It is important to see hope as something that makes a difference in our daily lives. Among the things hope affects are discouragement and depression. Most of us have experienced depression from time to time. Some of my heroes dealt with personal disconsolation. Among them Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century pulpiteer. On several occasions as thousands who came to hear him on a Sunday morning sang hymns and waited for him to come to the pulpit, the great preacher wouldn't appear. Finally, his deacons would go and knock on his study door. “Dr Spurgeon, you must come out. It is time for you to preach.” He would answer, “I can’t.” And the deacons would take up an offering and send him for several weeks on the French Riviera.
Depression can have a terrible hold on our lives. I am no exception to that, but it was not a major problem for most of my life. However, depression is a side effect of some of my cancer treatments. And I have had to learn to break out of the gloom. I have not always been successful, but I believe that what I have learned about this from Scripture will be helpful to many people. Psalm 42 is a great place to start. The psalm concludes with these words.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
Many of you are familiar with a gospel song that comes from Psalm 42, Why So Downcast O My Soul, by Marty Nystrom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA-S_0LcRWs Listening to this music always lifts my heart. Psalm 42 calls us to put our hope in God. Let me point out some means of putting our hope in God.
Praise is a major theme of the Psalms from beginning to end. The Hebrew people sang these songs in wonderful worship. You may be familiar with the story from the writings of Josephus about Alexander the Great ascending the Temple Mount on his white charger prepared to destroy the city. But as he did he saw the people dressed in white ropes singing the Songs of Ascent as they worshipped and prayed for the Lord to spare their city. Josephus says Alexander got off his horse and bowed with them in worship.
Praising God will certainly be counterintuitive to you if you are suffering from depression. But that is the very first thing you need to do to break depression's hold. Another gospel song that declares this truth is Praise The Lord, made popular by The Imperials https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTQg9whI-s . The lyrics read,
“For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you
That they drop powerless behind you.
When you praise Him.”
Praise is an act of the will. You can praise God even when you are feeling down.
Psalm 42 begins as the heart cry of someone who feels far from God. But in verse 4 the psalmist remembers glorious worship he has been part of in the past. Remembering is crucial to walking with Christ. We need to remind ourselves of what we know about God. We need to remind ourselves who God is. We need to remember what He has done for us. Remember His promises. In Psalm 42 we are called to remind ourselves of worship when we did feel like worshipping. Have you ever thought about this? When your heart is stirred as never before in worship, you are making memories that God can use to break depression when you are plagued with it?
In verse 5 of Psalm 42, as in the final verse, the psalmist talks to his own soul. “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God.” The world, the flesh, and the devil will speak constantly to your heart. To counter those words you need to talk to yourself. You need to tell yourself to hope in God.
Psalm 42 speaks of the joy of corporate worship. Ephesians 5:18-20 relates worshipping together to the filling of the Holy Spirit. I seldom think of the filling of the Spirit in these terms. But my idea that the filling of the Holy Spirit is something that only happens to individuals relates to a major American heresy. We think of spiritual growth, and service, and devotion as things we do alone. But we are filled with the Holy Spirit in communion with the family of God.
Listening to God is another important tool in overcoming depression. I do not mean simply remembering precious things God has told me in the past. I am also talking about actively hearing His voice in the present. I do several things to hear God’s voice. First, I listen to great preaching. I thank God for the technology that brings me teaching and preaching by great preachers like Rick Warren, N.T. Wright, Michael Ramsden, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, and the list goes on.
It is also important to listen directly to God in His word. God regularly speaks to His children in Scripture. And when I memorize a verse or a passage, I store God's word in my mind for Him to speak to me again and again.
I need to list meditation as a separate discipline here. When we spend time thinking about God's character, promises, directives, and assurances, He plants those things deep into our souls. In Psalm 119 David said he hid God’s word in his heart that he might not sin. God changes our character as we meditate on His truth. God will use this to transform our lives through the renewing of our minds. And breaking depression requires new thinking.
In our modern world we seldom think of rest as a spiritual discipline. However in Genesis 2:3 the Bible says God sanctified the Sabbath. Rest is Holy. When Elijah was discouraged and exhausted in 1 Kings 19, God gave him food, and He gave him rest.
I indicated earlier that some of my malaise has physical causes. I do not believe you have to have cancer for this to be the case. One of the physical and spiritual causes of depression is lack of sleep. I can devote time to rest. That may mean putting my cell phone out of reach, or even closing the computer, or turning off the TV at night.
Psalm 127:2 has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It says God gives his beloved sleep.
I had a chemotherapy treatment today. I often can’t sleep at all the first night after chemo. I can spend my wakeful hours in God’s word. And I can pray for my family and other prayer lists. But I also ask God to help me sleep.
Christian Fellowship is also an important tool for getting our minds off our own concerns. This can be difficult because when you are depressed you do not wish to be around people. But it is important to remember that we need one another in the family of God. Loving them and being with them is a blessing.
Giving will lift your spirits. In Acts 20:35 we are reminded that Jesus told us “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Giving someone else a gift brings more joy than receiving. This is especially true when your giving is being stretched by needs that God shows you. I am aware many of us no longer believe this. You have to put it into practice to realize how great this blessing is.
Praying for other people is an important discipline for our spiritual lives. And it is an important means of getting our eyes off our own feelings. Several days ago I was feeling particularly down. I had gone with my wife to a large grocery store with a coffee shop. While she shopped I set outside the coffee bar and tried to pray, not only for the people sitting at other tables, but for people entering and leaving the store. I cannot think of anything I've done in a long time that made me feel better.
Obedience is a crucial means of lifting our spirits. In Luke 16 Jesus told a parable about being faithful in small things. When you are down it is good to look for some small thing you can do to obey God. When we stand before God, we will will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But we can already hear Him whispering those words into our hearts as we obey even small things He has told us to do.
Finally, I believe the most powerful tool for breaking depression may be saying, “Thank you.” Thanking God is at the heart of this. I occasionally try to devote and entire day to giving thanks that God is working in the lives of people I meet, that he is present in my life, that he is worthy of my praise.
It is also good to formally thank other people for things they have done for us. It is worth sending someone a card or going to the trouble of writing a letter to say “Thank you,” to someone who has blessed you.
I know I have given you a long list. But small measures are seldom enough to break the hold of moods. I recommend that you print out this list, and try to do most, if not all of these things. I do not want you to feel guilty because this is too much. But I do encourage you to work hard to break the hold of depression. Depression protects itself by keeping you from wanting to be freed from it. Your depression itself will fight anything you do to break it. Pray that God will change your desires and behavior as you ask Him to deliver you from depression.
How do you measure the church? Do you measure it by the beauty and size of the building? Do you measure it by the number of programs and activities? Do you measure it by the number of people who attend or the size of the offerings gathered?
In Revelation 11 John was told to do some measuring. And I think his measurements tell us something about measuring the church.
“Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.’”
YOU MEASURE A CHURCH BY THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
I do not believe that the temple which John was told to measure was just the temple of God in heaven. I believe it is also the temple of God where he dwells in His church. Ephesians 2:21 says we are being built together as a dwelling for God. You measure the church partly by how its members are bonded together like bricks in a wall. This comes from fellowship, from working together, from facing trials together, from believing together, and most of all from praying together. God’s presence blesses a church whose members are bound together in Him. Is your’s a gathering where God dwells? You can sense the presence of God in a church.
YOU MEASURE A CHURCH BY ITS WORSHIP.
The altar is the place of worship. How important is worship to your church? Do people worship sacrificially, giving everything in their lives to God? Does your church worship joyfully, praising God with all of your hearts? Does service and sacrifice spring up out of love for God?
YOU MEASURE A CHURCH BY THE GROWTH OF ITS MEMBERS.
I think it is telling that John was told to measure the temple and the altar and those who worship there. You do not measure a church simply by the number of people who attend. A church must be measured by the spiritual growth in the lives that God has trusted to it. Are people becoming more Christ-like. Are people becoming more and more faithful, more and more devoted, more and more loving from the ministry of your church?
"Power to do the impossible resides in the spirits of those who know Me," I heard the Lord whisper early yesterday morning. I am more convinced than ever that every day that we neglect God is a day that we give more ground to the enemy. What is deposited in us cannot be taken from us, but in order to be effective against the world's daily assaults, in order to do the impossible, we must tap into God's power at least daily!
As I prayed recently, I saw in the Spirit a sleeping army, like an army of dry bones in the valley (Ezekiel 37:1-14). I believe I heard the Lord say, “It is time to wake up those who sleep, to activate those who slumber.” I felt His desire to reassure you of His friendship with you. He wants to call forth creative abilities in the Spirit!
God is calling forth latent creative gifts within you and calling you to come to the forefront. It is time for a great army of creative worshipers to arise like dry bones out of the valley. God is going to cause the brittle and broken dryness of your lives to disappear, and to be rubbed with a salve that takes away all pain. Those who cannot see or envision what God is doing will have their eyesight restored. Those who need creative input will receive anointed ideas, not just techniques, to impart LIFE.
Continue reading HERE
Proverbs 14:34 reads,
"Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people."
Sometimes God hands us a spiritual “Key:” a sign or token of our mastery of a gift we have or a role we play in the Kingdom of God. For example, you might realize, as I did one day, that worship is your key to the throne room, and that when you praise Him you find breakthrough, peace, and renewal. Our strategies for the future come from this place, and our function within His Kingdom is often tied to this key. When we “turn the key” by using this gifting, others are mysteriously drawn to us, and enter into the Presence of God along with us.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a board retreat for Keep Believing Ministries headed up by Dr. Ray Pritchard. It was a weekend packed with overviews of the ministry, games, good food, great conversation and prayer.
During our last night together, Peter Faulkner, the Foundation Relations Manager at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and board member of KBM, was tasked with leading the evening prayer meeting. The room was filled with a variety of church and business leaders, lawyers, artists, and moms.
Peter began the meeting by relaying a conversation he had with a friend who asked him if God couldn’t hear our prayers if our eyes were open. He said that it really struck him as a truth that he hadn’t spent much time considering. Peter said that just because we have always done something one way … doesn’t mean that it is how it has to be done.
Typically in a prayer meeting, we go around the room and list our prayer requests, we close our eyes … then try to remember everything that everyone asked us to pray about … then wonder if it is our turn yet … and wonder if our prayers are too long … or too short …
Peter asked us if God missed what we said the first time. Wasn’t He with us all along? He suggested that we try something new and then he challenged us to go around the room and as we shared our prayer requests, to actually pray those requests … out loud … to God … with our eyes open.
One by one we offered up our own prayer requests to our heavenly Father who knows our hearts and delights in the time we spend with Him. It was beautiful, and intimate, and no prayers were missed or forgotten. Some of the most seasoned among us let their tears flow while laying out their petitions before the Lord and before all of us.
I don’t think that I want to go back to the old way of group prayer and I don’t think it matters much to God if our eyes are open or closed. I think He hears us just fine.
How do you pray in a formal worship service? Of course you want to join your heart to prayers that are prayed out loud as part of the service. You need to remind yourself to connect with those prayers. And you need to pour yourself into the praises being sung. This too may need to be intentional.
However, that is not all the praying you need to do in a worship service. Every time you enter a worship service you need to ask God to help you hear His voice. One of my life-scriptures is Matthew 23:1-12. In those verses Jesus said none of us were to be called Rabbi or instructor “because we have one instructor, the Christ.” This is more than a call for humility in preachers. This is a reminder that if we learn from or are stirred by a preacher, it is to be Christ Jesus Himself speaking through him. There are a number of barriers to hearing from God in a worship service. The greatest of them are in our own hearts. But whatever the barriers, we can ask God to speak to us.
For many years I began worship services by inviting people to ask God to speak to them and let them hear His voice. I have usually added words like, “I do not believe it offends God for you to pray, ‘God if you are real, let me hear your voice.’”
I have also asked people to pray the same prayer for the persons seated on either side of them. You may not know exactly what that person needs, but God knows just what they need to hear from Him. I have also suggested that it would not be impossible for some to pray for everyone in the room, or if it were a large congregation, it would not be impossible to pray for many people all around them during the service. I am aware that many preachers have told us to pray only for ourselves in a worship service. We understand that they wanted us not to be distracted from our own needs or sins by praying for other people. However, I believe we are most likely to hear God’s voice if we are praying throughout the service.
DAY TWENTY TWO:
PRAYER: (Against Anxiety, Day 4
Heavenly Father, Your Word is written in the Heavens and forever it is true. It rises to the ends of the earth, seals joy in the hearts of many, fear in the hearts of most and a lack of concern in the hearts of others. Your Word is sufficient for me. It drives me, it inspires me, it instructs me in the night and directs me in the day. It washes over me, it anoints my head even, with the oil of joy as its beauty overrules the ashes and soothes the souls to the point of healing. It is a balm in Gilead and the river of cool water - nay, an oasis in the dry thirsty desert of life. It gives Life. Your true Word, oh God, gives life and love and limitless Grace to the humble while condemning the proud.
How can my soul be downcast when I drink in Your Goodness, as seen in Your Promise. How can I wallow in self-pity, anxiety, fear and nervousness when I consider Your Heavens, the Work of Your Fingers and the Majesty of Your Creation. You made man and even the Son of Man, a little lower than the angels. You gave Him up as a sacrifice to sin, like a sheep led to slaughter only to let Him be exalted above all. You raised Him up on the third day to the eternal glory in heaven and on earth. He sits on Your Right Hand of Power for all eternity, one today to rule this earth with a rod of iron, and a heart of velvet love, grace, mercy and compassion. He brings us home at the instant of death, in the twinkling of an eye and our cup runneth over with the hope of eternal life in Your Kingdom, the Kingdom of His Marvelous Light. His Name is Jesus, Adonai. El Shaddai, Your Son Yahweh refreshes me constantly - from day to day. His mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness, Lord unto me.
So why should I be troubled and full of turmoil and disquiet in my soul? How can I be ruined in my spirit, walk around with my head hanging down, bumping into things and sad all the day long when my God and my Savior, cares for me? Praise, worship and honor belong to You, oh God, who has shown me the way out of a crisis, any crisis which affects the souls and lives of men and women - and that way is found in chasing after You first, praising You, worshipping You, staying super-glued and connected to Your Holy Word and obeying every statute and directive which cometh from on High, to my eternal benefit.
You are my God. You are my help in ages past and my hope for years to come. Be thou my guide while I live upon this earth. Lead me into paths of righteousness and near streams of cool waters and green valleys, that I may continue to rest in you, free from the horror and panic of this world, as the Joy of the Lord shines from my soul giving testimony and proof of the Living Word, who dwelleth within me. Oh Lord, my God, how excellent, wonderful, awesome and mighty is Your Name, the Name of King Jesus, Lord of Heaven's Armies and it is in His Name I pray, amen.
"Prayer is the master strategy that God gives for the defeat and rout of Satan." - Wesley L. Duewel
Paul, in Ephesians 6, also addresses the matter; and how we are to press past the things that attempt to make us spiritually impotent and prayerless.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. - Ephesians 6:10-20 (emphasis added)
Proverbs 3:5-8 says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
If we focus on ourselves, our feelings, or our desires to first prompt us to pray, we've missed the mark.
Reviewing some of what we just read: Trust in the Lord. Be strong in Him and His mighty power. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Put on the full armor of God. And the list could continue.
When to Pray
The right time to pray is right now. After you finish praying, continue praying. After that time, when you feel like quitting, pray some more. And so on... but do so in God's strength, with His mind, and Word.
1 Thessalonians 5 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit..."
Yielding to God
We can all make attempts to try harder to pray; to pray longer; pray more frequently, etc. But we'll fail. Every time. The secret to praying, praying well, praying effectively, praying continually, and growing relationally with God in prayer is to seek Him first and always while we pray!
Some simple ways to invite God to grow you in prayer include:
Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit as you begin to pray, while you pray, and whenever you remember to pray (if you catch yourself having stopped praying for a time).
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you listen for God's voice or promptings as you pray. That's another critical way to continue praying!
Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to people, matters, or point you back to God as you pray.
Worship God in prayer. Select a Psalm that tells of some of God's attributes. Read it and pray it back to God as a form of worshiping Him. He'll grow your awe, wonder, and desire for Him!
Find a book about God's attributes. Pause to worship God while you read and after you stop reading!
Ask God to speak to you as you read His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring His Word fresh meaning into your life and prayer life!
Thank God for specific conversations you share with Him or others.
All of these ideas, and more, can be used day and night to continue praying without ceasing! They can be repeated while you pray- especially if you feel like you're running out of ideas or matters to be in prayer about. But it's significant to invite God to direct your prayers by His Word and Spirit.
Be, and become, active in God's master strategy to rout Satan today and throughout the days to come!
Text may be also found at: www.prayonsite.org/blog/waiting-right-time-pray
For many believers, churches, denominations, and missions organizations prayer has been lost. The Apostle Paul says: "Pray without ceasing," or "Pray continually," or "Never stop praying."
The devil has been taking people captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26) since the fall of man. The land and kingdoms of this earth are controlled by him (Matthew 4:8-9). As we think about advancing the Kingdom of God we know that there is a fight between two kingdoms. There are places in the Arabian Peninsula that have been controlled for years by the devil. Pray that the land of the AP will be freed from the devil and his control. Pray that the hearts of Gulf Muslims would be freed from the hardness the devil places there, especially the hardness against knowing Jesus the Son of God and the full truths about Jesus. Pray for a growing movement among people who will seek Jesus to advance His great name in families, villages, towns and cities across the AP. The devil has been in control too long, we are seeking the God of all creation to have a great victory in the AP.
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will kneel down and worship me."
What did Jesus respond? "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Matthew 4:10
I confess that I often approach both You, and Your gift of prayer, with too small of a mindset. Sometimes, I imagine the things I have the ability to accomplish or dream up, and then ask You to do only that much. Yet, You're able to do immeasurably more, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 3 (2). Other times, I only pray thinking of the things of which I want or desire. While it's not wrong or bad to do so, I confess that I often forget or neglect to worship, praise, and thank You for who You are, what You've done, and are doing (3). I often fail to pray for others' concerns, joys, and for the lost (4). I confess that I mostly consider Your actions and provisions ahead of You, Yourself. Forgive me and continue to grow my trust, joy, and understanding in/of You (5).
Thank You for Your grace, forgiveness, compassion, and care (6). Thank You for giving Your Holy Spirit to dwell within me (7). Change my thinking, understanding, compassion for others, and more (8). Continue to fill me with Your Spirit, that I may see others, and their situations, through Your eyes (9); that I may hear what they say, and don't say, accurately, as with Your ears (10); and that I may read, take to heart, and apply what Your Word says (11).
Help me to pray from Your Word and heart (12); think Your thoughts; see myself, people around me, and our matters of agreement and disagreement accurately and lovingly as You do. I am not capable of any of these things on my own. I yield to You. You're the Rock that I stand upon (13). You are my Joy and Strength (14), (15). You are the Light of my life in this dark world (16), (17). You are the Lifter of my head when I become discouraged, distraught, and even self-centered (18). You are the Corrector of my vision; helping me to see You, myself, people, and matters with far greater accuracy than I could ever imagine or attempt to understand on my own (19).
You are Lord of All. Some try to convince me and others that You are not Lord at all (20). Help me to love and pray for them with Your perfect love, compassion, and care. Also, quicken the hearts and minds of other Christians to meet these people where they're at, to pray for them, and with them as Your Spirit leads and prompts. Increase my sensitivity to Your Holy Spirit's promptings. I desire to be obedient to bring You, and Your Name, glory; fulfilling things You've prepared for me to do since before You created time (21).
I worry not about what's to come because You are there (22), (23). I worry not about the things of the past: for You are my perfect Redeemer (24) (25). I worry not about the present (26), because You are near, and Your Spirit and Word are guiding, sharpening, correcting, and renewing me; providing light to my feet and a lamp for the path before me (27).
I worship You, Jesus; Lord of All. Nothing is too great or small; for You created and care for it all. Continue to shepherd me through this day and night ahead (28) for Your glory alone. In Jesus' name, and in increasing and endless praise, (29) Amen.
It has been said that the best defense is a good offense. As I have continued to meditate on the Psalms this week, I believe that is true, but with a qualification. (Click here to read more: http://goo.gl/gJr7uT)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. - James 3:13-18
Father, in You, we find the fullness and completeness of wisdom. You do not lack in any way. You are pure, holy, righteous, gracious, all-powerful, merciful, loving, and much more through the ways You display your wisdom. And as we consider some of your countless attributes; wisdom is found within each- perfectly so! My mind can not fathom this, or You, fully. I worship you. You alone are God. Neither I, anything, or anyone else, come anywhere close to your perfections. You are awesome in this place, just as You are awesome in every place! Help me to grow in deeper intimacy with You- that I may know You better and make You better known to those You bring around me or lead me toward. What a privilege it is to personally know the God of all, and Your Son, Jesus Christ- through whom You made it possible to personally know and draw near to You. The words, "thank you" do not suffice, but they're the best I have to offer in worship at this moment. Continue to lead me, and all who You lead to read this, into deeper awe, fear, trust, understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and more in You. For Your glory alone. In Jesus' name, Amen.
We live in a day and age where many people exercise for health, appearance, and happiness. Many who do so wear heart rate devices to monitor the speed of their heart rate as they run or work out. If the rate is too high or low, they change pace to bring it into a safe or more comfortable range to prevent injury or worse.
But how do we check our spiritual heart rates? Has someone developed a device that will do such a thing?
If such a device exists, would we be scared to own something that shows us the rate our spiritual heart beats for God? What if it showed a heart beating faster for something or someone other than God? What would we do?
God has given us at least three such devices- and the good news (or bad news; if you fear having such accountability) is that we already have them. There's no purchase to make!
Our first spiritual heart rate monitor is the Holy Spirit. We who've already received Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior know the Holy Spirit dwells within us (Romans 8:5-17). He resides within to help us worship God throughout each day. He points out sin areas in our hearts that must be addressed before He will work more fully and completely within and through us (Galatians 5:16-25). He also helps align our hearts with His heart, God the Father's, and Jesus' heart- so that we can know what to do, and how to pray, moment-by-moment throughout each day.
Our second spiritual heart rate monitor is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God has given us His Word to help quicken our spiritual heart rates toward Him, His creation, and others (all pointing our hearts back to worshiping God for who He is). Without reading and applying God's Word into our lives each day, we quickly can become spiritual couch potatoes; unhealthy and out of shape to serve God or others. Spiritual couch potatoes absorb God's glory and poorly reflect it back to Him. They struggle or fail as fruitful witnesses to others who need to come into a personal relationship with God. They can exhibit slow, or sometimes even hard-to-notice, heart rates toward God or others.
Healthy time and prayer in God's Word (and with the empowering of the Holy Spirit) quickens the heart for the Father, increases awe in who He is, and motivates the Christian to both watch for God working around them daily, and witness as He provides opportunities to do so.
Our third spiritual heart rate monitor comes in the form of other Spirit-filled, Word-grounded, Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25). These Christians exhibit healthy beating hearts and lives as they pray, serve, and train (disciple) others around them. They aren't actors, but are living fully in the joy, power, love, grace, and truth of God and His Word. These Christians are eager to help others freshly taste and see that He is good- in every day and every way; making disciples of Jesus out of others around themselves. Proverbs 27:17 also sums it up well. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
Heart Check Time
Have you checked your spiritual heart rate monitors recently/today? Are you willing to believe what they say?
What are your spiritual heart monitors saying? Is your heart beating quickly in God's presence (worshiping, praising, and thanking Him for who He is and for specific things you see Him doing in and around you)?
Is your heart rate slow; maybe barely beating? Does it seem like a lot of time has passed since you've dwelt in His presence; worshiping, watching, or quietly listening for His voice as you worship Him in your heart?
God desires that our hearts beat quickly and only for Him. He is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:23-24). Our hearts quicken as we seek Him, worship, and allow our hearts to be filled with awe and wonder of who He is (by His Word, Spirit, and the witness of other Christ-centered people).
Take some time right now to ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and assess your heart rate (Psalm 139:23-24). If it's not where He'd (or you'd) like it to be, don't beat yourself up or become frustrated. Instead, confess whatever needs to be confessed to God. Realign your heart with His as He instructs, and allow Him to fill you with His joy, presence, fullness, and more that will quicken your heart rate for Him and reflect his glory outward to others as well. As you do, others will begin to see more and more of Jesus within you!
Continue checking your spiritual heart rate throughout each day. It's a vital way to live a healthy and Christ-honoring life moment-by-moment!
If we confine worship to Sunday church services, ritual overshadows relationship. To walk with God 24/7 is life's greatest adventure!
“The worship of God is not a rule of safety—it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable.”
- Alfred North Whitehead
What does your heart ache for—really, truly, above all else?
Does your inner being yearn for a close walk with God?
Does your soul long for Jesus to be real to you?
Have you declared “I will not let you go unless you bless me”?
Does anything else in life compete for the noblest quest?
Are you doggedly journeying toward heaven’s gate?
Do you want to win against sin? You can, with God’s help.
Persevere in the wrestling match all through the night.
At daybreak you will see Christ’s face—struggle on.
"Your name will no longer be Jacob … It is now Israel,
because you have struggled with God … and have won."
(Genesis 32:28 NLT)
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Colonial Beach Baptist Church, Virginia
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized
Book available through local bookseller or preferred on-line retailer.
Author’s blog www.GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized.com
[This devotion was based on/adapted from Day 22 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]
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