Monthly Archives: March 2017
Monthly Archives: March 2017
I woke up this morning and it was raining outside. I grabbed my bible and my blanket, and lay on the couch to study the word. A thought came to my mind to check my Facebook page for comments, distraction #1. I then checked my Instagram, distraction #2. After checking Facebook and Instagram, I was compelled to watch the news, distraction #3, and then I started thinking about dinner so I got up to take something out of the freezer, distraction #4, and then answered the phone, distraction #5.
Before I realized it, the day was almost over and I had not given God first place in my life. I was not seeking God’s Kingdom. Matthew 6:33 states, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Media, texts, work obligations, and family duties demand our attention almost every minute of every day, and lately I’ve been distracted by world issues and events in my own life.
Yet the word of God says that this world will pass away, and Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that we should keep our eyes on Him and then we will obtain peace. The Lord does not want us in a whirlwind of distraction or to lose sight of the purpose that He has for us.
I had to evaluate my relationships to determine if any of them were a distraction because we can unintentionally allow any kind of relationship to distract us from God. We need relationship with others, but if a relationship becomes more important to us than God, the relationship becomes a distraction. God calls us to love one another in 1 John 3:11 therefore love is an act of obedience to God. But we cannot forget about God in the process. We need to make sure we are giving God ample time every day.
I discovered that in order to grow in Christ, I needed to feed my spirit daily. Television, social media, and talking on the phone did not profit my life. They were distractions feeding my flesh. As John 6:63 states, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I need the life of God’s word, daily.
I realized that I had allowed distractions to steal my time with God; I will not get that time back. Now I intentionally spend more time praying, reading the bible, meditating on His word and confessing the word over my life.
I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the times I had allowed distractions to prevent me from handling responsibility or facing difficult situations. I chose to renounce the spirit of distraction, take authority and use the keys of the kingdom to get rid of the distractions in my life. Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” I repented for allowing distractions to creep into my life and steal time from my relationship with God. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I had to ask the Holy Spirit to help me control my thought life and help me prioritize my time and schedules. Something that helped me was writing my to-do list for the following day each evening.
It seems that distraction and procrastination are intertwined. It’s rare to find one without some trace of the other. When we procrastinate, we succumb to the distractions around us, putting off work as we choose instant gratification. The quickest way to break the procrastination? Realizing that emotions should not guide our choices. If we only do what we “feel” like doing, we miss opportunities to mature, develop, and discover purpose.
Choosing to remain focused will limit distractions. Psalms 86:11: Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Distractions are inevitable, however we can choose to stay focused on God and His ways. We learn to do this by studying His Word and praying for His guidance. We then apply the truth of His Word, remain mindful of the areas and ways that tend to become distractions, and make the decision to faithfully manage our time. It’s not always easy, but we have God’s help.
What has you inflamed and irritated? Is your mind racing? Do you feel as if you’re banging your head against a wall or do you just plain have a headache? Are you frantic with fear, panicking in an attempt to escape? Are you longing for relief? Psalms 23 could contain the very remedy that you’re searching for. Psalm 23 is generally narrated during times of death and grief, and often recited at funerals. Yet that depiction is only one facet of the Psalm. Think about the signature Life Builder bracelet that all first time guests receive. This bracelet reflects a great deal of light because it is multifaceted. The 23rd Psalm has many facets. One of the facets in the illustration of how the good shepherd cares for his sheep may be the very remedy that beautifully reflects the light needed to calm irritations. David was a good shepherd who paid careful attention to his sheep. He noticed when his sheep were troubled. Sheep are especially bothered by nasal flies. These little flies buzz around the sheep’s head, attempting to lay eggs on the sheep’s nose. If the eggs hatch it will form a worm-like larvae. The larvae worm then works its way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, creating intense irritation and inflammation.
To relieve these agonizing irritations, sheep deliberately beat their heads against trees or anything nearby. They will rub their head in the muddy soil and smack their head against wood. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself. Advanced stages of nasal fly infection can even lead to blindness. When nose flies hover around the flock, some of the sheep become frantic with fear and panic in their attempt to escape their tormentors. As a result, those fearful sheep create a disturbance amongst the flock. There are times we may respond to irritations in the same way. Maybe it started with being nosy, getting in other people’s business. It could have been a situation that overwhelmed you with fear and anxiety. Maybe you continued focusing on the negativity in your life and a larvae worm was formed. You may have tried many ways to get relief like the sheep, but only found yourself muddied and dirtied. In your fear you may have even disrupted the flock and caused them to become fearful too.
It is a good thing that the shepherd knows the season when the flies are amongst the flock. This reveals another facet of this Psalm- a remedy for the irritation. During fly season the shepherd applies an antidote to the sheep’s head. He prepares a homemade oil remedy to smear over the sheep’s nose and head to protect the sheep from the nose flies. If the sheep were chaotic and frantic this oil remedy would cause the sheep to calm down and feed quietly again, in peaceful contentment. This cure could very well be what David meant when he wrote, “Thou anointest my head with oil,” as it was the only antidote to the sheep’s irritation. What are you smearing or saturating your mind with. Is it thoughts of panic, worry or fear? Is it fault-finding, judging or criticizing others? Is it lies about your identity? If that is the case, keep this in mind, we too can apply an oil antidote to our heads named Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:1 KJV describes the Holy Spirit as oil, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.
The irritation can start by judging others or getting offended and irritated with people. However we should not dwell on negativity. We are to love; in fact we are commanded to love one another. One of the prescriptions and instructions that teach us how to love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:5-6 NKJV Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
If a person who causes irritation, it would be so much more beneficial to love them to life instead of judging them to death. Loving them to life empowers both of you with love. Let us draw closer to the Good Shepherd and allow him to anoint our head with oil today. Let us abide in His peaceful contentment and rest, this way we can assemble together in peace and feed with the flock.
Fun. The concept isn’t new. Every generation has experienced a message projected at them regarding the subject. Millenials and Z’ers are no different. One thing that has changed is the clever campaigning. As media, and marketing become more advanced so do their messages. How do they get young people to buy into what they are selling? By spreading the message of fun.
Interestingly enough as we pursue purpose we should find elements that are enjoyable. We should be filled with joy. Our purpose is interwoven with the nature of who we are, and if becoming who you are supposed to be is drab, then something is off track in our pursuit.
As Christians we live a disciplined life, that is full of joy. There are elements of fun built in. However, there is a balance we want to reach. Let me explain. I was in a classroom the other day filling in for the assigned teacher. The students were given their assignments, and directives of working together. Each group of students were different. Some chose to do the work, but take their time socializing between questions. Some chose to primarily socialize, figuring they could do the work at home. A few did not select to work in a group, but worked independently and completed a majority of the work before the class ended.
Observing the students, I thought: “How much could we achieve if we were disciplined, and focused on the task at hand?” Theoretically speaking we can achieve as much as we desire if we were able to set aside our own desires. Take these students, most of them have a relatively good GPA. Of course when the teacher’s away, the students desire to play. As I contemplated this illustration in front of me I considered this: “What would it take to achieve a 4.0?”
I have to ask myself, “when God gives me an assignment am I aiming for a 4.0?” When I am given a specific time to complete a task am I aiming toward excellence? Am I distracted by the idea of fun? Do I fall into the trap of laziness, or complacency? In Luke 9:23 when Jesus said to pick up our cross daily and follow Him, He wasn’t giving us a burden. He was instructing us so that we would give over our own desires to live a better suited life. A disciplined life is selfless, and joyful. A disciplined life causes us to exceed our own limitations. Think about it, if we spent time really assessing how we spend our time, we would not only grow exponentially, but we would excel. We would reach the greater reward.
I read a quote once that said “What do Bill Gates, Beyonce, and You have in common? They all have 24 hours in a day.” I don’t know about you, but that shook me. I heard the ringing of my friends voice saying ‘play time is over’ as I slowly turned Netflix off. So today, I encourage you to find where there are time wasters in your life. What are the things that are stealing your joy? What are the things that are inhibiting your excellence? What is potentially keeping you from achieving a 4.0+ in your life? Find ways today to say yes to the needful things, and I promise a greater level of joy and fun will be had in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
The past rainstorms here in California got me meditating on Peter and Jesus and when they walked on water. They performed this feat in the midst of high winds and with high waves. Over the years I have studied and learned a great deal from the life of Peter; it seems we have much in common.
Matthew 14:30-31 NIV reads, “But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…” How many seconds lie between the thought of sin and sinning? How many seconds between life and death? It could be a few seconds or less. And here in Matthew we see how even more swiftly Jesus moves in love. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The word “immediately” has been life and peace to me lately. One moment the disciples are in a storm, and the next moment Jesus was immediately walking on those troubled waters, walking to them in the midst of the winds and the darkness. Immediately, Jesus took Peter’s hand to rescue him!
There are times we endure a storm for a long period of time and the Lord will show us how to navigate the storm and keep our eyes on Him. And there are times He immediately rescues us and calms the storm. Whether we endure the storm for a time, or Jesus rescues us immediately, we witness firsthand that God is faithful and His love for us is unfailing. Our testimony is that He is mighty to save, and that He never leaves us or forsakes us.
Knowing that our Father is good, let’s immediately worship Him! Let’s not hold back our worship until the storm is over. We can worship Him now, He is worthy. Oftentimes we pray, “Lord send confusion into the camp of the enemy.” I believe that we send confusion to enemy when we offer the sacrifice of worship while we are yet in battle. While we are yet in the storm. Imagine: the enemy is doing his best to cause us to blame God, loose hope, and give up. All hell seems to raging, and even so we immediately choose to worship God!
Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV) “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” There is immediate power and freedom in our worship.