Are you a giver or a taker?

Comedian, Michael Jr. told of a point in his career when he needed more laughs... God spoke to him before one of his performances that he needed to stop trying to get people to laugh and to start giving people an opportunity to laugh. From there his success went through the roof!

Just that simple thought process shift will radically change anyone's profession. A shift from "what I can get to what I can give". 

A huge key to success is shifting our mindset from getting someone to do something to giving them an opportunity to do something. This principle originated with our Heavenly Father and applies to every area of life and every field of work.

God didn't take the offensive approach and say, "Why did the first people I made have to sin? Why me?" No, He got right to work on his plan to redeem all mankind through Jesus. This was Jesus' goal in everything he did while he was on this earth. Everything he said was to help people be drawn to the Father, not put the spotlight on Jesus' ministry or build his name. He said "I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." John 6:38 NLT

Wharton Professor Adam Grant shares, "most of us assume that people achieve success and then start giving back. But what if the opposite is true? Could it be that giving first actually leads people to succeed later?"

Jesus said "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap." Luke 6:38  It has to happen in that order or success will take longer coming and be much more of a struggle than it should. 

John F. Kennedy owned this principle when he said during his inaugural address, "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." So, let's have our goals and dreams mapped out, but then ask ourselves "what can I do for those I'm expecting to receive from?" Imagine how much smoother a Monday would go if we walked in to work with that mindset! And Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. :)

Try it out! It works when exercised out of a genuine heart. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

What are you studying?

I sat outside at our patio table recently enjoying a few quiet minutes with nothing pressing on my mind. This is partly due to the chore charts we have been implementing in our household this summer which has been working beautifully! I realized on the first day of summer break that I just couldn't do everything. Nor should I have to. I am a huge advocate of raising our children to prepare them for adulthood, not just to give them a great life. 

As my eyes followed a couple of robins, I started thinking about how everything they did was on purpose. Then I realized that there are people who actually study birds for a living! They are called OrnithologistsOrnithologists study every aspect of birds, including bird songs, flight patterns, physical appearance, and migration patterns.

People study what they are interested in. My sister, Kimberly is studying right now for her Bachelors degree so she can move up in her field of interest. Second Timothy 2:15 says,"Study to show yourself approved unto God; a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (KJV)

The Bible is THE word of truth. When we face doubts or confusions or need answers to questions, God's word is where we need to turn first. Some people view studying as a laborious task that requires other activities to be pushed to the back burner. This may be true in most areas of study. But when it comes to God's word, that course of study is full of joy and wonderful revelations. 

And as a bonus, God never puts any time crunches on us to know a certain amount of scripture for an exam. We will face tests, but not from God. :) What we study builds us up so that when the tests from this world come, we can pass with flying colors! We've all had tests that have been thrown at us that we didn't score so well in... Is it because we weren't prepared? Maybe we didn't study like we should have? 

First John 5:3-4 explains that "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."

So let's be encouraged! Studying God's word is not a burden, but is fun and so rewarding.

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you sick of the season you're in?

The other day, I was reading the story of a young man who was frustrated with where he was in life. He went on to explain that God was teaching him to submit to the season he was in. 

My instinct told me this was crazy; especially if that season is an undesirable one! Who wants to submit to something they want out of? When we are going through a rough time in life, isn't the goal to grit our teeth and get out of it ASAP? Here's God's perspective... "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2)

The word "submit" is actually not a dirty word... It simply means to yield without complaining in order to develop patience. :)

Whether we got ourselves into the season we're in, or someone else influenced where we are right now; it's up to us how fast we move out of that season. The great news is that seasons don't last forever. The atmosphere is what determines the length of the season.

If you live in Southern CA, the main season is summer because the atmosphere is mainly hot. The seasons are more varied and shorter in the Northeast because the atmospheric conditions vary. That's good news for us since regardless of the atmosphere we're in, WE control the atmosphere WITHIN! How do we control our atmosphere? By being intentional about who we talk to & listen to, what we watch & read, etc. The quicker we alter our internal perspective, the sooner the season will pass.

Don't wish the season away though, because how quickly we move out of it is determined by how quickly we learn. As James 1:3-4 reminds us, we need to be patient through the learning. We have to let patience have her perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. In other words, be diligent through the learning process.

Learning is what will push us into the next season! We need to stop complaining and start being thankful for what we're learning. If we feel like we've been stuck in the same season for too long, we should ask ourselves what we're supposed to be learning. Each season gets easier as wisdom is gained. 

So, let's be submitted to the season we're in or we'll have to surrender to that season for a LONG time. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

 

Should we be alarmed at North Koreas recent activities?

It shouldn't have come as a shock when on America's independence day we received the news alert that North Korea had finally perfected a missile capable of hitting the United States. 

Many people including Christians are responding to this development with fear and hatred. I agree that North Korea is Americas enemy and it might seem like a perfectly natural feeling to be afraid for our safety. First of all, though, we have nothing to fear. We are told 365 times in the Bible not to fear! That's one reminder for every day of the year! :)

Psalm 91:1 Amplified version says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]." Jesus reiterated this in John 15:1-8. My translation of these verses... "If you stay connected to the vine, everything will work out fine."

When we still struggle with fearful thoughts, what we need is a greater revelation of God's love.     1 John 4:18 reminds us that there is no fear in love and that God's perfected love casts out fear. We also have to remember that the love of God has been shed abroad (spread completely around) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)

Once God's love is controlling us, His compassion will bubble up in us; and what once were thoughts of retaliation will become thoughts of mercy. As I began thinking about these things, I truly felt God's heart for North Korea. God's heart is that all people come to repentance. His mercy always triumphs over judgment. 

So as the news alerts continue to pop up, let's commit to pray for North Korea. God is so rich in mercy. His mercy endures FOREVER! In fact, all 26 verses of Psalm 136 say "His mercy endures forever." :) As we pray for God's mercy on America, let's not forget about the other parts of the world that haven't experienced God's love yet. It's not too late.

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

 

Do you wish you had more hours in your day?

What if I told you I found a way to make the 24 hours in my day go further than other peoples 24 hours... This is not a blog on time management since I've never taken any courses on that topic, nor do claim to be an expert in that area. I have been blessed with a super busy lifestyle including 6 active children, a husband who travels a LOT for work which means I keep up our home and yard, schedule all the kids activities and appointments and help Jonathan with our businesses.

So where do I find time to write a book, blog every week, prioritize time with Jonathan in the evenings when the kids go to bed (yea, that's hard in the summertime lol) and set aside Sundays for church and family time?

My secret... I spend the first hour of every day with God reading his word, praying, worshiping and seeking direction. When I first started doing this years ago I was inspired by a mom who did this and saw amazing results in the first few weeks! Everything she needed to do got done AND she had spare time. 

Just recently I was reading about tithing. Everyone's been given 24 hrs/day. If we tithed our time like we do our money, we would be giving God a little more than 2 hrs/day. What if we only tithed our waking hours... That's 1 1/2 yrs/day. This is my new goal. I am convinced that the more time I give God each day, the more he will give back to me. 

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to make the most of our time, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence, because the days are filled with evil. Verse 17 goes on to remind us to not act thoughtlessly, but to understand what the Lord wants us to do. 

Our time is valuable. If you think you have too much time on your hands, stop and ask God how to use the time you have. If you are completely overwhelmed with how little time you have, stop and ask God how to use the time you have. :) God's got an amazing plan for every minute of our day. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

 

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Is our commitment being challenged?

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Over the last couple decades of my life, I have failed to stay committed to various aspects of my life. Why is it that we stick with some things but let other things fall by the wayside? 

Just a few things from a long list of my failed commitments are relationships, gym memberships, friendships, addictions... And we won't even start talking about New Years resolutions! We've all been inspired at some point in our life journeys to make commitments to something. The problem is that after making the big decision, we didn't manage that decision daily. 

My good friend and business mentor, Carey Bender recently said "There will always be a challenge to a commitment." How true this is! It's not a matter of if but when. The challenge though doesn't mean the commitment needs to change. It means our stamina to overcome the challenge needs to increase.

Where does that added stamina come from?  On the medical level, stamina comes from the heart. Athletes know that the faster your heart beats, the more oxygen is pumped through the body into the muscles which increases endurance. They also know that they must deny their body certain harmful habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating fried foods all the time.

Psalm 37:5 says "Commit your way unto the Lord and He will bring it to pass."

When challenges come to question our commitment, instead of bracing ourselves for another blow, let's commit our ways to our loving Heavenly Father. He knows our heart's desire is to overcome traps that have come against us and he is always ready to help us. 

So am I saying embrace the challenge? YES! It's not about being perfect at something but about staying committed and never quitting. Let's remember that we are spiritual athletes and to stay focused in our training. With Holy Spirit as our teacher, we will always have a clear play by play.

Keep going! You're looking good! :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

It is possible to see God!

This past Sunday was a monumental day in the history of our church... A new lead pastor officially stepped into his new role and then proceeded to share with the congregation. He shared a prophetic word that was given to him at 14 years old by his pastor at the time. The word was that he would keep his heart pure all the days of his life.

I kept thinking about this word throughout that day. First, was it really possible to keep our hearts pure? Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Then one of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 jumped out at me. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

So if it is possible to have a pure heart, we will actually be able to see God? John 1:18 says that "No man has seen God at any time." I had to have clarity on this seemingly impossible verse! 

First I remembered that when we are born again, God sees us as pure. (He remembers our sins no more.) Whether we act pure or not doesn't change how God sees us, it only taints our relationship with Him. Pure doesn't mean perfect. It means every part of our hearts cry "Lord, I am yours to command." :)

The pure in heart have their eyes opened to see how to let God work in their lives and how to walk in the light as He is in the light. Now what about seeing God? This is what I found when I looked up the word "see" in the 1828 Webster's dictionary...

"To perceive, understand, discern, to know. To observe, notice, to attend to, to discover. To learn, to know by revelation, to have faith in and rely on, to enjoy, to have fruition of." I don't know about you, but I would rather have all of these things manifest in my life then to actually physically see God with my two eyes. 

So I came to the conclusion that I am pure (even though I'm never perfect) and that I will see God work in my life as a result of my decision to let Him be Lord over my life. Here's how the Message translation puts it... "You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." :)

What an awesome, life-long adventure we have in learning about God!

www.whatbelongstous.com

Is your foundation laid?

 Along Route 30 here in Lancaster, a huge construction project has been underway for almost 1 year now. Only recently, though, have we seen walls go up and roofs added. Month after month various work vehicles covered the stretch of land and people were hard at work. Month after month it looked like nothing was happening! Huge holes had been dug and truckloads of pipes had been unloaded but nothing had been "built".

What we couldn't see though was that extremely vital work was being done underground. Surveying, site preparation, sewer, water, electrical work and concrete pouring are just the things I know; which I'm sure is NOT a comprehensive list, since I don't come from a construction family nor have we ever built a home!

So many Christians desire the life of a mature believer but aren't willing to do the work to build themselves up. 1 Peter 2:2 reminds us that we should crave the word of God just like newborn babies crave milk to help them grow. Every time we read and meditate on God's word, we are being built up.

Verse 4  then calls us living stones that are chosen and precious in God's eyes. Verse 5 says we are like living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. As we build ourselves up, then we are able to help build other people up. You've probably heard the saying "hurting people hurt people." Well, healthy people help people!

There will never be a shortage of hurting people in this world, but we can only help them when we are built up. In addition to feeding on the Bible, Jude 1:20 tells us that we build ourselves up in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. In my life, I have found that this is SO effective.  If I need a solution to something or am just feeling down, praying in tongues instantly builds me up! It works every time. :)

 Let's not get discouraged with the little steps we're taking every day to build ourselves up. It takes time to create a firm foundation. The exciting thing though is the more time we spend with our Heavenly Father, the more we will grow. So all we have to do to grow faster is to give God more of our day. 

Give it a try, it's so worth it! 

www.whatbelongstous.com

  

 

Is God hiding something from us?

Since our oldest child is 14 1/2, we have been engaging in exciting conversations recently about him starting to drive! Exciting for him... nerve-wracking for us. :) In his mind he is confident that if we gave him the keys he could drive just fine now, even though he has never had a lesson. He's seen how it's done but of course is not qualified to drive because he hasn't actually done it and experienced the many scenarios that go along with being behind the wheel.

As Matthew's mother, I would be foolish to give him my car to drive right now; even though one day, I do want to give him his own car and watch him mature into a great driver.

Our Heavenly Father operates the same way with us. 3 John 2 tells us that God desires above all else that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers. There is no confusion about God's desire for his children. He wants to give us EVERY good thing! Mark 9:23 reminds us that "all things are possible to him who believes." Those "all things" don't just automatically come to us though because we are Christians.

The more we walk in God's truth, the more prosperity He can safely give us. 

3 John 4 says that God has no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in truth. Walking in the truths of God's word will open up the windows of Heaven for God to pour out such blessings that we won't even have room enough to receive them! (Malachi 3:10) 

God knows that it literally wouldn't be safe to give us everything he has in store for us if his word hasn't prepared our hearts to receive. For example, a person who has a problem managing their money wouldn't have their problems solved by being given a million dollars. ( Even though that's probably the #1 thing that person thinks they need.) 

God's word helps us to prosper by separating us from the world. In John 17:17, Jesus explains that we are set apart from the world by the truths in God's word. The more we get these truths into our hearts, the more connected we will be to Heaven's economy. 

Matthew 6:33 puts it this way... "Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His way of doing things, and all these other things will be added to you." Let's decide to spend consistent time in God's word every day and as a result watch the supernaturally prosperous life we desire unfold for us. :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

How do you respond to accusation?

Luke 23:1-29 tells of a very interesting account of how Jesus reacted when being put through intense questioning and accusation. First, Jesus was interrogated by Pilot before he was sent to Herod when Pilot realized Jesus was in the wrong jurisdiction. Verses 9-11 of chapter 23 tell us that they questioned him with many words, vehemently accused him and mocked him before they sent him back to Pilot for more questioning. 

Verse 9 says Jesus answered them nothing. Jesus' silence throughout the long questionings in verse 12 actually caused Pilot and Herod, who had been enemies, to become friends. Wow! Imagine what the absence of contention can create... Friends. :)

Jesus' silence and refusal to defend himself and fight back brought restoration between two leaders. Miracles happen when we refuse to allow contention and offense to bother us. Relationships are restored; peace returns. 

Silence is not weakness as some view it. It is, rather, the strongest and sometimes hardest thing to keep our mouths shut in the midst of being wrongly accused. How do you silence the foolish people who keep arguing with you?  1 Peter 2:15 tells us, "For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."

We keep quiet and continue to do the works God has called us to do. This seems so backwards since our natural tendency is to fight back and defend ourselves. Paul and Barnabus parted ways in Acts 15:39 because of contention around whether John should go with them on their travels. This argument actually split up Paul and Barnabus in their ministering and forced Paul to take Silas with him.

How much better it is to assume that the people who are accusing us are just ignorant.
This reaction only becomes natural when we are filled with the love of God. Let's determine to react like Jesus in every situation. 

www.whatbelongstous.com 

Are we using the right tools?

 Most of my days don't allow me to get creative outside of figuring out how to keep the garage organized so the cars fit in there each evening. My days consist of creating time-out spaces, building blocks and legos with 5 & 6 year-olds, and gently stacking dishes in cupboards over and over...

Yesterday, though I made time for an actual "adult" project! Knowing for weeks what I wanted to make, I set out for the garage to take apart a pallet my brother-in-law found for me. After watching multiple you-tube videos and scanning scores of pinterest photos, I knew I needed a crowbar. I didn't have a crowbar. Common sense told me a hammer and screw driver would suffice so I went to work wedging the flat head under the boards with the hammer.

First of all, pallet projects are NOT as easy as they look! After a few minutes of wedging, the screwdriver actually broke off under the board (should have seen that coming...). Finally my sweaty self walked to a neighbors house to borrow a crow bar. Although still not easy, boards were coming apart now and soon I was drilling and screwing support boards to the back of my new sign! I didn't even mind painting in the 90 degree heat... I was so pleased with my progress. :)

Life doesn't have to be difficult if we are using the right tools. God's word is like a toolbox which contains every single tool we need to create our lives with. Some tools like faith, patience and love build areas of our lives. Other tools like forgiveness and repentance fix parts of our lives. 

God's ultimate goal for believers is for us to continue growing and becoming the new creation we are in Christ. It's not enough to just know these tools exist though. We have to put them to work in our lives every day. And for those of us who need help knowing which tool to use for which project, we have the Holy Spirit. 

We just need to stay consistent in using these tools.

 Let's ask the Holy Spirit which tool we might need to use today to fix something in our lives. Then when He shows us, let's joyfully grab it and get to work. Keep at it. The finished product will be amazing! :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

Does your faith have a back door?

The other day our almost 10 year old, Abigail, proudly told me of a lesson she'd just learned in school. The story was from Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship the kings idol. Hebrews 11:34 even records this story in a chapter where only people of strong faith are mentioned.

Daniel 3:17 states a bold declaration that their God could and WOULD rescue them from the hand of the king. But what about verse 18 which starts with "but if He doesn't..."? "But" is not a faith word. So, were they truly confident in God's ability to save them if they were also entertaining the possibility that God might not save them?

The take away point from Abigail's Bible teacher was that we should trust God to help us, but if He doesn't, we still love him and serve him. That just didn't sit right with me... If we are trusting God 100% to help us and deliver us; then isn't saying "but if He doesn't" giving God a back door to not be the God that He says He is?

With God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37). With God, no mistakes happen. With God, He does what He says. So did those 3 Hebrew men really think there was a possibility that God wouldn't come through that time? God sure had a lot of experience in the Old Testament dealing with water but maybe not as much with fire?

Psalm 34:7 AMP says the Lord rescues those who worship Him. Psalm 34:19 AMP says when the righteous call, God rescues them from ALL their troubles. David, the shepherd boy, had similar faith when he boldly declared to King Saul that his God WOULD deliver him out of the hand of the Philistine. 

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 stated that even if he and Timothy died from the trouble they were going through, God would raise them from the dead! That's bold! So back to Daniel 3:18, the 3 Hebrews were saying that even if the fire killed them, God would raise them from the dead and they STILL wouldn't worship that statute! 

They wouldn't have repeated that they wouldn't worship the false gods if they thought they might be dead for good. No... They believed that somehow God would deliver them and life after the fiery furnace would still not include idol worship. 

The way to grow into this kind of faith is to have 100% confidence in what God says He will do. So many believers aren't sure of what God will do because they haven't taken time to get into His word to find that out. I love how God reveals who He is through His word. Let's not settle for a "but if God doesn't" mentality when we can know from His word exactly what He will do for us. :)

www.whatbelongstous.com 

 

What are you celebrating?

A vast number of people celebrated Cinco de Mayo yesterday, many of these not even knowing the meaning behind this Mexican holiday.

It is not an honoring of Mexico's independence as some think but actually a remembrance of a battle that took place on May 05, 1862. There, the Mexicans were unexpectantly victorious over the French. 

Riding alongside Jonathan in Chicago yesterday, I glanced down at my watch. It read 05-05, 55 degrees. Since I wasn't celebrating the current holiday I thought, "What is the meaning of all these 5's?" In looking into this, I discovered that the number 5 in the Bible signifies the creation of mankind and God's grace which contains 5 letters.

Man has 5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses... John 5:5-9 KJV gives an interesting account of a man who couldn't walk coming to Jesus. First, Jesus (whose name has 5 letters) administered grace by speaking 5 words to him. Then He spoke 7 words to him to make him whole. (7 being the number of completeness!) :)

Isn't God amazing in how intricate he is and how much he loves us to form so many beautiful connections in his word? So yesterday I immersed myself in the revelation of Gods grace! Grace that I did nothing to earn and that I can do nothing to loose. Grace that is greater than all my sins.

Here's a definition of grace from the heart of our Father: "My overwhelming desire to treat you as if sin had never happened". That's complete redemption! Our response of "Thank- you!" just doesn't seem enough...

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you the one in authority?


Do you feel like you're the one in control of your life or do you feel like you are constantly being manipulated by circumstances? Are you always putting out fires or playing catch up?

When we become believers, God gives us the authority we need to be in control over every area of our lives. He calls us overcomers! Living lives as total overcomers is God's desire for us. Making that happen every day is our choice. 

I activate my authority every morning by beginning my time with God in Ephesians 1:17-2:7. Chapter 2, verse 6 says that God has raised us up together and made us sit together with Jesus in heavenly places. I say out loud, "I take my place of authority seated with Jesus at the Father's right hand and..." then I proceed to put the blood of Jesus over my family and possessions. 

Dr. Billye Brim @BillyeBrim and her book "The Blood and the glory" explains from scripture the how and why behind doing this every day. https://www.billyebrim.org/products/the-blood-and-the-glory-book By taking my seat of authority in the morning, I am filled with complete peace that nothing bad can overcome me or my family that day. 

I'm not fearful of anything because of my confidence in the blood of Jesus.  

Then all throughout my day I keep my spirit tuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I don't live carelessly or irresponsibly but rely on the Holy Spirit to tell me if I need to attend to something. When we are confident in God's promises, we can rest in his protection.

What a wonderful way to live! Knowing our authority, exercising it daily and resting in the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we follow this process all stress goes out the window. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

God doesn't hear all prayers!

I must say I was very surprised recently while reading my morning devotions. Usually I am encouraged and inspired and in agreement with everything I read (after all, I'm the one who chose which devotional to use every morning!) 

This morning though, it read "God doesn't hear the cry of His children when they cry out in desperation. God hears the cry of a sinner because that's all he can cry about. But once you get born again, you ought to be crying out of faith. God hears the faith cry."

Of course my first question was "What is a faith cry?" 

Romans 4:17 says it's calling things that be not as though they were. When situations arise, our first reaction will be to complain or have a pity party. If we are somewhat connected to God, we will run to Him telling Him all about our problem and asking Him to take it away. 

The problem with this is that the moment we tell God about our problem is not when He finds out about it. He already knows what's going on with every detail of our lives. It's not wrong to communicate with God about what's going on in our lives but we have to know that He will not feel sorry for us and help us because we tell Him all of our problems.

If we want God to get on the scene and start changing our situation, we have to start saying what God says about the problem. God says, "Let the weak say 'I am strong'." (Joel 3:10) We should say "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is something we are constantly working on with our 4 yr old... She is quick to start whining and say she can't do something. 

Of course all of this has to be practiced regardless of how we feel in the moment! We can't let our emotions guide our actions. 

This is why it's so important to spend consistent time in God's word so that when problems arise we can pull from what is already in our hearts- God's words.

I know I'm working on being more careful not to react like my 4 yr old, who only sees things for what they are. God has given us the ability to see beyond any problem! 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

We must be unified.

In this day in which we are living, the general mindset of most people is "every man for himself", "I deserve that" or "me first". Despite the necessity of the internet and its original goal of connecting people, social media has seemed to pull people away from connecting in real life.

Face to face interactions is what brings people together and forms lasting bonds. 

The number one thing God is looking for before He sends Jesus back to this earth to call all believers home is UNITY. The definition of unity is "oneness, harmony, the state of being made one." Sometimes it seems Christians more than anybody else need to work on harmony. We need to put aside our doctrinal differences and tradition and focus on the number one commandment Jesus gave... Love one another.

In John 17, Jesus prayed his last prayer before going to the cross. It was actually on this day (Thursday) over 2000 years ago. As I spent time reading this chapter this morning and reflecting on what Jesus must have been thinking and going through, I found that he was praying for me!

He wasn't just praying for his disciples or those believers living in his day. John 17:20 says, "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their words." In this last prayer, Jesus prayed that believers would be unified. That they would become one as Jesus was one with the Father.

When believers are walking in unity and not strife, the world will see Jesus and believe. (vs. 21) 1 John 3:2 says when Jesus appears again on this earth, we will be like him. The more time we spend in God's word, the more we look like Jesus as we are changed into His image from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Ephesians 3:17 were the last few words of Jesus' prayer that day. That the Fathers' love would flood our beings. That Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith... The more our Father's love fills us, the more we are able to love others unconditionally resulting in unity.

So lets put aside our differences and focus on loving like Jesus did. The end of this age will then quickly come to a close as we become the unified body of Christ Ephesians 1:18 talks about.

www.whatbelongstous.com

Is your heart healthy?

The human heart is mentioned almost 300 times throughout the Bible. 

Of course we are not talking about the organ that pumps blood but the inner part of a person. Our heart is our core, spiritual self which is then expressed through our minds. We know that God has a heart too since we read that David was "a man after God's own heart."

Jeremiah 17:9 states that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" We don't have to look far to see that the natural tendencies of people are deceitful and twisted. Our heart produces thoughts and feelings which are filtered through our minds and then turned into actions. Everything we do begins in our heart. 

As believers, we don't have to live a live of failure, settling for a "deceitful heart" as our lot in life. We actually have control over the condition of our hearts. If we have God's word in our hearts, our lives will be guided and fulfilling.  Our relationship with God draws our heart closer to Gods heart making us look more like God the more time we spend with him. 

We should find comfort, knowing that since we were made in God's image and God is our teacher, that He is our best cheerleader too! He is not keeping an eye on our hearts just waiting for us to make mistakes and correct us.  1 Thessalonians 2:4 says "God examines our hearts [expecting our best]."

When God looks at our heart, His eyes are full of grace and love and positive expectation. 

God knows us far better than we even know ourselves (Romans 8:27) and desires more than anything for a deep relationship with us. This is how David got the title of "man after God's own heart". 

Our prayer should be as Davids: "Search me, O God and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts..." and that we will guard our hearts above all else, for it determines the course of our lives. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

www.whatbelongstous.com 

What are you holding on to?

I was driving home the other day and couldn't help but notice a tree that stood out from all the other trees around it. This tree still had ALL of its leaves unlike its neighboring trees which were completely bare (keep in mind, this is the March). The leaves clinging to this tree though were not lush and green but brown & shriveled. It was quite UGLY! Then it dawned on me that a lot of Christians look like that tree.

Jesus explained in John 15:2 that "Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit." KJV

The AMP version says God "repeatedly prunes" so that we will bear "richer and finer fruit". 

How many of us are holding on to things in our lives that God has been asking us to let go of? Maybe a relationship we know we should put an end to, or an addiction (yes, eating too many sweets is an addiction!). Maybe it's bad attitudes, jealousy or anger that we need to cut away... These things we are clinging to are actually making us look ugly. 

Did you know that God is in the farming business (among other businesses) :)? Sowing, reaping, pruning... He knows when we allow Him to prune the old out of our lives He will grow beautiful fruits in us. Fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control...

God is glorified and honored when we bear MUCH fruit.  ( John 15: 8 AMP)

Be encouraged to know that if God is trying to prune you, you must be producing fruit because Jesus said the branch that is not bearing fruit gets taken away, thrown into the fire and burned! I don't know about you but I'd rather go through a pruning process than be burned! 

So how can you make the fruit in you grow faster? I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for simpler/ more efficient way to do things. :) The answer is in one word...

ABIDE

The more time we spend with Jesus, the faster he will cultivate the fruits the Holy Spirit has put in us. It really is that simple! Let's allow God to trim away any ugliness that's been hanging onto us and watch beautiful fruit grow inside of us. And unlike trees, we don't have to wait until Spring to see growth. It happens immediately! :)

www.whatbelongstous.com             

How is your house holding up?

If you've known me for a while, you probably know that I really enjoy understanding God's word and learning the original definition of words. I grew up with access to only the King James Version of the Bible (which I still believe is foundational). Nowadays though we have apps that give us access to dozens of translations in seconds. We really have no excuse for misunderstanding God's word or His will for our lives!

As a little girl, I learned many stories and parables from God's word including the one in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus gave the comparison here between the wise man and the foolish man. (I still remember the song that went with the story too) :)

Jesus said those who heard and DID what he taught were wise men; letting those teachings build their lives on a solid foundation. And when the tests and trials of life came (and they will) they would not be moved. Those who only heard but didn't ACT on Jesus' teachings were not built up. These folks lives fell apart when situations hit them. 

Our natural reaction to trouble is fear, worry and hurt, resulting in unforgiveness and a multitude of other negative feelings. As believers, we are not to operate the way natural people do. Second  Corinthians 5:17 says since we are in Christ, we are a new creation! And as we renew our minds to God's word every day, we are literally transformed. (Romans 12:2)

By acting on what God teaches us, we are building a solid foundation so that when "life" hits us we will not be moved. Psalm 62:6 says, "He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved."

We can't run from trouble but we can be so rooted and built up in God (Colossians 2:7) that when negative comes, His word comes from within us just as quickly and tells us how to react. Here's the Message translation of Matthew 7:24-27. You've gotta love the vivid pictures it paints!

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Let's start today seriously building ourselves up so that when the storms of life come, not only will we stand firm but we will be able to help someone else in need too.

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you in need of rest?

The other day I sat down to seek God for wisdom for a couple areas of our lives. I wanted answers. NOW. God started speaking to me about things inside of me that needed to change. Isn't it interesting how God usually goes to work inside of us first before showing us how to change things on the outside? That's what 3 John 2 was talking about when it said, "I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." 

Our soul (mind, will and emotions) has to prosper before things in our lives can prosper. 

As I was sitting there quietly, Matthew 11:28-30 came to mind. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly (humble & gentle) in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

Those words jumped off the page as I acknowledged that I was not at peace and that I was laboring. We are instructed in Hebrews 4:11 to "Labor to enter into God's rest..." Jesus invites us to get away with Him and He will show us how to take a real rest. The Message version says, "Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." 

I love that! As we walk with Jesus, he will teach us the unforced rhythms of grace. :) Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us. I picture two animals joined together with a large, old-fashioned yoke. Where the one animal goes, the other has to follow. Except, instead of being cumbersome and heavy, Jesus' yoke is light and easy. 

When we become yoked up with Jesus, we will find rest for our souls. I don't know about you but my goal every day is for my mind, will and emotions to be at rest! (I don't think that's just a "woman thing" either) lol

When we rest, God will work, when we work, God will rest.

Let's be intentional every day to yoke ourselves up with Jesus and learn from him... Let him teach us the unforced rhythms of grace. Then the life of peace, love and a mind at rest will be ours. 

www.whatbelongstous.com