Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Signs Something is Becoming an Idol in Your Life

Because no one deserves that place.

1. You do it for God, but it comes before God.

Ok so this is basically the definition of idol, I know. But I want to put emphasis on the "for God" part. It is much easier to identify an idol that contradicts God's word (like certain music or drugs or money or *insert sin here*) than it is to recognize an idol that glorifies God.

Unfortunately, the things we do for God have just as much potential to become idols. Take my blog, for example. I do it for God, sure.

However when I write a post, but haven't spent time with God, my blog has become an idol. That might not be the case for everyone, but the Lord has convicted me in this area, so for me it is the case. Besides, I'm a scary person when I haven't spent time with God and am in no condition to be sharing my thoughts about anything anywhere ever at all.

It is not God's will for us to serve Him, without Him. We can do a lot of great things in Christ's name without ever experiencing true intimacy with Him. Something you're doing for God might be becoming an idol if you would rather do it than spend time with God.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeit himself?
Luke 9:25 ESV

2. It has the ability to bring you up and down.

Up and down? You know like...ridiculously happy, then depressingly sad.

One of my favorite preachers, Mike Bickle, always says something along the lines of, "You will respond to someone's criticism with the same measure you respond to their praise." So if things are going really great and people keep reminding us that things are going really great, we might be tempted to think, "Wow, I have this under control. I'm so gifted. I have so much faith."

When truthfully, God deserves all the credit. Likewise, when something has the power to so drastically dictate our emotions, it might be taking the place of God.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:34 ESV

3. If you check it before you pray.

This is similar to number one, except it doesn't have to be something we are specifically doing "for" God. It is simply what we check first. It could be Facebook...or SnapChat..or text messages...or Instagram. Anything. Well, except Twitter. Twitter can do no wrong.

Even Jesus woke up first thing in the morning to pray, and He's Jesus. There is something special about letting the Father's thoughts of you be the first opinion you hear all day.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before the daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
Mark 1:35 NKJV

4. If it causes you to do things outside God's will.

Have you ever loved someone so much that you would go along with whatever they say? (Well, "loved" in quotations. Real love tells the truth.)

Things (and people) in our lives can have the same effect on us. Sometimes we are so passionate about what we are doing, that we don't even realize we've compromised and stepped outside of God's will.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33 ESV

5. You get defensive about it.

You know that one thing that comes to your mind when you read posts like these? Or when you hear a sermon, or when someone in your life says something that makes you self-reflect.

And you know you need to surrender it to God and put it back in its rightful place. But it's just so much easier to stand up for it and brush it off as "not a big deal."

So you keep coming up with some way to justify it because, well...because it's becoming an idol.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV

(By the way, I wrote a post about 5 idols you NEVER seen coming, check it out here!)

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Monday, January 25, 2016

5 Practical Tips to Help You Heal

Because we all feel pain sometimes.

1. Locate and secure your source of joy.

Your joy comes from the Lord. Sometimes, however, when we experience pain, there is a fine line between being hurt by something beyond our control and hurting because we accidentally made a person or situation our source of joy.

Our source of joy is not our relationships, our families, our jobs, our businesses, our education or whatever else simply "brings" us joy. So though we will surely feel pain, we have to continuously remind ourselves that our joy is indeed in the Lord.

The joy of the Lord heals. So locate, secure and reinforce your source of joy, then when you are legitimately feeling pain (and you will) the joy in your heart will lead you to healing.

• A joyful heart is good medicinebut a crushed spirit dries up the bones. •
(Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

2. Do not repay with evil.

When someone hurts you it can be extremely tempting to hurt them back or even go around trying to prove your innocence to people.

We must refuse to lean on our own understanding and turn from evil, because it is then that we will be healed. If you keep falling in the same area, be prepared to go through it again and again until you learn to repent and accept dependence on the Lord.

• Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. •
(Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

3. Be honest.

The truth never, ever breaks its promise to ultimately set us free. We have to find out exactly where we were hurt and hand that burden over to the Lord. Continuing to hold it will only keep us in bondage.

Honesty is a major key because our minds can be filtered by endless lies and accusations. We have to rebuke those lies and know the truth. Sometimes you have to tell the enemy how you really feel.

(I just wrote an entire post on honesty, so I won't expand on this too much. Check the post out here!)

• And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. • (John 8:32 ESV)

4. Make a verse real to you.

When is the last time one of God's promises has actually been...well...real to you?

Look up a verse that relates to your situation, memorize it, meditate on it and ask God to bring it to life for you.

Sometimes I just say, "God, I need Your word to breathe because I honestly don't have a lot left in me and if I stop breathing, at least one of us has to get these dry bones moving again. I'm all out of strength. I can't do this. I don't want to do this. Breathe for me."

It may sound dramatic but that's what pain does. And I'm sorry but I don't serve a God who is ALIVE, to just sit around trying to do this on my own.

• For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. •
(Hebrews 4:12)

5. Make healthy lifestyle choices.

This one can easily be overlooked. In the world, they might tell us to work out and look our best to overcome hurt, but in the Body of Christ we know that this too is vanity. However, I will not discredit the effect eating right and staying active can have on your life. It's a way of denying our flesh.

Sometimes when we don’t feel like we have the energy to spend time with the Lord, it might be because we...don’t. Eating fast food and greasy food that slow us down can really put a damper on our growth.

When we make healthy eating choices we fuel our bodies to overcome the journey that is each day.

Yet we always remember...

• Man does live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. •
(Matthew 4:4 ESV)

What are some ways you've healed from pain?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

7 ways HONESTY can revive your Christian walk.

1. You can triumph over your trials.

When you are honest, you defend righteousness. On the contrary, standing up for unrighteousness means loving your life. The bible teaches us not to love our lives or renounce our faith even when faced with death.

So we certainly shouldn't love our lives when we, well...aren't faced with death.

And again, loving your life is standing up for unrighteousness, which is dishonesty.

When we honestly share our stories, we are able to defeat our biggest obstacles. The areas where we struggle most are conquered by the blood of Jesus and our willingness to testify of His goodness. We boast in our weakness, to glorify His strength.

And it doesn't matter how you struggle. We all have issues.

And they overcame and conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, for they did not love their life and renounce their faith even when faced with death. (Revelations 12:11 AMP)

2. You can be healed. 

When we admit our sins and pray for each other, our deepest wounds are healed. We are restored from the pain, suffering, heartbreak and tormenting that would otherwise cloud our minds and dictate our entire lives.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

3. It simplifies things.

When you're always blaming someone else, the situation becomes more complicated. Admitting our problems is a sure way to locate the root of the issue. It's simple.

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
(2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV) 

4. You don't have to find the words to say. 

Honesty is the only language the Holy Spirit speaks. When you're not being truthful, you're not being used by God. 

When you create an environment for Him, He will guide you. The key is allowing Him to reveal Himself in you and through you.

For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:20 ESV) 

5. You get to know Jesus. 

When you identify what you're going through, you can identify what Jesus went through. Jesus gave us irrefutable evidence to prove we have an escape route for every temptation we face, so we do not have to keep falling into the same sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every aspect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)

6. Honesty leads to more honesty.

I remember learning as a kid that the problem with telling a lie is that you have to tell another one. When you're honest, the truth will guide you. You will not be destroyed by the consequences of lying.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. (Proverbs 11:3 ESV)

7. You will appreciate people more. 

Has someone ever told you what they're struggling with and you gain a whole new love for them? 

You probably never would have guessed if they didn't share their shortcomings with you. We all fall short of the glory of God and we come in a wide array of dysfunctions. Our unique weaknesses are what makes us useful to one another.

Let's refuse to live in fear of telling the truth. 
ALL TOGETHER NOW! (But differently.)

Therefore having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:25 ESV)