actions · Bible · christian · Christian Devotion · faith · peace · purpose · Spirit · Uncategorized

Our Intentions, Their Actions

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.    –Philippians 2:3

 

We all know and see them because they are everywhere. Maybe we are one of them. More often than not, we want to be one of the many willing to help others by giving our time, money and effort for a worthy cause. Most of us want to give and help others in need when we are able. Unfortunately, sometimes people who do these good deeds have ulterior motives. Maybe there’s a secret financial or tangible kickback, community or private (self) accolades, or even just a little pat on the back. However, we cannot and should not justify that the good deeds outweigh any trace of impure motives. When we do good things for others, we must be careful not to have any self-serving motives attached. Many Bible verses speak to this, but Matthew 5:8 is clear: Blessed is the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Quite simply, when we do things with a Kingdom mindset, our hearts must be pure. A heart that is pure in one that is not selfish.

This got me thinking about some things. Have you ever wondered how life would be if we all judged each other based solely on our actions? What about if we judged each other based on our intentions? The truth is, so many good actions can be cloaked in self-serving intentions. On the other hand, we often take the wrong action or say the wrong thing with the best intentions (a pure heart). It can be difficult—and I say impossible—to navigate clearly through life without humbly considering ourselves and applying God’s Word.

I often fall short when I judge others by their actions and myself by my intentions. What if we took some time to stop and consider intentions? I’ve been prayerfully asking the Lord to help me to see others’ hearts—not just the actions. There have been so many surprising revelations.

 

The most surprising revelation, however, has come from examining myself. This examination might come by way of prayer and meditation; other times it comes by reading or hearing God’s Word. Sometimes I’ve actually believed that my own intentions were good and pure, only to discover that I have impure motives attached. For example, I might agree to do something that someone has asked me to do but complain the whole time. I said yes because I don’t want to be perceived negatively, but my heart isn’t right. Spiritually, I’ve made my “good” actions null and void.

So, how do we align our actions and motives to keep them pure? I remind myself that who/what I am in my heart is one hundred percent who I am. I’m going to repeat this for me (and maybe you). What I am in my heart is really who I am. Proverbs 4:23 reads: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. If a heart has impurities, it needs to be sifted or filtered through God’s Word. If a heart is pure, it needs God’s Word to keep it that way. There is no way around it. Finally, we have to pray and seek Him daily in all things, careful of the company we keep.

One last note about judging others on their actions . . . we must keep in mind that just as we make mistakes, others do too. To keep our hearts pure, we must forgive. When we hold on to anger, jealousy, offense and hurt, we are muddying our hearts, making them impure. It doesn’t matter if the person never apologizes. We are still responsible for forgiving. We have to help one another to release pride and gravitate towards love, peace, forgiveness, and righteousness. When God shows us those that have impure hearts, we need to remember to pray for them and to ask God for direction.

Prayers and blessings,

MaRita

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Bible · christian · Christian Devotion · faith · peace · purpose · Spirit · worry

Higher Heights, Deeper Depths

 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

 

I admit it. I’m challenged by the mere thought of heights (I’m trying not to use the word afraid as a woman of faithJ), which is why I didn’t like the idea of stopping off for a little mini-vacation on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  There are certain areas where I haven’t allowed my faith to reach maturation, and this is one.  In a household of all males, I’d never be outvoted on this one. I sucked it up, grabbed a latte and a dose of courage as we traveled up the mountain in the dreary weather.

While we followed the trail, I wasn’t fearful at all.  We passed markers along the way giving us historical information about this location and that while we laughed and took pictures. I forgot that we were going up the mountain. It didn’t feel like we were ascending, but when we came off of the trail, I realized that we’d reached the pinnacle. I hadn’t even felt the incline. My guys all remarked at how breathtaking the view was, and I agreed, but in a much different way. My stomach dropped when I realized that we were so high up.

It got me thinking though. What would our problems, challenges and fears look like if our focus stayed on the right things?  While we hiked up the trail, I was focused on the nature around me and just enjoying time with my family, not my fear of heights. For those reasons, I made it up the mountain without worry. In that same way, we are all bombarded with problems, great and small, but we should take the time to consider what our focus should be.

It’s only natural for a trial to have our attention. Sometimes life’s trials are so consuming, we can’t turn a blind eye to them.  The reality of the problem seems overwhelming. We may try to figure out why it’s happened and strategize for a way out. If we can’t come up with an immediate solution, we can feel distraught, depressed, and either make a decision out of impulse or become stagnant out of fear.

Most of us know that we should turn to God, cast our cares on Him, and pray about everything, including problems and obstacles. However, how do we focus on God in the midst of trying to make a difficult decision? How can we keep our eyes fixed on God’s promises when there seems to be no way of escape? And how can we be at peace when unrest is all around us?

Initially, grappling with these questions have brought me plenty of sleepless nights. The what ifs have made me feel like a dog chasing its tail. I would have a day of peace and the next day be right back wrestling with the same problem. Sometimes life throws us situations that can shake our faith if we allow it. We don’t see God intervening the way that we expect–even after we’ve prayed, fasted, and meditated on His Word.

I’m convinced that during these times, we have to keep doing all that we know to do is right. We must keep praying, fasting, meditating–in the midst of the doubt. We have keep doing these things until our spirit, soul, mind and body is in alignment with God’s will and timing. We have to refuse to allow our feelings to dictate our behavior!

We have to remember that when we get through the test, we will be at another place in our faith if we keep pressing forward in Him. We will reach a higher height and deeper depth in our faith, which will bring us to another level of peace and joy in Him.

In Ephesians 3:17, Paul instructs,

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We have power when we are anchored in His love and even more so when we fellowship with other believers. This power equips us, even in the most difficult times, to grasp the height and depth of His love us. He loves us. His love sustains us and elevates us above life’s many problems. We have to silence the noise of our issues, and hear His voice. We are His children, and He has not left us. The peace in the valley that we have access to is ours, but we must know that He loves us. His divine purpose for our lives will not be altered as a result of the test. In fact, we are catapulted to our purpose when we go through the test. He told us that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

Knowing that God’s “love surpasses knowledge” is something that has kept my faith in check.  He allows things to happen that don’t always make sense to us, but accepting that He knows and loves us can give us the assurance to quell the anxiety, questions, and fear. When we come up the mountain and through the test, we will find ourselves in a higher place in Him and His love.

Trusting Him with you,

MaRita

 

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Kingdom Fit

Fitbit Force, Jawbone Up,  Fitbug Orb, Nike FuelBand SE

I have a new Fitbit, a wrist device that tracks steps, distance and calories burned (among other things), and boy, is it eye opening.  It not only tracks my steps per day, but it also allows me to view the steps of friends with the same device.  The concept is that by setting personal goals and accepting challenges from others, the Fitbit user will be motivated to get and stay fit.  I’ve noticed how much it’s beginning to improve my movement on a daily basis.  It’s also caused me to reflect on how much healthier I’d be spiritually if I used the Bible as our own personal tracking device as much as I use the Fitbit.

Just like the Fitbit allows the user to see how many steps are taken daily and monitors physical activity, we have a way to gauge and assess our spiritual growth, progress, and maturity.  Reading, knowing, and believing the Word is how we can regulate our spiritual fitness.  The Word allows us to see how many spiritual steps we’ve taken toward spiritual maturity.  We are instructed to “grow in the grace of the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  The Word also lets us know that we should strive to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).  To know His will, we must spend time with Him in His Word and prayer.

We measure our growth by how closely our lives reflect the image of Christ and His Word.  When we don’t know, read or study His Word, we are automatically in a serious deficit.  Before I got the Fitbit, I could be in denial about how well I was doing with my physical activity, but now I’ve had to face the truth.  I need to get busy!  The same is true with our spiritual lives.  We can be in denial about where we are spiritually if we don’t ever take a self-assessment.  If we find ourselves constantly thinking, saying, and doing things that aren’t in line with God’s Word, then we need to make changes.  Otherwise, we are tossed to and from from the daily challenges and demands that life throws at us.

The Fitbit gives users the options of “friending” others and even challenging others to take the most number of steps in a day or week.  In this same way, we can help one another to grow spiritually by the words that we speak into one another’s lives, the prayers that we give, and the listening ear we offer.  We help one another by refusing to operate in our flesh and instead leaning and listening to what the Spirit is pressing upon us.  Just like we might accept challenges on the Fitbit, we should challenge one another with kingdom thinking, speaking, and building.

I believe that one of the most important keys to assessing our level of our fitness for the kingdom is measured by how we give God glory.  Our lives should be dedicated to giving God glory.  It is why we are here.  A host of verses address this, but I Corinthians 10:31, lets us know that in all we do, we should give glory to God.  If we find our prayer lives non-existent or stagnant, we need to take the time to pray, worship, and glorify God.  If we constantly excuse ourselves from attending Bible Study and church, for whatever reason, we need to recalibrate.  We need to prioritize corporate worship.  There are reasons why God instructs us not to neglect coming together in worship.  We show what’s important to us by the priorities we set.

Quite simply, our lives should be the mirror that reflects the image of Christ, and our kingdom fitness is much more important than even physical fitness.  I Timothy 4:8 says,   “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”  In others, we should prioritize our spiritual well-being above everything.  When we do this, we will desire to take care of our physical bodies.  Everything will be in its proper order.

I am thankful for my Fitbit because it’s forcing me to move, but I am even more thankful for God’s Word.  The Word forces me to move out of my selfish desires, motives, and ways to become more like Him.  Walking with Him is a journey that we know is worthwhile both now and forever, and our spiritual steps are immeasurable as we grown in grace with Him daily!

Blessings and Love,

MaRita