By His Grace

Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality

Find-the-joy-of-the-lord

I think if you ask just about any person what they want most out of life, their answer will be, “I just want to be happy”.   Sure some will say they want to be “rich”.  But that answer actually just means they think being rich will make them happy.   I know as a parent, what we want most for our children is for them to be happy no matter what they choose for their life.  If our children are happy, then we as parents are more relaxed, less worried about them and well….happier ourselves too.

“You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy.”  Colossians 1:11 (ISV)

The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians that they may endure every circumstance with joy.  I believe Paul also used this prayer in his own life as well.  Paul went through horrendous circumstances during his ministry.  The average man could never have endured what Paul went through but Paul was strengthened by God’s mighty power and dedicated himself to preaching the Good News of Christ no matter what the outcome.  This same mighty power of God in available to us today!  The apostle Paul is really no different than you and me.  He started out a sinner, just like us.  In fact, Paul sin’s before turning his life over to Christ, included murder, extortion and severe brutality toward Christians.

There is a saying that “a grateful heart is a joyful heart”.  But what about the little things that creep up in our daily lives that make us think “this really stinks” followed by a big sigh and a slumping of our shoulders?  I’d like to share with you a personal experience I had.  I wasn’t happy in my last job.  I am a server and I didn’t like a lot of the clientele that came into the restaurant.  I would find myself thinking of these people as “bottom of the barrel”.  But mostly people were just plain cheap.  Didn’t they realize I have rent to pay?  My thoughts were all backwards about this situation at work.  I was basing my happiness on what each table was tipping me.  So I would be happy for this table but then unhappy with that table.  It was constant up and down happiness my entire shift.  It got to a point where I really hated my job and the atmosphere of this restaurant.  I hated the hours and how exhausted I was every night.  I would ask God numerous times throughout every shift to please get me out of this job!  Please open a door and give me another job, please!

The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear to me one night.  He told me, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.”  I didn’t understand at first but then another inner tug and I heard it again, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.  God is not going to give you another job until you figure out how to have joy with this one.”  BAM!  I stood frozen for a minute and said to myself, “Wow, you’re right.  Why would God give me another job to complain about?  If I can’t find joy in this somehow I am going to be stuck here for a long time until I pass this test.”

So I started fervently praying for God to give me the strength to endure this job with joy. I  prayed this prayer constantly and practiced with success and error.   In about 2 weeks time, God opened another door and gave me a new job.  I didn’t even have to interview for this job.  It was that easy.  It’s a nicer restaurant, better clientele and bigger tips.

The Lord wants us to find joy in our trials.  He wants us to find peace in suffering.  He wants us to be happy!  When God opened the door I needed, I thought to myself, “Stop being miserable, God is on your side.  You are not alone in anything.”

I ask for God to help you in your sufferings and for Him to show you that you can find happiness and joy no matter what our daily circumstances.  Ask God to keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and to help you endure all things with strength and joy.

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There are many people in this world who believe prayer doesn’t matter and nothing good comes out of it.  There are Christians in the world who do pray but they don’t think of themselves as effective.  God does not want us to have doubt when we are praying  whether it be a specific prayer or an all encompassing prayer.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

I also like the Amplified version of James 5:16,

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].  The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamics in its working].”

A righteous person is a person who is in right standing with God.  It is a person who has a personal relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father.  A righteous person wants what is right according to God’s will.

Here are some simple steps to follow for an effective and powerful prayer:

Start your prayer  with praise and gratitude.  Praise God for what He has done, all He does and all He will do.  Thank  Him for his faithfulness and His unconditional love.  Praise Him for all He is and who He is.

Confess and repent your sins.  Acknowledge any sin that you are aware of and ask forgiveness for those sins that were unintentional.  Asking for forgiveness of sins also entails we are to turn away from that particular sin.   Repentance means a sincere turning away, in both the mind and heart, from self to God.

Ask for knowledge of His will.  Pray that the Holy Spirit gives you guidance, understanding, wisdom and strength.teachustopray

Continue to pray, never give up.  God has a plan for your life.  Remember, God’s timing is not like our timing.  So if you haven’t had an answer to prayer, just keep praying and remain faithful.  You will reap your harvest in God’s appointed time.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

 

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Are you in a situation or dealing with the consequences from a bad choice you made? Do you feel overwhelmed with worry and your day to day life is filled with anxiety? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34,

“So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (AMP)

It’s one thing to be worried about a circumstance that you have no way of changing. You’re at your wits end about something and you know you have no power to change your circumstances so you just have to roll with it and trust God to help you through it. But what about having to deal with negative consequences due to a bad decision you made?

Many people will tell you, “Well, you did this to yourself. You only have yourself to blame.” While that being true, it certainly only adds guilt on top of dread and worry. Of course we have to take responsibility for any bad choices we make, especially when dealing with an addiction. The healing process for an addict who wants to become clean and sober starts with acknowledgement that there is a problem but also taking responsibility for all the bad decisions and actions that were made in the midst of active addiction. Admitting responsibility is also vital to the healing process of guilt and condemnation.

So how do we trust God even though we know there are inevitable consequences in our near future?

  • We must repent and genuinely ask forgiveness for those sins. God doesn’t raise His hands in the air with frustration and say, “I can’t believe she did this again. Well this time I’m not forgiving her.” He will forgive us over and over again. We must believe that God has forgiven us before we can move on.
  • We must praise God in the midst of trials. Even though we may not “feel” like doing this, the Bible tells us we are to do it. By praising Him through a difficult circumstance, it will bring a feeling of peace.
  • We must thank God for all our circumstances. You’re probably asking, “How can I thank Him for something that is so awful in my life?”. First of all remember that God will bring good out of any situation (Romans 8:28).

rainbow roseGod will make all things good to those who love Him. He is able to turn any situation around for good. These forms of good can be anything from strengthening you and making you more resilient from that particular sin. He may put someone in your path that is going through a similar situation and you will be a great testimony of showing them how to go through it. It will show others your strength and faithfulness to God no matter what is going on in your life.

As a father loves his child, so does the Heavenly Father love you! Although God may be allowing you to go through a negative situation, He still loves you and His love for you will never change. God won’t love you any more than what He loves you right now and it is an uncomprehendable, amazing love He give us. He knows your pain and sees your tears (II Kings 20:5). Our heavenly Father even keeps track of our sorrows and tears,

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

I myself, am going through a trial right now. Unfortunately it is because of a poor decision I made back in August and I am suffering the consequences of that decision still but more so now. I have struggled tremendously, mentally and emotionally, because of what I did. Phil 413Satan has been trying to get to me while I am feeling down.  But I’m saying close to Christ. (Phil 4:13). Satan, you are not going to win anymore!

Just the other day I was having a bad day and I literally cried for 3 days. During those 3 days, instead of working myself into a panic attack, I prayed fervently and read my Bible. I was determined to find peace and joy. By the end of the 3rd day, I found the peace I was seeking and acceptance of the fact that God is going to be there and walk me through this. He told me there is an end to it and it won’t go on forever. He also told me, “Sometimes Michele I have to allow a devastating event to happen in your life in order to get through that thick skull of yours.” Lesson learned my Father! So I went to work on the 4th day and I had a customer tell me I look different. She proceeded to ask me if I had a new boyfriend or something because I had a “glow” about me. No I don’t have a new boyfriend. But I can tell you what was making me have that glow….it is Jesus Christ living in me and also because I just went through a 3 day cleansing of the soul which gave me renewed strength and peace.

I think it is easier to get through trials and tribulations if we look at them with a different perspective.  For example, what if the trials in our life are actually blessings of mercy and grace in disguise?(there is a lovely song, “Blessings” written by Laura Story that talks about this). Sometimes God will calm the storm, but if He doesn’t He will comfort your soul as you go through the storm. I think II Corinthians 12:9 says it best,

“Be He said to me, My grace is enough for you {sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully}; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in your weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest upon me.”

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If I don’t have any other testimony, I have this…”I’m still here”.

This past year has brought many struggles, much confusion but also revelation.  Much of the bad stuff was of my own doing, making poor choices and getting myself in trouble.

Once again God saved me from myself.  God’s love for me blows my mind really.

You know the verse that says, “pray for your enemies”?  I tried this with my boss.  Granted, my boss really isn’t my enemy but sometimes the way he treats me it feels like he is.  He can be pretty brutal with his words.  And I can have a pretty bad attitude when it comes to someone verbally attacking me,  or rather I “perceive” it as an attack.  I was becoming pretty miserable and hating going to work every day.  I DREADED it when I saw my boss’s car when I pulled up so I would sit in my car for a few minutes before every shift and ask God to help me get through my shift without getting upset, or storming out, or getting a bad attitude, and I would ask God to keep me tough and help me get through it biting my tongue, help me, help me………..

And then one day I got a smack upside the head!!   The Holy Spirit said flat out, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer”.  You should be praying for your boss. So I listened and started praying for my boss.  I prayed with sincerity and that’s when things started to change.  He wasn’t as rude and nasty to me like he usually was.  He wasn’t constantly down my back about stuff.  It changed!!  or was it me who changed?

All I can say is the Lord is an amazing and wonderful God.  He takes my breathe away.  In everything I do I want to bring glory to Him.   Through my prayers, through my mistakes, through my job, and through my daily life I praise Him.

This is a paper I wrote for my class in Systematic Theology.  The assignment was as follows:

“Alex excitedly tells you, “I recently received the Holy Spirit’s power. I’m no longer a carnal Christian like so many people. I’m just letting go and letting God. Now I can overcome sin with hardly a struggle, and I can live the kind of life that makes me acceptable to God.” Write what you would say to Alex, based on your own understanding of justification, sanctification, and the Spirit’s help in holy living.”

Hope you enjoy it. Smile

I would first start off by telling Alex that there is nowhere in the Bible telling us that just because we become a child of God through salvation and went through the process of justification and sanctification, that we won’t have struggles with sin. We are powerless over our sin nature but there is hope and strength through the help of the Holy Spirit but we first must seek Him, change our way of thinking and allow God to work in our lives. Faith requires action, not just sitting by and letting things happen. We have to fight to stay on track and on the right path, otherwise the devil will get a foothold in our life.

It is true when the Bible says, “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” But even so, we still have to be vigilant in our daily life and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance. Satan will attack this every chance he gets.

In fact Jesus told us we will have more attacks from the devil, because the devil doesn’t want us to please or bring glory to God. Satan will work overtime on believers. The good news is that we have weapons of faith that God has provided and given us to be able to sustain these attacks. These weapons of faith are explained as the “armor of God” as written in Ephesians 6:10-18. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit to aid us in times of conflict.

In a book written by Wayne Gruden titled, “Bible Doctrine”, he defines justification: “An instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and declares us to be righteous in His sight.” He goes on to tell us that, “Legal declaration of justification by God affirms we are just in God sight”.

In other words, we have a right legal standing before God because He has given us forgiveness of our sins. This means we are completely forgiven by Him and are longer subject to punishment. It is important to point out that “legal declaration” in itself doesn’t mean that our internal nature changes and not even our character. Although Alex’s view of “letting go and letting God” can be a powerful way to live your life, it does not mean we are to be aloof and careless in protecting ourselves against temptations of the world. Being pro-active in our faith is important.

After justification there is sanctification. This process implies we are being set apart for God’s’ use. The Holy Spirit is predominately at work in the process of sanctification. Through God’s grace, the Holy Spirit renews us on a daily basis. It means we are to make a conscious choice to no longer love sin, be dead to it, and to stop and overcome patterns of behaviors that were sinful in our life. We are dead to sin and alive Christ. This should be our new mentality and our lives should show accordingly.

One of the greatest gift and resource we have to help us in this life is the Holy Spirit. He gives us strength when we need it. He gives us courage when we need it. He gives us wisdom, helps us make wise choices and speaks to us when He thinks we are making a wrong choice. He is our protector and teacher. He gives us guidance and direction. We must ask God The Father every morning to have His Spirit close to us for leading and guidance.

There are many reasons why Christ’s death on the cross is important.  First, Jesus’ dying on the cross is the only way we are able to establish a relationship with God the Father.  If Jesus’ death and resurrection did not happen, we would not be able to have this relationship with God the Father because our sin separates us from God until we receive salvation through Christ.  Salvation is not possible without Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Jesus made this possible by taking upon our sins with Him on the cross and dying for us.

Secondly, by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and then being raised from the dead, we are given the opportunity to have a place in His kingdom.  Jesus clearly explains that the only ones who will enter into heaven are those who believe and accept Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 3:16, 14:6).  The most important decision you will ever make is to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Jesus’ death is not like any other person’s death.  The Bible tells us that Jesus came to the earth to destroy the works of the devil.  In 1 John 3:8 it tells us, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

It’s important to know that it was the devil who brought death to this earth, not God.  It was God’s plan for us to live eternally with Him from the beginning.  But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, and their disobedience to God, not only did a spiritual death come to us, but the physical death of dying came about as well.

The significance of Jesus dying on the cross was in fact God’s way of showing the devil who is still “in charge”.  Christ’s death freed us from the chains of sin and death on this earth.  Christ’s death shows Satan that just because our physical bodies may die, we do not have to die spiritually but can have an eternal life with Him in heaven.  Christ’s death on the cross showed that Jesus has the authority over death, not Satan.  By believing in Christ as our Savior and believing He died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead, we are able to have salvation through grace in faith in Jesus Christ.  It enables us to be able to go to heaven when we die.  It enables us to have a relationship with God the Father.

Thirdly, if Jesus didn’t die on the cross we would not be able to have the Holy Spirit indwell in us.  The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts after we are saved (also known as “born-again).   This is a gift from Jesus after His death.  Christ told us about this in the book of John 14:16 that He will send an “advocate” in His place for us.  The Holy Spirit is also our “comforter” and gives us strength and courage in such a wicked world we live in.  A regular human’s death cannot achieve all this.  They cannot give us their spirit.  Only Jesus could do this.

And finally, Christ’s resurrection gives us the assurance we will also receive perfectly resurrected bodies after our death and will be given these bodies when we go live in His kingdom, which will be a new heaven and a new earth.  Essentially that is what Jesus is talking about when He says “His Kingdom”.  His kingdom consists of us believers living on a new earth “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).  Some say it will look like the Garden of Eden and we will be able to live amongst Jesus and other believers.  How wonderful this sounds!

Jesus was in fact a great spiritual leader, but he is so much more.  He is our Savior, He is the Son of God, He is our friend, He loves us more than our minds can comprehend.  He is the only way for us to have are relationship with God and the only way for us to receive His Holy Spirit by believing through faith.  Salvation is an undeserved favor of grace from God.  As Scripture says, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life, no one can come to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

Angels are created spiritual beings.  They have not always existed but are part of God’s creation of the universe and are part of His Purpose.  Angels are “spirits” without physical bodies yet are highly intelligent and are capable of having moral judgment and free will.  The apostle Paul tells us in Col. 1:16,

For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him and in and for Him.

Paul specifically includes the existence of an angelic world by the phrase, “whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities”.  It is reflected in the Scriptures that angels sinned and fell from their positions (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6)  This shows proof that angels have free will and moral judgment and could make choices and decisions of their own.  Also, angels are invisible, however, they have from time to time took on a bodily form to appear to people in Scripture (Matt. 28:5; Heb. 13:2).  We are not able to see angels unless God gives us a special ability to do so.

There are 3 other kinds of heavenly beings.  We can think of these as special types of angels or we can think of these as heavenly beings distinct from angels, but either way they also serve and worship God.

1. The cherubim – They are given the task of guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:34).  God himself is said to be enthroned on the cherubim or He travels with the cherubim (Ps.18:10 ; Ezek. 10:1-22).

2. The seraphim – these heavenly beings continually worship and praise the Lord “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”(Isa. 6:2-7)

3. The living creatures – Ezekiel and Revelation tell us of other kinds of heavenly beings only known as “living creatures” around God’s throne.  Their appearances are of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle.  They are the mightiest creatures of various parts of God’s entire creation.  (Wild beasts, domesticated animals, human beings, and birds.)  Just as angels do, these living creatures worship God continually.

God sends angels for our protection.  Some people believe they have their own “guardian angel”.  Scripture does not support the idea of a personal guardian angel for each person, yet it does support that the role of an angel is to protect us here on earth. 

Angels watch us throughout our daily lives.  So be aware and think on these things.  They see when we are obedient to Christ as well as our disobedience.  It can be safe to say that angels rejoice when they see our obedient actions made in secret.  Take comfort in the fact that even though no one may be a witness to your good deed, angels witness our struggles and how much we are striving to be more like Christ. On the other hand, angels can be grieved as they witness our sins and disobedience.

Fallen Angels and Satan

It’s important to know that God did not create the world with evil angels in it.  We know this because in Gen. 1:31 God “saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good”.

Demons are evil angels who sinned against God.  They work evil in the world today.  Sometime between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1, there must have been an angelic rebellion.  Many angels turned against God and became evil.

The Bible also warns of false doctrine from angels. Not all angels are good. “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14) There are instances where people claim that an angel has spoke to them. We as Christians are warned against accepting any claims that differ from the doctrine of the Trinity, Christ as the Messiah and is fully God, justification by faith alone, and others. One example of this is the Mormon faith in which Joseph Smith claims an angel called Moroni spoke to him and revealed to him the Mormon religion.

Satan is the head of the demons.  He once was an angel of God and held a very high rank.  The sin of Satan was pride and the attempt to be equal to God in status and authority.  But because of his defiance, Satan was cast out of heaven and many angels followed him.  The fall of Satan is written in Isaiah 14:12-15:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground—mighty though you were against the nations of the world.  For you said to yourself, “I will ascend to heaven and rule the angels.  I will take the highest throne.  I will preside on the Mount of Assembly far away in the north.  I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.  But instead, you will be brought down to the pit of hell, down to its lowest depths.”

We should recognize that sinning gives a foothold for some kind of demonic influence in our lives.  Wrongful anger could allow a demon to attack our emotions and possibly increase the anger that is already inside of us.  Paul mentions in Eph. 6:14 that the “breastplate of righteousness” is part of the armor we use to stand against the “wiles of the devil”.  If we have holes or weaknesses in our breastplate of righteousness, then this can make us vulnerable to demonic attack.

Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave.   We have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Cor 10:3-4).  It is important to recognize that the work of Christ on the cross is the ultimate basis for our authority over demons.


A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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