Spiritual Gems for Living

 

Mount of Olives

The Beatitudes, in Matthew chapter five, are among the most beautiful sections of the Bible. They not only speak of God's promises, but they also help us to accomplish all we were sent to earth to do by giving us a closer relationship with our Creator. Think about the Beatitudes as you go about your day, and remember how blessed you are in God's love. 

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" 
Open your heart to God with humility rather than pride. Accept that you have nothing of your own. Everything you receive is through God's blessings.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" 
God promises to you a guiding hand in times of grief. He'll never leave you to walk alone. He'll always be there to give you strength and help you to heal. 

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth" 
Be humble before God. Remember that you are never greater than God. He is greater than all.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled"
God helps those who help themselves. If you seek a closer relationship with God, He will help you accomplish your goal. You only have to reach out with a desire for His love, and your cup will be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" 
Always be loving and compassionate to others even when it is difficult to do so. Know that God will be loving and compassionate to you in return. 

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" 
Recognize that you are a child of God in body, mind, and spirit. Reach out with love, kindness, and mercy for others. Do all you can do to imitate His ways. 

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God"
Quite simply, God wants His beloved children to love each other and strive for peace.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
 Heaven welcomes those who follow God's ways with steadfastness in faith, prayer, and good deeds; which brings abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven. 

The Secret To Abundant Living

 

Learning How To Ask:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)

 "And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed." (Mark 1:35) 

Ten Steps To God:
Most people feel they should pray, but few know how. The following steps, if used for fifteen minutes daily, will enable you to experience God's peace, joy, and power in a way you have never known before. 

As you begin this adventure, remember that prayer is an experience, not an idea. In some ways, prayer is like riding a bicycle. You only learn by doing it, never by thinking about it.

Commit yourself to methodically following these ten steps for fourteen consecutive days. Most people report that they do not experience God's presence as fully during their first three or four days as they do after several days of practice. Persist in your reaching out, and God will come to you. Like falling in love, the experience of God's presence is impossible to define. But when it happens, you will understand why great Christian leaders of every century have so enthusiastically recommended and practiced prayer. And you will understand what Jeremiah meant when he said, 
"You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart . . ." (Jeremiah 29:13)

1. In preparation, set aside fifteen minutes in a location where you can be physically relaxed and there is little likelihood of interruption. Read one or two chapters from the Bible, listening for what God says to you. This helps to erase distracting thoughts from the blackboard of your mind. 

The following passages are especially helpful in preparing for prayer:

John 14; Psalm 23; Matthew 5:1-12; Romans 8:35-39;  I Corinthians 13; Psalm 91; Matthew 6; John 3:1-17; Psalm 46; Romans 12; John 15; Psalm 27; Psalm 103; Psalm 121; Isaiah 55; Luke 15; Psalm 84; Psalm 90 ; John 1:1-18 ; Psalm 19; I John 4:7-21 ; Psalm 139 ; Luke 24; Psalm 130; Luke 18:1-17 

2. Close your eyes and give thanks for three personal blessings of which you are especially conscious today. This helps you move toward God by moving away from a sense of your own self-sufficiency. 

3. Ask God to help three other persons whom you feel need God's help today. Ask God to help your pastor(s). This helps you move toward God by moving away from self-centeredness. 

4. Ask God to forgive your mistakes and sins and give you the strength to forgive others. 

5. Ask God to help one person whom you find it hard to like. Ask God to give that person insights into his or her personal problems and ask for the power to let God's love flow through you to him or her. 

6. Ask that you will be sensitive to the needs of one person today with whom you can share God's love in word or deed. 

7. Ask for insights into your personal problems. 

8. Ask for help in achieving your personal goals. 

9. Ask God to tell you the most important things you need to do today in order to "seek first His kingdom." (Matthew 6:33a) 

10. Conclude by listening intently for three minutes to what God may say to you. 

What To Do When Suffering Comes 

 

Trust God

God loves and cares for you. God wants you to be whole. The most important thing you can do is trust yourself to Him unconditionally. Lean into your pain until you find Him there. Rest quietly and find Him at the center of your being. Relinquish everything that keeps you from finding Him and loving Him. Let yourself be loved, healed, restored, and renewed. (Read Psalm 19, 27, 34, 46, 91, 139; Isaiah 30:15-26; Luke 15; Romans 8; and Hebrews 11) 

Pray For Yourself

Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Express your need openly, directly, honestly. Sit quietly, focusing your attention on God's loving presence. Listen! (Read Exodus 3; Matthew 6:5-13; 7:7-12; and 26:36-46) 

Ask Others To Pray For You

Paul never hesitated to ask his friends to pray for him in his times of need. An "atmosphere" is created when others are praying for us, which makes it possible for God's love to work without hindrance. Let yourself be supported, helped, and inspired by the prayers of others. Ask for this gift when you need it, accept it when it is offered. (Read Exodus 32:30-34; John 17: Ephesians 6: Colossians 1; and James 5) 

Use All Available Resources

Prayer alone is not enough. God expects us to act. Make sure you are using all the resources provided by His loving care for you - medical services, professional advice, the support of the Christian community, the love of friends, and whatever else "speaks to you, to your condition." (Read Mark 2:1-12; 19:14-29; John 3: and II Timothy 4)

Keep Your Perspective

If you can put your mind on a verse of scripture which emphasizes the greatness and compassion of God (such as Psalm 90:1-2), cling to it, repeat it, and turn it over in your mind. Even as you think of it, you will be carried in spirit beyond your room with its four surrounding walls. Soon your pain or fear will dwindle into insignificance. (Read Genesis 1; Psalm 90; 121; Isaiah 6; and Revelation 21) 

Relinquish Your Anxiety

Jesus commanded us to free ourselves of anxiety. "Do not be anxious," He said. Worry and anxiety about your situation creates a terrible strain on your physical and emotional resources. 

Seek Reconciliation With Others

Destructive relationships with others can block the moment of God's love in our lives. If someone has something against you, go and seek reconciliation. Jesus told us that if we do not forgive others, we are in no position to receive God's forgiveness. Review your situation carefully. Make sure there are no destructive relationships pulling you down. (Read Matthew 5:21-26; 5:43-48; and 6:14-15)

Remember Others Who Suffer

Do not let your suffering cut you off from the needs of others. Listen to persons around you and try to be totally present to those who need you. Healing is often given to us while we are giving ourselves in a mission of healing. (Read Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 10:25-37; and I Corinthians 13) 

Live Affirmatively

"Rejoice in the Lord, always," said Paul. "Again, I will say, Rejoice!" Paul wrote these words while he was in prison. No matter how bad our situation, we can always find things for which we are grateful. Look for these things. Live with affirmation. This tends to move our situation in a positive direction. (Read Psalm 95; 96; 98; 100; 150; and Philippians 1-4)

Look Forward With Expectation

Knowing that the future is in God's hands, look forward to it with expectation. Never lose hope. Know that the best is yet to be. Look forward to the continuation of life beyond death of the body. Rejoice in God's gift of hope, knowing that the future is always open for you and those you love. (Read Psalm 23; John 14:1-11; and I Corinthians 15) 

How To Turn Grief And Mourning Into A Blessing

 

Live Affirmatively

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) 

 

We do not ordinarily think of grief as a "good" experience. But Jesus talked about mourning as a blessing and the Psalmist rejoiced because of the way God turned his "mourning into dancing." In any grief experience we are tempted to sink into despair. Affirmation is, therefore, our first step toward healing and new life. We continuously affirm God's goodness, God's presence with us in our situation, and God's intention to transform our pain and our loss into something valuable and beautiful. Our affirmation creates the atmosphere in which God can make "all things work together for good."

 

Trust God

"Your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:19) 

 

Faith means the unconditional acceptance of God's love, an unconditional trust in God's power to give us wholeness of life. This kind of "acceptance" is the most essential ingredient in our search for healing from the pain of our grief. God loves you. God wants you to be whole. Lean into your pain until you find God there. Rest quietly in the silence and find God at the center of your being. Relinquish everything that keeps you from finding God and loving God. Let yourself be loved, healed, restored, and renewed.

 

Pray For Yourself

"And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed." (Mark 1:35)

 

Prayer is entering into communion with God, making direct contact with God, placing ourselves in the stream of God's healing love. In times of grief, we especially need to "know God", not just know "about God". Sit quietly, focusing your attention on God's presence. Express your need openly, directly, and honestly. Listen. Try to feel God's presence permeate your entire being. Frequent prayers of affirmation are especially helpful: "Your love is making me whole." "Your healing love is with me now."

 

Ask Others To Pray For You 

"Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayers and supplication . . . making supplication for all the saints, and also for me . . ." (Ephesians 6:18, 19) 

 

Paul never hesitated to ask his friends to pray for him in times of need. When our grief is very deep, we may find ourselves temporarily unable to pray. At such times the prayers of our friends can literally "carry us" until we are able to start praying for ourselves again. Ask for this gift when you need it, accept it gratefully when it is offered. Let yourself be supported, helped, inspired by the prayers of others.

 

Keep Busy

"But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22) 

 

We cannot sit around and wait for the healing of our grief. God expects us to act There are many things we can do for ourselves and for others in every grief situation. Action is often therapeutic, lifting us out of depression and opening up new possibilities for our future. Even if we are in deep mourning, there is always something that we can do. When we take one simple step, the next step is revealed to us.

 

Express Your Feelings 

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

 

One of the unfortunate characteristics of our time is our inability to get in touch with our feelings. "Big boys don't cry," we are told. "Nice girls don't make a scene." As a result, we repress our feelings rather than express them honestly. Grief is often accompanied by many strong emotions: sorrow, anger, guilt, self-pity, fear, and depression. Healing comes when we recognize these feelings and "work through" them, not when we ignore and repress them. Sharing with a counselor or with friends often helps us with this essential "grief work."

 

Practice Your Dying 

"I died every day!" (I Corinthians 15:31)

 

Christians are ready for death when it comes because we have already died so many times. These daily deaths come in so many ways: the loss of material things, the loss of a job, the loss of a friend; divorce, aging, or suffering. In every situation, however, we can learn more about how God works through a life-enhancing process of death and resurrection. Every experience of dying, including the death of the body, thus becomes a necessary and valuable stage of our growth into greater wholeness of life. Turn your daily "losses" into gains by practicing this "dying into new life" through the power of God's resurrection presence.

 

Develop The Art Of Relinquishment

"Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." (John 20;17) 

 

Mary wanted to hold on to the risen Lord, to bring Him back in the way she had known Him. But Jesus told her to relinquish Him so that He might go on to the next stage of His life. Relinquishment is one of the most difficult things for us to learn, but it is one of the most important. Growth and healing in our daily dying are often impossible without it. And when our loved ones die, they cannot go on to their next level of life until we free them by letting them go. Do not "hold them." Trust God. Relinquish!

 

Praise God In Everything

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

 

A woman who praised God when her grandson died can teach us a valuable lesson. At first, we don't understand such a thing! She wasn't praising God for her grandson's death, but rather in spite of her grandson's death, she found things for which to be thankful. It becomes clear that praise is one of the best ways to express our faith in God, and our trust in God's love and goodness. We do not praise God for everything, but we praise God in everything that happens ~ even when we don't "feel like it." This is one of the best ways to show God that we love Him and that we trust in His promises.

 

Seek Community

"Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

 

God never intends for us to struggle alone with the pain of our grief. God gives us the priceless gift of community, the sharing of life with others who love Him as we do. Don't allow yourself to become isolated or estranged in your grief. Let yourself be loved into new life by those around you. Be sensitive to the needs of others, using the experience of your own pain as an instrument of healing and comfort to others. No matter how great our loss, no matter how deep our mourning, we can use the Christian community as our extended family through which God gives us hope and wholeness.

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