Monday, December 31, 2012

Needing Prayer

Do you need prayer?  I know that I need prayer.  Everyone needs prayer at one time or another whether they realize it or admit it.  We all need prayer for various reasons either before, during, or after various situations in our lives. 

Prayer is one spiritual discipline which draws us closer to God the Father and keeps us in a closer relationship with Him on a daily basis.  It is a time of fellowshipping and communing with God our Father as His children.  It is normally one-on-one time with Him as we communicate with Him about our thankfulness, our needs, our cares, our concerns, our confessions, our repentance, our requests, and our petitions.  It is also a time of listening to Him through the help of the Holy Spirit.  There are other times when we go to Him on behalf of others whether they ask us, or He puts them on our hearts and/or minds.  Often, we are called to not only pray for others but pray with others whether it is only one other person or more than one other person in a group setting.  No matter what, it is important to be obedient to the Lord and pray for ourselves as well as others.

Our Father God gives us instructions on how to pray and what to do when we pray for ourselves and others.  (Matthew 6:5-8)  He also gives us more information on prayer through asking, searching, and knocking.  (Matthew 7:7-11)  In addition, we need to "fertilize" our prayers with scripture.  To "fertilize" means to use God's word throughout our prayers.  Not only does it build up our faith, but God's word does not return void.  His word goes out and accomplishes God's purpose.  (Isaiah 55:11)  Before we pray, we need to make sure there is not any unforgiveness in us.  (Matthew 6:14-15)  We also need to have faith in God and believe in our hearts that He will hear and answer our prayers according to His will for us.  (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15)  Even when we do not know God's will for us, we can be assured that the Holy Spirit is praying for us with groans which are too deep for words.  (Romans 8:26-27

A few examples of prayer....

The Lord's Prayer  (Matthew 6:9-13)

A Prayer of Thanksgiving  (Ephesians 1:15-23)

A Prayer for the Church  (Ephesians 3:14-21)

A Prayer of Thanksgiving  (Colossians 1:3-14)

Prayer is a discipline which builds up people's faith. It is a way to support people.  It strengthens people.  It encourages people.  When people of faith pray, it is powerful.  It works very well.  A couple of examples where God showed up mightily include the cases of Jesus' disciple, Peter, and the Apostle Paul.  (Acts 12:1-19; Acts 16:16-40)  Remember, the prayers of the righteous avails much.  (James 5:16b)  It is powerful, and it works very well for God's people...His children...those who are of the household of faith...those who are in God's family.  Elijah is an example of a righteous person where prayer was very powerful and worked very well.  (James 5:17-18)  The Persistent Widow is another example.  (Luke 18:1-8)  Her persistence paid off.  We can learn a lesson from her.  Always pray to our Father God.  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Do not stop praying to Him, because He is a good Father. 

Continue praying for yourself and others.  If you are not in the good habit of praying, there is not a better time to begin praying than now.  God is a good God!  He is a loving Father who provides for all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19)  He blesses us abundantly more than we can ever ask or think according to His power within us.  (Ephesians 3:20)  Therefore, go boldly before His throne of grace.  (Hebrews 4:16)  He is available anytime anywhere.  Pray believing that you have whatever you have asked of Him. (Mark 11:24

Prayer:  May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  (Matthew 6:10)

Copyright 2012 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Controlling Our Mouths

What are you saying?  What are you talking about regarding your circumstances, others, or yourself? 

Our Father God talks about our lips, our tongues, and our mouths throughout His word.  Therefore, how important do you think they are to Him?  Very important!  Similarly, how important are our words to Him?  Also, very important!  We can use our lips, our tongues, our mouths, and our words for good or evil, to build up or tear down, for blessing or cursing, to encourage or discourage, for God or the devil, and the list goes on.  I am sure that you get the point. 

Jesus' brother, James, talks about blessing and cursing people with the same mouth.  (James 3:10-12)  He says that nobody can tame the tongue.  (3:8)  He also talks about not stumbling in our words.  (3:2)  He compares our mouths to horses' mouths and ships.  (3:3-4)  Later, James compares the tongue to a fire.  He says that it sets our course.  (3:5-6)  It is so true too.  We create our world and our reality with our words. 

We are made in God's image.  (Genesis 1:26-27)  God spoke the entire world and universe into existence with His words.  In a similiar way, we can speak our own "little" worlds into existence.  It is called "speaking our faith".  Mark talks about speaking to the so-called mountains in our lives.  (Mark 11:22-23)  When we believe God our Father, we can call those things that do not exist yet into existence just like God did before the beginning of time.  (Romans 4:16-18)  With God's spirit, we have the same power and authority within us that raised Jesus from the dead.  We can change our circumstances by changing our words.

King Solomon who was known for his wisdom wrote the book of Proverbs.  Many times in that particular book Solomon talks about the lips, the tongue, and the mouth.  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  (Proverbs 18:21, NIV)  Now, that is powerful!  Life and death!  Then, what you say is very important.  You speak things into existence with your words whether good or evil.  You create your reality by speaking your faith with your words whether right or wrong. 

It is very important to watch your words.  In addition, it is helpful to guard your mouth.  It is not only important to choose your words wisely but to also not use a lot of words.  "The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint..."  (Proverbs 17:27a, NIV)  Sometimes, it is best not to talk at all.  Jesus is a great example.  He often kept silent during times when He was being mocked and persecuted for His faith.  (Matthew 27:27-44)  Other times, we need to know how to talk to other people.  "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)  Then, there are times when we need to know what to say to others.  "The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."  (15:2, NIV)  "The lips of the wise spread knowledge..."  (15:7, NIV) 

Matthew also talks about the mouth.  What you speak out whether good or bad comes from the heart.  (Matthew 12:34-35)  He goes on to talk about idle words.  Idle chatter is useless and pointless.  It just takes up time and fills up space.  Some people just talk only to talk.  Sometimes, people only talk because they fear silence or cannot stand peace and quiet.  However, God will judge us for every empty promise or meaningless word that is spoken out of our mouths.  People will also judge us by the words which come out of our mouths while we are here in this world.  (Matthew 12:36-37) 

Therefore, guard your mouth...control your tongue...and close your lips.  Choose your words wisely.  Honor God with your mouth, your tongue, your lips, and your words.  Ask Him to help you.  He can do it.  He will do it.  Remember, you are an overcomer!  (Romans 8:37)  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!  (Philippians 4:13)

Prayer:  "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."  (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

Copyright 2012 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Controlling Your Thoughts

What are you thinking about this very moment? Whatever it is, you do not have to think about those things. You can control your thoughts.

Throughout scripture, our Father God talks about our thoughts and our ways. First of all though, God's word says that we as God's children have "the mind of Christ". (1 Corinthians 2:16) God our Father is the only true authority who can tell us how to use our minds or what we should think about or not think about with our minds.

Therefore, because we have "the mind of Christ", do you think that we should entertain anything which comes into our minds? Do you think we should just think about anything or everything that enters our minds? No, of course not!

Whatever you think about, you eventually believe and begin acting on those thoughts and beliefs. (Proverbs 23:7a, NKJV) You become that person with those kind of unlovely, ungodly, sinful, wicked, or evil thoughts. You become that lustful person. You become that depressed person. You become that addicted person. You become that unrighteous or sinful person.

The Prophet Isaiah invites people to have the abundant life though. (Isaiah 55:7) He talks to people and instructs them to forsake their wicked ways and unrighteous [or sinful] thoughts. He goes on to talk about God's thoughts and ways being different than human beings' thoughts and ways. (Isaiah 55:8) Our Father God thinks a lot better than humans think in their usual [or old sinful] way of thinking about things. The old sinful nature thinks about things which are not pleasing to God. Whereas, the new man or the new creation in Christ thinks about those things which are pleasing to God our Father. The Apostle Paul talks about the carnal [or fleshy mind] and the spiritual mind. He tells us about the results or by-product of each of those mindsets.

Death [whether spiritual or physical] are the results of the old sinful nature [or the carnal mindset]. (Romans 8:5-8) Either before or along with that kind of death comes destruction and decay. For instance, when you think about that person in a lustful way, then you are on the path of destruction, decay, and death eventually if you continue thinking that way. The same is true for other carnal thoughts. Carnality and fleshiness messes with your minds and your lives. It all leads down the carnal path of destruction and eventually death. However, life [eternal, everlasting, and abundant] and peace are the results of the spiritual mindset [or the new nature]. You get peace of mind, peace with yourself, peace with others, and most importantly, peace with God our Father. You also reap more of the abundant life, the rich satisfying life, the everlasting life, and the eternal life here and now.

What can you do? How can you control your thoughts? First of all, reject those kind of harmful, destructive, deadly, or sinful thoughts. Cast down those thoughts! Take those thoughts captive! Rebuke those thoughts in the name of Jesus! (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) You have the power and the authority within you. Next, renew your mind on a daily basis. (Romans 12:1-2) It helps us to stay in God's word every single day. Not only for us and our thoughts but also for others and ultimately for God our Father and our relationship with Him. In addition, mediate on God's word. (Joshua 1:8) "To meditate" means to think about, to ponder, or to consider. Therefore, instead of worrying or thinking about negative things, choose to think about positive things specifically God's word. The Apostle Paul tells us to meditate on good things. He specifically talks about thinking about good things which we have learned, received, heard, or seen spiritual and Godly people like him do in the world. (Philippians 4:8-9)

You can control your thoughts. You can choose to think about good, positive, spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like things. Remember, you have "the mind of Christ". (1 Corinthians 2:16) Please choose to honor Him with your thoughts not only today but every single day for the rest of your life.

Copyright 2012 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Controlling Our Feelings

(please only listen to the first 25 secs of the above song for the purpose of this lesson) 

"Feelings...whoa, whoa, whoa feelings...whoa, whoa, whoa feelings..."

How are you feeling?  What are you feeling?  Be honest with yourself.  Most of all, be truthful with God.  Yes!  We all have feelings.  We need to acknowledge our feelings.  We need to "own" our feelings.  We need to share our feelings.  However, we do not need to be ruled by our feelings.  We do not to be controlled by our feelings. 

We need to know that our feelings are not always accurate when it comes to our natural circumstances, other people, or even ourselves.  Most importantly, we need to know that our feelings do not always agree or line up with the word of God.  Therefore, we do not need to let our feelings get in the way of our obedience to our Father God or His word to us.  We do not need to allow our feelings to rule us, guide us, lead us, or direct us into disobedience to God.  We only need to be led by the Holy Spirit and allow God's word to be our "Instruction Book" or "Life Manual". 

King David poured out his heart and feelings in a lot of the Book of Psalms.  He wrote most of that particular book in the Bible.  In Psalm 22, for instance, David shared his feelings with God very openly and honestly about his situation.  We can see David as a good example for us when it comes to feelings.  The Book of Psalms is also a good primary part of Scripture to use and read when it comes to our feelings. 

In Psalm 22, David felt that God had left him.  He felt God had abandoned him.  He felt God had forsaken him.  Have you ever felt that way before?  You may feel that way now.  However, it is not true.  It is not accurate.  How do I know?  My Father God tells me otherwise in His word.  He says that He will not leave me nor forsake me.  (Deut 31:6, 8)  Therefore, do not allow your feelings to rule you.  That example is only one instance where someone's feelings did not line up with the word of God.

Our feelings can deceive us.  They can be used against us.  The devil can use our feelings against us to keep us from doing what God wants us to do, knowing what God wants us to know, having what God wants us to have, and being who God created us to be for Him, His purpose, and His plan for us.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

David is a prime example.  What if he had been ruled by his feelings?  What if he had said, "Oh, Lord...I feel like you have abandoned me.  Therefore, I am just going to stay here in the field and keep herding these sheep."  What if he had wallowed in self-pity...feeling like he was not worthy of doing what God had called him to do?  Then, David never would have come out of that field in order to kill the Philistine giant, Goliath.  (1 Samuel 17)  He made the choice not to allow his feelings to control him.  He decided that he would obey God.  He chose to surrender to God, His ways, and His will for him.  David chose to be the person God had created him to be...the person God had called him to be...the person God had chosen him to be for His purpose and plan.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Now, I am not saying that David always made good and wise choices.  Nor am I saying that he always obeyed God or always surrendered to God and His will.  He did give in to his flesh and his feelings on occasion.  However, David eventually became known as a man after God's own heart.

Looking back in Psalm 22....After David talked to God about his feelings openly and honestly, notice what he did...look at what he said...throughout much of this particular one.  In the beginning of this Psalm, David talks about his feelings but then he talks about God.  If you notice, much of this Psalm is like that with David going back and forth between his feelings and God.  It is good that he shared his feelings. It is also good that he acknowledged his feelings. However, he always went back to God. In the same way, we can and should do that ourselves.  

We should not always give in to our feelings.  We definitely should not be led or ruled by our feelings.  When our feelings do not line up to the word of God, we need to submit ourselves to God.  As I mentioned earlier, the devil can deceive us and use our feelings to get us outside of God's will for us.  Therefore, resist those feelings which do not accurately line up with the word of God.  (James 4:7)  We must do our part by submitting to Him, surrendering to Him, listening to Him, and obeying Him.     

Copyright 2012 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Showing Mercy

The previous scene that you just saw is from 1984's Karate Kid.  In this particular part of the movie, the main character named Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) visits a Karate Do Jo.  The Karate instructor tells his students to strike first, strike hard, and show no mercy to their opponents.  It is much like the world.  The world tells people to not show mercy to people.  After all, they do not deserve it...whoever they may be in the world's eyes.

In this scene, there is a group of guys chasing Daniel who is the Karate Kid.  The leader of the group, named Johnny, tells the group that, "An enemy deserves no mercy."  He has been taught that by his Karate instructor in the scene above.  It is human nature not to show someone mercy.  It is the flesh or the old sinful nature that does not want to show mercy to people.  It is also the world's way to do the human thing and kick someone when he is down or turn your back on someone when he is in need.

Did you notice though...later in this same scene that Daniel's friend, Mr. Miyagi, comes to his rescue?  Mr. Miyagi had compassion on Daniel.  He showed him mercy whether Daniel deserved it.  Mr. Miyagi came and picked up Daniel.  Then, he carried Daniel away from all of the trouble and the trouble makers.

That is a great picture of our Father God.  He is compassionate.  He shows mercy whether we deserve it.  He comes and picks us up out of the messes.  He carries us away from all of the problems and the people who cause problems for us. 

The Psalmist writes, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."  (Psalm 86:15, NIV)

He also says that, "The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion."  (Psalm 116:5, NIV)

Later, the Psalmist says that, "The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made."  (Psalm 145:9, NIV)

Therefore, shouldn't we as God's Children want to be like our Father God? His way is the right way. Throughout His word, our Father tells us to show mercy and have compassion on people. He does not say to only do it if we feel like it. He does not say to only do it if we think they deserve it. No! He commands us to have compassion and show mercy to people. There are no if's, and's, or but's about it. He loves us. He wants the best for us. He also wants us to be just like Him. 

Luke tells us to, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."  (Luke 6:36, NIV)

It really is not our place to judge or withhold mercy from someone...anyone.  If it had not been for us initially receiving mercy when Jesus died on the cross for us, we would not have been saved by grace through faith in Him.  (Ephesians 2:8)  We would not be Children of the Almighty God at this time.  We also would not be the people God had created us to be right now. 

Matthew says that, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."  (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

God's ways are just the opposite of the world's ways.  God will bless people who show mercy to others.  He will have compassion on people who also have compassion on other people.

The Apostle Paul instructs us to, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Therefore, when you see or know of someone in need, help that person.  Have compassion!  Show mercy!  You will be blessed in more than one way by God the Father.

Who knows?!?!  You may be that person who is in need some day.  You may need someone to have compassion and show mercy to you one day.  So, be aware.  Be compassionate.  Show mercy.  Be the great caring person God created you to be for His purpose.

Copyright 2012 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.