Check Your Heart

Jeremiah 17:9

Proverbs 27:19

 

Why do you want to ignite a flame for Christ? Is it because you have seen other people doing it? Are you doing it because you want a particular position in your Youth group? Do you want to ignite a flame for Christ because you care about others and want them to know God so that they can have eternal life? Or are you doing it as a way of getting right with God so that he can forgive you?

 

We need to check our hearts from time to time to know what is driving us to do certain things. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful. Meaning that you may think that you are on the right path when doing certain things but later find out that your heart was not in the right place concerning that issue.

 

There are times we may want to do things, but the intention behind it may not align with God’s will for our lives and his kingdom. But I want to ignite a fire for Christ, isn’t that good enough, you may ask? Well, it is good, and God wants all his children to do that to advance his kingdom.

 

However, just because you want doesn’t mean that you should not check your heart. See, there may be things that will hinder you from igniting the fire of Jesus. You may have hidden issues in your heart like anger, fear, pride, and bitterness that may hinder you from accomplishing that.

 

Checking your heart first before taking this critical step will help you discover hidden things you need to deal with first. For example, if someone hurt you in the past and you’re still bitter towards them, you need to deal with that first. If you don’t, the enemy may use the bitterness in your heart against you to ensure that you fail in reigniting a flame of Christ not just in your life but also in the lives of others.

 

You may be working towards igniting a fire for God for yourself. You want others to glorify you just like they do a particular preacher that you admire. We need to be careful. Our fallen nature causes us to have misguided motivations when serving God. On a surface level, it may seem like we have a desire to advance the kingdom of God, but our hearts may be craving attention. Or maybe you really want to ignite a fire for Christ, but your heart is full of doubt and fear.

 

Check your heart and make sure that your desires and actions are motivated by your love for Jesus.

 

Action:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything in your heart that may be holding you back from igniting a flame of Christ.  If you’re already building intimacy with God, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you wrong things in your heart that may open up doors for the enemy to come and block you from moving forward with your relationship with God. Tell God to cleanse your heart from bitterness, anger, and pride so that you can serve Him faithfully.

The True Meaning of Worship

Exodus 23:25

John 4:24

 

What comes to your mind when the word worship is mentioned?

 

Music, lifting up holy hands, prayer, kneeling down, clapping, and dancing. Maybe, I missed out something that came into your mind. But those are some of the most common things that come to mind when we think about worshipping God.

 

There are so many different ways that we can worship our heavenly Father. Great worship music plus a great worship leader that knows how to coordinate everyone, and everything causes us to enjoy worship, right?

 

But did you know that there is more to worshipping God than singing, kneeling, and raising your hands up? Worshipping God starts from the heart. It is not really about what is going on outwardly but about what is going on in our hearts.

 

God had a problem with the children of Israel because they worshipped him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. It is easy for us to get caught up with religious acts and start worshipping God with our lips and not our hearts. But God sees our hearts, and he knows us inside out.

 

See, it is one thing to clap or lift your hands because the worship leader has told you to do that. It is another altogether when you are doing it out of reverence for God. True worship causes us to stop focusing on ourselves and what is going on around us. It draws us to God alone.

 

Our worship should be out of reverence, not mechanical. As we go before God’s presence, we need to know the truth about him so that  our worship can be based on the truth found in God’s word and not guesswork or religious duty.

 

When we make it a point to incline our hearts to God and be fully submitted to Him, our intimacy with him deepens, and we are able to enjoy our relationship with him. This, in turn, ignites a flame for Christ in our hearts and lives.  Note that you do not have to be perfect for you to worship God in spirit and truth.  Go to God just the way you are and allow him to work through you and in you.

 

Action:

From today make worship part of their everyday life. It should not be something that you do on Sundays only.  Let your actions, thoughts, and words bring glory to God. When you go to church, do it because you want to go and spend time with God. Let it be an act of worship and not a way of keeping your parents from nagging you or seeing friends.  As you spend time with the Lord, be real with him about your thoughts towards him and allow him to refine you so that you can worship him in spirit and in truth.

 

In your free time, listen to worship music and sing along. This will stir your heart, and the messages in those songs will cause you to see Jesus in a different light.

Read Christian Books

Proverbs 18:15

Hosea 4:6

 

Okay, the truth is some of us find the whole process of reading books boring. But we cannot overlook this. If you want to learn and achieve things faster, it is good to learn from other people’s experiences. Meaning you are going to have to do some boring stuff for you to achieve what you want.

 

It is essential for us to always read the Bible and follow what it says. Other materials should never replace the word of God. But God has raised up people within the body of Christ that we can learn from. We need each other to exist and remain steadfast in our Christian walk. That is why reading spiritual books is another great way that will help us to ignite a flame for Christ.

 

See, through writing, some people can share the great experiences and encounters they have had with the Lord with the rest of the world. Through reading books and magazines, some of us know about great men and women of God and the great exploits they did for the kingdom. Reading books will help you understand how other believers ignite a flame for Christ in their lives and the world. It will also help you know what igniting the flame of Christ is really all about so that you can understand what is expected of you.

 

The Bible says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. That you desire to do something doesn’t mean that you do it without proper preparation and knowledge. Yes, the Holy Spirit is there to help us every step of the way, and one of the ways he does that is by using other people’s experiences to show us how we can go about certain things and how we can avoid the mistakes they made.

 

Technology has made it easy for us to do a lot of things, including reading books. If you find reading a hard copy to be hard, how about you listen to an audiobook? With your parents’ help, you can buy audiobooks that will help you learn how to go about igniting a flame of Christ.

 

Action:

Look for two to three books of people who shared their journey to spiritual growth or igniting the flame of Christ. You can get hard copies and even audiobooks in case reading a hardcover is challenging for you. In your free time, read about their journeys and see what they did to help ignite the fire. Find out where they went wrong if they shared their mistakes and weaknesses and learn from them and then look for strategies on how you can start your journey to igniting the flame of Christ in your life and in the lives of other individuals.

 

Though some books may be under Christianity, they may not be right for you. Some people take the word of God out of context to suit the message they are trying to pass across. You need to read reviews first to know which books are within the context of the Bible.

Focus on Eternity

John 5:24

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

There is a famous saying that goes begin with the end in mind.  We are often told that the best way to accomplish things in this world is to do them with an end in mind.   Some of us know exactly what we want to be when we grow up.  So we are going to school and taking subjects that will enable us to achieve what we want.

 

In Deuteronomy 30:15-20, God gives us options.  He has given us two choices: death and life.  When we live independent of him, we shall experience death, and when we depend on him, we shall experience life and prosperity. Meaning that all of us have a choice in life. We choose how to live our lives, but we should always remember that each option has repercussions.

 

You may be young and think that it is not really vital for you to think about the end right now but remember that none of us is promised tomorrow. Another thing to remember is that Jesus can come back anytime, so we need to be ready. Before you go to hang out with that click of friends who are engaging in drugs and immorality, take time to think about the end. What will be the consequences of your actions? Will they take you to heaven, or will they take you to hell?

 

When your friends want you to go against your faith and values, you should take a minute to reflect on that.  Think about the consequences.  Is what you are about to do good in the sight of God?  Will it bring glory to him and cause you to enjoy the crown of life at the end of time? If you went drunk driving with your friends and something happened to you, where will you spend your eternity?

 

We serve a merciful God, but we need to also understand that God is a righteous judge. He will judge us accordingly. We should not live recklessly, thinking that we have all the time in the world just because we are young.  Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 tells us to enjoy our youth, to be happy when we are still young. But it also tells us that God will judge us in whatever we do.

 

Focusing on eternity will help you to make the right decisions in your life. It will also ignite a flame of Christ in your heart, for you will have a deep desire to live a life that is pleasing unto God. Not just that, but you will have a longing to tell others about the kingdom of God, and this will, in turn, ignite a fire for God in the body of Christ and the world.

 

Action:

Before making any decision think about the repercussions of the choices, you’re about to make.  When you do anything, do it with the end in mind.  Ask yourself if what you’re about to do will draw you close to Christ.  Will you get the crown of life at the end of time if you take that road?  Or will the decision cause you to miss out on eternal life?

Serve People in Your Community

Luke 3:10-11

Hebrews 13:16

 

Did you know that serving others will help you to ignite the flame for Christ not just in your personal life but also in other people’s lives? Well, I know being around many people causes some of us to feel drained and overwhelmed. Some of us enjoy keeping our own company.

 

But here is the thing we are here to serve others. We have a great commission, which is to go out there and spread the Gospel of Christ.  It means that helping others is part of the Christian life, and we cannot run away from it.

 

Now, serving people doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to become a pastor or an evangelist.  God has given us different gifts, so there is no one way to serve others. Asking God for guidance on how he wants you to help people in your community and the world is very important. It will enable you to be an influential person in the kingdom.

 

The beauty in serving others is you get to interact with so many people and find out how they relate to God, the challenges they are facing, and the testimonies in their lives.  All this will help to ignite a fire and cause you to want to know God more.  Yes, it might be hard to interact with others and share the gospel with them given the fact that you are still young, but you do not have to be afraid for greater is He that’s in you than he that is in the world.

 

Find people within your community in your neighborhood that needs help. By helping them, you can interact with these people and know where they stand in terms of their faith. It also opens up a door for you to spread the gospel to them. You may not even have to preach to them. You just have to do what you’re doing, like cleaning their compounds, and when they see you doing this, they will be drawn to you and want to know why you are so different from the rest of the world.

 

They say it is the small kinds of kindness that make a difference in the world.  Well, today, choose to serve people through your deeds and words, and they will be drawn to you and, in essence, to the kingdom of God. Remember, we are the light of the world, and it is through our deeds that some people are drawn to God and his kingdom.

 

 

 

 

Action:

Find two to three people in your neighborhood that need help.  There may be elderly people or people with special needs that need someone to help them with their house chores or to talk to them. Spend time with these people, and when you get a chance, share the gospel with them.  You don’t have to preach or anything. Just ask the Holy Spirit for help. Doing this will ignite a fire in you and also in other people’s lives.

Surrender to the Leading of the Holy Spirit

John 14:26

Romans 8:26

 

For us to know a particular subject in school we need help from our teachers, right? If you want to know Math, you will have to attend Math classes, the same is true for every other subject. Similarly, if you need to understand spiritual matters, you need a teacher who understands spiritual matters. That is why Jesus said he would send us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things.

 

The Christian walk is impossible without the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts our hearts of sin so that we can turn from our sinful ways and give our lives to Christ. But his role in our lives doesn’t stop there. We need the Holy Spirit to help us in our daily lives. That is why he is called the helper.

 

Okay, just like the Pharisees, some people appear to be zealous for God, but they’re not. They have some form of godliness but are not submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit and cannot ignite the flame of Christ in their lives or the kingdom of God.

 

To be on fire for God, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit. He knows the deep things of God. He can also search our minds and reveal to us the things that may hinder us from experiencing the fullness of God. You will never understand scripture without the help of the Holy Spirit. Sure other people like pastors and spiritually mature Christians can help you understand it, but they don’t do it with their own strength. They also need the Holy Spirit to help them.

 

Another thing to note is that it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to pray. Yes, we can choose to pray without the Holy Spirit’s help, but if we really desire to ignite a flame for Christ, we need to pray according to God’s will. The only person who can help us to pray according to God’s will is the Holy Spirit.

 

If you desire to be like David, Paul, Elijah, Peter, Esther, Daniel, and our Lord Jesus, then you need to surrender to God and allow the Holy Spirit to take over. He will lead you in truth and tell you what Jesus tells him. Let the Holy Spirit be your counselor, teacher, and best friend. Doing so will enable him to control your mind, words, actions, and attitudes.

 

 

Allow him to transform your spiritual life so that you can become bold like Elijah and Elisha. When the Spirit of God is in control of your life, he will reveal your spiritual gift(s) so that you can use them to serve God and ignite a flame of Christ in God’s kingdom.

 

Action

Ask the Holy Spirit to take over your life and teach you all things. Surrender to his leading and quit trying to lead yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you things that are blocking you from serving God faithfully.

The Sacrifice of Praise

Psalm 150:6

Psalm 100:4-5

 

For us to be on fire for God, we need to be close to him. We need to have an intimate relationship with him. One of the ways that we can draw near to God is through praise.

 

The word of God tells us to enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. This means that praise gives us access to the throne of God. It enables us to draw near to him, and the Bible says that when we draw near to God, he will also draw near us. A look into the Bible, and you will see that great things happened when people drew near to God. Enemies were defeated, lives were transformed, and the kingdom of God expanded.

 

When we praise God, our frustrations in life are neutralized, and we end up being productive in life. It could be that you are struggling to ignite a flame of Christ in your life because of the different challenges you are facing at school or at home. Maybe you are struggling with a particular subject. It could be that your family is on the verge of breaking up because your parents are considering divorce. Perhaps your guardian is not treating you well.

 

It is hard to focus on God and praise Him when bad things are happening around you. It is easy to complain and look for other options instead of praising God. But whining and looking for other options will not give you permanent solutions. Instead of getting depressed, how about shifting your focus to the one who will rescue you from that problem?

 

Stop focusing on what is happening and focus on the one who created you. When you draw close to God, your frustrations and fears will start to drop, and your faith in the Lord will become stronger in faith.

 

When God assured King Jehosaphat that he would fight on behalf of Israel in 2 Chronicles 20, the King told his people to sing praises to God, and when they did, their enemies were destroyed by the Lord. When Paul and Silas were sent to prison for spreading the gospel, Acts 16:16-40, they sang praises to God at midnight, and the prison doors were opened. Not just that, the lives of the jailer and his family were transformed as they gave their lives to Christ.

 

It is not just our situation that changes when we praise God. Unbelievers who monitor our Christian walk also become transformed. When some unbelieving students see you praising God when all odds are against you, they will want to know this God that you serve. Not just that but some of them will give their lives to Him. When this happens, the flame of Christ will not only be ignited in your life but in your community and the world.

 

Action:

There are so many different ways that we can praise God. Find what works for you, or better still, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. You can praise God with music, the Psalms of David, or with heavenly tongues. Make praise part of your prayer life.

Practicing Media Discernment: Why it is Important and How to Do It

Practicing Media Discernment:

Why it is Important and How to Do It

But test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:21–22 (NIV)

The Media has changed the way we do business, socialize, and spend our time. People have successful online businesses, met their life partners,  and experienced growth in their personal and spiritual lives because of the media.

 

But some have strayed away from the Christian faith, become victims of scammers and narcissists, or committed crimes because of the media.

 

The media provides numerous opportunities and benefits, but it also through the media that the enemy lies, controls, and confuses the masses. That is why practicing media discernment is very important.

 

What is Media discernment?

It is measuring what you read, hear or watch with the eyes and ears of Jesus Christ.

 

It is the ability to decide whether the information we are consuming is right or wrong, truth or error, based on what God’s word says.

 

Why is Media Discernment Important?

 

We cannot read every popular book or sing along to every song.  We need to be careful because just the way faith comes by hearing is how fear, doubt, pride, and discouragement come by hearing.

 

Reading a novel or watching a movie may not seem like a big deal. After all, it is just entertainment. But we need to understand that those things influence our thoughts and actions. It may not seem so the first time you watch an explicit movie, but you will start acting out what you see or read with time.

 

Jesus called the eye the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22). He then said that if the eyes are good, then our whole bodies are good. It means that our eyes are doorways to our souls. They influence how we perceive things. If we see bad things, we will misunderstand things, and the reverse is true.

 

 

How do we Practice Media Discernment?

 

Measure what you Consume

Do not just consume everything that the media shows you. Even if it is trending all over the world, you have to be careful.

 

Find out what God’s word says about that hashtag on social media before you join the discussion. Read book reviews before you buy that book. Then ask yourself whether the information in it glorifies God.

 

Ask the Holy Spirit for Discernment

Some things in the media don’t seem harmful. In fact, they may seem to be in line with the word of God. But in reality, they may not be suitable for you. The devil is crafty. He disguises himself as the angel of light (2 Corinthians 4:11). And since one of the tools he uses to confuse the masses is the media, he will go the extra mile to ensure that he covers his tracks very well.

 

Some of the most popular books that we read have bible verses.  But the authors misuse the word of God to fulfill their agenda. Some Christian movies have nothing to do with the Christian faith. They are just placed under the Christian genre to draw people in and confuse them.

 

We need help from the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can help us know whether something is good even before we read or watch it.

 

All in all:

 

Practicing media discernment is vital in this current world. The media is being used as a tool to promote evil.

 

Believers need to be careful about how they communicate their lifestyles to the world. But they also have to be cautious about who influences them through the media.

 

We should ensure that whatever we do in deed or word glorifies God.

How to Make Joy a Daily Habit

How to Make Joy a Daily Habit

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

We are being encouraged to push on despite what is happening around us. We are told that it is in pushing on that we can create our next happy moment. But the truth is, the more we push, the more we become depressed. Chasing happiness is a recipe for disaster.

 

We need to learn how to make joy a daily habit. Why? God wants us to be joyful. Not that being happy is a bad thing, but when we have joy, we have internal satisfaction. It means that you can remain positive in the midst of a storm.

 

It is impossible for one to be happy when they are going through trials. External circumstances will not allow you to as they will keep changing. But it is possible to have joy.

 

So how do we combat stress with joy daily?

 

Choose What to Believe

Stress is readily available in today’s world. Watch television, read the news or turn on the radio and you will see or hear one bad report after another. It is easy to feel stressed.

 

That is why we need to be intentional about making joy our daily habit. And we can do that by choosing what to believe.

 

See, your circumstance doesn’t determine whether you will walk with joy or be stressed. It is your thoughts about the circumstance that will make your situation stressful. If you think being in a crowded place will stress you, you are going to be stressed. Being around many people isn’t bad, but the thought of it makes the whole experience stressful.

 

Paul rejoiced even though he was in jail (Philippians 4:4-8). He encouraged others to rejoice while he was in prison. I don’t think we would say the same thing if we were in his shoes. But Paul saw being in jail as an opportunity to live for Christ, so he wasn’t stressed about it but rejoiced.

 

Abide in Christ

Every single day, make it a habit to abide in Christ.

 

Abiding means to continue.

 

We should make it a point to continue being in close union with Jesus. Not only when it best suits us but even when we don’t feel like it. 

 

When we abide in Christ, he promises to make our joy complete. (John 15:10-11)

 

Serve Others

Serving others does not mean that you have to become a pastor evangelist or work in a church.  You can serve others through your social media platforms by just writing words of encouragement to your friends and followers.

 

When we serve others daily, we become joyful. Seeing others overcome the issues they are facing because we stood by them fills us with joy. A small act of kindness goes a long way.

 

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

 

It is not dependent on outside circumstances.

 

We can be joyful even when all odds are against us.  But for that to happen, we need to make joy a daily habit by serving others,  abiding in Christ, and most of all, choosing our thoughts carefully.

Finding Contentment in a Discontented World

Finding Contentment in a Discontented World

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 19:23 (NIV)

Money doesn’t buy contentment, but neither does poverty provide it.

 

Many of us believe that as long as we have enough, we will be content with life. But how many of us know that the human heart is never satisfied? The more we acquire stuff, the more we want. It is never enough.

 

So how is contentment attained? How do we find contentment?

 

By Knowing Christ

Earning a living and raising a beautiful family are great things to do. But they’ll never bring contentment in our hearts.

 

Jesus is our only source of contentment. Do you know why?

 

  • He loves us unconditionally

Although he knows our flaws, Jesus loves us unconditionally. He will never reject you, even when you mess up.

 

  • He is Our Source of Strength

Paul learned how to remain content in every situation. This came about when Paul realized that he could do all things through Christ, who strengthens him.

 

Like Paul, we can also find contentment through Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:12-13).

 

  • Without Him, we can do Nothing

Jesus said that without him, we can do nothing.

 

It means that even though we work hard and try to achieve success according to the world standards, it is only through Jesus that we can be successful.

 

We may attain all the material wealth that we want, but without Jesus, we will always be discontented in our hearts. Everything we will be striving for will be outside God’s will.

 

By Obeying and Serving God

 

In Job 36:11, we are told that it is by obeying God that we will be contented and prosperous in life.

 

So let us make it a habit to obey God and serve him faithfully. It will not be easy, and God may ask you to do things that don’t seem to be ‘cool’ according to the world standard, but we will be content in our hearts.

 

By Trusting God with all your Heart

It is easy to be anxious about life, especially in a world where we are made to believe that being successful means having a posh car, a big house, rich friends, and many followers on social media.

 

Even believers are getting carried away by the world’s definition of success.

 

We don’t find contentment in the things of the world. We find it God. That is why we need to place our trust in God. Follow his lead and trust the process that he is taking you through.

 

Doing this will not only open doors of blessings in your life, but it will also cause you to find contentment in your life.

 

It could be that you have bought into the lie that contentment comes from having a lot of money, a big car, and a great family. Well, while all those things are good, they will never fill up the void in your heart.

 

People will disappoint you, material wealth will come and go, but only God will remain faithful to you.

 

If you want to be content in life, start with God. Focus on Jesus and allow him to take charge of your life.