Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Sunday, July 5, 2020

23. Living a Spirit-Led Life - "Living in Light" Series

The Holy Spirit is our Guide and our Teacher. It was given to us by Jesus Christ to convict us of our sins and teach us how to be a true follower of Jesus, in every sense of the Word (pun intended). It was given to us to lead us on a Spirit-led journey, give us godly direction, and the grace to live a correct moral life full of love, joy, and peace.
But how do we hear from the Holy Spirit? How do we know it's the Holy Spirit speaking to us, and not just ourselves, or something else? How do we know we are being Spirit-led, instead of self-led?

The Holy Spirit can talk to you in many different ways. Some people say they hear It as a still small voice. Others say the voice might sound like themselves or someone familiar. Others say they are spoken to in signs, or dreams and visions. I do know that God speaks to every one of us in a unique way. He has a truly specialized way of speaking to us individually. This is what makes your relationship with God special. No two people hear from Him in exactly the same way. 

The most important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit must align with the Word of God. If a voice is speaking to you that does not align with God's Word, then it is not the Holy Spirit that's speaking to you. This is why reading the Bible and knowing God's moral law is of utmost importance in recognizing the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit can only speak Truth because it is Truth.

If a voice is speaking to you that contradicts God's Word, it is coming from the devil. And even possibly coming from yourself, because you've been believing the devil's lies for a very long time. 

I used to believe the devil's lies all of the time. That negative voice that kept telling me I was never good enough. That voice that tempted me to indulge in whatever would make my flesh feel better. Or would seduce me constantly with the external validation of others, relying on people's compliments or comments to make me happy. 

It wasn't until I received the Holy Spirit after being born again, that I began hearing a different voice entirely. A voice that completely contradicted the devil's lies. The Holy Spirit told me I am good enough, and have always been good enough because of my right standing with Jesus Christ. A voice that led me to do what is right, not whatever made me feel good in any given moment. A voice that validated me beyond measure of whatever a human's compliment that may have only temporarily filled me with pleasure, but was always short-lived.  

The devil's lies only leave us wanting more, never feeling fully satisfied, and relying on the acts of others for our happiness. This simply does not work. However, the Holy Spirit fills us with abundancecompletely satiates us, and has us only relying on God's validation, because God's validation is the only thing that matters.
1. Receiving the Holy Spirit's Conviction.

I pray constantly for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to lead me on the right path, the narrow path, so I can become more like Christ as I follow Him. 

Let's be clear, conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, only condemnation comes from the devil. Conviction is the voice that tells us we made a mistake, but also tells us how to fix it, or gives us the grace to correct it. Condemnation also tells us we made a mistake but wants us to feel guilty about it, wallow in self-unforgiveness, so we can stay in bondage to sin. I talk much more about this subject in my previous post: 22. Freedom from Self-Judgment, I highly recommend reading it if you haven't read it yet. 

When we are convicted, it is our job to ask for forgiveness right away, then ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance on how to repent (change) and take the right steps in correcting our offense. We may not get this answer right away, but in my experience, we usually already know what we should have done and it's best to act in the morally correct way in alignment with God's Word.

Example: You know when you're exhausted after coming out of the grocery store, and you go to put your cart away, and there's no cart rack insight? Now your flesh might tell you that's okay to prop it up next to a lamppost, or in a garden median, or simply leave it in the parking lot, but you know deep down you should walk your cart all the way back up to in front of the store or where you originally got it from?

Whether you realize it or not, that's the Holy Spirit talking to you. It's not going to tell you to take the easy route and do whatever feels good at the moment. It's going to tell you to do what's right even if you don't feel like it! Usually, doing the right thing takes more work than doing the wrong thing. 

The devil wants us to be lazy, with a careless "whatever" attitude, but the Holy Spirit wants us to endure and perhaps even suffer for what is right, noble, and honorable because that's what Jesus would do. Pay attention to that voice that always says, "Do the right thing," that's the Holy Spirit! 

2. Do the Right Thing, Not the "Easy" Thing.

I'm telling you, I work sometimes in the grocery store parking lot. Not only putting my own cart away but putting other people's carts away too. Especially if I see a mother with two toddlers and a full pregnant belly! The Holy Spirit will convict me on the spot! But the peace and joy I get after putting her cart away, I'll tell you, it's second to none. I know for a fact that God is very happy with me at that moment. It is so worth it! 

That's why I want the conviction of the Holy Spirit because it makes my life better! It's not just a long list of rules and regulations that I need to be scolded with constantly, in fact, it is a liberation from my sins that releases unimaginable joy and peace that I have never known before. When you simply do what is right, your heart gets filled with God's love and He validates, appreciates, and even rewards you for your good behavior.
To have a truly Spirit-led journey, we must surrender ourselves to doing what's right. This is not always easy, but it is always worth it. And as we further our walk with Jesus, the Holy Spirit becomes louder and clearer in such a way that we can clearly distinguish who is really talking to us in our heads. And the narrower your path becomes, the more the Holy Spirit will speak to you!

The devil wants us to take the easy way so it keeps us dependent on him. The Holy Spirit wants us to completely depend on God. When we lean "not on our own understanding" and trust what the Holy Spirit is telling us, it will never lead us astray. (Proverbs 3:5).

3. Always Let the Spirit Be Your Guide. 

We have a lot of voices in our heads. Whether it's God, the devil, ourselves, and even other people. Constantly talking to us, even going to war in our minds that can steal our peace, and act out of our emotions. And emotions, are a tricky, tricky, thing. They are fickle, and can drastically change from one moment to the next. 

I'm not saying that emotions are always a bad thing, God wouldn't have given them to us if He didn't want us to feel things. But acting out of our emotions can be dangerous. When we only act about how we feel in any given circumstance, it does not mean we are making the right choices. In fact, the devil wants us to stay trapped in how we feel, giving way to our feelings in hopes we won't do what God asks us to do. 

That's why we need to clearly identify and recognize the Holy Spirit's voice and guidance. This is not always an easy thing to do. The devil is clever, and the longer I walk with God, the more clever the devil has become. He likes to use half-truths (John 8:44) sometimes to lead us astray. He'll say, "You're so tired today, you poor thing, don't do what you promised, take a nap instead." Clever, right? 

The truth is you may be tired, exhausted, and beyond worn out, but you know deep in your spirit, you should do as you promised, because that's the right thing to do. The devil likes to sometimes start with "the truth" then close the thought with a lie to reel us in. He wants us to surrender to our emotions and discard the real voice of truth, the Holy Spirit, that always knows better.
This is a constant learning journey, one where we will live and we will learn. When we are Spirit-led instead of self-led, we can take the proper moral steps and exhibit correct behavior, making our best-informed decisions possible. This does not mean we will always get the answers we want, nor does it mean it will make others happy. But that is the true essence of understanding the Holy Spirit! 

Sometimes we're told to do something we don't want to do. It's not always comfortable, easy, or what we feel like doing. And sometimes, our decisions won't make others happy. But doing what we feel like, and living our lives to please others, is not a Spirit-led life. (Acts 5:29). 

A Spirit-led life is one that's pleasing to God. His is the only opinion that should matter because it's the Truth.
Obeying the Holy Spirit from the depths of your heart will give you joy and peace. When you want to obey because of your profound love for God, you will feel what true love is

When you live your life according to the Holy Spirit's guidance, He will comfort you, provide for you, and nourish your true soul in a way no one else, and nothing else, can.

When we do what's right, God will reward us, if not just here on earth, but in heaven. Stockpile your rewards in heaven, for life here, is short-lived, but heaven will be for eternity. (Matthew 6:20). Would you rather do what you feel like doing now? Or would you rather know that what God can give you is better than anything else? 

Being Spirit-led is a gift from our Messiah. We should honor that gift out of our abounding love and gratitude for what He did for us, is doing for us, and will continue to do for us in the future. We should not obey with a "have to" mentality, we should obey with a "want to" spirit! When we do this, we are passionately saying, "We love You!" Being Spirit-led is the right way to live. Pray for the voice of the Holy Spirit in everything that you do and you will be amazed by the results!

And remember Jo may know better, but God knows best. Follow Him and He will never lead you astray. If you enjoyed this please remember to subscribe here: https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better for free notifications on each new post! You can follow on Instagram & Facebook too!

Feel free to share with your friends & family! Thanks for reading & have a wonderful day!

Friday, May 15, 2020

21. Living Free from Judgment. Part I - "Living in Light" Series

Part 1. Freedom from Judging Others. 

It's really easy to judge other people. We love to point out what we don't like about them, in all sorts of ways. "I don't like what they say," or "I don't like how they act." The problem with this judgmental way of thinking is that we can constantly focus on what's wrong with everyone. This mindset is a trap that will constantly steal our peace. One negative thought can easily lead to another and we can find ourselves in a constant mental war with anyone and everyone.

 

This is what the devil wants. He wants us to focus on what's wrong with everyone else. He is a master distractor, that loves to have us focus on what's wrong with others, instead of what may be wrong with ourselves. He can even use the Word of God to have us constantly fighting with each other. Let's just say the devil will use anything to divide us. Don't fall into this trap.

 

Why is living free of judgment important? Because judgment is a heavy, heavy thing. That voice in our heads that loves to judge everyone and everything can constantly steal our peace, and make us angry, upset, depressed, anxious. You name the negative emotion!

 

This can open the door to the devil. The accuser that loves to judge everyone and everything to "his standards". He is the self-proclaimed "supreme judge" that loves to separate us, divide us, and turn us against each other. This can also lead to anger, hate, and the self-entitled position for us to dole out judgment and the desire to punish each other. This is a burdensome job, a job that is not ours

 

Furthermore, I will explain whose job it really is as we continue on further...

 

1. Are You Perfect?

 

Remember the popular phrase, "Nobody's perfect?" Well, except for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the phrase is very true. Although we can know right from wrong according to God's Word, we can still make mistakes. Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone," when the adulterous woman was about to be stoned to death. Every person dropped the stone and walked away because they realized they were all sinners too (John 8:7).

 

We're all sinners. We can realize that we're surely not perfect and no one else is either. We all make our own mistakes and don't want to be judged and punished by others for those mistakes. If anyone knows that we're not perfect, it's God. His standards of perfection are so high, everyone besides Jesus, fell short. But God still loves us regardless.

That's why God's Word is so helpful when it comes to how we think and treat others. When we realize we're not perfect, we're less likely to dole out judgment upon other people. We can still love others given their flaws and mistakes. If God, the Holy of Holies, can do this for us, we can surely do it for them. 

 

In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus goes on to say, "Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

 

We can be so quick to judge, criticize, ridicule, and opinionate about what others do wrong. But how often do we examine our own thoughts and behaviors? 

 

*Here's a tip that really helps me

Every time I find myself judging someone, 

I turn it back around on myself. 

I call it "turning the mirror around

and I look at my own actions, thoughts, and behaviors

I ask myself, "Do I do that?

Then dig deeper, "Do I do that in any way, shape, or form?

and even, "Have I done that in the past?"

And, "How would God want me to treat others

given that I may have made the same/similar mistakes?"*

 

We can take these opportunities when we want to judge others, to examine ourselves instead. Ask yourself the above questions and truly think about what you have said or done. We will explore much more on this topic in the next blog!

 

I love what Joyce Meyer says, "The less you judge, the more peace you'll have." Ain't that the truth? Judgment is a heavy burden to bear. To constantly have to judge everything someone does or says is mentally, emotionally, even spiritually taxing. If we give ourselves that job, we'll never have a day off! So...

 

2. Who's the True Judge?

 

The only true judge of this world is God. The truth is, we never have enough information to judge anyone fully. We don't know a whole person's heart like God does. We are not the moral authority. Only God is the moral authority. We don't know everything that's going on in a person's life. We don't know everything that they've been through either. Only God knows everything.

 

So leave the judging up to God. He knows better than all of us. Let God take care of it. Our God is a God of justice (Psalm 50:6). He will serve out His punishment that will perfectly match the crime. Even if we feel offended by something someone else does to us, God will take care of it. Personally, this way of thinking gives me so much peace. 

 

Let go and let God--this saying never gets old!

3. Can You Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do?

 

Maybe you're a person that's read the entire Bible and can accurately state what's right or wrong, good or evil, a sin, or a virtue. But the truth is, most people haven't read the entire Bible and just don't know. Before I started this journey, I for sure didn't know half of what I know now. I realize now that others simply don't know certain things, and I can forgive them because I didn't know those things either. 

 

I can forgive others because God has forgiven me. We can, "Forgive those who trespass against us," because God forgives us for our trespasses (Matthew 6:14). If we can learn to treat others the way God treats us, let me tell you, there would be so many fewer problems in our world.

 The Golden Rule is paramount: "Do unto others, as you would have done unto you. (Luke 6:31)." 

 

Let's not let the devil divide us, separate us, and turn us against each other. As believers, we can unite under God's love for us as we learn to love each other. Let God be the judge. We can pray for others' repentance and obedience. We can encourage others to read, learn, and study the Word of God. Let us be the shining example of what God's true love and acceptance really are.

 

 Read Part II. Freedom from Self-Judgment next!


And remember Jo may know better, but God knows best. Follow Him and He will never lead you astray. If you enjoyed this please remember to subscribe here: 
https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better for free notifications on each new post!

 

Monday, January 20, 2020

11. Cut Out the Darkness Part 2. "Living in Light" Series

If you read 1. Cut Out the Darkness you already know some simple steps to having more peace in your life. But now I'd like to talk about cutting out the darkness on a deeper, spiritual level. The reason why I have so much more peace and happiness now is because I've learned to turn away from certain things. My focus has turned toward the positive and by virtue, my life has become so much more positive!

I wish I could say I came up with this, but I did not. Turns out that thousands of years ago people were talking about the same things. The more I study the Bible the more I realize all the common sense, logical and practical things we can do now to make our lives better!

In Matthew 3:8 the Amplified Bible teaches, "Produce fruit that is consistent with repentance (demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin). And even before that in Psalm 34:14, "Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it."

So not only are we supposed to turn away, remove our focus from all the negative, evil things of this world, but we are supposed to actively pursue peace. That means you got to work to have peace!

I used to believe that peace was just an overly idealistic theory that some people claimed to have. I never thought it was attainable for me. I never understood that it was something you actually had to work for. There were times when I felt peace, but it was usually when I took myself out of my normal, routine environment, like hiking through the forests or sitting by a lake. It was not something I could have at work, at home, or in my day-to-day rat race. 

But now I know it is a conscious decision to have peace, just like it is to have happiness!

It was an amazing feeling when I realized I did not "have to" watch every hit show there was on television or hit movie. I know that may sound silly. But I used to think I was "missing out" on something if I did not watch what everyone else was watching.

Freedom feels amazing! You get to choose what you are exposed to! You can cut out all the negativity, the sins, the evil of what you watch and turn your focus toward the positive and life actually gets better.

My anxiety has plummeted. I have nowhere near the amount that I used to have. Removing the news, graphic t.v. and movies, and listening to certain negative people has released my spirit to be joyful, at peace and with a new deep calm that I have never known before. 

My depression has left me. I feel weightless. And it's not that I stopped caring about other people. Actually, I have a newfound compassion for all people since I was born again. But I refuse to let myself drown in hopelessness. The majority of the news is extremely negative. If it focused on all the miracles, and goodness, and virtues of human existence it would be a different story, but unfortunately, that's not the way our world works.

We have no idea how deep our brains actually go. What we watch can show up in our dreams, nightmares, subconscious minds to levels we can't understand. The scariest thing is that we can actually start believing in the lies of the entertainment industry, negative people's perceptions and start applying those lies into our real lives.   

Happiness and peace are attainable things in this world. When we start focusing on the goodness of human nature and God, our minds become full of positivity, love, and compassion. We can feel happy and at peace with ourselves in the world. Let's start feeding our souls good news, virtues, blessings, favor, miracles, compassion, love and divine acceptance. For these are the things that will bring us true joy and peace.

"Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God's word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things (center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart). Philippians 4:8.

And remember Jo may know better, but God knows best. Follow Him and He will never lead you astray. If you enjoyed this please remember to subscribe here: https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better

Thanks for reading & have a wonderful day!


Friday, September 6, 2019

1. Cut Out the Darkness - "Living in Light" Series

The first way to live in light is to cut out the darkness. This first became known to me when I had heard the phrase, "You're never going to have peace if there is a war going on in your mind." I wish I could remember who said that. But the saying rang so true to me, that I'm never going to forget it!

I started to realize that maybe the reason my mind would never stop fighting with itself, was because I was constantly feeding it conflict, annoyances, injustices, just negative stuff, all the time. That's when I learned that what you focus on becomes your life.

I thought I was a positive person before I made these changes. And maybe I was more than most people, but that still didn't mean I was truly happy and radiating positivity. Some people from the outside that know me would have never have guessed that. I always tried to put on a happy face no matter what. But the war in my mind would never let me have peace.

I knew it was time to make some drastic changes. I was going to examine every facet of my life. Especially what I watched, read and listened to.

If you're constantly focusing on the negative, your mind will only become more negative. 

Also, I had realized how desensitized I had become. Things that used to really bother me on t.v. and movies started not to bother me anymore. My heart was getting harder and I felt numb to the horrors of this world. After following these steps, my heart has started to resensitize and now I feel things more deeply and with greater satisfaction, especially the good feelings like joy, love, and happiness. There will be more to explore on this subject at a later post.

1. Stop Watching the News - Okay, okay, I know some will fight me on this. I'm not saying to become completely oblivious and unaware of what's going on. But who can honestly say that 98% of what the news talks about will have some direct effect on you? My point is the news is so negative. Its focus is conflict and injustice. When was the last time you heard something positive on the news? We know that it is few and far between. The news counts on our attention to the negative to make money. That's how they stay in business. And unfortunately, the news has become so divisive, that it's constantly pinning us against each other. It thrives on conflict.

Try cutting out the news for just one week and see how you feel. I don't watch the news anymore, unless I know it may have some direct effect on me, like weather. But that's about it. I've never felt more at peace with the world. I've realized that other people's battles are not my own. Especially because so much of it is out of my control. When you learn to let go of what you cannot control, you feel weightlessness like never before. Side note: This includes getting your news on social media. More on this later.

2. Cut Out Violence and Graphic T.V. and Movies - Is it just me or have t.v. and movies gotten more violent and graphic than ever? Every top t.v. show or movie seems to be raising the bar on how much they show us. And here's the thing, you can't unsee things. If you're watching violence and horrific graphic depictions of the lowest of the low of human behavior, how do you think these will affect you? Whether you realize it or not, this does have an effect on your emotional, mental, and also your physical state as well. And the thing is, I didn't realize this. I was so desensitized to things, I could watch just about anything and eat at the same time. Something that I would've considered unfathomable just 10 years ago. It's only now that I have resensitized myself that I've realized how horrible the entertainment industry has sunk.

Try cutting out everything above a PG-rating for a week and see how you feel. I have completely and have never felt better. I will admit that this has cut down on what there is to watch, but this is a good thing! Less time sitting in front of the t.v. absorbing negativity. I feel less negative, anxious, depressed, worn down, deflated, angry, torn and just less helpless about all human existence.

3. Cut Out Social Media - Oooh, a hard one for most of us. We've become so reliant on it for entertainment, news, hot topic debates, and even good things like connecting with friends and family. But here's the thing, studies have shown that social media increases anxiety and depression, and with teenage suicides at an all-time high, this is no coincidence. A lot on social media can be very negative. It seems like the top stories amongst "friends" are always concerning political debates, racism, gun control, etc. And although it can feel noble to want to fix the injustices of this world, most discussions on these topics only lead to fighting, more divisiveness, and emotional separation between friends and family members. No wonder it's causing more anxiety and depression. We joined social media to connect, but it has created distance between us like no other. This is the power of negativity. This is why you need to cut it out of your life.

Try cutting out social media for just one week and see how you feel. I usually only use social media now for my career and very seldom use it for personal reasons. I am also super selective about who I am "friends" with and who I choose to follow. Another positive that I have garnered from this change is that I don't feel like I have to take on the weight of everyone else's problems. When people used to complain about things publically, my first emotional response was to either want to help them or want to push them away because their problems seemed so painful. I'm not saying that you shouldn't care about what you're friends are going through, but they can become overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of friends. If you do have a close personal friend that's going through a hard time, why not try sending them a personal text or even a phone call? This is a much better way to connect on a personal emotional and mental level.

What you watch, read and listen to does affect you. Pay attention to everything you pay attention to. Have an awareness of negativity. Cut out the darkness wherever you can. I urge you to try the things above as they have brought me a kind of peace I have never known before.

You can read Part II. of Cut Out the Darkness next to see how the Word of God supports this!

Please subscribe at https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better for the latest posts updates on the "Living in Light" Series. Thank you so much for reading & have a wonderful day!