life

Hi, My Name is Amber, and I’m a Recovering Sinner.

I know this may seem strange for some people, but there are times were I find myself addicted to my past. Unable to let go of the sins that God has already forgiven me for; running back to my vomit, and I don’t know why I expect anything to feel different than the last time. Has anyone else felt this way? Like no matter how deeply I know I’m forgiven, I keep looking back to that time and reliving the hurt? God gave me a word about that and I thought I’d share it here with you this morning.

For me, I’m going to have to look at myself like I’m in a recovery program. Almost like a rehab for Christians who have a hard time letting go of the past. So I’m going to slightly adapt the Twelve Step Program to work for the Recovering Sinner: Sinner’s Anonymous.

1. We admit we were powerless over sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I will admit that only God has the power over sin, and that my life is a mess when I try to do His job…

2. Come to believe that God can restore us to sanity.

I will to stop doubting that God can and will do a miracle in my life.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

I chose to turn over all of my past, good and bad, to God. Trusting Him with my life and my well being.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I will take stock of all the junk I keep picking back up and hold it up to His revealing light.

5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I will finally confess that I have a hard time forgiving myself of my past and I will find someone I can call on to help me to remember that I’m a forgiven child of God.

6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I will be open and cooperate with God as He heals my heart.

7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

I will acknowledge that I am flesh and ask God to remove the thing that is in me that causes me to doubt His forgiveness.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

I will make a list of all the people my repeated doubt has hurt and apologize, as well as try to make things right.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I will be aware of anytime my doubt hurts someone and immediately apologize and try to make things right.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I will continue to be aware of my feelings and doubts, asking God to forgive me as soon as I do.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I will continually seek God’s will for my life and the power to carry out His will through prayer and meditation on His Word.

12. Have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I will grow closer to God and Jesus through this process and reach others with His message of hope for the lost, and I will continue to practice these steps throughout my walk.

I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way, so if you’re struggling with this too, know that you’re not alone. Reach out and quit trying to do this by yourself. That’s what the kingdom is all about, a support system. Lean on other strong Christians so you can grow strong enough to be leaned on one day…
x,
Amber

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“8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life” by Chris Russell

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan.

So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives? Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will. Here they are:

1) Walk with God.

For starters, if you are interested in knowing God’s plan for your life, then you must learn to walk with God. You need to develop a relationship with Him. Christianity is all about relationship rather than just religion.

And so you must cultivate your relationship with God. You must seek to know Him and not just seek to know about Him.

You will cultivate that relationship best by spending time in His Word, taking time for prayer, and taking every opportunity you can to be involved in church and small group Bible study opportunities. When you seek these disciplines in your life, God will begin the first steps to revealing His plan to you.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

2) Surrender your will to God’s.

Many times when we say we are seeking God’s will, what we are really wanting to say to God is this: “OK, God, here’s what I’m planning to do. Now I need you to rubber stamp this, all right?” I must tell you that this is not really effective in finding His true will.

Before God will begin to reveal His will to you, you must be committed to doing whatever it is that He desires for you to do. God will likely be slow to show you His plan if He knows you will likely not do that plan anyway.

Romans 12:1-2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 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.

Jesus was willing to die for us, so shouldn’t we be willing to live for Him? When we surrender to Him, that is when He really begins to direct our steps.

3) Obey what you already know to be God’s Will.

Many people seem to want to know what God’s plan is for their lives, but they overlook the fact that 98% of His will is already delineated carefully through His Word. God is very clear about many, many aspects of His will. For instance, it is clearly His plan that we abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

If we do not obey the things that God has shown us clearly to be His will, why would we think He would reveal any further information regarding His plan for our lives? Obedience is an important first step.

4) Seek godly input.

One key component to finding God’s will is to seek the input of godly advisors in your life. If you don’t currently have 3-4 godly mentors, then I would highly recommend that you seek them out right away.

Think of it this way: you should understand that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with. So, then, it is vital that you choose those five people well. If you choose to surround yourself with godly advisors, they will be instrumental in helping you discern God’s plan for your life. But if you surround yourself with people who are far from God, your hope of finding His best for your life will be greatly diminished.

Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The church is designed to help you greatly with this. I would encourage you to be in church every single time the doors are opened. The more you involve yourself with a community of believers, the greater your chances will be of finding godly men and women who can help you discern God’s will.

5) Pay attention to how God has wired you.

God has created you to fulfill a specific role in this world. There is no one else who can achieve completely what God has purposely created you to do.

The Apostle Peter gives us this admonition:

1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has gifted every one of us to perform a special mission for which we alone were created. How amazing is that? Wow!

So, when you seek to discover God’s will for your life, pay attention to how He has gifted you. His plan for you will always be directly related to the gifts that He has bestowed upon you. The great news is that you will automatically be good at whatever it is that He has called you to do!

6) Listen to God’s Spirit.

I experienced a major turning point in my own prayer life when I learned simply to shut up while I was praying. That may sound odd to you, and it seemed odd to me at first.

You see, I used to do all the talking when I prayed to God. But then, several years ago, I read Bill Hybel’s book, Too Busy Not to Pray. That book completely changed the way I approached God through prayer. Since reading that book, I have added a significant component to my prayer life: listening. I take time to listen to what God might have to say to me.

Practically, the way I go about this is to bring a notepad with me when I sit down to pray. Then I write at the top of several pages things like the following:

  • “What is the next step in my career?”
  • “What is the next step in my ministry?”
  • “What is the next step for my family?”
  • “What is the next step for my marriage?”
  • “What is the next step in my education?”
  • “What is the next step in my finances?”

During my prayer time, I meditate on questions such as the above. Often, God will start flooding my heart with ideas and information regarding one or more of those questions. I write as fast as I can as He speaks to my heart. What a glorious experience that is to sense His Spirit on me, guiding my thoughts and words.

Through experiences like this, He has shown me many times with great clarity what His will is for my life. I long for those experiences when He speaks to me like that. Those times are truly life changing.

John 10:27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

7) Listen to your heart.

In addition to listening to the Spirit, I also recommend listening to your heart. To understand my point here, consider the following passage:

Psalms 37:4-5

4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (NKJV)

I love this passage, because it shows me that, when I am walking with the Lord, He will actually let me do many really cool things that I actually love to do! When you are close to Him, He actually begins to shape your desires so that you desire the things that He has already called you to do.

So then, His plan actually becomes a super-exciting adventure. I always have the most fun in life when I am doing God’s will. And that is because He shapes my “wanter” to want to do the things for which He has actually created me.

8) Take a look at your circumstances.

God often clearly demonstrates His plan for our lives by lining up circumstances in obvious ways. And He also shows us what His will is NOT for us to do in that same way. It is not His will for you to take the job that is not offered to you. If you are 5’ 6” tall and weigh 125 lbs., it is not likely that God has created you to play professional football.

Over the years, I have discovered that God is pretty good at opening and closing doors. He even did that for the Apostle Paul and his enterouge in Acts. Take a look at this passage:

Acts 16:6-10

6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

So, even Paul had to face closed doors in his ministry. God often uses closed doors to show us clearly what He does NOT want us to do. And He also uses open doors at times to show us what He DOES want us to do. Of course, this does not mean that every open door is definitely God’s plan, but it does help to give you some basic direction.

A Closing Thought:

The next time you begin to ponder God’s plan for your life, I would encourage you to mull over the above eight keys. Use these principles to help you to hone in on His plan. And when you seek His will earnestly, you will find it!

“Becoming The Best Me For Christ!” by A. Miller

On my journey through discovering God’s plan for my career, I’ve always maintained that His Will is perfect and no matter what I think or want, I will follow His direction.  When I started down the road to my future career, my end goal was simple.  Make a better life for my family and to take care of my Grandmother when the time came for in-home care.  That lead me to getting my Patient Care Technician certificate last spring.  The thought of going back to school put me way out of my comfort zone, and when I learned that there would be rotations in the Emergency Department… well lets just say God and I had quite a lot of conversations about guidance and faith.  But as usual, God knew what He was doing, and I was hooked on Emergency Medicine ever since.  I have since gotten my Emergency Medical Technician certificate for both the state of Ohio and my national registry card.  I volunteer for my local fire department and will be getting my volunteer fire card later this fall.

With all that said, I knew from my talks with God that my scholarly journey wasn’t over.  So, once again, I headed out of my comfort zone and into the collegiate lifestyle.  I didn’t know at first which path to choose, whether it be getting my Nursing degree or something along those lines, but through it all I knew from past experiences that God wouldn’t lead me astray.

I began my university life at a popular online college, even going as far as taking my basic courses.  But something kept nagging at me, a feeling that this wasn’t where God wanted me to be.  So I began talking with the school about switching my major and the process stalled.  That’s when God’s mighty hand moved in a undeniable way.  I got a call from Ohio Christian University, my first pick but at the time I never heard back from them.  The adviser said that all of my paperwork was in order and I could start within the month if I was still interested.  Of course I was, because now there was a program available that wasn’t before: a BA in Healthcare IT.  This degree would combine my two skills, computers and taking care of people.

Praise God for His faithfulness and His wondrous plans for my life!  I look forward to all the things He has planned for my future!

“Trusting God When You Don’t Understand” by NAQUAN

It’s easy to say, “give your cares to the Lord and trust Him” when everything in life seems to be going well.  It’s easy to say, “I trust you Lord with everything I own” when bills are paid on time and when you just got a promotion at work.

However, if God striped you of everything you own; If God told you to leave the very job that’s paying your bills, will you trust the Lord enough to do it?  Will you trust God even when you don’t understand; even when life hurts?  If God told you to leave the familiar and enter the unfamiliar, will you trust Him?

For many of you, God has done just that.  He has taken you from what’s “oh so familiar” and redirected your paths into the unfamiliar.  You don’t understand what’s happening in your life; what to do or where to go.  The only thing you know is that the Lord gave you a word (instruction, a promise, vision, etc) and the only thing you have to hold on to is that word.

I understand the feeling; you’re not alone.  There is encouragement for you today.  Here are 4 things to remember whenever you feel as though you don’t understand what God is doing and/or allowing in your life.

Consider the Source

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).

Who else can say that but God?  No one, only God can say such a thing.  God knows everything: the past, current and future and our knowledge and understanding doesn’t even compare to the knowledge and understanding of God –  even when it applies to our own life.

Furthermore, when you don’t understand what God is doing in your life, consider the source – Who is it that you’re trusting; God or yourself?

Here is something to remember.  Man is fallible; we fall short and at times we’re unable to keep our promises.  Man can give you instructions that are misleading and imperfect.  With God, none of these things are possible.  God keeps His promises, God gives you right instructions according to His perfect will and He won’t mislead you.

No matter how much you don’t understand life as it is right now; no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or how hard it gets, don’t give up.  If God is with you –  the same God who spoke life into you, the same God who IS and knows the beginning and the end, the same God who knew you before the foundation of this world -is with you, then ask yourself who or WHAT can stand against you.

Consider the source and seek to be obedient to the Lord, even when you don t understand what God is doing in your life; don’t worry about “this or that” because God has provisions for you.

Trust the Lord

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

When you learn to trust the Lord, you will begin to have a sense of rest in the Lord knowing that He has everything under control even when life seems to be out of control.  Trusting God will get you to the point where you make a decision to trust in Him and NOT in your own logic and understanding.

As Christians, we must make a decision to trust Him regardless of how scary the situation may seem.  Trusting God doesn’t prevent you from being in uncomfortable situations but it does allow you to be placed in a position where you seek the Lord’s presence, provisions, guidance and promises.

I encourage you to stop stressing yourself out- losing sleep, being weary, anxious, worried, depressed and sad.  Don’t try to understand the ways of God because it is impossible for you to understand His decisions and ways! (Romans 11:33). The natural man cannot understand the things of God.  For God’s ways are higher than mans, they are past finding out and this is why we must make a decision to trust our all knowing God.

Be Obedient

The bible states that “obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22)” which should tell you a lot about our God.  God places significance on obedience.  He’ll much rather you be obedient to His instruction than for you to give Him sacrificial praise, money offerings, fasting and etc.

Why do I bring obedience up?  Because when God gives you instruction and you’re in a situation where you don’t understand what’s going on in your life, you need to be reminded to be obedient and to trust in the one who does understand – Christ.   There are blessings that follow a person who is obedient just as there are curses that follows a person who is disobedient.

God Will Lead You

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

God told Abraham to leave everything he knew; everything he was familiar with and to enter into the unfamiliar.  God told him to go into a land which he will show him which meant Abraham didn’t know where he was going; He only had the instruction of the Lord to depend on.  Abraham could have easily said, “God, where will I go; what will I eat and drink”, but he didn’t.  He chose to trust God and be obedient and as Christians we must learn to do the same.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

As much as we would like God to give us “what where when and how” upfront all the time (all in one shot), God does not operate like that.  Sometimes, God will place you in a satiation where you have to trust Him and He’ll give you piece by piece as you obey and trust Him.

As a person who’s been in this situation, I will tell you that this only increases your faith as you learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

Trusting God When You Don’t Understand: Finial Words

I don’t know what your story is (your more than welcome to share it below), but I encourage you to trust God even when you don t understand what’s happening in your life.

You may not understand life and all that’s happening; but God will give you a piece to the puzzle as you learn to step out on faith, trust and obey him.

Don’t let the devil fool you into believing that you’re taking a step backwards in life or that you’ll never make it out of this situation; because you will.  What you’re going through is temporary.

Encourage yourself in the Lord daily; read His word; pray without ceasing and seek His face.  The next time you find yourself in a position where you are stressed and worried about what God is doing in your life remember to:

  1. Consider the Source
  2. Trust the Lord
  3. Be Obedient
  4. Trust God to Lead You

Prayer for Trusting God’s When You Don’t Understand Life

Heavenly Father,

I ask that you place within me your obedient spirit so that I may be obedient to your instruction.  Help me Lord to walk by faith and not by sight.  I don’t understand what you’re doing in my life, but I make a decision to trust you God.

In this season, I ask that you place within me your spirit of joy, peace and rest.  Give me joy; peace and rest to endure all that comes my way.  Right now, I make a decision to trust you Lord because I know that you’re in control of my life even when my life seems to be out of control.

Lord, I thank you for clarity, guidance, provision and strength.  I pray and ask for these things in Jesus name; Amen.

Pray and stay in the word of God.  There is strength for you in the word of God.  Trust the Lord and be obedient even when you don’t understand life and what God is doing.  Be blessed and encouraged in Jesus name.

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“New Life in Christ” by M. Larson

Maybe I should have that dead thing cut down, I thought.

Then one day I heard the mockingbird sing. Going out into my backyard, I saw him perched on the top of the highest branch of the dead apple tree, rendering his melodious repertoire to cheer the neighborhood.

No, I can’t have that tree cut down, I decided. That makes too good a bird perch. And whatever birds sit up there, I can see clearly and learn their different songs! So I continued to enjoy that tree. Though dead, it lived in a new way.

According to God’s Word, all of us are dead in sin before we are made alive with Christ by God who loves us (Ephesians 2:1-5). In that dead state true peace escapes us. We long for what we do not know. Some of us may even consider killing ourselves because life seems too chaotic and hopeless.

But when we call on the Lord to save us for Jesus’ sake, He reaches down and lifts us up and gives us a new life. Second Corinthians 5:11 tells us that when we are in Christ, we are new creatures. Old things are passed away; all things become new.

Even though we have been resurrected to new life in Christ, we sometimes fail to appropriate the benefits of that wonderful new life by not staying close to our Lord. Yet the good news is that our Lord is always near, and we can always get right with Him.

In God’s Word, David said it this way: “Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). And God did.

Some of those benefits of the new life in Christ are:

JOY. King David, in deep repentance, asked the Lord to restore to him the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12). Jesus promised to give us His joy, a supernatural experience that lifts our hearts to the heavenlies and puts a smile on our lips (John 15:11). It is within and is not dependent on our outer circumstances.

Peace. Jesus also promised us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), a peace that gives us strength through the severest trials.

Love. Jesus puts a love in our hearts, even for the unlovely, that shines out to others for Him and makes it possible for us to forgive others. (See 1 John 4:7-8).

Power. Jesus promised His followers the power of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 1:8). King David, after asking for restoration, said, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:13). This power transforms us into soul winners.

Comfort. When we are right with the Lord, we are assured of the comfort of God in Christ whenever we need it. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Assurance. When we’re walking with Jesus, we experience surety of this truth: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).

Prayers answered. First John 5:14-15 says, “…If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. and if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Provision. The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, assured the dedicated Christian at Philippi, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Father God, Restore to me the joy of my salvation today. Amen

Questions: Are you experiencing the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you worried about your situation? How can one turn from worry to being thankful even in dire situations?

“A Psalm 143:7 Kinda Feeling” by A. Miller

Have you ever had a time in your life where you looked around and said, “Ok God, help me outta this funk or else I swear I’m gonna go bonkers!” Well, sitting in my dark living room at 3am, I find myself saying something along those lines; praying God will show me the purpose for all the trials and straight up funk going on all around me in this time of seasons greeting and holiday joy…

Psalm 143:7 says, “Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.”

This verse couldn’t put it any better! Lord, I need an answer. I know I have no business asking for one, but I need it just the same.

With everything I’ve been through in my life here on earth, (the death of my father, my wreck of a marriage, my repentance and rocky road to recovering my wreck of a marriage, and a few life changing surgeries… Not to mention being a mom to three awesome and high spirited kids,) and all of it has given me my own personal perspective and relationship with my Lord.

I see God as a Daddy, I always have. It’s how I tend to interpret His Word and how I respond best to Him. So, every once in a while I find myself sitting in His lap, on His throne; the worlds problems put on hold, while He listens to my tearful complaining. The entire time He’s listening so intently, understanding in His eyes, gently rocking me in His arms.

He may or may not ever tell me His reasons for the trials and the pain, but I know He’ll always love me enough to stop the world just to hold me when I need Him to.

Thank you Lord, for loving me in a way that You know is perfect for me.

XOXO,
A.

When Life Throws You A Curveball…

While browsing through the blog updates I get every morning, I saw a post from a dear friend whose hopes seem to have been dashed to bits.  My heart instantly went out to her because I too have had those moments in my life.  Moments when you get some type of news that seems to deflate you on the spot.  My most recent was just this past week.

Our five-year old daughter had been hurt on our trampoline (dont’ get me started on the guilt and regret I feel for letting her do front flips in the first place…) and the doctors told me she’d broken her tiny shoulder.  Knowing in my gut that the treatment they’d sent us home with wasn’t enough, I took her to Children’s Hospital over an hour away.  I knew that something wasn’t right, but I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach when they told me that the treatment the county hospital had done was actually making the break worse!  So many emotions ran through me in that moment; sorrow, disbelief, anger (well more like rage if I’m going to be honest), but mostly I felt overwhelmingly guilty.  I had let her jump on that accident waiting to happen.  I had taken her to the county hospital known for their uncanny ability to misdiagnose almost everything.  I had taken her back to that same hospital a second time, wasting precious days, all the while their treatment was actually harming my precious baby.  In that moment, I could barely breathe thinking on my role in this very common childhood injury.

My ‘go to’ verse for times when life seems to be suffocating me is from my favorite book in God’s Word, 1 Peter 1:6-7:

” 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.   7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

The old saying: “Everything has its season” has its roots in this verse.  I know my daughter won’t have a broken arm for the rest of her life.  It will heal.  (It’s already healing quite well in fact, Praise God!)  My dear friends’ hard times won’t last forever.  All things work for His good, and these times, these moments, they only come to strengthen our faith.  And I thank God that He thinks I’m strong enough to go through this right now, and I know to lean on Him when it gets too hard for me to breathe.

Daily Devotions: November 1st, 2012

“The church in thy house.” — Philemon 1:2

Is there a Church in this house? Are parents, children, friends, servants, all members of it? or are some still unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go round—Am I a member of the Church in this house? How would father’s heart leap for joy, and mother’s eyes fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us. Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first granted him in its fulness. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service. His master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon, not only to be a faithful servant, but a brother beloved, adding another member to the Church in Philemon’s house. Is there an unconverted servant or child absent this morning? Make special supplication that such may, on their return to their home, gladden all hearts with good news of what grace has done! Is there one present? Let him partake in the same earnest entreaty.

If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, and let all act as in the sight of God. Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family-church in the inspired book of remembrance. As a Church let us now draw nigh to the great head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

Keep Pressing On and Pressing In

 

The Christian life is an uphill battle; if we stop climbing or keep looking back down at our past, it will cause us to slip up and backslide.   We must press on!

The Christian life does not plateau out.   There is no point in your Christian life where you stop advancing in your walk with Christ and take a “spiritual break.” If you advance up till a level, and then decide to take it easy, beware. Once you start taking ease, you will look at the world or at other Christians more carnal than yourself, and start liking their lifestyle.   You will tire of your uphill walk with Christ and desire to join them.   A “spiritual break” is the beginning of a backslide!   If you are not front-climbing, you will soon be backsliding.   If you are not continually seeking to grow in your walk with the Lord, you will soon be backsliding.

When you are fighting a spiritual warfare, and the battle starts to really heat up, and Satan and his devils are attacking as fiercely as they can, that IS NOT the time to take a break from the front lines of the battle.   If you retreat from where the battle is greatest, what reason will you have not to retreat from where the battle is lessor?   Once you’ve taken a rest from the heat of the battle, you will want more ease, and withdraw to where the battle is even lessor.   Before you know, you will be FLEEING from the scene of the battle!   Oh how strange for a soldier of the victorious army to flee from the battle!

NO, do not rest.   Keep fighting the good fight.   Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called…. 1 Tim 6:12. Charge the adversary, wearing the full armor of God, and drive him backwards!   Let him know that Jesus Christ is the victor!   When you flee the battle, you are telling the devil that Jesus has failed!!   NO, keep fighting on!

1 Tim 2:3-4

3   Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4   No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

We are suppose to resist UNTO BLOOD when striving against sin.   The battle is NOT supposed to look pleasant.   It is a bloody fight between good and evil, holiness and wickedness, righteousness and sinfulness.
Ye have NOT yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.   Heb 12:4

Therefore, continuing to strive for that higher calling. Seek a closer relationship with Christ.   Grow in your faith. Fight the good fight.

If you walk with Christ while looking backwards at your past, you will stumble.   It is much harder to climb a hill looking backwards than forwards.   I like to go hiking.   Often, I will walk up a hill backwards to exercise a different muscle group.   If you try this, you will quickly notice that it’s much harder to do than walking forward.   Walking backwards is hard enough, yet along uphill!   Yet many Christians try to do this in their lives; they try to go forward and upward, but they are looking backwards.   Just as walking up a hill backwards is hard, and you tend to want to quit, so is living the Christian life “in the past,” always reminding yourself of your past.   If you keep looking backwards, you will never see to look forwards.   How can you see where you are going if you keep looking behind?   You’re going to end up tripping and falling on that “narrow way” that leadeth to life.   The reason that many Christians are discouraged is because they keep looking behind, to their old sinful past.

Phil 3:13-14

13   Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14   I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul was not looking back, he was looking ahead, to the top of the hill, looking for the prize of the high calling of God.   He wanted that high calling.   You should want it, too. But in order to get the high calling, you must go up.   You can’t be looking backwards, down the hill at your past.   You must look up the hill, pressing on toward the prize.   And it is much, much easier to press toward the prize when you are looking forward.   How can you see the prize ahead when you are walking backwards.   How can you find the prize, when you cannot see where you are going?   Forget those things which are behind, and look forward, toward the prize.

Therefore, strive to be holy, strive to live the Christian life.   Repent and FORSAKE any sin that you may know of, and ask the Lord to reveal all your sins.   Look toward your future with Christ, not your past with sin.   Fight the good fight!   Remember that Jesus is the victor; He will give you victory.   Continue pressing onward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!

Iron Sharpens Iron: Encouraging You To Find Your Lifes’ Purpose

 

If finding your life purpose seems like an elusive undertaking, don’t panic! You are not alone. In this devotional by Karen Wolff of Christian-Books-for-Women.com you’ll find reassurance and practical support for finding and knowing your life purpose.

What’s Your Life Purpose?

While it’s true some people seem to find their life purpose easier than others, it’s also true that God really does have a plan for every single person, even if it takes a while to see what it is.Most people think finding your life purpose means doing something you truly love. It’s an area that just seems natural to you and things just seem to fall into place. But what if things aren’t so clear for you? What if you’re not sure what your gifts are? What if you haven’t discovered any particular talent that makes you think it could be your true calling in life? Or what if you’re working somewhere and you’re good at it, but you just don’t feel fulfilled? Is this all there is for you?

Don’t panic. You’re not alone. There are lots of people in the same boat. Take a look at the disciples. Now, there’s a diverse group. Before Jesus came on the scene, they were fishermen, tax collectors, farmers, etc. They must have been good at what they were doing because they were feeding their families and making a living.

But then they met Jesus, and their true calling came into focus very quickly. What the disciples didn’t know is that God wanted them to be happy—even more than they did. And following God’s plan for their lives made them happy inside, where it really matters. What a concept, huh?

Do you suppose it could be true for you too? That God wants you to be truly happy and fulfilled even more than you do?

Your Next Step

The next step in finding your life purpose is right in the Book. All you have to do is read it. The Bible says Jesus told his disciples they were supposed to love one another as he loved them. And he wasn’t kidding. Getting really good at this part of the process is like building the basement of your house.You wouldn’t dream of moving forward without a rock solid foundation. Discovering God’s purpose for your life is exactly the same. The foundation of the process means getting really good at being a Christian. Yup, that means being nice to people even when you don’t feel like it, forgiving people, and oh yes, loving the unlovable people in the world.

So, what does all that stuff have to do with what I’m supposed to be when I grow up? Everything. When you get good at being a Christian, you also get good at hearing from God. He’s able to use you. He’s able to work through you. And it’s through that process that you’ll discover your true purpose in life.

But What About Me and My Life?

So if you get really great at being a Christian, or at least you think you are, and you still haven’t found that true purpose—then what?Getting really good at being a Christian means you stop thinking about you all the time. Take the focus off you and look for ways to be a blessing to someone else.

There is no better way to receive help and direction in your own life than to focus on someone else. It seems completely opposite of what the world tells you. After all, if you’re not looking out for yourself, then who will? Well—that would be God.

When you focus on someone else’s business, God will focus on yours. It means planting seeds in great soil, and then simply waiting for God to bring a harvest into your life. And in the meantime …

Step Out and Try It

Working with God to find your life purpose means working as a team. When you take a step, God takes a step.

  • Be willing to try some things that interest you. You will know very quickly if you’ve found the right thing for you. Doors will either open or slam shut. Either way, you’ll know where you stand. 
  • Be Patient. Wanting to know everything right this second is pretty common these days. Learning to trust that God will show you when He’s ready—now that takes patience. God isn’t going to show you every piece of the puzzle all at once. If he did, you’d get that “deer in the headlights” look, because you’d be so overwhelmed by it all. Not to mention you’d be overly tempted to come up with a back-up plan “just in case” things didn’t work out. 
  • Don’t waste your time on things you know aren’t from God. “Get rich quick” schemes never work. Finding a Christian husband or wife won’t happen if you’re focused on activities and events that don’t involve Christians. And participating in things you know are wrong—well, you’re simply prolonging your answers. 
  • Don’t let the people around you talk you into things. Just because it all sounds like a good idea from the world’s view doesn’t mean it’s God’s plan for you. Following God’s leading sometimes means you have to say no to many well-meaning family members or friends. It comes down to the decision to follow, no matter where it leads. 
  • Lastly, don’t ever give up. You may not know your specific purpose today or tomorrow, but as long as you’re really great at being a Christian, and your heart is open, you will find God and he will find you.

Karen Wolff, a guest writer for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for women. As founder of Christian-Books-for-Women.com, she wants to provide Christian women with a place to find practical information, tips, and help with a variety of issues they face every day.