Sleeping Christians

I was reading in Matthew Chapter 26 this morning where Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and he took Peter, James, and John with him when he went to pray.  He asked them to watch with him, but found them sleeping on three separate occasions when he returned from praying.   The question that came up in my spirit was, if Jesus returned today how many Christians would he find asleep?

The word sleep means a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli.  I want to break this definition down into 3 parts to explain how I see it affecting us as Christians.

  1. State of rest for the mind and body in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost.  This is the first step in going to sleep as a Christian.  You start by just going through the motions each day.  You put very little thought into your purpose or your calling.  You have closed your eyes to what is going on around you and are only concerned with your life.  As long as everything is good within your life, you are content.   You are not studying the Word or spending time in prayer like you once did.  You often turn a blind eye to sin in your life or make excuses as to why this sin is now acceptable.  You justify sin to make your life easier or to fit in with others.  Your light is no longer shining because you don’t want people to think you are weird or that you have become radical.
  2. There is a decrease in bodily movement.  Once your mind is not focused on God you become physically stuck in your walk with God. God is not a top priority in your life, but has been replaced with things or dreams of this world.  You are no longer active in your church or community.  You have excuses as to why you are missing services or are unable to help with outreach programs.  You allow the offended spirit to get all over you, so you now have an excuse or justification for not being faithful and dedicated to your church or community.
  3. Responsiveness to external stimuli. The last part of this definition applies to your spiritual heart.  You no longer have the love and compassion that is required by God toward others.  You become cold and indifferent to the needs of others.  You start to only worry about yourself and your household.  You no longer want to give of your time or money to help others.  You no longer feel the Holy Spirit or the presence of God almighty in your life.  You begin to find fault in everyone and everything because you have taken your eyes off God and put them on man.  Lastly, you turn on your church and walk away.  Now that you are no longer being spiritually fed at home or at church, you only grow colder and colder spiritually.

The good news is you can avoid going to sleep by staying focused on God.  Praying daily for guidance and strength to stay on fire for God.  If you feel you have fallen asleep in your walk with Jesus, you can wake up today.  With one prayer you can turn it around and with consistent prayer and time in the Word you can get back on fire for God.  We cannot fulfil our purpose or our calling by being asleep.  As Christians we need to get excited and share that excitement with others.  Tell others about Jesus and what he has done for you.  We all have a story to tell of what He did for us and what He can do for us and others.  Challenge yourself today to tell at least one person about Jesus.

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Junk Mail

I decided this morning I was going to clean out my Inbox for my email account.  When I check my email each day I read the ones from actual people, but I usually just skip all the junk mail, such as ads and coupons. Instead of deleting those immediately I tend to procrastinate until I have over a 1000 of these in my inbox.  As I was deleting these this morning and getting my email account in order, I began to think about how we do this as Christians.  I thought about how our minds are like our email accounts.  It receives thousands of emails or bits of information each day.  Some of these emails are important and are needed, while other emails are just junk and serve no purpose to us.  Instead of deleting it immediately we allow it to take up space in our minds.  We feel it is not harmful or evil junk mail, so we tend to just ignore it.

In Colossians 3:2 it says Set your mind on things above and not on things on the earth.  Are we allowing junk mail from the world to take up too much space in our minds? As I thought about this I realized that worry and doubt come from our minds.  We all say things like “I need to quit overthinking it and just do it” or “I am reading to much into it.”  Both of these things have to do with our mindset.  This is because we are searching all around the junk mail in our minds to find the emails from Jesus and his Word.  When things come up in our lives, our minds immediately begin to look for validation.   It starts searching through all the emails in your Inbox and other Folders you have created and when it doesn’t find what it needs, doubt and worry take over.  Doubt and worry lead to fear and fear will stop you dead in your tracks.

I believe this is why the Bible talks about a renewing of the mind when we are saved.  This renewing that takes place when we are first saved is because everything in our Inbox was deleted and replaced with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  In Ephesians 4:23-24 it says, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  In Romans 12:2 it says, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  The word renewing means to give fresh life or strength to.  As I read this definition I thought wow! isn’t this exactly what He tells us in II Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  There is no power in worry or doubt, only fear.

As I thought about this more, I realized that all this junk mail that we think is harmless is the reason we have doubt and worry, which leads to a spirit of fear.  These harmless emails are paralyzing Christians because their Faith has become diluted.  Their Faith is diluted because Jesus and His Word is not easily found in their Inbox.  When your Faith is tested and you have to search your mind for validation you are opening the door to doubt, worry, and fear.  A sound mind, as mentioned in II Timothy, comes from being confident. Confidence comes from knowing God can and will do what His Word says He will.  Confidence is a firm trust and certainty that you cannot have unless your Inbox is filled with God and His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus Christ.

Today I pray that each of us delete all the junk mail that enables the spirit of fear.  I pray that we all put Jesus number one in our Inbox, so when hard times arise or scary situations occur we stand strong in our faith and are confident in what  our God can do.

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Battle Scars

As I was laying in the bed this morning praying, the phrase or term “Battle Scars” came up in my spirit.  The definition of battle scar is the mark left behind by wounds or injuries received during battle that have healed.  Most of us know what physical battle scars are, but what about spiritual battle scars?  How do we get spiritual battle scars?

I believe we get spiritual battle scars from getting to close to sin and not close enough to God.  Sin is used to lure you away from God and once you begin to participate in or condone it, you will be wounded.  Most of the time we have to receive that wound before we realize how far we have gotten away from God.  Once we receive that wound some will repent and draw close to God, while others allow themselves to become mutilated by sin.  During this time of mutilation they try to justify their sin by saying things like my sin is not that bad, or God knows my heart, or I could be doing worse things.  As they continue to make these excuses that sin is cutting and slashing away at them until they become unrecognizable.  They keep trying to control it and figure out how they can balance living for God and still enjoy a little bit of their favorite sin.  Some fight this battle their entire life and lose.  Others return to God only after sin has broken and defeated them.  The sad part is they were fighting a battle that Jesus had already won for them.  Unlike Jesus, we cannot bear the weight of our sin, it will crush and defeat us without His power in us.

In Ephesians God tells us to put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the devil.  The first thing he tells us to do in putting on his armour, is to gird our waist with the truth.  I believe this is because until you admit the truth about sin and your sin in particular, you can’t put on the rest of the armour.  You have to be able to call sin a sin, even if it steps on your toes.  You cannot put God’s armour over lies and deceit. God gave us his armour to defeat the wicked one, not to allow us to play with the wicked one.

We all have some type of battle scars.  Some are old and maybe some are new but once God heals the wounds they become only scars.  These scars have no power over us but are only a reminder of where we came from.  These scars can become part of our testimony of where God has brought us from but should not have control over us.  Sometimes we become so ashamed of these scars that we allow them to prevent us from speaking out about God.  Sometimes we allow others to make us feel ashamed and unworthy due to our scars.  They point out our scars to keep people from seeing their scars.  If you have given your life to Jesus then your scars only show His victory.  They show that no matter how bad, disgusting, or filthy your wounds were, He was able to save you with his amazing grace.  Your scars are just your reminder of not only how awesome and powerful our God is but how merciful and loving He his.

Just as we all sin differently, our scars are also different.  This doesn’t make my battle scars any less or any more than your battle scars.  They are just scars that longer have any power or control over us.  Today if you are struggling with wounds from sin in your life surrender them to God and let Him heal you. Give him total control over all of your life and just watch what He can do.

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To Purge

The phrase “To Purge” kept coming up in my spirit this morning during my prayer time.  The definition of purge means to physically remove or expel completely, rid (someone or something) of an unwanted quality, condition, or feeling.  I began to think about a spiritual purge and how when you first get saved the Holy Spirit purges a lot of sin out of your life.  Things you once enjoyed you no longer have a desire to do, because of this purge.   Your priorities get rearranged during this purge as well, because God moves into the number one spot in your life.  This purge causes you to hunger for the Word of God and thirst for the Holy Spirit.  Over time we allow things to build back up in our hearts that need to be purged.  Things that fill us and keep us from hungering for God the way we did in the beginning.  These may not blatant sins but things like doubt, fear, pain, hurt, and guilt.

When Christians are filled with doubt and fear they get stuck and are no longer following Jesus.  They can’t grow or move forward in Christ because they are stuck in the mud and muck of doubt which brings on fear.  Once fear moves in we begin to belittle ourselves and the word “can’t” becomes a huge part of our vocabulary.  II Samuel 22:30-31 says For by you I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. As I read this I thought there was no fear or doubt in David when he wrote this.  David said the Word of the Lord is proven.  When something has been proven to us, we no longer doubt it.  David goes on to say He is a shield to all who trust in Him.   To trust and believe in God leaves no room for fear.

When Christians are filled with pain and hurt emotionally or physically it becomes like quicksand under their feet and they begin to sink.  They sink into depression and darkness and if they don’t let go of it, then it will overtake them.  Did you know that the first rule if you step in quicksand is to drop everything you are carrying?  That’s kind of ironic when you think about it because we carry around the pain and hurt that is causing us to sink, instead of given it Jesus.  In Psalms 147:3 it says He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds up. 

When Christians are filled with guilt over their past it becomes like cement around their feet.  Their walk slows to a crawl until it becomes so hard they can’t take another step forward.  We all have a past and we have all sinned.  Sometimes we are the ones that can’t let it go or maybe it others around us that continue to dredge up our past.  We need to avoid this like wet cement.  In I John 1:9 it says God is faithful and reliable.  If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we have done wrong, In Isaiah 43:25 He says I am the one who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I’ll remember your sins no more.  This is the enemies favorite thing to use against us, guilt, but it can only have power over us if we allow it.  We cannot serve and give 100 percent to our purpose or calling if we are holding on to guilt.  Guilt keeps a lot of Christians permanently stuck where they are because they can’t forget their past.  Instead of holding on to your past sins use them as part of your testimony of where God brought you from.  Once you turn this around and use it to show God’s greatness and forgiveness, the enemy will stop using it against you.  Jesus knew every sin you were going to commit before He ever went to the cross and He still thought you were worth dying for.  Jesus saw something far greater in you than your sin and that was your purpose.  The purpose He created you for and the purpose he died for, so you could fulfill it.

Let’s pray today for the Holy Spirit to purge each and everyone of us today of the things that are keeping us from hungering for Him.  To purge us of the things that may be holding us back in fulfilling our purpose.

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The Eyes of the Lord

I was reading in 1 Peter chapter 3 this morning and verse 12 caught my attention.  It says For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.   I began to pray and meditate on this verse.  I have read this verse many times but this morning He spoke to me differently through this verse.

The first part of this verse says For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous.  We all know that God sees everything that we do and that He is watching over us.  However, I don’t think we realize how attentively he watches over us.  I see him watching us like a parent watching their child on the playground.  Some of us test the boundaries and wander to far while others of us may fall and get hurt, but we are never out of His sight.   He is right their to rescue us in our time of need.   The next part of that verse says And His ears are open to their prayers.  I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful for that part.  Just to know that all I have to do is cry out to Him in prayer and He is right there.  He will wipe away our tears and pull us up close to Him with loving arms.

Today it doesn’t matter what you are going through.  It doesn’t matter how great or how small, just know He is there and He is waiting on you to cry out to Him.  God never meant for us to go through this life on our on, but to take every step with Him.  As you grow up physically you need your mom and dad less and less for your daily needs, but as a Christian maturity begins when you realize how desperately you need Jesus for every step and every breathe you take.  Don’t go it alone, invite Jesus into every activity and every plan you have each day.

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Pure Heart

I was reading this morning in I Timothy chapter 1 when verse 5 caught my attention.  It says Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.  Love from a pure heart stuck out to me.  I began to think about the definition of pure and according to the dictionary it means not mixed or adulterated with any other substance, uncontaminated, sterile, and unpolluted.  As I thought about this definition I wondered are our hearts pure?  I then looked up the definition of the biblical word heart and it means the inner aspects of a man, made of three parts:

  1. Mental Process – which is the major part (where action and reaction take place), which is to lead a person in their life.
  2. Emotions – is as icing to enrich our lives
  3. Will -Where decisions are made between the rational and the emotive.

As I prayed I realized there is nothing pure about our hearts.  We would have to be innocent and blameless to have a pure heart. I thought about how our egos stem from our hearts along with our thoughts and motives.  The very sins we commit on a daily basis stem from the heart.  I searched for other scripture that referred to the pure of heart like Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.  My favorite was Psalm 51:10-11 Create in me a clean (pure) heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do take Your Holy Spirit from me. This verse reminded me that I may not have a pure heart on my own but through the Blood of Jesus Christ, I am being sanctified.  Jesus Christ is the only way we can have a pure heart.  A pure heart is not external behavior but it is an internal change.  As Christians we have a internal desire to serve our Lord and Savior. We may fail at times, but Jesus is there to pick us up and dust us off.  He died on the cross so you and I could have a pure heart.  The Holy Spirit is the only way our hearts can be pure and thank you Jesus for sending Him to us.

As Christians we are not perfect and you may even feel defeated at this moment, but know who holds your future.  Know that there are none greater than the One who died for you.  The One who shed his blood so you and I could have eternity with Him.    He is the pureness in our hearts.

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ADHD Christians

We are living in a day and time when we as Christians need to stay focused on God and his purpose for us.  We can easily become distracted with all the technology available at our finger tips today.  Social media can be great for sharing the Word of God but it can also be a hindrance  to us.  If we allow it to take time away from our prayer life or our time in the Word then it has become a hindrance to us.  Sometimes we can become so consumed with how many likes, shares, and followers we have that we forget the real purpose of our post, to spread the Word of God to others.

Due to this convenience we no longer have to wait or search diligently for any information.  All we have to do is ask Google or any other search engine and in a matter of seconds there is your answer.  Our minds have now become so accustom to this that our attention span has decreased.  If we can’t find something within a couple of seconds we forget about it and move on.  I believe this is starting to affect us spiritually as well.  Christians of today want what is easy to obtain.  We don’t want to search God’s Word or pray and fast for a breakthrough, we want the answer right now.  If we don’t get the answer we want in just a few seconds our minds move on to something else. Sometimes when we are trying to focus on God we have fifty other things running through our minds and we are not giving Him our undivided attention.  We have allowed ourselves to become ADHD Christians.  ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  You may be wondering how does this apply to Christians, so allow me to explain.

Attention Deficit –  We get so caught up in everything going on around us that we take our eyes off God.  Our minds become so consumed with other things that we can’t even concentrate on God when we pray.  While praying we begin to think about things like, what are we going to wear today, where we are going to eat lunch, what activities the kids have this afternoon, we need to clean the house, we need to cut the grass and suddenly our prayers become shorter and shorter.  Time in the Word becomes less and less because we are so preoccupied with our to do list.  We have allowed our minds to take our attention off God and our purpose on this earth.  We get anxious and frustrated because God is not answering our prayers fast enough so we decide to take matters into our own hands. We begin to search other places for the answer instead of waiting on God and His timing.

Hyperactivity Disorder – Once our attention is off God then our activities take us away from church, the Word, and prayer.  We enlist ourselves or our children in so many activities that there is no family time.  We run ourselves to death during the week trying to make it to the ball parks because the kids can’t be late, but can’t even set a clock to attend church on Sunday.  We have made activities a priority in our lives and the lives of our children and not God.  Families don’t sit around the table and have dinner together anymore much less have family bible study.  Why? Because we have become so consumed with activities and keeping ourselves and our children busy that we don’t have time to spend with our families or with God.  This teaches our children that God comes behind all of these activities and not first.  All the activities in the world are not as important as your child having time with you. In order for your child to feel loved and wanted they need to spend time with you.  The same is true for us as Christians.  Our time with God is important and in order for us to feel loved and wanted we have to spend time with Him.

Today, if you feel God is distant or you feel God is silent.  Check the amount of time you are spending with Him.  I have had to do this myself recently because I had allowed all the projects and things I want to do for Christ to take my time away from Christ.

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Spiritual Clutter

For the past couple of days the word clutter keeps coming up in my spirit.  This word means a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.  We have all  been to someone’s home or business that was filled with clutter.  Clutter can be a collection of things we like that has gotten out of hand or maybe we don’t even notice the clutter because it has built up slowly one piece at a time.  It can also be junk that we let pile up because we are too busy or lazy to take the time to get rid of it.  Clutter in your home can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed, so you chose to ignore it rather than dealing with it.  I then began to think do we have spiritual clutter?

As I prayed over this topic this morning, my mind became flooded with things that could be spiritual clutter.  I started thinking of our hearts and minds like rooms in a home. I thought about when we get saved and the Holy Spirit starts living in us, do we allow him to get rid of the clutter?  I believe the answer is no.  While we let him get rid of the big things in our lives we tend to hang onto those little things and collect them until they become an untidy mass lying around.

Picture the Holy Spirit standing in the middle of your living room, this is your mind.  As He is standing there He starts to move to the right and you say no don’t bother that stuff, just leave it.  See those are your dreams and goals that don’t involve God, these are things you want and desire that you don’t pray about because they are part of the flesh and world. He starts to move to the left and you say no don’t bother that stuff, just leave it. See these are the things that you enjoy and do for entertainment that don’t involve God.  These are things maybe you watch or listen to that you know you shouldn’t but you don’t do it often so it’s okay.  He then starts moving forward and you say no don’t bother that stuff, just leave it.  These are our habits and addictions that no one else knows about.  We have these under control so we don’t need any help here.  He then moves to the back and we say don’t both that stuff, just leave it.  These are the things we say we have put behind us and worked through but we are still harboring the pain, resentment, anger, and insecurities these things brought in our lives.  We don’t want to talk about them or let the Holy Spirit work through them, because we rather just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.  We do the exact same thing with our hearts.  We don’t allow Him to move too far to the right, left, forward or backwards due to the clutter we harbor.

We have boxed the Holy Spirit in and then we wonder why God is not moving in our lives. We have to be willing to get rid of the clutter.  There is nothing you have collected in your mind or heart that the Holy Spirit can’t get rid of, but you have to allow Him to do it.  You have to be willing to let it go and not return to it.  If we want God moving in our lives we have to give the Holy Spirit full access to our minds and our hearts.  We have to allow him to remove the clutter that shouldn’t be in our lives and that hinders us from growing in God.

I pray today that each of us allows the Holy Spirit to de-clutter our lives.  I pray for strength and courage for each of us to let go of those things that we collect that hinder us in God.

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To Serve

As I was reading in Galatians chapter 5 this morning, verse 13 caught my attention.  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. The portion that stood out to me this morning was serve one another.  The word serve means to perform duties or services for another person or organization.  As Christians, we get so caught up in what our purpose is or what we are called to do that we forget this basic rule to serve.

We are to serve others and to love others as ourselves.  I hate to burst your bubble, but calling your Pastor and making him aware of someone’s need, for him to help that person, does not constitute serving someone if it is something you can do on your own.  There is nothing wrong with notifying your Pastor if the need is greater than you are able to do on your own, but so many times we dump it on our Pastor and leave feeling like we did a great thing.  We justify this by telling ourselves and others how busy we are and that we just don’t have the time to help others.  When in reality we have time to do what we want to do but we have forgotten the basic rule to serve.

What about serving your Pastor or church?  When was the last time you saw something that needed to be done at your church and just did it?  When was the last time you asked your Pastor if there was something you could help him with?  We all depend on our Pastors and expect them to be there to serve our needs, but in most churches the Pastor can only count on a handful to serve his needs.  I can name the ones at my church that are there to serve and unfortunately it is not many.  I, myself, have failed in this area.  If you stop and think about your church, I am sure it will not take you long to think of the people, who are there to serve.  I am not talking about the ones that just donate money but the ones that are there when the doors open and are involved in every aspect of the church.  These are the people your Pastor depends on.

We often relate serving to giving of money when it can be so much more than that.  Your time and the giving of yourself is so much more valuable than money.   Serving can be spending time just talking to someone who is lonely.  Serving can be doing housework or yard work for the elders who can’t complete these task on their own.  Serving can be speaking to or smiling at someone at the grocery store because you don’t know what kind of day they are having.  Let others see Christ in us by our actions not just our words.

The flesh side of us prefers to be served rather than to serve others.  We get so caught up in our wants and needs that we forget about others.  If you want to know your purpose, it is to serve.  The Bible says in Mark chapter 10 that Jesus Christ came to serve others, not to be served and to give his life as a ransom for many.  If we are to follow Jesus and be Christ like, where is our service?

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