible study who shunned the gay teen. The Pastor who committed adultery. The prayer requests that turned into fodder for gossip. And believe it or not, there was more.

These are unfortunate and heartbreaking examples I wish I could say are out of the ordinary. But they’re not.

So, how did I respond to my friend? “I’m so sorry that your experience with people who call themselves Christians has been so hurtful. But that’s not Jesus.”

She shrugged. “But aren’t Christians—especially those who go to church— supposed to act like Jesus by following His example?”

That’s when I quoted Keith Green. “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

She laughed. And so did I. But then the conversation got serious again.

Here’s the reality: Christians, we need to do better.

Why? Because people need Jesus. Because we—the church, the Christians—are supposed to represent Jesus. Because people are hungry for truth and for authentic. And quite frankly, they are sick of people who say one thing but do another. That is the definition of a hypocrite. The term “hypocrite” is from the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play-acting, pretense.” Which is exactly what people don’t want.

Many Christians today have fallen into a trap of pretending to have it all together. In fact, that’s a big reason we are called hypocrites. When we pretend to others, we have a tendency to become blinded to our own hypocrisy. This is very dangerous. Take a look at what Jesus had to say:“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28

Here’s the truth. All Christians fail to live up to the standard the Bible teaches. This includes me. This is why I need grace. This is why we need grace. But we shouldn’t hide the fact that we need grace as if Christians don’t make mistakes that require it.

I’m not saying to flaunt your mistakes. I’m saying, let people see the progress you are making as you grow in your relationship with Jesus.

We should be genuinely and actively seeking to grow more and more like Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us and change us. When we pretend on the outside, many times we aren’t allowing God to convict us on the inside. This is how Christianity appears hollow and phony.

The fact that we receive God’s grace on a daily basis is the very reason we will, in turn, extend grace to others.

Showing grace to others is a byproduct of receiving God’s grace.

This is how people will “see” Jesus in us. This is REAL.

If we aren’t awed by God’s daily love and grace, how will we be able to truly extend love and grace to a world that is desperate for it?


What are your thoughts?

This post is linked to: http://www.leahadams.org/the-loft-link-up-pot-luck-7/

 

UNLIKELY SECRETS TO PRAYER

UNLIKELY SECRETS TO PRAYER https://beckielindsey16.com/2016/07/18/unlikely-secrets-to-prayer/

Everyone wants to know the secret to something. Dieters want to know the secret to losing weight. Parents want to know the secret to raising responsible, loving children who will grow into productive members of society. And Christians want to know the secret to effective prayer. So, what’s the secret to real intimacy with our heavenly Father?

Let me start by saying, there is no magic formula for a productive prayer life. Having said that, the Bible gives us all the information we need to become prayer warriors—most of them we are familiar with. However, there are a few that don’t get the lip service they rightly deserve.

It’s no secret that Americans are busy. One Gallup poll indicates nearly half of us feel we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do. Books on time management find their way on the New York Times Best Sellers List on a regular basis. And yet, If Jesus is our example of proper time management, His bestseller—the Bible (the world’s best seller of all time) —will be ours.

A SECRET PLACE

The Bible tells us that Jesus often retreated to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).

Jesus made sure to: pray often, alone, and in a quiet and uninterrupted place. We ought to do the same. 

But too often we bulldoze into our day without talking to God. Sure, we may take a moment to pray in the shower, or on our morning commute. There’s nothing wrong with praying during these times, but this is not the quality time necessary to deepen any relationship. We need to have a place where we can drown out the static of the world. A place where there is no motivation but to know our heavenly Father.

In the popular movie War Room, the lead actress (Priscilla Shirer) turned her closet into a place of prayer.

Do you have a place where you can go on a daily basis to be alone and uninterrupted with God?

MEDITATION

Unfortunately, the word meditation has been associated with the New Age movement, or even carries a certain mystical connotation. But there is no hocus pocus involved in Christian meditation—it is rooted in the Bible. In fact, we are commanded to meditate.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8

What is mediation?

“Biblical meditation is not about emptying your mind but filling it with truth. It simply means to read a passage of Scripture, think about it, and repeat it to yourself. It’s the first and most important step to memorizing Bible verses.” Rick Warren

Meditation should be solely on the Bible, characteristics of God, and what is revealed about Him.

It takes serious effort and concentration. But the payoff is priceless. “No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on Scripture…” Rick Warren

We have many thoughts raging within our minds, even in our sleep. And yet, we don’t like to sit alone with nothing but our thoughts. Researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard University found that many people would rather inflict pain on themselves than spend 15 minutes with nothing to do but think. Two-thirds of the men and a quarter of the women in the study decided to shock themselves rather than just sit and think. (study)

Our heavenly Father knows the benefits of making the time to remove ourselves from the busyness and constant stimulation of the world. We need to be alone with our thoughts in order to ascertain what is influencing and driving us. Christian meditation is not about emptying the mind as in other forms of meditation. God calls us to bring our thoughts to Him and allow Him to transform our thinking (Romans 12:2)

Our thoughts are transformed through meditation when we: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

FASTING

In many Christian churches today, fasting has become a lost discipline, rarely discussed or practiced. Chances are you are among the majority of Christians who rarely or never fast.

WHAT FASTING IS: Fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food and/or drink for a period of time in order to focus on deeper prayer and fellowship with God.

We can look at fasting as an exchange of physical needs for spiritual needs. (tweet this)

WHAT FASTING IS NOT: Fasting is not a special tool or method in which we manipulate God to respond like a genie in a bottle and grant our every wish.

Fasting is not just denying yourself of food. As stated above, it’s an exchange of physical needs for spiritual ones. Fasting is not a diet.

Scripture does not command Christians to fast. However, the Bible mentions fasting numerous times as something that is good, beneficial and rewarding. I think it’s worth noting that although Jesus didn’t speak too much on fasting during His ministry, the one time that He gave specific instructions on fasting, in Matthew 6:5-18, He started by saying: “when you fast,” not “if you fast.”

THE BENEFITS OF FASTING

Fasting helps us draw closer to God. We acknowledge through fasting that we need God to live more than food. It should help us break away from the desire to satisfy our own lusts and materialism, thereby desiring God in a new, fresh way. Fasting can help us understand what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Like the deer that pants after water, my soul longs for You.” (Psalm 42:1)

Fasting fosters self-discipline in an undisciplined age. Have you noticed the age in which we live seem to despise discipline? We live in a very materialistic society where we are used to getting what we want rather quickly. It seems whether you live in an affluent country or poor one, the world today is becoming more and more interested in what their neighbor has. Even as far back as the 10 Commandments given to Moses, God talked about materialism and being satisfied with what you have.

Fasting provides a way to impose self-discipline in your life. Physical self-discipline “rubs off” into spiritual self-discipline.

Fasting provides guidance. “Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)

The Israelites sought the Lord through fasting when they had been defeated in battle by the tribe of Benjamin in Judges 20:26-28.

Fasting shows humility and dependence upon God. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart. David shows us in Psalm 35:13 an example of humbling oneself before God. “Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.  I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered.”

Fasting Empowers. I look at prayer combined with fasting as the TNT of a Christian’s weaponry arsenal.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-18, tells us that WE ARE AT WAR, not with flesh-and-blood enemies, but evil spiritual forces. He then describes heavenly spiritual armor that God provides for believers. A powerful part of our arsenal includes prayer, as well as prayer coupled with fasting.

When Jesus faced the temptation of Satan, he fasted (Luke 4:1-11). In Mark 9:29, we read that the disciples needed a power from God that comes only through fasting. Matthew 17:20 21 say that prayer with fasting can work spiritual miracles.

While there isn’t a magic formula for prayer, three unlikely secrets to incorporate into our lives are: establishing a secret place for prayer, meditation, and fasting.

What are your thoughts on these unlikely secrets to prayer?

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16


This post is linked to: http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1189
http://www.create-with-joy.com/2016/07/inspire-me-monday-week-237.html
http://mostlyblogging.com/inspire-monday-linky-party-90/#more-12182

http://www.leahadams.org/the-loft-link-up-pot-luck-7/

 

 

 

 

Five Types Of Christians God Won’t Use

Five Types of People God Won't Use

It’s been over twenty years since I prayed this prayer: “Lord, take all of my life and use me however you choose.” Then I gulped, closed my eyes tightly and held my breath.

I knew I had made the most important commitment of my life—more important than getting married or having children. I gave complete control of my life to the Creator of the Universe. What would He do with me?

I just knew God was going to send me to some remote village in Africa. But He didn’t. I thought He would send me to work in a homeless shelter. But He didn’t. Or maybe He’d tell me to throw out all of my make-up products and go natural. But He didn’t. I expected a drastic event of some kind to take place. But it didn’t.

I desperately wanted God to use me.

This is what He did do: He showed me that ministry had to be on His terms, and not mine. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

God bends and breaks those who speak for Him. And I needed some bending, some letting go of fears, past hurts, and attitudes, and even some breaking.

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t sound appealing. This is because when we become Christians we expect that life will be better. Our definition of better is usually different than God’s. But God’s better is the BEST. This took me awhile to learn (I’m still learning).

It’s true that God can use anyone. He doesn’t show favoritism based on race, age, gender, marital status, sexual past or present, income, or any of our failures. But He will never lower His standards because His standards are true and right and the best; He uses only humble, obedient and surrendered followers.

Many Christians will not be of much use to God because of mindsets and behaviors that limit the Holy Spirit.

First Thessalonians 5:19 calls it “quenching the Holy Spirit.” I don’t know about you, but I need as much Holy Spirit in my life as possible. I never want to quench or suppress Him.

If you and I want God to use us, then let’s be careful not to fall into any of these categories:

CONTROL FREAK

There are many Christians who enjoy the benefits of salvation but never relinquish control from their tight little fists. Jesus is the savior as well as LORD. He deserves the right to not only guide our lives but override our attempts to make selfish and harmful choices. Holding onto control is pride. It is saying that you don’t trust God to handle your life.

If the Holy Spirit isn’t the one in control of your life, then SIN is in control. 

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

If we want God to use us, then we must move over to the passenger seat and let the LORD drive.

CRITIC

Oh, how humans love to judge, criticize and blame—and we’re so good at it too! We should be. Humankind has been developing our inner critic since the Garden of Eden. The devil, the Accuser, (Revelation 12:10) was there to spur it on. So, if we are accusing and judging others, we are cooperating with the schemes of the devil.

The Holy Spirit will not work through people who are bitter, angry and judgemental.

CARNALLY-MINDED

The carnal mind is the mind of the flesh and senses. Our senses are an unreliable guide and often contradict the Word of God. We live in a time where it is not only popular but acceptable to lower our standard of moral behavior. It has become increasingly prevalent to live in sinful lifestyles that go against the word of God.

The world and the carnal mind shout things like: Follow your heart. Look out for number one. Do what feels good. The Bible tells us the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). To put others first (Philippians 2:3-4). And not to copy the patterns of the world, but to let God transform our thinking (Romans 12:1-2).

The flesh wants power, money and to be content at all times. We are inundated with messages that tell us what we must have in order to be happy. The Bible tells us if we love God, then we will not love the world and the things it offers (1 John 2:15).

Do not be fooled. Those who live in blatant sin and love the world will not be used by the Holy Spirit. Our usefulness to God is based on whether we are submitted to the sanctification process. This simply means we are in the process of surrender to God at all times.

Holiness is not optional in God’s economy.

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21

COWARDS

Let’s face it, the Christian message is and always has been countercultural.

We need to face this fact as we choose to follow the Great Commission of sharing our faith (Matthew 28:16-20). When Jesus told us to go and make disciples it was a command. If we are not sharing the Good News, we are not obeying Christ—plain and simple.

Worry is another form of fear. Fear has the power to paralyze. This is why it’s such a popular tactic of the enemy. Fear simply stated is unbelief, which also reveals our lack of trust in God. Faith and fear cannot exist together. Our deliverance from fear is based on faith. We need to understand that faith is not something we generate on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is a gift. God gives us faith to be courageous.

If you’ve been stuck in fear, repent for your lack of faith and ask God to increase your courage. Memorize a few scriptures about courage to recite when you feel afraid. Here are a few: 1 Chronicles 28:20, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 6:10, Deuteronomy 31:6-8

If we want God to use us, we must courageously step out of our comfort zones.

COUCH POTATO

Somewhere in the midst of all the 21-century technology, we’ve lost the discipline of discipleship. God wants more than a quick prayer on our commute or a five-minute devotion read on our smartphones. Going to a weekend church service is great, but it doesn’t take the place of consistent one-on-one time with our heavenly Father.

We make time for the things that are truly important to us. If knowing God is important to you, it will show in your priorities.

If knowing God through His word and prayer matter to you, you’ll do it.

We must be consistent students of the Word who obey what it says. Obedience to the Word will show through our faith and faith will show in our actions. Service is a byproduct of a mature and growing Christian. If we want God to use us, we must make His word, prayer, and service priorities.

Halfhearted, lukewarm people don’t change the world. God calls us to be world changers!