Friday, December 16, 2005

Time to Talk With God?

Have you ever felt like you are weighted down with worries before your day even begins? For me, I have found this to have been even more prevalent during those seasons of my life when I was not reading the Word. This would occur when I got involved with just being too busy!

In those precious times when I am obediently participating in a Bible study and enjoying my own, personal, deep study of God's Word, I have found that such weighted down feelings and worries of the world do, in fact, lessen. However, circumstances in life can still throw any of us into times of discouragement, frustration, anxiety, and brokenness. What do we do then?

Carol Hopson's message in her book called, "Above the Storm" helps us learn daily survival through difficult days. She shared a fact about the eagle's daily preparation that can help us discover the peace God desires to give us each day. She writes:

"The eagle begins each day with a special process called preening. He spends about an hour each morning passing each feather through his beak to "steam clean" it for the day, because he knows how important this morning routine is."

She goes on and describes just why this process is necessary for the eagle to do. Basically the eagles releases a chemical from his preening gland that waterproofs the feathers to protect them from the elements as he searches for food.

Carol stated that when she heard this fact about the eagle, the Lord opened her eyes to what her daily routine should be. She described it as a "preening" process each morning that would "steam clean" her life; ridding herself of all those doubts, fears, and worries. She starts by asking forgiveness and then making sure her heart was cleansed before beginning the new day.

Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Being steadfast in faith is impossible without a clean heart, so such cleansing time is extremely important. Carol shared a deep truth. She said, "I think that so often we overlook our own sin and try to go on with our lives, expecting God to bless us. " She mentioned the sins of anger...a bitter thought...a critical spirit...an unforgiving heart...a judgmental attitude...a worried mind. When these are present in our lives it is like we are "soiled" and not ready to handle the battles of the day.

Carol suggested that the second part of our daily preparation should be to "waterproof" ourselves by taking a Scripture verse and commit it to memory for that day. This wards off any of Satan's attacks when he tells us we "can't do" something within our ministry efforts.

He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Ever fear about your future or the future of your loved ones? Been there! Done that! A great verse for reassurance:

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

During her speech at our Bible study Christmas luncheon, Carol gave us an acrostic to help us remember specific details when preparing for the day.

P - praise
R - repent
A - ask
Y - yield


She then asked if any of us would consider leaving our homes physically unclothed. Of course not. So, then why would we want to leave the house spiritually unclothed? We can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

In our praise time, we can praise God for His attributes, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His plan for us, His abundant love, the specific blessing He has poured on us and our families.

During the time of repentance, we can reflect on times that we individually may have gone against what God's Word says and then confess it.

In the "ask" time of prayer, we are to lay down our load at the feet of Jesus. These are things that may be heavy on the heart; things we may want to change but realize that we can't change. This prevents us from being consumed with circumstances and worries.

Personally, I have been familiar with the first three in prayer time. But the next one was a new thought and helped me tremendously.
The final preparation is to "yield." Carol told us that this is when we are to pray, "Lord, I accept whatever You put into or take out of my life today. Please help me trust You and use all that today brings for your glory."

Wow. This was big for me. Already committing everything and every circumstance to the Lord releases discouragement and any overwhelming circumstances that may enter into my life! I have always known that I should do this, but did I actually truly and totally follow through? Even in my thought life? Knowing that I've given Him full control of my day allows me to relax and rest and go with His plan!

It is already working, too. Normally, I am so consumed and busy with all that I need to do in preparation for Christmas that I don't enjoy the moments leading up to the big day. Many of us needed to hear this message. Thank you, God, for teaching me this precious truth.

Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Our sins are forgiven at the moment of salvation. However, the sanctification of our souls is a life long journey.

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8,9)

The license plate frame that my daughter gave me for my birthday reiterates that verse. It reads, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven by a God who is!"

Through the sanctification process, we are being "preened" daily.

Carol ends her chapter called, "Daily Survival" with a question. Have you tried hard to make something work in your own strength, but to no avail? Maybe you need to do some spiritual preening today.

She ends with a poem. Here is the poignant final verse:

"If there's not time to talk with God
Before I hit the road
Then I must realize my life
Will be a heavy load." - Carol Hopson

5 comments:

MoNoMo said...

My sister in Christ--

I often feel wieghted down in worries that I am not good enough for our dear Lord Jesus Christ. I know I am burdened with many sins, many impurities, and many thoughts of lust or hate. I seek to purify myself of these iniquities -- yet I am ever burdened by the dangers of hell, the devil's endless temptations. I believe that I am of the elect, but I fear in my heart the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which could send me into the flames of Gehenna. I have known so many Christians who committed the unpardoble sin -- without even realizing it. That is why I am communicating with people in this modern fashion to help them steel themselves in the truth and wisdom of the Word of God.

How much persecution can I take for His name's sake? I would take it all, and spare Him -- yet I know I am not strong enough.

In God's hands,
your sister Maureen

Anna said...

Hi Christine!

How did you know I needed this today? Of course, the Lord prompted you to post this! Thanks for being obedient.

I'm so thankful for Ephesians 2:8, 9, which tells us we're saved by grace, through faith. It's not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God not of works so that we cannot boast. There is no way we can do enough works or earn our salvation. If we could have done that, there would be no reason for Jesus to come. He came and did what we could not do - live a perfect, sinless life, and then pay the penalty for our sins. Because He was without sin, death could not hold Him. By recognizing our sinful condition and trusting in Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness and come to know Him as Savior and Lord.

Works is the other side of the coin. On one side is God's grace. On the other side is works. We're not only saved from sin but saved to new life in Christ, which includes good works (Ephesians 2:10). One side of the coin has to do with our relationship with Jesus. The other has to do with His purposes for our lives and how we relate to those around us.

The Christian life is one of growth. The Scriptures liken us to newborn babes when we first come to Christ and exhort us to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. A baby is not expected to have the maturity and wisdom of someone who is an adult. We learn line upon line and precept upon precept.

There is peace and joy in knowing Jesus Christ. For those who have not yet experienced the love and forgiveness of the Lord, here are a few simple steps from the Word of God:

Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here we see that everyone is in the same predicament. We're all sinners in need of a Savior. The penalty for sin is death. The good news - God wants to give us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10:9 & 10 - That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

Prayer is simply talking to God. Repentance is understanding you have been going in the wrong direction. No amount of good works or self effort will make you acceptable to God. Repentance is recognizing you've sinned, turning around and receiving Christ as your Savior and Lord.

If you truly believe that Jesus came to die for your sins and give you the gift of eternal life, pray this prayer and commit your life to Him:

God, I recognize I've broken your Law. There is no way I can meet Your standard of righteousness. I believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth, lived a holy, sinless life, died on the cross and rose on the third day. Jesus, I ask you to forgive all my sins and cleanse me. I give you my life and will serve you the rest of my days. Help me to become more and more like You every day as I learn Your Word, pray, and fellowship with my new brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, contact Christine or me so we can help you get firmly established in Christ.

During this wonderful time of the year, come to know Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

Blessings,
Anna

Christinewjc said...

Dear Maureen,

I know that it may seem easy to say and hard to do, but Jesus tells us not to be so burdened.

Have you read my post called, Debt We Owed But Could Never Pay?

Maureen said: "I believe that I am of the elect, but I fear in my heart the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which could send me into the flames of Gehenna."

Also, please see Once Saved Always Saved? I think that the Scriptures shared in that post might help to ease your fears in this area.

Because we are still human beings and sin and evil are available to us in this world, we may, unfortunately, fall prey to them. But God will forgive us when we repent of them.

Once we belong to Jesus, He never lets us go!

As we become more and more like Jesus, through sanctification, we find that sin doesn't have the power over us like it once did before we were born again. We will never be perfect while here on this earth, but we are forgiven, according to God's promises in the Bible. When we mess up, fail to please God or backslide into a sinful behavior, we become convicted within our hearts. We can come back to God through confession and repentance. Just like the story of the prodigal son, He welcomes us back with loving arms.

There are different schools of thought regarding whether one can lose their salvation after conversion. From what I have read and studied, the Bible tells me that as saved Christians, we can lose rewards and will have to answer for any such transgressions before the Lord. But the Bible doesn't teach that we can lose our salvation. Some theologians and denominations might disagree with me on that, but when Jesus said, "It is finished" while on the cross, I believe Him!

Charles Stanley has several great books. One is called, "When the Enemy Strikes; The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles."

Hope this helps.

Have a blessed Christmas!
Christine

Christinewjc said...

Hi Anna,

So beautifully stated! I hope Maureen read your comment!

Loved it all, but really keyed in on what you said here:

"The Christian life is one of growth. The Scriptures liken us to newborn babes when we first come to Christ and exhort us to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. A baby is not expected to have the maturity and wisdom of someone who is an adult. We learn line upon line and precept upon precept."

I remember when I re-dedicated my life to Christ after a period of time when I wasn't really walking with Him. That re-dedication set my heart on fire to learn all I could about our Lord in the Bible. I studied intensely for 3 years before I started witnessing to others. (I don't advocate that...because even new born believers can and should witness!)

The more I studied, the more I learned. But I ultimately realized that I would never achieve knowing all there is to know about God's Word. That is what is so phenomenal! It is a book that we never stop learning from! Isn't that awesome? I don't think I could say the same about any other book in existence today.

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas, Anna!

In Him,
Christine

Anna said...

Hi Christine!

Thanks for the kind words. With reference to what you said about there always being something new to learn, it just keeps getting better!

Many have reached the pinnacle of success in the world, but find there is still an emptiness in their hearts. It's so wonderful to know Jesus! There's an old song which says, "sweeter as the years go by..." Almost five decades later (I was a mere child!) - sweeter every year!

Blessings,
Anna