Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturdays with Ashley

Stay Strong

I've been thinking a lot lately about what we as Christians need to do to "stay strong." We all have been through the season of being really on fire for God and then it dies down and we wonder what happened. So how do we prevent this from happening? What are some thing that we can do to stay on fire for God? Here are a few things that I think are critical if you want to grow in your relationship with God.

First I would say pray. If you go and look at Jesus life you'll notice that he prays a lot. He would often go off by himself and pray (ex. Mt 14:23). He prayed when he was healing people, he prayed when he was preforming miracles, he prayed when he was alone, he prayed when he was with his disciples, and he prayed when he was about to die. His life was filled with prayer. We wear the W.W.J.D (what would Jesus do) bracelets but we never really look at what he DID. We learn how to live our life by reading and studying the life of Jesus. In his life prayer was very important to him, we should make it very important in our lives also. Jesus taught about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15, he shows us how to pray and assures us that we have a good Father who listens to our prayers. When we pray we need to do so with boldness because we have a Father who longs to give us good gifts. We need to realize that when we pray He hears and His hand moves at the sound of our voice. We may not see the result, but we need to be confident that His hand did move and that He heard our prayer. I think one of the key lines in Jesus' prayer in Matthew 16 is "Your will be done." When we pray we need to have this mindset YOUR will be done. Often times I've looked back on some things that I've asked for and it's a good thing God doesn't do my will. Honestly if God were to always do OUR will....we would be in trouble. We can't see the big picture of what's going on, we don't know that if we get what we asked for right now it may mess us up later. So when you pray don't be discouraged if you don't see the results immediately, He heard your prayer, His hand moved, and the answer will be revealed to you when the time is right.

The second thing I would say is get into the word. In Matthew 4 we see Jesus being tempted, and he fights by quoting scripture. We have to know the word of God because Satan knows it too. If you read through the story of when Jesus was tempted you'll see that Satan is quoting scripture. He does the same thing today, atheist know the bible. Actually it seems almost like everyone knows the bible really well except Christians. That doesn't make any sense to me. They're hitting us with verse after verse and we aren't able to combat against them. We end up flustered and frustrated because they knew more about the bible than we do. The problem is they're taking verses and twisting the meaning just like Satan did in Matthew 4 with Jesus. If we don't know the verse then we aren't able to stand up and say no that's not right. Ephesians 6:17 talks about the word being our sword. This isn't a physical sword, please do not go around trying to stab people with you Bible...that would be really bad. It is our sword for the spiritual realm "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." (Ephesians 6:12) I think the Bible being our sword is symbolic of more things than just something to fight with. If you've ever tried to fight with a sword you know it's not very easy. No one would recommend you going into battle without ever having picked up a sword before. They're really heavy and require lots of practice before you can use it effectively. So go into you room and read the word before you go out into battle. The sword can destroy your enemies, but if you don't know how to use it then it will weigh you down.

The third thing I would say is worship. Revelation 4 talks about the throne room of God, around His throne there is constant worship. They are worshiping Him and crying out how beautiful and holy He is. Something happens in our heart when worship. We fall in love again, we realize why we've given our lives to serve Him. We do it because we love Him. Worship is our way of showing how much we love Him. Keep in mind worship isn't just before service on Sunday. Paul explains it best in Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship." In our daily decisions we are worshiping God. When we choose to stop and just say hello to our neighbor, when we control our temper when something has really made us mad, when we don't love others, and when we lift our face up to the sky and whisper I love you. This is our worship. Every moment we have the choice to live our lives as an act of worship. If we do things we normally would do anyways, but with an attitude of this is my act of worship. If you do this you will see a huge change in your life, and you'll also be rewarded greatly in the age to come.

Easy? No. Am I successful at all of these? No, but I'm striving to be. My encouragement would be for you to not settle. Set your own standards, don't live by what the world says is an okay christian. Fight to stay strong, you have to fight because the battle is raging in the spiritual realm. Fight to stay strong....don't give up.

God Bless
Ashley 

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