Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Monday, January 31, 2011

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 QUIET-TIME REFLECTIONS                                                        pmcrawford1@gmail.com

                                       Galatians 5:19-21
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."  (NIV)

A NEW HARVEST
Below is a question that challenged me as I was recently looking at commentaries concerning the instructions Moses gave to his people for right living in the Book of Deuteronomy. David Grabbe wrote this in an article published in The Berean. I can’t help but think that ifJesus were writing a letter to the body of Christ today, it might reflect the same content of this man’s writings.

Grabbe writes”
“What kind of witness does a person make who keeps the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath and holy days), eats only clean meats, tithes faithfully, and rejects false doctrines, yet has a temper, curses, tells dirty jokes, has a perpetual chip on his shoulder, always has a complaint against another, always looks out for "number one," drinks too much, and revels in perverse entertainment? Such a witness of nominal lawkeeping is useless to God, just as ancient Israel's witness to the nations gave the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme (Ezekiel 36:20-23). 

When Jesus Christ introduces Himself in the letter to the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14), He highlights the fact that He is "the Faithful and True Witness." He points to this title to show where the Laodiceans fall short. They are so enamored of the world and so much a part of it that it is difficult for an observer to tell them apart from the rest of Babylon! Their lives do not glorify God because they do not demonstrate a separation from the world. They do not demonstrate holiness or sanctification.

In contrast, the result of the Holy Spirit being active in a person's life will be love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These attitudes are not manifested all at once, which is why Paul calls them "fruit." Fruit takes time to develop and mature. Nevertheless, one whose life God dominates, who is led by His Spirit, will be exhibiting these things in addition to obeying God's law. He will be not merely obeying but also imitating God. He will be exhibiting these characteristics because he is a regenerated Son of God who expresses the traits of his Father.”

Although I certainly agree with what Grabbe writes, I think it is important to note that if people are looking for perfection in Christians they will be disappointed. The only difference between a Christian and a non-believer is Christ. When we accept Jesus into our heart we gain a helper to achieve what we could never accomplish on our own (John 14:26).

Did you hear it? “Fruit takes time to develop and mature.” Discovering this has been extremely helpful to me when I have been tempted to believe that I have blown it. Although I am confident in the gift of salvation, the sanctification process is something that will be on going throughout ones life. We would be wise to exhibit patience as we work at refusing condemnation over our character flaws. Accept God’s conviction (the Spirit showing us the error of our ways) and enjoy freedom from your sinful nature, which is what Jesus died to give you.

Without genuine repentance of what God reveals, we continue to fool ourselves. May I suggest some time in Galatians 5:22-25 this week. Like me, you may discover that you are in need of some “Miracle Grow” in some specific areas. When we desire to make changes and do things God’s way, we will begin to sprout new growth and it will be evident to those who recognize God’s work. People who have Christ alive and active on the inside of them, no longer desire to grieve the Father. When the Spirit reveals something is wrong, they get on it.

When we’re operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, we do have the ability to reflect God’s character in a fallen, sinful world.  However, I can assure you that it will require a constant diligence on your part. Living in this world and not being of it is extremely difficult, (Romans 12:2) but it is necessary to be a part of God’s team. Our sinful nature craves our way and the Bible tells us that our way leads to death. To glorify God we must crucify our sinful nature daily.

When God holds up the mirror of the heart, pay attention. The Bible says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Keep your hammer close by at all times. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25). We keep in step with the Spirit by dying to self and choosing to live and act God’s way. When we do this, the harvest will have God’s stamp of approval.

Life’s Application Commentary:
As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin’s power over us and no longer have to give in to it. We must daily commit our sinful tendencies to God’s control, daily crucify them, and moment by moment draw on the Spirit’s power to overcome them (see 2:20; 6:14).

Additional Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:15-17

Book suggestion:  Layers by Sandi Patty
                                 Uncovering and Celebrating God’s Original Idea of You

Today’s prayer:  Father, may your light shine on any dark crevice that still remains inside of us. Help us to overcome the tendency to please self, over doing what is right in your sight. Guide us, as we desire to make positive changes in our lives and thank you for the gift of your Spirit who is ready and willing to help us every step of the way.  In Your Son’s name we pray, Amen.


Our heavenly Father has been waiting…longing to pull us into His loving embrace and tell us the sweetest wonders about ourselves.   – Sandi Patty

Monday, January 24, 2011

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QUIET-TIME REFLECTIONS                                                         pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: Jan. 24, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford


2 Timothy 1:7
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.”

Isaiah 41:13
“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

FEAR NOT
Fear is very much related to how we process our thoughts. As a young girl I can remember my peers telling me about the boogieman. Thinking about him often caused me to fear being left alone, and darkness always elevated those fears. I was sure he was lurking around the corner and was going to hurt me at anytime. It wasn’t until I reached a level of maturity that I was able to conclude on my own that he was not real. It didn’t matter how many adults tried to tell me that he did not exist; I had to somehow adjust my thinking and believe in my heart that they were indeed telling me the truth.

As a teenager my fears turned to my parents dying in some kind of car accident and then me having to live with relatives or worse yet strangers.  Failure was also another fear of mine. I placed high expectations on myself and I often feared disappointing others. Because I lacked self-confidence, I was convinced that I would never have a boyfriend and I would always be alone. I also had an overwhelming fear of news events that often caused me to fear becoming a victim of a crime. Ironically, today my family teases me because I have to watch the top of the news. 

Unfortunately, these fears carried on into adulthood where they began to magnify. When I became a mother I was gripped with the fear that my babies would die. I also dealt with high anxiety levels every time my husband didn’t come through the door at the expected time. And when someone was diagnosed with cancer, I knew I would be next. Some of you reading today might be tempted to think, “she was messed up in the head,” and I could respect that. I actually began to question my own sanity over time. Thankfully after seeking out some help years later, I learned that much of this fear had manifested from what physiologists now refer to as “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Originally my OB/GYN chalked my fears up to the typical “baby blues,” prescribed some medication and sent me on my way. 

(PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing an event that results in psychological trauma. This disorder may be diagnosed after a person has experienced a traumatic event, and long after the event, the person still mentally re-experiences the event along with the same feelings of anxiety that the original event produced.

This disorder often manifests itself through flashbacks and disturbances in sleep. It is not uncommon for people who have experienced unexpected tragedy, combat, natural disasters, serious accidents, or violent personal attacks to be diagnosed with this disorder. In my case I had never properly processed what I experienced the morning of Feb. 12, 1984 when my family home caught fire. The charred ruins and the deaths of my brother and cousin weighed heavily on my mind long after that event. I suffered silently for many years before I discovered that I had not grieved or processed that event properly. 

It was after the birth of my second child by emergency C-section that I was sure my fears were becoming a reality. I can remember trembling uncontrollably during her birth and especially after we learned that our baby girl had suffered a lack of oxygen and seizures at birth.  It was touch and go for several days. We were told to brace ourselves for possible blindness, or the possibility that her mobile skills would be low functioning.  This would all depend on the area of possible brain damage. It was during that time that I really believe God was beginning my journey from fear to a genuine sense of faith. 14 days in the ICU afforded me plenty of prayer time and as you can imagine, God and I had many conversations. Most went something like “God if you will…then I will…” 

I am happy to report that God held up His end of our conversations and our baby girl is now 19 years old. There was no brain damage, no blindness, and she actually walked at 9 ½ months. I would like you to understand that I have never forgotten that miracle. However, back then I was grateful for the miracle; but I stayed locked in fear until one day about 10 years later, I finally lived up to my end of the bargain and unlocked the door and let God into my heart (Rev. 3:20). It was there that God began to heal me from being paralyzed by my fears along with many other things we had to work on. It was certainly not a pleasant process; and if I’m not careful I’m back in God’s classroom receiving reminders. I want to encourage you today that it is possible to be free from worry, fear, and anxiety; when we replace those things with genuine faith in the God of the Bible (Exodus 20:3).

May I share a few ways that I keep myself grounded in faith over fear these days? First and foremost, I claim God’s promises as I work to stand firm in God’s truth. Hebrews 13:5 reminds me that God will never leave or forsake His children. We will have all we need to make it through our days, those that are easy, and those that might be more challenging when we stay connected to Him.  Although I have not yet fully arrived, I have asked Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior, therefore His instructions to “fear not” (Isaiah 41:10) apply to me today. The truth is, in this life bad things will happen to good people. We live in a fallen world full of sin and disease.  But, do not be deceived!  God is still very much in control of this earth and His people. GOD wins (Revelation 20:11-15) and if you are a believer in Christ, you win too!  The end has already been written.

I also like to meditate on Psalm 56:3-4 - “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Being free from fear does not mean you will no longer have valid concerns. What it means is that you will surrender your concerns to God immediately. You will pray often and trust that His outcome will be for the greater purpose of God’s Kingdom plan. And you will rest in His peace (John 14:27).

Finally, I keep the following passages on 3x5 index cards.  My top card reads: “Fear vanishes when exposed to the promises of God’s Word.” I encourage you to look up these Scriptures and allow God to use them to strengthen you.  Be blessed.

FEAR: Duet. 31:6, Psalm 118:6, 2 Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 13:6, Psalm 27:1, Luke 1:30,
            Isaiah 41:13, Luke 2:10, John 14:27, Exodus 14:13, Psalm 23:4.

Monday, January 17, 2011

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QUIET-TIME REFLECTIONS                                                        
Week of: January 17, 2011
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford

Philippians 4:4-7
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

NEGATIVE RESULTS
As a student of the Bible, and sister in Christ, I want to express my desire to love on, comfort, and encourage you through these weekly devotions. I would like for you to also understand that in my own strength I could not do this work.  When I look around these days I see so many people hurting and in need of support and encouragement. I often feel helpless to doing anything about it.  It is my prayer that maybe in some small way, these writings can reflect a set of helping hands to someone who may be in need of a word of encouragement from time to time.  

I am coming to the realization that our circumstances are often tests of our faith, which God administers not only to draw us to Him, but also to empower us to become effective witnesses to others.  As I reflect on my current test, dealing with negative and anxious thoughts, I am discovering that many of my internal struggles have a common denominator - my lack of trust in God’s ability to handle or change a situation that I bring before Him.  If I’m ever to reach a place of Spiritual maturity this is going to have to change!  I share this with you so that you understand that I too have work ahead to do. Thankfully, God is a merciful God (Lamentations 3:22-24) and lucky for us each day brings about another opportunity to get it right.  

Over the past few weeks I have been sharing a little bit of my experience with toxic thinking. I do hope the resources have been helpful. This week I want to look at a specific result of allowing toxic thoughts to take root – anxiety.  As I am determining to achieve God’s peace in my own life, I have had to do some soul searching of my own.  What I found is critical to achieving all that God has planned out for me.

Anxiety is defined in the dictionary as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” I think we might need to add that anxiety is a result of allowing toxic thinking to take up residency in our minds.  If you read last weeks reflection you might remember that Dr. Caroline Leaf shared that Fear-based emotions include hate, anxiety, anger, hostility, resentment, frustration, impatience and irritation. These produce toxic attitudes and create a chemical reaction in the body that can alter behavior.”

When I’m anxious it often opens the door to fearful thinking.  I believe this is why Paul tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” May I suggest that when we allow this emotion to surface we’ve laid aside our trust in God?  When situations arise in our life, Paul tells us that our responsibility is to pray and give thanks. I sure wish that I could get the simplicity of his directions. Instead I try to figure it all out and eventually I end up conceding that I’m powerless to change anything on my own. What a waste of precious time!

Over the years I have battled some intense fear-based emotions. Today, if I’m not careful, my anxious thoughts definitely have the ability to produce a toxic attitude that does not reflect the image of Christ.  Like some of you, I have a particular situation in my life that Satan would love for me to believe is hopeless. And, if I allow my mind to stay there too long I run the risk of entertaining the idea that my thoughts are correct. With God’s help I am now taking some new steps and I am not going there!  I’m going to begin today to live out in my head what my heart knows to be true. God is good, He loves me and He can be trusted in all things.

So how do we conquer our anxious thoughts? I believe that we run immediately to God with them.  We tell Him exactly how we’re feeling and then we let Him love and guide us. Next, we claim the promises of His Word and finally we commit to trusting that He is working behind the scenes to bring about “good” from “evil”.  There is a song by Babbie Mason that I listen to often titled “Trust His Heart.” Parts of the lyrics say, “When we can’t see His hand trust His heart.” When we really know the character of God then we know His heart. This will make it much easier for us to recognize the lies of the devil.  Never forget that “fear” is an effective tool of the enemy.   

Recently my husband gave me a small plaque that reads, “Faith is not believing that GOD can, it is knowing that HE will.”  He bought this for me as a reminder to “hang in there” while God is at work in our prayers. These words could very well be the antidote we need for battling anxious, negative, toxic thoughts.

 In her study Believing God; Beth Moore challenges us to learn:

  • God is who He says He is.
  • God can do what He says He can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do all things through Christ.
  • God’s Word is alive and active in me.
She’s right! Once we truly understand the power of being a child of God we will have less and less anxious days. Oh how I look forward to that as I continue to learn to control what I allow into my mind.

Footnote from Philippians 4 – Paul is writing from prison when he’s telling the church to rejoice. I think Paul’s attitude is important here. Even in his circumstance Paul was choosing to trust God for the outcome.  His attitude was, even if he should die in prison he was determined to have God’s peace.  Now that is a picture of someone free of anxiety.

In John 14:27 Jesus teaches his disciples about peace. He says,” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The Life’s application commentary tells us, “True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. To be free of anxiety is to allow the Holy Spirit to take over and work in our hearts and mind. God’s peace is a confident assurance in any circumstance; that we have no need to fear the present or the future. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace.”

Additional Scripture Reading: Psalm 55:22-23, 1 Peter 5:7



Monday, January 10, 2011

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                                                                                              pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: Jan. 10, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

                                                 2 Corinthians 10:5

“We demolish arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

RIGHT BRAIN, LEFT BRAIN

Overcoming negative thoughts has always been a real struggle of mine. I would have to say that it is probably one of the most identifiable strongholds for this gal. Years ago I attended a Bible study by Beth Moore titled Breaking Free where I learned that a stronghold is:  

“Anything that exalts itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled – our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective."

It was in that study that God began to show me the importance of understanding what it means to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  I learned that if I was ever to have God’s peace in my life, I would have to constantly work at discarding thoughts that are contrary to what He teaches. In order to do this I have to stay connected to God’s Word on a regular basis. We have to be able to identify when our “thinkin is stinkin” as Joyce Meyers of Enjoying Everyday Life likes to say. In her book
Battlefield of the Mind she teaches, “Worry, anger, insecurity, fear, depression, doubt, and condemnation are attacks on the mind.”

In John 10:10 we are told, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” We shouldn’t be all that surprised that Satan goes after the mind. If he can get us to believe his lies, then he wins. He uses many different tactics to deceive us. It might be that you’ve been told you’re not good enough, or you will never amount to anything. Maybe you have believed that you’re not pretty; you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too awkward, and no one would ever want you. It might also be that your war rages from someone else’s selfishness or their betrayal. Maybe there have been expectations that have never played out for you. You’re single and wondering “what’s wrong with me?” It might also be that you were going to be married “till death do us part” and now you’re divorced and fighting thoughts of rejection.  When we allow this poison to take root it becomes toxic.  

I found the following article by Dr. Caroline Leaf, from her book titled Who Switched Off My Brain. I think this can help us to better understand why our toxic thoughts must be taken captive before they have the power to cause destruction. Not only do we experience emotional stress when our thinking is negative, but Dr. Leaf shows us that our physical bodies will suffer too.  Be blessed.

Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions

By Dr. Caroline Leaf
How many times have you replayed a conversation in your head until it stirred emotional pain or stress in your life? Did you know that stress is the reaction your body has to your thoughts?

Researchers say that 87% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think affects us physically and emotionally. We are in an epidemic of toxic emotions and that is why I teach people about the anatomy of thought in my book Who Switched off My Brain?

Your brain speaks to your body and your body speaks to your brain. The mind-body link is an ongoing symphony of chemicals playing through your body 24 hours a day. And the way in which we think will affect the functioning of that whole electrical-chemical cycle.

God has built an incredible mechanism into our brain that gives us the free will to accept or reject information. We have the option to reject negative information from our thoughts before it gets the support of damaging attitudes and emotions.

There are two groups of emotions that are polar opposites: positive, faith-based emotions and negative, fear-based emotions. Each has its own set of molecules and performs as spiritual forces with chemical and electrical representation in the body. Faith-based emotions are love, joy, peace, happiness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, forgiveness and patience. These produce good attitudes and thoughts.

Fear-based emotions include hate, anxiety, anger, hostility, resentment, frustration, impatience and irritation. These produce toxic attitudes and create a chemical reaction in the body that can alter behavior.

Fear is the root of stress. Scripture says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear-based thinking blocks the flow of healthy chemicals and releases toxic chemicals that put you into stress.

When your thoughts move you into stress, your emotions attempt to rule. Emotional perceptions are designed to create alertness to guide but not rule, because they misinterpret truth. Stage one of stress is the protective alarm that guides and helps you deal with dangerous, threatening situations. It creates a sweaty palm, quickened heart rate, adrenaline rush and a fight-or-flight emotional and biological response.

Once the alert stressor is gone, your accelerated heart rate (through narrowing of the arteries and increased blood volume) begins to return to normal. However, if your body stays under the constant barrage of negative stimulation, toxic waste begins to build up. An uncontrolled thought life will create fear-based emotional and physical conditions for illness.

In the second stage you enter acute long-term stress. Your mind and body start feeling as if they belong to someone else. The chemicals pump at will and in sequence through your body, and the first area they attack is your cardiovascular system.

If the chaotic thoughts are not controlled at this point, your stress hormones and chemicals never stop reacting. They move to a cellular level where your body experiences tissue damage and system breakdown. Internalizing wounded emotions at this point will eventually create a volcanic buildup in your body allowing a seething mix of anger, hostility and resentment. Suppressed emotional pain can also cause lingering physical pain.

Hosea 4:6 demonstrates wisdom and insight about this toxic pathway. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” If you understand something, you can begin to control it instead of letting it control you. Knowledge and understanding give you the tools. With the Holy Spirit’s power to remind you of God’s truth, you can begin to consciously control your thought life and deal with harmful emotions.

According to the word of God, which is more accurate than medical science, controlling your thought life brings health to your body. You can live most of your life in a passive mental state or you can choose to battle for your mind. It seems like an unfair battle because you can’t see what’s happening; yet you can’t escape the battle. The frontline of the war is the toxic thought. It usually enters through the five senses and if it is unchecked, it can become a mental stronghold of the enemy. The finish line is the final battle cry of victory when you take captive and overturn your toxic thoughts.”


Additional Scripture Reading:  Philippians 4:8-9

Book Suggestions:  Overcoming Fear by Luci Swindoll
                                   Who Switched Off My Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
                                   Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

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                                                                                                  pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: Jan. 3, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford


Over the past five years I have been blessed to share forward the many lessons that God has brought me through on this journey called life thus far. I am humbled and extremely grateful for all the notes of encouragement that I have received over the years. Your words always seem to come at just the right time, usually when Satan is working overtime to discourage me in some form or another.

If you are new to these weekly devotions – WELCOME.  You are encouraged to print and read in your quiet-time with the Lord. Why is this so important? Because when we tune out all the noise, close off from the distractions around us, and make God a priority instead of just fitting Him in, He speaks directly into the core of our heart. When you’re willing to listen, God’s voice will penetrate above the crowd.

Although my work is going to take on a new direction in 2011, I am excited to see what God has planned for those of us who desire to grow in our personal relationship with Christ as we strive for Spiritual maturity. I do pray you will stay tuned. This year it is my intention to continue writing on a weekly basis whenever possible. However, from time to time I may have to take a sabbatical in order to study, teach and give attention to another project that God appears to be nudging
me in.

NEW YEAR, NEW OPPORTUNITIES:
In the past my writings have generally reflected a witness to or a testimony of something that God has walked me through. I will be shifting gears a bit this year and will write in real time. Wherever God is working in me will be the place I draw inspiration from. I will also continue to draw wisdom and use resources from the many gifted authors and teachers that God uses on a regular basis to encourage me as I study His Word and rest at His feet.

I anticipate many “God-Stop Moments” (Beth Moore) this year too. Moments when God may want to get our attention in order to draw us closer to Him. Or moments when He simply wants to take our breath away with His grace. I would love for you to share your “God-Stop” moments with me also. Please note my e-mail address has changed. I truly believe that we all have a story to tell. Our mistakes and the victories we can achieve with God’s help are all means for encouraging others. It is my hope that God will continue to give me courage to be a transparent witness for His glory.

I would love for you to travel on this journey with me in 2011. It’s always better to have someone alongside us when we’re striving to achieve a goal. Although I have certainly not yet arrived, I am thankful that I’m no longer where I first began (Phil. 3:13). I hold onto the promise that “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).  And, with God’s help we can achieve some victories!

My prayer today is that the works I do in the future will in some way help others to better understand the importance of developing a personal relationship with our Creator as we change the way we think.  I am not talking about simply engaging God on Sunday mornings or with occasional prayer or even participation in Bible study groups.  No, I’m talking about nourishing a valuable relationship daily. I’m talking about getting to know God intimately in order to understand His character and what He desires. I’m talking about making God a priority and developing a willingness to be obedient to what He reveals. I am talking about God knowing you (Matt. 7:23) because your face is a familiar one. It is just like our human relationships, when we fail to nourish them properly they eventually begin to break apart.

Over the years I have learned that I cannot worship properly when my heart is not right with God and others.  When my mind is not focused on the things of God, or when I find myself backsliding I’m like a fish out of water. When my “thinkin is stinkin” (Joyce Meyers) nothing goes well for me. And, I can tell you from experience that it is not always easy to hear what God has to say about ones character, but it’s always necessary when you desire to make changes in order to align yourself to His instructions.

Jesus’ brother James challenged God’s people to not only listen to the Word, but rather he tells us we’re to do what it says (James 1:22). This applies to all people who claim to be believers today.  How we think about spending time with God will determine how we respond to Him.

If you’re willing to stick around, we will get busy next week on the current area that God is getting my attention in, “my stinkin thinkin.” Anyone else struggle with your thought life? Well, I have to tell you I thought I was making good progress in this area especially after going through the Battlefield of The Mind series by Joyce Meyer’s a few times. But, obviously God has more lessons ahead since for Christmas this year I unwrapped the book Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer and then a few days later Who Switched Off My Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  Hum, I can’t help but wonder what’s ahead?

Before I close this week I simply want to encourage you that when you choose to take your relationship with God to a deeper level; He not only draws you into His presence, but His power enables you to grow and become obedient to His Word. Over time you begin to naturally reflect the fruits of God’s Spirit to a hurting world around you, (Gal. 5:22-23) because you are no longer interested in grieving your Heavenly Father.  May I suggest this Scripture as a good measuring tool for determining spiritual growth?

I love the reminder shared by David McCasland of RBC Ministries concerning the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37 - “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” He writes “First and foremost, our relationship with God is a matter of the heart.  If we see God as a taskmaster and consider obedience to Him as a burden, then we have joined those of whom the Lord said “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). Friends, whether we’re expressing prayers of hurt, lashing out in anger, flip-flopping, asking for help, or praising God from joy, our first love is right there. His Word is true and He does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). As a child of the Most High we are guaranteed time with Him anytime we desire it. This is one appointment worth keeping at the top of your to-do list. 

Next week we will look at winning the battle over our toxic thoughts. Until then, please take a few moments to mediate on the words below.

“Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to
occur in your life. If you continue to believe
as you have always believed, you will continue to act
as you have always acted. If you continue to act
as you have always acted, you will continue to get what
you have always gotten. If you want different
results in your life or your work, all you
have to do is change your mind.”
                                                                                                 
                                                       -Anonymous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
In Christ by grace,
Pam

- Anonymous taken from Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer.