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Monday, April 13, 2015

Who's First in Your Life?

Photo by Jesper Noer. Used with permission.
           "Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me."                              
                                                                     A.W. Tozer

A very true statement. Sometimes the things we do, see, and become in life seem harmless to begin with and then infiltrate our lives, gradually blinding us to the fact that God's now on the back
burner of our life. Reading our Bible is one of the ways we can put God first in our lives. A couple of weeks ago I talked about the importance of prayer, and this week I wanted to talk about the equal importance of the Bible in our lives.

Take some time to think about these questions and honestly answer them:

What's the first thing you think of when you wake up? Is it about all the errands you need to run? About getting to work on time?

What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your phone for notifications?

What do you do with your money when you first receive your paycheck?

 Do any of those firsts begin with God? You can always tell what your focus is by finding a pattern in your life of firsts.

I can honestly say the first thing I do when I wake up is check my texts and emails. It's a very bad habit that has infiltrated my life. But of course since when is reading texts and emails sinful? Not usually unless the content is bad. But then that's the scope of what we deem as wrong and we continue to let seemingly harmless things into our life turn into an addiction.  There's nothing wrong with reading books with appropriate content or even exercising, but when these harmless hobbies become an addiction where I spend more time with them than God, this is sin.

Evaluate your responses and see what's keeping you from making God first. I'd encourage you to take the challenge- instead of reaching for whatever it is you do first in the morning, reach for your Bible instead. Instead of thinking about your long to-do list, clear your mind with prayer and read your Bible first. Try doing this for a month and see how it goes, and at the end of the allotted time I too will get back with you to let you know how it went as I begin to put God first.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Results of 30 Days of 30 Minutes of Prayer

After the 30 days of prayer, I was really excited to see just how many prayers God had answered within the month. Some of them were really impossible situations that I was placed in that God got me out of. The results were uplifting and allowed me to better trust in God for whatever is going on in my life.

The best thing about one of the answers to prayer was that I had been praying for something since last October with no results; of course, I'd been praying about it a few minutes a day, what'd I expect? So by mid-March I received an answer to that situation- a good answer. This really showed me the importance of the quantity of time. Quality of time in prayer is good, but if I'm praying for two minutes a day about something very important, how is that quality time? Does it really mean that much to me if I barely spend any time praying about it? We would never tell dads that 5 minutes with their children after work is quality time, even if they had a good 5 minute conversation. We would never pat a dad on the back for that. We'd be appalled if he chose to spend a few minutes of his time with his kids on a daily basis.  Quantity is just as important as quality; in fact, they both go hand in hand. You cannot have quality time with God if you are only spending a few minutes of your day with Him.

Because of praying for an extended amount of time longer than I was normally used to, praying for extended periods of time is easier for me to do on my own. It isn't as hard as it was at the beginning. I began to form a good habit! Now granted, it didn't make me able to effortlessly spend 30 minutes a day after that, but it wasn't as hard to pray for a long time as it used to be.

So what were the results like for you? Post in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Occur?

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

"But when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs . . . ." Hosea 13:6-8a

The other day I was studying Hosea with a friend, and I came across the answer to that well-known question that many of us tend to ask when something bad happens. I wouldn't say this passage in Hosea is the ultimate answer to all of the bad things that occur in life, but I do think a majority of them occur because like Israel, we too forget God. Isn't that how many are saved? They rejected God, forgot about Him, lived for themselves, and then when something bad occurs they are drawn to God, at least that's how it is for most people. And I believe God uses bad situations, as in the passage of Hosea, to draw us back to Him, or even draw us to Him through salvation. It's for our ultimate good. There's a purpose to the pain. God is a jealous God, and if we lose sight of Him, won't He do whatever He can to bring us back to Him?

It's so very true that when things are going well we don't feel the need to pray or read our Bible as much. We begin to let the world start to consume us with things we think can fill us, and then when something bad happens we're reminded that only God can fill us. I'm glad that God has given me a bad situation in life, because it keeps me from forgetting Him and ultimately causing something worse to happen to remind me that God's in control of my life. It reminds me to pray and remember that I need Him, constantly, all the time.

And for those who currently aren't facing a bad situation, whether that be the loss of a job, a family member, or even a sudden health issue, think about your good circumstances in life and take heed of this passage. Remember that when you're full and satisfied things can get dangerous. Continue to praise God, thank Him, read His word, and pray each day. Don't be so full you forget Him and He causes adversity in your life to occur so you can remember Him.