Monday, June 18, 2018

Listen Up!


Red Rose Flower




Listening is a lost art in today's society. People enjoy being the center of attention, and do not want to take the time to really listen to anyone else.

We may ask, "How are you?", but we quit paying attention before they even answer our question. We are easily distracted and have no real interest in hearing the answer.

We listen to other conversations around us to see if there is anyone talking about something more interesting to us than the conversation we are participating in at that moment.

This lack of interest in what we have to say leaves the wounded, hurting multitudes of people in our world to shut down emotionally, and to bury their secret and most vulnerable needs, hopes and feelings.

Sometimes we stop talking, but we do not really listen. We do not really hear what the other person is saying, because we are too busy thinking about the next statement we want to make.

However, learning the art of ”active" listening is a skill worth cultivating. It shows the speaker that we consider their thoughts and feelings as important as our own.

Even if the person is bringing up an issue with something we have done, we can actively listen, clarify rather than assuming what they mean, resist getting defensive or accusing and ask for forgiveness.

Active listening takes effort and a desire to connect soul-to-soul with another human being. We are not just sharing information, but attempting to elicit empathy or understanding for what we are going through.

Our motive for sharing is not really for the other person to fix our problem, but we are asking for them to show that they really care about how we feel about our issue. We want to bond, not just impart data.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to stop wishing that our friend/mate would hurry and finish their story so that we can start our next monologue. Remind us that dialog is what communication is really all about. Help us to mute the TV, or our tunes, and to light up when they come into the room. Show us how to focus our attention so that we can help them to feel cherished and important.

Remind us to allow them to finish talking before assuming what they are going to say and interrupting their flow of thought with our own information, similar story or advice without really listening to them until they are finished talking. Help us to really see and hear one another and to constantly listen to Your Spirit's direction for each moment of our life.

Thought for the Day:
Even when someone disagrees, or has a criticism of us, it is important to listen to what they have to say without zoning out or interrupting them.



For information on active listening skills, check out this webpage:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#3b73d3cd3891

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Fulfilling Relationship

Free stock photo of colorful, flower, pollen, bloom


There are so many widows, widowers, divorcees, and single people in today's society who are looking for fulfillment. They hope for a perfect match in a spouse, but they often settle for second best, just because they are lonely and feel incomplete.

Some single people find the love of their life, they enjoy a fulfilling relationship for many years; but then the relationship changes due to the stresses of life and overly committed busyness.  

This starts a downward spiral that produces feelings of emotional and physical hunger, because our mate does not fulfill our needs. Then, resentment, bitterness and anger develop in our heart and fill our every thought.

We all want intimacy, union, companionship, friendship and a deep, abiding love. The desire of our heart is to find someone to understand us, respect us, and to love us unconditionally for who we are.

We all need someone who will have compassion on our weaknesses, because they know that they have issues too; someone who will appreciate our strengths and allow them to help with their weaknesses, as their strengths help to heal our short-comings.

Yet, people tend to disappoint us, break their promises to us, emotionally and physically withdraw from or abuse us, and fill their life with busyness until we are taken for granted, and are all but excluded from their schedule.

Men generally crave respect, verbal affirmation, acts of service and admiration. Women desire to feel cherished, appreciated, financially solvent, protected, as well as to experience romance and intimacy.

Most of us live an unfulfilled life, however. One reason for this is that our body and soul are alive, but we are dragging around a spirit, which is dead in sin that we inherited from our ancestors and that we perpetuate by our own carnal lifestyle (Deuteronomy 5:9; Romans 5:12).

Jesus promises to be our Redeemer, but also a mate to us (Isaiah 54:5-6). Unless our spirit is Born Again by the Spirit of God through faith in the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, we will never feel completely fulfilled.

When we feel deserted, wounded in spirit and rejected by people, Jesus within us will be our devoted and compassionate mate. His authentic Believers are His forever bride (Hosea 2:16, 19; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

Prayer:
Father God, prove to us that we do not need a mate to be happy in this life. We have all we need in You, and You live within our spirit by Your Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). If we are unhappy with our mate, help us to change our focus to see the good in them, and not to focus on their annoying or discouraging points.

Help us to aid one another to heal from our past wounds, and to walk in Your freedom together. We know that You will fill the hole in our heart and put a mental and emotional barrier between us and any abusive or neglectful behavior from our spouse. We look to You and not to people to help us to feel fulfilled in this life now and for all eternity.

Thought for the Day:
If a mate is what God desires for us, He will bring him/her along in His timing and way - sometimes, in the most unexpected manner; as we seek Him first, He will provide for us everything that we ever need.



Saturday, June 16, 2018

Healing Past Memories Frees Our Future

Green Grass Field and Mountain



At times, we act unbecomingly in our current life, because we are fueled by the experiences of our past. As we age, we bury these past issues in our subconscious mind, and we think they are forgotten.

Until we heal these unresolved issues, we can never forget them; and they influence every moment of our present life. The mental and emotional baggage of our past is like an anchor around our soul.

Our intimacy with God and our human relationships are hindered by the wounds of our past. We act out negatively, and wonder why we thought, felt, said or acted in such a weird way.

Satan is right there continually dragging up those old injuries, and the lies he planted in each one of them. We either feel isolated from others, or we put on a mask and play the clown, or we invent a personality that is more attractive to others; however, this is not our true self.

Sometimes, we feel intense anger or despondency that is far more forceful than the situation calls for. Those we should be closest to, like friends and family, often abandon and reject us. We feel misunderstood and alone.

In order to survive our childhood, we attempted to control our circumstances so that we could feel safe. People labeled us as rebellious, distant, angry, stubborn, controlling, etc.

In adulthood, we sabotage our relationships by our domineering, wary, fearful and insecure attitude. This is a consequence of our attempt to avoid our past trauma and to prevent future pain, but we fail every time.

Thankfully, our Father God uses this residual pain from our past to guide us on a healing expedition to secure a peaceful and joyful future.

He teaches us to place boundaries around relationships that continually hurt us, and He gives us His love for these people so that we can remain in a relationship with them.

Prayer:
Father God, we are so glad that You know the truth about our experiences and that You want to heal the pain of our past and set us free to live a more fulfilling future (Psalm 34:18). Thank You for giving us Your wisdom concerning the root of our current bizarre behavior, and for healing us from the pain of our past.
( http://www.transformationprayer.org/supplemental-training-menu/ )

You allowed us to be born into our natural family in order to teach us lessons that we would need in our adult life. You never allow us to experience negative issues without Your presence in our life, even before we accept Jesus' sacrifice as payment for our sins. We praise You for Your gracious and generous love, hope, peace, joy and provision for us during all the days of our life.

Thought for the Day:
God is close to those who suffer mental, emotional and physical loss, and He heals those who are brokenhearted and crushed in both our spirit and our soul - our mind, emotions and will.
- Psalm 34:18


Friday, June 15, 2018

Come As a Child


Free stock photo of nature, bird, water, animal


We desire, throughout our entire childhood, to be a self-governing adult - especially in our teen years. Yet, once we step out of the submissive role into an independent role, we feel the full weight of the responsibility of adulthood come crashing down on us.

It's tough to be a grown-up. One of the aspects of the Christian life that I rejoice in the most is that we can be called the children of God (1 John 3:1). No matter how many mistakes we make, our Daddy God never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

His loving grace and mercy are always there to restore us to intimate fellowship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:9). Our Heavenly Father longs for us to come to Him with childlike, passionate, and eager trust, and to have faith in His faithfulness (Matthew 18:3).

Although this is not always true, due to menacing human behavior toward children in our world, a child is normally full of innocence, creativity, hope, playfulness, optimism and joy. There is a noticeable lack of cynicism and untrusting attitudes.

A child is happy just playing with a box, and does not need the expensive toy that came inside. They view life in black and white, and do not worry about the gray areas.

A little child delights in learning the ways of God, reading about His feats on behalf of Biblical heroes, and walking in simplistic faith devoid of personal expectations. They play freely, chasing the leaves in the wind, blowing bubbles, swimming and swinging for hours at a time.

I continually ask God's help to live as a little child. I rely on Him for every area of my life. I even ask Him to help me to open stuck lids, to send more customers to our little café ministry, to find shoe strings when I'm trying to make it to work on time, to discover sources for organic food to keep my body safe from chemicals, etc.

The more we consult Him for His will for each moment of our day, the more peace, gladness and success we enjoy. We follow the guidance of His Holy Spirit, who puts us in the right place at the right time to experience divinely inspired moments.

Prayer:
Father God, we see the fruit of our spiritual labors, and we feel our unity with Your Trinity growing deeper and more intimate with each encounter. Nothing can ever separate us from Your multi-dimensional love (Romans 8:35-39). Satan may attempt to side-track or discourage us; but as we draw near to You and resist the devil's lies and thoughts, he has to flee from us (James 4:7).

As we age, life's roadblocks disillusion us, people let us down, promises are broken, and we live with often debilitating disappointments. Yet, when we trust You, our perspective about life changes. We learn to rely on You for every little thing, as well as the big, scary things that threaten to overwhelm us (Proverbs 3:5-6). Thank You for adopting authentic Believers into Your family, and lavishing Your love on us.

Thought for the Day:
Children have no expectations or preconceived ideas, until they formulate their opinions as they age and experience the hardships and disillusionments of life.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Good Marriage - Our Expectations

Black Pathway Between Green Trees Towards Body of Water during Daytime


Satan will make sure that our family and friends speak disparaging remarks about our mate. They will listen to our complaints and agree with us, embellishing our remarks with inflated thoughts of their own.

We have unmet needs that we expect our mate to fulfill for us. They may have no clue about our needs; or they may know what we want, but feel overwhelmed by our expectations.

At times, we are too honest in expressing our opinions, beliefs or disappointments. We may assume that we know why our mate said or did something, but we end up misunderstanding the clues and jumping to the wrong conclusions.

We can learn to be honestly grateful for every gift, act of service, amount of quality time, physical touch, or word of affirmation and encouragement our mate takes the time to share with us.

We can show appreciation for the simplest chore, like taking out the garbage or washing dishes and clothes every day, to the most difficult task, such as building furniture or painting the house.

Rather than harboring expectations, we can practice relieving one another's burdens. Bringing supper home from the deli, taking the perma-press to the dry cleaners, hiring a neighborhood teen to mow the lawn, washing each other's car and filling the tank when the gas is low, etc. speak volumes to our mate about the fact that we notice all they do to make our life better.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that You exhort us that it is better not to make a vow at all, than to make a vow and break it (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5). Remind us that the commitment that we make in our marriage vows are not idle words, but promises that we should be willing to live up to and achieve.

You initiated marriage so that we can model Christ's union with Jesus' Bride - the church. Teach us to serve, submit to and prefer one another before our own self. With Christ in us, we can step aside and allow Him to unconditionally love our mate through us.

Thought for the Day:
"Happily Ever After" does not happen automatically after the marriage vows; this state of fulfillment takes work, premeditated service, altering our selfishness, and a commitment to make one another glad they married us.




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Standing Firm in Our Faith


Free stock photo of landscape, nature, sky, water 


Negative emotions are given to us by God. They are red flags to show us that our soul is troubled by some person, place or circumstance in our life.  God knows the source and origin of each one of these emotions.

These red flags are often linked to negative emotions that we felt in the past, which have festered over the years in our subconscious mind. They continue to cause us pain, discomfort and spiritual unrest.

Due to Satan's lies that we unwittingly believe as truth, we fall victim to negative emotions from time to time. We give in to depression and anxiety, and we often feel overwhelmed, misunderstood, and falsely accused.

Our soul is cluttered, scattered, and divided between too many people, places, things and events.  Stress and anxiety result from this busyness, and we realize that we are on the brink of mental, physical and emotional burnout.

God's Word cautions us to guard against this weariness by standing firm in our faith, having courage by the Spirit, and gaining our strength solely from the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:13).

We eventually realize that no amount of worldly accomplishments brings us fulfillment. If we are not filled with God's love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2), until we choose to walk in faithfulness to King Jesus, and to focus our heart and mind on His Word (Psalm 119:30).

The work of God is simply to believe in Jesus whom He sent (John 6:29). Believing God's Word and walking in His Spirit allows us to slow down and to stop moving so fast. We receive whatever we need to walk in God's will for our life (Matthew 21:22).

As we slow down our life, simplify our possessions and activities, and spend each moment in prayer for guidance from God's Spirit, we experience fewer negative emotions, and we are set free from past pain that haunted us, so that we can stand firm in our faith.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to walk in Your ways and not to rely on our human understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We want to live as an example to others in our words, actions, love, trust and holiness (1 Timothy 4:12). Thank You for enabling us to follow the path of our negative emotions until we discover the origin of them and resolve the issue.

We want to focus on Jesus, who gave us His faith and who will perfect it in us. We follow His example of keeping our focus on the joy awaiting us in eternity as we sit down at Your right hand (Hebrews 12:2). Thank You for making us a part of Your Body, for maturing our faith, and for increasing our love for one another (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Thought for the Day:
If we believe in Jesus, as the Bible describes Him for us, His rivers of living water will flow through us and from us to the world all around us. - John 7:38



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Passing Our Faith on to the Next Generation


Sunflower during Sunset

I am so glad that Paul mentioned the role that Timothy's mother and grandmother played in Timothy's spiritual walk (2 Timothy 1:5; Acts 16:1). Their example as Godly women made a huge impact in his life.

We may get discouraged, because some of our children or grandchildren ignore, and at times, disdain our Christian witness. This does not mean that we are necessarily at fault - although if we are condemning or hypocritical in some area, we may be the culprit.

It means that they looked at our life, and chose instead, with their free will that God gives to all of us, to reject the Light and Living Water in us, and to listen to the lies of the devil and the deceitfulness of the world (Romans 1:32, 12:2; John 3:19).

We can still love and accept them as a person, even if we cannot approve of or affirm their lifestyle and choices. Our paramount need and responsibility is to stay on our knees, asking God to help them to see Jesus as their Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6).

When we consider the purposes of God, and the resources of His glorious spiritual riches, we pray that God will strengthen their inner being and shower them with His abounding love. This will enable them to repent of their sins and actually allow Christ to abide in their heart by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:16).

Our children, nieces and nephews, neighborhood children, and children in our church family are all our mission field. We are called by God to impart to them our love for Jesus, as well as our devotion to His Kingdom above any duty we feel toward this world.

We start by loving them as Christ loves us. We live honestly before them - admitting when we make mistakes, and apologizing to them when we are wrong. God give us the humility and grace to do this honestly and sincerely.

Prayer:
Father God, we want Your Holy Spirit to continually transform us into the likeness of Jesus every single day. We do not want to grow cold toward You or Your Kingdom, but to live as passionate followers of Christ during every moment of our life (Revelations 3:15-16). Thank You for loving us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

Place us in our community as a light on the hill (Matthew 5:14). We want others to be drawn to You through Your Light and Living Water flowing out of us (John 4:4-26). We totally surrender our goals, desires, and will to Your Spirit; and we want nothing more in this life than to be Your servant (1 Corinthians 7:22) and a vessel for Your glory (Romans 9:23).

Thought for the Day:
As we invite God to be glorified in us, we can be an example of a Christ-centered life through our word and deeds in our home, vocation, church family and community.