2 Images of God You May Have Forgotten

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The Psalmist describes God as a sun. There is some clear imagery here. The sun is our source of light, warmth, and life. Additionally, it’s the center of attention.

We should be giving God all our attention all of the time.

Next he is a shield. God is our constant protection. He gives his angels authority and responsibility over us.

We need to trust his protection.

All of us, even those who are exceptionally strong in the faith, benefit from this regular reminder.

God is our life & sustenance….
AND he’s our impenetrable fortress of protection.

Do our lives reflect that we believe this?

 

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4 Keys to a Successful Devotional Time

Ok, let’s begin by defining ‘Successful.’

For the purpose of this blog post, a ‘Successful’ devotional time is one that actually happens and is intentional. It also lays the foundation for us to more easily experience something God has for us that day.

Here we go…

Eliminate distractions | I’m a little ADD, so it doesn’t take much for my attention to get notifs offhijacked. If you can relate, you might want to try some things that have worked for me. Listen to instrumental music using headphones. Use a room or space where others are not present. Mute your phone and set it face down. Or if you use your phone for your devotion time, turn all of your notifications off. Set it to ‘Do Not Disturb.’ If you’re using a laptop, close all tabs for things like email and Facebook. They alert you when a new message arrives.

 

Make a plan | Treat this like an appointment. Set a time and stick to it. I’ve even placed calendarit on my calendar before.  And if you plan to journal, will it be paper or online? What will you journal? Planning ahead before your devotional time helps it to occur more smoothly.

 

Come prepared | Determine in advance what scriptures you will be biblereading. What Bible translation will you use? Do you prefer using a physical Bible, or an App like Youversion? Any devotional books or podcasts? Oh, and don’t forget your favorite coffee!

 

 

 

Include prayer | Woman with bibleThis may sound unambivalent, but I’ve found this piece to be something that can be easily overlooked. I almost always try to open my devotional time with God in prayer. Asking him to speak clearly to me through the passages I’ll be reading and for his Spirit to guide me to the areas of scripture I need to reflect on that day. Doing this also helps me to focus my attention on the things of God and away from the issues, errands, and concerns I’ll be facing later.

All 4 of these keys have the makings for a strong, successful daily habit of spending some valuable time with God. Now, this list is obviously not comprehensive, it won’t guarantee your salvation, and it’s not going to ensure a euphoric connection with God every day!

But here’s what it does do! It provides a basic foundation for us to grow in our relationship with Jesus that otherwise becomes virtually impossible.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. – Psalm 119:15

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. – Romans 8:5

What KEYS would you add? Has this been helpful to you? Feel free to leave a comment or DM me.

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You Cannot Google-Search God

Well, not God himself…but his greatness.  Check this out.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.  (Psalm 145:3) 

Have you ever searched the internet for a specific website or topic, and you just get this page error?  Well, the same thing occurs if you attempt to Google search ‘God’s Greatness.’

404

Unsearchable: a primitive root meaning to be nothing or not exist.

When the Psalmist claims that God’s greatness is unsearchable, he literally means that the ability to gain full, comprehensive understanding of all that defines the greatness of God does not exist!  You and I can scratch the surface of that understanding and we can experience a portion of that greatness in our own lives and story.  But to search and find all of his greatness?  My friend, it’s just not possible.

Why?

Simply because his greatness is so vast and astounding that our finite mortal brains cannot contain it.  It would be like trying to save 5 terabytes of valuable family photos on a 1 gigabyte flash drive.  It would be impossible!

So, why is this a good thing?  I’ll answer that with a question.  Do you want to serve and worship a god who has limits?  One who you can easily define and contain inside a box?

I didn’t think so 🙂

I’ll leave you with this final thought.  Just because God’s greatness is unsearchable does not mean we should not attempt the search anyway.  The journey to searching the greatness of God leads to a clearer understanding of the ‘HEART’ of God.  The only way to discover new things about God’s heart is to enter into the abyss of the unsearched.

 

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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3 Things To Do In The Middle Of Your Troubles

If you’re anything like me, when I have trouble or stress in my life all I want to do is eat, complain, and remain as inactive as possible.  Hey, I’m just being honest.  Can you relate?

Lately, God has been leading me into a particular season of prayer.  It’s been one of seeking his heart and hearing his voice.   Life hasn’t necessarily been full of trouble or difficulty recently, but it has presented a lot of busyness.  And if you’re like me, busyness has the tendency to distract.  Auto-pilot becomes a natural and sub-conscious state of being.

When we come to realize that we are in this ‘funk,’ three key actions will aid to reset our priorities and improve our spiritual mental capacity.

Romans 12:12 reminds you and I to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

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Here’s what we can take away from this one powerful verse.

  1. Rejoice in hope – That’s right, we have real hope in the promises of God.  His word is reliable.  And whether we can feel him actively involved in our circumstances or not, we can be reassured in the hope that we really do ‘know’ that he is.
  2. Be patient in tribulation – In our pain, misery, and distress we can easily allow ourselves to become anxious.  But God’s word instructs us to be patient.  For me, this is a kind reminder that life comes in seasons.  They all come and go.  Sure, some last longer than others.  But patience allows us to chill out while God is doing his thing.  He’s not oblivious to your current state of life.  Release your stress to him and trust.
  3. Be constant in prayer – ‘Constant’…meditation is what comes to mind here.  Prayer doesn’t always have to be kneeling in a dark closet (I’m not sure I’ve ever even done this).  I would suggest that ‘constant in prayer’ simply means to remain in a state of continual awareness of God’s involvement in our lives throughout the day.  My prayer life totally changed once I learned how to remain mindful of God’s presence around me throughout my entire day…AND once I learned the habit of talking with him in the midst of that presence.

So, try this today.  Write it down.  Ask a friend or spouse to join in this quest with you.  Claim your joy in the hope we have in God, move patiently through the season you are in, and saturate your days in prayer.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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3 Things to Avoid When God Begins to Speak

The other night, I sat down to have what I assumed was going to be 20-30 minutes of prayer and reading in one of my devotionals.

Then, God showed up and decided to join me!  What a novel concept.

I read one random page in my devotional book containing one particular scripture verse.  Next, I felt prompted to check out the verse of the day in YouVersion.  This was a different passage, but same theme.  Huh?

I then decided I would pop my earbuds in and experience some worship music.  You want to know something?  The bridge of the song I chose relayed the exact same message as those two scripture passages!  What the heck?  You know God’s trying to get your attention when he puts the same thing in front of you 3 different times.

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When God takes you down this sort of path, it goes without saying that it would be wise to pay attention more than usual.  I would suggest, however, 3 things to avoid when he starts speaking this clearly.

  1. Avoid DISTRACTIONS – Remain in that moment as long as possible.  But sometimes God catches us just as we are on our way out the door to work or an important engagement.  In these times, it is critical that we come back to this moment and word with God as early as possible to allow him to continue speaking.
  2. Avoid HURRY – Don’t jump to conclusions trying to quickly decipher what is being said.  The things of God are often quite large and can take time for us to truly gain a grasp on the specifics of what he is either telling us or asking of us.  Be patient.  Meditate calmly on his voice.
  3. Avoid PRIVACY – Shortly after you’ve had a bit of time to process what you are experiencing with God, go ahead and share it with 1-3 people.  These should be individuals who you know love Jesus and who honestly care about you and your future.  Ask them for their thoughts on what God might be saying.  Then, look for a common theme.

What have your experiences been when God starts communicating in such a bold way that your mind and heart are simply taken captive?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

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An [infographic] on New Approaches to Your Spiritual Growth

Do the words ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ make you cringe?

Well, you’re not alone.  Many followers of Jesus in America wrestle with what they are and are intimidated when encouraged to practice them.

I really like this infographic  (by Tehanna.com)

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.19.48 PM

I’m speaking from personal experience here.  Most people over-complicate their spiritual maturity journey.  Mainly due to naivety.    The biggest key, I believe, is to put perfection out of your thinking and simply start somewhere…don’t quit…and focus on practicing one or two of the disciplines.

(I’d encourage you to click on the infographic and read the rest of their article)

Where have you struggled or flourished in some of the spiritual disciplines?  I’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below.

 

4 Ways to Ensure Your GOALS Don’t Become Your GOD

I don’t want to WORSHIP my fitness practices (goals).

But I also don’t want to go back to worshipping food either.  aka: donuts, candy, cake, soda, ice-cream… (I think you get the picture)

We all know these people.  Their health initiatives/practices are their identity.  It’s who they are known as.  I don’t want to become one of those people.  I’m a pastor and a strong follower of Jesus…THAT needs to be my identity.

o-JUNK-FOOD-facebook

This was me about six weeks ago…only not a woman.  Sweets were a distraction.  They were easy, cheap, and tasted great.  Today, I can honestly say that I rarely battle the indulgent temptations that used to cause me to gravitate toward unhealthy things.  I’m enjoying exercising.  I’m doing great at hitting my daily health goals.  And that’s awesome!

But I’ve noticed something.

My quiet time with Jesus in the mornings has been affected.  Nothing serious.  But it could easily become a problem if I allow it.

What I’m really getting at is this.  How do we continue to work diligently at our personal goals AND NOT have our Spiritual growth suffer along the way?  Here are 4 things I believe you and I can (should) do regularly to T.E.S.T. where our priorities are.

Think | Right now, think about it and really ask, “Is _______ taking priority over my Spiritual growth and life?”  It starts by honestly asking ourselves this.

Evaluate | If something is out of order, why?  How did this happen?  Really take time to pray about this, because knowing the answer to this will become key in getting things back in alignment.

Scheme | Take what we know from that evaluation time and scheme a plan.  Somehow, we need to move forward with our goals differently so that we can avoid the mistakes that landed us here. Change things up a little.  Same goals, altered approach.

Tweak | (careful, not Twerk)  Similar to scheme, but this is taking that step.  This is making the new plan a reality.  Also, share your new plan with someone.  Ask them for accountability.  Trust me, this really helps.

For me, this simply means I don’t go into social media areas at all in the mornings until AFTER I’ve had my quiet time.  After I’ve at least read a devotional thought and prayed for my day.

Call To Action!  Has this been you?  What would you add to this list?  May you achieve your personal goals, and may Jesus walk intimately with you every step of the way.

I love hearing from readers.  Feel free to leave a comment below.  And be sure to hit the ‘SUBSCRIBE NOW’ button above to receive my FREE eBook!

photo credit: www.vegansgoraw.com