Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 Ways to Keep Our Heart and Spirit Tender Toward God

Happy New year!! Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for 2013? I've made a few resolutions,
(stay calm, trust more, etc) set a few goals, (the everlasting 10lbs) but what I really want to do is be more "consistent" in my faith. It's easy to have faith and trust God when things are going well, but at the first hint at trouble, the enemy is an expert at setting up a stronghold around my heart, and that stronghold is usually fear.

I jotted down 5 things in my journal today that I want to consistently do throughout the year to keep my heart and spirit tender toward God. I do so want to be more committed to Him this year than last and if you feel the same way, then maybe these 5 things will help you, too, and together we can keep each other accountable.

1. Spend time in the Word each day.
David said in Psalm 119:11, "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I may not sin against Thee." If we aren't reading the Word we can't hide it in our heart. It is the Word that keeps us from sin. And reading the Word everyday keeps my heart in sync with the heart of God. And a heart in sync with God's heart means I'm more aware of the sin in my life and my need for forgiveness.

2. Learn what it means to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thess. 5:17)
For me, praying without ceasing means my heart is focused and there is a constant awareness of my relationship with God. I have often been praying, have to deal with an interruption, then my mind and heart goes right back to my prayer. To pray without ceasing means I have an open line of communication with God that I can access at any time during the day or night.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to the surface of my mind any sin that I haven't asked forgiveness. (Oh....this is so not fun.)
Everyone goes through times when we don't feel as close to God as other times. I've discovered in my own life when I feel God is distant, it is because I haven't been honest with Him about some things. James 4:8 says this; "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Unconfessed sin keeps God at a distance. But when I keep "short accounts with God" as I heard a preacher once say, I desire to draw near to Him. Asking Him to help me remember what I haven't confessed keeps us close.

4. When I read a command in the Word, obey it.
The Bible is meant to be obeyed. (ouch) The next time you read a chapter in the New Testament, look closely for any "commands" and write them in your journal. (You do have a prayer journal don't you??)
Things like:
Return good for evil. Romans 12:21
Respond with a soft answer to a hard question. Proverbs 15:1
Be discreet. Titus 2:5
Give cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9;7
Be a peacemaker. Romans 14:19
Romans 12 has 31 commands in it. (if I've counted correctly.) It's a great place to start. Writing them down makes them more personal and helps us remember to obey. And there definitely is a link between parents who make a conscious effort to be obedient to God, and kids who make a conscious effort to be obedient to their parents. Let's set a good example for them.

5. Forgive those who have hurt me, including me!
For me, it is easier to forgive others than to forgive myself. And I often say things to myself that I would never let someone else say to me. (I'd get fighting mad if someone talked to me the way I talk to myself, know what I mean??)
Sometimes we have to cut ourselves some slack and get over the embarrassing or silly things we say or do. How I feel about myself often dictates how I treat myself (how I talk to myself, eat, exercise, etc) and how I treat others. (with kindness, acceptance, love, or rejection, judgment)
The Bible says in Mark 11:25, if I want to be forgiven, I need to forgive. And that includes forgiving myself for sins and failures that God has already forgiven me for.

I love the beginning of a new year. It holds so much promise and so much hope. But I also love the fact that God doesn't wait for a new year to bring new things into my life. Lamentations 3:3 reminds me that His mercies are new each morning, His compassion never fails, and "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

When you awake in the morning, take a few moments to bask in the knowledge that you have new mercies for the problems of the day, you have new compassion for all your hurts and needs for today, and He will forever be faithful to you.

I'd love to hear your New Year's Resolutions! Leave a comment or send me an email.
Can't wait to be with you again Hilldale Baptist MOPS! See you January 18.

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