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How to become a Spiritual Self-Feeder


"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" 1 Peter 2:2

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Newborn babies have no trouble getting what they need.  As a mother, you learn to discern the difference between, "I need to be fed." and "I need a clean diaper."  You learn the tone in their cry when something is hurting them and when they just need to be held and reassured. You're quick to provide whatever is needed for you newborn, however if your 5 year old is asking for what they need the same way they did when they were newborns - crying non-stop until they get what they want, you've got a problem.

At some point, we must teach our precious little ones to do for themselves. From holding their own bottle, to eat solid food as we spoon it into their mouths, to feeding themselves using utensils and eventually learning how to pour their own cereal with milk or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Eventually, they are fully capable of preparing a meal for themselves.  They are even capable of choosing between junk food and healthy, life-giving food.

As a new believer in Christ, we choose to accept Him as our personal Savior. We are hungry for more of Him, more of His word. We want to be around other believers, so we're there every time the church doors are open.  We read Christian books, listen to Christian radio stations. We're ravenous for more of Him.  We're quick to ask questions about spiritual and hunt for the answers. We lean heavily on those who are mature in their spiritual walk. Those who know how to "walk the walk" because we want to grow in Him.

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That's okay when you are a "newborn" in Christ, but at some point, we need to wean ourselves from depending on others. We need to learn how to go to read the Bible for ourselves, instead of fully depending on the preacher to tell us what it says and how to apply it to our lives.  Instead, we should be leaning on the Holy Spirit - praying before we dig into the Word that He will reveal more of Himself to us through the Word and that He will show us how to apply it - how to be "doers" of the Word and not just "hearers" only.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22
Not that we wouldn't need to still learn from those who are more mature in their faith than us, because we can learn much from their example, but we need to be able to stand on our own two spiritual feet, so that we can be a help and an example to those who are coming up behind us in their own new spiritual walk.

So, let's take a minute and examine ourselves.
  • Do you spend some time daily reading your Bible and praying?
  • Do you set spiritual leaders on such high pedestals that if they fell, you would be pulled down with them?
  • Do you place too many demands for spiritual nourishment on those around you?
  • Have you realized that we are to continually exercise habits that will cause us to grow in Christ?
  • Do you reach out to those who are newer in the faith than you are to help them grow and mature in their faith?
  • Would you say you are someone who has learned how to feed themselves spiritual food, or are you still dependent on others to hold your hand?
  • How did you learn to walk on your own?
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Please leave a comment to let us know what you think.


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Gigantic Mustard Seed Faith

Are you a Mountain Mover?

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In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, (which is one of the smallest seeds of all), we can move mountains.

Well, so far, I haven't been able to cast a mountain into the sea, so it makes me wonder just how small my faith is. That can really bum me out until I remember that the focus is not my faith, but on how much faith I have in the One who is the focus of my faith.  Do I believe that God is able to do great things? To move impossible mountains in my life?

Our prayers often reflect the size of our faith. I heard a quote recently that made me thing about the way I pray...

We should be storming heaven with prayers asking God for the impossible, not the mundane! ~Oscar Muriu 

...and I heard another guy say we should be praying...

Big hairy audacious prayers!
Why don't we pray for things that seem beyond reach? Things that seem impossible? Miracles?

Maybe it's because we're afraid that if we do and it doesn't happen, it will shake our faith in God.  Remember, we're praying and asking God to answer our prayers and sometimes (for our own sake or for His own purposes), he says "No" to our prayer.  That's okay.  We ultimately want his will, not our own.

So, why bother to ask for the miracle?  Because the answer might just be YES, but if we never have the courage to ask, we may never see His miracle-working power.

It reminds me of a story I heard about a man who went to Heaven and while Jesus was giving him a tour, He opened the door to a room stacked high with beautifully wrapped gifts of every size.  When he asked Jesus what they were, He answered, "Gifts waiting to be prayed for."

I don't know about you, but I want everything God wants to give me...and NOTHING that He doesn't want me to have.  So, I'll pray for those things that I believe to be within His will, like healing miracles, financial miracles and salvation of those I love who seem so very far from ever wanting to come to God, the salvation of my city or - and here's a biggie - godly government officials who make decisions based on what's right, not what's beneficial to them - because I believe in miracles and because I'm okay with God saying no.  I know that He will only do what's best, so that might mean I don't get what I think is best, but I will not limit him by being afraid to ask for the big stuff.

How about you? Do you pray mundane, anemic, namby-pamby prayers or do you really connect with God and seek him for depth and width and length and heighth - for the things that are beyond what you could do for yourself.  Do you ask for those things your heart longs for? Are you afraid to ask for those things because you're afraid he might say no?

What if He says YES!

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Love - I just don't get it


"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19

I watched a sermon, based on this passage in Ephesians, called Falling Madly in Love with God this morning and I'm still teary-eyed.  

image by Zela, rgbstock.com
Here, the Apostle Paul's greatest desire is that we would grasp (fully understand) how completely we are loved by Christ, so that we might be filled (saturated) with the fullness of God. That we are strengthened in our inner being (way down deep in their soul)  and he (Paul) was willing to kneel before the Father and implore Him to grant us this understanding.

Why?

Because he knew that if we ever truly grasp how much the Lord loves us - if we could really "get it" so completely that it goes down into our inner man, we would stand so strong in God's love, that nothing could shake us.  We would not doubt His love for us. We would fall so madly in love with God that we couldn't help but share this Good News with everyone we meet.

But, do we get it?  Do we really understand the width and the length and the height and the depth of His love for us? I don't.  How's that for honest? I just don't get it. Maybe I don't understand what true love is because I've never felt truly loved. That's an awful thing to say, considering I have family and a husband that love me and people that I love, but human love is flawed. It wanes when someone is ticked at you and sometimes the person who promised to love you "til death us do part" stopped loving you. Then there's those who love you as long as you're providing what they need out of the friendship, but when they no longer need you or you can no longer provide - they fade into the background.

It's no wonder we don't really understand the depth of God's love for us. The only thing we have to compare it to is faulty human love.

The only way we can comprehend God's great love for us is to pray that He will give us the ability to understand it. Paul knew that prayer was the answer.  He understood that no matter how many times he tried to explain it or how eloquently he preached it, the full understanding of God's love can only come when God fills our hearts with that knowledge, so he was willing to get on his knees and ask God to help us to grasp the fulness of His love.

So, I spend some time in prayer this morning, asking God to help me to fully understand His love and I prayed for those closest to me, too, because if we ever really got it, we would be powerhouses of faith - unstoppable in sharing the gospel, in loving others, in making a difference every day of our lives. Sin would loose it's persuasion and holiness would be our main pursuit, and I want that for every Believer.

Oh, God - please help us to understand just how much you love us!  Implant our hearts deeply with the knowledge of who you are and greatly we are loved. Make us stand sure in the power of that love, so that we might be a mighty force for you, here on Earth - reaching, loving, sharing YOU with others. Amen



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People are not fish and we don't bait them.


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I recently read a short article on evangelism that began like this...

If you want to be a successful fisherman, you don't look for the most comfortable spot on the lake. Instead, you go to where the fish are, and you make it as easy and attractive as possible for the fish to swallow your hook.
Since we are called to be "fishers of men," I get the fishing analogy and I agree with not just looking for a place that's comfortable.  Sometimes we have to go into the dark and uncomfortable situations in order to share Christ's gospel with those who don't know him.

They lost me, however when they suggest that we make it "as easy and attractive as possible for the fish to swallow the hook." First, I don't like thinking of people as fish to be baited, then hooked and second, I'm not sure that we should make it as easy and attractive as possible for people to receive Christ.  I don't see that in the Bible..not from Jesus and not from the disciples.  They didn't water down the message just to make it attractive.

In fact, Jesus was often so forthright with the cost of following him that many people turned away and I don't read anywhere that he chased after them trying to make the gospel more palatable.

I'm not saying that we need to be rude or pushy.  We don't need to make it difficult to understand what it means to follow Christ.  But we do owe it to people to respect them enough to help them make a fully informed decision to follow Jesus.  Too many churches and Christians mislead people by telling them that once they accept Jesus as Lord, their lives will be just hunky-dory.  When trouble hits, and it always hits, new believers think that God should jump right in and fix everything for them.

He never promised that.  Truth is, Jesus said "...in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, because I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)

He also warned people to count the cost of following him in Luke 14:25-33.


So, let's be careful to do what it says in 2 Timothy 2:15..."Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."


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God Longs to Re-Connect with You


I miss my family.

Just a small portion of my family in Ohio
 Sixteen years ago, I moved from Ohio to Arizona to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, leaving behind many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins that I love dearly.  While I love sharing the lives of the ones I love here, I miss my great big wonderful family in Ohio. They're crazy...in the most fun way you can imagine.  They're loud and loving and loyal. There's always someone ready to share a meal, go shopping, listen to your troubles or get together for a fun evening of playing games or a backyard bbq.  I miss them.

I haven't been able to go home for a visit for 10 years. I long to see the faces I love, to hug them, to catch up with all that's going on in their lives.

Today I found this verse in the book of James 4:5
 "...do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?"
...and I found myself amazed that God longs for time spent with us. He planted his Spirit with is at the point of our salvation so that we would be able to share sweet communion with Him. Through the Spirit, God communicates with us, he comforts us, leads us, reveals more of himself to us, but it's not a one-way street. The Spirit also conveys to God, our great love for him, the Spirit helps us pray when we don't know how to pray. the Spirit communicates the deepest cry of our hearts to the Father.

On those days when we get too busy to spend some Quiet Time with God in prayer and in the Word, God jealously longs to connect with us through the Spirit that he planted in us. Jealousy - now that's a word that I don't readily associate with God, but that's just what the verse says. What would God have to be jealous about, concerning me?  

The verses just before verse 5 tell us that when we get too distracted by the world and all it has to offer - when we get too busy to sit with God - when other things occupy our thoughts and heart, he gets jealous. Jealousy doesn't occur without love. God loves us. He longs to spend time with his children and when that doesn't happen - He misses his family.

When was the last time you sat with God? 
Do you have a regular appointment to meet with Him?  

Remember, God's Spirit dwells in your if you belong to Him and God longs to connect with you through the Spirit.  You are dearly loved, to the point of making God jealous when other things become more important to you than he is.

Spend some time with Him today - reconnect your heart to His. He's longing for you.


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Out of the Rocking Chair and Back in the Game


Ready for my next big adventure with God.
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Everybody's dealing with something. Chronic illness or disease, aging body, depleted energy, on-going pain...something. Me? I'm dealing with all of those things, and I've got to admit that 10 years of dealing with this had pretty much put me on the sidelines of life. I found myself spending more and more time in the house. I withdrew from a lot of my activities and had made up my mind to just sort-of coast through the rest of my days, but today I realized that God is not okay with that plan.  He led me directly to this passage of scripture this morning...

"So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.  We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles.  We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I can't give up!  I woke up this morning and I'm still breathing, so God isn't finished with me yet. There's more to my story, more that He wants me to accomplish here. More people to love. A difference I can make. He wants to do more here, and he wants to do it through me.

Yes, I'm tired, but if I lean on Him, he will give me strength for each day...not just to "make it through," but to face the day with energetic, anticipation of the adventure we're on together.

The enemy just about neutralized me. His plan was to plant me in my rocking chair for the rest of my days, whining about my condition, but I refuse to give in!  Anything I am suffering here on earth will quickly fade away when my days are over. Until then, you'll find me doing everything I can with every moment I have left to be fully engaged in this phase of my journey.

What we see and experience on this side of eternity will last only for a short time, but  what we cannot see from this side (Heaven and the souls that will be there because we allowed God to use us) will last forever. The promise of a joy-filled, pain-free forever far outweighs this temporary suffering.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for this wake-up call. For the reminder that it's not over until it's over and that each day you will refresh me for the next leg of the journey. Thank you for your promise to walk each step of the way with me. Lead on, Lord. I'm ready.
 
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Sweet Jesus Peace




One of the first albums I bought after coming to Christ in 1977 was Lady by Reba Rambo and I wore that cassette tape out! (Dating myself here.)

I recently found the whole album on YouTube and have been playing those songs for days. One, in particular soothes my heart every time I hear it. The title is Sweet Jesus Peace and starts like this...

 

WHAT DO YOU SING WHEN YOUR WORLD’S DRAPED IN SADNESS
AND THERE’S NO MUSIC IN YOUR SONG
HOW DO YOU SMILE WHEN YOUR HEART’S LOST ITS GLADNESS
AND THE SOUND OF LAUGHTER IS ALL GONE


WHEN ALL THOUGHTS INSIDE YOUR MIND
LIKE A CIRCLE KEEP A-SPINNING ROUND
WHEN ALL THE FRIENDS YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD
SUDDENLY THEY’VE LET YOU DOWN


WHERE DO YOU GO


I KNOW A HAVEN INSIDE YOUR MIND
A COOL, RUSHING RIVER
REFRESHING NEW WINE
IT CAN SPLASH THOUGH THE CANYONS
LIKE THE WAVES ON THE SEA


THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT
THIS SWEET JESUS PEACE


Haven't we all been there? When life and your thoughts have you in such a whirlwind of turmoil that the harder you fight to break out of the storm, the more you are sucked under.  I've learned the secret to finding peace and it's not in trying to break out of the turmoil, it's going deep. Deep within your own spirit to the place where God dwells. Connecting with the Holy Spirit, who lives inside you. It's whispering His name and listening for his whispered response.  It's feeling that sweet, Jesus peace, flowing in and pushing the turmoil aside.

Have you discovered it?

Here's a link to the song. It's an oldie, but the message is timeless.




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