Archive | July 2011

Living & Responding with God-Formed Attitudes versus Religious Ones

The more my heart beats in sync with the heart of Christ, the more I dislike religion and the actions of religious people. When I see it in the church, especially in our leaders, it truly grieves my spirit and soul.

Religion and its attitudes bring death. Religion condemns and discourages. Whereas, living and acting out of relationship with Christ brings life. It offers grace and encouragement. Religion causes people’s hearts to run from Christ whereas relationship increasing their desire for intimacy with Christ.

Christ did not come to earth to establish religion. It was already here when He arrived. He came to establish relationship. Religion is far from the heart of the God of Christianity. The truth of this statement is seen in the compassionate and grace-filled actions of Jesus Christ. It is seen in the way Jesus responded to the religious Pharisees. These religious people were blindsided by their position of power, their focus on the law and their focus on leading people to follow their religious rules. The Pharisees were so blind, they did not even recognize the Messiah of whom they studied and taught.

If we are to prevent ourselves from responding to life and others with religious attitudes, we must stay focused on Christ and His glory instead of rules and regulations. When we do this, we will recognize Christ. We will see Him as He lives in and through His disciples. We will be slow to judge and quick to respond to others’ short comings with grace and compassion. We will be guided by the Lord Himself rather than man’s ideas and opinions.

Are you focused on works – whether your own or those of others? Or, are you focused on the glory of God and being transformed into His likeness? Our transformation which is directly related to how we approach others, my friends, flows directly from what we focus on. What result do you desire for yourself – life or death? What do you desire to bring to others in your midst – life or death? Where you set your focus is the key. Is it on rules and regulations or Christ?

I pray that all of us who make up the body of Christ will become more intentional about keeping our eyes on Christ and His glory where grace and truth abound.

Advertisements

Hidden Idols

The topic of idols of the heart is one of the main topics discussed in my book, “Experience Real Satisfaction” released in 2010. I believe it is an often overlooked principle in the Scriptures even though it is of such great importance. We are guilty in the 21st century, as are those in the past, of forsaking God as the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13).

Idols are “anything that takes the place in our lives that belongs only to God.” We must consider who or what has first priority with our time and resources. We should ask ourselves questions such as “Who has our first love?” “Who or what do we trust in?” “Where do we spend our money, our time?” For some Christians their spouse or children may have become an idol as well as their pastor. That’s difficult for us to imagine or admit but if we have allowed these persons to be #1 in our lives, then we have put them in a place that is God’s and God’s only.

The ministries where we serve, our church, our job, our material belongings all can become more important to us than our relationship with God. When this happens, we find ourselves in idolatry. We can ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal these sometimes hidden idols of our hearts.

What else might be or become an idol in our life? Another idol we often overlook is ourselves. In our narcissistic culture, many times we ourselves are the #1 idol of our hearts. This is probably the most common amongst us, if we are honest about it.

Our fall into idolatry can be quite subtle. It begins with failing to spend time alone with God. We crowd Him out with the busyness of life thinking we will soon get back to Him. This is devastating to us as Christians. It is in this alone time that our confidence in God is strengthened. When we fail to spend personal time with God where we talk to Him and allow him to talk to us, we begin to experience emptiness. This is because God has created us in such a way that we need Him to pour Himself into us and we need this daily. Nothing else will do. Scripture says God has put eternity in our hearts and without the eternal One satisfying us, we begin to feel dissatisfied. This results in a temptation to find satisfaction from people and things in our lives. Our focus begins to move more and more from God to idols. Of course, they are unable to fill us completely but we get caught up in the fleeting contentment and purpose they bring to our lives and we tend to chase after them even more instead of seeking after God(Isaiah 44:20). Our attempt to satisfy ourselves with these idols is as useless as trying to quench the thirst of the desert sand (Isaiah 55:2).

Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”  Satisfaction begins and ends with receiving God’s unfailing love as a reality in our life.  Ignoring God, results in losing an awareness of His love. This then results in dissatisfaction and a restless soul headed for idols.  "How life at the fountain satisfies the soul"
Experience Real Satisfaction is available at Amazon.com, most local bookstores and my website at http://www.sarahgoebel.com.

I enjoyed celebrating the 4th of July yesterday with my family as we acknowledged the 235th birthday of our country’s independence. We had wonderful fellowship, great food and a nice little display of fireworks. I couldn’t help but think about how gracious our God has been towards us. There is no doubt that God had His hand in the forming of our country, giving us the freedoms we have been so blessed to enjoy. It is because of this freedom that we have been able to actively send help around the globe as well as advance God’s Kingdom into the uttermost regions of the earth. I believe we can truly say, we are God’s country.

It does sadden my heart as I recognize that the freedom He has empowered us with has been gradually slipping through our fingers. We have lost many of our constitutional freedoms and are on a path to see the loss of even more unless God intervenes. These losses will also affect our ability to move the gospel here in our homeland as well as abroad.

I myself have been guilty in the past years of not paying close attention to what was happening around us. I believe many Christians have been in that place with their heads buried in the sand right along with me. I now understand that God has entrusted the church with the responsibility to guard this gift He has given us. We are those who have the discernment and the knowledge of what is acceptable or not acceptable with our God. We need, therefore, to use our voice and our voting rights to make these things known. We have the gateway to heaven and should be praying fervently for our elections and elected officials and for the protection of our freedom. We are those who can repent as did Daniel in the Old Testament, for the sins of our country. But are we doing these things? I am recommitting to do so.  I am recommitting to do my part as a citizen of the United States of America in the natural realm; and as a citizen of the Kingdom of God in the spiritual realm, that the light of the gospel may have the opportunity to shine in the hearts of people everywhere.

I thank God for working through our founding fathers forming our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. By the grace of God, I will be a better steward of what He has given. By the grace of God, it will not be too late. How about you?

One other thought concerning freedom. As many things come to mind when I contemplate this topic, none are so important as the freedom we have if we live in Christ. I hope you will enjoy the short video I have posted at this link sharing the many images of freedom.

Happy Independence!

With Love and Care,
Sarah
http://www.sarah@sarahgoebel.com