Thursday, February 08, 2007

God knows our every thought

NOTES:=Oftentimes we are tempted to think we can get away with it and then we stumble and sin. Even strong very mature and established Christians can be so tempted. That's why we have high profile pastors and preachers fall from grace into disgrace. Often, because God does not immediately strike us dead and pin us down when we sin, we presume upon his grace and patience and continue on our wayward path. But this verse in Exekiel 11 reveal to us this one fact:= God says He knows every thought that comes into our mind. And He sees all our actions, even our self-deception. So, be reminded of this fact and live wisely, in the fear of God.

Ezekiel 11:5
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say, “This is what the Lord says to the people of Israel: I know what you are saying, for I know every thought that comes into your minds.

God knew everything about the Israelites, even their thoughts. He also knows everything about us, even the sins we try to hide. Instead of worrying about people noticing how we look or what we do, we should care what God thinks, for He see's everything. Trying to hide our thoughts and actions from God is futile. "Secret" sins are never secret from God. The only effective way to deal with our sins is to confess them and ask God to help us overcome them.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"How Do I Uncover My Spiritual Gifts?"

Notes;= I often hear believer give the excuse that they are not serving because they are not good at anything. This article outline a process to help us identify what we are good at and use it to serve God and serve others. I am reminded that Jesus came to serve to give his life up to save us. He wants to continue this work through us by giving all believers his holy Spirit. hence all believers have a spiritual gift, all believers can serve, all believers must serve. As we serve, we will bear fruit, and our fruit will bring glory to God. May you discover what your spiritual gift is, and begin to use, and may God multiply your fruit 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold. This is what living the abundant life in Christ means ! Right?

"How Do I Uncover My Spiritual Gifts?

"3 ways to discern how God wired you.

by Nancy Ortberg

I love this question! Discovering and utilizing your spiritual gifts is one of the most exciting adventures a person can have with God. The Bible says spiritual gifts are abilities God bestows on every believer for the common good of the body of Christ. They're a large part of the answer to the question, "What should I do with the life God gave me?"
Passages like 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4 go into specific detail about what these gifts are and how they should be used. It's clear every spiritual gift is a reflection of God's nature that you carry within you. And because your spiritual gift reflects God's design and direction for your life, you'll find great passion, joy, and satisfaction in expressing it. Your spiritual gift also will be a place of deep spiritual formation in your life, as God uses it both to powerfully connect you to him and to expose areas of your soul that need his forgiveness and redemption.
So here's a process to start:
Pay attention. Notice the things that energize you and seem to come naturally. Remember the quote from the movie Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell explained to his sister why he was postponing his return to the mission field in order to race in the Olympics? "Because when I run, I feel the pleasure of God."
Every spiritual gift gives off clues. Your spiritual gift will cause you to react a certain way in a given situation. If there's a problem, people with the spiritual gift of shepherding will be immediately concerned that people are cared for and growing in Christlikeness as a result of the issue. Those with the gift of intercession (prayer) will immediately say, "We need to pray about this," while those with a leadership gift will begin looking at solutions for the problem.
Try. Once you've gathered enough information to create a list of some possible gifts (perhaps gifts of mercy, evangelism, encouragement, or hospitality), exercise your options. A great place to start would be a volunteer position at your church. While you're trying it out, you'll start to discern whether you're good at it or not. Also, others will tell you!
When my kids were young, our church needed help in the nursery during the worship services. I volunteered for a three-month opening. I didn't feel the pleasure of God; the children didn't feel the pleasure of God. It was so not my spiritual gift. Part of learning what you're good at is having to go through the pain of learning what you're not good at.
As you try different things, you'll eventually find yourself engaged in something during which time flies and you find a deep sense of connection to God. Pick that road to continue your adventure.
Develop. In 2 Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul encourages Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God." We're responsible to develop our gifts. Perhaps one of the best ways to do that is to mentor someone who's just starting on this discovery process. People with the spiritual gift of wisdom are probably the best people to develop someone else with the spiritual gift of wisdom, and so on for each of the gifts.
It's remarkable how you can deepen your relationship with God as you uncover and live out the spiritual gifts he's bestowed on you. What could the church and our world look like if each of us used the gift God's given us?

Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying

NOTES;= These questions highlight the real life issues that married couples will face. Each person will look at these issues differently. Talking through them before marriage will help the couple to better understand each other and whether they think they have what it takes to make the marriage works. Not that they must necessary share the same views, but that they know what the differences might be and how they can best handle it. If during the pre-marital phase of such sharing, the couple discover such big gaps that they cannot bridge, then its a clear sign they need to seriously re-think their relationship moving forward.

Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying

Published: December 17, 2006

Relationship experts report that too many couples fail to ask each other critical questions before marrying. Here are a few key ones that couples should consider asking:

1) Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?
2) Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?
3) Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?
4) Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?
5) Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?
6) Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?
7) Will there be a television in the bedroom?
8) Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?
9) Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?
10) Do we like and respect each other’s friends?
11) Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?
12) What does my family do that annoys you?
13) Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?
14) If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?
15) Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Use Your Material Possessions to Draw Closer to Christ

NOTES;= This article reminds me of Jesus parable of the sower. The seed that fell on thorny ground. Most Christians these days belong this category. Their life in Christ is characterise by worries of this life and pursuit of wealth. These concerns choke us and prevent us from bearing fruit. To the extent that we worry less and be content with what we have rather than fret for more and what we dont have, to that extent we can truly bear fruit for God. Many Christians bear little or no fruit for they generally seek to glorify themselves before men. No wonder Jesus said in John 17 that those who bear much fruit bring glory to God and are true disciples of His. When you read this article below, consider how you can worry less and pursue less wealth, so that you can be free to bear fruit for Christ, 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold. Be edified!

Use Your Material Possessions to Draw Closer to Christ
Whitney Hopler
Kelly is constantly thinking of stuff she doesn't have. A pastor's wife, Kelly lives on an income that's far tighter than she would like. She regularly reminds her husband of what a painful sacrifice it is for her to live on their income, and she often window-shops for things she would like to own.
Kelly feels guilty about secretly buying lottery tickets, and even more guilty about resenting the members of her congregation who live in large houses filled with more stuff than she has in her small townhouse.
Mike is always thinking about the stuff he has. He worked and saved for years to acquire things he dreamed of owning -- a Porshe in his garage, a big-screen television in his living room, an extensive collection of suits in his bedroom. Mike can't bring himself to get rid of all his stuff, but he frequently worries about whether it's demanding too much of his time and money.
He and his wife sense a calling to start a family someday, but Mike doesn't see how he can make the necessary sacrifices. Then there's giving to their church. Mike never manages to drop more than a few dollars into the collection plate each week, despite knowing he should contribute much more. When he finds himself feeling badly about it, he takes a ride in his Porsche, which never fails to put him in a better mood.
You may think you have either too little or too much stuff. But what truly matters is how you use the stuff you have. Here are five principles for using your stuff as tools to grow closer to Christ:
1. Don't give greater priority - as measured by your time and attention - to your stuff than you do to your relationship with Christ. It's often the case that the more possessions you have, the more they possess you. Buying, maintaining, insuring, fixing, cleaning, and storing your stuff can eat up a considerable amount of time. Do you really need that Oriental rug that requires you to take off your shoes every time you walk in your house? Do you need to get a wax job for your car every other week, or can you skip it?More importantly, time you don't spend taking care of your stuff can be spent in prayer or reading the Bible. Take an inventory, not of your stuff, but of the time you spend dealing with your stuff. How does that compare with the time you spend with Christ? If the former number is out of balance with the latter, you'll do well to simplify.
Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24).
2. Your attitude toward stuff should bless others. In all things - including dealing with stuff - an attitude of love should rule your actions.
It's not enough just to decide to get rid of extra stuff you already own and decide not to buy more. You can sanctimoniously congratulate yourself on not wanting or owning a lot of stuff, but still end up sinning if you fall into the traps of ingratitude or miserliness.For example, if friends or family members present you with gifts that cost more than you think they should, don't criticize their generosity by judging how they spent their money. Remember that just because a gift is expensive doesn't make it bad. As long as the gift-givers are sincerely expressing love through their gifts and not trying to manipulate you through them, you should accept graciously and cheerfully.
Don't feel pressured to reciprocate with expensive gifts of your own if God doesn't lead you to do so. But whenever you have stuff that you don't truly need - and that other people could use - be willing to be generous yourself. Acts 2:45 records that early Christians sold their possessions, giving "to anyone as he had need." They knew that material things are merely tools to express Christ's love and grow closer to Him.
3. Your stuff should foster enriching experiences. Manage wisely whatever God chooses to give you. Stuff isn't inherently bad; sometimes it can enable you to experience something that will draw you closer to Christ. If you can hear God's voice more clearly out in nature, it makes sense to own a tent and a sleeping bag so you can go camping.
When Jesus attended the wedding in Cana, He chose to perform His first public miracle by changing water to wine. Serving wine was an important part of the wedding experience in that culture, and Jesus knew that preventing the supply of wine from running out would support the fellowship the wedding guests were enjoying.
4. Your stuff should honor Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10:23, 31, the apostle Paul wrote, "'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is constructive. ... So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Whatever stuff you choose to have should glorify God. Of course, that means you shouldn't own stuff that is by its nature opposed to God's teachings - such as pornographic magazines. Most of the stuff in our lives, however, doesn't fall into that category. We should use whatever we have in ways that honor Him. For example, you can use your television to watch news that keeps you informed, or an inspiring show that reflects biblical principles. Or you can use it to watch soap operas, filling your mind with values that don't please God.
Think about how your stuff honors the Lord. If certain items don't, it's best to give them up.
5. Your stuff shouldn't make you feel discontent. Just like Kelly and Mike's experiences, stuff can rob us of the contentment God wants for us. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to agree with the apostle Paul: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to be have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situations, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Philippians 4:12)?
What is that secret? A close relationship with Christ. All of our stuff will one day pass away from us, but a relationship with Christ is eternal!