Relationship vs. Legalism

Summary: God desires to be in relationship with us and not legalistic practices. In fact, as we submit to God’s will an interesting thing happens, God wants to know our heart on issues of the world!

There are many Christians living under living under the slavery of legalism. How does this look? A person’s prayer life can be a good indicator. If a person says the same prayer to God day and after day, it doesn’t sound like much of a relationship to me.

If a friend came to you and said the same thing time after time, at some point wouldn’t you already know what your friend is going to say to you before he speaks?

Now I use to be bound by this legalistic prayer routine. I could only imagine God saying, “Marc, I have heard that prayer, lets talk about something different.”

Editor’s note: If saying the same prayer to God enhances the relationship, go for it. Remember we each have our own personal relationship with Jesus. Allow Holy Spirit to lead you what works for you.

There is another area of life, where many Christians are bound by legalism. How many times have you heard a Christian say, “Not my will be done, but Your will be done God”.

Again, this in itself is not a bad prayer. But imagine two friends, where one friend always has his way and the other always had to submit to the other.

Wouldn’t you feel like a slave and not a friend?

God has called us friends of God, not slaves.

The key is that as we fully submit to God’s desires, He wants to know what is on our hearts. It’s about a relationship.

This is emphasized in the Bible with Jacob. Genesis 32:28 says, He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”

Notice that God did not belittle Jacob for wrestling with Him, he actually enjoyed the wrestling! Why? Because it was rooted in a relationship.

In my own life, I have wrestled with God. I have a Bible, that has no cover and back, tattered pages, and a few burnt ones in my own wrestling with God if all that the Bible says is true. And I love it! It shows my authentic relationship and with God!

Interesting note, the few burnt pages are in Genesis where it talks about Jacob!

God is longing for His people to be in a real relationship with Him and bound by legalism!


Prayer: Father, I pray that Your Holy Spirit leads us all into what it means to be in a real relationship with You! I am grateful for all you are doing in every reader’s life and pray for a spirit of revelation of what it means to be in relationship with you! I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Application and Comments: As you fully submit to God’s desires first, what is one thing on your heart that you would like to see change? God is interested! Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So come boldly to the throne of grace!

Making Progress, Not Perfectionism

Summary: It can be tempting to wait until everything is perfect before beginning something new. However, this often is not the case in life. So instead of reaching for perfectionism, reach for progress.

Last month, I felt God challenging me to upgrade the blogging experience I have been doing. Truthfully, I did not have an idea of where to begin. There was a short season where I kept waiting until everything “lined up”, before I would move forward.

I am glad that was a short season because I could have been waiting a long time!

Fortunately, I ran across something called the 30 Day Blog Challenge that has helped to make me recognize the importance of progress and not perfectionism.

Philippians 3:12-14 puts it this way:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I thought I had to have the “perfect” graphics, posts, following, etc to move forward with this venture. By me just taking a step forward each day, I feel momentum building day by day.

How relieving!

When I lie down at the end of the night, if I hear the thought progress come in it has been an great day!

Challenge: Is there something in your life that you are waiting for the stars to align before you make a step? Let me encourage you to take the first step today and trust the Holy Spirit will guide you to where He is leading. I am sure it is exciting!

Prayer: Father, I thank you that you don’t want perfectionism, but are so pleased when we take steps of faith. And Holy Spirit, I pray that you instruct us and teach us in the way we shall go and to counsel us with your loving eye upon us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Comments: What is something God is calling you to take a step in today. I would love to hear about it in the comments below..

P.S. I purposely left two periods on that last sentence to break perfectionism 😉

Trusting God One Step at a Time

Summary: Learning to trust God for the breakthrough in life starts with taking the next step.

Last September (2016), I moved in with my parents and have helped  with the downsizing process as they look to move to a smaller home.

My prayer has been when my parents move to their new home, that can be a natural separating point in our lives.

Back in late January (2017), I was returning on a bus from Atlanta to Cincinnati. It was on this trip that I felt God speaking to me in a very unique way.

I felt God saying He was going to be moving me from my parents house. My reply was, “When God?”

September kept flashing into my mind.

To add to the confirmation, I pulled out a book I had received by Dr. Charles Stanley.

“Randomly”, I opened it a time when Dr. Stanley felt God was going to move him.  In a similar way, he mentioned that September was flashing into his mind.

It was very strange but I remember feeling the comfort of the Holy Spirit upon me. I decided to start speaking into that time frame and saying this is when it will happen.

Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

By speaking into this September time frame of things shifting in my life, I am learning to trust God more that it will happen indeed September.

Do I have the answers of how this will happen? No. Often I just get the next step to take and obey the best I can.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Prayer: Father, I pray for an increase of trust to every reader. I pray that as we submit to you that intimacy with you takes off like a fire. Holy Spirit, continue to guide our ways and lead us to the best life that you have for all of us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Application and Comments: Is there something in your life that you are trusting God for that requires you to trust God? I would love to hear how you are trusting God in your situation. Please share in the comments below.

The Benefits of Praying in the Spirit

Summary: Today, I am going to write about a few benefits of praying in the Spirit and impart the gift of praying in tongues!

Praying in the Spirit is something that is relatively new to me. A mentor imparted the gift of tongues to me last year. It wasn’t something that I gave much attention to. I admit I thought it was a bit hokey.

Until this year that is.

I was at a class earlier this year that talked about how praying in the Spirit is like our secret weapon. We don’t even have to know what we are praying because it is inspired  by the Holy Spirit!

1 Corinthians 14:14 says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

Not knowing what we are praying for is exciting after many years of “unanswered prayers”. There were many times I prayed for something specific and if it didn’t come on my time table and my way I would become discouraged. Not knowing what we are praying for is exciting because we can trust God that He knows what we really need and advance His kingdom.

It helps to take the focus off of ourselves because when we pray in the Spirit, we can be interceding for those around us.

There are times I get a sense of what I am praying for and I am learning to journal those moments and see them come to pass. It helps with building a healthy relationship with God.

The second benefit of praying in the Spirit is that it is good for our brains! YAY! There is a Christian psychiatrist named Dr. Carl Peterson that writes how praying in the Spirit releases healing power.

He writes, “As we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases 2 chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit led prayer and worship.”

Wow! How awesome!

Prayer: Abba Father, I thank you so much for the gift of praying in the Spirit. Thank you that praying in the Spirit really is our secret weapon when it comes to spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18). In Jesus name, I impart the gift of praying in tongues to each reader. Stir up the gift in each reader as you see fit. I praise you Father for the love, grace, mercy and patience you have for each of us! In Jesus name. Amen. (Note: Only receive this prayer if this is something you want)

Comments: How has praying in the Spirit benefited your own life. I would love to hear your comments below! Be blessed!

Calling Out the Gold In Others

Summary: Each day we have the chance to call out the gold in people or to bury their hearts. Lets be watchful of the words we are using.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

I have been staying with my parents for around a year for various reasons, but perhaps the most important was to call out the gold in them!

How did I call out the gold in people? It’s really simple. Speak to their identity in Christ.

Examples:

  • Hey Mom, how is the daughter of God doing today?
  • Hey Dad, how is the heir of God doing today?
  • Hey Mom, how is the princess of God doing today?

The list can go on and on. (Here is a list that I recommend)

It’s how the transformation process began in me when someone spoke to my identity and I have a feeling that God is doing a incredible work in my parents as well as I plant and water their seeds of greatness.

I have noticed my parents to be much more understanding and have seen incredible growth in their lives over the past year.

Also, I like to to speak random people I meet throughout the day. To the grocery clerk, “How is the Child of God doing today?”

The beautiful thing is that it blesses the both of us! It speaks to their identity in Christ and it helps to reaffirm my identity in Christ as well!

And here is an important note. Even on the days when things aren’t going well, I firmly believe it important to call out the gold in other people. It can help prevent bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness seeping in.

Application: Who is someone in your life that God keep bringing across your path? How can you choose to bless them with the words you speak?

Prayer: Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives us uplifting words to speak to our neighbors to call out the gold in others. Have our lips be for speaking life and not death.  In Jesus name. Amen.

Comments: I would love to hear how you call out the gold in others! You can comment below.

Taking the Next Step With God

Summary: While our lifelong walk with God can seem overwhelming at times, here is a reminder of how God only asks us to take the next step.

Recently, I have been feeling the pastoral side of the five fold ministry being stirred up by the Holy Spirit inside me. I was so excited!

Before I got carried away, I felt the Holy Spirit say “Walk with me. One step at a time.”

So I asked Him, “What is the next step that I can take to be closer to where you are leading?”

Quickly, a pastor friend from a former church I went to surfaced to my mind. So I felt the next step was to reach out to him and set up a meeting.

After meeting with him this morning, we came to the conclusion that either the Vineyard Leadership Institute or School of Kingdom Ministry would be the next step for me to take.

It was so helpful to have God lead me to a great friend that offered the perfect next step to take!

Application: What is one step that you can be closer to where God is leading you?

Prayer: Father, I pray for a Spirit of Revelation and Encouragement for every reader that is reading this blog and that you Holy Spirit continue to instruct us and teach us in the way that we shall go and counsel us with your loving eye upon us (Psalm 32:8). I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Comments: I would love to hear what is one step closer to where God is leading you. Please share below!

The Benefits of Praying in the Spirit

Summary: Today, I am going to write about a few benefits of praying in the Spirit and impart the gift of praying in tongues!

Praying in the Spirit is something that is relatively new to me. A mentor imparted the gift of tongues to me last year. It wasn’t something that I gave much attention to. I admit I thought it was a bit hokey.

Until this year that is.

I was at a class earlier this year that talked about how praying in the Spirit is like our secret weapon. We don’t even have to know what we are praying because it is inspired  by the Holy Spirit!

1 Corinthians 14:14 says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

Not knowing what we are praying for is exciting after many years of “unanswered prayers”. There were many times I prayed for something specific and if it didn’t come on my time table and my way I would become discouraged. Not knowing what we are praying for is exciting because we can trust God that He knows what we really need and advance His kingdom.

It helps to take the focus off of ourselves because when we pray in the Spirit, we can be interceding for those around us.

There are times I get a sense of what I am praying for and I am learning to journal those moments and see them come to pass. It helps with building a healthy relationship with God.

The second benefit of praying in the Spirit is that it is good for our brains! YAY! There is a Christian psychiatrist named Dr. Carl Peterson that writes how praying in the Spirit releases healing power.

He writes, “As we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases 2 chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit led prayer and worship.”

Wow! How awesome!

Prayer: Abba Father, I thank you so much for the gift of praying in the Spirit. Thank you that praying in the Spirit really is our secret weapon when it comes to spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18). In Jesus name, I impart the gift of praying in tongues to each reader. Stir up the gift in each reader as you see fit. I praise you Father for the love, grace, mercy and patience you have for each of us! In Jesus name. Amen. (Note: Only receive this prayer if this is something you want)

Comments: How has praying in the Spirit benefited your own life. I would love to hear your comments below! Be blessed!

Taking the Next Step With God

Summary: While our lifelong walk with God can seem overwhelming at times, here is a reminder of how God only asks us to take the next step.

Recently, I have been feeling the pastoral side of the five fold ministry being stirred up by the Holy Spirit inside me. I was so excited!

Before I got carried away, I felt the Holy Spirit say “Walk with me. One step at a time.”

So I asked Him, “What is the next step that I can take to be closer to where you are leading?”

Quickly, a pastor friend from a former church I went to surfaced to my mind. So I felt the next step was to reach out to him and set up a meeting.

After meeting with him this morning, we came to the conclusion that either the Vineyard Leadership Institute or School of Kingdom Ministry would be the next step for me to take.

It was so helpful to have God lead me to a great friend that offered the perfect next step to take!

Application: What is one step that you can be closer to where God is leading you?

Prayer: Father, I pray for a Spirit of Revelation and Encouragement for every reader that is reading this blog and that you Holy Spirit continue to instruct us and teach us in the way that we shall go and counsel us with your loving eye upon us (Psalm 32:8). I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Comments: I would love to hear what is one step closer to where God is leading you. Please share below!

How Holy Spirit Can Inspire Your Daily Life

Summary: How checking in with God at least a few times a day can help make sure we are following His plans for our lives.

 

The Holy Spirit is an incredible encourager that can make daily life fun!  Today I want to write about how developing a routine of spending time with God that helps keeps us grounded in everyday life and is enjoyable!

It was a few months ago, I felt frustrated with my prayer life. I had been reading and meditating the Word, worshipping, praying in the Spirit and many other things. At times, it felt arduous and like I was earning God’s love by doing these routines. I knew something had to change.

There were areas of life that I did not feel I was submitting to God. I had a sense the answers would come in getting in a consistent routine of spending time with God.

So I began waking up earlier in the morning to have one on one time with God and no distractions.

I felt Holy Spirit begin to lessen the amount of the Word that I was reading and reduce the amount of time I would pray in the Spirit.

Naturally, I would say to Him, “But I want to do more!”

Holy Spirit, “I appreciate that, but this is for the best. This is a long marathon and not a sprint”

At times the process felt slow, but I feel less and less I am striving for God’s love and just resting in it.

Later, He would add a morning devotional book by Charles Stanley I had received in the mail from an unknown person (Who are you mysterious person!? Reveal yourself!). Also, He added back singing worship songs.

This morning routine helps to center myself in letting God lead and not Marc.

Then there is a time in the afternoon and evening  I spend with God as well.

This provides at least 3 check ins throughout the day that I can spend time with the Creator of the Universe and cast all my cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7).

I have had people say, “Marc, how can you have peace in your life right now, with all that you have been through?”

My answer, “God has given me a vision of where He is leading me. I do my best not to get caught up in life circumstances.”

Real Life Example:

A recent example I have, is not getting getting paid for 5+ weeks from work due to an error. Was it frustrating at times? Yes. Did I get angry at times? Yes. Did I stay in a place of blaming God? No!

These 3 main check ins throughout the day have provided a way to rest in God when it seems like my world is falling apart.

The peace I experience from spending time with God is more valuable than a paycheck.

And remember what works for me may or may not work for you. Use trial and error! The Holy Spirit would love to help you!

Prayer:

Father, I thank you for all you are doing in every reader’s life. And Holy Spirit I pray you stir up in every reader a desire to spend time with you on a daily routine basis. Let them know how much You want to spend time with them.  I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Comments:

I would like to hear from you as well! How do you spend time with the Creator of the Universe throughout the day? I would love to hear! Please share below.

Praising God in the Midst of the Storm

When people hear of a positive medical report, a frequent phrase a Christian will say is something like, “Praise God!”

Someone gets a promotion? “Praise God!”

Restoration of a marriage? “Praise God!”

But what about when your world is “seemingly” crashing in around you? That “Praise God!” business can have the tendency to get thrown out the window.

When someone gets cancer, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

When someone loses their job, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

When someone is sitting in emotional pain, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

We have been going through the Book of Psalms at church for the past month or so. A lot of David’s cries to God are not when everything is going great.

Psalm 102:1-2 says, Hear my prayer, O Lordlet my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

When I read these verses, I hear a deep cry from David’s heart for answers. It almost even sounds demanding to me. But even in the midst of pain and suffering, David remembers that praise moves God regardless of circumstances.

Here was an example of that cry to God I experienced in the past week,

I have been working for the first time in several months for about the past month and was scheduled to receive my first paycheck.

I was so excited!  Then payday came around and I got word that the company messed up my paycheck and may be another two weeks before I get paid. So that would be 5 plus weeks without getting a check!

Can you imagine my initial anger? I was furious! I let God have it! And in the midst of it God comforted me.

And I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Let’s find the golden nugget of wisdom in this situation.”

Quickly, I responded “Well I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck! No more of this!”

It was that red hot anger and cry to God that I needed to experience to say “Enough of this way of living!” And I offered God a sacrifice of praise in the midst of the situation.

And the next day I went into work holding no resentment against the company and actually blessing the company.

There is something about worshipping God in the midst of the storm that I cannot fully describe. I can cast all my worries on Him and focus on Him while it seems like everything is falling apart. (1 Peter 5:7)

And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is priceless to me and grows each time I offer that sacrifice of praise regardless of circumstances.

Challenge: Next time something goes wrong, I challenge you to praise God anyways. Shift your focus to Him. Your circumstance may not change, but your perspective will.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I pray that you teach every reader to offer that sacrifice of praise regardless of circumstances. Remind them that your goodness is not dependent on when only “good” things happen. That your goodness is when we our on the mountain with You or in the valley. I praise you God! And I ask this all in Jesus name. Amen.