Examination

IMG_5548Nobody likes being tested. But, like it or not, it is a good thing and is something we need. By seeing where we are at, we can see where we need to grow.

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” (2Cor.13:5)

So how do we know if our faith is genuine? Well, there’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit that should be seen if He is inside us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal.5:22-23)

But, this is the fruit of the Spirit. Being what seems like a loving, kind, and gentle person doesn’t necessarily mean the Holy Spirit is inside us. To see whether we are in the faith, we have to go deeper than that, to the roots: our mind.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; (Isaiah55:6-7)

Where is your mind “set”?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
(‭‭Phil.‭4:6-8‬)

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
(‭‭Col.3:2)

We are human. And to put it simply, our desires and thoughts as an earthly human aren’t always that great. But we have a choice. We don’t have to be of this world. It takes continuous earnest seeking, surrendering, and faith, but we can have the mind of Christ!

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Rom.8:5)

As long as we are here on earth our mind will not be perfect just like everything we say and do cannot be perfect. What we can do, however, is surrender to God’s perfect will. Allow Him to work us and shape us into a vessel fit to glorify Him.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”(Rom.12:2)

Now, this isn’t to see if you’re “good enough” or if you “measure up” but to see if you have genuinely put your faith in Christ, are no longer relying on yourself, and are truly surrendering and seeking God with all your heart, mind, and strength.

A scripture that has been special to me and I read/pray everyday is Psalm 51:10.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  I think one of the reasons why it has stuck out to me is because it starts with “create in me a clean heart”. Part of having the mind of Christ, is getting rid of the old mind, making room for something much better, and MUCH stronger.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1John4:4)

So, take some time humbly before the Lord and do a check-up. See whether you are in the faith, and remember, God looks at the heart.

“The proud man worries, the humble man waits.”

Silhouette of a Senior Caucasian Male PrayingMany times when we think we know what God has called us to and things don’t go as we expect our instinctive reaction is to worry. While it is possible we were misguided in where we thought God was leading us, it is also possible it’s just not time.

God has a great plan for each and every one of us, but something that is especially important is being prepared.

“Worry will not help our cause at all. It will, in fact, hinder our progress.” -Joyce Meyer

Don’t worry! Many of us have heard that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, but we have to know and really believe that. Living in fear only brings us down, and frankly, is a waste of time. We need to be taking each day God has given us to glorify Him, putting our trust in Him, and letting Him take care of the rest.

If you know where God is leading you, don’t let having to wait worry you. Take that time to learn, to prepare, to grow. Perhaps having to wait means you just aren’t ready. Seek God with all your heart, mind, and strength and He is fully capable of bringing about where He is calling you. We serve a great and mighty God! 

Your Will Be Done

1495841557678Before I begin, I want to specify that this is referring to things within our control, of our own choice, etc. (after all, it’s not exactly surrendering to God if it’s something that’s already outside of our control, though there is another kind of surrendering that is more like accepting…maybe another article another time. 😉 )

What we want and what God wants aren’t always the same thing. Perhaps it’d be more accurate to say most of the time they aren’t the same.

An All-Knowing God: 
Something I’ve always thought about God is that there are things He knows and understands that we don’t even know exist, let alone understand. God, being outside the boundaries of the human mind and time, knows our every weakness and our every need, and He has a special calling for each one of us, His children. He created us and gave us the gifts we have, so wouldn’t He know how we can most effectively use them?

(Read “Am I Gifted?” https://jessleeann.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/am-i-gifted/)

What to do?
We are going to be faced with choices, some easy, some hard, some make only a small difference, and some can be a complete life turn-around. It is at these times that it is especially important that we are in tune with God, and following the lead of His Holy Spirit inside us. Sometimes following our own desires can result in complete disaster that we aren’t aware of simply because we can’t see what the future holds…but God can see.

Is it God?
Life is a learning process, and to be sure, we will make mistakes. There will be times we thought God was leading us one way and then something happens that makes that way impossible, leaving us rather perplexed. The best thing we can do is accept it and move on seeking Him more than ever.

Something important to remember is He knows. And, He knows when we know. It may be easy to go one way when deep down we know God is wanting us to go another way. Don’t allow your choices to come between you and God.

Basically, we need to earnestly seek and listen to God whether it’s something we want to hear or not, and be willing to humbly accept the fact that we will still make mistakes. That is when we are truly saying “Your will be done”.

Moving forward, not backwards

So many times when I’m learning something I put a sort of picture to it that helps me remember it. A picture I’ve imagined for the lives of Christians is people coming from all different directions climbing a mountain, reaching the top being the end of our race, when we are in heaven in victory with God.

Something else I’ve also associated with that picture is it takes work and effort to climb that mountain, and if we aren’t putting any work and effort into moving forward, we start sliding backwards from things in this world that naturally pull us away from God as they are headed the opposite direction.

To get to the point:
We need to watch out for things that distract us, slow us down, or put us at a higher risk for falling. So many times we accept things thinking a little is okay or it doesn’t hurt. Well, if it’s keeping us from something better, then it is hurting us.

Just thought of the day… 🙂

It’s Okay to Call Christianity a Religion — Fact Based Truth

Here’s a good quick read (go to the link at the bottom)…something I’ve thought of frequently myself. A verse that comes to mind: James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

 

Random believer: Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship. I’m not religious. Random atheist: Really? So you don’t believe in worshiping God? Random believer: Wait, no, that’s not what I meant. I do worship God. Random atheist: So you are religious, and Christianity is a religion? Random believer: Well yes, wait, no. You’re twisting […]

via It’s Okay to Call Christianity a Religion — Fact Based TruthI

Over the gap

Over the gap that no man can fill,
God gave up His Son of His own free will.
He paid all our debts,
He covered the cost
of all our mistakes;
He recovered the lost.
We step out on the bridge
that Jesus has made,
Set our feet on the firm foundation He laid.
Our sins will be crushed,
Our lives be made pure.
His strength is inside us,
So we may endure.
Every task put before us,
Every struggle within,
With God on our side
We will conquer and win!

Never Alone

This song has been a favorite of mine since I was in my teens. Whenever I have restless nights I have a specific playlist of songs, this song being one of them. (Might as well spend that time with God, right? Sometimes I wonder if God allows me to have those nights for that very purpose) It’s a collection of songs that are reminders that God is always there, and simple songs of worship. Focusing on God and worshiping Him truly is an immense help in taking attention away from ourselves, our struggles and pain, as it allows God to take up our burdens for us.

Something I specifically struggle to keep in mind is simply that God is ALWAYS there…not just some or most of the time, but always…I am never alone. There is a special kind of peace that comes from remembering that. Remember that God never fails. Remember that if we allow Him in He doesn’t walk out on us. Remember that He loves us more than anyone else ever can. Remember that His love never fails, and we are never alone.

Conviction or Feeling?

1495543503488God allows us to have convictions for a reason. What is okay for some may not be okay for ourselves, and likewise, what God calls us to do isn’t necessarily what everyone’s called to do. (Though there are things that apply to everyone, such as “love your neighbor as yourself” and we are all called to be His disciples)

“If we know in our spirit that a thing is wrong, we should not allow reasoning to talk us into doing it. Also, if we know something is right, we must not allow reasoning to talk us out of doing it.” -Joyce Meyer

God has given us a conscience and will try and communicate to us through His Spirit inside us, but so often our lives are so busy and distracted by taking in what the world has to say that His Voice goes unheard.

So, how do we know when God is speaking to us?

Listen up!
We have to know Him…which can take some time of sort of tuning out what we, ourselves and the world, have to say and tuning in to what God has to say.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

We must DILIGENTLY seek Him with all our hearts…not some, not most, but ALL.
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭

Is it contradictory?
As a general rule, if there’s something I’ve felt convicted of doing or not doing being wrong, I made it right even if I wasn’t completely sure it was a conviction so long as it didn’t go against God’s Word and wasn’t going to be harmful to myself or others in any way. Like, say I was feeling convicted about all the chocolate I was eating…it’s not going to hurt anybody for me to not eat chocolate and it doesn’t go against God’s Word. (okay, yeah, that was random…;P) I’d rather risk doing some unnecessary good than fail to pay attention and follow something God is trying to teach me.

I’ve already had times where I’ve felt convicted about something, followed that conviction, and then years later I laugh at myself for something that seems so silly now. Do I regret it? Not in the least. Why? Because I was simply trying to do what was right, no matter how hard it was. Isn’t that what we should be doing?

Don’t let the world get in your way.
“Set your mind on things above.” Colossians 3:2
It is so easy to push a conviction to the side because it’s inconvenient, it’s not what we want to hear, it’s painful, it may cause you to not fit in with the world…it may seem too hard to follow. To be sure, if we are truly following Christ, these situations will come up. These situations are where we come to find if we are really “dying to ourselves” and “taking up our cross”.

So, if you think God may be speaking to you, don’t ignore it. Listen carefully. Test it. See if it contradicts Scripture. If it does, it is not from God, as He never contradicts Himself. Find an elder to talk about it with.

Seek what is good and admirable in the eyes of the Lord!

Am I Gifted?

As many already know, I love music. I love listening to it, writing songs, and playing them on musical instruments. Something I am told quite frequently is, “I wish I were as gifted as you are!” Sometimes it’s all I can do to not say the wrong thing back because I find it rather irritating.

Here’s why:
God gives each one of His children a purpose and a calling. No one is more gifted than another! There are so many out there that have gifts that simply aren’t known, and/or not much effort is being put into cultivating and growing in it. Some aren’t even aware of what their gift is…let alone know how to use it to glorify God.

Why? I think one of the main reasons is our country is SO BUSY, and there are so many distractions that many don’t take the time to find it. And, I don’t think it’s as hard to find what you are gifted in as you might think.

What are some productive things that you enjoy and can easily lose track of time doing? Are there any needs of others in particular that stick out to you, where when you see it, you wish you could instantly meet those needs? Is there a hobby you enjoy that you could use to build up a community, healthy relationships, or as an outreach?

While it takes lots of time and effort to find your gifts and really grow in them, it is AMAZING how satisfying it can be! When you know you are impacting others in a good way it makes it all worth while. And, honestly, not finding your gifts and using them…that’s just plain selfish.

Something important to remember, is that you don’t always see results right from the start. Sometimes for years, and sometimes results can go completely unnoticed. Like, say you’re gifted in encouraging others. There will likely be times when you are encouraging to someone on a bus, in the grocery store, on an airplane, in the park…and you will likely never see that person again but you may unknowingly have had a great impact on their life. DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU. 

Don’t give up on finding areas that you are gifted in, and especially don’t allow them to go unused. Take the time to seek God and allow Him to shape you by His Holy Spirit into the person He has called you to be. Work towards it. It’ll take lots of effort, but it’s worth it.

So, the answer I typically want to give to the statement “I wish I were as gifted as you are!” that I never say in person because it would likely come out the wrong way, is “You are!”

YOU ARE GIFTED!

Now go find how while I go practice…