Honest with God

“The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ – John 4:23-24 NKJV     
In His dialogue with the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus spoke about “true” worshipers, and twice talked about “truth.” Clearly, He was concerned about truth.

The Greek word here has two roots. The first is “a,” which simply means “not.” The second means to lie hidden. It is as if Jesus was saying that truth is defined by what it is not! In fact, we might say that truth is what is not hidden. What is open and honest.

The opposite of truth, then, is hiding, being secretive and deceptive. From a spiritual perspective, this means trying to hide from God, pretending to be something we are not, being deceitful, presenting distorted attitudes.

Jesus was saying that God seeks those who worship Him with an open heart and an attitude that is transparent before Him, who don’t try to hide anything from Him.

God knows that we cannot be “perfect,” but He wants us to have an honest relationship with Him. To confess our sins. To be talk about our weaknesses and mistakes. This means that the depth of our relationship with Him depends on the depth of our openness and honesty.

If we want an intimate relationship with Him, we will talk about what is in our hearts. We will tell Him what we have done, and not hide anything from Him. How wonderful to think that God loves us so much that we can be open with Him!

In your life, remember that God knows you better than you know yourself. Ask Him to help you to be truthful and honest in your relationship with Him.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, search my heart and reveal Your truth to me. Help me to be open and honest with You. And forgive me for trying to hide anything from You. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

STAY BLESSED

How Do You Find God’s Will

“God . . . invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord” – 1 Corinthians 1:9 TLB.           
God isn’t playing games with you. He wants you to understand his will, his purpose, and his plan for your life.

You may say, “I want God to guide me, but I still get confused. I don’t know what to do.” Often the problem is we’re looking for the wrong thing. You need to know what you’re looking for before you can find it.

So, what is God’s will?

God’s will is not a feeling.

Maybe you are looking for a feeling or a supernatural sign. You want God to pull your heartstrings so you’ll know exactly what to do.

The problem is that feelings are unreliable; they will often guide you the wrong way. Feelings can come from fatigue, hormones, or an event you’ve just experienced. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful” (NIV). Even your heart plays tricks on you. Even the Devil can create a feeling. If I had listened to my feelings, I never would have married my wife, Kay. The day before the wedding, my feelings said, “Run!” But that wasn’t God’s will. That was fear!

Don’t wait for a feeling when you’re trying to figure out God’s plan for your life.

God’s will is not a formula.

In our culture, we want everything to be easy. We want things to follow a simple formula that will instantly change our lives. We want a step-by-step guide.
But there’s a problem with this approach: There’s no room for mistakes. If God’s will is a recipe, what happens if you leave out one ingredient? Leaving baking soda out of a recipe is the difference between a birthday cake and a pancake. What if you have “52 Steps to Knowing God’s Will,” and you skip step 37?

God’s will is not a closed system. It is dynamic! It is not always an issue of choosing A or B. In fact, many times you can choose from A to Z, and any of them will be okay. It’s your choice. Why would God give you a brain and not expect you to use it? He lets you make choices, and he gives you second chances.

If God’s will is not a feeling or a formula, what is it?

God’s will is a relationship.
We find very little in the Bible about the technique of knowing God’s will. But we see thousands of verses that talk about developing a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Why? Because God’s will is a relationship.
The better you get to know God, the less confusion you’ll have about what his will is. Get to know God, and everything else becomes secondary.

Talk It Over

  • If you experience a feeling that you believe is telling you something about God’s will, what is a right, appropriate response?
  • Why do you think God allows us to make choices and even mistakes when we are searching for his will?
  • How well do you know God — and how can you get to know God better?

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

The Cost of Following Jesus  

Scripture: Matthew 16:21-26                
Have you ever found yourself trying to follow two people at one time? This works only when they’re going in the same direction. But what happens if their paths diverge? For instance, imagine you’re on a hiking trail with friends, and you reach a fork in the road. If one person wants to go right and someone else thinks you should turn left, you must choose which one to follow.

This principle is also true for Christians, but now our choice is whether to follow Jesus or ourselves. Most of us will happily follow Jesus as long as He’s going where we want. But what happens if He leads us down a road of sacrifice, self-denial, suffering, or even death? Will we still trust Him and keep going?

This was the dilemma Jesus’ disciples faced. When they started following Him, they expected that He’d establish His Messianic kingdom, deliver them from Roman domination, and give them places of honor and authority. Thinking they’d soon be exalted in the kingdom, they were willing to suffer the temporary deprivations of home, security, and comfort. But then Jesus told them His path was leading to suffering and death, and if they wanted to follow Him, they too must deny themselves and take up their cross.

Many Christians today have the same expectation the disciples had—maybe not for a kingdom, but for a happy and prosperous life. However, this is essentially like inviting Jesus to follow us. Self-denial means giving up our right to lead and surrendering to Christ’s lordship over our life. Though His path isn’t easy, He alone knows the way to the Father’s house.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

No Worries

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.  Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass?  And you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy.  And where is the fury of the oppressor?… But I am the LORD your God, who divided the sea whose waves roared–the LORD of hosts is His name” – Isaiah 51:12-13 and 15.

I trust that these words from Isaiah will encourage you today.
God spans the heavens with the palm of His hand.  The nations are as a drop in the bucket before Him.  There is nothing too hard for Him, and nothing He cannot do.
A number of years ago, I had the chance to go elk hunting with a friend in Montana.  We were lying outside under the stars, and I was unprepared for the glory I saw.  I have never seen so many stars in my life!  It took my breath away!
As we lay there, I said, “You know what?  God spans the heavens with His hand, and you and I are worried about paying the rent!”  It was just one of those moments.  We both just cracked up at how ridiculous it was to worry when God was so big.
What are you worrying about today?  Whatever it is, place it into God’s hands.  After all, His hand spans the entire universe!

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Answers for Each Day.

The High Cost of Compromise

1 John 2:15-29
In the world of politics, compromise is the name of the game. One thing must be surrendered in order to gain something else that is desired. We also make concessions in many other areas of life. Some compromises are good, such as giving up our desire to watch television when our children ask us to play a game with them. However, anytime we compromise issues of morality, integrity, obedience to God, or the truth of Scripture, we will pay a high price.
There is a battle going on within each of us. As believers, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, who convicts us of sin, prompts us toward obedience, and teaches us truth. However, there is also a fleshly part of us that longs for selfish pleasures and values the priorities of this fallen world. As much as we may try, we cannot straddle the fence between the flesh and the Spirit. James 4:4 says that friendship with the world is enmity toward God. We must make a choice—and not just one time but daily and even hourly.

Compromising by giving in to our fleshly desires leads to internal corruption (Eph. 4:21-24). We may not notice it at first, but stepping beyond the boundary of obedience affects our mind and future choices. Each concession makes the next one easier. Satan first gains a toehold, which eventually becomes a foothold and then a stronghold. The final result is ruin, as God allows us to reap what we’ve sown.

Instead of sitting on the fence, let’s make up our mind ahead of time to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and reap the benefits of a life fully devoted to Christ.

STAY BLESSED

Winning an Offended Brother

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. – Proverbs 18:19

When this verse refers to a “strong city,” it means a fortified or a guarded city.  You cannot just waltz up to the gate of a fortified city and say “give up.”  It takes strategic planning to take such a city.  You have to think things through and have a plan.
It also means there is going to be strenuous effort involved.  And, more than likely, you will be in a vulnerable position.  In fact, you don’t take a strong city without taking risks, without becoming vulnerable.
The same things come into play when a brother is offended.  It takes thoughtful planning, it takes effort, and sometimes you have to become vulnerable when you do not want to be.
Perhaps you are struggling with a damaged relationship today, and you haven’t pursued healing this relationship because you don’t know how to do it.  It always starts with prayer.  You talk to God about them and about yourself, and then you need to go and talk to them.
When you do, I want you to listen carefully, it should not be with a view to prove that you are right.  Being right is not the goal.  Peace is.  Most of the time it is more important to be kind than it is to be right.
If you try to work something out, but only with the intention of having them understand your point of view so that you can prove you are right, you may win the argument, but you will never make peace.
So when you are endeavoring to win an offended brother, listen carefully to them, and endeavor to understand where they are coming from.  Seek to hear and not just be heard.  Though it may be difficult, you can win peace and see a broken relationship restored.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Answers for Each Day.

Role Model

By the grace of God I am what I am.’ – 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV
Role models can shape you and make you, or, if they don’t really know what they’re doing, break you. That’s why they’re pretty important to get right. If you devote your life to being like somebody else – and especially if they’re the wrong type of person – you risk becoming something God doesn’t want you to be. Always remember, your ‘heroes’ wrestle with blind spots and character flaws too. Paul said, ‘I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God’ (v. 9 NIV). The same thing with Peter; when Cornelius sent for him, we’re told that as he ‘entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, ‘I am only a man myself”’ (Acts 10:25-26 NIV).
Say a friend starts a business and makes money, but when you quit your job and follow in his footsteps you go broke. Or say a co-worker wears something that looks great on her, but on you the same outfit looks like a sack tied in the middle. The danger in hero worship comes from bailing on your individuality and missing the path God has mapped out for you personally. Some of the lessons God teaches us may be similar. But another person’s gifts, purpose, journey, and time-frame will be different from yours. God is ‘jealous’ about you (see Deuteronomy 4:24).
He wants to protect you from anything that would snipe your uniqueness, or threaten your relationship with Him. If you want to be on safe ground, make Jesus your first-and-last role model.

What Now?
Ask God: ‘Am I surrounding myself with people who’ll lead me into my destiny? Should any of them change?’

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.

How to Develop a Heart for God

Scripture: Psalm 119:9-16
What is your response when you read that David was a man after God’s own heart? (See 1 Samuel 13:14.) Many of us look up to him as a spiritual giant and think to ourselves, I could never be like that.

But the Lord hasn’t reserved this title for just one man. He wants all of us to seek Him as David did. One of our problems is the tendency to focus on just part of his story. We tend to forget that the scriptural account gives a record of David’s lifetime. He had to begin pursuing the Lord the same way we do—one step at a time.

A hunger for the heavenly Father doesn’t ordinarily appear all of a sudden, fully matured, in one’s heart. Most of the time, it’s something that must be cultivated, and the best place to begin is the Bible. That’s where we listen to the Lord as He speaks to us in His Word.

Another essential element is prayer. As you read His words, start talking to Him. If it all seems dry and meaningless, ask Him to work in your life to make Scripture come alive. He loves to answer prayer in accordance with His will.

The next step is meditation. Don’t “put in your time” so you can say you’ve read your Bible. Slow down and deliberately think about what you’ve read, asking, What am I discovering about God?

The last step is to commit. A hunger for God may not develop right away, but remember, you’re working for a changed heart that will last a lifetime, not a fleeting emotional experience. Continue to fill up with the fuel that brings transformation—the Word, prayer, and meditation.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

4 Secrets to Answered Prayer

“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.” . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me’” – Nehemiah 1:5-6, 8-9, 11 NLT.
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:
1. Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”

2. Confess the sins you’re aware of. After Nehemiah based his prayer on who God is, he confessed his sins. He said, “We have sinned.” It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened, and he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he included himself in the national sins. He said, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”

3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine telling God to “remember”? Nehemiah reminded God of a promise made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prayed, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we would repent, you’d give it back to us.”

Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.

4. Be specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?

Nehemiah was not hesitant to pray for success. He was very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful?” If you haven’t, why? What is the alternative? A failure?

Is it okay to ask God to make you successful? It all depends on your definition of success! I believe a good definition of success is “fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God.” That is a worthy life objective that you should be able to pray for with confidence.

Consider this: If you can’t ask God to make you a success at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

An Expert Searcher

“For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out” – Ezekiel 34:11.
This He does at the first when His elect are like wandering sheep that know not the Shepherd or the fold. How wonderfully doth the LORD find out His chosen! Jesus is great as a seeking Shepherd as well as a saving Shepherd. Though many of those His Father gave Him have gone as near to hell-gate as they well can, yet the LORD by searching and seeking discovers them and draws nigh to them in grace. He has sought out us: let us have good hope for those who are laid upon our hearts in prayer, for He will find them out also.

The LORD repeats this process when any of His flock stray from the pastures of truth and holiness. They may fall into gross error, sad sin, and grievous hardness; but yet the LORD, who has become a surety for them to His Father, will not suffer one of them to go so far as to perish. He will by providence and grace pursue them into foreign lands, into abodes of poverty, into dens of obscurity, into depths of despair; He will not lose one of all that the Father has given Him. It is a point of honor with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead, if at this hour I am compelled to cry, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!”

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.