I bet you’re wondering how in the world I’m going to flip this one to make it meaningful to your faith walk. Well, its like this, hopefully every day at some point we take off all of our clothes and get naked to take a shower cleaning our bodies of all of the dirt that we have somehow encountered throughout the day. What we don’t realize is the importance of doing the same thing in our spiritual lives. Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. But in order to do that we have to take off all of the negativity. We need to get naked!
Unforgiveness, guilt, bitterness, malice, doubt, anger, fear, resentment, these are all things that the enemy uses to keep us bound. That is why it’s so important to practice taking these useless spirits off every single day. Before our days get started we need to conciously take off all of our dirty spiritual laundry by thanking God for releasing us from our ill feelings. And then, thank Him for making room in our hearts to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love. Whether we feel like we’re released from those negative feelings and thoughts or not, we should keep confessing it, every single day until it manifests. Trust God, have faith and be consistent in your effort. Do not wear the negativity from your past into your future. Get Naked!
Up-set! completely unbelieving of another person’s actions or viewpoint because really, they CAN’T be serious. I think we’ve all been here at one point or another. I like to call this type of conversation heated fellowship. We’re Christian so we really prefer not to have an argument but this person really seems like they’re trying to take you there. In these situations, what do you do to keep your composure? How do you in the midst of your true feelings, keep it Christ-like? Here are some things to keep in mind during heated fellowship.
1. Keep an open mind – Sometimes we feel like something is totally logical or that a certain view point makes perfect since but what we have to remember is that not everyone thinks the way that we do. We don’t all rationalize the same or have the same perspectives. So, try to be open to the other person’s point of view.
2. Keep forgiveness on deck – No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and although some mistakes may seem bigger than others at the end of the day forgiveness is what matters most. Does this mean that what the person may have done is ok? Absolutely not. It just means that you’re allowing the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ to supersede your emotional desire to hold a grudge and or seek revenge.
3. Think before you speak – In the heat of a discussion we often times say things that we regret later on. No matter how passionate we may be about the subject, it is critical to think before you speak. Our words have power and as soon as they leave your mouth and enter the atmosphere you’ve given them life. If there is even a slight possibility that you may regret it later, don’t say it.
4. Look for a compromise – Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a compromise. If you see any solution that will meet the needs/desires of you and the other person, suggest it.
5. Love – At the end of the day, love is the most powerful entity. No matter what you’re arguing about or are in disagreement about treating people in love, even if they don’t do the same is what is most important.
They may not always be easy to execute, but these are some key things that can help you to keep your heated discussions in perspective. Don’t let a disagreement get you out of character or compromise your spiritual maturity.
Yesterday I saw a Facebook post from a book that I’m not sure who the author is. The particular page that was captured was about “Crushes”. It was a nice exercise that a mother asked her daughter to do when she shared that she had a crush on a boy at school. She asked her daughter to read Corinthians 13:4-6 which gives the biblical description of love begining with “Love is kind.” She asked her daughter to replace the word love with th boys name. She did and quickly realized that he fell significantly short.
I thought this was an interesting way to help guide young girls and boys as there emotions become heavy for the opposite sex. But beyond that, this is an excercise we should do for ourselves! It’s not about perfection. We will never be perfect. But when we apply ourselves in this area of trying to mirror this scripture in our lives it encourages spiritual growth.
So, give it a try. How do you measure up when you substitute the word love with your own name. You might be surprised how this excercise can help to reveal areas you may want to ask God to help you work on. I definitely found a couple!
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
There are some days when we become so completely overwhelmed that we just want to go and hide until the day is over. I think we have all felt like this at some point. Life just gets to be a bit too much and we long for a break from our own thoughts.
Stress is the culprit. No doubt that the enemy loves this one. Nothing good happens when we’re stressed. We make bad decisions, our bodies suffer and so do the people around us. Here are a few things I try to do to help manage the onset of stress.
1. Change focus: Stress often activates in our minds when we focus on something we’re concerned about non stop. So, when I find that something in particular is weighing me down I do my best to change my focus to Holy Spirit. In the presence of Holy Spirit there is peace.
2. Get some fresh air: Getting outside of any four walls can also help. When you feel like you’re trapped in your thoughts and inside in general it can become overwhelming. Going for a walk or run outside in the fresh air can be very helpful.
3. Pray about it: Some people like to talk about their problems with friends or family. That can be beneficial but at some point, sooner rather than later, it’s best to take it to God in prayer. Tell Him how you’re feeling and what’s bothering you. Ask Him to guide you in your actions and trust Him.
4. Change perspectives: Sometimes we get so caught up in our emotions we don’t stop to think that what we’re going through is providing a great opportunity for us to grow in Christ. It may not seem ideal to us but, we learn to trust God on different levels with the trials we go through. Constantly remind yourself that this is an opportunity to see God move in an amazing way.
5. Laugh: My husband is a big help in this area for me. Sometimes I become so consumed that I just cry. Crying can be really good for the soul so don’t be afraid to let it out if you need to. But, while I’m crying he’ll hold me and break down what’s bothering me into little pieces. Suddenly it all becomes so trivial and we just start to laugh about it. A good ole comedy could help put you in a good place too.
At the end of the day we are human! We’re going to get a little stressed every once in a while. Knowing that we are not alone no matter how alone we may sometimes feel is key. It’s ok to have a moment but what we can’t do is allow that moment to turn into our every day. What are some other things you like to do to help manage stress?
Forgiving someone who’s hurt you can be one of the hardest things to do. We may understand the importance of forgiving but find it extremely difficult to even know where to begin. Our emotions can take us on a whirlwind. We may even get to a point where we feel like we’ve let something go when in reality we’re holding on tighter than ever. Over time this is what I’ve learned about the reality of forgiveness.
1. It’s a process: no matter how much we may want to forgive someone to release ourselves from that bondage of anger and hurt, it’s a process. You’re not going to completely forgive someone over night. There are levels to this.
2. It takes practice: forgiveness is something we have to actively practice every day. I’ve found that admitting, accepting and forgiving my own personal faults helps to soften my heart to the realization that no one is perfect. We all fall short. By doing this we allow personal growth even as we’re still trying to completely forgive someone else.
3. It takes prayer: forgiveness requires Gods help. This isn’t one of those things we can go at alone. Part of practicing forgivenes is to thank God for forgiving you and praying for God to open your heart so that you can do the same.
It’s important to realize that not everyone is waiting for your forgiveness. And when you do forgive them they may not change at all. They may remain the same hurtful, vindictive, bitter people. But one of the biggest truths I’ve learned is that hurt people, hurt other people, and it can become a vicious cycle until we learn to truly forgive.
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
It’s impossible for human love to be unconditional, like God’s love. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the love of God in us. We can let that love flow freely, without conditions. Our love fails, but God’s does not. Our love comes to an end, but God’s does not. Sometimes I find that although I can’t love a person in my own strength, I am able to with God’s love. The true love of God doesn’t depend on feelings, it’s based on a decision. It’s not based on whether or not that person deserves it. And it is absolutely freeing to be able to love people without stopping to ask if they deserve it.
Human love depends on feelings. It loves people because they have been good to us or they loved us first. That kind of love comes and goes. God’s love is totally different. It isn’t based on anything except God Himself. When we receive Christ as our Savior, the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Pour out God’s love to others today.
God, my love may run out, but Yours never will. I will continue to draw on Your endless love so that I can give it out to others, without being concerned about whether they deserve it or not. In Jesus name. Amen.
For more information on Love First Christian Center click here.
“Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous: The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.”
God speaks frequently in the Bible of our responsibility to the oppressed, widows, orphans, fatherless and foreigners. He mentions those who are lonely, neglected, forgotten and devalued. He cares deeply for the oppressed and the hungry. People can be hungry in many ways. They may have plenty of food to eat but be starving to feel valuable. God lifts up those who are bowed down with sorrow; He protects the stranger and upholds the fatherless and the widow. How does He do this? He works through people. He needs committed, submitted, dedicated people who live to meet the needs of others.
Mother Teresa once said, ‘Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.’ I have come to understand that many people we encounter daily are just trying to survive until someone rescues them, and that someone could be you or me. Let’s allow God’s love for the hurting and broken to work through us, meeting the needs of those who are hurting spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Let’s love without getting tired.
Holy Spirit, empower me to love without getting tired. Give me Your heart for the hurting and the needy and show me how to meet their needs. In Jesus name. Amen.