Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Finding Your Purpose

One thing people so often don't understand is their purpose in life? Why do we do what we do? Why do we exist? Why did God put me in this place? If there is a reason for everything, then why are we where we are right now? Is there a bigger reason?


I just read a book that has completely changed my perspective to why I exist, why I am where I am in my life, and what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I feel as though my soul has had a new awakening to what God has planned for me. I may not know all of the exact details to my future, but I have a new sense of purpose.

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why do I do what I do?" What motivates you? Is it prestige, money, accolades? Is it being the life of the party or knowing that you are the one everyone goes to for the answer? Or is it fear... fear of failure, consequences, or being punished? In the book I read recently, the author leads you to realize if you rely on rewards or fear to be your central focus, eventually things fall apart. He says that if we allow those things to become the central focus instead of God or our personal relationships, then we eventually end up frustrated, angry, and even bitter. For example, the more money or prestige you get, the more you want. You will never be satisfied. The more you fear failure the less likely you will try again, or you become burned out.

We may be very successful, have lots of wealth, friends, or have the respect of many people, but if the motivating factor is focused on those things, and the rush that comes with acquiring them, then we aren't living up to our true potential....who we were created to be.

Jesus centered his teachings on love: love for God and love for others. In other words, focusing on the relationships in our lives. That in itself is our purpose. If we want to motivate ourselves or others around us, be a leader, improve our personal relationships with our spouses and children, then we have to focus on God and love them. We need to focus on building relationships with God and with the people around us. This is why we were created in the first place. Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you."

In everything we do we should do it selflessly. If the very reason for our existence is not being fulfilled, then we will not experience the joy and peace this life has to offer.

Mark 12:30-31, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Book - Lead for God's Sake by Todd G. Gongwer

Amanda

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wisdom from God

We have been studying James for the past several weeks in our Sunday church service. The Book of James is a wonderful book that is easy to read and provides practical instruction on how Christians should live their daily lives and continue their walk with God.



In chapter 3, James discusses the subject of wisdom. In previous chapters James presents how Christians should act toward others, during times of trial and tribulation, and how we should control our tongue. I think he sums it all up in the end of chapter 3 by bringing up wisdom and the difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. I think that if we strive to gain godly wisdom then we will know how to react to the problems of this world, how to act toward others, and how to control what we say.

In order to have true wisdom, godly wisdom, what does it take to receive it and how do you know when you have it? First of all, wisdom doesn't necessarily depend on the amount of education you have or the experiences you have lived. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. To take the knowledge that you have and apply it properly is to be wise. Wisdom begins with the fear of God. A person that fears God, will live a life of good behavior.

James also tells us there is worldly wisdom that stems from three places; earthly, natural (unspiritual), and demonic. Doing whatever you can to get a head in the world stems from earthly wisdom. Natural wisdom that does not come from God it is from our own flesh. When we try to justify our actions or feelings of hate by blaming others comes from our flesh not from God. Demonic wisdom comes out of deception on a spiritual level. The devil tries to deceive us to follow the ways of the world and follow our fleshly natural instincts.

How do you know the difference? How do you know when you are being wise or giving a wise answer? Wisdom is not argumentative or contentious. It is gentle and peacemaking; merciful and true. All we need to do to receive true godly wisdom is to ask God. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  The Word of God is the second source of wisdom. If you need advice or counsel, or to know how to apply knowledge you have, the Word and prayer are the answer to finding God's wisdom.

Blessed in Christ,
Amanda

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Battling Through Spiritual Warfare

As I was reading this week I ran across some scripture that disturbed me. It disturbed me enough that I had to re-read 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 three times before it really sunk in. My first thought was "spiritual warfare". Many of us go along in our daily lives not always fully aware of the spiritual battles we face. As a christian, is it important that we know and understand what spiritual warfare is and how to guard against the enemy? The answer is an emphatic YES! There is no way to get around it. We must prepare ourselves, be vigilant, be courageous, and arm ourselves with the right weapon. First of all, what exactly is spiritual warfare? It isn't a physical battle or a human battle. Our enemies, its tactics and weapons are all spiritual. The enemy attacks with deception, temptation, and accusation.

Paul writes in verses 14-15, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. If he appeared as a horrible creature with horns and a pitchfork, we would know exactly who he is. He knows that so he appears to be something beautiful. His servants are the same way.

Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits."

So the question for us is, how do we protect ourselves? We need to know how to inspect the fruit and discern what is truth and what isn't? We need the ultimate spiritual weapon -- Scripture. The sword of the spirit is the Word of God.

I have challenged myself and so I challenge all of us to become warriors for God and arm ourselves with the wisdom of God's Word. It is only then that we will be able to obtain the knowledge we need to fight the spiritual battles and defend ourselves against the enemy.

Check out this bible study about spiritual warfare: http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/spiritual_warfare.php

Blessed in Christ,

Amanda

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Person in the Mirror

Looking into the mirror can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how we react to what we see. Sometimes people look in the mirror for small imperfections they can immediately fix with the brush of the hair or a quick pick at the food in their teeth. Others see flaws in their appearance be it a nose they wish they could fix or a body they would allow a doctor to adjust if they had the means to arrange it. In some mirrors people may see a whole different story, someone they wish they could change altogether. They wish they were someone else with another life.

If you are one of those that see the negative, understand that no matter what you may feel about the person looking back at you in the mirror, you are special! God made you to be unique. You are His child and you are His perfect creation just the way you are! Satan uses those moments of insecurity to allow the thoughts of inadequacy or lack of selfworth effect how you feel around others. Moments like those may cause you to feel threatened by others who you feel are better than you. The more you tell yourself that you need to fix something or are worried about what people think about how you look, the more it will lead you to unhealthy relationships, and hinder your ability to have compassion or love for others.

If you don't see yourself as a beautiful child of God, how can you see others that way? If you are not satisfied by how God created you, then how can you become more intimate with your creator? Being obsessed with appearances or with desiring another life draws us away from God. If the reason we try to perfect our appearances is to impress other people, than it becomes a matter of pride. Matthew 23:12 says, "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." We should be humbly aware of our appearance rather than try to conform to the world's standards. The desire to be physically fit and take care of the body God gave you is different than trying to appease the world's view of beauty. I Samuel 16:7 reminds us that "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Remember that true beauty is on the inside. God judges our hearts not our outward appearance.

Blessed in Christ,

Amanda