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Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16

There’s a small house down the road from us. I’m not sure when the grass was mowed last and since it’s in the country, there are no ‘rules’ to govern its upkeep. I’ve never seen the blinds or drapes open. The yard, what you can see of it, is cluttered with a couple old cars and some other debris. The siding doesn’t match. In fact, in a few places plywood patches damaged siding.

I’ve never seen anyone at this house. For all I know it could be abandoned except that on rare occasions there is a vehicle parked in the driveway. A nice, shiny, very expensive truck that I confess I’ve coveted on occasion!

While I know nothing of the story of this building and it’s inhabitants, it’s obvious to me where the priorities may lie and they are not on a dwelling place. I’d hesitate to step foot on the very property much less enter the building.

Paul writes to us about another kind of building, a spiritual and physical building that we take with us every day. I confess to you that I wish I would/could live every moment of my life with the realization that my body is the dwelling place, the house of the most high God. Even more amazing to me is that his dwelling is the place he has chosen.

There are some that teach (by lifestyle, if not verbally) that there is a separation of the spiritual and the physical; that what we do and what we believe don’t have to completely agree with each other. The spiritual me and the physical me can’t be separated though. We are one.

All across our nation fitness centers are springing up. Even the smallest of towns will have a place where people can come to care for their bodies. It’s ironic that we spend millions of dollars on churches every year to provide beautiful, comfortable places where people can come and ‘worship’. Yet, in reality we are a nation that is physically obese and spiritually starved. We don’t care of our souls work I really God dwells

Now, before you think that I’m pointing fingers, let me tell you about me. I’m 25 pounds overweight, don’t exercise nearly enough and wish I could find more time for study of God’s word and prayer. I often find myself saying things and doing things that, if God were standing beside me, I’d think twice about.

The point is, I’m not perfect. I’m far from perfect. Yet God. THE God. The creator-sustainer of the universe indwells me. Even more amazing is the fact that he CHOSE to indwell me because of his love for me, not because of how I take care of his home.

If we truly believe in this God we claim allegiance to, let us together strive to put a priority on his dwelling place, our hearts.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for your love for me. I praise you for the fact that even though I don’t always care for your dwelling place the way I’d like you still love me. Empower me with your Spirit to live in such a way that reflects your glory. Amen.


Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; Psalm 26:2 (NIV)

When we aren’t feeling right the proper thing to do may be to go to the doctor. We sit in the exam room and he checks our ‘vitals’ and may do a surface examination, checking our posture, ears, nose, throat, reflexes and the like. We’ll be asked about symptoms and changes in energy and bodily functions.

If no problem is detected the doctor will order tests, like blood work or perhaps an x-ray or CT scan. Until the problem is discovered a good doctor will, in a sense peel away at surface issues until he gets to the root of the problem. Until he can do that, a solution can’t be found and treatment won’t be able to happen.

Once the issue is diagnosed a treatment will be prescribed which will solve whatever our problem is. If you want to feel better, you will follow the doctor’s advice, take your medication and allow your body to heal.

What’s true in the physical realm is also true in the realm of our emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes when people are feeling poorly physically they will try to ‘heal’ themselves by asking friends what they think, or going onto the internet. Sometimes this can lead to deeper more serious problems or simply treat the symptoms without getting to the real cause. The best thing to do when you are feeling physically sick is to go to the doctor because the doctor is trained to know where and how to look for the problem.

When you are struggling emotionally or spiritually the best place to go is to your Heavenly Father. Unlike the doctor who makes an educated guess about your condition, your Heavenly Father made you. He knows everything about you. He watched your hands, your feet, and your personality form while you were still in the womb. He knows every fear you’ve ever had, every mistake you’ve ever made, every thought, word or deed you’ve ever done. He knows the things everyone sees on the outside, but he also sees the most secret, intimate, hidden things in your soul.

The Psalmist asks God to examine him. He uses three words to describe that examination: ‘Test me, try me, examine me’. Those three words describe an intense, thorough examination deep inside your soul. Those kinds of examinations are scary whether they be physical or spiritual/emotional because they may reveal some things we don’t want to know about ourselves. But in order to be healthy we need to look into every part of our lives and deal with the issues we find. Otherwise we are only treating symptoms. When God examines us it may be painful, like purifying gold needs intense heat, so our lives must go through some fire to purify and heal our inner wounds.

The good news is we don’t need to fear what God finds and what he shows us about ourselves. God doesn’t examine us to find fault, he examines us to find areas where we can grow stronger. He doesn’t show us our faults to shame us, he shows them to us so we know what to work on to be better. Don’t be afraid to do some self examination of your heart. Ask the maker to look deep within your soul and reveal areas that he can help change to make you better. It’s the best medicine you’ll ever take.

PRAYER: Father, I’m afraid to look at myself too deeply. But I know I must in order to be healthy. Like the psalmist, I ask that you would go with me as I travel deep inside myself. Show me where I need to change and empower me with your Holy Spirit to make those changes. I’m done treating symptoms; I want to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Amen.


So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NCV)

“I don’t have enough time.”

How many times do we say that in a day? There are, of course variations of that saying. The reality is that sometimes ‘time’ is our biggest enemy. Everyone on earth has exactly the same amount of time, 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds a day. That’s it. You can’t stretch them out. You can’t bank some today for use at a later time.

Someone once said, “Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note.

Today is ready cash. Spend it wisely!” You can’t do anything about the time you wasted yesterday, so forget about it. No sense crying over spilt milk. Planning for tomorrow it a wise thing to do, but putting things off until tomorrow only adds to the workload and stress for that day.

Today, more than ever we are being pulled in a multitude of directions. We have opportunities socially, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically like never before. We can get tired out just going over our day planner!

The key to wise living is balance, but balance is hard to attain to. Take the story of Mary and Jesus and his disciples). One was concerned about Spiritual things (sitting at Jesus feet and listening to him). Jesus responded to the stress and frustration of Martha by saying (my paraphrase), Martha what you are doing is noble, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

There’s no easy formula or 12-step process to avoiding stress and making the most of our time because each of us has unique situations and opportunities. But here are a few things I am trying to learn in living wisely.

 

                * ‘Just say no’. This is more than a quip to keep us off drugs. Sometimes we need to say no to some very good things in order to do better things well. We aren’t called on to save the world. During those tough decisions on whether to say yes or no, pray first, decide later.

                * “Will this enhance my walk with God?” Our spiritual lives must take the forefront in all of our dealings with others. Is it more important to [blog, be on Facebook, get my ‘tweet’ in] than to spend time in God’s word and prayer? “Oh, (you say) but I use my blog, my FaceBook, my Tweet account to spread the gospel and encourage people. While these are noble gestures, Jesus is more concerned about your relationship with him than the number of blog readers, tweets or FaceBook Friends.

                * “Will this benefit my physical health?” We are God’s holy temple. Take that walk (or run). Visit the gym. Skip the second helping at the dinner table or pass on desert. When our physical bodies are out of sync it can affect the way we think and act towards God, ourselves and others. Take care of your physical body before you take care of others.

                * “Will this improve my emotional/intellectual ability to perform?” There are many good things out there. Things that can change society. Things that can make the lives of other people better. But if your own emotional or intellectual well-being is strained you eventually burn out and that never helps anyone.

When the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Church in Ephesus he mentioned wise living before ‘doing good’ for a reason. Even during his life people were being pulled in many directions. Paul knew the importance of living wisely so that we can ‘do good things’ better and for a longer period of time.

The four ideas mentioned are not profound, but they take a lifetime to master. Allow God’s Spirit to lead you in what is best for you so that, as a Christ-follower you can change your world without destroying yourself and those around you in the process.

PRAYER: Father God, I won’t ask you for more time. You’ve given me all the time I need. What I do ask is that you empower me with your Spirit to see the wisdom of simple living, taking the time I need to take care of me so I can take care of those around me. Amen.


And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

In Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, he reminds his readers that they should never tire of doing good. His words are a good message for each of us in ministry. WAIT! Before you stop reading let me remind you that each of us is a minister. Over  the years we’ve somehow gotten the idea that ‘ministry’ means you are a pastor or some other leader of an organization that proselytizes and/or makes disciples for Jesus.

That simply is NOT true. Because of Jesus we are all believer-priests. In God’s eyes it doesn’t matter if we are a sandwich artist at a local sub shop, a tool and dye maker or the greeter at the local discount center. If you have a pulse and are directly or indirectly involved with other living beings you are a minister!

Since you are now convinced of your status as a minister, let me give you the other news. Ministry is tough business. People can expect more of you that you feel you are able to give. There never seems to be enough time to do all the things you want to do. You can feel unappreciated, unqualified, unenenergetic and unable to go on.

But Paul tells us we are never, ever to grow tired of ministry (doing good for others). So, how can you stay fresh for ministry to those in your family, community, workplace or church? Here are five ideas that may help transform you into a ministry giant..

F  – Focus on who you are and what you are doing. Do the things you do for God, not people. People take advantage of you. People drain you. People critique all you do in order to determine your worth. When you focus your activities as being for God, not people you can rise above the feelings of being taken advantage of or unappreciated. God’s approval is really all we should strive for.

R – Rest. Read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Notice the number of times he ‘went away’ to the mountains to pray. Jesus knew the value of taking time for himself. Too often, those of us in ministry feel that the success of our ministry rests on our own hard work. Fact of the matter is, God doesn’t need us. He can take care of the world just fine. We are the tools, not the operator. Take time to re-energize your spiritual, emotional and physical batteries.

E – Educate. Times change. Attitudes Change. Methods change, Technology changes. Even though Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, that doesn’t mean we are to keep doing things the way we have always done them. Branch out. Try new stuff. Challenge yourself. The mental exercise will do you good and you’ll be more effective in meeting the needs of other people.

S – STOP! It’s okay to say ‘NO’. The famous 80/20 rule says that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Usually those people are the ones burning out, and getting extremely tired. It’s easy to get into the mindset of, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” For your spiritual and physical health, and the physical and spiritual health of those around you, it may be best to leave things undone. If God needs a job done He’ll raise up those to do it. Don’t let yourself get ‘guilted’ into burnout!

H – Help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength. Strong people are not the ones who do it themselves. Strong people are the ones who gather others around them to help with the ministry.

If you want to avoid being too tired to serve, try these five steps to insure your spiritual and physical health. Tired trees with weak limbs may bear fruit, but their branches break in the process.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you today for the gifts you have given me. I praise you for the opportunities I have to use those gifts to lift others up and show them your love. I pray that you would give me the strength to take care of myself so I can take care of those you have given me. Empower me with your spirit to be FRESH for ministry. In Jesus name, Amen.

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