Spirit vs Flesh

godsstrength

There is so much on my mind today and so much to do, so how do I even know where to start?  I know that I should start by spending some time with God.  I should always begin my day this way, and usually do, but sometimes I don’t and the day is effected.  Today, I woke up and read in my bible for awhile and spent a little bit of time talking to my daughters and texting friends.  It’s difficult sometimes, just to be still, especially when I know that I have so much to do.  What I have learned, however, is that at times like these it’s so easy to follow my own plan for my day instead of God’s.  I can’t hear Him because of all of the other thoughts in my head and all of the distractions.  Even things that are good things for us to do, may not always be good, if they distract us from putting God first and spending time seeking His voice and time praising Him for who He is.  God has been doing AMAZING things in my life lately, so I don’t wanna lose sight of that, of Him.  God, I pray that you keep me on track and whoever is reading this right now, guide their day, lead them in the way that they should go and let them hear your voice and feel your presence in their lives.  We have two options, each day and in every moment, to follow God’s plan or our own.  God’s plan leads to life and peace and His spirit inside of our hearts guide us in the way that we should go.  Our plan leads to death, it is our own fleshly desires that cause us to do selfish and sinful things that ultimately cause pain to ourselves as well as those around us.  Our plan typically follows after the voice of the enemy, and we don’t even realize it.  He does anything to distract us from God’s plan and to manipulate us into believing His lies as the truth.  It’s a battle, a constant battle, between our flesh and our spirit.  Doing God’s plan is right and good, doing what we want FEELS right and good, but it only leads to death (not physically, but spiritually).  Sometimes we don’t even have a plan because the lies of the enemy are convincing us to give up, to stop trying, to hide out in our rooms by ourselves away from the world and do absolutely nothing.   Our plan is easy to follow, but leads nowhere.  God’s plan is a bit difficult sometimes but is so much more rewarding.  The enemies plan is whatever keeps us from God’s plan.  If you’d like a good read, I would recommend Romans chapter 8, this explains a lot about living either by the spirit of God within you or your own fleshly desires.  If we want to see God answer our prayers, then we have to listen to His instructions to our hearts and follow Him.  He knows what He is doing, even when it may not make sense to us.  He sees the big picture and we must have faith in Him and trust in this truth to truly live and succeed in life.  God has planted a seed in my heart and I trust that from this seed beautiful things will grow.  I understand that at times I will lose things, because it is important for this heart of mine to be pruned from the things in life that take away from what God is doing in my heart. I also understand that this seed must be watered, by keeping my eyes on God and seeking all that He is at all times by meditating on His word and seeking to be transformed more each day.  Sure, sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but in the end it’s always worth it.  The toughest part is to hear Him in the midst of the chaos of life.  Staying in His word and reciting His promises help build an understanding of His greatness and His amazing love for us which makes it easier for us to trust His plan.  Some days we will fail, this doesn’t make us a failure.  I have even began my day with God and moments later one challenge after another after another after another presents itself while the enemy is doing everything in his power to keep me from God’s plan and sometimes he succeeds.  Yesterday, was that day.  I couldn’t even hear God’s voice and my day was so tough and not fun.  Even though, I know Him, sometimes I don’t feel His presence.  I know that He is with me but I fall into the trap of believing the lies of the enemy.  I encourage you to recite God’s promises often, to find a few that are related to some issues that you face and have them on hand to recite when you are struggling in those areas.  The path that God has for you is a narrow one and it’s easy to step off track.  But He is always faithful and will always bring you back.  Keep looking up and keep moving forward taking a few moments as you go to be still and seek His face.

God is Faithful

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Being a Christian is quite simple, right?  We love God and we love people and as we walk through life having faith in God to guide us in the way that we should go, then everything will be just great.  It’s that simple, right?  Or is this actually simple at all?  How do we love God?  How do we love people, even the rude, mean people and annoying individuals that we meet or are close to?  How do we have faith in something that we can’t see and someone that we don’t know?  What does it mean to walk in His love?  So many questions fill my mind?  I have always had a mind that wants to learn, interested in the things that surround me.  I get fascinated at how complex the most simple things are.  Things that we hardly take the time to notice or think about.  The life of a leaf, for example.  When you look at it, it’s just a leaf, one leaf.  But the life that took place to produce it was quite the process.  Sometimes we can spend too much time thinking about one thing, this challenge that we are facing and forget all of the good things that God has been doing in our lives and it blinds us from experiencing His blessings in our lives and it robs us from the hopes that good things are going to happen and our futures are bright.  I believe that we love God by trusting Him and that we love people by accepting them, encouraging them, walking beside, lifting up, comforting and experiencing life with them.  This too, is an expression of our love for God.  Walking in His love, we offer grace and mercy when someone hurts us, we forgive, we don’t judge because we begin to understand that only God knows the story of their heart.  Sometimes we love someone by walking away.  Setting healthy boundaries is also an expression of love towards ourselves as well as others.  I believe that while we seek God in our lives and get to know who He is and how amazingly faithful that He is, it’s so easy to fall in love with Him and when we do we begin to see everything and everyone differently.  God really only wants one thing from us, He wants our hearts.  He is faithful and when we surrender and give it all to Him, our hearts begin to dance.

A Heart That Smiles

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Jesus came to heal us all and not necessarily in a physical sense.  Ever worry about things and you just don’t know what to do?  This worry can actually make us physically sick, as well as stop us from so many things.  It stops us from experiencing God’s blessings in our lives and from being who He has created us to be.  It stops us from doing His work here and the passion inside of our souls begin to die.  We get stuck in a thought process of self destruction without even realizing it.  Is worrying really such a big deal?  Yes, it is!!  And worry leads to fear which is a thief of our joy and our dreams.  I’ve experienced many opportunities in my life to worry and fear as I’m sure you have as well.  I have worried on many occasions and I know from experience, just how much impact that this has had on my life.  Faith has opened my eyes to so much more.  It also gives me the strength to continue to do what God has placed in my heart while He is working out the details of my life.  I follow His lead and do all that I can and then I leave the rest up to Him.  I’ve learned that when something comes up that I would normally choose to worry about, I take some time and spend with God.  I let it go in prayer, telling Him what is going on in my life.  I know that He knows, but when I take the time to pray and talk to Him, it gives me the opportunity to express my worries, and trust that God will help me through.  I then, listen for His voice.  It doesn’t always come in form of a sound, like a voice.  But sometimes it’s in the words of a post on facebook, or He speaks to me through His word, through music, even as the day goes on, He has spoken to me through words from a stranger.  Has this ever happened to you?  You pray and listen and hear nothing so you go about your day and meet someone, who says exactly what you needed to hear?  It’s not a coincidence, it’s God speaking to you.  He does it in so many ways and a lot of times, we aren’t even aware that it’s Him.  I have also learned that when we lose something or someone in our lives that it’s also important not to forget what we have.  I have allowed the shock of losing something or someone blind me from what God is doing in my life and step off of the path that He has for me.  By taking the time to look around and say thank you, it has given me a clearer vision of what God has done in my life and sometimes I can see what He is currently doing in my life.  When I worry, all kinds of thoughts go through my mind and negative emotions can take over.  But, when I look to God and spend time getting to know Him then it makes it easier to trust Him and to follow His Son.  This used to be such a foreign thought to me.  As an independent woman, it’s still a bit challenging for me to be both responsible and dependent on God.  I was so confused of how that is even possible.  I guess you could say, that my life experiences have taught me a lot, and walking with Jesus has given me life.  He has taught me that along with Faith, I have a purpose here.  He has opened the eyes of my heart to understanding that there are others that are placed across my path each day that also need God’s love and the healing of Jesus.  It’s like sometimes we are so caught up in us that we are blinded from the reality and the bigger picture.  Jesus has lead me to helping others while God is working in my life.  In the end, we are actually helping each other and healing takes place in our hearts.  A world that is filled with worry and fear, can be replaced with a world that is filled with faith and courage. When are hearts are all filled with His love, and we follow His lead and allow the passion in our hearts to become our reality then true healing takes place.  A seed is planted and something beautiful begins to grow.

What we “see” matters

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Of course, the truth is the truth whether we believe or not.  However, what we “see” or perceive about circumstances, people, and God effect our words, our choices, our lives and the lives of those around us.  What we “see” matters.  In Matthew 5:22, it reads: “The eye is the lamp of the body.  So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.”  Jesus came to give us life and He does this by opening the eyes of our hearts to “see” things the way that our Father God does.  This is the light that will eliminate through all darkness.  If we “see” things through His eyes then our hearts are filled.  We understand things deeper than we once did.  We make better and wiser choices.  We are more patient, compassionate, kind, at peace, all because we are operating under the law of love.  What is the law of love?  It’s really the only true commandment in the Bible, to love God and love people, including ourselves.  If we live a life walking in God’s love each moment, then I believe He would smile because we finally get it.  All of those words in the Bible, all of the commandments, Jesus suffering, religions trying to explain this one concept… LOVE.  It’s, in my opinion, so misused in the world today.  Love is an action that takes place once we first open our hearts to receiving Jesus and all that He offers, learning to follow in his path and model who He is, in our world today.  The only way to learn who is he is by reading God’s word.  I began, a few days ago, reading Matthew, which is what brought me to this blog as I had also prayed for God to reveal His perspective to me about a certain situation.   I’ve recently experienced arguments because of the way that I chose to “see” a situation.  My reaction was based upon what I “saw” and a unnecessary arguments took place.  I apologized for speaking before I prayed, but words were already said and I’m really trying to work on that.  It leaves me a bit frustrated, which causes my heart to lose a little joy, regret sprouts, and if I continue in the thought process of the emotions that follow the wrong choices that I make, then I can’t follow Jesus at all.    I’ve learned that when I “see” things from a perspective that makes me angry, or hurt in some way and I react before I take the time to ask God for His perspective, then things don’t go well.  Sometimes I think that if I could just walk through my day with duct tape on my mouth, then I’d be good.  Ha!  Ha!  I’ve also realized that isn’t necessarily true because now we have cell phones, texting, social media, so many ways that I can say the wrong thing.  It’s so convenient and easy to do.  There are always consequences for our choices, and there is always a gracious God that loves us so much that as long as we keep our eyes on Him, and follow Jesus then He forgives us when we mess up and turn back to Him, which is what we call repenting.  It’s when we learn that having a heart to follow Jesus is what gives us life and brings Heaven to earth that our hearts live and our minds see things clearer than ever before.

Modern day Christianity

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Why so sad?  You have so much to be grateful for!
Because, you wouldn’t understand, inside there is more
You see what is outside, but don’t know my reality
You look around, but you don’t really know my story

Why so angry?  You have so many reasons to smile!
Because, you wouldn’t understand, it has been awhile
How can I truly smile when I see what’s happening today
It’s happening right here, not a land far away

Why are you so negative?  Be positive and things will disappear.
Because, I’ve opened my eyes and now my biggest fear
Are the things in life that are ignored, and have gone no where
We are becoming a stupid nation, completely unaware

Why depressed?  It could always be worse, cheer up!
Because, I only want to be accepted and loved
You wouldn’t understand because people see you differently
You wouldn’t understand how they treat someone like me

Why don’t you go to church, and find God, and His Son?
Because, I tried that and it was not at all fun
People whispered and stared when I walked through the door
I left feeling worse, than I did before

Why are you so rude?  It’s the season for kindness, and a season to give.
Because, I am merely surviving, this is what it’s like to truly live
I don’t live in your little world, with everyone else, I’m here alone
At the end of your day, you go to you warm, comfy home

Let me share something with you, that might help you see
The world isn’t all that you are imagining it to be
Although it’s not wrong to smile, be positive, look at the bright side
You may love church, that’s ok too, that’s where a lot go to hide

As for giving and being kind, that thought sounds nice
Isn’t that the story of God and His son, Jesus Christ?
Let me ask you a question, that is, if you don’t mind
When will you all wake up, why are Christians so blind?

Doesn’t God, himself, examine the heart?
Isn’t this the place where it all really starts?
Aren’t we all here to open our eyes to see
Everything through the eyes of a heart, and live differently?

Why do we live in a world that fights for peace?
Why do we close our eyes to things we don’t wanna see?
Why do any of us judge if we don’t know?
Isn’t it time to stop, and let go?

In the world we all wear a costume, but it isn’t our identity
If you are truly a Christian, you should know it’s not what defines me
So why don’t you open your mind and your heart
How about now?  It’s a great time to start.

 

The one that gives

giverblessed

It’s the holiday season and everyone seems to be rushing around trying to finish shopping.  Me, I haven’t started and don’t know if there will be any shopping for me this year.  No job, means no money.  God knows that I’m trying.  He’s opening my eyes to other things too.  We know that Christmas is supposed to be a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ and share His love with each other.  But are we doing that, REALLY doing that, as much as we could be?  Do we think about how many people won’t eat this Christmas, and how many will be alone, how many feel like no one cares?  How many do not know the love of Christ?  This breaks my heart!!  We need to do something and together we can.  Whether it’s a smile, a compliment, patience while we drive, and waiting in line at the stores, saying “thank you” often, smiling and saying “have a great day, to strangers”,  we could be the only one who speaks.  No one wants to feel invisible, but only wants to be accepted.  So what are we doing to share the love of Christ?  Kindness is a start, awareness to our surroundings, our communities, our world is important, love is essential, acceptance vital, compassion so appreciated.  If we are blessed with extra money, what about purchasing gift cards for grocery stores and giving them to the homeless, taking blankets, hygiene items, clothes to them as well.  Sure, these are things that we should do EVERY day, but especially now.  Let’s stop being a country filled with greed, and power hungry individuals thinking of ourselves, and become one nation under God and live that way.  I am so blessed with the wonderful people that God has placed in my life that support me, encourage me, walk beside me through good and bad, I am so loved and I’m so grateful for it.  It has meant so much to me, especially now, through the tough times that I have been through lately.  It doesn’t change my circumstances and I am not expecting anyone to do that, but it does affect my heart and brings it back to life.  This year I wanna give life, as well, to the hearts of others, who’s with me?  God will use us, if we are willing, and the one that will be blessed the most is the one that gives.

Does Prayer REALLY Work?

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Does prayer really work?  And How?  Have you ever wondered why it would be necessary for us to ask God for what we need?  The Bible promises us that He will give us what we need so why must we ask for it?  And have you ever experienced doing just that and not really receiving an answer to your prayer, although you witness that others do?  Does God only answer some people’s prayers and not others?  Do you see really bad things happen to good people and wonder why?  If God is so amazing why does these things happen?  So many questions we ask ourselves and wonder about this world that we live in and the one that created it and us.  The best advice I could give is in order to understand the character of God and get answers to all of life’s questions we must open our bibles, open our hearts and open our minds and spend some time alone with the one who has all of the answers.  As we read His word, He speaks to us.  It instructs us to look deeper, to focus on something that only a heart filled with Him,  can see.  The best gift we could ever receive is a heart filled with His wisdom, His love, His joy, His strength, His peace, His mercy, His grace… and when we allow ourselves to surrender completely to Him, this is exactly what He gives us in order to walk through any storm that we face in life and understand that there is also beauty in the darkest, scariest moments.  He loves us too much to give us all that we ask for, what He gives us is exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.  Is prayer necessary? YES!!  But does God answer by waving a magic wand and poof, all is good?  In my experiences, not usually.  As I’ve prayed and others have prayed with me, I’ve seen God speak to us all.  The same happens when we pray for someone else.  If God took away all of our problems, would we really experience all that He is and become aware of who we are truly created to be?  What gives us life are the moments in which we surrender our physical selfish desires, our worries, our doubts and place our trust in Him.  We give Him the things that we don’t want anyway and ask Him what He would like for us to do as well as what He would like for us to see.  I believe that God is a God all about relationships.  Without a relationship with Him, I’m just religious and that I’m not.  He is very real in my life and when I pray and ask for something, I know that a lot of times I have a part in God’s answer, because the gift that He gives is much more than what we ask for in words.  He gives us the true desires of our hearts.  Things that we may not even realize that we need, and a lot of times are in total opposition to the words that come out of our mouths while we pray.  As we continue to ask, He will continue to give.  As we continue to seek, we will find Him everywhere in all things and people, including ourselves.  And as we continue to knock, He will open door after door after door…. and even then we must still choose to walk through it 🙂

Love God and Love People

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Love, one small word that gives life meaning.  Without love, life doesn’t really have meaning.  Our heart thirst for it.  When we give love away, we receive it the most.  It’s not easy, and requires action, sacrifice, selflessness, forgiveness, awareness, and most of all a heart filled with the one who is love.  As a Christ follower, it is our life’s mission to walk in love each day and to share it everywhere that we go.  We can do this in the smallest ways, a smile, a kind word, a compliment, encouragement are a few.  It can also be done in more tangible ways by getting groceries for a struggling single mom, or helping her coupon and learn how to support herself with very little, or by helping someone move or donating clothes to those who need them.  There are so many ways to express love and to give life to the hearts of others, while experiencing the growth that this brings to our heart in the process.  I’ve decided to ask God each morning, “How can I express your love today?” and follow where He leads me.  One idea that He placed in my heart is to write out letters of encouragement and give them to strangers that He leads me to.  I’ve done this some and prayed that God blesses them in huge ways by the words in those letters.  Words give life and bless or they curse and destroy.  I pray that my words give life and bless and plant a seed inside of the hearts of those that read them.  I carry a box in my car filled with these cards of encouragement and when I meet someone and God says, “give them a card” I do.  Whether they are a cashier in a busy store, a banker, a waitress, or a homeless person asking for money, I know that God will use these words to touch their heart.  I may never know what happens next, but that’s ok.  Sometimes just the smile that I see when I say, “this is for you, today God wants you to know that you are loved” is enough for me.  I used to wish I could do more, but it’s not about me, it’s about Him and He can do so much!

Thankful Heart

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Last Wednesday, I lost my job.  I was let go, the month of Christmas, when bills are unpaid, hardly any food in my refrigerator and no gas in my car.  As a single mom, providing not only for myself, but also my 16 year old daughter, this was very scary.  At times like these my faith is really tested.  Do I believe in God’s promises?  Yes!  Do I believe that He will provide all that I need?  Yes!  But what about these emotions that scream so many other things.  This is the perfect time for the enemy to have his way with the thoughts in my mind, if I’m not careful.  I can start thinking about all of the things that I can’t pay for and doubting that God will pull me through, but where does this get me?  It leaves my heart wounded, and falling into depression.  That’s exactly where the enemy wants me because it holds me back from where God is taking me and it blinds me from all of the blessings that I have now.  It also stops me from doing what God has called me to do.  My heart’s passion is to help others know that they are not alone and that they are loved, cherished, adored, and valued.  I look at the world that we live in, and see many things depending on which perspective I choose to have.  It can either be a world filled with greed and violence.  Or a world filled with beautiful people that all have a longing to be filled with all that Christ has to offer.  I can complain about all that is wrong, and the bad that is happening all around me.  I can also say “thank you” to God for what I have and for what I see, and ask Him what he would like me to do about those things that “bother” me.  I know that He will give me strength to do all that I need to do and that He will provide for me.  I just have to do my part and that starts with a heart of gratitude and a willingness to let go of what was, understanding that this is part of His plan.  I can thank Him even when my heart is heavy, because of who He is.  He never changes, my emotions do, based upon what I see right in front of me.  I have learned that the more I say thank you, the more I see from His perspective.  The more I complain, the more room the enemy has to fill my head with damaging lies.  So, after all of these years of trying to figure out how to thank God genuinely, during tough times, I get it now. I’m thanking Him for opening new doors and taking me down a path that is better for me.  He knows what my heart needs!  And for that, I’m thankful!

Faith during Hard Times

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I would like to consider myself a person of Faith.  However, lately that has been put to the test.  We all go through tough times in our lives, times of heartache, confusion, grief, challenges, sadness, depression and we may even wonder if God is really there.  It’s easy to have faith when everything is going the way that we think that it should, but the moment that changes is a test of how much we truly trust God’s plan over our own.  Sometimes His plan doesn’t look or seem good to us, but it is.  He loves His children and promises us all a bright future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11)  He is our strength, our peace, our provider, our comforter, our refuge, and so much more.  He is EVERYTHING that we need.  The only way to truly get to know Him is by reading His word and asking Him to reveal Himself to us.  He will in such amazing ways!  This doesn’t mean that the challenges in our lives will stop.  A lot of times, as we are growing in our faith, we may actually have even more challenges.  In James, chapter 1 we learn how the challenges strengthen our faith, and once we work through the emotions that naturally come up during these times, patience will be developed inside of us.  This is a process and does not happen immediately, but over time.  The same way that we grow physically, we grow spiritually.  At first, we are like babies and our needs are so many, but as time goes on and we begin to grow, then God helps us learn that we have all that we need inside of us.  How? Because His Son, Jesus died to give us life.  This life is the spiritual growth inside of our heart that allows us to experience joy in the midst of pain, peace in a world of chaos, love when we feel alone and abandoned, wisdom when there doesn’t seem to be a way out, patience to joyfully walk through the “desert” to get to our “promise land”.  Knowing this is great but it doesn’t change a thing until we believe it and live it each day in each moment.  It’s a choice, seems to be an easy one, but that’s not necessarily so.  I’ve found it to be extremely difficult at times, but always worth it.  God has a plan for us, we just need the heart to see it.  We have to rid ourselves of anything that is not of Him and ask Him inside of our hearts to fill us up with all that He is.  This is not a one time choice.  But one that we must make regularly.  Making the choice to have faith in God rather than worrying and doubting helps us mature spiritually and as we do, we learn what “life” really is and eventually are able to even say “thank you” to God for the times in our lives that we used to complain about.  And then our heart changes to become more and more like His.  This is the greatest gift of all.