4 comments on “3 Reasons why Temptations are good for You”

3 Reasons why Temptations are good for You

Have you ever gifted someone something that you later on asked to be returned you? Similarly, when we choose to do what we would rather do instead of letting the LORD have His way with us, it’s like we’re asking God to return the words we lifted up to Him in prayer or praise. Are you ever tempted to take back your words long after your passion for God fizzled or are you ever just tempted to live as if Jesus never touched your heart? It’s okay if you say “No, not lately”, but can you at least relate?

This post will not be what you probably expect it to be but I do have a point. I definitely had those moments when Christianity wasn’t my daily lifestyle and even a few instances years later when I finally committed. I had been so confident to say “never again” and sure enough there I’d be wishing I hadn’t made that vow whether it was because it bruised my ego or made me feel unworthy. I hated my temptations. And I can’t remember exactly what tangible thing I gave to a loved one and then took back, but I’m almost positive I’ve done it at least once as well as the fact that I’ve probably been a victim of this unfairness too.

I’ve read from a devotional a few years ago that it doesn’t matter how long a Christian has been on the journey; there will come times of temptation to want to live as one had lived before they gave their life to Christ. Satan’s good at shaking his victims around, and it begins with little nudges that become persistent overtime. HE ONLY BECOMES SUCCESSFUL WHEN YOU CONFIRM BY AGREEING WITH THE MEMORIES OF GOOD FEELINGS HE WILL BE COMFORTING AND REMINDING YOU WITH. HE WILL NUDGE YOU IN AREAS YOU HAVE GROWN STRONG IN BECAUSE IT’S THOSE PARTS OF YOUR LIFE YOU THINK YOU ARE CONFIDENT HE WILL NOT TOUCH. But you are wrong. If you’re only concerned about your weaknesses, he’s got you where he wants you — blind-sighted.

Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Scary, no? But I’m not afraid. You shouldn’t either. At least not right now. God is the only One whom you must fear. It’s your fear of the LORD that gives you wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), because I believe if you fear anything else, many things will terrify you. I just know that whatever comes my way, I am a better person today than I was then, and it’s because I’ve chosen to make a habit of looking at my temptations a different way.

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

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If you’ve been hating, blaming, or running away and fearing your temptations, then they can absolutely ruin you and your mental health/emotional well-being. It’s time to change our views about them. Let me explain. TEMPTATIONS ARE PART OF A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL WALK. God allows them because they contribute to how He will be disciplining you. Remember the LORD loves so much to correct wrongdoing. What parent’s love comes without discipline and how much more with the Father’s? If you recognize temptations and what its goal is, that means you acknowledge your relationship with Jesus, and so they can actually build you up so long as you respond with the right attitude.

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

The right attitude is stepping back and paying close attention to where those temptations could possibly lead you and exactly how the outcome of giving in can mess with your thoughts and feelings later on. There would be no need for a right attitude/response if temptations do not do their part in testing you, and therefore there would be no acknowledgement of victory and moreover, growth, and furthermore, blessings and praises. So yes, God is responsible for allowing this, but He is also the one responsible for rewarding and equipping you with a little bit more confidence and resilience you can put to work the next time you are ever tempted again. But how can you teach yourself not to give in when you forget He’s already equipped you? You must practice by being thankful for them.

Here are 3 reasons to be grateful for your temptations:

  1. THEY BUILD YOUR CHARACTER. They help strengthen your convictions whether you give in or not. They will absolutely strengthen your convictions more than break you if after giving in to those temptations your repentance is genuine and you thanked God for that test/trial, because now you have even more hate for your sins (not temptations), and now you value obedience towards God even more.
  2. THEY ARE NOT SINS. They attack your mind posing as ungodly desires that have not yet become sins. Your awareness is key. The more aware you are that it is only a test/trial, the more successful you will be at remembering to surrender them to God. But the more aware you are of how good it makes you feel, then your tendency to be entertained by them will more likely lead you to commit to the next step, which is sinning.
  3. WITHOUT THEM DISCIPLINE HAS NO VALUE. Think about it, it’s because of where temptations have led us in the past that we choose and want to choose better for ourselves. So the more temptations you have the more God is saying “This is good for you because you will be trained by it”. The LORD’S love comes with much discipline and He sure does love us a lot!

Self-control is ineffective and not long lasting unless there was a specific moment in the temptation when the situation was handed over to God. If He was not acknowledged enough in the struggle, the habit you are trying to control will control you. “Will I choose to take God’s grace for granted or can this growth opportunity really bless me right now?”

THE LORD IS QUICK TO SHOW HIS FAVOR WHEN YOU SERVE HIM THROUGH OBEDIENCE AT THE TOUGHEST TIMES. WHY? THE LIFE OF HIS SON JESUS INSIDE YOU IS PLEASED WITH THE FREEDOM AND PEACE YOU RECEIVE. HIS JOY IS YOUR STRENGTH (Nehemiah 8:10).

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

At the moment of temptation, pay attention to where your heart leans more towards — the desire to glorify God or the desire to glorify your feelings? Remember, Satan nudges by using your feelings. Temptation becomes sin at the moment when the spirit is quenched because the flesh is fulfilled by our participation to commit. PUT YOUR FAITH ABOVE YOUR FEELINGS.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  1. What is something this past week or two that has really challenged my integrity?
  2. If I pay closer attention to any temptations around this, will it help me live with more purpose and passion? How would my life improve if I consistently prayed more about this?
  3. Have I been praying about this and what can I add or say differently in my prayers about this one particular temptation?

PRAY:

Heavenly Father, You’re so good to discipline me using my temptations. Thank you for loving me as I am and I am not even perfect. With Your guidance I know I can always improve. Each temptation is proof to me of your Grace. Forgive me for all the times I have taken your Grace for granted, for focusing on myself and my feelings every time I’ve given in instead of focusing on You. Help me to count it joy that my temptations are chances to humble myself and surrender to You who protects my integrity and my oneness with You. LORD, I ask that You guide me by reminding me of Your presence convicting me to do the right thing as I obey and glorify Your Son when I am faced with temptation again. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

Christian Faith   Mind & Body  Portrait Art

@godfirstgodalways  God first God always  @god_first_god_always @sheelaleigh  @sheelaleigh

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0 comments on “Character/Integrity, Temptations, the Full Armor of God”

Character/Integrity, Temptations, the Full Armor of God

Matthew 5:28 ‘Do not let your heart turn to her ways [the adulteress]’

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 7: 1-3 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

There is a big connection between heart and mind. It’s said that desires and ambitions stem from the heart. But aren’t those concrete thoughts? And our thoughts on the other hand can have a big impact on the health of our hearts. Like literally.

I believe that God wants His children to operate from the heart, knowing that Jesus is in there. When we accept His Son we accept Him with our minds, but we accept Him into our hearts. And when He is nourished in our hearts, our spirits are lifted, and we can also begin to see things from His point of view. Our minds then adopt His perspective and character/integrity is built in us.

The bridge between heart and mind is character/integrity. When this is more prominent than personality, righteousness is the result. Righteousness is always something to receive no matter how many years a Christian has been following Christ, otherwise it would never have been paid for on the Cross.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Who or what is at the center of your heart? Is it Jesus or is it something else that may be causing you a lot of confusion?

Open the eyes of my heart LORD,

Open the eyes of my heart,

I want to see YOU

I want to see YOU…

 

This song by Michael W. Smith speaks to me a lot. As a Christian it’s so important to realize the connection between Father and Son, and not just once but several times a week. It’s not enough as knowledge in the back of your head. It must be a realization, a rediscovering, a habit to remember again and again.

In my perspective, this song is sung to God, the Father. When I sing it, I am asking HIM to open Jesus’ eyes in my heart. I’m basically inviting Jesus into my heart all over again because I trust His perspective on things. Then in total surrender, when I am aware that Jesus is very well alive and awake in me, I can see through His eyes and He is looking straight to God. I find peace and oneness with HIM here as I am humbly reminded that my righteousness is only there because He made this connection with HIM possible. I am nothing without my relationship with HIS Son.

Is your relationship with Christ making you aware of your temptations?

James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Temptation becomes sin at the moment when the spirit is quenched because the flesh is fulfilled by our participation to commit. As long as you’re battling temptation with your own strength, they will always seem too great for you to overcome. The secret to faith is finding strength not in ourselves but in Christ’s confidence in God. Armoring yourself with the LORD’S Truth is your weapon for warfare. So what is God’s Truth and how can we overcome one temptation at a time?

In matters of temptation, God’s Truth is found in Ephesians 6:10-18. It talks about putting on the full armor of God, which is the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

The breastplate of righteousness is the righteousness Christ paid for on our behalf, so putting it on (receiving it) is what will protect our heart. Self-righteousness is not good enough to protect ourselves; we must put on Christ’s righteousness. This is that realization/rediscovering I was talking about earlier; we have righteousness only because of the relationship between God and Jesus.

The shield we must have with us is faithfulness…the same faith He had in God, which strengthened Him with confidence. During those 40 days and nights when Jesus was tempted in the desert, He responded to Satan’s schemes by referring to God’s truths (Matthew 4:4, 5:7, 4:10, Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 6:16). The faith He had as He relied on the Father helped Him to resist temptation.

Then there is also salvation that we must not forget. I believe it is called the helmet of salvation since our righteousness in Christ protects our hearts, our salvation in Christ must protect our minds. Salvation is not a one time deal just like righteousness. Salvation is nothing without righteousness, vice versa, and since what is in the heart must match what it is in the mind, it is our salvation in Christ that reminds us of this connection. With the helmet of salvation, we can “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Last but not least, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) is something we must carry with us at all times. A doubled edged sword can pierce any heart. This is true just as with God’s Word, and if we deliver His wisdom with humility and righteousness, it is the ultimate Truth that convicts and protects against anything that threatens our relationship/oneness with Him. It is the righteous weapon we have which means we must use it to convict and not condemn.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  1.  Is my character/integrity mostly made up of convictions or condemnations?
  2.  What thoughts and feelings am I allowing my character to be built on?
  3.  Is my righteousness Jesus at the center of my heart or is it something or someone else? If it is not Him, could it be the reason why I feel miles away from Him if I give in to temptation?

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

Christian Faith   Health & Nutrition  Portrait Art

@godfirstgodalways  God first God always  @god_first_god_always @sheelaleigh  @sheelaleigh

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WHY PRAY?: 5 Benefits of Prayer

I got prayer all wrong in the past. I thought if I prayed and focused long enough for something like confidence I would be confident for the rest of the year at least if not for life. But sooner or later my doubts would creep in and I would wonder, “Where did my confidence go?” My prayer worked but my confidence only lasted for a while. The thing I realized was that my confidence had an expiration date. I thought maybe I’m not being faithful enough. So then I would pray for faith thinking that if I prayed for it religiously for a week I would have faith for the rest of the year or for a couple months at least and that I would never have to pray for it again until when I was desperate enough.

Our Father in Heaven never meant for us to come to Him asking for specific things just once or even twice. He knows just how needy we are. He wants to have a connection with us all the time that’s why He uses our lack, our imperfections, and our weaknesses to drive us back to Him. But our human nature usually opts to wait for those desperate moments to bring them up in prayer when we can make a habit instead to pray about them throughout the day. Our faith and confidence expires for a reason and that’s because God’s does not. Isn’t His love so amazing to call us back to Him when our cups have run dry?

Prayer is undervalued because not everyone around you will see exactly how you’re benefitting from it as it’s usually a private activity. Only you will know more often than even the closest people to you that it actually works.

SO, EXACTLY HOW DOES ONE BENEFIT FROM PRAYING?

1. PRAYER PRODUCES CONFIDENCE. If it’s self-confidence you want more of, placing it in God is your best move. Sure you’ll find confidence in other things, but do those things build your integrity? When your hope and trust is placed in your Creator, your confidence becomes a firm faith, and you’ll be more positive and optimistic about where you’re headed in life, which means your worries and anxieties lessen, you gain more focus, and become more aware of the opportunities around you. Confidence says a lot about a person’s worth and without knowing your worth, who is going to believe you?

2. PRAYER STRENGTHENS OUR BOND WITH GOD & PEOPLE. The joy and peace we give to and receive from our relationships greatly depend on the strength of our relationship and oneness with the LORD. Our meditations to Him manifests as our internal dialogue, which has a great effect on the way we communicate with others. Prayer helps us make connections with people we have a hard time understanding or just getting along with because it builds patience within us as we realize how patient God is with us. The overall quality of life is enhanced through healthy relationships.

3. PRAYER HELPS US TO LIVE IN GOD’S WILL. Discernment is important if we want to make good decisions that keep us in alignment with God’s plan. As we become consistent with prayer, we are able to know quickly what ideas and suggestions are from Satan and what ideas and suggestions are from God. The wisdom we gain will help us to be more aware of the difference between conviction and condemnation that we might save ourselves from pain and suffering later on. His will becomes ours the more we accept it.

4. PRAYER HELPS US TO VALUE DISCIPLINE. Our confessions and repentance produces humility to continually welcome righteousness into our hearts. Prayer reaffirms that our goal is to have the characteristics of Jesus because when we display His qualities we attract like-minded people who help us make life a little easier. Self-control is such an important quality if anyone wants to make it far in life.

5. PRAYER HELPS COMBAT STRESS/ANXIETY & DEPRESSION. When the mind and body suffers, it is often the spirit that is overlooked. Prayer produces relaxation that is very well an alternative to medicine. Our God and Creator made us for Himself, and that is why when we worship Him with all our being, He really is everything we ever need. Prayer encourages us to forgive easily, which protects us from anxiety and a host of others mental illnesses as well as cardiovascular disease. He heals our hearts and minds as we live more for Him.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

WANT THOUGHTS OF LOVE FOR YOU OR A LOVED ONE? DROP A PRAYER REQUEST OR TWO ON OUR PRAYER WALL

 

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

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@godfirstgodalways  God first God always  @god_first_god_always @sheelaleigh  @sheelaleigh

0 comments on “KEEP WALKING”

KEEP WALKING

I remember being 12 years old and thinking “When I’m 16, I’ll have my first boyfriend and I’ll get my driver’s license, when I’m 25 I should be married, and when I’m 30 I should have my first child.” Okay, so none of my predictions came true. By the time I turned 25, I still couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be in life. There’s a one hit wonder by 4 Non Blondes and it goes….

       Twenty-five years and my life is still

Trying to get up that great big hill of hope

For a destination

………

And I try, oh my god do I try

I try all the time, in this institution

And I pray, oh my god do I pray

I pray every single day

For a revolution

………

And I say, hey hey hey hey

I said hey, what’s going on?

………

That was my song. I sang it quite well actually. I was one of two vocalists in a cover band performing weekly at a bar not far from the Vegas Strip. I didn’t pick the song, the members chose it for me but they didn’t even have a clue I was only a few months away from turning 25. I remember that year clearly. I thought I had a very good standing relationship with God, but I look back and I was actually more on the self-righteous side blinded by my own self-confidence, yet I didn’t have a clear focus on how God wanted to use my skills and talents and I was still chasing after worldly gains.

I always believed having a goal meant that you’re counting on yourself to achieve it one day. YOU SET IT, YOU GET IT. And it confused me so much because the Bible says that God establishes a man’s steps, no matter how much he plans his own life (Proverbs 16:9). So what did He want from me?!? Why did He give me so much passions and interests and I can’t even focus on one to set me for life?

He brought me back to square one. And not just once, but quite a few handful of times. Square one was a corner as I had always pictured it before. And whenever I came back to this place, I always lost hope and complained “Well, I’m going to have to work extra hard now just to gain back all the strength I just lost, because now I have to start all over again.” It might have been the hundredth time of returning to this place that I finally realized it is not a corner but the center of where everything begins. It is now the place where the LORD always reminds me I am nothing without Him and have nothing without Him. And I have no complaints but praises and thanks. I have to make sure I’m still on the path. He brings me here to remind me it doesn’t matter how much I have been pushing myself just to walk a little faster than before because at times I felt I was so behind. What matters is that I’m walking in faith. What matters is that God is my ultimate Goal.

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“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”

Earl Nightingale

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:6

“God is my Goal.”

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

Christian  Health|Nutrition  Portrait Art

0 comments on “ANXIETY SERIES – VLOGS”

ANXIETY SERIES – VLOGS

I received an anonymous question a few months back on God first God always.

Do you think if a Christian suffers from anxiety they aren’t true Christians?

I thought about what I had said in previous posts. How did this awesome question come about? I honestly would not know what words I would have used if someone asked me that question in person. That’s why I believe I turn to blogging because for some reason, words just like to start coming together in bands that cheer each other on. They make more sense to me as they form convictions, and sometimes I don’t even feel like it’s me writing or typing anymore. I sense as if my fingers seem to think faster than my brain. It’s questions and concerns like this that encourage me to grow. It might sound like a ridiculous question to you but to others hungry for God or just curious, I am satisfied to be that bridge for them to meet with Jesus. If anything I publish confirms your faith in Christ, I am blessed as well too!

I am not as smart or wise in person as I sound much of the time in all my posts. I like to believe I learn best when I am blogging and I learn best when I journal. I grow and therefore sound more mature and full of wisdom when I am challenged to answer a question concerning faith because I have the time to think before I publish. My fingers may be fast, but after all that, my favorite part is editing. At least that’s what I’d like to believe. I made a point in the first vlog that it really doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Christian for years and you still experience anxiety. I believe it’s when you’re in the midst of your anxiety and you know at that moment to turn to God, but you choose not to. It is that deliberate choice that makes it a sin to the one experiencing the struggle. Therefore to answer anon’s question, feeling anxious is generally not a sin, but remaining anxious is. An anxious person who is young in faith or is lukewarm might not know that they are sinning , but that’ is why spiritual growth is important.  I don’t think a Christian is any less a Christian if they live with anxiety because if remaining anxious and not doing anything about it means not trusting God enough, then all other sins for that Christian should make them less of a Christian. A sin is a sin and God is the Just Judge; He does not condemn but convict. Suffering from anxiety is a choice whether Christian or not. A Christian can experience anxiety but don’t have to suffer for it.

I would like you to know I do struggle too. I have anxieties like all normal humans experience. Perhaps maybe even more. And I am that curious kid at heart who would have asked the same question years ago if it only crossed my mind. I got anxious to answer the question when I read it….anxious because I had so many thoughts running through my mind, and I wanted to choose all the words that were jumping anxiously at me. But I waited and settled on a conviction that when my thoughts would finally calm down, God’s guidance would be much clearer, and I would leave the rest to my fingers. I had to dig deep and pray they were the words He trusted me with. The videos don’t get recorded until I’ve meditated ridiculously on what I’ve typed/written otherwise my mouth goes astray.

Why this long intro? I’m convincing myself there has to be some explanation why I have not been consistently making videos and why all of a sudden now it seems as though I am so confident to be back. I have been so guilty not making enough content. Laziness, busyness, bad time management, perfectionism, discouragement, insecurities, and anxieties. I could blame it on so many things and at the same time support my excuses. But nothing is more truer than the fact that I’m always led back to my relationship with Jesus. I’ve regretted making this blog and my channel countless times but I believe the number of times I’ve praised and thanked the LORD is exceeding that number. Hallelujah! Thanks to the anon who asked the question and to all the rest that brought up the topic of anxiety. It has given me life as a vlogger/blogger once again.

Do you think if a Christian Suffers from Anxiety they Aren’t true Christians?

There are 3 learned behaviors that govern the levels of stress and anxiety a person experiences. Okay, so I didn’t just come up with this. It’s been years of anxiety my brain and body have dealt with and I’ve come to the conclusion that my PRIDE, my INATTENTION (to important matters) or my ATTENTION (to unimportant matters), and my IMPULSIVENESS all have contributed to my woes. Woah, woah, woah! Yes, I am saying you cause your own anxiety. Unless you were diagnosed by a medical doctor, then it might be a bigger problem than the kind of anxiety I am talking about. Our PRIDE, ATTENTION/INATTENTION, and IMPULSIVENESS all affect 5 areas of life, which we must take time to examine. They are:

  1. BELIEFS

  2. INTERNAL DIALOGUE

  3. HABITS

  4. RELATIONSHIPS

  5. SPEECH

What Causes Anxiety? (From a perspective of a stubborn Christian – Me)

I believe Christian or not, we will still experience anxiety. However, we can definitely lessen it’s negative effects and practice is all it takes. In my spiritual walk, I’ve learned to be aware of when Satan’s about to shake my world, and even when I fail to avoid that, God’s grace reminds me to surrender in the midst of my struggle. In the video, I discuss steps to approach this practice.

  1. Know the difference between godly sorrow/worry and worldly sorrow/worry.

  2. Make a list of all your worries and distinguish whether your worries/anxieties are worldly or godly.

  3. Pray about your worldly worries/anxieties.

How to Steer Clear of Anxiety

In this video, I discuss Scripture for preventing and eliminating anxiety. Here are 3 keywords/points to focus on and apply:

  1. PROMOTE PEACE

  2. GIVE THANKS

  3. FEAR THE LORD/HUMBLE YOURSELF

Mini Bible Study – Anxiety

So How do I approach God with my anxiety? How do I pray about it? In this video, I talk about the importance of prayer and using an acronym (ANXIETY) as a guide.

  • A-doration & apology

  • N-otice whether the worry is worldly or godly

  • X-Explain how you feel & what happened

  • I-ntentionally forgive

  • E-xpress how you hate feeling worried & fearful

  • T-hank God for your anxiety

  • Y-ield to God with praises & end your prayer

How I pray for my Anxiety

The first part of this episode I share a breathing technique that has helped me come down from my stresses. The second part is a detox drink recipe for coping with stress.

Breathing Technique & Detox for Anxiety

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

From my heart to yours. (PDF) 31 Journal Prompts for Managing Anxiety/Depression

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Signs of Spiritual Maturity

My dad was the substitute for our pastor one Sunday and he asked me for some thoughts on spiritual growth. Here’s a few I came up with…..

  • When you are able to say “Thank You Lord for the struggles” and truly mean it.
  • When you grow concern for others’ spiritual maturity besides your own.
  • When you understand the difference between happiness and joy.
  • When you recognize times you could have surrendered or are able to surrender right then and there during a time you were impulsive or a time you were tempted. You favor the Lord’s discernment even over your common sense.
  • When you realize patience, forgiveness, and compassion are just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Your spiritual health is biblically intertwined with your physical and mental health.
  • When you find yourself talking/praying to God not just about the big decisions in life but also about the smallest details. His wisdom is more important to you than your own understanding.
  • When you receive confidence, peace, and joy by resisting all kinds of temptations instead of feeling dissatisfied, resentful, or vindictive. You see growth opportunities in your daily struggles.
  • When you become generous of the things you are grateful for in life. Even if it’s as simple as joy, you will spread it.
  • When your alone time with God becomes more and more important to you.
  • When you’re able to see God’s blessings towards others who bear good fruit. You are also aware and able to see the blessings that come from God because of your obedience to Him.
  • When you become less sensitive about yourself and more sensitive for others.

Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

Ephesian 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

2 Peter 1:5-6 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

This list was not made to make anyone compare themselves to other Christians. Everyone is at a different level of spiritual maturity because everyone is responsible for their  own growth. That’s why patience, love, and understanding are some of the most valuable qualities to have. We don’t know how far along some Christians have come, Christian or not. Let us not compare ourselves to them. Let’s not judge them. Let’s pray whether that comparison was out of self pity or pride. Let’s bring whatever that judgement was to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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FAITH & FOOD (Devotional)

Matthew 6:24-34 – ”No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

DO YOU EVER WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT ON YOUR DIET? I DO. 

Being on the Ketogenic diet, I have to prepare what to eat in advance, otherwise I am more likely to be grab anything available in the fridge. I have yet to master meal prepping. So I try to cut out all temptations. Besides maintaining my weight, some of the reasons I have for being on this popular diet is for mental health benefits. My thoughts are much clearer, I am so much more focused, and although my memory can never be perfect, it has definitely improved.

But I’ll be honest, I do worry about what I should eat. I worry that I’m not doing it right sometimes, I worry if I have enough for the week, I worry if what I make is creative enough, I worry if others are judging because my food choices are different from theirs. I worry about my expenses on food.

Despite my worries, one truth brings me back to God. And that truth is the main reason I am on this diet. I want to be healthier for God. I am His vessel through whom His wisdom can be heard. And if my mental health suffers, I don’t have the confidence, focus, and right intention for spreading the gospel.

BEING HEALTHY FOR MYSELF SERVES ME AND NOT GOD, BUT BEING HEALTHY FOR GOD SERVES OTHERS AND HIM, AND MY FAITH THEREFORE FLOURISHES. I AM A FIRM BELIEVER THAT WHEN SOMEONE’S WEIGHT LOSS GOALS ARE FOCUSED ON FAITH AND GOD, CONSISTENT SUCCESS IS THE RESULT. 

 

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  • Are my concerns righteous when it comes to food and diet?
  • Is my diet more so pleasing to my palate than to my faith overall?
  • What am I doing differently everyday to integrate my faith and mental wellness?
  • How often do I pray about self-control when it comes to food?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I would not be able to praise You or thank You for the life you have given me if You were not my Creator. Thank you for my heart, my mind, my body, and my soul. Thank You for all the food that you provide this world with, thank You for giving me enough to live off of, for giving me every day as an opportunity to improve my health and well-being. Please forgive me for failing to thank You for Your blessings and for all the times I have not been satisfied when I have so much. Lord, I ask that You give me eyes to see how I can use my creativity and faith to make use of what I already have and help me to count it joy when I am being challenged to give in to my worries, so that I might remember to lift them up to You in prayer. Please help me to be content with what I have and be my self-control when it comes to purchasing only what I need. I want to be healthier for You, so guide me and lead me in this journey. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Gratitude is a Saving Grace

Ever felt like you were just stuck in the dumps? All you had to do was snap out of it. Easier said than done. But the moment you start praising the Lord, something amazing happens. Your soul begins to feel alive again. Condemnation is just a feeling, it’s a state. But God remains. Unchanged. The good Lord fills you with conviction. Don’t forget you were made for worship. It’s for His glory, but He loves you so much so He created a way for you to be uplifted as well. Praise His name. Gratitude follows.

THE MORE THANKFUL A PERSON IS THE MORE FAITH THEY HAVE IN GOD’S FORGIVENESS. FOR THOSE WHO HAVE A HARD TIME MOVING ON FROM THEIR SIN, WHO DOUBT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN FOR WHATEVER WRONG THEY’VE DONE, THIS IS A REMINDER THAT GRATITUDE IS EVERYTHING. MAKE IT A HABIT. GRATITUDE GIVES WAY TO LOVE AND LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS (1 PETER 4:8).

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

1 Corinthians 15:27 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 15:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

NOTE: This will be a future devotional and/or vlog series.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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GOD’S PEACE | HUMILITY

Being humble is good. It brings you to places that has your mind and heart expecting peace…not expecting in a way that you think you deserve it, but instead expecting in a way that it’s just there and it’s free. And not many know this or is even aware it’s there, but you feel special cause you see it and understand it. At that point, it’s more of a gift than it is free. The peace of God is joy and love, and in it there is freedom. You have to help people understand this. There’s much peace by meeting Him halfway, by approaching Him in humility, by surrendering completely. But don’t waste this gift of knowledge and not tell a soul.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I was sent a message for one of the posts I made in my other blog, which was also about humility. He told me to define “humble” because he says he didn’t believe many people truly understand humility. I will eventually make a vlog discussing more on this topic. But anyway, I thought I’d refer to an older post I made, thanks to an anonymous prayer request. Here’s my thoughts on humility and more.

 

I’ve been struggling with a certain sin pattern in my life for a long time now, and no matter how many times I try to give it over to God, I end up falling back into it eventually. It’s doing a number on my anxiety, and I just feelhopeless and far from God. A friend told me I should talk to someone she knows about it, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to do that. I’d really appreciate some prayer, and maybe some advice on what to do if you’ve got any. (Sorry it’s kinda vague…)

No worries, thank you for this! 🙂 A sin is a sin. Sins will always present anxiety/fear sooner or later. There is no greater sin God detests over another because the point is He always wants us to repent and confess whatever wrong it was we did. It’s for our own good so that we move on with peace. See how much He loves us? Prayer is suppose to bring you back to humility, hence  ACTS – adoration (praise), confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (special requests). In prayer, anything you ask for should often be towards the end or at the end. I say often because if you’re not already yet in a state of surrender/humility, it will be hard to reach the heart of God, but if you already are humble before you ask, then more likely than not your prayers will be answered sooner than later. God wants you to grow in humility first before asking Him anything. Know the difference between weakness and humility. Weakness, believe it or not has pride in it. It is based on the thought and feeling we have because we believe we are not strong enough. You can magnify your weakness by feeding into that belief, which will only strengthen your “weakness”. Humility is acceptance of whatever you have good or bad and trusting God with it. We are not perfect for a reason, we’ll always make mistakes, and that reason is because the Lord wants us to call on Him in our desperation. It’s a reminder that He’s God and we’re not. I believe that when a person struggles with the same sin over and over again, it’s in His will that they are going through it. That is your test/trial. How will you handle it? Some might believe God is punishing them, or it’s karma, or it’s just life and you have to deal with it, or they might not even really think much because they are so deep into sin. He will put the person in the same situation time and time again until they approach God or in some cases approach Him a different way. Try ACTS and ask Him at the end to help you transform your mind, to help you see that your situation with the same sin are trials. It puts importance on praise and thanks rather than going to Him with your sin being the thing that’s magnified. Focus on Him, not on yourself, and the natural thing that happens next is a deep humility to surrender and give up your sins, turning away from them in complete faith. There is power in the name of Jesus. Pray and mention His name often. Put importance on the relationship between the Son and the Father. I believe we get stuck in our sins because we have lost the significance of the connection between them. God sent His Son to die for you. He died at the Cross and was resurrected to be with the Father. When He joined God in Heaven, He took our sins with Him and His Father dealt with them. ALL SINS OF THE WORLD WERE FORGIVEN, PARDONED, PAID FOR, BECAUSE GOD’S SON DYING FOR YOU AND ME WAS ALL IN HIS WILL. NO ONE CAN DO ANYTHING TO UNDO THAT. THAT WAS ALL GOD’S DOING, HE SENT JESUS FOR THAT VERY PURPOSE. WE ARE THEN LEFT TO ACCEPT THAT PERFECT GRACE WHICH IS CHRIST INTO OUR HEARTS AGAIN AND AGAIN AS MANY TIMES AS WE MUST EVERY HOUR, EVERY DAY AND BE LIKE JESUS, WHO WAS JUST THE EXAMPLE GOD KNEW WE NEEDED. OUR OLD LIVES MUST DIE WITH OUR SINS EACH TIME WE ACCEPT CHRIST BECAUSE WHEN WE ACCEPT CHRIST WE ALSO BECOME ONE IN THE FATHER JUST AS HE WAS UNITED WITH HIM. WE CAN’T COME TO THE FATHER WITHOUT FIRST ACCEPTING CHRIST (John 14:6). YOU WILL FEEL MUCH CLOSER TO GOD THE MORE YOU STRIVE TO LIVE WITH THE CHARACTERISTICS OF JESUS BECAUSE HE IS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. IF YOU KNOW JESUS, THEN YOU KNOW THE FATHER (John 14:9). If you accept Christ you will do whatever it takes not to take God’s Grace for granted and also not take advantage of it. When you accept Christ you’re accepting God’s Grace. Get in the habit of accepting Him into your heart every morning and truly mean it so that your mind magnifies God’s revealed truth about His Son….you’re reminding yourself that JESUS IS GOD’S GRACE. WE DON’T DESERVE HIM BUT HE WAS SENT ANYWAY. Every time you obey Him on the basis of His Grace, He is proud of you. That is a blessing because it should grant your heart joy and peace for being in harmony with Him. And if you fall into the same sin again, repeat the process ACTS and in His time you’ll get better and better at turning away. I believe that anxiety is the result of a divided heart. Make sure you’re not making certain situations, thoughts, and things more important than God. Anything that  doesn’t point to Him is a distraction. He must be behind your every motive. Whatever you entertain in your mind and in your life is what you end up worshipping over Him. Pay close attention to the things you feed your mind and body. FOCUS ON HIM. A couple years ago I found out the word integrity comes from “integer” meaning whole and complete, not a fraction. Integrity is found in wholeness, in being one with God. It’s only in being one with Him you will find true peace and joy and faith and confidence to overcome your giants. PRAY THROUGHOUT THE DAY, OBEY CONSISTENTLY.

       (my prayer…)

Heavenly Father, we worship You, the God who frees us from ourselves. Be magnified in our minds, be glorified in our hearts, be exalted in Your will, to which we surrender faithfully. Lord God, we praise Jesus, thank You for His holiness, thank You that You chose us to be Your servants, that we might give up our ways of pleasing ourselves to devote a life of honoring You. Father, I lift up my friend who seeks to live that life of freedom, I point them to You. Every morning, the life You grace them with, breathe Your Spirit into their soul so that they rise and walk with the life You meant for them live. Lord, give them Your willpower, so they seek to find a strength that matches Jesus’ to go after Your heart in all they do and say. Reveal to them the beauty that is in Your heart, so they strive to offer theirs in place for humility. Forgive them Father for all they have done to pollute their heart and show them how easily You have removed all impurity and fears because of surrendering to You. I ask that You help them to focus on praising You and magnifying that perfect heart of Yours so that in their desire for more of You, they allow theirs to be shaped and molded continually. And however You are going to do that, let their minds be also transformed to trust that in all situations and circumstances, You are there guiding them no matter what. Lord, I lift up all those that return to the same sins. In Your power break their addictions, teach them the ways of Jesus because it’s His heart full of character we want to reflect. We call on You, our ever-present help, please convict us loudly in our hearts when temptation is near to offer that time to You. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

1 John 3:6-7 “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Acts 8:22 Repent, then, of this evil plan of yours, and pray to the Lord that He will forgive you for thinking such a thing as this.

Matthew 3:8 Do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins.

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

1 Peter 1:13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

By His Grace, Sheela (Via godfirstgodalways)

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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God’s Will

Proverbs 3:4-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I’m learning to trust in God with all my heart all over again. Too often I grow with pride and sometimes I’m so blind thinking I’m still following Him when I’m not. Instead I’m following my emotions. It’s important I stay highly focused on Him, I need to yield every second. His will is for me to discover it no matter how many times it takes. His will will bring me to obey Him.

It’s easier prayed than done, and it truly is a challenge for some not to give in to their human emotions. But if we learn to use negative feelings as triggers to go straight to the Lord in prayer, we can prevent so many regrets, and broken relationships. Falling off the narrow path is the result of leading ourselves based on what we think is better for us. Yet the Lord Almighty loves us so relentlessly that He will not allow us to keep going without His discipline. And whenever we return, He will not allow us to keep going without the strength and faith we asked for.

I believe so many of us get anxious figuring out what God’s will is as if to say there is a general idea/plan He has for each individual, which He does, but I think it’s a big misconception to put the importance on that. He reveals His will every time we obey. In our journey with Christ, every step we surrender we’re brought closer to the Father, making us one with Him. His will may not always make sense at first, but sooner or later we discover a growing peace and acceptance in the most inner part of our being placed by none other than God. His purpose is for me to take His will and make action based on the faith He’s graced me with and the wisdom that has been learned from that. His will won’t bring me somewhere where He is not also present. But to merely acknowledge Him in every situation is not the same as surrendering to His will. A declaration to the Lord saying, “I obey Your will, please help me now to understand what I should do” is an act of faith where He then has our full attention as He urges us to simply walk by it. His will is always good, otherwise He wouldn’t have created you for it, because your purpose in life is for Him alone, where His love and guidance will never abandon you nor forsake you.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

  • Is there any problem I had this past week that made me trust my feelings more than God?
  • Can I try better at handing Him my emotions by confessing right then and there and ask for a desire to recognize the times I have the opportunity to pray?
  • What can I do differently tomorrow to remind me that my faith is more important than my feelings?

PRAY:

Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for creating me with emotions, for the person that I was then, the person I am now, and the person that You want me to become. Forgive me for the times I have only focused on my needs and desires and the times I have forgotten to depend on Your vision for me. You love me so much not to leave me as I am and so I thank You for disciplining me by using my emotions to teach me lessons. I ask that you help me use them as a way to refocus on You so that I can remember to trust You and Your will for me and not myself or my ways. Help me to understand and make sense of things that I have a hard time accepting and remind me that Your ways are higher. Lord, help me to rely on Your truth when problems confuse me by doing whatever it takes for me to make things less about me and more about You and help me to desire what You desire for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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