Spiritual Discernment: Aligning My Thoughts to God

Spiritual Discernment: Aligning My Thoughts to God

These days, life’s theme seems to be crazy and busy. I’m pretty sure there was a slower and less complicated time, but perhaps everyone has always had to learn to balance life, family, work, and rest. As I get older, I have become more aware that I get more anxious and overwhelmed when I have too much on my plate. As a result, I am more discerning about what I commit myself to. Sometimes I’ve had to say “no” to things I would normally be happy to help out with, for the benefit of my well-being and my family’s.

Discerning God’s Will for Me

Spiritual discernment is when I try to align my thoughts with God’s. I must do some self-reflection and also search for God’s answer. Maybe every person is different. Maybe some people are able to have more on their plate than others. I must meditate on God’s Word, spend time in prayer, and seek His answers for my life. One way I can determine God’s will is to gauge how much time will be taken away from my relationship with God if I add that extra activity. Will I be able to spend time with God if I add something else? Or will I miserably fail at spending precious time with him? Will this activity help me become closer to God or drive me further away? Sometimes just honestly answering these questions helps me know the right answer.

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Recently, I listened to a podcast that talked a lot about discerning big life choices and how to make these decisions while using your faith. I want to pass on some of the main ways they mentioned using to make these decisions.

Tips for Spiritual Discernment

  1. Take your cares and challenges to a prayer group. It’s always important to have people in your life who are willing to take your requests to the Lord in prayer. This has been an incredible blessing in my life! Having prayer warriors who support me through every decision is so encouraging.james-5_16
  2. Journaling your thoughts to the Lord is another way to communicate to God. It can help you focus more on hearing God’s will.
  3. Being in the Word is, of course, most important. Reading God’s words and searching for what it means for our lives is something we should always do, but it can also help us when making decisions about our lives. Does this decision line up with what God tells me in His Word?

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A Time to Serve and a Time to Step Back

Sometimes when we go through these discerning processes, we will come to the conclusion that we need to take a step back from something we wanted to do or committed to do. And that’s okay. Sometimes we go through periods of serving in any and every capacity possible. Other times, we need to fill ourselves up again spiritually. If I’m not spiritually filled, how can I serve others and serve God? Take time to have some quiet time with God so that you can once again fill your role of serving others.

I am in no way perfect at discernment all the time, but I’m learning little by little. These reminders help me when I need to make these decisions in my life. Make sure you take the time you need to rest and refill yourself spiritually. This will help so much as you reach out to serve others.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with too much on your plate? How do you discern what is on your priority list?

Prayer for Discernment

Dear Heavenly Father,

Lord, we thank you so much for your presence and guidance in our lives.  Thank you for giving us ways to discern how to use our time to be your servant. I pray I will always go to you for that discernment and not my own will. Give me strength and rest when I need to be spiritually refilled so I can continue the work you have for me to do. It’s in Jesus’ name that I pray,

Amen

When Satan Attacks: God’s Armor as Protection

When Satan Attacks: God’s Armor as Protection

Not “If” But “When” Satan Attacks

It’s not really a question of “if” but “when” Satan will try hard to fight against the plans of God. I felt like Satan was especially on the attack during the summer of 2015, when my family led a campaign to Germany. So many things didn’t go as planned or were frustrating, and it seemed like Satan was trying to ruin our excitement and efforts. But thankfully, we were able to use God’s strength to push through them.

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As we prepared to leave for our trip overseas, a couple of things happened that were not in the plans. About a week or so before we left, we found termites in our house. Ugh! Thanks to a great friend and pest control guy, he was out quickly to get rid of those awful things. Then, only a couple days before we left, we had a strong rainstorm and our office ceiling started to leak. It was a holiday weekend, so of course no one was really open until THE DAY we were scheduled to leave on our trip.

Once again, friends stepped up to help. A friend knew a roofer and personally called and asked if they could come out as soon as possible. Thankfully, we weren’t leaving until later in the day. The roofing company came out first thing that morning, checked everything out, and fixed the leak. Thank you again, Lord! God showed us again that His plan was greater than Satan’s.

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One Problem After Another

What, then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32

I felt like I actually got to see this verse face-to-face during that summer campaign. What a testimony to His goodness! One thing after another kept happening, yet God continued to work and allowed us to go on with the plans He gave us to do. We had a cancelled flight on the way to Germany, causing us to arrive one day late. I was feeling sick when we left and ended up going to the doctor in Germany for antibiotics. So, for the first couple of weeks of our trip I was without a singing voice. This was a problem since I was the music director and was also supposed to sing with the group!

One of our campaigners fell on some stairs and hurt his foot and needed to use crutches for a majority of the trip. My husband Clint got a bug bite or tick that got infected and had to take a strong dose of antibiotics in case it was Lyme disease. Clint also pulled his calf muscle at the end of our trip and needed crutches the last few days and for the trip home.

Realizing Satan was Behind the Attacks

Can you see why I feel so strongly that Satan was attacking us and trying to prevent the work we were trying to do? I’m thankful that in those moments, I realized it was Satan just trying to discourage us and prevent us from going on. That realization gave me the great motivation to not be discouraged, but to keep reaching for our goals and to do everything we could to ruin Satan’s plan.

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Our Protection Against the Attack

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Fighting Back with the Armor of God

If we can acknowledge when Satan is attacking, we can fight back using the armor of God to protect us. God has given us this armor to protect us from evil and to keep us close to him. First, we have the belt of truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

imageJesus needs to be our first protection. He is the truth that gives our lives purpose. We need to trust in Him to fight our battles for us and to guide us through all evil.

Put on Your Breastplate and Shoes

The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart. We must make the decision every day to choose God’s righteousness over the evils of this world in order to protect our hearts from being overcome by darkness. The shoes of readiness could represent the need to stand firm in our faith and be ready to bring God’s gospel of peace to others.

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!

Romans 10:15

Take Your Shield and Helmet

The shield of faith protects us from the flaming darts that Satan throws at us. Maybe those darts are doubts, worries, temptations, or difficult times. Whatever Satan hurls at us, we have to trust in God to be our protector and strength. The helmet of salvation is what helps sustain our confidence and assurance in our salvation through God. Satan wants to break our confidence in order to tear us away from God. Have you have had thoughts of doubt, worry, anxiety, and hopelessness start to take root in your mind out of nowhere? I know I do at times! I feel very strongly that these thoughts come specifically from Satan and this world’s evil forces. Praise God that He gives us so many promises of peace, hope, and love!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Don’t Forget the Sword

The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, which the Holy Spirit led men to write these divinely inspired words. We must continue to go to the scriptures to learn how to navigate through all of Satan’s attacks. By strengthening our knowledge of God, it will bring us closer to Him. Other ways we fight against Satan’s attacks are praying in the Spirit. Let the Spirit speak through our prayers by listening and keeping alert with all perseverance. Ephesians also says that we should be in supplication for all the saints. It’s important we encourage each other and pray for one another in times when we are under attack. If we share with one another when we are attacked, we will have our brothers and sisters to lean on and fight with us.

Have you ever felt like Satan was attacking you?

How did you fight against these attacks?

I would love to hear how God helped you through these times!

My Peace I Give to You: Jesus’ Promise of Peace

My Peace I Give to You: Jesus’ Promise of Peace

Feeling Anxious? There’s Good News!

Peace is something I need more of on a daily basis. Does anyone else feel overwhelmed, anxious, or burdened on a regular basis? I know that I tend towards those things. I have to work hard to keep my focus on Christ and to search for His peace in my life. There’s good news:

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A Promise of Peace

Jesus said these words as he prepared his disciples for his departure. He reminded them that the Holy Spirit would still be with them. He promised to leave his peace with us as well. We shouldn’t forget that he tells us that the world cannot give us this peace. In fact, the world gives us quite the opposite! Remember how I asked about being overwhelmed, anxious, and burdened? All of these things come from the world. I feel these things most when I’m not in sync with God. It usually means I need to look toward God more. I need a little reminder from time to time.

Blocking Out the World to Focus on Him

Sometimes to avoid the burdens of the world, I have to block it out. Sometimes that means I need to stay away from all forms of media. I’m not encouraging you be unaware of world events and to pay no attention to things that are important, but when I feel especially overwhelmed I need to take a step away from it all. Sometimes I just need to consciously spend every free moment in prayer with the Lord to get my focus back on him. Whatever you need to do to feel that peace, I pray you find that place of peace in your everyday life.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your son and all that he did on this earth. Thank you that not only did he teach us your will, but he made the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins and all the burdens of this world. We are so grateful that he sent the Holy Spirit to be with us in his absence here on earth. Thank you for the promise of peace he brought us. We know only you can bring this peace and we ask that you help us to grasp onto it however we can. Please help us block out the burdens of the world on a daily basis and to look for your peace in its place. Thank you Lord for all of these things. We praise you and love you so much. It’s in Jesus’ holy name that we pray, Amen.

What helps you find that place of peace in your life?

What if Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

What if Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

In my last post I talked about how I became a Christian and dedicated my life to Christ. I mentioned that there were highs and lows along the journey. I didn’t go into detail, but I would say that one of the harder things I’ve been through came towards the beginning of my college career. Even though I had been a dedicated Christian up to that point, I feel that going through this difficulty definitely strengthened my relationship with God as well as made it more real, more mine.

I guess before that point it could easily be said that I was always taught what to believe and my family believed the same way, so in a way it was my family’s faith. I do believe I made the decision for myself, but when you are going through a tough time, your true faith tends to come out more and it becomes more real to you. It was in that low, helpless place of pain that I realized I needed God more than anything and anyone.

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“Happily Ever After”

Starting college was an exciting time and of course full of life lessons. I began dating someone my freshman year after going on a date with him during the summer before school started. Things went well with us and I quickly fell for him.

I remember being with some other girlfriends of mine and we were discussing marriage. Two of the girls said they wanted to wait until after they graduated to get married. My other friend and I said we would get married during college if we met the right guy. When you’re young, sometimes you just can’t wait to start your “happily ever after.” The funny thing is that the two girls who said they wanted to wait ended up getting married during college while my friend and I ended up getting married later. This is just another example of how our time is not always God’s time.

Moving along with my relationship, there was quickly talk about marriage. I remember being so excited and happy at the thought that I had already met my future husband and my “happily ever after” was coming soon! By the end of the school year my life was pretty much school and my boyfriend. He took up much of my time and I began to really idolize this relationship. He proposed to me and of course I said, “Yes!” Things were happening the way I had planned.

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Looking back, I think a big mistake I made concerning this relationship and time of my life was feeling so in control of life and my future. I had it all planned out. I would be happily married and a music teacher, at least until we had children, and then I could stay home with the kids once they came around. We would live happily ever after. That is the dream, right? But what if that isn’t God’s dream? What if God has so much more planned for my life than I ever had imagined?

Praying for His Will, Not Mine

During that time, I kept a prayer journal. I prayed about our relationship and future plans and asked that God would bless me in all the ways I thought He should. Then, for reasons I can’t explain, my prayers started to change. Maybe I saw some signs that this was not the relationship God wanted for me. I began to pray that God’s will would be done, not mine. Even though I really still wanted all those things. Maybe the Spirit began to work on my heart to prepare me for what lay ahead. Only a couple of months after we were engaged, we broke up. I was absolutely devastated. My world felt like it was crashing down around me. I no longer had any idea what God had in front of me.

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These were the moments that all I could feel was pain, like the rain would never stop pouring on me. But in the rain, I was brought to my knees, begging God to help me. I knew I had nothing but Him. God was my first true love and He was the only one who could help me through this downpour. I remember being on my knees, even on my face, crying out to Him.

Navigating through the Storm

During this time, a good friend of mine called me to tell me what he had learned from the Psalms. He told me it was ok to tell God what I was feeling, even all the bad and painful thoughts. He shared with me some of the lament Psalms and showed me how David had cried out to God in the same way with honest feelings. I poured out my soul to God in lament. Never had I ever been drawn so close to God as I was when I was at my lowest, trying to navigate the storm.

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
Psalm 88:1-3

Needed God More Than Anything and Anyone

I wish I could say that clinging to God in that time made all my pain go away quickly, but it didn’t. I remember struggling for months afterwards. However, during this time of rain, God blessed me and molded me into the person He wanted me to be. He was working to lead me in the direction He wanted me to go.

The Blessing in the Rain

During my sophomore year, some friends told me about a summer singing campaign to Germany that they had participated in the year before. It sounded like a really great opportunity for spreading God’s love, travelling the world to enjoy God’s creation, and of course I loved the singing aspect. I quickly committed myself to going the following summer. It was so exciting! I felt a purpose and like this was God’s providence at this time of my life.

As you may have read from my post about my passion for mission work, God used this time in my life to set me on a very specific path which led to my growth in faith and love of God. I became passionate for God’s work around the world. This led me out of the comfort of being in control of every aspect of my life and into a trust that God was in control of all things!

Eventually, I truly believe that God used this painful part of my life to prepare me for so many wonderful things, including a man of God who would later become my husband. Even though the pain was deep and difficult to go through, I’m grateful that I went through those things. It helped mold and form me into the Christian woman that I am today.

A Prayer for You

If you are going through difficult times right now, I want you to know that God is still here with you and he is using every painful moment to mold you into the person He wants you to be! Hang on and I pray that you will soon see the blessings! Please let us know if we can pray for you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Sometimes life is so painful and hard. We don’t always understand why we go through such hard times. The one thing we know is that you are Lord and you are greater than all things! You are our comforter and healer and can take our brokenness and make it whole again, even better than we could have ever imagined! Lord, I pray that during the storms we will remember that you are with us and will hold on to our faith that you will bring the sun after the rain. Thank you for holding us in your hands.

It’s in Jesus’ precious name that we pray,

Amen

How has God used your difficult times in life to ultimately bless you?

Below is the song I got my post title from. It’s called “Blessings” by Laura Story.

Learning to Trust and Obey in My Daily Walk {Testimony Tuesday}

Learning to Trust and Obey in My Daily Walk {Testimony Tuesday}

I will admit, I don’t have a story that is such a drastic change in lifestyle. I wasn’t living wildly before my baptism. But we all have a journey in learning to trust and obey God, and there is change involved even if it doesn’t seem drastic on the surface. We know that we are all sinners. Thank God that He sent His son Jesus to forgive us!

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Raised in a Christian Environment

I grew up in a Christian home with parents who took us to church every Sunday and every Wednesday. In this regard, I was so blessed to be brought up in such an environment. I will be forever grateful for the example my parents have been in my life. Along with my parents, I grew up surrounded by many wonderful Christian people. I remember some wonderful Bible class teachers whom I looked up to and learned so much from. Even my grandparents were Christians and we always attended church with them when we visited. My grandma was a Bible class teacher, and for as long as I can remember, she was always actively serving in her church.

At some point as I was growing and learning, I remember becoming conscious of the fact that I did believe in God. I did believe He sent his son Jesus to Earth to sacrifice himself in order to save us.

Coming to a Decision

When I decided to be baptized, I was ten years old. Although that is young, my parents studied with me and talked with me to make sure I understood what it meant. What I remember the most from those studies came down to understanding that Jesus is God’s Son and he died on a cross to take away my sins. I remember wanting to be obedient to God and live the rest of my life for Him.

Now that I’m older, I realize that I definitely didn’t know everything or understand it in its fullness. The important thing is that I understood what Christ did for me and I wanted to give my life to Him. I think no matter how old we are when we give our lives to Christ, there is no way to fully understand how much God loves us. In fact, those of us who have been living a life for Christ for many years still learn more every day what it means to trust and obey. Being a Christian is a daily walk we must take with God to grow closer to him.

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To Walk with Christ Means to Trust and Obey

Since that day on October 14, 1990, when I was baptized, washing my sins away and promising to live my life for God, there have been many ups and downs. That’s part of walking this life, even with God. Even in my lowest of lows, I have felt God’s presence and even was brought closer to Him in those moments. I continue to walk on, knowing that no matter what may come in the future, He is there with me. I have learned on my walk, that every day is a new day and He is always there to walk with me. So I continue to trust in Him and obey Him to the best of my ability, to grow closer to Him and live out His love. I’m so glad that I made that decision twenty-six years ago.

Trust and Obey

by John H. Sammis

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word,
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]

But we never can prove the delights of his love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor he shows, for the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet,
Or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
What he says we will do, where he sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain]

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you so much for giving your own Son so that I might be saved and live with you for eternity. My thanks will never be enough to repay you for that. I pray that every day I continue to walk with you and lean on you for everything. No matter what is going on around me, I pray that I will focus on you and your Son and all the love you have for me. I ask that you help me block out the world’s noise so that I can look to you alone as my strength. I love you and I praise you for all that you do for me.

It’s in Jesus’ holy name that I pray,

Amen

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