Friday, September 23, 2016

Looking with Forever Eyes Blog Series

Starting this coming Tuesday we're going to begin a new blog series based off of Mary's book Looking with Forever Eyes. This book is available in our bookstore, which you can access by clicking this link. Looking with Forever Eyes explains that as Christians, once we are born again, we have the ability that we rarely use to see things with the fresh insight and perspective of the kingdom of God—our forever eyes.

Throughout the book Mary explains that anyone who has been reborn has the gift! This gift allows us to see things that are both invisible and eternal. With this perspective shift we change to be more like Jesus. These forever eyes help us gain a unique take on everything around us:

  • Your friends, family, and other people in your life
  • Your success and failures
  • Your money and possessions
  • The way you spend your time 
  • Your marriage or singleness
  • and more 
Keep reading over the next few weeks to learn more about your forever eyes and how to use them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Get Over Your Fear of Trusting God

3. God's Plans Are Always Best
Once you have accepted the previous basic truths, they have to lead us to this third and most important conclusion: God's plans for us are always superior to any other plans. If you believe God is God and He cares for you, then you cannot logically deny this truth: God is smarter than you are at running your life. Therefore, you can trust Him. Not only can you trust Him, but it is the logical thing to do. Nothing else makes any sense.
  Just look at what the Scriptures tell us about God's intentions toward us:

        "No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." (Ps. 84:11b)

        "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his            power that is at work within us." (Eph. 3:20)

        "Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak             and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." (Ps. 34:9-10)

       "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,  "plans to prosper you and not to harm          you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11)

The irrefutable, logical conclusion is clear. There simply can be no middle ground. If we believe with our hearts, not just our heads, that God is God, eternal, all-powerful, holy and perfect, and that this very God cares for us more than any earthly being could ever care, and that His plans for our lives are far better than anything we could maneuver on our own, we have to get over our fear of trusting Him. He can be nothing but trustworthy. He will lead us into the best paths. To fail to relinquish the control of our lives to Him would be foolhardy and disastrous.

It is arrogance on our part if we refuse to trust God. To fail to trust Him at every turn in your life is a grave and serious sin. It is pride at its very worst.

Whatever the fear that is keeping you from trusting God, it is unfounded and unreasonable, and it is a trick of Satan to keep you from the joy and peace of a trusting, yielding life. Let go of those fears today, confess your sin of unbelief, get into God's Word daily and get to know God better, and you, too, can get over your fear of trusting God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Get Over Your Fear of Trusting God

So many of us hang on to the controls of our lives, afraid to trust God, as if to say that we know more of what's better for us than God does, and we are more trustworthy than He is. Of course we don't think those thoughts; we just live our lives that way.

Your fear of God may be revealed in symptoms such as these: You're afraid of not having enough money to support your lifestyle or retirement. You're afraid of not achieving your career goals. You're afraid of being rejected. You're afraid of losing the approval of someone or some ones. Whatever your fear of the future is—and it is always a fear of what might or might  not happen—its root cause is that you really area afraid to let go of the controls of your life and simply trust God's plan to be a good plan.     

Believing the Basics 

 1. Learning to trust God begins by reminding ourselves of His character and power, and then asking ourselves if we really believe God is who He says He is.

Here are some verses that describe the nature of God:  God is the only God

"This is what the Lord says—Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)

2. Knowing God's Personal Care
Assuming we have assimilated the previous basic truth, the next important issue is to understand how this same God feels about us. After all, we are but specks in a great mass of humanity and in a vast universe. Do we make any difference to God. Again scripture gives the answer:

God does not lose track of you!

"Why do you say O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God?" Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:27-28)

God knows you intimately

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely." (Psalm 139:1-4)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get Over Your Discontent with Singleness

God designed and instituted marriage; He is the author of sexual relationships and desire. And within His design, marriage and all that goes with it are to be honored and held in high esteem. It's no wonder that most people—especially in their young adult lives—deeply desire to be married, have children, and establish a good family.

This extreme discontent with singleness is like a black cloud that spoils every other thing in your life. It diminishes the joy of success in careers or other friendships or even ministry involvement. The enemy of our soul, Satan, loves to find ways to keep us discontented, because then our effectiveness in Kingdom work is decreased. I know that we have a choice as to whether our discontent with being single will continue to rule our lives or not. Once again, this is a choice we make as to what we think about singleness, how much we think about it, and how well we learn to bring those obsessive thoughts into captivity and make them obedient to Christ. It is just so true that the problem here lives in our thought lives.

What the Bible Says About Singleness 
 First Corinthians 7 is seldom used for sermon material. It doesn't fit too well with this common idea that God intended marriage for everyone and anything else is second best. Here's an excerpt from verses 32-35. "An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit... I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

What singles tend to forget is that there are pluses and minuses, assets and liabilities, to being single and to being married. The key thing we need to understand is that God has not advocated one lifestyle—marriage—as the number-one, normal way to live, and the other lifestyle—singleness—as second best, leftovers for those who missed the marriage boat for some reason or another.

Let me remind you of some of the people in Scripture who were either certainly or most likely single: Jesus, the apostle Paul, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Many others have no reference to marriage and have lifestyles that would lead you to think they were probably single, including some of the disciples and many in the early church.

There are some dangers in allowing ourselves to think that marriage is the only normal lifestyle and it will solve all our problems.

  1. You place an unduly heavy responsibility and expectation on marriage.
  2. You're asking too much of that other person who will be your mate if and when you do marry. 
  3. When a person is consumed with the desire to be married, they usually become less and less attractive because they are unconsciously transmitting that message through body language, facial expressions and conversation.
  4. When we think that marriage is essential we begin to make an idol out of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Get Over False Guilt Part II

Determining the Source of Our Guilt

Much of our false guilt is from people who indicate their lack of satisfaction with us in some way. It is natural to feel guilty, but we need to check it our mentally every time it happens. When someone says, "Why weren't you..." or "Why didn't you..." and you immediately start to feel guilty, remind yourself that you may be dealing with false guilt.

Learning to Manage False Guilt 

The first and most important step in learning to manage false guilt is to recognize it. We must develop the practice of examining our guilty feelings and determining if they are true or not. That will do more than anything else to rid your mind of false guilt, because once you know the guilt is not deserved, it's much easier to put it our of your mind.

The second step is to replace wrong thinking with right thinking. When you're dealing with false guilt, you must by choice, or by a set of your will, push that wrong thinking out of your mind. I emphasize "by a set of your will" because your feelings will take you in another direction. This is done by faith and in obedience to Scripture.

One way to do this is through praise to the Lord. Start counting your blessings. Begin thanking God for the good things in your life. Refuse to allow the thoughts of false guilt to have a place in your life.

There is No Condemnation!

I love this passage from Romans 8:33-34, from Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English
Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

Only Christ is qualified to accuse us of wrong, and after we become Christians, He doesn't! Do we have a right to condemn ourselves if Jesus doesn't condemn us? Can anyone else truly condemn you if Jesus doesn't?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Get Over False Guilt Part I

Feeling guilty is so common to most of us that I believe it is a universal emotion. Something that everyone will experience at one point in time or another during their lifetime. False guilt is such a heavy, unnecessary burden and if you're carrying around all that false guilt, I really want to help you get over it. You will be amazed at the freedom you will know when you can learn to put false guilt behind you.

What is false guilt?
False guilt is a guilt we impose upon ourselves. We allow it to take root in our minds, to start causing all kinds of bad feelings, to feed us all kinds of lies, which we begin to believe. Here are some examples of false guilt. It is:

  • What we feel when we keep remembering what God has forgiven and forgotten
  • What we feel when someone appears to be disappointed in us 
  • What we feel when we have to say "no"
  • What we feel when we live with unrealistic expectations of ourselves 
  • What we feel when we allow others to dictate what and who we should be 
Notice that each one begins with "what we feel." It's a feeling, not grounded in truth, but nonetheless strong and real. Guilt feelings are very similar, whether true or false, and our challenge is to learn how to discern the difference. We must learn to quickly analyze any guilt that comes our way: Is this true or false guilt? 

One of the first signs that you are dealing with false guilt is that you just can't pinpoint why you feel guilty. It is a strong feeling that engulfs you and discourages you, but if you had to state why you feel guilty, you'd say things like, "Well, I just never seem to get it right," or "I don't know, I just should have known better." Notice how general these statements are. When you cannot pinpoint a specific reason for your guilt you are probably dealing with false guilt.

Perhaps the false guilt we suffer from the most is guilt over our past. We all tend to go back and remember the sins of the past, and even though they are forgiven and God remembers them no longer, we don't seem to be able to purge our memory.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Get Over Putting Yourself in a Box

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That's a familiar question that most young children are asked at various stages and ages, and you'll hear answers like a doctor, a fireman, a teacher, an astronaut. I just wonder how many people actually fulfill those childhood dreams when they grow up. Children are far more likely to "think outside of the box" than we grown-ups are, don't you agree?

Today you would be hard pressed to find any job or occupation where women are not involved and in most cases flourishing. Ask yourself what box or boxes you have put yourself in. Here are some common ones:

  • I'm too old to do that—or too young
  • I don't have the right education
  • I don't have enough money
  • That's not my gift
The list is virtually endless. Think about it: what have you been telling yourself you cannot do for some reason? It's time to get over it!

Ephesians 2:10 says : "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." I'm convinced that many of us are missing out on the good works God prepared for us to do because we've allowed others to put us in a box, and we can't believe that God wants us out of the box and will equip us to do what He intended from the beginning of time for us to do.

Proverbs 29:18 says: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." If you've never had a vision of what you could do, if you've never aspired to something so big that it sacred you, then you may be perishing on the vine. In the parable of the talents, Jesus taught us the principle that if we don't use what He gives us, not only will He not give us more, we will lose what we have! (See Matt. 25:14-30) Without a vision , we begin to shrivel up and settle for mediocrity. That inward deterioration occurs subtly and could go unnoticed, even by yourself, but eventually it catches up with you when you begin to see your life as humdrum or boring or meaningless. What is the vision that Christ has given you, and how can you begin to utilize your God given gifts.