More Than a Feeling

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Psalms 11:3

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True faith is more than a feeling.  Our feelings change but the foundation of our faith never changes.  That’s not to say we can’t change our opinions, of course we can.  I once believed drinking alcohol in any fashion was sin, but I no longer hold to that opinion. I once believed only conservative, evangelical baptists were truly “saved” and “heaven-bound;” thank God, those blinders have been removed and my narrowed vision, widened.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Paul is saying as we grow we change.  As we grow in Christ, our personal convictions may change over the years, and that’s okay.  We shouldn’t be so rigid in our opinions that we become hardened to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus once asked his disciples, ” Are your hearts hardened? Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear and listen [to what I have said]?”  I hate to say this, but it seems to me, the disciples could be rather dense, but to be fair, I suppose we all are, in some areas; especially when it comes to being “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.  Most of us only want to be “hearers” and then “tellers” of the Word.  It’s so easy to skip the “doing” part.  

Anyway, much of the time, the disciples,  just didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say. Why?  I believe it was partly because their hearts had been hardened by their own preconceived ideas and selfish desires.  When we assume we already know what’s right or what’s wrong it becomes hard for our spiritual eyes to see or our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.  It is so important that our hearts remain tender to the voice of God. We should ask him everyday to give us understanding hearts that are receptive to His Spirit. 

So, have I lost my faith because I no longer believe everything taught to me as a child?  Of course not. Do I have to be “right” in all my opinions to have true faith.  Absolutely not. When it’s all said and done my faith rests on this one simple concept:  My God loves me.  No matter how I feel, no matter my interpretation of “certain” passages of scripture, and no matter what I perceive to be or not to be sin, this one thing is ever constant; God loves me.  (And you should know that He loves you too!)  The fact, God loves us, should be rooted within our inner most being, and should be the foundation, upon which, everything else is built upon.

I John 4:19 tells us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  When a person truly realizes just how much God loves them, they can’t help but fall madly in love with Him.  It doesn’t happen overnight because it takes us time to grasp the full spectrum of God’s love; However, the more we meditate and dwell in God’s love the more we grow to love him. Jesus says in John 15:9, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”  He admonishes us to abide [live] in His love for good reason.  In the very next verse he says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”   And so, the benefit of abiding in God’s love is joy, and the proof that we are abiding in God’s love is our love for others.

Oswald Chambers suggests that our faith must be tried and tested through the “everyday realities of life,” and until that occurs, our faith is  only sustained by feelings and blessings. How easy it is to have faith when there’s an abundant supply of God’s blessings in our life. Or when our emotions are quickened, so much so, that we feel on fire for God.  How strong we feel in our faith during those times!  I love those mountain top experiences.  Don’t you?

But, what do we do when all of that is stripped away? What happens when God’s blessings are ripped from our lives?  What happens when we feel alone and it seems that God is no where to be found?  If our faith is based on our feelings, then we are left naked, bare, and of men, most miserable.

David in Psalms 11:3 laments, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The key word from David’s question is “foundations.”  What or who is the foundation of our faith?  Is it a feeling, or is it Christ?

It’s a law of physics, (or should be if not) when the foundation crumbles the house will fall. There’s a song I used to sing as child about two men who built, for themselves a house.  The foolish man built his house upon sand and when the stormy rains came, the foundation was swept away and his house fell.  The wise man, built his house upon a rock and when the stormy rains came, his house withstood and stayed firm upon the rock.  The lesson, of course, being, make sure you build your faith upon the right foundation, because the storms will come and our faith will be tested.   It is inevitable.  Of this, Oswald Chambers writes, “But once we get there [the trying of our faith], no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.”

Faith placed in God’s love will never fail because God’s love for us never changes.   Even during the hardest of times, when we “feel” all is lost, we can know our faith stands, because faith is more than a feeling.  Feelings change with the wind, but God never changes, and because He never changes our faith remains when all else fails.

Each trial, of our faith, makes us stronger.  James 1:3-4, Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”  

What does, all of  this mean, and how can we, actually apply it in our daily life?

We can, and should, exercise our faith, and it would be wise to do it before we have to face the “big trials and tribulations.”  Our faith is tested, in small ways, every day, and if we are conscious of this, we can exercise our faith and it will begin to grow on a daily basis.  From Charisma Magazine, Joyce Meyer, writes,

“Faith can grow, but it only grows when we use it. It’s like a muscle. The way you build a bigger muscle is through effort—you have to use it.  As it grows, you have to use heavier weights or exercises that require greater effort to keep it growing.

It’s the same way with our faith. We put our faith in God to get through a challenge or trial, and later on, another harder trial comes along. Eventually we find that things that used to bother us or were hard to deal with aren’t a problem for us anymore because our faith has grown.”

Faith, like our muscles, grow when when exercised.  How do we exercise our faith? Well, here are some practical ways in which I try to exercise my faith on a daily basis…

  • Start early.  In the mornings, before I roll our to bed, I try to remember to spend a few moments with God.  It can be as simple as telling him “good morning” or thanking him for a safe night.  Maybe, I’ll use this time to ask for guidance, or better yet, just to tell him how much I love him.  The key point is to acknowledge God early in your day.
  • Commit to having a thankful heart.  I try to be conscious and thankful for the little things that make my life better. Such things as, having a bathroom in which all I have to do is use and flush.  Some don’t have that luxury.  In the mornings, I enjoy coffee in my cup, butter on my toast and wind-chimes playing in the breeze.  God gives us these things because He loves us and He wants us to enjoy our life.  Since it’s so easy to take these things for granted, I try to, “on purpose” commit to having a thankful attitude throughout my day.
  • Resist temptation.  Be aware of the little things that trip us up.   The Song of Solomon warns us it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines.”  Just to name a few of the “little foxes” we all need to be wary of:  Our thought life…Are our thoughts positive or negative?  Are they moral or immoral?  Our love life…How am I treating my spouse?  My children?  Or the driver who cut me off in traffic?  Our eating habits…Am I going to stop eating when I’m full or will I go for round two?  Do I make wise choices in the kinds of foods I eat?  Am I sensitive to God’s voice in this matter or do I just go with my cravings, and eat whatever I want?  Taking care of the body God gave you…  Do I exercise?  What if I don’t feel like taking that walk?  Do I give in to my feelings or do I exercise my faith and just do it?  Laziness…Do I clean my house or stay on Facebook?  (Ouch)  How much do I give in to procrastination?  (Double Ouch)  Our mouth…What comes out of my mouth?  Do I praise God or do I brag about myself?  Am I “haughty” in my speech, or do I try to use humility?  Am I gossiping? Do my words lift up or tear down?
  • Live out the word.  The only way we can do this is to read God’s word.  I try to set aside a time each day to do this, even if it’s only five minutes.  Sometimes, we become legalistic and try to commit to so many chapters or so many hours a day. That’s never worked for me, in fact, it only served to keep me away from God’s word. Reading God’s word shouldn’t be a burden.  We should go to his word with the expectation of God speaking.  It doesn’t take God a whole chapter to speak to us; sometimes one verse will suffice.  We just need to listen to him and follow his guidance
  • Listen to God.  Ask God to make your heart tender to his voice.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  Of course he speaks through his word but he also uses people and circumstances to convey his will to us.  He has given us his Holy Spirit which communes with our hearts, that’s why it’s important to ask God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts, so we may hear.  Ask God to speak and then listen expectantly.
  • Remain in the spirit of prayer.    I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  Prayer doesn’t really consist of being on your knees and keeping your eyes closed. Prayer is simply talking to God and this can be done quietly in our mind.  Talk to God often throughout your day.  We can talk to God anywhere and during any situation.  When an ambulance passes, ask God to help that one in need.  When someone asks for prayer, pray for them right then and there within your heart. Sometimes, when I’m looking for a parking space, I’ll say to God, “Lord, it sure would be awesome to find a good parking space…”  When I’m nervous about something, I simply say to God, “Help me, Lord.”  Psalms 46:1 tells us God is, “a very present help” in our time of need.  “Help me” is probably the simplest but best prayer we can pray through out the day.

Every time we exercise our faith it becomes stronger.  The more we daily live our faith the better equipped we will be to face the harsh storms of life.  With our faith anchored in Christ, we can be certain our foundation will stand.  Sometimes we feel our faith, but sometimes we do not.  No worries, my friend, because our faith is much more than a feeling!

My Prayer:  Father, help me to walk in faith, throughout my day.  Keep my heart tender to your voice.  Help me, not only to hear your word but to live it as well.  Jesus, I accept your peace; show me how to walk in it.  May I love all those around me just as you have loved me.  All praise, honor and glory belong to you, Jesus.  Amen.

...our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life…Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life._____ Oswald Chambers

(This is a publication of “Walk Through Psalms” series)

(Also in participation of Devotional Friday Event  and Scripture Sabbath Challenge )

Death, On a Walk Through Psalms

We must see death to fully appreciate life.

For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?  Psalms 6:5

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.  Ecclesiastes 9:10

LIVE JOYFULLY FRONT
Art by Karen Fields http://karenfieldsgallery.blogspot.com/

One life,

we live

upon this earth.

When it’s over,

it will be done.

King David of old,

his voice did say,

“The grave awaits, 

 one day

we fill. 

So praise

your God!

While you can

still.”

King Solomon, his son

did say this too,

 “One day

the living

will surely die.

Go thy way,

eat with joy. 

Drink your wine,

with the merriest of heart.

That thing you do,

whatever it be,

with all your might,

see it through.”

Live!

They say.

Live joyfully!

(END NOTE:  The last few days have been dark indeed.  I found myself focusing on what’s breaking my heart, and I didn’t want to live.  In the church service, yesterday, I heard God say, “Please live for me.”)

Thank you, Lord.

 

 

 

Sin…We All Do It

Psalms 6:1-2     Does-freedom-mean-I-can-do-what-I-want.-What-about-sexual-sin.-300x200

Please, Lord,
    don’t punish me when you are angry;
    don’t discipline me when you are furious.
Have mercy on me, Lord,
    because I’m frail.
Heal me, Lord,
    because my bones are shaking in terror! 

I sin everyday.  I try not to sin and try to do good; but none-the-less, sin, in my life, is inevitable.  Just last week I robbed a bank…

Kidding…

                         just kidding…

 Actually,  I try to keep the “big sins” at bay.  Of course, sin is sin, and no one sin is “bigger” than the other in God’s eye.  However, man doesn’t feel quite the same, and that’s why I don’t rob banks!  Also,  I’m sure the orange jump-suit would clash with my hair!  (smile)

There’s scripture in the Bible that speaks of “besetting sins.”  Hebrews 12:1 says, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”  Dictionary.com defines besetting as: constantly assailing or obsessing, as with temptation.  So, a besetting sin is that sin that so easily trips us up in our Christian walk.  I think mine could be Facebook.  (kind of serious this time)  

We all have a besetting sin and some of us have two or three or even more.  I wont give you my list, just the one that trips me up the most…the one I’m the most ashamed of…(might as well keep it real) and that is laziness.

Ouch…that hurt.  

Okay, so…it’s not like I live in a pig-sty.  I do clean my house, cut my grass and cook.  I try to run/walk at least three times a week.  The problem I have is that I put them off as long as possible. (That’s why I mentioned Facebook earlier)  Some may call it procrastination, but I think the two; procrastination and laziness, often go hand in hand.

David was a sinner just like us.  In today’s scripture we find David distraught over his sin, and praying to God. David knows he has done wrong and is aware of God’s chastening hand. And so like any kid before a spanking, he’s reasoning with his parent.  In today’s terminology David’s prayer would go something like this, and I paraphrase, “Daddy, I know I’m gonna get it, but please don’t do it when you’re mad. I’m only a kid and I’m so scared.  Please take it easy on me, I promise to do better.”

I didn’t get many “whippings” growing up, but I remember the time when I got two in one day.  I always tried to be a good girl and was most of the time; however, I was born with a healthy dose of mischievousness, and curiosity often got the better of me.

We lived down a quiet, dead-end dirt road out in the country.  One day,  my Mom went on an errand, but before she left, she walked me across the dirt road, that separated our house and grandma’s house, and left me there to stay while she “went to town.”    After a while, a five year old mischievous girl gets bored, and of course they start looking for something fun to do. Well, I was curious as to what lay beyond the forest that bordered my grandma’s backyard. And so, Todd, my cousin…and partner in crime, and I set off on an exploration.  We walked deep into the woods and didn’t stop until we came to a creek bed filled with deep flowing water.

Straight-away we hopped upon rotted logs and begin to navigate our “boats” upon the water.  Of course it was better if you laid on your tummy, that way you could paddle with both your hands and feet.  That’s exactly what I did.  After a while, we realized it had gotten late, and so we headed back, dripping wet, toward grandmas.  As we neared the house we heard something that sounded like a voice echoing in the breeze.  The closer we got to grandma’s the louder the voice got.  When I realized it was my grandmother calling out to us, my tummy dropped, because I knew we were in trouble.  I may have only been five years old, but I was old enough to recognize the fear in my grandmother’s voice.  It wasn’t too long afterward, I found myself bent over her knee, getting my wet fanny spanked.  Of course grandma told my mom, and so when she and I walked hand-in-hand across the dirt road, my mom stopped at the nearest Lilac bush, broke off a small “switch” and switched my little legs.

I still laugh when I think about it.  Looking back, and thinking about the danger we had put ourselves in, I would have done the same thing to one of my children.  You know, I truly don’t remember  any  pain from the spankings; however, the shame is still fresh in my mind.  I felt guilty that I had done something that had frightened my mom and grandmother so much.  After that “double-whammy day” I never got another spanking.

None of us like to be disciplined, but sometimes there’s just no getting around it.  If done in the right way, it’s actually good for us.  When I give in to one of those besetting sins, I’m convicted and when I’m convicted I feel guilt.  It weighs heavy on my heart and the longer I carry it the heavier it feels. I ponder, long and hard, over what I did wrong, I beat myself up and call myself stupid and dumb.  My self-worth takes a nose dive, and I feel awful.

As Christians we don’t have to carry that burden.  Our Father, in his love for us, provided a way to relieve us from all our guilt and shame.  He woos us to come and to give it to Him.   He doesn’t want us to walk around with that stuff.  He wants us to have peace and joy.  He knew, before we were born, we would sin and sin a lot; and yet, He still chose us to be his children.

David in verse two cries out out to his Father, “Have mercy on me Lord for I am frail…” God knows we are but humans made from dust.  He knows everyone of our weaknesses and loves us any way.  I John 1:9 assures us, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” All we have to do is ask for forgiveness.  In fact once we ask for forgiveness He no longer remembers our sin.  Psalms 103:12 tells us, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

If God no longer remembers our confessed sins, then don’t you think we should stop punishing ourselves as well?  Give the guilt and shame to him and accept his free gift of Mercy today.

My Prayer:  Lord, I sin everyday.  Sometimes I’m selfish.  Sometimes I’m lazy.  Sometimes I eat more than I should.  Sometimes I gossip.  Sometimes I say and think things I shouldn’t, and sometimes I lash out in anger.  Father, I’m truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness.  Thank you for your Mercy.  Help me to stop punishing myself.  Remind me, often, of the forgiveness and freedom I have in Christ.  I love you, Lord.  Amen.

bible-quotes-on-love-and-forgiveness

Fill us with Wonder

Because of your great mercy,
    I come to your house, Lord,
and I am filled with wonder
as I bow down
    to worship
    at your holy temple.

Psalms 5:7

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For today’s scripture I wanted to find a lovely photo of a simple church surrounded by God’s beautiful nature.  I found many; but try as I may, none gave me peace.  I have a hard time with organized religion and the photos I found brought this feeling to the forefront of my mind.   Those of you, who follow my blog, know I grew up in the church, but never found peace there.  I can’t honestly remember a day in which I felt happy about church, and I’ve carried around so much guilt for feeling this way.  It took a long time before I could separate church and God.  Believe me, the two are not synonymous.  God loves me unconditionally; the church never has.

I truly wanted to resonate with David and his words, “…I come to your house, Lord, and I am filled with wonder as I bow down to worship,” but I couldn’t.  Often, I talk to God about this feeling and I believe He understands.

Today, while spending time alone with God and meditating over this verse I sensed God saying to me, “…my child…you can find peace in the place of worship I have created…all you have to do is look for it’s all around you.”  With this thought peace flooded my soul and I smiled because I could say with David, “…I am filled with wonder.”

My Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for your place of worship you created for us.  May we feel your touch in the breeze.  My we hear your song through feathered fowl, smell your fragrance from flower’s breath and know your love through nature’s rest.  Thank you God, for the beauty of your world.  Make your presence known as we bow our hearts in wonder before you.  Amen.

and-spring-arose-on-the-garden-fair-like-the-spirit-of-love-felt-everywhere-and-each-flower-and-herb-on-earths-dark-breast-rose-from-the-dreams-of-its-wintry-rest-percy-bysshe-shelley

(A Walk Through Psalms Blog)

(Scripture Sabbath)

(Devotional Friday)

Christian Meditation?

Psalms 5:1

BeStillMeditation

I had a healthy fear of meditation.  Growing up Independent Fundamental Christian I was taught to fear many things, one being meditation.  I was taught to believe a transcendental state made the soul vulnerable to demonic possession.  I was also taught it impossible for a “true Christian”  to be demon possessed because their body was sealed with the Holy Spirit of God.  Since only “open” vessels could be filled the “true” Christian need never worry.  However, this knowledge was of little comfort because I carried a secret I dared not share with anyone.  I was gay and being gay meant I could never be a “true” Christian.   This revelation of myself came early in childhood; so the inner torment began its rage well before I reached the ripe old age of 10.  Fast forward 40 years and now I am person who has reconciled her sexual orientation with her faith.  I make no apologies to anyone. Thank God, He has given me peace.

MeditationWithGodInMind

There are tons of verses in God’s Word promoting meditation.  Presently I’m blogging about my journey through the book of Psalms.  Today, as I pause upon chapter 5 verse 1, I read the words of David, the Psalter, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.”

Hallelujah, Christians can meditate!  Not only can we meditate, but such practice brings all kinds of benefits into the Christian life!  Benefits not limited only to the spiritual but to the to the physical as well.  Consider Proverbs 4:20-22,

“My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.”

Joyce Meyer says of these verses,

“In these verses, the writer used the words, attend to my words, which is another way of exhorting us to meditate. I love the fact that God not only frequently tells us to meditate—to ponder seriously—His Word, but He frequently promises results. It’s as if God says, “Okay, Joyce, if you meditate, here’s what I’m going to do for you.” In this passage, the promise is life and health. Isn’t that amazing? It’s even a promise that when you contemplate and brood over the Bible, it will affect your physical body.”

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Woman meditating on rock in forest

God’s Word is ALIVE, and knowing this fills my heart with joy and excitement.  We have such power right at our finger tips and many are unaware of this truth.  I know I’ve been guilty.  I so easily forget the magical…mystical gifts God has given to us as his children.  I don’t have to be afraid of these gifts.  I can claim their supernatural power every day of my life if I so desire!  I love II Timothy 1:7 that says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  I no longer have to entertain childhood fears because I know those fears never came from God in the first place.  Jesus Christ has given me freedom!

Joyce Meyer also writes,

(sorry to keep referencing her…but she has had such an impact upon my spiritual life)

“Recently when I meditated on several passages in the Bible, I realized God was showing me that the Word has hidden treasures in it—powerful, life-giving secrets—which God wants to reveal to us. They are there for those who muse, ponder, and contemplate the Word of God.”

And this,

“As you study the Bible and meditate on what God says about you, you will be able to recognize the fears in your life that are holding you back and overcome them by seeing yourself in Christ. Then you will find you have whatever you need to do what you are created to do.”

Woman-meditating

My Prayer:  Jesus, you have made me a wonderful creation.  Thank you for all I am in You! I pray as David did so long ago… “O Lord consider my meditation.”  Please strengthen my faith as I meditate on your words. Help me to be still and to hear your voice.  Help me to become all you have created me to be.  In the powerful name of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

For more information about Christian meditation check out these links:

Being in Him

Prayer Escapes

The World Community For Christian Meditation

prepare-for-meditation

 

 

 

 

God is Listening

The Lord listens and heeds when I call to Him.  

Psalms 4:3

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I am always his child and He is always my Father.

My Prayer:  Dear Lord, how comforting it is to know you’re only a whisper away. You invite us to come to you as little children…wide-eyed and filled with simple faith…knowing you love us and knowing you truly care about every facet of our lives.  Nothing is too small or too insignificant…if it bothers us it bothers you as well.  Today, Father, take away our worries and fill us with your peace and love. In Jesus, our Savior’s name, we pray, Amen.

Thank you, Lord, for listening and heeding me when I call to you.__Joyce Meyer

(A “Walking Through the Book of Psalms” series)

(A Devotional Friday Event)

(A Scripture Sabbath Challenge)