Are you growing concerned?

Are you becoming more aware of the news?  From financial issues, and suffering of those around us, to the world events – horrific news, startling, and possibly very overwhelming.

My husband and i have been a part of the prayer team of our church, and so we find ourselves filtering things through soft and purposeful conversation with God.  Painful bodies, fearful moms, unemployment, disobedient children, struggling marriages, and on and on.   Our needs as people are very great, and our dependence is growing greater and greater on God himself to provide and meet the needs.

But i must tell you that while i know our needs are important they seem to pale in comparison to our brothers and sisters around the world who are giving their lives for their faith in Jesus.

As I stand to sing worship choruses these past Sundays I realize how privileged we are to gather publicly, to give voice to our hearts cry of worshiping our great God without fear of imprisonment, beatings, death.  So as i close my eyes, and lift my heart and my voice to God I find myself lifting those believers around the world to Jesus, and ask for his presence in their lives.

Remembering Al and Eileen – We have friends who are Pakistani nationals, and have lived around the world. They are believers in Jesus.  And these last 10 years their government has not permitted them to leave their nation.  They are surrounded by 99.5% of their fellow citizens who believe in radical Islam, or tribal factions.  They have a life that is constantly one word or one action from death.  Al told us the last time he was visiting in the states that we need to pray for the believers in Pakistan like this:

  • Lord grant them wisdom to know your word, your heart, your spirit
  • Lord grant them favor with their neighbors that those who do not know Jesus might see his love extended through your people in that place.
  • Lord give opportunities to love, help and share your word with those who do not know
  • Strength, courage, boldness, fearlessness, God’s favor.

As the news continues to churn out photos and video of Christians being executed for believing in Jesus I can;t just stand in church and sing a worship chorus.  I am compelled to cry out for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted.  And i am compelled to cry out against the acts of injustice, shocking violence, of global bullying on a massive scale.

The rising tide of hatred and hostility of Christians is joined by the growing antisemitism that is playing out in the world.  Many are saying these are times much like that of pre-WWII, where people were being fed propaganda, believing ideology that was filled with venemous hatred, doctrines of demons.

America is not the same nation it was 5 years, 10 years, 20 years ago.  The news media is whipping up a hostility toward Christianity, our government is embracing poor judgement, and the leadership of our nation is growing sketchy.  Being a Christian is becoming a dangerous decision, with frequent news of charges pressed, court cases, etc for simplly living out our faith.

The winds of change are blowing.  Are we there in prayer, standing firmly asking our Great God and King to meet us, change our hearts, accept our repentance, and heal our land?

I am growing concerned – not of God, because i know he holds everything in his great care, but i am growing concerned that fellow believers seem to have little sensitivity to the great need to pray, to seek God with everything in our souls, and to ask for the needs of our fellow believers that are hurting.

“Father, forgive us for our self focus.  Forgive us for not praying for our rulers, our government, or leaders.  And forgive us for letting your word slide from our lives.  We repent today, and ask you to fill our  hearts and minds with your spirit, your word, your strength.  And we bring our brothers and sisters who are being fiercely persecuted to you.  Please be their strength, glorify yourself in your people, strengthen and embolden your church to stand in the presence of evil, and know your plan is to bring many to salvation.  

We pray for those who are the persecutors… may they come to know they are persecuting your people, and that you know every thought and act.  May you show yourself to them in dreams, visions, and manifest fear in their very souls.  We ask for their salvation, we cry to you to turn your enemies to repentent believers.  In everything may we sense your spirit, your provision, your protection and your love.  And may the world sense this too.  Amen”

What do you tell yourself about YOU?

princesswheely

In the quiet and privacy of your own space how would you describe yourself?

As young children we begin to shape our world and our view of ourselves by the words others speak of us.  We begin that crazy process of comparing ourselves to see how we fit in with others.  It always seems that we focus on negative aspects of our differences, rather than thanking God for the differences.  It is true of me.  Is it true of you?

As young children we don’t begin to speak harshly to ourselves, but as we grow  we can become so very critical of ourselves, and tell ourselves things we would never voice out loud to others. Hurtful things, judgmental things… words that do not breathe life, and hope and healing.

But God tells us that we are made in his image, wonderfully and fearfully designed, we are chosen, holy, blessed, made to reflect his Glory, made to shine.

“Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.” Galatians 6:4 (CEV)

Not only in the work you do, but how you look, dress, act, think.  Comparison is a slow drain of life, and a limiting of your capacity.  It is the enemy of our soul that delights when we choose look around, and try to measure up to others.  He knows this will disable us.  He knows we will draw defeating thoughts, and we will allow toxic thoughts to shut us down.    And the bible is clear that out of what is in our heart our mouth speaks, and our feet follow.

We can be like horses, putting on blinders so we cannot look to the right or left.  But that is not possible or practical.,

So what is the answer?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Phillipians 4:8

Weigh the thoughts you have against this passage and you will begin to see that the enemy works in opposition to the ways of God.

  • Does what i am thinking, hearing, sensing have truth to it?  If it does, take heed, but if it does not, cast it aside.
  • Is what i am thinking Noble?  That is to say, does it have or show fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals?  
  • Is it right?  We all have hardwired into our soul an insight into what is right and what is wrong.  And as believers the holy spirit is there to gently clarify this for us too.  Is the action, thought or behavior correct?  is it moral?  or does it break down morality and ethics in some way?  If it breaks down anything, cast it aside.
  • Is it pure? Like being right, pure indicates untaited by the pollution of the world, of corrupt thoughts, or of worldly ways.  Are your thoughts wholesome?  I think we have all encountered someone who speaks to get attention, but everything they say has a smarmy undertone, sexual inuendo,  or quiet disbelief.  Are your thoughts, actions and ways pure?  Not motivated by some hidden adjenda?
  • Is it lovely?  Does it bring up beauty, hopefulness, encouragement?
  • Is it admirable?  Does how you act, think, live make others want to have your life, or follow in your example?  I think of a friend going through cancer who shows such strength, and deep faith in God during this time.  If i am to compare, i want to have that kind of faith that will withstand the hurricane of cancer.
  • Is it excellent?  That implies thoughts and actions that are the best…. highest quality, and there is no better you can go.
  • Is it praiseworthy?  Do others want to give praise to god for you, because of your actions, thoughts, or choices in life?

So what if you went down the list and had things that don;t measure up?  What do you do with them?

1. Pray, confess them to God

2. Ask God to give you a different way of looking at it, thinking about it, or acting.

3. Change what you are exposed to.  I find when i watch too much TV i grow very critical of myself, and of all the shortcomings of us versus TV.  it is irrational, but i think we can all say that from early age peer pressure, and the idea of keeping up with the jones has been in operation.  I am asking God to break that pattern, but for me it means turning off the TV.It could be people, places or things that take you in wrong directions.

4. Allow God to flood your soul with his word.  Spend regular time with God daily.

5. Fill your heart and mind with God’s Word – Memorize a verse a week, or a passage a month.  Hiding the word of god in your soul will store up good things to think on, like deep cool water on thirsty days.

6. Listen to edifying things – whether music, tv, movies, or people, make a conscious choice to only allow good things into your soul.

7. Share encouraging things with others.  Reach out even when it is uncomfortable, and give what you have to others… often your kind words will be the only ones someone hears that day.

So I ask you today, how do you describe yourself?  Are you the daughter or son of a king, blessed, called, chosen, royal priesthood, bought with a precious price, treasures of grace, loved by the best?  I hope you realize this today.

January 10 – Chosen

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.   1 Peter 2:9

ἐκλεκτός  – eklektos

This is the word we get the english word “elected” or “elect” from.  The idea is that there is a process of selecting some, setting them aside for God’s purchase.

In the passage above believers are given titles and roles in God’s big picture.  We are selected for his service.  We are set aside and sanctified as priests to worship His Great Name, and we are to be a nation that stands seperate from the scars and ravages of the ways of the world.  Yes, we a re to be treasures that he uses to call others out of the dark swirls of sin in this life… to declare his glorious gospel, and lead others to his light.

Strongs breaks the word down even more – Chosen:

chosen

 

This word is used 22 times in the New Testament, and in most cases referring to believers, christians called by the Lord to salvation.  There are passages that translate the word as “elect” or “the elect”, and in one case it is used to speak of specific angels.

Unlike gym class where two captains are picking their team from a pool of students, God has known each of us from the beginning of time, and has ordered a plan for our lives, that we might be open and willing to hear from Him, open our heart, yield our will, and obey his calling and purpose on our lives.  Free will plays a role here, meaning that as humans we can choose to ignore the calling and leading of our God, and miss the election of our lives to his service.  There is a passionate desire for our God to draw us to salvation, and to place us where His light will illuminate others.

Today I am asking myself a few questions.  Perhaps they will help you realize the full depth of the knowledge of how special you are to God.

  • What was that first moment I became aware of God drawing me out of the darkness?  Do you remember where He called you from?
  • In what ways has my life, my thoughts, my behavior, my world changed?  How is he taking me to holy places, places of purity and new levels of understanding of his love?
  • Am I thinking each moment of how my life might help or hinder the proclaiming of His great love?  Am I aware that my world is watching me, looking at my life, how i respond, what i say, how i react, and they are looking at what i am investing my life in.
  • Are my thoughts holy thoughts?  Am i spending time redeeming my mind from the influences of the world?

Prayer – Today, Lord, I remember the places you called me from – of struggle, and fear, and wrong thoughts, of anger, and of judgement, of greed and vice.  I remember the moment you shined your warming, welcoming light into my soul.  And I remember how exposed and sinful I felt at that moment.  I was and remain deeply in need of your salvation, and the work your spirit is doing to sanctify my soul.  Thank you for choosing me.  Thank you for opening my eyes to see your light, and my heart to yield to you.  Be glorified in us today, and until the end of the age.  May you shine your light on our lives, and grant us the capacity to remain holy, sanctified, priests who worship your great name.  Thank you for choosing us, and may you expand the kingdom through us.  Amen