Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus

In recent weeks, God has been generous in giving me a word when I’ve asked for one like He did a little while ago. I read Hebrews 12:1-2, and words just started flowing into my head. First, here is that Scripture.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us , fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

This is what it takes to be successful in living life in community and ministering in Jesus’ name. Keeping our eyes on Jesus. Not being wedded  to a specific format in how it’s supposed to happen. Listening to His call and doing what He asks of you even if that means changing things in mid-stream or not participating in one thing because God has called you to do another. It means looking to Jesus, even when you are tired, even when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, even when you’re facing difficulties of one kind or another in this world. Because, you see, for those of us who are Christians, this world is not our final destination. Our final destination is in heaven with our Lord and Savior which means our time here in this world is finite. Jesus wants us going about His business and doing what He has called us to do.

God has put this message on my mind and heart because He has called me to be a leader. I’m starting to get some glimmers of what that means. It means we need to be flexible. Flexibility is the key. Not in how we love people in Jesus’ name, but in the ways we reach people in Jesus’ name. There might be things we do for a season and then stop or things we do one way and then decide to do differently. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as we are keeping our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus and on His call through prayer and not focusing on what we ourselves want or are comfortable with.  I truly believe that is the only way we will win the lost to Jesus.

God’s blessings on you all today!

The Praying Church

In my last post, I talked about how God had blessed my family in the last several weeks.  It seems the blessings have also come in the way of blog topics for me. This topic comes out of a discussion I was in last night during a women’s Bible study I attend. Among this group of women, my sisters in Christ, there is a longing to see more collective prayer time in our church. More time on our knees praying for needs, praying for the will of God to be done, praying for our community and our world.

When did that stop? Not just in my church, of course, but in the collective church of today. Yes, there are some churches that are very good about prayer, but, for the most part, I believe the church of today does not understand the true power of prayer. There are many people more theologically literate than me that could explain this better. This is my take on it though. One reason that churches might be distracted from prayer is the number of distractions in our world today. They have multiplied exponentially from even when I was a young person. (though my son does say I’m old) Our society tells us that there are things we all need to be doing or should want to be doing, and if a person, a Christian, is not careful, these messages can drown out what God is telling us we need to do.

Another reason could be that we don’t understand how to pray. Prayer is just a conversation with God, but so many people don’t understand this. They believe that God wants to hear elaborate words, that our prayers need to be said a certain way.  It’s not the case at all. Now, I haven’t always understood that myself. Don’t get me wrong. I used to think you had to pray like that to get God to notice you.  But, I don’t think that way anymore. My relationship with God, especially over the last two years, has become more personal, more rooted, and that has helped me understand what prayer is supposed to be.

Prayer needs, at times, can also be overwhelming. There can be so many things to pray for.  So many needs. So many things to do to assist with those needs. But, if those needs aren’t bathed in prayer first, they might be met, but they won’t be met the way God wants them to be met.

So, what can be done to become more of a praying church? I think we need to realize that we, as Christians, need to live in community. We need to trust each other, and we need to trust that the wounds we have won’t be judged by our Christian brothers and sisters. I know that is a hard one. I could tell you of the many times I have been wounded in the past because I was judged by someone who claimed Christ as Savior. It has brought me to a true understanding now though of how we are not supposed to judge each other. Of how we are supposed to love others in Jesus’ name no matter how they have been wounded.

We also need to be willing to change. If we are not relating to someone on their level, if we are only loving someone in a way that’s familiar to us because we don’t want to love differently, they will never see Jesus in us, and that would be the saddest thing of all.

And finally, we need to remember God gave us prayer for a reason. Acts 1:14 says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”  Powerful things happened in Jesus’ name during the time of Acts. There’s no reason they can’t happen now if we, as Christians, would only recognize the power of prayer.

God’s blessings on you today!

 

Acting on What I Believe – A Challenge

In all the years I’ve been a professed Christian, I’ve never really thought about this until the last few weeks – how action translates what I believe into something beautiful. Into something Jesus wants to see from all who claim belief in Him.

I know we all have been in our churches and heard sermons on stewardship. Yes, giving money is not the only thing we can do in Jesus’ name, not the only action, but it’s the one I’m going to talk about today. Now, back to those sermons. Have you rolled your eyes at least once when you’ve heard those sermons? I will admit it. I have. It seems like all the yearly pleas for money have made us immune to what the money is really needed for. Do we really want to win our world for Christ? Or is church and what we do at church just something to check off our list and not even the most important part of our list? I don’t want church or my faith to be something to check off a list.  I want my life and my money to show what I really believe in. I want people to see Jesus in me. I might not be able to give as much money as someone else, but, from what I can give, money, as well as time, I want people to see  what my priorities are.  And my very first priority is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I write this today because today is Commitment Sunday at my church for our 2015 budget. And it is the very first time my heart is in tune with my actions. I want to “touch God’s heart with a renewed sense of generosity”.  God has tremendously blessed my family in the last few weeks, and I want to turn that around and bless others. I hope my church family joins me.  But, more than that, more than just money, I hope that all of you who are Christians will love people in Jesus’ name today.

God’s blessings on all of you!