The Things Above

There are times when my life seems overwhelmed by busyness. From the mandatory things I have to accomplish to the discretionary things with self-imposed deadlines, my time and attention gets pulled in all sorts of directions. It can feel like I’m running down a steep hill, picking up speed and not able to slow down. My entire day becomes completely consumed with all the “things” I have to get done. History has proven that if I allow myself to function this way for extended periods my priorities slowly, almost imperceptibly, begin to shift. Then one day I wake up to realize that spending meaningful time with God has slipped from being my most treasured priority to a guilt-filled struggle. Guilt because I haven’t put Him first the way I know I should (the way I desire to), guilt because I know better, guilt because of my repeatedly broken promise, “I’ll be right there Lord…just as soon as I finish this one last thing.” When I finally do set aside time to sit quietly at His feet, my mind is continuously invaded by thoughts of all the things that remain undone. I am bombarded and derailed; trying desperately to fight my way back into the place where His presence brings peace, fulfillment and joy.

Surely this struggle is not unique to just me because in Romans 7:18-19 the Apostle Paul himself describes something similar when he says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” So how do I stop sliding down this slippery slope? It’s actually pretty simple although it doesn’t always feel that way – I choose. I choose to take God at His word and then I choose to act on it. When my feelings tell me that God is tired of my repeated failures, Romans chapter 8 tells me that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” I do not have to be in bondage to my flesh. I can walk according to the Spirit by keeping my mind on things of the Spirit. Paul reiterates this again in 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.” The mind is a powerful tool. With it I can make the choice to believe and obey, to set aside my deceptive feelings and focus on the things above where Christ is. No wonder Ephesians instructs us to put on the helmet of salvation. In the light of eternity, the importance of all those other competing “things” just fades away.

Jacque B.

Free from Slavery

The Israelites faced Egyptian oppression for hundreds of years (Exodus 1:8-11). Intimidated by their increasing numbers, Pharaoh purposed in his heart to break their spirit with hard labor and affliction. For years, Pharaoh was successful. The Israelites lived in bondage under his rule and that bondage kept them from the promise land.

Today, Christians experience attacks that are intended to break their spirit and keep them from living the life God intended for them. Satan’s desire is to trap God’s children in sin, so that fellowship with the father is broken, leaving us in bondage to sin. Sin weights us down, blinding us from the truth.

The Curse of Sin
“The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” Deuteronomy 4:20

During their time of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites would have experienced, inhumane working conditions, abuse, dehydration and unending work. It’s undeniable how much the Hebrews suffered during physical slavery, but it doesn’t compare to the spiritual slavery a life of sin leads to. Spiritual slavery separates us from God and leads to death.
God hand selected Moses to deliver His people out of bondage. Likewise, God delivered us from the bondage of sin through one man, Jesus Christ. He’s paid the price for our sin and offers us freedom. I pray each of you have experienced that freedom from sin and no longer live in bondage.

Galatians 5:1 reminds us, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

As believers, the ability to walk in freedom becomes dependent on an individual’s daily decision to walk with Jesus. It’s learning to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to lead and guide you and resisting temptation when it presents itself.

So, my encouragement to you is to live a life of holiness, be set apart from the things of this world and no longer walk in bondage.

Micah E.

Sing to the Lord

“Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises unto our King, sing praises. “ Psalm 47:6
In kindergarten I was chosen to be the milk monitor. The job was to go to the office to pick up the milk for the class. I and a friend decided to stop off in the restroom. I immediately got distracted and started to sing. As we discovered our echo we got louder and louder singing then screaming at the top of our lungs. Well as you can guess, the principal and teachers ran in thinking, something was wrong! We said no, we were just singing…

As Christians one of the greatest joys we have is singing to our God. Sadly it has become apparent that not all believers share the same enthusiasm for singing praises to our King. Have you ever noticed people in church who don’t participate in worship? Who refuse to sing or lift their hands. I don’t understand that. Chuck Smith said, “True praise rises spontaneously from the heart, recognizing God’s goodness and grace” Its when we recognize what He’s done, who He is , and His merciful grace, we can’t help but respond. How do you respond? Don’t you feel like praising Him? Some people use the excuse that they don’t have a good voice or they really don’t like that type of music. When I was on the worship team brothers and sisters in the Lord would come and make suggestions as to maybe play more upbeat music or complain it was too loud, etc. It’s not entertainment nor a performance where the audience just sits and watches.

The word sing is mentioned 121 times in the bible. It is the most recorded of the commandments, to sing to the Lord! There are 50 direct commands to sing. Did you know it is a commandment? Why does God command us not only to praise him but to sing? We can begin by realizing God himself sings. Zeph. 3:17 “ The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty God who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you by His love, He will exult over you with loud singing” Jesus sang hymns with His disciples. No doubt as Jewish tradition has it, Mary and Joseph raised Jesus singing and reciting prayers in the morning, while washing, before eating, before they left the house and at bedtime.

When my kids were little we made up songs to memorize scriptures. We even sang a melody to learn the order of the books of the bible. We remember patterns in music. In Deut. 31 -32 God gives a song to Moses to help His people remember His words as a constant reminder. In Exodus 15 the Song of Moses and Miriam that the children of Israel sang is recorded. In 2 Sam. 22, David sings a song of praise. Luke 1:46-55 mentions Mary’s Song . In Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas sang hymns while in prison. So many people are mentioned singing in the bible. Lastly in Rev. 5 states we will all be worshipping the Lord in heaven. God delights to hear His children sing to Him.

Are you being blessed? Sing praises to the God! Are you experiencing trials? Sing praises to the God! Are you not feeling like singing? Sing praises to the Lord. Ask God by His Spirit to put a new song into your heart. Sing praises in the car, sing praises at home. Obey Gods command and sing praises to our King!

Zelda D.

What Are You Wearing?

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you can’t seem to find anything to wear? You try on a pair of jeans and they are too snug, or the top you try on is unflattering. The closet is full but nothing seems to fit right. We place importance on the way we look. We want to leave a good impression, and in a lot of ways the way we dress is a reflection of who we are or how we want to be perceived.

As godly women there is some attire that God wants us to wear. Colossians 3:12-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

It says here that we are to clothe ourselves with Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness and Patience. God is telling us in these verses that these are essential attributes that we should be wearing. You wouldn’t leave your house partially clothed, right? So as you prepare for your day ask God to help you put on each piece of this godly attire.

No outfit is complete without its accessories! The belt that ties this spiritual ensemble together is found in verse 14. It says “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience all need to be done in love. Without love this spiritual outfit just doesn’t work.

These attributes are a beautiful sight to the Lord. There are some outfits make you feel like a million bucks but with this spiritual attire you are priceless! You’ll definitely be best dressed in His Book.

Kim S.