Spiritual Sight (blog by me)

Have you ever been looking for your keys? You became incredibly frustrated. Then it occurred to you to pray. Then you looked up and just saw your keys! Why couldn’t you see them before? God answered your prayer by opening your eyes. In Luke 24, the disciples could not recognize the risen Savior. It would seem His resurrected body was somewhat different, perhaps more glorified than before. Then in verse 31, we are told “…their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” God gave them spiritual eyes to see Jesus was standing right in front of them!

He can open your eyes in a spiritual way too. He can reveal ideas to you in Scripture, help you see the right path for your life, and open your eyes to see ways you can pray for your friends and family. Do you want to have your spiritual eyes opened? Let’s pray!

PRAYER: Lord, You give sight to the blind and open eyes to see. Forgive me for having eyes that are always focused on me. Thank You, Lord, that You are willing to help me change. We ask You to give us spiritual sight. Open our eyes to see Your personal messages to us in Your Word, our clear path for our calling in the kingdom of God, and the prayer needs of our friends and families and whatever else You want us to see. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

When I First Became a Christian… (blog by me)

How would you finish this sentence? “When I first became a Christian, I ______________.” One thing that comes to mind about life right after I became a Christian is how little I felt like I fit in. God would send men and women of all ages and all different backgrounds, but I would think none could understand me. When God would send me Christians from wholesome families, I would say they wouldn’t understand because I come from divorced parents. When God would send me Christians from dysfunctional families, I would say they don’t understand because they are in such a struggle to overcome the problems from their upbringing.

Like the Israelites who wandered through the wilderness for forty years, my failure to trust God with my whole heart caused me to enter a time of spiritual wandering. My sanctification process was slow. Yet, it finally happened! I had finally begun to yield to the Holy Spirit regularly. Suddenly, I no longer saw how different I was from every other Christian. In fact, I started to see the only thing we had in common was Christ—yet, it was the most important thing! We are bound together even closer than biological sisters or than a sister to a biological brother because we are bound to the Spirit of God. What an amazing breakthrough!

I have to confess that at this point in time, I am still a little uncomfortable with people in church calling me “sister.” Due to my long connection with the world as a non-Christian and mainstream media’s influence, “sister” brings up an association with either cults or nuns. (To me, saying the full “sister in Christ” is much more appealing.) God is still working on me.

Verse: “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Prayer: Lord, I praise You for the Holy Spirit in Christians! Forgive me for failing to trust You with everything. Thank You that You never gave up on me. I pray for my readers, my family, and friends that they would begin to see themselves as You see them. You are are our Father, and we are Your children. That makes us all sisters and brothers in Christ! Open our hearts to feel that close bond with each other. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Hypocrisy of the Church (blog by me)

Pastors are having affairs. People in the church are lying and gossiping. Christians tell others not to sin, but they are guilty of sin themselves. It’s enough to make you sick, but don’t let it keep you from getting to know Christ. He did not die on the cross to gather up a kingdom of perfect people. He came for sinners, and they do not become sinless the moment they trust in Christ. In His own words in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

If you are tempted to fall into a trap of rejecting the truth because of hypocritical Christians, I have a message for you: Jesus says to look to Him and not to His people. His people will stumble a million times, but Jesus lived a perfect life. He is not guilty of hypocrisy. Your first step to living a life washed clean in the sight of God is accepting Christ as your Savior. Then you will begin the slow process of being refined. You too may stumble, but He will leave the rest of His flock to come after You. Jesus died to pay for Your sins. What a waste it would be for His precious blood to be spilled and for you to miss out on eternal life because you did not accept His invitation! Forget other people and your perception of the Lord that has been built on sinful Christians for a moment and just focus on just Jesus. Do you see a loving Friend with an outstretched hand? Are you ready to take it?

Pray with me. “Father, I confess I have not been open to getting to know You because of my perception of the church and Christians. The truth is my relationship with You has nothing to do with them. It is between You and me. I believe You are the Son of God who died on the cross to pay for my sins. You will raise me to eternal life in heaven with You because I trust You. Thank You for being a loving God. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”

Offended by God (blog by me)

Jesus’ miracles caused Him to gain a large number of followers besides the twelve apostles. Many gathered to listen to Him preach. One day, He taught they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life (see John 6:53-60). Upon hearing this, many were offended and turned away from following Christ. The disciples who stuck by His side learned Jesus was talking in the spiritual sense and not the literal sense, but those who turned away lost the opportunity to learn from the living God!

Have you been offended by God? Is there a Scripture that causes you to question the authenticity of the Word? Don’t turn from the living God or His Word. Taking offense is simply a spiritual trap set by the enemy to get us out of relationship with God. Choose to trust in Christ today and stand by His side. Ask for a clearer understanding. Let’s pray together, “Lord, forgive me for taking offense to You and Your Word. Help my attitude and mindset toward these offenses to match Yours. I trust You and know that You are more righteous than I am. I praise You and thank You for being a loving God who wants what is best for us. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Religious Spirit (blog by me)

The Pharisees and chief priests of Jesus’ time were familiar with Scripture, but they denied the true spirit of the law. Since they had no relationship with God, they were unable to recognize Him when He appeared right before their eyes in the man of Jesus. They were caught in a trap of a religious spirit.

Someone caught up in the spiritual trap of a religious spirit is more concerned with following the rules than following Christ. He or she is quick to criticize anyone who fails to follow their own moral code, but they fail to fulfill the greatest commandments to love God and love others (see Matthew 22:36-40). Sadly, this spiritual trap fills the one caught in it with pride and blocks a genuine relationship with the Lord.

For the most part, I am painfully aware of my inability to live up to God’s standard. However, I have with much effort been somewhat successful at living up to my own set of rules at certain times in my life. It is then that I feel a self-satisfying pride that is particularly ugly, leads me far from God, and quiets His voice. When I confess my sins and humbly call on the Lord, He is eager to hear my prayer.

Are you guilty of having a religious spirit? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to get back on the right track today so He can live in a close relationship with you. Let’s say this prayer together: “Lord, forgive me for my religious spirit. I confess I have been more concerned about rules than following You. Help my heart to seek after You and love You above all else. Help me to love others instead of criticizing them. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). From this day forward, guide me to operate in a spirit of grace to myself and others. Thank You, Lord, for the grace You have shown me in Your great mercy. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Prayer for Your Children (by me)

We pray their cares would be few,
& your peace would console their heart,
We pray they would learn their true value
& they’d live as ones set apart.

We pray they would know Your amazing grace,
Though they may never learn the depth or length,
We pray they claim You as their hiding place,
& let the joy of the Lord be their strength.

We pray they would know You as their Friend,
& learn to trust You and be still,
We pray good would come to them,
All this according to Your perfect will.

Let them share the gospel without shame,
Let them lift up praise to Your Holy Name.

Come (prayer for the unsaved by me)

We pray for the salvation of loved ones today,
that they would gain supernatural wisdom,
and learn You are the truth, the life, and only Way,
You love them and welcome them into Your kingdom.

Let them look and see our faces are radiant,
For we know You and we behold Your glory,
We testify that You are life’s sweet, pleasing fragrance,
Open their ears to truly hear our true life story.

Lead us to the house of God with shouts of joy,
You will lead, and we will follow Your voice,
We will sing praises as part of Your envoy,
Eternally, we’ll worship You and forever rejoice.

Come, all those who are weary and heavily burdened,
Come to the One who binds the wounds of the hurting.

Unforgiveness (blog by me)

In Matthew 6:15, Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” There are many opinions about what that means exactly, but the lesson is clear: Forgive! Who do you need to forgive? Wait a second to let the Holy Spirit bring that person to your mind. What they did may have been unthinkable, but it’s time to let go of that anger and turn it over to God. Holding onto it will only make you bitter and resentful, but letting go is a step to freedom and joy for yourself. I know that first hand.

Shortly after becoming a Christian, the Lord started talking to me about forgiveness. At first, I didn’t think I held any grudges against anyone. I didn’t feel bitter or resentful, but the signs were there. My mouth often dished out heaping spoonfuls of scathing sarcasm, dismissive mocking, and pessimistic cynicism. The Lord revealed to me the truth that I’d held onto anger about growing up with divorced parents. My family wasn’t perfect, and my heart was keeping a record of the wrongs against the people close to me without even letting my brain know. Is it possible you have unconscious anger against someone who love?

God wants us to feel free and happy so let’s forgive those we love. Go ahead. Ball up your fist. Call the name(s) of the people you want to forgive and open your hand to let them go. Join me in prayer. “Lord, I confess I haven’t been quick to forgive. Thank You for forgiving me all of my wrongs. Since You forgave me, I want to show my gratitude by forgiving others because I want to be obedient to You. I trust that You are just, and You will repay my debtors according to Your will. Help me to be quick to forgive all those that wrong me in the future so I can be free and joyful like You want me to be. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”

Love of Money (blog by me)

Movies and shows about serial killers and murderers have captivated the world, and I have spent my fair share of time watching them. It started with a curiosity why anyone would murder another human being. Murder seems so extreme. What could their motivation be? Were they crazy? After watching a large number of documentary-type shows, I realized their motivation was pretty simple. An overwhelming majority of murderers kill for money. And so 1 Timothy 6:10 stills ring true, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” The rest of the verse is less well-known, but it continues, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” By those words, we know the love of money is another spiritual trap.

Satan is a sneaky one. If he knows a Christian is a good person, he does not lead him away with promises of a mansion in Beverly Hills. He leads the person astray with promises of “comfort” and “security” especially for loved ones. As your comfort and security increase, the people around you have more and more making you feel like you need to keep up and before you know it, you are no longer seeking God but only money.

After I graduated from college, I reflected on the advice given me by the business professors. They advised the students to start investing in the stock market when you are young even if you don’t have much money because it will really grow by the time you retire. That’s just security, right? But the Holy Spirit told me something different in the moment I was contemplating an investment. He said, “Invest your money in the kingdom of God—not in the stock market.” I was already tithing, but I started giving to Christian organizations with the little I had and I have never been sorry.

Let’s get our hearts refocused on God today. “Lord, forgive me for putting my focus on providing for myself instead of trusting You for provision. Today, I choose to put my focus on You and Your kingdom. Help me and lead me to use my workplace as a way to show Your light. Help me to use my money to build up Your kingdom. I want to live for You because You gave up Your life for me. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”

Drug Use (blog by me)

There is no Bible verse that reads, “Don’t use drugs” so some Christians think using drugs is okay. However, Scripture does tell us to be self-controlled and alert, and that simply isn’t possible while under the influence of drugs. Many Christians think drug use opens the body to demonic influence or control. Come to think of it, my experience seems to support that idea.

Before I became a Christian, I was an atheist who did not believe in angels or demons. I was lost spiritually, and that is the way I wandered through life–aimlessly and bored. The drugs helped relieve my boredom temporarily. I smoked marijuana regularly and took acid a number of times. On acid, I would experience a high that was kinda fun and exciting because things I saw might be exaggerated. For instance, when I looked down from a two-story building, it was like looking down from a sky scraper. One time, I was looking at my friend, but instead I saw a figure dressed in a black hooded robe as if he were some sort of demon. At the time, I felt so confused because it was nothing that would ever enter my mind as I did not believe in that sort of thing.

Whether or not drugs welcome demons, they certainly do not put us in the alert and self-controlled state God calls us to be in. Money used to buy drugs is circulated in the black market instead of being used to build up the kingdom of God. Time that could be spent in prayer and God’s service is wasted. For that and many other reasons, I stopped using drugs when I became a Christian. With God’s help, it was easy to change my lifestyle to enjoy life without drugs.

If you are ready to give up using drugs or have never confessed your drug use, join me in this prayer: Lord, You are a holy God, and Your glory is splendid. I confess I have sinned against Your Name by using drugs in the past. Please forgive my drug use, and help me to never use drugs again. Remove me from situations that might be tempting to me, and give me strength to say no or even end relationships that might cause me to use drugs again. I understand they lead me away from You, and I want to draw near to You instead. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Christ’s Name, Amen.