Don’t Let the Passion Burn Out

IMG_20130128_142018

We are Christians, called by His name. He has saved us from a horrible fate and given us, not just life, but abundant life.

But do you ever find yourself growing hard? It becomes a burden to go to the extra prayer service. You don’t want to go to church today. It becomes more of a duty than a joy. You forget to pray more than you remember to. The Bible doesn’t hold the same charm that it used to.

I was reading in Hebrews this morning and it brought some light:

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:12-13

I see a progression in this passage. It starts with unbelief and goes to a hard heart. The very next passage talks about rebellion toward God which is the next step. You don’t start out with a hard or rebellious heart toward God, but maybe you don’t believe Him like you used to. Maybe you’ve had things that you have held onto for so long without seeing results that you have finally let go. This can cause a hard heart.

It also talks about being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is deceptive. Why? Because the enemy of your soul would have you believe that it is never really as bad as it seems. It wants to hold on and not be dealt with, just shoved under the rug. Sin always wants to lessen the consequences. That is where it is deceptive. “It’s not that bad. Don’t worry about it.” But sin will separate you from God and it will never tell you that. Deal with sin and don’t let it deceive you.

Then there is unbelief. What are the things that are hard to believe God for? Where is it hard to give Him reign in your life? Build your faith in those areas. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17) Find scriptures on those areas. Read them over and over. Post them on your bathroom mirror. Say them out loud.

Don’t let sin or unbelief dampen your passion for God. Take God at His word. Find Scriptures for your life and pray them over your life. Let nothing separate you from God. Don’t let your heart grow hard in unbelief, but keep your faith alive through the Word of God.

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

Forgive – as you would be forgiven

20130122_125304Do you ever have that one person that just annoys you? They did something one time that really ticked you off and now they just irritate you. Or maybe you were once really good friends and the other person betrayed you. You forgave but things will “never be the same”.

We have all experienced these kinds of situations and processed them the same way. I have been studying lately about what the Bible has to say about dealing with them. Jesus prayed for His disciples that they would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21).

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are individual but inseparable. One of them cannot do something that would cause another to leave the tri-unity of the God-head. Why do we as mere men think that we can stand above such unity and refuse to let God heal a relationship?

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” 1 John 3:14

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16

We choose to live in death when we don’t love. It is one thing to say that you have forgiven and another thing entirely to be able to lay down your life for someone that has hurt you. I believe that for us, it isn’t just literal, but figurative. When was the last time that you did something inconvenient for you that meant a lot to someone that gets on your nerves?

This goes for coworkers, family members, people that you go to church with; take that one person that “ticks you off”, and write them a note. Tell them how much you appreciate something that they have done. You have to change the way that you think about them. You have to tell yourself that they are worth laying down your life/will for. Jesus did. Who are we to say that they aren’t worth the effort.

Every relationship is worth the effort. Pray for that person. Ask for God’s blessing over their lives. It can be hard to do at first, but it will soften your heart toward them. Jesus said that if we don’t forgive, God can’t forgive us (Matthew 18:35, 6:15).

I believe to the degree that we do or don’t forgive, God will or won’t forgive us. Do we want God to give us the cold shoulder? Do we do it to others? Do we want things to “never be the same” with our Heavenly Father? Then why do we think that way? This is not discounting the fact that sometimes the other person does not want to reconcile, but have we done everything in our power to bring peace to the relationship? Is your heart at peace with the other person? Most importantly, is your heart right with God about the situation?

I have to say in closing that I am far from perfect. This is something that we as Christians give ourselves to daily to keep our hearts from growing hard. And that as we let God deal with our hearts, He does. We want the love and forgiveness of God to flow to us, so we must let it flow through us. Forgiveness for others is born out of a heart that wants to be close to God and wants nothing to come between Him and you.

 

For the researcher’s heart:

Matthew 6:9-15 – The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 18:21-35 – The Unforgiving Servant

1 John 3:14-18 – Loving each other

1 John 4:11-12,20-21

1 John 5:1

“Come to Me”

220px-Bullock_yokesWe have just come out of the busiest time of the year. Between family coming into town, shopping, fewer days at work, and busier days at work; it can be easy to get stressed and overwhelmed. But it is imperative that we deal with the stress in a way that pleases the Lord.

What keeps us going through the stressful times? What makes us, as Christians, different from the rest of the world? We know where to go. We know where to take our stress. We can’t afford to take it out on our coworkers or family. We have to take it to the One who takes it away.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This has to be one of the most comforting phrases in the Bible: “Come to Me.” When you are tired, come. When you are burdened, come. When you are overwhelmed, come. When you are stressed and life is crazy He still says, “Come.” Come to the maker and lover of your soul, He is gentle.

John 1 says that Jesus is the Word made flesh. So when we come to Him, we come to Him either in prayer or in the Word. I believe this is what He was talking about when He said, “Learn from Me.” We learn His ways and His principles when we read the Word. He teaches us through His Word how to live to please Him.

The Word of God is such a comfort and a steadying force when life is crazy. It is a rock when everything else is moving. And if you let it, it will change your life.

That word labor is to grow weary or tired; exhausted with toils, burdens or grief; to labor with wearisome effort; it speaks of physical labor. Wow! He knows where we are at. There is never an assumption that our lives will be perfect or easy. He just asks us to come so that He can refresh our souls.

Heavy laden is another phrase that speaks to many of us. It means to place a burden upon, to load. Sometimes we carry a heavy load; grief, condemnation, guilt, shame… the list is endless. But Jesus wants to take those away. He has relief that nothing else in this world holds.

In busy seasons of life, I always come back to this verse. “Take My yoke.” His yoke; a yoke is not usually something that you want to put on. They were big wooden harnesses used for putting oxen at the plow. That doesn’t sound fun or restful in the slightest. But it is different with Jesus. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. It is worlds better than any load you could carry.

There is a more than just a suggestion in His words, “Learn from Me.” I believe that it is a challenge for us. Take His yoke and learn how He would have you live life. He is gentle. He isn’t a harsh task-master. He is lowly in heart. That word lowly is humble. He is gentle and humble. He has grace for those willing to learn. Give yourself to it and you will never be the same.

Read it in the Amplified Translation:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

So when life is stressful or overwhelming; when work is hard or physically exhausting; when you are ready to give up and throw in the towel, come. Take up His yoke. Learn His way. Lay your burdens down and let Him give you rest.

New Year’s Resolutions

20130104_161652

Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.”

New years: a time for resolutions, weight-loss, and new beginnings…

I saw a set of pictures the other day that depicted it perfectly. The first was labeled ‘December 31st’ and was of an empty gym. The second was of the same gym packed full of people, labeled ‘January 1st’.

The start of a new year gives us the feeling of newness. But by February or March the gym will be empty again, the goals set on the shelf, and diets abandoned. And we will wait eleven months to try and start again.

My challenge this new year is to set goals that are both measurable and attainable. Along with that, I am making daily steps toward those goals. For example: say I want to improve my skill on the piano and keep my house cleaner. That is an example of a “New Year’s Resolution”, but they are not measurable so how will I know when I attain them?

My next step will be to make them measurable. Piano: I want to be able to sit down and sight-read any mid-level piece without having heard it before. This is a more measurable goal. Now, to make daily steps to meet this goal; I am making a plan to practice 3-4 times a week and to practice sight-reading specifically. Maybe I will go and purchase a new mid-level music book. I am slowly working toward the goal that I set.

The other resolution was to keep my house cleaner. How do I measure when my house is ‘cleaner’? cleaner than what? So, I start simple. This was a hard one to set a goal to, so I made daily goals. Every day I make two tasks for myself to complete before I go to bed. Depending on my work schedule, they will be easier or more difficult. This last week one day I set for myself to wash my sheets and put away all the clean laundry, another day was to complete two loads of laundry and deep clean my tile floors. This way I can look back over the last week and see what I have accomplished.

On a side note, when you set goals and tasks to work toward them, it can be very effective to have a partner in them. My husband keeps me accountable for the things that I have said that I want to improve in. It can be a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a parent, coworker… anyone that you are close to. Tell them what you are doing and ask them to help you hit your goals.

Back to the verse at the beginning of this post; I was challenged to excel in what I do. There aren’t many things that I am really good at. It is easy to get to a point and get comfortable knowing what little I do. But I want to be excellent in what I do. I want to stand before kings. I don’t want to be like the rest of America that will abandon their New Year’s Resolutions in a month or two.

Let me challenge you to stick to it. It is worth the work. Set those goals, make them measurable and attainable. Check back in May and see how far you’ve come.