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Posts from the ‘Thoughts from Susan’ Category

Give us this day our daily WHAT?

Daily BreadMany Christians regularly recite the “Lord’s Prayer” at home and during their church services. And a lot of people use Jesus’ teaching about how to pray in Luke 11 as a model or an outline.

One of the instructions from our Lord is to ask our Father in Heaven to “give us this day our daily bread.”

Now, I don’t think Jesus was talking about literal bread! But instead, He was teachings us to ask God to meet our daily needs for food, clothing, shelter, and all the other things we need for a well-lived life.

So here is my question . . . do you know how much you need for your “daily bread?” In a time when so many men, women and couples struggle with financial pressures, this can be a very important number to know! And it can also start you on a path to peace and security.

And then when we know the number, just like Jesus tells us to do, we can pray with clarity and specificity “give us this day our daily bread.”

Your daily bread is an easy number to compute. You add up all your expenses (remember to include those that you pay only once or twice a year). Figure out how much you need for a full year . . . and then divide that figure by 365. Voilah! Now you know how much you need for your daily bread! See, it’s easy.

Now here are the challenges that many people have:

First, they never do the work to see how much they really need to live on! And when you don’t know how much you need, it’s almost impossible to stay within good stewardship boundaries (that’s another way of saying a budget). This is especially true for those who don’t have lots of money coming into their coffers each and every month! So you don’t know where you are. You don’t know where you are going (a money plan). And thus, you have no idea what to do next to manage your finances.

Second, so many people live without a spending plan! Actually, I can understand why. When you look at a lot of the plans financial experts suggest – they just seem too complicated and hard to manage. So, folks give up or never get started in the first place.

I used to be that way until I created the “Six Pots System” I use for my financial matters. Not only is this helpful for managing and tracking my household expenses, but it also serves as a really great system for setting goals and working toward growth. I think one reason the Six Pot System is so successful is that it’s balanced and takes into account how real people live and what we really need to stay on track.

I can’t go into all the details about this in one short article, but here is the gist of the system. There are Six Pots that “hold” the money that comes into my household. And then the funds are distributed according to the designated pots:

Tithing 10%
Investment 10% (never spent)
Fun 10%
Education and Spiritual Development 10%
Savings for Spending 10% (for occasional expenses)
Household Expenses 50% (housing, food, utilities, etc.)

Every dollar is divided according to the percentages and allocated into one of these pots . . . and then the funds are spent only in that manner.

Using this Six Pot System – along with what I’ve learned about God being my Source and how to pray about financial matters – has eliminated the confusion for managing a home budget. Plus, it’s so easy and keeps me on track!

So, how much do you need for your “daily bread?” Do yourself a favor and figure it out!

And then, take some time and figure out your own Six Pot allocations! You might need to shift some of the percentages at first. But I can promise that using this system to manage your money . . . and then to come to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to “give us this day our daily bread” when you really know what you are praying for . . . will make a huge difference in your life!

If you want even more help, check out The Daniel Fast for Financial Breakthrough (best viewed using Internet Explorer). Many people use it whether they are fasting or not . . . and so many have experienced the breakthrough they need and the financial security and peace they want and that the Lord wants for them and YOU!

Be Love

Be Love

My morning started off heavy today. I read a note from a business friend who is really struggling with all the stress and sadness in the world. She’s been through some tough experiences in the recent past that contributed to her blues. But she mainly wrote about the heaviness and darkness she was feeling.

She didn’t end her message in sadness, but rather how she was able “get through” this experience with the help of her husband, family and friends. And so she’s doing better.

But her message caused me to reflect on the really tough times we are in these days. The atrocities going on in Iraq. Natural disasters all over the world. The sad loss of Robin Williams, who for many was a beacon of fun and laughter. And then there are the personal stresses so many are facing with financial pressures, broken relationships, illnesses and disappointments in life.

What Do We Do?

So my first response was to seek the Lord and ask, “What do we do, Father? What do I do?” And the answers were quick and clear.

First is that as children of the Most High God, you and I can put our trust in Him. Even if we don’t understand or if we have questions, our trust can be deeply rooted in knowing that our Father is solid and that He will care for us. We have a security that those who don’t yet know Christ don’t have. And so we can sink into the assurance that our Lord will always be with us. He will never forsake us. And we can count on Him. He says, “Fear not.” And that’s because we can rely on Him and His promises.

The second answer was, “Be love.”

You and are in “in the world, but not of it” (study John 15 and 17). And our hope is not from this world, or circumstances, or even other people, but in Christ. However, we are surrounded by men, women and children who need love. Who need light. Who need hope.

You and I have the love, light and hope of Jesus inside of us. And the world needs what we have! So I encourage you to “be love” to those you meet today and tomorrow and the next day. Whether it’s at the checkout stand at the grocery store or passing someone on the sidewalk. Be kind to your coworkers and your business associates and customers. Be especially loving and caring to your family members and your friends and your neighbors.

Being love to others is always the right thing to do. But today is a really good time to be especially vigilant and purposeful in being love to those we encounter. “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

We have the light of life inside of us, not to keep to ourselves. Instead, our light is to be shared. God is love. He is inside of us. And we can be His love today to those He leads across our paths.

Be blessed.

 

 

 

When Will We Really Get It?

No Fear Here!Do you know that you and I have everything we need inside of us to be successful, happy and full of joy?

Even as the world seems to crumble around us, we have something non-believers don’t have and that only translates to goodness and success.

The problem is that we “don’t get it.” We’re the same as those who Jesus lamented over when He said, “Oh you of little faith.”

And because of our “little faith,” studies show that Christians have the same problems and challenges as everybody around us. We have the same relationship problems. We have the same money problems. We have the same health problems. We have the same defeats and brokenness as those who don’t know Christ. And why? Because of our little faith.

“Little faith” doesn’t mean small in amount. The Bible teaches us that we are all given the same “measure of faith.” Our measure of faith is similar to the measure of physical muscles. Two people can stand side-by-side and they both have the same number of muscles in their body. But one works their muscles and so they grow larger and stronger. If that same person stops exercising, then the muscles atrophy and return to their weakened and smaller state.

The same is true with our faith. It’s like a muscle. And the more we exercise our faith, the stronger it gets and the more assurance we have in God and His truths.

My Days of Weak Faith

I remember when I realized my faith was very weak. I was at a crisis point in my life and I had no where in the world to turn. In 2007, the U.S. economy started coming apart. My real estate investing business was hit hard. I stayed afloat by using my business reserves. But then they ran out. So had to layoff my employees and close my office.

I moved my operation into my home office because I still had work crews and properties to manage. I tapped into my personal savings to cover my expenses. But eventually those funds ran out, too. I was flat broke. And that’s when I came to the end of myself. That’s when I realized that I was of “little faith,” especially when compared to my big problems. I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t know how I could pay my bills. I didn’t even have enough money to put gas in my car or heat my house.

Even though I had been a Christian for decades and active in the church and in ministry I had never been so challenged. I felt as if the crutches that had held me up over the years had been knocked out from under me. And I fell to the ground with no helping had to get me up . . .

Only God

This was a huge turning point in my life. I had only God to turn to. Only God to rely on. Only God to help me. And today I praise only God for seeing me through and showing me how to develop my faith muscles so that He could be all that I would ever need.

God lifted me out of that dark and very scary time and put me on a path for security and success that I never could have seen for myself. He led me back into writing to start teaching about the Daniel Fast. Later that expanded into helping Christians integrate their faith in every part of their lives, including health, finances, business development and relationships.

God saw me through and ever since then I have been working my faith muscles so that they are getting stronger and more able every day! Now I now for sure that every promise in His Word is true and available for anyone who will believe. And now I no longer have “little faith,” but instead a strong and growing faith that not only gives me the assurance and security for a joy-filled life. But also the ability to fulfill God’s call on my life to be a witness of His goodness and bring Him the glory.

That is the good news of the gospel! And this same good news is in you!

Where is your home? The kingdom or the world?

What if I told you that you just won a ticket to take up residence in a land where everything is perfect? No money worries. No strife. No politics. No crime. Everybody loves each other. And whenever you need something, all you have to do is ask and it’s yours! And these are just some of the benefits of becoming a full-fledged citizen under this government.

Sounds inviting, right? Just think of what life would be if we lived there!

The truth is, as soon as you make Jesus the Lord of your life, you do have that invitation. And you are indeed a citizen of a new kingdom (Philippians 3:20). The Kingdom of God!

The problem is that few of us who have that almost too good to be true entitlement really understand it or take advantage of our rights and privileges. I was that way for a long time. But now that I’m learning more and more about it . . . my life has become amazingly better! And the same can happen to anyone. As we know, God is not a respecter of persons. We all have the same opportunities and benefits if we choose to “go there.”

Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:33 that our Father has already made provision for everything we need, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And a central part of our faith life is learning about the ways of the kingdom and how we “live” there.

Granted, we currently have “dual citizenship.” Jesus prayed to our Father about it, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

We are still “in the world.” And we have work to do in the “family business.” But our home, the place where our heart and hope can reside, is in the kingdom of God. And we don’t have to wait until we leave this world to access the benefits of our “new birth” rights!

Our kingdom life includes rights, privileges, benefits, protection and complete security. And it also includes laws, systems and duties. Jesus came to earth to set up this new kingdom:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

And even when Jesus taught the disciples to pray . . . He instructed them to live the kingdom way now, while here on the earth, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Luke 11:2

When asked where this Kingdom of God would come from, Jesus responded with an answer that most didn’t understand then and most don’t understand now, “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

So what does that mean for you and me today?

I’ve learned that we first must accept that this kingdom is true and that it is ours. And that we are bonafide citizens with papers to prove it! Look what Paul said, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” And from what John saw in his vision: “But there shall by no means enter [the new kingdom] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27

Your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life when you make Jesus your Lord. That’s your legal paperwork to be a full-fledged citizen of God’s kingdom.

Once we have established the truth of the kingdom and our citizenship in it . . . we must live out what Jesus said, “They are in the world, but not of it.” Instead, our life is grounded and based on our first home – our kingdom home. We live from that place while we “operate” in the world. We decide that God is who He says He is. That He will do what He says He will do in His Word. And that means that we can have what He says we can have! Anything contrary to God’s truth is also contrary to us! And why? Because we have rights, privileges, benefits, laws, duties and precept upon which we base all of what we believe and upon which we act!

When we examine our own lives and find areas that are not aligned with God’s ways for the kingdom, then we change. Just like Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” When the word “repent” is translated it means “change.” Change the way you are thinking. Change the way you are living. There is so much more here now because of the kingdom of God. Believe in this good news . . . the gospel! And live this way! Seek first the kingdom of God and His right way of doing things and then you will have everything you need!

His right way of doing things are the teachings of Jesus, who only taught what He already heard from the Father. These are the commandments or the laws of God’s kingdom. And they are all covered in His Word. It’s not the way the world lives . . . it’s a different way of being. Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

The kingdom of God is the truth . . . and the truth will make you free. You are a member of a new land. The invitation has been issued. All you need to do is accept it, take the hand of your Lord, and live this new life! Just like Paul instructed in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

And why is the emphasis on “the renewal of the mind?” Because the kingdom of God is within. We need to believe it and then let the truth of God rule our lives . . . our kingdom lives! That is the transformation we go after and that only leads to good.

Is the Daniel Fast being hijacked?

Spiritual Fasting

I started teaching Christians about the Daniel Fast in 2007. If you’ve read my book, The Daniel Fast: feed your soul, strengthen your spirit and renew your body, then you know that this all came about when I received a word from the Lord to “write about the Daniel Fast.” And my greatest desire is to support and guide men, women and teens so they can have a successful fasting experience.

Since that time I have taught hundreds of thousands of people about the fast in one degree or another. And my team and I have responded to tens of thousands of men and women when they have questions about the Daniel Fast.

One thing I know for sure: the Daniel Fast is a powerful spiritual experience that truly can bring amazing revelations, blessings, intimacy with the Lord and much more to those who engage in the fast. Prayers are answered. Lives are touched. Addictions are broken. Bodies are healed. Relationships are strengthened. And God is glorified!

But lately, and this has all accelerated over the last six months are so, it seems like the true Daniel Fast is being hijacked and unknowing people suffer the consequences. Let me explain what I mean:

One of the most powerful lessons we can learn during the Daniel Fast is strengthening our faith muscles by putting our flesh in its proper place! What is that proper place? Submitted to the Spirit of God! The Bible teaches us this, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. Also, we are called to this truth, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13.

During the Daniel Fast you will wrestle with the flesh. Your flesh will want certain foods that aren’t allowed on the fast. It will whine because it can’t have coffee, tea, soda or juice to drink. And every time you tell your flesh to “take the backseat, I am living according to the Spirit” we grow in our faith. Self-control is practiced. Walking according to the Spirit is experienced. Submission happens.

In our culture today almost everything around us encourages us to pander to the desires of the flesh. It’s an “if I want it, I buy it” mindset. Or an “if I want it, I eat it” way of living. Feed me. Make it delectable. Don’t make me wait. I want it now!

So what does this have to do with the Daniel Fast? And why do I wonder if it’s being hijacked?

In today’s Internet world and the easy and quick access to information, it only takes a computer and a few keystrokes to “publish information.” And with the introduction of self-published digital books including Kindle and Nook, it’s easy for anyone to present their offerings to the world for their consumption.

What am I seeing? A multitude of books and publications being presented about the Daniel Fast that overflow with errors, nurture the flesh, and guide people away from the amazing experiences they can have. It’s like thousands of men and women are walking on a path wanting a powerful spiritual experience using the Daniel Fast. They come to a table piled with books with enticing words and pictures of food! The covers and descriptions include messages like these:

  • Daniel Fast Smoothies: Scrumptious and Nutritious Blend of Flavors That Make Up a Mouth Watering Array of Smoothie Beverages
  • The Daniel Fast Made Delicious
  • Daniel Fast Desserts: a Tempting Assortment of Dessert Meals that Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
  • Daniel Fast Desserts: Over 20 Sweet Treat Recipes for Your Daniel Fast

And here’s one that lifted part of the title of my book to promote their offering: Daniel Fast Cookbook: Feed Your Soul and Strengthen Your Spirit with Over 30 Delicious Recipes.

The photo on this book includes eggs, cheese, ham, jam, raised breads, milk and other food not allowed on the Daniel Fast! Just one example!

The photo on this book cover includes eggs, cheese, ham, jam, raised breads, milk, juice, coffee and other foods not allowed on the Daniel Fast! Just one example if the Daniel Fast being hijacked!

So you choose one of the “Daniel Fast books” that feeds your flesh in a “tantalizing” and “scrumptious way” and you keep moving down the path. But here’s the problem, you unknowingly have taken a detour. This detour takes you on a path to satisfy your flesh. “Wow! I don’t have to give up sweet foods. I can make these yummy cookies.” “Oh, look here. I can have all these delectable dishes! I don’t have to deny myself at all. This is great!” And you keep moving along.

Meanwhile, you miss out on the treasure that you could have had if you would have had a true guidebook and entered this spiritual experience as it was originally intended: a powerful, consecrated time of extended prayer and fasting so you can draw closer to God, develop your faith, and learn how to walk according to the spirit rather than by the desires of the flesh.

I understand that the Daniel Fast, being a partial fast, presents some challenges about food. Is it okay to enjoy the foods you eat while on the fast? What about preparing meals for others?

And here is where you, as a follower of Jesus Christ and as a temple of the Holy Spirit, can exercise your discernment. Are you feeding your body? Or are you indulging your flesh? Are you staying within the boundaries of a spiritual experience? Or are you figuring out ways you can stay within the food guidelines but still meet the needs of the flesh by concocting “tantalizing” recipes?

There are times when there’s a fine line when it comes to eating some foods or making up some recipes while on the fast. But I also know that we have a Guide inside of us who will show us the direction that will best meet our desire for spiritual growth.

We have a choice when we enter into an extended period of prayer and fasting using the Daniel Fast. We can “seek first the kingdom of God” and consecrate ourselves for the time and gain in maturity and understanding. Or, we can continue to pander to the flesh and have a mediocre experience with some benefits . . . but still missing out on the supernatural blessings the Lord wants to deliver.

Paul says this, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

And here is even a stronger message from Paul: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Romans 8:5-7

Like I mentioned, I have been teaching about the Daniel Fast for many years. The Lord has blessed me with the assignment. And I am humbled when I hear from men, women and teens that have been powerfully touched by the experiences they’ve had while in the Daniel Fast. I know the potential of this fast! I have heard and read the testimonies of thousands! And that’s why I am saddened to see what is happening.

My hope is that people on the path toward their fasting experience will allow the Lord, and not their flesh, to direct their steps. And that they will indeed be able to receive the amazing and powerful gifts, blessings, revelations, and answers to prayer that are available to them.

Okay . . . end of rant! But I do ask you that, as someone who has taken the time read this article, help me and others keep the Daniel Fast the powerful spiritual experience it can be. Let’s work together to keep the main thing the main thing . . . and that is submitting ourselves to God as we enter into a time of extended prayer and fasting and open our hearts to Him so we can be transformed into the people He calls us to be! The Daniel Fast is not about the food! It’s about entering into a spiritual experience that brings us closer to God and allows Him to shower us with the blessings and gifts He so wants us to have.  Please, help me to preserve the true purpose of this method of fasting!

Click here to receive Daniel Fast helps and tips.

Daniel Fast for Lent – Finish Strong

DF Finish Strong Challenge

You are moving toward the end of the race! In less than two weeks you will cross over the finish line and enter into a celebration for Easter Sunday!

So today, I want to challenge and encourage you to finish strong! To really “go for it” for this last stretch in the Lenten Journey and cross that finish line with excitement and success!

Perhaps you’ve fallen off the path. Maybe you got frustrated or unmotivated. Maybe you encountered stumbling blocks and haven’t been able to stick with the Daniel Fast for Lent as you had intended. You may even feel like a failure.

But remember this, you only fail if you stay down. You only fail when you keep limping along when you have the ability to pick up the pace and start running again!

So right now I am urging you to brush yourself off and begin tomorrow morning with a refreshed desire to finish the race you started and to finish it strong. Here is what I am going to do to finish strong:

  • Eat according to the Daniel Fast Guideline every day between now and the end of the Lenten Fast (complete on Easter Eve) except for Sundays.
  • Walk at least 30 minutes each day (I walk and pray at the same time – and it’s so wonderful to be with God in this way)
  • Meet daily with my God and open my heart to Him and His Word.

Will you join me? Will you shake off any apathy, mistakes, discouragement . . . and get back in the race?

If you’re ready to finish this Lenten Fast with enthusiasm, strength and success, just leave your reply below! And then get up tomorrow morning with a new bounce in your step and let’s get running!

Love and peace to you! I know you can do it!

Click this link to download a form to keep track of your progress! I Will Finish Strong

LEAVE YOUR REPLY BELOW!

Are you ready for the “change points” in your life?

Change PointAs we navigate our life journey we all encounter what I call “change points” along the way. These are those life-altering experiences that require or cause us to change how we will go forward.

Right now, I have several friends who are experiencing change points in their lives. Megha is a lovely woman who is married and has two small children. She is also the owner of a small business. That’s how I met her – through an association of which we both are members.

Earlier this week Megha and her assistant Jane drove from Florida to North Carolina to attend some meetings. Megha brought along her infant son for the four-day excursion because of his young age.  While Megha was in the meetings, Jane watched the baby.

On their way back to Florida, while traveling on a busy freeway, a teenage girl was driving and it seems she was texting or using her telephone at the same time. She lost control of her car and crashed into Megha’s vehicle, almost folding it in half!

Fast forward, Jane was banged up, but no broken bones. The baby was injured, but doctors say the recovery will be quick, mostly because babies heal faster than adults. Meanwhile, Mehga suffered serious injuries. Her pelvis and both her hips where shattered, along with lots of critical bangs and bruises. The doctors say she won’t be able to stand for at least two to three months.  Clearly, this is a change point in Megha’s life and the life of her family!

Kim is another friend. Her husband has been ill for a long time, but now it seems that he is on the final leg of his journey here on earth.  I just received a message from Kim reporting that today her husband is in the hospital, but will soon come back home and eventually to be transferred to hospice care. Kim and her husband are experiencing change points in their lives.

Frances is a woman I’ve known for many years. A few weeks ago, I received a message from her husband Brian telling me that he had taken Frances to the doctor for a checkup. About five years ago, she had been diagnosed with cancer and was successfully treated for it. But now, after getting many test results, the doctor told Brian and Frances that the cancer had returned in a very aggressive form and that she likely only had four to six weeks to live. Change points taking place!

So here is why I am sharing these stories with you today. Every life has change points. They come in varied forms. They can be a car accident. The loss of a job.  A serious illness. An unwanted divorce. A death in the family. A financial hardship. Every person’s life will have change points. They happen. They are a given. And we don’t always have control over the change points that will happen to us. And sometimes they are not by our choice!

But what we do have control over . . . and what is our choice . . . is how we live our lives today so when the change points do enter we are better prepared. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When our faith is strong and we trust God with our lives, we are prepared in the best way for the change points (tribulations) that are part of this world experience. We can go through the encounters with the peace of Christ in our hearts. And we can walk through the storm with assurance that He will see us through. We don’t walk alone. We don’t fear. We don’t get “undone” when we face the sure to come change points in our life.

The key is that we need to always be prepared if we want that peace that passes all understanding to be present in our lives. The peace is available to us, but it is received into our hearts as we love the Lord our God with all our hearts. It comes when we seek first the kingdom of God and His right way of living. It comes when we love Jesus and obey His teachings.

My friend Megha came very close to not surviving the car accident. But her doctors said that her faith played an essential role in her being able to hang on and make it during those critical hours. Megha was prepared. Her faith was strong . . . and even in her physical brokenness her faith is getting stronger every day as she experiences the love of God working in her life.

How about you? How is your faith today?

That’s a question we each should ask ourselves. Are we prepared for the change points that could happen to us when we least expect? Are we working those faith muscles consistently so they stay strong and are ready for when heavy lifting is required?

I hope you are strong in your relationship with God. If not, I encourage you to start today to get stronger in your faith and make sure you are prepared. Your Lord wants you ready! He wants you well-prepared. He wants you to experience the peace that is available to you!


If you want to explore a powerful resource to help you develop your faith and increase your trust in God, check out Discovery, Faith and Transformation.

 

Your Faith? Is it strong? Atrophying? Weak?

Getting SrongOver and over again in the Bible, God’s handbook for us as followers of Jesus, we are called to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We’re also taught that it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Anyone who knows much about God and His Word knows that we need to have a strong and vibrant faith to live the life Jesus came to give us  . . . the kingdom of God lifestyle. He promises us peace, health, abundance, security, joy and blessings. But all of this is granted because of faith.

Faith is like a muscle. And every day it’s either getting stronger or it’s getting weaker. Our faith muscles can’t be left unattended to and then expected to be strong when we need them.

Building Weak faith muscles: I remember when my son was in high school. By the way, he is my adopted son from Ethiopia if you are wondering why our “family resemblance” is different.

Physical Muscles and Faith MusclesHe really wanted to have strong upper-body muscles. His natural build is very lean (even now as a 30 year-old man he only has 8% body fat). I have to admit that, while I supported his dream, I wasn’t too convinced he would achieve it. But day after day he spent time lifting weights. And a couple months later he was built in a very obvious and impressive way. He took his weak muscles and bit-by-bit and using consistency as his friend, he built his muscles up so they were strong.

Our faith muscles are the same way. They can be weak now, but if we engage in a consistent process of building them up, they will get stronger and stronger. And when some heavy lifting is needed – like prayers for financial needs, healing for a loved one, a change in a relationship – your faith will be strong and ready to act!

Atrophying faith muscles: Back to my son and his story. As long as he kept lifting weights on a consistent basis, his muscles stayed strong and his body chiseled with definition.  But then muscle building lost its priority in his life. He started attending college and also had a job. His social life took time, as well. So slowly his muscles got weaker and weaker. While he still looked healthy, his body no longer had that “built look.” His muscles had atrophied, which the dictionary defines as “degeneration due to lack of use.”

I know you can see how our faith can become weak if we don’t feed it or give our spirits the nourishment it needs on a consistent basis. I don’t know of a single Christian who hasn’t experienced a “weakening of faith.” It might come because we get distracted from daily faith-muscle building activities. Or we get so busy with the cares of this world that we don’t attend to our faith.  And in the same way our physical muscles don’t get weak all at once . . . the same goes with our faith muscles. Bit-by-bit they are strengthened . . . and bit-by-bit they grow weak. And sadly, we often times don’t realize how weak our faith muscles have become until we need them!

But praise be to God, we don’t have to stay that weak. We can start anew diligently seeking God and going after the prize of a strong, vibrant and effective faith that gets results in our lives.

Strong faith muscles: We can have strong faith! It’s available to us. But strong and effective faith isn’t just handed to us. Yes, God gives each person a measure of faith (Romans 12:2), just like our bodies all have physical muscles. The question is, what will we do with our muscles? Will we let them stay weak and undeveloped? Or, will we do the necessary “building of our faith” to get those muscles strong and ready to perform when needed?

The choice is ours. And in today’s age of information technology and the abundance of tools and resources that are available to us . . . if you can read this message . . . I can’t think of one reason why you, like me, can’t work on building our faith muscles every single day.

How to develop your faith: The number one key to getting our faith muscles strong is by being in God’s Word. He shows us! “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17.

Each day, get into His Word. And then use the helpful tools that are available to you. God has helped me create many tools to aid in the development of your faith. Use them . . . or use other tools you know will help you. My son needed to use weights to get strong. Those where his “helpful tools.” You too can use tools to help you!

But know this – couch potatoes don’t get strong muscles. Neither do inactive Christians get strong faith muscles. So make the choice. Commit to building your faith . . . and remember, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Your reward awaits you . . . if you choose to go after it. I so hope you do!

Be blessed!

I asked, “Why won’t she accept my help?”

What could be the reason?A long-time woman friend of mine is going through a really rough time. I’ve prayed for her over the years, but she still hasn’t chosen to believe in Jesus. Instead, she says she has “her own way of praying and meditating to all the gods including Jesus.”

She’s an older woman who hasn’t been in the workforce for many, many years. And right now she is facing some serious financial pressures. She needs a sizable number of dollars within the next several weeks.

She came to visit me the other night to ask for my advice. She said, “I don’t know where else to turn.” She wanted to know if I could help her find a way to earn the funds she needed. I was happy to offer my help because God has gifted me in being able to find a variety of ways to earn an income!

So we started talking and I began sharing simple solutions so she could start earning the funds she needed now. Plus, in the long-run it would put her on a path to earn in an ongoing way if she desired.

I presented an idea and an easy plan, and she figured out a way it wouldn’t work for her. So I would show her another way. And again, she found a a way for it not to work for her. And this went on and on for about 90 minutes.

I kept saying to myself, “Why won’t she let me help her?” The solutions I presented are proven. They can work! I had used them myself over the years. And I’ve seen other people being successful with them. And I knew my friend had the ability to have them work for her!

But there was something inside of her that kept her from taking that first step and accepting the help. So finally we stopped talking about solutions and I just told her, “When you’re ready, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you.”

So she left and still has the burden of needing to make the money. I continue to pray for her and sincerely hope she finds a way to get what she needs. And I’m really sorry she wouldn’t let me help her, because I can. I’ve helped so many others before. And I can help her, too.

So here is the point of this story . . . bear with me a bit longer:

A few months back, I encountered a serious problem with the last rental property I own (I used to have several, before God called me back to ministry). The renters stopped paying rent, wouldn’t communicate with me, and finally I had to evict them, which cost precious time and thousands of dollars in legal fees.

When I regained possession of the property (once a lovely three-bedroom home), I found it in deplorable conditions inside and out! It looked more like a dump and a slum dwelling. My insurance wouldn’t cover the $15,000 or more to rehab the home because they said it was “tenant vandalism” and it wasn’t covered on the policy.

So last night I received a call from a man I don’t even know. He said he lived near the property and realized I had been left with a disaster. We talked about it a bit, and then he offered to get a work party together to clean up the exterior.

I found myself resisting his “unmerited help.” I told the man I would call him back. When I hung up the phone I immediately prayed. And just as quickly the Lord said to me in my spirit, “You’ve been asking for My help with the problem for weeks. I am providing for you. Accept the offer. He is part of my solution for you!”

Then I realized, I had been resisting the help in the same way my friend was resisting help. That same “I can handle this on my own” attitude was in me! And the Lord was probably asking, “Why won’t she accept my help?”

So I experienced one of those “teachable moments” from the Lord. I realized that my resistance was really just pride showing up. And so I received the correction from my loving Father . . . and I made a plan to call the man today and accept his help to put together a work party to clean up the property.

The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

I don’t know for sure why my friend wouldn’t accept my help. But it’s likely fear or pride based. Just the same way I resisted the offer for help. I thank the Lord for helping me see this remnant of pride that was still in me and I am grateful for His instructions. Because now I am on my way, with my hand in His hand, to solve this property issue and bring it closer to full restoration!

I hope this story helps you to look for ways that you too might be resisting help from the Lord. Do you have challenges that you really need solved, but for some reason you’re resisting?

Examine your heart. What’s going on inside of you. Seek God’s wisdom to show you. And then accept His correction so you can move toward the success He wants you to have!

Be blessed!

Growth – a bit-by-bit process

Bit by bit

In today’s “instant” culture, we want change to happen right away. Words like “fast” and “easy” are like honey to our psyche that wants results now! But that’s not how growth and development work! And that’s not how God works when He is helping us become more like Jesus.

Think of seed planted in the ground. We know it takes time for that seed to experience the transformation it must go through before it can be sprout. And then the spout has more changes before it can become a plant and produce leaves. And then the plant must grow and mature before it can produce fruit!

Can you imagine standing over a little 12 inch high apple tree seedling and wondering why it isn’t producing apples? Or standing over a shoot of corn that has just broken through the ground and being upset because there are no ears of corn? That’s silly thinking, right?

Yet, that’s what happens to us when we don’t experience the transformation results we want in our lives. We wonder why God isn’t hearing our prayers. Or we say, “Oh, this stuff just doesn’t work.” Then we set aside the very practices that cause growth to happen . . . and go back to our carnal ways. That’s like yanking the seedlings out of the ground because they aren’t producing “fast enough.”

Growth happens bit-by-bit. It’s a process. And as long as we stay in the “hurry up” frame of mind, our growth will be hindered. Instead, to experience the change and transformation that we want in our Christian faith, we need to stay in the process. We need to nourish the soil (our heart) with the Word of God. We need to stay close to the Source of all life so we can be well watered. And we need to be patient, yet full of assurance, that the growth will happen.

God’s spiritual laws are always true. Similar to how the natural laws of creation are always truth (after all – He created those laws, also). So be patient. Stay in the ground. And surround yourself with what you need to become deeply rooted, full of vitality, and able to grow and produce the fruit that is already inside of you waiting to manifest in God’s time!

 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

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