I’ve Been Reading Scripture Selfishly

I think I’ve been guilty of reading scripture to my benefit, not necessarily the way it was intended. For instance, Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I’ve trusted this scripture to be true for a very long time. And it has been. God has been faithful to supply all my needs. Some how I’ve always been cared for in all the ups and downs in my life. But now I read more into that passage and I wonder how I’ve missed it.

To read that verse in context, Paul is thanking the Philippians for sending him aid when no other church did. He was grateful for their generosity and said that God would supply them with all their needs. The implication is that God will repay their generosity.

Give because you've been given.This is not a new concept. Jesus said in Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  The command is to first give.

We love the part where God says that He will supply all that we need with overflowing blessing. It’s unfortunate that we gloss over the part where we need to be generous ourselves.  Many people are good that way, but I know that personally, I need to be better. I admit that when it comes to giving, I feel a catch in my spirit that I have to overcome. There is some inner selfishness that doesn’t want to let go. But when I do, I know that God smiles because He knows that it was an act of will on my part.

I pray that God will make me more and more generous. I want a heart like His heart. I want to give because I have been given so much. It may take work, but it’s all part of God shaping me into His image, and that’s  my heart’s desire.

What’s God’s Favorite Color? And Other Personal Questions

 Does God have a favorite color?

What’s God’s favorite color? What’s His favorite music? I wonder if He eats — what’s His favorite food? He is a person. That means He has a personality. He’s no respecter of persons, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t really love some things more than others. We do, and we’re made in His image.

Think of your best friend, or someone you respect most in life. What are they like? What is it about them as a person that you find attractive? Now think of God like that. Think of Him as a person you want to get to know. We were made to live in communion with Him, so that means that we’re meant to do more than stand at a distance and sing pretty songs. He wants friendship. We love to talk to our friends about everything. Time flies when we get together. That’s what God wants as well.

When we invite Jesus into our hearts, we have His Spirit living in us. If we stop and listen, we’ll hear Him speaking. We’ll learn some things if we do. We’ll learn that He has a sense of humor. We’ll learn that He loves beauty and has a wildly creative nature. We love it when He encourages us, but do we ever turn and and ask what matters to Him?

I want to get to know my Father just as He knows me. I want to have conversations with Him in the evenings and talk about the day, like He did with Adam and Eve. I want to hear His heart and learn what tickles Him. I won’t want to look at Him as if He is not approachable. He’s very approachable, and He’s waiting with arms wide open. He’s my Father and Friend. I wonder what His favorite flower is. I think I’ll ask.

When Christians Deny What Jesus Died For

It's ok to receive blessingToo many people feel that blessing belongs to others — others more important, or more spiritual. Many people don’t believe they even deserve blessing. We’ve been taught to earn our rewards, but blessing from God is a gift. We are blessed through grace, not works. There is not one thing that you can do to earn God’s blessing. He blesses because He loves you.

Because some feel the need to earn what grace gives freely, they reject it in their low self-esteem. Even when it’s freely offered, they will refuse it because they don’t feel worthy to receive it. This is a very dangerous attitude to have. Imagine standing before God one day and explaining why you refused to receive His gift that Jesus suffered and died to give you.

David wasn’t shy about asking to be blessed:

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, Whose mouth speaks lying words,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood— That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our field. (Ps 144: 11-13)

When we receive salvation through Jesus’s sacrifice, we become a new creation. (2Cor 5:17) We are remade to be like Jesus, with His Spirit inside us. That package includes God’s blessing. He can’t help Himself, He loves us so much. But we have to be thankful and receive what He has given. Believing that we can’t receive His comfort, His provision, His grace because we don’t deserve it is a lie from the devil. 

If you need to repent and ask God to forgive you for not believing that you deserve to be blessed, do it. Repentance is a wonderful thing. And it’s not sinful, or prideful, to ask for blessing. There is so much that God will do for you if you only trust Him and ask. It’s time to see what that looks like.

Comparing Yourself to Other People is Not Trusting God

Trust God to be there for you.We always think that other people are more spiritual. God uses people like Daniel and Joseph, not us. But the truth is, God uses people like Daniel and Joseph AND us. Remember Jacob? Remember Gideon? God is not looking for perfect people, He’s looking for obedient and loving people.

We lose so much by short changing ourselves. Our assumptions rob us of freedom and blessing. God wants you right now, just as you are. Do you have room to grow? Of course, but He loves who you are and all the gifts and talents He put in you. Use them. Enjoy them.

We compare ourselves to other people, and it’s a huge mistake. There is joy in working with God in the big things as well as the small things. It’s your heart that matters. He wants your willingness to trust Him. That’s all. That’s all Eve had to do. Instead, she listened to someone else and allowed her mind to be changed. We have to stop doing that. If God says something, He means it. He can’t lie, so His Word is truth.

Trust Him. Be who you are meant to be. There is fulfillment and joy in doing what God is leading you to do, even if it’s difficult at first. Read His Word and start living it, no matter what others say or do. God is with you, because He said He would be.

Why I Love Home Churches Over Denominations

Perfect church can be at home.We are way too concerned about what churches we belong to. We ask people what church they go to and we size them up, like we determine who we agree with based on their politics or fashion. Do we agree with that church’s teaching, type of worship, formality/informality? So we rate them. Some are awesome, and some are woefully misguided, according to us.

I love home churches. I love the intimacy of the fellowship, the worship, and care. I belong to two different home churches. One was formed on purpose, and the other by accident.

A few years ago, I had three different people ask to meet with me regularly for fellowship/prayer/friendship. It felt like mentoring and I didn’t feel that I had the bandwidth to meet with each of them separately, so I suggested that we meet as a group and we could encourage each other. Two of the three agreed to do that, so we did. At first it was awkward because we had no agenda or format, but soon we were a tiny home group fitly knit together.

In this little group, our main reason for meeting is worship. We sing out of tune with a freedom that blesses my heart. Our worship is passionate and honest. Then we pray over each other with love and kindness. We talk about what we have learned from God and how He is blessing and teaching us. Then we share communion to honor Jesus and all that He did for us.

And it recently came to me that what we had was church in it’s purest form. We didn’t mean to start a church, we just wanted to get together to encourage each other and worship with a freedom that we don’t get in churches with agendas and time schedules. Sometimes others will join us when they can. It doesn’t matter. We’re not trying to grow. It doesn’t matter if we never do. What we have is fantastic and blessed with the presence of God every time we get together.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that traditional churches have a lot to offer, especially with the ability to touch the community, but they will never be for me what my small family is.

The Frustrations at Work Go Away When You Hear God

God is not the God of Sunday mornings, He is God of our lives. When we begin to live in the kingdom as we are called to, we get to enjoy the benefits of our relationship with the One who loves us best. He lives in us and He just happens to know everything. Learn to draw from that.

Set aside the stress so you can hear God.

Set aside the stress so you can hear God.

I recently started a new job and have been stretched in areas totally new to me. At first, I was pretty stressed about it. I went home at night and had to vent my frustrations at not knowing the things I needed to know. But this made me realize something about myself that I wasn’t aware of before. When I’m stressed and upset, I don’t hear God. I literally block Him out, so all I can hear is my own frustrations.

Life got a lot better when I learned to claim His peace. It takes an act of will to live in peace when you don’t have a natural reason to feel it. I declare that I will not live in fear and I receive the peace of God, then I relax. In that place of rest, I can hear Him. I talk to Him about the things that are difficult and, lo and behold, I figure it out. I don’t always hear specific words, but I do work through thought processes that get me to where I need to go. It’s a great help!

Lean on the Holy Spirit for help. That’s what He’s there for. He’s a genius and the kindest and most patient Teacher you’ll ever have. If you’ve had a situation where God literally helped you figure out stuff at work, share. It will be a blessing to people trying to learn that.

Fear Is Evil, But You Can Be Free At Last

Fear not, live in peace.

Fear not, live in peace.

Fear is evil. Call it stress, anxiety, worry — it’s still fear and one of the worst killers there is. Not only does it ruin your faith, it will kill your body. Stress kills and it’s so unnecessary. It is a very effective attack of the enemy, but there is an awesome offense against it. It’s called trust.

God tells us over and over and over to fear not. He really is a good Father, and like a good Father, He loves His children with limitless love. Imagine a parent encouraging a toddler to walk. A loving parent will be right there with her to make sure that, when she falls, and she will, that she won’t hurt herself. The parent will hold onto her hands and be there for her every step. They will rejoice over and comfort and protect that child because the child is precious to them.

Can you believe that you are that precious to God? In order to trust the way you are meant to, you have to understand how much you are loved. If that’s hard to do, it’s because you’ve been hurt in the past and love comes with bad memories. You have to let them go. You may need to repent and forgive, a lot, until you can love freely again, until you can receive love again. The Holy Spirit will help you do that. Ask Him to help you. He’ll show you the areas that are hurting you. Follow His lead and allow Him to clean up that old pain.

When you know that God is holding your hand as firmly as any good parent would, you know you can trust Him. The job layoff, the car repair, the kids’ tuition, the doctor’s bills, everything that seems to demand more of us than we have to give will become something we just hand over to our Father. Trust Him. Your fear won’t help, but your faith will.

I find that I have to consciously put myself into a place of peace to trust. I have to say no to fear and invite the peace of God into my heart. When I’m calm, I can hear Him. When I’m fearful, I cannot. But when I relax in His peace, I give Him the freedom to work things out for me. And it really works. Are there times when I forget and stress a bit? Yes. But I always repent and ask Him to forgive me, and then I go back to that place of trust again.

Learn to trust God like you mean it. It’s always been His plan to take care of you and bless you, if you let Him.